On the Bridge
by Staci/Nadia

The Cleft of Earth was a fairly quiet location, despite being the only way to travel to and from Forcena. It was a dimly lit cave connecting the Grasslands Kingdom to the more easily accessible cities Maia and Byzel, but it earned its name from the steep, very deep chasm within. The only way across the seemingly bottomless blackness was a wooden bridge, illuminated only by fire burning in small crevices in the cave wall. And it was on that bridge that Princess Angela of Artena stood, lost in thought over the events of the past week.

First, her own mother, the Queen of Reason, had wanted her to sacrifice her life to release the power of the Mana Stones, all because she'd never been able to cast magic. When she had refused to learn the forbidden magic that would have taken her life, the queen had put a bounty on her own daughter's head. She'd then escaped from her kingdom on the last boat out of nearby Elrand, hoping to ask the famed Priest of Light from Wendel to teach her magic. While in Jadd, where the boat had docked, she had found some pervert spying on her while she had been sleeping in the inn. While that problem certainly hadn't been as life-altering as the rest of the week's events, it had still been irksome nonetheless. Later, when she had tried to get to Wendel, the caves leading to the Holy City had been blocked off, first by a mysterious invisible barrier that she was unable to pass through, and later by the beastmen who had already invaded Jadd. Thinking that Wendel had been taken over by the Beast Kingdom as well, she'd fled from Jadd on another boat, this one heading to Maia. Tired of being on the run, the exiled princess had decided to try to get to Forcena to warn the king that her mother was planning an invasion. Perhaps he would grant her sanctuary until she could find another way to learn magic.

"I can't go home... I still haven't learned magic... Can this week possibly get any worse...?" she muttered under her breath.

Unfortunately, the princess' rhetorical question was about to be answered.

"Princess Angela, is that you?"

Angela jumped in surprise at the voice and spun around, searching for the source. To her surprise, there were half a dozen of Artena's witch soldiers forming a half circle behind her. Apparently, she had been so absorbed in her thoughts, she hadn't heard them approach. There were also a few more on Forcena's side of the cleft accompanied by two large oddly shaped figures with a metallic gleam to them. She could hear surprised gasps and whispering between the soldiers, no doubt shocked to find their princess standing around in a cave far from her kingdom.

The princess frowned. "What are you all doing here? Has the invasion of Forcena already begun?" she demanded, her hands on her hips. Of course, she mused silently, with the way my luck's been this past week, Artena has already taken over, like the Beast Kingdom took over Jadd and Wendel. What am I going to do now...?

"There was an attack on Forcena nearly a week ago," the same soldier responded, confirming Angela's silent suspicions, "but we are still searching for the Jewel Valley, where the Mana Stone of Earth is rumored to be. However, we now have another assignment..." She paused. "The Queen of Reason says that you are to be executed on sight for treason to your kingdom."

Angela's normally pale skin turned even whiter and she gripped the railing behind her to steady herself. "Wh...what?!!"

Now her mother wanted her executed because she wouldn't sacrifice herself? It seemed as though the queen wanted her dead no matter what. Now she would never have a chance to someday prove herself worthy in her mother's eyes and finally gain her mother's love and respect. Of all the horrible things that had happened in the past week, her mother's apparent hatred of her was by far the most devastating. She'd left home hoping that she'd someday be able to earn the motherly love she'd always desired but had never received, but it seemed that it was a dream far beyond her grasp. The sorrow that had been hidden deep within her heart since childhood over the situation with her mother had now grown so great, she couldn't keep it inside any longer. Her legs gave way completely and she fell to her knees, sobbing.

"Ooooooh, that girl must've been a really bad person!"

Angela widened her eyes through her tears, but her shock quickly turned into anger as she turned her head to face the person who blurted that out. She found herself glaring into the bright blue eyes of a little girl who couldn't have been more than eight years old. She had long blonde hair ending in huge curls and her shiny clothes were shades of blue and pink. Despite the cherubic innocence of the child before her, Angela still yelled at her, tears still streaming down her cheeks. "How dare you?! I didn't do anything wrong!"

Then the princess noticed that the little girl wasn't alone. She was flanked by a taller blonde-haired, blue-eyed female who, judging from her uniform and spear, was one of the amazonesses of Rolante, and a redheaded swordsman who seemed very familiar...

"You!" Angela shrieked, even angrier than before. "You're that pervert who was spying on me in Jadd!"

The swordsman jumped in surprise and flushed as red as his hair as recognition sunk in for him as well. But he quickly regained his composure enough to retort hotly, "Hey, I was just trying to see who was there! You sure have a high opinion of yourself to think I'd be doing that!"

As the two glared at each other, the soft murmuring from the soldiers became apparent through the now silence as they quietly discussed the situation amongst themselves. A moment later, the same soldier, obviously the leader, stepped forward again. "Are you three with the princess?"

"Are you kidding?! No way!" the swordsman responded immediately. Angela could have rolled her eyes at him.

"Then clear out of our way!" the soldier shouted.

As Angela opened her mouth to yell at the swordsman for his rudeness, there was a loud whirring noise as the two metallic things sprang to life and started to move across the bridge towards where they were. Then she finally recognized them. They were Machine Golems, magically powered robots that assisted Artena's army.

The soldiers moved back, providing enough space for a battle while still blocking off any means of escape. The trio of strangers had been forced back behind the soldiers on the side they'd entered the bridge on, leaving them unable to cross the bridge. At the whistle of the head soldier, the magically powered golems moved on either side of the princess. She stood up slowly and took out her weapon, the weak wooden staff she'd had back in Artena. She silently cursed the beastmen for taking all the weapons from Jadd, not to mention blocking her way to Wendel, and wished that she'd thought to stop for a new staff in Maia.

The two golems approached the princess from both sides. She swung her staff as hard as she could at each of them, leaving a small dent in their chests. Both of them retaliated at the same time, firing off their metal fists at her. All four fists hit her in the stomach, causing her to double over in pain and nearly fall off the bridge. Her final thought before losing consciousness was that the golems would be executing her any moment now.


"Lookie, she's waking up!"

I'm... not dead...?

The little blonde girl's smiling face filled Angela's vision as she opened her eyes. The princess groaned in pain and sat up, still surprised that she'd survived her encounter with the Machine Golems. She glanced around and found the two golems lying motionless on the bridge, the magical machinery that allowed them to move now exposed through various holes and slices to their dented metallic bodies. The other two strangers were putting their weapons away and catching their breath.

"Are you hurt? Here! Charlotte will help you!" The blonde child started chanting softly. As she finished, white wisps of energy flowed from her hands and wrapped around the princess' body. As the energy surrounded her, she could feel her injuries slowly fade away until the pain she had felt was no more.

Angela stared at her in shock. She recognized what Charlotte had done--she'd cast a Heal Light spell. A little girl who wasn't even ten years old and apparently referred to herself in third person was able to cast a spell, yet she, the princess of the famed Magic Kingdom and at least twice this girl's age was still unable to use any magic.

The soldiers were all glaring at them. "Impossible! They destroyed the golems!" the leader cried out. "But don't worry! Soon you'll be at the bottom of that pit!"

Charlotte looked confused. "What does the lady in the silly hat mean...?" she asked.

Angela personally thought that Charlotte's oversized pink hat with fuzzy balls at the two tips looked a lot more ridiculous than the Artenian soldiers', but before anyone could attempt to respond, the two golems began flashing red. Angela widened her eyes. "They're going to blow up!"

The Artenian soldiers were rushing across the bridge towards the exit to Forcena, blocking the others' way, so Angela and the group of strangers were forced to scramble back to the side leading to Maia and Byzel. As soon as the last foot touched gravel instead of wooden bridge, the golems exploded into thousands of pieces. The explosion caused the bridge to rip in two and collapse into the cleft along with golems' broken remains.

Looking over to the other side of the now non-existant bridge, Angela noticed that the soliders were heading out towards Forcena without a glance back to her or the trio that destroyed the Machine Golems. She sighed in relief. She'd survived her encounter with the Artenian army. Maybe there was still some hope for her after all.

The redhead, however, was not relieved. "What was going on back there?" he yelled. "Because of that, now we can't get through to Forcena!"

The amazoness thankfully wasn't as volatile as the redheaded swordsman. "Duran, calm down," she said in a soothing voice. Angela wondered how often she had to deal with his temper. Then the amazoness turned to her. "Who are you, and why did those women want to kill you?"

Angela dreaded having to answer this question, but she knew she had to explain herself, lest her temporary allies might decide to fight her as well, believing her to be traitorous. She sighed inwardly and began her story. "I'm Angela, Princess of Artena..."

"You!" Duran interrupted, his voice filled with even more anger and hatred than before. You attacked my kingdom!" He unsheathed his sword, but the amazoness quickly moved between him and the startled princess.

"I had nothing to do with that! I was just being used as a sacrifice!" Angela protested, backing away slightly from the enraged swordsman. "My mother is the one going after the world's Mana Stones! And... the Crimson Lotus Magician is helping..." Bitterness filled the Artenian princess' voice in those last words as she thought of her former best friend.

He had once been as untalented with magic as Angela herself was, and they had been the best of friends. But one day, after having disappeared for a few days, he'd suddenly showed magic ability rivaling that of even the queen herself, and a cold, uncaring personality. Everyone, including Angela, had been shocked at his amazing development of power. His relationship with the princess had quickly diminished and was replaced with a new business-like relationship with her mother. Now he was her right hand man, in charge of the soliders and their training. She shook her head, trying to forget the happy memories of what the Crimson Lotus Magician had once been. He was nothing more than an annoying rival to her now, one that she absolutely had to surpass if she was to ever earn her mother's respect.

"Crimson Lotus Magician..." Duran repeated the title, recognition sparking in his eyes. "He's the one! He attacked our soldiers in the night!" He clenched a fist. "I have to get stronger so I can defeat him! He'll pay for what he did!"

Angela was relieved that the big swordsman's aggression was no longer directed towards her. After all, she'd been surprised at her mother's sudden shift from diplomacy with the other kingdoms. Under normal circumstances, Artena tended to keep to itself, being satisfied with focusing on the study and practice of magic.

Since it seemed that that matter had been taken care of, she turned to Charlotte. "So how is it that you know magic? You're just a little kid!"

The blonde child's cheeks puffed up in anger. "Charlotte is not a little kid! Charlotte is fifteen years old! And Charlotte learned magic from Wisp!"

The princess didn't believe Charlotte's claim of her age for a moment. However, she was quite shocked about the child having met one of the eight elemental spirits of the world. "Wisp? You mean the spirit of light? How could you have possibly met him?"

Charlotte was eager to keep talking. "Grandpa told Charlotte and Riesz where to find him! Wisp was close to where Charlotte lives!"

Stumped, Angela pondered Charlotte's words. What man would know the location of the elemental spirits...? Suddenly, she widened her eyes in realization. "Your grandfather...," she stammered. "Is he... the Priest of Light?"

"Uh huh!" The tiny cleric swayed cheerfully from side to side.

Angela was stunned. At least that explained the little girl's ability to use magic. Any relative of the Priest of Light would likely be a gifted magic user. Though, she thought bitterly, the same could be said of Mother's relatives, too... "Why can't I use magic too...?" She clasped her hands over her mouth in horror as she realized that she had muttered the last part aloud.

"That's okay! Riesz and Duran can't use magic either!" Charlotte reassured her with a smile, though the words were anything but reassuring to Angela.

Suddenly, a transparent white shape began to manifest itself next to the small blonde girl. As it became more solid, Angela saw that it appeared to be a flaming white ball with a glowing white aura around it. The only part of the figure that wasn't white was its eyes, which were a haunting black. She recognized the shining being from her lessons with Jose back in Artena--this was the light elemental, Will-o-Wisp, known as Wisp for short. She gasped in surprise and awe at actually meeting one of the elemental spirits.

"Hello!" The spirit said, almost as cheerfully as the cleric beside it. "I heard you say that you wish to learn magic?"

Angela nearly fell over from shock. "Are you serious?" she blurted out.

Wisp bobbed up and down, apparently its version of a nod. "You have a good heart, and you do have the capability to learn magic. I will grant your wish."

Suddenly, Angela found herself surrounded by a white light. She felt as if there was a light burning inside her soul, and she could feel something deep inside herself growing stronger as well... Then the light faded away, but the increased strength she'd felt remained.

Feeling the urge to try her magic again, she thought back to her unfruitful lessons with Jose, trying to remember the chant for Holy Ball, the most basic light elemental attack spell... She got into her casting stance and softly spoke the words, feeling anticipation building inside of her. As she finished the chant, she saw the white balls growing and glowing just out of her hand's reach. The balls rushed out into the canyon and dissipated, since she hadn't targetted anything specific.

"I... I did it!" she blurted out. "I cast magic at last!" She was so ecstatic that she burst into tears.

"You always had the ability inside of you. You just needed a guide to help you succeed at it," Wisp floated around her as it spoke, then floated back over to Charlotte and slowly faded away.

Thrilled at finally being able to use magic, even if it was just one spell, Angela wanted to run back home and show her mother. Images of a beaming Queen of Reason hugging her filled her head, making her want to burst out in uncontrollable giggles. "I have to go home now! Mother will be so happy!"

Duran nodded. "We need to go and find another way to Forcena now, somehow."

Angela didn't know if the trio of adventurers would find any other way to the Grasslands Kingdom, but still, she wished them luck in their search, then grinned and waved. "Thank you! Thank you for everything!"

She ran off back towards the Golden Road back to Maia with a joy in her heart that hadn't been there before. She had finally learned magic... Just wait until Mother sees me now! she thought, giddy with excitement.

~The End~

Author's notes: Whew, finally wrote another fanfic! This one was started last year, but I didn't like how the second half of it was coming along, so I left it for several months and came back to it now. This fic was inspired by a thread at GameFAQs' SD3 board, in which we were discussing that fact that all of the playable characters have NPC scenes when they aren't in your party, except for Angela. Well, if you're playing as Duran and Angela's not in your party, you see her near the end of the game, but if your main character is one of the other four characters, she gets no scene! And the bridge scene on the way to Forcena is a perfect moment for her to run into the group, so I wrote a possible scene for that moment from Angela's POV.

The party's order is Charlotte, Riesz, and Duran, BTW. Duran is there, of course, because I love how Angela and Duran fight. Charlotte is there because I thought it would be interesting to see Angela be jealous of Charlotte spell-casting, since she's the only other character with magic before any class changing. And Riesz is there because I like Riesz!

Originally, I'd written out the battle between the party and the Machine Golems, but I've never written a battle before, and it was crappy, so I got rid of it... ^^;;;; After all, NPCs are usually unconscious when the party fights a boss (ie. Kevin and Lugar), so I was just keeping the fic within the game's rules... Er, yeah! ^^;;;; Speaking of which, it was hard to come up with an excuse for Angela to not join the party after learning magic from Wisp, but I decided that she'd just want to go home and show off to Valda. That IS why she left Artena in the first place.

Thank you to the folks from the SD3 board at GameFAQs for inspiring this fanfic, and to my best friend Janus for helping me edit this!

Little Disclaimer: Seiken Densetsu 3 and all its characters, locations, etc. are copyrighted to Square/Squaresoft/Square-Enix. This is just a fanfic written by Staci/Nadia.