(Wheee! Topaz here. At last, I give you the sequel to my story Untouchable. It may not look like much yet, but I do have certain...plans...for this one. Heh heh. Also, if you are reading this and haven't yet read Untouchable, I suggest reading it before you begin this story. Anyways, enjoy! --Topaz Fox)
Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles or anything of the sort.
"Elga! Help!" Anne ducked as a massive claw whirled over her head. She blocked the giant crab's smaller, less functional claw with her rounded Clavat shield. Elga hopped up to the scene with surprising speed for such a small creature. She grinned wickedly. "Are you ready for this, crab? Here it comes!"
She barreled like a bullet over the soft riverside grasses. With a cry, she threw her weight into her spear and struck the huge crab with full force. It shuddered as the spear point crunched past its gnarled shell and impaled its squishy flesh. The shell cracked and exploded, much to Elga's delight. The Lilty jammed her foot against the crab's exposed body and yanked out her spear, jumping aside as the crab swung at her. "Caliphen!" she yelled over her shoulder. "Go!"
Caliphen straightened his tall frame and raised one great striped hand. Sunlight shone on the contours of his bronze helmet. He stood silent for a moment, absorbed in the ancient magic that lay inside all Yukes, then snapped up his head. "Thunder!" he cried, voice swollen with mystic power.
Rails of static jumped through the crab's tender body. As it tried to shake off its momentary paralysis, Ter Van loped up in his agile, beast-like way. Everything seemed so natural for the Selkie warrior, even the precise back-flips he used to dodge the crab's attacks. He struck the crab twice, three times, then leaped up and brought his weapon over his head. The blow landed right between the crab's revolting black eyes. The eyes wiggled and rolled, and the giant river guardian staggered. The fight would not last much longer.
"Let me finish him!" snarled Elga with barbaric pleasure. She pushed past Ter Van and stabbed the crab repeatedly. The enormous monster quivered and stopped, an inch from death. Elga laughed like she was possessed and threw her spear, which was easily larger than her, with incredible strength. The weapon's metal shaft protruded from the crab like an unnatural parasite. The crab shook, took two steps, and fell to the ground in a disheveled heap.
Everyone stood still, catching their breath. Caliphen was the first one to break the silence. He swept down in a respectful bow toward the body of the great crab. "Thank you, Giant Crab, for an honorable fight." Elga kicked the colossal carcass and grinned. "Honorable, nothing," she chirped. "That was all just raw skill." Anne wiped her brow. "Well, I'm glad it's over." Ter Van scooped the Crystal Chalice up from a nearby stump, smiled at his comrades, and said, "Come on, everyone. We have myrrh to collect."
The four close friends walked under a rock arch and found themselves in a familiar cove. The still grotto was etched with green river-plants, and in the center of it all stood the myrrh tree, stately and mysterious.
Sunlight played off of the tree's glassy blue-green branches. The branches sloped downward and together into a fine point. As Ter Van slid the Chalice on the stone beneath the tree, something that resembled a divine dewdrop began to form at the conjoining of the branches. Everyone held their breath as the beautiful droplet grew to the size of a coin, sparkled brightly, and fell into the deep basin of the Chalice with a plop.
Not two minutes had passed before a loud "Kupo!" rang through the grotto. The ever-faithful Mailmoogle in his patchwork clothes dashed up, wobbling. He held four neat envelopes in his funny little mouth. Up he flew,flitting to each caravan member and giving them all a letter.
Anne ripped hers open first and found a letter from her father, Tipa's resident merchant. Caliphen's letter was from his slightly overbearing mother and Elga's was from her baby brother. Ter Van took one look at the rose seal on the envelope and knew the letter was from Ralthia.
He remembered her so vividly it made him a bit embarrassed. He tenderly touched the rose-embossed wax, reliving the night he had given the rose seal to Ralthia. When he had left, he honestly didn't think he was really, truly in love with her, but he had been wrong. As he recalled her gentle, wise voice and the captivating strangeness of her body, he realized he actually, genuinely…missed her.
My dear Ter Van,
How have you been? Is everyone well? Have you collected any myrrh?
Everything here at home is fine. It all seems very quiet since you and the others left. Nothing much has happened or is happening. I am actually considering breaking away from my alchemy-obsessed relatives and maybe starting a trade of my own, but I'm not quite sure yet. What do you think?
Oh, Ter Van, not a day goes by without my wishing to see your face again. Be safe, all right? Send everyone my regards.
Ter Van smiled secretively to himself. Caliphen was the only one who noticed Ter Van's expression. He walked over to his friend and read the letter from over his shoulder. Somehow, Caliphen guessed exactly who the letter was from. Yukes had an odd way of…knowing. Ter Van never noticed him, and Caliphen never gave away his position. When he had finished reading, he simply walked away.
The Mailmoogle tapped his foot impatiently. "Come on, kupo! Give me your response!" The fuzzy creature's slightly obnoxious voice cut through Ter Van's dreamy state. Taking a pen and a sheet of parchment, he scribbled:
I've been pretty good. The four of us just defeated River Belle Path's guardian, the Giant Crab, and collected a drop of myrrh. Elga is still the same little fighting savage she's always been. Wow, I would hate to meet her in a dark alley.
I do miss Tipa…and everyone…and you. I think your idea sounds fantastic. I will support you in anything you choose to do with your life.
Gotta go now. The Mailmoogle is giving me a dirty look. I am greatly looking forward to the day I see you again. I need you like a Crystal needs myrrh.
Yours always, Ter Van.
Finally, the agitated Mailmoogle gathered all four responses and flapped away.
Night fell like black satin on the countryside. The Tipa caravan set up camp near River Belle Path, well out of the way of any monsters. Anne tethered the papaopamus to a thick tree and spread some feed on the ground before it. Elga swiftly gutted four freshly-caught fish and Caliphen positioned them on stakes around the campfire to cook. Ter Van did nothing. He sat on a stone next to the Chalice and gazed up at the moon, which was round as a bone wheel and tinged with the faintest gold. Around it splayed stars as far as the eye could see, tumbling like tiny diamonds spilled onto velvet.
He could have been imagining things, but when Ter Van looked around him, he could've sworn he saw Anne looking at him strangely. The fading vein of sunset made her doe-gentle eyes seem on fire. Somehow, deep within them, a kind of longing passion was fiercely personified. Ter Van shivered. Before he could be sure she had even been looking at him, she turned away.
Dinner was eaten without much ceremony. The four Tipa-landers ate the hot fish right off of their charred stakes. Elga and Ter Van tore into their meals heartily, while Caliphen and Anne sort of picked at their food. Eventually, though, everyone finished eating and rolled out their sleeping mats.
Right before the comrades drifted into deep, exhausted sleep, Anne said groggily, "Guys?"
"Tomorrow, we're having striped apples."
"I concur," came Caliphen's solemn voice.
"…What's that mean?"
Ter Van smiled from his place sprawled out under the stars. Despite the poisonous seas of miasma that stretched around them, they were having such a wonderful time together. Such a perfect, happy scene…but there was one thing missing.
Ralthia…how I wish you were here. And with that, Ter Van closed his eyes and fell asleep.