A Farewell to Cookies and a Greeting to Arms (02/06/2013)

Ask any person who's been to that far western continent, and they'll tell you that the most sought after souvenir from Adoulin is a bag of trail cookies.

The twelve imposing swords that adorn the blue background of the package stand out as symbols of strength and freedom, so who wouldn't be tempted by such powerful imagery when searching for a quintessentially Ulbukan gift?

One Elvaan merchant from San d'Oria certainly couldn't resist their call, gazing in awe at a flyer for the special sale a local vendor was running on them.

As a token of appreciation to all the pioneers who were helping to colonize the continent, every bag of these succulent confections would contain a baker's dozen instead of the normal twelve...for a limited time only!

Swayed by the sophisticated sales tactic, the man practically tripped over himself to procure a bag, unbeknownst to him at the time that his newly purchased prize was about to spark the most heated conflict his sons had ever known...

Our scene is laid in front of the auction house in fair Southern San d'Oria, where two brothers, alike in arrogance, are on the verge of breaking to new mutiny.

On the left stands the elder Eautaire with lips pursed, while on the right, the younger Brandalle glares at his brother with a fire in his eyes.

Despite a heavy air thick enough to be cleaved with Heimdall's Doom, the citizenry recognized the affair for what it was—a children's spat.

"Give it back, Eautaire!"
"No! I'm the older brother, so by all rights, it's mine!"

At the heart of today's altercation lay the final cookie of a particularly delicious batch. The elder Eautaire staved off Brandalle's unrelenting attacks on his prize possession not with his fists, but with his words. While it would hardly require any effort to indulge in the tantalizing confection here and now, he harbored a burning desire to convince his brother of how utterly wrong his position on the matter was.

Just as he was about deliver the perfect rebuttal for the proverbial icing on the cake, Balasiel happened to stroll by.

"What, pray tell, would you two lads be quarreling over?"

"Listen to this! Our dad gave us some cookies as souvenirs, but Eautaire's trying to keep them all to himself! What a selfish sourpuss, right!?"

"It's my right since I'm older—there's a reason I'm the FIRST brother. Anyway, you need to know your place in society, Brandalle...at the bottom!"

Balasiel remained calm in the face of this histrionic display, but whilst glancing at the bag in Eautaire's hand, his eye was caught by the insignia for the Sacred City of Adoulin.

"Ohoho, an Adoulinian gift? What a rare sight to behold."

Never one to pass up a chance to show off, Eautaire latched on to the old Elvaan's words immediately.

"I'd venture to say that it's the best coat of arms I've ever seen! See, there are twelve swords embossed on it. When I grow up, I'm going to be a knight and wield a big sword, too!"

"You've lost your mind, Eautaire! Any Elvaan worth his ears wants to wield a spear like the legendary San d'Orian lancers!"

And with that, the brothers' point of contention shifted from sweets to flags almost seamlessly. Watching the youths' verbal combat unfold, Balasiel narrowed his eyes in concentration and called a halt to the battle with a sagely inquiry.

"Do you two know why Adoulin's flag has that particular insignia inscribed upon it?"

The boys exchanged quizzical glances and shrugged as proof of their ignorance.

"I learned the truth whilst I was still a spry knight, traveling far and wide in search of adventure and opportunity. On one such occasion, I chanced upon an ancient Adoulinian tome..."

"In it was contained the tale of a knight named August, referred to as the 'founder king' throughout, and the eleven knights who aligned themselves with his cause to rid the continent of the evil forces plaguing it."

"That's amazing! It sounds just like all the stories I read!"

A glaze of wonder and awe shone in Eautaire's eyes as he listened intently to Balasiel's reverie, mostly because it was about knightly adventures. Brandalle, on the other hand, still had his eyes fixed upon the last remaining cookie.

"The coat of arms was based on this legend, meaning that the enormous sword in the center represents King August, while the eleven smaller ones supporting it signify the valiant knights who fought by his side."

"Wow, that's really neat! ...Then what do these wings mean?"

"Those symbolize Altana. Though Adoulin may lie far to the west and remain only a topic of conversation for those of us San d'Orians, the people there also believe in the Goddess. Most of them, however, tend to be patrons of the Eimert Church..."

"Obviously Prince Trion is a great man, but this Sawdust guy sounds just as incredible!"

Eautaire was completely absorbed in the story by this point—but apparently not the minor details—and had forgotten about his father's cookies entirely.

"His name is August. Forget it not, lest you wish to remain ignorant about one of Vana'diel's great heroes."

"Heh heh, sorry... Anyway, I want to practice my sword skills, become a famous knight, and get lots of books written about me, too! It sounds really fun!"

"All in due time, young one. San d'Oria was not built in a day, nor will you become a hero in one. However, once you grow older and find yourself amply proficient with a sword, come see me. I shall teach you what it means to be a true knight."

His lesson over, Balasiel took the cookie from Eautaire's still-starstruck hands, broke it in two pieces, and distributed them to each of the siblings.

"Sometimes, being a knight means knowing when to avoid confrontation."

With that one line, an old man single-handedly quieted the day's din.

Illustration: Mitsuhiro Arita