An Ultimate Quest Chapter 4
The fifteen of them set out on the quest. With that many people, conversation was not a problem at all, especially with Marle, Ayla, Setzer and Edgar, all communicative by nature. Even Barret was cheerful, but he carefully managed his use of &*#$ in front of the ladies.
Everyone else was in a moderately good mood, too. Locke, Celes, Crono and Sabin chatted about fighting techniques, exchanging their experiences. Cyan and Glenn talked about swordsman-ship, using all the thou thy art and hath as they please. Terra and Cloud talked quietly. They are similar in a lot of ways: both had painful past; both are shy and alert all the time. These similarities in character attracted them to each other; they found their conversation pleasant and helpful. In fact, the only ones who arent talking are Magus and Shadow, who looked rather wish to be alone.
As Locke predicted earlier, there is indeed a castle at the center of the forest. The castle is relatively small in size, but very well built and looks sturdy. To Sabins disgust, he found that the castles roof was painted pink.
I know this f*#%ed place wouldnt let me get away with the *^(& pink! He murmured as Edgar step forward to knock on the wooden gate.
Who goes there? Someone inside asks.
Edgar of Figaro, we are here to ask for some directions.
The guard of what? We are not hiring, if you are looking for a job.
No, we are travelers, you idiot! We are lost travelers seeking direction! Sabin boomed.
What was that? The person inside was apparently confused; did you say you are lost trash stinking direction?
Thats it, you &^%* ear, *&^% piece of *&%^#@ $hit! Shut your *&^% mouth and let us in, or Ill bust the *$%# gate and your *&^% @$$ into a thousand *&^% pieces! Barret said without one single stop for breath. Everyone else looks at him, impressed.
Someone inside sighed: Really, Greg, you should consider retirement, or you will get more warm greetings like that.
But Your Majesty, Im not the old man complained as the gate opens up.
Before them stood a man in his late thirties, with a big crown sitting on top of his head. He nodded to his guests solemnly: Please come with me to my royal chamber, we can discuss whatever business you have over there.
They follow the man into a stone chamber. The man sits on the throne, looking very pleased with himself, and waved his guests to sit.
Once they all sit down, the man speaks: Welcome, I am Francis the XXXXV, King of the Enchanted Forest.
Enchanted Forest? Setzer asks in a doubtful tone, It didnt look like enchanted.
The king looks offended: All the forests in the fairy tale land are enchanted! How dare you to insult me like that!
Forgive him, Your Majesty. Edgar said quickly, We are travelers and very ignorant of the rules of this land.
Hum, I see, no offense taken then. Who are you, anyway? He asks Edgar in a hopeful tone, Are you, or any member of your party a royalty?
Im King Edgar of Figaro.
And Im Princess Nadia of Guardia, but please call me Marle.
Excellent, excellent. The king looks very happy; Im honored to have the king and princess of such respectable countries as my guests.
Youve heard of our kingdoms? Marle was surprised.
Well, no. We have 487 kingdoms in this land, who cares which one you come from? As long as you are a royalty, you bring honor to my castle. The king replied honestly.
487 kingdoms? That is a very large number indeed. How do you write the history records then? It must be hard. Celes remarked.
Sabin snorted: No its not! Didnt you ever read fairy tales? They never keep tract of name and time, but always starts with something like once upon a time and in a far away kingdom. These people are very sluggish and have no imagination.
In the sense of historical setting, that is. He quickly added, not want to offend the King of the Enchanted (or rather not enchanted) Forest.
Your Majesty, did you ever heard of a man named Lakefroth? Edgar asks, distracting the kings attention away from Sabin.
Lakefroth the Sorcer? Of course I heard of him. The king frowns, Hes got quiet a repetition here. That man is dangerous to be around, if you ask me.
We are aware of that. Cloud nodded, Can you tell me where he is?
Lakefroths castle is in the swamp area, where the dark forces congregates. The kings tone changes into one that belongs to the corny advisors: From here, go west until you reach the mountain range. Climb over the mountain and continue south, you should reach the swamp in two days. I have to warn you, the way there is not going to be easy.
We are aware of that. Marle smiles at him, Is there anything else about Lakefroth that we should know?
The king thought for a moment, replies: Yes, there is also an interesting rumor going on. People say that he has connections to other worlds, and that he has the power to call forth an army of deceased.
Bingo, we found our man. Locke murmured.
Now that it is certain they are after the same man, the three parties decide to travel together. They accepted the kings offer to stay for the night, but insisted on going the next morning.
The king was disappointed. Judging from his reluctance to wave goodbye to his guests, he probably doesnt have guests that often.
Do you really must go so soon? You know, you are welcome to stay for as long as you like. He told Terra.
She smiles at him: It is very kind of you, your majesty, but we really must get going.
You truly wont consider? He asks desperately, Even if I make you the next sleeping beauty of this castle?
No, thank you, we really have to go. Edgar cut in quickly, and drags Terra out of the castle in a rather rude manner.
This is no way to return the kings hospitality, but Edgar couldnt help himself. The idea of Terra sleeping in this place for a hundred years until some gay prince kiss her just makes him very mad.
No way he is going to let this happen, not in this lifetime, not ever.
Terra, however, is confused by his strange act. Although she is intelligent and observant, she didnt know much about human emotions, and she never imagined that Edgar might have a feeling stronger than friendship toward her.
Edgar, what are you doing? She demanded, Dont you know its rude to walk out on people like that?
We dont have time to fool around! He replied dryly, Just forget about it and lets get going, we dont have that much time to waste.
She followed him, but altogether more confused. She walks closer to Locke and whispered to him: What did Edgar eat for breakfast?
Dont mind him, hes just not used to wake up so early. Locke told her kindly.
Looking at Edgar, he smiled and said in his heart silently: Love potion, Terra. He just drank a whole bottle of love potion for breakfast and is crazy about you. If I know the King of Figaro well enough, Id say he is very much in love with you.
They traveled for a while, then when everyone starts to get hungry, stops along side a river to have lunch.
Celes and Marle volunteers to cook. But judging from Cronos horrified expression, one has to doubt whether Marles dishes are going to be edible. Terra then volunteered to help them, and Setzer tactfully convinced Marle to fetch for water in the river. She cheerfully accepted the mission, and everyone was relieved.
Terra and Celes are both good at cooking in the wild. With help from Locke, they prepared a very nice lunch.
Over the lunch, another fuss between Ayla and Barret took place. The fight was over a piece of roasted pork.
Ayla hungry, Ayla want! She grabs one end of the meat with a determined face.
Barret grabs the other end and is about as determined as Ayla: Men eat more than women, beat it! Sides, arent you girls always concerned about diet and all that &*^% stuff?
What die? Ayla was confused, You take food from Ayla, you die!
Unreasonable ape woman! Barret murmured, still unwilling to give up the juicy pork.
Now that was some comments, coming from a chimpanzee like yourself. Sabin said casually.
Who are you calling a chimpanzee, you simple-minded *&*%$! Barret shout back while held on firmly to the tortured pork.
Enough! For the sake of mine sanity! Cyan yelled, Barret, thou ought be ashamed of thyself! Hath it occur to thou that she is still a lady no matter what guise she takes on? Just give the *&%# meat to her!
Stunned, Barret let go of the meat. No one spoke for a minute, then Marle triumphally declared: Cyan, you know how to curse!
By the end of the day, they found an abandoned cottage to spend the night. Shadow and Magus volunteered to take shifts on nightstand. They are both not fond of company and appreciate the nights sense of loneliness. Edgar wonders briefly who is it that Magus is trying to bring back. Who could be so dear to the aloof magician that he is willing to go through so much to get him/her back?
They ate dinner in silence. There is an aura of uneasiness that all of them sensed, feels almost like the quietness before a huge storm.
Magus gazes into the sky, and murmured: The black wind howls
Creep predictions. Marle whispers to her beau, I hate it when he does that.
I know. Crono nodded, But he is good at making people nervous, just let him enjoy his moments.
Shadow wipes his Ninja Katana with a black piece of silk and said flatly: I go where the wind takes me.
Even death? Magus asks without looking at him.
Doesnt matter. He replied.
Whats what suppose to mean? Will Shadow die? Edgar and the others wondered, but did not dare to ask a question.
In gloomy silence, they called it a night.
After some time, Celes walks out of the cottage silently.
She is tried, but just couldnt get to sleep. The rumor they heard about Lakefroth bothered her very much. She cant help but wondering: Will they be able to bring back all the lost ones they missed? And if they could would Locke bring back Rachel?
She knows how much he loved Rachel, and how he blamed himself for her death. Its very likely Locke would want to bring her back. If Rachel is back what about her?
Locke taught her to trust, to care, to love. If she was to leave him, what will become of her then? She hates to think of herself so dependent on him, yet
Celes, you should get some sleep. A voice said softly behind her.
She turns to see Locke looking at her, his eyes full of trouble and concern.
Celes forced a smile: Im going to in a second. She hesitated, then said in an uncertain voice: Locke, may I ask you something?
Yeah, what is it?
If If you can will you bring Rachel back?
Locke was silent for a moment, then slightly nodded: I guess I would like to , Celes, I wasnt there to protect her, I want to make it up.
Yes, I understand. Celes quickly turns away, afraid that her tears might get out of control, Good night, Locke. She said, went into the cottage before he has a chance to say anything else.
Celes He stood there for a moment, unable to think. He wanted to call her back, to say something but what? What could he say when he is not even sure of his own feelings?
Locke someone called.
He quickly turned around, to see Terra sitting on a branch, looking down at him.
He forced a smile: You heard everything?
Im sorry, didnt mean to eavesdrop. She apologized to him, jumping down to the ground silently. I was here before Celes, didnt want to disturb her. Then you came and you guys started talking, I didnt think itll be I didnt think I should show up like that
Its okay. His smile is more sincere now, and shows concern for her, Terra, its late, you should get some sleep too.
Im alright. I like to sit outside for some time before I go to sleep, developed the habit while I was in Mobliz.
He nodded: Then sit with me, please.
She agreed. For sometime they just sit together on a big rock, taking comfort in each others company.
They are very close friends. In fact, the first person Terra learned to trust after she escaped from Empire is Locke. To Locke, Terra is also the first person he learned to care for after Rachels death.
There are those who may wonder just how trustworthy a thief is, but Terra trusted Locke with her life. Their faith in each other had led them through many dangerous situations.
Their closeness had misled their friends to wonder about their relationship. At one time even Celes suspected them to be in love, may be even now she still has some doubts in mind.
They never bothered to bring up the issue in public. They were never in love, but they have a friendship as strong as love. There is a brother-sister kind of bond between them that can not be broken easily.
At length, Locke speaks: Terra, what do you think I should do?
Locke only you can answer this question. Do you want Rachel back?
I dont know. Honestly, I dont know. He sighed, So much has changed these years, I dont know how I feel anymore.
He looks at Terra: Terra, if you were given a chance to have General Leo back, would you
Terras face turned white and there is pain in her emerald eyes.
Im so sorry, that was very insensitive of me. He immediately apologized.
Terra shakes her head to reassure him: No, dont be sorry, you said nothing wrong. Its just I miss him very much.
She gazed up to the starry sky: He was the one who taught me to learn to love, he comforted me when I was lost, it was because of him I accepted who I am, and learned to be myself. I owe a lot to him. If I have the chance, of course I would want to see him again. Just to tell him face to face, how grateful I am for his support
They were silent for a moment, then Terra spoke again: But its different with you, Locke. Your situation is different from mine, a lot more complicate. I wish there is something I could do, but She sighed in frustration, Oh, Locke, cant you see you are hurting Celes?
I The accusation is so sharp, yet there is nothing he could say to defend himself.
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