Out of the Mist Chapter 1
The Little Girl and the Monsters
It was dark and I was cold. And scared.
I had absolutely no idea where I was. I didnt even know how to guess. I was pretty sure I was alone, since I couldnt hear anything around me. Everything had vanished in that storm. Cecil, Edward, Yang ...everyone. I was alone. Again. In the dark.
I asked myself whether or not it would be a good idea to light the place up; perhaps a little bit of fire magic, easily controlled ...A shiver ran down my back. You couldnt control fire. Fire was big and loud and bright. And hungry. It ate things, like my village. Id rather stay in the dark than have to face fire again...
A sound in the darkness. I jumped and tucked my legs underneath me (suddenly registering that the thing I was resting on felt surprisingly like a bed), eyes squinting fiercely in the darkness. I had lost my bow and arrow and even the small rod I carried with me for emergencies like this one. I bit down, trying to keep the tears from my eyes; I was so alone. I wasnt sure what to expect; I wasnt sure what a six-year-old girl could do. Not any more.
A door swung open, gradually spreading soft warm light around the room. Outside the door stood a woman, tall and slender, with an odd grace and poise to her movements. She paused as the light finally fell across the room. I looked around the room from the corners of my eyes, staring only at the lady. She looked back - and smiled.
And suddenly in that smile I felt something familiar - she felt for a brief second like my mother. That strange sixth sense that mom and I had shared, the magical link between us, flared to life. And I missed my mom so much it hurt.
I sniffled, choking down on the feeling, still scared of the smiling lady. She wore a simple blue gown, tied around her thin form with a pearly white sash. Her hair was long and almost white, but she didnt look like an old woman; she didnt look young, either. She was ageless. She still felt familiar, though, and that started to calm my emotions.
She took a step into the room and snapped her fingers; instantly, sconces on the wall filled with light, candles igniting instantaneously. I jumped at the sudden flame; the lady turned with that smile again. Theres nothing to be afraid of, dear, she said, and it was soothing. The panic at being surrounded by fire slowly faded.
I couldnt help it; I sniffled again. The tall woman sat on the bedside beside me - not too close. I scooted away to the end of the bed just in case.
Whats your name?
Her voice was smooth and creamy, like milk. In it was something else familiar - a sense of power, of magic, something I had thought I knew. Before everything. Before the fire.
My voice sounded sulky and angry. I guess I was a little bit of both. The lady didnt seem to mind; she smoothed a wrinkle in her dress with soft creamy hands, and looked at me.
I knew what she saw. Green hair - a tell-tale sign of the powerful magic I had been born into, not uncommon in the village - short, with a spray of bangs that wouldnt stay put. My blue traveling robe over a burgundy tunic, tied with a swathe of yellow cloth. Blue-green eyes that once sparked with magic, full of fear. All of the above dirty, disheveled, unkempt. Messy and torn.
Do you know where you are?
I looked up, stunned, N-no, maam. I choked back another sob. Why am I here? I asked her, wanting to ask cant I go home now and knowing there was no point in the question.
The lady reached a hand to gently touch my shoulder. The touch itself felt unusual, but familiar. I was reminded once again of my mother...
My name is Asura, she said. Youve been brought to live with us for a little while.
I wiped a tear from my face with a grubby hand. Wheres here?
This, Rydia, is the Land of the Summoned Monsters.
My jaw dropped.
The Land of the Summoned Monsters! Mom always used to tell stories of it, where all the monsters that we Call live, away from all of mankind save the Villagers of Mist. It was a fantasy-land, a fairy-tale. No one had ever been there.
This is it?
Yes, the lady said with a smile. There are many beasts here you already know, and many that you will come to know.
Did you bring me here on purpose? I asked cautiously. Im a summoner. I mean, I will be. I was born in the Village of Mist, and my mom ... I choked, unable to finish the sentence.
Your mother? Asura asked kindly. She reached over and took my hand in hers.
My mother... my mother is dead, I whispered.
She stroked my hair with one of those soft hands, and all of my fright culminated into sadness. The story poured itself out, suddenly, a rush of emotion - tears and anger bound together. It was just a regular day, nothing odd. We hadnt done anything! All of a sudden we heard there were two knights from Baron - powerful knights - coming through the Misty Caves towards us. I took a breath, knowing I wasnt making much sense. Mom summoned her dragon form to go fight them, but - but - I started to shake, and Asura gathered me into her lap. But they were too strong for her! And they beat her summon monster form, and mom ...and she ... I buried my face in the ladys soft gown, sobbing. I found her outside, lying on the ground. She could barely speak. I was trying to cure her - I would have done it, too! Vehemence flared up inside my child-like voice, an indignant flame. But then the knights came through... and all of a sudden the village was dark, like a storm, and then something exploded, and there was fire... Asura stroked my back, trying to soothe me. There was fire all over...
Its ok, Rydia. My sobs were ragged. We know about Mist. We have been mourning the village for some time. And we are thrilled to have found you alive.
My voice was a sob in itself. Me?
Yes. Asura nodded once, the silver hair cascading over her face. Youre a child of Mist, right? So youre the last summoner we have. We were very happy when we finally found you.
I wiped my face on the back of a red sleeve. I dont have a family, I said softly. Not any more. And I dont have my friends, either. I lost them in the storm.
Asura slowly lifted my head from her shoulder to look into her starry eyes. Rydia, you are related to us as well, even though we dont look like you. The summon monsters will be your family for now. You can stay with us, and we will take care of you.
I didnt know what to do or what to say. I didnt want to be taken care of, I wanted my mother back - I had told Cecil that. But I knew there was no way to get back the life I had in Mist. And Cecil had promised to protect me, but he was gone...
I tried to dry my face and looked up at Asura. And you? I asked slowly, overtaken by intuition. You look like a person, but you dont feel like one. You feel like ...my mom.
Yes. In a way. Youre clever, Rydia. Now, what about me reminds me of your mother?
I thought about it, the puzzle pushing away the sadness momentarily. Its when ...it reminds me of when my mom was the dragon. Thats how it feels. I trailed off and looked up the long height to her silver-framed face. Are you a summon monster?
She nodded. Yes, dear. This is only my human form. As time goes by, you will see my other faces. A slight smile graced her lips. And perhaps some day you will hold the power to summon me yourself.
She stood, one graceful movement reminding me so much of Rosa - sniff - and extended a creamy hand, which I took in my own, jumping off the bed to stand on the floor beside her. I barely came up to her waist.
Come, Rydia of Mist, she said in a strong voice, suddenly looking like a regal queen. I will show you your new home - the Land of the Summoned Monsters.
I clasped the hand of the Lady Asura and left the room, tears dried by wonder and curiosity.
The home of the fiercest beasts in the world looked like any other town, save for two important facts: first, that it was housed at the bottom of an enormous maze of caves, hidden well within the magnetic field of the earth; second, that it was inhabited by monsters. Crawling, creeping, flying, walking, stalking, cold, fiery, sweet, deceitful monsters - and one little girl.
I explored the town all day, greeting every beast I met with a solemn, polite Hello, which made some of them laugh. I crawled all over the library, peeked into every corner of the weapon shop, and visited each and every personal home. The wonders the world held were things I had never even dreamed of. I knew the Chocobos of the forests in my own land, but I had never seen the wild grace and fluidity of the birds that dwelt under the earth. And, to my ultimate delight, all the beasts spoke my language!
As the day reached its close, Asura led me to a bathhouse, where I splashed around with some small dolphin-like beasts. After I was thoroughly clean, I was given a new outfit - quite similar to my old one, but much nicer. Asura had left me in the charge of an elderly tree-like creature, who straightened my clothes and then informed me he was going to take me to dinner with the King and Queen.
The King and Queen! I was overjoyed and overwhelmed. Images of fearsome beasts popped up in my mind, fed by my imagination. I couldnt wait and yet was terrified. What would they look like? What would they be like? And what ...what would they do with me?
The tree-man took me through a maze of hallways adjacent to the Town Hall, and stopped before two large doors. Here you go, dear, he said. The Royal Hall. Have a good dinner.
Are you not coming with me? I asked, tentatively.
He shook his head (which was quite a feat, considering it was attached to the rest of him by thick bark). It is a royal dinner, he said, and then prodded me inside the doors.
A cacophony of noises greeted my ears, both real and magical. Growls and howls mixed with tongues I had never imagined. Trying to regain my balance, I stayed in the shadows of the door, trying to find something to focus on. A familiar voice reached my ears.
...and shes a natural, Levia. You should have seen her in the bath with the younger Phirata. She got along with them spectacularly! She has quite a gift.
I hope so, responded a deep voice. I stepped out a little bit into the light to try to hear better...
The voices gradually stopped, replaced by hushed whispers. I realized they were all directed at me! The room cleared slowly, monster bodies outlining a path down a long room to a dais holding two thrones. I realized this path was meant for me, and timidly I began to walk to the end. As I neared, I could see the thrones held - not monsters, but humans? A tall man with dark black hair, bright blue eyes, and a deep blue robe held a golden scepter across his lap. And at his side, robed in rose and crowned in silver, sat Asura.
Im sure I gaped, because the king smiled. Welcome, daughter. This is my kingdom. I am called Leviathan, and you have already met my Lady and Queen, Asura.
I nodded wordlessly.
He continued, addressing the crowd behind me as well. On behalf of myself and the Council of the Summoned, you are welcomed to our land. What is your name, daughter?
Its ... I swallowed and said proudly, Rydia. Rydia of Mist.
You are a Daughter of Mist?
I nodded. My mother was ...my mother protected the village.
The king before me nodded. Do you know how you got to our land?
I have no idea. I shook my head. I simply woke up here.
What do you remember?
I thought back. I was with Cecil, and Yang, and Edward, and we were on a ship, going to ...Baron? And then we saw this...
I remembered suddenly the force of the ship, rocking back and forth, a storm in broad daylight. The smell of the seas reaching up to grab me. And the sailors screaming...
My eyes widened. I took two steps backwards, stumbled, and fell to my knees, staring up at the throne, overtaken by disbelief. Leviathan, I whispered. It was you?
The image in my mind was no longer of the kindly man in the blue robe, but the horrible image of the sea beast, long and coiled, scales and teeth glistening as he reached for me, floundering in the water. I was overtaken with panic and fear. Dumbfounded. I couldnt control my legs; all I wanted was to flee this room, to run away from that horrible water-dragon who had killed my friends.
The man shifted in his chair. Dimly I realized he was still smiling at me, as was Asura. Asura was so ...kind. But shes a monster too! What will I do...
You killed my friends! I shrieked then, suddenly finding control in anger. I leapt to my feet, body quivering in the aftermath of fear and the onslaught of a childs fury. You killed them! We were traveling through your ocean, not trying to hurt anyone or anything, and you tipped the boat like it was a toy! Whats wrong with you! My throat was ragged from the screaming, and I believe I was crying.
Asura gave Leviathan a look that read I told you so and stood from her chair. She came to me and clasped my hands gently.
But I tore my hands away from her. NO! Im not going to -
Theyre not dead, Rydia.
Leviathans voice made me turn to face him. On his face was a look of sorrow and empathy - for me. I stared at him as he continued. Theyre not dead. I do not kill wantonly. They are all alive.
I collapsed to my knees again, breathing in the relief. Alive! Cecil is alive! Yang and Edward too! I havent lost everyone... I closed my eyes and sighed, permitting myself an inward smile.
Intervention was required, Leviathan said, which made me open my eyes.
What? I didnt understand his words.
He smiled sheepishly. I had to do something, he said. Higher powers called upon me to break up the voyage. Cecil was sent onto a different path. Yang and Edward were separated. And you ...you were summoned unto the Land.
Because, he said with a genuine smile, you are a summoner. Without a family in Mist, we are your family now, and we have to take care of you. It was time for you to come to us.
I stared down at the carpet. What will I do here?
We want to train you, Rydia, Asura said. You have already shown great promise and skill. And your mother trained with us for a year or two. We will teach you what you would have learned in Mist - how to become a real summoner. We will take care of you, and you will live here with us.
I was astounded. To be taught magic and summons from the monsters themselves? Even at six I realized what an opportunity that was. You would ...teach me?
Rydia, you are a Daughter of Mist, Leviathan said. You will learn yourself. We are only here to help you.