Early Days Description
Perhaps 30 inches tall from toe to crown, covered in a fine silky white coat of fur, Maserl defines cute. His stubby limbs, catlike ears and pink pompom bobbing slowly in circles indicate he is of the Moogle race; a reclusive, forest-dwelling species descended from various fey. Two small purple wings adorn his back, seemingly too small to be of practical use.
Those happy days in the village. Times when you could walk out of your hut and greet a neighbour, or call on someone to ask for a dance. Even the scent of the various flowers surrounding the place was soothing. The only trouble came from the youngsters... of which he had been one. Always getting into mischief, challenging one another to duels, physical or magical. Climbing into the strangest of places, just to prove they could.
It had been a fairly dull day. Mareno had been hinting something about a fight later on, and sure enough, just as the sun began to disappear there was a soft knock on the door.
"Kupo, Maserl, are you there?"
He could never forget his voice. It always sounded as though something exciting was happening. Rellis could remember him brightening up even the most dull of tasks. Never a quiet moment with him around.
"Yes, what is it?"
He had crept to the door, making sure no-one saw him. It wasn't unusual for some of the children to go out playing at dusk, but he was in no great rush to cause any trouble for his parents.
"How about that battle?"
Ah yes... 'battle'. They had always thought the word much trendier than 'fight'. Made it seem so much more grown-up.
"Ah... are you sure?"
"Yeah! Come out and play, pansy-pan!"
Well, there was no way he could back down now. It was the kind of harmless nickname everyone in the entire village had; acquired one lazy day picking flowers where he had commented on the unusually fine odor of the purplish-yellow plant. He could hardly back down when faced with such an outrageous challenge.
Quickly, Maserl gathered up his mantle and polearm. The door creaked slightly as it opened, to reveal the overly exuberant Mareno. He hurried out, closing it silently behind him, then shrugged.
"Let's go to the -other- place, kupo."
The other place was a small clearing not too far from the village; he could not remember much about it other than that a particularly stubborn yellow-flowered plant grew there, which made him sneeze. Maserl shrugged indifference, and set off with the other moogle in its general direction. He bobbed about, obviously practicing fighting moves. Occasionally he unsheathed his sword in one fluid motion, or twirled it about some.
"Why tonight, anyway?"
"I learnt a few new things in class today, I wanted to test it out!"
Yeah, he had, hadn't he? Mareno hadn't been mucking about -all- through school. Just most of it.
Eventually, the two moogles entered the clearing, and stood by a few of the openings quietly to look for pursuers. Seeing none, they took up positions either side of the carefully chalked circle in the middle
and brandished their weapons. Maserl with the long polearm, ending in a sharp spike; Mareno with a long, straight sword that had been sharpened quite considerably. Rellis remembered all the promises he had been made to take when he received it; such a work was not common in the moogles' world of trees and magic.
He had been eager to get it over with, annoyed that he would be called out at such a late time. In fact, he had been so irritated his wings began to itch, which he suspected had been a detriment to his fighting skill.
The details of the battle shone out quite clearly in his memory. In all fairness it had not lasted long. The 'technique' Mareno had spoke of was the combination a few simple spells with the swinging of his sword. He had an icy magical affinity; those sword swings had threatened to freeze the very air Maserl breathed. He had difficulty keeping up, and at one point dropped his polearm.
"You're not going to beat me if you drop your weapon, Maserl!"
Muttering, he had bent down to pick it up and gone back into an offensive stance. The combat progressed much in a similar fashion; he had always been outclassed, and expected the outcome of this fight to end the same way as all the others. It did; Mareno's blade stopped inches from his neck while he was still swinging his weapon to strike. The feeling of defeat washed through his body, and he slumped. They'd hugged, congratulated each other, and compared ideas. Turned out he -had- made quite a few mistakes which were easily dealt with, so he made a mental note to do a bit of practice.
That was when the big cat had leapt; knocking Maserl over and tearing at the fur on his back powerfully. It had been a few seconds before his friend reacted... he swung wildly with his sword, obviously more
intending to frighten the beast off than hit it. He hadn't hit it, as it happened. Seeing the attack coming, it jumped off and ran for the trees. It probably hadn't counted on its prey being so well armed. No, he hadn't hit it. His blade connected with Maserl's wings, cleanly severing near their base.
Oh, how he had cried.
The scene set itself; it was plain to see he was inside the medical tent, from the array of implements covering the tables around him. The bed was quite soft, he remembered. But the headboard was at a horrible
angle, so you couldn't get a decent sleep.
"I'm sorry... we can't do anything for the cuts, it would be too dangerous."
Slowly he was retaining consciousness. After the initial shock of the pain had worn out, the moogle had gone into a coma-like state, and been carried home. Only to be sent straight to the doctor.
"Mareno's cut would have killed you, had his freezing not completely stopped the bleeding"
"Shame it could not have done anything for the pain."
"Don't be like that. You shouldn't have been out there in the first place."
He could immediately thing of a few things to say to that, but chose instead to stay silent and close his eyes, grimacing.
"Rel-... Maserl! You... I thought you were dead!"
Ah, that would be...
(Quaen was the original love-interest in Rellis's life, before he left the forest. He still occasionally reminisces about her, and compares her with his somewhat more wayward and challenging wife, Ti'Mae)
"What happened? No-one wants to tell me!"
The new arrival was a pink-furred moogle; she rushed to the side of the bed and grabbed one of Maserl's arms, holding it tightly.
She blushed slightly, and looked askance at the doctor, who was
hovering around nearby. She whispered back.
"Don't use that name with him around..."
He had no idea how that had started... one day he had decided that all these names starting with 'M' were boring, and that he'd wanted to call himself something different. Hindsight told him it was probably some kind of attention-getter; he hadn't been too subtle back then.
Of course, the elders had not taken well to this new 'game' of theirs, condemning it as a kind of minor blasphemy, and encouraging all parents to beat any such nonsense out of them. So they'd come to use the names only in secret, like some kind of code. Finding out how to write the names was nearly as fun; in their dialect the very letter 'M' meant 'definition'. He'd chosen Rellis because it contained a similar structure to his own name, but instead the initial 'R' denoting a title rather than a fixed thing. He remembered being extremely pleased with it, and disdaining other moogles'. Now he realised it was kind of dull; the -is ending appearing in many Common language textbooks.
Finally the doctor took the hint, and left the tent, presumably to prepare some kind of salve.
"It's alright... Mareno hurt me, but by accident."
"Can I see?"
Maserl definitely hadn't been expecting that. He blinked back at her, wondering if she was pulling some kind of obscure joke.
"Uh... I guess."
Leaning forward was painful; it showed on his face, screwed up so tight, almost unrecognisable.
Her face had turned slightly off-colour. Quaen gave no reply, only to gently squeeze his arm with an ardour that felt vaguely unsettling.
It couldn't be as bad as all that...
On second thought, maybe it was a good thing he couldn't see it.
Recovery took a long time; it was very difficult to get by without using his wings to steady himself, or to fly to branches other moogles would find easy. Maserl had to harvest the berries and leaves the difficult way, climbing, recognising handholds. He was so miserable in those days. No-one understood what it was like to lose a part of your body so integral to your identity. Next he'd have his-
He looked down from the tree he was currently precariously balancing in, and gave her a small wave.
Chucking her the few berries he'd harvested, the moogle quickly scaled down the trunk. Happily he still had his claws...
"Are you feeling a little better now, rasti?"
He began to blush. She'd been very bold lately; dropping hints, making subtle threats at following others, but he had been too preoccupied to pick up on most of it. Still, she really didn't need to use that word.
"Ah... I'm not sure. I'll be like this forever, you know."
Her good mood melted as quickly as the last snow.
"That was a bit grim."
"You're right, I should thank what I still have, yes?"
She eyed the pompom bouncing lazily on his head, only serving to heighten his all-too-obvious embarrassment.
A small wink and a quick turn was all the exit she needed.
He remembered all the other moogles behaving unusually politely to him and trying not to mention his disability, as it were. All the careful side-stepping had begun to annoy him; his feeling weren't going to be hurt if someone mentioned how they'd flown to such-and-such a branch to collect such-and-such a fruit. Also, they'd tried to take him out of anything athletic. He'd lost count of the times he had been told he was 'unfit for sports' but unable to define quite why. He'd taken to wearing a long coat to spare others the misfortune of having to see his back.
"Wake up, rasti!"
The voice provoked many thoughts; it started off very simple. "Why is Quaen in my room?" led to "How long has she been here?" and "What did I do last night?". Mercifully, she began to talk some more, dispelling any further inquiries.
"I'd have thought you'd be up all night practicing, but you still went to bed at the same time, didn't you?"
"Yeah! Magic III test today, silly."
The moogle sat up quickly, and let out a small yelp.
Her ears flattened a little at the offensive word, and she shot him a withering glance.
"Don't be like that. Come on, I'm waiting..."
Quaen winked and left the room. His parents had been so understanding of her turning up at the strangest times. They seemed mildly amused by the entire relationship, like there was something he didn't know.
He pulled on his coat quickly, his feet drumming on the stairs as he made his way down. She was stood waiting, in clothes, unusually. They were simple blue robes, with a few golden trinkets of moons and stars fastened along the edges. The look was complete with a couple of
golden bracelets festooned with small blue stones.
She looked him over.
"Where are your dress robes?"
Dress robes. Dress robes.
It took a small while to change; longer still to persuade himself to go downstairs wearing such odd clothes. The main piece was a long,
translucent gauzy green robe lined with white velvet. At his parents' insistence he had added a more discreet opaque patch over his back, to hide what was left of his wings. Aside from this, he wore a plain green beret.
"Are you sure this looks good?"
"Yeah! C'mon, we're going to be late. Aren't you up second?"
Yeah, he was.
"Mmm... I hope you're right."
She gave him a look that said, "I'm always right."
The school tent was surrounded by many moogles, all decked in their finest. Some parents had come by to wish luck, others to watch. Maserl's hadn't, but Quaen's had, so he waved to them instead. It was nice, having someone be around. He felt her arm slip around his in a
comforting manner, but it just made him shake a little more.
"There's no way I'm going to pass this."
"You'll be fine... you're a good spellcaster."
He needn't have worried.
"Can... Maserl please step forward?"
The elder's voice rang out across the assembled crowd. They slowly parted, to let him make his way to the front. Quaen blew him a kiss;
he gave a weak smile in return, and stood before the judging desk.
"Hmmm... let me see here."
There was some mumbling from the crowd. This was a slight break of procedure...
"Due to past events, we declare that Maserl does not have to participate in today's test."
The murmuring reached a higher level, but the loudest voice was his own.
"You are joking!"
The elder's eyes slowly made their way to his face.
"This is for your benefit, child."
"Losing my wings..." The crowd collectively winced. "Does not render me unable to cast spells!"
From somewhere he heard a quiet voice.
"Yeah! Let him decide!"
And another, slightly more cutting.
"Kupo! It's his test!"
All around, similar cries were breaking out. Some were of the same encouraging lines, others more like "why should we do it and not him?" But the damage was done.
"Ma... Maserl. Your first test as an air magic acolyte, is to levitate this stone to your palm."
He held aloft a piece of granite no larger than a pompom. Something nagged at the back of his mind; the task seemed overly easy. Perhaps
they were starting him out slow.
Rellis raised a paw, closing his eyes and concentrating on moving the air flow around him; it was quick to co-operate, one of the good things about working with wind. Slowly the stone lifted from its starting position, floating serenely. The crowd held its collective breath; all eyes tracking its progress. It came to a halt somewhere near Maserl's hand, and then the magic let go.
He tried not to let out a surprised yelp, and moved his paw a bit to the right to catch it. Turning, the moogle faced the crowd, holding the rock up so everyone could see, with a sheepish grin.
The rest of the exam was similarly undemanding, though he almost failed one task badly. The chance of getting a bad mark was nothing now; there was no way he would get through it now. Like he had predicted. He sought out Quaen's eyes in the audience... they were still encouraging, shining with hope.
"Maserl... that is all. Thankyou."
The moogle walked to one side to await his results. The judges were busy writing on their slates.
They held them up.
He stared with disbelief at the assortment of numbers showing, and turned to face the crowd again.
"But... but... I did so badly."
An arm found its way around his, leading him out and away from the audience.
"Be quiet... be happy..."
"But... 35? I got 35 for-"
It was a farce. Having decided beforehand that he was not to be tested, they gave him spectacular passing grades. He shook his head, still able to remember the mix of emotions.