Treasures of Garlaige Citadel  

Story by Thayos of Imperial, Garuda server.

Not all good stories have happy endings. At the same time, a story doesn't need a happy ending to be good, powerful, even meaningful.

This is one of those stories.


The tunnels were dark, forbidding. The scent of death from countless unlucky adventurers lingered in the blackness, broken only by occasional gusts of wind through the banishing gates. But there hadn't been one of those in a long time, and the four adventurers knew what that meant -- they were alone.

On one hand, that was good, because it meant the treasure they sought might be waiting for them in some winding corridor. Yet the adventurers knew that meant trouble. The evils of the citadel had them outgunned, outmatched. If they were attacked, they'd probably die, and they knew it.

And they pressed ahead anyway. It was Thayos the red mage, Gluvan the warrior, Kurapica the paladin -- who had donned his white mage gear for this trip -- and Ziploc, a powerful white mage taru.

Their goal was to find a sacred, artifact hat, wearable only by white mages. Ziploc had spent hours alone, risking death, wandering the citadel's darkness. She never requested help to find her hat. In fact, she told her friends to turn around when she learned they were coming to her aid.

But here they were, running together, Gluvan in front, followed by Thayos, then Kurapica and Ziploc. They'd spent more than an hour stumbling around in the southern half of the dungeon. Now it was time to check the other half, and quickly, before stronger parties arrived.

They were running through the tunnels from one gate to the next, and that's where this story really starts.

It all happened in about one minute, but it seemed like forever.


Keep going.

Thayos ran forward, knowing where he was going but checking his map anyway.

Perhaps that was his biggest mistake, he'd think to himself later -- that he should have been less worried about the others and more worried about himself.

But he was worried about the others. Gluvan was far ahead of him, while Kurapica was about 50 yards back, running alongside of Ziploc. Their voices echoed through the stone tunnels. Thayos ran forward. They were almost there. One more room, one more hallway, one staircase. Then they would all run for switches and open the door. Then, with a little luck, they'd all go home. They'd be done. They'd --


It was Kura's voice, floating through the tunnel, its calmness in stark contrast to the urgency of the moment.

"Thayos, can you refresh me?"

Thayos checked his faded map. They were almost there, but still, better to go back. If Kura's magic faded at the wrong time, he would be done for. All citizens of Vana 'diel know of Kura's ungaugable strength as a paladin. As a white mage, though, he was barely half as strong as Ziploc. He couldn't last without his sneak and invisible spells.

Fiddling with his map as turned around, Thayos didn't notice something happen as he backtracked through the dark tunnel. Had he been paying attention, he would have seen the haze around him vanish, or heard the sound of his own boots crunching the ground fleks of bone beneath him.

Thayos ran out of the tunnel and into the middle of a large open room. He didn't see the red, seething bomb behind him.

When the bomb whirled around and smashed into his side, he knew he was going to die.


"What's he doing" Kurapica asked.

He and Ziploc stood in the tunnel, dumbfounded, as Thayos ran to wihin 30 feet of them and stopped. The bomb reared back and lurched forward again, this time hitting the red mage full-boar in the chest. Thayos staggered backward, but did not fall, nor did he reach for his sword.

"Let me die!" He yelled at Kura and Zip. "After I'm dead, tractor me, then raise me. It's ok."

As he spoke, the bomb smacked him again. Thayos began to stagger. He wouldn't last much longer. Ziploc turned away, upset that another of her friends was dying to get her a piece of armor. She couldn't bear to watch as the bomb readied for the death blow, sped forward, and struck the red mage one last time. Thayos grunted, spun and fell.

Kurapica stood there in silence. He watched Ziploc stand up and prepare to cast her spell, to pull Thayos' mangled body to a safer spot where she could bring him back. He looked up the tunnel -- no sign of Gluvan.

Ziploc began to cast. White light swirled around her, causing her blond pigtails to sway. Thayos' body began to move toward them, began to slide across the cold floor. It was going to work, Kura thought to himself.

And then that bomb came out of nowhere, coming at Ziploc like bullet.

Kurapica barely had time to flinch as Ziploc took off running, stumbling blindly down the corridor, the bomb colliding with her back as she fled.

"Ziploc, come back!" Kura yelled. He pursued her, praying he would not be too late. Although he was wearing white mage gear, he was, at the moment, not Kura the white mage -- his paladin self took over.

"Ziploc, stop!" He was just about to lose his breath when suddenly, there she was, the bomb about to bear down on her again. Kura would have none of that, and he attacked the bomb as hard as he could, drawing its lethal blows away from his taru friend.

If Ziploc died, he thought to himself, this would all be for nothing. He couldn't let her die.

As the bomb started hitting Kura, he yelled to his companion:

"Run, Zip! RUN!!!"

Moments later, Kura was dead.


She didn't stick around to see what happened to Kura.

But instead of running toward the exit, she was running further into the citadel, back to her other fallen friend.

She found Thayos exactly where her spell had left him. She knelt over him, sweat beading on her forehead. She didn't know what to do. In an instant, all her options ran through her mind. She could run, try to escape, but she knew either the bomb would certainly track her down, or something else would kill her. And she hadn't learned escape magic yet. The only person in her party who had that magic was Thayos.

Suddenly she knew what to do. It might be suicide, but she had to try. She opened her hands and began to cast raise magic on Thayos.

She was already weakened. She knew the bomb killed Kurapica, and she knew it was coming back for her. If it did, she would die. And if she managed to cast her spell, and if Thayos got up, he would die again.

Ziploc almost lost her concentration, and her spell, as the bomb returned and ran full-force into her back. Pain shot through her body and she cried out. Her cry seemed to dissappear into nothing as the bomb hit her again, and this time, she felt the magic within her waiver.

She focused, she tried to focus. Then the magic stopped coming, and Thayos didn't move. Defeated, she stepped back to accept her fate. She would die again tonight.

That's what she thought, but it would not happen.


He was almost to the banishing gate when he heard a familiar, horrible sound in the halls behind him, followed by Thayos' voice, then silence.

Even though Thayos didn't sound panicked, Gluvan knew something bad had happened.

He paused and listened. He looked at his own map and figured out where his friends must be. Not too far back, he thought to himself, but back, nonetheless. Gluvan waited, then heard what could only be one thing -- the whooshing, powerful sound of his girlfriend, Ziploc, casting one of her high-level spells.

Thayos probably died somehow and now he's getting a raise, Gluvan thought to himself. That's all. It's gotta be--

His heart grew cold when he heard his love cry out, followed by her quick, fading footsteps as she fled whatever was chasing her. Then he heard Kura's shouts, also growing faint as he chased after his girl.

Ziploc... Gluvan thought to himself. No, please, no.

He heard another sound -- Kurapica shouting something, but he was too far away -- and then another. Quick footsteps, the sound of a running taru. Ziploc was coming back. No, she was running back. Running for her life.

Instinctivly, Gluvan's hand moved to his axe handle. His eyes narrowed, his hair stood on end. He tightened his grip and pulled out his weapon, its razor edge shining in the dim light. Rage surged through, then a flash of calm, and then there was only the moment.

Then he was running, jumping down the small flight of stairs and barreling down the corridor. He came into a large, open room. His heart almost stopped. On the other side of the room, at the mouth of another tunnel, was Thayos' dead body. Ziploc was crouched over him, her eyes starting to close, as the bomb behind her beat her relentlessly. The light from her hands was fading, fading, and then it was gone, and Thayos didn't move.

The bomb hit her again. She staggered, but did not fall. One more hit, though, and she would fall, and she wouldn't get up.

Gluvan didn't let that happen. He shouted a primative roar, and before the bomb could land its death blow on Ziploc, Gluvan planted his axe dead center in its wretched face.


Everything seemed as if it were in slow motion. Thayos opened his eyes but could only see twisting, contorted shapes. He pushed himself off the floor and stood on wobbling legs, his lungs sucking up the dank air around him.

Thayos blinked his eyes and his vision cleared enough to see Ziploc, beaten to within an inch of her life. She was motioning toward Gluvan, who was battling the same bomb, which seemed to have infinate strength. The elvan warrior staggered each time he swung his axe, barely able to stand against his weapon's powerful momentum. He was fighting valiantly, but he was about to lose. Then they would all die.

In a last, desparate move, Thayos closed his eyes and turned his palms skyward. He had only an ounce of strength left, and hoped it was the one ounce that could save him and his friends.

Thayos moved his lips and whispered: "Chainspell... escape."

Nothing seemed to happen for a long time. Thayos looked up and saw the bomb crash into Gluvan one more time, a near-lethal blow. One more hit and it would all be over. One more hit... one more...

Purple light shot out from Thayos' outstretched arms and flooded the dark cave, followed by a brilliant flash of light.

The three of them awoke outside the entrance to the citadel, under the warm, midday sun. They were all mere inches away from death, yet at the same time, completely alive.

Not all stories have happy endings. Some endings are better.

The four outmatched adventurers didn't find what they were looking for that day. But what they got was far more priceless.

Thayos found redemption.

Gluvan found bravery.

Ziploc found courage.

Kurapica, meanwhile, gave the greatest gift of all -- sacrifice.

It goes to show that we shouldn't gauge our adventures based on what we gain. Rather, we should go by what we learn, what we give and what we share -- we are lucky to be able to go through this fantastic world together.

This page last modified 2008-01-19 17:25:17.