The Tanbel Wake/Awakening

oOo

Weeks after we'd finished the battle of Doom Island, Artea and I sat at the head of one of dozens of large tables in the Tanbel fields. Every ally we had ever made was in attendance, every king, prince, and warrior. Every nation Maxim and Selan had ever saved, every life our redheaded leader had ever touched, they were all represented here tonight.

And tonight, they looked to me.

I would be the one to deliver the eulogy for the greatest man who had ever lived. I didn't even know where to begin, let alone end. I couldn't even tell the story of Maxim's life in the short span of time available to me if I tried, let alone do him justice.

But...

For some, the end is also the beginning. So I would begin where Maxim's life ended. I stood and cleared my throat, catching the attention of all of our guests.

"I lived. In fact, Artea and I both lived," I began, my hands clenched at my side. I wasn't built for this, but it was the least I owed them.

"We faced the Sinistrals and we prevailed. We faced beings who were as gods, using nothing more than the strength of our arms and the fire in our souls. Beings capable of raising floating islands to home them, beings capable of sundering entire cities... And before the might of us four, they proved to be nothing but chaff against the might of our blades.

"Even when the Sinistrals tried to rupture the entire world, a last death throe against humanity and against elvenkind, we four stood against them. Knowing that something far more precious than our own lives was at stake, we threw the whole of our will against theirs. Everything that we were and ever would be, against the gods who would destroy everything and begin anew.

"Artea sensed Selan's hesitation, and yet Maxim pushed forward, even in the face of his wife's empty promises of strength. Yet even in the face of that loss, Maxim knew we could not falter.

"We pushed our all into that final conflict of wills, and we proved ourselves masters of our own destiny. The remnants of the gods we faced shattered before our resolve, and the resulting explosion of our energy waves nearly tossed me into the blackened abyss below the fortress of doom which had hosted our battle.

"Maxim, forever unflinching, stood at the centre of that maelstrom of power. Even as I fought to regain my sensibilities, he was pulling me to my feet. Leaning against the man I'd always sworn was my equal and relying on him for strength, we found Artea. Clasping his slim hand in my own meaty paw, I pulled him to his feet.

"We never thought for a second that Selan would have been lost to the abyss below. Our luck wouldn't have allowed her to face so ignoble an end. Together, we had fought beings beyond our comprehension. They had laid waste to our cities, raised demonic towers in worship to their greatness, and at every turn we had defied them.

"It would have been cruel for fate to rob us of what we had earned, then.

"Perhaps that is why Artea and I both stopped and just watched Maxim approach Selan when we found her. Judging by the cracked crystal pillar and the discarded shards of the same material, coated in her blood, the Parcelyte general had been thrown badly when the flows had ruptured.

"He crossed the crystal bridge which had once lead to our final confrontation with the Sinitrals, and neither Artea or I dared to cross with him. He knelt and hugged her close, the pair exchanging words I didn't want to overhear.

"When she reached up and pulled Maxim in for a kiss, an instant before she sunk to the floor, I knew then that our victory had come at a price far too steep.

"We knew that Selan was beyond our help. Shock flooded my veins with ice as I watched the mother of my friend's child, a woman who had saved my life and the lives of my comrades countless times, slump to the pillar, Maxim catching her in his arms as he knelt.

"Only Artea grabbing me and pulling us back prevented my own death as the island of doom violently shook. He dragged me back, away. Away from my grieving friend. Away from Selan, the woman who had helped us succeed.

"I begged Artea to warp us out. All of us. Selan could still be saved, I thought. A peaceful place to rest, the right medicine and healing magic, and we would all be fine. It was a grim truth to learn that those two were too far way. I didn't want to believe Artea, then. I wanted to hate him for not being strong enough, but I remember my friend's placid face.

"Maxim didn't hate us. He didn't rail against his fate, knowing that he would die on that floating island. He implored us to leave, so that we could tell the world that we had freed it from the tyranny and black hearts of the Sinistrals.

"He could have jumped.

"With the right timing, he would be here with us now.

"But my friend Maxim refused to leave his dying wife alone. Every time I remember that, I curse my own cowardice for not trying harder. For not trying to save Maxim and Selan. All we could do is promise the Maxim that the world would know about what he had done, what he had sacrificed. We could only watch as he sank to his knees and clutched his nearly-dead wife.

"So raise your glasses," I concluded, raising a goblet of pear cider.

"Toast a fallen hero.

"Toast a man who stood mighty where those with weak hearts dared not stand," I concluded, casting my eyes across the assembled crowd in Tanbel. Yet I didn't taste the cider I'd poured. A gauntlet-clad hand stole it from me.

"You remembered," a voice I'd never thought I'd hear again commented.

I turned to stare at a man I'd thought dead for weeks, watching Maxim himself quaff the pear cider in relief. Just past him, I saw Tia's face blazing in embarrassment as Selan spoke with her, making rather obvious gestures in Dekar's direction. On the blue-haired woman's hip, a baby slumped contentedly against his mother, his red hair standing out against the white tunic she wore.

Maxim raised an eyebrow, ignoring the flush of cheers which exploded at that point. He handed the mug of cider back to me, moving to rejoin his wife.

And our mourning of the lost became an unprecedented celebration. I'd watched Maxim die, and here he was. Good as new, his wife teasing his childhood friend and him tossing knowing looks towards Jessy.

From the moment I'd met him, Maxim had always been impossible. I've never been so grateful for that aspect of him as I was then.

oOo

Author's Notes:

I recently completed a NewGame+ of the Lufia 2 remake, and I felt like incorporating something closer to the regular, Lufia 2 canon with the events of the remake mixed in. I'm not ashamed to say that the ending of Lufia 2 makes me cry like a manly man every time I watch it, just because it's the first game I ever played where the good side experiences a bittersweet ending.

Of course, I couldn't leave it alone with the remake. Who am I to argue with canon?

-Gaming Ikari