|For a Goddess
Author: Jupiter Sprite PM
[For Empress Dotdotdot's challenge] She was beautiful, perfect... but so far away.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Romance - Words: 4,921 - Reviews: 18 - Favs: 15 - Published: 06-04-04 - id: 1894686
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
For Empress Dotdotdot's ficcy contest. If you didn't read 'Immortal,' the challenge was to write a pairing you don't usually support. And believe me, that's definitely what I did. ;
Lull: I never thought I'd see her write this pairing. Dotdotdot, you've brought about a miracle.
Yup. So. The disclaimer: I don't own Golden Sun. And the dialogue isn't all mine, either, since I based it off the game's script. Now for the story.
She was small and slender, with neat, short-cut blonde hair. Her emerald eyes always seemed as if they were gazing straight through you. She was quiet and solemn, and seldom smiled, but she was the image of pristinity and grace. There was a sacred air about her that made you believe she had fallen from the heavens.
So we were all careful around her; Jenna, Kraden, and I. During battles, we shielded her from danger and made sure she stayed safe. When we arrived at an inn, she got the best bed. We made sure she had enough food, and when Saturos and Menardi decided to give us new weapons, the best of them were always offered first to her. Even Jenna, who would always end up with the second-best staff or rod, didn't protest. Because those are the things one does for a goddess.
But even though she was perfect, she was always far away from the rest of us. She would accept a new weapon or extra blankets with a quiet "thank you", and occasionally a small smile. She would look at me, speak to me, but there was never true emotion in her eyes. It was as if her perfection was a veil that kept us from seeing who she really was.
I took special care of Sheba, but it was the kind of care that one takes of a prized possession, or something delicate and valuable. Like the rest of our group, I didn't want anything to happen to the goddess of Lalivero.
I could tell Saturos and Menardi thought differently of her. To them, she was something that they could use for their own benefit. They saw everything that way. But still, they handled her with care. They were cold toward her, impassive, but still they made sure she stayed unharmed. What was so special about Sheba, that these two would show concern for her welfare? These two, who were so cruel and indifferent to the rest of us?
I realized the answer at the top of Venus Lighthouse. I realized a lot of things that day.
I threw a glance over my shoulder at the descending stairs behind us. Something still bothered me. Saturos and Menardi hadn't mentioned Sheba for a while now. They still had her with them, and the aerie couldn't be safe for her. I had expected her to follow behind us shortly, but evidently that wasn't happening. Why were they keeping her for so long? Why weren't they keeping their promise to let her go?
Sighing, I made a decision. I had to go back for her, to make sure she stayed safe. Alex would be here soon, and he could take Jenna and Kraden to Idejima.
Turning to the switch that controlled the barrier, I held a hand out in front of me. "Move," I whispered, and the statue in front of me shimmered, slowly sliding onto the switch. I released the spell, and the statue settled down with a click as the barrier dissipated.
Jenna and Kraden had already started across the room, but when I didn't follow, Jenna turned back. "Brother, what is it?" she asked worriedly. "Aren't you coming?"
"I'm going back for Sheba," I said simply. Without waiting for a reply, I turned and headed back the way I had come.
Valuables, if dropped, break. And I didn't want that to happen to Sheba. I couldn't let the goddess of Lalivero be ruined.
I arrived at the aerie to the sound of Menardi's voice. "At long last, the time has come to light Venus Lighthouse's beacon."
Saturos, standing next to her, smiled. "And then, once we have Jupiter... Mars will come easily."
"That's right," I said, stepping forward. "Your dreams are within your grasp now."
Saturos turned, as did Sheba. I took a moment to look at her. She was frightened, but still impassive somehow. Her veil of perfection hadn't lifted. "Felix! What are you doing here?" Saturos asked, red eyes flashing. "I thought we told you to go on ahead to the ship."
I nodded. "I've already sent Jenna and the others to Idejima."
"Then why did you come back?" Menardi inquired icily.
"Because I have a different promise to keep," I told her, matching her icy gaze with a glare of my own. "Why haven't you released Sheba yet? You promised to free her once we got into Venus Lighthouse."
"And that's what brought you back here?" Menardi asked, fingering her scythe idly.
"You promised not to involve anyone who wasn't related to this matter," I snapped.
Saturos looked to Sheba, then slowly shook his head before turning back to me. "Sheba is... special."
Suddenly, I realized why Sheba was so important. "It's because she's a Jupiter Adept, isn't it?" Saturos looked up at me, startled. "You learned something from the first two lighthouses - you need an Adept of each clan to enter each lighthouse. Right now, we have an Earth Adept, a Water Adept, and Fire Adepts, but no Wind Adepts."
Saturos scowled. "That does seem... to be the case."
I studied Sheba. "So we need her to get into the Jupiter Lighthouse?"
Menardi shook her head. "I'm sorry, Felix, but we can't even enter the lighthouse without a Wind Adept."
"Then I suppose... I understand why you can't set Sheba free," I said resentfully.
When I didn't move, Saturos looked up at me. "If that's all, Felix, then you should go."
"No." My sudden refusal startled even myself, but I knew what I had to do. "I can't leave Sheba behind." Walking past the two Mars Adepts, I came to stand next to Sheba. "I'm taking her back to the ship!"
"What are you talking about, Felix?" Menardi snarled. "Go back now. Leave Sheba."
"We don't know what will happen when the beacon is lit," I insisted. "I won't leave Sheba here to find out!"
"We told you we would protect Sheba," Saturos said menacingly. "If you're still intent on bringing her with you, you will have to fight us."
I paused, but didn't back down. If it meant keeping Sheba from harm...
Menardi gave a harsh laugh. "I believe he is ready to fight us! You have seen what we can do, Felix. You know you can't stop us."
She was right, and I knew it. But I couldn't back down now. Behind me, Sheba looked from me to Saturos and Menardi. I had to prove myself. I was brave enough to protect her. I would be brave enough for a goddess.
"You're no fighter, Felix," Saturos taunted. "You cannot hope to win."
"Enough." Menardi moved forward, scythe held in front of her. "You have defied us for the last time, Felix. Let's see what you can do!"
Slowly, I drew my sword and stepped out toward Menardi. I was contemplating how best to survive the battle when four more figures stepped onto the aerie platform. With a start, I recognized Isaac and his companions. Of course - they had been following us since Mercury Lighthouse.
"Isaac..." I muttered. Saturos looked over his shoulder, then, smirking, turned to face the group. Isaac's companions spread out behind him, all looking ready to fight.
"Hah! So, you've come to stop us?" He turned back to me, and mocked, "Look what your defiance has brought us, Felix!"
I felt my face flush. "I don't need you or anyone to rescue me, Isaac!" I shouted. "I was just about to settle things with these two. You can watch." I turned back to Saturos, and in a voice more confident than I felt, I said, "And before we light this beacon, Sheba goes free!"
"You'd best tread lightly, Felix, or both you and Sheba will suffer," Menardi said coolly. Behind her, I saw Isaac's group exchange glances.
Their healer looked worried. "Faran is counting on us to get Sheba out of here safely..." she murmured. From behind her, violet eyes flashing, a small blond boy stepped forward.
"We won't permit you to lay a hand on either Felix or Sheba," he stated, not looking the least bit afraid. The rest of the group didn't back down, just nodded in agreement.
Saturos spoke, his words dripping with false kindness. "Don't worry. We won't harm Sheba... if you meet our conditions."
"Saturos, what are you doing?" Menardi hissed.
"Leave this to me," he muttered, and turned to Sheba. "Sheba!" he barked. "Do you remember the rod connected to Hesperia?"
Sheba stepped out from behind me. "The Rod of Hesperia...?"
"The rod required to reach the Jupiter Lighthouse!"
Sheba stepped back, trembling, and nodded. "Ye-Yes..."
Saturos nodded to Isaac and his companions. "This group bears a rod. Is it the one?" Sheba hesitated, then began to approach Isaac. "Stop!" Saturos snapped. "You can do it from there!"
Sheba jumped, and ran back to where I stood. I could see her shaking as she began to glow. I heard Isaac's group murmuring among themselves. "Well, Sheba?" Saturos asked impatiently. "How about it?"
The glow faded from Sheba's body, and she slowly opened her eyes. "...Perhaps..."
"'Perhaps'?!" Saturos hissed. "Perhaps what?!"
Sheba darted behind me, clutching my arm. I turned angry eyes on Saturos. "Don't yell at her!"
"We just want a straight answer," Menardi insisted. "Well, Sheba?"
The Wind Adept behind me stepped out slightly. She didn't let go of my arm. "Their minds are veiled... I cannot see clearly... But I think... It's the one." I almost smiled. How mysterious and dramatic... just like a goddess.
Saturos paused, then turned back to Isaac. "Well. I think you know what our conditions will be in this little bargain."
Isaac turned to the short blond. "Ivan...?"
Ivan nodded. "If it means saving Sheba, I will give the Shaman's rod to you."
Menardi smirked. "Good. Go get it, Felix. To insure your loyalty to us."
Sheba released her grip on my arm. Scowling, I trudged across the lighthouse toward Ivan. He glared as he handed the rod over, and I thought I felt a spark play across my fingertips. "Keep it safe," Saturos instructed me.
I didn't answer, simply took Sheba's hand. "Come on, Sheba, let's go." Sheba smiled one of her perfect smiles, and we made our way toward the elevator that would take us down.
"And where do you think you're going, Sheba?" Saturos smirked.
"What do you mean?" the healer cried. "We gave you the rod, so release Sheba!"
"That... was the agreement," Menardi admitted, turning back to Saturos. He only smiled.
"You seem to have misunderstood," he said coolly. "I said we wouldn't harm Sheba... but I never said we'd let her go!"
"You're altering the bargain?" Isaac exclaimed angrily. "I didn't think you would stoop this low, Saturos! Play fair!"
"Haha! We can't help it if you misinterpreted Saturos' terms. And besides, if we did release Sheba, she wouldn't be able to get back to Lalivero on her own," Menardi smirked.
"What do you mean?" Ivan's voice. "We're going to... oh no..."
"That's right - you're not going anywhere!" Menardi proclaimed triumphantly. "This is the end for you!"
"Enough!" Garet snarled, stepping forward. "You're the ones who aren't going anywhere!"
Saturos just laughed. "Bring it on, whelp. You won't live to regret your stupidity!" And the fight began.
As the first sparks of Psynergy began to fly, I pulled Sheba down off the beacon's platform. We took shelter on a lower tier of the lighthouse, watching the battle. I stood in front of Sheba, protecting her, as I always did.
I was amazed at what I saw. The group's power had increased dramatically since the fight on Mercury Lighthouse. Then, they had barely managed to overcome Saturos in battle, but now they matched the attacks of the two Mars Adepts with equal skill.
When we were nearly hit with a jet of flame from one of Garet's attacks, we retreated even further down the lighthouse. I could no longer see what was going on, and I didn't like it, but I had to keep Sheba safe.
Finally, after long, tense minutes of waiting, the noise and light of the battle faded. I heard Garet's triumphant voice: "We did it! We beat em'!"
Suddenly, Mia was looking down on us, looking tired but victorious. "Come on, Sheba. Let's go." Sheba looked at me uncertainly. I stepped in front of her, putting myself between the group and our goddess. "Felix? What are you doing?"
"I won't give up Sheba. I am aware that you have saved my life... but I never asked you to help us." Sheba, behind me, was silent. I felt a pang of bitterness at the fact that she didn't seem to care about me at all.
But why should a goddess care about someone like me?
"Felix, you're not one of them!" Isaac yelled, frustrated. "You're free to go now. You don't have to-"
"I do have to light the beacons, Isaac, and I will," I cut him off. "With or without Saturos and Menardi, it must be done. And if you try to stop me, I'll fight you."
Suddenly, weak laughter sounded from the top of the aerie. I smiled grimly. So they were going to resort to this after all... "Felix! Go!" Menardi yelled hoarsely. "We may not have the strength to protect Sheba after this!" Startled, I looked back to the aerie. Isaac had already gone back to face Saturos and Menardi, followed closely by the rest of his group. I scowled. The perfect hero. I couldn't lose to him.
"We're staying, Sheba," I murmured. She didn't reply.
Then the lighthouse began to shake. I grabbed Sheba and steadied us as a beam of light shot into the sky. I felt power pulse through me as Venus energy filled the air. Then came a brilliant white glow, a flash, and a cry of, "Everyone get back!"
And then there was the dragon.
Even though Saturos and Menardi had told me about this power, it was still a breathtaking sight. I could not see Isaac's group from my low vantage point, but the dragon was so enormous that its two heads were clear in my vision. When it began its attack, the noise and the shaking of the lighthouse were unbearable. Sheba, still next to me, covered her ears, and I followed her lead, bracing myself against the stairs.
We stayed like that for most of the battle. Neither of us spoke, until I felt Sheba pulling at my sleeve. I uncovered my ears and looked at her. She looked truly frightened, and there was something else hiding behind her eyes. Sorrow? Regret? The mask of perfection that hid her was beginning to crack.
"Felix..." she began. I could barely hear her over the increasing noise of the battle above. "Felix, I... I don't..."
She was cut off by a deafening roar from above. The lighthouse shook violently as a huge tremor tore through it. I knew there was only one explanation: the dragon had fallen.
I stared up at the place where Saturos and Menardi had once stood. Sure enough, I could hear the triumphant voices of Isaac's group drifting down to me. Dazed, and temporarily forgetting about Sheba, I ascended the stairs to where I could see the group.
Their conversation stopped abruptly when they noticed me standing there. "Felix..." Isaac trailed. "You're still here?"
I paid no attention to his words. "Did you... finish them?" I knew the answer before I even asked - the evidence was all around me. Bowing my head, I announced, "Then I am no match for you now, Isaac." I turned and swiftly returned to where Sheba stood. "Come, Sheba. We're leaving."
"Felix, wait!" It was Ivan again. "Why do you run from us?"
"They fell into the lighthouse," Isaac persisted. "It's all over now, Felix. You don't have to light the beacons any longer! Why are you being so-"
I whirled on him, suddenly furious. "I do have to light them, and I will! I still have the elemental stars. If I don't do this..." I paused and shook my head. It had taken ages for Kraden to convince us of his theory - why would these four have any reason to believe that Weyard was eroding away? "You fools would never understand. Just wait and see!"
The girl's voice reached my ears. "If you don't release Sheba, we'll have to take her back!" Annoyed, I started to turn back, when disaster struck.
The chaos was amazing. It was as if some giant deity had picked up the lighthouse, torn it into pieces, and dropped it back into place again, paying no heed to the six people still atop it.
When I opened my eyes, I realized that was almost exactly what had happened.
Two huge cracks ran through the aerie, dividing the lighthouse top into four pieces. Sheba and I were now separated from Isaac and his companions. When I turned to help Sheba to her feet, I was facing empty air. She was gone.
Casting my eyes around wildly, I could tell she was nowhere on my section of the lighthouse. Straining to see past the blinding beacon, now fully lit, I couldn't find her on the other sections, either.
I was quickly losing hope. I let my eyes stray to the lighthouse's edge, and my heart rose to my throat. It couldn't be - could it?
Racing to the edge, I looked down and saw Sheba below me, clinging to a broken spot in the lighthouse wall with both hands. The shattered bricks that were her handholds looked like they could crumble away at any minute. Debris from the ruined aerie was already falling past her feet, down, down, down...
I tore my eyes away from the dizzying height and met Sheba's. They were oddly calm, just like always. "Sheba! Hold on, Sheba!" I thrust a hand down toward her, but she was just beyond my reach. "Take my hand!"
She eyed me doubtfully. "I can't..."
"You have to try, Sheba! If you don't, you... You'll fall!"
Real fear began to show in her eyes. Panic was slowly eating away at her mask, and she choked out, "Look down, Felix... the foundations of the lighthouse are crumbling!"
I strained to reach her. "It must be to protect the lighthouse... Don't give up, Sheba! Don't look down!"
"I... I'm slipping..." Her voice was trembling, and tears were forming in her eyes. "I can't hold on any longer..." As another tremor shook the lighthouse, her right hand slipped from the stone and dangled out into space.
"No!!" I cried. "Don't let go! You can't, you'll..."
She looked up at me, and nodded. Her deep green eyes were whirlpools of emotion - fear, pain, sorrow, love, laughter. It was as if all the feelings she had kept from us for so long were spilling over all at once.
"Goodbye, Felix... And thank you." And then she fell.
"Sheba!!!" I screamed. "No... No... I won't let you die!" I took a step back, and jumped after her.
Why? Why had I done that?
It was because in that moment before she had fallen, Sheba's mask had fallen away. That impregnable mask of perfection that she had kept for so long had vanished, and I felt as if I was seeing her for the first time.
Sheba, if dropped, would have died. And I didn't want that to happen to her. Now that I had found her, I didn't want to lose her.
So now that she had fallen, I had to get her back.
I was exhausted, and my head hurt. Groaning, I sat up. My sister's face floated into view above me. "Brother..." I closed my eyes again and struggled to get my bearings. If Alex and Jenna were here, then Sheba...
Sheba! I jumped to my feet suddenly, causing Jenna to frown. "Are you sure you should be standing?" I ignored her. Spotting Sheba a little further down the beach, I pushed past Jenna and Alex to stand next to her.
She smiled up at me. "Oh... Felix, you're awake. Thank you for everything... Because of you, I'm safe now." My heart sank. She was exactly the same as always. Beautiful, perfect... but so far away.
Had I just been imagining things?
As I turned to the last monster, I was shocked to see a bolt of lightning shoot down from the sky, felling it instantly. I whirled around to find the source, and saw Sheba drop her hand, violet light fading from her fingertips.
"I'm here, too, you know," she said matter-of-factly. "I can fight. I don't need to be protected."
For a minute, no one spoke. Then Jenna protested weakly, "But... Sheba..."
"But nothing," Sheba retorted. She looked annoyed now. "I'm not as helpless as you all seem to think I am." And she turned and continued down the path.
We followed her, not wanting to bring up the subject again. We had never seen her angry before, and it was a bit frightening. None of us fancied ending up like that wolf.
It happened again at the inn that night. Daila had been hit hard by the tidal wave, so there were many townspeople already staying in the inn's rooms. Of those rooms that were empty, many had been ruined by the onslaught of water. Ultimately, there was only one room left for our party of four. It contained two small beds.
Sheba was always given a bed, and Kraden usually slept in one as well, if another was present (my sister and I had been taught to respect the elderly). But this night, Sheba took her blankets and began to lay them out on the floor.
"Sheba..." Kraden ventured, "what are you doing?"
Sheba didn't turn to face him, just continued her work. "I'm setting up my bed. I usually get to sleep in the good beds, so I thought someone else could use a turn. I'll be fine on the floor."
We were all startled by this sudden change, but remembering the earlier incident, didn't protest. In the end, the girls insisted I must have used up a lot of energy swimming, and that I should get a bed. I can't say I tried to argue with them.
Despite my exhaustion, I had a hard time falling asleep that night. I was just beginning to doze off when I heard soft footsteps, and the sound of a door opening and closing. I opened my eyes and looked down from my bed to see that Sheba's was empty.
After a moment of contemplation, I stood and went to the door. Sheba had seemed upset today, and I was worried about her. Slipping out into the hallway, I followed the retreating sound of her footsteps out of the inn.
I found her sitting against the wall of the building, tears streaming down her face.
"Sheba..." I sat down next to her. "What is it? What's wrong?"
She turned away. "Nothing..." After a pause, she sighed, and turned back to me. "Well... Felix, can I ask you something?"
"Do you... care about me?"
I was slightly startled by this odd question, but I figured I should go along with her. "Of course. We all do. You're very special, Sheba."
To my surprise, she scowled and looked down at her feet. "That's not what I meant. You all care about me like that, but it's like I'm some jewel or a glass sculpture. You think of me as a treasure, not as a person." She sniffed, and looked away again.
I took a moment to think about what she had said. It was true that that was how I had thought about her... But that had been before Venus Lighthouse. Things were different now, and I really did see her differently.
"I... I'm sorry," I ventured. "I'll try to do better."
She smiled at me briefly, then looked away again. "In Lalivero, I was their holy child. They pampered me, spoiled me, and gave me every luxury the town had to offer. The whole town loved me, but I felt so far away from everyone. None of them really knew me - not even my adopted parents. I was just their treasure."
I was silent. I had never seen this side of Sheba before. "When Saturos and Menardi took me away, I was scared at first. I kept acting like I had in Lalivero, like I was something special, because that was all I knew how to do. But now that I'm with you, I want it to be different. I want to know people." She looked at me, then back to the door of the inn. "I want to have friends. I want someone to understand me.
"I'm not some sort of goddess, you know. I'm a regular girl, perfectly capable of being hurt and scared. I learned to hide it, because the goddess of Lalivero wasn't supposed to cry." She paused. "I don't want luxuries or special treatment. That's not what I'm asking of you."
She stopped. I looked at her. "What are you asking for, then?"
She sighed, and looked straight at me. "Felix, all I want right now... is to be with you."
As I looked at her, the moonlight lit up her face and made her eyes sparkle. And I was happy.
I reached over, took her hand, and smiled. "That's something I can give you."
Anyway, if you don't already know, I usually support Windshipping (Ivan/Sheba). I'm a very big Windshipping fan, so Lighthouseshipping (Felix/Sheba, like this ficcy here) was basically out of the question. But I have to say, it was fun!
Well, I guess I'm done here. Dotdotdot, and all you others out there, I hope you liked it! Reviews wouldn't hurt, either.