Fear and Loathing in South Figaro Chapter 1
It was somewhere close to a town call Barstow. I remember that much. It was a small trading community that sprung up overnight, its inhabitants primarily of the Mobliz breed seeking to carry on the good name and nature of those who fell at the hands of Kefka. Me and my associate, a small and bulbous chocobo rancher named Zen, had pitched camp just beyond the outskirts of town. I didn't too much favor staying at the inn in Barstow, or any inn for that matter. They always had the propensity of overcharging and privacy was practically nonexistent.
Wooded glens held no such eccentricities. The staying was free, provided you brought the shelter with you. Zen had disappeared into the foliage a little earlier on but was back by nightfall with plenty of wood for the fire. I sat quietly, proofreading my latest piece (Chimeras: Myth, Legend, or Neither?'), while my associate complacently fed the kindling and readied a hearty meal of beans and beef jerky. He never had any complaints about the work he did. Always a congenial man he was. I think he was Thamasian and that much would explain a lot.
Dipping a quell into my inkwell, I quickly scribbled my name at the end of my parchment (Oh shit, I forgot! The name's Lothar Goldfist, by the way!) and strapped the article tight under the wing of a carrier pigeon. Go my little friend! Go and send your article off to the Marandian Office of Journalism, where forth our exploits will become realized and further the understanding of the pseudo-mythological chimeras who once inhabited the Thamasian highlands. . .
"Did you say something, man?" Zen would say.
Yawgmoth of the Nine Hells! Did I just say that out loud?
"Of course not," I quickly replied, too quick to be believed. "Just contemplating the next of our possible projects."
I assumed, at that point, that the rest of the night would be uneventful. I remembered seeing Zen pulling a lyre from the saddlebag on his chocobo and play what sounded like æAria de Mezzo Caraterre'. Typical campside tradition, I thought. No one can resist the opportunity of strumming out a tune or two while getting lost in the whimsical glow of quickly flickering flames. It was kinda how I felt when it came to being a doctor of journalism. Turning your back on an opportunity was like turning your back on a friend: do it once and they may never come your way again.
Suddenly, there was a terrible roar all around us, and the cold moonlit night was full of what looked like gigantic bats, all circling and screaming and diving around the fire. Holy Jesus, I thought, and dove into my sleeping bag. I've heard of people giving their criticism towards my stories but never so often in one night and certainly never with such animals as bats. What were they trying to do? Kill me?!
Zen was similarly transfixed, though he was more content with not getting rabies. Hegrabbed a piece of wood from the foot of the fire and began swinging it wildly around at the demonic looking blight of bats. He looked like a maniacal, torch-wielding Returner, a dark silhouette battling the minions of Ifrit in the glow of the campfire. Were we just having delusions of reality, here? Did the end of the world do such travesties to a man's train of thought? Evidently so, for suddenly Zen appeared to have caught fire! Suddenly, Zen was amongst those bats! Suddenly, the bastard WAS a bat! Suddenly...
Suddenly, I realized that I had been drinking too much that night. I understood that now, yet I couldn't control these feelings of paranoia. These bad lapses of fear and loathing.
"What the hell has gotten into you?" a familiar, bat-faced man asked of me.
"Don't come near me!" I shouted, and scurried behind a nearby log. "You're one of them! What in the name of Palidor are you supposed to be?"
"I'm your assistant, Zen!" he replied. "That stuff's gotten right on top of you, hasn't it?"
"Stuff?" Yes, the stuff! I remember now. Ethers and elixirs may have a revitalizing effect on those who are magic users, but for the rest of us, the effects were far more adverse.
"You took too much, man. You need some rest."
I recoiled in terror and took the world along for the ride. As it turned out, what I had thought was a swarm of vampire bats was really another carrier pigeon. Zen sampled his meal only for a moment before checking the bird beside him for any note.
"Don't!" I yelled. "It has rabies!"
He ignored my warning and found that there was a note attached. He walked across the campsite and handed it to me. My name was on it but it was not in my handwriting.
"I think it's from headquarters," Zen remarked.
So, it was. I quickly digested the content of the letter, though I still hadn't the control of basic motor functions to divulge the idea behind the message to Zen. It wasn't until the next day that I actually had a clear enough head to speak without a slurred tone.
"They want me to go and cover a press conference in South Figaro," I said upon saddling up on my chocobo. "We're to meet up with an artist from Albrook named Owzer. He'll have all the details. All we have to do is check ourselves into a suite; he'll seek us out. What do you think?"
Zen, feigning professionalism, reined his ebon beast with a flippant disregard. "What's thenature of the conference?" he asked.
"Something about a Falcon," I answered. "Someone finally defeated that antichrist bastard Kefka and we're to go and interview the group of men and women who were instrumental in defeating him."
"Possibly. No mention of Banon or anything but they're as good a group of warriors as any to fall back on. Talked of bringing ruination to the Empire for quite some time."
Zen nodded. "Well, as your assist, I advise you to rent out a very classy suite at the Figaro inn, preferably one that's fully stocked with inebriants."
I shook my head. "But the cost. . ."
"Fuck the cost!" he said. "Tell 'em it's all for the press registration. Charge the bill to headquarters in Maranda and we'll be all set."
For a chocobo rancher, Zen made a lot of sense at that particular juncture. "Dually noted. But let's be careful in getting there. After all, this is bat country."
As we headed out into the daybreak, something occurred to me that should have rightfully occurred to me last night.
I had to get more of that ether.
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