Final Fantasy 9: Piniwig

Story by McT, D23Mo3Y2o01





"What are you waiting for??"

The sharp voice started to sink into the Black Mage's head, forming sense.

He looked down at the small, cowering figure on the ground in front of him. Innocent. Scared.

Slowly, he lowered his dangerously outstretched hand.

The expression on Queen Brahne's face darkened. "What?!"

She stared intensely at the Mage, eyes narrowed in suspicion and anger. He still looked down at the Burmecian boy, who was curled up into a ball and shivering from fright.

What were they doing here...? What had happened...? Who was the little person on the ground, and, for that matter, who was he? So many questions started to flood inside his head all of a sudden. Though, they had been there before, just at the rim of his conscience. Trying to break in, trying to form 'Why's. Now they finally had found their way. Like waking from a dream. Parts of this world suddenly were under his control. His body was his own.

Unsurely, he looked at the Queen, whose piercing eyes in the broad, green face stared right back at him. What was he supposed to do..? He tried to remember, but his mind stayed blank.

As he hesitated a little longer, she suddenly opened her mouth, and, increasing like the sound of a siren she started to yell: "GUUAAAAAARDS!!!"

The guards in the room, four Alexandrian soldiers and two.. other Black Mages, as well as a couple of other people close by, immediately streamed straight into his direction. He still wasn't sure what was happening... but something in his head told him: RUN!

He dodged the grabs of his own people and dived towards the huge doors. Or rather, stumbled. His legs obviously weren't made for a quick start.

But when he was upright and ready to flee again, he noticed the small figure, trying to crawl out on their hands and knees while the attention wasn't focused on him.

The Black Mage took a hard turn, grabbed the boy who wasn't even half his own size, and then ran towards the exit of the crowded room.

* * *

He knew the place. He knew which corner to take or which stairs to follow to reach the outside. He knew of the secret passages that lead underneath the castle and the water surrounding it, even lead way outside of the town of Alexandria. After that, he didn't know where to go anymore - but he still kept running, away from the castle, the town and over a wide green field and a couple grassy hills, until he collapsed to the ground from exhaution.

* * *

When he woke up, the rat boy stood next to him. Looking down at the pointy-hatted being lying on its belly, uncertain, yet curious, tail twitching slightly. When the boy noticed the Mage was awake, he carefully backed a step.

Pushing himself up a little to have a better view, the Black Mage thought, 'From down here he looks much taller.'

He thought a little more about it. A good feeling - Thinking.

Then he sat up, carefully, taking notice of how his limbs reacted because he wanted them to. Taking notice of the grass he was now sitting on, as it softly brushed around him in a faint breeze. Taking notice of how he took notice. The boy kept watching him uncertainly.

When he had gathered his thoughts, the Mage blinked at him and said: "Um..."

Then it was quiet for a second, the two beings looking at each other.

Then the boy moved his weight from one foot to the other and responded slowly: "Well..... thanks for getting me out of there."

The Black Mage... nodded. He had no idea what to say.

Seeing that the being in the jacket and pointy hat didn't seem to be a threat, the boy came a little closer. "So... in there... what exactly were you about to do with me? Before we fled?"

The Black Mage blinked. "Um... I don't know. What were YOU doing in there?"

The boy cocked his head. "But, can't you remember?" He wondered if it was a trick, and if he should better be quiet. Then again, the big guy seemed so dumbfounded right now, and if this wasn't a trick, he might come in quite handy.

The Black Mage thought. Then looked back at the shape of Alexandria and its castle at the horizon. Then shook his head slowly. "No..."

"Well...", started the boy, "I was trying to get some food and maybe a Gil or two in the storage room... they have so much of it in there. And I hadn't eaten in days!" He patted his small tummy meaningfully.

The Mage thought for a little while more. "So.. you were trying to steal?"

His voice didn't sound alerted or dangerous in any way. So the boy bluntly went on: "Yes. Then you - either you or one of the other two, I can't tell - caught me up in there and brought me to that big, fat Queen Brahne."

"And then..?" The Black Mage still tried to roam in his memories, but they simply weren't there. There were tiny bits and pieces of images in his head, of persons and locations, some names and other information, but they didn't have a meaning to them, they just were there.

"Then... she told you to kill me." The little guy winced a little. How would the big one react on that? Just to soften it down, he added: "Man.. but then you got me out of there on a whim! That really was great. Why did Brahne get so angry at you all of a sudden, though?"

"Kill...?" It was an uncertain, thoughtful mumble, very faint memories coming up. Then the Mage looked back up at the young rat. "I.. she.. I don't know."

The rat boy sat down. "You don't really know a lot, do you?"

The Black Mage shook his head. 'Kill'... the guards... Queen Brahne... HE had been a guard. And then... he hadn't been one anymore. Other than that... blackness.

The boy interrupted his thoughts. "Hey! You know what? We're probably a team now. I mean, they were after both of us, right?"

The Black Mage nodded.

"So.. what's your name?" The boy jumped upright and waved his tail curiously.

The Mage hesitated. "I'm...." He lifted his right arm and looked at a small tag inside the sleeve of his jacket. "I'm... 'No.G07', I guess."

The boy raised a brow. "What a stupid name."

The Mage shrugged.

"How about I'll call you Piniwig, huh? My name is Tiones. Or Tio." He stretched out a hand.

The Mage looked at it. After a while, he nodded, and took it unsurely. Hm. A friend.

* * *

"So, where do you think should we go now?" Tio asked, sitting next to Piniwig, both looking at the silhouette of the city from atop of their hill. It seemed quiet there. Nobody had followed them. At least, not that it seemed so.

"Um... I don't know..?" Piniwig stared thoughtfully. The castle was partly seen through the mist. What had he done wrong? Though he couldn't remember anything before the time when he and Tio escaped from the guards, he still felt it had been HIS place. Maybe not a good place, but the only place he knew. What had he done there? Since when? What about the other two who had looked just like him? He just didn't know.

The boy tilted his head. "Maybe we SHOULD go back to town again, for a start."

The Mage looked at him.

Tio looked back. "If we want to go anywhere else, we have to get some food and such at first. You DO eat, don't you?"

Piniwig thought and nodded.

"Do you have some Gil?" the rat boy asked.

Before he even understood the full meaning of the sentence, the Mage blinked and checked through his pockets automatically. When it became obvious that he didn't own anything either, he shook his head. "Uh... no."

The little bit of hope in Tio's face, that his new pal from the castle would be, well, a little more rich than him, vanished. "Well then, I guess we gotta get us things the good old way."

Piniwig blinked.

* * *

The marketplace was full of people. People rushing by to purchase clothes, fruit, weapons and other items. Kids playing and laughing. People just taking a stroll through the town. None of them really payed attention to the two figures walking along, checking out the shops to the left and right, only one or two glances shortly fell on the taller (though not very tall) one, wondering why one like him might be around such a small rat child.

As Tio suddenly stopped to point at one of the shops, Piniwig almost walked into him. "Look, there! That one seems good enough."

As the Black Mage's eyes followed the direction of Tio's pointing, his gaze fell on a small fruitstand with a short but broad man watching over his wares. There also was some bread sorted out in baskets next to the stand.

The rat boy thoughtfully overlooked the baskets again, then nodded to himself. "Piniwig? You think you can ask the man which kind of fruit on the right there he'd recommend?"

Piniwig blinked at Tio. "What? But.. then what? We don't have any Gil to spend, have we?"

Tio cocked his head. "Right. And that's why you'll try to keep him busy as long as you can." He pointed at the bread-baskets on the left. "Meanwhile I'll try to get us some provisions."

Piniwig looked at the bread. Then at the man, and the fruit. Then back at Tio. "Oh...... okay." He walked up to the man.

"Um..... excuse me..?"

The man at the stand looked up at the figure in front of him, and shortly hesitated. "Good morning... Sir. How may I help you? Did Queen Brahne send you?" He tried to sound respectful, but he seemed a tad nervous.

Unsurely, Piniwig looked around for a second. Tio was nowhere to be seen. "Um, no..... yes. Er, yes. Queen Brahne sent me to.. ask which kind of fruit on the right there.. you'd recommend." He randomly pointed at some melons.

"Oh." The man looked confused. "Right. Well, these melons just came in from Dali this morning... it gets harder and harder to get these, too. They don't really specialize in farming there anymore, you see."

"Oh. Well... and.. and those?" The Mage pointed at some red fruits in a basket next to the melons. In the corner of his eye, he saw Tio sneaking up to the bread basket.

"Those are the finest apples from my very own garden, Sir. Very fresh and juicy, I'm sure even Queen Brahne herself couldn't resist them."

"Nifty. Uh." Panicy, Piniwig tried to find more to talk about. Tio was tugging away some of the bread loafs. "And -"

"HEY, THAT'S HIM! And the little rat is there, too!"

The Mage quickly turned around at the familiar voices. Two Alexandrian female soldiers were running towards him, weapons ready. Grabbing a couple more breads and then starting off into the other direction, Tio shouted at his companion: "Quick! They're out to get us!"

"Uh..!" Piniwig looked at the startled man in front of him, then at the incoming guards, and then raced after Tio as fast as he could, not without aiming a couple last words at the shop keeper: "Um, I'll get back at you later, Sir..!"

* * *

They took some sharp corners, bypassing some annoyed people, and generally leaving a bit of a mess behind them by throwing over some pots and baskets, so that the guards behind them would be slowed down a bit. In one of the sidewalks they found an open door to an item shop, ran inside and closed the door behind them. At the counter on the other side of the room, an old man eyed at them suspiciously.

Still a little out of breath, Tio said as happily as he managed: "Hi! Can we have a bit of a lookaround?"

"Sure..." the old man looked at them both. "Why's your friend leaning against the door so panicky?"

"Um, he's new here." Tio waved at Piniwig to let off the door and come closer.

"I see." There wasn't much confidence in the man's voice, but he didn't really seem to care, either.

Tio tugged the sleeve of his friend so that he'd bow down a little, and whispered into where he expected his ear: "Just do as if you're looking around for interesting things, 'kay?"

The Mage nodded carefully. They started checking out the store.

It was a small room with only the one door that they came in from, the main light coming from a couple of lamps in the corners. The shop itself had a wide variety of things, though - from potions to rare herbs on one shelf, to blade-weapons and magical staffs on the other side of the room. Piniwig curiously approached the staffs.

Tio stopped roaming around when he noticed his pal looking at something in his hand. He walked up to him, to see what it was.

It was a wooden walking stick. The top of it was formed like a big-headed, grumpy-looking bird of some sort, with a small yellow gem on each side to symbolize eyes. It didn't really seem like something special among all the other sticks, but Piniwig seemed quite fascinated by it.

"What's it?" asked Tio, trying to have a closer look at the birdhead.

"It's... pretty." stated Piniwig.

"Well yeah, it's kinda nice..." It still seemed like an ordinary stick to the rat boy.

"It's a MiniMontiStaff." explained the old man. "It's not very valuable.. doesn't even hold its own spells. Bah.. you can have it, if you want. It's been lying there for years, nobody wants it for even 10 Gil."

"Really?" Piniwig stroked his hand over the staff. "Thank you kindly, Sir!"

Then the guards broke in. By now it were four, and they all were armed with spears and grim expressions.

Piniwig's eyes widened panicy. He grabbed his new staff tightly and stumbled backwards, right into Tio.

"Aah, watch where - "

"There they are! Get them!"

Both Piniwig and Tio couldn't back anymore, they had reached the other wall of the room, and there wasn't a backdoor or window anywhere. The old man just looked from behind his counter. "Don't break anything, ya hear?"

The guards came closer, spears pointing. "In the name of Queen Brahne - "

Piniwig's eyes shortly glowed a brighter yellow, before the room suddenly was filled with fire. The guards backed off. The old man cussed. And the Black Mage and rat boy aimed for the exit inbetween hot, devouring flames.

"Whoa..!!" said Tio.

"I'm, I'm sorry Sir, I'll be sure to come up for this sometime..!" Piniwig screamed while he was halfway out on the street.

* * *

As they ran out of town as fast as they possibly could, Tio stated inbetween huffing: "Man.... and I thought I'd be.... more safe... WITH you..!"

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