Premise: Unconscious time-travel because regular time travel would be too broken.
Warnings: Don't really have this planned out. I'm leaving lemon, lime, harem, ect. open. Updates are sporadic in nature. You'd better put it on alert if you plan to follow.
I am standing atop a ruined airship. It has been wrecked here for a hundred years, in this sea of empty space.
Every board creaks. It is rotten and ancient.
I charge across it anyway, my footfalls thundering in the alien quiet of this strange land. I don't care if the wood gives way, for even if I fall…
…I have others to catch me.
"Agrias, Sheild." Her designation. She would defend.
"Of course." She replies curtly, and by her footfalls I hear that she is hanging back to defend our casters. I can't have anyone die here, most of all our casters. We are flesh and bone, and stand no chance without magic to elevate our abilities.
"Orlandou, Sword." His designation. He would deal the majority of the damage. We would protect him at all costs, for a battle of attrition would not stand against this enemy.
Sword was generally his role, ever since his joining. Sometimes I wondered if the aged man really was flesh and bone like us. And I knew how he could command devotion and loyalty from every corner of his country. He moved like a force of nature. He struck with precision that bordered on the divine. Watching him, I could only say that he was god-sent.
But not by Ajora. By something better. More righteous.
"Take the back." I instruct to Thunder God Cid, as I use my thumb to prep my katana for iado. "I'll take the front."
The monster roars. We… my troupe… my band of merry miscreants trying to change the world… we roar louder and fall on our enemy like a swarm.
"Brother? Brother, wake up."
"A…" I stare at the blurry form in the dark. It's nightfall. "Alma?"
"You were fussing again in your sleep, brother." She tells me, concerned. "Your nightmares have gotten more frequent of late."
"Sorry." I apologize. "I didn't mean to wake you. "
"You're a terrible bedmate." She slaps my arm playfully. "You kick."
"You snore." I shoot back. "And you squeeze me too tightly."
"I do not snore." Her eyes narrow, her teasing tone drops, and I know that if I wish to remain in her bed then I had better lie. "Ladies do not snore." She says seriously.
I flounder for a response. "You're right. It must have been… uh..."
"The wind." I agree wholeheartedly.
My dreams scare me, being filled with as much steel as blood and as much blood as I can stand.
Alma calms me. Her warmth. Her gentle presence….
She is the opposite of blood and death.
If I had a mother, I would run to her. If my father were not such a busy important man that intruding on his infrequent rest periods were almost an act of treason in itself… I might have gone to him.
But neither were options.
In all the world, I only had Alma for comfort.
"Sorry for waking you." I tell her again, really remorseful. I hate to have her upset at me.
"It's just nerves, brother." She smiles up at me. "You have your first practice tomorrow with a real sword and it has been tormenting you for months. Once the morning is passed, your nights won't be so bad – you'll see."
Tomorrow. Yes. My eighth birthday, and when I graduate to holding a real sword.
I have been only briefly instructed until now, and only allowed to hold wood.
It is a big day, and even father will be there…
I'm so nervous… I have been nervous for months…
She's probably right that it's the cause.
"And you can have your bed all to yourself again." I surmise.
She corrects me immediately. "And I'll be climbing into yours because you will be a big strong, sword-trained boy, and able to protect me from the boogie-man and other disreputable individuals."
Ever since she started taking eloquence lessons, she's gotten even cuter and more difficult to argue with.
Which I suppose was the entire point.
I draw the blade from its sheath with a tug, and I hear it hiss.
This is a proper sword.
This weight. This balance. So this is a real sword.
"What do you think, squire?" My instructor is a heavy-set man with a hard expression glued to his balding head, and he questions me with all the gentleness of a pop-quiz.
"It's heavy." I answer honestly. It really is heavy.
Both its weight in pounds, and its weight in lives. So heavy. So very heavy.
I shake my head. I won't be distracted by stray thoughts, much less such foreboding ones.
A collection of nobility ring the room. They're here for my birthday, of course. Presents, cake, and small talk.
But there are no games, and no music. I am the sole entertainment.
And I know my entire family watches me. We are a clan of warriors and I can't let them down.
I raise my short sword and my buckler, into my ready stance, and away battle.
Attrition. Your sword is raised, yet his is down. He waits for the weight to weaken you.
Yes. It makes sense. Then what do I…
But I already know the answer.
Attack, or put your arms down.
I charge, raising my buckler and rallying my bravery. I am repelled with a kick. I couldn't see it coming, for my raised buckler obstructed my vision.
I manage to keep my feet under me, switching from a backpedalling motion to a series of back hops. I lose contact with the ground, but my legs stay under me. It oddly preserves my stance, in a way.
I couldn't let the weight of the day shake me.
I sheathed my sword.
"Why did you do that, lad? Tired of the sword already?" My instructor asks.
"It's heavy." Is my only explanation.
My face burns, but… but it would be wrong to do anything but my best. And this is my best. My enemy's sword is like a wraith in his hand, but in mine it's just a slow piece of steel. I would have to use it as what it is – a slow piece of steel.
The instructor chuckles and swipes at me.
I lean to the side, under his arc, and catch his elbow with my unarmed hand. A tug forwards, with my weight behind it, breaks his stance and brings his face down to me.
With a reverse grip, I draw the live steel three quarters way out of my scabbard, to rest across the man's throat.
And all the audience falls silent.
It's heavy. It's so heavy. Man was not made to carry something so heavy. Man was not made to hold death in his hands. It should only be drawn when it is needed, because it is so very heavy. And we must never hold it unless we are solemn and sincere.
I hear clapping. Furious clapping. It breaks me from my thoughts.
"That was well said, son." He tells me over the sound of his own applause. "That was very well said!"
I said that aloud?
"She likes you, you know." My sister tells me across the juice bowl.
"What?" I ask.
"Miss Mary of Ingris. She likes you. Been batting her lashes at you all night."
"I thought she had something in her eye." I observe. "Are you sure –"
"Yes, stupid!" Alma chides. "We learnt it in class! It's how a lady is to communicate her interest."
"Well that just seems contrived."
"Oh posh. Go dance with her."
"I already danced with her."
"Then go dance with her again. You're such a boy."
"But I don't like dancing." I object. "And I haven't had any cake yet."
"She's the prettiest girl in the room, brother. At least the prettiest of our age. Go dance with her."
"No she's not. You are."
"What?" She blinks, then beams. "Oh no I'm not. I could never compare to Mary of Ingris. She was in a play."
"You are though." I answer honestly. "Can I just dance with you and then we go eat cake?"
"Oh stop." She insists even as she smiles. "I'm not that pretty."
This is that thing where she wants me to act like an idiot before we can move on.
"You are." I answer. "You're as bright as the moon and as pretty as the stars."
"Oooh!" She holds her cheeks in her hands. "You jest, brother!"
She's eating this up.
Seconds pass, and eventually I feel a kick to my shin under the serving table.
"Ow." I tell her.
"Hey," she deadpans, "keep going."
I start rambling, and my sister invents new ways of fawning after each compliment. It really is incredible how many ways there are for her to pretend to be embarrassed.
No one could compare to how pretty you are. Words cannot describe it. You make the whole room wonderful and bright. Your dress does not do you justice.
"Okay." She finally says, apparently having had her fill of fun. "Now go do that to Miss Mary of Ingris. Just like that."
"But I was just playing around."
"Yes, but go do it anyways." She insists. "Except, pretend to be sincere."
I don't understand.
"Go!" She pushes my shoulder. "Go! Shoo! She's still batting her eyelashes at you!"
…This birthday seems like a lot of work.
"Father?" It's very difficult to get him when he's relatively unoccupied. Here, he's only standing and listening in to a group.
"Yes, my boy?"
"I'm sorry Father. It's important and I can't talk to Alma about it." She'll goad me into doing something embarrassing. And then tease me.
"Wh-" My hand shoots in to my pocket, pulling out a cloth after checking that no one was looking, "Wh-What do I do with this?" I ask desperately.
"Is that a handkerchief with a kiss mark on it?" Father asks in disbelief, setting down his glass and leaning in to observe.
"It… It is." I nod nervously. "What do I do with it?"
Both of my father's hands fall on my shoulders, and he squeezes reassuringly as he fixes me with a hard stare. "My boy, we frame it. We frame it."
I always wanted to write an fft story. I did write something, it was something dear to me, but I didn't publish it and it fell victim to a laptop crash. This story is nothing like that one, but it's better I suppose.
I expect a readership of like 30 people, so I hope that 20% of you actually review if in recognition of nothing else but fft fanfic rarity these days.