FFV: Toki no Hourousha
(The Wanderer of Time)
Chapter 5: Crystal Teardrops
"Those who dabble with magic, your
powers are no longer needed! Silence!"
The spell finally struck home, just as
Ridha started another spell to finish off his massacre. The magelord
turned, unbridled anger dancing in his eyes, but he was unable to do
anything more than swing his staff at an oncoming guard dog. The beast
fell as the heavy head of the staff cracked its skull.
"Dispel me! Now!," the magelord demanded
as he glared angrily at the traveller. Butz strode up to him, took him
by the shoulders, and attempted to shake some sense into him. The mage's
hood fell to bare his copper hair, and after another hearty shake, the
mask too fell away.
Ridha slumped into Butz's arms in exhaustion,
breathing heavily as the last of his magic-drawn strength drained away.
As Butz held the young mage, he looked beyond him to take in a better
veiw of field. What wasn't turned into stone lay dead, some looked as
if they were sleeping, others still disfigured, others in the forms
of frogs or midgets. But everything save for the one guard dog was dead,
and already the wind began carrying upon it the scent of death.
"What were you thinking," Butz whispered,
his eyes fixed upon the corpses before him. The mage pulled away and
lay beside his fallen mother, rolling her over on her back to expose
the entry wound.
"What was I thinking..." the magelord
said distantly, his head on his mother's shoulder. He pulled off a glove
and pointed out the ragged, burned flesh in the center of her chest.
The bullethole angled sideways, indicating that it had penetrated close
to her heart. "What was I thinking, you ask...Mother is everything in
the world to me, and I felt my link to her snap the moment she was shot.
I did not need to think, Butz, for vengence comes on its own accord."
Benjiro sat by his lover's side, as he
had for the last six hours, watching and thinking to himself or raking
Once he had Yllesia and her sons Daril
and Taife on a chocobo, he went back to see what was keeping Butz and
the others, and stood stunned as he took in the veiw of the corpse-littered
field. Ridha sat, looking forlornly at the limp figure whose head lay
in his lap, and Butz merely stood to the side, glaring at the boy. Once
he got closer his mind finally registered who the limp figure was, all
strength sapped from him and he fell to his knees. His mind focused
only on his lover, on the bloodstained robes of his son and the fact
that Faris was not breathing, and the tears came for the first time
What followed came in a blur of images.
He picked her up and returned to the chocobos...watching as Yllesia's
face drained of color at the sight, as the boys failed to hold back
emotion, and they fled the field as fast as they could. They were now
back at the ship, sitting in the middle of a silent sea and dead winds,
his lover tucked into a bed as if she was expected to wake up any time
Wait, Red had said when he stopped
them from trying to perform funeral rites on Faris ... Wait for the
right time to come, and the Phoenix will rise again...
He eyed the lead ball that pierced a major
artery, that left her to bleed to death. Yllesia had dug it out when
she cleaned out the wound, and left it in an empty bottle for storage.
It did not have any letter stamped on it that would have identified
the country it was forged in, nor was there anything particularly unique
about it, which frustrated him. And then he turned his attention back
to his lover's ashen face.
Wait for what, he didn't know, nor did
he think his son was in his right mind when he said it. Distantly he
wondered whether or not he should somehow rebuke his son for his actions,
or isolate him, or somehow punish him for the massacre on Caledonn Field.
But not now. Now he only cared for the woman before him, and what he
would do without her.
The pirate leaned forward, his face hovering
over Faris's, as if to kiss her.
"Damn you," he whispered. "...damn you
for leaving me like this. You're everything to me, you always have been.
Not your fault, love, I just wish I'd have been able to convince you
not to go on this trip..." He paused, and then, from the bottom of his
heart: "You never knew how much I love you, Captain..."
He turned when he felt the presense of
another in the captain's cabin. Ridha stood leaning against the door,
still in his bloodstained black robes, arms crossed with his staff in
"Father, may I request about an hour or
so alone with Mother? You need your sleep, and my knowledge of commanding
a crew is limited at best."
Benjiro nodded, picking up a half-empty
bottle of rum as he stood. He carefully strode to his son's side, slowly
realising that the boy must have teleported in, for the bolts were locked.
"You know you'll have to answer for Caledonn
Field sooner or later, Red," the pirate said softly, nothing but sorrow
in his voice. He did not look into his son's eyes as he unlocked the
door and passed him on the way out, into the main meeting room of the
captain's cabin. There was a hammock to jump into, but there was something
he needed to do. Get another bottle of rum, another bottle to try and
drown his sense of sorrow and loss into.
Ridha took to the chair left by his father,
frowning slightly as he gazed down at his mother and unbuttoned the
ruffled silk shirt his father dressed her in. The wound lay gaping still,
cleansed with Queen Karnac's leftover vodka, almost as if consciously
presenting a challenge. He pulled off his gloves and centered the palm
of one hand over the wound, and the palm of the other hand over the
patches of keratin that forced him to take up gloves for as long as
he could remember. The flesh could be stitched back together with no
He closed his eyes as he concentrated
his energy through his hands, cutting off all of his senses but one,
and proceeded to the metaphysical plane.
The magelord entered the darkness, the
nothingness that was the Void, and purged his mind of all thoughts until
at last the great tapestry of Time materialized before him. Its beautiful
patterns invited him to acknowledge them, and its tangles presented
challenge...and on any other day he would pay them attention, but not
He studied the woven threads until at
last he found the one he was looking for. It was cut, as he had expected,
and he kept its end in one hand while he looked for a replacement. He
found it, and cut it free, knowing full well he was taking the life
of another to bring back his mother. He took the cut thread, pulled
it out from between other strings, and melded the begining of it with
the cut end of his mother's. The red-sheened thread that was his mother's
resisted at first, but gradually the fibers interwove with those of
the other thread until they had become one. Yet the sheen that marked
her spirit did not bleed into the grafted thread, and with that he frowned
and let the Tapestry fade away as he focused on the point where her
thread was originally cut, into the very fiber of her being, trying
to find her...
The scents of a small, flowering tropical
island surrounded him as he opened his eyes, yet nothing but darkness
greeted him until he realized that he was sitting in a cave. He rose
to his feet and turned to walk towards the silvery light that beckoned
him out into the night. Shimmering stars scattered across the darkness
of the night sky like small diamonds strewn onto black velvet, and the
white moon Ishtar shone full, her reflection dancing in the waves. It
was a very small island, only as big across as the sealed Koozer Castle,
but pretty nonetheless.
He stepped out onto the shore as he looked
for signs of animal or insect life. There was none, just silence and
a slight rustling as cool zephyrs lightly stirred the leaves of palm
trees. It was all too perfect, he thought... the sands too pure and
white, waves so perfect there was no difference between one or the other,
trees and flowers that stood without some sign of disease or decay of
any sort, unbroken shells that scattered upon the white sands...
He noticed a moss-covered ledge that jutted
out into the perfect sea, guarded by a seadragon whose head rested on
it, neck curled as if providing small shelter for another. With a scant
thought he cast a Float spell on himself and flew above the sleeping
Faris slept peacefully, curled against
Syldra, looking to be no more than thirteen years of age, though Syldra
looked the same as he had before he died, sporting scars left by the
monster Karlabos. Ridha reached out to brush the girl's long purple
hair from her face, but froze when he heard a low, throaty warning growl
from Syldra. He turned his head slowly to meet the baleful, overprotective
glare of the great dragon.
"Syldra, it is I...remember?" he whispered,
careful not to wake the girl who slept curled against the dragon's neck.
"I will not hurt her, trust me..."
Syldra growled again, baring his teeth
as he carefully lifted his head and pulled away from Faris. His caution
was for naught, for she woke up drowsily and looked up in concern at
her guardian. The magelord noticed this and camoflaged with the background
so that he would be invisible.
Faris looked up at the dragon, extending
a hand to caress the underside of his jaw reassuringly. Syldra calmed
at her touch, and turned his attention to her, licking her face affectionately
with a long, forked tongue. He then returned his gaze at the magelord,
amber eyes penetrating through his illusion.
//Syldra, you cannot keep her here,//
Ridha implored as he touched the mind of the long-dead dragon. //And
do not play the fool, I know you can understand me.//
The dragon's eyes narrowed, and for the
first time in his life Ridha heard the dragon's mindvoice as his mother
must have when he was still alive. The voice rippled of dozens of tones
and varying timbres as if it was many voices in one. //She is happy
here. Leave us be.//
//Do not be selfish, there are many
who still need her, and it is not her time yet. Let me at least talk
to her...if my mother is truly content here, then I shall leave on my
Relenting, the dragon pulled away, yet
he gave a warning hiss in case Ridha did not leave when he was finished.
Ridha shed his camoflage, appearing before
the teenaged version of his mother in the form of a six year old child
with the robes of a white mage apprentice, and slowly alighted on the
edge of the moss-covered ledge.
"Do you know who I am, Sarisa," he queried
as he sat cross-legged upon the moss. The girl gave him a look of surprise.
"My name is Faris, kid, and what the hell
are you doing on this island?! Only Syldra and I know of its existance!"
"You are Sarisa Highwind, first daughter
of Alexander Highwind Tycoon and Siduri Geraldyn-Highwind, sister of
Lenna Charlotte Tycoon, heir to the throne of Tycoon. You were lost
at sea during a violent storm that capsized the vessel taking you and
the King, your father, on a diplomatic mission. You were six years old
then, and would have drowned if Syldra did not rescue you and turn you
to the care of Captain Raandel Scherwiz of the pirate vessel Alwilda.
It was he that gave you the name Faris and raised you alongside another
lost child named Benjiro."
The girl gave a derisive snort and responded.
"Likely story, but I don't believe you. Anyone could have gotten the
story of how I was found from Raandy's log, but the idea of me being
royalty is utter crap. My parents abandoned me, like Benji's did."
"My father tells me you were quite the
devious one out of the troublemaking team of you and Benjiro, is that
not true? He also tells me that the two of you probably gave the crew
more hell in your childhood than most navies did. The two of you were
inseparable, and there was almost a romance that would have sprung up
several times, but you did not believe Benjiro's sincerity."
Faris eyed him warily now. "Just who exactly
are you, kid, and how did you know about that? And of course I didn't
believe Benji, he has a thing for me and he doesn't know I'm a girl,
so he has to be gay or something."
"The question of who I am will be answered
in time, but now I must remind you of everything. As I said, you two
were inseparable, until Captain Ullean Dancan of the pirate ship Thoth,
then a self-appointed Pirate King, attacked the Alwilda, killing off
a good part of the crew, capturing the rest, and only Benjiro and nine
others managed to escape. You would have too, but in your foolhardiness
you went to rescue Raandel, only to be captured as well. In a moment
of despair you confessed your love to the turncoat Geilin, who in turn
told Ullean of your true sex to save himself from slavery. Do you remember
what Ullean did to you when he found out?"
His mother seemed to age before his eyes,
shifting from her early teens to her late teens, head lowered to hide
her expression, yet he could see her shuddering at the memory. It hurt
him to continue, but it was for the best. Already the perfect island
became soiled...clouds building up in the skies, waves churning in tormoil,
the music of insect life rising from the trees...
"He had you chained in his cabin, to be
used at his whim, to beat if he felt like it...-"
"Stop it, Red," she bit out, stiffling
a sob that was a mixture of fear, hatred, and anger. "Damn you, I didn't
want to remember!"
"You have to, yammah! We need you
back in the world of the living! And I can only bring you back if I
can pull you from your self-imposed amnesia! You have a lifemate who's
teetering on the brink of committing suicide, a country to lead, friends
who need you to protect them, and a son who has traded another life
to bring you back. When you die of natural causes, then you can come
back to Syldra, but until then, please return to us!"
He stopped suddenly as he realised in
surprise that it was the first time in his life that he had ever shouted
at his mother, and the first time since he was a toddler that he had
called her yammah. She looked equally surprised, for all her
memory had not yet returned.
"How could I have had a son? I never wanted
any kids, I never wanted to be touched by another man like Ullean did
again! I never wanted to be host to some screaming, bawling little parasite,
never wanted to send my career to hell to take care of some little demon!"
The mage looked as if he had been slapped,
biting on his lower lip before speaking again. "I know I was not wanted
at first, Aunt Lenna told me, but I thought that after..." He then looked
back up, obviously making an attempt to hold back his tears.
"Regardless, I should continue. I helped
you escape from Ullean, and you found your way to Karnac, where the
Queen paid to have a healer look at you and gave you the funds to compose
your revenge for the small price of your attendance at the Karnac court,
posing as her lover. You killed Ullean a year after and became captain
in his stead, and then began your reign of terror for five years. In
the span of those years, one hundred and thirty murders of known rapists
were attributed to you, as well as the capture of two hundred and seventy
three merchant vessels, the destruction of one third of the Walse Navy,
and who knows how many acts of illegal tradings and dealings.
"And one day the wind stopped, and would
not pick up...it was that night that you met Butz, Lenna, and Galuf,
and with them you became a Warrior of Light, and the Fire Crystal chose
you as its keeper. With them you had to defeat ExDeath, and then your
destiny became far greater than just that of a simple pirate. Syldra
died saving your life, but in his place you regained your sister and
your childhood memories of your years in Tycoon. Do you remember it
Faris looked up from the moss at her bare
feet, and returned to her original age she was at before she was killed.
"Yes, and I remember running to save you, only to feel something hit
me hard in the chest, and then I blacked out. I'm really dead now, aren't
Rising, the boy-mage extended his hand
to her, and she took it as she rose. "Good, then it is time for us to
return. I sacrificed the life of another to bring you back to life."
"Wait, Red, whose was it? Who did you
Ridha turned away and looked up at the
moon as it faded away, as did the island. "That information is inconsequental
at this time. What is done is done, and I will not reverse it."
He looked up at his mother and smiled
almost sadly. "It does not matter, yammah. Just be assured that Syldra
won't be lonely for too long, and that whoever it is, you never wanted
him in the first place. Do you want to say anything to Syldra before
we go back, by the way?"
"Actually, yes I do, give me a minute..."
Faris turned and ran to Syldra's side
as he lowered his head within her reach, and when he was well in range,
she wrapped her arms around his muzzle. "I'm sorry, my soulmate," she
whispered as she hugged him and stroked under his jaw, "People need
me back in the living world. I'll be back though, and you and me and
Benji and Red can spend eternity together." The dragon crooned a sorrowful
note and nuzzled lightly against her before she pulled away to join
Ridha pulled away as his mother's breathing
returned and evened out, and with a sigh stood up from the stool only
to teleport out of the cabin. He needed to be alone, and the only place
he could think of was the forecastle cabin, which was, to his knowledge,
Sighing, he sat on the coils of sail cables,
pulling his knees up and wrapping his arms around them.
"How could I have had a son? I never
wanted any kids, I never wanted to be touched by another man like Ullean
did again! I never wanted to be host to some screaming, bawling little
parasite, never wanted to send my career to hell to take care of some
It stung like the lashings of a whip,
though he supposed he was just overreacting. But regardless the tears
came streaming down his face, wetting his cheeks and the sleeves of
Lenna told him a year ago that his was
an unwanted birth, for Faris nearly ripped Benjiro to shreds for putting
her through hell. The princess supported and aided her sister throughout
the pregnancy and birth, and showed a natural ability at taking care
of small children. He never actually thought much about that aspect
of his childhood, but now he felt he had to thank his aunt for doing
so much and being content in the background while his mother took the
"What are you sniffing about, kid," a
familiar light baritone queried, causing Ridha to look up. Butz sat
as still as a statue in the darkest part of the forecastle cabin and
half-hidden behind a barrel of pitch, his cerulean eyes boring into
"That does not concern you, Klauser-"
"Is it that massacre you pulled off at
Caledonn Field? Is the weight of a hundred souls finally bearing down
Uncomfortable silence fell between the
two until at last the mage wiped his tears. "Those that died at Caledonn
were not human, but I suppose that was not what you were concerned with.
You did not bother to get a good look at them, did not bother to think
of why so many people would wake up in the middle of the night when
only a guard patrol would be sufficient. That field was a battlefield
during the Dragon War fifty years ago... hundreds of civilians were
massacred there by King Leon the Invader. Something ancient and powerful
was out there trying to make sure we would not escape. Those people
who died were already dead, they just needed me to destroy them utterly
so their spirits could move on. What you saw were zombies and excellently
crafted golems, not living humans."
"Tell me, how did you come across those
spells you were casting?"
"They just came to me," Ridha stated defensively,
his body going stiff as he anticipated the Wind Warrior's next words.
"Did you truly not know where the words
came from?" When the magelord failed to answer, Butz continued. "The
only one I have ever seen those spells come from was ExDeath. Nowhere
in this world is there any record of them, any scrolls a mage could
learn from. You had to have learned them from somewhere."
"The words just came when I tapped into
the Void for destructive purposes, as it did for ExDeath. Those spells
were left behind by Enuo long ago, his lasting legacy to anyone who
would use the Void for negative ends. Only three have ever mastered
them ... Enuo, ExDeath, and I.
"I have no ill intent, Klauser, though
you suspect otherwise. My duty in this world does not require it of
me. Regardless, why have you been hiding back there?"
Butz shrugged, still sitting in the shadows.
"It's quieter here than in the hold with the chocobos, or with the kids.
Those ... boys ... are demanding little demons. Queen Karnac's not much
better, she's been plying me with questions about my hair or not-so-subtly
hinting at my lack of social skills. Like I can carry a comb around
on a regular basis."
"Personal hygiene would not hurt every
now and then," he muttered snidely, causing the traveller to bristle
"Hey, I take care of the necessities!"
Rising from his seat, the magelord pulled
himself up and bowed slightly to the other. "Thank you for taking my
mind off my troubles. I am going to wake Father up and tell him that
my mother is alive and well, though she will need her rest and lots
of liquids while the body recovers-"
"Wait, how did you bring her back?"
"Which is more relevant to you: that I
brought her back or how? In my eyes, and Father's, the ends justify
the means. Do not worry about it, for in the end no one suffers for
it but I."
Stars scattered across the skies above
like shimmering diamonds against dark velvet, and Ishtar and Namtar
hung together like white and black pearls. Thin, feathery clouds lightly
dotted the skies and lightly cloaked Ishtar, giving her a breathtaking
halo of white while her artificial brother fought to absorb her radiance.
Ridha lay upon the half-deck of the ship
in his white robes, staring at the skies and making out the constellations
and planets that he recognized. His father had been ecstatic about having
his lover back, kissed her passionately and refused to let go; and Yllesia,
her boys, Butz, and the crew relieved. He was tired, but found more
peace watching the heavens than lying in his cabin.
The ship was still within the doldrums
that lay between Karnac and Istory. He supposed he should be pushing
it along, but right now he savored the stillness. There was no sound
other than the splash of an occassional fish, until he heard the door
to the officers' cabins creak open in someone's obvious attempt to remain
quiet. Soft paddings of bare feet soon followed and came closer until
he could see his mother gaze down at him.
"You should be sleeping, Mother, your
body needs to recover from the shock."
Faris sat crosslegged by his side, her
hair sloppily bound in a green ribbon, dressed in nothing more than
a light green tunic and trousers. "You're going to refuse to answer
me, aren't you?"
"I gave you my answer when I was bringing
you back." He looked up into his mother's emerald eyes. "It is true
that you did not want me, is it not?"
She sighed and closed her eyes. "At first
I was planning for an abortion, but Lenna and Krile talked me out of
it, promised to help me raise you. They were really very helpful. And
Benji ... he adored the idea of being a father, so I couldn't let him
down. So, when you were finally born, I was amazed at how quiet you
were ... you never once were a problem, not when I had Lenna and Benji
to help bring you up. In the end, I would rather have you than otherwise.
Although having you flying around and teleporting into my lap every
now and then was annoying at times."
"Then what you said back there...?"
"Those were the rantings of a scared girl.
You're my son and I love you dearly, so don't get it into your foolish
little head that I hate you."
The mage closed his eyes and smiled slightly.
"Thank you, yammah, I needed that."
"Good, now you'll come in and get some
sleep? You must have worn yourself out bringing me back."
"If you insist..."
"Oh, and Red...? You haven't called me
that since you were a baby. What started it now?"
"Maybe it is because I fell much more
like a safe child now, with you here, maybe it is something else...
Does it offend you?"
"Of course not. I rather like it, actually.
Oh, I apologize for Butz, by the way...he's basically a good person,
but he has the social skills of a wild chocobo. Given his usual company,
it isn't that surprising."
"No apology needed, his fright was forgiveable."
Ridha pulled himself to his feet as his mother rose to retreat to the
cabins, and followed her. "Though given the circumstances, I was surprised
he did not attempt to kill me out of reflex."
"Let's worry about that later. You need
to recover every bit as much as I do."
To his surprise, Faris turned suddenly
and hugged him. He let himself relax in her arms, feeling as serene
as a small child as she stroked his coppery hair.
The next day the ship would arrive at
the Istory harbor, guided by the spirit of a long-dead dragon.
~end chapter five~