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by wyvern14

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Part 1 (2008)
Part 2 (2008)
Part 3 (2008)
Part 4 (2008)
Part 5 (2008)
Part 6 (2008)
Part 7 (2008)
Part 8 (2008)
Part 9 (2008)
Part 10 (2008)
Part 11 (2008)
Part 12 (2008)
Part 13 (2008)

Chapter 12

Revelries


The grand room had been lavishly decorated with flowers and Baron's proud banners, casting a festive mood for the assembly settled at the long table. The new rulers sat at one end, overlooking their guests, while servants brought platters of roast and delicacies from around the world. Cups and glasses clanked together as toasts after pledges were made, while the wine ran freely from crystal to smiling lips.

Royalty had precedence and crowded closer to Cecil and Rosa, so she had skipped a few chairs to sit farther away, not really wanting to engage in conversation with anyone. Sipping her flute of red slowly, she never noticed the hand edging closer to her shoulder, warmly embracing her bare skin as his face came level with her ear.

"Mind if I sit here?"

She glanced up, meeting the prince's soft eyes and timid expression with blank eyes. Nodding, she adjusted her thoughts, moving her chair to leave him some room to take place. Instead of turning his attention to the feast in front of them, he focused on her, touching her arm with affection.

"Something's been troubling you, hasn't it?"

His voice poured forth just enough for her to hear, while keeping the conversation away from others. The melodic tone couldn't hide his fondness nor his concern and she gave the bard a good look.

"It's nothing to worry about, Edward."

"On the contrary. Don't hide behind what's hailing you, or you might end up with only regrets."

His eyes fell to his glass of wine, absent and glazed. She felt bad for him, knowing he went way back to his tragic love and her cruel fate, reminiscing on memories. The mage squeezed his hand, smiling sadly.

.....................................................................................................................................................................

He had armored himself into regal royalty long enough to make the mandatory toast to the newly crowned lovers and gave a pleasant little speech to the nobility about the state of Eblan so soon after the Crystal War, but it had been hard to hold onto for too long. After savoring the initial meal, he had spotted an unfamiliar flax-haired head next to hers and fallen into sulking.

Who's this pampered dandy?

Unreasonably, he hated the Damcyan prince at the moment, but didn't dare drop on their whispered exchange, much less approach her. What if she had been with him all this time since she fled the Whale? Was he was the reason she had been smiling when she had entered the throne room? And if it was his face that haunted her dreams he...

"So, planning on drowning in a barrel soon, boy?"

The gruff voice broke through his silent musings like nails on a board, making the ninja turn around in stiff anger. He looked down at the bearded engineer, who grinning back at him with something akin to amusement in his eyes. That one had always laughed at him...

"And how is that any concern of you, old man?"

The tart remark only caused Cid to laugh loudly, visibly entertained. His rough hand poured some ale in a tin cup and banged it on the Edge's glass cheerily, and then he downed half the alcohol in a single mouthful.

"It's not, just figured you might want some company to water down those worries of yours."

Offended at the pointy observation and more than a little upset from the interruption, the prince groaned and rolled his eyes.

"Are you taking me for a pathetic drunkard?!"

"No, I'm taking you for the boy trying to burn holes through a widower's back from this hiding spot. Planning to use those knifes of yours too?"

Wait... what?

Brusquely, the craftsman took a chair next him, patting him on the back and smiling wickedly.

"You missed an episode methinks, ninja boy! You're definitely more whipped than I thought, and you probably drank too much for your own good to boot. Ah, kids these days!"

.....................................................................................................................................................................

His hand slipped into hers under the drapes, fingers crisscrossing each other as he looked down to her soft eyes. The meal had been filling and interrupted many times as each guest wanted to add in his congratulations, yet one absence shone in the shadowed hall, marring his happiness.

"I wish he was here..."

Rosa glanced back at him, smiling in understanding. She probably thought the same and knew how much his nonappearance pained him.

"He knows, and he's with us in thought Cecil."

Wherever you are my friend, we miss you.


It would do him no good to be so gloomy during revelries in his own home, especially with her by his side, who would suffer as he did from it. The paladin gazed at the room's crowd, noticing the subdued tone of the celebrations as their entourage whispered in small pockets everywhere, plates discarded and tasty drinks in hand.

We need some distraction to liven up the atmosphere.

Slowly, he got up, bringing his bride with him, and strode toward the center of the large open space. Fingers dropped to the small of her back, their intertwined hands raised toward one side. As their first step caressed the floor, the subdued music rose and amplified, falling into ancient airs that resonated between the columns, catching attention.

Their mind lost into one another, they opened the dance.

.....................................................................................................................................................................

Her gaze followed her friends as their moved in unison with the instruments' complaints. Edward chased her eyes and smiled willfully as he looked on the spectacle. The guests had made a large circle, leaving room for the hosts who graced them with the first waltz.

"This is how love should be. Beautiful, graceful, soothing and everlasting, like the best of dreams."

His words rang into her heart, melting her previous anger, cooling her boiling turmoil. There was something breath catching in the glance they exchanged, completely focused on each other, dancing not so much for the crowd as a private commemoration of their care and fondness.

You are right, this is love.

The melodic voice of her companion sang in her ears.

"They hide nothing from one another and are completely honest with who they are. They don't pretend, they remain true to each other."

Rydia turned to the bard, partly shocked at his insight and unsure if he had only meant his observation regarding the royal lovers or angled his words at her. The timid smile and knowing eyes answered her unspoken question; she narrowed her brows in thought.

"I don't..."

Her loss of speech encouraged him to flesh out her own incoherent thinking.

"I remember a little girl telling me to stop being a coward and helping me change my sorrowful fate into something better. I recall a child looking up at me from amiss the carnage of a bombarded castle, sooty and upfront, who told me exactly what she thought of me in complete honesty."

She looked down, somehow ashamed of those past deeds. Sure, she had shocked him into action, but...

I couldn't stand watching him slump into inaction, wouldn't dare see anybody give up when I had not... And look where I am now.

"Your fingers play the harp in a certain key, while your voice sings a different song, yet none of them are really the mirror of your soul. Unburden yourself, remove the grip of fear and let your heart guide you."

His pupils shone in the candlelight as he stared at the tiny specks of flame, hissing and cavorting madly. He touched her hand and rose up, walking to one end of the room to pick up his instrument. The musicians saw him and lowered their harmony as his thumb caressed a string delicately.

His voice an homage to angels, he sang of the beauty of the moon and its deepest secrets, giving himself in abandon to his musings.

.....................................................................................................................................................................

A clear, rich melody took over the orchestra, echoed by a man's sweet voice rising in song. Pushing away his cup of cold water, Edge glanced around and saw him, near the dancing couples, enchanting the night with poetic wonders and crystal notes. The other guests seemed to appreciate, as the number of swirling satins augmented by the second.

"Oh, look who's leaving!"

Cid's voice broke his reveries and his eyes followed the pointed finger toward an alcove leading up. The green-clad maiden, oblivious to the waltz of colors in the great hall, was making for the stairs.

"She probably doesn't like dancing..."

He groaned at his lame reply, wishing he didn't have an audience for such moments. The engineer's reply was another rough pat on the back and his hand remained on his shoulder, as if trying to drag him closer to confess something.

"She likes it; I've seen her do it a few times by herself."

She dances to flames and lightning, oblivious of darkness lurking by or claws reaching for her fluid limbs...

The prince sighed, realizing he had not even tried to redeem himself after she strode away the first time. Too self-absorbed, too self-conscious, too scared to... to what?

"Will I have to launch you up those stairs myself, you spoiled boy? Stop hiding in your cups and run after the girl!"
Caves of Narshe: Final Fantasy IV
Version 6
©1997–2017 Josh Alvies (Rangers51)

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