Thank you someone who reviewed this story and wanted me to continue it. It took me forever to write this, and I was quite proud of it. So, here is a continuation for whoever wants to read it. Just, please, review if you want me to update. There are 8 chapters altogether, that's including the prologue.
Galbana Lilies, Please, Dry My Tears
I had cried for quite a while after I had gotten back to Penelo's. 'Stupid Vince. Why did he have to make me cry right in the middle of the market? I know he didn't mean to, but still...' I wiped the dreadful tears from my eyes. Then I got up, walked upstairs, and got into bed. The sheets were cold and I shivered as they touched my body. I stared longingly at the empty space in the bed where Reks was supposed to be. 'That service tomorrow... I wonder if I'll be able to go. There's no way I can go without crying, and I don't want to make another big scene like I did today.' I then heard the sound of the door closing downstairs, and I could tell that it was Penelo from the light footsteps that came afterward. A few minutes passed and then she came upstairs as well. I saw her appear in the doorway, her golden hair still in the usual messy braids. She avoided making eye contact with me.
"Vaan, that service tomorrow, are you going?" she asked.
"I don't know," I answered, trying to hide my face in the blankets.
"I feel I should go to pay my respect. After all, every one of those people died for us, for Dalmasca. It only seems right that we attend," she went on.
"Yeah, I just..."
"Don't want to break down again?"
"It's okay, Vaan. Everyone is in the same situation. We all understand. Many of the people are going to cry tomorrow because we've all lost someone we loved."
"So, you think I should go?" I asked.
"I think so. Besides, I'll be right there with you. It's okay for you to cry about this, Vaan," she reminded me.
"Yeah, I know. I guess I'll go, for my brother's sake."
"That's what I wanted to hear," she said, smiling slightly. "Anyway, I'll let you get some rest." With that, she left my room and sauntered into her own room.
I rolled over onto my stomach and buried my face in the pillow. Eventually, sleep took me, but it wasn't exactly pleasant.
Surrounded... Surrounded by white nothingness. Nowhere to go, nowhere to escape. I looked around desperately, looking for something, someone. I opened my mouth and tried to scream out his name, but nothing happened. I tried as hard as I could to call his name. I saw him appear before me, reaching out his hand to me. I tried to reach out, but my hands and arms were heavy, too heavy to lift. Reks then turned his back to me and began walking away. Someone else then appeared. It was Penelo.
"Call to him, Vaan. He won't turn around unless you call to him," she was saying.
Once again, I opened my mouth to call him, but still no sound came out. Reks, please just turn around, I thought.
"Call to him, Vaan," Penelo repeated.
I tried again with all my strength to scream out his name, but it was useless. Reks, Reks...
"Why won't you call him, Vaan? Do you not want him back?" Penelo asked.
I tried to answer those questions, but still, I had no voice. I started shaking as I tried once again to scream my brother's name but it just wouldn't come. Reks then disappeared into the endless white sea. No, please wait. Don't go...
I woke up with a start, my face drenched with cold sweat. My heart was beating extremely fast and my breathing was shaky.
"Reks," I whispered, just to make sure I actually could still speak. It was still dark out, but I was afraid to go back to sleep. 'How can I go on like this? He just won't leave my mind.' I got up out of bed and went into Penelo's room.
"Penelo?" I whispered.
"You were dreaming about him, weren't you?" she asked.
"You can sleep in here if you want."
"Okay. I'm sorry, Penelo," I said, walking over and getting in the bed with her.
"I just can't let this go. Why is so hard for me to forget all this?"
"Well, Re-... Your brother has been here for you your whole life unitl now. Of course it's going to be hard to move on and accept that he's gone now, that he'll never be here again," she said, trying to avoid saying his name. From the way she had whispered that last sentence, I could tell this was hard on her, too.
"Why did he have to go?" I asked.
Penelo shook her head. For once, she didn't have an answer to give me.
"Did he actually think he could help them win? He had never fought in his life," I went on, feeling angry, only because I believed I could've stopped him. I believed I could've prevented all of this from happening.
"Vaan, Reks never really asked for much in life. He was always the one giving to people. He thought that going to fight for Dalmasca was also a way of giving to people. Perhaps that's why he left," Penelo said after a minute.
"You're right. I guess he thought he was giving to me, too."
"Maybe all he was asking for in the end was to be respected, remembered, as a hero."
"But I respected him before he even left. He already was a hero to me."
"I don't know what else to say, Vaan. I told you what I think, now it's up to you to believe what you want," Penelo finished, rolling over so she was facing away from me.
'The problem is I don't know, Penelo. What should I believe?'
The morning sun was shining when I woke up again. I was thankful that I was able to sleep better than I had on my first attempt that night.
"Finally awake, sleepy head?" Penelo asked, standing in the doorway.
"Yeah, what time is it?" I asked, rubbing my eyes.
"It's about 11 o'clock. The service starts in two hours."
"Only two hours?" I asked, feeling myself start to tremble.
"Yes. Vaan, are you feeling any better? You seemed really upset last night."
"It's okay, it was just a dream."
"Okay, if you're sure. I'm going to take a run to town and pick up some breakfast for us. I won't be too long, okay?" she said.
"Take it easy, okay, Vaan? Don't push yourself too hard today," she said, worry showing on her face.
"Okay, I'll be back soon," Penelo said, smiling. She then proceeded down the stairs and I heard the door close behind her a minute later. I ran a hand through my dishevelled hair and then got up. I carefully made the bed, straightening each wrinkle out of the blankets. I then went into my room and began searching for some clothes to change into. 'Great, all the richer people at the service today will be wearing expensive clothing. Then there's us 'peasants' who supposedly can't afford nice clothes. We'll be looked down upon, as usual, even at a service like this.' I searched through the messy piles of my clothes that were scattered across the floor. My only problem was, nothing seemed appropriate for the occasion. Then I looked across the room at the neat pile of clothes arranged beside the bed. Of course, only Reks would keep his things that tidy. I closed my eyes to prevent tears from falling. I slowly walked over to the pile of my brother's clothes and began sorting through them. I came across a loose, light-blue shirt that had been one of his favorites. I struggled to see through my tear-blurred vision, but managed to get the shirt on myself. I got up off the floor, looked into the mirror and let two tears fall. 'I can't believe how much I'm crying, but I just can't help it. No one understands how hard this is for me.' I then knelt down again beside the bed and folded my hands.
"Reks, it's me. I hope you can hear me. I'm sorry I can't afford a nice outfit or a huge bouquet for the service today. I want you to understand that I'm trying my best. I'm going to make it up to you, even though I know you don't care what I wear or bring. All you care about is that I'm going for you, right?" I asked, aloud. Everything was deathly silent.
"Anyway, Penelo probably won't be back for another while so I'm going into town to get something for you. I-I wish you were here. It's so hard for me to cope with all this. But I know what you'd say. I have to be thankful for what I have. And I am thankful. I'm thankful for my friends, Penelo, Tomaj, Kytes... I just wish you could still be here too. Nothing's the same without you. Nothing will ever be the same," I said, as a chill ran down my spine. What I had said was the bitter truth, and I hated admitting it.
"So anyway, I'm really sorry that I can't just move on like you want me to. I'm trying to be strong for you, but it's just so damn hard. I love you. Please, help me make the right decisions, Reks. Even though you're not here, please, send me your guidance. I can't make it far without you. Faram..." I trailed off. I then got up and just stood in silence for a minute, as if trying to make it easier for my words to reach my brother. Then I left the room and went downstairs. I left the house and set off into the busy city streets.
I made my way into Lowtown and headed towards Old Dalan's place. The inhabitants of Lowtown seemed completely worn out and depressed, much like myself. 'Things changed for everybody.' I eventually reached Dalan's place.
"Ah, Vaan Ratsbane, champion of the sewers. What can I do for you?" Dalan asked as I entered the small room. I was slightly annoyed that he always referred to me as something like 'the boy who kills rats in the sewers', but I was more concerned about what I had come for.
"Hey, Dalan, you wouldn't happen to have any Galbana Lily seeds, would you?" I asked.
"Hmm. Galbana Lily seeds, you say? I do believe I have some," he answered. He placed his rabbit-like animal on the floor and it scampered around. Dalan then began rummaging in a large sack, which had red and yellow designs on it. The sack was obviously filled with herbs and spices, because the scents arose when the sack was disturbed from its original position.
"Here you go," the old man said, pulling a packet out of the bag. The packet had a drawing of a Galbana on it.
"Do you want anything in return?" I asked.
"No, I can spare some Galbana seeds for a lad like yourself."
"My pleasure, Vaan Ratsbane," Dalan said, scooping the animal back up in his arms.
I then left Lowtown, using the nearest exit, which led me back into the streets of Rabanastre.
I wandered around the city until I saw something that caught my attention in the North End. An elderly man was planting flowers in one of the flower boxes that ran along the railing of a bridge. The man gently placed a flower in the space that he had dug for it. Then, with his soil-covered hands, he placed more dirt over the plant's sturdy roots.
"Excuse me, sir, but what are you doing?" I asked, as kindly as I could.
"The people of this city have asked me to build these boxes, and plant these flowers in them, in memory of those who died in the war," he answered, bleakly.
"I see," I responded. I looked down at the packet of Galbana Lily seeds in my hand, then back at the old man.
"Here," I said, handing him the seeds.
"Oh, what's this?" he asked.
"They're Galbana Lily seeds. I was going to plant them myself, but I don't really know how or where."
"Why, that's very generous of you, lad."
"I think this is the for the best cause anyway."
"It is a good cause. You know, some young people don't understand the tragedy of war."
"I understand," I answered, quietly.
"Do you?" he asked.
"Yes. I lost my brother in the war."
"Oh, dear. I'm very sorry, m'boy."
"You don't have to feel sorry. I realize now that I'm not the only one who's suffering."
"Yes, but I feel sorry for everyone who has been affected by this war. So many of the soldiers had so much more to live for," he said as he began to dig another hole in the soil.
"How old was you brother when he..." he trailed off.
"He was seventeen. He was the last survivor, the only soldier to make it out of Nalbina alive," I told him.
"You knew him?" I asked, a bit startled.
"Well, I know of him, yes. Your brother is the news of Rabanastre these days. He was a witness."
"What? What do you mean?"
"He saw Captain Ronsenburg in the throne room. He saw the king, along with the soldiers, dead. His own death was caused by Captain Ronsenburg. If it wasn't for him, we wouldn't have known who had done this."
"Reks, a witness."
"Yes. So unfortunate that he was caught in the middle of all this."
"I know," I said, watching as the man covered up the Galbana seeds with soil.
"There," he said, wiping his forehead with his sleeve.
"Listen, take good care of these for me, okay? My brother, he loved Galbanas," I told him.
"I will. Don't worry," he said, smiling gently.
"Thank you," I answered, forcing a smile back. Then I slowly made my way to Migelo's Sundries.
I breathed in the smell of potions and musty pheonix downs as I entered the shop. Migelo was standing near one of the counters, organizing some empty flasks. The shop had only a few customers, which was a rare sight.
"Ah, Vaan," said Migelo, when he turned around to see who had entered.
"Hi, there, Migelo," I answered.
"Looking for something? The shop isn't very busy today, probably because of the service, so we have everything in stock."
"Actually, it seems that what I'm looking for isn't here."
"Oh, what is it you're looking for."
"Penelo. Have you seen her?"
"I haven't seen her, but she's probably heading home now to get ready for the service," Migelo said.
"Okay," I answered, a sickening feeling wafting over me.
"Vaan, you don't have to go to the service if you don't want to. Don't push yourself too hard," the bangaa said, reading my emotions well.
"I know. But Penelo said I should go. And... I have to go for someone else, too."
"Vaan, Captain Ronsenburg was captured, you know?"
"Yes. Apparently, the night the king was killed, he was caught."
"Oh. What's going to happen to him now?" I asked.
"He's been sentenced to execution."
"I'm glad he's been sentenced to death. He deserves to die!"
"Vaan, everyone makes mistakes. Do you think Ronsenburg really deserves death?"
"Yes, he killed the king, the soldiers... He killed my brother! Of course, he deserves to die! Why should he bring death upon others, and not have to suffer death himself?" I yelled, getting extremely upset.
"Vaan, calm down. He is going to be executed, don't worry."
"I'm sorry. I was just upset."
"I know. It's okay. But you should hurry back to Penelo's house. She's probably looking for you now."
"You're right. I guess I'll head back."
"Sorry, again, Migelo," I said, guiltily as I headed for the door.
"Don't worry about it," the bangaa smiled gently.
The air had a chilling sensation in it, you could almost smell death, feel despair. I wrapped my arms around me to block out the cold, but that feeling was still there. 'It's only a service to pay respect, it's only a service to pay respect,' I kept telling myself. But I couldn't shake the bitterness from my mind. The sky, the city, everything seemed to have that wintry feeling to it. 'This can't mean anything good,' I thought as I walked the lonely path back to Penelo's house.
A/N: Thanks for reading. Please, review. :)