The day was gray and rainy. Very cliché, and yet very appropriate. It was funeral weather. And what better weather to have at a funeral. A small funeral. Very secluded and attended by only those who had somewhat known the deceased. It was an icy feeling, seeing the newest grave in the Hero Memorial. The faces were solemn and grieving, except for that of the youngest, which was only angry.
We're giving up. We don't know he's dead. We never found him!
It filled Relm Arrowny with a sense of frustration that she didn't understand. She stood, her red cloak clung to her, nearly colorless in the water that weighed it down. She was unaware of the others leaving, and before long, she stood alone.
"Relm?" A voice, soft even as it raised itself against the weather, called to her. "It's over." Relm looked over to see Terra standing at the entrance, a look of patience on her face. Surrounded by the gray air, she looked even paler. Her green hair was dark as it stuck to her head, soaked by the rain. "Come on," the older woman offered out a hand. "We can walk together."
Relm looked once more at the new grave, engraved with a short, yet fitting messages. For Shadow, the silent presence that saved us all.
"It's tough, huh?"
"Hm?" Relm looked up at Terra questioningly.
"Saying goodbye to a friend." Relm didn't reply, only looked down at the ground, her cloak-hood blocking the view of her face. They were passing through a busy street. The people didn't seem to want to stop because of the weather. The population of the once small town had been swelling steadily for a month. Ever since the Fall.
"Why didn't we wait for him?" The girl's voice was terribly small and fragile-sounding.
"We waited a month, Relm."
"But we didn't wait for him outside...we just left him there."
"If Shadow had wanted us to wait for him, we wouldn't have had to."
The people hurried to move out of their way. There was an almost tangible feeling of gloom surrounding the two. They passed by the inn where Terra and the others were staying, not wanting to intrude on Strago and Relm's homecoming. Sabin and Locke stood just outside the doors, talking underneath the awning. Locke put up a grave hand in passing greeting as Relm and Terra walked on by.
"You don't have to walk with me. I know my way home. It's been a long time, but I still know my way."
Terra gave the girl a wry smile. "What sort of friend would I be if I left you to walk alone in the rain?"
They walked the rest of the way in silence. They found Strago having a warm cup of tea with Setzer in the kitchen, and Edgar and Celes speaking quietly in the living room, with Gau sitting starkly upright in a chair beside the king, looking as though he were desperately attempting to be good. Terra joined the two in the kitchen, after discarding her sopping cloak and shoes, while Relm hurried through the house to her bedroom, ignoring all greetings that came her way.
Terra and Celes exchanged a concerned glance through the kitchen opening, as Gau let out a confused, "Uwao?"
"Forgive Relm," Strago told them wearily. "She's never been to a funeral of a friend before."
"Relm she..." Terra began haltingly. "She, doesn't have many friends her age does she?"
"No. There aren't many children in Thamasa. Well, there weren't. I suppose it's different now. Why do you ask?"
"Well, I just thought, you know, if Relm's ever down like this and you can't find anything to cheer her up, you can always send her to Mobliz for a visit. I'd love having her stay with me sometime and there are so many children her age I'm sure she'd get along just fine."
"Thank you for the offer, Terra. I'm sure this mood of hers will pass, though."
"Hmm..." Terra stared into her teacup. "I just feel so bad for her." A clap of thunder suddenly rolled through the house, shaking the china on the table and erupting another, more excited, "Uwao!" from Gau.
"I think that's our cue to leave," Edgar stood, patting Gau's head softly in an attempt to calm him. "We should get back to the inn before the storm worsens." He helped Celes at of her seat and started for the door. "Thank you very much for your hospitality, Strago."
"Think nothing of it. Be safe, and do come and see us before you leave town."
"Of course we, will," Terra told the old man, giving him a small kiss on the cheek in parting. "Please remember what I said."
The rain was near torrential when the quintet reached the inn. A serving lad rushed to help them out of their wet outer clothes and left them to dry in front of the common room fire while the group headed up to their rooms. Edgar lead the way, Gau walking near as upright as he could beside him while the king spoke with him.
"Gau, I've been meaning to ask you something."
"How would you like to come stay at Figaro?"
"Oh...this could take awhile..."
"Terra?" A soft voice interrupted the woman's thoughts.
The blonde woman, frowned a little before she began to speak. "Are you alright?"
"Of course! I'm fine. Why do you ask? Do I seem down?"
"A little. But that's not...never mind. I'll ask later."
When they reached the place where hall divulged and the girls were forced to separate from the boys, Edgar invited them down to them common room in an hour for warm drinks. Celes accepted for the both before they continued to their shared room.
Both quickly changed into warm, dry clothes, and Terra pulled the blanket from her bed, sitting on the window seat, wrapped in it and watching the outside. Celes quietly sat at the desk provided in the room, writing in the journal she had kept since she was sixteen.
"Celes?" Terra hadn't turned from the window, but addressed the former-General still. "There was something you wanted to ask me?"
"Oh...yes." She pushed the book away from her and setting her hands in her lap. "I want to know, and I want you to answer me truthfully, are you...are you in love with him?"
"With who?" Now, Terra did turn from the window, green eyes wide with bewilderment. "With Locke?" Celes nodded miserably. "Of course I'm not! I'll not deny the fact that, yes, I do love him, but...I am not in love with him. And I am not angry with you for being so. That is what you were truly wanting to know, isn't it?"
"Yes." Celes's eyes went to her curled hands. "I'm sorry-"
"Don't be. You had every right to ask." She turned back to the window, but was not through speaking. "Now I want to ask you something."
Though she could not the pale woman's face, she could have sworn she was smiling from the back of her head. "If your first child is a daughter will you name it after me?"
The common room of the inn was a warm and easy-going place to be, even for a pickpocket. Well, only if the inhabitants didn't know you were a pickpocket. Two brown-haired girls dressed in poor travelers clothes were easy to look over in the crowd, a fact that suited them just well, as they didn't like attention in strange situations.
"I hope this rain stops by tomorrow. We haven't even got enough money for the trip home. I don't know how you talked me into coming here, Amy, we'll be stuck in Thamasa for the rest of our lives!"
"I'm sure there are fates worse than that, Sara," her companion told her nursing an ale and smiling with her deep purple eyes.
The other girl sighed discontentedly and sunk low in her seat, watching the fire, which was nearly blocked from view with all the clothes piled in front to dry from the rain. "I just wish we were back home, that's all. I miss South Figaro."
"But we've only been here a day!"
"But it took nearly two months to sail here. I wish they had passenger rides on airships."
"As do I. Since when are you such a homesick person?" Her tankard empty, Amy sat it down on the table beside her. "I thought you were always up for adventure."
"I am I just...I don't know. I'm going to go upstairs and lay down. All this noise is making my head hurt."
"Ok," with a concerned look Amy watched her friend leave the room as two men entered and sat in a secluded corner. The man next to her engaged her in a conversation about the Fall, and as they spoke, she saw more people come join the private party. Another man, looking suspiciously identical to one of the other came down with an older man with dark hair. Next came two women, roughly Amy's age, and both very painfully beautiful. The second one had a veil of sorts draped over head, covering her hair. The other was a wispy blonde. After the two sat down, she turned attention fully on to the man next to her and their conversation.
So absorbed was she, that failed to notice the person who came to stand just beside her chair to look out the window. Only when he bumped into the table and knocked her empty tankard on to her lap, causing her to jump in surprise, did she take notice of him.
"I'm so sorry! Are you alright?" So busy was she making sure her clothes were not damaged that she did not just then look up at him.
"Yes, yes. Everything is fine. It was empty. You just startled me," picking up thr tankard from where it was rolling on the ground, she looked up to give him a reassuring smile, but stopped dead in her place. "Locke?"
"Amy?" The blonde man, hair ever present in a bandana, seemed to be about to give her a hug, but immediately thought better of it and offered her a hand to shake. "How have you been?"
"Good, I've been good. And you? I hear your something of a hero now."
"Nah, I just...did what was right. You would have to. In fact, if I remember correctly I offered you to come with me up to Narshe to see what Arvis wanted."
Amy shivered. "Narshe is too cold for me. Well, and monster-populated, but the monsters weren't there at the moment. What are you doing in Thamasa?"
"...things. Hey, do you want to come over and meet the others?"
"The others? As in, the Returners?"
"Yeah. We're sitting over there," he turned and pointed to the private party in the corner. "Almost everyone is there. Terra, Cyan, Celes," he smiled as he said her name, "Setzer, and Edgar and Sabin."
"As in...King Edgar and Prince Sabin?" Amy's eyes widened. Locke nodded, seeming not to notice her shock. "Actually, I was just going to bed. I'm really tired," she feigned a yawn. "Maybe I'll see you tomorrow?"
"Yeah, ok. Are you here alone?"
"No, Sara came with me."
"We should meet up somewhere, sit down and talk."
"Yeah," she nodded. "I'd like that. Just, don't bring any royalty with you. I get a little nervous around authority."
The rains rolled out with the day, and the morning woke the town sunny and blue. Terra and Celes ate breakfast downstairs in the inn with Setzer. The windows were opened wide and a fresh breeze drifted through the room.
"I can't believe he's oversleeping on a day like this. You should have woken him up, Setzer." Celes set down her glass of water to glare at the gambler.
"My dear lady, have you ever attempted to wake the thief before he is ready?"
Terra laughed. "Oooh, Locke would kill you if he heard you call him that."
"Yes, yes," Setzer, waved the comment off. "'Call me a treasure hunter or I'll rip your throat out' or whatever nonsense he spouts."
"Nonsense?" An amused voice asked from behind their table. "I'll have you know I take my profession quite seriously." Locke, hair still unkempt from sleeping, threw himself down in the empty chair after leaning over to give Celes a good morning miss.
"Oh please," the gambler pretended to gag, "don't ruin my breakfast."
Locke grinned, throwing a piece of bread of his friend. "You're just jealous you lost the coin toss."
"Damn that coin of Edgar's!" The table laughed and then went on eating, speech halted for a short while until Celes turned to Locke.
"Who was that girl you were talking with last night?"
"Would you look at that!" Setzer jumped from his seat, Terra following closely. "We need to get to Strago's. We promised him we'd um…"
"Weed the garden! You know with him at his age he just can't…um…bye!"
"Hey!" Locke watched them leave in amusement, then he turned to Celes. "She was an old friend. Amy. I wanted her to come by and meet you all, but I think Edgar and Sabin threw her off a bit. She lives in South Figaro. She's very nice, I think you'll like her."
"Hmm…" was all Celes said in reply. She stared at him for a few moments before offering him a small smile and a peck on the cheek. "I'm going to see I can catch up with the two gardeners. Are you coming?"
"Yeah, pretty soon. Go on ahead."
It was nearly a half an hour later when Locke, having gone upstairs to tame his hair into a bandana, descended the stairs to leave the inn. He had only stepped out of the door when a voice called to him from the street.
"Locke! Over here!" A very excited Sara a little ways from the door of the inn, waving excitedly to him.
"Sara! It's good to see you," he gave his friend a small hug on greeting.
"And you. I was just waiting for Amy to come down. She told me you were here."
"Not for much longer. We're leaving tonight for Figaro."
"Well then, you must come with us today. Just for a walk around town. Please?" She looked up at him with very expectant eyes.
"Well, for a little while. I do have to somewhere to be. I promised Celes I wouldn't be far behind."
"She's" he was interrupted from explanation, though, by the sudden appearance of Amy at his side. "Oh, hello!"
"Hello…are you joining us today?"
"Come on, guys!" Sara slid in between them, taking each one by the elbow. "Let's go see what's in Thamasa!"
Relm sat in front of the canvas, her chocobo brush lay in her lap, the canvas in front of her blank. It had only just hit her. Magic was dead. Her paintings…would only be that. Paintings. Pretty colors on canvas. Something to hang on a wall. Disgusted with her epiphany, she threw the brush on the floor and toppled the canvas before storming out her room. As she hurried down the stairs, voices could be heard from the room below. Not pausing to see just who it was, she fled to the door and slammed it behind her, ignoring the call from her grandfather.
The sunlight dazzled her eyes once she stepped outside. She hadn't noticed the stop in the rain. The streets were a mess of sludge and run off water, but that didn't appear to be stopping the people from enjoying the day. Moving quickly to the crowded market area, losing herself in the crowd lest anyway should try and follow her from the house, she wondered where all the people had come from. Thamasa hadn't been this crowded the last time she'd been here.
She began to walk aimlessly, picking a path at random and seeing where her feet took her. She walked for minutes, hours, she didn't know how long. It seemed dark irony that her feet should lead her to where they did.
The entrance to the Hero's Memorial.
It was dark, as though night was still encased in the trees that surrounded it. It almost seemed a foreboding, dangerous place to enter. Relm stood there, staring in the resting place of heroes for only a few seconds before turning and running away from it as fast as should could.
And running straight into somebody in town.
Somebody laughed, and it was neither Relm nor the person she ran into as they were currently holding her arms as they doubled over, the wind knocked out of them.
"Oh, Locke, you've caught a little girl."
"You should be very proud."
Locke? "Huh?" Relm looked up at the person who had hold of her to see that it was indeed Locke. "I'm sorry! I didn't mean to run into you!"
"…s'ok," a weak voice answered her. He let go of her and stood up, his face unusually white. "Relm?"
"H-hi." She stepped back so she wasn't so close and saw that there were two women with him. And neither was Terra or Celes. Locke seemed to notice her train of thought.
"Oh, these are some old friends of mine, Sara and Amy. You two, this is Relm Arrowny, granddaughter to the Blue Mage Strago Magus, and a fellow Returner." The shorter of the two began to smile and greet her, but the other, the odd violet-eyed one, gave a gasp, and look of shock and horror crossed her face.
"Amy? Something wrong?"
"N-no…yes, I-I have to go!" Without an explanation or goodbye, she tore off down the road, leaving the others behind.
"What's with her?" The girl Locke had named as Sara asked.
"I have no idea. Maybe you should go check on her. I really need to be going anyway."
"Yeah. Well, don't be a stranger. We should be back in South Figaro in October. Come visit."
"I will. It was good seeing the two of you again. Say goodbye to Amy for me."
"Alright." With a wave, she hurried down the way, and soon disappeared from view. As she did, Locke turned to Relm, a questioning frown on his face.
"What are you doing out here, Relm?"
"Went for a walk," she told him truthfully with a shrug.
At this, she pouted and crossed her arms. "I'm not a little baby, you know! I think I can cross a street without someone holding my hand!"
Deciding it was a lost battle before it had even begun, Locke sighed and placed his hand on her shoulder as a peace offering. "You're right. I'm sorry. Shall we go home to you house?"
Relm nodded slowly, not relishing the idea of facing everyone. Locke gave her a small smile, and then proffered his hand to her. With most, it was a sign that they found her childish, but with Locke and Terra, it was only a sign of friendship and trust. She accepted it and set a slow pace for the walk home.
"It's ok to be upset you know. No one will be mad at you for it."
"Huh?" She looked up at the man, who seemed to be staring far off in the distance. "What do you mean?"
"You're trying to hide from us that your upset, that your sad. You're trying to be angry instead. I see it." At this, he looked down at her, a sad smile on his face. "I'm the same way." Relm looked to the ground and said no more the trip home. When they reached the house, they found Sabin and Setzer sitting on the steps, laughing at something Sabin had said. It seemed wrong to her, that they should be laughing when mourning for a friend.
But he wasn't really a friend now, was he? When was he ever kind to any of you? He was cold and distant and wanted nothing to do with any of you personally.
But that wasn't true, not entirely. He had never been cold, not to Relm at least. He never once complained to Strago about her always hanging by his side to play with Interceptor. He even used to pat her head in an almost friendly manner when she tried to sneak up on him and his dog. Of all the Returners, he had seemed to accept Relm and Strago the most.
Relm gave a soft hello to the gambler and the prince before she and Locke entered the house. Not wishing to be any ruder to her friends than she already had been, she entered the sitting room, her head down, and sat on the sofa beside Gau, the wild boy of the Veldt whom had befriended the artist on their journey. Communication between the two was sketchy at best, but age had pushed the two together, and Relm found that had grown used to Gau's unrefined manners, and even found them endearing to a degree.
"Uwao!" With Gau, it was really matter of tone differences rather than words.
"Are you going back home soon? To the Veldt?"
"Actually," Edgar, turned from his conversation with Locke and Terra, "Gau is going to come stay at Figaro. Only for awhile, to see if he likes it. We didn't think it would be kind, after all this time around other people, to turn him back loose as though he were only a stray dog."
Relm nodded, understanding. "I'm sure he'll enjoy Figaro."
"Yes, well, we'll see how well he enjoys proper clothes…" Edgar lifted an eyebrow in amusement and Relm gave a small smile, knowing it was true.
While the conversation continued in a pleasant manner in the sitting room, Terra went to help Strago in the kitchen with tea. The old man was staring into empty air as she entered the warm room, lit from all angles by open windows. "Strago? Is something wrong?"
"No, nothing," the old man shook himself from his reverie. "I'm just…" he sighed and shrugged.
"You're worried about her."
"Yes," he nodded. "I am. She's really quite sensitive, regardless of what she would have you think."
"And she's already lost her parents." Terra sat down at the table, and Strago took a seat across from her.
"Yes. She was so young, and it hit her so hard. You all know of course," he looked down at his clasped hands, "that I'm…"
"…that you are not her true grandfather? Yes. We know. Does she?"
"For the longest time, I asked myself that, and truthfully, I don't think she does anymore. She wasn't an only child, you know?"
Terra's opened wide. "She wasn't? She's never mentioned a sibling before. Did they die with her parents?"
Strago shook his head. "No. She ran away. Five years ago. Amethyst she was named. For her eyes. They were just like her mothers. When Clyde and Aurelia, their parents, died, Amethyst and Relm had no other living family, and were placed in my custody. Relm, as young as she was, settled in easily, grieving for her parents but not fighting that she had to stay here. Amethyst, however, was miserable. Two years later, when she was just fourteen, she ran away. We never found her.
"Without her sister, Relm, too was unhappy. She had worshipped her. So, she tried to follow her. Three nights after Amethyst had run away, Relm did so as well. She was gone for three days when she mysteriously appeared in her bed, a large, vicious bump on her head. She couldn't remember anything about where she had been, and seemed for all the world to have forgotten she had ever had a sister. From that on, I was Grandfather. Among other things."
"How awful for her," Terra stared at the man. He suddenly seemed very much his age. "Perhaps Shadow's death has served as a…reminder of her sister?"
"That's what I'm afraid of. If she remembers…I have no idea she would handle it."
"We'll just have to wait and see."
Inside the Hero's Memorial, there was a feeling of stuffiness that made one think time had no meaning or bearing. The surrounding trees were home to no animals, and not even a songbird flitted the branches above. Silence was everything.
And in the silence stood a man. He was dressed in clothes to big for him, and had one hand wrapped securely in bandages. He stood perfectly still in front of the newly added grave. Loose brown locks of hair fell like rebels into deep green eyes, which seemed to see the entire world at once.
He had traveled very far to be here. He had been advised not to come, as he was still very weak and hurt from the accident. But he had ignored them. He had every right to be here and to see this.
It was his grave, after all.
Author's Notes: The first chapter rewrite is complete! When compared to the original, the occurrences in it are not very different at all. The characterization, however, is. Relm is much less…annoying in this than in the original. I wanted to portray her as very confused and hurt by the actions of her elders. I also added a lot more depth to her relationship with Locke because he will be a bigger part of the story in the rewrite than originally. He will serve as a bit of guardian and mentor to Relm as she continues her journey. I also laid groundwork for her friendship with Gau, since the original had nothing ^_^
I've also tried to make the personalities between Celes and Terra more distinguished and defined. Terra is a very sweet, understand girl, although very quiet and unsure of herself. She wants happiness for all those around her, but does not seek out attention (hence the veil over her hair in the inn). Celes is trying to adjust to a "normal" life and is desperate for friendship and understand from others.
Sabin and Edgar, unfortnately may have to take a back seat slightly in this rewrite. I don't want too many characters bogging me down. They will still be there (and there will probably be mushy Terra/Edgar like originally ^_^) just not key players. Which is odd because I love my Figaro boys!
Oh geez…these author's notes are ridiculously long! Sorry! Stay tuned!