Chapter twenty-five of my Xenoblade novelisation. For the first time ever, no cutscenes! This chapter is entirely off the top of my head, so enjoy!
Reyn, asleep within the rocky cave that was home for Colony 6’s refugees, awoke with a yelp as he felt a great weight drop on to his gut. He saw a flash of dark brown hair, and then heard the voice of a young boy speaking.
“Hurry up, Reyn!” the voice squeaked angrily. “They’re going to leave without you!”
“But it’s so early,” Reyn groaned. He yelped again when the youth catapulted into his stomach. “Hey, stop that Nik!” he spluttered.
“Well, get a move on!” whined the boy.
“All right, all right! Jeez…” Reyn slowly got to his feet, clutching his sore stomach. He picked up his gunlance and bag, slinging them over his shoulder as he headed outside, Nikita hot on his heels.
Reyn sighed as the boy, who came up to his elbow, chattered on about the amazing place they were going to see this morning. Reyn sighed even louder when the boy asked him why he was holding on to his abdomen, theorising that it could be a stomach ache.
“You know, Reyn,” squeaked Nik, “if you’re not feeling well, you ought to stay behind and play with me and Anna!”
The thought of sleep was tempting, but… “I’ve gotta see this place now that you’ve prattled all about it, kid,” Reyn teased. “We’ll be back later tonight. You behave while we’re gone, yeah? Don’t give Matryona any trouble.”
Nikita’s face brightened. “Sure thing! She won’t have to worry about me all day. I think I’ll go tell her not to worry right now!” And the boy was gone before Reyn could protest.
Reyn scratched his chin. What’s the bet she’ll still be asleep…? He sighed again as he exited the cave. Shulk, Sharla, Dunban and Dickson were waiting for him outside in the dark, armed and carrying their own bags.
“The sleeping prince awakes!” Sharla laughed. “That boy is so full of energy, isn’t he?”
“My stomach hurts,” Reyn admitted. “What’s he even doing awake at this hour, anyway?”
“He’s been having trouble sleeping since the Mechon attacked,” Sharla informed him. “A lot of us have been.”
“Oh.” Reyn wasn’t sure how to respond to that. “I’m… sorry.”
“Don’t be,” said Sharla. “You and the others helped us reclaim the colony by defeating Xord three days ago. It’s thanks to you we can start heading home.” She smiled.
Dunban turned to Sharla. “So, where are we heading this morning?”
“To the Observation Platform,” Sharla replied. “After we head outside the camp, we’ll head north-east through Viliera Hill. Just beyond there is a narrow path leading to the Daksha Shrine, said to have been a place of worship for the giants. Just past the shrine is a cave, and the platform is at the end of the cave.”
“Sounds like a bit of a hike,” Dunban commented.
“Too much for you, Dunban?” Dickson queried.
“I was more concerned for you, old man.” Dunban quipped. “Think you can take it?”
Dickson grunted. “I’ve been travelling my whole life, boy. A little morning stroll like this is no trouble for me.”
Sharla rolled her eyes. “Shall we get going, gentlemen?”
“Yes, let’s,” Dunban agreed.
Sharla led the way out of the camp. Dawn was still a little while off; the plan was to have breakfast at one of Sharla’s favourite spots as the sun rose. They headed north-east, admiring the glow of the wisps as they flitted across the Gaur Plain in the darkness.
They approached a large rocky ramp which led to a platform that continued into the north-west. “We can head up there on the way back,” Sharla told her friends. She led them around the ramp and underneath the platform, continuing north-east.
The guys from Colony 6 warily eyed a creature they had never seen before; it looked to be reptilian with pale, flaky skin, flippers for legs, and a moss-covered shell protecting its body. When Sharla realised what was happening, she laughed. “It won’t hurt you unless you hurt it,” she teased. To prove her point, Sharla neared the beast.
“Sharla!” shouted Reyn. “Be careful!”
Sharla laughed again as she raised a hand to the creature’s head and gently began to stroke it. The beast closed its eyes, seeming to enjoy it.
The boys relaxed when it became clear that Sharla was going to come to no harm. They approached it, and its eyes snapped open, watching the large group carefully. Shulk reached out and patted the side of the beast’s head, at which point it seemed to calm again. It lowered its head to the ground to nip at the grass.
Sharla faced the boys. “Let’s get going again. We need to get there before sunrise.”
“Then lead the way,” said Dunban.
Sharla continued to lead the party north-east, telling them that this area around the rocky platform was known as Viliera Hill. Once they were clear of the platforms, they stepped into a narrow path surrounded on both sides by a sheer cliff. A few antols stood in their way, but they were quickly squished.
“I believe you said a sacred place for the giants lay ahead, Sharla?” Dunban queried.
Sharla nodded. “That’s what we’re told, anyway. Now, it’s overrun by arachno.” Shulk and Reyn exchanged a glance, both their minds on Tephra Cave. “The structures there are huge, though,” she continued. “I’m not sure Homs could have built it, and arachno don’t have the intelligence.”
“Those arachno are more intelligent than they seem, missy,” growled Dickson.
Shulk remembered the group of small arachno he and Reyn had fought in Tephra Cave, where one had appeared to be giving commands to the others.
Apparently Reyn had been thinking the same thing. “When we were on our way here from Tephra Cave, we were attacked by a bunch of arachno that were taking orders from another arachno,” he informed the group.
“Are you sure you weren’t just imagining it?” asked Sharla.
“I saw it too,” Shulk piped up. “After we defeated the leader, all of the others ran away.”
Dunban was intrigued. “Fascinating.” He looked at Shulk. “You’re sure of what you saw?”
Shulk nodded. “Yeah. I remember being struck by how odd it was.”
“Ha!” exclaimed Reyn. “I told you so, Sharla!”
Sharla frowned. “It seems strange, though. I’ve never seen them behave like that.”
“You ever fought ‘em in a group?” challenged Dickson.
Sharla considered the question. “I don’t think so, actually.”
Dickson nodded. “That’ll be why, then. Wily little critters, they are.”
“You’ve fought them, Dickson?” Shulk asked.
Dickson glanced at Shulk. “It was a long time ago. I lost a lot of me mates to those damned arachnos. But that’s a story for another day.” Their path curved, and up ahead they could see broken columns and a floor made of polished stone. “That the shrine?”
“It is.” Sharla glanced around. There were a few antol on the other side of the shrine, as well as some scattered arachno eggs. She stopped and turned to the party. “We’ll creep along the cliff to our right, and do it quietly. If you’re too loud around the arachno eggs, they’ll hatch. There’s also a giant arachno lurking around here.”
“A giant arachno?” Reyn repeated. “You didn’t tell us that!”
“I’ve been through here plenty of times without being attacked by it,” Sharla assured him.
“Oh yeah?” asked Reyn. “Well how do you know it exists, then?”
“I’ve seen it,” she replied. “One time as we were leaving. Someone got too close to the end of the platform, and it came crawling over the side.”
“Then let’s make sure to stay away from it, eh?” said Dunban.
Sharla nodded. “Right. Follow me.” She led the party along the south end of the shrine, hugging the cliff face. They hit upon a vine-covered wall leading downwards, which they descended. A little further forward, they found a narrow cave set into a cliff face which Sharla stated led to their final destination.
The cave opened up on to a rocky platform. Shulk, Reyn and Dunban caught their breath.
Raguel Lake lay below them. The bridge and the road to Colony 6 was off to their left, the path leading to Tephra Cave to their right. Dawn was just beginning to break. They watched the light fill the valley as they unpacked their bags and began to get their food ready. The shadows falling from the bridge grew shorter as the animals of the Bionis awoke and began flying and running through the sky and through the grass. The five of them tucked into breakfast, admiring the sight.
Sharla took a deep breath. “I haven’t been up here for a long time. Usually, we’d go up to a place called Believer’s Paradise, on the other side of the leg. It’s closer to Colony 6.”
“It sure is beautiful,” said Shulk, in wonder.
“You said it,” agreed Reyn. Dunban was quietly watching the Bionis’ Leg get brighter, enjoying the view.
Dickson chuckled. “This is one of the prettier sights on the Bionis, I’ll admit.”
Reyn flopped on to the ground behind him and let out a large burp. “Man, I’m stuffed. Good cooking, guys.”
“You have a surprisingly good sense of taste,” Sharla told Dunban.
“When you have to cook for yourself, you adapt.”
Sharla was curious, but guessed from his tone that he didn’t want to talk more about it. “Fair enough then.” She and the others packed what was left into their bags and began the trek back to Viliera Hill. They went back through the cave, slower this time as it was now filled with sleeping vangs.
As they were passing the Daksha Shrine, Shulk spotted something on the ground to his right that was reflecting light back at him. What is that…? Shulk wandered towards it and picked it up.
His head snapped up at the sound of Reyn’s voice. Terror crept into his body as two black, spindly legs crept over the side of the shrine, followed by two more, and then a head –
An ether bullet whizzed over Shulk’s shoulder, exploding in the creature’s face and snapping him out of his reverie. “Hurry up, Shulk!” Reyn bellowed.
Shulk turned heel and ran; he could hear the arachno scuttling behind him as he ran towards the party at the edge of the clearing. Sharla fired another round, and the creature pursuing Shulk hissed. The scuttling sound began to fade; Shulk glanced behind him and saw it heading back to the shrine. Shulk slowed as he reached his friends, trying to catch his breath.
“What were you thinking!?” Reyn demanded. He spotted something in Shulk’s hand. “Oi, what’s that you’re holding?”
Shulk wordlessly held out the object he had found; it looked like a small mirror. Dunban plucked it out of his hand and held it up to get a better look at it.
“Give us a look, Dunban.” Dickson examined the object closely, turning it over in his hands and muttering to himself. Finally, he handed it back to Shulk. “It looks like some kind of giant’s artifact. Made of clay.” He waved it around in the air. “Is this the reason you nearly got yourself killed?”
“Well…” Shulk was embarrassed, “I… I don’t know…”
Reyn looked at Sharla. “And you call me reckless!”
“It’s not like that!” said Shulk heatedly.
“Regardless, we’re all still here,” Dunban interrupted. “We’re here to relax, and see the sights of the Bionis’ Leg. So let’s keep going, shall we?” He turned to Dickson. “Shall you return the mirror, and we can continue?” Dickson hesitated for a moment, and Dunban laughed. “Is it worth a bit more than you’re letting on, old man?”
“Bah!” Dickson did as Dunban suggested. “Finder’s keepers and all.”
Shulk placed the mirror into his bag and followed Sharla as she led the way back towards Viliera Hill. After they emerged from the path between the cliff faces, they climbed a shallow ramp leading upwards. They then turned right, heading west and then north, before stopping in the middle of a grassy plain on top of the hill overlooking the Gaur Plain.
Dunban took a seat on the grass. “I say tomorrow we start helping out the Colony 6 refugees. In that way, we see more of the Bionis’ Leg, while also making the lives of its citizens a little easier.” Dunban looked to Shulk and Reyn. “What do you two think?”
“Sounds good to me!” said Reyn happily.
Shulk nodded. “Yeah, good idea Dunban.”
Sharla was surprised. “But you’ve already done so much. You brought back Juju, and drove away the Mechon.”
“We need to keep ourselves sharp,” Dunban replied. “I haven’t seen any real battle for a while, so it’ll make sense for me to practice. Why not do so why helping out the people of Colony 6?”
Sharla was overwhelmed. “Thank you so much! I’ll talk to everyone this afternoon and see what they need help with.”
“That would be appreciated. For now though…” Dunban leaned back on to the grass, placing his head on his hands and staring up at the sky, “…let’s just enjoy the sunshine.”
Images taken using Scalz311‘s YouTube channel.