Greetings! You might or might not have watched my small video regarding Florentino’s “brief introduction” to the Great Desert of Valencia.
This story is part of a semi-long series set in the Valencia Region.
The Great Desert of Valencia
East of Mediah is the vast Kingdom of Valencia, where the Great Desert of Valencia makes up most of its territory. [src]
One can pass through Altinova Gateway and continue moving east, they’ll find themselves at Barhan Gateway, the gateway that connects Altinova to the Great Desert of Valencia. This gateway is guarded by the Katan Army, the elite soldiers of Valencia led by Ganin Arth.
There, they mostly investigate passersby, such as adventurers and traders, and defend against the constant attack by the Centaurus from Taphtar Plain. [src]
Sand Grain Bazaar
In the heat of summer, Florentino arrives in Sand Grain Bazaar, the final stop to the Great Desert of Valencia. Now, the East and all that it has to offer is within his grasp. As he rides his horse in the bazaar, he sees the locals all heavily dressed in clothing to protect themselves from the scorching hot sun.
“I should’ve bought some local clothes from Rock Post,” Florentino muttered.
The Great Desert of Valencia. Here the sands whisper stories of past bloodshed between Calpheon and Valencia, and even past civilization.
“Hey, you!” Someone shouted.
Florentino looks around to find the source of the voice, there he sees a Khuruto waving at him by the Storage Keeper’s and Furniture Merchant’s stall, he then looks around him to see if the Khuruto is talking to someone else.
The Khuruto nods, “Yes, you, come here.”
Florentino gets off his horse and walks towards the Khuruto.
“Say, you’re not from here, correct?” The Khuruto said with a smile only visible to a Khuruto’s perspective, “From Serendia I presume?”
“I’m actually from Calpheon, why did you think I’m from Serendia?”
“Oh, you’re not from Serendia? I’m sorry, the tailoring screams ‘Serendia’ so I presume you’re from Serendia.”
“Oh, this outfit? No, a friend gave me these clothes.”
Golden Toad Inn
Florentino then recalls when he was still at Heidel. It was after the meeting with Grand Chamberlain Jordine Ducas and Lord Crucio Domongatt. There, Florentino is at the front of the Golden Toad Inn, wearing Jordine’s clothes.
Florentino stretches his arms as he yawns, “Well, what a fine day it is.”
“Sir Jordine?!” A female voice shouted.
Florentino turns around and saw Lara, the General Goods Merchant.
Lara blinks a couple of times as she shook her head in disbelief, “What? Sir… Ibarra?”
“Hello Lara, a fine day isn’t it?”
Lara then rubs her eyes with both hands, “Sir Ibarra, why are you wearing Sir Jordine’s clothes?”
“Oh, this?” Florentino looks at his outfit, “I borrowed it. Yeah… Jordine is kind enough to lend me his clothes.”
What really happened was: Florentino snuck back to Heidel Barracks after the meeting and stole some clothes from Jordine’s wardrobe as… payback for his “Bad Behavior.”
Suddenly, there are soldiers shouting from Heidel Barracks, everyone there is in disarray. If one can focus through the noise, they can hear Jordine shouting orders at the soldiers.
“Oops, looks like my time has come,” Florentino then quickly makes his way to the stables, “See you next time, Lara, stay safe!”
“Um… bye!” Lara not knowing what’s happening just waves at Florentino with a big smile.
Southern Heidel Stables
Just around the corner of the Golden Toad Inn is the Southern Heidel Stables. It is run by Stables Keeper Izaro, he hails from Calpheon and sells quality Calpheonian horses in Heidel. Some dislike him simply because he is from Calpheon. In which Florentino can relate to. One of the reasons why they’re good friends. But despite this, Izaro now considers himself a Heidelian. [src]
“Izaro, my good friend!” Florentino shouts as he waves.
Izaro looks at Florentino and waves as well, “Florentino! It’s good to see you.”
They both shake hands.
“Florentino, may I present to you the newest member of this group,” Izaro looks at the woman on his right and extends his right hand to her, “meet Julia, she’s from Olvia.”
“From Olvia?” Florentino then reaches for Julia’s right hand and kisses it, “Florentino Ibarra of the Ibarra family from Calpheon. A pleasure to meet you. How come I’ve never seen you in Olvia?”
Julia’s face is now bright red, “Oh my god, what my grandmother said about you really is true.”
“And what might that be?”
“That you’re a charmer,” Julia then giggles.
“You’re too kind, Julia,” Florentino smiles, “but that didn’t answer my question earlier. How come I haven’t seen you in Olvia when I was there?”
“Oh, I was having an apprenticeship at the Xian Merchant Guild. My grandmother always talks about you when I came home. And I believe my grandmother mentions me during every conversation you two had.”
Florentino then recalls an event in Olvia when he was talking to an old woman.
You should meet my granddaughter sometimes, the old woman said.
Then Florentino’s eyes went wide open, “You are madam Willow’s granddaughter?”
Need to Go
All the sudden, Florentino can hear soldiers marching getting near.
“Oh, I’m sorry to cut this wonderful conversation short but I’m in a bit of a hurry,” Florentino then looks at Izaro, “is my horse ready?”
“Ah, yes,” Izaro nods then looks at Julia, “would you like the honour of bringing out Zephyr?”
“I’d be delighted to.”
Julia then went inside the stables and comes back with a white horse named Zephyr, Florentino’s horse.
“I’ve taken the liberty of changing her horseshoes, and also gave her a bath and brushed her as well.”
“That is more than I could ask for,” Florentino said, “I believe I’m not paying your stables’ services adequately, Izaro.”
“Oh, you’re too kind, Florentino. Julia here is just doing her duty. She’s a hard worker, Julia is. The stables have never been more efficient and lively ever since she arrives. I believe the Xian Merchant Guild made the right decision of referring her to me and I’ve made the right decision of taking her in. Wouldn’t you agree, Florentino?”
“Yes, I believe both you and the guild made the right choice, especially with a lovely lady such as Julia.”
Julia is now blushing again, “your words are too kind!”
After some short goodbyes, Florentino then mounts his horse and made his way east.
Back at Sand Grain Bazaar
“And there you have it,” Florentino said, “that’s how I’m wearing this outfit.”
“Interesting story, traveller,” the Khuruto said, “say, what are you doing in Valencia anyway?”
“I’m here on a diplomatic mission. I can’t say anything more than that.”
“Hmm, there’s no one here that fits the description of meeting someone on a diplomatic mission, so I think you’re going to Valencia City, correct?”
“Yes, actually, how do I get there? I’ve only gone there once but it’s through the Sky Balloon.”
The Khuruto steps forward towards Florentino, “Hmm, there are two ways. One is through the Great Desert of Valencia, but it’s dangerous because of the scorching heat. You’ll get lost in the desert without a guide, so I advise joining a caravan, they’ll lead you to Ibelab Oasis and eventually to Valencia City in just a week’s travel.”
“And the other route?”
“The other is a long way, you’ll have to go back to Rock Post and make your way North, just follow the main road and you’ll get to Shakatu’s Territory, but beyond that is Gahaz Bandits’ territory. Eventually, you’ll be in Valencia City after a few weeks travel. But that route will save you the hardship of going through the desert.”
“Thank you for the information,” Florentino bows, “I’m terribly sorry for the late introductions, my name is Florentino Ibarra of Calpheon.”
The Khuruto nods, “Tavu, the Storage Keeper, a pleasure to meet you.”
They both shake hands.
Florentino then makes his way at the end of Sand Grain Bazaar. There he sees the Great Desert of Valencia, nothing but sands and rocks as far as the eye can see. He can feel the heat coming from the sands where he stood.
Florentino kneels and feels the desert sand in his hands. Here, Florentino felt the history of years of struggle upon his shoulders.
“What I’ve done up to now is nothing,” he said as he recalls the war between Calpheon and Heidel, “I hope such a tragedy wouldn’t happen again.”
But the desert is harsh and unforgiving: bravery alone will not keep a man alive.
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Andrei Jarell Vedad is a passionate financial literacy advocate from the Philippines. With a background in Information Technology and currently pursuing a law degree, Andrei combines his knowledge and expertise to empower individuals in managing their personal finances. Through his blog and extensive research, he shares practical tips, strategies, and thought-provoking articles to help readers make informed financial decisions and achieve their financial goals. With a global perspective, Andrei aims to inspire positive change and foster financial well-being, not only in the Philippines but also worldwide.