Spring Rains - Part 01
By: Jason Tandro
Author's Note: This is a thematic continuation of the story begun in Winter Camp. Some plot elements will be carried over, but it remains essentially a stand-alone story. Still, if you want to get the full picture, I recommend reading Winter Camp first.
Gladiolus moved a massive log into position near Wiz's shack, grunting with suppressed annoyance as he did so. He couldn't help but notice Prompto and Noctis sitting to the side playing on their phones. Ignis was, at least, cooking their dinner.
"We'd be done this repair sooner if you all would help," Gladiolus grunted.
"Hey we put up a cabin in the course of two weeks," Prompto said. "I think we have earned a break."
"Your break has lasted all day," Gladiolus barked. "We only have the tool shed left."
"All the more reason for you to do it yourself. We'd just get in the way," Noctis teased.
Gladiolus lifted his greatsword and rent the log in two with a single strike. He then began to chop these into rough wooden planks with a newfound fury.
"Did we make him mad, you think?" Noctis asked.
"You could help him," Ignis said, before taking a taste of his experimental soup. Ignis coughed slightly and made a note to add a bit less pepper next time.
"We still need to know where we're going next. I mean if I'm supposed to be looking for these old tombs, we'll have to hit the road again soon," Noctis explained.
"Not before we have finished our obligation to Wiz. We owe him for the chocobos he loaned us," Ignis explained. "To say nothing of what happened to his post because of us."
Gladiolus let out a cry somewhere between a howl and a bellow as he began to hammer boards into place. Apparently in his anger his first strike had missed the nail and hit his thumb instead.
"So, uh, where is Wiz anyway?" Prompto asked.
"He went into Lestallum to pick up some friends of his. Apparently they are planning an excursion to the Vesperpool area. Which, incidentally Noct, is where I would suggest we travel next," Ignis explained.
"What kind of excursion?" Noctis asked.
"I can't say I know the details. Perhaps we should ask his friends when they arrive," Ignis said.
There was another bellow and then the sound of a greatsword carving through a poor defenseless oak which came crashing to the ground a few hundred meters away.
"I'm gonna go help him," Prompto said.
"Yeah, I think we've had enough of a break for now," Noctis added.
Before long the last touch up on Wiz's Chocobo Post was completed, and the group sat down to one of Ignis's famous meals. Tonight was a hearty stew made of behemoth meat served with fried rice. As they were halfway through their meal, Wiz's light blue truck pulled up to the cabin. Sitting in the bed was a familiar woman. Mocha skin and ebony hair matted down by a bright red sun hat, chocolate chip eyes trapped behind thick round frames.
"Sania Yeagre," Gladiolus said smiling. "Didn't know we'd be treated to such fine company as this."
"You're too kind as always," Sania laughed.
"And what am I, just the bus boy?" Came a gruff voice from the passenger seat. The tall man stepped out to greet the boys, rubbing his somewhat sunburned scalp.
"Hey, you're that hunter dude," Prompto announced, attempting to seem slightly less rude than the others and failing miserably.
"Name's Dave," Dave sighed.
Wiz stepped out of the driver's seat and looked at the cabin. He let out a simple approving nod.
"You like it?" Noctis asked.
Wiz nodded again. "She'll do I reckon."
"You reckon?" Noctis folded his arms.
"Well what d'ya want boy, a medal?" Wiz cackled. "I done you one better. I brought you all these two."
"Yeah about that, Wiz, you probably shouldn't be bringing girls out to your cabin in the woods," Prompto teased.
"Especially not in the trunk of your car," Noctis added.
"Oh you boys," Sania smiled. "I insisted upon the bed. You never know what fascinating sights you might miss sitting all cooped up in a car."
"See anything exciting?" Gladiolus asked.
"Not until I got here," Sania patted Gladiolus's arm.
Gladiolus turned bright red, but Sania pushed him to the side and bent down to examine a small strange insect that was perching on a log near the freshly constructed toolshed.
"Yep, it's her alright," Prompto sighed.
"You know these mantis can grow to be almost 10 centimeters long? They're pretty rare in Duscae. Prompto, come here and get a picture of this," Sania ordered.
Prompto, never one to pass up an opportunity to pull out the camera, marched obediently over and took the shot.
"So, what was this excursion you were planning?" Ignis asked. "If it involves a professor and a hunter working together I can only assume it is dangerous."
"Vesperpool is a dangerous area. You gotta watch out for those damned Cockatrice for one thing," Dave said. "But Sania is the brains behind this operation. She just asked me to work security for her. I, uh, kind of owe her one."
"That's pretty vague," Noctis said.
"And it's gonna remain vague," Dave said firmly.
Noctis raised his hands defensively.
Sania stood back up and turned to address the group. "Well, I guess I won't keep you in suspense any longer then."
She went back to the bed of Wiz's truck and grabbed one of her bags, out of which she pulled a folder with a scattered assortment of notes. She set it on one of the tables and the men gathered around her.
"The Vesperpool area is about to go through it's wet season. A cycle that comes around every four to five years where rainfall is far higher than usual due to- " she took a look around her, "Well, let's just say because of reasons. Anyway, this year is expected to be the worst one in history because of a few exacerbating factors. The Rock of Ravatogh has been burning hotter this year, which is making the surrounding air hotter, and that mixed with the cold air coming south is brewing a nasty storm by itself. But there is another reason and that's what we are going to investigate."
"And what would that be?" Ignis asked.
"Well, something has been calling the rain. A monster of some sort capable of manipulating weather patterns, and whatever it is, it's incredibly strong," Sania explained. "It's been raining non-stop for three weeks now, in what is generally the 'dry' season. And we know that the natural weather patterns of the region shouldn't allow for that."
"But what makes you think it's a monster?" Gladiolus asked.
"That's where I come in," Dave explained. "Some of my fellow hunters noticed something out in the Myrlwood. Something big was doing some sort of strange ritual around the ancient tomb up there."
Ignis nodded knowingly to Noctis. He nodded back.
"So you wanted to enlist our aid in dealing with the threat?" Ignis asked.
Sania nodded. "We're worried what could happen if this thing isn't stopped. The Vesperpool isn't a terribly deep area and it's already been flooded. Combine that with a worse rain storm and it could cause irreparable damage to the area, to say nothing of the nearby hunter headquarters."
"Is the waterline already that high?" Gladiolus asked.
"From the past three weeks, the water has risen over 225 centimeters. The lowlands are gone, and the ruins of Steyliff Grove are no longer visible. If it rises much higher it will hit the highway," Sania explained.
Noctis turned to the others. "What do you think guys?"
"We don't really have a choice in this matter. We need to get to the Tomb of the King if nothing else, and we can't do that without passing through Myrlwood," Gladiolus said.
"Yeah, saving the Vesperpool will just be a sort of bonus," Prompto explained. "Like a side quest or something."
"I think it is safe to say you have persuaded us, Professor Yeagre," Ignis announced.
"Well great. Then pack some wet-weather gear and hit the hay. We leave first thing in the morning," Sania said.