AN: Well, I've been meaning to make this crossover fic for over a year now and after much plodding along in writing (along with many bouts of self doubt and writer's block) I have finally put together what I hope is a good first chapter to this crossover idea that's been brewing for so long. Thank you to all who give this a try and I hope it's to your liking.
Disclaimer: The following is a fan-based writing, Code Geass belongs to Bandai Entertainment, Sunrise, MBS, Funimation and Ichiro Okouchi. Final Fantasy 14 belongs to Square Enix with major thanks to Naoki Yoshida/Yoshi-P and his dedicated team for saving it. Please support the official release.
Chapter 1: First Step Into A Realm Reborn
Year 2016 A.T.B.
Nightmares weren't a common occurrence for Lelouch Lamperouge, formerly known as Lelouch vi Britannia, Eleventh Prince of the Holy Britannian Empire. Yet when he did experience them, they were almost always centered either around the assassination of his mother, Marianne vi Britannia, and the subsequent exile of himself and his younger sister Nunnally to Japan as political hostages or the invasion of Japan soon after as his former homeland's invasion force ravaged the country in their conquest thanks to the Knightmare Frames outclassing Japan's tank and infantry based military.
In this case the dream had been both, seeming to cycle through the aforementioned events like a long film strip. All throughout this Lelouch could only feel affirmation at the various emotions he had felt at that time six years ago. The frustration and growing anger at the apathy shown by his father Emperor Charles zi Britannia, both at the assassination and how Nunally had been rendered unable to walk having been caught in the crossfire despite Marianne's attempt to shield her from the assassins' gunfire with the trauma of that also robbing the poor girl of her sight afterward. How he had bitten back and swallowed the impending feeling of despair and abandonment as Charles had publicly disowned the both of them and sent them to Japan as political hostages. The growing feeling of relief as he and Nunnally had made friends with Suzaku and Kaguya at the Kururugi Shrine, only for that peace to be shattered by the Britannian invasion.
As the memories that followed there played out so too was Lelouch reminded not just of his re-enflamed anger to his father for bringing this on them but also the righteous rage at the callous disregard for anything resembling mercy towards the people of Japan that Britannia showed in their conquest. Both before leaving Suzaku to make for the Tokyo Britannian settlement and after, Lelouch did not have to look far to see the mangled and bullet riddled remains of the fallen, some of them soldiers but so many more of them clearly not. Men, women, children; the Britannian military didn't seem to even care if they turned their guns on the very old or very young as Lelouch didn't have to even look hard to find that or given the position of the bodies it was clear most had been shot just trying to run away. Only two things kept the former prince from breaking down right then and there: the first was the presence of Nunnally, who he had been carrying on his back the whole way, all the while making up whatever lie he could so his blind sister wouldn't realize the horrors they were walking through and the second was the oath he made before Suzaku of his intent to destroy Britannia, someday, somehow.
It was at the point where he came in sight of the Tokyo Britannian settlement where things stopped, fading away into a pure black space and Lelouch found himself standing there alone. He was wearing the Ashford Academy's school uniform that he'd fallen asleep in while finishing off a combination of homework and the finalizing/altering-to-make-tolerable-for-the-participants (which would inevitably include himself) plans for the coming month's school events handed over to him by one Milly Ashford.
"Is it simply the destruction of your enemies that you desire?" A male voice spoke from behind causing Lelouch to turn around.
A distance away stood a brown-haired man wearing armor that was a combination of metal plate and leather with obvious signs of wear. Lelouch could also see a large battle axe strapped to the man's back but the distance between them obscured most of the man's face.
"What I desire is the destruction of Britannia and through that create a better world for Nunnally." Lelouch gave his honest answer, as he could see now that this was unquestionably a dream, albeit a stranger one than usual. He almost wished he had a psychiatrist handy to figure what this man dressed like a warrior from the Middle Ages could symbolize.
"So your desire for power isn't an entirely selfish one…" Whether the warrior was saying this in reply or as an observation, the former prince couldn't be sure. "Tell me, Lelouch Lamperouge, to bring about this better world are you willing to walk the path of the hero?"
There was silence for a moment until Lelouch sighed and gave a light but no less cynical laugh.
"A hero? What? Like someone out of a storybook that's this great embodiment of hope and an inspiration for the poor and downtrodden?" He asked the other, his voice in a mocking tone. "Or what reality produces: someone with just the right combination of charisma, luck, skill at killing people and a too good to be true story around them that their country can parade around to inspire the masses?"
"And what kind would you consider worthy of your sister?" The warrior asked simply.
That replying question touched a nerve, and the former prince was about to retort before realizing the absurdity, not to mention pointlessness, of arguing with what was ultimately a figment of his imagination.
"You know what? Fine." Lelouch said with resignation, deciding he might as well see this dream to its conclusion. "If you want to show me how to become the former, let me see it."
At that the warrior then walked towards him, and when he was close enough for Lelouch to see the other's face he saw that the man was only slightly older than he was, as could be seen with the light beard. Lelouch couldn't help but notice a strange intensity in the other's gray eyes as they looked him over. It was clear this man was making some kind of evaluation of him.
"If you truly wish to walk the path of the hero, then take this." The warrior held out his hand that held a book bound in a blue and gold patterned material and in its center was a round metal bit with a diamond shaped light blue crystal. "But before you do, know that in choosing this path you will take on the burdens of both your world and Hydaelyn's. It will likely be a harder path than if you had become a hero for your world alone. Do you still choose to accept this?"
At that Lelouch paused and began to think. This dream was now starting to feel a little too unusual for him to write this off as dream logic. Usually after a becoming aware of a dream one would start feeling like waking up from it, but there was nothing even close to that. Plus there was something in the intensity of this man's gaze telling him to take his answer seriously.
"When you said I'd take on the burdens of this 'Hydaelyn', what do you mean? Who or what is Hydaelyn?" Lelouch asked.
"The better question would be 'who' and 'where', for you see…" The warrior then stumbled slightly, a sigh of weariness coming from him as he regained his balance. "I'm sorry but there isn't much time left. All I can tell you now is in accepting this, you will gain the power to attain your wish, but you will also eventually face at least an entire other world's worth of foes in addition to your Holy Britannian Empire. Some will undoubtedly be just as or even more powerful. Knowing this will you still follow this path?"
As he considered the warrior's words and considered whether or not this truly would be worth it more than just Nunnally came to mind. He also saw the face of his mother, the one person he could genuinely call a hero, and remembered not just the many unjustly slaughtered Japanese civilians he saw in his trek through the war zone of what would become Area 11, but also Britannia's oppression of said conquered people and how its brutal system of Social Darwinism encouraged it. All of them had been denied justice by Britannia and its system, and attaining that was a necessity in his goal of a peaceful world for Nunnally. Up to now, plain survival and hiding the fact that the two of them hadn't died in the invasion from the Emperor prevented Lelouch from doing much save planning, but if this man's offer was real…
"I accept," Lelouch answered as he took the book. "For good or ill, I, Lelouch vi Britannia accept your offer."
"Thank you…" The warrior said in a relieved sigh, and Lelouch suddenly felt a slight increase of weight in his hands, causing him to look and see the book's crystal beginning to glow with light. As he returned his gaze towards the other intending to question him, the armored man was slowly starting to fade away. "May you make our sacrifice…Louisoix's sacrifice, worth it…Lelouch vi Britannia…"
And with those words, Lelouch's sight was filled with a blinding light as he felt his feet leave the ground upon which he was standing and yet there was no feeling of falling.
As the former prince's vision returned, he found himself floating in the dark. Well, not quite the dark as with his returning vision Lelouch could start making out points of light in the distance around him. It was almost like he was in a planetarium…
Yet just as he was about to get his bearings, Lelouch then felt himself start to descend, slowly floating down in a spiral like motion. As his feet touched what he could only assume was the floor, he noticed a ripple form as if he'd stepped in water, but his feet didn't submerge.
"Hear…" A female voice echoed both throughout the space and in the former prince's head, causing him to reflexively touch his temple as a flash of light briefly enveloped his vision. Yet just as Lelouch began to look around he found his vision consumed by another flash of light as the voice continued. "Hear...feel…"
After a few blinks to make sure his vision was alright, Lelouch turned and very quickly saw that among the mix of stars and moving specks of light there was one that was glowing brighter than all of them. A squinting look at it seemed to indicate it was fairly close, and with no other apparent alternatives he began to walk towards it. It wasn't long until the glowing orb of light was close enough to reach out and touch, but before Lelouch could get any closer to do so a pitch-black circle suddenly burst open in front of him, completely obscuring the orb save for the light it was emitting.
The black circle started to waver, emitting waves of darkness that began to cover the aforementioned light, and out from it emerged a figure garbed in a dark hooded robe that obscured its face. As it raised its head to regard him, Lelouch could make out a face fitting mask that covered the upper half of the hooded figure's face and traces of curved blade like markings along the robe. As the two looked at each other, the former prince couldn't help but get a threatening feel from the being in front of him. Under normal circumstances, he would have retreated to try and find a more advantageous position, but strangely could only feel a detached calmness towards this strange new threat.
"Hear...feel...think…" The female voice returned as the orb Lelouch had been approach flew out around the hooded figure coming to a stop right in front of him. His vision was then consumed in a sudden flash of light that seemed to erupt all around him, and yet despite this the former prince found himself not crying out in surprise or so much as flinching at the light.
As his vision cleared, Lelouch found he was now wearing robes of his own and there was the feeling of a hat of some sort on his head. He barely had time to process this as he felt his right hand move on its own to his side bringing it up forward. There was a flash of light in his right hand that quickly changed shape into the form of an open book, which he then held forth towards the figure now making a move of its own.
The hooded figure's mouth opened as if to cry out as it spread out its arms, yet the only sound Lelouch could hear was a rush like a strong wind. Then before the figure's face came a glowing red symbol, its design as fiery as its very color. It then leaped forward towards its opposition, and in response Lelouch brandished the glowing book forth and -
Lelouch found himself stirring in his seat as he began to awaken, the chair for the desk in his room feeling strangely unbalanced. The light he could feel from behind his closed eyes told him it was morning, but thankfully the lack of any alarm or Nunnally's voice to call him awake was a sign he hadn't overslept. At the very least he'd have time to process that bizarre dream he'd just had; odd that of all the dreams it would have to be that one he remembered vividly.
"...Oi! Y'all right, lad?" A strange male voice interrupted Lelouch thoughts and his eyes snapped open.
Standing before him was an older blonde and bearded man with dark skin and wearing red and black shirt and pants. On his head was a red bandanna tied at the left and he wore a pair of earrings that looked to be made from the fangs of some kind of animal.
"You were moanin' in your sleep an' sweatin' buckets besides." The man in red noted. "Rollin' of the ship got your stomach churnin' has it?"
At the sound of the word 'ship' Lelouch glanced around and found that the room he had found himself in was a large one predominantly made of wood and everything about it, from the design to the other occupants seated further away, resembled the common area of an old sailing ship he'd seen in history courses. As his eyes then noticed a pair of sleeping passengers with white hair and pointed ears, his memories of the dream from before combined with the realization that this was not a ship that he'd come across normally in any Britannian territory were forming some very troubling implications.
"Hmm… Don't seem like sea sickness, now that I look at you." The other spoke, regaining Lelouch's attention. "It'll be the aether, then, I reckon."
"The...aether?" The former prince uttered questioningly, internally struggling to keep what he hoped was a straight face as the questions of what to do and more importantly how to return home (more specifically to Nunnally) were echoing in his mind.
"Aye lad, the aether." The man in red gave a knowing nod. "Some are more sensitive to the stuff than others, see, an' we ain't too far from Vylbrand now, which is chock full of aetherytes. No need to fret, though. You'll soon get used to it."
"I see…" Lelouch replied, mentally perplexed at just what 'aether' and 'aetheryte' were. Before he could consider how to make up a believable question to that, though, there was sudden rocking of the room followed a by a loud creaking sound, indicating the rocking of the ship.
The man in red stumbled slightly at this but quickly regained his footing with a light groan. "Might as well have been bloomin' seasickness...Ship's leaping around like a demented chocobo today." Leaning back into his old position, he returned his attention to Lelouch. "I reckon I might head out on deck; get meself a breath of fresh air. Limsa Lominsa's still a fair way off, in case you were wonderin'. Seein' as you're awake an' all, how's about you keep me company till we get there?" He gestured at the two passengers Lelouch had glimpsed earlier. "The young'uns don't care much for conversation, see."
"Why not? I could use a little stretching of the legs anyway." Lelouch gave a friendly smile in reply. Might as well accommodate what was for the moment his only source of information on this new world he had found himself in, so long as his new acquaintance didn't start showing signs of foul play.
"Anyroad, Brennan's the name, an' peddlin's me trade." The other gestured to himself with his own friendly smile.
"A pleasure to make your acquaintance." The former prince offered his hand in greeting to which Brennan shook. As he got up to begin following the other up to the deck, Lelouch felt a tugging at his right arm, causing him to turn to see that his book bag had also accompanied him to this new world. A quick look inside revealed that the strange book that he'd received before had joined his belongings but decided to forgo further inspection of it for now as there should be time later.
As he stepped out onto the deck, Lelouch was greeted with an amazing sight. From the masts all the way to what he could see of the hull looked very much like the galleons many of his history teachers would wax on about as the pride of Britannia's navy during the era of colonization. Still, the crew working on deck while functionally matching, visually couldn't be more different as what at a distance he would have thought were unusually muscular men, turned out to be something else given their pale green skin.
"Not many roegadyn where you're from, lad?" Brennan asked, noticing Lelouch's look around the ship.
"Well...no, not really, I've traveled a long way from home." Lelouch answered, not sure how to convincingly cover that. "I have seen some elves in my homeland, though…"
"Elves? You mean the elezen?" The other asked, sounding more curious than confused.
"Oh right, 'elezen'." Lelouch snapped his fingers in a show of correcting himself. "Sorry. I'm still getting used to different terms from home."
"Ah, that do be one problem with slang. Probably have similar words for us hyurs." Brennan nodded knowingly. "No need to worry, in your trade you're sure to meet enough folk to iron that out."
"My trade?" Lelouch asked, mentally noting to remember those terms.
"Aye lad, judgin' by your unusual garments, I'd say you were on of them new adventurers, an' I'd venture to guess from your bag an' our destination an aspirin' Arcanist." Brennan gestured to Lelouch's book bag. "Am I warm?"
"Mostly, though the books I have are just for academic purposes." Lelouch admitted, mixing in a little truth would hopefully make his story more believable. "Just to make sure we're thinking of the same thing, what does an Arcanist do?"
"They're one of several magic wieldin' folk; Arcanists use these books full of formulas an' things to cast their magic." Brennan made a bit of gesture like he was holding an open book out for emphasis. "Stronger ones can even summon these little but formidable creatures called Carbuncles to aid them in battle."
"So... anyone can learn this power?" Lelouch was now struggling to hide the excitement at the prospect of learning magic, which could have so many devastating possibilities to use against Britannia if he could return to his world with it.
"So long as you have the aptitude for it," Brennan gave a shrug and then a knowing smile. "I can tell, though. Goin' wherever the wind blows, seekin' fortune and glory –Now, that's what I call livin'!...So long as you can avoid dyin', I mean. Ain't no secret adventurin's a risky business, these days especially."
"An old writer from my homeland put it 'Nothing ventured, nothing gained, or so men say'." Lelouch quoted with smile as confidence in this new path he'd found himself on started to build. "And I would say the gains are more than worth it."
"Gains, eh?" The other regarded Lelouch curiously. "Speakin' of, what first attracted you to it?"
"To gain power." The former prince answered simply and immediately cursed himself for letting the honest answer slip as he saw the surprised look on his new acquaintance's face.
"...Power? As in, er...power to do good? Like protectin' the weak, an' fightin' for what's right an' all that?" Brennan asked in reply, though there was a note of concern in his voice.
"Of course!" Lelouch answered quickly, technically half true given his sister's condition. "What else would it be for?"
"Aye, I thought that's what you meant." Brennan nodded; his tone noticeably relieved. "Well, adventurers do get up to a lot of fightin', that's for sure. You'll never be short of a chance to polish your warcraft in the adventurin' business. Once we set port, you'd best sign yourself up at the Adventurers' Guild, they'll set you on the right path."
"Thank you, and could you perhaps point me in the right direction when we get there?" Lelouch asked, making sure to keep his tone polite and not risk alienating what was for now his only information source.
"Won't be hard to miss, an' don't forget the Arcanist's guild or others." Brennan's friendly smile returned at Lelouch's intrigued expression. "Limsa's home to few, so if you fancy learnin' how to swing an axe along with slingin' a spell you should think about seekin' one out."
"I'll take a look as soon as I can." Lelouch replied, though the prospect of training to wield a battle axe like the one his strange benefactor owned was not very appealing given how much strength it would probably take to even swing it.
"Just remember, though: there're more important things than fortune an' glory. Such as breathin'." Brennan said seriously. "Ain't no profit in bein' dead, an' that's a fact."
Before Lelouch could reply, it was interrupted by the sudden sharp ringing of a bell. The pair stopped and looked to see this was clearly the signal for some kind of emergency given the crew on deck were all rushing to whatever their stations were while some were beginning to usher the other passengers on deck to below. Lelouch was about to suggest to Brennan about doing similar when to his side off the deck there was loud splash, followed by an intense rocking of the boat which caused the other to fall backward to the floor with a cry. Lelouch was able to maintain his footing and looking over the side he saw not only more geysers of seawater accompanied by a series of loud cracking sounds in the distance but also three ships smaller than the one he was currently on. A flicker of smoke from one of them, followed by another eruption of water identifying the aforementioned noise as cannon fire.
"Ships off the starboard bow!" A male voice called from nearby, causing the former prince to glance over and see the speaker, a roegadyn man, was one of the crew gazing over the side only a few feet away from them. "Pirate colors!"
(Of course it would be pirates.) Lelouch thought to himself as he moved to help Brennan to his feet. (If this world's main mode of long-distance travel is by boat, that's another reason to gain strength here…)
"Pirates? Bloody hells…" The red garbed merchant muttered fearfully, as he moved to crouch below the rail.
At the sound of rapidly approaching feet, Lelouch turned to see it was the same roegadyn sailor rushing towards them.
"Have ye no sense!?" The stalwart sailor bellowed as he pointed toward the nearest stairway down below deck. "Get below!"
With a quick nod the pair turned and ran to the stairway, Lelouch glanced behind, glimpsing the sailor running towards the front of the ship and to the side the three pirate ships quickly advancing towards their ship.
It didn't take the pair long before they reached the common area, the doors to the stairway firmly shut behind them. Whatever passengers that had been resting easy a moment ago were now very much awake. Some were speaking with one another on what could be next, and some others were moving from one porthole to another to get even a glimpse of what would surely be a battle at sea. Lelouch meanwhile was trying to come up with any plan that could ensure his survival should any of the pirates board and take the ship, all the while trying to ignore the various portrayals of corsairs in media he'd grown up on and how they dealt with their victims that were coming to mind be it walking the plank to a watery grave or being locked in a box full of scorpions.
"What is the world comin' to…?" Brennan asked in clear disbelief. "Pirates firin' on a ship flyin' Lominsan colors! Bastards either have a boatload of balls, or bugger all for brains."
"So I take it they're usually intimidated by the local navy?" Lelouch asked, getting the other's attention.
"Aye lad, why I could tell you stories of the Admiral an…" Brennan paused as he noticed any sounds of commotion outside had died down.
The unmistakable sound of the doors being thrown open got Lelouch, and the other passengers' attention. In strode a much more relaxed and visibly relieved, roegadyn sailor. "Ye can rest easy, friends! We've made it out o' cannon range, an' no buccaneer's bark'll catch this flighty temptress once the wind's in her sails."
As the rest of the passengers returned to where they had been prior to the attack, Brennan sighed with relief. "That was too bleedin' close…" He paused to regard Lelouch appreciatively. "Glad one of us kept his head on his shoulders; I reckon I'd've lost mine, otherwise."
Lelouch wasn't going to reveal he'd been in the vicinity of worse artillery fire and decided to change the subject. "Well, if the pirates have given up chase, does that mean we're close to port?"
"Aye, we must be." The other nodded. "Let's head up on deck an' have a look, shall we?"
After making their way back up, the pair then made for the bow of the ship near the beakhead so as to get a good view of their destination.
"By and by, from our conversation earlier I can assume this is your first trip to Limsa Lominsa?" Brennan asked, to which Lelouch nodded. "Well then, let this journeyed itinerant tell you the ins an' outs of your destination. Ahem!" The merchant cleared his throat before continuing. "Limsa Lominsa prides itself on bein' Eorzea's foremost naval power. Weren't too long ago that the place was ruled by pirates, but thanks to the current Admiral's civilizin' influence, the city-state could almost pass for a respectable nation. You'd never guess she was once a rum-swillin' buccaneer herself! Heh heh!"
"So I take it this Admiral was able to unite most of the other pirate crews under one banner for all this?" Lelouch surmised. "If so, that's impressive." No less daunting a task than it would be to gain the aid of any of the Japanese resistance cells back home, which was at this point only part of the drawing board of Lelouch's plans to eventually bring down Brittania
"That's the gist of it, though it ain't all smooth sailin'," Brennan explained. "Most folk ain't so quick to change, an' with a town full of liberty-lovin' ruffians, you can imagine how many naysayers an' troublemakers she's got to deal with— like them pirates who took a fancy to us just now."
"But you said earlier that attack was unusual," Lelouch commented. "Could that mean any serious threat to the region's stability?"
"Hard to say, corsairs not going along with the Admiral ain't too uncommon," The other shrugged. "An' if that weren't bad enough, I've heard the Sahagin are raidin' the coast just as bold as you please. Them're the sea-dwellin' beastmen the locals call 'fishbacks', 'case you didn't know."
(Fish people? I certainly wasn't expecting that.) Lelouch thought. (I'm curious what their conflict with this city-state could be about if it's that significant.)
The former prince was about to ask another question when a different bell rang, this one with a gentler tone than the previous one.
"Ah, at long last." Brennan said with a note of cheer. "Land ho!" He then walked forward to the furthest point the railing went to the front of the ship, and then pointed forward for Lelouch to see. "Behold Limsa Lominsa, a nation blessed by the ocean's bounty an' beloved of Lymlaen, goddess of navigation."
From there docking at the port had been a relatively smooth process and as Lelouch stepped out onto the platform coming off the boat he fought back a growing curiosity at what awaited him past the gates into Limsa Lominsa, several passengers walking past him to their own destinations. Even if it was apparent that most countries in his world were more technologically advanced, that didn't mean there wasn't something here that couldn't be utilized. His thoughts were interrupted as he heard some feet come up and stop behind him, turning back Lelouch saw it was Brennan.
"An' here's where we part ways, lad." The red garbed merchant spoke. "I'm off to the markets to deliver me wares, then it's on to the highroad for me, next stop Ul'dah." He then reached into his pocket, taking out a ring and handing it to Lelouch. "Here, I want you to have this, by way of thanks for saving me arse earlier. May not be the strongest of magic rings, but should be a good start to help in battle."
Thanking the merchant, Lelouch stepped aside to let the elf-no, 'elezen' pair move past as he put the ring on. He blinked as he felt something around him change, but he couldn't quite name what it was.
"Hey, you never did tell me your name, did you?" Brennan asked but before Lelouch could say anything to correct that, the man continued. "Well, here's an idea...Become the sort of storied personage I can brag about havin' met, an I'll consider us square."
"Are you…?" Lelouch began but stopped, there was something in that friendly smile of his, something that seemed to say he truly believed Lelouch could become what he said. That kind of sincere supportive regard was not something he was used to, given his royal upbringing and Britannia's Social Darwinism being a prevalent cultural aspect. Still, while unusual the former prince could also consider this somewhat refreshing and he found himself returning the smile. "Fine, I hope you enjoy epic stories. Now about the guild…?"
"First make for the main Aetheryte, it's impossible to miss, from there you can get a good view of the city an' one of the guardsmen, the Yellowjackets, can help you around." Brennan said as he pointed forward and while Lelouch needed to squint a little he could see some large blue object in the distance through the buildings' opening. "An' don't forget about the Aetherytes an' the smaller ones around the cities, lad. It'll make travelin' much easier."
With that the red garbed merchant walked on ahead and soon vanished into the crowd moving forward into the city. Lelouch took one more look around before heading that way himself.
Brennan had not been exaggerating about the "main Aetheryte" as he had called it, which Lelouch discovered to be a gigantic light blue crystal rotating in the middle of a large plaza. Yet as interesting a site as that had been, what was even more intriguing was seeing some of the people in the plaza doing as the red garbed merchant had suggested. Something seemed to happen as they reached out and touched the crystal known as Aetheryte, and upon finishing that a few of the people suddenly levitated for a second and then vanished in a small swirl of light. The fact that no one looked the least bit surprised at this was proof this was commonplace for this world.
Lelouch was about to head for the crystal himself when he was suddenly called out to by one of the guardsmen known as Yellowjackets, a roegadyn man named Ryssfloh. Despite the man's gruff mannerisms, the guard's intentions were to help and as such Lelouch was given directions to what was essentially an elevator called the "Crow's Lift" and that it would take him to the Drowning Wench tavern. Doing so took him to said tavern, and at what looked to be the main counter was a dark brown haired and bearded man in slightly nicer than usual sailor's garb who was currently looking down at a ledger.
The man looked up at Lelouch's approach and spread his hands in a welcoming manner before speaking out in a similar accent to Brennan. "Greetings to ye, lad. What'll it be?" He briefly paused to give a closer look at the other. "...Ah, but you ain't here fer the drink, are ye? Ye've come with a mind to try yer 'and at 'venturin', I reckon! Well, ye'll find no shortage o' work 'ere in Limsa."
"What gave me away?" Lelouch asked in a humorous tone, hoping to make a good impression as whether this was the man in charge of the guild or not a tavern keeper would be a good source of local information at least.
The man chuckled at that. "The name's Baderon, an' this most 'ospitable of 'ostelries is the Drownin' Wench. 'Tis also the 'ome o' the 'Venturer's Guild 'ere in Limsa. That's why we've got a desk 'specially fer 'andlin' guild business an' why I seem to spend time savin' the necks o' whelps like yerself than wettin' the throats of me regulars."
"Really? Even counting the busy hours and holidays?" Lelouch asked with amusement.
"Aye lad, even with that." Baderon answered. " 'Venturers 'ave a knack fer findin' trouble, see." The bartender then gestured to one of the doors leading outside that offered a view of the town. "Not that they need it in these parts, on account o' there bein' trouble wherever ye look. If ye manage to steer clear o' the fishbacks an' the kobolds outside the city, the pirates on the inside will get ye instead."
"Kobolds?" Lelouch asked and decided to see if any of what he could remember from courses that covered mythology and folklore would be of any use. "My apologies, but I've only heard a few things about these creatures back in my homeland. Aren't they little, hunched over creatures that cause mischief?" He decided to discount the more benevolent portrayals if Baderon felt he needed to be warned of them.
"Ye must 'ave come a long way if that's all ye've heard." The bartender commented. "The kobolds are a ground dwellin' kind of beastman, unlike the fishbacks. Kinda like large armor wearin' rats, hunched like ye described. Still, between the beasts an' pirates, if they don't manage to trouble ye there's always the Garlean Empire to finish the job. Oh, no one knows what they're plannin' o' course, but if they're plannin' anythin' ye can be sure it's to kill the lot of us."
Lelouch flinched slightly at the word 'empire', something Baderon noticed but simply continued speaking. "Aye... this town seems peaceful at a glance, but look again, an' ye'll see a people livin' in fear o' what tomorrow might bring." There was a pause. "I suppose ye've had yer own share o' troubles with the Empire, wherever yer from."
"From what you've just said I imagine these imperials aren't any less driven to conquer everything and put any who don't submit to the sword as the ones I've had the displeasure of knowing." Lelouch said, pretty sure any empire with a reputation like that could probably match with the one he knew.
"Seems wherever one goes the people 'ave their share o' worries an' fears."Baderon sighed. "...An' who can blame 'em, after everythin' that's 'appened? Eorzea took a mighty blow durin' the Calamity, but our 'omes weren't the only what got wiped off the face of existence by that thrice-damned bastard of a dragon."
"Do you mean the great loss of life?" Lelouch asked, assuming any calamity involving a dragon would bring that about to which the other gravely shook his head.
"Nay, lad though that's its own bit of sorrows." Baderon replied. "It took our bleedin' memories too. An' no one's been able to explain it in a way as makes an ounce o' sense."
"Your...memories?" Lelouch blinked in genuine astonishment. A calamity bringing about mass destruction was a given, but widespread memory loss was certainly a different addition to the expected.
"None o' the folks what saw it an' lived to tell the tale seem to agree on 'ow the tale actually goes." The other explained. "Tis all foggy...like recollections from an 'ard night on the ale. Ye can imagine why people might fear fer the future if they can't rightly recall the past."
"I...can only imagine…" Lelouch tried his best to sound genuinely sympathetic, impeded mainly by the attempt at wrapping his head around such an odd combination of disasters. "Is there anything you do remember?"
"Aye, there is one thing we all remember," Baderon answered. "An' that's the group o' 'venturers what laid down their lives to drag Eorzea back from the brink, when she was bound fer the abyss." The bartender paused, slight look of shame passing on his face. "Well, I say we remember...Truth is, though we ain't forgotten what they did fer us, this godsdamned Calamity spawned memory loss robbed us o' their names… It won't even let us picture their damn faces. 'Tis like starin' at a gull flyin' in front o' the sun –all ye see in yer mind's eye is a shadow set against a blindin' glare. An' that's how every bugger describes it, by the way –give or take the odd gull. It's this what's got people callin' these 'eroes the 'Warriors of Light'."
"Warriors of Light, huh?" Lelouch observed. "A title that works for both description and for honoring…"
"Ah, but ye should know 'tis also one fer inspiration, lad." Balderon pointed out in reply. "Fer instance, if Limsa's ever goin' to put this time o' darkness behind it, it's goin' to need 'venturers to 'elp banish the fear. It's goin' to need new 'eroes like the ones we lost." He then paused as he regarded Lelouch thoughtfully. "Maybe one day ye'll be one of 'em. An' that's why any aid we can give to a 'venturer is effort well spent. What say ye, lad? Ye willin' to lend us yer strength?"
"That strength will be something I'll need to work on, but I'll lend what I can." Lelouch answered while thinking to himself. (Though don't expect me to wind up another dead hero; I'll do whatever I need to here to get it, but whatever power I learn here will truly have its day when its ready to use against Britannia.)
"Me thanks to ye, an' to the Navigator an' all! I knew she'd steered ye my way fer a reason." Balderon sounded genuinely elated at a new adventurer in the guild and then looked down at the ledger he had been reading before returning his gaze to Lelouch. "Ah, but listen to me, yatterin' on like a sun-touched fishwife. 'Tis 'igh time we got yer mark in me book. Put yer scrawl right here."
With that Balderon handed Lelouch a quill and pushed the book towards him. For a moment Lelouch considered using a different name but decided against it. If Brittania did have a presence in this world then either Brennan or Balderon would have mentioned it. That and his current name was an alias anyway.
"Lelouch Lamperouge, is it?" Baderon asked after picking up the book and reading the other's signature. "An' a fine name it is. Congratulations. Yer now an' upstandin' member o' the Venturer's Guild."
Lelouch was about to ask what was next but was cut off by a new voice.
"You there, adventurer." A harsh voice called out, causing Lelouch to turn to see it was a roegadyn male in full uniform as a Yellowjacket guard, accompanied by two other guards: a female roegadyn and male human/hyur. The latter term would take a bit of getting used to. "You sailed in on the ferry, did you not?"
Lelouch could tell immediately from the tone there was something behind this question, though there was no way he could in any way deny it given there were too many witnesses to him getting off the boat. Not to mention he had been directed to this place by a different Yellowjacket moments before.
"Yes, as did many others." The former prince answered. "Why do you ask?"
"The captain reported being attacked by a pirate vessel. And several have testified independently that a passenger matching your description went out on deck mere moments before the incident took place. " The suspicion in the guard's voice was evident to Lelouch as the man continued. "Sending your friends signals, were you?"
Lelouch's expression didn't change; he was used to keeping a straight face in situations like this thanks to life experience.
"If that's all you're going by then I hope you've questioned more than just me." He said coolly. "There were at least four other civilians on deck not counting myself and my companion, a merchant named Brennan, whom either you or your witnesses have neglected to mention."
"Boy, are you criticizing my job as a guardsman?" The yellowjacket growled, though the two other Yellowjackets looked a bit less sure of themselves.
Lelouch was about to continue, intending to lead with a genuine sounding apology and then begin steering the conversation more to his advantage but was again interrupted, this time from an unexpected source.
"Now 'old on just a minute there, officer. Ye've got the wrong lad." Baderon spoke, causing the former prince to glance over in barely concealed surprise that this man was doing more than sitting by and letting things sort themselves out. "This fine, upstandin' young man is me dear departed grandma's niece's cousin's closest companion. The lad wouldn't be caught dead fraternizin' with such unsavory elements."
Baderon's reputation seemed to have some weight as the guard's demeanor became noticeably more polite. "Is that right? Ahem. You are surely aware of the recent kidnappings? Respectfully, then, we cannot be too trusting of outsiders at a time when the loyalty of even our closest friends is in doubt."
Baderon nodded sagely in agreement. "Aye, ye make a good point there, officer, a very good point. Very wise. Ye needn't worry though, I keep an eye open at all times, me, an' two more often than not." He then slightly relaxed as he gestured at one of the tavern's tables. "Now, sir, what say ye to a tankard o' me finest ale afore ye return to yer duties, eh?"
"Not a watered-down cup of piss like last time, I should hope?" The guard's demeanor relaxing into a more casual one.
"Ain't got the faintest idea what yer on about, officer." Baderon said, waving his hand in mock surprise at the question. "The Wench might offer some o' the cheapest grog this side o' the Straight o' Merlthor, but that don't mean it won't get ye good an' pickled! An' look, there's a chair over there just cryin' to be sat on, so kick off them 'eavy boots, eh!?"
With a nod of thanks, the guard and his two companions did as suggested, finding a seat further away near the entrance, likely so once they were finished they could quickly exit and return to their duties. When the trio were seated and firmly out of earshot, Baderon turned to Lelouch with a sympathetic look.
"Ye'll 'ave to excuse these eager bloody Yellowjackets." The bartender explained. "There's been a spate o' kidnappin's see, an' they ain't got a clue who's behind 'em. Naturally they've taken to clappin' irons on anyone who looks vaguely suspicious, which means 'venturers, visitors…an' pretty much every bugger else in this town."
"You have my thanks for that, Baderon." Lelouch said, actually meaning it and at the same time feeling impressed at how smoothly the man had handled the situation.
"Wouldn't be much of guild if we went an' left our fellows to the sharks." Baderon replied. "Don't take it personal, though. Us Lominsans can be an 'eadstrong bunch o' bastards, it's true, but given time, we'll grow on ye. Now, where was I…?" The man paused for a moment and then smiled welcomingly. "Oh aye! Welcome to Limsa Lominsa, where the sea's as green as the faces o' me patrons after a few too many Blackbelly whiskeys!"
Looking back towards the trio of guards and the drinks now at their table brought by one of the tavern's servers, Lelouch couldn't help but wonder what shade of green a roegadyn would turn at drinking too many of the aforementioned whiskeys for it to be noticeable.
"Now take a moment to gather yer wits," Baderon's voice drew Lelouch's attention back to him. "An' we'll get started with learnin' ye the ways o' the city. "
From there Baderon had given Lelouch directions to the Aetheryte he had seen upon his arrival in the city, the marketplace with instructions to deliver an old tool to a specific merchant and the Arcanist's Guild where Lelouch hoped to learn the magic Brennan had mentioned to him. He had also pointed out the importance seeking out people who would give him tasks as an adventurer, pointing out that despite the tediousness of it doing so was a good way to build a reputation as well as money, something which the former prince had to admit made sense. There was also the added bonus of potential contacts and information sources this could open up.
The helpful bartender had even pointed out one such individual, a lalafell that ended up tasking him with picking up some mildly suspicious sounding herbs...that turned out to be lavender. After that Lelouch went to the Aetheryte and, as he had seen others do reached out and touched the large revolving blue crystal. There was a feeling as if something were passing from the crystal and into his hand as it seemed stuck to it for moment before being free again. As he lowered his hand there was a strange feeling in his head now, as if there was something impressionable about this specific spot.
"Ah, another novice adventurer. Aye, Baderon has sent more than a few of your kind this way of late." A male voice spoke, causing Lelouch to turn to see that the speaker was an approaching roegadyn guardsman. The former prince relaxed as he saw this one didn't seem to be giving him any suspicious looks like the previous guards. "I am Sundhimal , one of the Yellowjackets tasked with keeping the peace in the city. It is also my charge to provide guidance in the use of this device." He indicated the Aetheryte. "Fear not, I shall be brief. Aetherytes are crystalline structures that tap into aetherial energies. They are primarily used to travel swiftly from one place to another. Return and Teleport – the most common transportation spells – make direct use of the aetherytes and their connection to their flow of aether."
"Then is that why this Aetheryte suddenly seemed so...unforgettable?" Lelouch asked, his question ending awkwardly as he wasn't sure how to properly phrase this. "I can now just teleport to this place I now know by instinct is here?"
"Aye, and believe me you'll find this convenience is just the beginning." Sundhimal answered. "As these devices are found in almost every corner of Eorzea, any adventurer worthy of the name will wish to seek out and attune himself to each one. Once you have expanded your horizons beyond the walls of the city, you will soon find yourself performing the act of attunement as a matter of course. There is, however, no need for unseemly haste. The aetherytes found in and around the city will be sufficient for the present, I assure you. Should you wish to learn more about aetherytes and transportation magic, I will be here to answer your questions."
"I was told about there being smaller ones in the city, what makes them different?" Lelouch asked.
"Mainly in how you use them." Sundhimal began his explanation. "You see…"
From there the roegadyn guard explained how the smaller aetherytes were also to be attuned to and that they were used just for getting around the cities and could only be accessed by direct interaction with them. The greater aetherytes were the ones that could be accessed by the spells Teleport and Return provided one was attuned to them. A carefully worded question on how the crystals were created and how to get them installed only yielded that the first was not generally known and the second was a matter of money and lots of it.
His questions answered, Lelouch proceeded to the marketplace, and as instructed approached a roegadyn man named Swozblaet who, upon receiving the delivery proceeded to give the former prince a brief tour of the place, explaining what services each stall offered. From there he went to the Arcanist's guild, making sure to attune to the lesser aetheryte right outside before entering.
Inside, Lelouch found himself in a notably busy area with four reception desks, two of the four having a number of people waiting in line to speak with said desk's occupant. Unsure which of them to approach, or if it even mattered, he picked the least busy looking of the two without lines and walked over.
"Welcome to the Arcanist's Guild. It is here that we research and develop the field of arcanima." The receptionist, a dark haired hyur woman said in greeting. "Arcanima is the science of employing 'arcane geometries' ─intricate patterns that map the unlocked mysteries of existence─ to draw forth and manipulate the body's aetheric energies." The receptionist, a nameplate at the desk showed her name was 'Murie', then paused noticing Lelouch's obvious interest in the subject. "Ah, but if I am not mistaken, you already possess some rudimentary understanding of the craft. Shall I deepen your knowledge of our history, as well?"
"Certainly." Lelouch answered, eager to learn what he could of the magic of this world. Even knowing its history could have uses later.
"The roots of arcanima can be traced back to the esoteric calculations practiced by the people of the south sea isles. It was these island folk that first discovered a method to express natural phenomena in mathematical terms." Murie began. "The roots of arcanima can be traced back to the esoteric calculations practiced by the people of the south sea isles. It was these island folk that first discovered a method to express natural phenomena in mathematical terms."
(So a magic based on a form of math.) The former prince thought. (That will probably make more sense once I have a look at just what equations these Arcanists use.)
"Many such mages, wishing to expand their understanding of the world, took to the seas aboard trading vessels. Upon their arrival in Limsa Lominsa, arcanists found themselves welcomed into the academic elite, and soon secured positions in the realms of governance and counsel." The guild receptionist continued. "The knowledge of an arcanist, however, is traditionally passed on from master to chosen disciple. As such, Admiral Merlwyb, counting several wielders of arcanima among her personal staff, became concerned that this exclusionary practice would lead to the eventual extinction of the art. So, at the Admiral's express orders, an official Arcanists' Guild was established, and funding was provided for research and training."
"That's good foresight," Lelouch commented and stopped as he realized he'd spoken his thoughts. "My apologies for the interruption, I've just been hearing quite a bit about your Admiral's forming Limsa Lominsa into what it is today ever since my arrival. It sounds very impressive."
"Well, it does take an impressive person to lead a City State, especially in times like these." Murie said, though Lelouch could tell from the tone in her reply he probably was coming off more like a tourist than a potential new guild member. "The complex and demanding nature of arcanima, however, remains the greatest threat to its own future. If you would continue your study of this challenging discipline, then I must insist that you indicate your commitment to joining our guild. So? Have you decided to enroll in our guild? Or are you now intimidated by the thought of excessive thinking?"
"I believe I'd be at a different guild in that case." The former prince said dryly. "So how do I start?"
"Your sound judgment is to be commended. Now, standard practice dictates that I introduce you to our guildmaster that you might convey your intentions in person..." A look of irritation appeared briefly on Murie's face, which had Lelouch wondering if perhaps the woman was wishing her shift had ended earlier. "Due to extraordinary circumstances, however, he is...unreachable at present. Instead, you may speak with Mistress Thubyrgeim. She has shouldered full responsibility for the guild's leadership in the interim." The receptionist then turned and pointed to her left. "You will find her just over there, by the bookshelves. You needn't be shy─ though her mind is sharp and critical, her manner is always most welcoming."
Lelouch turned and saw she was pointing towards a roegadyn woman wearing a grey and white outfit with dark brown hair and sporting a monocle at her right eye. She turned his was he approached and introduced himself.
"Yes, I am Thubyrgeim." The woman replied. "Greetings, and welcome to the Arcanists' Guild. As Murie has doubtlessly explained, I am serving as acting guildmaster until our wayward leader deigns to return. I assume our capable receptionist also spoke of our art's origins?"
"I'd say she gave a good history lesson." Lelouch answered. "Enough to enhance my interest in learning this art of yours."
"Allow me, then, to expound upon its nature." Thubyrgeim said with a nod of appreciation. "Arcanima taps into the living energies of aether. The evidence of this is represented most aptly, perhaps, by our ability to manifest the arcane entity Carbuncle, and the manner of magic which this aetherial ally employs at our command. The core of the discipline, however, is found in the pursuit of definitive solutions to any potential quandary. Even on the field of battle─ nay, 'especially' on the field of battle─ this principle takes precedence. If one wishes to make certain the question of victory, then one must apply the most effective strategy. An arcanist is measured by her ability to calmly analyze a situation from moment to moment, and respond with the most appropriate spells at hand."
"I see…" Lelouch commented, liking the sound of that explanation. "It sounds like this would be an art a tactician would favor…"
"You're not wrong," The acting guildmaster said. "The study of arcanima will test your mental faculties to the point of perplexity. Are you prepared to reason your way through predicament after predicament?"
"Yes, I believe I am." Lelouch answered, a confident smile on his face as he fought the urge to admit he'd been doing that his whole life.
"An unambiguous response─ the kind I most prefer." Thubyrgeim said approvingly. "Let us now see if the clarity of your words is matched by the sharpness of your mind."
With that the monocled roegadyn provided Lelouch with an old and clearly used book and explained it was essentially a starting grimoire, which arcanists used to cast their spells up the grimoire showed a series of equations that aligned with specific spells along with some helpful notes, likely from the previous owner, that explained the casting process. When Lelouch asked what exactly helped put power into the spell, Thubyrgeim's answer was that aside from the aether from the caster, the ink used to inscribe the contents were of a special kind to help make it properly manifest. From there the acting guildmaster admitted the more technical details were ones the crafters could better answer, to which the former prince made sure to note which kinds to ask later. If crafting magical items could be done without too much trouble, then that would be useful not only for his personal arming but also that of any future allies the former prince could recruit to his cause back home.
From there Thubyrgeim proceeded to give Lelouch his first task, which was to eliminate three of the following monsters: wharf rats, aureliae and little ladybugs. As one could expect from their names the creatures were more a common outdoor pest than monster given they were more a threat to crops and livestock than to people. Still these monsters would still put up a fight if even lightly interfered with, so it was determined the safest and most practical way to curb their population was as combat practice for novice adventurers. Despite these assurances, the former prince did make sure to try the spell "Ruin", a spell that from the grimoire unleashed a small blast of aetheric energy at its target, on the training dummies in the guild's practice room downstairs a few times to get used to the casting, which thankfully barely took more than a second with about the same amount of time between casting of the spell.
After getting directions of where he would find his targets, the former prince stepped out of the guild and began towards the smaller aetheryte to get quick access to the gates outside the city. Before he did, Lelouch then felt some movement inside his bag and so he stepped aside out of any potential passerby's way and checked to find the source was none other than the strange book he had received prior to arriving in this new world. The tome was making slight movements, as if trying to open itself up and the crystal in its middle was lightly glowing. Seeing no reason not to, Lelouch carefully opened the book, which proceed to flip through several pages before stopping at a pair of pages devoid of text. Then a series of letters began to appear on those pages, forming into words.
Hail, Chosen of Hydaelyn and welcome to the land of Eorzea.
This tome shall be your guide as you travel these lands. The book then flipped a page and then formed into a map of the surrounding area, complete with written down names of each part of the city of Limsa Lominsa along with icons indicating where the other smaller aetherytes were. On certain parts of the map, small icons that looked like small exclamations in a golden circle were present. These points show those in need of an adventurer's assistance; you may offer or withhold that aid at your will, but know you will be compensated with money, renown and information if you do.
Lelouch paused as he considered what he'd just read. This strange book was already proving its usefulness. While the former prince didn't consider himself the charitable sort, he had just experienced what potential trouble could arise with having no reputation at all in a strange land thanks to the close call with the Yellowjackets. It did also serve as a reminder of the advice Balderon had given him. Lelouch then took a look at the ends of the map that indicated the gateways leading outside the city. Touching one of them caused the book's page to automatically turn to what was a mostly blank page save for a few orange circles and further away a blue crystal shaped icon which probably indicated another of the greater aetherytes.
Text began to appear along the bottom of the page. The more of Eorzea you see, the more that will be inscribed on this map. As Lelouch finished reading the text then faded only for another set of text to appear near the orange circles. Within these are the areas you are likeliest to find your quarry.
With that the page flipped and revealed a new set of text. Complete your task from the guild and the way back will be revealed.
(So it wants me to complete tasks like in a video game.) Lelouch thought to himself after waiting a few minutes with nothing else happening and he closed the book and returned it to his bag. (Well, if it gets me the power I need, the method can be as strange as it has to be…)
Proceeding from there through one of the gates to the outside and Lelouch quickly saw the first of his assigned targets: the ladybugs, more than the number he needed, buzzing around in the fields. Upon seeing them the former prince shuddered to think what would be considered a 'big' version of the species as their name would be more fitting for the ones he knew from his own world as the insects before him were the size of a large apple. Still, he had been informed the ladybugs wouldn't attack unless provoked, giving Lelouch enough time to get within spellcast range and cast the spell Ruin.
The oversized bug gave a start and screech at being attacked before turning its attention to its attacker. As it flew over towards him Lelouch was able to launch another blast before his enemy was upon him with a charge. The former prince grunted in pain as he felt the creature's tackle head first into his chest, but quickly ran back to put some distance between him and his opponent. As soon as he felt he could cast it again, Lelouch whirled around to do so, firing off another blast. This time when the spell connected the ladybug let out a cry before collapsing to the ground, not moving.
Lelouch stayed where he was for a moment, first to catch his breath and to see if the other bugs had noticed the fight. From the looks of things they weren't as the oversized insects were still flying around in the same area. Getting his bearings, Lelouch also couldn't help but notice that he wasn't as winded as he thought he would be. In fact he felt a strange rush as the ladybug collapsed and the pain from the creature's attack had gone away completely.
Whether this was the result of the 'aether' he'd been told about or a simple adrenaline rush, Lelouch wasn't sure. Still, the fight had shown that just one spell wouldn't be enough and the exiled prince turned adventurer walked back towards the gate near where the stationed Yellowjackets were in order to safely see what other spells his grimoire had to offer. The first he came to entailed the summoning the Carbuncle he had been told about. Also entailed were notes from the grimoire's previous owner entailing how to command the creature to attack along with detailed notes on its ability to deploy a barrier around its summoner. After a good look at the aetheric formulas and the notes Lelouch was confident he could do the summoning, but decided to thumb through the book to see if there was anything else he could make use of only to find there was only one more spell he could confidently cast with his current knowledge, the rest he would have to sit down and study a bit more of as the equations and formula were noticeably more complex. That particular spell was known as 'Physick', it was a basic healing spell that could be cast quickly on oneself or an ally. According to the notes it wasn't as potent as a healing spell cast by something called a 'Conjurer', but apparently its fast casting and that it could heal enough made it handy in battle.
After looking at that last spell and getting it down to memory, Lelouch cast it on himself. There was a sparkle of light around him as the spell went off and the new adventurer could feel a pleasant and almost soothing sensation that quickly faded. Perhaps that bug's attack hadn't been as damaging as he'd thought, but Lelouch quickly out aside the urge to be complacent. Even if the ladybugs weren't that dangerous there were still the wharf rats and whatever the aureliae were. Given the former's name and the popular horror stories of rodents of unusual size in the sewers and underground parts of the Britannian Homeland's major cities, the former prince was making sure not to take chances. Still, he made sure to make a note of healing magic as something to definitely look into later. The possibility of using magic to restore his sister Nunnally's ability to walk and see was the only priority that rivaled the possibility of using magic to bring their father's ambitions to its knees.
With that Lelouch cast the spell to summon Carbuncle and there was a flash of light as the creature appeared before him. The Carbuncle was a mostly light blue furred creature with a notable red tear shaped spot of fur that curled around its scalp and the point ending in the middle of its forehead. It resembled a fennec fox in appearance, though its ears were considerably longer like that of hare than the aforementioned fox and rather than a single tail it had three that were curved upwards.
From there it took a few minutes of running the Carbuncle through some basic commands for Lelouch to be sure his new summoned companion would obey him. Given the grimoire only detailed what the creature could do in battle, the former prince fell back on emulating the commands he'd seen dog training clubs' members do whenever one of the Ashford Academy's festivals featured a dog show. About the only thing he could offer the Carbuncle aside from praise for its accomplishments were headpats and ear scratches which it seemed to appreciate as Lelouch didn't have anything that could serve as treats on him at the moment. Though that begged the question of whether or not summoned creatures even ate anything, something he decided to check on later at the guild.
Satisfied, Lelouch then proceeded to go after the listed monsters. The ladybugs were easy to dispatch with the aid of the Carbuncle coupled with Ruin, but things quickly changed upon going for the wharf rats. As expected, the ROUSes weren't even close to passive as the oversized rodents, a pair of them in this case, charged upon seeing (or smelling) their approaching attacker. Naturally Lelouch had the Carbuncle bring up a barrier at their opponents before the two of them began their attack as well. The barrier did well at blocking the enemy attacks and gave Lelouch and the Carbuncle just enough time to dispatch one of the frenzied rodents. Unfortunately, its partner was able break through as the other rat collapsed lifeless to the ground and with a lunge sank its teeth into Lelouch's left shin.
With a cry of pain, the former prince turned adventurer kicked the offending rodent off with his uninjured right leg before limping backward and casting Physick on himself. As soon as the spell went off, Lelouch could feel the pain subside significantly. Looking back he saw the Carbuncle was still attacking the remaining wharf rat, but it was clear the rodent was preparing to spring towards its immediate opponent's summoner. Not wasting any time, Lelouch quickly cast Ruin, the enerby bolt of the spell striking true as the wharf rat was knocked back as it cried out just before its body hit the ground back first. It gave a twitch before laying still.
Casting Physick again, which made the remainder of the pain from the recent wound go away completely, Lelouch quickly put some distance from where he'd found the gathering of the wharf rats, glad the spell had done well enough that he could walk normally. When he, plus his accompanying summon, was at what he considered a safe distance Lelouch bent down to take a closer look at where had been wounded. To his surprise, the spell had apparently done more than relieve the pain and clot the wound. The sight that greeted him was plain unbroken skin and the only sign the injury had even occurred was a hole in the left pant leg that the rat's teeth had made and some spots of blood on the cloth.
(It looks like healing magic will definitely be worth looking into the first chance I get.) Lelouch thought, also mentally noting to have himself checked at the Ashford Academy's clinic upon getting back just in case the healing spell didn't cover diseases. Of course the real problem to plan around was finding a way to explain the time he'd been gone as he'd been in this Eorzea for hours now, but that was something to consider once the current task was complete.
Lelouch then returned his attention to where the rats were. Not wanting to potentially be swarmed by the things, the new adventurer instead opted to take a longer look at his intended targets, keeping a lookout to see if any of the rodents had strayed further from their kin. Sure enough, one of the creatures had done so. Carefully the pair of summoner and Carbuncle ended towards the stray wharf rat and the moment Lelouch was sure his target was just within spell range he quickly cast Ruin before ordering his Carbuncle to attack.
The rodent gave a cry at the surprise attack before it began to charge forward, but the distance was enough that Lelouch was able to cast Ruin once again as the Carbuncle continued its attack too. That seemed to be enough as the rat collapsed to the ground dead before it could even get close enough to make a counterattack.
Mentally checking off the second set of creatures he'd been tasked to kill, Lelouch then paused to consider something before using the map his mysterious book provided. Though a quick look showed it had indeed updated with a detailed portrayal of the surrounding area. Earlier it had taken three casts of Ruin to kill the ladybugs, though that number had gone down with the addition of Carbuncle to the party. The first of the three rats had taken three even with Carbuncle, but the second one had gone down to two, though it seemed the second casting of the spell had hit something vital given the rodent's dying reaction. The third rat had also gone down to two castings of Ruin as well and it didn't seem to take as hard a hit as its predecessor in the process.
(Perhaps these spells increase in potency as they're used.) Lelouch surmised and then returned his attention to the map, locating the range of the Aurelias in a blank area he hadn't visited yet. (There's only one way to find out…)
As it turned out the Aurelias were essentially large jellyfish that could float through the air just as their Earth counterparts could through water. Attacking them showed they were more adept at movement than the former, and Lelouch soon learned they likely had the same capacity to cause pain with their tentacles as their Earth counterparts. Nevertheless Lelouch was able to proceed with eliminating the required three with the aid of his Carbuncle and the rapid casting of Ruin, and upon completion of the task the former prince cast Return that within seconds returned him to Limsa Lominsa's Aetheryte.
"I see the creatures beyond the city walls posed you little threat." Thubyrgeim commented knowingly as Lelouch reentered the guild, the Carbuncle he had dismissed shortly after returning to the city, and approached her. "It is with great pleasure, then, that I formally recognize your initiation into the guild. From this day forth, you may proudly bear the title of 'arcanist'."
"You have my thanks, and it is an honor to receive it." Lelouch said with a light bow. "If I may ask, what would you recommend I do next to better strengthen my use of this?"
"I suggest you continue your forays into the wilderness, and keep the pages of your grimoire turning." The acting guildmaster answered. "There is no finer teacher than the harsh mistress of experience."
"And with the many requests for adventurers' aide that the guild receives there's no shortage of lessons." Lelouch commented.
Thubyrgeim nodded with an approving smile. "Indeed, and when you feel you can command Carbuncle as easily as you move your own limbs, return to me with further instruction. I will be waiting."
As soon as Lelouch exited the Arcanist's guild, he once again felt the stirring in his book bag and after finding a spot to sit brought out and opened the mysterious tome. The book immediately flipped through several pages before coming to a stop at another pair of blank pages. Though strangely most of the pages Lelouch glimpsed in the rapid turning had been equally as blank.
When you wish to return concentrate on a chosen place familiar to you and to there you will be returned.
Lelouch's first instinct was to visualize the living room area of the on campus home he shared with Nunnally but quickly dismissed that. While it was usually just the two of them there, the possibility of others being in that room was one that couldn't be ruled out, especially taking into account how long he had been in Eorzea. From Sayoko, the Ashford family maid who doubled as Nunnally's main caregiver to anyone from the Student Council, suddenly appearing before any of them would be problematic to say the least. He quickly to decided to focus on his bedroom as that was the only place he felt he could take a chance on. Closing his eyes and concentrating on that specific, Lelouch also made sure to keep the image of his sister out of his mind so as to avoid any chance of being teleported to wherever she was. Despite her disability, Nunnally could be surprisingly perceptive of things, especially in knowing when Lelouch was nearby. While he might be able to come up with a convincing explanation of suddenly appearing, along with a story to explain his disappearance, Lelouch would prefer not to deceive his little sister more than was absolutely necessary. There was also the possibility that either Sayako or Alice, his sister's friend from school, would be with her and they would likely see his arrival in full.
Within a minute Lelouch then felt himself rise above the ground as if he were casting Return, that was quickly followed by the same brief feeling of displacement brought about by the aforementioned spell. Opening his eyes, Lelouch found himself back in his bedroom, the room itself easily recognizable in the light that filled it in absence of the electric lights that were turned off. The source of the light couldn't be missed as right in the middle of his room was essentially a miniature version the Aetheryte crystal from Limsa Lominsa, filling the room with its blue light like a strange lamp.
The only other noticeable source of light was coming from his alarm clock and stepping over to look at it the former prince was astounded to find not only was it the same date as he was expecting to wake up to upon turning in for the night, but the time being shown was 2:20 in the morning. Recalling the last he'd checked the time while working had been around 10:00 PM as he'd interrupted the work he was doing to say goodnight to Nunnally at that time before going back to it. He did remember finishing what would required for the next day, but that couldn't have taken more than an hour at most. Assuming he'd dropped to sleep right there and the dream that brought him to Eorzea had immediately occurred, then that meant only a little more than three hours had passed according to the clock. The only thing was three hours was roughly the amount of time Lelouch had spent on the ship from awakening there (ignoring however long he may have on the ship asleep) to docking and more hours had passed from there.
With so much to consider (not to mention awareness of the time), Lelouch felt weariness come over him and he lumbered over to his bed and collapsed on it. He probably would have drifted off to sleep had the now familiar movement in his book bag gotten his attention, prompting Lelouch to open it to some equally familiar page turning until it stopped to fill in the page with the following words:
Know that for now you have the blessing of Althyk. So long as you have this blessing you need not worry about the passage of time between worlds. Know that this blessing will have a price.
"Of course it would come at a price," Lelouch grumbled, his growing exhaustion making him more than a little cranky. Closing the book, he then turned his attention to the glowing miniature aetheryte that was now lighting up his room. Fortunately it wasn't as heavy as it looked and with some effort, Lelouch was able to move it into the back of his room's closet and then attuned to it before covering it with a spare sheet so its glow wouldn't be noticeable.
He was about to change into more appropriate night wear when Lelouch suddenly felt the need to confirm something. While the presence of the miniature aetheryte, the grimoire he'd received and the strange blue and gold book were proof that the magic from Eorzea could function over here, Lelouch wanted to confirm if the magic he'd learned himself would still work. Seeing as it was the only spell that could really gauge this in his present location, the former prince proceeded to cast the spell to summon Carbuncle.
A sense of relief came over Lelouch as the blue fox-like summon emerged from the aether and obediently approached its summoner. The new adventurer gave the Carbuncle a pat on the head before dismissing it and the creature vanished with a flip in the air and a flash. As he made ready to make the best of what remained of the night for sleep, Lelouch couldn't help but grin as the beginnings of how this new element could enhance his plans to bring down the Britannian Empire began to formulate in his mind. If he woke up and all of this was still here, then things were going to get very interesting indeed.
Meanwhile, in a darkened room a robed man stood in contemplation. The man was of elezen descent with dark skin, white hair that was smoothly combed backwards and a finely trimmed mutton chops beard. There was a creaking sound behind him as the metal grate that was the only entrance to the room was opened.
The newcomer was a figure clad in similar dark robes to the bearded elezen, except it had the hood drawn up over its head and for further concealment of its face was a black mask that covered the figure's face entirely.
"I have confirmed it," The elezen spoke. "The worlds have been connected and Hydaelyn has made her selections. Am I correct in assuming you have 'their' decision?"
"Yes, Travanchet." The figure answered, its voice taking on a haughty tone. "For now, you are to observe the connection; Lahabrea's plans for the Bringer of Light will continue as he designed and with our assistance."
"Then you should inform him that the correct term is 'Bringers of Light'." Travanchet said dryly and noticing the robed figure give a light start at that, continued. "I'm as unsure as to how Hydaelyn had the strength confer another Blessing as the rest of us, but I'm sure my task of observing will lead to the answer."
"Then I will leave you to your task and return to mine." The figure answered shortly and then turned. This time a swirl of darkness appeared in front of it, through which it strolled into and was gone as the swirl shrank down to nothingness in its wake.
Alone now with only his thoughts, Travanchet contemplated the information he had.
(Hard to believe that failed experiment is yielding a different fruit than was expected of it so long ago.) He mused. (Now where to start? The beginnings of the connection on Hydaelyn's end that were observed after the events of Cartenau, the beginnings of it on the other world's end that those mortals started or that odd false start from two years ago?)
Meanwhile, in the city-state of Ul'dah, the master of its Adventurers Guild Momodi, a well dressed lalafell woman with red hair and eyes, the former clearly well kept and tied back in twin buns, was finishing giving an explanation of her city-state, its situation since the Calamity and the Adventurers Guild's role to what was sure to be the guild's newest adventurer. A young girl with short hair as red as hers, blue eyes and dressed in some unusual clothes.
"All I ask is that you lend a helpin' hand and try to leave Ul'dah in a better state than you found her." Momodi finished. "If you can promise that, I'd be happy to let you join the guild."
"Yeah, sure." One Kallen Kozuki, teen freedom fighter for Japan and now prospecting Adventurer in another world said in reply, inwardly still trying to process all of this.
Returning to the Stadtfeld manor after a stressful day of school at the Ashford Academy was always unpleasant, not helped by having to play the part of frail and meek Kallen Stadtfeld, daughter of an earl with a surname that as far as she was concerned was an alias. Having only received a brief contact from the resistance cell lead by her older brother Naoto at essentially told her to wait to a few more days until they would be ready to conduct a raid on a Britannian facility to obtain much needed supplies for the Japanese residents of the ghettos only added to the stress. By evening the only thing she wanted to do was finish plowing through her homework and going to sleep. Dinner had been brought to her room prior to that, though Kallen would prefer not to think about the one who had brought (and likely prepared) it.
The dream that greeted her after she dozed off could be described as bizarre with first being approached by a catgirl of all things dressed like someone from the middle ages. Said catgirl had proceeded to ask a series of weird questions, though the one that seemed the most significant was essentially if she had the power to free a country from the same situation Japan was in would she lend any of that power if the opportunity to do so came. That question Kallen had actually spent som time thinking on and the answer she ended up giving started out explaining how she wasn't confident this could always be her answer given the circumstances, but that in a perfect situation she would as the way she saw it no country and its people should have to go through what hers had. Being stripped of its very identity to be replaced by a soulless designation and the subsequent oppression by its conquerors.
At that the catgirl had proceeded to give Kallen this weird blue and gold book before she was literally dropped down into someplace else. After being assailed by some weird voices and then finding herself about to deck some weird masked creep, the redhead suddenly found herself waking up on a carriage bound for the city she was now in. Admittedly the ride had started out fine, even if it was strange seeing it drawn by a pair of large yellow birds, owing to the friendly merchant, a bearded man named Brendt, that had spoken with her. There were two other passengers seated across and further away but she couldn't really remember much about them aside from their pointy ears. Things then took a different turn when the carriage was stopped by the local guards known as the Brass Blades for an 'inspection'. Said inspection showed these guards to be as corrupt as the Britannian Knight Police Kallen was more familiar with as she noticed the trick one of them used to plant a small pouch of contraband in the bunch of goods being transported and as expected used that as an excuse to extort the paying of a 'fine'.
Normally Kallen would have called that out, but it was clear from how ready the men were to use their curved swords and their mannerisms that they wouldn't have cared even if they'd been caught red handed. With their attention focused on Brendt, Kallen was preparing for what looked to be a coming fight since from the looks of these guys she had a feeling these guards might still put Brendt and likely the carriage occupants and driver to the sword to get the rest of his money and silence witnesses. She'd seen Britannian police and soldiers do similar to any Japanese people who even looked at them wrong; they did it for a combined motivation of for kicks and simply because they could, especially given their emperor's edicts encouraged it.
Ironically, the seemingly inevitable fight was prevented by a different party picking a fight. An arrow shaft followed by a warning cry from a further away guard of attack revealed an onrush large black scaled lizard people called Amalj'aa. A tribe of creatures Kallen would later learn were infamous for attacking any traveler through the city state's region that crossed their path with intent to rob, murder or to capture for an offering to their god. With more pressing concerns approaching the Brass Blades let them go with clear reluctance.
From there they arrived at the gates of the city and soon after Kallen parted ways with the helpful merchant with a promise to become a famous adventurer, though how that would go she couldn't begin to say. The man had also mentioned something about there being what was essentially a dojo for pugilists somewhere in the city, something that definitely caught the redhead rebel's attention. Assuming she could get back to Japan then she could bring back an enhanced fighting style that could very well give her cell an advantage.
As for the city itself, it certainly was a sight be it the grand structures that Kallen could see from her standpoint and seeing that the population was made up of more than just humans. There were the cat people, people that looked like elves from a fantasy story, some who looked like incredibly muscular humans but the varying skin tones of green, red and an occasional blue told otherwise and finally there were a large number of small folk that a faraway glance could be mistaken for human children but a closer look showing the men with differing degrees of facial hair (plus the pointy ears) would prove that wrong.
Kallen's moment of sightseeing was interrupted by an oddly dressed but informative man named Wymond who ended up giving her directions to the Adventurer's Guild, which was in an establishment known as Quicksand. With that she'd gone straight there upon which she had met the Guild Master Momodi, finding the red haired lalafell surprisingly pleasant to talk to. It certainly helped with mentally digesting all the information she was being given of this part of the world she'd found herself in, especially the part about the Calamity that brought about mass memory loss in addition to wide scale destruction. Still from what Momodi told her of how the adventurers employed in this guild being instrumental in helping to bring back some sense of normalcy it sounded as if one wouldn't wanting for work upon joining this guild.
"All right then! A promise is a promise now!" The Guild master proclaimed happily as she skipped with her right hand raised in delight. A move that had the Japanese rebel falling back on years of self-trained restraint to keep a straight face, coupled with a strange urge to pat the Guild Master's head, at the odd spectacle of cuteness she'd just witnessed. "I'm countin' on your help to put the past behind us. We need people workin' and spendin' and bickerin' like the old days! And a happy and prosperous Ul'dah means more business for the Quicksand too!"
Bringing a large book forward, Momodi continued. "Anyroad, let's make this official." The redhead lalafell then handed Kallen a quill. "Go ahead and write your name in the register, neat as you can."
Taking the quill, Kallen was at first going to write her name in letters but then paused, remembering that from what she'd been told the only empire that existed in this world had the name 'Garlean' attached to it. While different from how she would have preferred, she was now in a world without Britannia. With that knowledge, she first wrote her name as it should be in Japanese before writing the letter form next to it with an indication that was the part to read.
Momodi took the book and read the signature, though whether or not she could read the first inscription Kallen couldn't tell, before closing the book and returning her attention to the other. "...Kallen Kozuki. Well, ain't that a charmin' name. Just rolls off the tongue, it does. All right, Miss Kallen! On behalf of the Adventurer's Guild, I welcome you to-"
The Guild Master's words were cut off by the sound of commotion, causing both her and Kallen to look over in the direction it came from. Two armored men at the direction of a bearded lalafell were accosting another man over the payment of a debt. At first Kallen was considering intervening, but soon changed her mind as the conversation continued and subject of gambling on the downed man's end and itquickly became clear that this wasn't the man's first time getting in trouble because of it
"Well, that's a sorry sight. Nor an uncommon one if I'm honest." Momodi commented with a light sigh before looking back at Kallen, her tone becoming lighter. "Don't worry, though - if you work hard, I doubt you'll end up like him."
"That shouldn't be a problem; the only thing I can see myself gambling with isn't money." Kallen said, distaste obvious in her voice. Even if the man had deserved it, something about the way the debt collector was lording over him just left an unpleasant feeling.
"Just the same, if you ever need a bit of advice about one thing or another, pay me a visit." Momodi said as she looked full up into Kallen's face so she'd know she was genuinely being supportive. Seeing that her words had gotten through to the other the Guild Master smiled. " Just don't go botherin' me every time you stub your bloody toe, all right?"
"In that case, you should be more worried about the property damage than my foot." Kallen replied jokingly. "Speaking of, could you tell me where I could find the pugilists? I'd been told they might be able to help with my fighting style."
"Certainly, that's probably the easiest of the advice to give with more besides." Momodi nodded before looking at Kallen with a sly look. " 'Course, I do enjoy hearin' a lady muse on the many manhoods of her acquaintance from time to time."
That remark had certainly Kallen off guard as her face reddened and before she could muster a reply, Momodi gave a chuckle at her flustered expression before speaking first.
"Anyroad, welcome to Ul'dah, Kallen!" The Guild Master declared with an arms wide open pose, that had Kallen seriously considering following through with that head pat urge as appropriate compensation.
In a vast space of that resembled a starry night over a still ocean of water that stretched out endlessly, a woman stood on what should have been the water. She had short hair that was black from the top of her head that turned to a pink color as it reached the lower half of her face, the latter color also matching that of her eyes. She was wearing a mostly black dress save for a red lining along the upper hem of the dress that seemed to form into an angular bird shaped symbol that matched with the short red choker she wore around her neck.
The woman was gazing upwards for there was something new in the sky above that was different from the usual stars and clouds she was used to seeing. Up above, like an oddly shaped moon, was blue diamond shaped crystal glowing with light. The woman had been gazing at this crystal for a long time since its appearance, but not out of any surprise as she had been expecting it. Upon its first appearance the crystal had barely been distinguishable from the stars above, but over the years had gotten larger in view as it came closer. Now though it had ceased that and the woman sensed that in the immeasurable distance between her and the crystal, this was as close as the latter could get.
"It has been done, and with that our contract is established." The woman spoke and the traces of a smile formed on her lips. "Let us hope that through it we both get what we want…"
AN: And done!
With that we come to the end of the first chapter of Code Fantasy- R0. It's been quite the experience putting this together as both a return to writing fics and also in the challenge of adapting the beginnings of A Realm Reborn to fit Lelouch and Kallen into it, especially in writing in and around the more gamey aspects of the intro. As an example, admittedly the book I had both our Warriors of Light receive works on a couple fronts than just as a reference to Tactics Advance. First it would account for the QoL stuff that was in the game like the map and Journal, and second it gives Lelouch some pragmatic incentive to do any of the sidequests I decide to adapt since much as us Code Geass fans like him, helping people who have nothing to do with him is not one of his strong suits, especially at the stage of his life this fic is at.
For those of you unfamiliar with Final Fantasy 14, like the game's title says it's the fourteenth entry into the renowned JRPG series Final Fantasy. Unlike most of the series' games FF14 is an MMORPG, but unlike most of its online brethren FF14 has a focus on story and has a very good one to tell that, while it does start out slow, gets better with each expansion (though you will find divided opinions on the Stormblood explansion), the side content gets better in both story and design with each expansion, the characters are really good (especially once you get to the first expansion Heavensward), the music is great and of course there's the greatness of the Hildebrand quests that have to be experienced to truly understand. Best of all, one doesn't even have to pay to try it as Final Fantasy 14 can be played for free up to the end of the Heavensward expansion with no restrictions on the amount of time played...and I just realized I've probably contributed to the meme of recommending the game. Whoops XD
Though seriously do give FF14 a try if you have the time, just please make sure to take your time playing it and not rush through things so as not to ruin your enjoyment of the game. Also if you're curious take a look at the history of the game's development. It's quite an interesting come back story.
Now for those of you reading who are familiar with Final Fantasy 14, especially the A Realm Reborn part of the game: don't worry I'm not going adapt every sidequest down to the last detail. I might be crazy enough to do crossover fic with a game with that massive a story, but not that crazy. Some will be abridged or just alluded to happening off screen. The same can be said for aspects of the MSPQ like the infamous Titan quest line.
All that said I feel I should give notice to the readers so they'll know what they're in for. There's a reason why the title of this fic has 'R0' in it and is set one year prior to the events of R1. There's going to be quite a bit from A Realm Reborn (and a little more) that are going to need to happen to develop both Lelouch and Kallen as characters before we get to the time period in Code Geass we're most familiar with. Enough that a projected outline I made, even accounting for stuff to abridge, had things at 50+ chapters, so that does mean we have a ways to go from here. Still, that doesn't mean more characters from Code Geass aren't going to show up and be involved in the story. You're just going to have to wait and see.
Anyway folks, I thank you all for reading (and hopefully reviewing) and hope you stick around for the chapters to come.