A Soirée in the Sultanate
|«Gamboling for Gil|
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I must say, their clothes are rather more...revealing...than my own. I'm feeling better by the minute about turning down Master Gegeruju's offer...
Our home of Radz–at–Han also lies by the sea, but I must say I find the ocean breeze here singularly refreshing.
Well, if it isn't my star pupil. You couldn't have come at a better time. A messenger just arrived─it would appear that Master Gegeruju has received a response from his friends in the sultanate.
As for the details, he would deliver them to us in person. Why don't you go on ahead to his villa? I will fetch Ranaa and be along shortly.
Here's hoping that Master Gegeruju is a man of his word. At any rate, you should go on ahead. I'll see to it that we're ready to strike off again at any time.
Well, well, if it isn't my second favorite dancer! Good news, my boy─thanks to the highest recommendation of yours truly, my friends at the Syndicate would be more than happy to host one of your performances in Ul'dah.
You have our deepest gratitude, Master Gegeruju. Truly, your generosity knows no bounds.
Gahahaha! Think nothing of it! Your performance gave me a thrill I'll not soon forget, and─while I'd love nothing more than to keep you all to my own─I'd be remiss if I didn't share my most remarkable discovery with the rest of the realm!
That goes for you in particular, my lovely Ranaa. You may be a bit rough around the edges, but that just adds to your untamed─dare I say feral allure. Nothing would make me happier than to go down in history as the man who introduced your beauty to Eorzea.
Why, Master Gegeruju...! You're making me blush...
Gah! Thal take me, I simply can't bear the thought that you've performed on my stage for the last time. You'll grace me with one final farewell performance, won't you? Surely, after all I've done for you─
Our apologies, Master Gegeruju, but we must not keep our audience in the sultanate waiting. After all, this is but the second stop on our journey─a journey we must see through to the end.
And besides, while your words do Ranaa─and us all─great honor, I would remind you that the girl is still an apprentice. Excess praise can lead to overconfidence, overconfidence to carelessness, and carelessness to an untimely fall.
Do you hear me, Ranaa? No matter what glowing words your admirers may heap upon you, remember that your journey as a dancer has only just begun. Keep your feet planted firmly on the ground, lest you stumble on the road to achieving your full potential.
But of course! And yet, it's truly inspiring to have such a devoted fan, is it not? Why, it helps me appreciate just how much I've blossomed as a dancer in such a short time!
I do not mean to make light of your achievements. I ask only that you stay focused on the task at hand, continue to hone your craft, and not let yourself get swept away by unchecked emotion.
And with that, we should be taking our leave. Master Gegeruju, we thank you for your patronage and hospitality. When our business in Eorzea is done, we will return to fully express our gratitude.
You need not feel compelled to travel with the troupe, Forename. I trust that you have matters of your own that you would attend to along the way. We shall await you in Ul'dah.
After you're done touring the realm, I trust you'll return and treat your generous benefactor to an exclusive encore, yes? Gahahaha!
The streets are a bit dusty, but the ornate architecture of the residences is something to behold. Clearly, the aesthetic tastes of the Ul'dahns tend toward the lavish. No doubt Nashmeira has already taken this into consideration in planning our next performance.
Look at all the people! I wonder how many new fans I'll make here... A thousand? A thousand thousand? I can hardly wait!
So this is Ul'dah, jewel of the desert. But we're not here to see the sights─no, we must decide upon a suitable venue for our next performance.
As a matter of fact, I already have an idea. I was thinking we might put on a show in Stonesthrow, a settlement outside of town said to be home to the poor and downtrodden.
Are you sure of this, Mistress Nashmeira? I agree that the arts should be enjoyed by the lowborn as well as the high, but is some glorified shantytown truly the best place for us to find an audience here?
I would have it no other way. Now listen to me, Forename, and listen carefully.
You will recall that I told you that our Kriegstanz has the unique power to clear hearts and minds of worries, and lift the spirits of all who behold it. Put another way, bringing joy and succor to the scorned and the suffering is no less than our calling in life.
In Limsa as well, our audience included many who were down on their luck. And yet, it did not seem those troubles weighed so heavily in their hearts. Mayhap this is a remnant of their pirate heritage─a flagon of ale in hand and a song on the lips, and all their cares fade away.
Ul'dah is different. Here, I feel the scars of the Calamity run deeper─particularly among those who lack the coin needed to rebuild their lives to their satisfaction. Stonesthrow it will be...I can think of no place more in need of what we offer.
You there! Halt! Halt, I say!
You're the dancing troupe that's come at the invitation of the Syndicate, yes? On the authority of the Brass Blades, we command you to desist at once.
Fear not, you have done naught wrong. It's just, well, Stonesthrow's not safe for visitors these days, you see. A group of real rabble-rousers have been causing trouble of late. You know how it is: protests, riots, and all sorts of unpleasant business.
'Course, their anger's targeted directly at Ul'dah's upper crust─like as not they'd leave you a troupe of performers. Still, the Syndicate cannot accept the risk of its honored guests suffering an untimely injury...or worse.
We appreciate your concern, but I can assure you that it is wholly unnecessary. All members of my troupe are well trained in the art of self-defense. We are more than capable of taking care of ourselves.
That's right! Besides, healing suffering and strife across the realm is precisely the reason we've come here. Whatever sort of struggle your people face, why not let us look into the matter and see if we can't resolve it?
It is a gracious offer, but no. Keeping the peace is our sworn duty, and one we cannot simply impose on guests. Besides, we are trained soldiers, and you are not─for your own safety, you should take your leave of this place at once.
!You haven't seen these dancers... !I'm more than just a dancer, you know...
These are no ordinary dancers, you say? While I am not entirely certain what you are implying, I suppose we have no reason not to take you at your word.
An adventurer? And one who knows his way around Ul'dah, you say? Perhaps you are fit to investigate the matter after all...
Very well, then. You and your friends may carry on. Just promise that you won't go looking for trouble, eh?
Mistress Nashmeira, leave this to me! I'll dance up a storm for these poor folks, calm their hearts, and put an end to any riots or uprisings!
I admire your spirit, Ranaa. And yet, I cannot shake the sense that great danger does indeed lurk here. You may go, but only if Forename accompanies you─and you must promise that you will not leave his side.
All right! The more the merrier, don't you agree, Forename? Let's make for Stonesthrow─I'll race you there!
I admire the girl's spirit, but I do wish she'd think things through a bit more before she acts...
Ranaa has come far since joining our troupe, but she is still a child with much growing up to do. I realize that she is your senior as a dancer, but I ask you this: pray keep an eye on her and see that she stays out of trouble.
Oh, there you are! Let's get started, shall we? Our first task is to figure out just who's behind these riots. Why don't we split up, ask around, and see what turns up?
Don't tell me you're worried about that silly promise I made to Mistress Nashmeira? Come now, Forename. Clearly she worries overmuch. You saw me on the stage─do I look like someone who can't take care of herself?
Now, let's see what the townspeople can tell us. Meet you back here when we're both done, all right?
Interviewing townspeople, collecting clues...why, I feel like a detective instead of a dancer! It's all rather exciting, don't you think?
Riots? Aye, there've been some trouble here of late. Won't catch me dead gettin' myself involved. Whoever's behind it all, wish he'd just bugger off an' give us some peace and quiet for once.
'Course, that doesn't stop those Brass Blades from glarin' at me askance every time they come through the neighborhood. Not that I can blame them, I suppose. Rumor has it the true culprit's an expert in throwin' the authorities off his trail.
Lookin' for some rabble-rousin' rioter, ye say? I might know a thin' or two─what's it to ye?
None of us here in Stonesthrow have much love for the rich, this much is true. Still, wasn't till lately when someone started talkin' about actually givin' them their due. Thought they were just talkin' big, but lately it seems they've been puttin' their plot into action.
Told you once, and I'll tell you again. Got nothin' to do with those riots. Don't go believin' everyone who says the same as me, though.
Look, I've got no love for those hoity-toity types, either. But there's a way to go about these things. Whoever's trying to start trouble...well, I just hope they understand what they're getting into.
H-Hey, you there. Y-You friends with that Miqo'te girl? The one with the f-f-fancy dress?
She was askin' around about the r-riots, y'know? W-Well, would you believe I actually saw her t-talkin' to one of the blackguards responsible for it all?
L-Last thing I saw, he was leadin' her away somewhere. I'd go after her if I were you. Well, I wouldn't─never had the n-n-nerve for that sort o' thing. But I reckon you should, before the poor thing comes to harm.
Oh, Forename! You really saved my skin. This man told me he'd take me to the rioters' hideout. He led me here, and then... Well, to be honest, I'm still unsure entirely what I witnessed.
It was the strangest thing. As soon as he brought me here, his body began to sway and spin in the strangest way. If I didn't know better, I'd say he was...dancing.
But we can talk about that when we're back in safer environs. I should probably summon the Brass Blades and file an official report.
Meanwhile, could you return to the city and let Mistress Nashmeira know I'm all right? And tell her...I'm sorry for breaking my word.
The Brass Blades should be here any minute now. Could you go return to the city and let Mistress Nashmeira know I'm all right? And tell her...I'm sorry for breaking my word.
Oh, there you are, Forename. But where is Ranaa?
...I see. I had a feeling this would happen. Do not blame yourself, Forename─you are not her keeper. I will deal with the girl myself when she returns. That said, I am curious─what can you tell me of this strange dance she says her would-be captors were performing?
Good news, friends. Thanks to your efforts, we have apprehended the firebrand. Peace should return to Stonesthrow for now, at least until the next rabble-rouser decides to fan the flames.
Still, there is one part of the story that does not sit well with me. The girl here claims she saw her captors dancing, but those we took into custody swear to the last man they remember no such thing.
They deny that they were dancing? But whyever would they feel the need to lie about something so innocuous when already convicted of a far more heinous crime?
It is not precisely a lie. You see, from here the tale gets even stranger. They claim to have a vague recollection of their bodies moving, but insist they had absolutely no intention of doing so.
They went on to say they couldn't even remember where or why they came up with the idea to riot in the first place. On the contrary, they seemed almost relieved─just as if some evil spirit had been banished from them...
Sounds like our friends have been partaking in a particularly unstable and unsavory alchemical concoction. At any rate, the Brass Blades will be taking over the investigation from here. Thank you for your assistance, and please carry on with the preparations for your performance with our blessing.
I'm sorry, Mistress Nashmeira. I should have stayed with Forename like you said. Together, I'm sure we could have worked things out peacefully. In the end, I was not able to dance even a single step...
Just as the Kriegstanz can enthrall and inspire, so can it serve us in battle. A true dancer must be prepared for both possibilities at all times.
Forename was able to display his skills as a dancer in battle today, and I suspect it is for that very reason that your would-be captors...but never mind that.
Ranaa, you disappoint me. It is not a lack of dancing prowess that led to your failure today. No, it was the overconfidence that led you to stray from your partner's side.
When Troupe Falsiam dances, we dance as one. We dance to stir hearts and lift spirits, not merely to show off our skills, that our admirers might shower us with empty praise. I thought you understood this, but it is clear you still have much to learn.
I...I am sorry, Mistress Nashmeira. I promise I will not repeat my mistake.
Forgive me for making you suffer the girl's foolishness, Forename. Though she has grown in skill, it is clear she still is still a child in more ways than one. I can only hope that she will take today's lesson to heart, lest she eventually pay the price.
!Is that not going a bit too far? !You ask much of the girl.
Being a true dancer is about more than knowing how to move one's feet. I must be tougher on Ranaa than anyone, lest Troupe Falsiam fail to carry out its sworn duty.
I can see you are confused by my words. Do not worry. All will become evident in due time. Yes, both you and Ranaa will understand all too well...
And with that, I must prepare for our forthcoming performance. This time, I will be asking Ranaa to take the stage alone. She may consider it her opportunity to reflect upon her actions today, and─gods willing─learn and grow from her missteps.
Meanwhile, perhaps it would be best if you, too, returned to your training. If you and Ranaa truly mean to bring out the best in one another, both of you will need work harder than ever before. Farewell for now, and let us meet up again when it is time to move on.
And now...I do believe it's time I did some investigating of my own.