Michael A. Singer
Ever since I first laid my hands on Final Fantasy III in 1994, I have always been curious about the yeti, Umaro and how he came to play a role in the game's storyline. Square provided him with no background or speech (for the most part). Thus, I decided to take the liberty of making up a story for Umaro about how and why his character needed to be in the game. If you are interested, please e-mail me with any comments or criticisms at the above address. I hope this short story piques your interest!
From time immemorial, the yeti had roamed and prowled the miners' caves behind Narshe. He was there when the town was a fledgling outpost, a hold for the brave and adventurous travelers who searched for riches hidden deep in the plentiful, snowy mines. He was there when word of the treasure in those mines attracted gold seekers in droves. And he was there through the ensuing decades, as the town became a bustling, albeit remote, hub of merchants, miners, fortune seekers, treasure hunters and those wishing to escape their past. For hundreds of years, he remained: watching, waiting, and quietly looking on. The yeti. Umaro.
Now Umaro was not his true name. In his heart, his name was Glord, roughly translated in his tongue as "White One." Those humans who used to randomly encounter his trail in the caves named him Umaro, or "Old One," because he survived for generations upon generations. Since the people could only catch fleeting glimpses of him over the years, they decided to let the beast remain and roam free in the caves. From living in the countless holes and pits dotted throughout the mines, Umaro knew the terrain like the back of his hand. Trying to catch the beast would be as futile as searching for a needle in a hundred foot haystack.
The legend of Umaro was thus passed down from generation to generation. Although the chance of seeing him during one's lifetime was very slim, one could occasionally hear his monstrous scream "UGHAAAAAAAAAAAAA" echo and resound through the caves. No one could figure out what he was yelling at, nor did they really have the desire to explore it further. They reasoned, "Well, he must be chasing some unlucky prey." Others thought, "Maybe he's having a bad dream," but that thinking was usually chuckled down over a round of hot cider at the Narshe Inn. Little did they know how close they were to the truth.
It all started, as many things do, with a dream. Umaro enjoyed taking huge slumbers during the long winters in Narshe, and he usually woke feeling refreshed and reenergized. During a particular sleep, about 800 years after the cataclysmic War of the Magi, Umaro dreamt a strange set of images.
He saw blue lightning lancing and crackling out of what appeared to be a huge block of ice. A vision of a red and blue bird with a fierce gaze appeared to be locked in the ice. He could sense the beast's power and might, and knew that it contained some sort of wild magic. All of a sudden, he realized that someone or something was speaking to him. The voice sizzled and screamed inside his skull.
Glord, who is also known as Umaro. You must come find me immediately in the caves of Narshe. The fate of this world hangs in the balance. Do not fail me, or such is the earth's destiny. I am waiting for you. You shall know who I am when you see me. At our meeting, I shall reveal more of my task and your destiny. Do not fail me.
Nightmarish images appeared before him. Humans rent to shreds, their flesh carelessly tossed aside. Babies and small children, cut to pieces, their faces frozen in rictuses of terror. Armies of humans destroying, raping and plundering. The earth, desolate and destitute. A black sky. Burning villages. Razed homes. Frenzied creatures that appeared to make use of magic, slaughtering everything in their path.
Frantically, Umaro tried to run and flee the macabre dreamscape. He felt himself falling, surrounded by those images and woke with a long howl. "UGHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!" Never again did he want to witness the carnage in those dreams. Realizing and certain that the voice in his head spoke the truth beyond a shadow of a doubt, he immediately arose, shrugged off the icicles and prepared to find the bird trapped in the frozen Narshe caverns.
Long he scoured those caves for any sign of the bird trapped in ice. Days, weeks and months passed, yet still Umaro tirelessly sought it out. He would often go weeks without sleep, fearing that the horrendous dreams would replay themselves in his head when he closed his eyes. Without sleep, the journey began to wear away at his energy and Umaro eventually succumbed to the night.
As soon as he closed his eyes, the dreams played themselves out again as they had months ago. Death. Destruction. Chaos. The blue beast trapped in the caves. He tried to run but the voice held him fast, forcing his mind to accept the scenes. The voice resounded in his head.
Glord/Umaro. I am waiting for you. Your senses will probably find me before your eyes behold me. Time is of the essence. I await you. Do not fail me.
And for a second time, Umaro felt his knees give way, tumbling down into the blackness. He woke sweating and shivering, but did not cry out as he did during the previous dream sequence. However, he felt more refreshed and found that his keen senses had returned to their full powers. Thus, the search continued....
Just as his dreams foretold, Umaro could sense the beast before he could see it. For many days, the yeti had been lumbering along in a section of the mines that he was not accustomed to exploring. It appeared that the human miners had not dug down to this level yet, which meant that there were no torches or other sources of light. Although the pitch-blackness extremely hampered his vision, Umaro tried to make use of his quite sensitive senses of touch and smell. Therefore, the yeti knew that he had found the creature from his dreams, even though his eyes could not reveal what he sensed.
The yeti moved along slowly in the thick darkness, carefully feeling out his setting and smelling for any change. The block of ice was there, and he could feel it slightly throbbing. As he moved closer, Umaro could sense that there was a large wall of rock blocking the ice from him. He felt around the stone, trying to see if there was any way around it. Nothing. Umaro huffed in frustration, moved away from the wall and sat down with disappointment written on his face.
The instant his behind touched the floor, two huge crackling bolts of lightning burst out of the rock and surrounded his head. After being taken back by surprise, he opened his eyes and saw the fierce blue bird from his dreams. The power of the bird's voice slammed into him, almost forcing him to his knees.
Glord/Umaro. It's so very good to see you. Do you know what I am? I am an Esper.
Esper. Umaro knew what that word signified, and grunted in approval.
Good. I am known as Tritoch. You see me as a blue phoenix, but that is only the form I wish to take when I present myself to flesh and blood beings. It chuckled and the blue bolts surrounding Umaro wavered in time with its laugh.
But we did not come here to trade small talk, the Esper resumed. A great destruction is coming, as I showed you in your dreams, and has the potential to be far worse than the so-called War of the Magi. My people's powers of foresight are limited, but we know enough that you are to play a key role in determining the fate of the world.
Umaro blinked in surprise.
I repeat. You, Glord/Umaro, will play a defining role in helping a group of humans in this great struggle. The two sides, one known as the Empire and the other as Returners, will fight for a special girl that has yet to be born. She represents the greatest magic potential that has ever been seen, and it will be your job to protect her and help destroy those who attempt to exploit and abuse her powers.
He struggled with all this new information, but gruffly nodded to the Esper.
Excellent. My kind has complete confidence that your strength, cunning, and centuries of experience will not fail our cause. We would never have come to you if we doubted your skills. Remember, your participation in these future events will determine the fate of this world. Decide wisely, Glord/Umaro. We know you will.
As for now, you must wait until those that will be known as the Returners will seek you out. We are unsure of how long the wait will be. Eventually, humans will find me in my block of ice and this action will set off a chain of events leading to the Returners discovering your home. Again, we do not know how long you must wait. Be patient and bide your time. We have faith in you. Farewell for now, Glord/Umaro. The fate of the world is in your hands.
The blue bands of lightning sprang up and away from Umaro's head and flew back into the rock. He was thrown to the ground in the tumult and waited for a moment until the earth stopped shaking. When he finally looked, there was nothing there. The solid rock wall was unbroken, hiding the large block of ice, and the cave was remained pitch black. Everything was as it was before the meeting. Nothing would give evidence that something had taken place in that cave. Only the faint memory of the lightening in his head served as a reminder to Umaro of what had happened.
All he could do for now was follow the Esper's advice and wait. Thus, for much of the ensuing years, Umaro waited, building up his strength and agility. In the back of the beast's mind were the dreams Tritoch had sent. Those images were forever frozen in his psyche, as chilling and frightening as the thick chunk of ice that encased the blue phoenix, keeping Umaro constantly alert and aware for the humans who sought him. He continued to explore the caves, but found his domain steadily shrinking as the miners dug further and further into the mountains of Narshe. These changes did not affect the yeti, because he always knew that his home was safe from human intervention.
200 years steadily passed for Umaro, who bided his time and looked hesitantly to the future, whether it would be tomorrow, two months or one hundred years from now. The White One patiently longed for that fateful day when he would be called upon to help determine the fate of his world.
Thus, it was 1000 after the War of the Magi...