New Horizons? By the Throat!

Two days ago I finally gained access to a quest that would lead me to the lands of the Near East. The Tenshodo required I prove my worth by bringing them a rare item - or an assortment thereof - of their choosing. At first I took the simple path, opting to deliver the six sub-job quest items (Bloody Robe, Crab Apron, etc.) and Juggalo, on his way to Dynamis-Valkurm (whatever that is) was kind enough to help out. Juggalo's skills as a Thief well honed, the items dropped with ease... but we weren't lucky enough to get every one. The Magicked Skull evaded us.

I would have tried again for the Magicked Skull, but that night while decimating demons with Thalmalkrichten (both of us sporting Elite Mercs pearls for fun) in Castle Zvahl Baileys as part of an interesting Oldton Movalpolos quest line, I obtained a Samurai Testimony and a coffer key. Just one of those items would substitute nicely for the six sub-job items. With appreciation for Juggalo's assistance, I went ahead and handed over the Testimony, letting things like the Dhalmel Saliva and the Damselfly Worm litter the floors of Lower Jeuno. I had my boarding pass.

As for that Movalpolos quest, oh, I got the Demon Pen the Moblin needed... but the goggle-wearing cave-dweller took so long using it to translate the demons' plans that Thal and I didn't have time to return to the castle to defeat the Marquis (who apparently casts Escape on his attackers while four of his henchmen strive to make matters worse) even though Rogare hadn't hesitated in traveling to Zvahl himself in hopes of helping out. We'll get around to it soon enough.

The stall provided me the opportunity to visit Mhaura and wait for the ferry to Al Zhabi, just as I once did while waiting on a ride to Selbina. Ah, the things us Windurstians had to do to get experience points back then. While in Mhaura I picked up my first Spirited Stone for Maat. I know where all the people he wants me to visit are - I've dealt with them all in the past - but I lack the Kindred Seals needed to take advantage of them (Lajon was the one who got all of those... along with plenty of other no-trade quest items). Thankfully I had acquired one in Zvahl and the Tarutaru Governor of the small port town cooperated.

The trip to Al Zhabi was accompanied by lively music and an encounter with a colorful Ocean Kraken. Battling the cephalopod was not required but it felt like a rite of passage. I quite handily dispatched the threat while feeling the familiar, anticipatory thrill of discovering a new land.

The ferry docked in Whitegate, the area of Al Zhabi I discussed in a previous entry. Whitegate is basically the new Jeuno. Sure, some folks still mill about the Duchy, but most everyone now gathers in this new kingdom. I have to admit I was hoping for something a bit more exciting than the bland, boxy sandstone that is the city... but that's what it is and so be it. I also need to make mention of the fact that everyone in town seems to be of the elitist variety. Sure, I want to be as strong as them one day... it's one of the reasons I keep pushing on... but in becoming stronger I will marvel more and more at the fantastical world around me as opposed to growing disenchanted with it as many seem to have. At this point in my adventuring career I'm a bit neutered for going on such long hiatus and the missions I need to complete are far below those being shouted for. All anyone seems to care about is how much gil is in their satchel (that being a key reason for my leave several years ago). Hell, when shouting for missions the party leaders have to offer gil rewards to even get noticed.

So as far as I'm concerned regarding Whitegate, the elitists can have it... and yes, that opinion is partially due to a sense of resentment I have for those who have not been familiar with Vana'diel for as long as myself and yet are eons ahead of me (and a bit to do with how utterly boring the place is in general), but that doesn't mean I won't be eager to complete whatever mission is thrown my way. In fact, after a tedious (yet satisfying) recruiting quest in each of the starting cities and Jeuno, I took it upon my lonesome to do just that, venturing out in to the fresh wilds of the Near East at the wish of President Salaheem.

In search of what is called a Staging Point, a platform that acts as a warp for adventurers and something I need to locate six of, I started out through the beautiful (though not near as beautiful as anything in or adjacent to the Tavnazian Archipelago) Wajaom Woodlands. It was in these vibrant woods I died - twice. Good for me, I had the spell Reraise II activated and with help from magic that allows me to travel unnoticed by fiends I scurried successfully in to a hive of Mamool Ja (a new breed of beastman) - Mamook.

Mamook nearly matches the Boyahda Tree in allure and certainly rivals the gigantic arbor's level of danger. I made it through without getting caught once and found myself in a hidden section of the Bhaflau Thickets. I had reached my first Staging Point. Sure, there's that resentment I made note of... but it didn't even begin to weigh in on how proud I was of myself for accomplishing that first major step without any kind of aid.

Now, in the meantime, what with all my journeys to and from Movalpolos, I have begun mining again. I know, I said I was going to wait until my Monk was up to where Lajon's is (an endeavor that is still zooming along at a more-than-healthy clip)... but with my White Mage in the early 60's I figured, "why not?" The underground Moblin stronghold hasn't proven as profitable a mining location as the more accessible Zeruhn Mines in Bastok (a city that has grown on me in a big way due to its convenience) but it continues to be one of my favorite locations in general so the benefit of its aesthetics outweighs the more thinly lined pockets I tend to leave with.

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