Test of Fate - 01/30/21


Whatever happiness Vinalo had brought Misha was nowhere to be seen or felt in the dark building that was the Astromancer's Guild. The silence was oppressive and the ghost of her past lingered like an infection. They were early, having been cold on that bench after the tea was drunk. There is the sound of murmured voices and the whisper of pages but not much else. The joy she had felt in showing Vinalo the many charts and globes laid like broken toys, inconsequential.

Dead. Worse than dead. Shattered. Misha felt as though the past few moons had been nothing but a dream; Standing here and waiting to be seen, waiting for those who held a piece of her heart to look down upon her and pass judgement, Misha felt like a child once again. A child who had done something wrong inadvertently. One glance at her face would tell the tale enough; The quick glances, the chewed lip. The way she fought to keep from fidgeting on the spot. Her grip on Vinalo's hand is tight, almost painfully so, as though afraid of losing the light that had led her here to try and reclaim her freedom.

“I want to be gone from these haunted halls…” Misha thinks, looking to the desk in front of them. The rest of the thoughts are too nebulous to put into words; They suffocate her, tightening her throat and making it hard to breathe. Even the prospect of her engagement is faint now, a memory of spring in the dead of winter. Soon they will be welcomed into an office to pass veredict but for now the pair could do is wait.


Ishgard was cold. And intimidating. And kind of gloomy. And cold. Vinalo had more-or-less avoided Coerthas ever since the Calamity, the biting winds and snow-covered mountains too much for them to bother with most the time. And it'd only been since the war ended that entry into the city was even realistically possible, anyroad. But this visit was important. Their soon-to-be spouse needed their help. Be the living proof that she was a changed woman, and that she deserved to have her freedom of flight returned to her. They were an optimist, but Vinalo had seen the fear in her eyes since the night before, and it only got worse once they set foot into Ishgard. Conversation and a tour of the imposing city served as a distraction, but the pair couldn't ignore the real purpose for being here any longer

This level of formality was never something they'd get used to. Vinalo had heard from Misha and others that this 'Athenaeum Astrologicum' was more like a proper guild or school than the dim, but welcoming confines of the Stillglade Fane. They had their distinct disagreements with some of the rules and norms of the Fane, but the Lalafell never had to deal with rigid lectures or mountains of books. Regardless, Vinalo was here standing next to their troubled lover, ready to defend Misha the very best they could.


The sands of time seem to drift a grain at a time, and the mounting sense to run grows and grows until it seems like that's all she can think of. Misha does not run, rooted to the spot as she once rooted in front of that cold wood that held her husband so very long ago. Just as that feeling grows to be unbearable, an impassive lalafell steps up behind the desk, motioning to the pair to follow them. Now Misha can move, feeling as though walking towards her doom, and dragging her beloved with her. Guilt gnaws at her faintly; So lost in her own fear that she had forgotten to try and put a smile on for their sake.

These thoughts run in her mind like rats without a tail, as they walk deeper into the Astrologicum. Here, it is deathly silent. No wind to speak of, no warm voices. There is just void, briefly illuminated by the braziers on the walls, the monotony of this hallway only broken by a door at the far end of the corridor. It feels like forever until they pass the threshold, walking past the guide who says nothing. The door closes behind them

This room, unlike the rest of the Guild, is vast. There is a large table in the middle, strewn with star charts and heavy textbooks, though these had been set aside for the matter at hand. There are four people awaiting her, and Misha had not expecting the fourth.


The despair in her voice is thick and VInalo might be able to feel her trying to pull away, those mismatched eyes raw with panic, the pounding beat of her past too loud in her ears. Were Vinalo to turn towards the last two people that had set Misha on this path to panic, they'd see a pair of lalafell, sitting close together. It couldn't be. It shouldn't be. But it was.

Her parents.


The long walk down the hallway did little to boost morale. Vinalo usually didn't care to criticize architectural design, but the interior seemed to be designed to induce depression just by walking through it. Still, they tried to remain positive as the pair was led down to their destination. They couldn't falter now.

It occurred to them as the doors opened that they never really asked Misha exactly how many people would be here, so when Vinalo saw the four already sitting at the table, they didn't think too much of it at first. Clearly this sort of thing had several people making decisions. The Lalafellin pair caught their eye in an odd way, however. Something about the man was… familiar.

The tug on their arm, and the dread in their partner's voice made the connection for them. Their eyes widened a bit and they gasped quietly. This was entirely not what they'd expected, and clearly neither did Misha. Though they kept gripping her hand, trying to keep her grounded, the tension had already become tangible.



That cursed sound of the lalafell man clearing his throat and shifting in his seat. not much could be seen from the heavy coverings he wore against the bitter cold save for his mustache and those bright blue eyes, but it was enough. The sight of the woman, primly sitting and studying them near had Misha bolting and scrabbling for the entrance, but the hold of Vinalo's hand kept her somewhat grounded.

“Miss Mimisha Misha, step forward.”

So says the elezen on the far right hand, adorned in heavy robe. Misha does so, taking Vinalo with her. She stands in the light, trembling in place. The somewhat monotone voice continues with a rustle of papers; Misha's progress, perhaps?

“We are here to assess you progress since you first arrived here, and times after. I see you have brought someone with you, why do they no–.”

But Misha interrupts, a quaver in her voice.“

“What are they doing here? They have never attended one of these meetings and–”

THAT IS ENOUGH MISS MIMISHA!” Comes the stern voice, cutting Misha's words and setting her cringing back, a tortured sound in her throat.

“We will get to that in a moment, but will your companion please introduce himself?” The group looks at Vinalo curiously, clearly not having expected Misha to bring anyone.


This was already off to an awkward start. Her parents were here. The same parents that she'd dreaded talking to and explaining anything about her current life to. And now they were here in an already stressful meeting. 'This wasn't an accident,' Vinalo thought to themself as they followed Misha forward.

The exchange between Misha and the Elezen (who they assumed was in charge) did much to drive home why she dreaded these meetings. And then they were called upon to introduce themself. Vinalo's mind raced. How much should they say? Profession? Home? Gender? They bore no shame at all for themself or their love with Misha, but her parents being here made things more complicated. They didn't want to ruin things already, but they couldn't bear to lie about anything. Not here. Not ever. So they went with their gut.

“Ah. Hello, I'm Vinalo Mabunalo. Healer and botanist,” they said, trying to strike some balance between friendly and formal. “And, I'm here with Misha because… she's my fiancee, and it's right proper to help her with this.”

A pause. Some hesitation.

“And, erm… not to make too much of it, but it's not 'him'… or 'her,' either. Just 'Vinalo' or 'they' will do.”


Their words send some murmurs across the table, mother and father harrumphing but saying nothing yet. The Elezen who had spoken nods, standing up.

“That is in itself progress, Mimisha, very good. I am Elane Jeauron, the one in charge of Mimisha's progress. With me is Olloux Pailane, bearing witness and record keeper.”

The Elezen stands and bows, but says nothing. Elane nods to the lalafellin pair.

“And you surely know your parents, though they tell me you have made no efforts to reach out to them, though they are funding your charity, yes? I have brought them here because it would seem you had no intention to; One can not heal if they do not face all of their past, and so…they are here.”

Misha is quivering, hitching a breath that was borderline hyperventilating. The lalafellin woman stands, but the man stops her.

“This is what you have been doing all this time? Cavorting around a…whatever that is…” He flaps a hand at Vinalo, his eyes focused on Misha who was looking more and more like she wanted the floor to swallow her whole. “You are running away from your responsibilities as a noble's daughter, and we plea to these…Elezen..” The word is said with some distaste, “That regardless of your “progress”, you are still running away and therefore, must come home and step up.”

His wife, Misha's mother, also pipes up. “We have found you so many likely suitors that do not mind your…deficiencies dear…come, you are too old for fanciful fancies such as this.”

Misha finds her voice then, speaking in measured tones lest she falls into the trap they had laid for her.“Mother, Father, this is no fancy. I love Vinalo. They are not an “that”. They are my soul mate. I will not return home, keep the airship if that is what it takes.”

Elane holds up a hand, and she falls silent.

“Vinalo. Can you speak for Lady Mimisha's progress, if any, since we last saw her?”


Vinalo was quite used to being confused for a man or woman. They knew they were a bit… odd and not what most people expect. But being called an 'it' after the fact was something else. They felt a slight tightness in their chest, and they could feel their expression starting to change to one of annoyance. It was difficult to stop it from doing so, but Misha's leap to their defense at least pulled some attention away from them. And it was a heartfelt defense, at that. It calmed them just enough that being called upon again wasn't too startling.

“Yes. Yes, I can,” they responded, now trying not be dragged down by the dismissive tone of Misha's parents. Their gaze shifted to them for a moment before going back to Elane. “Since then, Misha's moved in with me, and we've been happily and comfortably living together. We've shared the duties and such of keeping home together right well!”

“Also, Misha's been working at the Goldsmith's Guild in Ul'dah, which she's been doing well at!” they said with a tone of pride and confidence. Vinalo then pointed to the floral earring adorning their ear. “She even crafted these earrings that I'm wearing right now.”


More murmuring, a sound that sounds like scoffing from the god damned peanut gallery, but otherwise no objections raised.

“Yes, and we did hear that Misha attended her mandated therapy lessons without protest. Moving past her loss and finding life and purpose is all well and good. However, we are concerned that you have not faced this part of your life.”

Motioning to the parents, who sat huddled together, murmuring. At that, her father stands and slams his hands on the table.

“Correct! Mimisha, you do not answers our letters, you do not respond to our linkpearl calls, and yet you use our money to your own means.”

The mother nods, and adds, “Yes. This was our last course of action. We insist that you come home and–.”

Misha shakes her head, and interjects. “Mother, Father, Vinalo and I are set to be bonded. I will not return home.”

The stunned silence is palpable, and both parents stare at one another.

“HOW DARE YOU?! We clothed and cared for you and tended to you to become who you are today and you decide…to marry this…THAT? What of children? What of your legacy? MY legacy?”

Misha stands straight then and says very clearly. “Fuck your legacy.”


They'd felt quite confident with their response. Clear. Concise. To the point. Not too much gushing. The officials wanted something objective. Securing the book deal with Langston's brother prepared them a small bit with speaking more formally, at least.

They'd begun to smile when attention again was drawn to Misha's parents. Vinalo watched and listened with widened eyes and increasing frustration as words were sent back and forth between parents and daughter. With her father's words, though, they'd had enough. A rare feeling of outright anger was bubbling. The gall of insulting both of them in such a terrible way! Vinalo had to speak up, but was cut off by a very unexpected retort by their partner, and found themself transfixed on her face.

“Misha…” they murmured, barely above a whisper.

They turned back to the assembled four, not managing to hide for a moment that this had also caught them off guard. Still, the feeling and need to respond filled them. 'What to say… what to say…' Vinalo took a deep breath, hoped for the best, and spoke again.

“It might not be the, erm… best place for me to talk of this, but…” they started. Hesitation. A building feeling in their gut. A feeling from long ago. They didn't want to ruin this, but… some things had to be said.

“Misha has faced this part of her life! She faced it and decided she wanted nothing to do with it. She's made her own decisions on how to live, not just… just taking the life that was decided for her.” Vinalo's voice was raised, and their tone was defiant. This was coming from somewhere deep. They turned to the parents. “Her legacy… our legacy isn't yours to chose. Her path isn't your path. Misha isn't some… mammet or somesuch you built just to make yourselves feel better. And if… if that's all you care about her, then… how dare you call yourselves her mother and father!”. Vinalo stopped to catch their breath, turning back to Elane. They managed a small smile.

“What better proof of moving on and learning from her past could she have, than deciding not to be nothing more than a… a tool for her parents' desires?”


More murmuring, and they could see her the father wanting to say something but being held back by his wife. Elane clears her throat, turning to the record keeper briefly.

“While Vinalo speaks fair, Misha has not dealt with her parents until now when she was forced to.” Shifting the papers a bit more, turning to consult with the record keeper again. “And truth be told, we believe tis unhealthy to hold onto an object for overlong; Specially considering it was a gift from her late husband, we believe it is tethering her to who she used to be.”

A pause, momentous. Elane speaks again, and there is real regret in her voice.

“As such, we have decided the ship will be impounded and destroyed to its baser materia…–”

Misha breaks.

“NO!” She lunges forward. “You can't do That! Tis my heart! You can't, YOU MUSN'T, PLEASE!”

Elane watches his with impassive eyes. “Yes, that is the issue. Your heart is not an object. This will be a lesson in this. The decision is final.”

Misha sinks to her knees, shattered. The Elezen both excuse themselves, as do her parents without a second glance at her. They would be in touch, but right now, Misha couldn't think about anything.


“Wh… No!”

Vinalo wanted to scream. Wanted to demand they come back and give a less nonsensical reason for keeping Misha from what she's owed. They scowled and grit their teeth just thinking about what happened.

“Right arseholes they are! All of them!” they yelled out. “How can they… Did they just drag this out to let you down? Did they even care what we said!?”

The healer let out a very frustrated groan, holding a hand to their forehead. A few deep breaths later, and their mind cleared just a tiny bit. They look down to Misha and their heart drops. And upon stepping right next to her, so do they. Vinalo slowly wraps their arms around her best they can, and buries their face in her shoulder.

“I'm so, so sorry Misha, so sorry. This… this isn't fair. Not fair at all.”


Misha hardly feels them. When she does finally turn to look at Vinalo, her eyes are wide with shock and almost void.

“…We should get home…”

Her voice, even, sounds completely different. It's hard to pinpoint but its as though the spirit she had built over time had been crushed. Picking herself up, the small woman staggers for a moment as though mortally wounded.



That look. They'd seen it before too many times. Even wore it themself. The feeling of nothing, absolutely nothing. Vinalo stayed by Misha's side as she staggered to her feet, looking as if they were expecting her collapse again. Their own face was a mix of sadness and anger, but they kept themself from another outburst. It wouldn't have mattered, and there wasn't anything left for them here. Vinalo moved to hold Misha's hand, gripping it even if she could barely think. They closed their eyes and took another deep breath.

“…Yeah. We should.”


Somehow, one way or another, the pair make it back. Misha doesn't really look around or even acknowledge Vinalo, moving to the shared bedroom to hide beneath the blankets. Did she sleep? probably not, the nightmares back and stronger than ever.

It would be a hard few weeks in the days to come.


The trip home was quiet. Very quiet. As was the bedtime routine. There was much Vinalo wanted to say to comfort Misha, but everything was far too raw. Though no words were exchanged, they slid into bed with her as they always have. Tonight was not a night of rambling chatter that went on until one of them dozed off. Instead, Vinalo simply wrapped an arm around their lover, and held her close. They didn't know when or if either of them would fall asleep eventually, but they were there with her all the same.

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