Bitter wind bit at the exposed flesh of those who dared take up shelter on the mountain. The temple hidden among frozen cliffs was home to many acolytes, and answer seekers. Those who had sought a temporary habitat, often found themselves staying longer, and longer, scholars seeking wisdom found faith, and strangers shifted into neighbors.
Like many of those around me, my home became a battle ground, love one’s became lost and beloved places and things became mere memories. I came to this sacred mountain in hopes of fleeing the war. It seemed, however, that the war would touch every corner of Ivalice. A winding path to Hell, that seemingly endless scene of bloodshed did not let up from my heels. It was in my final retreat to Mt. Bur-Omisace that I found a reprieve.
I hold no remarkable talents; all that I have was built off hard work and a determined mind. It was only the need for healers that lead me to study white magicks, after continuous work, my skills have exceeded my own expectations. While I’m by no means the highest ranking healer, I’m not terribly far from it. The skill wasn’t hard to pick up, and with wounded a plenty, practice was easy to come by.
We were short handed again, as we often are. Cries of pain blended together, bodies laid out on floor mats, and blotches of red and brown decorated the clothing of all those around. From the tips of my fingers to the dips in my elbows were painted a bloody picture of red. It seemed not long ago that that the slick liquid applied to my arms would have churned my stomach, and had my windpipe tighten. No longer was that so, two years of such experiences made sure of that.
“Ava, I’m here to relieve you of your shift.” A younger healer spoke to me. He was quickly gaining skill and rising in rank just as quickly. The pristine white of his robes stood out against the dingy yellowed canvas of the tent wall behind him, and my own stained robes only added to the contrast.
“Thank you just let me finish here.”
He nodded and left to work on his own tasks. The massive being beside me squirmed, his mangled wrist lying between two boards in my lap. His flattened nose and beady eyes scrunched together, the movement must have caused pain. The largeness of his belly made it difficult for me to gain a good hold on his damaged limb. Then, I wasn’t very large myself and most grown humes could slip from my hold. However, I continued to splint the Squee’s massive wrist as best I could, layer after layer of gauze.
The task was done and I washed my hands of the, now sticky, blood. Water and the towel stole the red color from my tanning skin. Though it was not a loss I found sorrow in.
The cold morning air pricked at my exposed skin as I stepped from the tent, more often than not I was assigned night shift, usually leaving just after dawn. I found my body tired, but my mind alert; heading to bed did not quite appeal to me at that moment.
Small stair ways and large landings made up much of the temple grounds. Groups of people gathered on the less used stairs, while some collected along the smooth stone walls of the landings. Most were enjoying the warmth of the sunlight, soaking in what they could before the cold air forced them inside.
The acolytes were wandering about in the morning light along the stone pathways, some beginning lectures and others bringing up debates. Refugees seeking shelter from frozen winds stood listening, most information going right over their heads. There were still those who understood, and often brought up topics of their own. It seemed no matter what level of education they held, the people seeking a home on this mountain side were eager to keep their minds from the cold, listing to whatever one was willing to say.
There was one acolyte, just next to me, who opened on a rather touchy subject.
“For what reason are we to believe that this war was begun?” An older acolyte, he had himself perched up on the stone wall’s ledge, his arms spread wide, welcoming all to speak up.
The obvious reply came up: the dispute between Rozarria and the Empire. However that was not what the old scholar had in mind.
“Yes, yes, we’re all well informed on the bad blood between these two nations, but what of Vayne’s declaration of a world at peace? Seems a bit hypocritical, yes?” Murmurs of agreement came out, and the few hushed comments on the dislike for the Empire’s famed Vayne. “Come now, doesn’t anyone have anything to say?”
It was apparent that he did not care for leading the discussion and was hoping someone would take charge and speak up. Perhaps he was looking for an answer himself; then again he could just be looking to find out other’s opinions so that he may base his own on what others felt.
“Vayne claims a world without war should come at the end of this war, yet how can a single nation so vast and so different ever hope to function?” A moogle moved his way to the front, determined to have his voice hear. “If a country is taken and its people broken it is not likely they’ll get along well with their captors, kupo. How can anyone hope to bring such people who already dislike one another together, much less ones that hate each other?”
The old acolyte was delighted; he gave a small chuckle to this and raised his arms. “Anyone have an answer for our young friend?” He offered to the crowd.
“Perhaps he is not trying to change who the people, as they seem to think, but rather he is hoping to unite them.” It was a young voice this time and boy appearing in his early teen’s stepped forward. His clothing was not that of a refugee, but perhaps a traveler looking for rest before continuing to his destination, a rarity here, but not impossible. His hair was dark, a blackened metal color, and a young boy’s face, maybe twelve or thirteen was placed in pale skin.
“I do not believe Vayne means as much harm as he brings, and though I may not support his methods I fully believe in his ideal.” There was wisdom in this child’s grey eyes, as if his soul were centuries older than the flesh which incased it. A glimmer from the boy’s chest caught my eye, a piece of twisting silver dangled from his neck and at first I paid it no mind. However as the conversation grew, and the boy’s passion came forth I found my mind wandering back to the intertwining metal. An eerie flash of red and black appeared in my head: an image of the Solidor flag.
I thought back to when I had watched Vayne give speech after speech, each one greeted with horrid shouts and yells, yet sent off with claps and words of admiration. Each argument quelled much in the same manner as this dark haired youth, though Vayne lacked sincerity in his face as this boy.
With one similarity down I began to note the others, my mind no longer on the word battle before me. There were other similarities I began to note, both were of dark haired appearances and striking gray eyes, though this boy’s held more of childish innocence than the future ruler of the Empire. It was quite a large leap to take, traveling merchant’s son to the youngest Solidor son, and I quickly realized how far I had allowed my mind to carry me.
Behind the boy there was a fidgety youth, in his late teens it seemed, of golden hair and dark skin from generations of baring the sun’s rays. He seemed impatient, as if waiting for the discussion to be over so he could drag the dark haired boy off. He didn’t have to wait long. It seemed the wise youth had won his opposition over. The blonde’s expression softened as his friend turned to him; the younger must have smiled because the blond smiled broadly before the two walked off, up the steps to the Gran Kiltias Anastasis, four others joined them on their ascent.
The acolyte next to me chuckled in his raspy voice, “So you’ve noticed as well.”
“What have I noticed?” My gaze left their backs departing to the scaley teacher to my right.
“The youth has quite the mind for logic. And such a way with words, one would wonder if it was genetic.” He walked away with those words, leaving me to wonder if he led me on purpose or was simply pulling my leg. Sleep seemed like a nice option at that point.