It also didn’t seem like her business, exactly, but X’shasi had never met a problem she wasn’t interested in solving, so somehow she found herself acting the Yellowjackets’ cats-paw. There was a part of her that imagined she was far too public a figure for that to work—at least anywhere in Eorzea—but if the man had been abroad in the New World, as he’d claimed, then he’d have little reason to have heard of her. So if he recognized her, he was a huckster.
There was little sign of that. She’d gotten good at reading people, even without her preternatural sense about the whole thing. If he’d noticed her at all there had been no glint of recognition, no hesitation, no lingering gaze.
He was consumed instead by his passion for spellcraft—the legendary blue magic. Something tickled in the back of Shasi’s brain; something familiar. She’d heard of blue magic before, hadn’t she? But nothing about this explanation rang true to whatever it was that was bothering her.
Then again, perhaps it wasn’t the magic at all. The alleged mage—and suspected fraudster—was a midlander man and of little interest. His assistant, however … there was someone interesting. He had the same silver-blonde hair and pale blue eyes as her sometime-mentor X’rhun—and half her tribesmen besides.
It was for him that she stayed after the demonstration after its interruption by a pair of Mamool Ja. Their timing was too perfect, their attacks too coordinated. It felt staged, like most of this interaction. The only thing that felt real was the other miqo’te and the possibility of some connection to him.
do have to congratulate you on your choreography,” Shasi said.
The mage—for he was certainly that; it was only what kind that she questioned—smiled nervously. “I really don’t know what you mean,” he said. His gloved hand tightened on the head of his cane, and Shasi found her gaze drawn to it. The finial was like a wolf’s head, carved of bone. That would be the ideal sort of tool for a thaumaturge, she knew; she’d seen enough of them about their work back in Ul’dah, of course.
Her gaze snapped upward again. “Soul crystals are supposed to be priceless,” she said. “I’ve seen few enough in my life. Yet here you are, handing them out for a fistful of gil? Are they glass or simply hard candy?”
“Neither,” replied a new voice. X’shasi turned her head toward its source and found the miqo’te man from earlier, dusting down his crimson bliaud. “Why don’t you get everything together, Martyn,” he suggested; “and let me talk to her.”
“Ah,” she said, “the accomplice. You seem an odd sort for a ‘blue mage.’”
He laughed. “How is that?”
“You’re not even wearing blue,” she pointed out, gesturing to his rust-red garb. It made him resemble X’rhun all the more.
“Really,” he said. Laughter sparkled in his tone. “Because I had heard you were a red mage, and you hardly look the part.”
“You know me?”
“You’re X’shasi,” he said. “Shakkal’s child.” Not the Warrior of Light; not the Champion of Eorzea. Her mother’s daughter.
She closed her eyes a moment. “So you are Lynx tribe,” she said. “You must be from the Gyr Abanian sect too?”
Whatever amusement had danced upon his face a few moments before faded. “Once,” he said.
tipped him off,” Shasi said. “And he hired you.” It
seemed easier to believe than the thought of an unexpected
The miqo’te closed his eyes. “No,” he said. “I’m X’moru, and I’m a blue mage. I’m here of my own volition, because I believe in the work.”
Shasi tilted her head. “Does it really happen how he says?” she wondered. “You can observe an enemy’s aetherial manipulations and replicate them?”
X’moru nodded. “It’s not hard, once you know what to look for.”
“I thought,” she said, some half-remembered story coming back to her, “blue mages were supposed to eat their foes.”
The laughter that came in response cracked like a gunshot. There was no amusement in it, only a tired sort of exasperation. “What, like you were ready to eat the soul crystal?” He shook his head. “That’s a damaging myth meant to sow fear about the people of the New World that practiced this magic. Who told you that? Khilo? It sounds like him.”
Shasi tried to stifle her annoyance. She flicked an ear anyway. “It seems like you know my parents better than I do,” she said. “Were you a Crimson Duelist too?”
“Shakkal was my friend and Rhun is my brother, but no.”
She wanted to know him, then—he who had known her mother; he who was kin to her mentor. If he was that. She wanted him to be. “He never mentioned you.”
X’moru just stared into her face a long moment. The intensity of his bright blue eyes was unnerving. “I think there’s a lot he maybe hasn’t mentioned to you,” he said eventually. Then, breaking into a genial smile once more, he said, “So do you want a proper demonstration, or what?”
Less curious about blue magic, and more about this unexpected tribesman, Shasi found herself nodding anyway.