Disclaimer: Uh, I don't own FFIX? Eh? I dont? Dang!

Are you ready for this? Did you know that this'll be the first ever, super-long fanfiction that is about Amarant, SERIOUSLY? Right, I am SO in love with him! Well, ehm, not literally. You know what I mean! This is gonna be sad, it's gonna have a teeny (that's ma sister's nickname! *grin*) bit of swearing and a tiny (that's MY nickname! *grin again*) bit of blood. This is AMARANT, people. And Zidane, and Freya, and Dagger, and Quina, and Vivi, and Steiner, and Eiko....yes, but it's about AMARANT. Tee hee! All right, all right....let's get this show on the road, y'all! (actually, I'm not Texian, or whatever. I'm Canadian, hence the 'eh?', eh? You know, we all actually do say 'eh'. It's so cool, eh?

            (Song: I know this place is where I am, no other place is better than....No matter where I know I am, I know, I am , Canadian! Oh! I know, I know I am! I am Can-a-di-an! I know! I know I am! I am Can-a-di-annnnn!)

            I'd sing the rest, but I dunno it, lol.

            Get your tissues/hammers, people. Cause you're gonna cry, and you just might wanna pound in your compy screen. Or maybe I'm being too unmodest? Tell me, tell me! =0)


Characters in this chapter:

Amarant Coral (well, duh)
Cora (sucha cutie...)
Amses (cool guy)
Alexandrian innkeeper
A bunch of drunk guys huddled in a corner (eh?)


                                            By: Laura M. Ulian


            Amarant sat on the very edge of the Outer Continent. A warm breeze gently passed him, scattering an assortment of sand and dead leaves along the beach. They swirled, tumbled, and lay flat again, as the wind flew up, and did a neat flip. The bandit's hair moved slightly, and he tilted his head forward to stare wordlessly at the ground he rest on. His arms were folded atop of his knees, and his back rest against an enbankment of yet more sand. His thoughts stirred no less than the derbis was tossed before him. Annoying thoughts, ones that he no longer wanted to tolerate.

            Yesterday, he'd been on the Mist Continent, in Alexandria, and standing in the thick crowd while the people applauded all around him. For whatever reason he'd joined in, he felt it had been lost, now. There was no reason to be glad about the runt's return. At least, if he'd been dead, the queen would have lead her people fairly. At least, if he decided to not return, they would not have banished him.

            Why? That was the only question he couldn't answer. He simply knew the answer, but couldn't understand it, that was all. Zidane, of all people, should have understood. Even though they did what they could, perhaps out of simple, kind insinct. They certainly didn't believe his side of the story, however. His point of view. Amarant squinted his eyes shut, fighting back the recollection of what really happened.


            The bar door slowly creaked open, cutting through the mow mumbles of the drunks. All five heads around the corner table look up to see a tall, pale-skinned man admit himself into the tavern. Almost at once, their voices grew from mumbles to silence, as Amarant Coral crossed the room to the bar, where the barkeeper stood. Only she seemed nerved about the bandit's entrance, as she took a glass from under the counter. She proceeded to fill it up.

            "That's th' man..." came a raspy voice from the corner. Immediatly, the five men broke out into a murmuring discussion about fighting and monsters, the queen, and the Burmecian Dragon Knight called Freya. Amarant pretended not to hear this. He half-minded picked up his mug of ale and took a short sip, leaning against the bar.

            Cora Olwen stared, awestruck at the tall man, and slowly looked at her guardian, sitting across from her. The cloaked man was silent, but he sighed through his lips, the stench of sour ale filling the air. He didn't appear to notice Amarant enter at all. Instead, he picked up his solid, tall glass of the foul liquid and downed yet another gulp.

            "Amses!" (Am-zees) the eleven-year-old girl whispered fiercly. "Who is that man? Why did everyone go all silent like that?"

            'Amses' chuckled and swirled the ale around the bottom of his mug, half-heartedly, "My little Cora. Aren't you a bit young to be thinking about men?"

            "Don't kid!" said Cora, irrately. "Who is he? He looks really familiar."

            "Ah," croaked Amses. "He's just Amarant. You know, that Amarant Coral guy? He's one of them who returned with the queen that year ago, or two....how many was it?"

            "Amses," said the girl, sternly. She seized his fist and set the mug back down on the table, just as he was about to lift it to his lips again. "You're getting drunk. And I promise this time that I'll tell on you, if you don't stop."

            The man grunted, and stared at the girl for a moment, "You're a teenager already."

            Cora ignored him, "I remember seeing him in the crowd today.....He must be a friend of Mr. Zidane. I really want to meet him, y'know. Mother said that-"

            "-Zidane is a Terra citizen, from another world, and that someday he will be king of Alexandria?" Amses supposed sarcastically, and grinned from beneath his hood.

            Cora pouted, "All right so maybe I've said it a few times. You don't have to rub it in."

            Amses laughed, "Well, it's obvious you have a crush on the guy. You should really go for it, Cora. He's only five years older than you, and just hangin' in the queen's face like a mosquito."

            The girl sighed, "You know you'd be fired before you could apologize, if my mother ever heard you say that."

            "Of course," said Amses. "If she ever did."

            Cora playfuly shoved him. He shrugged innocently.

            "But really...." she said, thoughtfully, and returning her glance to the tall man named Amarant. "I wonder if he's as tough as he looks. He hangs around in a bar, so I guess that kind of proves he's at least a little tough....right?"

            The grizzled man snorted and shook his head, "Naw. You should never judge someone       just by where they hang about, Cora. You never know....he could be a kitten beneath all that fluff."

            Cora raised an eyebrow, "Fluff? I don't see any fluff."

            Amses laughed again, "It means a tough exterior, little lady." Clearing his throat, he took out his old-fashioned pipe, and lit it with the candle centered at the table. Placing the candle back down, he took a delighted puff, and leaned forward in his chair. "To me, it seems he's got something in his eye. Not a tear mind, a glimmer of a dark secret. And not dark, as in evil. Dark, as in.....hidden, deep inside."

            The eleven-year-old sighed, "You always seem to have a good sense to judge people," she said, gloomily. "Why can't I ever do that?"

            "Heh, it runs in the family, Cora. I'm not related to ye," he said, rubbing his nose with the back of his hand. "It's not that hard. For instance, look at the drink he's drinkin', Cora. Hard-core liquor, the strongest the lady sells. Big man, big drink. But he's barely touching it, see."

            Cora nodded absently, and suddenly, an idea struck her, "I know! I'm going to go talk to him! Maybe he'll fight me, then I'll know whether he's tough or not!"

            "Cora," came her guardian's warning voice. "If you fought him, you'd kill him. Now, I've been letting you do pretty much what you've wanted to do for the past five years I've known ye, but this I cannot allow, little miss. I remember when you were a little child, and you used to play with sparks between yer fingertips. But yer only eleven. You can't control that kind of power."

            "Amses," urged the girl, turning herself completely aorund in her chair. "I don't have to use my 'power' to fight him. I can fight him with my glaive, you'll see..." Her voice began to grow whiney.

            The cloaked man coughed, and thumped the tabletop with his hand, impatiently, "You can't, Cora. Now turn around, and sit like a lady."

            Cora gritted her teeth, and sighed as heavily as she could manage. But she wasn't going to give up that easily. She began to get up from her seat, "I'll only be a minute, I promise...."

            Suddenly, she felt a icy hand seise her wrist. Gasping, she spun around to look down at her guardian, who was now leaning noticably across the table, and gripping her arm, "Cora, you know he might be dangerous," he said, lifting his eyes to glare tenaciously into her face. "I can't stop you, little missy -- you're too much like your mother." He said it, almost sorrowfully. "But I am warning you one last time -- He doesn't appear to enjoy being bothered."

            Slowly, he relaxed his grasp, and sat back in his chair, still staring at her impetuously. It was strange....she never knew he cared about protecting her that much. Flashing him a brief smile that could only express what she was thinking, she tucked in her chair, and carefully approached the bar.

            Amarant Coral was still leaning over the counter, with his back to her. His right hand encircled the mug that held his brew, while his left rest almost grippingly atop his right wrist. His head was pointed downwards, the mass of flaming-red hair covering almost every part of his eyes from her view. He didn't appear to notice her.

            Cora leaned to the side to peer curiously into his face, but strangely, he tugged his head to the right, ensuring she could not. Swallowing her nervousness, the eleven-year-old girl stammered, "H-hello."

            Torpidly, and every so slightly, Amarant turned his face to stare at her. Even now, as she looked up at his looming form, she could not see any trace of his eyes beneath the tumble of red locks. What had Amses meant, when he said that there was a 'glimmer in his eye'? Two, skulking moment crawled by, and he stil continued tol gazed at her, almost as if he were expecting something.

            An angry, sort of curious feeling bubbled in the back of her mind, "You're supposed to say 'hello' to someone when they greet you."

            " Really," came the low, gruff reply. He looked back down at the countertop. "Hello."

            Again, the girl swallowed. What did she say next??? "Are you...drunk? Or just glum?"

            Oops, she thought. Perhaps that's not the best thing to say.

            To her immediate surprise, the bandit did not growl at her, or throw the glass mug against the wall or anything drastic like that. He grunted half-heartedly, and turned his glass of brew round in one hand, almost pallingly. Another second or so passed, before he muttered, "Neither."

            "Oh," she said, in a small voice.

            Again, to her surprise, Amarant set the glass down on the bar with a 'thunk', "Your reason for coming over her was....." he pressed.

            Abruptly, Cora's fear vanished. She loved to challenge people, "Oh, to challenge you to a fight."

            That certainly nabbed his attention. Even still, he did not make any sudden movements. He merely chcukled beneath his breath, and turned his head to glance at her again, "Really," he repeated. "And how do you intend on doing that?"

            "Well," she quipped, corssing her arms. "You'd see if you accepted my challenge."

            "Hmm," was his reply. "Sorry. I don't fight brats."

            "Bra-" she began, taking an offensive step backwars. All right -- it was official. She was angry. "Listen! I'm NOT a brat, I'm a fellow warrior, like you! I'm sure if you'd just accept my challenge, you'd be so sorry, your hair would hurt!"

            "Really," he repeated, for yet a third time.

            This time, she decided to answer him, "Really."

            Unfourtunately, she had a long way to go before she could even scratch his stubborn  exterior. Amarant took a small sip form his mug, and said nothing for the next ten, fifteen seconds. Then, "Sorry. I lost interest in flaunting my power when I teamed up with the monkey-king-to-be."

            Cora's eyes widened, "You mean.... Sir Zidane?" she nearly gasped.

            "Do you see any other monkeys strutting around town?"

            "N....no..." she practically breathed. "But I have some high respect for Mr. Zidane. You'd better take that back!"
            Once more, he side-glanced at her, his gaze lingering for a second more this time, "How old are you?"

            She smirked, "Eleven and a half. Twelve, come winter."

            He smirked right back, "You enjoy challenging 'warriors' more than twice your age?"

            "No," came her blunt reply. "But I do enjoy beating them, and making them cry."

            "Sharp tongue she has, doesn't she?" said a rough voice, and a hooded figure suddenly appeared, placing his hands on the girl's shoulders.
            Amarant glared at him, "You're her father?"

            Amses grinned, "Hardly. I am her guardian, Amarant Coral."

            This seemed to surprise him, at least a little, "You.....know my name."

            Now it was Cora's turn to be surprised, "I thought-"
            "I have this under control, Cora," said Amses, a little more forcefully than usual. "Keep your tongue this time."

            Amarant, to yet an even greater shock, stood up, and turned to face the cloaked Amses. He dwarfed the man, almost twice in height, "You want something from me?"

            The hooded guardian took his pipe form his teeth and smiled innocently, "Only a question or two, if you don't mind."

            Slowly, the tall, flame-haired man turned his eyes from Cora, to Amses, and then back to Cora. Resting his eyes on her, finally, he spoke gruffly to the cloaked man, "Fine. Ask quickly -- Monkey-boy wants me at the castle. We wouldn't want him waiting, would we....Cora?"


            (*sniff* Waaaaah! I'm so happy! My "masterpiece" is SO underway! But, I mean, I gotta cut it here, or it's get too long to be a chapter and all....yeah. Tell me what you think! Please! I PROMISE PROMISE PROMISE that it'll get even better! All this small-talk is just the beginning! Please R&R! =)=) =0)=0)=0)

(Riiiiight. Well, I deicded to make it look better! =) What you think?)