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Final Fantasy III: 5 Years After
Locke hit the ground hard, rolling onto his left shoulder. "Damn..." He thought, "Its possible I may be getting too old for this."
His long time friend Cyan simply chuckled at how one sided the sparring match between them was. "Locke, thou art truly a good thief, but a poor swordsman." Said he, and with that, he cleverly disarmed the younger man, ending the match.
Cyan knew Lockes opinion about being called a thief, but decided that Locke was hardly in a position to argue about it.
Locke also knew that Cyan was taking this opportunity to joke with him about his line of work. As he stood up, he muttered something about being a treasure hunter, and also about being beaten by an old man. Cyan simply smiled at the fact that Locke had a perfect 0-100 something record against him.
Cyan and Locke had parted for the night, and gone to their respective rooms in Doma castle. Locke had been visiting his friend for about four weeks, and was due to return to Kohlingen the next morning.
Suddenly, a cloaked and weather worn figure burst into the castle. Cyan and Locke rushed downstairs to find Celes, her arm badly injured, the flesh of her left biceps almost torn off.
Celes was a young, pretty woman. Only 21, to be exact. She had once been one of the top generals for an evil empire, but she was stripped of her rank for refusing to kill civilians.
"Nikeah..... Pirates.... Outnumbered, had to flee...." Said she, and then collapsed on the floor.
"Guard! Fetch the healers!" Shouted Cyan, "Celes! Hold on! The healers cometh!"
Celes smiled weakly at Cyan, "Faithful Cyan, I wish I may have paid a less urgent visit to you....." She trailed off as she lost consciousness.
All the while this was happening, Locke stood by, feeling helpless, wondering what had happened in Nikeah, and how Celes had come to Doma. He recalled that day in South Figaro when he had rescued her from imperial prison, and had promised to protect her no matter what. Even though he hadnt been in Nikeah, he still felt like he had failed in his oath to her. He muttered under his breath, "Celes, Im so sorry."
The next day, after a night of ministrations from the skilled Doman healers, Celes looked and felt much better. Locke was in her room bright and early, of course. He had slept little that night.
"Celes, Im so sorry!" Was the first thing out of his mouth, followed by, "What Happened?!"
"Locke, its only a minor wound," She lied, "but you couldnt have prevented it." She smiled sweetly at him. "But thank you for caring."
Locke blushed. "But Celes, who attacked Nikeah? You said something about pirates last night. I didnt know we still HAD pirates."
"Until last night, neither did I" Replied Celes, her voice trembling, "and Locke, they have magitek."
The color drained from Lockes face. "Magitek?" He uttered the word almost inaudibly. Bad memories surfaced quickly, Kefka, the Empire, the attack on Kohlingen, Rachel. "Magitek...." He said it again, half to himself, wondering if it could really be true.
"Yes, I was horrified as well." Said Celes, her voice trailing off at the end.
"What do we do? What CAN we do?" Said Locke.
"We have to tell Cyan, and we have to find the others, I think." Said Celes. She winced at a sharp pain in her arm. She muttered an oath, and said, "But I need rest for this," indicating her arm, "to heal."
Once again Locke felt a pang of remorse for allowing this to happen to her, who he had promised to protect.
She perceived his thoughts, and said, "Locke, dont agonize. Im a big girl, and the only reason I was injured was for letting my guard down against a magitek pirates sword."
This alleviated some of his anguish. "Go to sleep, Celes, and Ill take care of everything. Sweet dreams."
Celes was still quite weak, and gratefully lapsed into blissful slumber.
Locke set in the chair next her bed, taking one of her hands in his, and simply watched her intently for the next three hours.
Two days had passed since Locke and Celes had talked for the first time. The three, Locke, Cyan, and Celes, were now in the Great Hall of Doma Castle.
"Celes, how art thou feeling?" Asked Cyan.
Smiling ruefully, Celes answered, "Much better, my friend. I compliment your doctors." Celes continued, "Now, on to business! Heres what I know: There are a band of pirates, using magitek power, who have attacked Nikeah. I narrowly escaped by a ship evacuating the survivors to the nearest settlement, Doma."
"How did you get away?" Asked Locke.
"We had a large battle with one of the pirate ships. That was when I learned they were using magitek, and when I got this," pointing at her arm in the sling, "our ship was the only one that escaped. They were using canons which shot lightning. We were no match for them. Our ship was saved because we were to close for them to bring their weapons into play. They boarded the ship, and after a fierce battle, we fought them off."
"My God," Trailed Cyan, "What was left of Nikeah?"
"From what I saw as we sailed away, not much." Answered Celes, quietly. "Imagine all the people."
"I just was." Finished Locke.
"Well then! Were off!" Said Locke, excited at seeing old friends, "Next stop, Figaro Castle!"
Celes smiled at Locke, "You havent changed a bit, Locke."
"And Im proud of it!" Replied Locke.
"He certainly is," Shot out Cyan, "very proud of it."
As their ship, the pride of the Doman navy, sailed quickly along the smooth water, a soldier in the crows nest shouted, "Five ships! Coming up fast from astern!"
The three felt their hearts leap into their throats.
"Let me see them." Celes said quietly.
As she peered through the binoculars, Celes had a sickening feeling. "Theyre the same ships that destroyed Nikeah, and theyre right behind us."
The Doman ship was now in a deadly race against the Magitek Pirates to South Figaro, and losing.
"Id say in about five minutes, well all be sleeping with the fishes." Remarked Locke, gloomily.
"Dont give up, Locke." Said Celes as brightly as possible, "We cant die. If we lose, who will defeat the pirates?"
Locke mumbled something that no one caught.
Just then, a bolt of lightning smote the main mast of the ship, sending it crashing down into the deeps.
The three hit the deck, staying low.
Locke remarked, "Make that about one minute."
The pirate ships raced up to the mighty Doman vessel, firing lighting bolts up and down its hull.
Celes raised her runic blade, trying to absorb some of the magic pelting the ship, but after the pirates saw that they couldnt kill her with magic, an arrow was fired at her. Three events then happened almost simultaneously at that instant in time. First, Cyan yelled, "Celes! Look out!" Second, Locke leapt into the path of the arrow, which buried itself to the feathers in his chest. Last, Celes screamed, "Locke!" A few seconds later, Locke hit the deck, and didnt move. None of the pirates noticed the prone figure of a man on the ship they were in the process of destroying.
It is said that the darkest hour comes before the dawn, and so it was for our heroes. Ninety percent of the Doman warriors were dead, the rest defending the forecastle in which the badly wounded Locke, the worried Cyan, and the grief stricken Celes were enclosed in.
"Poor, sweet, stupid Locke." Said Celes, as she held his head up, stroking his hair away from his eyes. "You must be the bravest man Ive ever met."
"Cyan!" She shouted. "Locke isnt doing well! Unless you have a miracle to pull out of your hat, were all dead, and Lockes gonna be the first!"
And then the proverbial dawn camefrom the sky fell big, black bombs, and a familiar voice: "Ill take that ship, thank you very much!"
The pirates were at a such a loss to understand the sudden attack, they let the airship scoop up the survivors without any fight!
"Setzer!" Exclaimed Cyan and Celes.
"One moment, please." Said Setzer, the owner of the worlds only airship, The Falcon.
And with that, he rained bombs on the pirates aboard the Doman ship.
"Now, welcome aboard, Cyan and Celes!" His expression changed dramatically as he saw Locke, "Locke! Comrade! Cyan, what happened?!"
"He leapt into the path of an arrow to save me...." Answered Celes, her voice choked with emotion, "He didnt want to fail his promise..."
"We must to get to Figaro as fast as we can," Said Cyan, "Ill explain on the way."
"Understood." Replied Setzer, simply.
"And hurry, Setzer, please! Locke CANT die, he just cant....." Celes pleaded, nearly weeping.
As the Falcon arrived at Figaro castle, the party which issued from it was a sad and disheartened one. Cyan and Setzer were bearing a stretcher which was holding Locke. Celes followed close behind, her normally beautiful eyes red and swollen.
Edgar, the young king, came out to greet his unexpected friends, but stopped dead as he laid his eyes on Locke.
He said one word: "How?"
Celes voice was hoarse, "He jumped into an arrow to save me....."
Edgar put a comforting arm around her, "Dont worry, well have him patched up in no time. I promise."
Two weeks had passed since the Battle of Nikeah, and 12 days since Locke had been shot with the arrow.
A wicked arrow it was, too. Long and sharp, with poison on the tip. It was truly a miracle Locke had survived.
Today, Locke had finally come out of his coma. His injury had hit Celes hard, and she had maintained an almost constant vigil by his bedside.
"Locke! Thank God!" She said, kissing him full on the lips.
"Celes! Good morning!" He said, quite cheerfully.
As his memory returned in the space of a few seconds, his first question was: "How long?" And his second: "Where am I?"
"10 long, awful, agonizing days," Said she, "And youre in Figaro Castle."
"How did we get here?" He asked, still puzzled.
"Setzer! He was joyriding and saw Nikeah! It only took him a few minutes to find us from there."
"Thank you, Setzer! Remind me to let him win a couple games of cards!" Locke said with a smile.
"Locke," Said Celes quietly, "Ive never known this until you were shot, but you mean more to me than I can say. If you would have died, I dont know what I would have done."
Locke listened to this, his mind racing, he weakly put his hand on her shoulder, "Celes, if youre saying what I think youre saying, I love you too." And with that, he went to sleep.
Figaro Castle was abuzz with activity. Not since the days of the Empire had this many legendary warriors been together in that place. Now, with a new, powerful threat, they were there again. Of course, Locke, Cyan, and Celes, the party from Doma, and Setzer, the Airship Captain were there, but also were Edgar, the King, and his brother, Sabin.
All of these people were together at a long, oaken conference table.
"Welcome to Figaro, my friends!" Exclaimed Edgar, "Now, from what Celes has told me, I know that Magitek has fallen into the hands of a dangerous group of pirates. With it, they destroyed Nikeah, and I predict all port cities are in danger."
"Thats whats happened, yes." Said Celes.
"But how did they come across anything to do with magitek? I thought it had all been destroyed." Questioned Sabin.
"Thats the 50000 dollar question right there." Returned Setzer.
"....I suggest," continued Edgar, "That someone go to Nikeah and see if any information can be found there."
"Ill do it!" Piped up Locke.
"Locke! No!" Pleaded Celes.
"Out of the question Locke! You need to just rest for a few days." Said Edgar.
"Now look here, Edgar, Ive done nothing BUT rest for 10 days! Whos the most qualified? Who would you send if I wasnt hurt? Me! Thats who! Locke, the treasure hunter!" Locke replied with a note smug triumph in his voice.
"I couldnt talk you out if it if I tried, could I, Locke?" Replied Edgar resignedly.
"No way, I wouldnt miss a job like this for the world." Said Locke with a grin.
"At least let me go with you, please?" Asked Celes.
Locke hugged her, "Of course, Celes. If I left you here, who would protect you?"
As Locke and Celes crept through the mist enveloped streets of the ruined town Nikeah, they could hear voices.
"I magine dese jackasses in Nikeah ere never knew wot hit em!" Said a gruff voice from the distance.
" ats de truth. Still, thisre guard dutys the pits. Who the ell would even COME to Nikeah now that weve got it?" Returned the first voices companion.
"I would" Whispered Locke in the ear of the man who he had just hit on the back of the head.
The first pirates companion met a similar fate from the deft Celes, and through the interchange, very little sound escaped.
"We should leave," Whispered Celes, "and take one of these with us. If there are more around, theyll find out their buddies arent where theyre supposed to be."
"He wont tell us anything if we bring him back to the boat," Said Locke. "Here, put on this guys clothes. This trick has served me well in the past."
He smiled wistfully, remembering that long gone day in South Figaro when he had first used this trick to save Celes. He was jerked from his remembrance by the sound of voices: "Hey! No sleeping on the job, you two!"
"Celes, stand up and look like a pirate!" Locke whispered, and then yelled to the other voice, "Aye, sir!" as he stood up.
After the two were reasonably sure the danger of detection had passed, they crept to the back of the only building with lights on in it.
Celes, standing on Lockes shoulders, was able to hear most of what went on in the meeting inside.
".... and after we attack South Figaro, the rest of the world will follow!" Said who appeared to be the leader. "No one will dare to defy the power of the Fleet of New Vector!"
The words almost knocked Celes to the ground, stunning her so. "Locke! Did you hear that?" She asked
"I did." Said Locke quietly.
"What do we do, there cant be another war like the last one." Celes said.
"The Third War Of The Magi." Locke said to himself. "Just what was on my list of things to do." He frowned.
"We need to get back the South Figaro, try to beat the pirates..... The Fleet of New Vector. He was right, if Figaro falls, the rest of the world will soon follow." Celes said with determination, "But if I have anything to say about it, Figaro wont fall."
Just then, Locke and Celes felt a hard blow to the back of their heads, and saw only black.
They awoke in a dark, foul-smelling, little room.
"Celes!" Called out Locke.
He heard chains clink, "Im here, Locke. Are you all right?" She asked, a concerned note in her voice.
"I have one hell of a headache, but Im okay. Are YOU all right, Celes?"
"We must have the same headache." She replied.
"God, Im so sorry to have gotten you into this. If Id only listened to Edgar...." His voice trailed off as the room was suddenly lit.
The pain in their eyes was like needles of fire as the light touched them.
"Welcome, Locke Cole and Celes Chere," the leader of the men said, "it is a pleasant surprise for us to capture such prestigious warriors." The man sneered. "I am Nalek, admiral of the Fleet of New Vector."
"I rather enjoy these interrogations," Nalek continued, "theyre always such great learning experiences for me."
The color drained from Locke and Celes faces.
"Bring her here!" Barked Nalek.
Nalek then proceeded to shackle Celes to the wall, her hands above her head.
"You bastard! Take me instead!" Lock yelled, frantically straining on his bonds.
"I will tell you nothing." Celes said.
"You may not, but can he stand to see anything happen to you?" Nalek said, indicating Locke.
Locke had the most anguished look on his face as Nalek said this.
"Dont tell him anything, Locke!" Yelled Celes.
"You will not speak!" Ordered Nalek, and slapped Celes heavily on the face.
"Yargh!!!!" Screamed Locke, jumping against his chains, the bands around his wrists cutting into the flesh.
A small droplet of blood trickled down the corner of Celes mouth. "Is that the best you can do?" She mocked.
This infuriated Nalek, and he hit Celes again. This time, Locke went into a perfect frenzy, using every curse and expletive he knew against Nalek.
Nalek laughed at Locke, "This will stop if you tell me everything you know about the defenses of Figaro."
"Dont tell him, Locke!" Said Celes, "Im only one person!"
"If you touch her again, I swear, Ill kill you." Locke finally said.
"Quite a big threat from such a little man." Remarked Nalek, "Guards! Come! Ill leave these two to discuss this by themselves!"
As he left, he slapped Celes once more.
We go now to South Figaro, where Edgar, Sabin, Cyan, and Setzer have gathered to prepare for the inevitable attack.
"Can you see that?!" Exclaimed Sabin, "Look! A sail on the horizon!"
"Theyve wasted no time. We must hurry!" Said Cyan.
"Ill take the Falcon and we can go see inspect their ship, to see how much a threat they are." Setzer said.
"I will accompany you." Cyan volunteered.
The Falcon sped through the sky, quickly covering the distance between South Figaro and the ship. As they got closer, the could see it was a small ship, and bearing a white flag.
"It appears they want to converse." Observed Cyan.
"Id bet on it" Said Setzer.
As the huge airship lowered a ladder to the deck of the pirate ship, a man quickly ran out and tied a bundle to the bottom rung. The ship then simply reversed course and headed back to Nikeah.
"They must want us to have the package." Said Cyan
"I hope its not the kind that goes boom." Replied Setzer.
The package was raised into the airship, and opened. The contents shocked the two.
"Locke and Celes clothes....." Started Setzer.
".....oh dear." Finished Cyan.
Back in Figaro, Edgar and Sabin were stunned by the news of Locke and Celes capture.
"We must save them! If theres even a one in a million chance that theyre still alive, weve got to try!" Sabin said at hearing the news.
To that Edgar replied, with anguish in his voice, "But we have to stay and defend Figaro. Wed have no chance without the Falcon here to help attack the pirates. If we leave, Figaro falls. I hate to say this, but theyll have to take care of themselves till we either triumph or are destroyed."
"But brother," Started Sabin, but seeing the logic of Edgars statement, paused, "what if theyre killed, can you live with that?"
"No, I cant. But the good of the many outweighs that of the few, and we can only hope they escape." Edgar said, "after the battle, if we are victorious, we will re-take Nikeah, and save Celes and Locke."
And at that, they went about making South Figaro ready for war.
Back in Nikeah, Locke and Celes had just been left alone by Nalek, the admiral of the Fleet of New Vector.
"Celes! Are you all right?! Did he hurt you badly?" Locke asked urgently.
"Locke, he didnt hurt me. Im fine." If it hadnt been pitch black, he could have seen the dark bruise appearing on her face, along with the trickle of blood down the corner of her mouth.
"That doesnt matter. The fact the He would, ANYONE would, hit you. It makes me tremble with rage ." Locke said, "Im sorry I got you into this."
"Locke, you couldnt have done anything to prevent it," she smiled in the dark, "Now! Lets see if we can get out of this, okay?"
"Im all for that!" Locke said enthusiastically, "Um.... So tell me, how do we do that?"
"Well, hows this?" Asked Celes, as she slipped her hands out of the shackles.
"Wha...! How?!" Stammered Locke.
"When Nalek locked on the manacles, I made a fist, when I relaxed my hands, they were quite easy to slip out. A trick the I learned from the Empire." She explained.
"Wow," said Locke, "thats wonderful."
"Ill get you out in a second." She added.
Celes pounded the locks on Lockes handcuffs with a rock shed found on the dungeon floor, finally breaking them. After his hands were free, Locke took Celes in his arms and kissed her.
"What was that for?" She asked.
"It was a thank you, for getting me out of this." He said with a smile that Celes couldnt see.
They walked for what seemed like days, one on each side of the passageway, holding each others hand so if there were a split they wouldnt become separated.
Suddenly, they heard voices: "That Nalek is just asking for it, attacking South Figaro. We already lost over a hundred men in an attack from that airship..."
To Celes, Locke whispered, "Did that happen when I was out?"
Celes whispered back, "Yes. That was right after you were shot."
"I always miss the best stuff..." Muttered Locke. "So whatre we going to do about these guys up ahead of us?"
"Well, Ill take the one to the left, you take the one to the right." Said Celes.
Locke and Celes then crept up behind the guards and reduced them to an unconscious heap.
"Glad Im on your good side." Locke said to Celes.
She smiled at him.
"Your face!" Locke exclaimed at seeing the bruise, "Nalek will pay for that."
"Its only a minor thing, Locke. We have to get to South Figaro before the Fleet does!" Chided Celes.
"Okay... But Im still sorry." Said Locke, quietly.
"I know you are, thats why I love you." She thought to herself.
Back in South Figaro, the town was as tense as it had been in the days of the Empire.
"This waiting... It is adversely affecting my physche" Cyan was heard to remark one day.
"Translation- Hes going nuts from waiting for something to happen." Quipped Sabin.
Just then, a lookout shouted, "One ship, coming in! Looks like a vessel from Figaro!"
"Locke! Celes!" Shouted Setzer, "Im going out!" He then jumped into the Falcon, and sped away towards the tiny ship.
Locke and Celes had never seen a more welcome sight then that airship.
"Setzer! Down here!" Locke yelled.
"Ahoy there, Locke!" Setzer returned, "Care to come aboard?
"Of course!" Shouted Celes.
On the trip back to South Figaro, Locke and Celes filled Setzer in on what had happened in Nikeah.
"Youre lucky to have escaped." He said.
Locke, almost defensively, said, "Luck had nothing to do with it. Celes saved us both." He then gave her a warm smile.
Back in South Figaro, everyone was worried to hear that an armada of magitek wielding ships was heading for the town.
"How can we win? They have us outnumbered, outgunned, and basically out-classed." Said Edgar.
"So did Kefka." Replied Cyan.
"Well, if were going to do something, we better do it now." Said Sabin, definitively.
"Right!" Said Locke, "Now, what is it that were going to do?"
"I think that our best bet is to run like hell to Figaro Castle...." Celes said under her breath.
"Say WHAT?" Interjected Edgar.
"Be logical, Edgar," Celes stated, "You said yourself that we couldnt win, and I dont think any of us want to die."
"...and," Locke picked up, "once were safe in the Castle, we can find the source of New Vectors magitek power, and destroy it."
Resignedly, Edgar agreed.
They had fled South Figaro none to soon, the forces of New Vector arriving only a half hour after they left.
"Damn them! It was Chere and Cole! They gave us away!" Nalek had ranted. "I wanted them back! They have escaped me for the last time!"
After this tirade, he burnt South Figaro to the ground.
Edgar saw the smoke of South Figaro just as they were entering Figaro Cave.
"You couldnt have prevented it, you would have just been killed." Sabin said, trying to console his brother.
"Think of the families whove just lost everything." He said, "Because I wasnt ready to defend my own lands. Ever since the collapse of the Empire, Ive been too lazy. Let our army dwindle, our defenses slide. And now this, South Figaro completely destroyed."
"Edgar! It wasnt your fault!" Said Locke, as he had overheard the conversation.
"If not mine, then whose?" Asked Edgar, mainly to himself.
"No one could have known.... If only someone had known...." Said Celes.
By this time, they were marching up the steps of Figaro Castle.
Hanging his head, Edgar lead the way in.
As the five headed for bed that night, each was lost in their own thoughts. Edgar thinking of how hed failed as a king, Cyan wondering what was happening in his kingdom, Sabin worried about his brother, Locke thinking of the beating Celes had received at the hands of Nalek, and Celes of her love for Locke.
They all retired into 6 separate rooms along a corridor.
It must have been 2:00 am when Locke heard the creek of hinges and saw the thin ray of light fall on the floor of his chamber. He instinctively reached for his sword on the night stand and called out: "Who is that?"
"Its me, put that down." Said Celes.
Locke, to say the least, was relieved.
"I couldnt sleep." She continued, "I just wanted to talk to you."
If there had been lights, she could have seen that Locke was blushing. "Whats on your mind?" He asked.
"Locke....." she hesitated, "back when we brought you here after you were shot, did you really mean that you loved me?"
"More than I can say, Celes. Ive always loved you, ever since that long gone day in South Figaro..... Celes... And when you sang that song in the opera, I felt like you were singing to me. I.. I..." He finished awkwardly.
Now, it was Celes turn to blush.
"Im finally beginning to understand you, Locke." She said. Softly and slowly, she began,
To Locke, her singing was the most beautiful he had ever heard.
"Good night, Locke. And sleep well." She said as she walked out the door.
Locke quickly fell asleep with a smile on his face.
"I have a plan." Said Locke.
"What, my love, might that be?" Said Celes, in a love-struck, schoolgirl kind of way.
The other four perked their ears up at hearing Celes call Locke Her Love.
"Explain that to me, sometime, will you Sabin?" Whispered Edgar to his brother.
"I will as soon as I figure it out." Returned Sabin.
"Um..." Locke started, awkwardly, "Celes and I... are, well....."
"What hes trying to say," Picked up Celes, "is that we love each other."
"Yes! Thats it!" Said Locke with a grin.
"Congratulations, to the both of you!" Exclaimed Cyan, breaking a tense silence.
"Thank you, Cyan!" Celes said, smiling sweetly at Locke.
"Now, did I hear that you had a plan?" Edgar said, deftly changing the subject.
"Yes, Edgar, as a matter of fact, I did." Locke carried on, "What if, say, four of us were to get aboard the Falcon, while two stayed here, and submerged the castle. The forces of New Vector will be arriving shortly, if Im not mistaken."
"Im staying with Edgar." Said Sabin.
"Count me in." Said Setzer.
"I would prefer to stay here, with my castle." Edgar replied.
"Ill come with you." Cyan stated.
"Im in. How about you?" Locke asked, putting his arm around Celes shoulders.
"If youre going, Locke, I wont leave your side." Said Celes, gratefully accepting his gesture of affection.
"Then its settled!" Said Locke, "We leave in 10 minutes!"
As the Falcon floated lazily toward the clouds, Locke could see Figaro Castle sinking slowly into the sands of the desert. In the horizon, he could even see the approaching columns of soldiers. "Wont they be surprised." He thought to himself with a wry grin.
"Where to first?" Asked Setzer.
With a mischievous smile, Celes answered: "Heads, we go to the remains of the Empire, tails, well.. Thats never come up"
"The Empire it is!" Responded Setzer with a laugh.
"Im not looking forward to seeing that place again." Cyan said, glumly.
For the rest of the trip to Albrook, the partys first destination, they were all lost in their own thoughts.
As they neared Albrook, they were stunned to find not the burned out, battle scared town of five years ago, but a busy, industrious city.
They set the Falcon down on the edge of town, and were received less then cordially. Men ran out of the village, armed with pitch forks, swords, and anything else that they could lay hands on. "Which side?!" Barked a man who appeared to be the leader.
"Ho there! Were not here to hurt you! We just want information!" Locke responded.
"Are you from New Vector?" Pressed the leader.
"No! New Vector just destroyed two towns in the north! We are trying to find the source of their magitek!" Celes exclaimed.
The townsfolk talked among themselves for a time. Finally, the leader stepped forward: "We apologize for the harsh greeting. After we fought off New Vector last time, we were afraid they would return with mightier weapons. I am Flynn, chancellor of Albrook."
"We understand your fear, chancellor Flynn, we too have felt the weight of New Vectors fist. Both Nikeah and South Figaro have fallen to it." Cyan said, in his most diplomatic, polite manner.
"Friend, welcome to Albrook! Pray, what is your name?" Continued the leader.
"It appears that Cyan has finally found someone more longwinded than himself." Locke whispered into Celes ear.
Celes giggled at this, all the while Cyan and leader oblivious to them.
After lengthy introductions during which everyone but Cyan nearly fell into slumber, they were lead into the house of the chancellor.
"Now," He began, "what brings you to our town?"
"We have been attacked by New Vector. I assume you know them from your interrogations when we landed." Setzer answered. "Furthermore, we have come to this continent, the last place on earth that magic existed, to try to find the source of their power."
"We certainly do know them." Flynn stated, bitterly. "They have attacked us mercilessly and repeatedly. It is only by the fact that we no longer let them get near our ports that we have attained respite."
"But how have you repelled them?" Cyan quickly asked, caught up in the Shakespearean dialect.
"Our navy!" Flynn answered, with no lack of pride, "It is the best in the world! We use all the forces of water against our foes!"
"You have magitek, too?!" Celes queried.
"I wasnt aware that you didnt." Flynn replied, "Not like its a new thing."
"It appears, I think, that magic isnt as dead as we thought." Locke closed.
"Where have you attained the power of magitek?" Cyan pressed.
"We have had it since the downfall of Kefka. Several magitek suits were left in Albrook, of course, and it was simple for our scientists to understand, once we were free again." Flynn said, simply brimming with pride at his accomplishments.
"So....." Celes said, pausing, "How did New Vector get a hold of magitek?"
"The same," Flynn said, "What is now called New Vector was once called Tzen."
"But thats only 50 miles to the south!" Exclaimed Locke. "How have you withstood ground attacks?"
"They have no army. They, or should I say he, felt that they only way to control the world was by the seas." Flynn replied.
"Who, please tell me, is HE?" Setzer asked, puzzled.
"A man called Nalek." Replied Locke, darkly. "One of the most evil men I have ever met." His thoughts turned to Celes getting slapped hard by Nalek that night in the dungeon. He instinctively put his arm around Celes middle, in a protective gesture.
"I see you have met him, as well, friend Locke." Flynn picked up
"I have. I do not wish to again." Said Locke, bitterly.
"Meet me?!" A voice thundered throughout the hall.
Locke wheeled to face the intruder, his sword drawn. The other three followed suit.
"NALEK!" Locke shouted, to stunned to do anything else.
"Surprised to see me?" Nalek said with an evil grin, "Flynn, you played the part perfectly"
"Thank you, highness." Flynn said.
"You double crossing son of a bitch!" Setzer shouted, slashing a deep wound into Flynns side.
"That reminds me," Nalek carried on, "guards! Disarm them!"
The small group fought valiantly, the bodies of the fallen stacking up high around them, but in the end, we taken because of their exhaustion, as well as the sheer numbers of the foe.
As they were being led away in chains, Locke asked, "Just tell me one thing, Nalek, how did you get here? We all thought you were marching to Figaro."
"Ho-ho! You were so na•ve to think that I would leave my fleet unattended while I go chase a castle I know wont be there when I arrive? Truly, Cole, you are a stupid, stupid, man." Nalek sneered.
Locke was silent, but his knuckles were white as he clinched his fists.
As the party arrived in Tzen, now known as New Vector, they were all on the verge of collapse from exhaustion. Nalek and his men had ridden the fifty miles on chocobos, but Locke and company had been forced to walk.
Now as they were thrown into a small, dank dungeon, they were almost thankful that they had arrived.
"Locke," Celes started, hesitating, "Ive never told anyone this, but I guess Ive never loved anyone before, either, but Locke, Im scared."
"Come here," Locke gently said, letting Celes lean up against him while he put his arms around her, "itll be all right. I wont let anything happen to you."
As she looked into his soft gray eyes, she knew that he was just as scared as she, but didnt want to say anything. "I know, my love, I know...." She murmured and fell into an uneasy slumber.
"Sir Locke," Cyan asked, "how, may I ask, will we escape?"
"If I knew, dont you think wed be half way to Figaro by now!?" Locke snapped. "I apologize, Cyan. This is really starting to get to me. I dont know how well escape." He bowed his head, looking at Celes, "But Im sure there must be a way."
What seemed like days passed, but in actuality was only about twelve hours, when they heard the scraping of a key in the lock.
" eres your food." A gruff voice said as he shoved through the slot in the door.
"But theres only two pieces of bread here!" Cyan shouted.
"What were you expectin? We arent a damn restaurant, you know! Now shut up and eat, or you wont get nothin tomorrow." The voice answered and left.
Now, this bread, if you could have called it that, was very old, and stale. Although it was a most unpalatable substance, it was the only form of nourishment available.
"How shall we divide it?" Asked Setzer.
"I think that the obvious way would be that we each get a half." Locke answered.
"Agreed." Finished Cyan.
"Wake up, love." Locke softly spoke into Celes ear. "Wake up and have some food."
"Oh..." Celes said, yawning, "Food, did you say?"
"Well, sort of, anyway. Here." Locke said, as he handed her a piece of bread, slightly larger then his half.
She didnt know this, and readily ate the bread. "Youre right, not very good at all."
Locke simply held her tighter in the dark.
The next day, after the four had caught but little sleep, as there was no furniture, a man came through the door.
"Cole, Chere! His highness wants you!" The man shouted.
"Itll be all right." Locke lied, holding Celes hands tight in his.
"I love you, Locke." Celes said quietly.
A tear ran down Lockes cheek, "I know. I love you too."
"Shut up, you two lovebirds. Youll need more then love when Nalek gets through with you! Now, move along!" The soldier roughly prodded Celes in the back.
He quickly had Locke on his back, veritably tearing the man limb from limb. The other three were quick to follow suit.
"Hurry!" Said Setzer, "We havent much time before others arrive!"
"Cyan, take this!" Said Locke, handing him the soldiers sword. "And Setzer, this!" Giving him a small dirk.
"Hey! If magic still works, shouldnt we all remember some of it?" Celes said, chanting the spell of fire.
A large fire ball quickly enveloped a small pebble in the middle of the corridor. The others found that, to their surprise, they all could easily use their magic powers.
"Imagine, that this whole time, when we thought that we were secure, all it took was one man to resurrect magitek, and all the while we had the power to stop him, but failed to use it." Cyan observed, with a frown.
"Power only breeds war.... But now, Im still glad I was born" Celes said, quoting herself, yet changing the words while looking at Locke.
"Lets move!" Setzer shouted, "I hear em comin!"
They quickly made it to the chocobo stable, using a variety of hand-to-hand techniques, as well as an assortment of magical attacks. As they reached to stables, they found what they had been dreading, several magitek armored soldiers, all of them ready to fight.
The troops were the first to fire, Locke getting a teklaser full in the chest. His armor protected him to some degree, but he sank to one knee. Celes saw all of this happen, and quickly spoke the cure spell. Locke looked up at Celes, knowing that the end was near, and how hed failed his promise again. He saw the green glow, and was sure that another blast was imminent. He looked at Celes, wanting her to be the last thing he ever saw in the world, and suddenly felt as refreshed as he had since the whole ordeal had started. Immediately, he knew what had happened. Quickly, he jumped up, and fought with the ferocity of a tiger.
It was amazing they had won against such great odds, but they pulled through, with the most serious injury being taken by Setzer, which was a broken arm. After wrapping up his arm, and a round of cure spells for everyone, they headed for the place the airship lay hidden. They hoped they would be in Figaro by the time a search was mounted for them.
"Onward! To save Figaro!" Setzer rallied as the Falcon flew high into the air.
It was two hours before anyone had the gall to tell Nalek what had occurred.
"WHAT DO YOU MEAN THEY ESCAPED!?" Nalek had thundered, livid with rage.
"Im sorry, sir!" The messenger had said.
"HOW COULD YOU LET THEM ESCAPE! YOU IDIOT!" Nalek screamed at the young soldier. He then drew his sword, which alarmed the man even more.
"Now sir! Wait a minute! I wasnt even there!" He shrieked as Nalek cut a quick slash through his abdomen, disemboweling him. "Sir...." He trailed off with a gurgle, as the life left him.
"FIND THEM! I WANT THEM ALIVE! THEY WILL ENDURE THE MOST HIDEOUS TORTURE CONCEIVABLE! FIND THEM!" Nalek screamed.
"Yes sir! Very good, sir!" The guards shouted, as they fled his chambers, eager to escape their liege in his rage.
"And especially Chere and Cole.. I will make them pay more then all others, I will force them to watch each other as the life drains from their bodies. Then, and only then, will my revenge be complete." He said to himself, and then laughed maniacally.
As they reached Figaro, Setzer spoke through his megaphone: "Surrender, forces of New Vector, or be destroyed. You will now see a demonstration of our power."
Celes, with a devilish grin, chanted the spell Ultima. "Will that suffice, friend Setzer?" She asked.
"Quite nice, Celes, quite nice indeed!" He returned. "As you can see," he spoke through the megaphone, "we have you vastly outclassed. I suggest you surrender now."
They then, amazingly quickly, laid down their arms, and set in the sand.
After the Falcon landed, Locke gave Edgar the prearranged signal to surface. Unbeknownst to the Vectorites, a small spire of the castle was exposed, and Locke rapped this four times with the back of his sword. "I suggest," Said he, "That we get off of the place where this things gonna come up!"
The four quickly did just that. As the castle came up, Edgar ran out of the door, "Locke! Celes! Cyan! Setzer!" He shouted, "How! What did you do? Youve captured all of them!" He added, incredulously.
"Watch." Celes said, chanting cure.
Edgar felt a warmth envelope him, and suddenly felt strong enough to lift the castle himself! "Celes... Was that what I thought it was? Was that... Magic?"
"It was." She said simply, "Just like you remember, isnt it?"
Edgar stood silent. "You mean, all we had to do to use magic again, was just try?" He asked.
Celes laughed. "You really must admit, its quite ironic, isnt it? The fact that we went through all of this, just to find that I could have stopped the whole mess back in Nikeah."
"But if you had, would we have ever been able to do this?" Locke asked, kissing her deeply. "Celes, I love you. Will you marry me?" He said, very simply.
"Locke! Yes!" Celes gushed.
"Congratulations, Celes and Locke!" Edgar said.
"Here, here!" Setzer added.
"My sword is at your feet, my friends." Cyan bowed low.
"Thats wonderful!" Sabin said, as he was coming out of the castle.
"But Locke, what about Nalek?" Celes asked.
"Its always something, but he shouldnt be much of a challenge, now that we can use magic again." Locke said, still happy that Celes was soon to be his bride.
Locke was right. Tzen, or New Vector, as it was called now, quickly surrendered after a few bolts of Ultima. Only Nalek, in all his fury, defied them. Running out of the confines of the town, he screamed up to the Falcon: "COLE! I KNOW YOURE IN THERE! COME DOWN AND FIGHT LIKE A MAN!"
"Locke! Please! Dont do it!" Celes pleaded.
"He cant hurt me, Celes. He needs to be stopped. Ill be fine." He promised, kissing her forehead as he climbed over the rail.
"Nalek! Give it up! Your troops have deserted you, you have nowhere to go!" Locke shouted, trying to appease the admiral.
"Well see about that!" He said, as he whipped out his sword.
Locke drew his own sword in return, and paced up to Nalek. Nalek took a broad swing at him, nearly hitting his left arm.
"It doesnt have to end like this!" Locke said.
"Yes! It does! This is the only way for it to end! You know in your heart of hearts, Cole, that you, too, wanted it to end this way!" Nalek retorted, as he hit Locke in the back of the right knee with the flat of his sword.
"Damn... Its possible I may be getting too old for this." Thought Locke, as he fell onto his shoulder, hard.
Nalek then cleverly swatted the sword from Lockes hand. "Chere! This may interest you!" He shouted to the deck of the Falcon.
He then prepared to behead Locke, in full view of his fiancee.
"Locke! No!" She screamed.
Just at the instant Naleks sword began its downward arc, a single arrow flew from a small boy holding a bow. It pierced Naleks back, protruding clear through his chest. Naleks sword stopped dead, and he wheeled to see the boy. "You killed my daddy." The boy said, looking at Nalek, "And all he did was tell you about the prisoners escaping." With that, he fired another arrow into the heart of the leader of New Vector, and ran into the town.
People that were long forgotten lined the deck of the Falcon that day. People who Locke and Celes had missed terribly, and had though about often, now lined the deck of the Falcon. There were Relm, Clyde, her father, who had once used the name Shadow, Interceptor, the great Doberman, Strago, Master of Lore, and Gogo, Master of the Simulacrum, Mog, the Moogle, and of course, Terra.
They had come, of course, for Locke and Celes marriage.
Celes looked as if she had just walked out of a story book of the days of yore as she walked down the isle to meet her groom at the wheel of the airship.
Setzer was serving as the justice of the peace, so to say, and he welcomed both of them aboard the Falcon, to leave as a married couple.
Edgar stood by Locke, his best man: "You did good, Locke," He whispered at seeing Celes in her wedding dress, "now be careful and treat her like I showed ya!"
"You look beautiful, Celes." Locke said, awe-struck.
She smiled demurely. "Thank you."
"Friends!" Setzer started, "We are here today, sailing across the world in my airship, so that we may witness the joining of Locke, and Celes! I trust that none here see any reason why these two should not be married?" He continued, "Do you Locke Cole, promise to protect and love Celes tell the end of time?"
"That, and even longer." Locke said, looking into her eyes.
"Do you, then, Celes Chere, take Locke to love until the mountains crumble, the sun burns up, and forever after then?"
"Of course I do!" She answered, returning the gaze.
"Then, I now pronounce you husband and wife!" Setzer shouted triumphantly.
Locke then took Celes is his arms and kissed her.
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