I stopped my chocobo as I came around a bend in the road to better hear the noise from up ahead.
"Is that the way it is, little beastman? Come on then, fiend!" came the taunting voices of several men.
I quickly surmised the situation; the men were out hunting under the auspices of finding the "remainders of the beastmen host." In truth, their motivation was more greed than safety. It has become all too common in the several weeks since the war ended.
I dismounted the chocobo and walked around the stone wall to see a group of men armed with pitchforks and sickles surrounding a Goblin child.
"Halt!" I shouted. The men turned and glared at me as one, their eyes showing naught but hatred.
"The hunting of beastmen is forbidden by the order of his Majesty the King!" I proclaimed, returning their stares.
Perhaps because they realized that I am a Temple Knight, they quickly stood down, muttering excuses as they dispersed.
The only one remaining was the goblin child, slumped unconscious against the rocks. Its clothes and mask were stained with blood. Deciding to take care of the Goblin, I hoisted it onto the back of the chocobo and made haste for the nearest town.
We reached the gates of the town as night began to fall. The scorched houses bore witness to the attacks of the beastman army.
The townspeople formed a wide ring around us as we rode into the village. This was much the same way that the beastmen greeted me when I entered their settlements during my time as a missionary. Their faces showed a clear desire to attack. Hiding behind them were children that scowled at us coldly.
We found our way to the village shrine and met with the priest there. He showed us to a barn on the outskirts of town where I was finally able to tend to the Goblin's wounds.
The Goblin's unique scent brought back a flood of memories for me. As I bandaged the beastman's wounds, my mind began to drift, finally settling on Leada as she disappeared into the fog.
Is she still with Gloomix? Has she even survived the war? Even if she has, she would certainly be hiding from the eyes of people. What I prevented today was not the only instance of people threatening beastmen.
She would certainly be living each day under the threat of assault or ambush. People's fear of the beastmen during the war has turned to hatred now.
Living each day in fear of assault or ambush from people avenging the destruction of the war. I felt the true outcome of these winds of war.
Goddess! When will this tide of hatred ebb?
The Goblin child regained consciousness this afternoon. At first, it didn't recognize its surroundings and began to look about nervously. When it saw me, it tried to flee.
This was quite understandable in light of what had just happened to the creature. I embraced it tightly, ignoring its struggles as I repeated, "This is a safe place" over and over. Eventually, the Goblin realized that I had no intention of hurting it. It heeded my words and began to relax.
The young beastman has a halting command of the common tongue, allowing us to communicate in very simple speech. His name is Nuttrix, which is a male Goblin name. Leada once explained to me that male Goblin names end in "ix" while those for females end in "ox."
He began to ask me "Why they hates me? Kill me? I no kill. No kill."
I could only answer by hugging him and saying "I'm sorry" again and again.
Goddess! Do not allow the seeds of hate to sprout in Nuttrix's heart!
This morning, I was startled awake by the squeaking of the barn door as I was dozing through the songs of the morning birds.
"Thanks. Goodbye," said a voice.
I rose and raced out the door, but Nuttrix was out of sight by the time I got there.
All I could hear was singing.
Just for a day? OK!
Overnight? Not quite right...
Make it two, get dinner too!"
The song warmed my heart. It was a song that Leada used to sing. Perhaps Leada had taught him that song? But the odds against that are astronomical.
Still, I believe Leada is singing happily away, wherever she is now. I don't know why I believe this.
After Nuttrix's song faded from my ears, I entered the shrine and prayed to the Goddess.
Over the years, I have met many beastmen.
Not all of them hated people. And even among people, there were those who respected their beastman adversaries.
Though it may not be simple, I feel that there is a way for people and beastmen to share this world in peace.
But for the moment, dark shadows continue to cover the world, and the hostilities between people and beastmen continue.
What is this vast chasm that we cannot seem to bridge? Why are we so compelled to hate one another?
Looking up the altar, the statue of the Goddess enshrined there seemed to be feeling the same despair. It was even beginning to shed tears...
People were born of the tears of the Goddess. But beastmen...
At that moment, I knew what I must do: make a Pilgrimage to Ro'Maeve
I heard rumors of it when I lived in the Abbey. It lies in the far reaches of the Sanctuary of Zi'Tah and is purported to be the home of Altana and many other gods of old.
The answers to my questions lie there. For some reason, I have no doubt in this.
Goddess! Illuminate for me the road to the Sanctuary of Zi'Tah!