Hope in Love Chapter 14
Fear Not For the Future, Weep Not For the Past
By Sorceress Fantasia
It was morning. The sun rose over the horizon and light crept into the little wooden hut. One by one their eyes fluttered open. After some fuss and whatnot, they were gathered in the living room.
"Solo, can you give us a brief description on where were going?" Cloud inquired.
The young lady nodded silently. "Im bringing you over to Nabula, the capital of Pacific. The palace is located in the center of the city."
The others nodded thoughtfully.
"It is a long trek there. The journey will take at least a few days. And I am sad to say that although the citizens of Pacific have perished, the others have not. So do not be surprised should we encounter any enemies."
"Tell me about it." Elena muttered, as she recalled that weird looking creature they had seen just yesterday, before they met Solo.
Solo didnt seem to have heard that, and she went on to give everyone a brief outline of the route they would take, which included going through a large plain called the Merdara Plains.
"The Merdara Plains, despite its name, is better described as a desert. The temperature there during the day and the night fluctuates to the extremes. Not only that, there is a serious lack of water and food. Unless you bring your own supplies, you wouldnt last any longer than a day in there. Most people are prone to get totally lost inside, for there are no landmarks or anything for that matter. All you have is your intuition to guide you."
"But what about using the stars to know the direction?" Red questioned.
"Its useless. You cant see the stars. However, you do see something vaguely similar. Fake stars were created to misled travelers that were inside."
"Created to ?" Vincent echoed.
" misled travelers?" Cid added.
"Yes. The Merdara Plains is man-made, created by the royalties long ago. It was to act as a barrier to shield out any unwanted visitors. You were lucky to have been transported into the forest instead of the Merdara Plains." Solo answered flatly.
"Hn. You know a lot, dont you?" Elena noted with displeasure. Did this woman have any faults? She just seems to know everything!
"Of course. I have to."
"Solo, how are we going to go across that creepy place? It sounds really hard. " Yuffie inquired.
"A man of character finds a special attractiveness in difficulty, since it is only by coming to grips with difficulty that he can realise his potentialities. Are you telling me that you are not someone of character?" Solo chided. "Besides, the greater the difficulty, the more glory in surmounting it."
Yuffie kept mum and pouted. She could have sworn that she saw Barret stifling a snigger at the corner of the room.
Solo ignored Yuffie, and answered her queries, "I can guarantee that we not get lost in there. I have trekked across the Merdara Plains several times, enough to know the way. As for the temperature, you just have to deal with it. Food and water is not a difficult problem to us. The place is infested by tons of monsters, which to us, can be defeated with a bit of effort. If you dont mind, we can have them to quench your wayward appetites."
"What about water?"
"The monsters. Their blood." Solo replied immediately, as though it were a matter of fact.
"What?! We aint some buncha vamps, ya know!" Barret called out suddenly, voicing out everyones query.
"There is no other solutions. Either that " She spat out coldly. "Or die of thirst."
This statement silenced off further questions. Solo was getting stranger by the minute. Not only because of her knowledge, but also of her perspective.
Judging by Solos cold demeanor, this was going to be a *damn* long few days. Barret mused.
The scorching sun set their skins ablaze, draining away their energy. Zonked, the party trudged across the seemingly endless plains. If they had a blade of grass for every drop of perspire that were flowing like a stream, the Merdara Plains would double in size. Only Solo could withstand the extreme heat.
"Phew! This is hot! I feel like Im in an oven!" Elena groaned for the umpteen time.
"Yea, I can smell roasted turkeys." Barret sallied.
"Big deal. I can smell a roasted hog." Reno chided.
"Hog? Where? Where? Youve making my mouth water." Yuffie butted into the conversation.
Lazily, Reno pointed a finger at Barret.
"What!?" Barret exploded like a ticked off time bomb. He marched over, determined to have turkey for lunch that day and he was going to pull out every single feather on its body right now at this very second.
"God gave us two ears and only one mouth. If he had intended for us to talk twice as much as we listened, he would have given two mouths and one ear." A voice boomed in at this. Solo.
"Life is like a vacuum cleaner- it sucks!" Reno commented, shrugging his shoulders and rolling his eyes.
Barret merely pouted. He had offended the girl enough as it was and she gave him this feeling that continued provocation wasnt good for his health. Things could get pretty ugly if it went on.
"Someone please tell me why did I bring the Turks along?" Cloud mumbled under his breath. He had thought nothing much would happen; maybe just a few arguments here and there and voila! Thats it. But now, the dynamic quarto, namely Barret, Reno, Elena and Yuffie were proving him wrong. He didnt fathom how wrong he was until now. If it were going to go on for the rest of the journey, Clouds eardrums were going to burst anytime soon.
Nightfall. Darkness covered the sky like a blanket. The stars shone brightly, piercing through the thick blanket of black. Everyone was fast sleep, spread out all across the opening, for each of them had chosen a comfortable spot for themselves.
Lucretsia and Vincent slept close together, the latters cape acting as a blanket for Lucretsia. Yuffie was cuddled up against Red, and he acted as a pillow for the young ninja. For once, the usually vivacious girl was quiet and still. Tifa snuggled up against Red for warmth as well. The Turks huddled together nearby. Cid and Barret were away at a far corner, snoring like an orchestra. Unfortunately, they were in the percussion department. Solo was nowhere to be found. But no one was worried for her as they all knew she could take care of herself better than anyone.
Everyone was having a date with Sleep, and their minds were faraway. Two lone figures were sitting together, enjoying each others company.
"What are you going to do?"
"Hmm? I I dont know. I really dont. I feel so betrayed. Its like " Grim bit his lower lip unconsciously, as he struggled to find the right words for his current situation. "Its like " Sadly, he was lost in the labyrinth of vocabulary.
"Like the place was welcoming you with open arms, then the next second, it slams the door in your face?"
"Right!" Grim answered. "You had the feeling before?"
"Yeah. A lot of people do. Im just one of them." Cloud recalled his experience. He was so close to getting into SOLDIER, and yet, he had still missed their target by just a teeny weeny line.
"The feeling of betrayal " Grim said softly, as an uncomfortable silence slipped into place between them. Then, Grim broke the cessation of sound.
"Can you sense the aura around Solo?"
Mutely, Cloud nodded. Then he spoke, "Yes." He shifted his body into a more commodious position, "And I dont like it. Its as though theres ice around her, and the chilliness spreads over to me when I get close to her."
"Thats how I feel too. But its not her character that evokes the chilliness."
Cloud made a small sound of agreement, then added, "Its more of what she carries. I can feel a ponderous burden on her shoulders, and it pulls her down. She can feel the strains. Its so weighty that even I can perceive it."
"Same here. I can, to a certain extent, feel her pain and misery, not to mention the feeling of betrayal. Shes a warrior that has lived through a lot more than we can imagine." A gentle breeze washed over them like a tide, causing the dry grass around them to rustle. Grim held his head low in contemplation.
"Thats why I decided to trust her."
"Huh?" Grim snapped his head up at the comment.
"A lot of things cannot be done logically. You just have to feel your way through. The sentiment she gives me makes me want to trust her."
"Yes." Then Grim hung his head down again. After a moment of tranquility, he spoke, "You know, I kinda regret coming here. If I hadnt, then the glory of Pacific in my imagination would still be in a piece. I dont want to see this, Cloud, I really dont."
Cloud looked at him, cobalt blue eyes full of sympathy. Grim was already shaking with mournful tears. Cloud was at a loss of what to do, so he placed an assuring arm on his friends trembling shoulder. Just as he was about to console him, a voice spoke out.
"Weaklings plead and cry. The strong accept what comes without complaint and take matters into their own hands."
Cloud and Grim both snapped their heads to the source of the firm voice. A breeze swept across the area around them, and a feminine figure appeared along with it, as though she was the wind itself. "Solo " Cloud uttered.
"There is no need to regret. Those who regret often, are those who do not consider thoroughly in what they do. Not coming here does not change the fact that Pacific has been destroyed. It doesnt change anything." Solo sashayed over to them and sat down. "Isnt it better? At least you know what happened, and have broken through that fake world of imagination. Besides, it might be a blessing in disguise, for all we know."
"What do you mean? How can this be good?" Grim asked, feeling a twinge of pain course through his body. Cloud quickly hushed him.
"There is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so."
Seeing the confused and bewildered expressions on his face, Solo added, "Tragedy and comedy are but two aspects of what is real, and whether we see the tragic or the humorous is a matter of perspective."
"I get it." Grim replied plainly. "What exactly happened?"
"A virus swept through the entire kingdom. Few survived. For those who did survive, they lost to the harsh aftermath. The five of us, the keepers, are the only ones left now. It is a punishment from Sorcerer Sapphire. The Pacifists were getting ignorant and were destroying what little resources they had been left with. It is what they deserve."
"Grim dont feel too sad." Cloud tried his best to comfort him. "The past is over, dont let it bother you. Think of the future. Your future on Earth with us!"
"I dont see one, and I wont have one, now that Pacific is ruined."
Solo, seeing this, spoke up again. "Clouds right, Grim. Fear not for the future, weep not for the past. Life will have to go on. Besides, this is what will happen. No kingdom in history had been able to survive forever. Its just a cycle of reincarnation. Everything will start again. I promise this."
"Solo " Her words had been encouraging enough for Grim to perk up a little.
"Shes right, Grim. Pacific will come back again. As long as both of you live, Pacific can be reborn."
Grim grinned widely, "Yes, well work to build up our kingdom again!"
Solo smiled sincerely and nodded. She brought a hand to her lips, as though recalling something. "Grim, have you heard of a poem that has been passed on from one generation to another? Do not stand at my grave written by Sorcerer Sapphire?"
Puzzled, Grim shook his head.
"Its engraved onto his tombstone. Heres how it goes, listen carefully."
Do not stand at my grave and weep. I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow. I am the diamond glint on snow.
I am the sun on ripened grain. I am the soothing, gentle rain.
When you awake in morning hush, I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight. I am the stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry. I am not there. I did not die.
"Get my drift? Pacific is alive. It wont die. Its spirit lives on, in our hearts. Lands diminish, but not our hearts."
Feeling blissful, Grim stood up suddenly and stretched himself to the fullest. A wide grin was plastered onto his face. As he stretched, he muttered the same phrase over and over again.
Cloud smiled at the sight of his friend. How very encouraging Solo could speak. With this thought in mind, he turned towards the girl and grinned. She did the same.
Suddenly, something was thrown at Grim. He scampered away quickly with a sharp Eep!. Cloud and Solo got onto their feet at record time, thinking that they were under attack. Then someone grumbled.
"Damn you f*$%#ing idiot! Shut ta f#%#ing mouth! I wanna sleep " The words trailed off. It was Barret.
Looking closer, the trio found the thing thrown at Grim was nothing but a shoe. Barrets shoe, to be precise. They stared at each other, their expressions all weird and strange. Finally, they gave in. To laughter.
They dropped onto the ground, hands clenching at their stomachs, laughing hard.
It wasnt long before another shoe flew over, accompanied by a tired shout.
Author's Notes: Ok, some of you out there might have noticed that the poem I used is written by someone whom I have no idea. It was stated under anonymous. It does not belong to me. And also, I came up with the name 'Do not stand at my grave'. It is not the real one. I apologize if I have offended anyone. Sumimasen.
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