Title: Every Happy End
Fandom: Golden Sun
day/theme: 8 heroes in the time of piece (part one) 9 the linguistics of emotion (part two)
rating: PG-13 for later parts
summary: Ivan returns to a rebuilt Vale five years later with much on his mind. Eventual Isaac/Ivan, sideline Garet/Jenna, Felix/Piers, Sheba/??
Wordcount: 3,800 in these installments.
This is for LittleLinor because she encouraged me and because she's one of the few people who agrees with me that Sheba is an evil, evil, evil little girl who would gladly take over the world if she had half the chance. Happy birthday!
Originally it was 'all's well that end's well' but I thought something this er, silly wasn't quite up for a Bard references. Even from his glorious comedies. Speaking of previous ideas, this started out as a somewhat angsty endpiece where each traveler dealt with being tethered and realizing that they could no longer live the happy life they once had; they'd grown too much, seen too much.
Then Sheba came in and turned it into a cutesy romantic comedy, emphasis on the comedy. I think I might've had a little too much fun with Sheba, actually.
Um, I'm saving the former idea for later, for now, enjoy the cute.
Ivan watched as the waves rolled onto the shore. He was not far from Contigo, from this very harbor the Wings of Anemos had taken flight.
The wind caught his hair, teased it. It had grown quite a bit in five years, and he tied it in with a bit of thick string. If he closed his eyes, he could just see, just remember.
The flight, the tiny wars they had waged, the world they had saved.
It seemed so different now, the peace of this place. Even years later, Ivan has not settled to it.
The people of Contigo treated Ivan and his sister with a certain sort of reverence, and since Hama had taken over as a descendant of the Anemos, no longer was he 'Hammet's weird servant', but a respected member of their society.
Ivan busied himself with refining and rebuilding Contigo to the glory of what it once was. This was his home now, and he would guard it till his end. He oversaw new buildings built, libraries and common halls, a renaissance for the blood of the Anemos. Under the brilliance of the Jupiter Lighthouse, more adepts were born. Ahri was already six, seven this year. Five more children were born that year alone, all of them showing signs that one day they too would wield the powers of Jupiter psyenergy as well.
Hama was kind to him, and under her tutelage, Ivan grew much farther than his own clumsy, searching attempts had been. He could clearly see with his mind's eye the future, as if it was staring back into his gaze. His mind reading abilities could now even penetrate the deepest walls and most hidden memories, though Ivan was too honorable to use them on anyone for sheer curiosity as he had once done when he was much younger.
Despite her presence, and the status and acceptance that came with this, Ivan still felt a certain sense of discontent.
This was what he had always sought, yet all he could remember was traveling with the group. They had been like a family to him as well, close knit, the first to accept him. He remembered the feel of heat in his veins as he stretched his body to the breaking point, constantly forcing and reforging his powers against the hordes of monsters. Now with peace, at times Ivan hardly knew what to do with himself.
Once a traveler, always a traveler.
For hours near the crater just beyond the limits of Contigo Ivan would train. His movements fluid, his eyes closed as he lost all focus but himself and the blade. It was another form of meditation, the world liquefied and turned soft around him. Winds bent to his will, and even the future seemed spread out in a dazzling array before him.
At times, Ivan thought if he trained hard enough the restlessness that lay inside him, churning like waves through tides would cease. Happy as he was to be here, to find a home, something was missing, and with that lost piece, so went the completeness of his contentment.
Had that one last thread truly been severed?
In the beginning there had been letters. Mia wrote occasionally, for she was fond of letters and always kept her ties with other people held close.
Jenna wrote less frequently. Of the Vale group, she was the only one to bother with the writing of letters. Ivan did not take it personally, for he knew Garet was the least likely of them to be taken with writing, and something of Isaac always seemed too distant to be poured out on paper.
He gently pressed Jenna for details; of rebuilding of Vale (now called Vare, a closer translation to the original dialect of the ancient ones) how everyone was faring but most of all, of Isaac.
She happily complied, yet her answers only skimmed the surface of the questions he sought. Ivan thought it would be presumptuous to send letters directly to Isaac or Garet's mother, even if they had been fond of him during his two visits.
It was times like these that Ivan wished his mind reading abilities could pass this distance; that his visions would show him something of group he had fought together with, and less of future generations and times long yet to exist.
As the years passed, the letters fell to a trickle, and then stopped altogether.
As Ivan prepared for another night, he heard a knock at his door. He threw aside the covers and placed aside the octant and Weyard's Guide To Studying The Heavens (a parting gift from Kraden's library).
Hama came in, a lamp in her hands. She was bathed in it, her lavender hair hung down over her shoulders, free from the pins that usually held it tight in a strict bun.
She took a moment before speaking, as if to collect her thoughts one last time before telling them aloud. She was a thoughtful person by nature, but lately she had seemed especially so, as if some portentous decision lay ahead.
"What is it, sister," Ivan said. "Is something the matter?"
"Ivan," she said softly. "It's time for you to go."
"I don't want to see you leave...but I know that you won't be happy until you find them again."
Ivan was good at containing his feelings. He always had kept them below the surface, except for any stray anger that escaped, and that was usually only to some injustice. But even as talented as he was at hiding them, Hama could see right through to his unease.
Even without asking or searching, she knew him so well.
"I know I'll will worry, that is what sisters do. I know you will be fine on your journey. The monsters have lessened considerably, and your powers have grown."
Ivan nodded. His training had served him well. While his body was still fragile, his mind had been honed into a far more dangerous weapon than a mere blade. He could wield swords and staffs and had gained some skill with them beyond his travels.
"...Are you sure?"
"Yes," she responded. "You miss them."
And Ivan could only nod.
"I'll come back...I promise."
She smiled then, the first time that night.
"I know you will."
That night, Ivan packed little but the necessities. A few sentimental mementos, most of those also useful in magical purposes. A thin rapier, a spare set of robes and shoes, food, a few spare magical items and texts.
He wanted to make it a quick journey. Even as he wished to see Vare again, a part of him felt reluctant to enter their lives again. Though they were kind, he was still an outsider in their circle.
Hama was there to see him off, along with Ahri and a few others. Ivan's pack was light, he knew that soon upon finding the next continent, he would have to restock.
Even as the road ahead was far yet, Ivan was prepaired to take it, all the way back to Vare and then home again.
The first few days of the trip had been smooth, the waves lapped peacefully, even playfully at the side of the boat. Ivan was never prone to seasickness, thus he could enjoy the salty sea air unhampered. The sunlight over the waters made it glisten, so bright he could barely look at it without blinking his eyes and squinting.
It was ill time for traveling, with the stormy season on the rise, but Ivan had gained passage by offering to use his psyenergy for as safe a passage as he could ensure. Besides, he could hardly secure his presence with helping on board. The only role that he could even come close to filling was that of kitchen boy, which was already taken.
But that peace didn't last for long.
Black, forbidding clouds drew in, their icy tendrils choking out the once clear skies. The captain looked on with a furrowed brow, creased in worry as the rumblings of thunder came closer, like giant's footsteps.
Water was not his element, it was neutral to his veins. There was no elemental spirit to comfort him in the rolling waves. He had been contracted to use psyenergy should the winds cease, but at this rate, there was no great danger of that.
Ivan clung to the railings and willed the winds to still. Was this yet beyond his power? He focused harder, spoke to the winds, whispering, willing them to cease. The first was unsuccessful, and the second only brought forth a jerking halt before starting anew, with even more fury.
The third stopped before it started, it was the fourth that caused a pure silence as the winds rose up, up mantled and bridled under his control.
The storm did not stop entirely; but it bent to his command. The winds turned calmer, though the clouds remained dark, only lighted by occasional bursts of electricity crackling down from the skies.
Two days later, the ship landed at the base of the ruins of Babi's Lighthouse. The ship had taken some damage after the storms, gutted over rocky alcoves and reefs while traversing the canyons that separated the seas.
"The reefs are too bad around these seas," the captain said, offhanded. He chewed on his lip
"We won't make it to the next port fer several days yet."
"I can't wait that long, my sister is still waiting for me... I'll just have to make the rest on foot," Ivan said.
"Yer journey is that important? The deserts around here are something fierce, I hear."
Ivan nodded. "I've been through this place before, I will be fine. ..But, will all of you be alright? The ship won't be fixed for a while yet."
"Ach, we've enough supplies to last us for months. If things get dire we'll hunt in the places around here, it's just a matter of getting these lazy crewmen to stop sunning themselves..." He shot a glare at a young sailor who lazed about in the sand. Ivan stifled a grin at this as the sailor hopped up and ran back to his work before he felt more of the captain's wrath.
It felt odd, to take his second journey from the very first place he had set sail. He didn't believe in coincidences, perhaps this too was a sign.
The desert wasn't as it had been once, so utterly infested with monsters. It didn't matter that he hadn't remembered to pack a douse drop, for now the only lizards he saw were the peaceful, harmless variety.
The wind burnt against his cheek, unpleasant for once. Ivan thought it must be the sands, the mixing of earth and wind to irritate his skin. There was blotchy red patches where rough grains of sand had rubbed it near raw.
Ivan sifted through the sands thoughtfully as he rested under the shade of a rocky outcrop. It was the exact shade of Isaac's hair, when he turned his eyes heavenwards the sky was the exact shade of Isaac's eyes.
Somehow, it seemed fitting. Earth always got under his skin, despite any resistance he had.
It hadn't been the first time. It wasn't just sky and sand and sun that he saw fragments of Isaac in every person he met, even small features; the angle of a jaw, the hard set frown of the grim elder.
Despite being surround by ocean, he never felt but a brief nostalgic memory of Mia or Piers. He'd never glismped Jenna or Garet in the flames of the hearth.
He had liked them, all of them, but Isaac was the only one to haunt him.
Ivan's first mistake was stopping in Lalivero. He had grown low on supplies, the desert had nary an Oasis to be seen, even with reveal, Ivan found nothing but more sand.
The second was not coming when it was dark, while cloaked in unassuming clothes, getting his supplies and instantly leaving.
The third was greeting Sheba and not immediately noticing the gleam in her eyes.
"Ivan, it's been so long," she said.
"It has," Ivan replied.
"And you've become so pretty, look at that hair!" she fawned over it, and Ivan for the first time began to regret letting it grow.
It would hardly be the last.
Sheba had grown several inches taller than him, and her haircut remained short and boyish. She was lean and tan, her body had been toned by the travel and life in the desert, but not strong beyond mention.
She ushered him to her house where her family treated him as an honored guest. Soup made of desert herbs, spare as they were was placed before him. There was some kind of meat as well, one Ivan didn't recognize. He thought it best not to ask in this situation, as always, he was the ever polite companion.
Sheba nudged him with her elbow.
"Don't you just hate the food here?" she whispered.
Ivan shook his head. It was bland but...acceptable. He never turned aside food, Master Hammet had been adamant in teaching him that.
Sheba shook her head and muttered something about 'bland as the food here'. Ivan didn't particularly wish to know how that sentence ended, especially as he was fairly sure he was in reference to himself.
After eating there were tales to be passed around the hearth as Lalivero culture dictated. Ivan was weary down to his very bones, yet he withstood question after question from Sheba and all the younger children.
"I'm going to visit Vale — Vare now."
"I seeeee," Sheba said. She smirked and Ivan felt slightly uneasy. Sheba had a way of making even the simplest conversations seem like mischief.
Ivan rose when dawn was a mere imagining, the greyblue skies still spattered with recollections of stars and the trace of the moon. He collected his things before they could keep him further, he did not intend to show any disrespect to their hospitality, but he still had yet so many miles to reach.
He felt mildly guilty to have nothing to leave as thanks; he had only packed the necessities and he couldn't offer any of his powers as a Jupiter Adept, for they were surely used to Sheba's own presence and skills by now.
He thanked the lady of the house, his bag already in hand.
"I need to leave soon, I'm afraid. If I don't go now, I might lose more time than I already had."
"I'll see you off, then." Sheba said.
"Um, thank you, but that's not really necessary..." Ivan replied.
"Oh no, it most certainly is. Since you're guest and all, it's only right."
Ivan had noticed the small bag at her side, but assumed it was a thing she carried always, or perhaps a parting gift. He paid no heed to the warning signs flickering in his mind, there was no need to jump to conclusions.
It wasn't until they were far beyond Lalivero that she revealed her all-too-obvious reasonings.
"Actually, I'm coming with you," she said with a wicked smile.
"Thank you, but that's not necessary, I can find my way--"
"Pfft, don't flatter yourself. I want to see Vale, or should I say Vare too."
Ivan couldn't think of any valid reason for refusing her, if anything, it would only be safer with her traveling as well.
And with an assured smile she sauntered ahead, humming as she did so.
Ivan soon found the extant of Sheba's personality. When the group had gotten together again in Contigo, his thoughts had mostly been on the future, his sister. She had stuck close to Jenna and Felix, and Ivan hadn't sought to bridge this. After all, what did they have in common other than both being Jupiter adepts, and both on the same quest?
Sheba had questioned him on certain aspects before, but he hadn't been able to help him as at that point, he'd known very little of his own heritage.
Sheba soon made up for lost time.
Within three nights she'd found a way beyond his mental shield, and it seemed he wasn't the only one who'd been honing skills. She dug deep and proved adept at dismantling even the strongest of mental protection. Ivan had little experience in his mind being pried open, Hama had always respected his privacy and other than a few encounters around Weyard, he had seen few Jupiter adepts.
"I always thought you were a bit fey, but going for the hero?" She raised and eyebrow. "..It seems fitting, somehow."
"Oh stop, I read it all in your mind. You're utterly besotted with him. He's the sun, the moon, the stars in the sky, blahblahblah," she said. She looked particularly bored with this monologue.
"I never phrased it like that–"
"You didn't have to." she said.
"So you're saying you like girls? Ok, explain what you like about them. Start with Jenna."
Ivan blinked. He remembered Jenna's hair, a reddish pink that fell down her back in a messy ponytail. Of course, she had been attractive, even thinking otherwise would make Sheba relate that thought and cause her to fry the offender to a crisp. Mia had been beautiful as well, also kind, gentle, pleasant and motherly. She had always felt an older sister to him, and he saw now that Jenna had been the same. And Sheba...was currently holding his mind hostage. Polite as Ivan was, his opinion of her had fallen quite a bit as of late.
"I heard that," Sheba said and Ivan cringed.
"Stop reading my mind!" he said in frustration.
Sheba smirked. "Make me."
Ivan sighed. She'd managed to sneak under even his strongest mental shields, and blocking constantly was tiring, and she seemed tireless. She would keep poking at his mind until the wall fell with his own weariness. She sorted through his memories like a precocious child looking for toys in her mother's china cabinet, uncaring what was broken in the process.
"But that solves the issue. All the girls you thought about were instantly deemed 'older sister.' Even Jenna, and I certainly wouldn't blame you if you had a crush on her."
Ivan blinked. Sheba's tone implied that her friendship had gone a lot deeper than he'd thought.
"But it's...it's..." Ivan said feebly.
"Hero worship?" Sheba smirked.
Ivan nodded. That was exactly what he'd told himself so many times when his thoughts strayed. Hero worship, gratitude, friendship. It was nothing more. Even his denial was flimsy for deep down he knew the answer.
"Hero worship doesn't include that much 'body appreciation', Ivan. Don't think I didn't notice those thoughts. I had no idea you were that perverted; I figured you were just some boring, shy shrinking violet. Looks like I really underestimated you."
Ivan blushed deeper than he had perhaps ever in his life. He had kept those thoughts hidden as deeply as he could manage, they only came to light in odd dreams he could never quite explain and ones he only wish he could forget instead of remembering every sordid detail.
"Give it up, Ivan."
Ivan bowed his head in defeat.
She laughed, it was surprisingly deep. She toyed with his hair affectionately, lacing a flower through the strands.
"You're just like a little sister to me, Ivan."
"But...I'm older. And male," Ivan feebly protested.
"And I'm taller and you're a lot girlier than I'll ever be."
"That's why I'm going to help you," she said. She had the same gleam that was there the first day he had met her again. Ivan was beginning to grow very worried whenever he saw that gleam.
"Help me?" he asked, already knowing with a sinking feeling what she was going to say.
"Why, get Isaac, of course!"
They passed through meadows and valleys, over seas and plains and made rather good time. Sheba had appointed herself 'head' of this trip and was quite the slave driver. Whether it was simply an aspect of her overall personality, or if she was that excited to see Vare again, Ivan couldn't tell.
Ivan took to his thoughts, but kept them far more guarded than usual. Sheba got beyond these by catching him just before he fell asleep. She'd even invaded his dreams and gave detailed commentary on each one.
"Can't you get a hobby?" Ivan grumbled.
"I do have one. Playing with you," she said.
Ivan cringed. "That doesn't count!"
Sheba shrugged. "I suppose I could try taking over the world. That always sounded like so much fun."
In response, Ivan could gape wide-eyed at her. "What?!"
"Don't be such a spoil-sport, I was just kidding."
Her laugh honestly made him wonder.
Ivan wasn't sure if going to Vare was such a good idea anymore. At least, not with Sheba in tow. She seemed to sense these thoughts, and realizing that her prey had thoughts of escaping, she merely dragged him that much faster to Vare.
With each passing town his anxiousness grew. Words that he had meant to say evaporated in the dryness of his throat. Across bridges and mountains and through once dense and forbidding forests turned serene, through Kolima, Bilibin, the Goma cave and finally to Vault where it had all began.
to be continued...