Stewart Bishop

     Come to me, my Dagger...

    It had been so long since she had been called that name. Garnet Til Alexandros, the Queen of Alexandria leapt from her seat atop the balcony and rushed to the rails, peering down upon the figure that had apparently called out to her. He was about her height, slender in figure with deep sandy blond hair and a long brown tail.


    The young queen hurried towards the stairs, and as she came to the exit, two hands pressed themselves on the door. General Beatrix of the Alexandrian forces and Captain Steiner of the Pluto Knights were barring her way. Garnet felt her face begin to contort into a despairing shape, but was placated as Steiner and Beatrix pushed the doors open. They each gave her a respectful bow and a charming smile. She could not find the words to properly thank them, but the cheerful look that sprouted on her face spoke more clearly than words ever could.

    She clasped her long dress and lifted it slightly, to prevent herself from tripping down the winding staircase. She burst out into the open, the bright sunlight shooting directly into her eyes. She squinted momentarily, but found the coordination to continue. Trudging along through the large and unmoving wall of a crowd, she kept her eyes locked on the stage, in hopes of catching a glimpse of her dearest Zidane as soon as physically possible.

    I Want to be Your Canary. How ironic that he would come back to her like this. It was always the queen's favorite, even as a young girl. It still was, but for reasons that differed from those of the child she once was. Now, this play meant so much more; it was her--his--their play.

    Her royal self bumped against a very large member of the crowd, causing her to stumble slightly. Her previously unmoving eyes strayed from its mission of finding Zidane to search for an item that had fled from her possession at that moment of impact; her garnet necklace. It was the garnet that Zidane had given her just before that moment of truth, the moment where she finally discovered who she was and not what.

    But she didn't care...It was only a gem. It linked her to her royal heritage, and not Zidane. She didn't want to be with Zidane as Queen Garnet Til Alexandros. No, she wanted to be with Zidane as simply Dagger, the girl that fell in love with him and he for her. That was how it should---and now would be.

    She left the sparkling jewel on the cobblestone street and ran as fast as she could towards the stage. Her dress tore and ripped now from her running; she didn't care anymore. All eyes were on her, people looked to her in search of elegance and grace, which is what she had tried to emulate for her entire life. Till now, she would never have acted in this manner; she would have taken short steps as she walked up to the stage. But she was no longer a queen, but a young girl very much in love.


    There he was, standing so proudly with arms wide open. There was only one more thing she had to do before returning to him. She tore the crown from her head and, without hesitation or even giving it the slightest glimpse, tossed it aside. As it slid across the floor, she raised her arms to Zidane and leapt towards him. He caught her in stylistic fashion and hugged her tightly.

    My Dagger...

    She was so happy, and so angry again now that she was in his arms. She had been denied this very feeling for so long, why did he choose to come now and not earlier? She pounded a fist on his chest several times, before finally just accepting that he was here now, and that was all that mattered. He must have had his reasons...She succumbed to tears and bled them on his shoulder. Zidane could only reply by timidly resting a hand on the back of her head, encouraging her to let it all go. She shut her eyes, the tears trickling down her face.


    She felt a cold breeze that sent shivers down her spine. No longer could she feel Zidane's body against hers. She opened her eyes...and saw nothingness.


    She felt the area around her for any sign of his presence, but to no avail. The stench of stale air forced its way into the queen's nostrils, sending not only a feeling of uneasiness down her spine but also a hollow feeling in her lungs.


                     Your Majesty...


                                                    Your Majesty...

    "W-what...?" Garnet stammered, blinking her eyes dazedly. She turned to face the speaker, who was none other than General Beatrix.


    "Your Majesty," Beatrix repeated, in a very rushed manner. "You must have dozed off."

    "Oh...How...Much longer till the ceremony?"

    "Not more than a half hour, I'm afraid. I came to make sure you were already fully prepared, but I suppose not."

    "No...Apparently not."

    "Shall I fetch you your garments?" Beatrix peered at the queen quizzically. "Perhaps for young Gale?"

    The queen did not reply, but stood and walked to her window, gazing at the darkened sky.

    "Is...Something wrong?"

    "Could I be alone for a while?"

    The answer must have shocked Beatrix, for her mouth gaped open momentarily. She stuttered as she spoke, "A-as you wish. I shall continue the preparations for this evening." Beatrix addressed her with utmost regality.

    "Thank you, Beatrix."

    Beatrix crossed her arm over her chest, bowed slightly and took her leave.

    Zidane...Why...? Why did you have to leave me...?

    The child in her arms began to cry, the cacophonous wailing echoing through the palace halls and flinging itself out of the window, where it was promptly dispersed by the silence of the night.

    Why did you have to die?

    The child continued to cry. The young queen helplessly bobbed young Gale in her arms, in a futile attempt to silence him.

    "Shh...It's all right, little one..."

    Did I make the right choice? Is this how it was supposed to be?

    Garnet rested her hand on Gale's head, stroking him softly on the cheek. The loud cries softened to slight utters of bitterness, then disappeared altogether. The queen expressed her gratitude to the child by giving it an encouraging kiss on the forehead.

    I love my life...I love my child...All is well, but I'm not...Happy.

    "You have to control that crying, my darling. You have to make a good impression at the ceremony." She smiled at the child and rubbed her nose against his, causing Gale to giggle contently.

    I miss you...But...

    She sang. She sang as she always did when she was deep in thought. She sang the same haunting song that had always attracted the curiosity of a certain someone; someone that began as a nobody, but became a somebody, deep inside of her heart.

            "In my dearest memories..."
            Do you remember loving me...?
            Was it fate that brought us close and now leaves me behind...?"

    I'm no longer that girl you once knew...She died at the same moment you did.

            "A voice from the past, joining yours and mine...
            Adding up the layers of harmony...
            And so it goes on and on...
            Melodies of life...
            To the sky beyond the flying birds...Forever and beyond..."

    I'm not your Dagger anymore...Dagger is...dead. I am Queen Garnet Til Alexandros. This is my life...These are my memories...were my memories...were our memories.

            "If I should leave this lonely world behind...
            Your voice will still remember our melody...
            Now I know we'll carry on...
            Melodies of life...
            Come circle round and grow deep in our hearts..."

    I want to forget...Garnet wants to forget. She must forget...She can't. She won't. Funny how things work out...You were the only person that understood me. Then you left. I miss you. I love you. Why did you leave me? What were you thinking? You're so foolish. So stupid. So brave. I hate you. You left me. Who are you? I don't know you. I never knew you.

    "There it is, grandpa."

    "Yes...The Kingdom of Alexandria. It was once the most powerful nation in the entire planet. It once had an airship fleet so incredibly advanced that it could have taken over the entire world," the old man groaned. "It almost did at one time...Under the rule of Queen Brahne." He lit a match a set it to his pipe, leaning on his walking staff.

    "Wow...These old ruins?"

    "Yep...Ain't nothin' left now except some rubble and the ol' castle. Queen Brahne was once a kind monarch, noble and just. Then somethin' happened and she tried to conquer the world." He puffed large rings of smoke into the air.

    "But what happened?"

    "Mmm...She was stopped by some fella...Kuja I believe his name was. Rumor has it that Kuja was the real brains behind it all, but I doubt it."

    "How come?"

    "Well, her daughter, Queen Garnet was just as mad as her mother. It must run in the family, I suppose..." He shook his head sadly. "She was a corrupt ol' hag.    Her son, Gale tried to reason with her, but she had him executed."

    "That's terrible..."

    "Not that I don't feel for her or anythin', but she must have had a troubled youth, what with her mother dying on her and her husband killed in a friendly dueling match with General Beatrix of the Alexandrian guard...Imagine that; your oldest and best friend killing your own husband. It's a terrible, thought, kid."

    The old man frowned. "It's getting late...We better head home."

    "All right..."

    So the two continued on their way, leaving the once proud Kingdom of Alexandria behind. As their figures became nothing but blurry visions, the sun began to dip its way below the horizon, causing the sky to blaze with a fiery blood red color. Shadows draped themselves over the Alexandrian ruins, covering them with blackness darker than the very history that had consumed it. The sun bid the city farewell, then disappeared under the mountains in the distance. Though the city was deserted, the sound of weeping could be heard. The air was quiet and calm, but the occasional whistle of a solemn dirge bloomed in the barren alleys. It was as if the town itself was crying...

    It began to rain...

Author's Notes: Well, I really loved Final Fantasy IX's ending. I also recently was on a long drive to my home in Virginia from Orlando, Florida. Gotta love Christmas in Florida...Anyway, I was listening to Melodies of Life, playing Phantasy Star III in the van when I got the sudden urge to write...I knew immediately that I wanted to use the ending, just have it uh...end differently. I didn't think it'd get THIS extreme though. I'm rather pleased with it, though. Ciao!