The Returners: A Mark In Time Chapter 1

Bittersweet Beginnings

By Wiegraf Folles

Vana’diel; a prosperous world comprised of many people from many races, a world enshrouded in mystery, wrapped in an enigma – a world which would now unfold itself and welcome a promising youth into its arms. Pendragon was a young man with ambitions of glory and fame. He stepped through the great archway leading into Sand’Oria and surveyed the many adventurers like himself gossiping, fraternizing, and shopping. As he stood at the great archway looking of the Southern Sand’Oria Auction house he felt an overwhelming sense of fear come over him – his journey had begun.

“Wow,” Pendragon began, “I never knew a kingdom could be so big as to make me feel so insignificant.” He looked over the crowd, noting that he was not alone but was also in company with a small, childlike race, the tarutaru, cat-like people, the mithra, as well as tall, slender beings known as the elvaan – He was a hume, and like any other virgin to the adventuring world would have done, he shied away from those not of his race.

“Hey!” a young mithra shouted to him, “Hey! You! You look like you’re new. Do you want a tour? I’d be more than willing to give you one. I don’t have any friends here, I’ve only arrived just a few days past, but I’ve had time to explore.” Pendragon was not able to make direct eye contact with the young girl and she curiously tried to force eye contact with him. “Hey, whats’a matter? Are you shy? Don’t be! My name’s Rika! Nice to meet’cha.” Pendragon cracked a smile and raised his head to meet eyes with her. “There now, that’s better! So what’s your name already?”

“P-Pendragon, my name’s Pendragon, glad to make your acquaintance miss Rika.” Rika gave him a funny look and twitched her tail.

“You know, you don’t have to be nervous, I’m new here too, let’s be friends, who knows, maybe we’ll travel to unknown lands together…nah, let’s just tour Sand’Oria for now, kay?” Pendragon nodded in agreement and Rika let out a playful giggle.

“Thank you Miss Rika…for befriending me so quickly.” Pendragon held out his hand to her in expectance of a friendly handshake. Rika smirked and moved her tail into his hand, the two laughed and then looked over the crowd.

“So, let’s see,” Rika said, “where to first? Should I show you the chocobos? No… you probably don’t have your license.” Rika kicked at the floor and looked down in a puzzled manner and after a moment abruptly snapped her fingers. “Hey! What class are you? You look strong enough to be a warrior, am I right?”

“Indeed Miss Rika, I am a warrior.” Pendragon accented his statement by resting his hand on the hilt of his onion sword.

“Thought so, and drop the formalities already! They’re so not my style. Just call me Rika!” Rika looked to the east and pointed in the direction of an alleyway market, “Let’s go there, there’s a blacksmith there, and you could use a better weapon than that.” Pendragon looked at her, obviously vexed.

“If you’ve only been here for a short while,” Pendragon started, “how is it you can afford to spend money on me, surely you don’t think I have any.” Pendragon patted at his pants looking for a lone gil. Rika gave an evil smirk and started to eye a nearby elvaan.

“Well, I’ve only been here a few days, but look at the tricks I’ve picked up.” Rika casually walked to the elvaan and as she approached him she looked back at Pendragon and bumped into the stranger.

“Hey! Watch where you’re going! This isn’t some uncivilized hill-town that you come from, this is an empirical kingdom, show respect to its natural citizens!” The elvaan shrugged harshly and dusted off the left breast of his shirt. As Rika walked away she overheard a whispered comment by the elvaan, “Lousy savages, I can’t believe the great nation of Sand’Oria would fall to such low ranks as to accept creatures such as that into its ranks.” Rika growled and walked in angered steps back to Pendragon.

“Looks like all you did was cause a bit of trouble Rika, what tricks were I supposed to observe?” Rika gave another evil smirk and tossed a bag of gil to Pendragon. “W-What is this?” Pendragon asked in a start.

“He, he, he. Looks to me like it was that pompous jerks paycheck. Those Phoenix Down members, they think they’re so high and mighty,” Rika put her right hand on Pendragon’s left shoulder, “but we’ll show them right?!” Pendragon laughed briefly and then gave a puzzled look.

“Phoenix Down members? What do you mean by that?”

“Oh,” Rika began, “see the golden-yellow pin on the left breast of his shirt? That’s a link pearl.”

“A…link…pearl?” Pendragon looked over to the elvaan who in turn gave him a harsh look. “Wow, you were right, he is a jerk, but I see the pin you’re talking about.”

“Yeah, his linkshell is called Phoenix Down; they’re probably the strongest of us adventurers right now.” Rika looked over to the elvaan and intentionally shouted in his direction, “But that doesn’t give them the right to act like they’re any better than us!”

“Hmph.” The elvaan retorted and turned his back to the two.

“Well, I guess he doesn’t miss his money, does he?” Pendragon asked in sarcasm. “Let’s go to the blacksmith already, I’m growing annoyed of this Phoenix Down member.”

“Mhm,” Rika agreed, “it’s this way, follow me!” Rika led Pendragon down a brief flight of great stairs and stopped at the base of them, pointing to a building surrounded by adventurers of all types, “That’s the auction house, later on we’ll be able to find some good deals there, but for now the blacksmith will work just fine.”

“Got it.” Pendragon noted. He followed Rika through an alleyway and then say the sign indicating a blacksmith. “I feel a bit queasy, this is all so unsettling, I wonder what could be so wrong that we were all summoned here, that we all have to take up arms, I just wish I knew.”

“Oh, who cares, lets go look at the pointy, shiny swords!” Rika smiled and opened the door.

“Ha, ha, yes, let’s.” Pendragon concurred. The two walked in and browsed the selection.

“Hey, don’t pick anything too spectacular, you’re still fresh with swords, don’t expect to be able to handle a longsword before you use a xiphos.” Rika noted as she walked to the fletcher’s section of the shop. “Ooh, bows, maybe I’ll buy one!” The store owner smiled and walked to the counter.

“My name is Helbort, let me know if I can help either of you in any way.” He smiled and then returned to polishing an extravagant sword. The store was covered roof to floor with swords and daggers on one wall, and on the opposite wall, bows from top to bottom. “Well, need anything?” Helbort asked, politely.

“No, I’m fine, thanks.” The two said in unison, each at opposing walls. Pendragon wielded a sword with a bronze blade from the wall and gave a few practice swings.

“I like this one Rika, I think I’ll get this one.” He sheathed it and put it on the counter where Helbort stood, “Wait for her to make a selection please, she’s paying.”

“That’s not a problem.” The blacksmith replied.

“Oh what a pretty bow, I think I’ll take this one!” Rika lifted a composite bow from its rack and placed it on the counter as well. She placed a sack with 500 gil in it on the counter, “This should cover it.”

“It sure does, take your new weapons and please stop by again.” Helbort took the bag of gil and watched the two leave.

“Hmm, I like this new sword, where can I go to test it?” Pendragon gave a devious look to his new equipment and laughed, “Evil beware! Pendragon is part of your opposing force now!”

“Ha, ha, that’s the spirit! Let’s go show those baddies what’s what!” Rika ran through the alleyway they came from and made a small detour into a courtyard with an archway leading out of the kingdom. “That’s the exit to the Ronfaures, when we get out there you’ll have to be on your guard, these things may not look too strong but they can be dangerous if you’re not careful.”

“Alright, enough small talk. Kill. Enemies. Now.” Pendragon started running through the archway in a hurry.

“Stop! Come back!” Rika shouted. Pendragon stopped and turned around.

“But I wanna kill things!”

“Get back here now!” Rika growled. Pendragon walked back with his head hung like a small child who had just been denied the chance to play with a friend.

“What is it?” Pendragon asked with a tone of defeat in his voice. Rika pointed to an elvaan clad in knightly armor and pushed Pendragon toward him.

“What can I do for you citizen of Sand’Oria?” The elvaan asked, “I am the temple knight, Gillea.” Rika walked up to Pendragon and whispered into his ear.

“Well?” The elvaan began, “how may I assist you?”

“Can you please cast Sand’Oria’s signet upon me?” Pendragon asked with a quiver in his voice.

“Of course! It’s refreshing to see such young people getting involved in our nations conquest of regions. I would gladly cast our great nation’s signet upon you.” The elvaan raised his hand and a blue glow surrounded Pendragon. “You have been granted our signet, now please, be careful.”

“Alright Pen, off to Ronfaure.” Rika started for the arch.

“Finally!” Pendragon exclaimed and ran past her.

“Hey!” Rika started, and then gave chase, “Wait for me!”

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