Nina and Ryu: words before a gravestone

Nina sat on the edge of the flying city. It had been less than a month since their victory, but already it seemed ages ago. The flying city now sat firmly over the entrance to the underground fortress, sealing off the evil for at least her lifetime, if not forever.

She dangled her feet over the side and kicked them a little. All that had happened seemed strangely unreal on this peaceful day. So many had died for this peace. So many. Mina. Nina allowed only one tear to make its trail down her face. She looked up at the sky, hoping to catch the sight of her bird-sister overhead. No flash of pink flew by, but Nina smiled nonetheless. Life was good. So much to look forward to. Her father and mother to return home to. Ryu.

Nina was suddenly jolted from her thoughts by a familiar voice calling up to her. "Nina! Hey!" Ryu stood at the base of the flying city, shielding his eyes from the sun.

Nina spread her black wings and softly drifted down in front of her friend. She clutched a large bouquet of white flowers in her arms. To this she added the blooms that Ryu held out to her.

"Thanks, Ryu," she said, arranging the smaller flowers in her bouquet, "Mina will love these."

The two soon found themselves in front of a marble statue. The winged statue smiled over a golden plaque.

"'In memory of Mina Windia,'" Nina read softly. "'May her new life be joyous and free. Most blessed of all creatures of the air.'"

She knelt and gently laid the bouquet before the statue. As she sat back on her heels in silent thought, the tears gushed forth from her eyes.

"Nina," Ryu said, laying a comforting hand on her shoulder.

Nina touched his hand and smiled. "Thanks, I'm fine."

She stood up and turned to look at her friend. They had been through so much together, and he had always been there for her. He had been her strength and courage. She knew that once she had met him, she had never been lonely, even when she was alone, even when her sister had left her. Ryu looked into her eyes. There was something he needed to say.

"Everyone's gone their own way," Ryu said. "They have their own lives, even Bow has moved on. Now it's just you and I left. And you're returning to Windia as their princess."

"Of course," Nina replied. "I know it'll be hard going back, but I've stayed away long enough."

"So I guess I'm the only one who still hasn't found a place to fit in."

"That's nonsense," Nina said. She laid a hand on his arm. She wanted to take him in her arms, to let him know where he could fit in. She remained standing in her spot, with one hand on his arm.

"I...this might sound stupid," Ryu began uncomfortably, playing with his blue hair. "Well...before you find your place as the princess of Windia, I was wonder if you could listen to some words from a fellow lost friend?"

"I'm always ready to listen to you," Nina said as calmly as she could. "Even when I become the princess of Windia, I'll still be there..." The wind caught her last two words and they went unheard.

"Well...there's something I want to ask you," Ryu said, blushing slightly.


The sun shone down on this cool spring afternoon. A strong wind blew and for a moment Nina's golden hair was swept up and mingled with Ryu's dark blue hair. She apologetically pulled her hair away and looked up at Ryu, awaiting his question. The marble Mina seemed to smile down at her sister. It was a beautiful day.

"Would you...could you..." Ryu fidgetted a bit before finishing his sentence. "Could you lend me fifty thousand dollars?"

Nina was too surprised to respond. Ryu took her silence as a refusal.

"I'll return it with interest, I promise! Or if you don't have that much money now, surely you'll have plenty to spare once you return as the princess. Please!"

"W-whatever for?" Nina asked, still slightly stunned.

Ryu looked up at the clear sky with a dreamy look in his eyes. "I want to buy a farm."

"A farm?"

"Yes, a farm. I want to grow turnips and tomatoes. I want to own cows, sheep, and chickens. I want to spend my days watering my plants and milking my cows."

"But...why?" Nina asked, completely confused and slightly disappointed.

"Ever since we helped Rand's mother clear her field in Namada, I've felt a certain restlessness. It was my calling, but I've only realised it now. It's the only place I belong. It's the only way I'll be happy. Imagine, day after day, pulling up weeds, smashing rocks, selling free stuff I find lying around for ridiculous amounts of money..."

"But won't you be lonely at your farm by yourself?" Nina asked with a slight bit of hope.

"I'll have my dog and my horse. And I'll find myself a wife by giving a girl wild flowers everyday until she agrees to marry me."

Nina wanted to speak up and tell him that he needn't look for another girl. Couldn't he see it in her eyes? She wanted to tell him that she didn't need to be the princess of Windia. She wanted to tell him that she could live on a farm, share his life with him...

But Ryu continued without looking at her. "My wife will be an alcoholic who has problems with her father, or perhaps a nerdy librarian who has a thing for bugs, or perhaps a slightly chubby baker who is emotionally unstable due to the death of her father and grandmother, or perhaps an unrefined ranch girl who is loud and annoying with anti-social relatives, or perhaps a freaky-looking flower girl with red eyes. Yes...the perfect girl.

"And there'll be many festivals each season. I'll win the vegetable competition, and the cow competition, and the horse races, and the dog races, and I'll be the King of the Harvest, and my wife will be my Flower Queen. And I'll have a beautiful greenhouse where time stands still..."

"So, Nina, how about that loan?" Ryu said, returning to reality. But Nina had already left in tears.

Author's note: maybe the story should have ended about 10 paragraphs ago...