Blossoming Seeds of Friendship by Staci/Nadia

Randy woke up and slowly looked around the unfamilar room. It took a few moments for him to remember that he was staying at the Kingdom of Pandora's inn for the second night in a row. He sat up and shook his head. Until a few days ago, he'd always slept in his own familiar bed in the Elder's home in Potos Village. But ever since he had become the Mana Knight and was being forced to travel, a feeling of disconcertion had been coming over him for a few moments each morning until his memories resurfaced in his waking mind.

Quickly, he got up, ran his fingers a few times through his spiked brown hair and tied his bandana tightly around his head. As he laced up his boots, he glanced over at the next bed at his temporary companion. Purim was still asleep, her thick blonde hair streamed out across the pillow. Randy's heart skipped a beat. 'Beautiful...' he thought, a smile coming to his lips. He suddenly wished that he wasn't in clothes wrinkled from sleeping in them and that he didn't have slightly unkempt hair that his bandana only tamed somewhat.

He winced at his thoughts and shook his head again to get them out of his head. Purim already had a boyfriend. In fact, his first meeting with Purim had occurred because she was out searching for her boyfriend, Dyluck, who was currently missing. Two days before, Randy had been captured by goblins and had almost become the main dish at their party. Purim had saved him from that untimely death, originally thinking him to be Dyluck. And she was currently traveling with Randy to continue her search for him.

Oddly enough, Randy had met Dyluck the day before encountering Purim and the goblins. A Major in Pandora's army, he had been leading some troops to Elinee's castle in the Forbidden Forest for a battle. He didn't get to speak much to Dyluck himself, but his troops had spoken very highly of the young Major, so Randy figured that he was most likely a good, respectable guy, worthy of a girl's affections.

"Randy! Stop spacing out!"

The Mana Knight nearly jumped as Purim's voice pulled him out of his reverie. He blinked and refocused his eyes on her. He noticed that she was wide awake and glaring at him crossly while she pulled a blue band around her hair, forming a ponytail high on her head. "Let's get out of here," she said as she put on her shoes and slid out of bed. "I need to get to Elinee's as quickly as possible! We've waited long enough!"

**********

After a quick breakfast and Purim's goodbye to her best friend, Phanna, the pair left Pandora through the west gate. They were quickly greeted by a pair of Mushbooms, which waddled toward the duo. Randy brandished his sword, the weapon he was still most comfortable with. He turned to ask Purim if she would like to borrow his spear to fight with, but she suddenly rushed by him, punching and kicking the vicious walking mushrooms. As he watched in surprise, a ray of sunlight struck something metallic on her hand, revealing the knuckle weapon she possessed. The Mana Knight chuckled to himself. This girl apparently could take care of herself quite well.

Randy was curious about his new companion. She had seemed so upset when they had met up again in Pandora. All that he knew so far was that Purim and her father had had a big fight over Dyluck, but she had never elaborated on why. Apparently, it had been such a severe row that Purim wanted to spend the night before at the inn instead of her own house. He knew there had to be more to the story, but he didn't want to seem nosy.

He thought back to his reunion with Purim the day before in Pandora Castle, when he had gone to meet the King and Queen and to see if Jema, the man who had sent him on his quest, was there. The Tasnican knight had indeed been present.

"Something strange seems to be happening at the ruins. I'm going to look around there and see what I can find out. You should keep heading on to Gaia's Navel and the Underground Palace," Jema instructed.

~flashback~

"Oh, I hope you can do something about it, Sir Jema! It's like a nightmare!" the King moaned. "My people are acting like zombies, and I just got word that the troops I sent to the Haunted Forest were captured..."

"What?!" a voice behind Randy cried out in shock. He turned and saw a clearly upset blonde girl run into the throne room. Her tear-stained face seemed very familiar to Randy, but he couldn't place where he knew her from. "Oh, no, Dyluck's been captured? This wouldn't have happened if you and Dad weren't trying to keep us apart!" Her shoulders began to shake as she started to sob.

The Queen gasped at the girl's outcry, and the King looked stunned for a moment. He recovered quickly and said, "Oh, no, dear. Elman just thought that Dyluck is becoming a great soldier and that he and his troops should be utilized more often. I would never try to break the two of you up. I think you make a wonderful couple."

"But Dad doesn't!" she protested, wiping her eyes.

"Don't worry," the King tried to reassure her. "We're doing everything we can to get the soldiers back safely as quickly as possible."

"Well, I'm going to rescue them myself, right now!" As she started to turn as if to storm out of the room, her eyes locked in on Randy's. "You!" she cried, her eyes lighting up in recognition.

Randy finally remembered where he'd seen her before. How could he forget the big blue eyes and long blonde ponytail of the girl who'd saved him from the goblins the day before? She was still clad in the same pink clothing and light blue accessories as before.

The girl noticed the weapons that Randy had with him. "Oh, are you a swordsman?" she asked. When Randy nodded, she continued happily, "This is great! I could really use your help! We're going to teach that witch a lesson and save Dyluck and the others! Come on!" She tugged on his arm.

"But...?" Randy looked in confusion at Jema for help. He knew that his mission to protect the Mana Seeds was important, but was he able to made a side trip to help the girl who had saved his life?

Jema saw Randy's predicament and walked over to them. "Excuse me, young lady," he said. "I'm really sorry, but he is on a very serious mission to Gaia's Navel. He won't be able to go with you."

A hurt expression appeared on her face, but quickly changed to one of determination. "I don't care!" she said. "I can handle that witch by myself!" She started to leave the room.

"Wait a minute!" Jema called out, causing the girl to turn around. "The Haunted Forest is just to the north of Gaia's Navel. Perhaps Randy could accompany you part of the way if you'd like."

The girl looked at Randy and thought it over for a moment. "Oh, alright," she sighed. "If you don't mind."

"Not at all," Randy replied. Then he realized he still didn't know her name. He held out his hand. "Hi, I'm Randy."

She shook it. "I'm Purim."

~end flashback~

Randy shook his head, bringing his thoughts back to the present. He looked over at Purim and saw her frowning at him in the same manner as she had that morning. He gave her a sheepish smile, then thought to himself, 'Maybe I'll find out more as we journey together...'

**********

Several hours later, the duo reached the outskirts of Kippo Village. Randy was not tired, having spent several days on the road already and already being used to it. However, he still hadn't found out any more about Purim's past. In fact, she remained quiet for the most part as they traveled. Trying to be friendly, he had confided in her what he knew about his past and his exile from Potos Village. She had listened intently, but she hadn't spoken about herself. And in battle, Purim lashed out as though the creatures who came forward to fight them had caused her secret pain.

He glanced over at his blonde companion, intending to ask her if she wanted to take a small break in the village, or possibly even stay there for the rest of the day, but her expression stopped him. She looked as if she was about to cry. "Purim, what's wrong?" he asked softly.

Her voice was barely above a whisper. "This is... Dyluck's hometown. His parents live here." She shook her head, then looked up at Randy. "Please, let's just keep going."

Randy sighed and nodded in agreement, then led the way on towards Gaia's Navel. He didn't want to cause Purim any more anguish than she was already going through. However, he also knew that if she continued bottling up her feelings, she would continue to lash out. Surprisingly, before he could ask her a question, she began opening up to him.

"My mother died when I was very young," Purim began. "Dad was always busy. He was the king's best knight, so he was almost always off somewhere doing the king's business. He was hardly ever around, so he hired someone to take care of me. Now that Dad has gotten older, he can't do as much anymore, so he's home more often."

"But... isn't that good?" Randy asked. "Now you can spend more time with him."

Purim shook her head. "No, it's worse than before! Dad thinks he can run my life! He only cares about marrying me off to someone. He even tried to arrange a marriage for me to some pompous nobleman's son... Oooooh, it makes me so ANGRY!" As if emphasizing her words, she clenched her fists.

Suddenly her clawed fist shot out and slammed into the top of a Lullabud's head, which was trying to sneak up on her. Her fist was immediately followed by her left leg, which kicked the vicious flower on the side of the mouth. Rage-filled punch after punch landed on the Lullabud even after it had crumpled to the ground. Randy almost pitied the creature.

Breathless after her assault on the Lullabud, Purim sank to her knees and caught her breath. "But two years ago, Dyluck and I met and fell in love. Dad hates him. I don't know why..." She sighed sadly. "That's why he and his troops were sent to battle that witch Elinee in the Haunted Forest. Dad begged the king to get rid of him for a while..."

Randy was shocked. He had always assumed that fathers were as kind to their children as the Elder in Potos Village had been to him, even though he wasn't his own child by birth. "That's terrible! Doesn't your father understand how you feel?"

"I don't think he's ever cared about me," Purim answered in a small voice. "Only one person has ever really loved me since my mother died, and now he's being taken away from me!" She covered her face with her hands and sank down onto a nearby rock, sobbing.

Randy turned toward Purim and saw large tears running down her cheeks. He felt so bad for her, but he didn't know what to say. He wasn't even able to go with her right away to rescue Dyluck. He hoped that she was exaggerating and that her father did love her.

"I'm sorry, Randy," Purim said. "I didn't meant to dump all my problems on you..."

"Oh, it's no trouble at all," he was quick to reassure her. He gave her a sincere smile, and she smiled back, causing Randy to feel as though he would melt into a puddle at her feet. She was really a very pretty girl, and her smile just added to her beauty. 'No, no!' He mentally chastised himself, praying that he was not blushing. 'She can never be more than your friend... She loves someone else...'

About an hour later, the duo finally found themselves overlooking Gaia's Navel, which turned out to be a grassy canyon with a path that wound around several levels before reaching the bottom. Crystal clear water flowed down rushing waterfalls. As he looked around the beautiful view, Randy noticed a cave behind one of the waterfall on the lowest level of the canyon. He also noticed a second path that led north, away from Gaia's Navel, and he figured that this was the way to the Haunted Forest. "It looks like this is where we part ways, Purim," he said "I promise I'll meet you at Elinee's castle as soon as I finish my business here."

Purim nodded. "I'll be fine till then," she told him.

"Are you sure?" Randy asked.

"Positive." She held up her fist with her knuckle weapon on it and winked, causing Randy to chuckle at her gesture. She began walking toward the entrance to the Haunted Forest, then turned back and waved goodbye. Randy waved back. Soon she was out of sight. But the Mana Knight knew that he would see her again.

~The End~

Author's notes: Whew, my first completed fanfic for the site! Years ago when I was in college, I tried to write an SD2 novelization. I wasn't writing it in order, though, just scenes randomly, and then I was going to connect them all. Of course, it wound up abandoned like most of my other fanfics... ^^;;; However, I recently flipped through the notebook I had the scenes written in. Most of the dialogue was copied directly from the game (I had written down the whole game's script--I was such a big fan! ^^;;), which I didn't really like. There were a couple of connected scenes, though, that had mostly original dialogue. One became the main storyline of this fic, and the other became the flashback. A funny thing was that I originally never saw Randy and Purim as a couple, but as I read through what I had written, it seems like I did subconsciously picture them together, and so there was a bit more emphasis on Randy's feelings for Purim. Purim, of course, is still in love with Dyluck, so she wouldn't reciprocate at this point. Thanks for reading! :D

Little Disclaimer: Seiken Densetsu 2/Secret of Mana and all its characters are copyrighted to Square/Squaresoft/Square-Enix. This is just a fanfic written by Staci/Nadia.