Here is the sequel to The Great Escape. Garnet and Steiner head to Alexandria and meet ...
The way home
The tall guard keeping South Gate's door suddenly frowned.
"There's been a lot of trouble lately."
His shorter colleague gave him a look.
"Oh, you mean, about Burmecia? I heard they were attacked by a group of soldiers wearing pointy hats. I wanna go fight on the frontline. Instead, I'm rotting away in this stinkin' place."
"Really? I don't like wars. Why would someone start a war?"
The man suddenly remembered.
"That guy who passed through here with the huge bag … Did he look suspicious to you?"
"No … I don't think so."
"But weren't you the one who thought he was suspicious?"
The short guard raised his hands in apology.
"You know me! I'm always like that. I'm telling you, people who eat pickles are nice people."
"I envy him. Gysahl pickles are the only pickles I can't eat."
The tall guard shook his head.
"You're really confusing, you know that?"
"I know … Why do you think I ended up here?"
The tall guard sighed again. No kidding …
The princess was sound asleep when Steiner arrived.
"The conductor said we'll be arriving at the Summit Station soon. Prin … err, Miss Dagger?"
Then he saw her peaceful face resting on the wall. He smiled, remembering all they'd been through from Lindblum. His princess was sleeping and he knew she deserved to rest. He sat at her side and took her in his arms, much like they did when the girl was still a small child. Garnet nested her head in the hollow of his neck as the knight began to hum a lullaby. Si'Nai, their ranger 'friend' was right in a way. If he had to choose between the queen and the princess, the young girl in his arms would find him at her side. Now that he thought about it …
'The princess believes what she heard about Queen Brahne. Queen Brahne would never start a war … It's all a misunderstanding. She will see that when she talks to the queen.'
He closed his eyes and sighed.
'I need not concern myself with such matters. My only mission is to protect the princess.'
His arm grew tighter around the frail girl in it. It was hard to believe she was in fact a powerful white mage. But Steiner knew that, without anyone to protect him, a white mage never lasted long on a battlefield. It didn't matter. He was here. He would protect the princess, being both her unbreakable shield and her invincible sword. The conductor suddenly called.
"Summit Station! Summit Station!"
The car stopped with enough noise to wake Garnet who stirred and yawned. She slept well. Still, there was something cold around her waist. Surprised, she almost jumped when she saw the silver-clad arm.
"Steiner? Oh, sorry. You scarred me a bit."
The knight shook his head.
"That's nothing prin … err, Miss Dagger."
As they got out, the two thanked the conductor who gave them instruction for what was going on next.
"You'll have to wait a while until the car to Alexandria arrives."
"How long will it be?"
"It arrives when this car returns to Bohden Station, so about as long as you just spent in the car. Why don't you go wait in the rest area up ahead?"
Strangely, Steiner remained silent for the whole conversation. Garnet turned to him.
"What's wrong, Steiner?"
"P … Princess …"
Garnet growled. There were few things she couldn't stand and Steiner mistaking her name was one of it. Her foot hit the stony ground.
"Hey, what did I say about …?"
"It's Alexandria! We're finally home!"
Without thinking twice, the girl ran to the fence near the railroad and looked at the scenery before her. The mist-covered mountains and green trees that appeared really belonged to the Alexandrian Kingdom and the princess was overjoyed to see them again.
"We're home … but I still can't see the castle."
"Princess, Alexandria may only mean the castle to you, but …"
"Hey, are you making fun of me for being naïve?"
The knight backed up before his mistress's angry face.
"N-no, I'm not …"
"It's okay. Let's go."
The two went to the grayish building near the railroads. It was a wide place with several shops as well as tables and chairs. Workers were waiting the car, buying food or resting. Garnet frowned.
"This must be the resting area."
"Let us wait and gather information while we wait for the car to Alexandria." Steiner offered.
As the knight left, the princess went to the wicket. The man keeping it nodded before her questions.
"The car to Alexandria will be arriving shortly."
There was a sound, like a machine beginning to move. The princess frowned.
"What was that?"
"The car to Lindblum just departed."
"I missed my ride!"
The nasal voice made the young girl turn. She had heard it before, definitively. But where? It suddenly came back. Running outside the building, she indeed saw two familiar figures on the other walkway. One was short and round, a little like a humanoid pig with a metallic hat, engineer clothes and a rusted hammer. The other was tall and bulky like an orc or an ogre, with a red bandana over is head and green clothes. The piggy one complained.
"I missed my ride! What am I gonna do now?"
"How the heck should I know?" The other replied with a deep voice. "You were the one who wanted to watch the scenery while eating South Gate Bundt Cake."
"I'm gonna be late returning to Lindblum …"
"There's nothing we can do. I won't tell the boss."
"Thanks, buddy! Let's eat another bundt cake!"
As the two Tantalus members entered, Garnet shivered. Steiner hated the Tantalus … Indeed, when she came back inside, the knight was arguing with the thieves.
"Scoundrels! Are you here to kidnap the princess again?"
Cinna, the engineer, turned to his friend.
"Who's the big tin man?"
"WHAT? How dare you?"
"He's the captain of the Knights of Pluto."
"Oh yeah! You're one bad actor!"
Steiner growled deeply.
"Have you no respects?"
Garnet looked at the argument from afar. She knew Steiner and she knew where his limits stood. She decided to interfere before he took his sword.
"Steiner, that's enough!"
"Wh … what?"
"I want to talk with them. Stop bothering them!"
"Princess, you shouldn't waste your breath on criminals!"
She was almost shouting, her face the angriest the knight had ever seen. Terrified, he quickly backed up. He did it even quicker that he saw her take her wand, which was a bad omen.
Garnet let go of a breath and turned to the thieves who were chuckling. Cinna winked to Marcus.
"He's bein' scolded …"
He turned to the girl who was looking at him.
"You must be Cinna. What are you doing here?"
"Princess? What are you doing here?"
Cinna began explaining.
"When we escaped the Evil Forest …"
"The car cable to Alexandria has arrived!"
The group turned to the right exit.
"It's here!" Cinna smiled.
"But you're goin' to Lindblum."
"I-I know that! But you're going to Alexandria!"
"Yeah. I'm heading to Treno."
"I'll see you off!"
"Marcus's going to Treno too? Let's go, Steiner!"
Before the blank silence that followed, she turned to see her protector near a table, his head hung low. She came to his side and patted his shoulder.
"Steiner? Are you mad at me?"
"No, ma'am. I'm coming along!"
The duo came to the car. Cinna was wishing good luck to his friend who promised to save their 'bro'. She followed the thief in the car and turned to Steiner, frowning as to dare him to interrupt her conversation. She knew Steiner would obey. The car departed and Marcus turned to her.
"Why are you going to Treno, Marcus?"
"To save our brother."
"There's only one man I call 'Bro'. It's Blank."
A picture flashed into Garnet's mind. A man with red hairs and a bandana over his eyes helping her and Zidane in their escape. He was trapped in the Evil Forest after it turned into stone. Marcus explained.
"We've been gathering info to cure his petrification. We finally learnt of an item called the Supersoft that cures all forms of petrification."
"What about Cinna?"
"Cinna's going to the Tantalus hideout in Lindblum to tell the others."
"I see …"
"It's my turn for questions."
Garnet turned. Of course he would ask. She thought about the thief and shook her head.
"We separated in Lindblum."
"Got rid of him as soon as he got you to Lindblum, huh?"
This made her snap. Zidane was his jerk-ass moments but he had been more than nice most of the time! How could Marcus think she dumped him like trash once they got to the capital? It's just that …
"How could you say that? It's only because Zidane kept treating me like a child! I don't care about him."
"Fine. Then I don't know anything."
The princess gulped at the cold tone. She might have been a little harsh … Trying to patch things up, she sat near the thief.
"Say, Marcus … Is there any way I can help?"
"Help with what?"
"Well … I was partly responsible for what happened, so …"
"No thanks. We'll be fine on our own."
"But wouldn't it be better if …"
The car suddenly stopped in a big shudder, surprising everyone. Steiner looked at the window.
"What was that?"
The conductor turned to the passengers.
"It might be engine trouble! Please, remain in your seat while I check."
The man went outside but soon returned inside, yelling and scared.
"It's a demon! A demon with a pointy hat!"
"A pointy hat?"
Garnet turned to Steiner. There was only one person that fit that description. Black Waltz 3 had survived! Well, not for long. Giving her protector a determined look, the princess ran outside, decided to settle things once and for all. Steiner followed, taking his sword and the diamond crown out of their bag. Some spells like Cura and Shell were quite costly … Marcus looked at them and followed, curious to know why the two would go against an enemy with such determination.
"What's going on?"
Then he saw the Black Waltz and heard his words.
"Mission … retrieve … princess … alive …"
Garnet took her wand and closed her eyes, the crown lightly glowing on her head.
"I would hate to kill it if it can provide us information about Mother, but it seems we have no choice. Shell!"
The mage frowned, his broken body making its way toward its target.
"Eliminate … all."
That's all Marcus needed to know. As the princess's magic ran over him, he drew his sword from his scabbard. The fight was heated from the beginning. The mage's spells were less powerful but they were more erratic and harder to dodge. Garnet stayed behind her protectors while Steiner ran angrily at the beast that dodged and threw a thunder spell point blank. But Garnet's magic was powerful and the damages done by the small spell were halved. Marcus snuck in his back and tried to pierce it but it felt the thief coming and knocked his staff into his chin, causing him to back up. Steiner leaped and his black sword cut one of the wings. Howling, the Black Waltz threw a mass-fire spell that surprised both of his opponents and threw them down. Turning to the princess, he smirked evilly before rushing to his prey. But Garnet was far from defenseless.
During their journey to South Gate, Steiner had taught his protégé the basics of fighting. Now was time to use them. Garnet leaped aside and slammed her wand in the monster's knee, knocking it off. Angry, the mage swung his wand at her, only for the princess to duck and launch her wand to his eye. They kept on exchanging blows, the mage seemingly refusing to use his magic and damage his prey until Steiner and Marcus, in perfect synchronization, pierced its chest. The princess smiled.
As the fallen figure turned to dust, the princess couldn't help but ask.
"What did he want with me?"
"Burmecia was attacked by an army of black mage soldiers."
"Those mages wiped out the people of Burmecia …"
Garnet was thoughtful. Zidane, Si'Nai, Vivi and Freya were heading to Burmecia. Even more, Vivi was a black mage too. She wondered if they were alright. Steiner sheathed his sword.
"Who would do such a thing?"
"Are you serious?" Marcus turned to him. "How ignorant can you be?"
"What do you mean?"
"Stop it, Steiner!"
Surprised, the knight turned to the princess.
"I know who did it."
Garnet looked to the horizon.
"We're almost in Alexandria … I must go to the castle and see my mother. She'll listen to me."
There was no more denying. Brahne was indeed behind all this war. Only someone as Steiner could claim to deny the truth, but Garnet couldn't. Setting her crown into the bag, she returned to the car, hoping the Queen would listen to her daughter. She didn't know …
What didn't she know? That's a mystery. For now. Well next stop is Treno, of course. I hope you enjoyed.
By the way, reviews are welcome.