“Ye mean to tell me, ye went out fishin’ for 18 hours, and all ye bloody caught were a couple o’ harbor herrin’s?!” Vyne sternly lectured her retainer, Valery.

“But these aren’t any old herrings, my lady!” Valery defended herself. “These are only the highest quality herrings fished straight from the Lominsan docks!”

Vyne rubbed the palm of her hand across her forehead. This had been the third time her retainer brought back less than what she’d hoped, and her patience was wearing very thin.

“I found some pieces of Allagan as well. These sell for—”

“100 gil each, yes, I know!” Vyne sighed loudly. “Put them fish up on’t market board for 10 gil a piece. Some sorry culinarian’ll ‘ave ‘em.”

“Yes, my lady,” Valery nodded. “Is there anything else I can —”

“No, I’m out o’ ventures for ye. Ye dismissed for now, lovely.”

Valery bowed and disappeared amongst the hustle and bustle of Hawker’s Alley.

“I swear, she’s playin’ me for a right fool,” Vyne whispered to herself. “Gods, I need a bloody drink.”

As Vyne walked across the bridge to reach The Drowning Wench, a familiar face greeted her at the entrance.

“Aye there, Raen.” It was Jacke, the Rogues’ Guildmaster, “Given any more thought to tradin’ that Thyrus for a pair o’ subtle cutters?”

“There’s nothin’ subtle about your lot, Jacke,” Vyne smirked. “Anyhow, I like bein’ the one who patches up the crew, bein’ someone who others rely on, ye know?”

“Aye, right you are,” Jacke smiled.

“What ye doing’ round these parts anyway? Run out of finger sandwiches to pilfer?”

Jacke’s expression immediately soured. “How’d you find out about that?”

“Haha!” Vyne smirked. “I’ve got more friends than ye think.”

Jack shook his head, a wry smile breaking onto his face. Saying not a word more, he ruffled Vyne’s teal-streaked purple hair and walked away. After tidying her hair again, she made her way into the Wench without further delay.

“Hoy, V,” Baderon addressed from behind the bar. “I’ll have an ale ready for ye in just a moment.”

“Anything interestin’ goin’ on today, Baderon?” Vyne inquired.

“Not a whole lot today, I’m afraid. Well, apart from that sorry bunch o’er there,” Baderon nodded toward a table in the corner of the pub. Vyne spun her head around to see three solemn looking adventurers: a Hyuran summoner, a Hyuran dark knight, and a Miqo’te pugilist. All three sat in silence and seemed to all but choke the usually lively pub of its hearty atmosphere.

“What’s wrong with ‘em?” Vyne asked, tilting her head in curiosity.

“Hey, don’t bloody stare!” Baderon whispered. “The summoner’s practically brimmin’ with rage. You can sense it in her.”

Baderon was right. The young Midlander had her fists clenched together. Even from a reasonable distance, Vyne could see her hands shaking.

“Have they ordered any drinks?”

“Not a one.”

“Then why don’t ye throw ‘em out if they’re the like to cause trouble?”

“You’ve obviously never tried throwing a summoner out of a pub before…”

“…or a bloody pugilist. I’m strong, but I bet he could crush me flat!”

“Aye, like a lump of Allagan tin.”

Vyne flinched away as the Midlander suddenly locked eyes with her. She buried her face in her pint. “I’ll just focus on you now,” Vyne said to Baderon. “Yer an ugly bugger, but I know ye won’t tear me limbs off.”

“Believe me, I will if ye don’t pay off this tab!!” Vyne remained silent for a few seconds before nodding acceptingly.

“Forget it. Yer too ugly to look at…” Vyne tried her chances at the table of crestfallen adventurers. The Midlander woman was still looking towards her, and her gaze had even attracted the attention of her comrades. It was too late now. The summoner’s stare had put Vyne into some kind of trance. Try as she might, she simply couldn’t avert her gaze. She had to know more…Behind those deep sorrowful eyes lay a tragic tale, and Vyne simply had to know more. She began walking towards their table.

“Not another step, Raen,” the midlander Hyur woman snapped venomously, “or I’ll cremate you on the spot.”

“Must you be so morbid, Ra’ra?” the Hyur man sitting opposite of her sighed. “Leave us, conjurer. You’ve probably noticed we’re not in a talking mood.”

“She had the brass to walk up to us,” the Miqo’te pugilist spoke with a booming voice. “Why not satiate her curiosity?”

“Oh yes, why not?” the summoner replied, “and hey, let’s round up the whole bloody pub while we’re at it. Make a right old song and dance about it. Are you thick?”

“Well I’m sorry to intrude,” Vyne said. “I just don’t like seein’ people so down in my city is all.”

“Oh, it’s your city is it?” the summoner snapped. “Ran Merlwyb out of office, did you? Well good for you. Now piss off.”

“Please forgive our Ra’ra,” the Miqo’te pugilist intervened. “She may be petite and pretty, but she’s got the mouth of an ore deprived kobold.”

“I — its fine,” Vyne nodded. “Sorry to ‘ave bothered you.” Vyne turned to see Baderon give her his stern I told you so expression. As she walked away from the table, she heard the Miqo’te’s voice behind her.

“Please wait, adventurer.”

Vyne instinctively spun on her heels and faced the pugilist. He beckoned her towards the table’s empty seat.

“What are you doing?!” the summoner shouted. “She had the decency to bugger off, so let her bugger off already!”

The Miqo’te shook his head. “No, I’m sorry, Ra’ra, but someone has to hear our plight.”

“No, they really don’t! We don’t even know who she is! Hells, she could be the one who did it for all we know!”

“Whatever it is, I can promise you, I had nothin’ to do with it.”

“Well the secret is out now,” the dark knight shook his head. “May as well follow through.”

“Please, adventurer, have a seat with us,” the Miqo’te calmly spoke. Vyne sat herself in the chair opposite him, adjusting her short Acolyte’s skirt. She glanced at the summoner, who simply rolled her eyes.

“This is Brahelm Driftyl,” the Miqo’te said, nodding toward the Hyur dark knight.

“A pleasure,” Brahelm replied.

“This firebrand is Ra’ra Raen, and I am called K’anthaka Pathika.”

“Pleasure meetin’ y’all. I’m Vyne Valentyne.”

“That’s a funny name…” the summoner muttered.

“Aye, and so is havin’ the name ‘Ra’ra Raen’ when ye ain’t even of the Au Ra race.”

Ra’ra pouted and practically stared daggers at Vyne.

“I think she likes you, Vyne,” K’anthaka grinned.

Brahelm tutted, “I didn’t think that today, of all days, would be the one day where you finally crack a joke, Pathy…”

“Erm, yes. You are right Drift.” K’anthaka took a deep breath before addressing Vyne. His calm demeanor coincided with his elegant name. “Tell me, Vyne,” he continued, “mayhap you’ve heard of a man by the name of Illidion Stormrage?”

Vyne’s eyes lit up. “Aye! He was that gladiator! Made quite a name for himself a year or so ago in Ul’dah, if I have it right? Oh, seven ‘ells, did somethin’ happen to him?”

“Illidion was not just ‘that gladiator,’ as you call him,” Ra’ra said, “and his accomplishments far outweigh winning Raubahn’s favor in the Coliseum.”

“Yep, one of Carteneau’s unsung heroes, he was,” Brahelm added.

“He fought at Carteneau?” Vyne sounded surprised. The heroes of the battle of Carteneau, both alive and deceased, were well documented. So how had she never heard of this Illidion Stormrage?

“Yeah,” Ra’ra vehemently said, “ didn’t expect you’d know, either.”

“To be fair, not many people outside of his family do,” Brahelm added.

“So what happened to him?” Vyne inquired. The whole group fell silent for a few moments, once more draining the atmosphere from the busy pub.

“Illidion was murdered in his sleep,” K’anthaka announced coldly. “his wounds imply he was killed by a voidsent.”

“Thal’s balls, chala! Would you keep your bloody voice down?” Ra’ra snapped. “We’ve already told this Raen more than she deserves, the last thing we need is to spread rumors in the very capital of rumor spreading!”

“Well, that aside, what did Illidion mean to you three? I’m guessin’ ye were close…”

“Close isn’t the half of it,” Brahelm nodded. “We were his most trusted companions.”

“You could say he was our savior, in more ways than one,” K’anthaka smiled.

“Yes. He plucked us all out of the dirt and put us back on our feet,” Ra’ra added before staring sadly into the distance. “You could say he meant everything to some of us…”

Vyne was practically speechless. Baderon was right; she should have stayed well away. With things not going so well in her own life, the last thing she needed was overbearing guilt.

“Well, I’m sorry fer ye loss, truly,” Vyne finally said, “but I hope you’ll excuse me. I have to check on my retainer before she–”

“Not so fast, Vyne Valentyne…” As Vyne rose from her seat, K’anthaka Pathika’s booming voice landed her right back in it.

“Eh? Is there a problem?” she asked.

“Yeah, is there?” Ra’ra was equally puzzled.

“What, you think after hearing our tale we were just going to let you run free?” Brahelm said rather sternly.

“My friend is right,” K’anthaka nodded, “while it pains me to bind you to our cause, I’m afraid that I, nor yourself, have a choice.”

“What?!” Vyne and Ra’ra yelled in tandem.

“But I ‘ave me own life! I’m a bloody adventurer! How am I supposed to make coin mopin’ around with you lot?!”

“She’s right! We don’t need her! She’ll only weigh us down!”

“Yeah! I’ll only weigh ye down!”

“You both know how lazy Raen are!”

“Hey! Hold on a sec, I resent that, ye little shite!”

“What in Thal’s bloody name did you call me?!”

“BOTH OF YOU SHUT UP!”

The Drowning Wench fell completely silent at the sound of K’anthaka’s bellowing. Remaining completely silent, the group looked on as every single pair of eyes in the pub were fixated on them.

“Why don’t we take this outside?” Brahelm suggested calmly, “as in, Summerford Farms outside…”

“Agreed,” K’anthaka’s voice returned to its usual tranquility, “Vyne, if you’re the adventurer you claim to be, pack your essentials and meet us at Summerford Farms.”

The three of them stood up and left, taking the patrons’ line of sight with them. Ra’ra turned to face Vyne one last time, mouthing the words,  “Don’t you dare!”

As the pub’s usual ruckus began to restore, Vyne sat in silent thought for a few moments. Should she follow them? K’anthaka seemed to suggest she was practically obligated to do so. As a conjurer, she hated taking orders from anyone, let alone a bloody pugilist. Yet at the same time, she couldn’t help but grow ever curiouser about the odd trio. They clearly had tales to tell, and a bizarre mystery lay at their feet.

“That tab’s gonna have to wait a bit longer,” Vyne cheekily said to Baderon.

“Don’t worry lass,” he replied, “I heard every word of yer exchange. Just you be careful, alright? Not every adventurer’s as trustworthy as you.”

“Yeah. I know that all too well, Baderon. All too well.”

After mending her equipment and preparing Vyncent’s saddle, Vyne packed a small bag of consumables and other essentials and left the safety of Limsa Lominsa. Eorzea was a beautiful, yet often dangerous place. However, she sensed something special within those three, even the foulmouthed Hyur woman. Little did she know of the journey that awaited her and that she would become an adventurer reborn.