The Forgotten Warrior
by The Masked Germanian

Note: This story is about a certain character that disappeared after Cyan went berserk. That's right, you all forgot about that one remaining knight besides Cyan, didn't you? I'm ashamed of you! Hmmmph! (Walks off in a snit.)

Chapter 1: A friend

I thought I knew what fear and anger were. I had no idea.
I can't believe that the Empire would stoop so low as to poison everyone! My friends... My family... My liege... everyone dead.
Well, not exactly. Thank the Goddesses that Sir Cyan is like me and doesn't drink much before sentry duty. At least... at least we can help Doma rebuild. I must find Sir Cyan before he does something irrevocable.
I know it's only been... what, three hours? But in the state that he was in, I'm afraid that I'm... I'm the only one left.
No! I mustn't think that! Sir Cyan lives, and we will help rebuild Doma! I must find him! But where? Where to look?
From what I can remember, the port town of Nikeah should be northeast of here, about a week's journey on foot. I must hurry if I want to get there before the Empire decides to kill me, too.

Later that night:

I can't believe the carnage here. It's unmistakable.
Sir Cyan attacked the Imperial base.
I just sat there, listening to the conversation between the two Imperial guards.
"Yeah, can you believe it? Three people killed half the base. And that swordsman," the first one said with a shudder, "I'm lucky to still be alive. I didn't think that anyone could fight like that."
"Yeah, well, what do you expect? The Doman Knights are... were legendary," the other said with a chuckle instead. "And seeing how old he was, I doubt that we'll ever see swordsmanship of that caliber ever again."
"Don't be so sure of that," I said as I stepped out of the shadows to face the two. They both jumped at the sight of me, but then drew their swords with a couple of cocky grins.
"Oh? And who might you be?" the second one asked.
"I am Diatyne, a survivor of Doma," I replied as I unsheathed my swords. The first trooper, who I guess was there to see Sir Cyan in action, suddenly shrank back and cowered. The second, though, apparently wasn't there and thought the stories exaggerated, just smiled.
"Well, what do you know! We got ourselves here a straggler! What, do you think that you can beat me with those puny little swords? I'd think that you'd be smart, like the other guy. Ran away when things looked bad and didn't look ba-"
He was dead before he hit the ground.
As I knelt to retrieve my sword from his chest, I looked up to see the other man for the first time. He was a fairly well built man, with amber eyes and hair like coal. His arm was in a sling, probably from experiencing the wrath of Sir Cyan.
"Please, sir" he begged, "don't kill me. I'll do anything."
Despite my better judgement, I took pity on him. "Let me take a look at that arm," I said. He hesitated for a moment, and then showed it to me. I took out one of my precious remaining potions and poured it on them. I learned in my years as a warrior that wounds heal faster if doused in healing items, rather than drunk.
He winced, and then asked the question that I knew he would ask. "Why are you helping me?"
"Well," I answered, "I can't have a traveling companion who can't fend for himself." He blinked. I knew he would.
"T-Traveling companion?" he stuttered.
I nodded. "That's right. I will spare your life, and I'd expect that you'd rather come with me than have to face your superiors and explain your friend here. Or," I added in an undertone, "Sir Cyan, the guardian of Doma."
He paled, and then held out his unbroken hand. "I am Aural, Sir Diatyne."
"Not Sir Diatyne," I told him. "I hate titles. Just call me Di. All my friends do. ...Or used to," I added.
Aural looked at me with... was it pity? I don't know. "I swear I will do all in my power to avenge Doma. Kefka will pay for this."
"Kefka?" I asked him incredulously. "You mean that madman is the one responsible for the fact that all but two of Doma's Knights are dead?" He nodded.
"I swear, on my Liege's grave, that he will die for his sins."
At that, I walked out the door, and thus started my journey.

Chapter 2: Origins

"Hey, Aural, Can I ask you a question?"

We were sitting down to eat some dinner about two days after we met. He looked up from the rhobites that we were cooking for dinner. "Sure, Di. What's up?"

I looked up into the sky, then remembered that that was an expression. While I might not be as antiquated in ways of speaking as Sir Cyan, I still have trouble with current-day sayings.

"Well, I was just wondering, how did you ever get caught up in the Empire, anyway? You don't look like someone who'd want to fight."

My amber-eyed associate sat there for a few moments, trying to gather his thoughts, then said, "Well, if you want the whole story, then get ready for a long night.

"I was born and raised in the town of Albrook, as the third child in a family of five kids. I was the top of my class, and was looking at a bright future as a merchant. Then, the Empire attacked.

"A few of them burst into my family's house and starting looting the place. My parents and I tried to fight them off, but they were too strong. They killed my parents, raped my sisters, and impressed my brother and I into the army.

"My brother and I tried to run from the Empire, but they caught us. I only got a severe beating, but my brother Lance lost his life. After a while, I began to accept my imprisonment. I trained to be able to wield all forms of weaponry, in hopes of being able to escape again someday. I excelled at the dirk especially. Eventually, I became so skilled that I could best any soldier in my unit in armed combat, with only my Blossom.

"Then, one day, I got a message from the Empire. It seemed that General Leo, the greatest warrior of the Empire, wanted to try me in battle! It was a huge honor, since he rarely spars with anyone. So I went straight to Vector. Once there, I was greeted by the Emperor himself, and had to use all of my willpower to keep from trying to kill him.

I met with Leo, and I was amazed that someone with as much honor and integrity as him was working for the Empire. We then proceeded out into the training ground, where a number of high-ranking officers were waiting in anticipation. Apparently, Leo's matches were good entertainment for everyone else. It was there that I first saw Kefka."

At this point, Aural had to take a tonic to calm his nerves. "That moment still haunts my dreams. His face was so pale, I almost thought he was a cadaver. And that horrible laugh of his. *shudder* It was the worst thing I had ever heard. And when he looked at me, I almost felt like he was draining me of all happy thoughts. He then said to the Emperor, 'I bet 20,000 gil he won't last five minutes'. I was immediately determined to win the match.

"We bowed to each other out of respect, and several people seemed to think it funny that the General would show me respect. I then launched at him, seeming to go for his chest. He sidestepped me, and tried to knock me out with the broadside of his sword. I ducked, then knocked him off his feet with a sweep kick. He immediately got back up, and thrust. I tried to roll, but he was too fast. He got me in the shoulder, not too bad, but enough so that I couldn't use my right arm. So, I went on the defensive. He kept swinging, and soon knocked my sword out of my hand. But, I always kept a dirk in my boot, so I pulled my Blossom out, and threw it at him. He had no time to react, and ended up with a huge hole in his chest, but still he fought on. We stood there, staring at each other, waiting to see who would make the next move.

"Then, I suddenly felt pain of the likes I'd never seen before. I thought I was on fire. But then I realized, I WAS on fire! Someone must have cast the spell of Fire! I looked to Leo with a deep, deep hatred, and forced myself to get up. I saw a look of surprise and utter horror, whether because of the fire or my ability to stand, I don't know. I picked up my sword, which was lying right next to me. I drenched in what fire was left around my body, then lunged straight at Leo. He dodged easily, of course, but I just kept swinging. I felt total hatred for the one who'd resort to magic to win a match.

"Eventually, I collapsed, totally spent of my energy. I woke up later, and found myself in a bed with General Leo looking over me. I tried to sit up so that I could strangle him, but I couldn't even feel my arms. He stood there, then said something that both surprised and relieved me at the same time. 'I understand your reaction' he said, 'but the one you want is Kefka. Apparently, he decided to, er, "help" out the fight by casting some magic. I assure you that I would never do that. I even passed up on Magitek infusion when offered. I swear, on my honor as a knight of his Emperor Gestahl that I will do anything to help you, although nothing could make up for Kefka's blatant disregard for a battle.'

"I was glad to know that Leo wasn't responsible, and asked if he could teach me how to really fight. He agreed, and I became his protege. I traveled the Empire, my admiration for him growing every day. Then came the Doma assignment."

He hesitated here, possibly debating whether or not to continue. Finally, after a few moments, he resumed. "It was merely supposed to convince Doma to side with the Empire, not be a genocide mission. But after the battle, General Leo got a letter from the Emperor to return to Vector immediately. He left Kefka in charge. I tried to dissuade him from the poison, but he just knocked me away and ran off. About an hour later, the Doman came.”

“That was Sir Cyan Garamonde, first knight of Doma,” I said. “In all my years in battle, I’ve never seen him bested by sword, spear, or spell.”

“He certainly showed it! He was in a fury when I came upon him. 300 men in the base, and only half made it out alive. Luckily, two warriors met Cyan and they convinced him to retreat. So they took some Magitek armor-”

“What? Sir Cyan used some mechanical armor?” I asked, confused. “Sir Cyan has never been… mechanically inclined. He is totally afraid of machines!”

“I know. He knocked over 3 tents and ran over 15 soldiers before he left, and I doubt he did it on purpose. Anyway, after he left, I went to get some treatment, and rested for a few hours until you came.

“Now, personally, I want to eat, so let’s continue at some other time.”

We then sat down and ate our meal in silence. I can’t believe that the Empire could be so horrendous. I see that we have some work to do.

Chapter Three: Much Needed Fun.

“So this is Nikeah.” I had just entered the town, and it was impressive. Everywhere you looked, people walking, merchants peddling, thieves trying to pick my pocket. I spin and grab my would-be robber and land a punch in his face.

“I suggest you try and find a more suitable job,” I said casually. “The next time, you might not see such mercy.” I let go of him, and he ran away, hopefully to work on his resume.

“So, where to, Di?” Aural asked. “Personally, I need some spirits.”

“Good idea,” I agreed. “Let’s head to the tavern. I might get some info on Sir Cyan.”

As we were heading towards the tavern, Aural asked me a surprising question.

“Hey, Di, Why are you so obsessed with finding this Cyan Guy? Shouldn’t we be focusing on the Empire instead?”

“Sir Cyan is the only person left from Doma, besides me,” I replied. “Together, we could definitely help hinder the Empire’s plans.”

“But… but what if he recognizes me? I’m not exactly someone he’d welcome with open arms.”

“Sir Cyan is not one to hold grudges. If you help, then he forgives. Now, let's go get all liquored up!"

I could clearly see the surprise on Aural's face, and grinned. "Come on, Aural. Don't tell me you thought I didn't know how to have fun! The life of a knight isn't all 'honor' and 'integrity'!"

He smiled at that, and we entered the tavern. We walked in, and sat down at the counter.

"What'll it be?" the barkeep asked. "And don't you dare ask for anything with fruit in it. Last guy that tried that is in no position to drink."

"I'll take a gin," I ordered. Aural agreed and asked for the same. It was then that I noticed the harlot.

"Well, big boy, how's about I show you a good time?" she asked seductively. I had to blush. I like to have fun, but not THAT much. Not sober, anyway.

"Sorry. I'm not in the mood."

She pouted. She was really cute when she did that. "I don't believe this! First that knight guy shot me down, and now..."

"Wait a minute, did you say knight?" I asked hopefully. Could it be?

"Yeah, that's right. What was his name? Blue? Aqua? Some sort of color..."

"Sir Cyan!" I yelled. "Tell me, what was he doing here?"

"I don't know. All I know is that he could have hit me if his two friends didn't stop him."

Again with the two mysterious companions! I had to learn more! "Could you describe them to me?"

"Well, one was an amazing example of a muscleman, and the other was a teen who looked like he was raised by monsters. Actually, they were kind of cute." She giggled naughtily.

I turned to Aural, who listened in on the conversation. "Do they sound like your men?" I asked hopefully.

"Well," he replied, "the muscleman sounds familiar, but the Kid ain't right. The other one looked like an assassin or something."

I returned to the harlot. "Quick, can you tell me where they were going? It's important!"

"Hey!" a voice called out. "You there! What are you doing with my woman!" I turned around to stare into the face of the homeliest drunk I'd ever seen.

"I'm not 'doing anything' with this fair maiden," I answered carefully. "I was just asking about the whereabouts of a friend. I'll take my leave now."

I got up and walked towards the door. I was about halfway there when the drunk slammed a chair onto my back.

I slowly got up to face my drunken adversary. He was looking away, apparently laughing at his pitiful display of machismo. I decided that, for once, two wrongs WOULD make a right, and broke a nearby wine bottle atop his head.

His friends got up, and approached me menacingly. That was a neat trick, considering that they were tripping over their own feet. They finally got to me, and cracked down on me. That was the moment when Nikeah saw the rowdiest barroom brawl ever.

Soon, Everyone was joined in. Aural was taking on the associates of the drunk, and the barkeep was handling the other's who were trying to score free booze. I saw the harlot trying to keep a exceptionally interested male away. I then realized that one man was not fighting, just sitting there drinking. Then someone broke the bottle.

He raised the remains of the bottle to his lips, unaware of it's lack of contents. His face immediately showed recognition of his beloved hooch gone, and he changed to the likes I've never seen. He tore through the masses, beating a wave of unconsciousness through his path. I saw him coming towards me, and looked for something to help. Miraculously, a bottle of wine was sitting on the counter, unbroken.

I raced to get it, and threw it to the drunk (the second one, the Incredible Hulk). He caught it, chewed the cork off with his teeth, and drank to his heart's content. It was at that moment that the storm troopers from Star Wars raced in. (author's note: I needed to add something that makes no sense whatsoever, so this seemed the logical choice. If you don't like it, then complain to the Postmaster General) They knocked some heads together, stole all the booze, and left immediately. I just accepted that as a hallucination, and decided to tend to my friends.

Aural got out with a few bruises, but nothing serious. The harlot seemed able to take care of herself, having no problems at all. The barkeep wasn't so lucky, though. I had to use one of my precious X-Potions to keep him from dying. And the Lush, well, he was happily passed out in the leftover wine.

"Thanks," I heard someone say behind me. I recognized the voice as the one that the whole brawl started over. "Thank you for sticking up for my honor against Brutus like that. I'm... I'm Laura."

"I am Diatyne, survivor of Doma," I replied graciously. Was she actually being... decent? "Over there is Aural, former Imperial soldier. We are looking for Sir Cyan, the only other remaining Doman." continuing

"He... He and his associates mentioned a ship to South Figaro. One is coming in a few days. And I was wondering if I could join you."

"What?" I asked intelligently. "Why would you want to do that?"

"I no longer have reason to remain in this town, and if Brutus awakes and finds me..."

I understood what would happen. "Okay, but you need to be able to defend yourself. Can you use a weapon?"

"Yes. I can handle rods and quarterstaffs fairly well. So," she asked perkily, "what now?"

"Now," A new voice said," we head to the inn."

The man formerly known as drunk #2 approached me. "Lush Louie, at your service. I've never seen anyone stupid enough to hit Brutus before, and I've got to say, that took guts, kid. I think I'll join you for a while."

It is amazing how some things turn out. What started as a one man journey has become a traveling caravan! "I..."

"I know, I know," Louie interrupted. "I can handle a pike as good as the next man. Also, you need me. You guys ain't exactly the clearest minded people I ever met."

I gave up on trying to dissuade our two newest recruits. "Fine, but we need to get a few things clear first.

"We are fighting the Empire." Louie stiffened at this, but said nothing. I wonder... "The Empire poisoned Doma, so that only two people survived. They also killed Aural's family over there. If you've got a problem with our mission, say so now." Silence. Good.

"Now, I don't want to sound like an ass, but I'm the leader here. What I say goes. And I say, I need a drink."

Saying so, I went to the bar and drank the gin I ordered until I wound up lying on the floor pantsless. God bless alcohol.

Chapter 4: Shipside confessions.

The stars have always fascinated me. They shine in the eternal darkness that is the sky, never giving up, never losing their glow.

I envy them.

My party finally found passage to South Figaro. The trip would take about three days by sea, so I decided to take this time to review my companion's fighting capabilities.

Louie was a great spearsmen. He could use the spear like it was an extension of his body. The problem is, he is a bit slow. It was fairly easy to counter his moves.

Laura wasn't a very good staff wielder, though. She doesn't have much power, and her speed leaves a lot to be improved upon, but she had one thing going for her. She was an amazing temptress. She had the ability to distract anything, any gender, any species. Indeed, I almost couldn't fight her.

Aural, now when I first saw him in battle, I thought, "HOLY SHIT! This is Aural!?" I couldn't land a single blow on him. I had to resort to my sword technique to win. I showed them what earned me the title of third knight of the first knighthood of Doma. I can channel the forces of nature into my swords, decimating my enemies. Indeed, It's been years since I've had to use it.

I was on a ship, so I used the power of water. Now, The problem with that is that it isn't really used for offense, but healing. So I channeled the water aura into my sword, And stabbed myself right in the heart. Everyone nearby, colleagues, sailors, even passengers just looking for entertainment, gasped at my apparently suicidal nature. But the sound was deafened when they saw me pull my sword out, unharmed.

Aural stood there, thinking me a lunatic, but was able to counter my sudden attack. We got into a heated battle, but he was wary, always expecting me to suddenly transform or something. But suddenly, when he was lunging at me with his beloved Blossom, I smiled and let it strike my chest, and fell over dead.

Aural stood there, appalled at what he had done. Everyone looked at him like he did it on purpose. It looked like everyone was going to lynch him, and he wasn't going to put up a fight.

"Hey, don't I deserve the first blow?"

There was a lot of different reactions to my query. Some screamed, some fainted, a LOT of people ran away, and I think I even heard one guy chant, "The power of Christ compels you!" Aural, though, just smiled.

"Was that why you stabbed yourself with water power?" he asked casually, as if this sort of thing happens all the time.

"Yeah, I call it 'Rebirth'. Pretty neat, huh?" I asked. He just smiled, and smacked me upside the head. I guess I deserved that.

But now it's nighttime, and everyone has heard the explanation. Of course, it took three physicals, five exorcisms, and a HELL of a lot of free drinks to convince them that I wasn't a God-forsaken undead minion bent on devouring the souls of innocents. Now, I'm just enjoying a moment of silence, watching the stars.

I suddenly hear a voice come from my right side. So much for my reflective moment. "Hey, boss? Can I talk to you?"

I sighed. "What is it, Louie?"

"There is something I need to get off my chest. It's about my past." He took in a deep breath, then told me his story.

"I used to work for the Empire. No," he said, looking at me as I was about to say something. "I wasn't a fighter. I was a scientist. I was a Magitek researcher. I had been promoted to Head of the Care of Espers, and I was so excited, I had to go look at them. I saw them as monsters, just as most people do, but then, I saw her.

"She had a beautiful body, her skin the color of the ripest peach. Her wings appeared to be gossamer, they looked so fragile that I thought they would break if I touched them. Her name was Seraphim, and I loved her.

"I know that a human and an Esper can't be together, but I didn't care. I saw her there, looking so pitiful, and I did the only thing that came to mind. I broke the tube. She fell out, and became unconscious. It was at that time that the alarms went off.

"I have no idea what they would have done to me if they caught me, and I sure as hell didn't want to find out. I slung Seraphim over my shoulder, and ran out of the lab. I hid in a cave for a week, tending to her wounds. Espers might be magic, but they are still mortal. Then, after a week, she awoke.

"She looked around at her surroundings, and spied me. But instead of screaming or attacking, she merely smiled. It was the greatest thing I had ever seen. And then, she spoke in a voice never heard below the heavens. 'I have no idea who you are, kind sir, but you have my eternal gratitude. But, could you please tell me, why?'

" 'I did it because I love you,' I told her. 'I know that it could never be, but I just wanted you to be free. And now, I must hide, for I fear that they will find you if I stay here too long.' As I was starting to walk out the cave door, she called to me. 'Wait.' I turned to face her, and I can't say that I was really annoyed at the delay.

" 'You helped me, putting your own life in danger in the process, and you never wanted a reward for it. For that, I must find a way to repay you. And I know just the way. Please come closer.' I did, warily, for while I trusted her, I didn't exactly feel totally secure. When I got close enough to her, she grabbed me, and planted the longest and most intimate kiss I had ever received. I was in heaven, with an angel as my love.

"She finally broke it off, and smiled at me. 'I have just blessed your life,' she said. 'While you may fall on hard times during your long life, you will always be able to pull through. Now, go.' I got up shakily, still reeling from the kiss, and walked out of the cave.

"And that's my story. I am just a coward. I ran instead of staying to help her. I have no idea where she is right now, but I hope that she forgives me." Louie then took a deep sigh, and looked out over the railing. I figured now was the best time to talk.

"Louie, you are no coward. if you stayed there anymore, you both would have probably been caught. Besides, you rescued her from the Empire in the first place, making you an outlaw. You might be one of the bravest people I know. Wouldn't you agree, Laura?"

A small squeak came from behind my back. I turn to see Laura there, looking flustered. "But-but- how- How the bloody 'ell did you know I was here?"

I smile. "You forget, I am a trained warrior. I have learned how to tell when someone is sneaking up on me, and you didn't do a very good job at hiding."

She pouts. "Hey! Excuse me for not being able to be totally silent! Anyway," she said as she regained her composure, "I just spoke with the captain. He said that we will be in South Figaro by dawn tomorrow. So, let's go to bed."

I found myself agreeing with her, and went off to my own bed. As I was about to fall asleep, I realized just how much everyone seemed to trust me.

I hate being the safe guy.

Chapter five: Wark?

"God, I hate walking. Hey, Di, why couldn't we just rent some chocobos?"

I sighed. "For the last time, Laura, we don't have the money. Not after Louie spent all our money on beef jerky." I glare angrily at Louie, who was eating some of the aforementioned jerky.

He swallowed it all in a hurry. "For the last time, I'm sorry. I thought I was buying some tents. I mean, I thought that, for 150 gil, that a sale was going on."

"How can you mistake beef jerky for tents?" Aural asked. "I mean, I'd expect that kind of idiocy from Laura-"


"-But I thought you were smarter than that."

"Let's stop it here," I said. "We need to be really careful going through this forest."

We lapsed into silence as we made our way through Cutshade Forest. After an hour or two, we heard a soft "wark."

"What was that?" Aurle asked. "It sounded like-"

"A chocobo!" Laura shouted. She was pointing at a midnight black chocobo, surrounded by three rhinotaurs. "We have to help it!"

"But, I don't think-" I started. She glared at me, and I shut up. "Fine."

We ran to save the chocobo. Aurle and Laura took one, Louie took another, and I encountered the one closest to the chocobo.

I was in the forest, so I could use a combination of earth or air attacks. But, I decided to try a personal favorite. "Strength of Silvanus!"

Suddenly, a giant Oak in the shape of a man appeared above me. This was Silvanus, God of the forest. He became pure light, and entered my swords. I charged at the Rhinotaur, and slashed him clean in half. As I finished, Silvanus exited my swords, and I turned to check on my companions.

I needn't have worried. The other two were dead, although one happened to fall on Aurle, burying him in Rhinotaur entrails.

I walked over to the black chocobo. I then realized something. Chocobos aren't black! But, I figured that he was harmless, and tried to pet him. He shied away. "It's alright, boy. I just want to make sure that you are alright."

"I'm fine, you don't have to worry."

I jumped in surprise. He can talk!? "Wh-What are you?"

"I'm an Esper, idiot." I didn't like where this was going.

"Hey! Don't call me an idiot!"

"Di? Are you yelling at the chocobo?"

I stopped, chagrined. I had forgotten that my cohorts were only ten feet away from me.

"I'm fine, I'm just telling this guy here to not call me an idiot." I regretted the words before I ever said them.

"The... chocobo? He called you a dolt?" Aural asked, obviously questioning my sanity. I didn't blame him.

"No, I called him an Idiot. get it right."

The looks on their faces were priceless.

"Look," I started before someone said something regrettable, "let's sit down and explain our histories and, more importantly, why the hell are you a talking chocobo."

Everyone was unusually cooperative, so we sat down to a feast of Beef jerky, compliments to Louie. As we ate, we all told our individual stories, except Laura, who I knew absolutely nothing about. Curious...

But then the midnight choco told his tale. "I am an esper. I was a child, only eight years old in human years. I have no idea how old I am now. My family was on a picnic, and we were having a good time. But, it all changed when we saw the three Goddesses."

Louie piped up. "The Goddesses? The origins of magic? I thought them only a myth."

"Oh, they are real. Far too real. They saw us, and we suddenly became monsters of war. I was too young to do any good, so I didn't fight. That was about the extent of my good luck. Then they finally stopped after years of grueling battles, and I had hoped that I would get my body back, but no such luck. I was stuck in this form forever.

"It's not that bad. I can fly, and I can someday use magic. But, I really miss my kind, my age group. It's SOOOO boring there. I just wished for the way for the way to the human world to open. Then, one day, I got my wish. The Empire had come.

"I was the first to see them, but they just thought that I was simply a common pack animal, so they ignored me. But, they didn't ignore my parents. They captured them, and I haven't seen them since." At this point, midnight cow- er, choco, started to sniffle. A neat trick for someone with no nose. "I-I-I tried to stop them, but they just kicked me. I have bided my time for about twenty of your years, waiting for a chance to sneak out to find them. It finally came.

" I one day found a small hole where the gate was. I crawled in, figuring that it must lead outside. It did, but it collapsed just as I got out. I was officially trapped in the human world. I immediately realized a problem.

"You see, I am a black chocobo."

(Well, duh!)

(Quiet, Laura!)

"In my day- boy, that sounds weird considering my age- there was a rare breed of chocobo that was as black as me and could fly as well. But now, I haven't seen a single one! I'm afraid that I might stick out, and someone might try to capture me as a pet, or worse. *shudder. I beg of you, please help me."

We sat in silence for a few minutes, each trying to figure out what to say. I cleared my throat and stood up.

"Well, I must say that, on behalf of the entire human race, I apologize. We have raided your home, and kidnapped you kind. I will do my best to see this righted.

"Also, I- WE would be honored to have you as a traveling companion. But we need to set some ground rules. First, I am the leader of this traveling freak show-"

"Hey!" almost everyone shouted in unison.

"-And I request that you treat me as such. Second, for anyone to join our party, he/she/anything in between must prove to be able to contribute something to this group. Aural is deadly with his Blossom, Laura can seduce, confuse, and/or distract any sentient being, I can do many things with my swordtechs, and Louie- well, he's just the drunk of the party. Now, what can you contribute?"

"Well," He said, "I can run like hell, can carry one person and fly, I can cook. Oh, and let's not forget, I'M A BLOODY TALKING CHOCOBO! If you are ever low on money- and from what I can gather of this group, that will be often- I have no problem with acting as a sideshow to earn us some extra gil. So, am I qualified, you foul offspring of a drunken badger?"

"Um, let me check with my companions." I signaled for the others to follow me to a secluded area, where we discussed in a civilized manner as to what we should do about the foul mouthed fowl.

"I say we eat him."

"Di, no. No eating the magical talking chocobo who can cook. " Aural seemed to put unusually too much emphasis on cook.

"Fine, let me check something. HEY, BLACKIE! WHEN YOU SAY YOU CAN COOK, WHAT DO YOU MEAN?"

"I mean, I can cook, roast, boil, broil, and liquefy. You learn some things when you are an immortal or similar."

"RIGHT, THANKS! Okay, he can join," I reluctantly tell the group. "But I don't want him to have a single waking moment to himself until I say so. Got it?" The others nodded, and we walked over to greet our newest freak. "Oh, by the way, what is your name?"

"I wish I knew, but it's been so long since I've needed one. Why don't you just call me Wark?"

"Um, okay, Wark." We then agreed to get some rest. It's a hell of a long trek to South Figaro, and I have the feeling that it isn't going to be pleasant.

Part 2