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House Bale had bestowed unto its children no shortage of tutors over their lifetimes. An eccentric House—purposefully keeping to themselves and content that their only real claim to fame was Ser Alberic Bale, the former Azure Dragoon—its members valued learning over all else, believing it to be the only weapon that could be wielded against any foe. It was a dangerous notion, bordering on (and, in some cases, outright becoming) heresy, and in deference to such ideas, tutors were hired not only for their surpassing skill, but also their discretion. This led to Felix, Anne-Sophie, and Noémie all receiving a thorough-yet-unorthodox education, as knowledgeable people who somehow managed to pass through Ishgard’s gates without being dragged off by the Inquisition were often not experienced at teaching children.

I wonder what Master Galfrid would think of me now,” Anne-Sophie mused as she finished mending her sash with neat, perfect stitches. “A whole world away, and still recalling his lessons.” The grizzled old drunkard, who was nearly as wide around as he was tall, was a peerless sempster, able to turn sackcloth into something guaranteed to turn heads; an admirable trait in other city-states, yes, but looked down upon in Ishgard, which valued tradition and subtlety over creative flair. When his attempts to open an atelier failed, Raphael Bale had made him an offer, which he jovially accepted. Over the period of a year, he had not only taught all three scions of the Hyuran house how to mend garments in any situation, using anything at hand, but also the depth of the craft of weaving itself, somehow managing to tie in strategy and aetheric studies to the warp threads looped around the beam, the weft threads relying on their precision to create the whole cloth.

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“It’s still surprising to see it here,” Anne-Sophie confessed, still a bit winded from the very long climb up the observatory tower. “The Crystal Tower, I mean.”

Oberic cleared his throat, a tic of his that usually was the only outward sign the giant of a man was carefully thinking over his response. “I figured that was what you meant, seeing as it’s really the only noteworthy thing on the horizon at this point in time.”

The midlander shot him a wry look, but shrugged her shoulders within their pauldrons. “Fair enough. Even without all this fog, though…it is still a mystery to tickle my mind.” She lifted her quill and brushed the feather against her hair to illustrate her point.

“You’re free to sit up here and have it tickled, Anne-Sophie. As for me…I’ve got to see about supplies.” Resting his gloved hand on her back for a moment in a gentle, comforting gesture, he turned and strode off, in search of a guardsman who might know a smith who might know an alchemist…and so on.

Her eyes turned back to the jagged crystalline structure piercing the gathering evening gloom like the manifestation of a desperate prayer; a beacon, it had been, for these past hundred years, though Anne-Sophie’s keen mind hadn’t yet been able to make sense of the *how* of all of it. The mysterious Crystal Exarch and his loyal guards were polite to all, of course, and willing to help them make a life for themselves in the town surrounding the base of the tower, but when it came to the specifics of the tower itself, they were quick to shuffle off all questions. Anne-Sophie had gone so far as to try to dispatch Dawn to learn more of it; the chittering Nymian faerie had merely signalled that she could not bypass the structure’s wards, but it was indeed from the same world as Anne-Sophie and Sawyer. For her troubles, the Ishgardian expatriate received a politely-worded letter at her inn room the next morning, asking her to refrain from further attempts at magickal prying; she had blushed furiously while dressing that day, feeling like she’d been chided at school, which was something she had always found unbearable.

“The way back,” she murmured to herself, tapping the quill feather against her chin. “There must be a reliable way back somewhere within it. All the writings back at home…all the Allagan magicks that were sealed in there for Eras.” She would research this; she couldn’t help herself. Still, in her heart of hearts, she knew that at least as of now, finding a way back to the Source was not a high priority for her, and possibly never would be. No need to overtax herself just yet, right?

For the first time in her life, Anne-Sophie willingly turned away from a great arcane mystery, turning her focus to the more mundane task of resupplying. It was a relief to choose to not study something, even if she felt strangely guilty for making such a choice.

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Hyphen Yaeger (F) & Hyphen Dotharl (F)

“And then I part the deck in thirds and join it all again“ the aura said

“Mmmm“ taking her hand into her chin with a thought expression, the hyur added “That sounds so much like you“

“Ah?! what do you mean?“

“You know? the order, how much care you put in parting the deck…. sounds like you“

A sight pink in her cheeks. “Then how do you shuffle your cards Foundation?“

The hyur let out a joyful laugh “You won’t like it, but I’ll tell you“

Soul had a curious look in her face, like how much different was her way of parting the deck compared to her counterpart? Was it that bad?

“You know how they shuffle triple triad cards? That quick fan like movements?“


“Ah, see? I told you you would not like it“ Foundation said looking away from her

“But the cards are longer than Triple Triad’s! You might bend them!!“

“… I had bent them a little…. more than a couple of times. Good thing I can replace them easily!“

Soul took Foundation by the collar of her clothes and shaked her “You are not supposed to treat the cards in a rough manner“

“I can’t help it“ Taking the au ra by the arms to make her stop “I’ve been playing Triad longer than I’ve been an Astrologian“

“For how much longer?“

“For like 12 years? give or take“

Soul started shaking her again with more force than before, if that was possible “THAT’S MORE OR LESS HALF OF YOUR LIFE, BY THE TWELVE!“

“Please stop shaking me! You are gonna shuffle my memories as well!!!“

“AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH“ both let out at the same time while one was shaking her anger and the other trying to stop her

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