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The Lights

by Narratorway

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Terra and Gau: The Learning Lights
Further Series

Celes: The Endangered Light



I saw her while hunting for food. Well, that's not quite right, I heard her first. Ok, that's not quite right either, I heard a strange kinda fluttery sound above my head. I looked up.

An angel was flying above my head, she wore a white robe about her and her golden hair flew wildly about her beautiful face. She was quite of vision, I'm sure it would've moved you to tears.

Then she hit the tree. She got past the top branches before her robe, cape, towel, flappy thing, whatever it's called, got caught on one of the longer middle branches. Swung her in like a yo-yo, she disappeared into the tree and out of my sight, but not my ears. There were many sounds of branches snapping and a very angry woman cursing, one after the other. Whew, put me to tears all right! Stuff she spewed from her mouth, surprised the tree didn't catch on fire.

She never hit the ground thank the goddesses, or I might have been forced to carry her. No, her foot got caught between two lower branches and there she hanged and cursed. Personally, I would be thankful to be alive, she obviously did not feel the same way. She was facing the tree trunk, apparently very cross that it got in her way, and so she didn't see me when I hunkered up next to her and lightly tapped her on the back.

"Hi."

She shrieked and would've jumped if she were on the ground. As any respectable woman does apparently by reflex in such situations, she immediately grabbed her skirt and pushed it up over her legs. Respectable yes, but not very practical. I walked in front of her and sat down against the tree trunk. I was surprised to hear...nothing, she didn't say anything, she just stood there and glared at me.

I shrugged, "Sorry about that. Ahem...well, it seems you're in a bit of a-"

"Are you going to help me down or talk me to death?" she interrupted contemptuously.

I didn't like her tone, so I decided to mess with her. "Yeah, but first you got to take your hands off your hips."

Her eyes widened and my smile broadened. Then I leaned in close to her face and spoke in as lustful a voice as I could muster. "Cause, you know..." I licked my lips, then gave her a dose of reality, "The only way your getting out of this tree is by being dropped and the first thing to hit the ground can be your hands...or your head. It's up to you."

I gave her a cheery smile, then stood up. I reached up and grabbed one of her legs and the branch she was caught on. I looked down at her, "You ready?"

She hesitated and with an exasperated sigh, let go of her skirt and put her hands down. Still, I didn't want to carry her so I asked again, "Are you re-"

"Yes!" Ooh, she was touchy.

"1...2...3!" I pulled back the branch as much as I could and wriggled her leg. She came loose quicker than I expected and down she went. Her drop was quite ungraceful, but she got up brushed herself off and that was good enough for me, so off I went.

"Wait! Where are you going?"

I didn't look back, "Home. You scared off all of my food."

"And where's that?"

"Anywhere I want, but at the moment two miles away."

"What do you mean?"

I stopped and turned to face her. If I didn't tell her now, she might keep on bothering me.

"You are on a small island in the middle of who knows where. There's a swamp behind you, a small mountain (or large hill according to preference) to your right, and if you follow my direction, you'll come to the fields. Stay out of the forest to your left, or you'll be killed and whatever you do, don't stay on the ground at night. That concludes our tutorial for today if you have any questions, please refer them to the nearest tree and we'll get back to you as soon as we can. Your questions are important to us." With that I left for home, satisfied that I had done my Boy Scout good-deed-for-the-day.

"Hey wait up!" I could hear her running towards me. I groaned. Yeah, I should have known better, so what? Wanna make something of it? Awww, I guess I could've been a little more considerate, but dammit, I was hungry.

I kept walking. Hey, maybe if I ignored her, she'd go away! Instead she caught up and walked beside me. She mercifully waited awhile before she started to talk.

"My name is Celes. Celes Chere."

"Oh, that's nice." I replied indifferently. The name rung a bell, but I didn't care. "I don't care."

"Oh." She seemed disheartened and I smiled, maybe she'd shut up. "What's your name?" Then again, maybe she wouldn't.

"Chuck."

"Oh." She seemed disheartened again, but now I knew better. "Where you from."

I broke down. I think it was the 'Ohs'. "What...do...you...CARE?! Oh, I guess I COULD tell you where I'm from, IF WHERE I'M FROM WAS STILL THERE!!! As you SHOULD have figured out, I'm not much of a people person, even when the world existed! Now considering there IS enough room on this rock for the both of us without either of us coming in contact with each other again, I don't see how knowing my general information is gonna help you one way or the other. But seeming as that doesn't seem to matter to you, here's everything I got. My name is Charles, son of Gilbert. My sex is male. My age is 28. My personal hobbies include fishing, sketching and reading a good fantasy novel. Now GO AWAY!"

There was a loooong pause, and she didn't move an inch. I don't know, but I thought I was being fairly clear. Then it hit me and I smacked forehead. "Oh, how silly of me. Now go away...please." I thought I said it politely enough, but she just became pissy.

"How dare-" Oh heeeell no. I wasn't going to sit through this kinda B. S.

"STOP," I commanded and decided that reasoning with her might work, "right there. Look...no I mean it, look around you. In that direction (I pointed to...well, it doesn't really matter) you'll eventually get to a beach upon which there will be a stick pointing straight up. Follow that beach in one direction or the other and in about a week you'll come to another stick pointing straight up. If you look around you'll realize it's the same stick on the same beach you were a week before." I walked away and she didn't follow me. I don't know why, I don't even know what made me tell her that story, but it worked and don't think I wasn't grateful.

"Why should I?" I heard her, but I didn't worry, something in her voice told me that she was going to try it. That'd be a week at the least of peace and relative quiet.
"Because, little girl, (I felt mean at the time) it'll give you the correct perspective to deal with this new world you've literally crashed into...oh yeah, about that..." I stopped and turned around, but decided it wasn't worth going into, "Nevermind, see you round." I waved good-bye to her and she just stared blankly at me. She pushed her blonde hair out of her face and over her shoulder. I noticed her tattered clothes and cape, hah! They weren't gonna last long out here. She turned around and left, and as she did, I felt a pit in my stomach. I was still hungry.

* * *

A week and a day past by, when I thought about her again. It occurred to me that if she had decided to go round the island and wanted to find me, she'd probably appear right about...

"Hello."

Shit.

Well, hell, can you blame me? I'm willing to bet money, if I had any that is, that what's going through your mind when you have door-to-door salesmen at your threshold isn't altogether pleasant. I swung around, she'd snuck up behind me, and would have told her plainly and quite politely that I wished her to leave, but was struck dumb by what I saw.

Her old clothes were gone and she had them replaced with animal skins. They covered the bare essentials, no more than a strip of hide across her chest and hips. It blew my mind. My reaction apparently cheered her greatly, until I finally gathered my wits and told her what was on my mind.

"How dare you!" Her expression changed, but I was too furious to notice. "I get stuck on this god-forsaken corner of hell and it takes me a month, a month, before I can actually kill an animal with fur, let alone one with enough to use as clothing, and it still takes a week before I can prepare the hide for wearing! But you, you, by the grace of the powers beyond, achieve what took me days uncounted of torture and suffering... (and here is where I paused, swimming deep in my own frustration)...IN LESS THAN A WEEK! "

I've never found out if she understood that last part. I have a tendency to...well...screech, whenever I give in to hysterics, and let me assure you, I was hysterical. It...it...it just wasn't...fair. I spend every waking moment trying to...whew...calm...ahem...well, you know, and dammit, it wasn't fair. But what can you do? How fast she could get herself settled really didn't have any affect on my lifestyle, so it really didn't matter. I decided that she'd had visited for a reason, better find out why.

I sighed and asked her calmly, "Can I help you?" ...nothing, she just stared at me again with that expression I used to get from people over a year ago, that kind where they look at you, but their head turns towards the nearest door. I asked again, slower.

"Ahem, can-I-hel-lpa-you?"

"Y-yes."

"Ohhh, you're back. How was the head trip, get any souvenirs?"

"Just shut up and listen." She was obviously tired of my attitude, and I couldn't say I blamed her. Even I was beginning to find it grating. "How," she continued, "how did you know?"

Now it was my turn to stare at her blankly, but then I'd feel stupid, so instead...

"What the hell are you talking about?"

"The stick...uh, th-the beach, th-th-the...the..."
I sighed, "You have know idea what you're talking about, do you?"

"Yes I do." She sounded childishly defensive. I had a sudden urge to yell, 'Do noot!'.

"That's ok," I said reassuringly, "I have no idea what you're talking about either. But while you're figuring it out, feel free to...I don't know...do something." I yawned and went back to starting a fire. Illogically I suppose, I thought she would go away...but she didn't.

"How did you know that I should walk around the island? I mean-"

"I know exactly what you mean." I interrupted smiling. I had finally got my fire started, "I knew you were you going to go round this stupid island for the same reason I did, to find a way off. You would've done it whether I suggested it or not. I thought I'd be courteous and give you a starting point that was close and obvious. I put that stick there when I lived on that beach as a clock. As for how did I know it would prepare, actually I should've said buffered, you to the realization that you'll never escape? I didn't, I just wanted to get rid of you at the time and that was what popped into my head. You looked like the kind of person who would buy into that kinda junk."

She didn't like that answer one bit. I had sat down on a bed of animal furs getting warmed by the fire. I could see her across from me and her face was red, and not from the fire. She had an expression on her that said she would've enjoyed nothing better than to see me skinned alive and dipped in a vat of salt. I just smiled back at her with that childish expression that says thpppppt! Finally I decided that I'd given her enough time.

"Give it up, they're not going to come. They're five-minute-words."

"What?" she asked through seething teeth.

"Five-minute-words, those sequence of words that you're trying to find in your head, then arrange them just so. Then you'll speak them in just the right tones, with just the right inflections and spacing between them, to the get the desired effect of making me feel like I'm a complete and utter loser, pin head, nimrod, whatever. Of course they only come to you five minutes after they can no longer be used. I'm sure that however this meeting ends, I'm gonna see you walk off, stop for a minute, then stamp your foot as they come to you. Hell, you may even come back and use them as a parting shot."

She may have fumed some more, she didn't reply at any rate. I brought out my harmonica and took no more notice of her. As I played, I fell into my world. In it I imagined an old man with an impressive beard, sharp nose and brow. He was clad in grey, including a tall pointed hat that was bent down, probably due to winds and age. His hands leaned on a tall walking stick, as he stared out into a green and pleasant country. Ahead of him was a town with a prominent hill next to it. On the top all alone, was a tall oak. Then I saw him at the top of a tower. Below him a great battle was taking place. A great battering ram with a wolf's head stood in front of a demolished gateway. Beyond it a great field of monsters and men were battling. In the middle of the battle, a great space was opened up. In it a man, cloaked so that his face was hidden from view was facing a woman. She was standing over a dead animal, a dragon with it's head cut off, gripping her blood-stained sword with defiance. Her face was hidden behind a helm, but her golden hair wisped around her head. She took off her helm and I could see it was her, that woman Celes. They charged each other, and then...

"Hey. Hey!"

I was snapped out of my dreams with a start. I still had the harmonica in my mouth, it was rattling my teeth cause that blasted woman was shaking me. I pulled her hands off my shoulders.

"What is the matter with you?!"

"You were under some sort of spell. You started playing that ugly thing and it produced the most awful melody. (I could see she wasn't a big blues fan) You began singing of a wizard, then of warring pigs and your head was turning all of itself. I thought you were being killed from the inside by some sorcery."

"Sorcery!? Spells! How could you, of all people, believe in such ridiculous superstitions?"

"And just what is that supposed to mean?" she asked angrily, "You don't know anything about me."

"Don't bet on it...General!" I gave her a lazy version of my old imperial salute. "Lieutenant Charles Prescott reporting for duty, sir." She took a few steps back in stunned silence. "Oh come on! Is it really that difficult to believe? There were thousands of grunt soldiers such as yours truly, stationed all over the place. You just happened upon one whose been stranded on an island for the past year. Now if you don't mind, I'd like to get back to my 'spell', and I would prefer it if you kept your opinions of my harmonica playing to your self thank you very much." I was about to begin playing when...

"Har...mon...ica?"

"Yes, it's a fairly new instrument that I won from another soldier in a card game bout two years ago. They were rare, but cheap to make and I used to see them every once in a while being played by soldiers to pass the time. I find that when I play, it takes me to stories in my imagination and I can feel my ideas come to life through the music. I'll admit I tend to get carried away at times, but here it doesn't really matter after all."

She looked at me fascinated. I couldn't help but feel a little bit cheerier. I smiled back at her, but this time it was genuine. "Surely you must have heard a harmonica at least once in your life?"

"No..." she said uncertainly, pausing to search her memory to see if she had. "It doesn't sound familiar."

"Well, I've been playing mine a bit different than most other people I've known. More aggressive you might say, louder and faster. I can understand if it doesn't sound familiar."

She didn't reply for a long time. She stared up at the stars that were just beginning to form. The sun was preparing to set. The evening and fire created a warm glow about her. I began playing my harmonica again, an old song I created while I was still a soldier. I called it "Iron Man", the common soldier's name for the Magitek Armor. I didn't trust them at the time and thought up what might happen if they decided to rise up against the empire. It was a pretty blunt message and when a couple of higher-ups heard it, I almost got demoted. It ended up becoming really popular among the grunts after that. I considered it one of my great achievements. Deep in my thoughts, I was interrupted yet again.

"What's your story?"

I heaved a very annoyed sigh. "Why don't we skip the foreplay and get right down to business, okay? So far you have been here for an hour and none of the questions you've asked have justified your visit and you know that. You're just jacking around trying to get up the courage to ask me, or perhaps tell me what you really want. Now stop wasting both our times and get to the point."

"What is your problem?" she yelled, "Ever since we've met, you've been nothing but rude, inconsiderate and angry. I want to know why."

"No you don't." That wasn't what she really wanted to ask me and that just made me more frustrated. "As far as you're concerned, I'm a complete jerk and not worth questioning why I am the way I am. You've met people with my kind of attitude before and you either ignore them or beat 'em up. So far you've done neither, so there's obviously some reason for you being here, but if answering this completely unnecessary question will get this over with quicker, so be it." I sighed and tried to organize my thoughts. "First let's start out with you. Your frame of thought frustrates me. This conversation being a perfect example: you have wasted half a day trying to get around to saying something you find very important, yet there is literally no reason you can't say it right now...(I paused hoping she would get the message and sighed heavily when she didn't) Anyway, I know that it's because you've been raised in society that encourages that kind of repression, and I know that as time where's on, you'll grow out of that habit or die in despair, but it's still frustrating having to deal with such a conformed and restricted attitude. The rest just has to do with dealing with another human, female no less, after a year of isolation and the fact that I haven't eaten in a couple weeks thanks to you I might add. That and my pen pal just recently seemed to disappear."

"Well that may be but-pen pal?"

"Yeah, never met him, or her. But whoever they are, they saved my life."

"What happened to 'them'? Where are they?"

"Don't know. Never met 'em in person."

"Then how do you know 'they' exist, hmmm?"

I could tell she didn't believe me, but I didn't really care. All my frustration and shenanigans with this annoying woman had tired me out. I said, "Cause they tried to kill me. That's how they saved my life."

"Oh, so now we're poets are we?" she spoke with a tone that could almost be considered bitter. Now that was more like it!

"Maybe seven, or perhaps eight months ago I was caught between a rock and a hard place, the hard place being a bunch of sharp teeth lined around jaws the size of your average run-of-the-mill Magitek armor. I had startled some kind of big walking dragon. At first it's breath made me pray that he'd eat me and get it over with, then I cursed whoever was responsible for this entire situation. You know, the world changing and all. Before I knew it, a beam of light streaked past me with the speed of lightning. And there I was, standing next to your average run-of-the-mill pile of ash that used to be a walking dragon. I looked around and there was a line of blackened land from the beach out to the innards of the island. Soon after that, whenever I got bored or needed to kill off some of the animals, I'd just go up to the top of the mountain and start cursing whoever started this whole mess. Most of the time the beam wouldn't even hit the island, and eventually it got boring. In fact, until a week ago, I hadn't really bothered for about three months. Well anyway I-what?"

I wasn't really looking at her, then I turned and saw her. She was gaping at me, jaw hanging loosely from her mouth, eyes as wide as saucers. "What's up? You look like you've just seen your mother's head blow up in front of you." Yikes, where the hell did that come from? A bit gruesome I suppose, but pretty accurate. It didn't seem to affect her though. Soon she was making sounds in her throat, the beginnings of words to sentences she didn't how to complete. Suffice to say she speechless and trying not to be.

"Bu-...ya-...how-...uh-..." and so forth and so on.

I sighed, "Stop, think about what you're going to say, then say it." My dad's words coming out of my mouth. But it worked. She paused, then spoke very slow and deliberately.

"So you are saying that you have been...toying with Kefka?" It was dark, but I could swear her whole body was shaking. Worried me to be quite honest.

"Oh, that general I used to beat up when I was young? Wow, what a small world. Where'd he learn that beam trick anyway?"

Wow, I mean the expression on her face, whew! She was gone, I don't know where, but apparently it was faaaar away. Her eyes had that glazed look that you only see on...people that...have...really... glazed...looks on their...faces... look people, I'm tired an I just don't have that magical ability to think up quality analogies on the spot. Suffice to say she was sitting on a log like a...lump on a log. God I'm tired.

"You knew Kefka?" I could barely hear her, her voice had become hoarse.

I gave a questioning look, I didn't think it was that big a deal. I mean, really, I couldn't possibly be expected to know how things would turn out...I can only hope. "Yeah, he used to pass through my neighborhood on his way to school. No one liked him, he had a snotty attitude...and a poor sense of humor. You knew that he was the kind of person who would have a high-end job, just out of lineage...kinda like you."

The last remark snapped her out of her trance and she smacked me across the face. I nearly fell over, she was a lot stronger than she looked. If she punched me it probably would've knocked me out...and I think she knew that.

"Ooh, that really hit home!" I said and laughed.

"It should you arrogant bastard." She seethed. For a moment I thought she might actually start frothing at the mouth, very unladylike if you ask me.

"I wasn't talking about me." I replied and laughed again. "Good god, you're as two-dimensional as you are pale. I'd almost think it was because you're blonde." I laughed some more and got up to give new life to the dying fire. "Now, are you pissed enough to tell me what you're doing here?"

The fire roared with new life as the last glows of light faded away on the horizon. The sun had long since set. The light expanded over her and she did not look happy. It may have been the fire light but her face was glowing red, she was practically radiating anger. I sighed, disappointed.

"No huh?" I sighed again, "You look like you can't even think straight you're so angry and why? Cause some low-grade punk is getting the best of you? Doesn't that just seem even a little menial? I mean, what, really, are you getting yourself so worked up over? Words? That's all they are, words. When are you gonna stop and look at the big picture?"

"You're no different. How dare you tell me I have no reason to be angry when you rant and rave like a lunatic at the smallest thing? You're a hypocrite!"

"Of course I'm a hypocrite! So what? It's impossible not to be! Only I don't wallow in denial or self-pity. When I get angry or jealous or petty, I don't try and bury it. I know why I am the way I am and I accept it. You blind yourself with your own twisted sense of pride and duty. Such things don't exist, here, in the real world. The world is selfish, brutal, uncaring, and generally immoral. And without some kind of society to buffer it, it's gonna crush you like a bug. Unless you learn to let go of your false beliefs and accept your fate, or escape."

A weird sound came out of her after I said that, and it took me awhile to realize she was laughing. I smiled, "Yeah, I suppose if you can't let go, insanity's the most fun kind of denial." She started to laugh harder. I began to feel annoyed. "I don't suppose you're gonna let me in on the joke?"

"I've already built a raft. I'm leaving tomorrow for the mainland. I have everything packed and ready to go, so to speak. I came here to ask if you wanted to go with me. Now I think, no, I know I couldn't stand you long enough for the trip. Besides, you seem to like it around here." She smiled at me as if she had the upper hand in a card game. And every card player knows that's the dumbest thing to do.

"Hmph, either you didn't go round the island like I originally thought, or you just forgot about the wreckage of assorted rafts around the beaches of the island. Don't you think I would've already tried something like that? I told you already, there's no escape. This entire island it lined with reefs. Look at this." I turned my back side to her and pointed to my left calf. There was a long and ugly line going up to my upper thigh. "I tried eight times to get past the waves that kept pushing me back, and on the eighth try, I made it, only to meet up with a barrier reef. I did not know what pain was until I felt the coral rip open my leg and feel it sizzle in the salt water. The pain wouldn't let go until I was on the beach and I passed out from it. You see that part of the scar that's wider than the rest. That's cause a piece of raft wood got lodged in the gaping wound. I pulled it out of course, but there may still be splinters in my leg for all I know."

"How did you survive? The blood loss alone..."

"Don't know. I can't remember any of it after I passed out. Probably cause it was so painful that I don't want to remember."

"Denial?" she asked wryly.

"Yeah pretty much. But I was too busy to think about it again. In any case, the whole point I'm trying to make is that you're not going to make it. Climb the top of the mountain and you'll realize that. In your case, the only way out is the way you came in." I pointed up to the night sky.

She was silent for a long while so I began making preparations for bed. I cleaned up, putting my assorted furs and tools in a cage and hoisting them up a tree on a rope. I put my weapon next to bed and walked outside (that's what I called any place not lit by the fire) and set the alarms. At first I thought it was the jingle of the metal on the strings but eventually I realized that Celes was mumbling softly.

"Penny for your thoughts."

She didn't hesitate, didn't even move a muscle when she spoke. Her voice was soft and quite simply embodied the word alone.

"Where are my friends?"

I stared at her for I'm not sure how long, but I didn't really notice her. I felt something creeping up out of me from deep inside, a feeling I was able to keep down a long time ago. No, it wasn't a feeling so much as it was a realization. I was alone. I had been alone all my life, I never felt a connection with anyone I knew, didn't care about them. But that was okay, because I was still surrounded by people, so there was always that possibility that I wouldn't be alone forever, that kind of buffer, or even ray of hope if you're into that. Then they all disappeared and here I was. Alone, totally, completely, alone. There are no illusions on this island, no buffers, and it's pretty damn dark to boot. It took all my will to get over that realization and in one sentence, this woman knocked over a year's worth of psychological hard work. And if I ended up having to watch her go through the same thing I went through, no illusions there either, I'd kill myself...or her.

"You don't have any friends." I didn't even realize I'd said it till she looked up at me.

"What?"

Shit! Who knew that'd come back to bite me in the ass? Not I, said the little red pig. I sighed and turned back to my alarms. I hesitated a moment before deciding the best denial is telling the truth. I found out that things you don't want to hear are lot clearer in your head than they are in your mouth.

"It's what I told myself whenever I asked that question. It was such a logical answer that it kind a pushed away the feelings of loneliness.

Where are your friends?

You don't have any friends.

Oh yeah...


It ended up becoming a reflex after awhile." I was setting up the alarms all over the camp and the jingling sounds filled the air. They reminded me of fairies. "After that happened, it lost its power and soon I was off to the mountain for that final climb."

"Huh?"

"Suicide."

"Oh." Reminded me of our first conversation together. "What stopped you?"

"Didn't I tell you already, a walking dragon with teeth the size of your fist. And so I met my pen pal and I wasn't alone anymore. I told you he saved my life."

"I thought you were talking about getting eaten."

"You thought wrong." Apparently that was a little harsh. She fell silent. I sighed, "Look, I'm gonna give these alarms a final test and then I'm going to bed so...uh...you need anything else?" I wasn't sure how to tell her to go away, I'm going to bed. Then I realized I didn't have to. I was going to sleep that was all, she could stay as long as she wanted to. But she decided to leave right then.

"No, I think I better go." She got up and began to walk away in the direction of the mountain.

"Hey, where you going?"

"What do you care?"

"Good question. Don't know, but I imagine that your camp was in the direction you came in from, by the beaches...?"

"It is."

"Then why are you going towards the mountain?"

"I want to call someone."

"Well, if it's gonna be your final climb..." (I raised my eyebrow) "...don't make too much noise on the way down. Night." With that I went to bed.

I woke up that next day and she was gone. Of course, it took awhile before I could be sure. After all, I'd only met her twice and the meetings were a week apart. But as the months passed, my wanderings brought me to evidence of her passing, her abandoned camp near the cliffs and her raft near the beach. And as animals came out whatever hibernation they were in, I was eventually driven up the mountain, where I found the remains of a great bonfire. Who ya gonna call?

Where'd she go, and how'd she get there? I don't know. It shouldn't have bothered, but it did. I couldn't get the memory of her out of my head, which really didn't bother me, then I'd wonder why I was thinking about her, then I'd feel bothered. I'd seen her twice in the space of one week and still she stuck in my mind. If there's one thing I can't stand it's an unanswered question, so one night I sat down and ran through the possible reasons that she was still fresh in my head.

Sexual Attraction: The most obvious and most likely explanation. No doubt she was physically attractive and I had been alone on this island for a year. But I'd also been 'alone' in the years prior. While I was no longer a virgin I found that sex didn't really have a large hold on me as it did my fellow man. It felt good sure, it wasn't worth the effort. So the possibility could be summed up in a question: If she were willing, would I have sex with her? I knew the answer before I finished the question. No.

Companionship: Not likely, when we did talk, all she did was frustrate me and all I did was anger her. Moreover, whenever I did think of her, there were no feelings of loss or regret one would associate with a lost chance at a relationship. Again the solution was in a question: If I had a choice, would I want her back here? Again, the answer was instantaneous. No. What's left?

Love? No.

Anger? No...

Hate? ...

Hate, was that it? No, but something that had hate in it, albeit in a very small amount...as well as frustration...and regret... I was so close. This should be easy. Why is she still in my head?

Jealousy! Of course! It made perfect sense. She was gone and I was still stuck here. More than logic I pegged the feeling. Maybe she would go away, maybe she wouldn't, but in that instant, I realized that enough was enough. If I could give in to petty jealousy, I'd been here long enough. And the fact that I had to waste five minutes figuring it out more than a little worried me.

I began to walk down the mountain towards the east shore. Maybe I was halfway down the mountain when the ground began to rumble and shake. I walked on, as the violence loosened the rocks around me, first small pebbles, then large rocks, then great boulders crashed down the sides of the mountain into the forests and fields at the base. As dust flew into the air as fast as the suddenly terrified birds.

As a great boom was heard behind me and a cubic mile of demolished rock flew into the stratosphere, I stopped to pick a pretty flower, and walked on. I could hear the screams and howls of the animals as they ran in all sorts of directions, and that made my day a little brighter.

In all this nonsense, as I walked to the beach, I realized that I had been idle for far too long. Yeah it had only been a year and the end the world is certainly something impressive to behold, but despite it all, I felt impatient, stuck on this island, I decided to twist my frown upside down and call it a unexpected vacation. But I was fooling myself, I lived for my work. Celes' arrival finally pushed me over the edge and forced me out of my lie. And that's where my jealousy lies. Kinda makes you realize you're getting old, and I didn't like that. I shoved my hands down into my makeshift pockets and wouldn't you know it, there was my harmonica. It seemed appropriate, really, I leave the same way I came in, with the same thing I had.

As I reached the beach the island was engulfed in flames, I could feel the heat all around me, the air was blurred from it. The island would sink in one of the largest volcanic eruptions the world had ever known. It would bring down the global climate by two degrees, hampering an already weak planet trying to recover. No one would ever know I was here, that I had existed, 'cept her. I sat down and waited for the flames. Despite it all, I was worried, I'd thought I'd have all the time in the world, and it turns out I only had two days. But rushing things wouldn't have helped either so it was a Catch-22. I could only hope I had a large enough effect on her. That my words had burrowed through.

As animals ran into the water around me, engulfed in flames and mad with pain, I felt my confidence waver. I fished out my harmonica. What better time to sing a song?

Please allow me to introduce myself
I'm a man of wealth and taste
Been around for many a long long year
Stole many a man's soul and faith...


A light has that has long endured a straightforward path is given a small detour whose repercussions may be stronger than first expected...

THE END

Caves of Narshe: Final Fantasy VI
Version 6
©1997–2017 Josh Alvies (Rangers51)

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