Swords For Hire Side Story: A mysterious... Stranger?
The Garrison Bar at Gariland Magic City was unusually empty. There were only three people at the main bar; a Ninja, a Black Mage, and a White Mage. Silphy, Stanley, and Melissa.
"So, you said you had gotten an anonymous note?" Melissa asked.
"Not quite." Stanley responded, "There was a drawn face as a signature."
"So, you're saying that you just led us into Zero's trap?" Silphy asked, on the verge of screaming at the top of her lungs.
"No, this was a different face."
"Oh, I'm SO sure." Silphy responded.
As though on cue, the door opened, and an unusual-looking man walked in. He was of average height and thin build; wearing a long, white coat and denim pants. On his feet were black work boots. His blond hair hung down slightly in front of his blue eyes.
But all this wasn't what was so unusual about him.
The one thing setting him appart from most was the fact that he had the ears, tail, and muzzle of a fox, and was covered from head to toe in tan fur.
"Bartender!" he said, "I'll have a Ginger Ale."
"Umm... Okay." the bartender responded, "C-coming right up."
The man came in and sat down at the bar. "Hey, guys."
There was an awkward silence.
"Do you mean us?" Melissa asked.
"Is there anyone else here?"
"Do we know you, or something?" Silphy asked.
"You certainly should!" the man said, "I'm the Author."
"The who?" Stanley asked.
"The Auth-" the Author began, then paused and massaged his temples, "Look. You know Saint Ajora, right?"
The trio nodded.
"Well, I'm like him, only much more powerful."
"More powerful than Ajora!?" Melissa gasped in horror, "That's blasphemy!"
"If you're so powerful, then prove it." Stanley said.
With a wave of the Author's hand, the bartender suddenly turned into a rather out-of-place-looking man with blue hair, a black coat, and a pair dragon-esque wings. His two sets of ears, one elven and the other catlike, and a snakelike tail replacing his legs also weren't all that normal, but today had been a wierd day.
"Is that proof enough?"
Melissa's eyes rolled back in her head as she fainted.
The Author extended his hand for a handshake.
"My name's Doc; Doc Shinryuu. Nice meeting you." he said with a smile.
Stanley backed off a bit, but Silphy, being braver* than Stanley, shook his hand.
"Nice to meet you, too. I expect you already know our names." she said, seeing his smile and raising him a wink.
* - And dumber
"So, you're saying that you're a nigh-omnipotent, creator-of-all-we-see-before-us type person?" Stanley asked.
Silphy, Stanley, and Melissa; after talking with Doc for a while, had gotten a bit more comfortable around him.
"Yes! That's what I've been trying to tell you for the past half hour!" Doc shouted, annoyed from being asked the same question over and over. "There's another thing, though. I didn't exactly create you guys and this world. That's credited to a group called Squaresoft. I just created your personalities, the 'Swords for Hire' title, and Melissa's new weapon."
"You mean this?" Melissa asked, taking out the +42 Paper Folding Fan of Grievous Bodily Harm and grinning.
"Gah! Put that thing away! You'll take someone's head off!" Stanley yelled, flailing his arms around and nearly falling off his seat.
"Heh. For some reason, I'm glad that I created that, now..." Doc said, grinning.
"Hey, watch it. Don't make me cast some meeeeean Magic on you." Stanley said, taking out his Wizard Rod.
"Bring it." Doc responded, clearing some tables out of the way for a quick duel.
"So, you ready for some pain?" Stanley asked, grinning in his typical, mischievious manner.
"You're underestimating me." Doc responded, shuffling a deck of rather oddly marked cards. "That could prove to cause you some harm."
"Well, try this!"
Stanley raised his rod up over his head.
"Out of the ground,"
A pentagram drew itself beneath Stanley's feet.
"raze all greenery with flame!"
Stanley's eyes began to glow a deep crimson
Stanley swung his rod down, sending a shower of flame toward Doc. Doc sighed and took the top card off of his deck. He looked at it and smiled slightly.
"Law smothers anarchy." He said.
Doc threw the card. It flew in a circle around him and stopped in the path of Stanley's flames.
"Sphere of Law!"
Doc held his hand behind the card. As Stanley's flames reached the card, they seemed to hit an invisible barrier and become mere embers. As Doc lowered his hand again, the card flew back to his deck.
"You sure you don't want to forfeit?" Doc asked
"Whaaat?" Stanley couldn't believe his eyes. A card, a CARD, had stopped a Fire 2. He didn't quite believe it, but he decided to pump it up a few notches.
Stanley raised his rod again.
"Inscript the Dark God into a rotting body!"
A pentagram drew itself again. This time, however, it formed in the air in front of Stanley. His eyes seemed to burn with a black fire.
Stanley swung his rod down again, stopping it in the center of the pentagram. A veritable inferno of darkness launched from the rod, searing the air on it's way toward Doc, who seemed a bit more surprised this time. Doc took the top card off of his deck again and grinned a bit more sadistically than with Fire 2.
"What you made will be unmade. What you learned will be unlearned. And when you're done, you will be undone."
Doc threw the card at the oncoming flames.
The card shone brightly for a moment as bubbles surrounded the Flare's flames. The bubbles slowly shrunk down, decreasing the flames with them, until Stanley's Flare was, quite literally, nothing.
"Strike two, Stanley." Doc said, shaking two fingers at Stanley as his card returned to the bottom of his deck.
Okay, THIS was going too far. It was time to break out the big guns. Stanley lifted his rod a third time.
"Scatter frozen blades of air!"
Orbs of mystic fire rose from the ground around Stanley as another pentagram drew itself on the floor between Stanley and Doc.
A huge creature rose from the pentagram on the floor. It's one eye blazed with power. It's hands were steaming, as if frozen, yet ablaze at the same time. It released a huge roar as it fully forme-
BAH. ENOUGH OF THAT FLASHY STUFF. It said, turning toward it's summoner. SO, WHAT IS IT THIS TIME, STANLEY?
"Get 'im" Stanley said, pointing at Doc.
HMM... OKAY. Cyclops said, beginning a rush toward Doc.
Doc looked around frantically as he took yet another card off of his deck. Upon looking at it, he sighed with relief.
"You came in with a bang; you'll go out with one, too."
Doc threw the card at the charging Cyclops.
Cyclops suddenly stopped in it's tracks, looking rather surprised as the card hit it square in the chest.
TERMINATE? AGAIN? YOU'VE GOTTA BE KIDDIN' M-
Cyclops didn't have time to finish before it exploded with a loud BANG. Stanley's jaw commenced to drop as he gaped at what was left of Cyclops*.
"Now it's my turn." Doc said, taking another card off his deck as the third card slid onto the bottom of the deck.
"When the air burns, only death breathes deep."
Doc threw the card at Stanley, and the air shimmered behind it.
The air trailing behind the card no longer just shimmered, but burst into flames. When the card struck Stanley, he was blasted back into the wall behind him, kicking up clouds of dirt and wood splinters. When the dust finally cleared, Stanley was unconscious, laying among shattered boards.
"I think he needs some healing, Melissa." Doc said, pointing at Stanley.
* - A burn mark on the floor.
After a bit of rest for Stanley, the true inquisition finally began.
"So, why did you write Swords for Hire, anyway?" Silphy asked.
"Well, you see, I was playing Final Fantasy Tactics one day, and I just thought 'I wonder what happens to the soldiers you send out on propositions?' I wound up thinking you guys up and creating SfH." Doc responded, taking a swig of Ginger Ale from his mug.
"Why'd you choose these personalities, though?" Stanley asked.
Doc started to say something, but hesitated. "...Y'know? I don't know."
"Well, how did you choose our names, then?" Melissa asked.
"Actually, your names are the same three names as the characters I sent on nearly every proposition."
"Have you written anything other than Swords for Hire?" Silphy asked.
"Yes, actually. Two other stories. One is another 'What happens...' stories like this one, called 'Tales from the Discard Pile'. It's based on a card game called Magic: The Gathering. I won't go into details. The second one is still in progress. It's based on the world of a character called 'Sonic the Hedgehog'."
"A hedgehog?" Stanley was in a bit of disbelief, "You sure that you're perfectly sane?"
"Ahh, shut up." Doc swung his hand at Stanley.
"Hey, who's this guy, anyway?" Silphy asked, indicating the still-rather-bewildered-looking man that Doc had turned the bartender into.
"Yeahhh... About him... He's a friend of mine's character. His name's Julian Espinoza." Doc waved his hand in front of Julian's face. "Apparently, his mind's taking a moment to catch up with the situation."
"Well, he's damn hot, that's for sure." Silphy said, grinning.
"I'd say something, but it would violate the White Mage's Oath." Melissa muttered.
"You may be seeing a bit more of him, but you won't remember him." Doc said.
"Whaddya mean we won't remember him?" Silphy asked.
"You've got five minutes to pack up and leave this bar." Doc said. "After which time, this bar, everything in it, and all memories associated with it will disappear, or, in Julian's case, return to their home dimensions."
With that, Doc stood up and left. The last thing he said before leaving was: "Good luck in Sweegy Woods."
"Sweegy Woods? We aren't going to Sweegy Woods..." Stanley muttered.
"We must be, at some point." Melissa began. "He is the Author, so what he says, goes... I guess..."
"I guess we'd better get out of here before we disappear." Silphy suggested.
Stanley and Melissa nodded in agreement. The trio got up, left the bar, and forgot the entire incident ever occurred.
After a few minutes, the bar faded into nothing, leaving no trace of itself. Not even a single shred of memory remained of the Garrison Bar...
Gariland Magic City, Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy Tactics, And all related characters/locations Copyright of Squaresoft.
Julian Espinoza Copyright of Jennifer Lantrip, A.K.A. Lady Laguna.
Stanley, Silphy, Melissa, and The +42 Paper Folding Fan of Grievous Bodily Harm Intellectual Property of Will Kusleika(don't bother pronouncing that). Any use without permission will invoke Prosecution and/or Flaming.
Special Thanks to Weiila for her support, Kenji Kotaro for his Proposition List, and deviantART(www.deviantart.com) for being such a great art community.
For updates and inside info, among other things, go to DocShinryuu.deviantart.com!