And this is for Noacat, who deserves it; and Cendrillo, who will appreciate the attraction of being deliberately confusing.

-

chapter three : mirror (ultimecia)

It is dark: nightfall. The sorceress stands at the window, looking out below at the ragged lands. These lands are her body and blood now. For months she has been fighting a war, the worst yet; a pinnacle of all sorceress conflicts over all time. The lands before her drink from her spells and from the bodies of the men she sends out and from the bodies of the others, the SeeDs, who come to her tower only to die. She has fed the land for so long that it calls her mother; it looks to her for nourishment. She feels it, a giant scar across her palm, an ache in her heart. She breathes, and the land watches in anticipation: she sighs, and the land cries in rain.

The sorceress's name is Esora. Already her people have begun to call her Ultimecia, an ancient title of respect and power and a worthiness she is not sure she yet deserves. Esora went to her library to look up the legend of that sorceress, who saved her land and her people by creating a spell so powerful it destroyed everything in its wake. She found that the spell was called Ultima, not its caster; the title literally means she of the Ultimate in an ancient language. Esora is not comforted.

And Esora is powerful. She has fought this war almost single-handedly, and she is winning.

The war had begun right after her last excavation. Esora attends these digs often; the magic in her blood is connected to time, somehow, and it points to old archaic finds, steeped in dust and the magic of years. This time they found some sort of room, a basement beneath the crumpled temple they were excavating. The room was full of all sort of scientific finds, ones that made Esora's blood tingle, like a Thundaga.

Esora herself translates the runes in the room and puzzles over their meaning. Junction Machine Ellone. She recognizes the words junction and machine, though she has no idea what they mean: she knows a junction is a connection, a joining, so it may tell her something about the machine's function. Ellone she does not recognize. Is this another descriptor, like junction? Is ellone some sort of title, or a warning?

She is in her chambers puzzling over the words when it happens. A man is touching the machine and there is a big misty explosion and everyone in the room falls asleep. Later when they awaken the men closest to the machine have all had strange dreams, visions where they walked in someone else's head and watched the past.

Before Esora can do anything the word leaks out and the world explodes. There are some who will listen to the wisdom and guidance of their Ultimecia. However, there are others who do not want the machine touched. They think it is dangerous, a tool of demons and nightmares and things that shouldn't be unleashed into this world at all. But it does not become a war until the other sorceress comes in, bent on destroying the Junction Machine.

Esora has just found out who the other sorceress is, and she is amazed. The Sorceress Rinoa is old, older than Esora's mother would be. She is the longest living sorceress in the history of the world. She has lived for ages, for centuries, whatever strange powers pumping her veins and beating her heart as if she were still nineteen.

Rinoa has been silent all these years. Until now.

Sorceress Rinoa has joined with legions of warriors ascribing to an ancient code of conduct. The rogue sorceress calls them SeeDs and sends them across the land and through the stone valley to strike at Esora. Rinoa sends spells winging, full of wrath and power. So far Esora has withstood all of these, feeding the lands below with war. What she cannot take, her people can: men and women and children have rallied to the Ultimecia.

Rinoa's war reeks of desperation.

It is one last chance, one last strike before something terrible happens. Esora can sense it in Rinoa's spells, in the magics the other sorceress sends across stone to strike at her. Esora does not know what the something terrible is, nor does she know how she has insulted the long-lived sorceress. But she will fight this drawn-out war and she will win. The land is her body and blood now, the air her magic, and she will breathe in dust and breathe out mist which will cover the others.

Esora is a rational being and she only wants to return to the Junction Machine, to her work and her research and dusty old papers and linens and books in other languages.

There was a fierce battle yesterday, a clashing between the two sorceresses. Rinoa's wings are a pearly white, tinged with sky-blue. Rinoa soars through the sky and is followed by flowers and feathers. Esora's wings are golden, not pale: a fierce dark gold laced with almost-black, a burnt sort of color. Esora trails nothing when she flies but every time she casts a spell you can see the runes in the air: her rune is that of a clock, an old one, striking the witching hour.

The land below her loves nothing more than battle between two sorceresses at their Limit. Sorceress Rinoa, pearly and translucent and lovely and fierce in her wake, black feathers, white feathers. And the Ultimecia, the Sorceress Esora, burnt copper and logic, eyes as cool as reason. Esora can send Rinoa away every time but the strain fills the air with magic thick as soup and things rain into the ground, flowers and mist and shards of glass.

Soon the land will be thirsty no more, for Esora will strike down the other Sorceress. Perhaps Rinoa's powers have waned over time, or Rinoa herself has. Esora can sense that Rinoa is powerful but that the powers are lost in the sense of desperation. They are almost done. Soon there will be one last fanatical clash. Esora will inherit Rinoa's powers as well and she will give them into the land that has served her so well.

There is a knocking on a door behind her and Esora turns, making the movement with her hands, opening the door from across the room. The space behind it is empty but as she watches a form appears, dark haired and clad in blue, the blue of midnight and stars. The figure raises its head, spilling dark hair. It is the Sorceress Rinoa.

The face before her is ageless. It is the eyes that tell all: they are alternately the eyes of an old woman long past her prime, and those of an innocent young girl. Rinoa's face is pale and blank, void of any emotion, other than those eyes. They are brown, coffee-brown, earth-brown, but they burn with a misty grey light. Sorceress Rinoa's eyes are eerie.

Esora is not frightened, only curious. Rinoa cannot defeat her; the other sorceress's powers are drained. Perhaps Rinoa is here to make a bargain.

Ultimecia, Rinoa says, and the voice is as loud in her head as a waking voice would be.

Esora realizes that Rinoa does not know her real name.

Rinoa takes one step closer and Esora begins to feel the aura of her magic. Sorceress Rinoa's magic has always felt familiar to her in a way and she does not know why or how. She does not know why or how Rinoa has lived this long, either. Perhaps she is one of Rinoa's descendants.

Rinoa continues to walk and Esora sees how unsteady her steps are. The rogue sorceress is stumbling as if exhausted. Her eyes are burning just as strong and just as uncannily as the very first day Esora looked into them, but her body is -

Esora realizes suddenly how very thin the Sorceress Rinoa has become. Originally she looked like any normal woman would but now she looks like she is only bones. Her skin is not wrinkled and sagging but tight against her, pulled tight like leather across the head of a drum. Her skin is fiercely holding her together.

Sorceress Rinoa is dying.

She comes into the room and stops in the center, swaying a little; her eyes close involuntarily, and Esora can almost feel the nausea as Rinoa adjusts her body's balance. The eyes flicker like fireflies.

Rinoa sees her looking, for she says, "Yes. My body is broken."

Her voice is normal. Esora has heard it calling spells across the many lands and miles between them but then it was always the voice of a Sorceress. Now it is only a woman's voice. An indigo voice, Esora decides. Dark but not deep. The voice is hoarse and it carries a strange accent from the hoarseness, which does not let Rinoa's words always come out correctly. She has a hard time with hard sounds, k's and t's, mostly.

Rinoa smiles, the sort of smile that makes Esora question her sanity. "This is the gift," she says, "of karrying so many women within me. The powers let me live for ages as long as they are not used. But using them -"

She raises her arm, and Esora decidedly does-not-gasp, but she wants to. The arm is gaunt, a child's arm, a scrawny tomboy's arm, something that belongs to a skeleton.

"Using them eats away at me from the inside," Rinoa says, and cackles. Like bleach, like acid. Eats away at all parts of me. It fed on my body until there was nothing left: then it ate my mind.

Our mind.

There is not much left to feed it now.

"What do you want?" Esora asks. Her voice is neither kind nor unkind. It is merely impassioned, a scholar's voice. A grey voice. "Why have you come?"

"I want to see it."

-

So Esora takes the dying, crippled Sorceress Rinoa into the chamber of the Junction Machine Ellone. Rinoa is still laughing. Sometimes it is the giggle of a child, othertimes it is the cackle of a crone. Every time her body fails her and she stumbles, slips, spills, Rinoa laughs. It is like a game to her. Esora is beginning to see the madness through her eyes.

But then they walk into the room and Rinoa stands straight for the first time.

She takes a few smooth, soft steps and lays her hands on it.

"Don't touch it," Esora says, her voice an imperial command.

"I can touch it," Rinoa says in a soft voice. The softness is worse than the laughter was. The soft voice has no accent.

"Touching the Machine activates something which causes deep sleep, paralysis, and hallucination."

"No," Rinoa says, still soft, still lucid. "Only when you touch here, or here." The gestures are soft and controlled and were it not for the paper-thin skin and bone-hands Esora would think that Rinoa was faking death. "And it's not hallucination."

Esora bites her tongue until it actually bleeds because she does not want to ask but then she says through the blood: "Then what is it?"

She did not want to ask, oh she did not, but she did. Sorceress Rinoa's magic has driven her mad, perhaps. For Esora the madness is in the curiosity, the desire for more knowledge. Especially in history. That is the passion.

But Rinoa is running her hands over the machine, a soft smile gracing her ageless face. "Hi, Ellone," she whispers. "I had to come and say goodbye."

Esora is shocked and excited and worried all at once. Ellone is a title? A name? A person?

"I know you're in there," Rinoa says, pacing a slow circle around the machine, touching only some places and not others. "There's something of you here. And I needed to see it - to feel it."

You know how it turns out, don't you. Mistress of Time. You know how everything happens. Did you always know? Did you know there was no choice?

Esora's eyes are following Rinoa's every movement, recording them so that she can play them back later and try to replicate what the woman is doing. This is the key to understanding the Machine, she realizes. I can't let Rinoa leave!

"Oh, I won't leave, dearie," Rinoa says softly. The soft is threatening now: I won't leave. I'll always be with you.

Rinoa bends down and plants a soft kiss on the machine, her bone-hands tightening in an embrace. "Bye, Elle," she whispers. "I loved you. Squall loved you. Edea loved you, we all did. I couldn't go without telling you that - even this little piece of you."

Rinoa then stands up straight and turns to Esora.

You know what I'm here for, she says.

Esora is surprised. Rinoa is dying, yes, but not in the immediate sense, not in the next-couple-of-minutes sense.

No, the other woman says sharply, I'm not. But I don't have the power left to fight you again. I can't keep you from Ellone when the acid is eating me alive. It's eaten everything I have. I'm spent.

You can't just give the powers away willingly, Esora replies. It has to be death.

Bah! Rinoa is grinning again, full of teeth and macabre cheer. A fairy-tale, a bed-time story for the witching hour. How do you think I got my first powers?

Your first?

Ah, yes. The grin levels into a thin, proud smile. The first of four, in total. Four reservoirs of power. And I'm giving it all to you.

Esora is hesitant. But the powers are eating you, she says. They've killed you.

How do you think I lived this long? It's different, Rinoa insists. I survived centuries using only my own powers, and the other three lived in my bloodstream and my bones and my organs and nourished me with long life. As long as you do not try to draw more than is your share, you can live forever.

It's knowledge, Ultimecia. And knowledge is a power that nourishes: it does not drain.

Esora pauses. Knowledge?

Yes, Rinoa whispers. Oh, yes. I promise.

Rinoa holds her hands out before her, palms up to the air. The hands are shining with a shimmering crystalline aura that Esora recognizes. Her own hands begin to shine burnished gold. She looks down into her palms as if trying to read her own fortune, but nothing is revealed.

Esora takes her hands and lowers them down, above Rinoa's, palm to palm. They touch, as if sealing a portal, sealing a bargain.

There is a flash -

-

and she is standing before a wall made entirely of mirrors

what? Where is-

Each mirror is reflecting some young child. They are all young girls with dark hair and soft faces and easy smiles. She looks behind herself: there is no one. Only mist.

Rinoa?

One young girl looks up at the call.

The movement alerts her and her head snaps up. The mirror wall goes for miles and miles and miles, it stretches as far as she can see.

A Time Line, child. The Line is a Circle. The Circle is a Spiral. The Circle is Unending.

Do you see the reflection yet?

She screams.

-

"Who are the four women?" Rinoa's voice comes out clearly, falling from the mist around her like acid rain.

'I was born with one and given three."

It is a child's nursery rhyme: a little girl is skipping rope. The girl's hair is burnt copper, a hazy red. It is cut against her chin and flips outward in a smiling curl. There is another girl, with golden hair tucked strictly behind her ears. Gold and bronze: precious metals.

"Born with one and given three."

The bronze-head is skipping to the rhyme and the blond one is watching, counting her steps.

"One was crazy, set her free."

"No, Seff," the blond says, "you did that wrong. It's two jumps."

The copper one sticks out her tongue and continues.

"One was mother's, given me."

She stumbles a bit, but stops and takes a deep breath, readjusting the rope. It is too long for the child's short legs so she has wound it around her hands twice.

"And inside mother's, I found thee."

The copper one stops a moment in thought, and then looks up at the blond. "Quisty, what does 'thee' mean? What did she find?"

"Matron told me it means 'you'," says the blond.

"Eeeeeew, that's not my name!"

"No, dummy, you like you anybody you the word you, not you like Seffie you. But you doesn't rhyme. Matron says it's a really old word."

"Yoo don't say it right."

"And you say it like a baby."

Born with one and given three -

One was crazy, set her free -

One was mother's, given me.

And inside mother's, I found - thee -

"And inside thee was already - me." Rinoa's voice finishes off the chant.

Do you see the reflection yet?

-

"Momma got sick."

The little girl has long dark-black onyx-black hair. It shines like a precious metal but not even silver is this colorless.

The little girl is talking to a mirror because no one will talk to her. Everyone is busy caring for Momma now, but even before that, they wouldn't talk to her. Her Momma is important and so everybody revolves around her. Momma is a Sorceress and she is the Ultimecia and everybody loves and worships and serves her and the child is always left alone with mirrors and glass and dusty rocks pulled up from the lands outside.

The mirror has been her friend since she learned how to speak. She sees faces in the mirror. They are all little girls with dark hair and soft faces and easy smiles. They never talk back to her but they will listen as she talks to them. They are always surrounded in mist.

They only come out when she is alone.

She is telling this girl, now. The girl has dark hair, cut close around her chin. Her eyes are bright and her skin is sun-darkened. She looks out of the glass with a sympathetic smile.

"Momma got sick," she repeats, "and they think she's gonna Die."

Death to the child is something out of a fairy-tale, something where someone goes to a far-off land of happiness, leaving everybody behind. The child cannot understand why everyone is so sad. It's sad that Momma is leaving, she agrees, but Momma will be happy. And when they all Die, they will join Momma in the land of happiness. And maybe with Momma gone, someone will pay attention to her: someone other than a mirror.

"If she dies, I get Momma's magic," the little girl whispers to the mirror. This is a Big Person Secret that she's not supposed to know, but Momma told her yesterday. Momma thinks she is dying.

A nursemaid comes to the door. The child is talking to the mirror again. This child is so - uncanny. She's not fit at all to be a Sorceress. But no one argues with the Ultimecia.

"Come along, child. Your Momma wants you."

The child glances back, once, at the mirror. She knows the nurse can see nothing; but she can. Her own magic. The girl is still there, looking back at her, the mirror at an impossible angle.

Do you see the reflection yet?

-

- and suddenly, her face is in every mirror, every mirror she ever used to talk to -

She is back at the mirror-wall, which stretches as far as she can see and sense and understand. Everywhere that there once was anything is now only the mirror-wall. She is doing math in her head: the mirrors represent all space.

If a particle exists, then the total probability of finding it somewhere in all space has to be one: the integral of its probability function over all space is unity.

One is unity. Then what is more than one?

She has blinked, and the wall is full of the nameless dark-haired girl-children. Some have short hair, some long; some have pale skin and some dark skin. All are different and yet all are eerily the same.

The probability of being somewhere is one, if you exist.

They are trying to talk to her, their eyes wide in a macabre unblinking stare.

Do you understand yet? Do you see the reflection yet?

She takes a step back. Her spine is steeped in terror, a shiver between her shoulder-blades that feels strangely like wings.

If you look everywhere, you will find the particle somewhere.

One child makes a gesture and all the others turn to watch.

Let us start with Edea, the girl says.

Who is Edea?

Child, Mother, Crone.

If light is bent, you can see multiple images of the same thing.

Born with her own powers, Edea starts as one sorceress. She then inherits powers from Ultimecia. Let us define these powers as x, such that Edea's powers will be (1+x).

What is the value of x? It sounds like a math problem, a puzzle. Algebra for the Insane.

Edea is briefly possessed by Ultimecia, making her powers (1+2x). She then passes her powers, and Ultimecia's presence, over to the Sorceress Rinoa. Her powers are now (2+2x).

Her mind is spinning. There is a limitation to the number of things you can know about any particle. Where it is, or where it is going. Not both.

-

"Why," Esora gasps out, "why are you doing this?"

Don't you see, Rinoa cries, a gleeful wail. If you remain yourself, you stay sane. You figure out Ellone's secret. You have your full mind and your full powers. And we can't beat you. I can't beat you with four sets of powers and centuries of years. You're too strong.

But I have acid. I have bleach.

You were right, Ultimecia - it is me who drives us into madness. We take the plunge. I push us both over the edge: I grab you around the waist and jump.

Because when you're mad, you can't control yourself. Then you lose and we win.

"Who is you?" Esora is for the first time in her life sorely afraid. "And who is we?"

-

"Hyne, Rinoa," he whispers around their matched lips, "I love you."

She kisses him back, harder, trying to show her own emotions wordlessly. Their touching lips are forming words of their own in some other language, never still for an instant. Their tongues are touching, dancing.

His hands are all over her, and hers on him. The undeniable sensation of skin on skin.

"You - light me on fire," he says, and pauses. "Why do I say these things to you? I sound so stupid."

"Be my Knight," she whispers. "You don't have to speak at all."

His touch is lighting her on fire, both his hands and his body and his mind, all at once, and she gasps as they join, and he -

so you'll find me.

So long ago.

The years have been so long and so empty without him.

You should be sleeping, my love. Tell me what you're dreaming of.

-

The mirrors are blinking now, between the girl-faces and the face of her mother on her death-bed, the croaking crone, the face of the other sorceress she has fought, the face of the Junction Machine -

Who would have known that light could bend in the mist? Does mist reflect?

Rinoa's powers become (2+x) as Ultimecia leaves. Rinoa then inherits Adel: (3+x).

She is not listening: she is looking for all the particles in the system, because the probability of finding them has to be one, the particles have to be unity -

The voice continues. Rinoa then gives her powers to you. You are one Sorceress, so we have (4+x).

Two, she whispers. My mother.

Child, Mother, Crone.

Ah.

The girls all look at each other and giggle, and it echoes in the mist like birdsong.

So after receiving everything from Rinoa, your powers will be (5+x).

You then Compress Time and give them back to Edea.

But! The girls are giggling again, and it sounds like cackling. So!

Esora is still looking for the particles. They appear to her to be pieces of glass. There is a long cut across her palm, and a jagged one on her wrist. The particles are not helping.

Esora! The voice calls. Answer the question! What is x?

Tell me what you're dreaming of.

X is how much power you have. How much magic. Say it!

Solve the equation. See the reflection. Find the particles. One is unity.

"X equals X + 5," Esora says, out loud.

Good.

-

"She's not ready," comes the voice from inside the room.

The little girl stops. Her onyx hair swishes across her face. She wishes it were longer, like Momma's.

"It doesn't matter." This is Momma's voice. "She'll be ready enough." Momma's voice has withered, like dead flowers with no rain. It used to sound like birdsong but now it grates all nasty-dead against her poor dying throat.

"But she's - she's uncanny," the other voice repeats. "She stares in mirrors all day. She can't do a simple spell. She's not ready to be the Ultimecia."

This is not true. She does not stare into the mirrors, she talks with them, does her magic within them. And it's certainly not all day. She goes out to the old garden which is dead and dying like Momma and digs up rocks and stones and bits and pieces and the pieces sing to her, steeped in a strange sort of ageless grace. It is like runes, a language only she can hear. Maybe that is uncanny but - she doesn't really know what the word means.

"She works her own kind of magic. She will be ready." Momma's voice, even withered, can still be hard as steel when it wants to be.

She walks into the room and ignores all the aunts who think They would be a better reservoir for Momma's powers. Momma makes a gesture with her hand and they all leave and the door closes, one-two-three.

Then Momma reaches over and touches her on the forehead and her world lights on fire. She suddenly realizes that Momma is withered and nasty-dying because she is burning, burning up with incandescent flame, and Momma is passing the fire on to her -

Later, when Momma's body has been wrapped for the pyre, she banishes all of the aunts who would try to wage war on her. Momma's raspy old voice in her head teaches her how to kurse and so she kurses them all, out of her land forever.

-

X can't equal X + 5, she thinks. This equation has no answer.

No, the little girl says. The equation is approximately true only if x is so large that 5 becomes meaningless when compared to it.

Five women, Esora thinks. All meaningless when compared to the value of x.

One is unity. And you are much, much greater than one.

The powers are greater than the sum of their parts.

What is x?

-

She is in a grey, misty haze now, surrounded by the fog. Before her she can hear a clashing, the steely sound of metal on metal. She raises her hands and the fog lifts, like a vague curtain.

Two men are fighting. They are purely opposite, and yet mirror-image. One is bright as the sun, golden hair and Hyperion and temper all aflame like Firaga and Flare and glory. The other is dark, cool, stormy eyes and dark hair and no words save the elegant sweep of his blade. Each is trying to drown the other: either fire or water will win.

And yet the men are like two pieces of the same puzzle. They face off against each other like brothers. Each has a scar across his face, between the eyes. When put together the scars form an X. A Fire Cross of power. Two blades meeting. X marks the spot.

X equals X + 5. All is negligible compared to the value of X.

She is watching them fight, but it is like watching through glass, or in a mirror. She knows both of these men like her own blood and body and land. Each has been her lover, her Knight; and yet each has fought against her, pierced her body with his blade. She cannot decide which Knight is Hers, and thus she cannot decide which one should win.

I'm gonna tell you about my Romantic Dream! One calls, but she does not know which. Neither is Romantic: they are all blades and rivers and fire and storms. Sun and Squall. It's a lie. But it's all relative to X.

And suddenly the battle has grown, to immense proportions, and there are other people there, weaving in and out of the mists: friends becoming enemies. She knows all of them, but because she does not know who she is, she cannot reach out and greet them.

She is so many women, sometimes. Too many faces. Only three mirrors.

A shriek, again, cutting across the mist: and she realizes she does not recognize her own voice.

-

Esora is still musing, scanning the glass wall to try and find the particles.

Light can behave as a particle or a wave. If light is bent, you can see multiple images of the same thing.

The wall is now covered completely in mist: each mirror identical, no longer a mirror; only a clouded piece of glass, hiding particles.

Unsolveable equation. Circular logic. The Circle is Endless.

"X equals X + 5," she repeats, as if it is a mantra. "X equals -"

and the particles fall into her hands -

And X is greater than one. And One is Unity. This Circle is more than Unity.

but they are not particles at all, they're knowledge -

Ellone is -

who Edea is -

Time -

(the nature of time, it's all the speed of light, reflected by mirrors.)

The Angel and the Lion, the entire story -

mist and feathers, white feather black feather, mirror-black, onyx-black

(greater than)

Someday I'll tell you about my Romantic Dream!

Time - there was a time once - once upon a time -

so you'll find me. (Who? Who is we?)

Compression - no, Kompression -

junction -

You should be sleeping, my love. Tell me what you're dreaming of.

time. (It's always about Time.)

The Angel has Wings. Griever has fangs and claws like blades. Like shards of glass.

(mirrors). three of them. three faces.

What Time Is -

She is the Witching Hour. The clock, the Circle.

When I land, will my eyes be closed, or -

Her eyes open.

-

They are in a field of flowers, but the flowers are all shades of grey, and withered. There is a fierce storm around them, blowing up dead flower residue and feathers. White feathers, black feathers. Angel of Life, Angel of Death.

They are facing each other. One is Rinoa and one is Esora, but at this point, neither is sure which is which.

Don't you see, Esora says. You may drive me mad, but I wouldn't know anything without you. I didn't know who Adel was before you came. I didn't know about Ellone before you came. I didn't know about Griever. I didn't even know what Time Compression was before you came.

You're the reason, Rinoa.

But I came to stop you! she cries, desperate. I'm the reason you can't do it all, I'm the reason you fail!

You're also the reason I try.

One is unity; we are one. And X is far, far greater than either of us.

"What does X equal?" Esora whispers, as Rinoa bows down, surrendering her body.

Sorceress Rinoa's war reeks of desperation. Her tears reek of vengeance.

-


So, uh, yeah.

These last two movements have been on my computer since 02 January; I have been trying to deal with them and make sure they were as close-to-perfect as I could get. I was surprised at the reviews (esp Enkida's) who came close to guessing that there was more out there.

OK, some acknowledgments: The child/mother/crone triad I borrowed and paraphrased from the Old Religion descriptions in Marion Zimmer Bradley's Avalon series (Mists of Avalon? I think), just cause I liked it, and I thought it fit. Most of the scientific-sounding lines are taken out of my notes from Modern Physics, direct notes from my crack-fiend of a professor. I've borrowed a line of lyric from Bjork and from Garbage. And I'm sure that I've borrowed some phrasings from Robin McKinley, because I always do (she is my own personal Goddess and if you haven't read anything of hers go! and pick up Sunshine right now).

Everything else is mine cause I'm bloody awesome. Including my nifty-stupid mathematical proof.

-

Random blabberings imminent; so if you are one of those who doesn't really care, please skip on down to the tasty little 'Review' button.

I thought I had already said everything I had to say about Rinoa. Sorceress tries to put it all together. However, having felt a little paranoid and crazy myself, it all ended up coming out in this; and I realized I had a great deal to say about Rinoa.

I've never really connected with Rinoa's character. Selphie and Irvine, though they can both be annoying, I absolutely love; and (as I have stated before) I think I pretty much embody Quistis. But Rinoa always just kind of whined and looked all doughy and I didn't really like her all that much. But - wow - when she's insane, it all comes out. Rinoa has potential.

Plus I wanted to write something insane, totally nuts-o with lots of imagery but few conclusions. Explanations are overrated. I told Cendrillo this and then had a wild vehement urge to act on my own advice.

I chose to deal only with Rinoa, Edea, and Esora, because I think they are an important little triumvirate of power there. Also, they are the only ones who ever had to cope with the weight of the powers defined as X above.

For Enkida, Re: Adel:

I am operating under the assumption that Adel was a madball, as insinuated in the game, only because she was a madball inherently and not because of Ultimecia. They didn't give me enough Adel to work with, other than the fact that she was an ugly manlike freakazoid who rules Esthar for six bazillion years and wants to eat Rinoa, crunch crunch. So other than a brief mention I have omitted her perspective.

(Granted, Adel would look like something like this: "...urrrr...aahhhh...BZZZZZZZT! POWERS! MMMM, TASTY SORCERESS. Thanks, Seifer. BZZZZZZZZT!" Because I can't take myself seriously anymore after writing 30 pages of Mirrorfeather.

I've tried to cover my ass by implying that Ultimecia makes Rinoa free Adel to eat Adel's powers. As Laguna said: "She may be a sorceress, but after all, she was human." And Ultimecia is a power-hungry bizatch, in the end.

Plus there's something to be said about fate: does she do it only because she knows she did it in the past? Oooh, there's a doozy. How much of Ultimecia is acting on Rinoa's memories? Maaaan.

And as for the value of X? X equals Ultimecia. X equals the madness. Thus, Ultimecia Madness. They are interchangeable.

Apparently I like to write long notes. Cause this gigantic blather wasn't long enough.

So there.

Love,

seventhe