Forsaken Chapter 1
The Gathering of Friends
From the deck of the Falcon, Terra could see the desert castle of Figaro looming on the horizon. Figaro Castle's beauty and magnificence never ceased to enchant Terra. It's lofty walls seemed almost impenetrable. She had always been fascinated how the castle could seem so secure, and yet so open and inviting. She could tell, even from this distance, the castles appearance had changed. Edgar had done much expanding, building in the space between the towers and the main part of the castle. Terra was told that one of these new additions was the ballroom in which the party was being held. But she mostly took note of what had stayed the same since she first gazed upon the great castle. Even though there was no foreseeable danger in the world now, the soldiers still patrolled its grounds attentively, protecting the people within. Figaro's flags still proudly flew high, waving in the early evening breeze.
Had it been two years since she last set eyes on Edgar's kingdom? Had it been that long since all the children had been in her life? Time had certainly felt too slow for Terra and her loneliness in Mobliz. Everyday seemingly endless, and empty. Pining for those sweet little faces that had filled her days with happiness. Now, looking back, it seemed like only yesterday her adventures had began. When she had escaped the grasp of the Empire and met her wonderful friends. When she had been a scared girl with no past.
Terra lowered her eyes. "Now I'm a scared woman with no future." She whispered to herself.
Setzer announced that the Falcon was about to land. Terra waited in the lower decks with Strago and Relm. Both of the girls were helping the older man down the ladder. Strago huffed and wheezed as finished descending.
"You're getting too old for this." Relm lectured, gazing at her grandfather. Strago merely chuckled at the young girl's comments. She's grown some, Terra thought to herself with a smile, but she hasn't changed a bit.
Terra felt the familiar vibrations though out the vessel as the Falcon landed. Shortly after the ship set down, Setzer appeared from above.
He gave Terra one of his trademark grins. "Shall we? There are people eager to see you."
As Terra and Setzer walked toward the castle's iron gates, Setzer noticed Terra's contemplative expression. She seemed worried about something, an expression he had seen many times on Terra's face.
"What's on your mind, Terra?" He asked her.
Terra didn't answer right away, nor did she give any indication that she'd heard the question. Setzer began to believe that she hadn't, until she finally spoke. "How did you find direction in your life, Setzer?"
Setzer was puzzled at the question that had come out of nowhere. "Direction? Well, I didn't really have any. I still don't." He told her.
His answer only seemed to magnify her troubled look. "Your life doesn't have a purpose?"
Setzer shook his head. "I didn't say that. Direction and purpose are different, Terra. You can have purpose without direction. My purpose in life is to be free and never have my feet on the ground." He answered with a chuckle. This had produced a small laugh from Terra, who shook her head. "Is there any reason you're asking this, Terra?"
She shrugged her shoulders. "Just curious." She replied, in a pleasant tone that seemed slightly forced.
Setzer believed it was something more than just curiosity, but he decided not to press the issue for now.
The tall gates opened and the guards waved the travelers through. After Terra had ascended the stairs and walked though the door to the outer walkway, she spotted the castle's king at the other end. Edgar's face instantly light up into his charming smile as he walked toward them. He bowed before Terra.
"The sun shines brighter in my kingdom now that you are here, milady." He exclaimed, gesturing to the sky. He chuckled, taking Terra into a tight embrace. "It is so good to see you, Terra."
A sad smile had graced her features. "It's good to be seen, Edgar."
Edgar paused for a moment at her words, staring at her with a cheery but perplexed expression. The gaze was broken as Setzer, Strago, and Relm came beside them. He turned to Strago. "Strago, it's good to see you and Relm. Come, the others are waiting."
The first of her friends Terra saw as she walked inside the throne room were Locke and Celes. She immediately noticed the small baby Celes held in her arms. It hadn't occurred to Terra that the Cole's would bring their young child to the gathering, though it should have. Conjuring the most pleasant and sincerest expression she could, Terra approached the couple.
Terra kissed Celes on her cheek, then looked down at the half asleep infant. "So this is little Cid he's adorable, Celes." Terra exclaimed, lightly touching the child's face.
"He has his mother to thank for that." Locke told her, chuckling. Locke took Terra in a warm hug. "We have missed you!"
Terra sighed half-heartedly. "I wanted to come after the baby was born I wanted to be there."
Celes shook her head vigorously. "It's alright, Terra. I can't imagine what you must still be going though " She trailed off. She quickly gestured for Locke to take their son. After he did, Celes wrapped her arms around Terra. "Don't forget that we're all here for you!"
Terra felt the bitter tears well in her eyes. "You are a wonderful friend, Celes. I thank you."
Before Celes could say anymore, Gau had already found his way to Terra and was hugging her fiercely. "Terra! I am very happy to see you!" Gau exclaimed loudly, his voice cracking between the boy's voice she remembered into a deeper one.
Terra gawked at the now fourteen year old. "I can't believe it! You're taller than me now!"
"The boy grows like a Behemoth. And I am afraid he still dines as one." Cyan chuckled, approaching them. He bowed to her, taking her hand and kissing it. "Lady Terra, 'tis always a pleasure seeing thee."
"I hear that Gau is training to become a knight of Figaro under your instruction, Sir Cyan." Terra quipped, smiling at Gau.
Cyan nodded, patting Gau on his shoulder. "You speak true, milady. His swordsmanship has improved greatly. And Lord Sabin has been teaching Gau as well. He shall make a fine knight to our liege."
Terra glanced around the room. "Where is Sabin anyway?" She asked the others.
Edgar suddenly looked around the room, also noticing his brother was not present. Where is that fool?, the king thought to himself. "Oh yes. I had sent him to make sure all the rooms for you were ready." He lied quickly. "If you will excuse me, I shall go retrieve him."
Edgar found his twin brother on the tallest tower, where the fate of the kingdom had been decided so many years ago. Sabin was leaning against the wall, looking out at the airship.
He came beside Sabin, shaking his head. "I see you know that she is here."
Sabin did not look at him. "Yep." He answered simply, a sigh in his voice.
"And yet, you do not wish to see her?" Edgar asked, looking unbelievingly at his brother.
Sabin rolled his eyes, but still did not face him. "You know I want to see her. I just don't wanna make it obvious to everybody that I'm like a teenager with a crush."
Edgar let out a strained laugh. "Crush? You do not believe your love for Terra to be true?"
"Doesn't have to go both ways to be love?" Sabin asked hopelessly.
"No." Edgar replied, shaking his head. "She had been though so much, Sabin. I believe that even now, she cannot see past the pain in her heart."
Sabin's frustration sprang to the surface. "Should I feel guilty for wanting to be with her so much?"
"That, you cannot help, brother."
Sabin crossed his arms at his chest. "Two years is a long time. You don't know how many times I wanted to run to Mobliz and tell her how I feel." He said quietly.
Edgar sighed. "But you mustn't-"
"I know, I know," Sabin interrupted, "not when she's so vulnerable. But maybe now, it's not so bad! She came here, didn't she? She's not trying to isolate herself in her, like we thought might happen!"
Edgar nodded. "This is true, brother. Perhaps the pain has dulled somewhat. But those children were her reason for living. And now that reason is gone. She might think she has no meaning to her life any longer." Edgar paused, then looked his brother in the eyes. "But you will not know until you go and see her, Sabin. You will hurt her feelings more if you do not."
Sabin nodded, growling in aggravation. "You're right. I don't want that!"
"I have covered for your absence at her arrival. You were making sure their rooms were prepared." Edgar informed him.
Sabin smiled, patting Edgar on his shoulder. "Thanks, brother!" He said quickly, then rushed down the tower's stairs.
Edgar gazed out at the desert. The sun was slowly creeping down below the horizon, seemingly lighting the sand on fire. "This evening should prove entertaining." He commented to no one, then proceeded back downstairs to his guests.
Evening had fallen. The stars sparkled brightly over the desert castle as the party for the Returners had commenced. There hadn't been much time to talk of her problems, since she was just so happy to see everyone. And part of her didn't want to even mention them. She wanted to just soak up all the wonderful feelings she was feeling. After an hour had passed, she had taken a leave of her comrades to ponder her decision out in the young night. She was still debating over this when Sabin approached her as she stood on the terrace.
He came next to her, gazing out at the warm night. "Nice, isn't it?" He asked her softly.
Terra nodded. "It is." She returned in a quiet voice.
Sabin turned to face her side. "What's wrong Terra? You seem I dunno different." He stumbled on the right words, but the concern still poured from his voice. Terra glanced briefly at him, long enough for Sabin to notice her lips trembled.
She noted the concern in his voice, and her decision made itself. "I feel lost."
Sabin's brow creased in confusion. "Lost?"
"I I have no meaning in my life anymore." Her voice quivered slightly, fighting back the raw pain in her chest. "My reason for everything is gone. I don't know what to do now."
The heavy sigh escaped from his mouth before he could stop it. "Terra I " He faltered, frustrated that he could not find the right words to comfort her. "I think that you might just need to be patient. I'm sure something will come along for you." He told her as gently as he could. Terra offered him a weak smile, telling him that though his efforts to help her might have been in vain, they were appreciated. He took her hand in his and gestured towards the ballroom. "Why don't we go back and have some fun?"
Terra nodded and allowed him to lead her back to the party.
Sabin stayed with Terra until she and Celes had engaged in a conversation. He slipped away to find his brother, who was chatting on the opposite end of the ballroom with Cyan. Both men peered at Sabin, as he quickly dodged the couples on the dance floor.
"Good evening, Sir Sabin." Cyan greeted Sabin, raising his glass of wine to him.
Sabin nodded. "Hi." He huffed out quickly, then turned to Edgar. "Brother, can I talk to ya for a sec?"
Edgar's eyebrow cocked slightly. He turned to Cyan. "Please excuse us for a moment, my friend."
Cyan bowed gracefully. "Of course, my liege." He replied.
Edgar put his hand on Sabin's shoulder, leading him to a less populated area of the ballroom. "What troubles you Sabin?"
Sabin sighed again. "It's Terra. She's just as we thought she'd be." He explained, shaking his head. "She feels like she's got no purpose!"
Edgar looked over toward the young woman across the room. Terra was occupied in chat with Celes, smiling and laughing. But the young king could see the hurt not far beneath the smile. "Our Terra is strong, and she hides it well. But this pain would be too much for anyone to bear." He stated sadly.
"What do we do, brother?" Sabin's voice said in exasperation. "I can't just sit by and watch "
"Yes." Edgar stopped him, smiling slightly. "I know, brother. And as her friends, we must help her." He said with conviction. "I am going to tell her of our plans for the excavation."
Sabin scratched his head. "Do you think she'll approve?"
"I am sure she shall be thrilled at the idea." Edgar assured him. "Worry not, Sabin. I think this is just what she needs."
Edgar approached the ladies quickly. "Celes, would you mind if I took Terra for a moment?" He asked, getting a curious look from Terra.
Celes smiled, holding up her hand. "Only if you don't keep her long." She replied.
Edgar took Terra's arm and motioned her to accompany him. Terra gazed at him in curiosity. "Where are we going?"
Edgar smiled pleasantly. "There is something I wish to show you." He answered.
They proceeded into the main part of the castle and into Edgar's study. As she entered the room, she immediately noticed the large sheet of parchment on the desk. Terra glanced at Edgar, who gestured to it. She walked around to the side of the desk where Edgar would sit, scanning the parchment.
"It's a map." Terra spoke as her eyes scrutinized it.
Edgar came beside her. "Indeed. It's a map of the desert that surrounds the castle."
She could see where the map marked the location of Figaro Castle. But she also noticed a large circled area northwest of the castle. She pointed her finger to it. "What's this?"
Edgar smiled. "That," he began, placing his finger on the same spot, "is where we have calculated the Ancient Castle to be."
Terra looked up in the king's face immediately. "The Ancient Castle " She spoke softly.
He nodded, turning around so that he leaned his body against the desk. "You do remember that place, do you not?"
"Of course," she told him, as if he'd gone mad, "I was there with you when we went to explore it."
Edgar's smile widened. "Indeed you were, milady. And I would like you to go again."
Terra didn't speak at first, she only stared at him with a puzzled look. "Why?" She finally asked.
"History, my dear Terra." Edgar answered simply at first. Then, he pushed himself away from the desk, walking around to the other side of it. "That castle is the only thing left standing from the first War of the Magi. It is a place of historical importance. I do not wish the lessons of the wars to be forgotten, and I am sure you feel the same."
"Well, that would be difficult to repeat when there is no magic in the world." Terra huffed.
Edgar nodded. "This is true. Magic is dead to us. But who knows what the future holds, Terra. Over time, mankind may discover a means to revive it, or perhaps imitate it. It is not so farfetched to imagine."
Terra bit her lip slightly, looking down at the map again. "I suppose not."
Edgar leaned over the map. "I do not mean to worry you, Terra. I believe this is out of the realm of possibility in our lifetime." He reassured her. "Not only do I wish to use the Ancient Castle as a reminder of old mistakes, but I also wish to explore it completely. We did not have much time for sightseeing last time we visited."
Terra glanced out the window of the study as she walked over to it. The moonlight illuminated the seemingly endless dunes of sand. "I know. I wish we had the time then to explore the castle further." She told him, a sad longing in her voice.
Edgar joined her at the window. The two of them stared out at the desert land for a moment. "I will be sending in a team to explore the castle and map out its details. And I want you to be the one that leads them, Terra."
Terra turned to him again. "Why me?" She asked simply.
"Because," He began, walking back toward his desk, "you are just as curious about that castle as I. Because it is not only a part of human history, but the Esper's history as well."
Terra shook her head. "But they are dead, just like magic."
Edgar returned to her side again, taking her hand in his. "They are gone Terra, this is true. And you may think that the half of you that was Esper died with them. But I do not believe that. You still have the Esper blood in your veins, Terra." As he spoke, he held up her hand that he'd been holding. "And as long as you walk this earth, they have not gone completely."
"Maybe." Terra spoke, her lips trembling as she did. "But I still don't see what that has to do with me going to the Ancient Castle."
"It was your feet that first walked on those old cobblestones in over a thousand years. It was your voice that spoke of it's past. It was your heart that mourned for it's tragic story." Edgar told her. "And it shall be you that will be the first to discover its secrets. And just perhaps, you will discover its name." Edgar could tell by her speechlessness that he almost had her talked into this project. He decided to be daring and speak of her problem. "Terra, I know you are still pained over the loss of the children. They were your reason for fighting. So you could make a better world for them. Now they are gone, and you feel you have no purpose anymore." He paused for her reaction, which was her green eyes blinking back tears. "Now, no one but yourself can give you a reason to live back. But, as your friend, I wish to help you find it. This adventure may or may not help you, Terra. But it is something I believe you want to do. Perhaps, you will find something down there that will help you."
Terra could not help but smile at his words. She had to be truthful with herself, he had her interest in the adventure. "Who else is this team going to consist of?" She asked.
Edgar grinned broadly. "You agree to do it then?"
"Yes, Edgar. I'll do it."
He clapped his hands together. "Excellent!" He responded excitedly. "I will be sending Sir Cyan and a small team of soldiers with you to take care of any monsters you may encounter. Also, Locke will be joining you because of his knowledge of ancient artifacts. And Sabin, for your personal protection, milady."
Terra put her hands on her hips. "I'm not defenseless, Edgar. I can still use a sword."
Edgar held out his hands. "I know you can, Terra. But your strength was magic." He objected, causing Terra to nod sadly. Edgar took her chin and raised her head back up. "Worry not, dear Terra. I believe this adventure will change your life."
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