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 A hunt ( Tag: One Shot )

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Matt Eria

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PostSubject: A hunt ( Tag: One Shot )   Thu Nov 14, 2013 12:56 pm

No one respected how hard a Sphere Hunter actually had to work. It wasn't just sunshine and ponies - there was legitimate sweat, blood, and tears that went into the work he did. Of course... that was when he was in whichever hellhole he had to go through to get the Sphere. Before and after it was kind of a cake walk. He had a couple of friends who did work intelligence for him - picking up leads, identifying which ones are most likely to actually end up with something.

That was the problem with Sphere Hunting at large.

Memory Spheres were worth a lot of money, and there were quite a few people out there who would go after them. The odds of a Sphere always being where you went? Not necessarily amazing. But so far, his team hadn't led him astray yet.

"Come on, Carbie, you've got to find me something to do. It's been days since I've been able to stretch my legs. You know how I get when I can't stretch!" Matt whined, knowing full and well he was going to tweak the little Vieran's nerves with his pet name. Two rabbit ears perked, as the girl spun around in her seat, glaring at him.

"Then go outside! And my name is Carmine!" She shouted, not for the first time. Still, Matt grinned at her, enjoying the subtle irritation that radiated off of her. She had typical brown fur, but the reason he called her Carbie - short for Carbuncle - was the fact that she had an off-white diamond pattern in the middle of her forehead. She made a little clucking sound with her tongue, and spun back towards the maps she was pouring over.

"Keep it up, and one day I'll throw you out on your lily-white ass, Matt!" The Vieran snarled. She was little more than a child, but she was fiesty. Barely old enough to be out on her own, and bossing him around. "Aye-aye, Captain Carbie." Matt replied - and narrowly avoided the cup of pencils that came whizzing past his head. The cup smacked into the wall, pencils rolling out of it in a clutter of noise. He darted out of the small building - barely more than a shack on the beach. Besaid was a nice area, if a little... secluded. But secluded was good - they still had Moogles who flew out to deliver information they needed, and kept him off the radar.

Despite his gentle ribbing, he owed Carmine a lot. She had pulled him in to her small troupe of information traders when he'd had nothing else left for him. She'd kept him hidden from the Bevelle soldiers that had been dispatched to retrieve him. He literally owed her his life - and he'd be forever grateful. They were close, even if he did tease her sometimes.

Glancing around, he tried to spot someone. Anyone. A few random villagers smiled as they passed him by - he waved, and smiled in return, dark hair weighted down by the dampness of his recent shower. Donny was still out, and they hadn't received a post in--

"Mattie! Get your butt in here!" Carmine called, shaking him out of his reverie.

Snorting a little bit, the sphere hunter made his way back in, shoes tromping against the wood of the shack. "You know, you've been talking a lot about my butt, lately." He observed, and knew she'd be blushing if he could see it through her fur. She glanced back at him passively.

"That's because you haven't laid off the sweets in a week, and it's starting to show." She looked pointedly at his waist, and Matt's eyes widened. "It most certainly is not! How could you---" But her sly smile made him stop. He smirked, and made a little noise. "Very funny. Did you find something?"

He stepped up to her desk, which she turned back towards as well. There were markings in a language he couldn't hope to understand. Despite how smart he was, the guy could barely read - he could spell his name, and only because he knew what the letters looked like. Carmine had tried on multiple occasions to teach him, but mostly, the lessons just rolled off his back. He wasn't cut out for it. Or at least, that's what he told himself.

"This here." She pointed at a small rock formation on a map. "This is where the entrance to the Cave of Penance." Matt paused for a second, glancing at her. "Penance?" She shook her head. "It's like a place where you go to pay for your crimes. Supposedly, several thieves were sent down there with a job to retrieve something precious. So far? None have come back. I have reason to believe the treasure is a Sphere - a sphere with the memories of an ancient Thief."

His eyes narrowed a little bit.

"You mean..."

Carmine nodded, her ears twitching with the motion. "It's a Memory Sphere. The kind you're looking for."

Matt went quiet for a few moments. "When do I leave?" He asked, his voice gentle, but firm. Carmine did not like it when he went after Memory Spheres. But she also knew he wouldn't forgive her if she didn't tell him where one was. She reached up, and patted his shoulder. "Tonight, if you want. Donny will be back, and you can take one of the Chocobos out."

Matt nodded, and stepped out of the main meeting 'hall' ( really just a living room, if you could call it that ) and went into his room.

That Night

Matt looked up, through the slits on the eyes of his mask. He didn't leave Besaid without it - Bevelle had eyes everywhere. He could masquerade as a Mime for the most part. For the last time, he went over his situation. Closing his eyes, he held out the sword in his hand, and focused. It took several seconds, but several interlaced lines of light wrapped up around it. Gleaming brightly in the night, it shifted, until it was a elongated staff, with a single gem pressed into the top of it. [ White Mage Active ]

He was always amazed how the Variable Blade worked with him. There was no weapon its equal, in his eyes.

Still, it was best to begin now, while the night was still early. Letting out a breath, the spherical crystal on his staff took on a soft white-green glow, that would illuminate the cave. It was dangerous, of course - any light he used would draw things to him. But he would rather do that than stumble into any monsters without knowing they were there. His feet crunched on the hard-packed stone of the cave entrance, ignoring whatever words were scrawled on the side.

Every so often, his staff thudded gently on the ground, as it doubled as a simple walking stick in this situation. He used it to gain extra traction. His memories, right then, were more passive - focused on the subtle light, more than anything else. He wasn't a fighter. Explaining the way it worked was difficult, even to his close friends. It was like his muscle memories changed whenever he Junctioned a new Memory Sphere. He lost some of his capabilities, and gained others.

Each crack of wood on stone beat a simple pattern in the darkness, becoming almost monotonous. He was surprised - he'd expected something more from this place.

The quiet scratching had almost gone unnoticed - he heard it vaguely between staff-strokes. Pausing, he lifted the walking staff high into the air, letting more focus pour into it. The light intensified - and he saw them. Two creatures, neither of which looked thrilled to see him. That is - would not have been thrilled, had they any eyes. They looked like desiccated corpses, with more bones visible than flesh.

Quietly, he whispered a gentle: "Protect!" and let the latticework of magic flicker into life before him. It faded, but he could feel the magic as it made itself tangible. His focus narrowed on one of the two monsters - zombies, he knew, instinctively. They were undead - his holy light could strike them down.

He'd do just that. Clasping his staff between both hands, he focused the light into a semi-coherent burst of energy, intoning the spell as he did so. "Cure!" His voice echoed against the walls, as the pure restorative energy filtered through one of their bodies. It hissed and groaned, pushed back by the light. His gaze shifted to the other, which was moving ever closer.

The spell was forced outward again, racking the creature with holy power. But as he was so focused on those two, he hadn't noticed the third slipping up next to him. He smelled the stink of it just in time to turn and see it - before undead claws raked at him.

He gritted his teeth and murmured a quiet restoration on himself - mending the bloody wound that had been left on his hand. He was wearing a long coat, but that was not a perfect defense by any means. It would not keep him alive. He glanced around, until he spotted a bit of rock that looked sturdy enough - and high enough - to climb.

Scurrying upwards, he dropped the staff at the base, unconcerned with that. With the monsters below, he could deal with them - but not in his present form.

Again, he let out a breath of air, focusing on his memories. They shifted, and reformed - and with it, the staff vanished. Light pooled around his hand, glowing and extending into a longsword. It was thick, deadly looking. Not a katana, but certainly sharp enough to be used evenly.

He was silent as he leaned forward, just over the edge of the rock face, using his feet to springboard him over the heads of the slow-paced creatures. His sword was not glowing as his staff had been, but he knew where the monsters were. He felt flesh and bone part before him as he cut, quickly, through the three zombies. The silence that followed was all he needed to know he was safe. He grimaced, knowing he'd need to clean the V-blade once he left the pitch darkness of the cave.

Still, it couldn't be quite that easy, could it? No way would countless numbers of thieves and criminals be put off by three small zombies. Reaching into his pocket, he cracked the torch, which flickered to life, fire blazing. He hated using the torch in here. Carmine paid handsomely for it, and it didn't work but once a week. Still, better to use it and not need it, than need it and not have it.

The Variable blade vanished from his hand, in the glimmer of light that came from its transformations. It was forged from the power of memory and machine, somehow - a literal manifestation of the memories he had stored inside. When he did not need them, when he could simply be himself? The Variable Blade simply was but a thought on the wind.

He finally came to what could only be the end of the cave.

Except, there was nothing here. The firelight was dancing, certainly, but it still provided enough light to see the rock face. It was odd - he'd seen nothing to indicate there was a switch or mechanism to open a door. There was just a sheer stone structure. Stepping forward, he lifted one gloved hand, and banged hard on it. It made a groaning noise, as though it weren't nearly as solid as it looked.

His brows furrowed, and he took a step back. Lifting a leg, he kicked hard into the wall - hearing yet another groan. One more kick... and it looked like the rock seemed to have bent in on itself.

"What on Gaia?" He asked, looking closely at it. It wasn't rock. It was some sort of thin metal. He'd been denting some sort of already-dented metal, designed to look like stone from a casual observer. He stepped up, and began running his fingers along the wall, looking for anything out of the ordinary. ( That is, more out of the ordinary than the weird wall itself. )

He did find, in another unusual little indent, a single half-sphere shape, with a line that lead to the wall. "..." He couldn't help himself. This was the weirdest thing he'd ever seen. It was the perfect size for a sphere, but what the hell was he supposed to do with that? Turning around, he headed back down the way he'd come, until he found the three ( permanently ) dead zombies. He rifled around with them for a bit, not really finding anything of use.

Biting his lip, he glanced up at the fire.

"Okay, this is going to be disgusting." He said, bringing the torch down to each one of the bodies in question. Just in case he was missing something - he wasn't going to be digging around inside them. Each body caught ablaze almost instantly, heat building in the cavern almost too fast. He took several steps back, and waited. It only took about three minutes for what little flesh was left on the skeletons to be burned away - and there, in each of the skeletal ribcages, were three spheres. Red, green, and blue.

Key spheres.

He hadn't seen them used in... ever. He'd actually only ever heard of them - they were apparently used for the Summoners in their trials. Had he somehow managed to find himself in something like that?

With a bit of maneuvering ( and a couple of cracked bones! ) Matt had the spheres, each one stuck into his pockets. Heading back to the strange wall, he pulled out the spheres, and held each one close. The red one seemed to glow more intensely as it neared the sphere hole... so without hesitation, he pressed it in.

Red light flooded the cavern, and he heard the faintest sounds of a snarl as the wall vanished. Turning, he jumped, as he saw what could only be considered... well, a freaking demon. No, it had to be a fiend of some sort - a slavering wolf-monster, that stood on four feet, and looked far hungrier than he would expect.

Then again, he'd been locked behind a magical wall for who knew how long.

The monster leaped, and it was the torch that saved him. He smashed the monster in the side of the face, knocking it aside none too gently. It hit the wall, but it barely made a noise more than annoyance. He reached out his free hand, and willed the sword into existence - bringing it to aim at the overly large dog.

"Be still, or this sword will cleave you in two." He said, his voice low and threatening. His lips would be unseen, behind the mask he wore - but the point still stood. Fiends, according to lore, were once human. So they had to have some understanding of language. But if they did, this one gave no semblance of that. It snarled, dampness leaking from between its lips.

It jumped again, and Matt spun, sword flashing through both of its back legs. It tore into his coat, but luckily didn't seem to get enough purchase to do worse. The thing looked bad - barely able to sustain weight in its back legs. But that, of course, was the point. He could slow down most things - make them think twice.

But he'd already given this creature that chance. He moved forward, the edge of his coat making only the slightest whisper as it fluttered behind him. His sword cut cleanly into the fiend's head. The monster, split, slumped forward. It began to dissolve into its base Pyreflies... and he just sighed.

"I hope you find peace." He said, unnecessarily. Pyreflies couldn't understand people. At least not as far as he understood. Hopefully, this time, they'd make their way to the Farplane and rest until it was their time to come back.

Letting out a sigh, Matt glanced back at the place where the wall had been. Stairs descended further into the dark - though there was something strange. Red light seemed to be coming from small, dim bulbs - that nevertheless were quite good at making the place a bit easier to walk around in.

Again, the walls were adorned in letters he didn't understand - he saw a few that he knew by simple association. They made up his name, though obviously that was not what was written here. Still, he felt something unusual here. Like he should be reverent - perhaps he was desecrating something that he shouldn't be?

He shook his head sharply to dismiss that nonsense. Sphere Hunters moved through years of history. That's what they did. He never maliciously destroyed these places, so he was one up on several Sphere Hunters he'd heard about. Still, when push came to shove, this felt... different.

Matt didn't know how to deal with the feeling there.

"You keep walking." He said, softly, hearing his own words echo off the walls nearest him. The soft red light pulsed - almost as if it were an affirmative. He didn't understand. What was this place... where had Carmine sent him?

He realized his footsteps had stopped making noise, the further he went into the red-tinged room. His fingers traced against the wall he was closest to, his sword having dissipated again. He couldn't feel the texture of the stone beneath his gloves, but the carvings? Those he could make out. He was looking for something specific - but what, he couldn't tell, yet.

It had taken him several minutes, but he found another wall, much like the first - though this time, the dents seemed to have been smoothed over, a beautifully intricate design imprinted along it. "Penance..." he murmured, gently. Directly in the middle of that pattern, swirling, whirling lines that spread outward in a circle that had four points on each side.

"I don't understand..." He mumbled. But the blue Sphere? That understood. He pressed it into the center - and the thing slid upwards, vanishing into the ceiling. This couldn't be right. If no one came out, and those zombies were the only thing standing in the way... how had no one else gotten this far? That single dog-Fiend, too, had been startling, but not insurmountable. Surely a violent criminal would have had little problems coming down.

The steps, as he continued down, slowly shifted from stone to something smoother. Reflective. It was glass, or crystal... something smooth and impossible to define. What could have made this? Something deep in the pit of his stomach was rallying against him, telling him that his best bet now was to turn away.

Or to take that torch, and burn himself alive.

He blinked, taken aback by that thought. No, no, he most certainly wasn't going to do that.

A small platform of glass received him, at the base of the stairs. Beyond it was a large circle - a multifaceted symbol that matched the one on the door he'd left. It was as large as the room itself - almost the size of a Blitzball stadium He still couldn't figure out why any of this was like this. It was unlike any tomb or historical site he'd been to before.

Carefully, he knelt down, and pressed a gloved hand against the seemingly reflecting design on the ground, and felt it - solid as the man himself. Simply... encased in crystal. His eyes narrowed on it, and he wracked his brain for some sort of explanation. Taking a deep breath, the Sphere Hunter stood up, and took a few steps onto the symbol.

Light burned from below him, as the symbol practically became a miniature sun. He had no choice but to shield his eyes for several seconds, until the glow became bearable, dimming down to previously acceptable levels. Though at this point, he certainly wouldn't need the torch any more. Opening his eyes, he glanced around - and was astounded to find himself surrounded by Pyreflies.

"Beautiful, aren't they?" A voice from behind him, had him spinning in place. A small boy - though, the boy was not solid in the least - was looking at him, as though he were far younger than the child himself. His eyes narrowed, and he took a few steps back, but Matt nodded nonetheless.

"They're sad, though." He replied, simply because it was the truth... and anything less would be offensive to this place.

"Yes. There is sorrow in their arrival, but joy in their departure. Even if that departure is forced upon them." Matt bit his lip, finding them surprisingly dry, considering how damp the air felt down here among the crystal and the light. "Who are you?"

Matt shifted, as again, his gut told him precisely how bad a situation this was. He was in deeper than he should have gone.

"My name is... Alecksei." He replied, softly. "Though I call myself Matt, to others." The boy nodded.

"And your business here?"

How could an Unsent have so much... presence? Didn't they linger for a while, and eventually become fiends? How was this conversation even happening? Matt wanted to blurt all that out - but it was not his place to question. He could feel that instinctively.

"I'm not sure. I thought I was coming to the Cave of Penance because a famous thief's memories were buried here. I am a Sphere Hunter." He clutched the torch tighter, careful to hold it away from himself, but not towards the Unsent boy. Pyreflies flitted and danced between them, occasionally causing the light in the room to shift in a way that made him truly start to understand vertigo.

"There are no thieves here. None but those that would rob the dead." The unsent boy looked around lifting a hand to gesture at the floating Pyreflies. "Though their bodies are gone, they linger here, as much a part of this place as the stone and glass." Matthew couldn't help but look around as well. Though his eyes spotted, in the direct center of the floor - and indeed, that majestic design - a place for a single sphere.

"Don't."

The boy's word was solid, almost like a force. Matt turned to face him.

"The memories beyond here are locked away for a reason. Penance. Eternal penance. Just as Sin is eternal, so shall his punishment be."

Matt glanced back at the hole. "Even if he deserves that kind of punishment - whoever he is - it is my job to reclaim the lost memories of Spira. The history that we can't remember, stored in Spheres and relics. I bring secrets and mysteries to the light." He looked to the boy. "I can't turn away."

The boy slumped forward, as if exhaling a tired sigh.

"No, I suppose you cannot. Just remember. Some secrets are better left hidden." The boy took a few steps back and faded away. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out the final sphere, and held it just above its resting place. A deep breath - a single moment of hesitation - before he let it fall in place.

The seal beneath him shifted and changed, moving from its multifaceted colors to a single, uniform green. The room illuminated again - but the Pyreflies... they seemed to filter forward, attracted to the light in the base. He felt the unsettling rumble of the crystal beneath his feet, and watched, as a massive crack jagged its way through the translucent stone. The fissure continued, pushing its way up into the stone wall, which began to crumble away.

He coughed, once or twice, at the dust that filled the air.

Taking two more steps forward, he lifted the torch towards the now apparent walkway. A single person could fit through the narrow structure, and even then, it would be a squeeze. He could see light from the other end - magnificent in its brilliance, and not unpleasant. He crouched and crept forward, moving by mere inches at a time.

His coat tore in several places, and his hair became thick with grime of ages. After what felt like an eternity, Matt made it to the other side, and was finally able to lift his head again. The light - the light was brilliant. He could see it sitting there, on the opposite side of the chamber, a single sphere.

A smile cracked along his face, as he began to walk from it.

But that light... that light? Was not coming from the Sphere. Liquid edges were coalescing before him, as the Pyreflies he'd left behind began to rush into the room from behind him. It took several seconds - but he could see the shadows writhing beneath a purifying light. The glass floor, now pure and reflecting the fiend's brilliance, shuddered as it finally touched the floor. It stood at twice his height, a black mask covering its 'face.'

Humanoid in its appearance, the thing simply shook its head twice, and reached behind it, bypassing several lengths of what was possibly its hair, though it was twisted and defiant to the laws of gravity. A sword - blazing with fire - was pulled from behind it.

"... I knew it." He grumbled. He only had seconds to react - the thing was fast, and the heat seared the skin on his arm as the blade passed by his dodge-roll. Springing back up, the sword flickered into existence, as he growled a quick color=blue]"Protect!"[/color] Once again shielding himself - hopefully enough to make a difference.

The creature was already moving, its long, lithe legs carrying it towards him in a rush of fire and glory. Again, he rolled, and again, he felt the flames caress his skin by the barest of inches. But he had attacked in kind. His own sword had lashed out, tearing at the monster's leg...

A wound which scarred over almost immediately. Apparently, it would not be crippled.

He leaped backwards, bringing his sword up to parry the fiery blow as it came down on him. His hands burned, even through his gloves, and he was forced to duck down and roll to get out from beneath the blade. The winged beast was already turning towards him again - but he didn't have time to waste. Rushing forward, his sword flickered, reflecting the immaculate brilliance that was this creature's aura. It took several slashes, to its midsection and arms, but showed no signs of stopping.

The sword crashed in to him, singing his clothes along his front, and neatly cutting slivers through it. It was only his protective magic that kept him alive through that cleaving strike. Gritting his teeth, he darted to the left, certain to not duck into a roll this time. Instead, he was focusing again.

Staff in hand, after his completed Junction, he lifted up the thing, calling upon his own Light.

It shone, brilliantly, and irradiated him for just a second or two, restoring his injuries. However, it was strange. The thing seemed... confused. It did not swing, it did not press the attack. Matt's eyes followed it, as it seemed to just... watch him.

"Fair enough." He smashed the staff back into the ground, and light exploded again, as the blade came back to his hand.

Ten minutes later, bloody, bruised, and clothes that bore more singed cloth than not, Matt stared as the creature dematerialized. He was breathing hard, one eye completely closed over. He didn't understand why the thing had let him restore himself. It was almost as if the thing thought he stopped being a threat. Either way, he'd taken advantage of that face.

Again, he was shifting his memories to repair his wounds.

"I didn't realize you were more than you." Said the boy's voice. He stood, carefully, next to the sphere.

"It's an easy thing to miss." Matt replied. "Please step away from the Sphere." The boy looked... uncertain. "I defeated its guardian. I don't wish to attack you."

"No... no you don't. Very well. What will you do with him?"

Matt watched as the Unsent took a few steps away, though its eyes never left him. Taking several steps, the man reached out and took up the Sphere. "That depends. If his memory will help me, I'll take him into myself, like the others. If he won't? He'll rejoin the Spiran history. Either way - I've earned it."

The unsent remained unsettled.

"You may not want him to help you." With that, the Unsent flickered and whisked itself away. Reach out, Matt picked up the sphere.

_____Back Home_____

It took him two days, rather than one, to return home. Primarily, it had taken a day of rest and recuperation to keep him able to ride a Chocobo back home. Nevertheless, when he arrived, there was a crack as something struck him in the head.

"Fucking OW, Carmine!" He whined, rubbing the side of his head where the pencil cup had successfully connected.

"Don't you Ow, Carmine me! What the hell made you think it was okay to not let us know you were alive, Matt? What's the ONE RULE we have?"

Matt pouted, unable to help himself. "If you're going to be late, send a Mog so no one thinks you're dead."

The Vieran stomped through the doorway, picked up the cup ( ignoring the pencils littering the ground ) and looked as though she was taking aim again. Vierans were monsters with ranged weapons. He held up his arms defensively. "I'm sorry! I was just tired! See the clothes? Totally barely got out with my life! I could've died!"

Carmine considered for a moment, and lowered the cup. "You still might. You get what you were looking for?"

Matt looked uncertainly, as he dismounted the Chocobo, letting the tamer Donny take the big yellow bird away. "I'm not sure yet. I haven't looked it over. But you were right about the penance thing, Carbie. There was a reason this thing was down there. They didn't want to let it go."

Letting her ears fall a little in uncertainty, she looked up at him. "They?"

He let out a breath, and started walking towards the shack. Specifically, his bed.

"All the things that died because of it." He was guessing, of course. But what other reason could there be? What sort of reason would they have to want this memory locked away forever?

He didn't know. But there was one way for him to find out. The trick to his Junction Sphere system is he could use any sphere - he just might not actually get anything useful from a memory. The recordings were the worst - he could see them, but that was it. No, he preferred junctioning memories.

Sitting in his room, he looked at the sphere, uncertainly, trying to discern the truth of it by sight alone. Taking a deep breath, he closed his eyes, closed his hand tightly around it, and drew the Sphere into himself.

( WC - 5286
+LPWC, as Adventurer )


Last edited by Matt Eria on Fri Nov 15, 2013 12:27 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: A hunt ( Tag: One Shot )   Thu Nov 14, 2013 9:00 pm

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