Terra: Part II Chapter 6
Terra took in a deep breath as she again squeezed Edgars hand. Well, here it goes.
They heard a door open and close and then a very recognizable Relm squeal. She ran up to them with twinkling eyes and a wide, eager smile as she asked them a myriad of questions as to why they were there, why Interceptor was with them if Shadow wasnt, and where Sabin and the others were. Edgar and Terra did their best to answer each one the best they could, but for each answered was another in its place. As Edgar continued to wade through the quickly rising tide of questions, Terra smiled and watched her.
Relm had always been precocious and adorable, with her bright eyes and naturally blonde tousle of curls. To Terra and the others, Relms eagerness to stray from what her grandfather believed was appropriate had made her what she was: an independent 10 year old that had (some time when they hadnt been looking) turned 12 and was rapidly approaching teen-hood. She still appeared as young and innocent as ever, with the obvious exception of her sharp tongue and quick wit.
Terra, with what Shadow had told her of Amanda, could see the woman in the bright clarity of Relms expression.
Relms clear green eyes focused on Terra. Did you need me to watch the kids again?
Terras smile widened and she gathered the girl into a hug. No. We havent seen you in a while and we thought it would be nice to get away. Terra thought of the pouch in her possession and the smile dissipated. She pushed back and caught Relms eyes. We have some bad news, though. We didnt find out until we were in Nikeah.
Relms eyes displayed an expression of wariness so similar to Shadow that Terra nearly cried.
Bad news? What are you talking about? Relm asked.
Edgar stepped forward and rest a hand on Relms shoulder. Relm switched her eyes to him, watching him as he took the pouch from Terras belt and handed it to her. Shadow Shadow wanted you to have this, Relm. Interceptor as well.
Tears were instantly in her eyes. What? What are you talking about? Interceptor is Shadows dog! He wouldnt just give him away!
Edgar sent Terra a helpless expression before turning back to Relm. Shadow knew that youd take care of--
Shadow can take care of him, Relm shouted, backing off from the two with tears trailing down her cheeks. Interceptor came to stand behind her and nudged at the back of her leg to keep her from running away.
Terra took a hesitant step forward, reaching out her hands to gently take Relms. Terra knelt and gave the hands a gentle squeeze as the girl silently cried. Yes, Shadow could take care of Interceptor, couldnt he? Relm nodded. But, Relm, you know that bad things sometimes happen. Shadow knew that too. Relm shook her head with a pained expression as Terra went on. He also knew that you liked Interceptor and Interceptor liked you. Wont you take care of Interceptor until Shadow can come back?
Relm hesitantly took the pouch from Terras hand and stared down at it. Will he come back?
I dont know. Maybe. Maybe not. At least you can take care of his dog while hes away. Wont you?
Relm nodded slowly, opening the pouch to pull out a tattered embroidered scarf. A tear dripped onto it and she sniffed. It looks like the one he used to wear.
Terra looked down at it with a slow breath. It was the one he had worn when he had told her of his past life. Maybe it was the one he had purchased when first becoming Shadow. Maybe it was the one that his late wife had worn. Whatever the answer, it held special meaning for Shadow. Why else would he give it to Relm? Yes, it is.
Why do you suppose he gave it to me?
Terra hesitated and sent Edgar a glance. He smiled and rest a hand on her back for encouragement. Maybe because he knew how special you are. After all, Interceptor likes you best. He only tolerates us.
Relm smiled slightly and looked up to catch Terras gaze. Im going to miss him.
Terra nodded and brushed the tears from Relms cheeks. So will we, Relm. So will we.
Relm sighed deeply, pushing away the heartbreak with a tenacity that had always amazed the others. She took Terras hand. Come on. You better come in and say hi to the old geezer before he blows an artery.
Will he mind our staying? Edgar asked.
Relm shrugged as they made their way to the house, Interceptor immediately falling into step beside her. Probably, but I dont care. She looked over at them with a strange expression in her eyes. Hes not feeling too well lately, so hes kind of grumpy. Spends most of his time in bed.
Terra tried not to sound alarmed. I suppose youve already had the doctor over to make sure hes not blowing everything out of proportion.
Relm shrugged again. I called him, but Grandpa just shrieked and said he didnt need any kind of witch doctor looking at him and making like he knew what he was talking about. He just wanted to be left alone.
I see. Terra sent Edgar another look and he raised his hands in a helpless gesture. Well, then Im sure hell be fine. Hed know whether or not he needed a doctor, wouldnt he?
You never know with Grandpa. The old geezer lost his mind ages ago, I think.
Edgar tousled her curls with a chuckle. You love him anyway, Relm.
She waved off his hands and sent him a scowl. Humph. Whatever.
* * *
Strago? Terra crested the stairs of the bedroom and looked around for the old mage. He was sitting at a table in his housecoat writing letters. Strago, are you too busy for a talk?
Probably, but you never let that stop you.
Terra smiled and came to sit on the edge of the bed by the writing desk. Its about Relm and her father and mother.
Stragos grip on his pen tightened, but he kept writing. What about them? Strago asked gruffly.
What do you know about them? Are they dead?
If they werent, do you think shed be with me?
Does she know about them?
Whats to know?
Terra took in a deep breath and released it slow. He stopped by the castle, Strago. Hes coming.
Stragos pale complexion went yellow. Whos coming?
Clyde. Strago said nothing and Terra looked down at her knees. What are you going to do?
Terra sighed and looked up. Strago, you know what Im talking about. What are you going to do when he shows up? Are you going to refuse to let him in? Are you going to deny everything? What?
Strago threw down his pen and glared at her. What can I do about anything when it comes to that little dear? She does what she wants! Just like her mother! Just like her father! If he comes, he comes. If he tells her, he tells her. Im still her grandpa and Ill still be here to pick up the pieces when he runs away again.
He didnt run away, Strago. You know that, Terra insisted in Shadows defense.
Oh, I know what he said all right, but I also know that 10 years is a long time to be away from the daughter you supposedly loved so damn much. Strago shook his head with a long succession of coughs and then took in a slow breath. No, Terra, I wont come between her and her father, if hes decided to finally come home for good. I wont make things easier, either. He better have some good reasons as to why hes been away for so long.
Terra stood and dropped her gaze. He told me that he would do his best. Just Just try and be understanding, Strago. Please.
If hes got a good excuse, Ill be understanding. If not, tough luck.
Thats as good as it gets.
Terra sighed and turned for the stairs. Okay. Thank you, Strago.
Edgar met Terra at the bottom of the stairs with a kiss on the cheek. How did it go, love light?
Okay, I guess.
I take it Strago will be understanding, but only to a certain point.
Terra nodded with an exhalation of breath and wrapped her arms around Edgar for a comforting embrace. I really hope its enough.
Edgar kissed the top of her head. You cannot heal them all, Terra. Do your best, but do not expect all to be totally and completely restored. Life is seldom as perfect as what we have been led to believe it should be.
Why not? My life with you seems perfect enough, Terra countered.
Edgar smiled with a chuckle and tightened his arms around her. Ah. I see, then, that our storybook romance has made you forget the harshness of the real world.
She laughed and snuggled in closer with a deep breath. No, I havent forgotten. It just seems more like a bad dream than anything else.
It is most assuredly real, my sweet. He sighed as he pulled back, smiling down at her with a twinkle in his bright eyes. Come. Let us have a walk. Relm complains of boredom the likes of which we, ourselves, have never experienced and I have promised that we would rescue her.
Where is she?
Outside playing with Interceptor, Edgar told her. He chuckled after a slight pause. Perhaps I should amend that statement. Interceptor is attempting to play with her. He seems to sense the fact that something is bothering her.
Bothering her? Terra looked concerned. About what?
Apparently, Strago has been sick for quite a while.
He still refuses to have a doctor come, even after all this time?
Edgar nodded. That would be what is troubling Relm, I do believe.
The poor girl. Not only did she just lose Shadow, she thinks she might be losing her grandfather. The door opened at that time and Relm walked into the room. She saw Terra and Edgar and absently waved before moving past them to head for her room. Terras heart went out to the girl. Relm, we were just going to find you and take you for a walk. Would you be interested?
She shrugged and then came to stand beside them. Sure.
They made their way out of the house just as a tall man in fairly nice clothes hesitantly entered town. Terras heart thumped and she cast Edgar a quick look. He nodded. As the trio approached the end of town, the stranger caught her gaze and slightly smiled, twirling a cap in his hands for a long moment before making his way toward them.
Relm seemed to be so engrossed in her own disturbing thoughts that she didnt notice his presence. Terra and Edgar exchanged a glance and then greeted the man themselves.
Hello, Edgar said. Is there something we can do for you?
The man cleared his throat. Im looking for Strago Magus.
Relm looked up at that comment and began to examine the strangers face. Well, he doesnt take visitors. Not anymore. What did you need?
The man hesitated and Terra could tell he was fighting with the sudden urge to flee. Hadnt she faced that same fear when first exploring a relationship with Edgar? Keep going. Youre doing great, she wanted to say. He caught her expression and seemed to read it in her eyes because he took in a deep breath and pressed on.
I needed to talk to him about something that happened 10 or 11 years ago. Its very important.
Relm continued to intensely scrutinize the mans expression. Important? Important like what? Like he owes you money? Or like youre his long-lost son?
The man went a little pale. Not exactly. No.
Terra tugged on Edgars sleeve in such a way that Relm didnt notice and then gestured toward the house with her eyes. He nodded slightly. Relm? Relm turned her eyes toward Terra after a slight pause. Relm, why dont Edgar and I go get your grandfather and tell him theres someone here to see him?
Sure. Whatever you want to do. He wont come out, though.
Terra smiled. You never know. He may want to for this. We can always try. Terra motioned to the stranger. Why dont you keep his would-be guest company while we do our best.
Terra and Edgar turned for the house as Relm refocused her bright eyes on the stranger. She gripped Edgars hand. Please oh please let her take it well.
Edgar squeezed back.
* * *
So, Relm continued as she turned back to the man. Whats your story?
Relm crossed her arms. Yeah. Where do you know Grandpa from? Usually, as far as I can remember anyway, the only people who want to see him are about as old as they come.
He didnt seem about to finish the attempt at an answer and Relm prodded him with a wave of her hand. Yes? Waiting.
He took in a deep breath and plunged ahead. I was married to his daughter.
All thoughts drained from Relms head and she felt her stomach hit the ground at her feet. What.
The mans eyes darkened and he reached out a hand. Are you all right?
She waved it away. What did you say about his daughter? You were what?
I was married to her.
You were you were married to her? The man nodded and Relm felt the hot flash of expectation battle with the chilling intensity of dread. Did did you did you have a a child.
He swallowed hard. Yes.
Relm looked down at her hand suddenly, at the ring from her mother that she always wore, and offered it to the man to see. Was was this her ring? He nodded very slowly and then seemed to hesitate. She watched him for a long, silent minute before even wanting to risk the final, most important question. Was your childs name was her name, Relm?
He closed his eyes and nodded again. Yes, he whispered.
Relm choked out a cry and then threw her arms around him. I knew you were alive, she sniffled passionately. No matter what he said, I knew it! I just knew Oh, Daddy
Her choked sob cut off any other words as his arms went around her.
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