One clear, crisp night at the end of Silversun, my husband and I lugged our newly-bought telescope to the rooftop of our island fortress. "I don't know why we haven't bought a telescope until now," I said as I unfolded my star chart and conjured a dim red light in front of it, so I could see the constellations without ruining my dark-adjusted vision.
"Well, we have been kinda busy," Qrrog said as he carefully set the telescope's tripod mount on the thick stone terrace. "What with adventurin' and clan business and pirate rulin' and all." His tongue poked out as he tightened a few knobs on the device.
"That's fair," I said. "Wow—I didn't even know all the constellations back on Earth, and now I have to learn a whole new set." I tilted the star chart. "I'll bet there's all sorts of mythologies connected to these."
"Aye, there are," Qrrog said. "Each o' the Scions has a constellation, fer instance. And all o' the races have their own stories about the shapes they see in the stars." He grinned. "Most o' the seeq constellations have to do with food."
"I'll have to do some research into that sometime," I said. "But for now—the Crimson Comet."
It was the reason we'd bought the telescope in the first place, and why we were up in the wee hours of the morning on top of a fortress. The Crimson Comet only passed within seeing range of Ivalice every 24 years, and from the way everybody talked about it, I didn't want to miss the spectacle.
Our other clanmates wanted to take a look through the telescope as well, but tonight, Qrrog and I were taking it for a test run by ourselves. Because as much as we love our clan family, the two of us are married, after all, and thus dates take priority. And we will take any excuse we can find to make anything a date.
"Okay… the newspaper said right now, the comet's in the Antlion constellation," I said, holding the star chart up to the sky to try to correlate the dots on the paper to the lights in the heavens. "And that's… uh…" I narrowed my eyes. "Um." Turning the chart around, I tried my hardest to face what I was pretty sure was north. "Okay, I think those stars are in the constellation Shiva…"
Qrrog put a hand on my shoulder. "That's the Chocobo, love," he said kindly, pointing up to the stars I was looking at. "See that bright triangle? That's the Chocobo's beak, and that big misty patch there is its tail."
"Ooh!" I said. "Yes, I see it now! Thanks!"
He gave me a one-armed hug. "The Chocobo's lookin' west," he continued, "which means if you follow a line down past that star that marks its foot, that big square of stars yer lookin' at now is the Nagaraja at the south pole." My husband chuckled. "Not that it resembles a nagaraja much, but I'm guessin' the ancients just imagined a big ol' nagaraja sittin' up there feelin' important."
I laughed. "Makes sense. I'm pretty sure that's how a lot of Earth constellations happened, too." Craning my neck, I scanned the heavens, taking in the foreign starscape. It was a bit sad to say, but even though I'd been in Ivalice for some years now, I hadn't really taken time before this to stargaze. Qrrog was right—we had been occupied with clan work and general heroics and being married and being the Pirate King and Queen. It still feels weird to refer to myself as the Pirate Queen, actually. I feel more like Qrrog's the Pirate King and I'm his sidekick. But he insists I make an awesome pirate queen, which is sweet of him.
"How are you so familiar with the constellations, anyway?" I asked my husband as I continued to try to match up the star chart with what I was seeing. For some reason, when he explained the star-shapes, I could identify them easier than trying to orient myself with diagrams on paper.
"I'm a pirate, remember?" he said with a chuckle. "Sure, we've got fancy navigation magitek, but knowin' the stars has always been a vital sailin' skill. It'd be unfortunate to have yer tek give out in the middle of the ocean and not know where yer goin', after all."
"Oh, right," I said. "I'm sorry—I shouldn't have doubted your incredible practical skills."
Qrrog mussed my hair. "No worries, love," he said. "Not many folks realize that there are areas of expertise where scholars and pirates overlap."
"Like your uncanny ability to figure out how to assemble that telescope," I said. "Thanks for your help with that. I didn't have the slightest clue what I was doing."
"That's what I'm here for!" Qrrog said.
I laughed and looked up. It was so dark out here on Worgen Island that the sky was crystal clear at night—when we weren't smothered by fog, at any rate. Hesketh, Qrrog, and I had done some investigating into the enchantments on the island and discovered that the fog was a defensive measure. The three of us had managed to magickally coax it to ease up a little so we could watch the comet.
Amazingly, the enchantments responded best to Qrrog—perhaps because they were made from what he says is old pirate magick, vestiges of which are still manifest in the Viking job class as their ability to cast Thunder spells. It's definitely an area of research we're trying to look into when we have the time.
As my eyes continued to adjust to the dark, and dimmer structures on the celestial sphere came into view, I realized that Ivalice's night sky differed from Earth's in another important respect. "Whoa…"I said, scanning the stars—or, more accurately, what lay beyond them.
"What?" Qrrog asked.
"Your galaxy is different," I said. "Earth is in the disk of what's called a spiral galaxy. They're kind of pancake-shaped, so in our sky we see the galaxy edge-on as a band of light and dust clouds. But your galaxy…" I pointed up, using my finger to trace tremendous arcing filaments of stars that streamed across the heavens, chaotic turbulent regions of gas and dust that glowed magenta, and vast shock fronts of newly-formed, brilliant blue stars.
"Aye, it's quite a sight," Qrrog said. "Never get tired o' lookin' at it."
"Your galaxy is colliding with another one," I said. "It's amazing—I remember seeing pictures of that kind of thing back on Earth, but to actually be in one while it's happening… wow." My husband was right—it was gorgeous, the sort of thing you could stare at all night. In my totally biased opinion, stargazing in Ivalice was even better than stargazing on Earth.
"Yep," Qrrog said. "They've passed by each other a few times, and now they're really plungin' into each other. They both used to be spirals, like Earth's galaxy."
I blinked and looked over at him. "Wait—you already knew that?" I asked.
"Aye," the seeq said. "Why does it surprise you? Sounds like that kinda thing's common knowledge back on Earth, too."
"Well, that's due to years of scientific research and technological advancements," I said. "No offense, but… I'm pretty sure Ivalice does not have a telescope in orbit around it. This world does have magitek, but overall it strikes me as more… old-fashioned."
Qrrog laughed. "Who says you need science to know stuff?" he asked. "Mages have spoken to stars and learned their secrets. They know what's goin' on out there. And when you can just know about the heavens through magick, you don't tend to focus yer technological development on astronomy."
"Oh… I hadn't thought of that," I said. "But it does make sense. I mean, the point of science is to arrive at truth… but there's no need for fancy instrumentation or endless hypothesizing when you can just, y'know, talk to stars and hear it straight from them." I sighed. "Sorry. Sometimes I forget that Ivalice is different from Earth in some fundamental ways. That would explain why you guys have magick-powered airships and Earth doesn't."
"No worries," my husband said. "I s'pose it is a bit of a culture shock." He looked up and pointed. "By the by, there's the Crimson Comet." I followed his claw to a region of the sky wreathed in glowing nebulae. "See, that's the Antlion," he said. "The ancients imagined the clouds were like desert sands, with an antlion in the middle, probl'y eatin' up stars that got too close." He chuckled. "Incidentally, there is a black hole in the middle of that constellation, so the ancients mighta known quite a bit, too."
Among the diffuse glow, a brighter, redder light stood out, like a hot ember in a misty envelope. "Oh wow!" I breathed. "That must be the comet! It's amazing!"
"Even better'n I remembered!" Qrrog said with a grin. "I was just a kid last time it came 'round. I was workin' on me first ship back then, and I was just a cabin boy, so they had me swamped with chores. I wanted so bad to see the comet everybody kept talkin' about, so one night I stayed up late and snuck onto the deck." He closed his eyes. "I'll never ferget the ship rockin' in the waves as that comet glowed down on me, like it knew I was there and it was watchin' over me."
I squeezed his hand. "I think it must be proud of what you've become," I said.
"I hope so," he said. "At any rate, I think I'll remember this passin' even more fondly. Because I watched it with you." He ducked his snout to my head.
Giving him a hug, I said, "I'm so glad we could share this experience." I looked over at the telescope. "You know, back on Earth, I liked science and all, but I was never really into stargazing as a hobby. I think I know why now—because it's not as much fun when you're by yourself. I think it's kind of depressing to see beautiful things and not have anyone to share them with. I'd much rather enjoy them with someone I love."
"Me too," Qrrog said. "Thanks fer doin' this with me." He gave me a squeeze and then put a hand on the telescope. "Now let's see what it looks like up close!"
"Yeah!" I said, moving to the eyepiece. "Okay… I think I need your help figuring out how to focus this thing."
My husband laughed. "No problem," he said, reaching for the knobs and levers that still had me confused. "You just relax and I'll have this contraption trained on the comet in no time at all!"
"Yay, thanks!" I said, clapping my hands together and watching him work. This was definitely worth staying up for. And I was so grateful to have such a wonderful family to share my life with.