Final Fantasy – Crystal Beacon #1

”Dah’Marra!,” Nora Bergen shouted into the forest, pushing another low-hanging tree branch aside, ”Dah’Marra!”. The Zedlei forest was cold. Unseasonably so, for a day in spring. It was quiet, too. While travelling with her companions, Nora had heard of the songbirds of the Zedlei forest. She could count the birds she had heard during the week they had been trekking north through the Zedlei on the fingers of one hand. Nora had been walking in the front of their little party along with their ranger Dah’Marra when the miqo’tes keen hearing had picked up on something that must have passed by Noras ears. “If something happens, call my name,” She had said, then raced away before Nora could protest. The ranger had barely made a sound as she raced away through the forest brush. She had been on the road alongside the rest of them for a few months now, so Nora was somewhat used to Dah’Marras spontaneous logic. But the absence of surprise did not equate to the absence of worry. Many creatures lived in the Zedlei forest, and not all of them were friendly. She would prefer not to get gored by a boar before they even reached the lighthouse. ”Dah’Marra!’” Nora spun on her heel to face a rustling behind her, both hands clasped firmly around Ainfasal.

A pair of ginger-haired ears poked out of the top of a dense bush. ”Nora called?” Dah’Marras furred ears perked up as Nora sighed, then the miqo’te rose fully from the bush. Despite her romp through the forest, Dah’Marras travel-leathers were still remarkably clean and she had no branches nor leaves stuck anywhere on her person. Noras travel robe was filthy compared to that. While Dah’Marras green eyes looked quizzingly at Nora, the miqo’tes ears scanned around, probably keeping track of the forest around them.

Nora brushed a leaf from the shoulder of her robe. “What did you find?”

The miqo’te ranger nodded, the usual playfulness in her eyes replaced by a hint of a serious demeanour. ”The forest proper ends about half an hour from here. Opens into some farmland around a village close to the coast.”

”Anything to be cautious about?” Dah’Marra shook her head in response then bounded off again, disappearing into the woods before Nora could say another word. She did not like being alone in an unknown forest, but if the ranger said it was safe, Nora trusted her.

True enough, about half an hours walk later, Nora emerged from the forest onto the edge of some farmland, a village sitting on the coast in the distance. Small houses clustered together inside a pass between 2 large cliffs, the farmland covering most of the land between the forest border and the village. Curiously, Nora saw no lighthouse anywhere within the village or the visible coast-area. Now that she was out from under the trees of the Zedlei, the unseasonable cold was receding, replaced by the pleasant heat of the spring sun. The others had been a little ways behind her, so she decided to find a place to sit and wait for them.

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