Innocence and All That Chapter 2

By Intrasonic

     An aged man sat on a chair. Before him was a desk, with numerous papers doing their utmost to prevent the surface from
being seen. With a grunt of dissatisfaction, the man placed his signature upon the paper closest to him and placed it in a basket to his left.
     Stupid bureaucrats. Thinking that magic was nothing more than a convenience. Requests for magical transportation indeed! As though paying the village of Mysidia to arrange magical transportation somehow bestowed status upon them!
     Still, it did bring in a great deal of money that could be put towards the training of younger magicians. And the transportation
technique was a good way to give practical practice to the more experienced magicians.
     All the same, it was far from the highlight of his day.
     Abruptly, the room began to pulse. Not literally, but for a mage long attuned to the ebb and flow of magic, he had just been hit over the head with a magical club. Setting down his pen as he quickly adapted to the flux of magic, he swivelled to face was seemed the central point of the magic. There were few people capable of  summoning so much energy by themselves, which spoke of either someone very powerful, or a collective effort by a bunch of irresponsible apprentices...
     The buildup of magic continued until even the air seemed electric to the man. Finally, just when it seemed that it must
explode, it faded into nothingness.
     The man blinked. What on earth...
     "I'm sorry to disturb you like this," a quiet voice replied from behind him.
     He spun quickly, to face...
     "The Serpent Road is being used right now, so I chose this place to arrive."
     "Caller Rydia!" he exclaimed. "T-this is most unexpected!"
     "I don't doubt it," she agreed, placing a letter on his desk. Her voice seemed rather strained. "I have... business to attend to, but I have been... asked by my King to ensure that you are updated on certain changes."
     The man picked up the letter. "I will see to this immediately. I understand if you are busy, but will you not stay a day or two?"
     "I have much to do. But I would... like to talk with a few of your people."
     "I will have them notified immediately. Who do you wish to talk with?"
     For an answer, Rydia placed a slip of paper on his desk. "These people."
     The man looked the list over. "I will send for them immediately."
     "Tell them... to meet me in the third conference room. I don't expect to be long."
     "As you wish. Where have you come from?"
     "My home."
     The man's jaw dropped momentarily. A teleportation spell from the Lower World, from the Land of the Summoned Monsters, by one person... "Y-you... must be quite tired," he ventured. "If you would like to rest-"
     "I'm quite alright," she interrupted. "Just contact those people. I will take a little walk around the town."
     "Make yourself at home."
     "Thank-you," Rydia replied, her form quietly beginning to glow. A moment later, she faded from view, the air quietly brushing the man's face as it filled the void that had been left in her wake.
     The man shook his head. The town would be in a mild uproar before long, he knew. Rydia's legacy was well known among
Mysidia. If not for the raw power and extreme skill she possessed, then it was for her prowess of the near-lost Summoning Arts. Earlier on, many over-eager magicians had claimed to have the necessary skill to be taught by her, but she had refused, angrily stating that she'd sooner die than require her home to put up with the likes of them. It was generally considered a taboo subject these days.
     Using a thin blade of magic, he opened the top of the letter, pulling out the single sheet of paper. The contents of it were brief and to the point.
     The man's eyes widened as he read the letter. "By The Crystals themselves! After all these years..."
     The next sound heard was that of the man running out the door.

     Mysidia was testament to tradition and the upholding of it. Legend claimed that the layout of the village hadn't changed in over four centuries, which was entirely possible. Despite that, everything was in immaculate condition. Legend claimed that this was due to the constant cleaning and upkeep done by apprentices who got out of hand.
     Nevertheless, the buildings had a stuffy air to Rydia as she slowly walked through the outer limits. Outside was much nicer, perhaps on account of the lack of adults. Children would play at games, many involving very basic magic, but it was all done for
innocent reasons. No fighting, no healing, no competition. Magic was such an integral part of their lives that, even at their young
ages, they would feel its absence immediately.
     Once upon a time, she had been in their shoes, she remembered. Her mother, teaching her how to call upon her chocobo friend. Her father teaching her how to heal the minor cuts and scrapes she and her friends always incurred during the romps through the woods nearby. Despite knowing that most people in the world didn't know how to do magic, she had never considered her magic anything special.
     Then Cecil and Kain had come along, bringing about first the death of her mother, followed by the destruction of her village. She could still remember standing over the fallen body of her mother, the two warriors looking at her and whispering between
themselves. She had only been a kid then. Cecil and Kain, behind their dark armor and masks, weapons at the ready, both had been more than a little intimidating. She had seen them argue between themselves, then finally Cecil had knelt down, telling her to come with them...
     Rydia shook her head to clear it. That had been a long time ago. By the time she had been able to bring herself to believe that Cecil was sincere, she had been completely devoid of life. With Cecil as the only person she had been able to trust, traveling with him had seemed her only option. She had been able to relate to his concern for his girlfriend Rosa. He had seemed like a genuine person to her young mind. Upon meeting him later on, he had seemed just as real to her grown-up mind.
     And she was expected to judge now? She wasn't naive enough to think she could avoid the issue. Cecil and Kain were clearly at the center of the issue. She would have to talk with them sooner or later, she suspected. It wasn't a prospect she was looking forward to.
     "It's Caller Rydia!"
     Rydia pushed away her more depressing thoughts in favor of the more cheerful ones approaching her now. Several children were running towards her now. She knelt down to meet them at eye level. "Hello," she greeted cheerfully.
     "You been gone a long time!"
     "Well, I've been traveling all over the world, you know."
     "Where did ya go this time?"
     "Well, I just left my home village."
     "Can we see Miss Berri?"
     Rydia smiled faintly at the memory of last time she had summoned Berri into the middle of the village. The kids had
absolutely been thrilled, while some women had actually fainted at the sight of seeing the giant monster. Some damage control had  been necessary to keep the mages from attacking the newcomer. It had been funny, really.
     Rydia sobered up, remembering her last conversation with Berri... "I'm afraid Berri is busy these days. Maybe another time."
     "That's okay. Can you show us a magic trick?"
     "Well... I guess so. Stand still for a moment."
     Rydia had to smile at their eagerness as she brought her hands together, concentrating magical energy for the spell. Some of the experienced mages in the village would have killed to learn a technique like this...
     A brief glow of white settled over the children, then faded away, leaving them looking confused.
     "Take a step," Rydia invited.
     They obeyed, still looking uncertain as to what had happened.
     They caught on quickly when the first kid 'accidentally' jumped six feet into the air.
     "What did you do?"
     "This is what it was like on the second Moon," Rydia explained. "Everything is very light, so you can jump very high and far. But on Earth, you're the only thing that's light, so you can do neat tricks like... " She gestured at herself, surrounding herself with the same glow.
     A deft leap carried her out over the river that ran through the village.
     The kids watched spellbound as she settled down gently on the surface of the water, her feet only making ripples as she stood on the water without effort.
     "You see?" she laughed. "You can do it too. You're so light that you can even float on water like this!"
     By this time, the sight of children bouncing around and jumping ten feet in the air had drawn some considerable attention, mainly from the mothers of the children.
     "What do you think you're doing?" one demanded.
     Rydia casually walked across the water to meet with the mother. "Just letting them have a little fun."
     "They could drown!"
     "They weigh too little to drown. I'll take the spell off once they're on dry ground again, don't worry."
     "Hmph. If you had children of your own, you'd understand."
     "Hey! If you ever were a kid, you'd understand, you old biddy," a voice pointed out from behind the irate mother.
     Rydia groaned inwardly, even if she did agree with the point.
     "Hey, Rydia-baby! What's up?"
     "My spirits, until you came around," she muttered.
     The mother had since run off after her child, leaving Rydia to deal with her detractor. "What are you doing here, Edge?" she
demanded. Honestly, she had the worst luck when it came to avoiding him.
     "Just wandering the world over, Rydia-baby. And you know you can call me Edgar."
     "That'll be the same day you start calling me by my name."
     The ninja prince grinned hugely. He only wore half his combat clothing now, with some more civilian clothing overtop. His black hair was a little longer than it had been, but in least one think the trend was towards normality, he had streaked it with a heavy dose of blond. Two short swords were strapped to his back, offering a casual reminder of his decidedly potent ninja skills.
     "You sound like you're not happy to see me!" he complained.
     "I'm not," she retorted. "Look, I'm really busy these days, alright? I've got a lot to deal with, and I don't really need you
around. Is that clear enough for you?" Not that it had been clear enough last time...
     "But what better way to solve your problems than to share them with a friend?"
     "I'll let you know when I see one. Now would you please go?"
     "You sure, Ambassador Rydia?"
     She glared at him. "How did you find out?!"
     "Aw, come on! Some ol' geezer is running around like a chicken with its head cut off, telling everyone to kiss the ground you walk on, cuz you're the new Ambassador for the Summoned Monsters. So what gives? Not you don't deserve it or anything."
     Rydia threw up her hands up in despair. "I don't know, alright? Yes, I accepted the position. I didn't know it turned me into some sort of goddess or something!"
     "Yeah, I've never heard of the position either. Of course, my parents always did the work before."
     "And you sure don't do any now!!!"
     "I'm still young! I've got to see the world before I settle down!"
     Rydia's eyebrow narrowed. "You've already seen the world! Why don't you grow up?"
     Edge was completely heedless of her ire, draping a friendly arm over her shoulder. "Come on, don't be so harsh. So you've got a high position now. I'll show you how to manage it, no problem! I've got experience, don't I?"
     Rydia shoved him back a step. "The only thing you've got experience in is slacking off and avoiding work! I took this position knowing that it would involve some hard work, and I plan to get it done! Now why don't you just go back to Eblan and make yourself useful? The last time I was around there, I saw a lot of hard-working people trying to rebuild their castle. Someone as smart and capable as you should be able to make yourself useful there!"
     Edge sighed. "But a prince isn't supposed to do physical labor. So right now, I'm establishing diplomatic relations with the Land of the Summoned Monsters, see?"
     "And doing a poor job of it! So get lost before I toss you out of this village myself!"
     Edge sobered up slightly. Rydia's threats were extremely few, but she'd never made an idle one yet. Not against him, anyway. "Gotcha. But you want any help, just ask me, okay?"
     "I can manage just fine on my own!"
     "I dunno. You look pretty stressed out already-ACK!!!"
     Edge was suddenly victim of the exact opposite spell that had been bestowed upon the children. His entire body's weight was suddenly magnified vastly, causing him to sink to his knees immediately.
     "Aw, come on, Rydia-baby-" the weight increased further, "-URGH!!!"
     Rydia ignored his pleas, pausing only to disable the float spell she had given to the children, prompting some cries of dismay.
They had been having fun with their newly found freedom.
     Rydia wished that she could have fun too. But no, she had her duties as ambassador. And a really annoying, irresponsible prince that refused to ignore her demands for peace and quiet to the point where he was an embarrassment to his entire kingdom.
     Yes, her mood had sunk just about as low as it could possibly get, she decided.

     Just under an hour later, she was in a small room, a number of people facing her expectantly. She surveyed their expressions with a small amount of distaste. The older mages were looking at her with expressions that hinted of awe. Even fear, she thought. The younger also wore similar expressions.
     Obviously, one hour had been plenty of time for everyone to learn of her new rank, she decided sadly.
     "I suppose you're all wondering why I asked to talk with you today," she began slowly.
     "It's not our place to question you," one of the older men began.
     Rydia cut him off. "I haven't decided on the exact reason myself. That's why I wanted to talk with you all. You all have something in common. About one year ago, Cecil, a Dark Knight of Baron came to this village. You all had contact with him at one point. I want to know your honest impressions of him at the time."
     The reactions were somewhat varied. The older men began to look rather scared, while the younger simply looked worried.
     "Is Cecil in trouble-" one of the kids began, before an elder shushed him, whispered some harsh words about when and when not to speak.
     Palom, Rydia recalled. One of the twins who had accompanied Cecil. Quite talented, if something of a trouble-maker. "No, he's not in trouble." At least Rydia sincerely hoped not. "But it is important that you tell me of your impressions of him."
     "Cecil looked a wreck!" Palom spoke up again. "You shoulda-"
     The elder shushed him again, whispered some even harsher words.
     Rydia had had enough. "Elder... is there some problem?"
     The elder paled under her glare. "Please, ignore the child,  Ambassador. He is-"
     "Doing exactly what I asked him to," she interrupted. "Is there some reason you don't want him to?"
     "Now what were you saying, Palom?" Rydia invited with a smile.
     Palom briefly stuck his tongue out at the elder before continuing. "Cecil was a real mess when he came here. We all knew
him, cuz he stole our crystal before. He said he was real sorry, and wanted to fight Baron. Elder said that he couldn't fight Baron with his evil sword. So our elder had me and my sister go with him to keep an eye on him."
     Rydia nodded. "And when you and Porom were with him, how did he seem?"
     "Uh... I dunno."
     Porom put her hand up. "He seemed very sad most of the time."
     "Did he ever say why?"
     "We asked him once and he said that us kids couldn't understand."
     One of the elder put his hand up. When prompted, "I believe his greatest concern was for his lady, now Queen Rosa."
     That would make sense, Rydia admitted. "Was that the only reason?"
     "If he had another reason, he did not tell us."
     "What about the rest of you. Anything you remember about seeing him, no matter how insignificant. It is extremely important."

     Half an hour later, Rydia was only slightly wiser and a great deal more frustrated as she left the building to think on her own. The biggest problem was that Cecil was a heartfelt subject in Mysidia. The vast majority were possibly convinced that he should be ruling the world, not the just Baron. While Rydia didn't begrudge their attitudes - he deserved every ounce of praise - it made getting a real answer out of them hopeless. Everybody had seemingly gotten the idea that Cecil was in some sort of trouble with the Village of Summoned Monsters. While that was a distinct possibility right now, it was more than enough incentive for them all to give glowing character reports on his behalf. The two kids had given the most honest answers, but all they had been able to provide was that Cecil had seemed very sad the whole time, but extremely protective of the two twins while he was with them.
     This village was next to no help at all, in other words.
     "Hey, Rydia-baby!"
     Rydia spun around, drawing her arm back.
     Edge stepped back out of range hastily. "Whoa, easy there! Just wanted to talk!"
     "Well, maybe I DON'T!!!"
     "So, sounds like Cecil's a pretty nice guy, huh?"
     Rydia glared at him wordlessly for a moment.
     "Alright, alright, I eavesdropped on the conversation. I'm a ninja, remember?"
     "It was none of your business, Edge!"
     "Well, alright, but I think I can solve your problem."
     "I don't need your help."
     "You should talk with Kain."
     "I didn't ask you."
     "Any money says he's the guilty one."
     Rydia glared at him. "Are you listening to a word that I'm saying?"
     "What? You want me to start bowing and scraping to you too?"
     That hurt, Rydia had to admit. She'd been getting more than little irritated by that from everyone else. But this was Edge. The biggest idiot she'd ever had to deal with before. "All I want is for you not to interfere, is that too much to ask?"
     "You gotta hear me out then," Edge persisted. "Just give me one chance to explain everything."
     "Alright. One chance."
     "Great! Knew you'd see it my way. Now as I was saying, I betcha Kain's the guilty one. From what I understand, he and Cecil brought that box to your village, right?"
     "That's right."
     "And after you lost your temper, Kain disappeared."
     "That's right."
     "Only to show up again on the bad guy's side and beat up Cecil."
     Rydia nodded cautiously. "But he was being controlled by Golbez."
     "Was he? Kain got controlled a few times, didn't he? How do we know that he was ever controlled at all? Maybe it was just an act the whole time?"
     "Maybe. But that's a pretty big leap."
     "Well, look at Cecil. Sure, the guy's kinda stiff-necked about all the knightly stuff, but he's a good guy, right? If he was bad, he woulda killed you right away, right? But he protected you. Lots of times."
     Rydia bit her tongue. What Edge was saying did make sense... "You're just looking a reason to make him look guilty," she replied. "You've never liked him."
     "And I don't have a reason? I don't like him because of what I just told you! Just talk with him and make up your own mind!"
     "I don't even know where he is right now. No one does."
     Edge coughed. "Well... actually..."
     Rydia cursed the heavens for creating the idiot who stood before her. "You know where he is, don't you?"
     "I've been traveling all over the world, Rydia-baby. A charming guy like me gets information easy!"
     Deciding not to bother about the ‘charming' part, she sighed. "So where is he?"
     "Why do you want to know? I thought he wasn't guilty?"
     "I want to talk with him, that's all. I'll decide for myself."
     "I'll show you the way."
     "Forget it! I don't need you interfering!"
     "I won't interfere. But you gotta let me come along."
     "Tell me where it is and I'll let you come along. I don't need you leading me on some huge out of the way trip!"
     Edge looked thoughtful. "Promise?"
     "I'll let you follow me," she agreed reluctantly. "I promise."
     "Great. I knew you could be reasonable. Well, he's training at Mt. Ordeals, last I heard."
     Rydia smiled. "Thank-you, Edge. Now go ahead and follow me if you want."
     Edge's face registered dismay as he understood. "Hey! That's not fair!"
     He lunged forwards, trying to tackle Rydia. Unfortunately, by the time he reached her, she had already faded into thin air,
courtesy of a teleportation spell.
     He let out a few curses. Honestly, what a perversely annoying girl! Lying to him like that... His face took on a giddy smile. Then again, wasn't that what he liked best about her?
     A fast sprint, and he was at the chocobo stable.
     "I need a fast bird now," he ordered.
     "Our fastest bird will cost you 500 pieces of gold..."
     Edge slapped down the money. One of the advantages of being a prince. "I'm outta here. Where's the bird?"

     A brief glow of white illuminated the dark forest, causing the nearby animals to scatter quickly, turning to look only after they
had found some suitable cover for hiding behind.
     In place of the glowing light, Rydia's form quietly materialized. Looking around briefly, she smiled thinly. Good. She had barely gotten the spell off in time. Had Edge managed to grab her, he probably would have been dragged along with her, and then she'd have to put up with the idiot while she looked for Kain.
     But since he was nowhere to be seen, that meant she would have some peace and quiet to think by herself.
     She was at the foot of Mt. Ordeals now, the peak of the mountain falling just short of piercing the clouds to the North. An
hour's walk would place her at the foot of the mountain, but she was in no hurry. She was finally beginning to feel the effects of
doing so much teleportation  in one day. Traveling from the Village of Summoned Monsters all the way to Mysidia, while within her capabilities, still required a fantastic amount of power. A night's sleep would restore her and still give her plenty of time to find Kain somewhere on the mountain.
     And this place looked as good as any to catch that sleep, she decided. Putting her hands together, she brought together a
concentrated burst of magic that irradiated the near surroundings. A simple spell to keep wild animals away, but necessary when traveling alone. It wouldn't hurt them, merely make them uncomfortable if they approached her.
     Laying her cloak down on the ground, she sat down cross-legged. With no immediate concerns in front of her until tomorrow, now was as good a time as any to talk with a friend.
     Once again bringing her magic to bear, she focused it into a small orb of power in front of her. Gradually, it began to spread out into a glowing white ring.
     "Berri?" Rydia whispered.
     A few moments silence. Then, *Yes, Ambassador?*
     Rydia swallowed. "Are you busy right now?"
     *Of course not. What is your command?*
     "I'm serious. Are you busy right now?"
     *That is irrelevant-*
     Rydia cut her friend off. "Well, it's relevant to ME!"
     In a slightly more subdued tone of voice. *No, I am not busy.*
     In a slightly more apologetic tone of voice. "Sorry. I didn't mean to snap, Berri. I was wondering if you'd mind talking a little?"
     *That is...* the voice trailed off. *If it would help.*
     Rydia smiled weakly. "Come on over then."
     The glowing ring of magic before her gradually faded away, leaving a bulky shape in its place. In the dim light, Berri's distinctly other-worldly features were more than recognizable.
     "How are you?"
     Rydia shrugged. "Okay, I guess. Just... doing my job, I suppose. I'm surprised you all managed to avoid talking about this
for the fifteen years I grew up with you."
     The seven-foot tall monster sat on the ground in front of her, scales and spines rattling quietly with the motion. "It was an
unpleasant topic, Ambassador."
     "Call me Rydia. Please."
     "If that is what-" the monster trailed off upon perceiving the acid look being sent her way. "I... do not think that I understand."
     Rydia sighed. "When Leviathan gave me this position, I thought... that it just meant you all were willing to trust me with
more responsibility. I didn't... think that it meant nobody was allowed to be friends with me anymore."
     "That is not true-"
     "Well, it's how you're all acting! I was just in Mysidia and Edge is right for once in his life: They're kissing the ground I walk on like they're scared of me! Do you understand me? SCARED! Those old men who have studied magic all their life are scared of someone who's only twenty-one years old!"
     Rydia sighed, calming down slightly. "Why, Berri? I want to know why. I'm some sort of untouchable now and I haven't a clue why that is."
     "It is an... ancient reason."
     "I can let you stay here all night," Rydia replied. "Please?"
     "Then... perhaps you should prepare to do so."
     Rydia shifted her weight around to a more comfortable position and prepared to listen.

     Several hours later, the two were still in their respective positions.
     "Regrettably, Percival was killed during the destruction of Myst Village."
     Rydia's eyes were still riveted on her friend. "I... remember Percival. He was gone a lot of the time, but I didn't know..."
     "He was a good man," Berri said with a hint of regret. "It is unfortunate that he was home at the time of the fire."
     "Right... unfortunate. And I suppose he was the last Ambassador before me."
     Berri silently gave what passed for a nod.
     Rydia finally blew up. "How the HELL can you expect me to do things like THAT!?!"
     Berri shrank back a little, uncertain how to reply.
     "How heartless do you all think I am!?!" Rydia demanded, now on her feet. "Of course I want to help the village. But... do you expect me to slaughter a whole village like Maria did? Or maybe kill some of my own people like Jacob did? Is that the kind of heartless bitch you all think I am!"
     Rydia took a deep breath. "It's no wonder they were scared of me in Mysidia! They're probably still telling the story of how Angeline set the whole village on fire over four hundred years ago! No wonder they think I've got it out for Cecil! They're probably also telling the story of how the Dwarf Kings got their heads chopped off over some territory disputes nine hundred years ago!"
     "You do not agree with those courses of action?" Berri inquired.
     That sobered Rydia up. "I... well... maybe... they did what they had to do. But..."
     "But it did not make it pleasant or desirable?"
     "It's not about that! I didn't expect this job to be easy or pleasant. But to do things like... they did! What do you think about
them? You were around for all this, weren't you?"
     "I was. The dispute with the Dwarf Kings was on account of their desire to conduct mining operations around the gateway to our village. They had been repeatedly warned beforehand and in reply, they attempted to kill the current Ambassador. Only then did he kill them in return.
     "Angeline burned Mysidia on account of their attempt to use magic to capture Summoned Monsters against their will. Her intent was only to kill those in charge, the burning merely a reminder for the population not to trifle with things that they shouldn't."
     Rydia sighed, feeling some of the anger leave her. "I... guess they did what they had to do. But... I don't like the idea of killing someone."
     "Nor do I."
     "I've never asked you to before."
     "I have been asked to in the past."
     "Did you?"
     "I did."
     "But that was someone else to who asked you to."
     "Many humans find my appearance frightening. But if they are not scared and they still fight..."
     Rydia lowered her head. She'd done that before, letting Berri scare off an attacker. What if the attackers had attacked... "I'm sorry, Berri. I guess I never thought of things that way."
     "You are not at fault."
     "Yes, I am. I don't have a clue what I'm getting into right now. I should have had this talk before I ever left. But I was too scared."
     "One ambassador told me that fear was not wrong, only letting it dictate your actions."
     "And I let it dictate my actions before."
     "Then you should make every effort to resist the temptation from now on."
     "I still don't feel like I know much, Berri. At least I know why everyone's afraid of me."
     "They do not fear you with reason," Berri offered. "They judge you based only on your predecessors. Any monster would know that you are a kind individual."
     Rydia smiled thinly. "Thanks, Berri. But what happens when I have to do something like that? The way things stand, I might have to kill one or both of two of my friends."
     "If they are the ones who destroyed your village then they are not your friends, are they?"
     Rydia shook her head. "I don't know, Berri. Maybe it was an accident. Cecil always seemed really... sad over what had happened. He actually fought off a group of soldiers in my defense afterwards."
     "Then the other... he would be the individual named Kain?"
     Rydia shrugged. "I don't know about him. He never was very talkative, but he never actually seemed bad. Well, when he wasn't being controlled by Golbez, that is. I'm looking for him now to talk with him."
     "And what are your intentions?"
     Rydia shrugged. "To find out if he meant to destroy my village."
     "When you know, what will your answer be?"
     Rydia repeated the shrug. "I don't know, Berri. I really don't know."
     "You must remember that we are all behind you. You need only call on us if you need help."
     "So what are your thoughts on all this, Berri?" Rydia asked. "And don't give me that line about it not mattering. I want to know what everybody thinks about this business."
     "That... would depend on who you ask. Some wish for vengeance very strongly. Others think that it is better left in the
past. We have decided to let you decide for us."
     "Why do I have to decide? Can't you all make up your mind? Just make a decision and get me to carry out the decision!"
     "So that you do not have to feel guilty about it?"
     "I didn't mean it that way," Rydia protested.
     A moment's hesitation. "If you do not wish to be treated as an ambassador as you seem to say... then you must accept that."
     Rydia sighed. "I... guess you're right. I just don't think I'm trustworthy enough for something like this."
     "It is a large responsibility," her friend agreed slowly. "Perhaps you should talk with his Majesty. He is accustomed to responsibility and would no doubt have some valuable advice. You have been given the assignment, but are surely not expected to carry it out without some assistance from those you represent."
     "Maybe you're right, Berri. Maybe I'll try talking with him. Thanks."
     "It is no hardship. Trying to give you a voice of experience is the least we can do in return for voice of youth you have given us for the past fifteen years."
     Rydia just smiled. "I think I've been getting the better end of the deal so far."
     "When each side thinks so, there is no reason to complain. I will let you rest now. A human once said that no battle could be won without the mind's assistance."
     "I wouldn't call it a battle."
     "We may hope it does not become such," Berri agreed, fading away quietly.
     Rydia sighed. Whether she'd been better off knowing some details of her new position or not was still up for debate. But
regardless of the answer, she did know, and was going to have to accept it.
     It was scary in one sense, Rydia decided. The ambassadors of the past had done a number of extremely violent things. Even if they were justified, that didn't diminish the severity of them. And she knew that she was capable of such things herself. To think of the Summoned Monsters who would respond to her calls and to think of what they might be capable of in a fight. Add in her massive knowledge of Black magic, developed to the point where she was actually capable of using the forbidden Meteo spell. And to round it off, a halfway impressive ability to use White magic. She was dangerous. Extremely so. It was small wonder that she was able to inspire so much fear.
     Somehow, that didn't make the fact any easier to accept.

Chapter 3

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