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Information Please find a important message from Zorai and the team discussing the current sate of the FC, here, thank you.

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The Hearth Fire's Glow (A Fyrinbrand Tale)
Part One: Awakening

In the wee hours of the morning, when all but the most sleep deprived were at rest finally; Gyre clanked through the front door. It was becoming routine for him now, after offering to guard the company's assets (and aplenty they were.) that he spend his last bell in front of the great hearth. The first night's watch had been troublesome, cold, and he had difficulty falling asleep on the floor of his empty room. The second night, he had given himself half a bell to warm before trudging to sleep and found it easier to slumber....thus, at the last bell of his watch; Gyre gently lowered his great, armored form down upon the couch. It strained, groaned, annoyed by his weight and the addition of his bulky armor but it held nonetheless.

While patrolling the grounds, Gyre could keep his mind occupied with sword practice, observations on the beautiful landscape surrounding the large manse in the Lavender Beds, and he often kept busy by cleaning the chocobo stables, grooming the birds and carrying on conversations with them in bwarks and kwehs. Even if he was speaking gibberish, he enjoyed making the noises and the birds seemed to be pleased with his efforts to learn their speech (or so he pretended anyways). That last bell though....that was the time for reflection.

Last week, with a void critter wrapped around his head, Gyre had not been frightened by the arrival of death. Despite his signal to Zorai and the others that he was alright, which he was....for the most part. One can't be completely at peace with a creature clawing at your head and stealing your breath, not to mention the horrid visions it had brought to his mind. He knew they weren't real....but knowing is far different from seeing and it was what he saw that haunted him. Were they twisted memories or just illusions meant to torment? He did not know, but the unsettling feeling that the shadow wolf had reached deep into his mind and drew out reality would not let him be. Gyre unstrapped his helm, bending down to set it on the floor between his gleaming sabatons of deep blue then sat back and shook out his wild hair. In the firelight, it was a vibrant red streaked with a sun kissed wheat coloration.

He walked back into his imagination of his own free will then, back to what the voidal beastie showed him.

It was a desolate plain, devoid of life obviously, but not by nature's wrath or demand. Craters littered the broken ground, breathing expelled ceruleum vapors into the smoldering sky. A great shadow loomed above in the thick, black clouds, a demon in the sky that shed its minions in all directions; minions who fell to the earth with great calamity in their wake. One fell mere fulms from Gyre, throwing him back with the force of the impact and as he clambered to get his feet under him again; the chilling realization that he was him and yet not gripped Gyre's mind. If he were not he, then who was he? 

Pausing, he looked down to take stock of himself. Arms, legs, the right muscles in the right places but the equipment was all wrong. His hands were adorned in black threaded with gold and lined by thick purplish black fur that tufted around his forearms. Forearms were wrapped in chain, intricate and of a greenish tint in the glow of ceruleum devastation. His boots were like he gauntlets, his legs like his arms and his chest bore a heavy plate with the standard of Rhalgr proudly emblazoned upon it. At his neck, he felt the soft thick texture of cured leather and he reached up to grasp the cowl pooled and clasped at his throat by a single bone button. He pulled at it, drawing the deep red fabric around to find it tattered and singed and as he reached for his face to truly confirm his identity to his mind-self; a battlecry rose on the charred wind. 

His head snapped to the side, facing the call and he found men in black and red garb charging toward him. Quickly, he knew their numbers and took stock of their arms. Six men, two bannermen with lances, two forward phalanx with sword and board, one scout, one medic. He marveled at his own mind, drawing so much information in a single breath that he drew in a second breath and found even more knowledge at his disposal. The bannermen were right handed, they'd strike toward that side first. The phalanx were young, eager, he expected them to try to pin him with their shields so the bannermen could deal quick blows. It was the scout that concerned him, the man held his bow with surety and a nocked arrow. He had no choice but to take the arrow when it loosed, however he knew he could choose where it bit. Inspired, he reached toward his back to draw his shield and found something long there instead. His hand wrapped around it and pulled, the heavy weight of the great axe came free from his back and settled with familiarity in his hand. Two, wide, crescent blades protruded from its twisted tip, arced in opposition like a swirl of wind trapped in metal. Along the haft was scrawled "Thunder's Crash" and Gyre knew he was not himself any longer. He'd never learned to swing the axe, something about the weapon put him off and yet here it felt as if an old friend. There was no time for consideration now, he had foes to face.

"RHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALGRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!" He heard himself shout, a thick, deep basso that was not his voice at all. The sound exploded from his mouth as if it were cannonfire from one of the Admiral's vessels and to his surprise as he charged the unit of soldiers in black and red, a chant begin to raise up and echo from all around him. Stoneheart......STONEheart.....STONEHEART.....it repeated over and over again, bringing strength to Gyre-not-Gyre's limbs. He tucked his shoulder and bullrushed through the phalanx shield wall, battering to the two men aside. One managed a lucky graze across his mailed arm but the two broke like wood against a ram and he found exactly what he expected of the bannermen. They thrust in unison, their deadly sharp tips reached for his face but he twisted to the side and took paralleled slices to the right of his face instead of spears through the eyes, his momentum twirled him round and the axe grew light in his grip as he swung himself in a spiralling arc with the weapon outstretched; howling a song of battle in the eye of the bladed tempest. The bannermen were thrown hard, flopping over their own heads on the hard packed ground, the phalanx lost their balance trying to avoid decapitation, the medic was unprepared and caught a gash to the gut that spilled his innards all over the dirt. He gurgled and panicked, trying to stuff his insides back in again even as he fell dead but the archer; despite being thrown by the gale of force, fired his arrow true and it caught deep in Gyre-not-Gyre's belly.

He felt the bite and it staggered him. More units of red and black garbed soldiers appeared in the distance, moving around him as he pitched the head of his axe on the ground and used it to prop himself up while his free hand grasped the shaft and snapped it off. Breathe. Just keep breathing. Surrounded and alone, Gyre-not-Gyre put his armored feet under him and rose to stand against the sea of soldiers. He would not die in shame, defeated. He would honor those he left behind, his people. Gyre-not-Gyre turned round and raised his head to the sky, staring up at the great demon in the clouds and raised his bloody hand to his mouth. He stuck his thumb between his teeth then plucked it free in a crude gesture before suddenly charging at the eastern wall of soldiers, swinging his great axe and praising the twelve for a life he truly believed in but could not remember....

The vision the shadow wolf had caused in Gyre suddenly took over, thousands of weapons in the dark biting and cutting and piercing him from every direction and yet he would not, could not die. He felt empowered but alone, fighting for a life that was dripping from him with every strike against opponents from all sides. Despair warred with pride, knowing there was a weapon somewhere nearby but unable to find it. Knowing no salvation against the shadowed onslaught tearing and cutting his life away in pieces until there was nothing left of him....but that vision ended when the shadow wolf was forced away by the flames and just so, Gyre opened his wet eyes to stare sullenly at the hearth's flames before him.

He couldn't tell if it was real or not, but a profound sense of loss sat hard in his chest like a musket ball. It hadn't been evident that day what the void critter had done to him, but there was no hiding it now. He wasn't bothered by the cuts and scrapes and bites, these things would heal in time. The hole in his chest though.....he knew naught if it would ever truly heal....until he knew the truth.

Part One ~Fin~

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