Aug 10, 2022 10:37 PM
The Warrior of Light is ever busy
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Otohiko feels like he is not sufficiently wicked for the adage to apply to him, but it is what it is, and when Kotokaze, owner of the Shiokaze Holstery, bids him stay a while after his conversation with the twins because someone wanted to talk to him, he doesn't even sigh longsufferingly at it. He just nods graciously, climbs upstairs to the appointed table, and kneels by it.

He's not sure if he had been waiting that long or if he's just exhausted, but he finds himself nearly drifting to sleep when his attention is finally called.

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By, to wit, one lalafell, two hyurs, and one viera.

    "It's good to see a familiar face in these parts," says one of the hyurs, a highlander called Rowena who might be, in Otohiko's opinion, the most skilled - and ruthless - businessperson in the world. "Particularly that o' the man who might well be my most valued customer."

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The other hyur being, naturally, Hancock.

But Red Fir's presence is even more unexpected than that of Krile. "Hiya," says he, with a small two-fingered wave, as he finds a seat with the others at the table.

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"Kotokaze said 'business venture'," muses the au ra, "but this is looking a bit more complicated than that."

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"Oh, don't mind us," says Krile. "We're here on a hunch."

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    "So," says Hancock, "getting to the point, the tale here begins with a vessel of the Company happening upon an island n the Glass Ocean. An isle that, it is important to note, was not recorded on any charts we could find." An isle. And two Students of Baldesion are here. Otohiko has a hunch about what Krile's hunch is, then. "Deserted, to boot," adds the hyur. "Suffice it to say, we were very pleasantly surprised; an unclaimed, undeveloped island smack dab in the middle of a maritime trading route like that would be great for business, if we could settle it."

        "Kugane does not love trade," explains Rowena in response to Otohiko's questioning look, "or if they do they sure ain't showin' it, bleedin' us dry with tariffs. Dependin' on the goods we're payin' more than ten times what we'd owe in Limsa and Ul'dah - and I already have a bone to pick with them."

"So you want a new trading port," surmises Otohiko. "Which would be a huge upfront cost but be more than made up for by the reduction in operational costs."

    "I knew talking to you would be a good idea," says Hancock, grinning one of his predatory grins from ear to ear.

"It's not clear where my field of expertise helps, though," he continues. Whether he means "magic research" or "punching things real hard" is left as an exercise to the listener.

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    Hancock's smile falters a bit at that. "Ah, yes, well, you see. I authorised an exploratory expedition that way - and only a handful of people returned."

"So you want me to punch things real hard," concludes the Warrior of Light, raising an eyebrow.

   "Well..."

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"Actually, from what the survivors report, the island's aether has numerous 'irregularities'. ...which, yes, have also altered the fauna into much more powerful - and aggressive - forms. But 'fight monsters' is not the whole of it, no."

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Huh. Magic research and punching things real hard. That doesn't happen very often.

    "And of course, this made the island much more expensive to settle," continues Hancock.

        "Some o' my regular customers were members o' the failed expedition," explains Rowena, "and what the survivors told me was enough to justify helpin' out, here. Treasure, untold wealth and riches and gods know what else. Great risk, greater reward."

And the pieces fall into place. So Hancock was the original backer of the idea, and Rowena only got roped in later. That makes more sense; despite the rationale, Rowena is much more the type to wait for others to do the initial investment and then just reap the reduced operational costs afterwards.

    Hancock shoots her an appreciative glance before turning back to look at Otohiko. "In any case, having decided to continue with our original mission, we still had the issue of ensuring further expeditions didn't face the same fate as the first one."

Otohiko smiles. "And so you seek aid from the Scions," he concludes, going with the more polite form of "and so you want me to serve as your shield".

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"It would normally not be under our purview -"

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"- but you think this mysteriously appearing island might be related to a certain other mysteriously disappearing island."

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"Told you he was gonna guess it," Red murmurs to Krile, who shrugs and concedes the point.

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    "- I believe I may be missing some context here," says Hancock.

"Did you not wonder why Red Fir and I were interested?" Krile sighs and shakes her head. "Do you know who the Students of Baldesion are?"

    "I'm afraid I don't."

"We are - were - an organisation of scholars from Sharlayan, founded by my grandfather, who focused on studying fundamental aetherial phenomena to try to understand the physical laws that bind everything we observe. Our main base was not in Sharlayan, though; we operated out of the Isle of Val." Krile takes a deep breath here before continuing. "A couple of years ago, shortly after our friend here," a tilt of the head in Otohiko's direction, "led the Eorzean Alliance to their victory against the Garleans, the island vanished completely without a trace, as did everyone who was on it at the time."

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"With one notable exception," continues Red Fir, gesturing at Krile with a hand.

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"...yes. I was there. One moment everything was fine - and the next, I was waking up in a stranger's room in Sharlayan and being told about all of this."

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"I never asked, actually; how come you survived, too?" Otohiko directs at the viera.

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He shrugs. "Dumb luck. I happened to not have been there, just like -" A somewhat lengthy pause, followed by a lowering of his voice: "Just like Raha and Moenbryda."

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"- anyway! So that's why we're interested. It is as you say, yes, islands appearing out of nowhere are just as uncommon as them disappearing, so we thought to investigate. And this is why I believe this concerns us; I hardly think you'd be interested in enabling these two hawks if it were just their business on the line."

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Neither of the merchants really have anything to say to that. Blunt, but not untrue.

"I suppose I have an hour or two free," says Otohiko with a wry smile, shaking himself out of the funk caused by remembering those two lost friends.

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