Fiction Fragment Fridays: Returning Hope (Chapter 11 – Part 1)

Continuing on with Final Fantasy: Returning Hope!

Enjoy, and also check out FanFiction.net, where I’ll also be posting this story. 

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”.

Locke - Angry*Spites via http://www.videogamesprites.net

Locke woke feeling as though his head had been split open, which as it turned out wasn’t too far from the truth. When he opened his eyes it was to find Celes gingerly removing a bloodied bandage from his forehead. She gazed down at him with such relief in her eyes that he felt his heart do a funny little flutter.

“You’re awake, finally,” she sighed, setting the bandage aside. “I was worried.” She seemed surprised at herself to have uttered such words.

Trying to ignore the pounding in his skull, Locke pushed himself to a sitting position. “What happened?” he groaned through the pain.

“You hit your head on a rock and got knocked out,” Celes explained. “The little wildling boy was knocked over the cliff, but luckily he’s an amazing climber. The others were all fine, except…” Her eyes dropped to the bed in which Locke lay.

Locke’s jaw clenched. “What happened to Terra?” he demanded.

Celes sighed and looked everywhere but his eyes. “She turned into a-” She shook her head. “She took off across the sky, and she looked like…” She closed her eyes for a moment before finally forcing herself to look Locke in the eye. “She looked like an esper.”

Locke’s jaw dropped. “Dear god,” he whispered.

A gentle rap at the door announced Edgar’s arrival. Sabin, Cyan, and Gau followed close behind, and for the first time Locke realized that they were in a room at the Narshe Inn.

Edgar rushed forward when he saw that his friend was awake. “Locke! Thank goodness! Are you okay?”

“I’ve been better,” Locke admitted. “But that’s not important. Celes was just telling me about Terra.”

The men all threw sidelong glances at each other while Gau jumped on the second bed and rolled around playfully.

“Yes,” Edgar admitted. “Something…strange happened to her. It was as though the esper had some kind of direct connection to her, and then she-” He shook his head as if to dispel some unpleasant thought. “Anyway, it doesn’t matter. We need to find her.”

“How?” Celes questioned. “She flew off so fast. She could be anywhere in the world by now.”

In response, Edgar waved a piece of parchment he’d been holding. “We have reports of witnesses seeing her screaming across the sky to the West. It’s not much to go on, but it gives us somewhere to start. If we return to Figaro Castle we can shuttle to the Western province, and from there we can look for further tips in Kohlingen or Jidoor.”

Locke practically leaped out of the bed. “Then let’s go! I promised her that I’d-” He trailed off.

Cyan chose that moment to speak up in a gruff voice. “She’s an Imperial soldier,” he growled. Locke almost spat back at him, but to his surprise the swordsman gave a meaningful look to Celes and added, “But we’ve no choice. We must help her.”

“Gau!” shouted the green-haired boy, grinning happily.

“Don’t forget,” Sabin added. “Banon and the miners need our help protecting Narshe and the esper, should the Empire return.”

They all considered that for a moment before Cyan stepped forward with his chest puffed out and his head held high. “I volunteer,” he announced. “I commanded the great army of Doma for most of my life. I am certain that I can train the Narshean citizens to better defend themselves.”

Locke couldn’t help but be surprised. After the confrontation with Celes and Terra, Cyan had not seemed the most reasonable of men.

Sabin clapped a hand on his friend’s shoulder. “Perhaps I should stay with you,” he suggested, but Cyan shook his head.

“No, Sir Sabin,” he said. “The people here have neither the time nor the discipline to learn your fighting arts. I can teach them forgery and weaponry. No, you should go along with your brother and help find the young woman as quickly as possible.”

Sabin nodded, but he seemed to have misgivings until Gau spoke up from where he was doing a handstand on top of the bed’s headboard. “Gau stay too! Protect Cyan!”

Locke couldn’t tell whether Cyan looked amused or exasperated. Possibly both.

“It’s settled then,” Edgar concluded. “We’ll spit up for now. When Locke is fully healed we’ll head for Figaro.”

“Fully healed, my ass,” growled Locke. He snatched his dagger from where Celes had placed it on the bedside table. “We’re leaving now. Buck up, team! Let’s find our Terra!”

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