The day after crossing the Nonpipi River, I arrived in Windurst, on the southern tip of Mindartia.
It has been five long years since I was last in Windurst. I was serving in a mercenary unit that had set up camp in Giddeus and was dispatched to replenish our waning food supply. That was my first and only visit to the city.
As much as I would have liked to take the time to look at this peaceful city--so different from San d'Oria or Jeuno--I was not there as a tourist. All I can remember is that I was in and out on the same day.
This time figured to be different. I had no responsibilities save that of enjoying myself; with this on my mind, I began my sightseeing with a stroll through Windurst Woods. I spoke with a Cardian at the Manustery and visited the Mithra District, where I caught a glimpse of the esteemed Mithra Chieftainness. I was amused to see that they had even named the dhalmels at a nearby ranch.
After roaming about Windurst Woods, I figured that I'd go pay my respects to the Great Star Tree. I looked up and realized that I was much closer to the port than I was to Windurst Walls.
I decided that as long as I was in the area, I would check out the Fishermen's Guild. As I was opening my map to catch my bearings, something wrapped around one of my legs.
Slightly stunned, I looked down and saw a Tarutaru woman clinging tightly to my right leg. Figuring it was little more than juvenile mischief, I went to scold her. But then, she shouted:
"It's been soooo long. I'm so happy-wappy to see you again!"
Was this somebody I knew from long ago? I bent over to look at her. She had pointed ears and round eyes spilling over with tears. Her nose reminded me of a puppy's. But I still couldn't say for sure whether I had actually met her before. But something...
"That gentle-wentle gaze! Your wistful smile! It's just like the lastaru time I saw you. I'm so happy-wappy..." she said as she pressed her cheek against my leg. I got a little wrapped up in all the attention.
"Ummm, what last time?" I tried to ask, but her squeaky voice cut me off.
"Looky-wook! Over there! That's the armor shop, remember-wember?"
She looked up at me, grinning from ear to ear, as she clung to the sleeve of my coat like a child. She pointed to the armor shop at the end of the pier, oblivious to my confusion.
"Actually, I just quit my job tending the store. But the cloak you leftaru me ten years ago..." she said.
"Just a moment," I interrupted.
I squatted down and brought my eyes level to hers.
"I think you've mistaken me for somebody else. I'm sorry. I should have said something sooner."
After all, my visit to Windurst was five years ago, not ten.
The Tarutaru woman stood in silence for a moment looking utterly crestfallen. Then she turned tail and ran away.
I decided to visit the armor shop at the end of the pier instead of the Fishermen's Guild. This woman's story might be interesting, I thought.
The girl at the counter of the armor shop closely resembled the lady with the case of mistaken identity. I inquired about my encounter and what had happened ten years ago. I got a very interesting answer.
Evidently, the girl who had bumped into me had worked at this same armor shop ten years ago and was the sister of the woman I was speaking with.
"She's going to getaru married soon, so I took over her jobby-wob at the shop," she said proudly.
The store owner finished up with another customer and joined our conversation, providing more information about the young lady.
Before she met her fiance, she had spent ten years smitten with the very first customer she had ever helped. The shop owner couldn't recall the man's face--or any other details, for that matter--except that he was a Hume.
Perhaps I look something like the man from ten years ago. I began to feel as though I had done something terrible to the girl. If I hadn't come to the port, she would have been spared a great deal of pain.
I called a halt to my sightseeing. For some reason, it just didn't seem to hold my interest anymore.
Forgoing dinner, I returned to the hostel and collapsed on the bed. I quickly fell asleep and had a rather strange dream.
"Hi there. This really is an interesting city," I said.
In the dream, I was speaking to a young Tarutaru girl as if we'd known each other for years. Her cheeks reddened as she looked up at me and said, "Wh-whataru can I do for you?"
The shop was somehow familiar. It looked a little bit like the armor shop at the end of the pier.
After the customary chit-chat, I began to take things out of my trunk and lay them on the counter. The girl seemed nervous as she appraised each item in turn.
I paused after I had laid out the last item. I leaned on the counter and thought things over for a minute. The girl appeared worried as she looked over at me.
"I just can't sell this. Hey, beautiful, how would you like this cloak for yourself?" I blurted out.
"N-no! I couldn'taru. That's far too lovely-wuvly for me."
"No it's not. I had to work hard to get my hands on this. Unfortunately, I'm not going to need it anymore. Here, you take it. It really brings out the amber in your eyes."
She was stunned, and tottered under the weight of the crimson cloak. I remember laughing happily as I left the store.
That laughter was what woke me.
Something was wrong. I don't laugh like that. That wasn't me.
It was somebody who looked a lot like me, though.
"It couldn't be...."
My body felt like a lead weight. I cradled my aching head in my hands to greet the morning.