02/08/21 - Self Defence Against the Zodiark Arts


Yet another bright sunny La Noscean day greets a trio wandering out into Vylbrand. A seasoned knightess, a veteran healer, and Lucatiel all made their way over the land. It was time for a field trip to further the girl's lessons, to learn how to defend herself against real threats. The knightess, one Luna Neaucant, carried a bag of medical supplies just in case while her young ward trailed right behind. The girl was outfitted in a fitted raiment instead of her usual cheery attire, and she was having ever the slightest difficult moving as such. Her Carbuncle had no such issue, only sporting it's usual medical bag and and a small decorative knight's sallet sitting atop it's bouncy head.

“Are we theeeere yeeeet?” The whining had been going on for a small amount of time already despite repeated 'not yet's from Luna, though this time the girl received a 'Practically there'. A smile crosses Lucatiel's face as she becomes slightly bouncier in her step.


Enough had been going on lately that Vinalo had almost been surprised when Luna contacted them about Lucatiel's field training. Though recent events had made them a bit wary of anyone so inexperienced thrown into potential danger, this exercise seemed like should be safe enough. It was with those thoughts that the healer later found themself walking along with their student and her guardian. Given the nature of this outing, they were a bit more equipped than usual. More medical supplies than they usually carry, and their favorite staff was strapped to a harness on their back. It could never hurt to be prepared.

The familiar winds of La Noscea were at their back, and Vinalo wore a face of amusement as Lucatiel wondered out loud (again) if they'd all arrived at their destination. They couldn't help but chuckle a bit at her renewed excitement.

“So. Lucatiel, reckon you've been practicing best you can?” they asked, looking over in her direction. “I know its been a bit hectic lately.”


The girl looks over at Vinalo happily, her smile a bit hidden by the lining of the raiment worn improperly (against Luna's vehement complaints). “Umm, I think so! I even studied with this guy the other day in the Miner's Guild! He was talking about forbidden magic and stuff, so I bet he was smart! And I studied with him, so that has to mean something!” She nods excitedly, clutching her arcanist book to her chest.

Luna, dressed in her usual half-plate and cloth, looked at the girl curiously. “Pardon? You studied with a mysterious man researching forbidden arts?” Her gaze goes over the girl to Vinalo for a second, as if wondering what they thought.


Vinalo raised an eyebrow at Lucatiel's casual mention of some forbidden magicks. A number of thoughts of what that could be crossed their mind, some more worrying than others. They found their own gaze was met with Luna's, who was probably also wondering what Lucatiel had gotten herself into.

“Forbidden arts? That's…” they started, hesitating for a moment to chose their words. They turned to Lucatiel. “…Just what kind of arts was he talking about?”


The girl stops moving for a second, thinking. “Umm…. I think he said something about wind? He said he was learning it so he could understand what not to do! I said I just didn't wanna know, because if I did then I might accidentally imagine that pattern and cast it someday!”

Luna stops with the girl, her eyes flicking between the ward and the healer. “Ah, well… If it is knowledge for the sake of preventing such failures, perhaps it is a wise action. Still, one must be cautious - you were correct to not wish to even know of the art, Lucatiel.” She pats the girl and gently urges her to continue walking, the sprawling road ahead of them begging for movement yet. The girl, as ever, smiles wide at a headpat and begins to walk once more.


“Ah, well. Good. There's magicks that you should right stay away from, Lucatiel. Terrible ones that only lead to terrible ends and such,” Vinalo said with an almost lecture-y tone. With that, they looked back to the road ahead and continued walking along.


“I knoooow! I'm not gonna learn it!” The girl is quick to affirm Vinalo's concerns, almost rolling her eyes.

Luna keeps a hand on the girl's back as they walk, looking down at her again. “So, you are availed memory of how this lesson shall function, correct?”

The girl nods, looking up at the woman. “Yes! We're gonna find some little Puks that were bothering farmers! And we're gonna take care of them!” Her cheer falters for a moment though. “Do we really have to kill them? They're so cuuuute!”

Luna sighs, having expected this. “I am afraid so, Lucatiel. Though you may find them adorable, they are attacking innocent people in Summerford and causing issue for those who raise crop. We can not allow them to continue.”


“Luna's right. It's unfortunate, but needed. Too dangerous like this. We'll make sure only to kill whats needed to push them back,” they said. Vinalo tapped their chin for a moment. “Probably a reason they've moved on the farms, but that's something to look into another day.”


The girl pouts, though it is very short-lived. “Ooookay. We'll try to make it quick then!” She nods, her resolve ever so slightly renewed.

It wasn't long before a small farm with a barn became visible, the fields unattended by man with a handful of small Puks mucking about. They seemed to be enjoying some of the crop, but mostly were just there. Not attacking anybody, though that might have been due to there being no one around. Seemingly compelled and unable to resist, Lucatiel audibly makes an 'awwww' sound at the small creatures bounding about. “Oh gosh they really are soo cute…. B-but we have to get rid of them!”


Vinalo looked over the field filled with winged lizards. They let out a sigh, wishing the trio could just scare them off without killing at all, but that never worked for long in situations like this. They pulled their staff of their back, looking it over and making sure there wasn't any odd damage. There shouldn't be, but it never hurt to check. Looking satisfied, Vinalo held it at ready and turned to the pair.

“If we're lucky, killing a few'll scare the rest from coming this way again. No sense in trying to kill every last one right now.”


Luna set her hand on the pommel of her blade at her side, looking from Vinalo to Lucatiel. “May we be so lucky, Ser Vinalo. Lucatiel, I want you to focus on using your book to defeat at least one Puk. Myself and Ser Vinalo shall be ever at your side should issue occur.” She pats the girl on the back, pushing her gently towards the farm.

Luca looks between the two companions, biting her bottom lip. “Ohhhh, okay! Umm, here I go!” She holds out her book and begins advancing towards the Puks, Carbuncle in tow.


“Remember. Focus your aether. Know where you want to go and guide it there.”

The healer stood behind with Luna, ready if anything went awry.


As the girl closes in on the 'somewhat-overrun' farm, one of the little Puks turns to her and stares for a moment, prompting the girl to once again let out a long 'awwww'. The Puk, much less enamored, rushes her and comes crashing into her leg. Hurting the girl really only emotionally, it bounces backwards for a moment as it 'plans' it's next attack.

Lucatiel staggers back a step, reaching down to rub her minor injury, looking offended at the little creature. “Oowwwwww! That wasn't nice!” In her hesitance however, the Carbuncle springs into action. It rushes forward, between the girl and the Puk, and jumps into the air. It focuses it's aether in middair before firing off a burst. The small little attack slams into the Puk, knocking it back several fulm while also angering two more of it's brethren nearby. Where before one pest had been alerted, now three closed in on Lucatiel and her Carbuncle. “O-ohhh! Ohhh gooosh!” The girl begins to worry just a bit, eyeing the Puks and flipping open her book.


Vinalo took a step forward, tightening the grip on their staff, but resisted the urge to jump into action right away. They tilted their head in Luna's direction, making sure not to actually take their eyes off of Lucatiel's situation.

“Reckon she's bound to get a bit scratched up during this, and that's okay, but…” they started to say, watching as the trio of puks focused on their student. “We'll step in if it gets worse. I'll not let her get hurt badly just to prove a point.”


Luna had also taken a step forward, her blade drawing loudly. She had to stop herself from intervening. “You are quite correct, Ser Vinalo. Even should all three attack, she shall be alright. If it becomes too much, we shall stop it.” She grips the hilt of her sword tightly, working against every fiber of her being to not jump in.

Meanwhile, the Carbuncle had fired another blast of aether at the first Puk, and she now had her book opened to the pattern for Ruin. She bites her lip once more but closes her eyes, channeling aether and then…


A crackle of aether flew from her to the Puk, knocking it back several fulm where it lay motionless. The girl stared, stunned, at the vanquished creature in shock. For too long, in fact, allowing the other two Puks to advance and tackle her legs again and causing her to stagger backwards a couple steps. “Whoooaa! Owwwww!” Once more she rubs her legs and the Carbuncle switches targets to the second pest, firing another burst at it.


“That's one,” Vinalo stated, sounding more relieved than anything else. “Just a matter of well she can focus, I think.”

They watch as the two other puks bonk into Lucatiel, wincing slightly.

“…And not get distracted.”


Sharing in the cringe, Luna rubs her temples slowly. “Twelve bless that it was Puks rather than something of true threat. Had it been Aurochs…” She shakes her head.

Meanwhile, Lucatiel has focused once more, firing off another Ruinous blast of aether to the second Puk, knocking it back. This one however stands up and rushes back to the fray, however it is stopped quickly by aether from the girl's Carbuncle. It too now lies motionless, the blast having sent it a few fulm back. Emboldened by her success but remaining vigilant, the girl begins to channel her aether towards the final Puk. It is ilms away from the arcanist when the Ruin connects, knocking it back before it charges once more. Again, the Carbuncle joins in the assault and ends the fight, flinging the Puk fulm away and causing it to collide with the door of the barn.

Lucatiel turns back to Vinalo and Luna, smiling widely. “I did it! Three of them! Is that enough?”

Luna gives the girl a small smile, but gently shakes her head. “I am proud of you Lucatiel, but no that is not enough. There remain yet more pests, however we shall handle them in a moment. Come back.” Her eyes remain on her ward as she begins to walk back, but quickly they dart over to the barn doors as they open.

Poking their head out from the barn where the Puk had impacted was a shifty-looking midlander. A cloth bandana covered most of his face as he scanned around, his own eyes falling upon the trio closer to the farmland. He pauses before ducking back into the barn, no longer visible.

“Ser Vinalo, did you see that?” Her question comes sidelong to her companion, still not taking her gaze off the barn.


Vinalo smiled and gave an affirmative hum to Lucatiel as she started back. They looked back up to Luna, ready to discuss the next step, when they noticed her own attention had shifted. Raising an eyebrow, they followed her line of sight and spotted the masked Midlander just before he slid back into the barn. Their smile faded.

“Yes. I did,” they said plainly, eyes now focused on the barn. “…Suppose that could be a farmhand or such, but it's right suspicious.”

Vinalo took a few steps to the side, giving themself a clearer view of the barn.


“Let us hope so. I know naught what sort of farmhand seeks to conceal their identity but I am hardly the sort made aware of such a thing.” The woman forces her eyes to look down and focus on her ward, patting her on the head as she comes in close. “You have done admirably so far, Lucatiel. Take a moment to reflect before we continue our work.”

The girl smiles, doubly so at the pat. “Thaank yooou! It was kinda scary, and I didn't wanna hurt them! But they hit my leg and it hurt! They're not nice!” She nods as if to confirm her complaints. She turns around to look out over the farmlands, counting up the remaining Puks. 5, 6, 7… Seven Puks remained. “Oh gosh, that's a lot of little guys! Do I really have to hurt that many more of them?” She looks up at her guardian, pleading eyes on full effect.

Luna can't help but stare into the girl's eyes, groaning. “We shall have to see… As Ser Vinalo speaks, hope upon hope that defeating a few more will make any remainders flee.”

Lucatiel smiles, looking over at Vinalo now. “Did you see!? Did you see!? I did it! And Carby helped too!”


An unsatisfied hum. The Lalafell kept watching the barn door while Luna and Lucatiel exchanged words of the first victory against the puk invasion. Their hand gripping their staff glowed briefly, and a small bit of earth rose from the ground to grip the bottom of the staff, holding it upright. Lucatiel's jubilant comments finally brought their attention back. The staff remained upright as Vinalo let go of it.

“Ah, yes! I did, Lucatiel! You and Carby made a great team,” they responded, smiling. “Didn't manage to hurt you too badly, did they?”


The girl pauses, rubbing her trouser-covered legs. “I think I'm okay. Just a little bruised I bet! They just bonk into my leg, it's fine!” She smiles and nods, happily picking up her Carbuncle and looking back out over the remaining troublemakers. “Okay, here I go!” She places the Carbuncle back down after a moment and rushes back out. “HEY! HEY YOU COME ON! GET OUT OF HERE!” She begins to shout at a couple more wandering Puks, causing them to look over at her and start rushing over. She begins to focus again, firing at one of the Puks as the Carbuncle begins to follow suit.


“She really does have a lot of spirit, doesn't she?” they say to Luna. “It's what'll get her through everything, I reckon.”

Vinalo glances at the barn door again, but mostly keeps their eyes on Lucatiel's second wave of attack. They shift a bit on their feet, remaining in close proximity to their staff.


“Indeed she does. Would that i had been so invigorated at her age.” She grins lightly, pleased with her ward's actions. A quick glance at the barn door which remained closed and immobile, just to be safe.

The faintest hint of aether could be detected inside the barn, nearly imperceptible and hardly signifying anything of note currently.

By now, two more puks had been dispatched by Lucatiel and she was on to harassing another small group. “HEY COME ON! LEEEEAVE OR ELSE! I DONT WANNA HURT YOU BUT YOU CAN'T STAY HERE!” Two more pests angered and she begins to cast Ruin again, though it was taking slightly longer now as she was growing a bit tired, unaccustomed to so much use of aether so fast. Perhaps in her enthusiasm she had been pouring a bit of extra aether into each spell, burning herself out just that much more. Ruin still came, and it was still potent. The injured Puk flew back, upsetting the remaining trouble-makers. Now a small group of three joined in, 5 angry little creatures advancing on the girl.


Vinalo's brow furrowed a bit as they watched Lucatiel slowing down, the symptoms of aetheric fatigue quite noticeable at his point. 'Too much too fast.' They reached for their staff, not yet releasing it from the ground, but clearly ready to take swift action if needed.

“This… might be where she'd need some help, Luna,” they said, keeping close watch. “She's not pacing herself. Tiring out fast.”


“Oh dear… You must be correct. Very well.” Luna brings out her sword, moving in slowly so as to not rile the Puks further. It doesn't take long before she is behind Lucatiel, putting a hand on the girl's back re-assuringly. “Ser Vinalo says you are acting too hurriedly. Pace yourself, Lucatiel. I wish not to see you exhaust yourself and succumb to the Puks.”

Lucatiel stops to catch her breath, having just fired off another ruin and defeating a pest. “O-oh! Am I? But I'm doing so good!” Her breathing is somewhat labored, and even the Carbuncle seems to have slowed a smidge, it's luster dimming noticably. “Oh-hoh-kay! WHEW!” She stops channeling her aether for now, sweat dripping down her forehead as she doubles over.

Luna moves to be in front of her ward, sword held out. She is readied, about to intercept a Puk.

CRASH! The barn door explodes into splinters suddenly, bolts of levin spraying forth. Now visible was the masked midlander who was now bearing a greatsword, and an elezen cloaked in robes and a large hat, face hardly visible except for his ears. He held out a long rod, pointed toward the door, and as he looked up it was noticeable that he too was sporting a cloth cover, however this was over his left eye. Behind the pair were three plain midlanders that looked to be a farming family, tied and bound on their knees.


“We'll take care of the rest, Lucatiel. Just relax for now!”

Vinalo grabbed their staff, the earth holding it in place falling away, as if on command. As they took a single step towards Lucatiel, the distinct rattle of something… charged pinged in their head, and their gaze shot over to the barn once again just in time to watch the doors get blown to splinters.

Their eyes darted between the armed and masked folk, and past them to the presumably captive family. Vinalo grit their teeth and held their staff in a more offensive stance. 'I knew it. I knew I felt something!'

“Luna! Lucatiel! We've a new problem!”


Immediately at the explosion does Luna turn her head, drawing her shield and jockeying to put Lucatiel behind her. Her eyes lock on to the pair of seeming-brigands. “Finish off the Puks Lucatiel! And stay behind me!” Gone for now is the warmth and consideration in her voice, replaced with cold stone and an authoritative bark.

The girl starts at the explosion, looking over to it in concern. Any chance at lingering fear and worry is stowed as her guardian gives her a command of safety. “R-right!” Sluggishly she continues casting Ruins at the Puks, having depleted them down to 3 remaining. Her spell hits hard and the Carbuncle follows up, dispatching yet another readily. The remaining two pests are also caught off-guard by the nearby action, pausing to survey the new threat.

The man wielding a greatsword starts advancing towards the group, a medium pace bringing him slowly closer. “We wasn't expectin' no would-be heroes today, now we gotta make sum blood! Some old batty knight and a pint-sized squire, eh? Protectin' sum girl? Shame. Suppose the girl will sell well to sum pirates, eh?” He calls back to his Elezen comrade, the two of them sharing a chortle.

Luna scowls, her words coming out as a threatening growl. “Lay down your arms and submit, lest you suffer the divine arm of Halone!”


Vinalo stepped over closer to Luna, not taking their eyes off of the bandits, staff still at ready. This was certainly not how they expected a training session to go. They watched as Luna shouted her command to the bandits, the usual cheerful look on their face replaced with one of determined focus.

“After that kind of show of things, I don't think they're going to just leave.” they said to Luna in an oddly flat tone.

They began to slowly gather aether, hoping not to garner too much attention in doing so.


Lucatiel continues working on the bounty, firing off another ruin. Once more does it connect to a Puk, and the Carbuncle's blast as well. Another defeated, and the last creature seems to get wise about it's fate, turning and fleeing away from the farm. Relieved that one thing is taken care of, the girl leans against Luna to catch her breath, her body shaking a bit from sudden exhaustion. “I'm so tired…”

The advancing bandit picks up the pace a bit. “Even betta', you've gone and driven out these little shits for us! We'll have a girl for the market and a bounty for the Maelstrom! Fantastic!” He lets the sword rest on his shoulder, dropping his left hand from the grip to gesture behind him, now close to the group. Suddenly he breaks into a sprint, grabbing the sword once more with two hands. As he comes up to the group, he brings the blade down towards Luna and Lucatiel.

The knightess brings her shield up handily, angling it to cause the blade to slide and stagger the man. Quickly she brings up her own sword, driving the hilt into the man's cheek with a CRACK.

The man staggers to the side, clutching at his jaw. “Wicked bitch!”

Back at the entrance to the barn, the Elezen had brought his rod to his side in a held pose, aether glowing around him and into the weapon. Large amounts of fire aether, to be exact.


Seeing that Luna had engaged the sword-wielding bandit to fairly successful degree, Vinalo turned their attention to the presumable thaumaturge by the barn. The gathering of aether was unmistakable, and what he could do with it undeniable. Gaining some distance from Luna's scuffle, Vinalo quickly finished what they'd started and swung their staff in the direction of the Elezen.

A bright swirl of blue-green aether rapidly gathered at the head of the staff, coalescing into large orbs of water. They hovered for just a moment before firing off at high speed at the target.


Too caught up in channeling their magicks, the Elezen is unable to react. The water orbs slam into him violently, exploding and sending water everywhere around him as well as knocking him over. The aether that he had been gathering dispersed as he fell and the man yelped out in sudden pain.

Meanwhile, the midlander had practically spun in a circle reeling. However he came back at Luna with fury, his greatsword held high and brought down fiercely! She once more lifted her shield. Perhaps the man knew better than to try the same thing twice, or perhaps it was sheer luck. The sword came down with such ferocity that her shield was barely brought up fully before the blow came crashing down. Too much force in too early a strike, the blade slams into the edge of her shield and pushes it to the side, causing the actual strike to cut vertically down Luna's chest. Cloth tears and partial plate isn't enough as blood flies from the cut and Luna staggers backwards in pain, her teeth clenched. Even during this backstep, she ever keeps Lucatiel behind her.

The man lets the blade stay against the ground, reaching out a gloved arm to try and grab the knightess, but her own hand flies up to grab his and shoves him back. He staggers a few steps back, his sword dragging across the ground softly.

“L-LUNA!” The girl cries out in shock at the strike the woman takes the blow, and she backsteps with her guardian, almost acting to help hold her up. She takes a couple more steps back and to the side, giving herself sight of the bandit. Though her body feels heavy and exhaustion is playing at her mind, she summons forth more aether from herself in clumsy focus, sending a bolt of aether at the man. It hits him, causing him to recoil and stagger again. Another bolt of aether slams into him issues by the Carbuncle, and he steps back further. Clearly angered but also hurt, he bares his own teeth at the girl, thinking.


Vinalo watched the now very wet Elezen hit the ground hard, the blast of water having done its job. The feeling of relief is very short-lived, as they look back at the others just in time to see Luna take the slash to the chest. Her and Lucatiel's response does little to calm the healer, as the bandit clearly hasn't been dispatched by the meager assault. Their mind raced. There wasn't enough time to give Luna a proper heal, not with the bandit still standing mere fulms away.

'Really don't like doing this, I really don't…'

The Lalafell planted their back foot firmly in the ground and began focusing again. This time, however, the air around them seemed to visually quiver as they gathered aether to themself. The head of their staff was quickly encircled with a swirl of aether and their own eyes seemed to shimmer (more than usual, anyway). In one swift motion, Vinalo swung the staff towards the ground, an odd ripple in the soil appearing where it pointed. After just a few seconds, hardened soil and stone would burst from beneath and around the sword-wielding bandit's feet, aiming to pin him by force. Hard.


Completely caught off-guard, the Midlander feels earth and stone wrap around his feet and legs, immobilizing him completely. Now stuck a few fulm away from his targets, the man struggles against his earthly bindings to no avail, growling through his teeth in frustration. “Little shite's playin' at a conjurer! I'll lop your feckin' head off, c'mere!” He swings his sword feebly towards Vinalo, not even close to being able to reach them.

Luna has pulled herself together once more and rushes the immobilized man. Her sword hangs low before being brought up diagonally, aimed right for a large vertical slash!

In a panic, the bound bandit is still slashing away at Vinalo and caught completely off-guard. The sword digs into his right elbow and slices through before catching his chest. It continues to carve upwards, an ilm deep, and leaves a gash all the way up to his cheek and eye. He reels back violently, his right arm dropping to the ground as the greatsword clatters with it. He tries desperately to get out of his earthly binds, the sounds of cracking earth and perhaps body issuing forth to no avail. He clutches at his now stump as his right eye involuntarily closes. He yells, first through his teeth then openly, in pain as blood pours to the ground.

Lucatiel is absolutely horrified, never having seen the woman actually hurt much less grievously wound someone. She recoils back in horror, her hands and book clapped over her mouth, whimpering in horror.

The Carbuncle however suffers no such morality, steadfast and unaffected. It is however weak, the shine and luster reduced to a dull glow. It's bolt of aether is likewise weak, slapping into the cheek of the bound bandit nearly harmlessly, adding insult to injury.

Luna steps in close, her face cold and resigned, and pushes her blade against the man's neck. With surgical precision, she rips it to the side, ending the man's cries and life. His body slumps to the ground quickly.

The mage had gotten back up, repositioning and beginning to charge his rod once more. Ice aether had begun to coalesce this time, pulled from the ground and trees towards the barn and his focus. Seemingly from nowhere, a barrier of magic appears in front of the Elezen, shining brightly for a moment before vanishing into ambient sparkles.


The Lalafell stepped back and took a deep breath. The man was pinned! They were safe, at least for a moment. Unless the bandit tried to awkwardly throw his sword, the group had a moment's respite. Vinalo turned to Luna, ready to administer some quick healing, when she leapt back into the attack. Before they could get a word off, the injured knightess rushed back in.

A flurry of swings. An arm hits the ground, soon followed by the rest of the body. Vinalo grit their teeth and winced. They've seen plenty of blood and death. Comes with the job. But they were hoping today wouldn't involve even more of it. They then look to Lucatiel, who definitely hasn't seen this sort of thing. A long sigh.

“…How bad are you hurt, Luna? We've not much time to-”

Their thoughts were derailed by the distinct feel of the Elezen mage getting up to no good yet again. Vinalo turned back to look at him, seeing the odd shimmer that formed around him without him acting. They groaned, somehow filled with annoyance, worry, and determination all at the same time.

“There's… there's another one. Somewhere.”


“Another!?” Luna looks ready to continue but before she can the Elezen's spell goes off. A large crystal of ice begins to form between Luna and Vinalo, crackling into life as the area becomes frigid. As soon as the cold hits it's peak and the crystal finishes forming, it explodes violently and sends shards flying. Freezing spikes embed into Luna's side and the explosion itself sends her reeling backwards painfully. She groans in pain before looking towards the Elezen, beginning to rush his way with her sword drawn.

Lucatiel, perhaps sensing the aether, hides behind her guardian just in time to only receive a few errant frosty needles into her arm. She winces at the pain, but it is minimal and she maintains focus. “Owww! O-oh… Ummm….” She closes her eyes and holds her book out, sending a bolt of Ruin far off towards the caster. It slams into the air in front of them, the slight sound of cracking being heard as the bolt dissipates. Moments later, another stronger bolt of aether rips into the invisible barrier, shattering it and vanishing itself. The girl is doubled over now, trying to stay upright and having difficulty. She is breathing very heavily, almost wheezing.

The mage looks a bit shocked by the knight's rush, opting to wave his rod in the air and cause a strange change in the aether around him. He pulls back the rod once more, levin aether beginning to form around him and fast. Nearby him in the barn, a moderate amount of aether can be felt going from the land to one spot behind the front wall.


They felt it. The concentration of frigid aether forming between them and Luna. Vinalo's eyes went wide as became obvious what the mage was doing.

“Luna! Get back!!”

Trying to accomplish something in the seconds available to them, Vinalo quickly covers their face with one arm and swings their staff outward. A fairly weak and incomplete lens of dim light forms between them and the exploding ice crystal. A large number of spikes manage to get redirected by the shield (and fly over their head), but there simply wasn't enough time for it to block everything. A smattering of shards hit Vinalo in the arm and side, tearing small holes in their tunic and inevitably their flesh. The Lalafell winces in pain from the number of tiny puncture wounds, but remains focused on the situation.

“I've taken worse than this,” they mutter to no one in particular.

They watch Luna take off towards the mage, and Lucatiel's barrier-shattering actions. Vinalo steps forward a bit and starts to focus again. The mage is going to attack again. Their eyes shift to the barn… something's happening in there, too. 'Think, think!' Their mind continues racing.

Employing what they wished they didn't need to, Vinalo again rapidly draws aether to themself and mentally curses that it all turned out like this. Regardless, they swing their staff in Luna's direction, an odd pulse of aether seemingly vanishing a few ilms past the tip. Mere seconds pass, and Luna would find herself surrounded by what resembles a shimmering aetheric soap bubble, much more resilient than the failed attempt at shielding themself.


“Vih wheeze Vinalo!” Lucatiel calls out exhaustedly to the healer, her gaze darting between Luna and the Lalafell. She tries to lift her book but finds the action nearly impossible. She instead stays doubled over, looking in their direction. Her Carbuncle however was undaunted by the aether rapidly draining from it, firing off a gleaming bolt of aether once more towards the mage. It slaims into them painfully, sending them reeling but standing.

The mage thrusts out their rod, levin now firing from it violently. It arcs towards the charging knightess and engulfs her in staticy trails, but the well-timed barrier stays it entirely. Luna closes in and bashes her shield into the man's face, knocking him down and ultimately out. Huffing in place over the proned man, she lifts her sword high and is about to plunge it down.

“WAIT! DON'T!” A young girl's voice cries out from the side as she walks forward, now visible to the other two in the opening. She wears tattered robes and wields a damaged conjurer's staff, holding it and her hands up as if surrendering. “Don't kill him!”

Luna pivots in place quickly, pointing her blade at the girl now.


Vinalo watched the exchange between the mage and Luna as they jogged over to Lucatiel's side, glad that their barrier did what it needed to do. They were a bit winded, and bleeding a little, but otherwise okay. Crouching down next to the young woman, they looked back as the young girl emerged and cried out.

“What… what now?”

Even after hearing her pleading not to kill the now-unconscious mage, Vinalo rose again to a standing position with a groan, staff at ready yet again. They were not willing to drop their guard just yet.


Luna takes a step back and raises her right sabaton, placing the boot on the mage's neck. “Drop thy weapon and speak your peace - I will not hesitate should you fail to comply.” She visibly presses down with her boot, showing the truth in her words.

The girl drops her staff to the ground, looking and sounding quite panicked. “Okay! Okay! Please don't hurt him!” Her eyes glance outward, spying the body of the Midlander from before. Her eyes go wide as she looks back to the knightess. “Is he okay!? Please tell me you didn't kill him!” You can almost hear tears in her voice.

Lucatiel puts a hand on Vinalo's shoulder for support, still trying to catch her breath. “I'm sooo tiiired…. I can barely move… What's happening?” Her eyes lazily move up to look at the Lalafell, heavy and sluggish.

Luna presses down with her boot harder, bringing her sword up slightly for re-emphasis. “For what purpose are you here? Three innocent people, bound and ensorrowed. Violent magicks, concealment. The realm shall miss naught a few vile bandits.”

The girl shrinks. “N-no! We're not bandits! They're my friends! We just… I mean, I just wanted to clear the bounty and get some gil! My friends, they… They told me they were gonna help but then they did this and were gonna take some stuff from their house… Just a few things, they wouldn't miss it! Some bread, some clothes maybe! Honest!”


Vinalo winced as Lucatiel put her weight on their shoulder; the myriad of small punctures weren't too serious, but still hurt. They turned to the young woman, looking a bit relieved that Lucatiel was relatively okay.

“The end of all this, I hope,” they said quietly, coughing a bit afterword. They looked back to the ongoing exchange and the other girl's tearful pleas. Their brow furrowed as they decided to speak up.

“Your friends threatened to kill us and sell the young woman here to pirates!” they yelled out in an uncharacteristically angry tone. “They were asked to stay back, and then they did try to kill us! Even after I pinned the man here in place, he still tried to kill us!”

Vinalo took a deep breath and exhaled slowly, looking to the corpse just fulms from where they and Lucatiel were. They grimaced and shook their head, then looked back to the girl with a very tired face, wearing a distinct look of sadness.

“Nobody had to die today. Nobody.”


The girl turns to Vinalo, tears in her eyes. “No! No that's not true, they would never! My friends wouldn't have do–”

“One lays slain, brought low by my blade in self-defense. Say you what you will but his blood is on his own hands. The justice of Halone has been visited this day and with conviction. To attack a temple knight is to attack the Holy See itself, much less to place threat upon a ward. If you wish to live, I suggest you take your 'friend' here and leave.” She crushes her foot into the man's neck once more before lifting and kicking him towards the girl, causing him to roll. He had woken up from the neck-press, scrambling to look for his rod before his eyes search up to the girl. He comes to a stand between the knightess and the girl, and there is a sudden upsurge in fire aether flowing from the surrounding land directly into his own body. However the aether wasn't being absorbed properly, and abnormalities began to make themselves known.


“Gods, not more…” the Lalafell said in a tired voice.

Vinalo started to get ready for another assault, but they felt their gut drop when they saw the odd aether churning in the mage's body. Their eyes widened with the realization of what was happening.

“LUNA!! Get away from him!!” they yelled out in a panic. They waved their staff in Luna's direction again, ungracefully and with little prep time to gather aether of their own, in an attempt to shield her.

Regardless of the outcome, Vinalo would grab Lucatiel and attempt to get low and away from what was about to happen.


Lucatiel practically falls to the ground as Vinalo pulls her down with them, yelping in shock and completely unaware of what was happening. She looks over at Vinalo in confusion, not seeing the barn anymore.

The young conjurer practically shrieks out, “NO IGRANT DON'T!”

Luna barely has time to react, putting her shield up pre-emptively, unable to back off.

The air around the mage becomes visibly heated as the aether gathers, swelling into what feels like a veritable inferno. As it reaches a fevered pitch, there is an odd sound and the fire abates suddenly. The Elezen bursts into flame, his entire body covered in fire as he clutches and tries to pat out the burns while screaming in agony. The aether in his body goes out control as the flames emanate for all of an ilm or two, completely concentrated on himself. His clothes begin to burn away, including the eye-cover, revealing a damaged and chipped materia where his eye once was, bright blue. The man continues to scream, falling to a heap of burning pain.

Luna keeps her shield up but also draws her sword cautiously, watching the man convulse and flail in agony.

The conjurer looks absolutely terrified, about to back away from the writhing man but also extending her hand as if she wants to help.


Upon realizing that the mage's ignition didn't amount to a potentially large explosion, Vinalo peeked up from the heap that they dragged Lucatiel down to. They saw the immolating man writhing on the ground, his friend looking on in terror. 'That… fool!' they thought to themself. The healer didn't know how much they could possibly help now, but… they couldn't ignore the feeling.

“Stay down here, Lucatiel,” they said before painfully pulling themself to their feet again. They took a step forward and started focusing. No desperate and rapid draw this time. Just the flow and feel.

As earlier, a spiral of blue-green aether began to coalesce into a large orb of water at at the head of their staff. This time, however, the orb did not fire off like a bullet when finished; the orb acted as a sort of reservoir to an arc of water that spiraled over to the burning man quickly. Vinalo closed their eyes as it happened, their brow furrowed and teeth grit.

“At the very least, may it end the suffering,” they said to themself, barely a whisper.


Lucatiel looks ever more confused but nods, staying on the ground.

The water hit the burning man, but the aether was simply too frenzied. While some of the flame is doused, the aether seems to move to other spots, creating a greater blaze overall. The man howls in pain but soon ceases, the writhing coming to an end as well. After a few moments, he is simply a burning body, clothes in flaming tatters and sections of skin charred.

The young conjurer fell to her knees, crying loudly. She still looked ready to touch the man but doesn't out of worry. “Igrant! No! Never should have told you about materia!”

Luna snaps her focus to the girl, her sword drawn still and pointed. She steps forward cautiously, using her boot to once more kick the man's corpse out of the way carefully. She ends with the tip of her blade practically pressing against the girl's neck. “You see now the folly of such things. Danger follows when one pursues such villainy. You will surrender yours–”

Without warning, the young girl grabs the knightess's blade with both hands, yanking it towards herself. Caught off-guard, the sword sinks deep into the girl's neck, blood beginning to pour out from the new wound as well as the girl's hands.


It happened too fast. The sword pointed. The quick grab and thrust. The blood rapidly flowing from neck and hand. Vinalo opened their eyes to see all of this transpire within the span of seconds. They let out an audible gasp, their tired expression somehow looking even more tired now. Their head drooped and they let out a long sigh. The healer then looked to Luna, now worried how she'd react to this unexpected suicide. It'd surely be over in mere seconds, but…


The girl gurgles and lets out a death rattle, her hands falling limp from the blade in mere seconds. Luna has a brief flash of shock on her face but she remains silent, simply pulling the sword out of the girl's neck and holstering it solemnly. Anyone close could hear a furtive sigh as she does, but nothing more. She simply stays where she is, staring at the two bodies before her. After some moments, she begins to silently move to the captives, beginning to untie them.

Lucatiel meanwhile had begun to look over and come near, the lack of fighting sounds signaling the end to her. She saunters over very slowly, putting her hands over her mouth and whimpering audibly at the sight of the burned man and the slain girl. “W-what happened!?” Her question comes almost as if she already knew but was in disbelief.


Vinalo watched as Luna went about the business of freeing the hostages, still wearing that tired look. Lucatiel's approach and question didn't do much but make them feel even worse about what happened. The three of them were alive, but three others were dead for no reason. They walked closer to Lucatiel and slowly shook their head.

“Desperate people making terrible decisions, Lucatiel,” they said quietly. “None of this should've happened. None of it.”

Another sigh.

“Are you hurt badly?”


Three sets of hands unbound, two faces strewn with fears and tears, one of stern acceptance and a handshake. A simple “Thank you.” The family will move on, returning to their lives, and the day will be a harsh memory.

“W-what!?” Her words come out as a gasp, surveying the bloodshed. “U-uhh n-no! I'm fine!” The pain had faded away at the carnage, though she had a handful of ice spikes embedded into her right arm still. “W-what about you?” She turns to the healer, looking over their wounds.

Luna has begun dragging the corpses away from the farm and behind a bush near the road, intent to inform someone later that they might be retrieved.


The Lalafell examined their own arm and side, seeing that they too still had a couple shards stuck in their arm, though many had dispersed or fallen out in the commotion. Nothing too serious, though their traveling tunic now had several holes and bloodstains to be dealt with.

They looked over at Luna's grim work with the bodies for a moment before looking back to Lucatiel.

“Just a few… small punctures and such, I'm fine,” Vinalo responded, trying to not worry Lucatiel with their own injuries. “I can take care of your wounds, Lucatiel. You're… exhausted, and it's no good trying to heal when you can't focus right.”


“No but! But I wanna help!” It seemed that focusing on aiding Vinalo worked her through the horror, her voice filled more with concern than revulsion. “I can just.. I can just…” She tries to hold up her book once more to cast but she just can't still, wincing as she moves her wounded arm. “My body's so heavy…” As if admittance gave it power, she nearly falls to the ground again, swaying for a moment but ultimately standing up. She does however drop her book, clattering to the ground. Her Carbuncle has returned to her side, now dim and dull but still active. She looks at it for a moment, as if considering it.

Luna has also returned, coming up behind Lucatiel and placing her hands on either shoulder. Her face is cold and stone still, though the air around her eases a bit. “I am… so sorry. For the both of you. That this happened, it is beyond terrible. To have involved you, Lucatiel… You could have been seriously hurt.”She squeezes the girl's shoulders, Luca looking up at Luna's face. “And you, Ser Vinalo… This was to be simple and safe. I do apologize for putting you at any risk.” There is something in her voice to hint at remorse and displeasure, but it does not show on her face.


“This was more than any of us were expecting, Luna. Not your fault,” they say, looking up at Luna. “Just glad we all made it through this. I don't want to think if either of them struck harder or faster or…” Vinalo brings a hand to the forehead, rubbing for a moment. “I… wish we knew what happened. The girl was so surprised her friends attacked us. And that… thaumaturge…”

Vinalo let out a long sigh.Their breathing starting to slow down to something resembling normal as the adrenaline rush wore off. In and out. They looked up at Luna's bloodstained chest armor, eyes shifting between it and her face.

“How… how deep is that. I… can take care of everyone in a moment.”


Lucatiel's eyes go wide as she too notices the large cut through the woman's armor. Hardly completely rended, but it had done some good damage. Crimson blood stained a huge swath of the cloth and even some of the metal. “LUNA!” She yells out, turning around and putting a hand to the wounds clumsily, her own exhaustion causing her to fall against the woman.

Luna groans at Vinalo's concern. “An ilm, surely. It is naught but a scratch, surely. A night's rest a–” She groans out a bit more pained as the girl falls against her, instinctively putting out a hand to prop her up. She shuts her eyes for a moment and winces, sucking air through her teeth. “Lucatiel please be careful…”

“I'm sorry! I didn't mean to!” The girl sounds deeply concerned. “As soon as we get home I'm taking a look at it properly!”

The knightess nods, as if resigned to her fate. “You are correct, Lucatiel. Ah… Ser Vinalo, do not fret. We are whole and healthy.” Perhaps to distract herself from the pain of a large wound, or just out of concern for her ward, she begins to pluck the remaining ice spikes from Lucatiel, much to the girl's dramatic whines against it. “We shall indeed be able to head home - myself and you to the Hearth, and Ser Vinalo here to Miss Mimisha, surely. For such a result, this wound is found worthy.”


“Ah. Right. Misha'll not be happy to hear this all happened. She'll be glad we were all able to go home, but…” Vinalo said, trailing off. They started to pull the few leftover shards out of their arm, wincing slightly and applying a small bit of healing aether as they went. They glanced back up to the pair, looking concerned. “You sure you don't want me to look over anything?”


There is another grimace from Luna as she considers the Lalafell's offer. “I will not turn down a quick once-over, Ser Vinalo. A tonic for the pain, as it were.”

Lucatiel shakes her head though. “I'm fine! Just… reaally tired!” She could barely keep her eyes open at this point, really only held standing by Luna's arms.


Vinalo manages to smile just a bit at Luna accepting their offer. They finished tending the array of tiny stab wounds across their arm and flex a few times to feel it out. They seem satisfied with the results and look back up at Luna.

“At least to proper close up that chest wound. Don't need something like that just there.” They looked at Lucatiel's extremely exhausted form practically hanging onto Luna. “And… I reckon you'll be needing that spot less sensitive in the new few days.”


While Luna puts up no resistance, Lucatiel whines even through her tiredness. “I'm fiiiiine! Worry about Luuuna! I'm just…. euuuugh sleeepy…”


As awkward as it is with the knight holding onto her very tired ward, Vinalo applies a brief, but effective healing treatment. The rest can be taken care of later, but the wound has been closed properly and should feel a good deal better. They look up at the pair with tired eyes and weary expression.

“We'll all talk later, then. Reckon there'll be a lot to go over and such,” they say, mostly to Luna. “And please, be as careful as you can going home. There's been more than enough for an entire moon, today.”


A solemn nod from the knightess is given, with a sigh for extra measure. “Indeed. I believe we shall be fine to return home, you as well. I wish not to hear later how you were waylaid in the middle of your journey homeward.” She squeezes Lucatiel gently who had passed out a little. “Come on Lucatiel, it's time to go.”

The girl jolts a bit, sluggishly looking up. “Huh!? Okaaaaay… Byyyye Vinaaalloooo!” She lifts her hand to wave, trying to give energy to it but it remains a poor showing. The two begin to walk, heading back towards Limsa.

“Take care, Ser Vinalo.”


Vinalo gave a little wave remincient of their usual, but lacking the usual spark of enthusiasm. As they watched the duo slowly amble towards the city, they felt the weight of everything start to catch up with them. Today was simply too much, and they weren't looking forward to telling Misha of everything that happened.

A long, drawn out sigh. The tired healer turned around and walked down the road for a while, taking their time before feeling well enough to teleport home.

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