Ich bin eine goddess
By Al Kristopher
Beauty: noun. Quality that is pleasing to the eye.
Goddess: noun. A female of exceptional charm, beauty, or grace.
Powerful: adjective. Possessing energy or great force; having authority
Terra Branford: Indefinable
That about sums it up. Or, to be more specific...
In those days, it was still rare to find someone who knew how to magic, although not quite as rare as it is nowadays. The old people-- everyone, actually--said that magic was dead, gone, a myth, a joke. A joke. People laugh at jokes; people's lives are thrown in the gambling pot when magic's involved. When Gestahl claimed that he discovered someone who was born with the gift of magic, people laughed. Gestahl smiled as well-- he knew better than to"make such assumptions.
Eighteen years later, nobody in the Empire, nobody in the world, nobody at all laughed or even smiled. The goddess, the sorceress, the one desired and feared by every man in the world--even by the Emperor himself-- the witch, the beauty, the indescribable one, Terra Branford, had came.
No scholar in the world, not even the most fluent and eloquent, could ever quite describe Terra's awesome beauty, power, and sheer presence. Master artists from around the globe could only cry as their pitiful attempts to recreate such magnificence failed; sculptors threw mediocre works out the window, works that would have fed a family for life under any other circumstance."The Empire's mightiest warriors could not hope to match her strength; kings and emperors could never attain half of her influence.
A day in Terra's life was filled with... well, HER. When she rose, the Empire's finest maids and servants strained themselves to death just to meet"her every need and whim. The finest and most skilled cooks slaved for days making every single meal; weavers that were legendary in other parts of the world suffered long hours just to make her garments; imperfection was punishable by death--death at HER hands, although oftentimes it was seen as a reward to die at her hands.
Sometimes, if she was in an extremely good mood, Terra would share her dinner with the condemned. She was brighter than the sun--brighter than the most"powerful manmade lights, and the poor fools could hardly even look at her. Precious glimpses might have killed a few people, so great was her power and"features.
After dinner, Terra would seduce the condemned to death--literally. She took a perverse pleasure in weaving and dancing and smiling so wickedly that often the condemned would forget to breathe, or would perspire to death, or would have their heart burst from the massive beating. It was a horrifying and"terrible way to die, and if a condemned man (or woman, in some extremely rare cases) were lucky enough to be "approached" by her, it was the best way to go.
Rugs and floors were too harsh and cold to suit Terra's feet. Wherever she went, she was hoisted on a throne and carried around by four of the most fortunate and powerful men in the Empire. Should her feet have to touch the floor, each of the men would scrape their stomach against the ground, regardless of terrain, and would let her walk over their burnt backs. Terra's feet rarely touched the floor when her entourage accompanied her; she used her blade more often than her feet.
If Terra had a small dot embedded on her body for every marriage proposal she had received, her body would have been completely black--with miles to spare. Not even the world's greatest mathematicians could record the number of proposals she had gotten; the numbers she had even touched were considerably fewer. People who asked for her hand were usually important figures, like kings or diplomats or master merchants or whatever.
Although she had people at her beck and call to do the job for her, Terra could distinctly remember one particular marriage proposal she had not only touched, but looked at and even read. It was written by a poor farm-boy, roughly her age, from a town far from Albrook or Tzen. Although his grammar and spelling weren't perfect, the letter struck a chord in Terra's heart. The note met a fiery end, but Terra continued to think about the boy, and what"would possess him to write a letter to the goddess.
To say that Terra was loved would be the biggest understatement of all time. Every time her entourage passed the soldier's barracks, hundreds of young men would crowd out and scream wildly, hoping for even a glimpse of her boot. Not even the security guards, who had been hired to keep the mob from stampeding, could help but shout. In the town, young boys were scurried indoors by mothers; their fathers were pulled inside by more violent means. Old men dribbled at her presence, young men dribbled at her presence, kings and emperors and dictators and ordinary men dribbled at her presence.
She wielded all power, all might, all influence, all beauty, and all command. Some--no, nearly everyone said that she was even more powerful than the Emperor himself, and he let them believe it. This was truth and nothing else;"next to the goddess, Gestahl was nothing, NOTHING. The most powerful man in"the world was nothing next to this girl, this woman, this goddess.
Not even the greatest philosophers of the world could understand why she rarely smiled.
Only a tiny handful of people were allowed to visit the goddess on personal"terms: Professor Cid was one of them, as was the Emperor, General Leo, and of course, Terra's surrogate sister, Celes Chere, who could have passed for a goddess herself. It was on that day--well, one of those days-- that Celes visited her "sister", visited the goddess, visited the girl.
"My lady Terra," addressed Celes, pressing her forehead to the floor. The only person in the world that did not have to kneel was Gestahl; he merely bowed as deeply as his age allowed. Terra, the most illuminating creature in all of existence, did not even smile at the arrival of her sister. She merely paused, letting Celes rest her head on the floor.
She swallowed and sat down, and finally spoke after a long pause. "Yes?" she said. Some said her voice was so powerful, it could crack mountains. This was, of course, pure fantasy; her voice could shatter the very skies above if it desired. Celes shivered horribly, the sheer power of her sister's voice weakening her.
"I," she whispered, "have came to visit you." A very long pause followed.
"Sit," said Terra blankly, and Celes' bottom found a chair. Her clear"blue eyes were unable to look at the other woman, despite there being a noticeable height and age difference. Gender, skill, and magic abilities united"these two women; other than that, Celes was just another pile of dirt for Terra to walk on.
"I..." began Celes slowly. Terra sighed and slouched in her chair, tired. "I wanted to see if you were well."
"As well as can be expected," replied Terra emotionlessly. Celes shivered with joy.
"That pleases me," she shuddered. Terra blew out some air, not caring about her sister--about anything. But she was lonely, at least now she was, and Celes was one of the few people who tried to act normal around her.
"Is that all?" said Terra restlessly. Celes shivered.
"My lady," she whispered, "the... the Emperor wishes to have information on... on the, ah, marriage proposals." Celes swallowed, perspiring terribly. She was gorgeous, but compared to her "little sister", she was filth.
"Tell him I have nothing to report," said Terra lazily. Celes shuddered.
"Uh... of course, my lady," she quivered. Terra grunted, and without warning, took her "big sister's" hands in her own. Celes nearly died of shock; in a way, she did, as the cool delicacy of her sister's hands sent waves of power and might through her. But Terra did not smile.
"I trust you," she said blankly. She could have killed a man had she smiled. Celest flinched.
"My lady!" she quivered. "I, I am not worthy of such admiration!" Terra frowned but did not reply. Celes sighed, slowly getting used to the feeling of HER hands. They felt... cool, delicate, powerful, electric, fiery, smooth, soft... The hands of a goddess...
"What will you do?" asked Terra. Celes nearly suffocated from such attention.
"About what?" she replied weakly. Weakly--Celes was a General, had killed hundreds, torched Miranda on HER command--WEAKLY.
"Anything," replied Terra. Celes shivered in the warmth of her sister's room. Terra was an enigmatic girl; to understand her was as fruitful as to comprehend her beauty and power. Celes shook terribly, but Terra's vice- like grip kept their hands together.
"General Leo," she whispered, and Terra's eyes blinked; a response!""General Leo, ah, has p-proposed m-marriage to both of us, and is... is currently waiting for a reply. W-would you be..."
"No comment," said Terra lazily. She sniffed and almost smiled. "It's just like every other proposal I've gotten. You know, I've become rather ill of such attention. Everyone loves me, Celes--everyone, even that old fool Gestahl, even Kefka!" She snorted, and allowed a very faint smile"on her incredible features. Celes nearly fainted.
"I... My lady, I'm not long for this world," she sighed, resting her head on the table. Terra's hands still clasped her sister's, but the other woman gave no reply. "Power only breeds war," continued the lesser woman. She shuddered, but not because of Terra's omnipotent presence. She shuddered because she was afraid. "I... I wish I had never... never been born."
"Really?" said Terra blankly. She sounded about as interested as a fickle child. Celes cried, ruining the warm oak table with her tears.
"I hope..." continued Celes. She swallowed. "I hope I die bravely... in a battle, I mean. I don't want to die as a coward." Terra grunted, reached for her sister's chin, and lifted it up. Celes' eyes were leaking tears, but Terra offered no solace. The other woman, the sorceress, the goddess, merely leaned forward and allowed her lips to gently touch her sister's forehead. Celes felt beautifully horrible in that moment, almost as if"her heart would burst or her brain would rebel on her.
"I love you, Terra," she shook. Terra snorted and released every grip she had on her sister. She laughed, an empty, hollow, piercing laugh.
"Doesn't everybody?!" she screeched. Celes shivered, her face contorted with emotion. Terra shook her head and sighed. "Don't worry, sister. I do love you, but now I'm growing tired of you. Servants, show her to her"quarters." Instantly, two male servants rushed into the room and dragged the broken general out of the room.
Terra stayed behind, drinking her wine, and wondering Why all the time.
The screams had stopped, thankfully. Terra sighed, stopping her entourage, and told them all to wait. She wanted to walk around, wanted to see this town they had invaded. What was it again? Doma? South Figaro? Narshe? It could have been any of them, or all, or none of the above; it didn't matter. The"people were dead, or escaped, and the entire area was abandoned. Yes, this was Celes' work, all right, thought the goddess. No wonder she had been so depressed.
To argue against the goddess' will was to summon death. No sooner had Terra given her request did her entourage kneel down and let her off her throne. Terra's delicate feet touched the broken ground, and she wordlessly wandered inside, leaving her servants by themselves. She could have been there for as little or as long as she liked; to them, any amount of time was worth it to wait on HER.
The area was as quiet as it was empty, or maybe the other way around, or perhaps both or... an open door, a curious spark, and Terra wandered into a small house. Shelves had been overturned, dishes broken, valuables stolen, blood splattered everywhere, ghosts of the past still evident...
The goddess wandered through the rubble of the small house, not a thought on her mind. Terra was so powerful that she actually had people that were hired to think FOR her, not that she couldn't herself. Without a thought or an opinion, the goddess crept through the house until she spied a family album that had been thrown across the room during the raid. Why this simple item"stood out to her was a mystery, but Terra always got what she wanted, and now she wanted to look at this worthless scrapbook.
Leafing through the pages, Terra stumbled onto a photograph of a small, simple family: a smiling husband with his arm around a lovely wife, three beaming children in the foreground, several elderly folk around them, pets scampering about... Terra paused when her indescribable eyes scanned over the images of the children. Why she looked at them was unknown; by now, they had either fled or died. Still, she continued looking at the picture, allowing her delicate fingers to gently rub up against the picture. It was two boys and a"girl.
A tear made its way to the photograph, a tear of a goddess. One single, wet, fiery tear fell from Terra's cold face, fell and splattered against the photograph. The girl who had everything, the girl who was admired and loved and chased after and was fought over and was killed over, the woman who had the world at her will, the woman who allowed emperors and kings to bow at her feet, the girl who could have anything, was crying.
The other day, Professor Cid had informed her that, because of her unusual genetic makeup, she was unable to bear children.