Now here's a question: the official, English-translated game's been out for a month or two by now. Where's all the FF3 fanfic? Did everyone write it all already when it was still a NES game? But now the characters have been given names! And yet you haven't even taken it upon yourselves to write Luneth/Refia smut or Arc/Alus slash! I'm disappointed in you all. :p Something must be done!
I'd like to point out that some of this is based off of interpretations and extrapolations – that is, while Ingus never actually does this in the game, several things that he says or does make me feel like he could – thus, this story. While I'm disclaiming stuff, I might as well also add that Final Fantasy III is the intellectual property of Square Enix, and that I'm merely a high school senior who's way too bored for his own good. That said, I present to you (what I hope is) the first English FF3 fanfic in the section.
At least, the first one that mentions Luneth, Arc, Refia, and Ingus.
Ingus paused, moving just enough to maneuver the stick away from the flames and sparks so that it would not catch fire. "Good evening, Refia. Is there something you want?"
Refia had lowered her hood, he noted. This wasn't something she did often – indeed, he could only remember two or three such occasions, when one of the boys had suffered a nearly-mortal wound and she had gone into a frenzy trying to heal them before it was too late.
"It," he was pleased to note, never was. Arc still sat at the base of a nearby tree, flipping idly through a book on spells. Luneth still practiced his swordplay approximately twenty meters from the campfire, where the light did not reach. Actually, he had noticed that with each progressive night, Luneth took his training a little further away, until tonight, when he could not be seen at all – only heard.
He returned his attention to Refia. "Well?"
She shook her head, shifting her orange bangs out of her eyes, and sank to both knees so that she was looking up at him. "I want to talk to you about…a certain someone."
Ingus smiled wryly and doffed his gaudy red hat, placing it by his side and glancing in the general direction of Luneth's grunts and yells once again. "Ah, but of course. I've seen the way you've been looking at Luneth."
"What…" Refia looked genuinely shocked – perhaps he wasn't as perceptive as he thought, or perhaps she hadn't realized it herself. She recovered admirably, though. "No, it's not what you're thinking. It is about him. But I don't come into the equation at all."
Ingus raised an eyebrow suspiciously. "Oh? Would you still be coming to me if you did not harbor so much concern for everyone else's well-being?"
He immediately felt a little more like a scumbag for taking advantage of her feelings like this, but he rationalized easily: now that he had power, she would hear him a little better.
"…Well…okay, fine. Maybe that is why I came to see you – but that's not the point." Refia sat down, curling her legs up in front of her and making eye contact with Ingus defiantly. "What I want to know is, why are you so hard on him?"
Ingus blinked. "I beg your pardon?"
Refia glanced in Luneth's direction again. "Ever since we met, it seems like you've been unnecessarily condescending towards him. Trying to dissuade him from enjoying the journey, for instance."
Ingus sat in silence for a moment, twirling the stick between his fingers.
"…Did you hear me?"
"I did. I am considering the best way to answer your query." Ingus paused. "It's not like I don't know what you're talking about."
"Luneth! Watch out!" Arc shouted, staring helplessly. Luneth barely registered the cry – his two swords were currently locked against the knife of a goblin, trying to prevent it from slipping between his ribs.
He wasn't aware there was any other danger – not until the other goblin cannonballed into his head. He cried out in pain and hit the ground, staring up at the two goblins who now leered over him. The one that took him by surprise raised its dagger and-
-found a dagger in its own face.
Luneth gaped as the one goblin fell back, and the other screamed in terror before it, too, met its end with a longsword through its torso.
Luneth blinked furiously and got to his feet, shaking. It wasn't from the terror of nearly being killed, however – it was the disdainful look that Ingus was now giving him as he cleaned his blade.
"This is no game," Ingus said quietly, sheathing his sword again. "If you cannot handle real combat, you should not be here."
It felt as though Ingus had punched him in the gut. It took him a while to get the air to say "…Excuse me?"
"You may have played about in the woods before, but this is real. Lives are at stake here. If you cannot be aware of yourself and your surroundings in battle, there is no hope."
Ingus turned and strode further into the cave, feeling Luneth's glare burn into his back. Arc helped his best friend to his feet and began to follow, as Refia stood there silently, her forehead creasing in worry…
"I admit, in that first cave, my words sounded crueler than I intended. My goal at the time was to save Princess Sara; I did not want any obstacles that we did not need."
"…And putting down his abilities and treating him like dirt isn't going to make Luneth an obstacle?" Refia said, snorting at the rhetorical question. "He was chafing over that for days on end!"
"And yet I seem to remember it working to our advantage," Ingus said, considering the stick in his hand. "He was the one who dealt the fatal blow to the Djinn, was he not? It was a mighty stroke for someone so young."
Refia raised an eyebrow. "…Are you saying he wouldn't have struck so hard and killed the beast if you hadn't infuriated him?"
"Of course not. We would have defeated the Djinn one way or another – especially in light of the fact that we became the Light Warriors."
Refia bit her lip. "That's what I'm not sure you get, Ingus. We're the Light Warriors. We're a team." She stood up and put her hands on her hips – Ingus was not intimidated. "How can we be a team if you're constantly putting down one of your teammates?"
"I've been better about that," Ingus said softly, rubbing his boot vigorously with his thumbs as though he wasn't interested in the conversation anymore. "I've tried to make it sound less like insults and more gentle criticisms."
Refia snorted. "And telling him to not even think of mocking Arc isn't an insult?"
"Frankly, both of you have a point."
Refia jumped and whirled around, but the only disturbance was Arc, his book closed on his lap and his face smiling gently.
"It's true – I wouldn't have taken much offense if Luneth had mocked me. He's my friend, and has been since childhood; he's allowed." He stood up, carrying his book under one arm, and looked fondly in Luneth's general direction. "But also give him some credit, Refia. He's thicker-skinned than he may have led you to believe. And were it not for Ingus's criticisms, I doubt he would be practicing so ardently right now."
Silence overtook the three companions as they listened intently to the swirls and shouts of Luneth training.
"…That doesn't answer my original question, though," Refia said, looking back at Ingus. "It doesn't explain why you continued to put him down and just…"
Ingus sighed and finally tossed the stick into the fire. "Perhaps I could be saying it better. But I am trying to help him. None of us are going to get better if we simply smile and nod when we screw up."
"Sometimes the little mistakes don't need to be pointed out, though," Refia countered. "It's hard to focus on our overall mission if we have little things dragging us down."
"Like the malice of my criticisms?" Ingus said dully.
"Especially when they're about stupid things like the right way to buckle a scabbard to your belt."
Ingus laughed. "I see." He lapsed into silence and listened to Luneth's shouts and grunts echoing through the darkness.
There wasn't anything wrong with telling a boy what he was doing wrong.
The Light Warriors stumbled as the cave suddenly began to shake – Refia cried out in fright as the ground itself began to split and crack apart, molten lava spurting through the cracks.
And then the ground underneath Luneth crumbled.
"Luneth!" Arc and Refia cried as the silver-haired boy plummeted, towards the lava-
-and he gasped in shock and pain as a gloved hand shot out and clasped his forearm, pulling him back up onto solid ground.
Luneth rolled over, panting from fear and exhaustion, before he turned his head and looked oddly up at a smiling Ingus.
"You're a valuable asset, Luneth. Far too valuable to be killed by something as natural as lava."
Ingus wiped the sweat from his forehead with his red cap and strode further into the cave, the tremors having subsided. His three companions looked after him for a moment or two before Luneth turned to the others.
"…Did Ingus just compliment me?"
"He saved your life, too," Arc pointed out mildly.
"But he's done that before," Luneth insisted, confusion written on his face. "He's never coupled it with anything that wasn't a criticism."
The others scattered – but Luneth stayed, bracing himself with his two blades in front of him, using them to shield himself from the sharp teeth of the dragon. It let out a guttural snort and tried to open its mouth to get around the swords, but Luneth was anticipating that – he leaped back, let it stumble over itself, and then plunged one of his blades into its eye as it tried to recover.
It screamed in pain and writhed, and Luneth quickly jumped back before he could be hurt by its thrashings. The sword was still stuck in its eye – he began to despair that he would ever get it back, when a bolt of cold suddenly shot past him and struck the dragon's head, freezing it solid. The rest of the body crumpled to the ground, and the grotesque ice sculpture fell right in front of Luneth, shattering to pieces and leaving the sword behind.
As Luneth picked it up and took out a rag to clean it, he noticed Ingus walking past him...and giving him a slight nod and smile as he passed.
Luneth raised an eyebrow as Ingus walked further away. This is the point where he'd berate me for nearly losing my sword in such a crude manner.
"Okay. What did you two do to him?" he asked his friends at the campfire that night, making sure the subject of his words was out of earshot.
All Refia could do was shrug helplessly.
"She asked him about the way he was treating you," Arc said, pleasantly ignoring the seething glare Refia sent in his direction. "Apparently that drove home a point for him."
"Like what?" Luneth asked suspiciously. "I didn't think there was much else to him besides denigrating me for being childish."
The hand on his shoulder made him jump.
"There's a tad more than that," Ingus said, smiling as he took a seat by the fire. "I want to be able to work together well with my companions. Cordiality is a requirement for such a thing." He looked at Luneth straight in the eye. "And I'm sorry I did not realize that before you did."
Luneth raised an eyebrow. "What made you realize it?"
"Something she said," Ingus replied, indicating Refia with an inclination of his head. "How we're the Light Warriors, and we're a team. We're all orphans – we all started off the same. And fate's decided to throw us together for one hell of an adventure." Ingus shrugged. "If we cannot be friends, then there really is no hope for us."
Luneth sat there for a moment before he finally, reluctantly, thrust his hand forward. "Friends, then?"
Ingus reached out and clasped the hand firmly. "Just as long as I can still chastise you for cracking inappropriate jokes."
Luneth grinned. "I think that's everyone's job."
Eh. Not my best, but it could've been worse. If this really is the first FF3 fanfic in the section, then I hope I made a good first impression in its name.
You all know the drill. Review, constructively criticize, flame, whatever. This was more an experiment than anything, so I may or may not follow up with other stuff.
Hope you enjoyed. I need to finish my Shakespeare term paper now.