Lufia: Tia's Saga
Chapter 1: Glory Day in Elcid
Disclaimer: All rights belong to Natsume and Taito. I own nothing.
Personal Disclaimer: They probably don't speak any Spanish in Elcid. I know this. Humor me. ;)
Nothing had returned to normal, and yet everything remained the same. Four years had passed since the Battle of Doom Island; four years had passed and it was just enough time for the people to move on. Although the people hadn't forgotten, they didn't remember. They celebrated and paid their respects, but they knew what it was like to live in fear, and now they took advantage of their peace. They had renamed the day to Glory Day, because it marked the beginning of a new era: one of peace and one of glory.
She remembered the day too clearly. At the time, she hadn't been aware of what was happening. She had walked out of her shop and looked into the sky and suddenly, the tears wouldn't stop. In hindsight, she could recognize that something in her had broke that day, whatever it was that was attached to Maxim. She had felt the schism more powerfully than ever before and knew that he was dead. Tia still couldn't explain how she knew, but that night she had cried even harder.
Dekar had told her that one day she would cry over a guy; one day the tears would fall naturally. How ironic that her tears came not because of a man, but for him? She did not cry because she had lost Maxim; she did not cry because she was sad for herself – she cried for his loss: his loss of a life, his loss of a future, his loss of a love. And she cried for his victory in death.
Tia startled to work, finding herself staring blankly out the window. The town of Elcid remained passive outside, people going about their day preparing for the celebration of Glory Day. On this day, the people gathered together and remembered the heroes who had fought against the Four Sinistrals: Guy, Artea, Selan and Maxim. Some sent out wishes to the gods in respect, but most others used it as an excuse for drunkenness.
Ever since the victory party at Guy's the night after the destruction of the evil four, the group of those who had known Maxim gathered at a different place every year. This year, Tia had volunteered to have the group come to Elcid. Honestly, she was just grateful that they had included her. She, the one rejected by Maxim, the one destroyed in the first battle with Gades, the one who never really never meant anything… and yet they chose to keep her around, for whatever reason.
When she had returned to Elcid, she had had every intention of never returning to being a shopkeeper. She wasn't sure what she would have done, but when she saw her shop again after the journey she had been on, she knew she was home. At 23, she was a broken and unfulfilled woman who had forgotten her purpose, but at least she had her past. And this shop let her cling to it.
A knock at the door jarred her again and she realized that she hadn't moved from the spot she had previously been in. Her hands rushed to her face, slapping her cheeks a few times to wake herself up. She had never been spacey before, but now she found herself in places and didn't remember how she had gotten there. When she opened the door, a rush of cold air greeted her, followed by the smiling faces of Guy, Jessy and baby Jeros, who wasn't quite a baby anymore.
"Tia!" Guy yelled, wrapping his gigantic arms around her. "Has it been a whole year already? You grow lovelier every time I see you."
"Ha. Ha." She replied, slapping his arm playfully and moving on to Jessy. The other woman hugged her warmly in greeting and then quickly maneuvered into the warm house.
Jeros' chubby hands grabbed Tia's slim ones as they made their way in through the door. "Auntie Tia! I so glad to see you!"
Tia's heart warmed at the sight of Jeros' flaming red hair, so similar to Maxim's. Looking at him, anyone could tell he was Maxim's son, but he had Selan's striking and assessing eyes. She already knew he would be a smart one, and a handful.
After Maxim and Selan's death had been made known, most had assumed that Selan's aunt would take him. And she had, for a while, until sickness had taken her life as well. Maxim and Selan had both been only children with no parents to speak of. When discussion had occurred about where Jeros would live, Guy had jumped at the chance to raise the baby with honor to his biological parents. Tia had respected Guy greatly ever since then.
"I thought Dekar was coming with you?" she asked inquisitively, pulling the fish she had baked out of the oven.
"Oh, he is," Guy assured her. "He got caught up with Lexus on the way. I'm surprised they're not hear yet with all of those contraptions Lexus has been making for traveling."
As if one cue, Dekar opened the door and entered, followed closely behind by Lexus and Artea. The first glancing around curiously and the latter with his trademark blank expression.
"Friends!" He announced with a flourish that Tia found herself rolling her eyes at. "I know you have all been in a state of limbo without me, but I have arrived. Let the festivities begin!"
"What's going to begin is me pummeling your ass," Guy growled playfully, standing up and shoving Dekar. "Seriously? Who barges in to someone's home without knocking? That is just plain rude!"
Dekar blinked, as if just now realizing his surroundings. "Oh… right. Sorry, Ti! Mi casa, su casa, right?"
"Su casa may be mi casa but mi casa is not su casa," she scolded playfully, winking to let him know she was only kidding. He grinned, grabbing her in a hug as well. This group was the most touchy-feely group Tia had ever known, but she guessed that when you risked your life and you had days when you didn't know if you would survive, it made one more comfortable with skin on skin contact. It made one more vulnerable.
"The fish smells delicious, Tia," Lexus said appreciatively as he and the others took their places at the table. His green mustache twitched as he inhaled. The fish had already been placed in the center and Tia busied herself placing the various casseroles and dishes she had made as well. Idly, she remembered the last time she had made fish, before the adventure she had with Maxim had begun. It had been "Phantom" fish, named because it took on whatever flavor it was mixed with. How stupid she had been to cook it with no seasoning! It had been awful, but Maxim had endured for her.
She hadn't want to make fish again because she was afraid it would be too lonely. What better time, then, than when a group of people she cared for was in her home?
Tia felt a bit of her loneliness melt away. Generally when the group of them got together, they stayed together around a week. She wasn't sure, but she felt that they all felt a missing link in their lives too that was only full when they were together. Dekar, Lexus and Artea had made reservations at the local Inn – which was so cheap that Lexus had been beside himself – while Guy, Jessy and Jeros would be staying with her in the guest room.
"Thank you," she responded, sitting down with them as well. As ritual demanded, they all would be sharing their favorite stories of Maxim and Selan in memory of them and Guy always began. This was always nostalgic for Tia, who had only witnessed Guy's memory. She had to imagine the others.
"My favorite memory of Maxim and Selan," he said as all eyes turned to face him, "would be the time in Parcelyte when we first saw Selan and his jaw dropped. Hell, mine did too! She was such a babe, and you were so mad at me Tia."
Tia rolled her eyes, hearing the story for the fourth time and allowed him to continue. "You threatened to tell Jessy on me and I was terrified she would come after me with a frying pan, which, by the way, she did in Tanbel the first time I told this story." Everyone around the table laughed as Jessy smacked Guy upside the head..
Dekar went next: "My favorite memory of Maxim and Selan would have to be when we went to save all of those chicks in Narsyssus." Guy laughed appreciately, as if remembering himself. "And you all were stuck in that stupid box and then Idura tricked me into getting in there as well! But it didn't matter because I was able to get out with my super human strength."
"You're super human something," Tia murmured, rolling her eyes.
"Super human good looking?"
"Not the adjective I would have chosen."
Lexus leaned his elbows onto the table, ready to share his favorite memory next. "My favorite memory of Selan and Maxim, and of you, Guy-" Guy rolled his eyes, knowing what would come next – "was when I measured their energy levels. Maxim's was out of this world! I had never seen anything like it." He paused for a moment, probably pondering the sheer illogical number that had come on the scale and what he could have done with such energy. "And Selan's was the second highest I've ever seen, much higher than Guy's." Dekar laughed loudly, smacking Guy on the back and Guy returned the favor by smacking the purple-haired man harder.
It was Tia's turn and she took a deep breath, ready to share. This was the hardest part of Glory Day – reliving Maxim and seeing him again, even if in her memories. When she was alone, she could handle it, but it was difficult to do in front of others.
"My favorite memory of Maxim – and I have a lot of them – would have to be when we were kids. As you all know, my name means tear and I used to live up to that name. All the boys here would taunt and tease me because they knew it would make me cry and one day, Maxim came in and protected me. He told me all of the boys picked on me because it was so easy to make me cry. I stopped crying then and rarely cry now. He made my tears precious."
A sad smile spread across Tia's face in remembrance as she went back to that day. Maxim had never been a popular child either, because he was so serious and formal. The two of them had formed a rocky friendship based on being outcasted for differing reasons. That rocky friendship had turned into a bond, and even love on her end. She was glad she had loved Maxim, even if it was unrequited.
The mood at the table shifted from jolly to nostalgic, as it always did after Tia's story in preparation for Artea's memory.
"My favorite memory," the elf said, his quiet voice carrying as if it were being electrified – Tia could feel the hair on her arms stand up in anticipations – "was in the Battle of Doom Island. After Selan fell, Maxim chose to stay with her and to sacrifice his life. They both died to save the world. They both died for our peace. That is my favorite memory."
A moment of silence passed through the group and even Jeros seemed to understand that he shouldn't ask any annoying or unnecessary questions. After a few beats, Guy picked up his glass as the others followed suit.
"To Maxim and Selan." He said, his voice ringing with authority as the others mimicked him.
"To Maxim and Selan."
They all took a sip of their wine, placing the glasses down almost simultaneously and the mood shifted again. "I can't wait to dig into this, Ti!" Dekar exclaimed, picking up his fork and knife and beginning to cut the fish. "Let's eat!"