The Falcon blasted through the afternoon air with amazing speed. Its owner, the world- famous gambler Setzer Gabbiani, was at the helm as usual. However, this time, he was not off in search of trouble and adventure. Locke had asked him to accompany him to Jidoor and the Opera House. They had their own reasons for going. Locke wished to see Celes to see if he could possibly start a new life with her a life after Rachel, that is. Setzer was going because he had heard that Maria, the opera diva renowned as the queen of the stage, was slated to be performing along side Celes in the Opera Houses current production of Rydia: Mystic Caller. It was to be Celess second full production with the Opera House, if you count her one-day stint in Aria de Mezzo Carattere as her debut. Both were looking forward to seeing their beloveds again.
They were flying over Zozo, currently, and the sun was setting. It had been a week since Locke and Terra had spoken in Mobliz. The conversation still stood in his mind. He had made an important decision that day. He, like Celes, was going to start over on life and forget his past. Of course, his past was not nearly as tainted as Celess, she being a former imperial general who had committed some serious atrocities during her service. He kept hoping that Celes would be overjoyed to see him and that she hadnt forgotten the feelings she once had for him. The key word there, Locke thought, was once. The thought never occurred to him until now that maybe she had changed. Maybe she had forgotten everything that happened, including saving the world alongside Locke. Maybe she had forgotten the moment that they shared together on board the airship that fateful day over a month ago as they flew over Kohlingen. Maybe she had forgotten how she held his hand and squeezed it as he stared down at Rachels house one last time. However, these were thoughts that Locke had to suppress if he was to be successful in his endeavor. Suddenly, Setzer spoke.
Man, its great having you aboard again, he said. Locke nodded in approval. Im sorry about not having the blackjack tables put in yet. Those dang repairmen are too lazy to do it.
Thats all right, Setzer. Id probably end up losing my shirt to you.
Speaking of shirts, where in the world did you get that sorry excuse for opera attire? Setzer was referring to the plumed silk shirt, dark wool pants, and leather overcoat that Locke was wearing. He had gotten them from Edgar, in Figaro Castle. He had gone there via Nikeah ferry the day after he left Mobliz. He went to Edgar and told his royal friend his plan to start anew with Celes. Edgar, showing full support of Lockes moving on in life, put all of Figaro Castles resources at his disposal to do so. All Locke had asked for was some formal attire to wear in Jidoor and around the Opera House. Edgar put his tailors to work nonstop until Locke was satisfied. He had also asked to learn to waltz, recalling the dance moves that Celes learned from her experience in Aria de Mezzo Carattere. He wanted to be able to impress her just as her dance moves had captivated him. When he felt he was ready, he asked Setzer, who made frequent stops in Figaro Castle for upgrades and repairs to the Falcon, to accompany him to Jidoor. Setzer agreed.
What do you mean, sorry excuse? This overcoat looks exactly like the one you always wear. Setzer looked Locke head to toe again.
Well, that may be true. Im just not used to seeing you like this, Locke. You look too much like Edgar. Locke continued looking over the railing as he listened. When I saw you in that getup, my jaw nearly hit the floor. Who would have thought that Locke Cole, treasure hunter extraordinaire, would be reduced to wearing formal attire to an opera, of all places. Locke then had a scary thought. What if Celes didnt like his new look either? What if she expected to see the old, dashing, and dressed-down Locke Cole when he arrived at the Opera House? Lockes fear grew more and more as the Falcon approached its landing site near the outskirts of Jidoor.
Shut up. Locke said uneasily.
All right, sorry. Setzer then thought to himself. I probably shouldnt be so hard on him. Its a big step for him and for me as well. He sighed as the Falcon finally came to a stop. I thought Id never forget Daryl, but then I heard about Maria. I guess he and I are brothers in arms, now. He then went over to the hatch, where Locke already stood. We have two choices ahead of us. We can either fork out the GP and stay in the Jidoor inn or we can stay here on the Falcon.
I thought that there werent any accommodations on the Falcon.
I had some built so that I wouldnt have to stay in inns and save my GP for what really matters. Locke scoffed, remembering Setzers favorite pastime. He wasnt surprised by Setzers response at all.
Right, he said in accordance. As they walked through the cabin of the Falcon, Locke happened to glance into the quarters that Setzer had built. There was a king size bed in front of the windows with a canopy on top, a chest of drawers, a full-size mirror, a large, circular throw rug on the floor, and plenty of closet space, enough for an opera diva, that is. It was almost as if Setzer was already expecting to emerge victorious in this endeavor. Locke could see the confidence that Setzer carried with him. It almost appeared as if he was a bit arrogant when it came to matters such as this. However, Locke figured that that was all a part of being a gambler. You had to be overconfident at some times if you wanted to land the big pot. We can stay here if its easier. The only problem is where am I going to sleep?
Well, there is the guest room, which is adjacent to the master bedroom. You can sleep there, if you want.
Mind if I take a look?
Not at all. Keep in mind, though. Ive never had to use the guest quarters, so it might not be as homey is it should.
Hey, I got by sleeping on rocks and the hard ground for a long time, said Locke. As long as its not a repeat of that, Ill be fine. Locke glanced inside the quarters to see a twin bed without sheets, a face mirror and a small desk. He was, indeed, satisfied. Although the room was a bit dirty, as Setzer had warned, it would suit Locke just fine. This should be fine, said Locke. It actually looks a lot like my room in Figaro Castle.
How many places do you have all over the world? Setzer asked.
Well, Im originally from Kohlingen, but its been a while since Ive slept there. Ive got my room in Figaro Castle, a place in Narshe, and I used to room at the Returner Hideout when I needed to a long time ago. Locke then flashed back to his life in Kohlingen. He remembered that he had never really had a home there, but rather had stayed with Rachel his entire time. He remembered how they used to talk to each other all night until they fell asleep, how they used to go camping on warm summer nights, and how they used to adventure together all over the western continent. One of those adventures ended up being his downfall, though. No! Locke thought to himself. Stop doing this. That life is over! Look forward, Locke! Regaining his composure, Locke turned to Setzer. Theres one thing I think we should do. We need to go into town or to the Opera House itself so we can get some information about the show and some tickets to see a performance.
Thats a good idea, agreed Setzer. Why dont we go to the Opera House now? Theres a chocobo stable in Jidoor, I believe.
But how are we going to get back to Jidoor? Chocobos return to their pen after the riders dismounts.
Well, youre an adventurer, arent you? You surely still carry a weapon.
Locke grinned. He then remembered the secret that he had been carrying with him all this time. Well, I do have this old thing, said Locke as he pulled out what appeared to be nothing more than a small handle. He then looked at it and started to concentrate his energy on the tip. All of a sudden, a flash of blue light let loose and took the form of a blade. Setzer jumped in amazement as he remembered what it was: the Atma Weapon.
Wow! said Setzer. I never thought Id see that thing again. He looked at Locke with admiration. You know, I really should learn how to use one of those things. He then paused and reached into his jacket pocket. But why should I need to when I have these little babies. Setzer pulled out a piece of metal, about the size of a playing card. Come on outside and Ill show you something amazing. As Locke unfocused the Atma Weapon, he followed Setzer outside. Now, watch, said Setzer. He threw the piece of metal sidearm, like he had thrown his cards and darts in battle when they fought Kefka. It spun sideways until it hit a rock and stuck to it. Suddenly, it exploded with the force of a land mine. How do you like that? Locke was speechless, his mouth wide open and eyes nearly coming out of his head in disbelief.
Where did you get those things, Setzer? he asked, still amazed by what he saw.
Theyre a little something that I had Edgar fix me up when I was in Figaro a while back. Theyre loaded with an unstable chemical, and whenever they hit their target BOOM! Think of them as portable bombs.
We sure could have used those back in the day. The two men laughed as they mimed out what Setzers new weapon could have done to Kefka and company. But, anyway, we need to get doing.
Right, responded Setzer. As the two men walked into town, Locke could feel his confidence returning. The memories he had just shared with Setzer also made him remember his memories of Celes. He remembered that one night in Albrook when Celes had lost her faith in him and how he was able to regain it. He remembered how overjoyed she was when they found him in the Phoenix Cave. That happiness that he felt alone gave him the strength to go on and do what he needed to get done. The residents of Jidoor did not act as snobbish as they had before to Locke and Setzer when last they visited the burg, probably because of the clothes they were wearing. It seemed that appearance really did matter more than personality in this town. After asking around for information pertaining to the show, they discovered that Celes was, indeed, in the title role of Rydia with Maria in the supporting role of Queen Ashura.
They were hungry, so they went inside the pub for dinner and drinks. Setzer, always looking for a game of cards anywhere he went, met a man who claimed to be the best card player on the face of the continent and challenged Setzer to a game. Never backing down from a challenge, Setzer entered in combat with his fellow gambler, Locke looking on from the side, knowing that he was outdone. Setzer and the other gambler, whose name turned out to be Nichol, gambled long into the night on poker and blackjack, not letting any amount of money wagered shy them away. They also took drink after drink of ale. Locke had quit after about three, but as long as there was sport to be had for Setzer and Nichol, there was also plenty to drink. After about four hours of being a spectator, Locke decided to return to the airship without Setzer, who was still waging war with Nichol. As he boarded the Falcon and went to the guest quarters, he became excited at the thought of dropping in on Celes tomorrow. It was about a week until the opera opened for the public to see, and he began to wonder if he would even be able to get in to the Opera House tomorrow. His skills as a thief would be able to cover that department, if necessary. As he lay in bed, he once again thought of Celes. This time, it was when they first met each other in South Figaro when Locke had to rescue her from the Empire. It was right after she had turned traitor to the Empire. There, he gave her his oath that he would always protect her. He remained true to his word up until their parting. He always did protect her no matter what.
The next morning, Locke awoke to the sound of birds singing and groaning coming from the next room. Setzer had come in during the middle of the night and looked as hung over as could be.
What happened to you? Locke asked.
I won. Beat the creep, but it cost me my lunch. Setzer groaned again as he rolled over in the bed. Go to the Opera House without me. I still need sleep.
All right, said Locke. Get well. Locke went outside to a nearby spring and washed up in preparation to see Celes. He went into town, rented a chocobo, and started heading south towards the Opera House. He was sure to take the Atma Weapon with him because he would have to walk the way back. He remembered the territory well, and since Kefka had been defeated, there were not as many monsters roaming about. After about half an hour on the chocobo, he arrived at the Opera House. He was shaking in his boots. This was the closest that he had been to Celes in over a month. However, he calmed himself down and entered the building. The place had not changed much since he had last been there. There was still the same carpet, chandelier, and reception desk. No one was in the lobby except for him. He glanced over to his left and saw the display window featuring a poster for the show. He walked over to it and saw that the girl on the poster was Celes in costume. Locke examined in carefully. It appeared as if Celes had not changed her physical appearance. She still had shoulder-length blonde hair, beautiful blue eyes, and a petite figure. All of a sudden, someone exited the theatre portion of the opera house. It was a woman, a rather large woman who was, apparently, enraged.
I will NOT work under these conditions with with that THING in the title role! I should have that role, not her! Judging by how the person was talking, Locke could tell that it was Maria. The rumors, however, of Celes looking like Maria were untrue. Maria turned out to be the typical fat opera soprano. She had blonde hair, like Celes, but did not have as cute a face. As Locke watch her storm out of the lobby, he started to feel sorry for Setzer, who had no idea what he was about to get himself into. Locke tried to fight away a laugh as Maria happened to notice him. And WHO are YOU??!! she demanded.
Uh Im Im looking for a Ms. Celes Chere, he said nervously. Do you know where she is? With that, Maria clenched her teeth together and let out an unbearable groan. It was almost as if Locke had offended her by saying Celess name.
Who? Ive never heard of her, said Maria repugnantly as she turned her nose up to Locke. However, there is someone inside the theatre who may carry that name with her. With that, a funny looking man rushed out of the theatre and towards Maria. Locke remembered that it was the Impresario. Since he last saw the Impresario, he had grown fatter and had lost more hair. Apparently, Kefkas fall didnt bring better fortunes to all people.
Please, please, please, Ms. Maria. Come back into rehearsal, begged the Impresario. His voice sounded squeaky and tired. He then dropped to his knees. Please, Maria. You must come back, or I er the show will be ruined. Maria closed her eyes, crossed her arms, and turned away from the Impresario.
Sometimes I think you care more about that that little hussy than you do me! said Maria.
No! Of course not! Maria, you were the original star of this Opera House! said the Impresario pleadingly as he grabbed one of Marias hands and started stroking it. Locke was about to explode from laughter. His face was turning beet red. Just then, the Impresario noticed that Locke was standing there, and jumped up from his knees. Im sorry, sir. The Opera House is closed to the public today. Please leave at once.
You dont understand, Mr. Impresario. Im a friend of Celess. The doors to the theatre opened once again and another person came out into the lobby.
Mr. Impresario? Is everything alright? said a light and familiar voice. Locke froze where he was standing and slowly looked over to see who it was. There stood Celes, looking as beautiful as ever in her costume. She was wearing a green wig and a green cape with a blue dress, much like one a child would wear. Locke then remembered that Celess character, Rydia, was only supposed to be about the same age as Relm. He broke out in a cold sweat and started to tremble. There she was, right before him. His love. Celes then looked over to see who was standing with the Impresario and Maria. She squinted her eyes, as if she didnt recognize the person. Lockes eyes were wide open as he started taking quick breaths. He could feel his heart racing. He wanted to run over to her, swing her into his arms, and passionately kiss her. However, he knew that he couldnt do that. Suddenly, she spoke. Locke, she said softly, is that you?
Uh Hi, Celes, he said nervously. Celess face lit up in joy.
It IS you! she said gleefully as she ran to him and embraced him. At that moment in time, Locke felt something that he had not felt in such a long time that the memory of its name almost escaped him. It was a feeling he last felt when he was with Rachel. He felt truly happy with his life. Granted that defeating an evil force such as Kefka was satisfying enough, there is something about the compassionate touch of a woman that he felt to be more gratifying than any other feeling in the entire world. As he held his dear Celes in his arms, he let out a tear of utter happiness. He would have been perfectly content if time stopped right there. He wanted to keep this moment forever. Here was his chance to start anew in life.