If life allows…
Legend of Legaia
***** Foreword *****
Two things inspired this fic. My girlfriend dared me to write a romantic story (usually I’m more at ease with humor), and I was disappointed with the game’s ending, so I decided to imagine a conclusion more to my liking.
I wish to express my deepest gratitude to CD Hartley for kindly editing the first chapter, and for the invaluable advice provided. Once again, thank you for your constructive criticism and for your time.
***** Disclaimer *****
I don’t own Legend Of Legaia, or its characters, and frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn, I’m writing about it anyway.
***** Prologue *****
“If life allows me
But one insanity
Let it be my Love
My crazy Love for you
And should I lose my life
In a moment, in an instant
Let me be filled forever
By you, sweet you…”
- Poem to Noa, by Vahn
***** Chapter 1 - Shattered Dreams *****
From sheer exhaustion, the red-haired girl finally collapsed on the rock pile. For two whole days, she had been piling them, as a funeral monument for what remained of her brother. Bitter tears made grooves under her eyes, in the dirt and soot on her face.
Why was it that tears never dried up? Why was the pain in her heart greater than that in her joints? Why had the fates been so cruel to her?
Uncontrollable sobs raked her body as infinite grief clouded her soul. There had been a time when she thought that, even if all was not perfect, she could still be happy. Alone once more, unloved and unwanted - hated even - her heart ached, and the tears ran free.
Eighteen months ago, she had picked Cort from the remains of the Bio-Castle. A defenseless baby, he needed her, and she had decided to protect and care for him. Leaving Rim Elm, without a word of farewell to Vahn, had been hard. But he was spoken for, betrothed to Mei - unavailable. It had been better this way… for him, anyway. Still, she had ached for him… longed for his presence… wept for what could never be.
After they had defeated the monster that her very own kin had become, Gala had brought her, and a reborn Cort, to Biron monastery. They were safe there, but she needed to get farther from Rim Elm, and from a certain dark-haired man that haunted her dreams.
One night, she had gathered provisions and ran away towards the Wind Cave. To her surprise, the monk had been waiting for her at the monastery’s entrance. “Noa, where are you going?” He asked with obvious concern. Gala usually acted detached, and showed little emotion, but the girl’s instincts told her of the gentleness of his heart, and the chaste friendship he felt for her.
“I’m sorry to leave like this, Gala, but I have to move on. I want to go look for someplace that Cort and I can call home.” She had said, ashamed at acting as a thief in the darkness.
“Home is where your heart is, my friend.” Said the monk, with unusual kindness, “You are not moving on, but trying to run away from your own feelings. You will not succeed, for they are inside you. Please reconsider.”
He had not tried to stop her, even offering to be her traveling companion. Noa had refused and made her way to Jeremi, for she loved the multileveled gardens. As a hero, she had been treated to a warm welcome.
Zalan had remarried to a sweet woman named Thara, which immediately took a liking to the gentle, red-haired girl and insisted that they stayed with them. No one inquired about the baby; it had become common practice to adopt orphans, in the troubled times when the Mist scourged the land.
Noa got a job at the item shop. It was a whole new adventure for her - working instead of fighting, being part of a family, and being loved. Thara proved to be a good friend, and taught her much of life among Humans. Zalan’s son showed growing interest in the emerald-eyed girl. One evening, while they were on Jeremi’s upper level gazing at the stars, Pepe had planted a gentle kiss on her lips, making her feel all tingly inside. It brought back memories of her of her first kiss on the walkways of Sol many months before, but in spite of all she could live happily like this. There would still be regrets, true, but the future looked bright.
Alas, destiny had woven a dark thread for her and her brother. In a year, Cort had not grown or gained weight, and was still on a milk diet. Noa wasn’t the innocent girl that Vahn had met, so long ago on Mount Rikorua anymore. She knew of babies, of growth, of the realities of life, and noticed the change of attitude towards her.
People that had been so gentle a few months before now looked at her with frightened looks. When she walked with Cort the streets emptied in mere moments. They were being avoided, talked about in hushed tones. Resentment was brewing in the townsfolk for this evil brought among them.
Ignorance breeds fear, and fear breeds hatred. Thara warned her that their lives were in danger, for the people of Jeremi had had their fill of dark magic. Sister and brother had fled towards Vidna, but the story of the ‘demon-child’ had spread like wildfire. Groups of hunters had come from all over, pursuing them with murderous intent.
Many times she ran with the baby as heavy as lead in her arms, leaving pursuers behind fast as the wind. At other times, she had stolen from hunter’s camps under the cover of darkness. Finally, they had found refuge in the mountains near the fishing hole between Jeremi and Vidna.
Noa had been raised in a similar environment. She found a cavern near a stream, and made a home for themselves there. She decided that later, when the baby had grown - for she still hoped he would - they would go back to the world of Humans. For the moment they had all they needed to survive; water was plentiful, wild berries grew all over, and small game was abundant.
At first she gave Cort a mix of water and crushed fruit to replace the milk. The problem was solved when she found - and nursed back to wholeness - a crippled mountain goat. The grateful animal decided to stay and never wandered too far from the cavern.
But, the baby did not grow. In fact, he started getting younger and younger at an accelerated rate. The consequences of his exposure to concentrated mist were finally catching up, reversing the aging process further. Noa hopelessly witnessed the gruesome outcome as Cort went from baby to newborn to even earlier stages of development. The transformation continued even after his death, leaving but a shapeless mass of flesh that his sister buried near the mountaintop - in a last gesture of affection and love.
***** Chapter 2 - Unfulfilled *****
For a fleeting moment, he thought that the woman beside him was the spirited girl of his dreams. Then he saw the bleached hair, and what was obviously not a fighter’s body. Disappointed, as reality hit, he got up slowly as to not wake the courtesan and went to the decanter on the desk. Wine soothed him, but did nothing to fill the empty space in his heart. Looking out to the moonlight bathed landscape he wondered where Noa might be, how she was faring, and if at that instant someone was holding her.
His throat constricted from the painful longing in his chest.
Why was he feeling this way? Didn’t he have fortune, power and high rank? Since becoming Drake Kingdom’s Hero, the honors had come rolling in. All wanted his friendship and women showered him with their charms. Not many had shared his bed, in the eighteen or so months he had been at the castle, for their favors invariably left him drained, empty, and unfulfilled.
After the ordeal it had been expected that him and Mei would marry. They had met one night, losing themselves in each other and giving free reign to their desires. They were to spend all their lives together after all, so taking some advance was their right. But things had changed and they both realized - before consuming the moment - that there would be no tomorrow in such an action. So they had decided to remain friends and never talk of what had almost happened, ever again.
Shortly after Mei was betrothed to Trevor, a carpenter from a nearby village that had elected residence in Rim Elm. Vahn had then decided to take on the King’s offer to become his Majesty’s adviser, and remain at the castle.
It was there that the emptiness had hit him, the accursed void in his soul, the ache in his heart that he had tried to fill with wine, and whatever pleasures were available. As in many legends he had everything to be happy, but wasn’t. Something was missing, or rather someone. He had the courage to fight beasts and monsters, but not to face himself, not to acknowledge his very own feelings.
A few days later, Vahn was in his study when a castle servant announced, “Lord, thou hast a visitor, a monk from Biron monastery.” The young man’s spirits lifted at the unexpected visit. Gala hugged him in a friendly, and totally out of character embrace.
“You should take better care of yourself, my friend, you are getting soft.”
“Gala, it’s so good to see you. What brings you to Drake Castle?”
“I thought that you might be interested in hearing about Noa, but I fear that the news are somewhat bleak.”
The big man then gave his friend a report on the girl’s whereabouts and the rumors about the baby, gotten from traveling Biron monks. Rage, then despair filled Vahn’s heart, as Gala informed him of the hunting parties, intent on destroying Cort and of the people that had requested Biron’s help.
“You see, Vahn, they are convinced that Noa has been bewitched by this ‘demon-child’ and wish to help our friend, but even our best trackers were unable to find her. She is still a wolf in many respects, and will not be found if she doesn’t wish so.”
“Are you telling me that Cort was somehow reborn? I guess that makes sense, after what happened to Rim Elm inhabitants. But why did she leave like that? I never had a chance to talk to her, maybe even convince her to stay…”
“She did it for you.” Said Gala with sadness.
Vahn pointed an accusing finger at the monk, “What do you mean? That I am responsible? She ran away without a word of farewell, and you kept things from me! Man, I need a drink.”
“Fool!” exclaimed Gala, knocking the goblet out of Vahn’s hand, “You’ll never drown your shame and pain!” he then grabbed the smaller guy, that was way too shocked by his friend’s actions to react, and placed him in front of a mirror. “Look at yourself! You’re wasting away, what has happened?”
“I don’t know, I don’t know what I feel, I don’t know what to do… I don’t know if I can face her…” Replied Vahn pitifully.
The Monk realized his friend’s pain, but he had to be shaken out of his self-pitying. He eased his grasp and continued on a more soothing tone, “Well, I know about what happened in Sol, Vahn. She confided in me, and I think that you’re both making too much out of nothing. It was just a kiss after all.”
It had been during one of their stays in the tower-city, Gala was spending some time with the monks on the top floor, and Vahn had treated Noa to a show and dinner. She had been delighted, eating an impressive amount of food for her size, overjoyed at what she considered her ‘first date’. They even ordered some mulled wine, which had immediately gone to the girl’s head making her giggle uncontrollably.
Those moments had been happy ones. Forgotten were the Mist, and - for one insane instant - Mei. He couldn’t remember how it had happened, but Noa had been all of a sudden in his arms, her smiling face near his, her breath warm on his skin. Drawn by impulsiveness he had pulled her close, kissing her mouth passionately. The red-haired girl had responded with equal vigor and desperate need. And then she had pushed him away, her green-eyes wide with shock. Prey to overwhelming sensations that she couldn’t understand she had run, heart racing wildly, her mind utterly confused.
Vahn had looked all over Sol before finally giving up, and going back to the suite they had rented at the Inn – to find her asleep there. Shame for his lack of control, and unfaithfulness to Mei, had kept him from talking about the incident, and Noa didn’t seem inclined to bring it up either. So things had remained unspoken, and the young man had avoided situations where temptation could appear.
“I went too fast, I freaked her out, how she must hate me for that.” Said the dark-haired man.
“She doesn’t. She felt guilty because of Mei.” Explained the tall monk, “That is why she’s never bothered you about it, and left Rim Elm without a word. You have to understand, she had little understanding of relationships at the time, and her feelings for you scared her.”
Vahn’s eyes regained their flame as decision, sharp and sure, came to him and he asked Gala, “My friend, would you come with me and help me find her?”
“I will accompany you as far as the entrance to the mountain range where she’s hiding.” Replied Gala, “But this is something you must face on your own.”
***** Chapter 3 - The Search *****
Ever since the Seru had gone from the world, magic was disappearing. Travel, as many other activities, had to be done by conventional methods. A few things, like healing potions, fortunately still held part of their abilities, but it was clear that a new era was dawning where technology would prevail.
To Gala’s relief the journey to Jeremi did wonders for Vahn, whose mind was made up having a goal to pursue. Noa might not return his feelings – that was a possibility he couldn’t ignore - but at least he would know for sure. Whatever the outcome she needed help, and he still considered her as a close and dear friend.
They stopped in Jeremi for supplies, incognito so as not to stir-up another witch (or rather demon-baby) hunt. When they finally reached the foot of the mountains, Gala made camp and addressed his traveling companion.
“You’re on your own now, Vahn. I believe that she is somewhere in those tall peaks you see to your left, they’re treacherous to climb, and an excellent place for someone that doesn’t wish to be found. I will wait for you here.”
It was worst than trying to find a needle in a haystack, but the search had to start somewhere, and our friend was determined to comb the whole region if need be. Their using of Ra-Seru had made them stronger, faster, and more resistant than normal Human Beings, so there was a good chance that he would be able to reach places that even Biron monks couldn’t.
After two days his optimism began to wane. This part of the mountain range was pocked with crevices, and caverns of various sizes. He was about to go back to camp to restock on supplies, when his keen eyes noticed something unusual. Puny trees were stubbornly clinging to a steep climb, near where he had just explored, and some of the smaller branches were bent. It was obvious, to any trained tracker that chanced to see it, that this was a path used by a Human for mountain beasts didn’t leave such a pattern.
Vahn climbed with renewed vigor, fueled by hope. He was nearly at the top when the small sampling he was holding to came free. He desperately tried to grab onto another one, which also detached itself. As he fell, he had time to realize that the roots had been tampered with - it was a most clever and deadly trap. He brutally hit the ground and darkness engulfed him.
Sound reaches far in the crystalline mountain air. Noa was picking wild-berries when she faintly heard the thud resulting from one of the numerous false, and bobby trapped trails she had built as a defense against hunters. She went to investigate and make sure that the intruder wasn’t seriously hurt. The man was lying on his back, eyes closed, a trickle of blood escaping from his lips and more of it matting his dark hair.
“No, it can’t be!” she exclaimed in shock, and hurried down the treacherous path.
***** Chapter 4 - Reunited *****
His first sensation as he regained consciousness was of something cool on his brow. He opened his eyes a little, the dimness indicating that it was either late afternoon or that he was in a cavern. Gentle hands cradled his bruised body, and then his sight focused allowing him to see her.
“Are you all right, Vahn? I don’t think that anything is broken, so just lay still.” Said Noa with concern in her voice.
She dipped a cloth in a pail of water and softly cleaned the caked blood from his head. Fortunately, even if the fall had been enough to knock him out for several hours, it hadn’t caused any serious damage. “Did you carry me here?” he asked.
“Yes, you’ve gained some weight, you know. I had to secure you with ropes and lift you up the cliff’s face. Luckily it wasn’t far.” She replied with a light smile on her lips.
Vahn wondered at her strength and determination, so different from the ladies at the Royal court. He raised himself tentatively, realizing with thankfulness that apart from a mild headache all systems seemed to be running smoothly. He then directed his attention at Noa.
She was clothed in dull gray attire: loose shirt, pants, boots and kerchief hiding her striking red hair; she would be all but invisible among boulders. Sorrow could be seen in her eyes, but also excitement and relief at having him before her. She was still so beautiful, just as he remembered, just as she had appeared in his dreams. So long he had waited for this moment, to finally be face to face with her, but words got stuck in his throat and he remained silent.
Five days went by, a whole week since he had entered the mountains. Vahn knew that Gala would not be concerned for several more days, for they had talked at length about this expedition and the monk was amazingly patient. So he spent the time rejoicing in the peaceful surroundings, and Noa’s presence.
The ordeals she had endured had not been able to break her spirit, and she was as always the uncomplicated, honest, loyal person he loved so much. If only he could muster the courage to say what needed to be said, but up to now he had only tried to persuade her to come back with him to Drake Kingdom.
“Why don’t you stay with me here, Vahn? Don’t we have all we need, with nobody to bother us?” was her constant response. “And anyway, you’re not well enough to go down the mountain, you should stay a few more days.” She had added that morning, even if they both knew the falsenesses of the affirmation. She dreaded being alone again, but wouldn’t leave her safe haven for an unsure future.
She brought him to Cort’s grave and her eyes remained dry for once. She also told him about all that had come to pass since they had last seen each other, filling in the gaps that Gala couldn’t know about. They talked for a long time, oblivious to the coming night for there was much catching up to do, and they wanted this moment to last forever.
The next day the young man finally got his act together and faced her, “Noa, there’s a few things we have to talk about. First, Mei married another.”
“I’m sorry, Vahn.” She said, but her eyes shone with hope.
“It’s all right, I’ve come to realize that my love for her was like that of a brother for a sister, and I’m happy for her. Trevor is a good man.” He resumed, “I want to apologize for what happened in Sol, it was stupid of me… will you forgive me?”
“What? You mean that you’re not angry at me for freaking out on you like that?” She replied in surprise.
“I don’t believe this.” He exclaimed, “All that time I thought that you were the one mad at me.”
“No,” she said softly and confessed, “I even hoped that you would kiss me again, but I didn’t want to come between Mei and you.”
He didn’t answer but instead stepped closer, until their faces were nearly touching. Tenderly he held her, touching his lips to her brow, her eyes, the tip of her nose, brushing against her expecting mouth and then softly kissing her.
She responded, tentatively at first, then with assurance. It was different from that unfortunate incident in Sol, she was more mature, not ignorant has before, and she had longed for so long for this moment. Vahn brushed strands of hair from her face, “Please, come with me, I will care for you, you will never be alone again.”
“I…I can’t…I have to think…I…” and with that she went out of the cavern to try to restore some order to her thoughts. Blissfully, he understood and respected her need for privacy; he had much to ponder also. She walked for a long time, musing. Vahn had his pick among the beautiful, sophisticated ladies wearing pretty gowns and elaborate hairdos she had seen at Drake castle. What would he want with an unkempt, plain girl with boyish manners, anyway? Wouldn’t he tire of her and leave her alone? Wasn’t it better to remain here and not take the chance of being hurt?
Several hours later she came back with fierce determination in her eyes. “I don’t know if I will go with you yet. I have something to ask you first.” His expectant posture emboldened her to continue, “What will happen after, and IF, we go back to Drake Kingdom?”
There was no hesitation in his voice as he said, “We will get married, of course, and I will build you a nice house near the beach to live in.” He then went down on one knee, holding her hand, “Will you honor me by becoming my wife?”
“But, Vahn, I’ve changed,” She protested, “You don’t know me all that well… are you sure about this?”
“I’ve been a fool for way too long.” He said firmly, “And I don’t want to lose you again, of that I am sure.”
“But, it’s crazy.” Tears were welling inside her, in her wildest dreams she had never expected this.
“If life allows me but one insanity let it be my love for you, my crazy love for a sweet, honest, and gentle girl. I don’t see myself with any other, please say yes.” Emotion made his voice falter, and he held her gaze.
For an answer she kneeled to his level, hugged and kissed him, to which he reciprocated with quiet passion. Noa had decided that whatever happened she would have one gift from him, a memory to cherish and comfort herself with. She stood up, stepping back, disrobing and showing herself in all simplicity, with no shame, no doubts, no fears, but only trust and love.
Vahn shed his clothes and similarly let her see him, for once not feeling self-conscious, as had been the case in the past. He let himself be drawn into those emerald orbs, feeling tender desire - not lust, for this was a pure untainted moment. He saw Noa in her entirety, inner and outer beauty evident in a fleeting glance. On her skin were the marks of countless battles, but to him she was more beautiful than any other, for she was the one he loved, the one he had waited for all of his life.
They approached each other slowly, silently, unwilling to risk shattering that fragile instant. Tentatively touching, cautiously exploring, hearts beating in harmony, souls rejoicing at having found a companion, a lover, a friend…
He kissed her with gentle desperation, as if her lips were a revitalizing spring, as if only she could ever quench his thirst. Noa’s instincts had never betrayed her, they told her that this was true - that this was right. She gently guided Vahn to the fur covered grass she had been using for a cot, and then both gave free reign to the deepest feelings in their hearts.
Their whole beings – body, mind and souls – were united in an embrace as old as the world.
And as new as each life-giving breath…
The next morning found them still in each other’s arms. Vahn awoke, and gladness filled his heart at the realization that it had all been real and not a mere dream. “My Love, this I swear,” He said softly, “I will spend my life with you, and you’ll never be alone, ever again, my sweet Noa. I am all yours…for always.”
Even in the embrace of slumber there was a smile on the red-haired girl’s relaxed features, for she knew - with unshakable certainty - that even should they part in body, their souls would remain together, forever.
***** Chapter 5 – A New Life *****
Rim Elm - Drake Kingdom - five years later…
“Children, lunch is ready!” announced Mei to the boy and two girls.
As usual, Narah was first to react and took the lead. She not only was a smaller, four-year-old, version of Noa but had also inherited her mother’s speed and spirit. Thoram, five springs into the world, hurried to the house while gently carrying his three-year-old sister Candela in his arms. These were both Mei’s offspring; little Candela was like her father, blonde and looking at the world through large, curious blue orbs. The boy was brown-eyed and haired, big and strong for his age, and had Trevor’s personality - infinitely kind, caring, and quiet.
Mei’s husband came behind her, hugged her gently in his powerful arms, and kissed her cheek just as the kids stepped in. “Yuk! Gwoss!” exclaimed Candela, “Get a room!” piped Narah. Thoram rolled his eyes but remained silent. The adults smiled at the display, remembering a time when they shared the same opinions, and at any rate the little ones seemed more amused than disturbed.
As they sat to enjoy a meal of bread, cheese, and fruit, Narah’s gray-green eyes looked at Mei expectantly, “When can I see Mommy, Auntie?”
“Soon, sweetie,” replied the young woman, “The baby will be born shortly, and then you’ll go and meet your new sibling.”
“One day I will have a baby all my own!” announced Narah proudly.
“Mee twoo!” joined Candela.
“Me three.” Added Thoram.
Narah looked at the ceiling, in a gesture of hopelessness, “Boys can’t have babies, silly! It’s a girl thing!”
“Says who?” inquired the boy.
“Says the Elder, and Mommy, and Auntie Nene, and many, many more!” concluded the red-haired girl.
Used at losing arguments to his energetic friend, and not really caring about the whole thing anyway, the boy shrugged and silently ate his fare. Satisfied, and thoroughly pleased with herself, Narah attacked her own food hungrily. Mei still wondered at the name Vahn and Noa had chosen for the girl. She suspected that it was a contraction of two words from the old tongue, literarily meaning ‘Mountain’s Beloved’ - but her friends had never commented on it. The five of them had just finished their lunch when there was an assured knock at the door.
Nene finally allowed Vahn into the house and Gala went to fetch Narah. The monk had made an unexpected visit, to everyone’s delight. “You have a healthy baby girl Vahn, you can go see them now.” Said the young girl. The dark-haired man wondered at how time passes, for his little sister was blossoming into maidenhood and had become the region’s healer’s apprentice, assisting many births in the surrounding villages.
Noa was prompted on pillows and smiled when the dark-haired man entered the room, “Come, Vahn, someone here would like to meet you.” The baby was sleeping peacefully in her mother’s arms, for coming into the world is a tiring ordeal after all.
He reached, tenderly kissing his wife, and then gently touching his lips to his newborn daughter’s tiny brow. “I love you, you know… I’ll never tire of saying it.” He whispered.
“And I’ll never tire of hearing you say it, my beloved.” She answered back, lightly touching his face with her free hand.
They both remained silent for a long moment afterwards, sharing in their happiness. The intimacy between them didn’t need words to be expressed, and the joy in their hearts was plainly written in their eyes. They had traveled a long road and had lived many extraordinary journeys, but the journey of Life was the most wondrous of all.
“Lyrah…” whispered Noa, breaking the silence.
“Lyrah?” inquired Vahn, “I know how you chose Narah’s name, ‘Ra’ for ‘Rahmerrhill’ – Love. ‘Na’, short for ‘Narhikaar’ means ‘Mountain’ or ‘place that reaches to the Heavens’, but what does ‘LY’ stand for?”
The red-haired woman had been taught the old tongue by her Ra-Seru, and she explained to her man, “‘Laramani’ is wind and ‘Yrashal’ is fire, and so ‘L’, ‘Y’ and ‘Rah’ stand for...”
“Born of the love of wind and fire…” he gently completed for his wife and added, “It is a beautiful name.”
Suddenly, they both burst out in laugher, as they heard the sound of small feet running into the house, and an exited high-pitched voice exclaim, “Yay! I have a little SIS-TER!”
~*~*~*~*~ THE END ~*~*~*~*~