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"Visiting the desert can have some benefits. You can encounter Cactuars, although the chance for encountering them is very low: 6.25%. If you *do* however encounter one, you should know that these little cactus enemies are extremely shy and will escape from battle rather quickly . . . [they] only have 200 HP. When you beat a Cactuar you'll be rewarded with a whopping of[sic] 10000 Gil.

    –  Absolute Steve, shillatime.org, 2007

In the rolling dunes of Corel Desert, Cactuar lived a happy but solitary life. Each day he would orient himself by looking into the distance and finding the spot where the giant red robot stood. It was an ancient sentinel of destruction named Ruby Weapon that the creatures of the desert knew to avoid at all costs, but it brought Cactuar a kind of comfort as a landmark in an otherwise confusing ocean of sand. Similarly, at night, he would orient himself by the lights of The Golden Saucer, a nearby carnival city where his kind was unfortunately forbidden. Occasionally the music of the city would drape soothingly over the desert and all the creatures there would sleep deeply and well.

The desert was full of creatures, and many of them were dangerous when upset or hungry. Cactuar had developed a two-frame running style that allowed him to dodge 7/8ths of all attacks and outrun almost anything. In the case of extreme danger, he also had his thousand needles, but in his entire lifetime he had never seen a cactuar actually use their needles to attack. The land worms were easy to avoid and the flap-beats, chocobos, and other birds didn't normally eat cactii. The other cactuars were friendly enough, but rarely traveled in large groups. As a species they never grew tired, and Cactuar at least never grew bored. He ran around the desert all day and most of the night, living a basic and happy life until, one day, a strange group of humans appeared.

The constant leader was a man with spiky yellow hair, but he would bring others with him two at a time, and they would explore the desert and return at night to the Gold Saucer. At first he traveled with an athletic woman and a red wolf, and they seemed nice enough. They approached one of the chocobos of the desert and fed it greens from their packs. The next day they returned with a saddle and it amazed Cactuar to see the chocobo allow itself to be bridled and ridden. He'd never seen anything like it, and thought how truly beautiful and full of mystery the desert could be. It was weeks before they returned. The chocobo was no longer with them, and Cactuar wondered what strange life it had retired to.

When they returned, Cactuar watched as they did battle with a land worm. Instead of escaping with their lives, they butchered the worm and transformed it, as if by magic, into a vial of strange liquid. He watched the group, now followed by a fat marshmallow creature with a black cat on its head instead of the red wolf, repeat this process with the flap beats, chimeras, and harpies of the desert. What began as amazement turned into fear as the group roamed the desert turning every creature they came across into some small trinket. Towards the end of the day he watched them approach a cactuar that had been dozing. The spiky-haired man split the creature in half with a sword, and it erupted with 10,000 shining coins. The group was visibly ecstatic, and began talking to themselves with excited glee, while Cactuar felt something in his stomach twist, drop, and disappear.

From that day on the group roamed the desert constantly. Cactuar watched countless creatures die, including almost every one of his kin. Many times they would escape, but given another hour, another day, another week of hunting, they would all die. Counting himself lucky to be young, energetic, and vigilant, Cactuar had begun living in a constant state of fear and disgust, wondering if the ancient gods, and perhaps even Ruby Weapon were blind to the travesties of his small life. The Ruby Weapon, the ancient defender of the earth's deserts, seemed blind to the marauders, and they seemed blind to it. This gave Cactuar an idea. Perhaps he could be a hero, and save his home, if he could only bring the two devastating creatures together. The Ruby Weapon was surely the lesser of two evils, and surely the stronger, and could be used to return Cactuar's life to its carefree days.

His heart (or whatever a cactuar's anatomical equivalent is) beat harder than it ever had in his life as Cactuar approached the evil men. They caught sight of him from many miles away and began to chase him across the desert. Ducking behind large dunes and swerving around stones, he managed to keep a good distance, far enough to dodge their magical attacks but close enough to keep them trailing. After two hours or so, the Ruby Weapon's giant form eclipsing half the sky, Cactuar ran past the ancient sentinel and watched as it turned its sights to the strangers, finally. Taken by surprise, the spiky-haired man raised his sword to the robotic creature and cast a magical shell over his allies. In that instant, one of the massive red claws of Ruby Weapon swatted the athletic woman out of sight.

From a safe distance Cactuar dared to watch the battle: The most powerful, most dangerous creatures he had ever seen clashing head to head. The humans made so many kinds of attacks against the Ruby Weapon that Cactuar could barely decipher them, but it didn't seem to matter. They all seemed to have little or no effect. After a few minutes the ancient creature released a barrage of missiles which annihilated every trace of the murderers, leaving blood and ash and mangled bones in a pile of swords and bangles. As disgusting as that mess was, Cactuar was overjoyed to see it. He could hardly believe his eyes, could hardly believe how easy this victory had been. He didn't notice in his happiness the red glow that begin to spew from the misshapen pile. A stone embedded in the man's sword began to glow a red so bright that it colored the entire world. A glow so complete that it was simultaneously red and yellow and white, so bright that it covered the world in a perverse kind of darkness.

From the destroyed sky, from the dazzling swirl of life energy, a small golden egg fell with a mystical force the wobbled the very structure of the world, and from that egg rose, impossibly, in an eruption of fire and light, the immortal god Phoenix. The Phoenix, one of the original gods, and one that the creatures of the desert still praised as a bringer of life, appeared in its impossible glory over Cactuar's eviscerated world. It screeched a single, world-piercing noise, and Cactuar couldn't help but weep with confused, devastated joy, staring at the many-colored face of god, hearing the voice of creation beg the souls of the dead to return to life. A gift that Phoenix alone could bestow, the true reversal of worldly death, the rebirth of the noble, the innocent, and the holy. Cactuar understood that this was a miracle, that no living creature in his lifetime had seen this happen, and that none, including him, would ever see it again.

 

The creatures of Corel Desert instantly returned, teeming excitedly over the dunes, but Cactuar's joy turned to horror as he saw the three murderers, or at least their remains, recompress and rejoin into their old forms. Undamaged and undaunted, the humans rose in perfect form and began attacking Ruby Weapon again. They didn't even look up as Phoenix disappeared into the ether. The ancient beast fired barrage after barrage into the group, slapped them down, blew them up, and cut them to pieces with lasers, but each time, when they were destroyed, the miracle would repeat itself. The second time Cactuar couldn't stop himself from watching, but by the fiftieth time, by the third week of the battle, he couldn't bear to even open his eyes. He pictured in his mind the saddle they had put on a chocobo so long ago, set instead on the back of the Phoenix. These monsters had imprisoned and manipulated the gods themselves, and towards what end? The annihilation of all the creatures of the desert? All the creatures of the world? For what reason? Just because land worms could be transformed into potions, and cactuars were filled with 10,000 shining coins?

Consumed by an essential sickness that redoubled every time the Phoenix rose, Cactuar could not stop crying. He remembered the day his parents had died, how sad he'd felt then, and how quaint and naive that sorrow really was when compared to the terror he knew now. The constant sick flashing of the energy of life itself made it impossible to count the days, but it was over a sleepless, interminable month before the Ruby Weapon finally fell to attacking monsters' blows.

The cycle of day and night returned after that. In the dead of night Cactuar watched the group of three disappear into the golden light of The Saucer, carrying the claws of the spirit of the desert, the Ruby Weapon, as a trophy. Despite himself, he fell asleep in that first moment of darkness. In the morning he looked automatically for the ancient creature on the horizon and fell dizzy in the confusion of the endless empty sands. The evil men returned every day, combing the desert, killing every creature they came across. Cactuar knew he couldn't hide from them forever. He lived his life in the desert much the same as in his childhood, but lonelier and emptier every day, until the moment each day when the murderers arrived and he was forced back into hiding. Every night he would hear the sick music of The Golden Saucer, figuring out where in the desert he was by the direction and distance of those hideous, immortal lights. Every day he would retrace the outline of the sinking black pit that had formed in his stomach. A pit that he now knew, if it could ever be reached, would erupt with shining coins.




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The boxart for Vagrant Story got me hard as hell in seventh grade. Many were the days I punished my thick teenage dong to that image, smashing it over and over again with a splayed-fingered flicking technique of my own invention.

I jerked off to a lot of videogame babes back then. It seemed less threatening than actual porn. That's a pussy thing to admit, but it's true. Even though I had my own computer, and a decent internet connection, I was worried that my parents were monitoring the places I went, and I was just kind of an anxious kid in general. So I ended up skulking around crappy videogame websites with names like Ultimate Gaming Zone and Video Dungeon, where they'd print crappy little pseudo blog-posts next to relatively hi-res images of the Dead or Alive girls or that pre-render of Jill Valentine in the tube-top from Resident Evil 3. I think I saw an ad for Vagrant Story as a tower ad on one of those sites -- the image was clipped so that the androgynous Square protagonist with the checkmark hair was mostly cropped out, putting the girl next to him front and center. She had short black hair and a leather tube-top (the 1990s weren’t exactly a classy decade) and she was arching the hell out her back in a way that is basically impossible for real people. Since I was too scared to actually save that banner ad to my damn C:// drive, I spent a few weeks going back to that site daily and refreshing until I got that Vagrant Story ad. Then I'd slap my dick around and cream.

Creaming scared the shit out of me. I think I started doing it between sixth and seventh grades. I'd been masturbating for a couple of years at that point, and having my little ass molested to hell and back let me know that jerking it was a derivative form of sex and, hence, a source of deep and wholly legitimate shame. But I started to get really scared when slapping my rod made it shoot white-gray goop all over the iron-colored floor of my bedroom. At the time I was living in an add-on to my family's house that was in the process of falling apart: there was a giant hole in the ceiling, right over my bed, and when I slept it would discharge rust colored water and roaches. I kept the room absolutely filthy: stacked from floor to ceiling with junk, garbage, trash and refuse. Somehow that felt important, when I started kreamin. It was like I was one with my room and we were both leaking, shedding, breaking down.  I really thought I had some kind of health problem at first and was going to die.

When I kept on living, I figured out that the cream was natural. I didn't look it up online, although I should have. (Again, I was worried about being caught). I just kept jerking and it kept happening. At first I tried to only cream in a toilet -- I'd rush from my computer (where I accessed the DOA girls) to the scummy bathroom in the hall, which is still easily one of the worst crappers I've ever used. It was falling in, like the rest of the addition, and there were massive, yellow piss-stains all over the toilet and hard-water stains in the tiny shower stall. It didn't get hot water and it smelled like black mold because it was full of black mold. But even worse than consigning my noble loads to that hellhole was the fact that it was just far enough away from the computer that there was no way I could dash there between having an orgasm and physically ejaculating. I'd dribble jizz all over the floor as I tried for it and then have to go back and scrub up the remainders with shamefaced paper towels, terrified that the old wood floor would acquire a permanent fragrance. Eventually I got too stressed out by this routine and started jizzing in my hand, then washing it…but that was gross. The load seemed like snot to me so I figured hell, let me try some kind of handkerchief? That's when I started blowing my loads in socks.

By the time Vagrant Story was being advertised I was a pretty skilled sock-cummer. But I was still super-paranoid about my parents discovering how often I was stoking off, and I was worried that they'd notice my socks going missing. I actually came up with excuses -- like, I'd tell my mom I had a hole in my sock and throw it away in front of her and then retrieve it later for jacking purposes.

The problem with cumming in socks is that a sock can only hold so much cum. Eventually the charade got to be too much hassle for a jizzrag I'd cream stiff inside of a week -- so I just started taking the socks, blasting jizz, and not saying anything. But then my mom started yelling at me about "running out of socks," which I don't think I actually was (I had plenty) -- but that shows you the kind of environment I was up against. Every time a sock disappeared she'd storm into my room and ask me about it and look for it. "You're missing one of your socks again, anon!" she'd say. "Do you know where it could be? Is it under your bed? Is it in the closet?”

These raids happened with no announcement and she'd never knock. So my mom would just storm into my room and start scouring it for cum socks, which I consequently hid in more and more esoteric places. One time, I swear to god, she lifted up my mattress and checked between there and the box-spring, which is a hiding place so old I think it’s just called “the original.” Needless to say these jizz inspections were a hellscape nightmare to my little thirteen year old soul, basically the worst social circumstance I could imagine.  Sometimes my dad would do them, but he was less thorough. He'd just bust into the room without announcing himself and start taking big whiffs of air. "It stinks in here," he'd say. "What's that smell?? It sure does stink!" My dad has always been a bloodhound for boy loads. The only thing that gives him pleasure is smelling fresh tween seed. 

The sock searches got so frequent, and so aggressive, that I decided to just cum in the socks and put them in the laundry hamper – to hide in plain sight, as it were. If I only blew one or two loads in a sock, I figured, they'd seem normal enough. My mom, I knew, just tossed laundry in the machine -- and how much attention would she really pay to socks, as long as their number was consistent? I took my mom at face value on that one. I figured she was just neurotic about socks. And she did the laundry so, hell, maybe that was one of her family responsibilities? I didn't know shit, I just wanted to fuck the chick from Vagrant Story, even though I wasn't sure how normal fucking worked and the Vagrant Story chick is a Japanese drawing and not a chick at all.

So I picked a sock to be my pilot rag, jizzed in it and then threw it in the hamper. If my mom noticed or gave me shit, the plan was off. If she didn't, I was free from sock raids and free to spank. I was a little anxious about it when Sunday, laundry day, arrived.

For most of the day, things were normal. I thought I'd gotten away scot-free. But when it got late, and my dad went to bed, I heard my mom doing something in the kitchen. As far as I knew, the laundry was done, so I didn't assume it was related. All I knew is that it was weird. My mom was in the kitchen, around midnight, running the microwave again and again. Eventually I went out to "get a drink of water" (my usual cover) and she was so mad she wouldn't even talk to me.  Just, beet-red with veins popping out on her neck, seething... When I came into the room she shot me this look of disgust so pure I think I actually flinched when it registered. She never said anything, not a word, but as I walked to the sink and filled my glass she let me see what she was doing: microwaving my cum sock, over and over again, and then scrubbing at the protein stain with a toothbrush that she'd dipped in dish soap. And, man, she looked at me with such real, livid hate…I've never forgotten that expression.

Looking back on it now it seems obvious to me that my mom didn't really care about the socks. Nobody cares about a sock enough to scrub cum out of it with a toothbrush and we weren't so poor that new socks were some costly and unobtainable dream. A sane mother probably would have thrown the sock away or (worse option) talked to me about my cream habits and told me to stop ruining my clothing in the most awkward conversation of all time. Gestapo cum-raids were a pretty Baptist solution to the whacking off problem, I guess, (ironic because my mother is a proud and arrogant secular democrat) but making sure that I knew that she knew that I knew and that she hated me for it was a full-scale tactical woman move, placing it about six tiers above my pubescent pay-grade. It really threw me for a loop.

I just turned thirty this year and I guess I'm finally old enough to admit that my mom was obsessed with seventh-grade seed and wanted to get herself mixed up in my clandestine jerks in a weird and semi-manipulative way. It's a tougher pill to swallow than you'd think. Eventually I started buying used t-shirts just for cum and, much later, bored a therapist to death because I’m a messed up sex weirdo who spends most of his time fantasizing about committing suicide

A few years after the sock incident I actually got a copy of Vagrant Story. I didn't really get it. JRPGs aren't my thing. But I liked having the jewel case and jerked off to it a few times, sentimentally, in highschool.




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