The First Failure
At Jancis Milburga’s request, Cinnabar diverted from the day’s course to aid the hyuran woman carry an artifact home through the rainsoaked Twelveswoods- one of many to answer her call. A dial wrought of silver and laden with twelve equidistant crystals at its border, Lucius Guiscareaux heard the resonance of one of the crystals; guiding him to the Coerthas Western Highlands. There, Rageant Lacordaire was next to hear the dial’s guiding call; a crystal, alive and brimming with aether they were seeking.
Cinnabar spotted the aetheric glow off the side of a cliff- in an unfrozen pool of water. The party descended for closer investigation. Spotting the crystal below Lucius volunteered to retrieve the item- however, as soon as he entered the waters, he vanished entirely from sight. Jancis stuck her head in to look, and subsequently vanished. Jacline Kerelle, Gaelle Favagenieur, and Cinnabar herself quickly followed after.
Transported safely into a bubble beneath the frozen waters, the crystal greeted the group. Approaching it, the crystal spoke to them; asked of them the deep, intangible something which keeps them all striving forward in their lives. All were touched by the prying consciousness, rending bare old scars and dear memories from all. It was enough to cause Lucius to lash out in rage- striking the aetheryte with the killing end of his Gae Bolg. The crystal shattered- the bubble collapsing, dooming all to an icy grave-- at least, such would be so if not for Jancis’ swift recall of all to Gridania’s aetheryte.
Cinnabar has since carried with her recurring night terrors of the incident; uncertain if the utterly crushing pressure of frozen, black water was even real or imagined. One thing was certain: The sense of impending death was all too real in that emotionally vulnerable moment. Hopefully, it’s nothing a triple dose of valerian oil won’t cure… over the next sennight or two…
As it would be, Jancis made it known that she, similarly, had a difficult time getting the event out of her head. Taking a closer inspection of the artifact in the Dawn Vigil barracks along with Denz de Bayle and Jacline, the baron divined the crystal-laden disk of silver to be a mirror of sorts- echoing the aspects of the Twelve... With little more to go on, Cinnabar suggested consulting the keepers of the Sanctum of the Twelve, while Jacline recalled a similar artifact in a boastful Ul'dahn's collection of enchanted spleandors... For now, these two leads offer some compass on next courses of action.
Lady Constantine - Crystal Collector
In pursuit of knowledge of the artifact in possession, Jancis followed Jacline's leads to arranged a meeting with a lalafellin collector, 'Lady Constantine.' A condescending woman, there was little shortage of insult to be made in regard to any of the four- Jancis, Jacline, Denz and Cinna- upon their visit, especially after Jacline's spectacular theatrics to knock suspected poison out of Denz and Jancis' hands.
Thankfully, the visit saw a clear path forward with Cinnabar's mention of her exploits in Azys Lla during Heavenly Hammer: She will provide the desired information in exchange for a functioning, Allagan magitek artifact... Unfortunately, it set a high price for their quarry- much to Jacline's annoyance for not even an attempt to haggle down.
Hitching a ride on an Alliance airship destined to patrol Azys Lla for Garlean advance, the four set out in pursuit of a simple relic in the Delta Quadrant. Avoiding ornery water snakes and hat-snatching wind channels, Denz uncovered what appeared to be a bracelet or lock- a key or component clearly required for it to be properly functional.
Continuing onward to search for more before they depart, the group was ambushed by a Garlean scouting party- felling Jancis from the first attack with a gunshot to the chest. Denz and Cinnabar were quick to respond on the assault, dividing and engaging the four gunners in one-to-two combat, while Jacline pulled Jancis to cover. Thankfully, Jancis was not mortally wounded, and able to patch the injury in a pinch. With Denz felling one right off and chasing the other as they fled, Cinnabar was repeatedly thwarted in her attacks- giving one of the garleans time to gain distance and fire- striking her in the abdomen near her previous Garlean injury. In the end, she crippled one, and pursued the other off the edge of the island.
With the threat neutralized, and a bit of band-aid magic placed on her gunshot, the group rode the ship back with their last, living Garlean in custody. It was direct to the infirmary upon reaching the House for Cinnabar, where the slug was removed; thankfully, a shallow wound that would heal soon enough.
After swift healing over the course of a couple days, Cinnabar was back to eating solid foods without worry of injuring her mending abdominal wounds. It was there, in the Bayle house bakery that Cinnabar and Jacline enjoyed a meal together- unknowing that a quiet and dutiful Jancis was setting tables around the corner.
The three soon came to talk together- touching upon recent events in Azys Lla and the injuries which Jancis and Cinnabar each earned in the adventure. As if the silver artifact heard them speaking of it, Cinnabar was soon taken by a thrumming in her ears.
Following the noise, they were invariably led to the item, where Cinnabar knelt down to lay a hand on the cold metal surface. In a flash, her mind was filled with images; the baby Aegisan, the unborn within Lady Milburga's belly... Chocobo chicks and puppy dogs- and even her earliest memories of her siblings. And the lush verdigris of a jungle, river-spanning bridges and white stone- stone upon which a leathery weight dragged upon in a repeating scratch, scratch, scratch...
With little more than a second thought for Cinnabar's remarks of the experience, Jancis bid Jacline and Cinnabar to make ready for a trip to Raincatcher Gully; the place where Cinnabar recalled the sight of such greenery and scenery.
Goobbues and Bruises
The three arrived erelong at the Wineport plaza via aetheryte- Cinnabar soon coming to be assailed by no few dozens of biting insects, eager to feast on the cinnamon roe's blood! It made for a formidable distraction, but not an unsurpassable one as Jancis lead the group onward- following roads deeper into the jungle.
Insects nearly became the least of the group's problems as a wrecked caravan cart at the side of the road, enshrouded in an overgrown rosebush, harbored a most unexpected surprise ambush of half-clothed, long-haired vagabonds! Steel drawn on both sides, Jacline and Cinnabar urged the group for a peaceful parting of ways, while the (assumed) leader of the opposing band demanded otherwise... The result: an internal conflict among the Thugs-in-Roses, allowing the three women the chance to make haste along their way...
Deeper into the thicket the group moved, Cinnabar taking the lead as the humming came to her ears once more... Inevitably leading the group to a cliff face, where they observed a full grown gobbue feverishly clawing and ripping at a hole in the rock. Large enough for even a roegadyn- not so much for a goobbue!
It soon became clear, with the whining noises coming from within the cave, that the gobbue was trying to reach something- someone. Its arms were scraped and scored with overuse and friction against so much rock. The group spoke among one another of what to do. Heeding Cinnabar's suggestion, Jancis healed the goobbue's wounds... though even renewed, it was making no progress at reaching what they now presumed to be its young.
Cinnabar then suggested a means to remove the mother from its task. Jacline took point in the distraction- harassing the mother goobbue from a distance with thrown rocks and agitating sounds and motions. The distraction served well, and the mother goobbue was soon returning the gestures and thrown rocks- albeit with laughable aim! Cinnabar darted in to infiltrate the cave in the meanwhile- finding the goobbue sproutling trapped under stone from the collapsed cave ceiling.
Freeing the goobbaby from its stone prison, its wails returned the mother outside; scooping its baby up to coddle, and make a hasty retreat from the elezen antagonist... In the aftermath, there in the cave, Cinnabar found the source of the humming. Another crystal- glowing and animated. As the three entered and huddled around, it spoke to them as the first had. It called into question the desires of each; giving way to introspection and spoken words between them in response. With an offer of encouragement to each, the glow dimmed and the crystal fell to their feet...
With a peace of mind for their deeds and the communion, Jancis was urged to take the crystal for safe keeping- a clear counterpart to the dial already in her custody. A hot shower was in order for all of them, after a meal to commemorate their efforts.