Categories > Games > Final Fantasy 9 > Prince of Thieves

7. Oeilvert

by Myshu 0 reviews


Category: Final Fantasy 9 - Rating: R - Genres: Drama,Fantasy - Characters: Freya Crescent - Warnings: [!] [V] - Published: 2007-03-27 - Updated: 2007-11-02 - 3410 words - Complete

7. Oeilvert

The next weekend, Boss took Luth to a McMoogles restaurant, not so much for the cuisine (it was cheap and greasy, and Luth could sympathize with the moogles who boycotted the fast food chain and its "fried pom-poms" special--even if it was attested they weren't made from real moogle pom-poms) as for Boss's longing to play in the ball pit of its courtyard, the one designed for small children.

As a matter of course, they got kicked out, not so much for breaching playground etiquette as for arguing with staff ("Whaddya mean I'm too big to go in there? That lady's kid is like twice my size and he's allowed in.") Once Luth was sufficiently embarrassed, they left.

"That wasn't very tactful, sir," Luth lectured him on the way out of the parking lot. "That boy's mother looked like she was going to kill you."

Boss shuffled the seat of his pants and an errant ball spilled out one leg, rolled under a parked car and disturbed the flock of pigeons taking shade there. "So? I could take 'er."

Luth tried not to smile as he chided, "You're like a big kid, sir."


"Psst. Lu."

Luth egressed from an uncomfortable dream about being stoned to death by his kinfolk--except they were using dinner rolls, not real stones, and his father held the breadbasket--his dreams rarely made sense--to his safe, comfortable bed in his room.

"Hey, Lu," whispered the chair at his bedside, and when it reached out and nudged him Luth propped open one drowsy eye.

Boss appeared in the chair, perched on his toes like a big, squat bird. "Uh..." Luth blinked, both eyes cracking awake. "...sir?"

"Mornin', Lu," he spoke softly, as if not to disturb the other Luth still asleep in bed. "Sleep well?"

"It's..." Luth stretched one arm towards the alarm clock on the nightstand, turning its red face into his line of sight. "Not even seven in the morning yet."

Boss leaned on his elbow, a tiny, wistful smile bunched up in one cheek as he mumbled, "I know. I couldn't sleep." His tail flopped restlessly over the back of the chair as he shifted upright. "Are you ready to go somewhere new today?"


Luth agreed to the adventure, provided Boss gave him a few minutes of privacy to shower and dress. It was eight o'clock and a pleasantly yellow morning by the time they had eaten breakfast and were ready to depart.

They were taking one of the company's small, private airboats out of Lindblum; Gribbo agreed to fly them. This was already unusual, since they typically hitched rides on the big cargo ships, going wherever commerce demanded.

What was especially strange, though, was not only that Boss bid Luth carry his halberd (it had come in handy against wild beasts before, on their more outlandish deliveries), but that the Genome had armed himself as well, a sheathed dagger clipped heavily to his belt. Before Luth could find a good place to voice his curiosity, Boss beat him to it.

"You were a Dragon Knight, right?"

"I was still in training, sir," Luth patiently reminded him.

"You've got the skills to pay the bills, though?" he persisted.

"I--what?" The puzzled furrow to his brow deepened. "I'm fairly proficient with polearms, if that's what you're asking."

"Good, good." Boss hopped over the top rung of the ladder, hitting the wooden deck of the Good Graces with a nimble thud.

"Um, why do you ask, sir? Are we going somewhere dangerous?" Luth took his time climbing aboard, one long leg after the other.

"Don't worry about it." Boss waved to Gribbo in the pilot's cabin, and the aircraft shuddered to life.


It took a long day westward before they arrived at the Forgotten Continent, where Boss indicated they'd be visiting a place called Oeilvert. Luth recalled the name from his family reading, and if he were to take Lady Freya's word for it, Oeilvert was not a place for tourists. It was a hovel for exotic, deadly monsters, and magic had long been stricken from its land. Its part of the continent had never even been settled, still a pristine wasteland after countless centuries.

The time Luth would have spent speculating over their imminent danger was instead wasted in moping off the port side. Boss rose from his nap below deck and stepped out to find him.

"Hey, Lu!" he yawned as the brisk, arid wind ruffled his bearings. "There you are."

"Hmm?" Luth's attention jumped out of the rocky gulf far below. "Oh, hi sir."

Boss shared the railing with him, admiring the sun-scorched vista. He examined Luth's brooding frown with a puzzled one of his own. "Why the longer face than usual?"

Luth admitted with chagrin, "I lost Lady Freya's diary, sir. I was looking for it last night, but it was gone. I don't know what I did with it. It was in my backpack, last I remember."

"And now it's not, huh?"

He somberly shook his head.

"Well, I'm sure it'll turn up somewhere," Boss tried.

"I certainly hope so, sir. I don't know how I'll ever face my family again if I've lost it."

He snorted reassuringly. "Heh, I'm sure they're more forgiving than that."

Luth wasn't amused. "You just don't know, sir. I didn't even get to finish reading it..."

"You didn't, huh...?" Boss trailed off with him, staring into the amber-fire on the horizon. "Huh."

"Say, sir?" Luth began, hoping to take his mind off his carelessness, "Can we talk about something?"

"Sure," Boss chirped, "We can talk about anything."

"I was wondering if you're ready to tell me your real name."

Boss's focus dropped to his weaving thumbs. "Anything but that."

Luth gave an importuning shrug. "But sir, why not? I know we haven't really been working together that long, but I still feel like we've been through a lot. You've taken me to Gatortown, and all those places all over the world, and even to Don Gator's house. You said you trust me. Why won't you trust me with that? It's been bothering me since we met."

Boss pushed himself off the railing, faced Luth and clapped a hand around his arm. "Oh, Lu, Lu," he sighed, staring straight through the Burmecian. "I'm not gonna lie to you." He then cast a glance over the side of the boat, spotting the steeple-capped ruin at the heart of the desert's spiraling canyon. "Oh look, we're almost there," he airily announced, and spun towards the cabin. "Let's get ready to roll."

"Hey!" Luth flared after him. He stood back and set his jaw, determined not to let Boss get away so easily for the hundredth time. He didn't really want to resort to it, but he was at the end of his rope on the matter.

"I heard your parents used to call you Alfy."

Boss tripped over his heel, fell onto the guardrail for support and began choking, turning an interesting shade of grey. Luth stood over him, patting his back until the fit subsided.

"Where did you hear that?" the Genome coughed.

"He doesn't want me to tell you. But what's wrong with that name, sir? And what's it short for?"

"Geez." He rubbed his brow. "How long have you been holding on to that ace?"

"Only a week or so, sir."

"It was Don, wasn't it?"

Luth grimaced and reluctantly confirmed, "That's a good guess, sir."

Boss settled with a deep breath and slouched over the rail, closing his eyes. "...Althier," he muttered.

"Althier?" Luth echoed, to be sure.

Boss nodded away from him.

"That's a very interesting name. I like it, sir. Don't you?"

"It's not..." Boss straightened and rubbed his nose. "Just listen, you can't tell anyone about it, you understand?" He dropped a glare on the Burmecian, who reared back a little, surprised by the dark shift in mood. "And you are definitely not allowed to call me that. I mean it."

Luth tested a pacifying half-grin. "Company secret, right, sir?"

Boss blinked at him, his icy mask thawing, and then chuckled thickly into his hand. "...Heh, haha. I don't think I give you enough credit sometimes, Lu."


The Good Graces touched down at least a mile from their destination, so they had to brave the rest of the way on their own. Boss explained that any closer would put Gribbo and the vessel at unreasonable risk, and he didn't know how well the boat's controls would respond to the anti-magic field, besides. Neither excuse put Luth's heart at ease, but he was ready for whatever hazards laid ahead. A Dragon Knight was trained to be ready for anything.

"I haven't been here in a long time," Boss continued as they sauntered along the parched bed of a winding gorge. At the pit of the trail was the semblance of a cathedral, one of tiered mica, sheer onyx and twisted black opal. It looked like a giant fallen canary, one broken wing clawing at the brazen sun. "It's kinda dangerous, and you don't want to go in alone. If we're lucky, you won't have to see why."

Luth adjusted his halberd across his back. "Are we in real danger, sir?"

"Only if you let your guard down!" Boss mounted the tall steps leading to a pair grandiose arching doors. Luth was marveling at the incredibly alien pictographs and architecture surrounding such mundane things as stairs and doors when one of the slabs cracked open, seemingly of its own accord.

Boss flashed a secret grin and bowed towards the entrance with a flourish. "Welcome to Oeilvert."

It smelled of dust, ash and ozone inside. Dusk peered through the translucent, swirling windows, painting a garden of orange roses across the hodgepodge tiled floor and bending walls. There were no right corners, nothing straight, nothing simple and orderly. There were bricks like mushrooms and tree limbs, everything warping and melting into everything else. There were boxes and globes that looked like machines, nested in stony talons that looked like animals, sitting inside triangle-runes that looked like signposts, but as he stood in the threshold and breathed nothing moved, nothing worked. It was a monument to entropy, perfectly still and always moving, as if the entire edifice had been cast in cool lava.

Just looking at it made Luth a little dizzy. "Why are we here, sir?" he finally asked.

Boss strolled up to a small door like a man unimpressed, knowing exactly where he was going. "I need answers to certain questions."

"Like what, sir?"

"That's between me and the stoneheads."

Luth's left ear ticked quizzically, but he didn't push his luck. He followed Boss out of the disorienting vestibule and into a chamber just as confusing, with doors and windows at odd angles and paths flowing out of nowhere around an empty, circular depression in the ground.

"This place is like a shrine." Boss's voice clattered across the scaly ceiling. "It's pretty sacred to the Genomes. There's a lot of history here--I know you like that kinda stuff. Feel free to look around."

Luth indulged his urge to explore a little while Boss criss-crossed the room, rapping on lanterns and flipping switches the Burmecian never would have descried on his own. Passages yielded to the very sound of his footsteps, and glass bulbs he touched would glow with soft red pulses. On the other hand, nothing Luth examined would respond, so he eventually gave up and stood idle, listening and waiting for the monster ambush he was dreading.

Luth was tracing a big, clawed toe along the etchings in the floor when Boss waved him over to a quaint hatch at the farthermost corner of the room, at the end of a narrow sidewalk.

"I want you to guard this door," the Genome instructed. "I don't need monsters banging it down while I'm in there."

"I can't go in with you, sir?"

"Nah, sorry, this is..." He scratched the back of his neck and shrugged. "It's personal. You'd really help me by keeping an eye out here. But listen, rookie: if it starts to get really hairy, don't be afraid to run like hell. You totally have permission to save your own ass."

Luth took his halberd and stuck it in the floor, adopting a soldier's stance. "I won't budge, sir."

"Heh, you'd make a great Dragon Knight, Lu," was all Boss said before slipping around the door and shutting Luth out.

He waited. He checked his watch-less wrist. He scanned the chamber for a clock he wouldn't find. He watched the sinking daylight turn a subtler shade of red. It was a good thing he didn't stay in the palace to complete his Dragon Knight's training, because he would have done terribly at rounds. His lack of patience was one of his bigger failings.

Despite his short attention span, Luth was quite relieved. Lady Freya had written that 'beasts and birds of stone fell upon us from all impossible avenues, as phantoms through walls,' but as Luth kept vigil in the depths of the cursed shrine, it remained as tranquil as a tomb. He was beginning to wonder if all of Oeilvert's terrors had died out before him when he heard a gravelly whisper across the hall. When he looked, ears perked high in that direction, nothing appeared off. After a minute of intense scrutiny, the scenery remained unchanged, so Luth faced forward again, folding his arms around the shaft of his weapon with a bored sigh.

skkkkrrrrritt/, grumbled the floor again, the sound of stone dragging over stone. Luth whirled that way just in time for the noise to cease. Now, he thought, something looked misplaced, but he couldn't pin his eye on it. Another protracted minute of study yielded nothing, so Luth turned away and, noting the dormant globe in the corner of his vision, trained a squint on its reflective sheen. He was going to catch /something in the act of something if it was the last thing he--

/skkkkrrrrii/--there, in the inverted shadows, a skittering /mass/--Luth pounced backwards, landing behind a... block of rubble? It wobbled to a halt in front of him. Luth paced around it, his steel blade held firmly between himself and the anomaly.

It looked like a wardrobe, of all things. It was a great granite closet with a pair of engraved tablets for doors (even in the failing light Luth saw the text had worn away, now too blurry to read) and a gargoyle peeking over the top. Maybe it more resembled an elaborate headstone, on second thought, but it was none-the-less an impossible thing to move on its own power. Luth would be damned it he didn't see it, though...

He tapped it experimentally with his polearm. The half of him that wasn't expecting the wardrobe to shudder stumbled over the half that was, and whether Luth was ready for it or not, the entire oddity blew open with an incandescent blast. Luth flew back in alarm, halberd crossed protectively, awaiting some wayward not-magic.

When the flash faded, the dusk seemed much richer than before, a red-violet pall descending over the room. Luth could barely discern the creature that had appeared in the wardrobe's defense. The crouching thing rose on gnarled claw-toes and angular legs, in lean body and blue tunic, with swishing whip-tail and long, strong arms. Its pointed ears swiveled through sagging brown hair.

It was a Burmecian.

It grinned, craggy pearls sneering beneath milky hollow eyes, and bared its dragon-winged halberd.

It was /Luthane/.

His second-hand memory knew epitaphs now, on the brink of too late. By the time Luth had recovered from the trauma of discovering a copy of himself, the clone was knitting a full-length looking-glass out of the twilight-ether.

'Don't look into their mirrors,' his mother's ancestor warned. 'They'll steal your soul.'

Luth didn't wait for any more bewitching furniture--he ripped forward, cleaving the mirror into a million searing shards and falling where the clone was standing. The doppelganger skipped back, bringing his halberd to block Luth's next lunging swipe.

They darted around the centipede-sidewalks as if in a race, sparks blossoming in the shadows where their blades intersected, a flip met with a dash and a thrust parried with a slash. Luth reached for its legs and the clone answered with a falling heel, planting his chin on the cobbles with an eye-watering crack. A swooshing blade followed suit, crashing against bare rock and bloody spittle, Luth already tumbled out of the way. He pushed off a deft leg and plowed into the other's middle, knocking it flat on its back, but the clone's feet caught Luth by the belt and threw him up and over. The real Burmecian landed in a heap while his clone bounced back and snatched up its halberd.

The wind was knocked out of him and his palms burned with grit and glass, but he hadn't run out of steam yet. Luth clambered to his feet and swung his weapon at the nearest target: a crystal orb. It shattered, spraying a jet of caustic glitter into the clone's charge. The copy shrieked and pawed at its leaking eyes, pausing long enough for Luth's halberd to reach over and chop the imposter from hip to rib. The spine split like a straw, the blade passing so easily that Luth had to reel his weight back to keep from flying off his feet.

Without as much as a squeak, the apparition dissipated into ashen humors, leaving a sickly, grainy puddle at Luth's feet.

He almost didn't hear the groaning of the epitaph through the throbbing in his ears. In a snapping impulse Luth jumped high, climbing the thin air with the sleek grace of an otter through water--it was nothing to a Burmecian, to a Dragon Knight, his right through race and birth, to jump like fleas off rats, higher than anyone--and brought the point of his halberd straight down on the monster's sloping skull.

The brewing glow in its closet drew closed, dead like nightfall, and the whole block toppled onto its backside before likewise dispelling into ash. Luth lost his pointed landing on the imploding monster and crumpled into a clumsy pile, his polearm pelting him across the muzzle. He sat in the sooty vestige of his foes, stunned and bruised while the dust settled and his mind caught up with his adrenaline.

Luth finally remembered to breathe, and gagged outrageously.


Boss eventually emerged from seclusion, wearing a serious mask that didn't suit him. His expression cleared with a startled blink on finding his companion standing at limping attention, peppered with scrapes and debris.

"Yikes, kid, you okay?" He gingerly flicked Luth's ear, watching a funny powder wisp off its tip. "You look like hell."

"Yes," Luth puffed, trying not to sound as agitated or fatigued as he really was. "I'm fine. Did you get an answer to your question, sir?" he inquired, itching to change the subject.

"Huh?" Boss took a long second to process the query. "Oh..." his tone flattened, and his gaze drifted off to the side. "Not yet."

Gribbo thankfully didn't ask. It wasn't hard to pry a victory tale out of Luth once he was a little rested, though, and after censuring the Burmecian for not "saving his own ass" as advised, Boss managed to make a point of being proud of his "rookie" ("You took down one of those by yourself? That's pretty hardcore, Lu. Remind me not to tangle with ya.")

They all camped in the Good Graces for the night, and flew back to Lindblum at daybreak. By the time Luth returned to his safe, cozy home-of-sorts, he was ready for a quiet, monster-free, drama-free day. He started to unlock his door when--

"What in Shiva's blue hell?!"

Luth knocked his forehead against the door with a rumpled frown. That was Boss, and he had to backpedal to the Genome's room to see what was amiss.

Boss was standing just inside his doorway, gaping at the plain cedar wardrobe across the room. Something--/someone/ had painted in scrawling, frosty crimson letters across its doors:


For a heady minute Luth stood in perverse awe of the vandalism, none of its implications sinking into his weary brain until Boss cleared his throat and spoke.

"Gee, Lu. I think someone's trying to tell me something."
Sign up to rate and review this story