After finally discovering the truth, I left Norg at daybreak, traversing the Sea Serpent Grotto with the map given to me by the black market woman.
I was back in the mazelike Yuhtunga Jungle. As I followed the game trail back to Kazham, the only thing on my mind was the whereabouts of my brother, who had made a whirlwind exit from Elshimo with a pirate's daughter. Where in this vast world could they be? As I looked back on my journey across two immense continents, a feeling of helplessness began to creep in.
I paused in the shade for a minute to look at the sky, and saw a flock of birds flying north. Were I like them, I could go to any city on any continent with relative ease. Thinking back, I had traveled by either land or sea ever since I took the airship from Jeuno to Bastok.
Before long, I found myself getting ready to board an airship in Kazham; I had decided to return to Jeuno. True, I had not found my brother, and in regards to my father, I had not even uncovered a single clue. However, the discovery that someone in this world shared my blood had liberated my soul.
It was time for the journey to end. Once I decided upon this in my heart, I spread out the contents of my pack before me on the ground. Between several sheaves of maps, I found what I was looking for--the airship pass I had obtained from a friend in my mercenary band. Despite never being used, I saw that the corners had become rounded. I returned to Jeuno the next day.
After exiting the airship in Jeuno, I stopped to rest for a while on a bridge by the harbor. Suddenly, a group of young adventurers darted past me, adorned with beautiful swords and colorful armors the likes of which I had never seen.
The city streets appeared livelier than ever. I made my way up the familiar spiral staircase to Lower Jeuno, where I entered the tavern I had frequented before my journey began.
Unfortunately, I do not remember much after that. All I know is that the distant howling of a dog eventually recalled me from the land of dreams.
As I gradually came to, I felt sharp pains across my back and shoulders--which is to be expected, considering I had spent the evening lying out on the street. I took a look around me, and saw that a slew of my companions were also lying about on the street. Despite the passage of time, some things in this city never changed.
Joyful laughter began to pour out of me. I looked up to see nothing but blue skies forever.
After waking my friends and sending them home, I decided to pay my old landlord a visit.
It was still early in the morning, but the Lower Jeuno auction house was bustling with activity. The streets were littered with vendors, enticing passers-by with the aromas of freshly baked pies and roasted meats. It was as if I had wandered into a tourist resort.
I avoided the crowd as I attempted to make my way through, but something caught my eye. Amidst the mobs of people in front of the auction house, I saw a Hume toddler at their feet, tottering haphazardly through a forest of scabbards and clubs hanging from belts.
Stunned by the sight, I pushed my way through the mob and picked up the child. I then proceeded to the fountain behind the auction house and sat the child down.
A girl. She could not have been more than two years old.
"Where is your mother?"
"Ah, I see... You call her 'Mama.' Hmm, what to do..."
Every question I asked was answered only with a series of jumps and giggles. I had to find her parents. As I extended my hand to pick up the child again to go searching, I heard a young woman's voice coming from the direction of the auction house.
"Wait, please! That's my daughter!"
The woman was waving frantically as she drew nearer. Matching doublets, the same hair color, and the same big beautiful eyes--she had to be the mother.
"I'm so sorry! I got caught up in some paperwork over there, and I..."
The woman's eyes grew progressively wider as she stared at my face. Then, in a stupefied tone, she asked:
"Layne...? Your name isn't Layne Kauffmann, is it?"
I instinctively edged away upon hearing the woman's words. Her eyes blinked rapidly in disbelief.
"I don't believe it... This is a miracle! Miracles really do happen! Uh... Okay, okay, relax... I have something to tell you. I'm your sister!"
I stood frozen and silent.
"Oh! Wait, maybe that was a bit too blunt... Uh... How do I explain? Um... Okay, just come with me, all right?"
Before even finishing her sentence, she had grabbed me by the arm.
"Wha...? Wait, wait a minute!"
Even as I was being dragged, I managed to pick up the little girl with my free arm. The child was laughing playfully--she was obviously in a good mood.
"Sweetheaaart! Where are you!"
The young mother charged through the ranks of the crowd in a determined frenzy. Keeping her child in my arms, I had fallen behind significantly.
But no, that was not the only reason. With each step I took, I felt an overwhelming urge to flee before the woman found her husband.
"Reidar! Come on, where are you!?"
My feet stopped when I heard the name. At the same moment, a Hume man at an auction counter turned around and began to search the crowd anxiously.
It was him.
When he finally caught sight of his wife, the man ran his hand through his hair uneasily, and began to advance towards her. I was still too far away for him to notice me.
As I followed the man with my eyes, I found myself embracing the little girl with both arms. It was almost as if the warmth I felt in my palms was the only thing keeping me tethered to reality.
The man finally reached his wife, and gently put his arm on her shoulder as she spoke frantically to him. She then took her husband by the arm and began to lead him towards me.
I whispered softly to the child:
"Little lady, your father looks an awful lot like me."
Not only were the face, build, and posture the same, but he even had the scruffy facial hair.
As warm tears rolled down my face, I looked at the familiar face of my brother and smiled.