Because I can't believe that Palom and Porom haven't seen Ceodore in yeeeeeears for no good reason. They live right on the other side of a magic teleporter pad, for goodness sake!
So, just some mindless silliness for the Home For the EdgexRydia Shippers forum. Enjoy! 8D
The Boy Who Broke The Prince
Cecil and Rosa stared together in puzzlement at the letter they had just received. Their only son was turning five next week, and they had expected all their friends to be there without fail. Moments when they could all be together were few and far between, after all. All the other Light Warriors had already written to say that they would, in fact, be in Baron for the celebration.
All of them, except for Palom and Porom. The twins had just sent a letter expressing their sincerest apologies, because they were unable to attend. Sudden business. The Elder was feeling unwell. A long boat ride to Agart to study at the observatory that had already been booked for months.
Well, Porom had probably written it…
"I don't understand it," Cecil said, shaking his head. "It isn't exactly like them…"
"And why should they book passage for such a long journey now, of all times?" Rosa wondered. "They know when Ceodore's birthday is. They've never missed it before. Last year, they cleared a rather full calendar to be here for it. What on earth has gotten into them?"
On the other side of the room, Ceodore had managed to pull himself over the railing of his playpen while his parents hadn't been watching. They only realized it when the little boy toppled over the side and fell to the floor with a scream of fright, and then more screams of pain. The proud parents turned to look in shock… And then they became exasperated.
"Why does he keep doing this?" Rosa exclaimed, running to soother her child. "You would think he would learn after the first 15 times!"
Cecil had to pause to consider this. At five years old, Ceodore certainly should have known better than to do many things he still did. When he wasn't falling off of things he had fallen off of hundreds of times, he was running face-first into them. He still hadn't grasped the idea that fire was hot, either. And he just wouldn't stop asking the same couple of questions over and over again, looking amazed every time he heard the same answers. It was like he simply couldn't retain any kind of knowledge.
They had noticed this more and more since he had turned four, and it was beginning to worry them both. In fact, they had recently decided to keep him in their own room, where they could keep an eye on him and at least try to stop him from hurting himself. Sure, little children were repetitive and needed things explained more than once, but this was just ridiculous. And, compared to how Rydia and the twins, themselves, had been at the tender age of five, it was admittedly disappointing.
Cecil sighed to himself, and wondered if his son might genuinely be retarded. He didn't dare mention it to his wife, however, and he dare not mention it to anyone else. Ceodore was the crown prince, and the only heir to the throne. He was the son of a paladin and a gifted white mage who had once saved the world. Great things were expected of him. If it was rumored that the boy was a born idiot, who even knew what hell would break loose?
Then he laughed at himself and brushed the notion away. Surely it was just a phase, which would pass with time. Little children were like that, as well. Ceodore was sure to grow into a fine and capable young man, who wouldn't fall off of things repeatedly and ask stupid questions all the time. He would be fine, in the end. Cecil just knew it.
He prayed it was so, anyway.
The previous year…
It was Ceodore's fourth birthday, and the twins were just happy they had been able to be there for it. They were only nine, themselves, but their studies were piling up lately. And they were proud to say that they were nearly ready to graduate from their junior studies. They would be the youngest graduates Mysidia had ever recorded. Even Porom had been a bit puffed up about it, and all their friends were exceedingly proud of them.
So yes, a short vacation to celebrate with their friends was more than welcome. And they could never miss a chance to see the little prince. Cecil had always been like an older brother to them, and so they liked to think of Ceodore as their nephew. They both looked forward to a day when they could teach him about magic. It was an exciting thought.
For the moment, the two of them found themselves alone with Ceodore for a few minutes. He had spilled something all over himself, as four-year-olds are known to do, and so Rosa had gone to find him some clean clothes. She had placed him in Porom's responsible arms, laughingly warned them not to manhandle him too much, and then left, secure in the knowledge that her only child couldn't have been safer with the royal guard watching over him.
Knowing that Rosa trusted them like that pleased the twins very much. Again, even Porom had to indulge in a small amount of pride.
"I thought he would be speaking more clearly by now," Palom commented. "Doesn't he know any magic yet?"
"Palom, he's only four," Porom answered smartly. "And kids like us don't just come along every day, you know."
"Oh yeah… I guess we can't all be special snowflakes, now can we?"
"Anyway, he seems normal enough. He sure is squirmy, though."
Indeed, little Ceodore was growing impatient and trying to wriggle out of Porom's arms. Holding onto him was becoming more than she could handle. The tighter she held onto him, the more determined he became to get down.
"I want get down!" he cried, pushing away from him with all his strength.
"No, just let me hold you a while longer," Porom insisted. It would have done no harm to let him get down—he could stand and walk perfectly fine on his own. But she only got the chance to snuggle him once or twice a year, and didn't want to put him down just yet.
Ceodore plainly felt differently and kept on squirming, growing angry with her. Just as he was wriggling out of her grasp, Palom jumped to the rescue and caught him before he fell. He earned a smack and a kick in the stomach for his efforts.
"Geez, kid, hold still!"
"No! I do myself!"
"Ow! Stop hitting me!"
"I do myself!"
"Palom, be careful! Don't drop him."
"Keep your skirt on, sis. Of course I'm not gonna—!"
And just like that, Ceodore pushed himself out of Palom's arms and toppled to the stone floor. His head hit the stones with a horrible smack, and he went completely still.
For a long, awful moment, all the twins could do was stare in horror at the unconscious child. Palom made a strangled, chocking noise, and pointed helplessly at Ceodore, unable to do anything else. He looked like he was going to hyperventilate, and Porom felt like she was going to do the same thing. Except her very practical side overtook most of her panic, and she knelt to scoop the child into her arms again.
"We can fix this, we can fix this," she panted, desperately reciting the Curaja spell and focusing the spell on the boy's head. She noted with some relief that there didn't seem to be any blood, though she knew that the fragile skull had almost certainly been cracked badly. There was already a swelling lump, and there would be a noticeable bruise if it wasn't fixed quickly. Luckily, the spell worked its magic, and the swelling faded before it could grow any worse.
Still, Ceodore remained unconscious, and that bothered her. At least he wasn't screaming, and he certainly wasn't squirming anymore, and Rosa wasn't back yet. There was still time to fix this whole mess. She tried the Raise spell next, hoping it would revive the child. And it did. Ceodore's eyes popped open at once, and he looked around in bewilderment.
"It's alright, it's alright," Porom told him a little too brightly. "We put you down, like you wanted, see?"
Still standing dumbfounded above them, Palom put on the best grin he could manage and nodded in agreement.
Ceodore still seemed a bit groggy and confused, but he stood right up and went toddling around the room until his mother returned. For the first time, the twins were nervous to see her. But Rosa was unaware of what had happened, and just smiled at them.
"I'm back," she greeted. "I didn't mean for that to take so long, but I bumped into Edward on the way, and… Well, you know how he likes to ramble about music."
The twins just smiled back, hoping they didn't seem too nervous.
"It's fine, really it is," Palom insisted. "We're all fine here. Everything's good."
Porom wanted to smack her brother for babbling like a nervous wreck, but she restrained herself. Meanwhile, Ceodore had toddled up to his mother and was looking at her in surprise.
"Mama! Where you went?" he asked loudly, as if he had forgotten that she had left.
Rosa peered down at him, and then showed him the clean shirt she had brought with her. "I went to get you some dry clothes, seeing as you spilled milk all over the one you're wearing, remember?"
The boy tilted his head, looking confused. "Huh?"
In fact, Ceodore's general puzzlement in the last few minutes had been bothering the twins terribly. They had both been trying to pass it off as normal four-year-old behavior, since they really had nothing to compare it to; but they had kept exchanging worried looks about it, because it seemed exceptionally odd, and they were now beginning to fear that it had more to do with that fall than with him.
Of course, Rosa didn't stop to think about it, and instead began to wrestle Ceodore out of his wet clothes. She was probably used to it by now, and would never imagine that the twins would have broken her child. Whether or not they had broken him, they stood up and began to walk away very quickly.
"Palom, Porom, where are you going?" Rosa asked them. "I thought—"
"Oh, well, you know," Palom began awkwardly. Then he grinned, resting his hands on the back of his head, and said as casually as he could, "If Edward is out there somewhere looking for you, we'd better distract him. You've got your hands full here."
Porom had never thought that her brother's ability to bluff so well would ever be such a blessing. She smiled and added, "Yes, we can give you at least half an hour, maybe more."
Rosa sighed and smiled at them. "You are angels. Thank you, I really do appreciate it."
Feeling nothing at all like angels, and feeling pretty sick with themselves, Palom and Porom darted down the hall until Rosa couldn't hear them anymore. After they had gone a way, they stopped and leaned heavily against a wall, their minds reeling.
"Ug," Palom groaned. "I don't want to get trapped with Edward… But it's all I get, I guess."
Porom glanced at her twin in dismay. "Palom… You realize we can never come back here, right?"
He gulped hard and nodded. "Agreed."
Many years later…
And they never did.
For all the years after that, they always found a clever excuse for not being in Baron for Ceodore's birthday. It had been at first out of a sneaking fear they shared; but as time passed and more news came to Mysidia, they soon decided that they had, in fact, broken the prince.
He had been training as a knight, and was expected to become a captain in the Red Wings, as his father had been before him. All of that sounded grand and exciting, and normal for Baron's only heir. But when the twins added up all the details they heard, Ceodore sounded like a brilliant retard.
That was almost certainly because they had dropped him on his head as a child.
And so they had avoided Baron as much as possible for the last 12 or so years. They hadn't seen Ceodore since his fourth birthday, which pained them terribly, but they had decided together that it was better that way. They weren't sure if they could stand facing him now. And they weren't sure if it was really best that Cecil and Rosa remained unaware of it. Surely they had noticed that something was wrong with their son, and surely it worried them impossibly, even if they were entrusting him with the care and keeping of airships.
How had they done such a thing? Moreover, how had Cid allowed it…?
This year, Palom had found a better excuse than ever to avoid Baron for Ceodore's birthday. He had set sail for Troia only a week before it, planning to arrive there in another week's time. However, Porom now understood that the voyage had taken nearly a month, and could only imagine that her brother was furious. He hadn't wanted to go on this errand in the first place; she was fairly certain he had only agreed to it because it took him as far out of the way as he could be. She had secretly envied him. She had been forced to come up with a made-up excuse of her own, and she couldn't bluff nearly as well as Palom could.
So Porom was already out of sorts. She felt strange and lonely, separated from her brother like this. This was exactly the sort of thing that had driven her change her looks so ridiculously, when he had first begun traveling on his own a few years earlier. She felt silly and deeply changed without him; it had seemed fitting, at the time, to make herself look silly and changed, too. To punctuate Palom's leaving this time, she had even dyed her chestnut hair bright pink. She now regretted it, and the Elder wouldn't stop teasing her, but there was nothing she could do about it now.
And she still felt like a liar, hiding from her friends and the boy she had once thought of as her nephew. She didn't even know what he looked like…
Then one afternoon, she was in the Hall of Prayer, on her way back to the tower with a book, when someone came up behind her and tugged on her cape.
"Um… Pardon me. Is there anyone here who can unseal the Devil's Road for us?"
Porom turned to look over her shoulder, more snappishly than she had meant. There was a young man and an older man behind her, both of them scruffy and unwashed from traveling. She cocked an eyebrow at them, wondering very much who they were and where they had come from, and who had let them into the Hall of Prayer looking like this.
"Someone who knows of the Devil's Road?" she repeated incredulously. "Who are you?"
The boy looked cowed, and ducked his head a bit shyly. "I am Ceodore, of the Red Wings of Baron."
Porom gasped and dropped her book in shock. What on earth was he doing here?! She almost didn't believe it. But she looked his face over, and saw all that she needed. He was, in fact, the spitting image of Baron's king. There could be no doubt of it, now.
"So you are!" she said after a moment. Then she laughed nervously. "Heavens, you've certainly grown, haven't you?"
Ceodore was very puzzled. "You… Know me?"
"Of course you don't remember me," she answered with a vague shrug. "We haven't met since you were…."
She trailed off, thinking back and remembering the exact moment when Palom had dropped him. Not wincing at the memory was impossible. "Well, since you were a very, very young child," she finished sheepishly.
Ceodore continued to squint at her. "So, you are…?"
Porom stared at him for a moment. He'd been given plenty of clues. How had he not figured it out yet?
Oh, right, he was retarded….
She cleared her throat and composed herself as much as she could. "I am Porom, white mage of Mysidia," she answered calmly, smiling for him.
The boy's face lit up with sudden understanding, at the same time as it filled with surprise. "You're Porom? My parents have told me so much about you!"
Porom continued smiling at him. Of course he wouldn't have recognized her. Cecil and Rosa probably wouldn't have recognized her, either. They didn't know she had dyed her hair. They didn't know a lot of things…
She cleared her throat, turning her mind to practical things. "So, why do you want to use the Devil's Road?" she asked. "You said you were with the Red Wings. Didn't you come by airship?"
"It was… Brought down," the boy answered quickly, his eyes shifting around. "By… a hoard of monsters."
Porom doubted this. She didn't know much about airships, but she knew that it took more than monsters to bring one down—especially when airships came with cannons, and monsters did not.
No, no, he had more to do with that, I'm sure. Which speaks volumes about him—those things are nearly foolproof, impossible to crash. Palom can drive one, for pity's sake! Good lord, it's worse than I thought…
Before she could become visibly sad about this, Ceodore appeared to remember something, and he blurted out, "Smoke is coming from Baron's direction!"
Porom gasped again, as her worst fears were confirmed. "I knew it… That would explain the unease I've been feeling lately."
She thought about this for a moment before making a command decision. Clearly, Ceodore had to get home. She didn't entirely trust the boy who had wrecked an airship to cross the road alone, though; Devil's Road had been sealed for a reason, after all. So yes, Ceodore had to get back to Baron; so yes, the seal had to be broken; so yes, Ceodore couldn't be allowed to cross it without qualified help.
Porom turned back toward the stairs. "Sheila! Dharma! Can you come down here, please?"
The Elder's two most trusted assistants came down the stairs and joined her, looking over Ceodore and his companion in confusion.
"You wanted to see us, miss?" Sheila asked in her polite way.
"Sheila, you know how to break the seal on Devil's Road," Porom said plainly. "I need you and Dharma to escort the prince back to Baron, please."
The white mage continued looking confused. "But, my lady—"
"I need you to do this for me," Porom repeated, more firmly this time. She hated to put the other white mage on the spot like this. Porom did, in fact, know how to break the seal herself. But she reasoned in her mind that she was busy with matters of her own. More truthfully, she didn't want to be stuck with Ceodore any longer than she needed to be. In the first place, he was making her more and more uncomfortable just by standing in front of her; in the second place, it was already obvious that he would make terrible company. Sheila seemed to sense Porom's unease, and simply nodded in agreement.
Dharma remained silent as usual. Thank goodness.
Seeing the task being blatantly passed off to someone else, Ceodore looked back at Porom and tilted his head. "So…..?"
She had seen that face before. He looked like a puppy, waiting expectantly for a treat and wondering why he hadn't gotten it yet.
"I'd go with you," Porom answered hastily, "but I can't leave the Hall of Prayer empty right now. These two will accompany you instead."
Sheila and Dharma exchanged a glance, unsure of what Porom could be hiding from, but seeing at once that she was hiding from something. But Ceodore seemed satisfied with this.
"Oh. Okay," he answered, as if there was nothing odd going on in front of his face.
Porom was also satisfied. Perhaps she was getting better at bluffing like her brother, after all. Besides, she wasn't really bluffing. She really couldn't leave Mysidia at a time like this.
"Take care," she said, smiling for him again. "And send your parents my regards!"
As if that farewell had somehow made everything right, Ceodore grinned at her and seemed to fill all the way up with hopeful resolve. "I will!" he proclaimed.
He was adorable. Still four years old, but adorable. It was kind of sad.
The party of four turned to leave…. And Porom suddenly remembered that they were a party of four. Ceodore had shocked her so badly, she had forgotten all about the older man he had come with. He had just stood to the side the whole time, listening carefully, rather than ask stupid questions with Ceodore. Now that she remembered him, and saw his face, she got an immediate feeling that she had seen him before.
Wait just a second…. Is that Kain?
She caught him by the shoulder and cleared her throat.
"And…. You would be…?"
The man paused under her grip. Then he shook his head and brushed her hand away.
"No one you know, I should think. Let's go, Ceodore."
The prince nodded brightly at the man, and followed him toward the door. Sheila and Dharma spared a last doubtful look at Porom before following the two.
Once she was alone, Porom planted her fists on her hips and huffed to herself.
"I do so know who you are, Kain." She wondered if she should follow them, after all, mostly because she was now overwhelmingly curious. What on earth was all that about? What was the dragoon doing off the mountain, without his armor? And Ceodore, heavens bless him, seemed perfectly unaware of who his companion was. Retardation aside, there was no reason why he should recognize the man.
Cecil and Rosa won't recognize him, either. He looks ridiculous… Oh wait… She tugged impatiently at her bright pink hair, wishing for the hundredth time that Sheila hadn't loaned her that hair dye.
Then Porom sighed to herself, bent to pick up her book, and began climbing the tower. It was what she had been doing in the first place. All she had meant to do before was sit by herself and read for a while. But now that Ceodore and Kain had come and gone, and Baron was apparently on fire, and she still had no idea what her brother was up to, Porom realized that she now had a lot of meditating to do.
I wish we hadn't broken him. Things could have been very different. He wouldn't have crashed a whole airship into our island, for one. He would know that he's traveling with Kain Highwind, and he would have guessed who I was right away—however ridiculous we look, it's not at all difficult to figure out. I might have even trusted him alone on Devil's Road. I might even have gone with him, instead of hiding here like the troll I am.
Lots of things would have been different. What in heaven and earth is going to happen next…?
Porom had a sinking suspicion that she would find out sooner rather than later. She also suspected that when she did find out, Ceodore would have everything to do with it. 12 years of determinedly hiding from him… And now, she wasn't going to be able to get away from him, was she?
Stupid Palom, she thought, grumbling to herself. He's the one who dropped Ceodore in the first place, and he doesn't even have to deal with this! I hope he's pleased with himself….
Meanwhile, in Troia…
Palom was, in fact, somewhere halfway up the Tower of Trials, trying in vain to teach Leonara the Thunder spell. She had been casting the spell for hours with little confidence; the decoy he had given her to practice on had been missed easily hundreds of times.
The stone walls and floor and ceiling around it were brilliantly scorched, but the decoy itself was still in perfect condition. It could have been returned to the sundry shop for a full refund.
By now, Leonara was exhausted, and still nowhere near mastering this spell. Palom was beside himself with aggravation. If she took as long to master Thunder as she had taken with Blizzard, and even Fire, he didn't know what he was going to do.
"Leonara," he snapped, "I'm going to reiterate a point I find myself making to you at least twice a day: you have to actually aim the spell at your target. Leonara…. You are aiming at the decoy, right?"
She gazed at him with wide, frightened eyes. "You mean… You mean, you have to aim this spell, too?"
Palom felt his eye twitching again, harder and more painfully than usual. This would have been the very last straw… Except a terrible revelation occurred to him. He was suddenly 9 years old again, feeling perfectly sick with himself for making Ceodore a retard, and hoping against hope that he would never have to look the boy in the face again.
That plan had worked. He hadn't seen Ceodore once since that fateful day. But now he was hopelessly trapped with Leonara, who might possibly be worse than the prince. Palom sighed sadly and flopped back on the floor, resigning himself to the fate he deserved.
"I'm being punished…." He groaned.
Leonara hovered over him, watching him with deep concern. "Wh-what do you mean, punished?" she quavered. "Is it… Is it because of me?"
"It's nothing," he sighed. "Just a thing I did once. No big deal. I deserve it. I just need a few minutes…. I'll be fine, just go hit that decoy, please, so we can move on."
Leonara crept out of his sight, and though he kept his gaze fixed on the ceiling, he heard the now familiar sound of electricity slamming into cold stone—but no sizzling sound of a charbroiled decoy. Palom sighed again, feeling the effect of this punishment for everything it was worth. Not even Porom could have orchestrated this kind of torment.
I am a despicable human being….
Sheila and Dharma have been Sheila and Dharma in my mind since I wrote Faraxhae Family Circus, way back in 2008-09. So it really tickles me that they join your party in TAY, but it also made me wonder very much why Porom shoves them into your unsuspecting arms while she stays behind.
I feel like, if everyone in TAY was written with as much sass as Edge and Palom were written with, the whole story would have been much better. (Seriously, Porom's menu icon looks like she's ready to kick someone's ass.) Even Ceodore isn't so bad, when you think of something clever to do with him. Moonclaw is too humble to agree, but she has recycled him well. ;D
But for now, though his parentage merits brilliance and talent, Ceodore is clearly mentally deficient. I blame his name. And Palom, obviously, but the very name of Ceodore instantly dooms a child to retardation. The forum has agreed on this.
Also, it occurred to me while writing these afterthoughts that all the Mysidian white mages have pink hair. So, though it caused an onslaught of NOPENOPENOPENOPENOPENOPE from everyone I know to see Porom's bright pink hair, it dawns on me that perhaps it's a rite of passage. Graduation, or initiation ritual, perhaps? If this is so….. Why pink? For innocence? For the fact that white mages seem only to be girls in this culture? Damnation, now I have things I don't need to think about…. :/
Anyway, this is done. Yay! 8D