Kefka's Legacy

Homecoming

Sabin readied himself for the challenge to come, not the chaotic battle between Celes’s invading army and Relm’s monsters, for that he was well trained. It was the certainty that he must disarm or talk down a troubled, young, female, half-magic hybrid that made him quiver like a green recruit.

Celes barked orders and her soldiers eagerly cleared a path for her war bird and retinue. Sabin bounced precariously on the back of another war chocobo. The commander, to whose saddle Sabin was chained, urged his bird forward into the masses of panicked rank and file. Sabin could see nothing but sand and boots flashing by.

His mind raced to solve the problem of how to get Terra’s attention, ignoring for the moment that he had no idea what to do once he got her attention.

Something jostled the chocobo and Sabin nearly slipped off. He grabbed a handful of feathers to avoid being dragged along behind the animal. The chocobo warked with angry surprise. This gave him an idea. He took two handfuls of bright yellow feathers and yanked as hard as he could.

The chocobo warked, flapped its vestigial wings, and reared up. The rider pulled at the reins and Sabin pulled at the rider. They both toppled to the sand as the chocobo fought to free itself from its sadistic cargo. Sabin rolled over the rider, pushed him face down in the sand with one hand while he slipped out a dirk from the man’s belt and cut the leather straps on the saddle. The saddle slid off. The chocobo stumbled with sudden freedom and then pushed its way out of the crowd.

The commander flailed blindly. Sabin kept holding him down until Sabin was free of his manacles. Finally he released the commander. The man sucked in air then coughed up sand.

Sabin clapped him on the back. “You’ll live, if any of us do.” The commander remained on his hands and knees coughing and gasping.

Sabin looked up. A bright red light cut across the darkening sky leaving a contrail in its wake. The light spun once in a circle then paused. Sabin felt a shiver run down his spine. A powerful being watched.

He looked around for Celes. Her saber whirled in the air, flashing in the morning light splaying across the desert. She shouted to her troops from atop her bird and to her credit they rallied. Then a wolf-like monster twice as big as a chocobo bowled over her mount.

The monster let out an explosive bark, coughing black smoke into the air. It seemed to shiver, its fur standing on end and undulating, but it was not covered in fur, Sabin realized. Loops of bony spikes spun around its legs, neck and torso like Edgar’s steam powered “chain” saw. Soldiers pushed each other out of the way in their haste to flee, but the monster thrashed amidst them, its bones slicing through leather and chain mail.

Celes, her crown lost and her hair disheveled, rose from the dust in front of the beast. It opened its mouth and barked. Rows of teeth sawed back and forth behind its sooty breath. Celes swiftly put her saber through its eye. The monster spasmed and slumped dead, but the damage had been done. The soldiers panicked once more.

Someone bumped into Sabin from behind, nearly knocking him over. The inadvertent collision saved his life as a spearbird swooped over his ducked head. Relm’s monsters were everywhere. Celes’s soldiers didn’t know which way to run so they were running every which way.

“Sir Sabin!”

Sabin looked around at the sound of Cyan’s voice. Through the masses of men rallying, fleeing, or gaping in dumbfounded horror, he saw Cyan. An eye blackened and his face bloodied, Cyan moved towards him, wielding a chipped Katzbalger sword.

“Good to see you.” Sabin smiled stubbornly.

Cyan, ever-serious frowned with a scold on his tongue, but instead of chiding he asked, “What do we do now?”

“We’ll lure her to the ground. It’s our only hope of wresting the statue from her.”

“To Celes,” Cyan said, heading towards her without waiting for Sabin’s assent. Celes stood atop a growing mound of monster corpses, cutting down beasts and barking orders, giving every impression of a living monument to futility.

“Celes,” Cyan called out, “Terra has arrived! Believe us. She brings magic with her.”

Celes looked up. The sky had filled with ominous dark clouds the likes of which the desert sky had never seen before. Relm’s spearbirds rose up to battle Terra. A sprawling burst of lightning branched through the sky and the spearbirds rained to earth dead as dust.

The sounds of battle diminished as the combatants turned faces upwards. Sabin, however, watched Celes. She was calculating, subordinating frustration and anger to pragmatism.

The wind began to hiss, flicking sand against skin from all angles. The desert itself undulated like the surface of the ocean. The wind pushed and pulled, beat down and lifted up. It picked pockets and scabbards, replacing the contents with sand. Lightning flashed, illuminating a dark structure taking form up in the swirling chaos. The weird wind’s million fingers constructed it. Terra was raising a tower.

Celes looked Sabin in the eyes. She commanded, “Conceal yourselves. I will bring her to me.”

Sabin didn’t like it, but he obeyed. He and Cyan picked up discarded shields and raised them over their heads to hide from Terra’s sight. Around them, Celes’s soldiers resorted to wild supplications and tore at their hair in terror. The soldiers held position for the sole reason that they could not determine in which direction to flee.

A monster clambered up the mound of corpses towards Celes. It was a black-haired, simian creature with a pair of scorpion tales where its arms should have been. Celes took one look at the monster then closed her eyes.

Suddenly Sabin felt a chill, a real and true chill, not one of fear. The scorpion ape stamped the ground and flailed its stingers. It tumbled backwards, shards of ice, but no sound, spinning from its mouth. The air around the monster cleared. The blur of heat and dust vanished and the air tinged blue from Celes’s spell: Absolute Zero.

Sabin looked to Cyan with fear and confusion contorting his face. “Celes can cast magic again! How did you know she'd be able?” The wind snatched the words, but Cyan understood.

“Her magicite infusions are old and deep. Lucky for us.”

Celes had been infused with magicite as a child. She had known magic far longer than they. The capacity must have remained stronger in her. You have a strange definition of luck, Cyan, Sabin thought. A spell would surely attract Terra’s attention. And it had.

Flashes of lightning preceded Terra’s descent. The bolts wove through the sandy air leaving jagged glass statues like upturned trees in their wake. Then the fabric of space itself tore open: X-Zone. Sabin found himself staring at cold, un-blinking stars, ever so clear and close. The corpse of the ape-scorpion vanished into the maw of the rift. Soldiers were sucked away, their hands full of futilely grasped sand. Sabin felt the pull of the void. It lifted him. The empty lifelessness sought to destroy him. Sabin feared as he had never feared before. He was lifted into the air. Without any sort of leverage he was pulled irresistibly towards the emptiness.

Then the undulating edges collapsed. Sabin fell to the ground. The fabric of reality stitched and healed leaving a clearing between Celes on one side and Sabin and Cyan on the other.

Terra, burning with Esper flame, landed softly in the clearing. The soldiers, able to focus now on an unambiguous terror, fled. The Esper-child ignored them. She faced Celes, her back to Sabin and Cyan. She held the head of Goddess in the crook of her arm.

“Empress,” she said with a mocking curtsy, “Did you miss your power?” She gestured at the fleeing soldiers. “Magic is so much more effective than ordering the rabble to do your bidding.”

Sabin leaped to his feet and charged Terra. This was their only chance. For a moment he considered striking Terra herself, but he couldn’t do it. He told himself that the risk was too great since he had no idea how to render an Esper unconscious, if such a thing was even possible. Instead he drove his knuckles between her elbow and torso, connecting with the stone head, and dislodging it from her grasp. It flew through the air and landed softly in the sand at Celes’s feet.

Terra shrieked. She backhanded Sabin. With her supernatural strength it was like being punched by a Hades Gigas. Sabin sprawled into the sand. His ears sang and the colors of his vision bled across each other.

“Give it back,” Terra yelled at Celes.

Celes stepped in front of the bust, her sword raised. “No. I’ll take this old statue as partial recompense for the army you’ve cost me. That seems at least fair.”

“Celes, if you’re so eager to have a statue…” Terra smiled mischievously.

The first sensible image that came to Sabin’s recovering sight was Terra making signs with her hands and her lips motioning for a spell: Petrify. Sabin rolled to get his hands under him. The instinct to run was strong even though he knew it was too late.

Terra attempted to breathe power into the spell, but the breath was sucked from her lungs. The enchanted breath flew as a shimmering phantasm and coalesced around Celes’s blade. It hugged the sword tightly, merging with the metal.

Terra clutched her chest and took gasping breaths.

Celes raised her eyebrows. “It hasn’t been that long, Terra. Surely you haven’t forgotten the little trick I do with my runic blade?”

Terra’s flaming skin shimmered like a bird ruffling its feathers. “I’ve always been suspicious of a magic user who reserved the ability to nullify magic.” Terra drew her swords.

“Don’t impede yourself with both those big clumsy swords,” Celes said, “or this will be too easy for me.”

“I only need the one.” Terra replaced Ragnarok in its scabbard.

Atma Weapon gleamed in the presence of the Goddess. It was more than mere steel now. Sabin tried to warn Celes, “Her sword! The Goddess!”

Terra rushed in swinging. She had had no formal training while Celes had practically been born with a saber in hand. Celes’s parry should have swatted Terra’s attack aside, but Atma Weapon’s magic had been renewed. Celes was the one knocked back, the blow resounding up her arm.

Terra knelt to scoop up the Goddess, but before she grasped it.

“Have at thee,” Cyan yelled, his Katzbalger arcing down.

Atma weapon rose up to deflect the blow but Terra was driven back. She muttered a spell, but again the breath was sucked from her lips as Celes redirected the energy to her runic blade. Sparks flew from Terra’s skin as her anger increased.

Sabin looked around for something to destroy the statue with but the only debris in his vicinity was discarded shields, bows, and, of course, sand, not a single sturdy rock or sword as far as the eye could see.

Sabin searched frantically while Terra gave in to Atma Weapon’s will. She knocked Cyan’s sword aside with each blow and Cyan struggled to keep up his defenses.

Finally Sabin found a wooden kite shield with a small round metal centerpiece. Hopefully it would be enough to bash Goddess to pieces. He turned in time to see a two-handed blow from Terra knock Cyan’s sword out of his hand. Sabin heard the crack of bone breaking in Cyan’s arm. He fell to the ground. Sabin ran forward with the shield in hand, but he would never make it in time.

Consumed by rage, Terra raised Atma Weapon to strike Cyan’s defenseless form. Her sword quivered at its apex. Atma Weapon’s will, long dormant but now awake, demanded blood.

Terra’s sword came down and sank into the head of a horned beast. Relm, riding on the back of an eight legged ram, had leapt in front of her. The beast grunted and fell. Cyan tried to roll out of the way, but was pinned beneath the collapsing monster. Relm was pitched off.

Terra’s sword arm shivered as she pulled the blade from the skull. She looked shaken. Sabin saw the mixture of emotion on her face. She would have killed Cyan.

She shouted, but her bravado sounded forced, “Here’s one who knows the lure of magic!”

Relm scampered to her feet. She backed away, her eyes bulging with terror. “Don’t say that. I didn’t want this.”

“Of course not,” Terra sneered. “You just wanted your precious art.” Terra once more cast Petrify and again Celes’s runic blade struck like a punch to the diaphragm. “That’s getting tiresome,” Terra hissed.

Celes’s blade had begun to glow and give off heat. She grimaced and Sabin realized the sword was burning her hand as the magical power sequestered within converted to heat. Celes scooped up the statue and held it in her free arm. Sabin tried to move closer.

“Throw me the statue,” he shouted.

Celes shook her head, not taking her eyes off Terra.

Terra lunged and sword strikes rang out. Sabin looked on helplessly. Celes could not keep this up. Every parry racked her arm. If she would only give him the statue…

Cyan beckoned to him feebly. Sabin dropped the shield and ran to his aid. He lifted the monster off Cyan’s body.

“Sir Sabin, we cannot defeat her.”

“Don’t talk like that.”

“There’s another way.” Cyan looked up at Sabin, propping himself up on his one good arm, his eyes begging Sabin to understand. “Relm…”

“Relm can still paint monsters, but what good…”

Cyan glared and Sabin felt glad the man had no magic left in his bones.

Cyan spoke again, “Relm must paint the Sealed Gate. She must paint it open.”

The striking of swords came at a quicker pace as Terra sensed Celes flagging.

“That won’t work, and even if it did, I don’t understand why…”

Cyan grabbed Sabin’s forearm with painful force. “Why did Terra come here?”

“I don’t have time for riddles!” Sabin exclaimed.

“Why didst thou come here?”

Sabin paused. I want to be home when the world ends.

Sabin understood then. He looked around for Relm. She stood atop the mound of corpses Celes had created. Relm beckoned her creatures, the three-legged monster built like an easel with fresh canvas, and the stork-like creature with brush and palette.

“Relm!” Sabin called to her. She didn’t even spare him a glance as her implements were delivered into her arms. She started to paint frantically, to bring monsters into existence. Sabin dashed forward and caught her arm.

“No!” she screamed. “I’m on your side. We have to stop Terra.”

“I know. That’s why you have to paint the Sealed Gate as it once was, open.”

Suddenly Relm looked very young. Her thoughts were written on her face: That might work, might be the only thing that would work. The fate of the world rests on me, a girl who enjoys doodling.

“I can’t. I’m not that good.”

Anger welled up in Sabin. How could she be such a coward! He wanted to slap her.

“Relm!” Cyan called out. “You can do it. Forget everything but the process.”

She began to paint. Sabin felt grateful that one of them had had experience with children.

“There,” Relm said. Sabin was caught off guard by Relm’s speed. He looked over her shoulder at a realistic image of the Sealed Gate, its doors open revealing the Esper world on the other side.

“What happens now?” he asked.

“It just appears, but it’s not working. I haven’t realized it well enough.”

“Try again,” Sabin shouted, panic rising in his voice.

Relm tore away the paper and began again, but the sound of swords had ceased.

The howling winds seemed to part so they all heard Celes’s sword, knocked from her hand, thunking into the sand. Terra breathed the aural runes of Petrify. The head of Goddess rolled from Celes’s stone finger tips. Terra cast Petrify again and Relm became a motionless statue.

Sabin despaired. “Terra,” he started to plead. She spat out a simple spell. Sabin’s lips sealed shut, “Mute” tattooed across his face. Terra bent to pick up the bust. All her attention was focused on it. She did not see Edgar and his guards riding full tilt on their chocobos, but Sabin saw. Edgar raised his auto-crossbow and took aim at Terra’s back. The auto-crossbow chewed through a leather clip of bolts, discarding the clip like a rag and launching the metal projectiles into the air.

Not like this, Sabin thought. Once upon a time Sabin had been a man of action, but since the cataclysm he had been paralyzed by fear, fear of making an irreversible mistake. That’s why he had been unable to become the ruler that Figaro needed. That’s why he had let his brother take responsibility, but abandoning Figaro had been his greatest mistake. Terra was his friend. He would not abandon her, no matter the consequences. He stepped in front of the crossbow bolts. They struck him in rapid succession. He felt pain for only a moment.

Terra, the bust in hand, spun around and flung a spell in Edgar’s direction. It caught all of them: Sabin, Edgar, his men, and their birds. A bronze sheen fell over them. Edgar’s face became preternaturally smooth and metallic. They all froze in place: the birds mid-stride, Sabin pitched back, blood dashing into the air. He saw Edgar’s eyes replaced by motionless clock faces. Pocket watch chains materialized and wrapped about his neck. Time stopped for them all.


Sabin awoke to Terra’s human face, white porcelain skin, pointed chin, spiky short green hair, and sea green eyes that searched him. He was in pain.

“Why did you save me?” she asked.

“Because I knew you wouldn’t let me die.” Sabin tried to sit up. It felt like being stabbed with nine hot pokers.

“The wounds are still fresh,” Terra said. “I only used Phoenix Down on you.”

“Ah, I earned my life back, but not your trust.”

“I’m an imperial witch,” she said dryly.

“…and you killed fifty of the Emperor’s best soldiers in under a minute. So I’ve heard.”

“Alright, you proved I’m no killer, but I won’t let you take magic away from me again. You don’t understand. That was worse than dying.”

Sabin shook his head delicately. “I don’t want anyone to have magic except you. Where are the others?”

Terra’s eyes narrowed suspiciously. “The others are as they were: stone, stone, and stopped in time.”

“We need Relm. She can open the Sealed Gate.”

“Impossible!” Terra scoffed. “The gate is ruined. All the magic in the world that was could not reopen it.”

“Then you will have to decide between killing your friends and killing half of yourself.”

“That won’t be necessary,” said a resonant, otherworldly voice.

Terra quivered, shaking her head.

“Terra.” The voice spoke again.

“No, I don’t believe it.”

“It’s true,” said Sabin. “It’s your father.”

Terra turned to her father. He had wild green hair like her own. His skin bulged strangely, revealing his non-human endoskeleton. His skin was a calico of earth tones: brown, green, and blue.

Terra’s mouth pumped like a fish out of water. She shook her head again.

“No. This is impossible.” Terra raised her hands, performed the motions and spoke the sounds of Dispel. Her father disappeared in a puff of magic vapor.

“I knew it!” She shrieked. “Trickster!”

Sabin gaped in shock. His mind raced. Relm must have panicked; thought that painting Terra’s father would be easier than the gate and completed the image just before Petrify hit her. What had she done?

Terra drew Ragnarok from her back. Atma Weapon was one thing; an animal of a sword with a mind of its own, unmatched in single combat, but Ragnarok was something else entirely. In the presence of magic the sword, if used, would cast Ultima.

Petrify could be undone with Soft. Stop Time, which enveloped Edgar, could be Dispelled. Ultima, however, was raw destruction.

“Terra,” Sabin begged, “Relm can open the true gate. You must believe me. She panicked. She didn’t have time to open it for real.”

Terra looked down on Sabin, Goddess under her left arm, Ragnarok raised in her right. “You are a clever deceiver. You humans would do anything to prolong your pitiful little lives.”

Sabin looked into Terra’s face and saw nothing recognizable there. He was terrified, but forced words out of his mouth. “Terra, you killed because Kefka told you to, or Banon did. You killed soldiers and beasts, but you can’t kill your friends. I would have died for you.”

Ragnarok began to glow, drawing in mana to cast its world-wrecker.

“No. You died to save your friends, but I’m not one of them. You raised sword and arrow against me. I will take magic from your world only after I make the world safe by taking all life from it. Kefka commands me.”

Terra swung the sword.

Sabin closed his eyes. “At least I will die in my homeland.”

The fall of the sword stopped.

“Home, ” Terra whispered. She held the sword steady, poised over Sabin's throat. The blade drifted closer, the ancient creature within stirred by the nearness of magic, hungry for blood. It felt as if Terra had stopped time for the whole world. Sabin kept his eyes closed, his mind remained empty, at peace in deep meditation. A sense of trust and compassion flowed through him.

Terra withdrew the blade, flipped it over, and handed Ragnarok hilt-first to Sabin.

“If this fails,” she said. “Kill me quickly.” Terra backed away, the skin around her eyes tight with un-cried tears. She cast Soft on Relm and Heal on Sabin.

He felt a warm white light emanating from his center, moving outwards and pushing away all that was wrong and broken. He stood up, keeping Ragnarok pointed at the ground.

Relm, for all the new softness of her skin, stood as still as a statue, petrified with fear and surprise.

“Relm,” Sabin called out. “It’s alright. Don’t be afraid. We need a painting.”

She shook her head. “I can’t do it.”

“Relm, you have to,” Sabin urged.

Terra closed her eyes. Her mouth moving. Her face twitching. She was not casting a spell. It looked to Sabin as if she was talking to herself. Talking to the madman inside her head, he realized.

Relm lifted her brush unsteadily. Her arm was shaking. She was right. She’d never be able to paint the gate like this.

Sabin forced himself to lift Ragnarok and hold it behind Terra’s head, ready to strike her down. His arms trembled. Please don’t make me do this. “Relm,” he said, “we’re safe. Relax, and paint the gate.”

She nodded hesitantly and began to work. The desert was quiet and time stretched on. The soldiers had fled. Relm’s creatures kept their distance. Terra’s wind snaked through the dunes anxiously.

Relm finally lifted brush from canvas. Nothing happened. She looked from Sabin to Terra with despair.

“I can’t. I can’t do it. I’m just not strong enough.”

Sabin knew what he must do. He had to do it, before Terra could react. She had asked him to kill her. Sabin’s arms refused to move though they were heavy from holding the sword aloft. He lowered the sword to the ground.

“I haven’t come so far to kill you now. Do what you must,” he said.

Terra, clutching Goddess in front of her, opened her eyes and walked towards Relm. Relm’s eyes widened. She looked at Sabin, imploring him to use the sword, but Sabin kept it lowered at his side, hoping that Terra would erase him from existence before he knew the extent of his failure.

Terra exploded into pink flames, her Esper form. Sabin momentarily wondered how the end would come, but then he knew: fire. Terra had always been a creature of fire. So had Kefka. Burn everything!

Terra lifted Goddess then handed the bust to Relm. “Take it,” she said, “and give me your brush. Then guide my hand to paint the gate.”

Sabin let his breath out. The tension in his chest remained.

Relm took Goddess in quivering hands then placed a brush between Terra’s long pink, clawed fingers. Relm placed a hand over Terra’s and guided the brush. Sabin looked on, praying to Terra’s ancestors.

When the brush lifted, Relm and Terra had painted a perfect replica of the gate. Its doors open, the liminal space shimmering with magic.

An otherworldly voice spoke waveringly, “Terra. I thought myself a fool for dreaming of the day when I would see you again.”

Terra’s father, Maduin, stood before the Sealed Gate, which had manifested silently and suddenly in the middle of the Figaro Desert.

Terra looked away from him. “I’m so sorry,” she said.

Maduin went to her, embraced her. “I know, Terra. Let’s go home.”

Maduin released her and Terra finally looked into his eyes. Her flaming mane thrashed, but the motion was reminiscent of anxiousness, not anger.

Terra turned to Relm, closed the young woman’s hand around the brush as Relm was too awestruck to retrieve it herself. Terra took Goddess from her then walked to the gate holding her father’s hand.

Sabin said nothing, could think of nothing to say, but knew that he must speak for he would never see Terra again.

Terra and Maduin stopped before the gate. Together they Dispelled Edgar. Edgar cried out as he suddenly snapped back into normal time. He and his retinue reined their mounts and tried to get their bearings. Terra Softened Celes. Color started in from the tip of her stone-gray nose and rushed through the rest of her body. She collapsed to the ground. Terra healed Cyan who had passed out from his injury. Cyan stood and helped Celes to her feet. Edgar, quite unnecessarily, commanded his men to slow. He dismounted and walked his chocobo towards the Sealed Gate.

“Friends,” Terra said, “Please forgive me for what I’ve done.”

“We do,” said Sabin. “And we will miss you.”

Terra and her father turned towards the gate, but Terra whirled suddenly, “In Mobliz, I... I Petrified them all. I mean, I healed them first. Some were badly injured. I tried to help. I… They are going to be frightened when my spell dissolves.”

“We will send someone to look after them,” Sabin assured her.

Terra turned back to the gate.

Relm cried out, “Wait! You won’t need the Goddess. There’s plenty of magic in the Esper world. Leave it behind for us. My creatures will die without it.”

Relm’s eyes watered. She spied about desperately for a means of stopping Terra from taking the head. To her surprise Terra stopped at the threshold and held out the statue. Relm ran forward and seized it from her outstretched arms.

Relm cradled the statue, tears streaming freely down her face and falling upon the bust.

Terra addressed them all: “I must go. I was never meant to live alone in this world. I won’t forget you, friends.”

“We shall not forget thou,” said Cyan.

Terra and her father stepped through the shimmering gate. Terra’s voice bubbled through from the other side as if she were speaking under water. Sabin understood her words and they softened him like a spell. She said, “The voice is gone.” Maduin replied, “The madman can’t reach you here.”

The sounds from the gate faded, but the shimmering surface between its massive open doors remained. Relm continued to stroke the head of the Goddess, her crouched form silhouetted by the gate’s glow.

“Should we...” Cyan started, but Sabin put a hand on his shoulder.

“Wait a moment.”

Relm sobbed, her chest pumping. She lifted herself to her feet and gave a battle cry as she pitched the head of the Goddess through the gate.

The stone statue pierced the shimmering surface. As soon as it disappeared, the gate itself vanished from existence.

Overhead the black clouds split and rays of sun stabbed through like bright fingers. The fingers seemed to pull apart the black clouds until they were no more. Relm’s creatures became transparent and gradually disappeared into nothingness. A desert wind, a natural wind, picked up and began to chip away the tower Terra had attempted to erect.

Sabin retrieved Celes’s sword then handed it to her hilt first. She accepted it grudgingly.

“Magic is truly gone then?” Celes asked.

“I certainly hope so,” Sabin replied.

“What happens now?”

Sabin matched her icy stare. “Now you will sign a truce recognizing Figaro’s right to self rule now and forever. You will disband your fleet and return to Kohlingen or wherever you’ve decided to establish your throne. The two western continents are yours. I hope you rule them wisely.”

“And if I refuse?” she asked.

Edgar dismounted nearby and cheerily answered, “Then you will become a permanent guest of Figaro castle. We have some lovely prison cells that have been sitting empty for some time now.”

“That won’t be necessary,” said Sabin.

Sabin hugged his brother tightly, briefly.

“It is good to see you,” said Edgar.

“And you. I hope you can accept what I am about to tell you.”

Edgar furrowed his brow in confusion.

“You once offered me the throne, dear brother,” said Sabin. “I am belatedly accepting your offer. You will go to the castle and order your soldiers to round up Celes’s men before they die of exposure in the desert. Celes’s soldiers will be given the choice of returning to Zozo or accepting paid work in South Figaro constructing irrigation canals and earthworks. Then you will announce that you are stepping aside as king and that your brother will sit on the throne. I do not intend to share my power.”

Edgar’s mounted soldiers put hands to hilts, ready to defend their king against his brother, but their faces were overrun with discomfort.

Edgar said, “Brother, have I wronged you in some way?”

Sabin smiled. “This is no punishment, as you will see. South Figaro desperately needs a good engineer. Doesn’t that sound more interesting than entertaining foreign dignitaries and planning the next round of rationing and taxes?”

Edgar threw back his head and laughed heartily. “Indeed! Why didn’t we arrange this years ago?”

“Some things are hard to see when we stand too close to them.”

“What shall become of us?” Cyan asked. He had placed an arm over Relm’s shoulders. She had stopped crying, but wavered with aftershocks of emotion.

Sabin looked first to Relm. “Relm, Mobliz needs a leader. I think you would be welcomed there. What do you think?”

Relm remained silent, mulling it over before looking up at Sabin. “I’ll do my best.”

“Relm shall have my assistance if she so desires,” said Cyan.

She nodded. “I’d like that.”

Sabin lead the way back to the castle, his feet headed for the future, his mind lingering over what he had lost, what they had all lost; a good friend. Terra was undoubtedly in a better place now, but he could not help but think that if things had been different, Terra could have been happy in this world.

Perhaps someday, far from now, the link between the Esper and human worlds could be reopened and the two species would be able to live in harmony. There would have to be many changes in men’s hearts before that day came. Sabin was eager to get to work.

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