Continuing on with Final Fantasy: Returning Hope!
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It was near midnight by the time the preparations had been made. Fully exhausted, Edgar dragged himself off toward his quarters to the soothing rumble of the castle beginning its decent under the sand. He was mercifully near to his waiting bed when he caught sight of the throne room door swinging shut; as an afterthought, he decided to peak in.
Sabin was standing in the center of the room, his arms hanging at his sides, looking for all the world like a little lost child. He seemed to consider the tapestries for a while before moving up to the thrones. He stared at these for a long time before gingerly sitting himself on the one that had remained empty for almost two decades; their mother’s throne.
He looked so forlorn, sitting there in the chair where their mother had once perched with a lovely, regal smile on her face. It made Edgar think back to the events that had lead them to this point.
Young boys are more perceptive than their elders give them credit for, which is how the ten-year-old Figaro twins found themselves huddled behind a dark shelf in the castle’s library, listening to the Chancellor and one of the royal nurses having a hushed conversation.
“Tonight…took a turn for the worse…”
“There’s a chance…any moment now he might…”
Edgar heard a sharp intake of breath and turned to see his brother with tears streaming down his face. “It’ll be okay, Sabin,” he whispered, but Sabin shook his head violently. Before Edgar could say anything else his brother had burst from their hiding place, startling the Chancellor and the nurse, and took of running for outside.
“Sabin!” Edgar cried. “Sabin, wait!” Without so much as a glance at the surprised adults, the boy ran after his brother as fast as he could. The more athletic Sabin had gotten a good head start, but Edgar was determined, and soon enough he fell upon his brother as he paused to weep in an abandoned stairwell.
“I don’t believe this!” the slightly-younger twin gasped between sobs. “Brother…our father!”
It was all Edgar could do not to break down himself as he sat on the stairs and held his sobbing sibling. His heart was breaking, not only for his own pain, but for that of his more sensitive brother, whom he had tried so hard to protect from the world.
They sat there together for a long time, until the soft voice of their matron came from behind them. “So, they finally told you, hmm?”
Edgar didn’t look back at her, didn’t correct her. He simply hung his head and awaited the words he knew were coming.
“I’m sorry boys. The king – your father – he’s gone.”
The boys had run out of tears, but Sabin let out a low moan that was truly soul-shattering.
“He…his last words, his wish, was that Figaro be divided between you two.”
It was the worst thing she could have said. For Edgar it brought home the reality of the situation, but for Sabin it was like a slap in the face. The younger brother jumped to his feet as though he’d been scolded, his fists clenched with rage.
“This is nonsense!” the distraught boy screamed. “Everyone is saying that the Empire poisoned dad, and all that you care about is who’s going to be the next king! You’re all pathetic!” His shoulders drooped, but the anger was still clear on his face. “No one cared when mom passed away either,” he growled.
The matron, completely cowed, didn’t seem to know what to say. “That’s not-” she started, but Sabin cut her off by shoving a finger in her face. “You were as bad as any of them!” he accused.
Edgar had heard just about enough. “Sabin,” he hushed.
“Empire of murderers,” Sabin hissed. “They won’t get away with this!”
Edgar sighed, stood, and put his arms around his brother’s shoulders. “Matron, please leave us,” he begged, and without waiting for a response he began to walk. He led his brother from the stairwell, through the dark corridors of the castle with hushed voices and whispers following them mercilessly. He led him up to the highest point in the castle, a central rear tower designed for the king to look down on his land. Once they’d reached this spot of privacy, Sabin shrugged Edgar from his shoulders and leaned against a wall, staring out into the dark desert.
“I’m outta here,” he muttered. All the fight was gone out of him. “I’m forsaking this war-sick realm for my dignity and freedom.” He glanced sideways at his older brother. “You said you were sick of it too, right?”
“Freedom…” Edgar was only seventeen minutes older than Sabin, but at that moment he felt as though there were decades between them. “What will happen to Figaro if both of us leave?” he asked. “And what would dad think?”
Sabin’s shoulders tensed and he turned his head. They stood in silence with this proposition hanging in the air between them.
Edgar put his hand in his pocket and felt something cool and round. He toyed with it for a long time before finally making his decision. “Sabin,” he said, pulling the object from his pocket. “Let’s settle this with the toss of a coin.” He held out his palm to show his interested brother the picture of Figaro’s royal crown. “If it’s heads, you win. We’ll each choose whichever path we want, no regrets, no looking back.”
Sabin eyed him curiously for a long breath, and then finally nodded.
Edgar closed his hand around the coin, took a slow, deep breath, and tossed it up into the cool night air.
Edgar’s memory faded away as he realized that Sabin had caught sight of him and beckoned him closer. The king crossed the large room and let himself fall into the throne that had once been their father’s.
“Castle hasn’t changed much,” Sabin offered. “Yet, it’s all so different. Mom and dad are gone. A lot of people are gone, ever since that day.”
Edgar nodded. “The day you opted for your freedom,” he added, and then smiled to show his brother that there was no ill-will over the choice. “It’s been ten years,” he said, hardly able to believe it. He grinned at the memory of how they had been and announced, “The little shrimp’s turned into a whopping lobster!”
“And you’re a king crab!” Sabin added with a toothy smile.
They laughed together like boys for what seemed like forever until they finally sobered and Edgar sighed with fatigue.
“Sabin,” he muttered. “I often wonder if he’d be proud of me.”
“Don’t you ever doubt that.”
Edgar smiled sadly to himself and tried to ignore the look his brother was shooting him. “Ten years,” he breathed.
“Where has the time gone?” Sabin agreed. He shook his head at the thought.
Edgar chuckled to himself, too worn out physically and emotionally to make any sense. He raised an imaginary glass and offered Sabin a weary smile. “Here’s to a couple of very confused adults,” he said.
Sabin grinned and offered an imaginary glass of his own. “To dad,” he added. “And to mom. And Figaro.”
The brothers toasted to the throne room walls, shared a look that agreed they’d gone silly, and sat together for a long time.