A Square Deal Chapter 12
Tora, Tora, Tora
Recap: Well, they have all arrived somewhere, let's review, shall we? Edgar- CT, AD 1000; Sabin & Cyan- CT, AD 600, just leaving; Terra- CT, BC 12000; Celes- FF2, Damcyan; Gaspar, Locke & Nivea- FF2, Toroia; Relm, FF2, Mysidia; Clyde's Party, FF2, ???.
Nivea looked around. Where had those two men gone? She was itching for a guy to talk to, and she didn't even care if it was that old man again. Damn that Zemus! Why did he have to go and get himself killed? The inn that she was in was very crowded, and many of the men smelled of booze. She actually did have her standards.
"Aren't there any decent men hanging around this dump? Dangit, a bunch of drunken slobs and women, and I don't do either," she stopped, while a large, behemoth-like man crossed her path. "OOOWWW!" she yelped; he had stepped on her unshod foot. "Watch where you're going, you whale!" she screamed up at him, rubbing her right foot. The man turned to her, and looked down at her.
"Oho, hello! What do we have here! A frail pretty!" he said to her, his eyes bugging when he caught a glimpse down her loose pajama-shirt. Nivea scowled; not for the look into the forbidden, but his reaction to her scold by coming on to her.
"Leave me alone," she said, trying to brush past his bulk with all of her strength. But he reached out with a hairy arm and caught her.
"You ain't going anywhere, frail. Why don't we go up to my room and boogie?" he said, pulling her more tightly under her arm. Nivea thought that she would throw up from the terrible stench.
"Do we speak the same language here? I said take a bronto-sized hike! Move your mass away from me! I-do-not-like-you!" she enunciated, making sure that he heard her.
His face remained the same; the wild look of raging male hormones were in his bloodshot eyes. Nivea used all of her strength to try to wriggle out from his clammy grasp, without any luck. For once in her life, Nivea was sorry for her overwhelming womanly wiles and charm.
"Hmm... Oh! I have magic you toad! I'll blow you to bits!" she choked out as loud as she could from her tight position.
The huge man bellowed with something that might be called laughter, but sounded more like he had a hairball lodged in his trachea.
"Magic? A little thing like you? The only pretty that has magic like that is that green-haired girl! You look more purple to me," he was dense, Nivea figured out. He would definitely sink fast in water, blubber and all.
So Nivea concentrated her thoughts, trying to take hold of her magic. But she felt different -- like magic itself had been changed. She tried her spell, and it failed!
"What's wrong? I used to be the greatest with the hocus-pocus? What changed everything?" she thought.
So now she was stuck, and he was steadily moving the both of them closer to the hallway where the rooms were. She'd be happy to go if this were any other man, even under the same circumstances. What was she going to do now? There was just one more thing that she could try, and she knew that she had to do it.
"HEEELLLLP MEEEE! RAAAAPPPE!" she cried out, trying to get above the clamor of the crowded inn. "ANYBODEEEE! HELP!" she didn't seem to be attracting much attention. Apparently this was nothing new that went on around here, so it was not of any interest to the others.
She was just about to brace herself for the worst, when the massive man stopped in his slow-but-steady pace. He turned around, so Nivea was not able to see what had stopped him so abruptly, for he was now carrying her with her face facing the direction of his large posterior.
"Hey, whatchoo doing poking my back for? You can have her when I'm done," her captor said to whomever was waylaying him.
"I have no intent of doing anything to that poor woman. Put her down," the other person said. It was another man, with a strong, deep voice. Nivea liked the sound of him already.
"If you don't want her, then leave us alone."
"It seems that she wants no part in your plans, so I think that you should let her go," the mystery man said with a bit more conviction in his voice.
"I ain't letting her go, and you can't make me do anything, so leave me alone!" the fat man croaked.
There was a sound of shoving, then Nivea heard a loud "Smack!" noise, and the giga-man released his grip on her. She scrambled away just in time, for the large, smelly man fell to the ground with a dull thud, and his fat wobbled for a few moments after.
"I told him so. Well, purple, are you ok? I hope that piece of jank didn't hurt you," he said to her.
Nivea looked at the person who had saved her, and was taken aback. He was a hottie! Long brown hair tied in a clip, and a reddish tan that looked good on him. He was a comfortable height, taller than Locke was, but not too tall. His worn clothes told of travel and sun, and he had a clean male musky smell to him. She had hit the jackpot!
"I'm fine, now that you are here," she said smiling.
"Want to join me in the bar? You still look a bit tense, and I think a cool drink could do some good," he said.
"It's my pleasure!" she said, almost jumping for joy. She knew that she would finally score!
He led her by the had back through the crowded lobby into the bar of the inn. Nivea noticed Locke and the old man by the front desk, and they noticed her too, but said nothing. Why was it that people seemed to get used to her quickly? She sat down on a barstool, and he sat next to her. He signaled the bartender for two tonics on ice, then turned to her.
"Well then, I guess we might as well get acquainted. I take it that you do have a name, unless you want me to call you Purple?" he said looking straight at her. She sat for a moment, looking into his shiny brown eyes.
"Hmn? Oh! I'm Nivea, Nivea J. Tag. Do you have a name as well, or should I just call you Angel of the Morning?" she said dreamily, leaning her arm against the bar table and smiling.
"I'm Tora. Glad to meet you, Nivea. What's a girl like you doing in a dump like this, and in such a... um... loose fitting outfit?" he said, coming up short on words, and not caring about the cliche.
"I'm with a couple of people, sorta. And these aren't an outfit, they're my pajamas. I just recently woke up from a nice long nap on the moon to find out that my boyfriend got himself killed. Oh well, I don't know what I saw in Zemus anyway, he was a real chump," she rolled her eyes. She noticed that is dark, supple eyebrows were furrowed.
"You're telling me that you were girlfriend to that maniac who tried to take over the world? And that you are a Lunarian? I don't believe it. You have a good imagination," he said, smiling afterwards.
"No, I'm telling the truth! I'm a Lunar Remian, not a Lunarian! Where did you get that funky name? I know that he tried to take over the world 'cause the old man told me, but he believed my story."
She knew that he still didn't believe her. She whipped out a mirror from her magic bag, which for some reason she still controlled. She figured that something had happened to the Mana Crystals, so magic had been altered somewhat. She checked her face in the mirror, and noticed that her mark was gone.
"Oh, that's what's wrong! I was asleep so long that my mark faded! That's way my magic is on the fritz."
"What are you talking about?" he asked, confused.
"My Mark of the Moon. Lunar Remians had special marks which allowed their special Mana magic to be used. That is a reason why we went -- to tap the power in the moon. We have the power within now, so the moon has lost it's orbit, and will float into oblivion, but all of us who went to the moon have extra powers. Even the Light Eternal's descendants went, but their powers could not be amplified by the moon magic, so they just went to oversee everything. The only problem is, it waxes and wanes with the real moon's cycle, so it's not always so dependable. If I concentrate, I should get the mark back," she explained.
"Uh, ok. I don't know anything about what you said," he replied, shaking his head.
"Fine... Sheesh, go to sleep for a few hundred years and everyone forgets common knowledge. Here I go!"
She sat with her eyes closed for a few moments, and then a shape began to form of her forehead, and soon a shimmery silver crescent moon-shape was there, as clear as day.
"Oh good, it came back, and in the same spot. You know, some other people have them on their noses or cheek. I was lucky to have it in a symmetrical, and otherwise useless spot. It's shiny today -- good for some Moon Mana Magic!" she said, admiring her mark in the mirror. Tora looked at her, amazed.
"You really are from the moon...! We could use you in our cause! You must have some really tight magic!" he said, excitedly. Nivea was happy too, because she was getting somewhere with him. The tonics arrived, and Nivea took a sip.
"Hey, I wanted gin in this!" she yelled at the bartender. "Cause? What cause?" she said, then taking another sip of the sweet water.
"Don't drink alcohol. It lowers your awareness and you might end up with Mr. Whale again," he drolly responded to her first comment. "Anyway, I am the leader of the Brotherhood C.U.P. We are traveling, trying to rally the people of the world to rise up against the Rogues. But people are afraid to stand up to them, or don't see them as any sort of threat," he took a sip of his tonic.
"Who are the Rogues, and why are you fighting them?" Nivea asked.
"They are a gang of outlaws that have been banded together by a mystery leader. No one knows who he is, but he's good at what he does; rabble-rousing, thievery, terrorism and speaking. The Rogues have been attacking people who travel, and now they have begun to attack villages. But they are very powerful, and people aren't as compelled to fight as they were during the Baronian war. I guess that they are just tired of fighting.
My main group and I were in a traveling circus for a while, until we were attacked by the Rogues. We unintentionally insulted them by totally turning away their siege, so they really don't like us now, especially me, cause I injured their second in command badly, and they hold grudges. I don't like them either, so the feeling is mutual," he seemed very serious.
"Anything personal?" she asked. "Besides them trying to kill you and your friends."
"Their leader kidnapped someone very important to me. That's that," his face was stern, then relaxed again. "So do you want to help us?" he asked again.
"Sure! And I think that I know of a couple of guys who will help!" she said.
"Thanks Nivea! Meet me outside tomorrow morning, and we'll get going. We always have to keep an eye out for Rogues."
With that, he gave her a hug, and kissed her on the cheek then hurried out to the dark streets.
"Wow! What a tiger! I didn't even score, but that just made my day! Looocke! Old Maaan!" she called. She ran back to the lobby, and found Locke waiting for her.
"Are you done?" he asked. "I got you a room."
"Oh nevermind about the room! I need to get you and the old man's help so I can get with Tora!!" she said, jumping into Locke's lap as she began to explain what she had in mind.
Celes woke up to a warm bedroom, which was very comfortable. Figaro castle had been cold because it was winter in Figaro, but it seemed to be spring or summer here. She lay between the fluffy covers a bit longer. She wished that Locke were here with her, even if he wasn't in the bed. They had grown attached to each other ever since she rejoined up with the Returners at Thamasa. He was the best boyfriend that she had ever had, and the only fiancee.
Truthfully, she hadn't had that many boyfriends, for she did not have much time for boyfriends growing up as a Magitek Knight-to-be. She was always in training, and though she was around boys all the time, she hardly had time to socialize. She had only gone out with one of her classmates, and that didn't last long because he had graduated to full knight status and went off to fight. Then there was general Leo. While she was a general as well, they had a brief time together, but then decided that it was best to keep their relationship down to comrades.
She didn't get to do what normal teen-ages girls did either, especially fraternize with other girls. She was the only female Magitek officer, besides Terra. But while she went through rigorous training, Terra had been raised under the hand of the Emperor himself. Gestahl had treated her like his own loving daughter, though she was usually being cared for by a nursemaid, but he actually did look upon her as his child. He was also the only one who knew her secret of being half-Esper. Everyone in Vector thought that Terra was just another one of the Magitek experiments, even considering the fact that she was supposedly his daughter. No one knew that Espers really existed at that time, nor would they think Terra to be any sort of half-breed.
The people of Vector knew that the Gestahl would put his own child through the Magitek experiments, because he already had. He had one true son; Kefka. Celes was one of the few people who knew this, for most who did know were now dead. Kefka had been about fifteen when the Empire came upon Esperville, and Gestahl adopted Terra.
Kefka had always been a sadistic boy; he was always the boy to pull the wings off of dragonflies, and chop up rats for fun. He was one of the first humans to undergo Magitek infusion, and it was a terrible procedure. It not only warped his already warped mind, but scarred his body as well, which was why he always wore ridiculous costumes. After that Kefka wasn't the same. He withdrew into his own psychotic world, where he worked on new experiments and magical procedures on his own.
Kefka had lapsed into obscurity until the time of the Returners, where he was promoted to general because of his magic prowess. That was when Celes herself had learned about the life of Kefka, because he had told her about it himself. Kefka had been enamored of her, but she wanted nothing to do with him; he was just too demented for her tastes. ( It was for that reason that Kefka gave her a chance to join him on the floating continent.) It was also then that she finally met Terra.
Before Terra was put on the slave crown, they got along well, Terra being one of her first female friends. But after she had the slave crown placed on her head Terra just didn't talk. She didn't know why Gestahl had let Kefka take control of Terra, and apparently Terra did not know either. It seemed to Celes at that time that it was strange of the Emperor to put his beloved daughter out in battle, but now it made some sense, knowing the truth about Terra.
Celes did not miss her old life one bit, but she did miss old friends like general Leo, and her first boyfriend. She also wondered why Terra had acted like she didn't know Celes when they reunited in the Returners. She ought to ask her next time that she saw her.
Celes then wondered how Terra was doing. She was probably packing her things at Mobilz after announcing the happy news to her friends. She must be having a better time than she was; first being stuck at the End of Time, now she was lost somewhere in time, separated from her friends.
Well -- time to get up, and make sure that that man had not left without her. Celes sat up in bed, looked across the room, and lo, he was standing at her doorway. How long had he been standing there? He had such sad eyes at times, especially when he looked straight at her. They were nice eyes though; green and full of sparkle.
"Good morning, Eddie. Is something the matter?" she said to him. He looked at her, and smiled. He had that melancholy look again, and Celes couldn't help but wonder why he was so sad.
"Good morning, Celes. There's nothing wrong... I was just checking to see if you were alright," he said quickly.
Celes jumped out from the bed, and stretched her arms up to the sky. There was a tall window in the room, and she drew the curtains. The light came in and silhouetted her figure as she looked out the window. She thought about Locke as she looked out to the morning land. She turned around to face Eddie again, but he was gone.
"Strange guy... I'd better see what kind of clothes this place has, since my clothes need to be laundered," she said to herself while picking up the pile of discarded, dust-soiled clothes that she left from the night before. She stuffed them in her pack, and went to the wardrobe by the bed.
"He said that they should be about my size. They're probably some old, moth-eaten rags...." she then opened the door, and taken aback. There were gowns inside fit for a princess, long, lacy and divine. She took one out that had caught her eye. It was sky blue with a satin skirt and pearl buttons. There was a mirror inside, and she held the dress over her figure to guess how it might look. She smiled; she had never allowed herself to wear anything this fancy! But she knew that she would be traveling, so she would need to find something that would not be a shame to ruin. She hung the dress on the wardrobe door and continued to rummage.
Celes found a drawer of undergarments and picked out a pair of panties and a bra, which, to her luck, fit her. If she had been any bigger she would have had to wear her dirty one. She went into the washroom, and found that it had indoor plumbing. Lucky! She found a fluffy towel on a rack behind the door, then set to giving herself a good bath. She ran the hot water, and while she was waiting, noticed a box of bubble bath crystals siting beside the tub. How often she had wanted to try these! She was getting to like this place very quickly.
She dumped a handful of crystals into the running bath water, and soon was in a frothy bubble paradise. She dropped her night gown, and slipped slowly into the hot water.
It felt wonderful! The bubbles tickled her skin. As a Knight, she had never been allowed to have things of luxury such as bubble baths and satin dresses. Nor had she been able to enjoy these things while with Locke, for they were always on the go, raiding tombs and digging treasures. How would Locke react to her succumbing to such weaknesses? She snorted, blowing away a clump of foam.
After administering herself a sufficient scrubbing, she drained the dirty water from the tub, dried and put on the panties and bra. She entered back into the room, and opened the wardrobe again. She looked through all of the outfits, and found three prospective traveling ensembles, but the blue satin dress still caught her full attention. The shimmering skirt looked so smooth and silky... She gave in.
After donning the dress, and buttoning the pearl buttons, she approached the full length mirror that stood next to the wardrobe. She twirled around which made the skirt whiz into the air, and come down around her legs. She then looked at her reflection.
"Its beautiful!" she said to herself, pausing to admire her figure before she continued. "If I had a dress like this, I would go dancing. Yes, in Jidoor with the elite society, and we'd waltz..."
She danced around before the mirror. In her mind she pictured Locke with her. Something looked wrong.
"Hmm, I'd need a guy with class, like Edgar..."
She danced around again, seeing the blond king twirling her by the arm. But then she remembered Terra. Now in her mind she saw Terra dancing with Edgar in the blue dress.
"No, not him either," she snuffed out that idea. "Who has enough class to dance with me in Jidoor?" she thought. She closed her eyes again, and pictured Eddie Dacan with her. He fit the part, and was apparently available. She continued her solo dance.
"I wish that I had done this before, for real, and not in any dream or opera," she said to herself.
"I wish that I had met you years ago," a voice said.
Celes opened here eyes when she heard it, and found that she was dancing with Eddie. She had been so absorbed in her own fancy that she had not felt him touching her hands. They continued dancing. She said nothing, but looked into his green eyes. She could tell that he liked her, but she wasn't sure if that which he was seeing in her was Celes, or someone else. He had said that she did remind him of someone. She loved his eyes, though, so full of expression and a beautiful, lush green. Locke didn't have such eyes. His were squinty and neutral colored.
She broke away quickly, and turned to the wall.
"Why am I seeing so much fault in Locke? I don't need any temptations. I want us to be married as soon as we get home. I don't need any of this on my conscious. I love Locke," she thought, attempting to convince herself of her own point.
"I'm sorry, Celes. It was just that I haven't waltzed since... well, in a long time," he noticed something on the ground and bent over. "Here, you almost stepped on this ribbon." he tied it to her hair clip. "Hmm, doesn't really match. You can keep the dress if you like, because no one wears it anymore, and it fits you in every way..." he said, looking at her admiringly.
"No, I couldn't," she said, taking the ribbon out of her hair. She noticed the snags and dirt on it, yet still held onto it tightly.
"Please do, it couldn't look anywhere as lovely as it does on you if it were on any other woman. My gift."
"Ok... Well, Eddie, I'll get into something more appropriate, and we'll be on our way," she said, changing the subject before this went any further.
"Oh, yeah. I'll let you change now. You can find me out in the hall where I met you last night," he said with a parting glance. As she watched him leave she knew that she had gotten herself into more than she had bargained for.
Celes slipped the dress off, and put it on a hanger. She was about to put it back in the wardrobe, but then she hesitated; this was a gift from him. It would be very rude and ungrateful of her if she left it, for she had said that she would keep it. Anyway, she didn't know if she would ever come across anything that elegant again. So she carefully folded it up, and wrapped it up in another dress so if someone happened to go through her pack, it would not be as likely to be stolen. She then dressed in the outfit which she had already picked out for the trip, threw everything she had back into her pack, and then hurried out into the halls.
She hurried past a man in the corridor, who caught her arm.
"Who are you? What are you doing in this wing of the castle?" he asked her, angrily. "You're a Rogue spy, aren't you!"
Celes jerked her arm away.
"What are you talking about? I'm no spy!"
He tried to seize her again, so she started to run. She collided with Eddie around the corner.
"What's the hurry?" he asked, hold ing her by the shoulders.
"There's a guy out there who said that I was a spy or something! I thought that you had authorization for me to stay here?" she said. She looked around the corner behind her, and saw him coming. "There he is," she pointed.
Eddie peeked his head around to see. When he turned back to her, he cursed under his breath, and did not look at all pleased.
"C'mon, we've got to get out of here," he said, calmly but imperatively. He strode towards the main door in the market hall, towing her by the arm behind him. The other man turned the corner, and spotted Celes and Eddie.
"Come back here, you little harlot! What were you doing in the royal suite! Come back here.....!" his voice faded out as they mixed in with the many groups of people in the market hall. Eddie didn't stop pulling her until they reached the front gate.
"What was that all about? What happened?" Celes pressed him, losing her temper.
"I'm sorry, Celes. I didn't know that he would be around. He's always such a paranoid. He thinks the Rogues are behind everything, but I know better. That's why I had to go and investigate for myself, to find what is killing our land."
"And who is he anyway?" Celes asked, still with a sharp twinge on her voice.
"He's the Chancellor, better known around here as Grayes. He's full of piss and wind -- don't mind him. I'm a friend of the king, but I don't think the Chancellor remembered that, or I forgot to tell him that I am, one of the two..." he said, casually.
They continued on, out the door. While they walked by the guards, Eddie donned a cloak, and suggested that Celes do the same, for it was bound to get hot pretty soon. He pulled the hood down so that his face could not be seen. She was beginning to become very suspicious of him.
When they were a good distance away from the castle, Celes decided that it was alright to talk again.
"Is it just me, or are you being rather vague on a lot of things about yourself. How do you know the king, and why did you sweep out of the castle so fast? We didn't even have time to get sufficient supplies before we rushed out!" she said without pause. He just looked at her wistfully. "And why do you always look at me like that?!" she yelled, losing her temper for a moment.
His only reaction was that he averted his gaze from her slowly.
"Um..." he said, softly blushing.
Celes felt like a real heel. She calmed herself, and softened her expression.
"I'm sorry, Eddie. I'm confused and lost, and I've never been good at keeping my temper. You're a sweet guy, really, but I was just wondering about why you've been acting like this," she said gently and slowly.
Eddie smiled wryly.
"I know that I am being secretive, but I do have my reasons. There are people out there who would seek to stop me if they knew what I was doing... Like Chancellor Grayes. And, well, the way I look at you is because you are very pretty," he said a bit bashfully, "and you remind me of someone -- a lot," he used that same phrase again.
From that uncomfortable situation, they continued on through the sands of the desert. By then the sands were less, and more green grass was popping up all over. Soon, there were trees and hearty shrubs. The change happened very quickly, which was strange.
"See, Celes," he said gesturing to the flourishing landscape, "The land was once green and lush less than three months ago. There have been rains and such, for the weather hasn't changed, yet nothing seems to want to grow anymore. I have songs that help keep this back, but it's not enough, and the land keeps dying steadily," he paused and drew his harp from around his back. Then he began to play an eerie tune, which made Celes' spine tingle. She felt magic energy emitting from the musical vibrations while watching the surrounding vegetation glow, then go into a rapid growth. The growth continued for about six yards, then stopped.
"That's the extent of my song. It only restores a small amount of the nature. Whatever this is doing, it's a strong spell, or a strong creature. Come, Celes, sit. I did bring enough food for the day. Then after that's gone we'll have to scrounge up something. There are lots of fish in the watery pass, so let's hope that we can get there by at least tomorrow afternoon."
He found a shady spot under a large tree, and sat. Celes gazed around the dying landscape, then joined him. He brought out some dried beef and water; the usual type of traveling food. She chewed on her piece for a bit, then put the rest back in her pack in case she got hungry again. She wasn't really that hungry; she just wanted to rest her tired legs.
"You really are a good musician. Some say that I sing well... I was in an opera once," Celes said, breaking the silence.
"Really? Where did you perform? In Baron? I know that I haven't seen you around Damcyan before. What did you sing?"
"No, you wouldn't know the place, and you probably wouldn't know the tune," she said, remembering now that she was not in her own era.
"Why don't you sing me a few stanzas from it. Maybe I know it," he said with a smile.
"Ok, but I haven't sung in a while. I'll probably miss or mix up some lyrics, but the tune is there," she cleared her throat and began.
"Oh my hero, so far away now! Will I ever see your smile?
Our love goes away like night into day, it's just a fading dream...
I'm the darkness, you're the stars, our love is brighter than the sun
For eternity, for me can there be, only you my chosen one.
Must I forget you? Our solemn promise?
Will autumn take the place of spring?
Oh what will I do, I'm lost without you,
Please speak to me once more."
She finished singing, but then heard the sound of a harp. Eddie was playing the rest of the tune! How did he know it??
"Then Maria walks to the roof and dances with an imaginary Ralse, then sings again at the top, throwing the flowers off. On to act two," he said, finishing. "How on earth did you know that opera?" he asked, really looking confused.
"I was told to sing it when I had to cover for someone else at the opera..." she stopped when he shook his head.
"No, I mean, I just wrote that opera a month ago! How could anyone have it now, because I never gave it to anyone, nor did I let anyone look at it. And you claim that you haven't sung it in a while," he stared at her.
"Uh, yeah, I mean..." she knew now that this really was the past, and she had just shown her first sign of the time dispute. She has sung almost two years ago, but from where she was now, the opera was only a month old.
"Looks like I'm not the only one with secrets here. Never mind about the song, Celes. We can just leave things as they are," he said with understanding on his voice.
"Yeah, I guess we're kinda breaking even on that part," she said.
Boy, was she ever glad that he had not inquired fully on what her situation was. This was going to be a long trip....
When Relm and Palom reached Mysidia, it was well into the evening. She wished that she had a watch with her, so she would know how late they were out. She liked Palom so far. He was friendly, a bit too talkative at times, but tolerable.
"Here's the entrance to the town. We should be quiet; everyone's probably asleep," he said to her, as they entered the town limits. "You know, Mysidia used to hold a magical Crystal here. It was something that Mysidians guarded with their lives, just like the Big Whale. I'm really proud to be a Mysidian because of our history as well. We were special to the ancient Lunarians, we were even the keepers of their legends, magic and their kick-ass ship. Are you proud of where you come from?" he asked, finally pausing. His voice was low, but one could still babble while whispering.
Relm really didn't know what Palom was talking about. She figured that she was 'Not in Kansas Anymore' to say the least. Everyone in her world knew about Thamasa and the events of the past year. She decided not to ask him to explain things to her yet.
"Yeah, my heritage is something to be proud of. We were the Mage Warriors back during the War of the Magi. We were people who were on the side of the Espers, and we received magic powers. That's why I can use magic better than normal people," she said, answering his question.
"Uh, I've never heard of Espers and the War of the Magi. You must be from an isolated place," he said thoughtlessly.
"I'll have you know that where I come from everyone knows about the War and Espers. They wrecked the world! Don't you know about Kefka, the Empire? Everyone saw the floating continent!" she looked at him, and he was looking at her like she was a crazy woman.
"It's ok, I still think that you are a nice, cute woman."
Relm felt better now. He called her a woman!
They walked on into the town proper, and found that there had been no reason to speak so quietly; there were people up and about, carrying lanterns, and hollering out names. "Where is he?" "Was it the Rogues?" "I don't want to fight again..." said people here and there.
Palom looked around.
"I guess that they think that someone is lost. Do you think that they could use our help?"
"Sure. I hope it isn't a little kid. I know what it's like to be lost and scared," Relm commented. Palom led Relm through the streets, and they came upon a citizen of Mysidia.
"Hi, would you guys like some help looking?" Palom asked casually. The man was looking off in another direction, shining his lantern into a dark collection of trees and bushes.
"Sure, son. Go and check into that group of dark trees. Be careful, there may be Rogues in there," the man said to him.
"Why can't you?" asked Relm in a slightly rude manner.
"There's two of ya? I'm sorry, I'd go in and look for myself, but as you can see I'm not as young as I used to be, and I left my spectacles back at home. They kind of moved us out here quickly. Seems someone special to the Elder is missing," the man said. Now that the lantern was towards them, they could see that he was an old man, with a long white beard.
"Then I guess that we should look too," Palom said. "I might even know the person, since I am one of the Elder's favorites. Its really cool learning magic under the Elder, except for the fact that he can be a real sour puss sometimes. I mean, he wouldn't let me learn Fire three until I was fourteen, and even then he wouldn't let me go out and find a Rogue to fry. I'm a Mysidian genius, so why should I be afraid of a few mean thieves?" he said to Relm. She was trying to get used to his talkativeness, and he did seem to have a tendency to exaggerate.
"Yes... By the way, who ARE we looking for anyway?" she asked Palom as they were looking through the trees.
"Uhh, I don't really know," they went back to the old man. "Sir, who might we be looking for?" Palom asked politely.
"I thought that they had told everyone? Well, the Elder is distressed that his talented protege, Palom, has been missing. He is afraid that the Rogues have kidnapped or killed him as a threat to the city," the old man said, squinting at them. Relm looked at Palom. Palom smiled and laughed.
"I'm not lost! I'm right here! If you would have had your glasses you would have seen it was me!" Palom thought that it was the funniest thing, and so did Relm. She had been looking for the guy she was already with, and he had been looking for none other than his own self.
The old man's jaw dropped in surprise.
"Oh my! It is you! The Elder is worried sick! Go to the tower, he's waiting for word about you. Go, go!"
"Come on, Relm! You can meet the Elder now!" he took her by the hand and they hurried to the big building at the end of town. There were many people hanging around the town at night, but they took no notice of the two teenagers running through the main street of town. They were more worried about a Rogue ambush, or having to tell the Elder that they found a cadaver instead of his prized pupil.
"I take it that you are special to the Elder," Relm said while they were running.
"Yeah. He's been like a father to me. My real parents were killed during the first Baronian raids when I was just a baby -- but I never knew them that well before anyway. He'll be angry, then soften up after a while. He always does," he said between breaths. Something like this must have happened before, thought Relm.
They reached the building with a tall tower on it. They raced up the stairs, and into the light in the building.
"Elder!!! Elder!" he called out, pulling Relm through another set of doors. Relm felt like she was a trailer and that Palom was the tractor. He pulled her up a last flight of stairs, when he stopped abruptly, and Relm ran into him. He toppled over, and Relm fell down with him. Before them was an old, bald man with a beard, and a girl about Palom's age. Both were staring at Relm and Palom. Relm smiled, and promptly got off of Palom, then helped him up.
The girl smiled brightly.
"Palom! Oh Palom! I was so worried about you! Don't ever do that again," she said. She bolted to him, and threw her arms around him. Relm felt strange when she saw the other girl hug Palom, and she knew what it was. How could she be jealous already? She hardly knew him, and even though he was friendly to her, he was probably just being polite. -Sigh- Why were all of the cute guys taken? It figured that he already had a girlfriend.
"Palom! How many times have I told you to come back on time! Who knows what's out there? I had the whole city looking for you!...." the Elder continued to admonish Palom, until he got to the personal part. "If I ever lost you or Porom again... You know how hard I had to work to accept it when you two turned yourselves to stone! I see you as my own children. You are supposed to outlast me, and at this rate-!" the Elder lowered his gaze. "I'm going to call back all of the people looking for you. Oh, and who is this?" he looked at Relm. She looked at Palom.
He turned to the Elder, then looked at Relm, not remembering the proper thing to do. Porom came up behind him and gave him a bop on the head.
"Remember your etiquette," she told him. As he was rubbing his head, Relm swore that she saw a little light bulb appear over his head.
"OH! Yeah, Elder, meet uhh... You know, I never even asked your name?" he said to her. Porom slapped her forehead at the crudeness of her brother.
"It's ok," said Relm. "I'm Relm Arrowny. I'm the reason why Palom here is so late. I'm sorry to have inconvenienced you all, but actually Palom was very kind to bring me here, my being lost and all," she stated as politely as she possibly could.
"You actually helped someone? And at your own expense?" Porom said, sounding surprised.
"Yeah, she's a really cool person, Elder sir. She can do magic, and she's not Mysidian or Baronian. She said that she's from... Thamasa, and that she's lost from her traveling group, and her family. I want to help her, Elder. May I?" Palom asked, standing up straight. The Elder and Porom stared at Palom, both with incredulous looks on their faces. It seemed to Relm that Palom tended not to take on much responsibility normally.
"I mean it this time. I want to go and help her find her lost friends," he resolved.
The Elder sighed.
"We'll discuss this in the morning. Now, no offense to you Relm, but I need to be sure that you are not a Rogue, even with magic. So hold still, this won't take long."
Relm stood as still as a pine while the Elder cast a mind probe spell. When he finished, he looked at Relm scrutinizingly.
"Is something the matter?" she asked him.
"No, I just have some questions. I know that you are not a Rogue, but something else. Don't worry. I'll ask you in the morning. Porom will take you to a room, and Palom will go to bed right now," the Elder turned to the window, sending out a message spell.
"Hello, Relm. We always have room for guests here, and you are welcome to use the washroom," Porom said with a friendly smile. She led Relm to a room with a large soft bed. Relm realized that she was incredibly tired, so she flopped onto the bed and promptly fell asleep. She dreamt of her dad, Strago, Birdie, Grandpa Roland, and of course, Palom.