July 22, 2003

(Author's Note: Ever since I first played SO2, 3 years ago, I've been wanting to write a story for it. I can't promise I'll be updating frequently, but I can promise that I will update when I can.)

Disclaimer: I recognize that the characters and such belong to Tri-Ace Inc./Links/Minato Koio/ Enix. The only thing I could ever own is the game product they sell and the idea for this tale.

Dedication: To all those wonderful people who made this WONDERFUL GAME, Thank you.

Ocean of Stars

By Yashira

Prologue - A story

Sometimes I think the rain is the glistening tears shed by a long lost, tormented God searching for those who abandoned her. I can imagine, as I watch the streaks of water pelt the coloured glass with spasmodic little flicks, that this lost and unknown god wails for those she cannot find. There's a speckle! There's another! This imaginary god of mine must be sobbing up a storm for the rain has picked up its pace and the flicker of lights that spring across the black sky are sullen and angry. Someone must have offended her, or perhaps the grief is too much, but I cover my ears quickly and try not to wince too much as the booming Thunder chases its brother the Lightning. They are her children, but they are ignorant of their mother's despairing laments.

Thunder is a huge burly man. He is tall like a giant and has a dark sinister complexion. This does not make Thunder evil, but it does suggest he's not in the least bit friendly. Why should he be? His brother Lightning hogs all the glory with his radiant complexion, bright demeanor and his most flippant way of lighting up the sky when he doesn't get his way.

"Miss RENA! Tell us why the lightning and the thunder always fight!"

"Why? Why? Why?"

"Yes, please tell us!!"

Seated on my 3 legged stool and smiling at the gathered group of children by my side, I find myself once more hard pressed to remember the exact same words I had used the last time. I have to get the story just right, you know. If I make a mistake, Ketil will jump up and tell me, 'But you didn't say it like that, last time!' or if he doesn't say it, some other little amusing trickster will get to their feet and say so in his place. Kids are so funny sometimes. They don't much remember their homework or chores, but they can remember a simple little detail in a story as if it had happened to them personally.

I glanced around me, allowing my blue eyes to take in the anticipating faces of the children seated by my feet or laying down, stretched out, and even leaning forward on eager knees, and that brings a proud smile to my face. All these are from Arlia Village –my village – there's no stranger among them and those that might have once been outsiders are considered as equals in birthright.

A flash of lightning and rumble of thunder interrupts my thoughts and I automatically look at the curtained windows. Just like my story, there's a storm raging outside, blaring its noisy patter of raindrops over the house's shingles and window frames as if trying to get in. This is perhaps one of the main reasons that I'm telling this current tale; it always helps to have visual aids accentuating my words as it easily keeps their attention on me and not on the disappointment they had earlier. They were so sad when the storm hit and blew out all our well-meaning attempts to house a festival this week; several of them broke down in frustrated tears. With any luck, the storm will abate by the next day and we'll be able to leave our huddled area in the Mayor's house and get a chance to participate in a real life Festival. Oh well. As an old friend of mine would say, it would be a "rain check.". It's an earth idiom, or so I'm told, but I can't help thinking it's actually happened. The rain has come and that puts all the plans in check for now.

"Well," I turn back to the children, not wanting to let them think my quiet meant that I was ignoring their pleads, "Are you sure you wish to know this story? Lightning and Thunder are brothers, but you all know they're not very friendly."

Ketil pipes up, the spoke-kid as they seemed to have unanimously elected him for, and rubs blue curls of hair from his eyes as he stands to face me. He's grown since the first time I met him and I'm pleased with the feeling of delight that touches my heart. No longer solitary and troublesome, he's a remarkably young lad who is now showered by friends and people he's come to love and care about. He smiles at me with that nervous little twist of his lips and says, "We know that, but why?"

I rub a hand over my lips and turn my head to the side as if to consider this carefully phrased question. They've heard this story countless of times and it amuses me when they stare up with innocent faces that suggest this is the very first time they've gathered around my stool.

"Humour them, Rena," the mayor tells me with a voice tickled in mirth and fond memories. I'm half-suspicious that he too wants to hear the story again for he sits on a nearby chair and rubs his white wispy hair absently (but he is still close enough to be able to keep an ear open). I'm sorely tempted to take a moment and tease him, but there are impatient ruffling of clothes from the kids behind me, and that indicates restless children. If I don't hurry up and say something, they'll start moving around on me.

"Okay where-"

The sudden slam of a door as it flies open to careen into the plaster wall behind it sets off a gaggle of cries from the startled children. A series of windswept leaves, soaked with raining tears, come whittling into the room as a figure in dark green storms in. Never had I enraptured a load of children into loving a story so much that they took this newcomer for the sudden embodiment of one of the protagonists of my story. "THUNDER IS GOING TO KILL US!!!!"

"You've been telling that damn story to them again," the voice which speaks to me as frighten children gather around my chair - flinging themselves behind my outstretch hands to protect them - is strikingly familiar. I know that aloof, self-imposed bored tone almost anywhere.

"They asked me to." I set down one of my hands as I point with the other towards the open door behind him. With an exasperated sigh on my lips, "You're letting the rain come in Dias. Hurry up and close the door."

"Fine, fine." He shuts it by kicking it absently with the heel of one of his booted feet. Quickly cutting off the eddies of wind swirls and leaves which lash out tongue soaked finger prints along the welcome mat, he removes his cloak and hangs it up on a nearby peg. I recognize his familiar green tunic beneath it along with his beige-brown pants, but what catches my eyes is his empty scabbord. Sharpness is missing! His distant blue eyes, elusive and yet wary, and set in a face that equally embodies those very words, flickers over me fleetingly. He knows I've noticed, but he says nothing. This is not a matter to be brought up casually among the children and he knows I won't ask with them present. "It's good to see you are well." He drifts by me, his hand running through my short blue hair with a familiarity that most people would –dare not- assume.

"I'm glad you're okay too. It's been a while, hasn't it?" I push away his hand, more out of embarrassment, than anything else. The children are of an age where such gestures of fondness are instantly teased on and I don't want to hear their teasing, no matter how innocent it is, later.

"It has," Dias replies simply as he pushes his way to where Regis, our Mayor, sits. Turing to speak to the Mayor, I can see Regis has already gotten to his feet and is gesturing towards the kitchen even before Dias finishes saying this, "I don't suppose you have anything warm to drink, Regis?"

"If you'll excuse us Rena," Regis whispers an apology and reminds me that the children behind me are still waiting for me to tell my story. "This way Dias… I'll be back soon."

The kids are still hovering behind me, watching Dias with wary eyes, as he stalks through the room and down the hall into the kitchen. I notice that he's not once bothered to take his boots off and that he's carelessly tracking mud and grass along the floor. Either he's got something serious on his mind, or he's being disrespectful to the mayor. Bidding the children to stay where they are, I follow after. It's not nice to mess up someone's house and I'm going to tell Dias that except, when I get to the kitchen, I stop by the doorway and can go no further.

Dias and Regis are both talking to each other in hushed whispers, the kettle forgotten on the sink's counter, as two words delve into my thoughts and root themselves deep. "Sorcery Globe."

Drawing back, looking nervous and uneasily and I swear my heart's just leapt into my throat because I can't feel it beating in my chest anymore, I realized this is one piece of news I did not want to hear.

Sorcery Globe. Heaven help us.