Wind and Sea
BIG BLOODY SPOILER WARNING
This has spoilers. A lot of them. If you haven't gotten at least halfway through Disc 1, you will be unhappy. Heck, if you haven't gotten the New Game+ ending at around the same time, you will be unhappy. Read at your own risk.
He rises around noon, as usual. I always found that amusing. I think it's because it takes him that long to put on his uniform. The absurd hat must take ten minutes at least to fasten.
"Salut, Monsieur Lynx! Did you dream of moi?"
He smiles a little, and sometimes I fancy I can see a blush beneath the fur. I pivot and bow to him, because I know it makes him laugh. He chuckles under his breath, shaking his head and makes that "You're incorrigible" expression that he's so fond of. I grin.
"We have another grand day ahead of us," I say, and he nods. I move aside so he can leave his hut and try not to laugh at the cowlick of fur that sticks up along the nape of his neck. It has been doing that for months. Monsieur Lynx never had such a problem, so it must be relative to the mind inhabiting the body.
We wander through town, greeting those demi-humans we pass along the way. Marbule has been good to us, and we to it.
"Hey, it's Lynxie!" The little boy, Gehro, skips up to us. "C'mon, let's play!"
He smiles at the boy. I know he is fond of the child. One of his first acts upon reaching Marbule was to save him from a vicious undertow, much like he himself had been saved ten years ago. Arni is a fishing village, and its children learn to swim as soon as they learn to walk. What the demi-humans considered an act of bravery my friend took to be an every-day occurrence. It won him the hearts of Marbule's citizens, and through him, me.
But I can tell he has something on his mind today, so I step in. "Non, non . . !" I protest, shaking my head. "Monsieur Lynx is very buzy today." He is not one for words, preferring to let others speak for him. A task which I am eminently suited for.
"I wasn't asking you, Harle," Gehro snorts. He sticks out his long, black tongue. "Nah- nah!"
"Arghhh . . . nah-nah!" Well, if you cannot beat them, join them.
The boy laughs and runs away, leaving us chuckling in his wake. My companion smiles a rare smile and shakes his head again, sticking his hands in his pockets. The body language is so unlike that of the original host that even now I am mildly surprised by it. There is an air of innocence to him that I have never before seen the like. Then again, considering who I associate with, this is not surprising.
"So, what iz ze agenda for today?" I ask, but he is not looking at me. "Hm?" I turn and see the village elder standing by the entrance of his cave. He, too, looks preoccupied. "Good morning, Sage!"
The grey-skinned demi-human nods at us. "Oh, good morning Lynx, Harle. You two seem to fit in quite nicely after several months here. The restoration program is coming along fine. Thanks to you two, of course."
I turn towards my friend and spread my arms, as if worshiping an idol. "Zer is not'ing Monsieur Lynx cannot do, non?" He rolls his eyes and pretends I am not there.
The elder laughs. "I was hoping you would say that. There is something I would like to discuss."
"Oh? What iz it?"
Sage talks of responsibility, opportunity, the future . . . and my friend is silent. I can sense his discomfort, and know what he must be thinking.
I continue to smile and step in when an answer is required. "Looks like you've kept an eye on him," I say, clasping my arms behind me in my best innocent pose. "Well, Monsieur Lynx? How about it? Of course, I will help, too." Ah, Harle, you are all heart . . .
"You don't have to answer right away. Stay here as long as you want to consider my offer. But keep in mind, everybody looks up to you and needs you. Good day." Sage, you are such an utter bastard, and too sharp by half. There is no way he can escape this now.
Sage returns to his cave, leaving us alone on the stairway. I make sure everyone is out of earshot before voicing what I know must be on my friend's mind.
"Monsieur Lynx . . . you will find un way to get your old self back."
I see him flinch a little, and he closes his eyes. He will not look at me, and I know why: after all these months in Lynx's body, he still does not accept what he has become. He allowed me to name him Lynx upon our arrival because, obviously, that is who he is to the rest of the world. Deep in his heart, though, he is still the other . . . the original.
There is a reason he has retained Lynx's old uniform, I think. If he were to assume the colorful mishmash of clothing native to his home village he would be forced to admit that he is no longer himself, that the body he now inhabits is not just "borrowed". If he dresses like Monsieur Lynx he can pretend he is just renting the body, so to speak. He does not often speak because he does not like the sound of Lynx's harsh voice. That day proceeding the painted world, where he explained to his mother what happened, was the most I've heard him say at one time.
And that is another issue. He has not returned to Arni for some months. He informed his mother that he was moving to Marbule, and then . . . nothing. I am sure he writes her, but I have never seen the letters, nor the replies. I suspect he hides them. Who knows what would happen when the demi-humans discover that their beloved Lynx is, in fact, human? After his treatment in Arni I cannot say that I blame him. He is strong and very brave, but he is only a boy, and there is only so much heartache he can take.
I see the look of despair on his face and pat him on the back in what I hope is a reassuring manner. "But until zen," I continue, ducking my head down so I can meet his lowered gaze, "let'z do what we can for ze demi-humans here, non? You are needed here. No matter how you look on ze outside, you are you! And zat iz what iz important. Everybody is looking to you for guidance. You can do it, Monsieur Lynx . . . I know you can."
He snorts softly, but a smile tinges his lips and his warm, sea-blue eyes take in my face. They are not Lynx's eyes, cold and cruel and the color of burnt umber. They are his eyes, and the one thing he has retained ever since that fateful day at Fort Dragonia.
"I know you think so, Harle," he says, and kisses me on the cheek. It feels almost like a nuzzle from a cat, but at the same time there's something else to it . . .
And almost before I realize it he's pulled away, sheepishly wiping the white foundation from his whiskers.
"Sorry about your makeup," he says. He looks embarrassed. I laugh.
"It was well worth it," I inform him, drawing my hand up to twirl a few whiskers between my fingers. His expression deepens into mortification.
"But enough wasting time here," I continue, tapping him on the nose. "You have things to do, non? Fishing?" He nods. He is one of the village's best fishermen. "Zen go to it, mon ami. I will be awaiting your return."
He smiles again, and heads for the docks. I know nothing of the sea, and I do not press to join him. It is there, on the sea, when I think he is truly at peace. I watch him depart and touch the spot of smeared foundation on my cheek.
Do not worry, my friend. No matter where you go, no matter what your decision, I will be
by your side . . . Serge.
I had that dream again.
I'm . . . Lynx is standing over Kid, the blood-smeared knife in hand. I can't move. My body feels all wrong and the weapon I'm holding isn't mine and I barely understand what just happened and now there's no time to react . . .
And then I woke up.
People wonder why I sleep until noon. It's because it's hard to get a decent night's sleep when you wake up screaming every hour.
I untie my skiff from the pier and set out, nets ready. It's warm today, so I shed the heavy leather jacket of Lynx's uniform. I try not to think about what his reaction would be if he knew I was wearing a bright orange tanktop beneath it.
I also remove the hat. Not because it's particularly hot, I just think it looks stupid.
I hoist the sails, securing them like I was taught. The wind's good, and it picks up the slack in my sails almost immediately. The sea . . .
I tilt my head towards the sky and close my eyes. Just for a moment I let myself imagine I'm back home, taking Leena's boat out before lunch.
Although back in Arni I couldn't feel the wind rushing through my fur, and my ears didn't flick against the ocean spray. I sigh.
Sage wants me to be the village elder. I . . . I just don't know what to tell him. I knew I was helping the village, but I didn't think it was that impressive. And yeah, so Lynx's body is old enough, but the fact remains that I wouldn't even legally be allowed to drink at my own inauguration. How can I lead Marbule?
Harle said she'd help me, and I believe her. She hasn't betrayed me yet, even if she did work for Lynx, and I'm grateful. But . . . could I really do it? I'm not even a demi-human. I look like one, but deep down I'm not . . . not really . . .
. . .
Sometimes I wonder if maybe Harle was right.
"I'm not Lynx . . !"
"You are no longuer Serge."
Am I just fooling myself, hoping for something that will never happen?
"What was zis Serge? A figure, a shape? A spirit? A soul? Where was zis Serge?"
Was she right after all? Could I really just be . . . Lynx? Destined to lead Marbule into a new age of prosperity?
"If you try to go against realite, realite will surely crush you. Realite will kill you. And realite will continue to go on az if not'ing ever happened . . . from yesterday to today, and from today to tomorrow. Realite marchez on . . . leaving your crushed body behind."
No. "You are you!" she told me. "No matter how you look on ze outside." I can't stop believing that. It would be too easy to just give up, to stay in Marbule for the rest of my life. That would be taking the easy way out. And . . . Kid is still out there, at Lynx's mercy. I can't just leave her like that. If only there was some way to get back to the other world . . !
Come on, Serge, think. You beat the Time Devourer, this should be nothing.
We checked the entrance to the Dead Sea. The Masamune blocks the way. Radius said he had an idea as to where the Einlanzer was, but I got sidetracked. And when we got back from fighting Radius, Zappa and Lisa's father, who we left behind, were gone. I think they went after the Einlanzer themselves, but we never heard from them again. And I'm not sure where to start looking.
But there has to be a way, right? Mom always said where there was a will, there's a way. And even if no one in Arni believes I'm me, I have new friends now.
But . . . I still can't believe Leena didn't recognize me. No sense dwelling on it, I guess, but I thought that she, at least . . .
Well. No use crying over spilled milk. At least mom recognized me. That's what's important.
I run a clawed hand through the spiky fur on my head. Sometimes I think Lynx wore the hat to hide it, like I wore a bandanna to keep my own hair from sticking up.
I mean, wear. How I wear a bandanna.
Damn it, I'm doing it again. I need to stop thinking like that, or I'm going to depress myself.
Okay, just forget about the body for a while. Harle's right -- it's who I know I am that matters. I know this. I'm Serge. I come from Arni. My mom is Marge, and my dad was Wazuki, one of the best fishermen in the village. I'll remember. No matter what happens, I'll always remember.
I look across the sea, sparkling in noon sun. To the west there is Marbule, Harle, and safety. To the east is the dangerous corel reef of the Dead Sea, and somewhere beyond it is fate. Fate, danger, and Kid.
Kid. I'll find you, Kid. Someday . . .somehow . . . I'll save you. I promise.
I close my eyes. I can feel the wind in my hair, the sun on my face, and the sea beneath my feet, just like happier days. It may take some time, but I'll find a way to get those days back. Just hang on until then, Kid.
After all, if I can do it, so can you.