Not Quite Gone

As they day went on, the others in their little group arrived. Setzer traveled to Doma to pick up Cyan, Sabin and Gau, while Edgar traveled by ship with Terra and Mog. Umaro did not put in an appearance, however, and Gogo simply could not be reached. Eventually, when they had all arrived and were all situated in Strago's living room, the old mage stood and told them what had been happening.

"It appears," he said. "That magic is indeed not dying. It is instead remaking itself."

Sabin knitted his eyebrows together in confusion. "How's that? We saw it die, didn't we? With the magicite?"

Strago shook his head. "You saw the Espers' essences dissipating, and even the Esper part of Terra dissipating, but magic itself never dies." He paced slowly as he spoke. "One thing about this world, is it always finds a way to reform itself, and magic always finds a way to be reborn. The war of the Magi? The whole business that set us back a millennia? Because of magic. Because the crystals shattered. They thought magic was dead too, but then Espers were discovered. Magic was reborn again. Now the Espers are gone, and it is time for magic to show its face in a different form." He turned to them. "I believe that the disturbance that some of you felt is caused by magic shifting and twisting."

"I didn't feel anything." Edgar interjected.

"I said some of you. Mainly the women. Terra, Celes and Relm all could tell you their experiences."

Edgar looked across the room at Terra. "Is that true?"

The green-haired woman nodded. "Yes. Right after we all went out separate ways, I went into a strange thinking was effected, as was my mind. I had migraines frequently."

The king sighed. "Why didn't you tell me? I would of sent you a doctor."

She shrugged with a light toss of her shoulders, as if dismissing the matter. "I didn't think it was too important to interrupt what you were doing. Besides, I thought it was just stress."

"I became too edgy to paint anything." Relm said. "I lost most of my coordination and my concentration. It was very frustrating."

"And I became a vegetable for a few months." Celes exchanged a look with Locke. "We didn't tell any of you, because we didn't want to worry you."

"Same here." Relm said. "We had just finished saving the world. I knew we needed some R & R, so I didn't bring it up to anybody but Grandpa."

Setzer toyed with one of his steel cards, flipping it over and over in his hand. "So it seems that a lack of communication is the problem here. I think the next time anything weird happens to us, we should talk to each other, not hide in our own little corners."

Cyan nodded. "What Setzer says doth have merit to it. Perhaps we should keep the lines of communication open."

Strago shook his head. "Even though we've all shared this together now, I've known of the problem for a while, and I'm still trying to find the source. I'd like to ask the rest of you: have any of you noticed anything...strange lately?"

Gau politely raised his hand. "I did. I've gone back to the Veldt, and the animals felt uneasy. Some told me about strange shakings in the ground."

Sabin frowned. "Earthquakes on the Veldt, huh? Is that odd?"

Gau nodded. "The Veldt isn't anywhere near volcanoes, or other places that cause earthquakes."

"Yes." Cyan agreed. "The Veldt doth not sit on any fault lines, and even though Kefka hath reshaped the world, I do not think that he could totally reshape where earthquakes occur."

"Don't be too sure." Edgar said. "While the Veldt was once on the largest plate on the planet, that plate may of broken up into smaller plates when things were re-arranged. That's how many other things got reshaped and moved around." He looked at Strago. "The plates are still moving, they're always moving, but things are shifting around at an amazing rate. Some of my topographers measured the rate at which the southwest continent moves to the northwest one. Normally, continents move at the rate of one inch per year. These continents move at the rate of three or four feet per year. They estimate that the two continents will collide in three hundred years, and form a new continent."

Gau ran a large hand over his dark blond hair, which was no longer green-tinged since he started bathing. It was cut shorter now, and put back into a neat ponytail, much like Cyan. "Then what would that have to do with the earthquakes? Or magic?"

Edgar looked at Strago again. "Is it possible that some of this shifting of the earth's tectonic plates deals with magic being reborn?"

Strago scratched at his bushy beard thoughtfully for a moment. "It's definitely a possibility. It's not the first time it happened. But even then, the world was being reshaped as new gods or goddesses took over. The three statues, the three goddesses, are now gone, and no one new is taking over. Magic has always tied in with deities, but without new ones, I don't know how it's coming around. That's what has me baffled."

Setzer palmed the card he had been toying with, and slid it down his sleeve to add it to the innumerable decks he had hidden there. "Well, I think it's settled, then. We check out what's underground. If things are funny with the earth, we check the earth. We probably should start with the Veldt. I'll be waiting for all of you on deck of the Falcon." The gambler grinned. "Sounds like we're up for a helluva lotta fun."

* * *

Gau stretched his long, gangly limbs and breathed in deeply. It had been a while. Even though his new life with Cyan was interesting and even fun, he'd always consider the Veldt his true home. The animals that many considered vicious or fearsome were simple friends to him, companions that shared a bond with the boy that was different than human friendship and unique in its own sense.

Relm came to stand beside him. "You've changed, Gau. I never thought you'd become civilized."

He smiled a sharp-toothed grin. "On the surface, I'm just another boy, well-maintained and on his best behavior. On the inside, I'm just as wild as I always was." Relm noted that Gau had started to pick up on Cyan's accent. He turned to look down at her. "You can't tame a wild animal completely. Even chocobos and cattle still dream about running through fields, living free." You've changed too, he thought. "We're both growing up, Relm."

"Yeah...scary, huh?" She giggled. "I think it scares the adults more than us."

Gau laughed, it was a more pleasant laugh, not the harsh ugly one he once had. Relm decided that he wasn't a stinky little rat anymore, but perhaps somebody she could relate to. The only two people in her age range in their exclusive group were Gau and Mog. Gau was too much like an animal, and Mog was too...weird. Relm found herself bored at times, and actually spent more time talking to the adults than the two boys. Now, maybe things would change. She found herself smiling.

Gau took her smile as something else. "I know, it's great to be back here, isn't it? The Veldt always has some certain peace." He turned to look at the group of the adults, who were all deep in conversation. Edgar and Locke were debating. They always argued, and the debate was usually solved by Terra. For some reason, she had the ability to make them behave. Gau saw Locke shout and wave his arms in the air at Edgar, while the young king shouted back and prodded the thief in the chest with an angry finger.

Relm sighed. "Why do adults always have to complicate things? Getting along isn't too hard to do, if you try."

He shrugged. "It makes them happy. Adults play different kinds of games. What Locke and Edgar do is a game. But maybe I should end it." He then raised his face, open his mouth and let out a long, mournful howl. The two men stopped yelling, and turned with the others to look at Gau, as the young man started to howl again.

Cyan walked over to Gau. "What have I told thee, Gau? Behaving in such a way is unacceptable!"

He stopped howling, and looked at his adoptive father. "I'm sorry, but I was trying to get you all to stop yelling at each other. Besides, I want to ask some questions."

"Ah, I see. Ask away, then."

"Not you. Them." Gau pointed at a cloud of dust in the distance that moved closer to them. Low grunts were heard from the herd of animals that reached them with surprising speed. Within moments, a herd of Bufflax had reached the group, watching them with wary piglike eyes. A few other animals were mixed in, something deerlike in nature and even a Gobbler that perched on a nearby sage tree. Gau stepped forward, and made some grunting sounds. One of the Bufflax pawed at the earth with a cloven hoof, and growled low. The vulture-like Gobbler fanned its wings, and screeched excitedly. Gau nodded in response, then turned to the group. "They say that the earthquakes are getting bigger to the south of here, near the caves. The bird says that he saw green stuff that was not grass."

Sabin looked baffled. "Green stuff that isn't grass? That doesn't help us much."

"Sorry, but that's what he said."

"Maybe that bird's been eating some of that green stuff...." Sabin mumbled in a failed attempt at humor.

Gau clambered up on the back of the Bufflax that spoke to him. Cyan made a strangled sound. "Gau, what are thou doing? Get off there!"

"It's okay, he says that he'll take me there. You're all welcome to take a ride too."

Locke wrinkled his nose. "I'll pass. I'd prefer not to smell like a stockyard."

"We'll follow in the Falcon." Setzer offered.

The airship followed the herd of animals easily, with Gau riding in the lead. Interceptor followed the herd of animals happily like a puppy, every once in a while barking at the deerlike creatures. Celes stood on deck, watching them. She knew who came up beside her, she didn't even have to look to know his presence.

"Gau's really changed, hasn't he?" Locke said.

"Mmm." She nodded in agreement. "He's becoming so much like Cyan it's uncanny. But it's also a nice change...if Gau can be raised as the perfect gentleman, then it might do the world some good. Gentlemen are hard to find nowadays."

"Sorry I disappoint you."

"That wasn't directed at you."

"I know, I'm just teasing." He scanned the Veldt up ahead, and saw the rocky knoll that housed the entrance to the extensive cave system underneath the Veldt. "There it is." He frowned. "I wonder if this is just a waste of our time."

"I don't know, I think it's nice to get out of Koligen every once in a while. And I know you, you're just as happy to get out and moving as anybody else."

The thief smiled at her. "Yeah, I guess I am. I don't want to get too domestic...yet. Besides, who knows what I might find on this little outing? Maybe something else to add to my collection."

Setzer brought the Falcon around the leeward side of the knoll to land on more even ground. Mog and the gambler remained on board as the rest of the group exited the airship. Gau was waiting for them. "This is the spot. This used to be where the underground part of the Serpent trench ran, but there's not water in there anymore." He looked up to the Gobbler, and the bird cocked its head aside, cawking. "He says that instead of water, there's green stuff. It runs like water."

Edgar sighed. "This isn't much to go on, Gau. Are you sure our coming here was a good idea?"

Gau crossed his arms. "Do you have any suggestions, then?" He waited for a response briefly. "No? Then let's just look at this green water stuff for now." He turned and went into the cave.

Locke chuckled. "Definitely getting like Cyan..."

Usually, the cave was illuminated by a few torches set there by roving thieves that used it as their hideout, but this time it was completely dark. They fumbled around in the darkness for a few minutes, resulting in a few stubbed toes and some muttered oaths. "Wait a second," they heard Edgar say. There was the sound of something striking metal, a few sparks, and then a sudden glow from a lantern. They all blinked in the light until their eyes adjusted, and then moved on. Terra kept in stride with Edgar, obviously wanting to be near the light he held at shoulder-level. The young king smirked at her.

"Afraid of the dark?"

Her face twisted into an annoyed frown. "Don't even tease me right now..."

"I'll let you hold my hand."

"I'd rather bite it off."

"Rowrl..." said Sabin, raising his claw to emphasize his point. "Touchy today, aren't we?"

"Leave her alone, you two." Locke chided. "We're here for a reason, and that reason ain't to pick on each other. We can do that later." He looked around the cavern, his eyes sharp in the dark. "Hm. I don't get it...there doesn't seem to be any "green stuff" anywhere."

Edgar raised his lantern higher to examine the cave walls. "Well, maybe it's growing on the ceiling or something."

Cyan looked up. "Nay, good king. The bird claimed that it ran like water, and it would drip upon our heads if it was on the ceiling."

"What's that up there?" Relm asked, pointing.

"Where?" Edgar raised his lantern to the twist in the cavern ahead of them, but all they managed to see was a wall.

"No, cover the lantern a minute, I thought I saw some light."

He did so, closing the metal flaps on the side of the lamp. Relm took a few steps ahead, fairly sure of where she was going in the dark. "There.....right in front of's down this turn; looks like it goes to the left. Do you see it?"

Gau blinked in the dark. A faint light illuminated the wall ahead of them, making Relm's slight figure stand out darkly against the eerie backdrop. The bird was wasn't something growing, it was something glowing.

The light was green.

Relm slowly walked towards the light, and disappeared around the corner. Strago ran after her. "Relm, stay back with us! You have no idea what that is..."

She turned to him, her face sickly-looking in the green glow. "But don't you feel it, grandpa? It feels strange."

Cyan stepped around the corner, the others close behind him. "I don't like the feel of this."

"See? Even Cyan's spooked. Maybe this is what we were looking for, grandpa. You can stay here if you want, but I'm going ahead." She spun back towards the light quickly, and moved on ahead. Relm hoped that her voice didn't let on, but she was seriously frightened. She sensed something dark and foreboding at the end of the tunnel, something that was in the light. For all she knew, it could be something like Atma, something that lay in wait until they were close, and then went in for the kill. A low growl was heard from her lower left. Apparently Interceptor felt the same way. She pet the dog on the head. "Thanks."

The dog made a growl that ended in a whine. Gau came up next to the doberman, and nodded. "He says that he's just as afraid as you are, but he'll do what it takes to protect you."

"You understand him too?"

"I understand a lot." He smiled, fangs shining in the pale green light. The smile faded as his eyes fixed on an opening ahead of them. A bit bolder than the rest, he rushed ahead, and went into the open cavern ahead of them. Relm ran after Gau with the others close behind her, calling his name. His response was one of the animalistic growling sounds he used to make when he still lived on the Veldt. Now what? Was he getting attacked? They ran into the cave, weapons drawn.

Then they came to a halt once out in the open, swords, pikes and daggers held numbly in their hands. Gau stood facing the center of the room, a few paces ahead, in a crouched position, making growling sounds.

"Holy shit..." Locke breathed. Nobody said anything else.

In front of Gau was a pool of liquid. Green liquid that put off a green-white light, making their shadows appear reddish against the wall behind them. Every once in a while the liquid would stir with some current, or even the occasional bubble would break the surface. Interceptor took a few steps forwards while whining, his red-brown eyes not fixed on the green ooze, but the man Gau sat growling at. The man was crouched low to the ground, not in an offensive or even defensive position, but more so he could closely examine the pool. Interceptor gave a low whine, his long tail tucked between his legs, yet wagging slightly. The familiar figure, decked in black, stood up to face them.

"...Shadow?" Celes ventured.

The ninja narrowed his eyes at them. "You are not supposed to be here. I suggest you forget you saw this."

Interceptor pricked his ears up at the sound of his former master's voice, then lay them flat, growling. Relm looked at the dog, then at Shadow. Why would Interceptor growl at Shadow? That dog loved the ninja, didn't he? Something was strange here.

"Leave. Stay out of my way." The ninja's voice had a cold edge to it, instead of its usual deadpan tone. He took a step back, there was a flash of light, and suddenly he was gone. The group stood there stunned while Interceptor growled at the place where Shadow had stood. Relm walked over to the dog and put a hand on his back to calm him. That was weird. Really....weird, she thought.

"What the hell was that just now?" Locke grumbled in back of her, obviously sharing her sentiments. The thief walked down to stand next to the two teens and Interceptor. "Well, I guess Shadow's alive, and as friendly as ever."

"Gau doesn't....uh...I mean, I don't like this." Obviously when startled, the boy went back to his old ways. He stood up straight, and looked down at Locke, since he was now taller than him. Most people were. "Didn't you see his eyes?"

"Yeah, they were creepy, as always."

"No. His eyes were blue. A pale blue. Shadow's eyes were always amber."

"A trick of the light?" Cyan offered. "That green liquid does set off the colors, which we can tell by looking at each other. The Figaro brothers' hair is as green as Terra's in this light."

"I saw it." Relm said. "His eyes seemed almost.....glowey. The color was unnatural. I felt something too, but it seems to be this green stuff in front of us."

Interceptor sniffed at the liquid, which put off a small amount of heat in the normally chill cavern, although no steam rose from it. The doberman whined low and sneezed. Sabin laughed. "He doesn't like how it smells."

Edgar ventured forward to the edge of the pool, examining it critically with his brilliantly blue eyes. "It doesn't seem like water at all, it's too viscous. It's more like ooze." He sniffed. "Strange, I don't smell anything from it either." The king crouched and reached a hand out to touch it.

"Brother, don't do that! You don't know what that gunk is!"

Edgar shrugged. "I don't think it'll hurt to touch it. Interceptor got fairly close to it, and he seems fine." He licked his lips, and tentatively reached out to the ooze, barely touching it. "It's warm." Closing his fingers, he scooped up a handful of it with his palm, and tested the consistency of it with his thumb. "Warm, and sort of tingly. It feels odd." The ooze in his hand suddenly bubbled, and with a grunt, Edgar tried to fling it off. The thick green liquid's glow grew brighter as it clung to his hand, and began to writhe like a snake, slithering up his arm into the cuff of his jacket. He tried to fling it off again, his blue eyes growing wide with fear. Edgar screamed, scrabbling backwards until he hit a wall, still flailing his now-covered arm around. The gob of ooze on his arm fell off onto the floor, and slithered back to join the pool at the center of the room. Interceptor growled at the ooze as it made its way back home, while Terra rushed down next to Edgar. "Are you all right?"

The young king was trembling violently, and there were tears standing in his eyes. "That' feels....alive. It said to me...." He groaned and rubbed at his face. "I can't explain it, it just started talking to me by invading my mind. I couldn't shut it out." He turned to his brother , who also crouched at his side. "I think I'm all right now. I don't know what happened just now, but I don't want to get near that guk anymore."

Locke prodded at the ooze with the end of a dirk. "Maybe this is what caused the women to have problems. I mean, look what it did to Edgar." He lifted the dagger and watched the transparent liquid drip down slowly. "Do you think this stuff is magic?"

"Liquid magic?" Strago stepped to the edge of the pool, next to the treasure hunter. "Hm. It's a possibility. I think we should take some to Thamasa...some of the other people there can look at it too."

Terra looked at the liquid. "Anybody have a potion?"

"Here, I have one..." Sabin offered, pulling a small bottle out of his pocket. Terra took it from him, and offered to Edgar. The king shook his head in refusal.

"Oh well, I guess it's a waste then." She said, unstoppering the bottle and dumping the contents on the floor. Sabin stepped forward.

"Hey, I paid for that!"

"I'll pay you the difference when we get back to a town, if you want. We need something to put this gunk in, after all." She walked up to Locke and held up the bottle in front of him. "You're wearing gloves, why don't you scoop some up for us?"

Locke looked at his fingerless gloves, then decided that they would offer more protection than bare hands, and nodded, taking the bottle from Terra. "It doesn't seem to hate me like it did Edgar anyway." He knelt down and carefully dangled the bottle in the thick, transparent liquid by the small thread tied around its neck, and watched until bubbles stopped coming up from it. He pulled it up, letting the excess goop dribble from the sides of the glass vial. The whole process took a while.

"Hurry up already." Sabin said gruffly. "I want to get out of here before I'm 40."

"Do you want to do this? Besides, I don't want to touch it and wind up freaked out like Edgar." He took his bandanna off his head, and wrapped the bottle with it, stoppering the top off with its cork. "There. We've got the goods, now let's get the hell out of here."

* * *

"So you mean that Edgar actually went apeshit when he touched it? I've never seen Edgar lose his cool."

"This isn't ordinary stuff, Setzer." Locke said. "I felt all tingly just when I got close enough to gather some."

"Then why didn't you wig out too?" Setzer idly flipped a coin over the tops of his knuckles, a trick that normally prestidigitarians did, but the gambler merely did out of boredom.

The thief shrugged. "I was careful not to touch it. I didn't want it whatever it did to Edgar. Damned if I'll scream like a pansy."

"Watch it..." Sabin said. "You know that Edgar's no pansy."

"Sorry, it's just a joke wasted only because your brother is absent at the moment. If you want, I can pick on him later." Locke looked at Setzer, who had ditched the coin and now was toying with a deck of cards. "You gonna fiddle with those too, or are you gonna deal?"

The gambler's scarred face broke into a grin, and he dealt hands for himself and the other two men at the table. Terra watched them across the room. Whatever happened briefly in that cave, they were obviously blowing it off like it was nothing, or making it seem that way. Men tended to act as if major things were nothing, and made small things seem huge. Especially when dealing with women; they always did their best to make sure that a lady was all right, obviously not knowing that when doing so they got in the way. Well, most men anyway...

Terra stood up and wandered across the room to talk to Celes. Celes was always blunt and straight-forward, and never let a man be too irritating while around her. She did allow Locke to continue to watch over her, though. Terra sighed. Was that what you did when you loved somebody? It must be like that, since whenever Locke felt that he was helping Celes, he seemed happy.

Celes was seated by a window, looking at Relm's sketchbook. Terra sat down on the other side of Relm. "What are you looking at?"

Relm smiled, dimples popping up. "Oh, a picture of Gau I just drew. He looks much nicer now that he bathes, wouldn't you say?" Terra looked down at the portrait, done in a normal pencil. The face and the shading were so lifelike, she expected the eyes to blink at her and the mouth to split into one of Gau's fang-toothed grins. Relm always had amazing talent, and she was continuing to increase her artistic skills as she got older. Terra wistfully wished that she could draw, but the best she could manage were trees, and some very accomplished stick figures. Relm babbled on to Celes about the picture, and how she asked Gau to sit down for it. Terra had a thought that came up suddenly.

"Relm? Would you do something for me?"

The girl nodded. "Sure I would. What did you want?"

Terra knew that Relm had a good memory, and she hoped that she could remember what somebody looked like. Relm had only seen him a few times, but perhaps that was enough. "Would you....draw me a picture of my father?"

Relm smiled softly, and nodded. "Of course...but..." She turned to Celes. "I'm going to do something sort of....weird. Promise not to tell the others?"

Celes looked a bit confused. "Are you going to sketch a replicate of him, like you can for monsters?"

She shook her head. "No, something else." She turned back to Terra. "I don't exactly remember what your father looked like, so you'll have to do something for me."

"Describe him?"

"No, just think of him. Think of his face. Just for a few minutes."

Terra blinked, but did as she was told. She thought of her father's tan skin and green hair, of his red eyes and elegantly curving horns. It wasn't too difficult, once she had regained her memory of childhood, she remembered playing with her father as a toddler, of his face and his smiles. She felt a small touch on her mind, and her thoughts broke up.

"Don't worry, that's just me." Relm said.


"It's okay, just think of your father again, I need to see him through you." She turned the page in her sketchbook, and started to quickly draw the outline of a face with her pencil. Terra didn't try to ask how Relm got into her mind, but instead concentrated on Maduin again. After a few minutes, she grew tired of thinking of the Esper's face, father or not. "Are you done, or do I still have to think of how he looked?"

Relm didn't look up from where she was drawing strands of hair. "Mm? Oh, no...I got the image in my mind now. You can relax again."

For a few minutes, the two women watched her render the horns in the picture, and then Terra had to finally ask. "I'm sorry, but I have to know. How did you get that from my mind?"

"Oh, that? I'm a telepath." The offhand way she stated it made it seem like the question was rudimentary.

"You mean, you can speak to people with your mind?" Celes asked.

"Uh-huh. But I don't do that, it's considered rude." She stopped shading, and tapped the pencil against her chin. "The ability developed in me not too long usually doesn't come up until a subject hits puberty. And it's fairly rare, even in Thamasa. A telepath has the ability to get inside the minds of others, and they're also very skilled at other things. Like my art...because of that, grandpa thought I might be telepathic, but he had to wait until I got a bit older to be sure. When I was twelve, that's when it started." She did some detailing around the eyes. "But only you two and grandpa know. I don't want the others to find out, they might be afraid to be around me."

Celes put her arms around Relm's small shoulders and gave her a sisterly hug. "Never...why would you think that?"

"Well, people are afraid you can read all their thoughts, and everybody have things in themselves that they like to hide. I don't want people to be afraid that I'd stumble across some deep-down secret in them. So I just keep my mouth shut instead." She examined the picture critically, nodded in approval, and signed it in the lower left corner. "Here you go, Terra. Maduin." She carefully ripped the picture out of the sketchbook, and handed it to the ex-Esper. Terra looked at the picture

A smile slowly crept over Terra's face. The picture was absolutely beautiful. "Relm this is wonderful....thank you so much." She gave the girl a hug. "I want to show it to the others. Is that okay?"

"Sure, just don't tell them how I knew what Maduin looked like."

"I won't." She stood up. "Where's Edgar?"

Celes pointed to the ceiling with a slender finger. "Flying. I think he's still spooked from what happened earlier, so he volunteered. Probably to be alone."

"I think I should talk to him, to see if he's all right."

"Suit yourself." She then turned back to look at Relm's sketchbook.

Picture still held in her hands, Terra wandered up the ladder to the deck of the Falcon. It was now dark, and the moon had risen just above the horizon, making it appear huge as it hovered above the dark waters of the ocean. It cast the entire deck in a soft blue-white glow, much like the ooze in the cave, but with a more peaceful atmosphere. Edgar stood at the wheel, his pale blonde ponytail looking almost silver in the moonlight as it whipped behind him in the wind. Even though it was cool, the young king had left his cloak below decks, and stood in his royal finery. Terra clutched the picture to her chest, and wondered what to say to him. While she could manage children well enough, she was never good at talking to adults when they were upset. She saw his shoulders rise and fall as he sighed, and decided that saying anything would be better than saying nothing. "Edgar?"

The young king turned slightly to catch her out of the corner of his eye, then turned back towards the front of the ship. "Hello, Terra."

She came up to stand beside him. "So this is where you are..."

"Yeah." The normally jovial king was silent as he rested his hands on the wheel. Terra looked at his hands, at the confident way they steered the ship's course. No wonder he came up seemed almost like a security blanket to him. It was obvious that when Edgar was near any kind of machinery, he felt at peace. "What do you have there?" He asked, looking at the paper she held against her chest.

Terra stopped the examination of his hands, and held the paper out so he could see, holding it tightly so the wind wouldn't whip it out of her hands. "It's my father...the Esper Maduin. Relm drew it for me."

"It's a very lovely picture, Terra. Just be careful with it, you don't want it to blow away up here."

That's it? He didn't even add "It's not as lovely as you", which Terra expected him to say. He didn't even try to act charming around her ever since the incident in the cave. Maybe he was embarrassed, or maybe he was just not up to his normal tricks. "Good advice." She said, not knowing what else to say. She carefully folded up the paper, and slipped it inside her sleeve, and then looked up at Edgar. His eyes seemed dark and withdrawn, his lips pressed together tightly. "Are you going to be all right?"

He sighed softly, slowing the ship to a hover, and closed his eyes. "No." he said truthfully. "At the moment, no. I just need time."

"Edgar, what happened when that stuff touched you? You're not hurt, are you?"

He remained silent for a moment, then nodded to answer her question, opening his eyes. "It didn't hurt me physically. It's more of a mental thing. I heard voices inside my head...they blamed me for things that happened. They blamed me for Kefka, they blamed me for people dying, they blamed me for homes lost. I didn't know how to respond, so I tried to push them out of my mind, even as I tried to get that substance off my hand. Then two voices came to me." He slowly took in a deep breath, and exhaled sharply. "I heard my parents, Terra. They talked to me too."

She looked at him with sympathy in her green eyes. "Did they blame you too?"

"No". He said in a low voice. "They...said something my brother once accused me of. He said that I never cared for my parents, that....that I only wanted to be king." Edgar closed his eyes, clenching his teeth. "They said this to me, they said that I never loved them. They said that the would never be proud of me. I never thought..." He stopped, trying to maintain his composure. Terra reached out and gently touched his cheek, not knowing any words to say. He opened his icy blue eyes partway, and Terra could see that once again they held tears. "Terra..."

She dropped her hand and folded her arms around him. At first he stiffened, as if not expecting this gesture of empathy from her, then he relaxed and put his arms around her shoulders, resting his head against her soft green hair. "I did love them Terra," he said in a thick whisper next to her ear. "I tried to tell them, but they didn't listen."

"I believe you. It's all right, I believe you." That was all she could say to him, and all she could do for him was stand on the deck and let him hold her.

Go to Chapter Three
Go back to Writings