Fiction Fragment Fridays: Returning Hope (Chapter 4 – Part 1)

Continuing on with Final Fantasy: Returning Hope!

Reminder: If you’re looking for the previously posted parts of the story, go to the “Categories” drop-down banner on the left banner of the site and choose “Final Fantasy: Returning Hope”.

Edgar - Shocked Locke - Steal Terra - Blink (Left)
*Spites via http://www.videogamesprites.net

Edgar ran.

By the time Locke and Terra reached the chocobo stable he was already on his mount and dashing out the door. As hastily as they could they grabbed their own steeds (Locke almost fell from his again) and urged them into the fastest run they would allow. They never quite caught up, but they managed to keep a clear visual on Edgar as they all sped north.

With the speed of the chocobos at their side it wasn’t long before the small house began to appear against the backdrop of the mountains. It seemed to be in good repair to Terra’s eyes, and she found her mind wandering, wondering if upkeep was one of Sabin’s duties as a disciple.

Edgar reached the house first and was off his chocobo and in the front door before Terra and Locke arrived. When they finally walked inside it was to find Edgar sitting on one of three single beds, clutching a small, clear vase of bright blue flowers.

“He was here,” he whispered, though of course they’d already known that. He held up the vase of flowers and there was a look of pain on his face. “These were his favorite flowers…our mother used to put them in our bedrooms at night so the smell would soothe us to sleep…”

Locke and Terra walked into the room and sat down at either side of Edgar.

“I’m sure he’s alright,” Locke assured him. Terra wondered quietly how he could say such a thing when there was no way he could really know.

No one knew what to say, and so they sat in silence for several long minutes, until the quiet was finally interrupted by the soft footfalls of another chocobo arriving out front. Edgar’s head shot up and he barely managed to shove the vase at Terra before he was out the door. Gazing at them with a strange feeling in the back of her throat, Terra gently set the flowers down at the head of the bed before she and Locke followed.

The newcomer wasn’t who Edgar had hoped for. He was an older gentleman with gray hair, who looked rather surprised to find people here.

“Oh!” he said, adjusting his glasses and dismounting his chocobo. “Who’s this now? Friends of Master Duncan?” He gave a sad little shake of the head as he said the name. “I’m just here to pick up a few things for his wife,” he explained without being questioned. “We moved her back into town, you see, to try and take some of the stress off.”

Locke waited impatiently for the old man to finish before he spoke. “Actually, we’re friends of his disciple, a man named Sabin. Do you know where we might find him?”

Edgar’s face was beaky as the old man removed his glasses and cleaned them on his shirt while thinking. “Well,” he spoke slowly, casually, neglecting to register the urgency on the younger peoples’ faces, “The talk that’s been going around is that young Sabin and Vargus have both disappeared. Not even the missus knows where they are, and she’s in a right awful state over Vargus, being he’s her son and all.”

Both Edgar and Locke were practically shaking over the old man’s calm and painfully slow response. Even Terra, despite herself, was shifting her weight back and forth, longing for the old man to say something useful.

“Now, they could very well be anywhere, doing anything,” he continued on, pushing the newly-smudged glasses back on his nose. “But if I were to wager any money, I’d say they’d gone up into Mount Kolts to meditate on the situation. Master Duncan would take them up there for training and the like, you see.”

Now that the information had finally been spat out, Edgar looked ready to make a run for it again. Locke held him back with a firm hand on his shoulder. “Thank you very much,” he told the old man. “We won’t keep you any longer.”

Terra nodded politely at the old man, who looked remiss that the conversation was over so soon. They gathered up their chocobos and began to lead them calmly away from the house.

“Let’s go!” Edgar insisted. He tried to leap on his chocobo’s back while Locke gripped at the back of his cape.

“Calm down for a moment,” Locke demanded, his voice firm. “We’ll go, but I want you to breathe for a few minutes first. You’re too wound up, and that’s not a good state to be in if we’re going to be climbing a mountain!”

Edgar made a face and fussed like a child for a moment, but then he squeezed his eyes shut and concentrated on taking long breaths and slowing his heart.

Locke turned to Terra. “Now,” he said to her, “I want you to decide for yourself whether you’re coming with us or not.”

Terra was taken aback. Why would she not go with them? “What do you mean?” she questioned.

“We might be following a murderer into those mountains,” Locke told her bluntly. “If the man in town is to be believed, a murder who killed his own father. It could be very dangerous, and we can’t drag you into it against your will. It’s not your fight. We could rent you a room in town and-” He stopped because Terra had a strange smile on her face.

“Is that all?” she said. “I’m in danger from the Empire anyway, so this is really no different.” Locke opened his mouth to speak again, but she cut him off. “I’m coming,” she insisted. “You two might need me to save you again.”

With his eyes still closed, Edgar grinned. Locke’s lips twitched upward a little and he nodded.

Terra didn’t say anything out loud, but she felt warm inside. Locke’s concern had sparked a strange flame and changed her views on her presence in this situation. This wasn’t all about stealing the Empire’s best toy, or recruiting a magic-user to the Returners. Locke genuinely cared for her safety as well.

“Okay, Edgar spoke up, opening his eyes and taking one last deep breath. “I’m calm, I promise. Can we go now?”

Locke scrutinized Edgar for a minute and then nodded. “Okay, let’s head out. Keep your auto-crossbow at the ready.”

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