This story belongs to me and my creative mind. However, most of the characters, names, and places all belong to their respective companies, so don't yell at me for copyright infringements! Remember, Italics represent a person's thoughts or the telling of past events.


:Faraway Dreams:


"All stand for the heir to the throne, the royal Prince Puck Hiryuu!"

Everyone within the freshly constructed hall stood at attention, the main doors swinging open with the creak of hinges and old wood. Escorted by four knights, Prince Puck walked to the front of the hall and took his place in front of the throne. The Burman, just barely into adolescence and adulthood, seemed out of place at the foot of the King's seat. However the people felt of him, he was the crown prince, and as such was in line to inherit the throne. The four knights stood to his left, spears held at attention.

"My people, my friends, it has been a long road to recovery for our kingdom." Puck began, voice wavering but filled with juvenile strength. "From beginnings that seemed to spell the doom of our nation to the reclamation of what was rightfully ours, the trials we have faced number too great for anyone to count. The father, has been gone for nearly a year, but I shall take up the responsibility of following his wishes, to lead Burmecia into the bright future that approaches. We have come to and end of one road, a path that was filled with grief and remembrance, and now we have come to another. Now the time for mourning is over, and we must look ahead. Now is the time to rebuild our homes, to clear the streets of rubble, to repair that which was damaged, to fix all that was broken in the hectic times behind us."

Puck stopped his speech, taking a brief second to catch his breath. The dozens of Burmans present all were waiting, faces locked in thought and reflection. A light cough signaled another start. "First, however, I would like to honor those who protected us during the crisis, to the stalwart defenders of our nation. Please rise, Lady Freya Crescent, Sir Fratley Iron-Tail."

From the middle of the gathering, two people stood up and walked to the center isle. In opposition to the formal attire that everyone else wore, these two both wore their armor and travel clothing, one of red and yellow, the other in brown and green. Together they approached to the throne and knelt down before the prince. Prince Puck reached for the hilt of a sword at his belt and drew it, the blade almost too long for him to completely draw. He faced Freya first, laying the sword on her right shoulder.

"Lady Crescent, you have served the royal throne for several years as a soldier and an equal number of years as a faithful Dragon Knight. Your actions, told from your colleagues and from my own eyes, reflected none other than the true desires of any knight. You fought against the foes that plagued our kingdom, even worked with the Cleyra faction despite the misgivings they held against us. Under your guiding hands, the Burmecian people saw a spark of hope for the reuniting of our two separate people. For these actions there is a response, and it is thus:" He lifted the sword and then placed it on her left shoulder. "I hereby name you as a sister to the Royal Family, and as such, shall be recognized as a noble line from this time on!"

The men and women present all applauded at the gift of nobility, many chattering among themselves until Prince Puck moved to stand before Fratley Iron-Tail.

"Sir Iron-Tail, there is little that needs to be said of your deeds. Your service to the family is long and illustrious, and despite the tragedies that marked your life, it has not been forgotten. Your memory had gone when I found you long ago, but the loyalty you possessed for my father stayed with you and drew you back home. Your aid at Cleyra saved the lives of many Burmans as well as the Cleyran spiritual leaders. You, without any reason aside from the innate loyalty to your people, came to our aid and fought without concern for your own life. You taught me the meaning of true service and dedication, friend, and for these actions, there is a response. You, too, shall be named a brother to the Royal Family and be recognized as a noble line from this time on!"

The applause from the gathering was louder, the service and stories of Fratley more prevalent than that of the lady knight. Some of the crowd even cheered as he stood with an air of immense pride and joy. The two knights stood and faced the crowds, bowing with respect and then moving to stand at Puck's right hand side. The applause died, and the Prince took a moment to gather his voice and words.

"A final person remains to be honored. Please step forward, Mr. Fedrich Castor."

A third Burman stood from the rear of the gathering, walking to the front of the room and kneeling before the Prince. He appeared in the parade uniform of the Burmecian Guard, a pair of green pants with yellow leggings, a button down jacket of a brighter green and lined with blues and yellows. Lastly was a simple metal headband, a feather on one side trying to play the part of a helmet's winged decoration. He knelt before the young king to be as he lay the sword on his right shoulder.

"Mr. Castor, yours is truly a story of remarkable bravery and courage. From simple beginnings with the dreams of his father, you entered the Guard and quickly entered favor with the men you served with. It was your bravery during the crisis that led the remnants of our proud soldiers against the tide of mages, and while the battle ended in defeat, it allowed for the escape of our people from the walls of Burmecia to hide in the mountains until the danger passed. Yours was not a victory against those who would oppress us, but a victory for the people of Burmecia so that they might live through the hard times and come home to start their lives again. You took the pain meant for us, and that is a great sacrifice. For such actions there is a response: You, Fedrich Castor, shall be given a honorary position as a Dragon Knight, and from this day onward be known as Sir Fedrich Castor!"

Applause broke out again, subdued from the previous bouts, but enough to show respect for the man who helped save his people from death. He, too, took a place at Prince Puck's right hand side, nearly at a faint to be standing in the presence of two legendary Knights. The prince sheathed his blade with some effort, then raised his arms up to encompass the hall.

"My people, we are at the beginning of a new road and a new history. Let us work to make it a beautiful one, you and I together, that shall ring through history as the greatest times of our kingdom!"

Cheering and applause rang through the hall and into the half-built corridors outside, many of the carpenters and masons pausing to look to the hall and wonder what the occasion was. The formal tension broke away and the people began talking with one another, many going to speak with the Prince. Both Freya and Fratley stood amidst a swarm of admirers, answering questions with smiles and hearty laughs. For Fedrich, however, came a feeling like he didn't truly belong in the middle of so many important people. He went to the wall of the massive room and picked up a mug of cider that was arranged for the guests, sipping quietly.

"Hey." A voice drew his eyes, seeing that it was Freya Crescent addressing him. "You seem a little nervous."

"L-Lady Freya!" Fedrich blurted. "It's an honor to speak with you!"

"Please, you don't need to be formal." She sighed, picking up a mug and taking a long swig. "I'm sick of it, I just wanted to talk with the so called 'zephyr master'."

"Oh?" He arched an eyebrow. "It that what they call me now? At first they called me the king of the skies. It's too weird for me, I guess they just don't remember what my real name is."

She snicked. "Maybe so, but you're quite the hero in the streets. Last time I was there, everyone in North Gate was cheering your name."

Fedrich blushed. "I just did what I had to. I couldn't let those golems get into Burmecia without a fight."

She nudged his shoulder playfully. "Doing that we want is sometimes the hardest thing to do. I'll see you around, Sir Castor."

He nodded, being pushed back as others clamored for drinks. "Right. Farewell 'till next!"

Fedrich backed away from the tables of drink, walking to the empty spaces in the walkways of the royal hall. A few people came up to greet him and to offer congratulations and well wishes, but otherwise left him be. He wiggled his fingers into the slim pockets on his uniform and pulled out his pocketwatch, seeing that it was later than he thought.

Can't keep her waiting.

Closing it with a click, he put the empty mug down on a table by the massive double doors and left the hall, walking through the empty corridor. He passed under an arched entryway, stepping onto a large circular platform that overlooked the entire mountain valley that Burmecia sat in. The rain was coming down in moderate force, just enough to make it a nuisance to those unused to it. At the far end of the platform stood a human figure ignoring the stereotype and staring up at the dark clouds.

"Admiring the weather?" He asked as he approached.

"It's got a different feel from rain back home. This feels...gentle, protective." She looked back.

Fedrich stepped next to her and wrapped his arm around her shoulders casually. "Don't get any ideas, though, I'll be the one protecting you."

"Jealous?" She smirked, leaning into his chest.

"Absolutely. I'll insist you come inside and suffer the festivities with me." He joked, nuzzling her red hair.

Ruthy turned around in his hold and returned the embrace. "First let me disprove your accusations." And with that, leaned forward and kissed him. The rain no longer held her interest as much.


The Author Rants:

And now! Right now! The exact moment you read that final word, it ended! The story came to a close! The climax falls, the line of action goes dead, there's no chance of revival, doctor, it's all finally and absolutely over! Cut! Finale! The End!

I couldn't be happier and sadder than I am right now, seeing an end to my great work. All three story arcs and one hundred thousand plus words that came together in a span of eighteen months, of many early morning thinking sessions and constant revision and planning, all tied to a close. It's like the end of an epic movie, the immense high of emotions just runs onward, drifting away into the distance. That bittersweet taste you get when you type in those last six letters.

Damn, it's been a journey, hasn't it?

I suppose there's little else to talk about, I just feel the need to let loose some of my thoughts now that I'm finally done with this. I feel a monologue coming on, lets rope that into the history of this fair tale.

I remember when I first came up with the idea for this story. After playing through Final Fantasy IX twice, I was fascinated with the amount of variety the game provided for players to look at. Large cities, so many different people like the hippos, rats, black mages, dwarves, and others. Also the little extra bits of information, like historical dates and statues, old structures and the aged look of the major cities. It was a world that just screamed out for a history, like a child demanding chocolate after his first little taste. So history, I could work with that, about the characters I liked the most, the Burmecians. They get the short stick so badly, I felt like giving them some time in the limelight, of when they were as important as the other two nations.

So I had that in mind, writing about the Burmecians as a strong warrior culture. I envisioned something akin to Dragon Knights slaying beasts in the name of the King, but I felt the need for something a bit more intimate. You can only see the surface of what armies experience in a war, but with one person, you can go layers and layers deep. So I chose a name, Fedrich. With that done, I sent Fedrich on a mission, to win the Festival of the Hunt, a natural and seemingly obvious goal for a combat oriented culture. Enter Lindblum's overwhelming introduction, then the Regulators who played a role that I determined to be absolutely necessary to a large city in monster infested lands. After a few chapters of warming up the set, I sensed that we needed a villain to pit our heroes against. So I made a villain who offered a double whammy.

Thus we welcomed in Elric, fire bandit with a temper, and sibling to some main characters. I had fun with him, a man with a mission and sarcasm unrivaled with strength to back it. I had originally hoped to keep him as an ongoing rival to Fedrich, but I knew that doing so would weaken the storyline, lessen the future problems. So upon that note, we disposed of him in a fierce duel and let the heroes take a breather. Of course, you can only work on character interaction for so long before you need a radical shift, so we summoned in our beloved queen of torture and arrogance, Claire.

Ah Claire, she was fun to create, even more fun to write, because in the situations involving her, I could be cruel as hell and it worked. Faking alliances, murdering relatives to main characters, being a rebel without a cause other than money, she was a perfect example of a power-wielding bandit. Having Fedrich pour over her polar opposite lifestyle was a good flex of broody and sullen skills, although I think I overdid some of it. Fedrich killing her accidentally was the only way I could see an out for his quest. I had made her out to be too powerful for him or anyone else to take on easily, and a one-on-one duel gave her the advantage, so chalk up his win to a little nudge from his lucky stars.

Then came the Festival, and boy was it a workout for my mind to try and keep the fights interesting and unrepetitive. Bringing in a slew of new warriors was fun, doing my best to keep them as minor characters while shining enough light on them to make them feel real and complete. Flaure made for a good temporary rival, reading Fedrich so easily but being helpless to stop him in the end. The Festival itself was a trying effort, so many consecutive fights with monsters and other Hunters, then to end it in such an ignoble manner followed by Fedrich leaving for home. I considered that a written means to leading someone by the nose and then slapping it off, who'd expect it? At least in the end we saw our two favorite heroes together at last.

Also the visions, that was the single thing I hated about the story. At first I wanted Fedrich to interact with the game's characters and in the game story. Later on I became too attached to my own storyline that I left the visions behind, and I knew that somehow I'd have to tie that loose string up. It took until the end of the second arc to work that out, and I'm thankful that it worked as well as it did. A bit out of place, but I tried my best and hopefully wrapped it up nice and neat for everyone.

Romance. I like it in small doses, but writing it is my greatest challenge. People were clamoring for Fedrich and Ruthy to come to conclusions and fall into deep, bottomless-seen-only-in-movies kinda love. I had considered this, but chose against it at first. I had intended their romance to be more like the desire for the forbidden fruit, not a passion for the opposite sex. People fall in love from physical attraction as much as personality. Without the physical aspect for Fedrich and Ruthy to have, it was based almost wholly upon their personalities. I'd hoped that the tension from those complications would add another level to them as a person, make them dynamic and real. However, once I got to the end, I really couldn't find a legitimate reason for them to stay apart. Fedrich only left because he wanted to keep Ruthy safe from the coming war despite his feelings, and Ruthy only wanted to be at his side, be with her first love. With those kinds of passions driving them, how could've I made it seemed real for them to give up hope? So that's how it ended, the two of them together again after being apart, bound by love across all distances.

Alright, I've had enough of listening to myself talking! Time to break out the cake and party streamers, step up to the mike and give a shout out to everyone!

Robshi! From start to end, there you were. Kudos for your praise and pointers, it's been a trip!

J. L. Dexter, an honor to have your ladyship's kind words! We'll have to meet at Tortuga for a celebratory drink.

Jaysina, fanatic of a fan! Who couldn't help but do their best with someone like you rooting them on?

Breeze of Summoners, Tereterhomdark, Lady-Artist, Drake Crimson, General Beatrix, and all the rest of you! I surrender the floor, offer a toast, give a thumbs up and a slap on the back for taking the time to read all this! I do my best to please my readers, and I hope that I did all that and then some. Without readers and fellow writers like you, there'd be no inspiration to create, and a world without authors and authors-in-training would be a horrible place to live in! It may be the end of this story, but there will always be more stories to come. The history of endless worlds and infinite heroes await to be told!

The pen is mightier than the sword, they say.

Let's keep it that way.