Hallo folks! You don't know me-- I'm a well-known writer over in the Myst forum. I've just gotten a Playstation for my Macintosh, and guess what I've been doing? Believe it or not, it's my first time through.

This is from Breath of Fire III, at the point when Ryu (or Spoo, as I'm afraid I named him) and his friends head out to sea to pursue his quest.


I can't sleep, although the boat rocks upon the waves with a sigh like wind through the boughs of ancient cedars.

How many years has it been since those few carefree months spent with Rei and Teepo, when we were no more than harmless nuisances to our good-natured neighbors? I cannot remember. I have forgotten so much, and slept so long.

At least I've found Rei again. But he's almost as changed as I am, haunted by the same death of innocence. Or maybe the happy-go-lucky big brother was always an act he put on for for our benefit, even back then. Poor Rei. He still blames himself for losing Teepo and me-- but how was he to know it would end that way?

After I met Nina and fled into the wilderness, I used to cry myself to sleep every night thinking of Rei's cabin going up in flames. By morning my bravado always returned, and I was chagrinned to think a prissy girl might have noticed my tears. But she never spoke of it; she was always a true lady. And a royal terror! Overbearing, manipulative, bossy -- oh, I was so glad to find Momo and Peco on the road, just to have a few bodies between me and the strong-willed little princess! When Momo wasn't nose deep in some book, she could occasionally deflect Nina from her latest harebrained adventure too big for any of us. I certainly couldn't sway her, a tongue-tied country bumpkin in the presence of royalty.

And yet -- and yet--

Nina once told me that as long as I was by her side, she knew she was safe. She often declared that everything would be all right, with the rock-firm conviction of a royal proclamation. She always had utter faith in me, when to everyone else I was just a clueless child, or, worse, a monster to be shunned or caged.

We had such good times together, playing swashbuckler and sorceress, righting wrongs and wandering Wyndia from the mountains to the sea.

Then time caught up with me. The voices -- I hear them in my head at night, the blood of the Brood speaking through my heartbeat. Drawn by dreams, I'd stumble across strange open veins of crystal in the course of our travels, as if the rocks had split just in time for my arrival. And each time I tripped one of these pockets of chrysm's power, I would not quite be the same. The whispers would grow louder --

Garr. Some of the voices still cry for his death.

I was too young, thankfully, to comprehend the full force of his betrayal. I was only bewildered and confused when, in the dark heart of Angel Tower, he declared his true role as dragonslayer and prepared to dispatch the last of my kind. No, it could not be happening. He was my friend, wasn't he? I was dazed. It all seemed like a bad dream.

Nina had guessed, and tried to warn me, as much as she could. "Why is he so quiet?" she had demanded of me one evening, and on another, "When Garr stops talking, it's because he has something to say." I had stammered and mumbled, but every time she spoke to me, my thoughts cowered and froze like startled rabbits. For her part she had only vague worries, no more than a whiff of suspicion that all was not well.

That must have been why she insisted on being the one to go with us to the Tower. I caved in with some resignation; once more, I knew, I'd be spending half my energy trying to protect my troublesome Princess. Burden or no, I was so furious when that Phantom struck her down! Garr's lucky I didn't tear him apart too, when I let the Brood's call take control. We weren't bothered much after that battle. Thankfully, Nina didn't see me enraged; she didn't wake until I'd come back to myself enough to tend her wounds. Five minutes later she was on her feet again and asking imperiously, "Well, what are you two waiting for? Let's go!" Just like Nina -- she would never let herself be carried, oh no.

Soon after that we reached the head of that fateful stair, and Garr said only he and I would be allowed to enter the Inner Sanctum. I thought that Nina would rebel, demand to inflict her presence on us regardless of rules, but she yielded almost without a word. Why? Maybe because I seemed to wish it.

Perhaps I sensed the danger to come and wished her safe and away, although surely it was not wise to leave her alone there. I hate to think what might have happened had she come with us; she would have risked everything for me, and I don't think she could have taken on Garr in her frail state.

"We won't go too far," I had promised her. "I'll listen. You call if anything at all shows up. We'll come get you."
"I will be perfectly fine," Nina insisted. "Have I ever come to harm since meeting you?" (Yes, I thought to myself, remembering her gray face from just a short time ago.) "Don't be silly. YOU be careful." She shot her most winning glance at Garr, a tiny girl staring down a winged giant. "You'll take care of him won't you, Garr?"
The Guardian was stonefaced. "I will take care of him."
She stuck out her lip -- a habit she's now lost, thankfully-- but held her peace. "See you soon," she whispered to me.
I ducked my head. If we stayed there a moment longer, I would have lost my composure in front of her. Instead I scuttled for the staircase, Garr stomping behind me like a boulder rolling down a mountain. There was something in Nina's eyes as we passed from view that I didn't recognize at the time. I have never seen her afraid before or since.

No. Once more now. After our recent dangerous journey through the tidal caves of Urkan, I was exhausted, exhilerated, caught up in the mysteries of my quest, too much so to notice the cracks in her proud composure. When we met the old Guardian, Garr's cousin Geist, who demanded to test me alone, it must have seemed to the Princess like the nightmare of Angel Tower all over again. I must make that up to her. She hates being left behind.

But she loves the sea, doesn't she? That much at least I've been able to give her: a chance to fly places her parents would never let her go.

A pang of guilt strikes me again, and bitterness too. They blame me for all her waywardness. I may be a hero-- I don't know-- but I'm certainly not the villain they take me for. After all I've done for their daughter! And they'd keep her in a jeweled birdcage if they could. Exiled princess, a shaman estranged from his god, a thief turned saint, a boy with the will of a hundred ancestors beating inside his head -- I think Momo and Peco are the only sane members of our hardy band. And where am I taking them, risking all my friends' precious lives on the Outer Ocean from which no one has ever returned?

The sky is steel blue, a ghost of gold upon the eastern horizon. A warm wind blows its soft breath against my face. I hear the whispers again, telling me of ancient wings and battles and the clash of hate against heart. I squeeze my eyes shut, trying to block it out and remember the carefree adventures of our younger days.

"Dawn soon." At first I think it must be another of the voices deep inside my own head, and then that I must have drifted off asleep on my feet. "Dawn soon." I turn around to find Nina's delicate white boots (how does she keep them so clean?) before my nose. She's perched on the roof of the wheelhouse, hands braced behind her on the shingles, wings fluttering behind her like a butterfly keeping balance upon a flower. If only they worked, and she could truly fly!
She's smiling down at me, and I have to duck my eyes.

"Maybe we'll find land today," she says confidently. "And your people's home. And answers. Or maybe tomorrow. But oh, isn't it good to be upon the sea?"

"It's very nice," I mumble, ever eloquent in her presence.

She giggles and tips forward, enough to slide off the edge of the roof, with every confidence that I will reach up to catch her and save her from a tumble. Which of course I do without thinking. As I set her gingerly onto the deck, she takes my hand, leads me forward to the bow, and stands there with a peaceful smile on her face and blond curls tumbling every which way like a cloud.

"Let's watch the sun," she tells me. "It's going to be a lovely dawn."

I mumble something inaudible again. But she must be right. The sea seems brighter.