So once upon a time, on a now-defunct blog (yeah there’s one even more abandoned than this one), I started writing up this concept that was in large part the basis for a speculative design of remixing the original Final Fantasy with characters and mechanics from later games along with some of my own unique additions. It’s sadly never gotten past the conceptual stage, but I always loved this fragment that I wrote to start it off.
So here it is for your enjoyment. ^_^
When she came to, the scent of life was the first thing she noticed. Then a warm light, like dawn after a long night, greeted her as she opened her eyes. She was laying in the grass, under the shade of a great tree, and before her lay a gorgeous field of wildflowers, swaying in the wind, backed by a strand of beach, and the distant crash of the sea.
A figure came into her view, and knelt on the grass. She rose up a bit, feeling dizzy, and a gentle hand rested on her shoulder. “It’s all right,” spoke a young voice, confidently, “the dizziness goes away fairly quickly.” The voice belonged to a girl, pink-haired, wearing a white cloak trimmed in a red pattern.
Another voice rang out behind her, and she turned to regard a man wearing a blue bandanna, seated against the tree. “It goes away quickly if someone doesn’t knock you in the head with her rod.”
“You shut up, Locke,” said the pink-haired girl severely, and then looked back at her. “It’s all right,” she said again. “I’m Porom. Do you remember anything?”
She thought for a moment, and the dizziness got stronger suddenly. Only one thing came to her, though she was certain there was more: “my name,” she said, “is Ashe. Ashelia B’nargin Dalmasca, and I’m… where am I?”
Porom slumped slightly, though she immediately shook off her disappointment and smiled reassuringly. “None of us know. Every time one of us wakes up, I keep hoping we’ll learn something new, but…” Porom shrugged. “At least we seem to be safe here.”
“For now, at least.” Another female voice, coming from a dark-haired girl in black, with red-gold eyes, who leaned over to offer her a hand up. “Tifa’s the name. Since you’re the last one, it’s probably safe for us to get going.”
Ashe took the hand and rose up, her legs only unsteady for a moment. “Where are we going?”
Tifa shrugged, a light smile spreading across her features. “No idea, but there’s no food here, the sun’s high in the sky, we’ve got ocean on three sides of of us and the old man says there’s a city to the north of us.”
Old man? Ashe looked back at the tree, and leaning against the side of it, was a man in a red haori, wearing sunglasses, his arms crossed over his chest.
“How do you know there’s a city if none of us know where we are?”
Silently the man reached into the sleeve of his haori and pulled out a golden tube, which he tossed her way effortlessly. She caught it handily, and realized it was a spyglass. She strode to the tree, shook the spyglass open and pointed it in what she assumed was north. Through the haze of the daytime heat she could see white walls, and a great tower rising behind them.
“That’s not too far away…” Ashe said. She lowered the spyglass and collapsed it before holding it out for the old man to take, but he had resumed his leisurely stance and didn’t move. Ashe looked at him more closely; there was a long scar over his right eye, and only his left eye, a deep brown color, looked at her over his sunglasses.
“I’ll keep this then,” Ashe said, “sir…” and she trailed off, hoping he’d get the hint.
“Auron,” he said in return, his lips barely visible over the tall collar of his haori, “though everyone else seems to think ‘old man’ will suffice.”
Locke kipped up from where he was sitting and dusted himself off. “Well, now that we’re six and we’re all introduced, I guess it’s a party.”
Ashe looked around. “Six?”
Auron reached back with one hand and pulled a short figure into view from where he’d been hiding behind the tree. Ashe couldn’t see past the big brown hat and the high collar on it’s coat, but big glowing yellow eyes peeked from the darkness and a tiny voice stammered at her. “I-I’m Vivi, Miss Ashe.”
“All right,” Locke said, “now it’s a party.”
“Why were you hiding?” Ashe asked of the short…she was going to assume boy just for ease.
“Auron scared him,” Porom said, pulling Vivi gently away from the old man and putting herself between them, protectively.
“E-everything scares me, Miss Porom,” Vivi whispered.
“Oh,” said Locke with a chuckle, “we are going to have some fun…”
Ashe shook her head. This was a pack of misfits, made worse by the cloud they all seemed to have on their memories. She hated being so confused, and she hated the dizziness that struck her every time she tried to remember something else. Finally she shook her frustration away. “There’s no time for games. If we want to make that city before nightfall, we should leave now.”
“Taking charge, then?” Auron’s voice said, and Ashe heard the hint of a challenge in it.
“Someone has to,” Ashe said, “do you have a problem with that, Sir Auron?”
The old man gave one shake of his head, and a smile curled his lips slightly. “None at all. Lead on, princess.”
At that last word, she felt something in the mists of her mind clear slightly. Was she a princess? Yes! She was! Followed by how does he know? But she shook that away; there would be time for that later.
Porom was whispering calming words to Vivi as they headed north; Auron shouldered a large sword over his shoulder and settled his other arm inside his haori before following at a leisurely pace, and Ashe caught Locke looking back at Tifa, who was facing the field of wildflowers.
“Coming, Tifa?” said Locke, and Ashe caught a hint of something in his voice that wasn’t just concern.
Tifa turned to face them both, meeting first Locke’s gaze and then Ashe’s, nodding cheerfully. “Sure. I just wanted another look at the field. Who knows if we’re going to forget that too, right?” She stretched her arms up over her head casually, and then jogged off after Auron and the others.
Locke looked after her and then to Ashe, then gave a nod and headed off.
Ashe regarded the field, the warm light, and the ocean beyond, framed with an endless sky. She set one hand on the tree, feeling the bark, searching for familiarity but finding nothing. The hand became a fist, and before she did something foolish she turned and walked after the others.
She would find answers. She deserved them. She was Ashelia Dalmasca. No one leaves her in the dark.