THE CRAVE GAMING CHANNEL
V'lanna
 

Dragon's Destiny

By Matthew Liam Smith
m-smith7@nwu.edu

Author's Note

This isn't the first RPG fic I've ever written (though I'm sure the immature, melodramatic writing style seems to indicate otherwise) but it's the first time I've touched that most underrated SNES RPG, Breath of Fire II, with my imagination and outdated copy of Microsoft Works. In a way, it was inspired by Jason Holmes' remarkable "Katt's Tears," found on RPGamer, which was not only the first fic I'd ever read based on BoF2, but the best fic I'd read on RPGamer in months (no offense if any authors whose fics were posted in the months preceding "Katt's Tears'" advent to RPGamer are reading this, you guys are great too - better than I'll ever be, I'm sure) - though when I say it was inspired by it, I just mean I thought "Hey, maybe I should write a BoF2 fanfic." Like most RPG fics, this contains game spoilers, though I'd imagine most people curious enough to read a fic based on Breath of Fire II will have beaten the game - either that, or they'll misread Breath of Fire II as Breath of Fire III and wonder why Rei, Momo, and co. don't get a mention.

On that note, it seems far too few 8-bit and 16-bit games get the fanfic treatment these days, with the exception of Final Fantasy VI. It's telling that Final Fantasy VII has more fics devoted to it than all other RPGs combined on RPGamer (or at least they had when I last counted, if this has changed I apologize to the hard-working motley lot that runs the site). Thus the other fic I'm writing at the moment, which, incredibly, is far far worse than this one, is also on a 16-bit game - Final Fantasy IV. It's also much, much, MUCH longer (it's only two-thirds finished and it's already nearly 600 pages long). If you like this, see a psychia- I mean, you might like this one as well. It's called "The Tale of Kain Aron Highwind" and obviously centers on Kain - before, during, and after the events of Final Fantasy IV itself. If you want to see what's been written of it so far, e-mail me at the address below (the webpage at which it used to be posted has been moved, and I don't know the new URL).

And to all fanfic authors, dust off your 8-bit and 16-bit RPGs and start writing about those! There are more pre-1996 RPGs worth your consideration than just Final Fantasy VI, you know! :)

Now that shameless self-promotion is out of the way, on to a few words of thanks. First of all, thanks to Capcom for making Breath of Fire II (I'll withhold the words of thanks for translating the game since a first-year Japanese student could do a better translation job than they did!) Thanks also to Jason Holmes for writing a truly great BoF2 fanfic - although I now know there are more out there, his was the first one I read. I look forward to future fics from you, Jason!

Thanks to Dmitri Kabalevsky for writing three really cool piano sonatas and thanks to Artur Pizarro for making a recording of them which provided excellent background music when I penned this work of fiction.

And most of all, thanks to everyone who has supported me in my writing endeavors even though I couldn't write my way out of a wet paper bag. There are too many of you to name individually, but you know who you are. Thank you all! :)

Matthew Liam Smith aka Kain Aron Highwind

m-smith7@nwu.edu (no spam or flames please!)






The double row of skulls lining the upper part of Death Evan's chest opened and the bony, arm-like extension the demonic deity of the St. Eva church kept in there shot forth and clouted Ryu across the chest, drawing streams of blood and knocking him unconscious.

"Ryu!" Katt cried in alarm.

"Don't worry Katt, we've got plenty of healing potions left!" Bleu assured her half-human, half-feline companion. She turned to the pouch of items she carried around her serpentine waist - and her face fell. "Oh damn.... I used the last one on Nina just now!" she agonized.

"Then what can we do!?" Nina asked, exasperated.

"Look!" Bleu cried, pointing at Ryu. He was standing up - slowly, but steadily. A look of anger filled his green eyes, and he was visibly gritting his teeth. With blood still oozing from the wounds Death Evan had inflicted on him throughout the long struggle, he turned to face the entity that had been bent on using the prayers of his followers as energy to cause mass destruction. He pointed the Dragon Sword directly at his foe.

"You can't knock me down that easily, Death Evan!" Ryu exclaimed, "I can sense your fear! You might claim that the destined child that defeated your minion, Barubary, is neither a threat to your confidence nor to your planned regime of destruction, but how else explain the cowardly tactics with which you have fought this fight? Time and again you have tried to give yourself the unfair advantage - by reducing our party to one member, by augmenting your own strength after having been struck down once - you clearly realize and fear the power we all have behind us! All four of us! And now, I will use it to destroy you once and for all!!"

With a cry of rage, Ryu rushed towards Death Evan, his already bloody sword pointed at the evil god's forehead. Katt and Nina stepped hastily out of his path. The destined child leapt into the air and let his sword slice into his enemy. Having already suffered Ryu's Golden Dragon attack twice, more shots of Bolt-X than Nina or Bleu could have counted, and the awesome strength of Katt's staff attacks, Death Evan had clearly taken all he could from this attack. He fell back - or rather made a motion that would have resembled falling back in a creature more closely resembling the members of Ryu's party.

"What.... how.... Ryu.... Katt.... Nina.... Bleu.... why do you all want to kill me?" Death Evan gasped, astonished not that he had been defeated, but that anyone could even WANT to defeat him.

"I think that's pretty obvious," Katt sneered, sticking one end of her staff on the ground. "Because you're trying to destroy the world we live in and everyone we care about by channeling their faith in you into energy to destroy them."

"But.... my Nikanoru.... I don't understand.... why are you trying to prevent your destruction? Don't you, or your friends on the surface, or anyone else in your world, or your world itself understand.... death.... destruction.... these things are inevitable?"

"We know well their inevitability, Evans," Bleu answered, "but that doesn't mean we must embrace them without resistance!"

"But why not? Don't you know.... you can't resist them forever? Why try?"

"Life does end," Nina replied, "but we cling to life with such fervor that we may make the most of it. That we may enjoy each day to the fullest, that we may exult in each small victory, that we may enjoy the warmth and love of our friends' companionship. And never have I realized how important that is than since I met Ryu and his friends. Everyone should be allowed to enjoy life's victories as long as they possibly can. I've found so much joy in my life even though my black wings made me an outcast. And I have Ryu to thank for it."

"I can never understand how anyone could think that way, Princess Nina.... but no matter.... I.... I will disappear now.... and dream of the destruction that I will some day bring to your world.... some day you too will understand my way of thought...."

Ryu shook his head. "As long as people may enjoy these victories.... as long as people aspire to make the most of their lives, the lives of others, and the world around them, then people will not embrace death simply because it is inevitable."

Death Evan sighed. "Some day.... and now farewell.... my Nikanoru...." With these parting words to Ryu and his three companions, Death Evan slowly faded from existence.

Katt turned to Ryu, a triumphant expression on her face. "We did it!! We vanquished Death Evan!" she cried, tossing her staff in the air like a baton.

Bleu also turned to the leader of their group. "Great job, Ryu! And Katt and Nina too!"

Nina looked at Ryu with a smile. "So the ultimate dragon power of Anfini wasn't a destructive power after all - it was simply the power to unite friends who truly believed in each other. And I think I speak for Katt and Bleu when I say we all believed in you!"

As she looked into Ryu's green eyes, Princess Nina could feel her heart pounding with admiration - no, it wasn't admiration. It was something more. She wasn't quite sure what it was. But it was a strong enough feeling that she allowed herself to embrace the dragon child. Ryu smiled and embraced the winged princess in return.

"Thank you, Ryu.... thank you for everything," she whispered.

As Nina let go of Ryu, Bleu whirled around, an exuberant grin spreading across her face. "Ha! That's what happens when you mess with us! Isn't that right, Katt?"

Katt leapt in triumph and excitement. "Yes! We all showed him! Even the others back in TownShip! Bow, Sten, Jean, Spar - even big, clumsy Rand! They all helped us by believing in us - just like we believed in you, Ryu!"

Ryu smiled. There seemed to be a purely light-hearted animosity between the former gladiator and the former employee of the Coliseum back in Coursair.

But Katt's words made him think. As she named each of the five friends they had left behind in turn, he could see their faces looking back at him. Bow, his childhood friend. Even if he had been a petty thief when they first met ten years ago, his heart was truly of pure gold. Sten, the warrior of Highfort. Even though when they first met he had made Ryu disappear to allow himself to flirt with Katt and Nina, he had proven that he was still a noble fighter with ultimately good intentions. Jean, the prince of SimaFort. Not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but he was nonetheless a considerate and good-humored friend. Spar, the grass man. Though he may have been devoid of all emotion, it was obvious that he still cared about his eight companions - even if his ways of saying so seemed to center around logic and reason! Rand, the farm worker turned coliseum worker. Perhaps, as Katt said, a little clumsy, but strong both in body and in spirit. None of them flawless, but all true friends - all people Ryu was very happy to have met.

He wanted to see them all again. He wanted to share his joy at the defeat of Barubary and Death Evan. He wanted to share the wonderful feelings the victory had given him. Most of all, he wanted the nine of them to be united once more in a world of peace. Perhaps to live together in TownShip for as long as circumstances allowed - after all, Nina and Jean had kingdoms to inherit some day, while Rand would surely be called on to take over Daisy's farm. But they could be together again for a while, he told himself.

"Yes, Katt.... all nine of us helped to defeat Death Evan! We all believed in each other, and that was our strongest weapon of all! Let's go back to TownShip and meet up with the other five!" he said with a smile.

"All right!" Katt smiled.

"Away we go!" Nina added. Ryu marched off down the pathway that had taken them to the battle with Death Evan, followed by Katt, Nina, and finally Bleu. As they passed through the door at the end of the path, Bleu turned to look at where Death Evan had stood.

"Another demon. First Myria, then one of her minions. It was worth waking up for this. Ryu's every bit as great as his ancestor!"

With a smile, she turned and followed Ryu, Katt, and Nina out of Infinity.

***

Ryu, Katt, Nina, and Bleu soon reached the town of Dologany, where they were welcomed enthusiastically by the members of the Dragon Clan - including the members who bore striking resemblances to Ray and Patty. Or, rather, Ray and Yua - for it had become obvious to Ryu when Habaruku, masquerading as Father Hulk, had attempted to sacrifice the thief known as Patty and she had cried out for her older brother that she was really his younger sister, Yua. As they made their way through Dologany, one Clan member after another congratulated them on their efforts.

"You did it!"

"The demon's gone!"

"Hurrah for the destined child and his friends!"

"Congratulations!"

"Our heroes!"

The four smiled modestly as they passed through the town, acknowledging the praise piled on them by the descendants of the Dragon Clans that had waged war when Bleu last fought a great evil in the form of Myria. Eventually they reached the door to the tower leading back to the surface, and the forest surrounding Gate. Katt, Nina, and Bleu all bade farewell to the Dragon Wise Men before running eagerly up the stairs to be reunited with Bow, Rand, Sten, Jean, and Spar in TownShip. As Ryu said his goodbyes to the Wise Men and began to make his way to the stairway leading up, one of them laid a hand on his shoulder.

"Just a moment, Ryu."

***

Back in TownShip, the five heroes who had stayed behind were standing anxiously outside the main house in which they had lived during the course of the quest against St. Eva's Church, long before St. Eva became their main enemy. They were all anxious for the return of Ryu and the ladies, or some sign of what had happened during the course of their quest to find and destroy the god that had been absorbing the energy of his followers and converting it to destruction. Almost as one, they looked up.

"I don't know how I know this, guys.... but somehow I sense that.... that.... we've won! Evans is dead!" Sten cried.

"You sense it too? Then it must be true! We've triumphed!" Rand exclaimed.

"Yes.... peace will return to our world now. Our friends have vanquished the enemy. I could sense their strength when first I met them, and I knew Evans' strength was inferior to theirs," Spar said in a dull voice that nonetheless contained a hint of happiness.

Bow chuckled. "Always speaking in logic, aren't you Spar? Well, I'll speak in emotions then! My best buddy in the whole world just made it a better place to live for everyone! I knew he was something else when we left Gate together!"

"Et moi aussi! Ryu and our other friends are truly something, n'est-ce pas? I can not wait to see them again... per'aps I will write a celebratory song for them! What do you think, mes amis?" Jean said with a smile.

"Umm.... well.... as long as one of us sings it - you have a voice like a frog, Jean!" Sten chuckled.

"C'est vrai, ca? No-one 'as ever told me that before...." Jean said, slightly dismayed.

The others laughed, except Spar who simply said "A most amusing witticism, Sten."

Rand smiled and put his hand on the baffled Jean's shoulder. "I'll explain later what they meant by that - just get to work on the song, they'll be back any minute now!"

"I wonder what's keeping them?" Bow pondered.

***

The first to leave the entrance to Infinity was Bleu, followed by Katt, then Nina, and finally Ryu. As they walked away from the cave, the three ladies stood around Ryu, who began blushing.

"Why are you blushing, Ryu? What you did was pretty impressive, you know!" Bleu smiled. This simply made Ryu blush a darker shade of red.

"Right, Bleu! I always knew Ryu was really great! I thought this from the moment I first met him, when he saved my life back in Coursair!" Katt added.

"You don't need to be embarrassed, Ryu! There's nothing wrong with being called a brave man - and you are without doubt the bravest man I've ever met," Nina said, gazing fondly into Ryu's eyes.

Ryu looked back and forth between Katt, Nina, and Bleu, and blushed even darker.

"Umm.... heh heh.... gosh.... you three are such flatterers...." he stammered.

"I should have done this a long time ago, Ryu...." Katt said nervously. She paused, and then threw her arms around Ryu, hugging him tightly. Ryu put his own arms around her. "Ryu.... thanks.... you saved my life, and gave me the chance to do something really special.... I'm so happy to have met you.... and I hope we stay together for the rest of our lives...." she whispered.

"So do I, Katt.... you're a great warrior, and an even better friend...." Ryu whispered back. He and Katt let go of each other slowly, the hearts of both beating at double speed.

Nina stepped forward - and then she too threw her arms around Ryu. As Ryu put his arms around the princess of Windia in return, she kissed him on the cheek. As they loosened their grip on each other while still holding each other, she looked into his eyes. "Because of my black wings, I was made to feel like my life was a waste.... but you've helped me show everyone that there's more to me than this deformity. You'll always be special to me, Ryu...."

"You'll always be special to me too, Nina.... your wings may be black, but your heart is pure as new-fallen snow...." Ryu replied. As Nina let go, she gently put her hand over her heart in a vain attempt to slow down its rapid pulsing.

Finally, Bleu stepped forward and placed her arms on Ryu's shoulders. "You're quite something, Ryu. You're even greater than your ancestor who defeated Myria, you know that? I just wanted to say thanks for giving me the chance to fight again after all these years."

"You're welcome, Bleu. And thank you for your help - you're quite the master sorceress!" Ryu smiled.

Katt leapt towards the way out of the forest surrounding Gate. "Come on you three, let's go tell the others! Let's go back to TownShip and celebrate our victory!"

"I'm with you, Katt!" Bleu exclaimed enthusiastically. She followed Katt down the path, and Nina hurried after them. She turned to Ryu.

"Come on, Ryu! We'll leave without you if you don't hurry!" she laughed.

"I'm coming, I'm coming," Ryu said, a slightly distracted air in his voice and a facial expression to match. Nina raised one eyebrow, puzzled, then followed Katt and Bleu out of the forest.

Ryu turned to look back towards Infinity. Something in the back of his mind was troubling him. He couldn't quite put his finger on it, but something didn't feel right. He thought back to when he left Dologany....

***

As Ryu said his goodbyes to the Wise Men and began to make his way to the stairway leading up, one of them laid a hand on his shoulder.

"Just a moment, Ryu."

"Yes? Something wrong?" Ryu asked.

"Umm.... no.... I just wanted to say you did a great job.... getting rid of Death Evan like that. I'm very proud of you, and so are the rest of us."

"Right," said another Wise Man, "and with Death Evan gone, the rest of the demons are a lot weaker. They shouldn't pose much of a problem now. Our job of keeping the demons in check will be a lot easier from now on."

"I'm glad I was able to help," Ryu smiled.

"Yes.... thank you.... destined child," the first Wise Man murmured.

"You've taken care of Death Evan nicely. Thank your friends on our behalf," the second Wise Man added.

"I will, I will. I couldn't have done it without them," Ryu responded, looking towards the surface and trying to subtly hint his desire to be re-united with Katt, Nina, and Bleu.

"There's so much of your mother, Valerie, in you, Ryu...."

"Yes.... you have her spirit, we can tell."

"You think so?" Ryu asked.... but as he absorbed the Wise Man's words, his expression changed from eagerness to somber reflection.

"Yes, Ryu. And now, farewell...."

"Farewell, Wise Men...." Ryu said, a distinctly troubled look on his face. He turned and followed his companions out of the tower. The Wise Men looked after him as they slowly shut the door behind him.

"Farewell, Ryu.... I have faith in you.... I know you will fulfill your destiny.... you are the destined child...."

***

"I wonder what they meant when they said I have Mom's spirit...." Ryu thought to himself. He turned to follow after his companions. But then, another thought hit him - this one more disturbing than the first.

"Wait a minute.... the Dragon Wise Men said Death Evan would be destroyed! They said we'd vanquish him!" he cried. He thought back to the encounter.

***

"I.... I will disappear now.... and dream of the destruction that I will some day bring to your world.... some day you too will understand my way of thought...."

Ryu shook his head. "As long as people may enjoy these victories.... as long as people aspire to make the most of their lives, the lives of others, and the world around them, then people will not embrace death simply because it is inevitable."

Death Evan sighed. "Some day.... and now farewell.... my Nikanoru...." With these parting words to Ryu and his three companions, Death Evan slowly faded from existence.

***

"They said Death Evan would die.... but he didn't die. Just like Myria so many years ago, when Bleu and her seven companions faced off against her, he just disappeared for a while," Ryu sighed. "Then that means it's not over.... Death Evan might come back. He might wake from his sleep and make his dreams of destruction come true. And if he does, then all the dreams anyone else has will be thrown into serious jeopardy.... the world will be worse off than it was this time."

He turned to face the cave entrance. His thoughts swam. He thought of his father, Ganer - destroyed in Evrai along with the machine that was sending the prayers of congregations in churches the world over to Evans to allow him to turn them into energy. Destroyed before Ryu could fully recognize that his own father had been used by the church for which he had preached.

He thought of his mother, Valerie. Even though he had only been three years old when she had turned into a dragon to guard Gate against further attacks by Death Evan's demons, he had become very attached to her in those three years. It had always felt like a hole had been cut into his life that was never filled again. And watching her destroy herself to allow him and his friends to descend into Infinity.... he struggled to swallow as he thought of the hole in his life that had been filled and then immediately created again.

He thought of his sister, Yua. She, at least, was still alive. He wasn't quite sure where she was at the moment, but he knew she was alive. After so many years of searching, he found the sister his mother had told him to look after. He never imagined that he would chase her across the world without realizing who she really was.

Finally, he thought of his friends. He thought of the affable Bow, the gentle Rand, the tomboyish Katt, the pure-hearted Nina, the untamed Sten, the amiable Jean, the enigmatic Spar, the mysterious Bleu.... he loved them all. All eight of them. He wouldn't have given up knowing them for the world.

But he had become especially close to Katt and Nina. And it seemed they felt the same way for him. A respect and admiration that went far beyond normal friendship..... throughout his quest, they had never left his side unless circumstances made it absolutely necessary. They were both very special to him. Katt was strong-willed, conscientious, and loyal. Nina was honest, caring, and selfless. Ryu had come to admire so much about both of them.

He wrestled with these two sides. When he remembered that he had had to watch both his parents die, his life seemed.... hollow. Empty. But he thought of Yua, and his friends and companions. They made life truly worth living. They had helped him see the world through one of its most difficult hours. How could he throw that away?

Most of all, he thought of Katt and Nina. They were his dearest friends - no, it was more than that. As awkward as it was, he knew in his heart that his feelings for those two were nothing short of love. He had never felt that way about anyone before. Could he really destroy the greatest gift anyone could give him, or that he could give anyone, before it had a chance to come to fruition? Although it would solve the inevitable problem of choosing between the two of them, could he really go through with it?

He turned and looked towards Gate. "I wish I'd had the chance to say this to your faces, but...." he whispered, "but I doubt I ever will." He took a deep breath and swallowed with great difficulty.

"I love you, Katt...."

A tear broke through Ryu's attempts to contain his emotions. His voice trembled as he was overcome by grief.

"I love you, Nina...."

He walked slowly towards the mountain below which Death Evan was now resting, drying his eye on the back of his hand.

"I hope you understand.... I would give anything not to have to do this.... but destiny has been cruel to me, it seems...."

But something inside him dispelled his grief and anguish - temporarily, at least. He smiled bravely and blinked back a glimmer in his eye.

"I'll see you both again. I know I will. Our paths have not crossed for the last time...."

A bright light surrounded Ryu as he turned back to face Gate.

"Farewell, Bow.... Rand.... Sten.... Jean.... Spar.... Bleu.... Katt.... Nina.... and thank you all.... for being such good, noble friends.... I'll never forget you.... I'll see you again, I know I will...."

The bright light expanded to engulf the mountain.

***

Katt, Nina, and Bleu were conversing amiably as they walked through the forest.

"What does life after Death Evan hold for you then, Nina?" Katt asked.

"Oh, I'll have to go back to Windia and inherit the throne. It's more tiresome than you might think being a member of the royal family of any nation.... I wonder if Jean feels the same way. What about you, Katt?"

"I don't know.... I don't really have a home now that Augus and the Coliseum have gone under. I suppose I'll stay in TownShip until I can decide what to do with my life. I know I'll never be far from Ryu, though...."

"You two love him, don't you?" Bleu smiled.

Katt and Nina both blushed at this "accusation." "He'll hear you!" Nina exclaimed.

Katt turned around. "Will he? He's not here."

Bleu looked around, puzzled. "Where is he? Ryu! Ryu!!!"

"He must still be in the forest. I'll go back and look for him. Wait here, you two," Nina said, a worried tone creeping into her voice. She turned and raced back into the woods towards the mountain. Seconds after she vanished from sight, there was an almighty screech from deep in the forest.

"What the...?" Bleu asked.

"What was THAT!?" Katt exclaimed. "Nina! Ryu! Are you two OK?" She ran after the winged princess. Bleu shrugged and followed the feline gladiator into the woods.

***

"Ryu!! Ryu, are you all right? Ryu!!" Nina yelled as she ran in the direction of the screech. Eventually, she reached the mountain at the back of the woods. She looked up - and her heart stopped beating momentarily.

"No.... NO!!! This can't be real! Ryu!!"

An enormous dragon was resting on top of the mountain, its head covering the door from which the party had emerged not ten minutes previously. There was no sign of Ryu.... and Nina realized this could only mean the dragon WAS Ryu.

"Ryu!! Why did you change yourself into a dragon!?" she cried, running up to the dragon's head. The dragon said nothing. Nina's eyes glistened as the magnitude of what was happening hit home.

"Ryu.... please don't do this.... apart from my sister Mina.... you're the only person in my life I've ever really loved.... and Mina's already given up her humanity.... must I throw away both of you? I can't.... I won't.... don't do this!!" But there was still no response.

"Ryu!? We defeated Death Evan! The fight is over! Change back! Our work is over!! Please change back!! What about our friends!? Don't you care about them!? Change back! Ryu!! RYU!!! PLEASE CHANGE BACK!!!"

By now, tears were streaming down Nina's face as she realized for the first time how much Ryu had really come to mean to her. Katt and Bleu came running up behind her - and stopped dead in their tracks.

"Oh my...." Bleu gasped.

"Ryu!!!" Katt screamed.

"RYU!! PLEASE!!! FOR THE LOVE OF THE DRAGON GOD CHANGE BACK!!!" Nina howled. Never in her life had her emotions built to such a height. Her feelings for Ryu and her anguish at this turn of events were all she could think about. She grabbed the dragon's snout and tried shaking it violently in the hope of getting a response out of her former companion. "SAY SOMETHING!!!"

"Ryu!!!" Katt yelled, racing up to one side of Ryu's snout. Bleu followed after her. "Ryu, it's me, Katt! Please.... Ryu, please change back.... please don't stay in this form.... I...."

"Ryu...." Nina's voice was becoming hoarse from her screaming. She fell to her knees, unable to contain her tears. She buried her face in her hands, sobbing. "Ryu.... I never wanted to be separated from you.... please, help me fulfill that dream of being with you forever...."

By now, even the tomboyish Katt was allowing her eyes to moisten at Ryu's sacrifice. "Why.... Ryu.... what about us?"

Only Bleu was not crying - at least, not on the outside. Inside, she was filled with sorrow, but it seemed she alone understood that this was the only way. She looked at Katt, then at Nina.

"Katt.... Nina...." she sighed, "I don't like this either, but you must understand.... Ryu is the destined child. This is the only way he can prevent Death Evan from returning. He must guard the entrance, just as his mother, Valerie, did for thirteen years. This is his destiny. We can't change it. He can hear what we're saying, but I don't think he can answer us. Look at his eyes."

Katt and Nina looked at the dragon's eyes. They were shut, and he was breathing slowly.

"Ryu has fallen into the same deep sleep as his mother. He'll be asleep for many years to come - until another way can be found to block the entrance. Perhaps we can search for it, and allow Ryu to change back some day...."

"How?" Katt and Nina asked simultaneously.

"I...." Bleu started, then her face fell, and she added "I don't know."

This offered no consolation to Katt and Nina. They turned to Ryu.

"Ryu...." Katt whispered, now in tears, "If what Bleu says is true, and you can hear me.... I almost told you this before you got the Anfini power, but I cowered out again.... I've wanted to say this since you saved my life in Coursair...."

"All my life, I'd been made to feel like something less than a person," Nina whispered, her own tears still falling like a steady rain, "but you helped me regain my confidence in myself, and everyone else's confidence in me.... I wish I could have told you this before...."

Katt and Nina both took a deep breath, and at the same time whispered the same phrase....

"I love you, Ryu...."

Bleu was right. Ryu could hear his friends, but he was in a very deep sleep and could not speak his own feelings for the feline gladiator and the winged princess. He did not even wake up to bid them farewell. He told himself once more that it was unnecessary, that he would see them again. Perhaps some day he would meet their children.... he hoped that if he were to stand guard for many years, they would forget him and find someone else.

For he knew that, as much as he wanted to share his future with Katt and Nina, as well as with his other friends, sometimes fate does not allow people to fulfill their dreams. Destruction of life is fate. Death Evan had said that, and it was true. It didn't make it any more appealing, of course. Ryu had seen through this cold reality and shown Death Evan that this cruelty of fate need not destroy the dreams people hope to realize while they are alive. But sometimes.... as Ryu was finding out.... fate has a way of marring those dreams as well.

He did not have to do this, he knew. He could just as easily remain in human form, and live out his dreams. But he knew that what he was doing was the right thing for everyone. The Dragon Wise Men were right - part of Valerie did live on him, and that part of him told him that it was far better to keep Death Evan sealed away, lest he revive and try to realize his own dreams of destruction. This was the only way.

And yet, as Valerie had also given up the chance to watch Ryu and Yua grow up, so Ryu had to give up the chance to live in happiness with his friends. And as Katt and Nina's sobbing reached his dragon ears, a tear rolled out of his own eye, down his snout, and onto the ground next to Nina.

Nina saw the tear land, and she stood up slowly. Katt followed suit, and she stumbled over towards Nina.

"See? He can hear you. How else explain his tear?" Bleu pointed out.

Katt and Nina nodded sadly. They stood either side of Ryu's snout and wrapped their arms around it, embracing him one last time.

"Goodbye, Ryu...." they both whispered.

Bleu was already slithering back towards Gate. She turned and looked at the dragon and the two women with their arms around his snout, and sighed.

"Goodbye, Ryu. I hope some day we can find a way to bring you back...."

Katt and Nina slowly let go of Ryu's snout and followed after Bleu, hand in hand, neither able to raise their eyes from the ground. The somber trio solemnly made their way back to the town of Gate.

Ryu, Katt, Nina, and Bleu all clung to the small, but nonetheless existent hope that Ryu would not have to remain a dragon for the rest of their lives....

<END>

© 1998-2015 RPGamer All Rights Reserved
Privacy Policy