Author's Note. 1. This is a fanfiction based on the world of Final Fantasy XI. If there are any FFXI terms that you do not understand, please feel free to ask. 2. Though I'll incorporate details from the game's storyline, I do not claim for everything I write to be completely accurate in regards to Vana'diel lore. 3. It is very possible that I will redraft this chapter to improve on quality. The same goes for other chapters. 4. If you want me to write more, then comment, comment, comment! For other examples of my writing, read http://www.pokecharms.com/forums/index.php?topic=6884.0. Thanks. Enjoy. There isn't much there yet but the story will come together over the next few posts. Prologue. "Fenrir," spoke the girl. "Fenrir, Guardian of the Moon, hear my plea. Come forth and guide me through the night." All was calm in the fields of West Sarutabaruta, the Watersday moon shining blue in the night sky, casting a cool, watery glow onto the mysterious Starfall Hillock. It was on this hill many moons ago, towards the end of the horrors of the Crystal War, that a young hume woman, separated from her mercenary party, had near met her death at the hands of the Yagudo onslaught. She shook as she drew from the back of her mind the memory of the Yagudo's beastly gaze, it's eyes like black voids, absent of mercy and reason. She remembered the ringing noise as the bird-like creature drew its katana from its belt, ready to strike down the girl as a statement to all races who dared offer their blades to the Federation. It was at that moment that a great, dark wolf lept down from the sky and let out a deafening howl, sending the Yagudo fleeing in terror as the beast followed. The girl never saw the Avatar again. Now, she stood alone on the Starfall Hillock once more, calling out to the wolf in the night. I. Too young to join the Ducal Guard, Lenna had joined a band of travelling adventurers: "We fight battles on our own terms; where we want, when we want, how we want," Caliburn had told her. Caliburn was a young, blonde-haired Hume man, aged nineteen, who wielded an array of magicks as mighty as his sword was sharp — a real jack-of-all-trades and master of nothing but his own fate. Both Lenna's father and mother were absent, along with her older brother and sister, fighting the Shadow Lord's minions across the fields and caverns and deserts and coasts of Vana'diel. Lenna was yet another "child" under the charge of the Moogle Unit for the Children of the Army — the M.U.C.A. Lenna had left the Duchy later that week with Caliburn and the rest of his party. "Miko," she addressed her Carer Moogle. "Redirect any mail from my parents to my backpack. They'll worry if I don't reply to their letters and I don't want them to hurry back to find me missing, OK?" Miko looked at his protegé inquisitively. "To your backpack? I don't understand, kupo." "It's pretty simple, you can work spells, right?" Lenna pressed a crisp, rolled up scroll tied up in ribbon into the moogle's hands. "This is the spell. You'll be able to send anything you want directly into my backpack. Try it out — but, er, nothing too big. It has to be able to fit inside." "I have the perfect thing to test it with. Eyes closed, kupo!" Lenna closed her eyes holding the backpack out in front of her and smiled again, though her eyes stung as she fought back against an unexpected wave of emotion. Miko had been good to her during their time together. He had always cooked her wonderful meals, kept her safe and made sure she stayed on-top of her schooling. More important than all that, he'd listened to her and understood her reasoning for leaving the Duchy. Stuck on her own in Jeuno not being able to fight alongside her family had driven Lenna close to insanity. She would waste the days roaming the city streets, practising magic and gazing at the starry night skies, counting down the days to when she would finally be of age to fight. But time dragged slowly. "Open your eyes now, kupo." Lenna's eyes shot open in excitement and she dived into the bag. She pulled out something that had not been there before and found herself suddenly unable to hold up the floodgates, tears streaming down her pale face. "A Kupo Nut," Miko chirped. "It will bring you luck and keep you safe, kupo!" "Don't you want it for yourself?" Lenna both laughed and sobbed. "Oh, well, you know... Kupo..." Lenna grinned as she watched the little moogle struggle. "Thank you, Miko, I'll take good care of it." And with that, she pecked him on the cheek. Miko blushed as red as his pom-pom. Lenna spent the next twenty minutes in both laughter and tears as she said her farewells to Miko, before leaving with a pack full of supplies, wearing an set of old, brown mage's robes and her mother's cherry wood staff strapped to her back. She left the Residential Area and hurried down the stone steps to the Main Street of Lower Jeuno, passing the many adventurers gathered around discussing their latest accomplisments, the merchants and alchemists selling their weapons and potions, the stables and their chocobo, before arriving at the arches which led on to the Rolanberry Fields. It was here that she met with Caliburn and his party, after composing herself so as not to seem weak and unable to handle the perils of "adventuring". "The new recruit!" beamed Caliburn, his arms open in welcoming. "She looks a little young for this," frowned a beautiful, elegant, giant of a woman — an Elvaan who towered over the heads of both herself and Caliburn alike, so that Lenna found herself craning her neck to see her face. She was armed with a beautiful, silver longsword and an even more stunning kite shield the colours of San d'Oria. Her armour was many shades of silver and grey with intricate patterns, though faded due to many battles. "Huh — what?" spoke a tiny Tarutaru man with blue hair tied-back and Windurstian robes, searching the crowded street. "Where? I don't see her." "I'm up here, little guy," Lenna remarked, rather offended. "Don't worry about him, he's just bummed Caliburn recruited another mage, aren't you, Roro?" grinned a colossal Galkan man, who nudged the Tarutaru with his boot. He was equipped with silver mail and a large darksteel great-axe mounted onto his back which would surely cut through the Shadow Lord himself. "Another mage?" the Tarutaru retorted, sticking his nose in the air. "Forgive me, but I'm prettaru certain that I'm the only mage of this party. Oh, unless you're including Caliburn, though Red Mages shouldn'taru really count..." "I quite like herrrrr," a voice purred. Lenna twisted her neck to notice a young Mithra woman standing behind her, dressed in a red harness and armed with dual-daggers which resembled small, silver sickles. There were purple, tribal markings around her eyes and her hair was dark brown hair and tied up in sky blue ribbon. All-in-all, her appearance was rather sinister and sent a chill down Lenna's spine. "Okay, okay, let's not scare the poor girl to death before the Beastmen can have a shot at her," Caliburn grinned. "So, you know me, but you're going to have to get to know the rest of the clan. Care to introduce yourselves, guys and gals?" Indeed, it was becoming difficult to keep up with all the new faces. "Arcadriel," spoke the beautiful, white-haired Elvaan. "Pleased to meet your acquaintance. I shall be your protector in battle and mentor on the field." "The Humes call me Ominous Cloud," boomed the Galka, smiling warmly and offering a gigantuan hand. "But you may call me Goliath, if you wish." "Telroro," squeeked the Tarutaru, matter-of-factly. His tininess contrasted almost humorously with Goliath's sheer massiveness. "As I said, we don't need another mage, but if you're definitely coming then I'll be sure to teach you the basics." Caliburn rolled his eyes. "And my name is Sal Gorrrani," purred the sinister Mithra. "But you may call me Sally, if that's easier for you to pronounce, little Hume girl." "No, that's fine. Sal Gorani," she repeated. "You must know that when we hunt our prrrey, we Mithra only call each other by our shortened names," Sal purred, stalking closer to Lenna. "So as not to alert our prey with... hmm... unnecessary noise." "She calls me Arc," Arcadriel sighed. "Sally likes to sneak up on her enemies," said Caliburn, who was still grinning though there was a serious, almost disapproving look in his expression. "Watch your pockets, that's all I'll say." "Got it," Lenna smiled, bravely staring into the woman's feline eyes, who in turn flashed a set of razor teeth and nodded her approval. "Right, introductions are over. Say good bye to Jeuno, everyone." The party started out through the arched city gates and began to make their way across the stone bridge, Arcadriel and Goliath in front whilst â€˜Roro' and Caliburn followed behind. Lenna lingered, unsure of what to make of the moment. Everything was about to change. "Did you want a minute, Lenna?" Caliburn asked, an honest concern visible in his eyes. "No," Lenna shook her head. "I'll be fine. I've been preparing for this for... a long time." Caliburn nodded and smiled sweetly, before running to catch up with the others. A voice purred from behind Lenna. "You'll be fine." Lenna turned her head to the side to see Sal peering over her shoulder, her golden eyes alive and dead-set on the bridge ahead. "How do you keep getting behind me like that?" Lenna giggled. "I always lurk behind, mage. In the shadows, out of sight. So I can watch everyone's backs, you know?" Lenna soon realised that Sal's eyes were on the others, not the bridge. "It's a dangerous world out there, Lenna. Monsters, animals, fiends, not to mention the Beastmen. You must be prepared for anything." Lenna nodded. This was all so real. Was she prepared? Maybe there was a reason she was too young to join the military. Unsure, she made her way onwards through the arches and took her first steps on her adventure, however dangerous it would be. She couldn't decide whether it made her feel safe, but she knew that Sal would be somewhere behind, watching her back.