Final Fantasy III: The New Returners
By Loren Leah
Marle and Lucca were openly sobbing, and Crono was about to start. Glenn had his head bowed. Robo looked as sad as his facial servomotors would allow, and tears were streaming down Schalas cheeks.
Ayla was gone.
Lucca had already gone to the End of Time to check with Gaspar; he had told her that even if hed had a spare Time Egg, it wouldnt have helped. Not when Ayla had been killed in another dimension.
It was still hard to believe.
Marle stopped crying. Well, she said, and sighed. It still didnt seem right to speak, but she had to. What are we going to tell Kino and the Ioka villagers? Without even a body?
I dont know, said Lucca. She was still crying. I really dont want to think about it.
Marle sighed dismally. I was afraid of that.
* * *
Magus trekked through the lush jungles of prehistory back in his own dimension, with Terra close behind him. He hacked a path through the undergrowth with his scythe.
Boy, is this ever creepy, said Terra. Magus didnt hear her for all the noise he was making. She hated him sometimes. He always seemed to be off in his own little world...
If he is in his own little world, Terra thought, and he likes it that much, I sure wish I could be in there with him.
She nearly ran into Magus as he abruptly stopped. She walked around to stand beside him, and drawing the Atma Weapon, she surveyed the clearing they had reached.
It was dark like dusk, even though the sun of 65,000,000 B.C. was still shining brightly. The whole area was barren, except for a stunted tree in the very middle. Its leaves were jet black, and the berries it bore were an astonishingly bright white. They seemed almost to be glowing.
Magus drew his cape in front of himself for a split second, then tossed it aside. The Demon Tree, he said grimly.
The wha-- she began, but he silenced her with a look. Shhhh... Youll attract monsters, he whispered.
Terra snorted. It was an unladylike thing to do, but it did express her feelings on the situation.
Then there was Maguss voice, in her mind. _Do you really want to get me killed!?_ he asked her. _This takes the utmost concentration to do, and I cant defend myself and focus at the same time!_
Terra looked a bit sheepish. Okay, she whispered to him as softly as she could, but if it comes to that, I could protect you.
He rolled his eyes and looked as if he would say something more, but did not. His eyes turned toward the Demon Tree.
_Heres what well do,_ he told her. _Ill be over here, so dont pay any attention to me. Watch the tree. When you see a flash of green all around, go for it. There will probably be monsters, but dont hesitate to get rid of them. Well, here goes..._ He settled down into a comfortable position.
Terra watched the Tree closely, and it wasnt long before she saw a flash of bright green, reminiscent of the Shell spell. She made a mad dash for the Demon Tree.
Magus began to sweat. Keeping the Trees shield down was going to be harder than hed thought... But he had to. For Terras sake.
Terra slashed all manner of monsters in half as she got to the tree, dodging left and right to avoid their blows. A large lizard-creature slammed into her, knocking her to the ground, but she quickly got to her feet and kept running. Finally she reached her target. She grabbed two of the bright berries, and two of the leaves. Then she.......flew back!!? She was flying across the clearing!
Just as she got out of the shields range, she saw another flash of green and knew that it was up again. Boy, was that close, she thought to herself.
She made a gentle landing just in front of Magus, who was still getting up. He looked up at her and looked quite astonished.
What? she demanded. She blushed a little. Sorry if Im a little cross. Thanks for levitating me here.
What do you mean? he said, staring at her in astonishment. I couldnt have, I was too busy... And besides, I couldnt do that! He pointed at her.
Terra looked down. Her skin had been replaced by short, soft white fur, and her fingers now ended in pearly claws. She felt her hair, and there was a lot more of it than there was supposed to be. It was extra long, pearly white, and sticking out in all directions. Her entire body was glowing a faint pink.
She blushed again. Oh, I morphed without even thinking about it...
He still looked perplexed. But I thought you couldnt use magic any more.
She shook her head, trying to get her thoughts straight. Maybe... she said, and stopped to think about what she was going to say. Maybe its because were in your world!
Of course! he said. I suppose I should have thought of that before. Somehow...
He didnt finish his thought, and she was too preoccupied to ask him to. She turned to a small bush nearby, gathered all her concentration, and shouted, Fire 3! A fiery comet streaked down from the sky and burnt the bush to cinders.
Wow, it worked! All my magic must work here! she said, supremely satisfied.
Magus scowled, but underneath he was slightly amused. Weve got what we need, he said. Im afraid well have to leave your powers behind when we go back to Vehs.
She sighed. She felt empty without her magic. Okay, she said. But lets at least fly out of here. Id like to enjoy my powers while I can.
He smiled and nodded.
* * *
Lucca got up from her seat in the library. She walked over to Marle, who had her nose tucked in a book titled Seiken Densetsu: Legend of the Holy Sword. Crono was sitting beside her, pretending to read a book titled Broken. But he was really more concerned with Marle. He looked up at Lucca.
Read this, he said as he handed it to Lucca. From what I can tell its pretty good, although I didnt really pay much attention to what it was about.
Lucca thumbed through it. How weird, she said. This story is about us!!
It is? said Crono. Wow, I was paying less attention than I thought.
Both of them looked over to Marle. She hadnt so much as looked up during the whole conversation. Marle? said Crono. Cmon, Marle! Snap out of it! Shes gone, and moping around wont help! Weve got stuff to do!
Marle got up and slammed the book shut. Tears were streaming down her cheeks. You dont care! she screamed at him. Ayla was one of our best friends, and the second you found out she was gone you were ready to forget about the whole thing! Well, I wont forget, Crono!! I saw what happened, and I WONT FORGET!! She broke down sobbing.
Crono just stood there gaping at her, astonished by the whole ordeal.
Lucca knelt down beside Marle. Marle... she whispered.
Go away. Marle didnt even look up.
Cmon Marle, Cronos leaving... I just need to have a word with you...
Oh, all right... Marle sighed.
Lucca got comfortable beside her. You know, she said, just because Crono isnt acting exactly like you doesnt mean that he doesnt miss Ayla. She took Marles hand and squeezed it a little. Some people deal with pain differently than others. For Crono, I guess its just easier not to think about it. But that doesnt mean that he cares for Ayla any less.
Marle was crying a little less. I... I guess I never really thought of it that way, she said. Thanks...Lucca. You know, youd make a pretty good psychiatrist.
Lucca got up and pulled Marle with her. Dont I know it, she said with a grin. Now, how about we go get something to eat?
Sounds great, said Marle, wiping her tears away and grabbing her book.
* * *
They spent the evening soaring across the tropical plains, and returned to Ioka by nightfall. The villagers were happy to put them up for the night.
Terra yawned and stretched luxuriously on the bearskin sofa where she lay. What a day... Im exhausted. I forgot how much flying takes out of me... She stopped to stretch again.
I have to agree, said Magus, who was sitting beside her. Although Im not prone to stretching.
Terra blushed a bit, but she did finish her stretch.
The two of them just sat there for a while.
Terra couldnt stand the silence. Ummm... Im wearing those earrings you gave me. She moved some hair away from her ears so he could see.
He smiled. They look good on you.
She smiled back. Thats what I thought. So, has this love thing gotten any easier?
He rolled his eyes. I see you read the note. She nodded. Well, I--
They were interrupted by Kino. Come on, he said, all party!!
* * *
Schala had come along with Crono and Lucca to give the bad news to Ioka, but she also had a more important job.
Today was the day to remind her brother of the Prophecy.
She walked behind Lucca through the darkened jungle, Final Fantasy tucked under one arm. Lucca and Crono went to the chiefs hut, while she went to the guest hut.
Magus and Terra were there, sleeping on piled bearskins. They looked exhausted, and she hated to wake Magus like this, but he had to know. Karadoss had commanded her.
She walked over to his side, knelt down, and whispered in his ear. Janus, she said softly, its me, Schala...
His eyes fluttered open. What... What is it? he asked groggily. She pulled him to his feet.
I need to talk to you, she said. Grab your cloak and come outside. She went outside, and he was there in a few seconds.
What is it? he asked again, now fully alert.
Well... She wasnt quite sure how to start. You know Asgard? And the Final Fantasy?
He nodded. Its the prophecies, isnt it...?
She nodded, her eyes on the ground. I... Im sorry, she said, tears streaming down her cheeks. Its you, Janus... Youre the Last Prince, and the prophecies are happening now. Its time-- she choked up, unable to say anymore. She sobbed quietly.
He, though perplexed, embraced her, and they stood there for a while.
* * *
The next day, everyone was back at Figaro Castle. Schala looked grief-stricken, but she refused to tell anyone why. It irritated Marle very much.
She, Lucca, Magus, Robo, and Glenn stood outside the throne room, waiting for Crono to come out. Glenn was glaring at Magus.
Thou shouldst not come when thy sister is so depressed, he said accusingly. She shall needeth thee, mark mine words.
Magus glared back. This is what she wants me to do, he said. Perhaps someday Ill see fit to explain it to you.
They continued glaring and hurling insults and accusations, and were very close to drawing their weapons when Crono stepped out of the throne room. Schala was close behind him, looking silently in Maguss direction.
Setzers on his way in the Falcon, said Crono. Now we finally get to do what we intended to do all along: go exploring! He pumped a fist in the air, and everyone else followed suit. Lets go get our stuff, and well be outta here!
* * *
Zarok sat on his throne in his brand new underground palace, marveling at how quickly the people hed hired had been able to build the place. It was huge, nearly finished, and right under the town of Tzen.
He got up and strode toward his new laboratory. Being right next to a place where magic had once been strong was quite to his advantage; the residue that the high amount of magic had left behind made conducting experiments all the more easy.
And he was about to attempt another one.
He walked into the gigantic room, greeted Nefan, and roared.
Nefan cringed. Still mad that we didnt get Magus?
No, Im just exceedingly happy. Zarok grinned. Im ready to try that experiment. Are you sure well be able to control the person youve selected?
Nefan nodded. The undead are always easy to break, he said. They leave their will with their living bodies, I suppose.
He cackled. So, should we give our new soldier a new name......or shall we leave it Leo?
* * *
Magus mulled the situation over in his mind, ignoring the fact that he was some twelve thousand feet in the air. He decided that he didnt like it a bit, but he supposed he had no choice.
Voices pulled him out of his wonderings. So where do you think we should go? Crono was asking Setzer. Seeing that you know your way around here...
Magus rolled his eyes. Crono was the only one of the seven who had not studied every geography book on Vehs that he could get his hands on.
He turned to see Marle leaning over the deck. Dont do that! Lucca yelled, pulling her back. Marle grinned. You should try it, she said. The whole world looks like a miniature!
He saw Schala, who was just climbing up onto the deck. Hed been surprised that shed wanted to come, especially at the last minute like this, but he was glad just the same.
Thanks, she said.
No problem. But, I have to ask you... Theres something not right with this prophecy--
She put her hand on his lips to silence him. Its not my place to explain, she said, in a voice filled with...something, he wasnt sure. Youll discover the particulars of all this, in time. For now, enjoy your life... It will be greatly changed, as you well know.
She walked away from him, leaving him wondering what in the world was going on.
* * *
He didnt like the darkness. It was the unknown, something he could never see, something he could go towards but never get any closer. He had thought it was his time to go to the darkness, when Kefka...had...
But he was wrong. Fate, evidently, had another role for him to play in the mortal world.
For now he found himself traveling towards the light. The light of life, and dreams.
He wondered if the world would be anywhere near the same... Great events had transpired since he had left. He wondered if any of his old comrades were still alive--after all, there was no certain way to measure time in the Otherworld.
He closed his eyes and waited for the light to absorb him.
* * *
Funsworth watched as the life monitor went absolutely crazy. Hes waking up!
Zarok howled. Excellent!!
The subject lay strapped to a wide table, a precaution that Zarok had agreed to take only after Nefan had pointed out that he might rebel at first. The subject moaned, and his eyes fluttered open.
Zarok could barely restrain another howl of triumph. Nefan looked as though he were about to break down in depraved laughter.
The subject frowned. Well, what do you know... Lieutenant Zarok.
Zarok grinned at him. Oh please, Leo! Surely its obvious to one of your kind-- he spat the word out with contempt-- that I am not Zarok! That pitiful fool now resides in a tiny corner of this mind!
Leo frowned again. Youre right, of course...I just didnt think to look. La segla, Gouros exttingdovno ggconyilp qwerbuin `yij Galf, and to you, Genach kikkollma duccin tilmmm `yij Nefan.
Nefan glared daggers at Leo. Youve got no business using our language, he said menacingly. Id kill you for it, but we need you.
Your language has been mine as well for something like eight years now, Id estimate.
Zarok growled, silencing both of them. Quit your squabbling, he said as he undid Leos straps. Will you serve me?
Leo stepped to his feet. Well, what do you think?
Zarok grinned. Well, at least youre a reasonable fool...
Actually, Leo said, drawing a sword from nowhere, I was about to say no.
The general was about to swing his sword when he fell to the floor with a thump.
Nefan, standing behind him, folded his arms smugly. Zarok laughed.
Well, thats one way of taking care of it. Now tell me, where did I leave that Slave Crown...?
* * *
Terras head jerked up from her bed in the middle of the night.
What is that? A presence... A person I havent seen since... since...
Her mind conjured up memories of the horribly maimed General Leo; she lay there helpless as Kefka kept slashing, slashing... The blood flowed like water...
But hes-- And I dont have any of my magical powers anymore...
She thought of the time she had just spent with Magus in 65 million B.C., when she had been using her magic.
She just couldnt sleep anymore. She got out of bed, turned on her reading lamp, and went over to the fireplace. The fire had gone out hours ago, and it was starting to get a little chilly. She didnt think she would be comfortable staying up without a fire.
She kept debating it in her mind, deciding... Finally she settled it.
Oh, what the hey? It wont hurt to try, even if I am sure it wont work.
She raised her arms to the fireplace, and chanted a few words. Fire! she finished. She felt a blast of heat, and a roaring fire came up out of nowhere.
It actually WORKED!? she thought with just a hint of disbelief. Had that visit to Maguss dimension somehow...recharged her powers?
She spent the rest of the night reviewing all the spells she had learned before Kefkas defeat.
She couldnt wait to tell everyone.
* * *
Flea sighed as she passed out everyones food orders in the cafeteria.
Something wrong? Sabin asked her as she brought out his favorite, hearty Leafer stew with breadsticks.
Im just bored, she said. No matter how good a cook I may be, its never as exciting as wandering the countryside fighting monsters, or being a general in a war, and all that.
I know what you mean, said Sabin. Im really bored just sitting around this drafty old castle all the time.
Flea looked at Sabin.
Sabin looked at Flea.
Hey... said Flea, why dont we try and catch up to Setzer?
Sabin grinned. Im game.
Flea sat down beside Sabin, snatched one of his breadsticks, and nibbled on it as she talked. Where do ya think he would have taken them?
Hmmm... Knowing Setzer, hell probably take them to that new casino in Jidoor.
Flea smiled. Sounds like him, all right, from what Ive heard. Well, Ill go get the chocobos...you finish that stew!
* * *
Yes, Im serious... And dont leave that look on your face, its ridiculous, Terra said to Edgar, standing beside his throne.
She rolled her eyes. Well, you didnt give me any time to explain, now did you?
Edgar was getting a little impatient. Just tell me already.
Well... She paused. This sounds weird even to me, but I think visiting Maguss world somehow...recharged my magic. Like having a new tributary for a dry river, or something like that. She frowned a little at her bad analogy.
Strange, said Edgar. I wonder if it would do the same thing for all of us?
Terra smiled. Only one way to find out.
* * *
Within two hours, everyone in Figaro Castle knew that magic had returned. Many people set out to distant villages to spread the news.
The castle folk went about their daily chores and duties, all the while gossiping about the magic. Many were strongly against it, and some didnt even believe at all and brushed it off as mere rumor.
But no one could deny that if magic was back, Terra Branford was certainly the most likely person to have it.
Celes sat in the cafeteria, right beside Locke. So, what do you think? Locke asked her. Do you think magic is really back?
I think, said Celes, that after meeting Crono and his friends, Id believe just about anything.
Just then, Terra walked into the cafeteria. Every single person in the room stopped talking. All eyes were on her.
Terra met several stares with her own steady gaze. Then she cleared her throat. You may have heard that magic has returned, and Ive got it, she said. Well...its true. And those of you who knew magic before Kefka can have it back.
All you have to do, she continued, is go into Cronos dimension.
* * *
Setzer landed the Falcon in front of Jidoor. Crono and company filed out, Magus and Glenn still glaring at each other.
Glenn narrowed his eyes at Magus. Cowardly fiend! How DARE thee put such affronts against me!! Thou hast no idea how wrong thine accusations art!!
Magus spat at the knights feet. Oh, really...and Im sure your matching insults against me are perfectly accurate!!! he said, anger adding a distinct edge to his voice.
Crono turned around. Pardon me, but would you two just shut up? he said.
Magus was at his throat in an instant, the blade of his scythe poised just under Cronos jaw. Im in a very bad mood today, so I have a suggestion for you... If you like breathing, I suggest you quit saying such things, he said, his voice a low hiss of rage.
Crono froze, and was about to speak when Schala walked up, pulling her brothers scythe away. Dont, she said simply. I wont put up with this today. Magus snorted, but did not make another move toward Crono. He just walked away, glaring at the young hero.
Crono, wisely, did not pursue the conversation. Cmon, he said, waving his arm toward the town. Lets go.
Setzer rushed out of the airship as they started walking in the direction of Jidoor. Hey, wait for me! he cried, running after them. Come on, I thought I was supposed to be your guide here...!!
* * *
Sabin and Flea rode their chocobos hard, stopping very little. It didnt take long to reach the mountains that were the dividing line between Figaro and Kohlingen territory.
So, wise guy, is there a pass? asked Flea as they neared the mountains.
Sabin steered his chocobo to the right. Itll be a tight squeeze, but yes, theres a pass. Well have to leave the chocobos, though.
Flea nodded. So, where is it?
Sabin pointed to a small grove of trees they were coming up on. It starts in there, he said.
They rode through the forest, ducking low branches and taking in their surroundings. Im pretty proud, I guess, Sabin said as they rode along in an area with little grass. I found this pass myself, on one of my expeditions with Locke and the Figaro guard.
Did you hear something? Flea asked, looking around almost frantically.
Sabin shook his head, but looked around as well. Hmm... he said, looking behind. Come to think of it, something seems to be missing here...
Fleas chocobo reared up, and she recoiled in horror. How about LIVE ANIMALS!!!? she shrieked.
Sabin looked down at the mess that Fleas chocobo had almost stepped into. Eww, he said, looking at the mutilated remains of an animal. It looks like a dead Darkwind--
Flea and Sabin looked up in shock when an inhuman scream reverberated through the forest.
Flea dismounted and walked over to Sabin. She was shaking. I REALLY dont like this... she declared.
Sabin nodded. Well, wed better get to that pass quickly. Flea re-mounted, and the two rode off toward the pass.
* * *
The late Imperial General, Leo, walked down the dimly lit hall behind a demon with a doppelgangers body and the legendary warlord Galf the Black. He would have thought it almost funny, were he still capable of conscious thought.
The three walked on in silence until they reached the huge command chamber. Construction was still going on here, and the sounds of clinking metal implements echoed through the room. Zarok sat down in a large chair at a desk, and picked up a few scattered papers on it. Leo and Nefan waited before him as he studied the papers.
He looked up from his examination and nodded to them. Were all ready, he said. A feral grin spread across his face. Send a few regiments of troops up to Reitepo Peak...well be prepared for them.
Nefan frowned. You know, Im not sure we have that many troops to spare... A lot of people have been reluctant to join our army--
Nefan stopped abruptly as Zarok fixed him with a malevolent stare that would have terrified Kefka himself. Then send as many as we safely can, he said, his soft voice more frightening than any roar would have been.
Leo grabbed Nefans arm and practically dragged him out of the room.
* * *
Just past midnight; Jidoor
Schala was awakened from her slumber by a shake of her shoulders. She opened her eyes to find a black-clothed man standing above her.
He handed her a small note, turned, and was gone.
She read the note.
Galf is on the move. Troops are headed to Reitepo Peak...its time. The other Guard are assembled and ready to go. You and yours are the only ones left. I have taken Quicksilver, and Ill report back to you if theres anything you should know.
Schala frowned. So soon...but that was all right. At least it would be over with...
* * *
The end is near...and the final destiny of the New Returners is at hand...
Final Fantasy III: The New Returners