Sea of Change
Disclaimer: I don't own Final Fantasy VI.
Plot: Ten years after Kefka's defeat, a young girl with tearful eyes and a hole in her heart flocks to Figaro in search of comfort and constancy. But Figaro has troubles of its own to deal with, and it isn't long before terrifying, inevitable change threatens the kingdom…Terra x Edgar
"Miss, could you let us advance the contracts and allow her to move in with us today? "
The girl to whom this sentence was addressed frowned, her eyebrows drawn close together in mild disapproval.
"I'm afraid not, the contracts have been drawn out to ensure that nothing out of the ordinary happens. Not that anything strange has happened before. It's just that I want to make sure everything goes smoothly, I hope you understand." The girl smiled briefly, brushing some stray strands of green hair from her eyes. The young couple, a light brown-haired man and a pale blonde woman, conversed quietly with each other and then nodded.
"Yes, perhaps it is best that way; so we sign these contracts and expect that she be delivered to us in three days' time?" the young woman asked. At a nod from the girl, the woman's nervous expression broke out into one of happiness and relief. "Thank you so much Miss Branford, we shall take care of little Sarah as if she were one of our own."
"It is my pleasure Mrs. Fields. Just remember that I will be around from time to time to check on her." The last sentence was emphasized a little too much, and Mrs. Fields' smile faltered slightly.
"Of course, Miss Branford. As you know, my husband and I live just north of here, so we won't be very far away. Have a good day, and we'll see you again soon!"
With that, the young couple shuffled out of the cramped cottage. Terra sighed and closed her eyes. A small bundle that had previously been sitting unnoticed in the corner of the cottage then stood up and came close to hug Terra.
"Mamma, are you okay?"
Terra's eyes flew open and she regarded the small figure before her. Her eyes softened and she drew the child to her.
"Of course I am, Sarah. Mr. and Mrs. Fields are a sweet couple, and they will be good to you. Although I do wish you wouldn't be gone so soon-"
"Then I will stay here and take care of you mamma!" Sarah sprang out of Terra's arms and struck a heroic pose, making the girl laugh.
"No Sarah, I can take care of myself, although it is sweet of you to say such a thing." Terra, trembling slightly, smiled. "Besides, you will be close by, and we will still be able to see each other every day."
"Oh mamma." Sarah hugged her guardian once more. "I'll miss you, you know that." There was a brief pause, and then the child was free and running out the door. Terra stood up, her eyes following the retreating figure of the little girl. There was a flickering behind the purple eyes that was almost indiscernible to the human eye, replaced by passive emotion. Terra followed Sarah out into the open, the bright hot sun of Mobliz beating down on her shoulders.
She walked to the side of the cottage where a little path led into thick, dense vegetation. Following this path, the girl came to a small clearing overlooking a stream that trickled over rocks and pebbles before joining out into the main river. Here Terra sat, deep in thought.
It had been ten years since Kefka's defeat. Much had happened since then: she and her friends had been welcomed in the midst of triumphant horns and boisterous crowds, and the festivities had lasted for three days and three nights. But in the course of a month life had settled down again, and she had returned to Mobliz. Now, everything that had happened so long ago-the magic, the espers, even her friends-seemed like a faraway dream, a fantasy that seemed almost impossible had she not lived it out herself.
But Terra had not been discouraged: with her newfound love, she was certain that the presence of her children was enough for her. Yet that also seemed to have an unsettling transience: as people moved into Mobliz, more and more of her children were being adopted. Even Katarin and Duane, the ardent young lovers, had moved away to the other side of town with their newborn. And that, she supposed, was when the feeling made itself known to her.
As part-esper, Terra had never had to contend with such strong, sudden emotion before, but she supposed that the disappearance of her magical side had made her more susceptible to all kinds of emotions in addition to love. After the initial shock, the girl had begun to design ways in which she could escape from the feeling. At first, it hadn't been so bad. In busying herself with the children, Terra found that she could suppress the emotion. But loneliness would not be overcome so easily: it began to visit her at night, gnawing her from the inside out, telling her that her love for her children would not guarantee their constancy. And as more of the children were adopted by young couples, Terra really did begin to feel as if her children were abandoning her, one by one.
In fact, Sarah was her only remaining child. Correction, had been.
A lone tear leaked out of Terra's dry, unfocused eye and travelled down her cheek; it was hastily wiped away. "No, this adoption is best for Sarah; I shouldn't be selfish and hoard her. Besides, now I'm free from my responsibility, I can do anything I want!"
But the greater part of Terra's heart felt that this was not the case. She missed her responsibility greatly. She loved her children; she loved being there for them when they needed help. And somehow, she felt as if that very same love had cheated her: now she was lonely, and yet nobody existed to comfort her or make her feel valued. Terra felt selfish wishing for such things, and she shook her head as if the evil thoughts would fly away if she shook hard enough.
"No, I am no worse off now than I was before, for I can always take care of myself. Surely freedom is the greatest thing. I have no responsibility, no cares in my life, and now I can visit my friends anytime I want, whenever I want!" Terra whispered fiercely, in a last desperate attempt to suppress the growing loneliness within her.
And then it hit her. For ten years, everybody had lived in separation, and she had somehow lost contact with the outside world. Now, however, she was free to visit whomever she wished. Perhaps she could even organize a reunion! The thought brought Terra a moment's liveliness, and her purple eyes sparked with crimson fire. Dipping her finger into the cool water, she began to entertain the idea.
Where could she possibly hold a reunion? Her cottage was too small to entertain a few select members of the town, let alone high ranking generals, old grandpas and stuffy kings. Then Terra thought of a certain stuffy king she knew.
Of course! His palace would be best; his reception would be most welcoming. His castle could even ferry guests from Figaro desert to Kohlingen! If a reunion was to be held at all, Figaro castle would be the perfect venue, and she, Terra, with the generous aid of King Edgar Roni Figaro, would be hostess! Terra clapped her hands in delight and laughed the loudest laugh she had ever laughed in ten years.
Three days later, after little Sarah had been delivered safely to her foster parents, Terra strode back to her cottage, packed her belongings and set out on the long journey from Mobliz to Figaro.
The scene now changes focus to a grand throne room lit by glittering chandeliers. Soldiers form neat ranks before the throne, their gilted swords glinting, while two men stand at the front discussing matters. The first man is blond, and stands with a proud and regal bearing. He paces agitatedly from one end of the soldiers' line to the other, stopping occasionally to throw out a few hasty phrases before resuming his animated step. The second, a man with dark brown hair and closed, reserved features, listens closely and responds occasionally to the first man's words. The two men are none other than King Edgar Roni Figaro and his loyal Chancellor Chadron.
At the moment, King Edgar is greatly aggravated with his subordinate. "Where would we dispatch the troops pray tell? We don't even know who our enemy is!"
Chadron eyed the king coolly, but a quivering of the eyebrow and a twitching of his pale, tight lips indicated that his patience was wearing thin. "Your Majesty, South Figaro has just been conquered, and as of this moment all trading routes and supplies to Figaro castle have been cut off! You must understand-"
"No Chadron, you must understand the situation at hand. How can you be so reckless and blind? Our ranks were broken completely, and the enemy is strong; you saw the wounds of the few survivors who managed to come back. We cannot-" The king was broken off as a soldier entered the room.
"Your Majesty! Lady Terra has arrived! Will you be seeing her?" An awkward silence ensued. Sensing his untimely interruption, the messenger faltered, but the king, smiling suddenly, waved a hand.
"Take her to the library, and tell her I will meet her there." Then, to Chadron, "We shall continue this later."
"But Your Majesty, this matter is of utmost-"
"It would be impolite for a king to keep a lady waiting too long. Tomorrow!" The chancellor, snubbed, strode out of the throne room, the soldiers awkwardly trailing behind. Edgar sighed and sank into his throne.
"Of all the times could have visited, you decide to visit now. You come at a bad time, Terra…" the king muttered to himself, before rising and leaving to meet his unexpected guest.
"If you'll wait here, milady, the king will be down in a moment."
Terra sat and looked at the homey library, with its rich green walls, cushioned couches and mahogany shelves stacked with myriad scrolls. She felt a tingling excitement at the thought of meeting Edgar, and chuckled with pleasure at the thought of seeing all her other friends again. A voice interrupted her musings.
"My dear lady Terra, what brings you to my humble abode on a night such as this…?" Terra turned to see a familiar figure clad in blue robes and a green cloak sweeping into the room. A smile lit her flushed, excited face.
"Oh Edgar, I've missed you so much! It's been ages since I visited Figaro castle, and yet everything is the same!" Terra gushed, jumping up to meet the king. Edgar smiled, running his fingers through his hair.
"Oh yes, I haven't the mind to go about changing things at the moment, I've been rather busy with current affairs…but what brings you here, if I may ask? Sit down, sit down…"
"I have a big favour to ask of you." Terra hesitated slightly. Edgar plopped down next to Terra on the couch, waving his hand.
"No favour is too big for a lovely lady like you. Now tell me, what could this big favour be that gives me the honour of carrying it out?"
"Oh go on," Terra rolled her eyes at the flirtatious insertion. "Well, I was thinking…it's been ten years since everyone saw each other, ten years too many! I want to hold a reunion, but my cottage in Mobliz is too small to hold a party for so many. So I thought…maybe…we could do it together you know…? Here in Figaro…?" At this point the king's smile vanished. His brows furrowed and he slouched forward, deep in thought, the image of fatigue and anxiety. Upon seeing this transformation, Terra hastily added, "But I understand that if you have affairs to tend to, then perhaps I could think of something else…" Terra's heart sank. What had possessed her to think that her plan would succeed so easily? Not once on her journey to Figaro had she thought that Edgar would be too busy to help her host the reunion.
A good five minutes passed when the silence Edgar had created with his own cogitations became too much for Terra. Edgar was unusually quiet, and she subsequently felt that he was troubled and disturbed by her presence. Terra cleared her throat nervously, making the king snap out of his reverie. Edgar lifted his head to speak, but was stunned into silence as his eyes met Terra's. His goldfish eyed look upset the girl.
"I'm sorry, you must be really busy at the moment, I can leave as soon as-" Edgar looked up and started at her wide eyes and trembling lips. He stared at her blankly, then:
"No…no, lady Terra, do not say such things!" Edgar jumped to his feet, waving his arms almost comically in protest. "I was merely thinking about…the practicality…of the whole idea. It would take a while to find everybody and send out invitations, but really now, in the grand scheme of things that's not such a hard thing to do. Not if it means seeing everybody again." Terra's eyes widened, and she straightened visibly. She hesitated.
"So you can help me after all?"
The king hesitated for a fraction of a second before nodding and smiling. "But let us discuss the details tomorrow. But you must excuse me, milady, for I was not expecting such a distinguished guest of honour tonight. I shall quickly have a room prepared for you, if you will excuse the wait."
Terra frowned slightly. "No…of course not." Since when had Edgar been so formal? She watched as Edgar rang a little bell, and a maid entered.
"Isabella my dear, if you could kindly prepare the first room in the second wing for Lady Terra to stay in…" the maid nodded, bowed, and left the room as swiftly as she had entered. Edgar turned to Terra, clearing his throat.
"So what inspired this idea of yours? I thought you had children to tend to in Mobliz? Or have they grown so fast that time has transformed them into beauts and beaus in the blink of an eye?"
Terra smiled at the king's light-hearted tone. "Not quite so. Mobliz has been doing very well recently. People are moving back into the town, houses and roads are being rebuilt…and the children are being adopted." Terra smiled, the corners of her mouth curling unnaturally. "Well, they've all been adopted. My-The last child, Sarah, was just adopted two days ago. And I felt as if I wasn't needed anymore, you know..? So I thought, since I had so much time…" Edgar edged slowly towards Terra and gently put an arm around her shoulders.
"Don't ever feel like you're unwanted Terra," he said firmly. "Without you, the world would not be as it is now, and the children would never have survived without you."
"But I don't know; since magic disappeared from the earth I've felt as if my emotions have been amplified twice fold. Like sometimes life's just too much and I have to sit back and catch my breath." Terra sighed, and Edgar felt her burden greatly. "Without the children I should be free of all responsibility, and yet…"
"Yet what?" the king whispered.
Terra opened her mouth to continue, but at that moment Isabella reappeared. Edgar leapt away from his guest, his reassuring arm sliding from her shoulders. "Lady Terra, your bedroom is ready now. If you would like to follow me…?"
"No, I have a few more matters to discuss with her," Edgar blurted quickly. "You are dismissed now, Isabella. I will see the young lady to her room later." Bowing, the maid retreated. Edgar looked to Terra to continue, but the moment was gone.
"I guess it's nothing, really, just a silly notion of mine…But you can't imagine how grateful I am for your help, Edgar…you know, how much this reunion means to me," Terra said softly.
Edgar paused. "It is nothing." There was a short pause, and the king cleared his throat nervously. "I suppose you must be tired. I hope you had a smooth journey?"
Terra nodded quickly, and then frowned slightly. "Well yes, except for a scuffle in South Figaro-"
"What?" Edgar spluttered. Terra looked at him quizzically, and he quickly checked himself. The king spread his hands. "To think that one would bar the passage of a beautiful lady, that she might be harmed on a dangerous journey!"
"Oh Edgar, come off it, you're such a tease," Terra laughed and then grew serious. "Well, it was more of a battle, really. The ship had just landed in South Figaro port when I heard quarrelling and the sound of swords clashing, and women and children screaming. I wanted to leave the boat to see what was going on, but the boat captain said that I shouldn't go, that they hadn't realized how much danger South Figaro was in until we were much too close to port to turn back. You do know about what happened, don't you?"
"Yes, yes of course. Chadron and I were just discussing it before you came. I hope you stayed on the ship?"
"Oh no, I just took a sword from one of the seamen and jumped out when the captain had his back turned."
"To think that Locke still has an influence on you after all these years…" Edgar sighed. "Well, go on!"
"So I entered the city…and I saw men dressed in black robes and red bands tied about their heads…they were everywhere: overturning merchant barrels, killing livestock and people alike, women and children running into their houses to hide from the invaders, unfortunate neighbours locked out in the streets screaming for help that would never come…" Terra shivered at the memory, and Edgar's blood ran cold.
"But then I saw the green and red banners of the Figaro troops! They locked arms with the invaders, and slowly drove them out of town. They then sealed all entrances to South Figaro…but luckily the captain of the troops recognized me, and sent me through. I managed to get through to Figaro without any other mishaps. But what happened in South Figaro…everything is alright, isn't it Edgar?"
"No, it's not," Edgar couldn't keep the charade up any longer. He faced Terra, whose purple eyes dilated slightly in alarm. "Those green and red banners…they do not belong to Figaro."
It took a while for the information to sink in. "Not…Figaro's?" Terra couldn't believe her ears. "But the flags…the emblems…they were the same as Figaro's…even the shades of red and green were the same! What are you saying, Edgar?"
The king stood up and resumed the agitated step he had practiced in the throne room. "South Figaro was attacked, and the enemy was so strong that we had to withdraw our troops from the city. My sources tell me that the attackers wore black and red, and this description matches your account of the 'invaders'…but the men who bore the symbol of Figaro…?" Edgar flushed deep red with anger at the thought, and Terra chewed her lip.
"Whoever the enemy is, we have to stop them. We can't just let them run rampant in South Figaro-" Edgar turned to face Terra, his eyes flashing.
"We? No milady, it will be I who faces them! You have put yourself in great danger, and I do not want to lead you into trouble. I do apologise for what I said earlier, but the reunion will have to be put off later. You must leave this castle at the first opportunity!"
Edgar's sudden vehemence surprised Terra, but she nevertheless frowned and looked strongly back at him.
"You're asking me to do the impossible! How can I desert a friend in need?"
Edgar laughed, adopting a frivolous attitude. "Me? In need? Come now m'dear, I am perfectly capable of handling this myself. So there are a few bigheads in black and red, red and green marching about South Figaro…but they'll be gone soon, and before long South Figaro will be restored to us again. So as for your journey back to Mobliz, I was thinking-"
"I'm not going back to Mobliz!" Terra stood up and stamped her foot almost childishly. "I've told you Edgar, there's nothing left for me back there, why are you trying so hard to make me leave? Do you really think that I'll get hurt?"
The king grabbed Terra's shoulders and shook her, frustrated. "I don't want to put your life in danger -"
"Stop with that nonsense Edgar! You've changed so much over the last ten years that I don't even recognize you anymore!" Terra shouted. The king's hands fell to his sides and he stared at her, his lips compressing to form a thin line. Embarrassed at her sudden outburst of emotion, she lowered her head and mumbled, "I'm sorry…it's just that we used to fight together for a common cause…and everything's changing so rapidly…"
"No, Terra, you're right. I have no power to make you leave or stay, and I apologise for my rudeness." Edgar sighed in resignation, running a hand through his hair. It was unusual of him to have to apologise to one lady twice in one sitting…where had his manners gone…? "Stay if you wish to, but please do not let yourself get hurt."
Terra nodded; she did not want to fight Edgar anymore. "As long as you don't get hurt."
"Everything will be fine Terra. Now you should sleep…I will take you to your room." He held out his arm, and Terra linked her arm with his in the proper manner. Nothing was said as they walked through the dimly-lit corridors of the castle. At length, they reached Terra's assigned bedroom. The girl turned to her charge.
"Goodnight, Edgar." Terra said. After she had closed the door, the girl walked over to the bed. She plopped down next to her belongings with a sigh, and began to ponder the night's events. Inwardly, she was slightly disappointed that her reunion could not be carried out as planned, but her heart dwelt more on the young king she had just communed with.
At their first meeting, Edgar had left a marked impression on her. He had been strong, self-assured and had always seemed to know what to do at the crucial moment. This impression, she knew, had only grown stronger as she got to know him better. She still remembered him roaring with Sabin over a silly joke when the gang had split up ten years ago. Back then, she remembered thinking about how loyal he was to Figaro, and had she been asked to, could not have imagined a better or more suitable ruler for the kingdom.
But meeting him now seemed to shake the old conviction to its roots. Initially she had noticed nothing, but as they talked she began to realize the little changes that had made their way into the king's life. She recalled the king's somewhat disheveled look, the dark circles under his eyes and the slight hunch his shoulders had assumed over the years. She recalled his insistence that he should be the only one to deal with Figaro's problems, and deep inside this had hurt her: for though he had spoken the words, she felt as if they had only been uttered by way of protocol. Terra drew her knees to her chest and rocked back and forth against the wall, shivering as a well-known feeling washed over her.
"Maybe Edgar is lonely, too…?"
A/N: Thanks for reading, R&R please!