Breaking the Cycle

Title: Breaking the Cycle
Premise, or Lack Thereof: A novelization of Legend of Mana attempting to expand and integrate more of its separate plot threads
Reason for Banishment: Ran out of steam


Morning dawns. The Mana Tree looms in the sky above you. A breathtaking scene indeed, but what you experience is something more like this—

I AM THE LIGHT I AM THE DARKNESS I CREATE I DESTROY I AM LOVE I AM LOVE I AM

“Hey. Hey! You all right?” Blackpearl shakes your shoulder so hard it’s hurts. Centuries of weilding that giant battleaxe has given her a much stronger grip than she’s aware of.

“The. Tree. Is. Calling. Me.” you manage to grind out, Blackpearl’s voice overlapping the other VOICE hammering against your consciousness.

Blackpearl lets go. “The Goddess,” she breathes, her hand darting to hover over her core.

“The who?” you think you’ve heard that name before, but you’re not sure. All your memories are starting to flow into one another and it is difficult to discern what thoughts are real and what is a product entering the center of all creation. The mental image of the Sproutling in your front yard being kidnapped by a talking carpet must be nothing more than a bizarre dream, right?

Fantasy. Reality. You’re missing something important here. Your mind is reaching, but you just can’t quite grasp it. Right now, you just care about one thing.

Find the origin of that VOICE and tell it to shut the hell up.

***

Night falls. The moon rises overhead, shadowed by a thin crescent of darkness. The Goddess stands before you, at once both beautiful and terrible.

Not all of me is Just. Not all of me is Pure. That is only half of myself. Those who seek my other half cross their swords. People’s freedom is lost, and my truth is buried.

An overwhelming pull draws you closer despite your every effort to fight it. This is, no doubt, the same sense of inevitability you felt when you witnessed the end of the Jumi at Etansel, the rise of Draconis’ fortress from the bowels of hell, and the fall of the god-beast Lucemia over Gato.

I shall show you my darkness.

The Goddess spreads her arms open, glowing with power.

You must defeat me. You will become a hero. Open the path to those who search for me.

You have been scared before, but never this frightened out of your wits. All you can say is the first thing that comes to your mind, so familiar it has become a mantra.

“This can’t be happening to me.”

***

Nine centuries ago, the Mana Tree burned to ashes.

The power of mana lived on inside mana stones, enchanted instruments, and artifacts. Sages fought each other for control of these last remnants of mana. Then, after centuries of war, that power began to wane. Those who sought it grew scarce and the world returned to peace.

After that, Mankind grew afraid to desire.

Their hearts filled with empty emotions and grew estranged from my hands. They turned their eyes away from my infinite power and were troubled by their petty disputes.

Remember me! Need me! I can provide you with everything!

I am love.

Find me, and walk beside me.

***

Morning—

No. This can’t be happening to you.  You make a beeline to the window.

Domina. Lumina. Gato. Geo. Polpota. Etansel. They’re all gone. Every single one of them. All that’s left is sand, sand, and more sand. The only proof that they ever existed are the cryptic words in your cactus’ diary.

The house is quiet. You rush downstairs. The two would-be sorcerers aren’t there.

A knock sounds at your door.

“Hi! I’m a Sproutling!”

The next thing you know, you’re on top of it, ripping its leaves out one by one.

“Where are they?” you scream. “What did you do with them?”

“The world can be shaped by your imagination!” the Sproutling continues, looking quite serene for something that was being vivisected. “Did you know that?”

Fantasy. Reality. The connection that you missed before hits you so hard you stumble backwards and fall on the floor.

No. No no no no no no—

The Sproutling gets up and dusts itself off as if nothing had happened. “Pokiehl the poet told me that the town of Domina exists because I think so. People say this world isn’t an illusion, but we Sproutlings know better!”

NO!

***

Morning remains as it is: the morning after you defeated the Mana Goddess and the Sproutlings healed the Mana Tree; the morning after what was supposed to be your final quest; the morning after everything went back to the way things were when you first forced your eyes open after that nightmare of fire and destruction.

You wrap your bloody hand as best you can manage. The pain fades as the lacerations close and the blood dries off. You stare the wounds, collecting what’s left of your self-control so you don’t go sending your fist through more glass.

Each sparkle of the artifact the Sproutling left on the table for you is a painful reminder of three lifetimes’ worth of adventures erased. You wonder if you should smash the Colorblocks instead of another window, but you’d rather not risk a town manifesting in your house.

Instead, you bang your head against the nearest wall. Why did the world reset? Didn’t you do everything you were supposed to? And what is the purpose of your efforts if you are doomed to repeat yourself over and over again?

You flex your good fist, fighting the temptation to break more things.

***

Morning passes into noon. The sun takes on the aspect of Aura as it trails along behind you. After a quick trip with Niccolo to open the way to Gaeus—who, as you suspected, has no useful advice to give—and a brief jaunt into a “hairy-scary” pumpkin patch to pick up your two apprentices again, you head into Domina’s bar by yourself and see Elazul there, just as you remember.

“Leave her alone,” you command Elazul before he can snap at Rachel. “You’re looking for Pearl, aren’t you? I know where she is.”

Elazul blinks, taken off guard by your inexplicable knowledge, then regains his composure and narrows his eyes. “And why should I trust you?”

Elazul wasn’t this suspicious last time. Maybe he was more desperate then. “Fine, think what you like. I’ll just go by myself.”

He narrows his eyes even further. “I don’t think so.”

“So we have an agreement after all. Good.” You bend down to Rachel and give her the most warm, reassuring smile you can manage. “May I borrow your Jade Egg, Rachel?”

She nods, handing the aforementioned object over.

“Thanks.” you get up to leave, but she pulls you forward and whispers two words into your ear.

“Blue Wiggly.”

You almost drop the Artifact onto the floor as you stare at Rachel, but she just smiles back without a word. Meanwhile, Elazul is starting to look a bit impatient.

“So where’s Pearl?”

“Melkiv Caverns.” when Elazul shoots you a quizzical look, you add: “I’ll explain on the way.”

***

The sun sets. The sight is so beautiful you wish it would last forever, but it is, after all, near nightfall. You enter your house and have just enough time to kick the dirt off your shoes before you must brace for the inevitable welcoming committee.

“What did you bring us?” Bud wants to know, hopping up and down faster and faster. He must have gotten into the Squalfin soda again.

“And you promised to take us with you!” Lisa reminds you.

You don’t answer right away since you’re trying to remember which quests would be all right to bring along two walking hazards unaware of the dangers in the world at large. As Elazul and Pearl catch up to your breakneck pace, you divert the children’s attentions to them instead. After Bud and Lisa exchange boisterous greetings, all of you sit down and have dinner together, your first formal group meal since your arrival in this strange world.

“I will keep that promise, but other priorities come first right now.” Before either of them can complain, you continue. “Pearl will be staying here, too, and she’s not to take a single step outside this door if you can help it. I don’t care if you have to chain her to the bed.”

Pearl blushes bright pink. “Is that really necessary?”

“Yes,” you and Elazul answer at the same time.

Bud salutes, puffing his chest. “You can count on Bud the Malignant! I’ll make sure Miss Pearl is safe!”

“Bud!” Lisa moans, coloring pink. “Why do you have to make everything sound so melodramatic?”

This is such a beautiful scene: Bud and Lisa bickering like the kids they are, Pearl giggling at their antics, Elazul trying to hide a small smile, and you just enjoying the moment as long as you can. You know it won’t last, but this time, you’re not going to take these kinds of things for granted.

***

Dusk deepens. The stone walls of the sheer cliffs tower over you, and the waning light give them the appearance of blood. You and Elazul arrive in Gato, the latter still amazed at seeing it appear from the Artifact. You, on the other hand, are already busy scanning for a certain suspicious-looking nun and hoping that Inspector Boyd has followed up on the anonymous tip you gave him.

“Ow!” rounding the corner, right on schedule, is that Sproutling with the persistent Popo bug problem. It runs off before the nun can remove any more of its leaves.

Elazul’s hands tighten around his sword. “Rubens is at the top of the Grotto. We must hurry.”

You nod, wishing you could tell him just how serious the problem is. “Three steps ahead of you, Elazul.”

***

You have no idea what time it is. All you are aware of when you wake is the sound of dripping liquid, a salty metallic taste in your mouth, and the sensation of being chained. The tiniest movement brings fresh ripples of pain.

“Welcome back to the world of the living.”

You recognize that voice all too well. It takes tremendous effort to open your eyes—and then even more to bite back an exclamation of dismay when you see the red gem that Sandra holds in her hands.

Sandra doesn’t miss your reaction. “Oh, don’t worry. Compared to the suffering that Florina has been forced to bear, the Ruby Knight felt very little pain when I ended his miserable existence.” she approaches and traces a painted fingernail along your chin. “You, on the other hand, will be wishing you were dead if you don’t cooperate.”

Try as you might, you can’t quite suppress a whimper as Sandra sends a wave of pure agony down your body.

Sandra arches an eyebrow. “Well, well. You’re tougher than you look. But I wouldn’t put up a brave front if I were you. I’m very, very good at making people crack.” she sinks her claws into your side. “Everybody does, sooner or later.”

***

You dream. You know it is a dream because every once in a while the scene before you hiccups and takes on a different aspect.

Still, no matter how many times your view shifts, you’re standing on the same mountain of bones that stretches as far as the eye can see. You pick your way across these remains at a snail’s pace, sometimes floating over them with your toes brushing the grotesque monument, sometimes stumbling along the unstable slope and sending pieces of the dead rolling into the darkness.

You hear a simple but familiar and out-of-tune melody cranked out from an old music box. You turn to look where the sound is coming from, and you find yourself standing in front of Poekiehl the Storyteller, one of the six (or was it seven?) Wisdoms.

“What happened here?” you ask.

Poekiehl doesn’t look up. “The fulfillment of desire.” he continues turning the handle. “The Goddess always grants a heartfelt wish.”

You don’t believe it. You refuse to believe it. And then you remember the dolls in the Junkyard and you understand. Everyone has a different wish, after all, so this must have been the inevitable result of some conflict between one or more seekers.

“The Goddess refused them nothing.” now he peers up, looking at you. “Nothing,” he repeats, his eyes solemn.

So whose wish was being answered now? You want to ask, but the scene fades into darkness again.

***

Both day and night have no meaning here. You’ve long since lost track of time. The fact that Sandra hasn’t made an appearance since the last time you woke is of little consolation because so much remains unknown.

That’s the worst part, not knowing: when she might show up. What she might do to you. Which of the Jumi remain alive. How much you have—or haven’t—told her. Why you remain bound, hurting, thirsting, starving, losing what little hope you have left.

Then the chains around your wrists become unlocked without any effort on your part, and you suck in a sharp intake of breath as you crumple downwards, a pair of strong arms easing your descent. A gourd filled of cool water is brought to your parched lips, and you drink as fast as your ragged breaths allow, not stopping except for one excruciating coughing fit when the liquid goes down the wrong pipe.

“It’s all right! You’re safe now.”

You squeeze your eyes open; in the dim light, you make out your rescuers. “Pearl? Elazul?”

“Shh, don’t talk.” Pearl dabs at your wounds with her handkerchief. Elazul shifts so that you can sit against the wall instead of lying in his lap.

You don’t listen to her, not when they’ve risked their lives to find you. “Sandra?”

“We’ve dealt with her.” Elazul’s voice is hard. “It’s over.”

“The others?”

“What others?” Elazul looks surprised. “You mean there might be survivors?”

“Not now, Elazul!” Pearl chides.

“Yes, now! The Gem Eater got away!” Elazul grabs you by the arm. “We have to find them before it does!”

Pearl gasps as your blood seeps through Elazul’s fingers. “Stop that!”

“Yes, you’ve done enough.” Blackpearl steps out of the shadows, followed by the Gem Eater. “The fate of the Jumi should not involve any more outsiders.”

The illusion fades as Sandra stares in open shock at Blackpearl, but before you can react she grabs you in a choke-hold. “Not another step!”

Blackpearl shakes her head. “I’m not here to fight you. I’m here to put a stop to this nonsense, once and for all, even if it means the end of our people.”

She hands a small pouch to the Gem Eater, and neither you nor Sandra need to ask what’s in them.

“Blackpearl—” your voice comes out as a hoarse whisper. “You—”

Blackpearl’s expression doesn’t change. “We warned you to stay out of our affairs, human. Our destiny was decided when, save for Florina, we forsook our tears and sealed ourselves away from the rest of the world.”

Sandra’s grip on you tightens as the Gem Eater opens the pouch and takes out the contents one core at a time, naming each as he devours it.

“Emerald.” gulp. “Diamond.” gulp. “Lapis Lazuli.” gulp.

Sandra screams when she sees the nine thousand nine hundred and ninety-ninth core.

“Fluorite.”

Gulp.

You fall again, but this time no one catches you.

“One more to go.” Blackpearl presents Sandra with an elaborate jewel-encrusted dagger. “I can’t think of a more appropriate candidate than the two-faced Alexandrite. Don’t you agree, Alex the Merchant? Or is it Sandra the Thief? Or, perhaps, you still remember being a Jumi Knight, one that failed her Guardian?”

Sandra lets out a bitter scoff. “You’re one to talk, Blackpearl.” Nevertheless her face falls back into icy calm as she lifts the dagger up, staring at it. Her hand trembles for a moment, and then becomes still.

You want to move, to cry out, anything, but you’re too weak to do anything except watch. No—stop—somebody—anybody—

The blade plunges down.

***

Morning dawns. The gem-paved streets of the last Jumi refuge glitter as light passes over them, an empty monument to an extinct race. Unlike before, no last-minute miracle can save them this time, their thousand souls already digested by the Gem Eater, who then disappeared to keep the power of Jumi out of the hands of greedy hunters.

“Thank you.” Pearl appears before you, dressed in the full regalia of a Clarius and her bone-white hair styled into an austere bun. “And forgive me.”

You skip another gemstone across the fountain. “For what?”

“For getting you involved,” she paused for a moment, and then shifted into Blackpearl. “I wish I could blame Alexandrite, but we were all just as guilty.”

Skip skip plop. “Why’re you apologizing? I’m the idiot that couldn’t mind my own business.” Then or now, you don’t say, because you don’t know if she, like everyone else, is trapped in the same loop of recurring events.

Blackpearl picks up a small opal disk. “I—” she clutches it so hard it begins to crack in her grip. “—I’m sorry.”

Skip skip skip plop. “Not as sorry as I am.”

“If you ever need my help, don’t hesitate to call on me.” she reverts to Pearl again. “Please. We owe you that much, at least.”

You toss in one last jewel and rise to your feet. “I’ll keep that in mind.”

***

The next morning—and many mornings afterwards—you keep your promise to your two apprentices. You take Bud to see the Wisdoms; though they still have nothing new to add to what you already know, at least your enthusiastic young tagalong is thrilled to be able to meet these legendary figures in person. Lisa goes with you to Geo to help convince the students of the Magic Academy there to stop boycotting school, and she’s so busy chatting up her old schoolmates that she doesn’t notice you linger where Esmerelda would have sat if you had not made a mess of things. Both children are introduced to the Penguin Pirates, and even you can’t help smiling a little at their antics, and for a brief moment you can almost believe that things aren’t so dire after all.

By the time you’re on your way back from the extended trips to recover Lisa’s broom and track down the medicine for Bud’s mysterious illness, both of them have tired of the endless days walking and being chased by monsters and the nights eating cold food and sleeping in tents. On some legs of the trip they are so exhausted that they even share a ride on your new pet chocobo without much complaint.

They are fast asleep by the time you reach home, safe and sound at last. Blackpearl is at your door waiting, having received the missive you sent her by pelican post, and helps you carry Bud to his room while you tuck Lisa in.

“I should be going with you,” Blackpearl says as you prepare for the trip to the Underworld.

“Bud and Lisa need you more,” you answer. You can’t risk them being Draconis’ hostages; besides, you doubt Larc would be dumb enough to try an ambush with someone like Blackpearl tagging along.

Blackpearl bites her lip, looking almost like her other, gentler self. “Be careful.”

“I’ll try.”

***

Darkness deepens as you activate the Trembling Spoon and countless tombstones rise from the ground around you. You find yourself wondering if this locale, like Lumina, is locked in perpetual night. Unlike Lumina, however, there is no warm glow emanating from anywhere.

You check the fit of your armor. A dagger lays snug against your hip, while another is tucked in your boot and a third hidden in your gauntlet. You’re not going to let Larc catch you by surprise this time.

The Land Dragon you raised from an egg no bigger than your fist now towers over you, but even it fidgets with unease as you lead it to the largest marble edifice at the center of the cemetery, the marker for the entrance to the Underworld.

“Easy, boy,” you pet it on the snout when it growls. No doubt Larc is already in position to strike. Louder, you call out: “There’s no point in hiding, Larc. I know you’re out there, waiting to present your Lord with a strong fighter. Well, you got me. I’ll go with you.”

The Land Dragon reacts before you can, exhaling a stream of fire at the ax that flies towards you. It melts and lands in a sizzling heap.

You draw an IshePlatinum harp, a gift from the Geo Academy for services rendered in Duma Desert, and begin to play a mournful tune patterned after Poekiehl’s music box melody. After the first few notes, the magic takes over and the harp carries the melody by itself, drawing essences of Undine from the surroundings.

“I wouldn’t try that again if I were you,” you tell your unseen assailant, keeping a tight grip on the Land Dragon’s leash. “I happen to be rather attached to living, and there are ways into the Underworld without getting stabbed in the back.”

“You’re bluffing.” the darkness shifts and the Land Dragon almost takes you off your feet as it rears, making threatening noises at Larc while he drops his cloaking spell and approaches. “Ohlbohn only accepts the souls of the departed into his realm.”

“We’ll see about that.” you draw the dagger from your gauntlet and prick your finger with it, then draw the mark for the Baptismal of Flame on the face of the doorway with your blood.

Larc stares in obvious shock as the grave marker moves aside, revealing a set of stairs descending downwards. “How—?”

“There are more things in Heaven and Earth than are contained in your philosophy,” you answer, tucking the dagger back into place.

***

Whether it is day or night, you’re too deep underground fighting monsters to know or care. You wish you could have brought your Land Dragon with you as well, but you had to leave it at the door as a sign of good faith. Larc trails behind you, watching your every move and disposing of the enemies you leave alive to keep him occupied.

You wish you could make a direct beeline for Draconis, but you don’t want to let slip of just how much you know what lies ahead and your sense of direction isn’t all that great anyway. You backtrack a few times to give an false impression of ineptitude and to make sure that the Shadoles indeed move in a predictable pattern.

You defeat the final token test Draconis sends your way and enter into his lair, your entire body on edge now that you understand what that vague sensation of unease you had felt the last time implies.

Larc kneels before Draconis, and without realizing it gives you a good glimpse of the mark designating him as Draconis’ faithful servant. “I’ve brought the warrior as you commanded.”

“So you have,” Draconis answers, putting a hand on Larc’s shoulder. “Well done.”

Larc’s bloodcurdling scream is sufficient warning for you to draw your weapon and take a defensive stance, but even so the Dragoon lunges at you with surprising speed, almost pinning you to the back wall. You leap free, kicking against Larc’s axe handle as he swings it upwards; you grab onto a stalactite and send a shower of daggers towards Draconis. Larc knocks the majority of them away, blocking the rest with his own body. The one that makes it past him lands inches in front of Draconis’ feet. When he counterattacks, Larc’s weapon catches you in the chest, throwing you across the room and through the wall.

Dammit. If you’re having this much trouble against Larc, even with your new strength, facing Draconis now is nothing short of suicide. You force yourself to your feet, wincing at the pain spreading through your ribs, and begin to make a reluctant retreat.

“And where do you think you’re going, soon-to-be-dead?”

You stop short before you skid into the wall of Shadoles blocking your path. You brandish your Aerolite pendant, tempered with the power of light. “Back to the world of the living. So move.”

The Shadoles draw back at first, then titter with gleeful malice and begin to press in. “You’re not Ohlbohn. You can’t order us around!”

You recall the distant memory of a priestess from Gato. You don’t know if you would be able to do it, but it’s worth a shot. “I am the universe,” you declare, drawing up every once of willpower. “Away from me, Shadoles!”

The Shadoles erupt into panic as the world around you begins to tear, and you plummet like a rock into the star-less void.

***

They had climbed up and up and up, through the twisting branches of the Mana Tree that were now red with the blood spilled during the battle. They were running now, because if they didn’t hurry it would be too late. They leaned on each other so that they would not falter on their way.

At long last, they reached the apex. The Goddess stood waiting, smiling as if all was right with the world.

“Do you have a wish, my Children?”

They drew their weapons, keeping their other hands clutched tight. He spoke first. “It’s time to end this, False Goddess. We shall suffer no more under your tyranny.”

“First you will prove the sincerity of your hearts.” Wings of light began sprouting from the Goddess’ back.

“Very well.”

No further signal was necessary. Thousands of battles fought together had honed their skills into an elegant dance of death. They moved forward as one, determined to strike down this final obstacle.

***

Morning dawns over the same endless desert you had first found yourself in on that very first morning. Matilda, looking as if she had just tiptoed past the cusp of maidenhood instead of an old, wrinkled maiden at death’s threshold, hovers over you like a brooding hen. Her worry dissolves into relief as your eyes meet hers.

“Oh, thank goodness! I was starting to think were gone forever!” she clasps your hands in hers, not flinching at the blood crusting your gauntlets.

“That was extraordinarily foolish,” Irwin rumbles from somewhere beyond your current line of vision. “You may have become better acquainted with the workings of the world, but attempting a spell of that magnitude in your current state could have caused you to erase your own existence altogether.”

You want to sit up, but your body has other ideas. “Existence? You’re funny, Irwin.”

Matilda let out a long sigh. “I’m so sorry. We never meant for you to get tangled up in this mess. I guess I do owe you an explanation.” she gives your hand another squeeze. “But right now you need to stay with the path, no matter how difficult that may be.”

A small leather-bound tome lands in your lap. “Hold onto this. You’ll know when is the right time to use it.”

Matilda cups your face in her hands. “I’m so, so very sorry,” she apologizes again, her voice so mournful that you want to weep for her. “But you need to wake up now.”

***

Morning has dawned long ago by the time you regain consciousness again; the blinding light that assaults your eyes when you manage to crack them open tells you that. Vadise hovers over you like a brooding hen, concern and warmth emanating from the features that you can make out, while Sierra stands to the side, regarding you with open suspicion.

“You wake at last, dearest Sproutling of the Mana Tree.”

You wonder if that title is symbolic or literal as you clear the last bits of fog from your brain. “No. No more fool’s errands.”

Sierra glares daggers at you. “You speak as if you have no stake in the future of Fa’Diel.”

You rise, checking to see how much of you remains unscathed. “Ask someone who cares.”

Vadise intervenes before an argument can break out. “Please.” she waits for Sierra to stand down before continuing, directing her gaze straight at you. “Now is not the time for self-pity, Sproutling. The pollution of Draconis’ evil will spill far beyond this realm if it is not contained.”

All your armor and weapons are accounted for, and there is an book-shaped lump in your vest pocket that you do not wish to acknowledge, not right now. “Can’t run away from destiny, can I?” you mumble, already knowing the answer.

“All paths lead to the Goddess,” was the non-committal answer, sounding like more of an ominous prophecy than the comforting platitude Vadise means it to be.

***

The morning sun offers little warmth this high in the mountains, and even less so now that you’ve removed every article of clothing save what is necessary to keep your dignity intact while the wary denizens of the Village of the Winds circle around you and react to your arsenal.

You draw your arms around yourself, averting your gaze from either them or Sierra, who looks quite mortified at the scene. “That’s everything but my underwear, and if you don’t mind I’d rather keep those on.”

You hear hushed voices whispering around you, and from the corner of your eyes you see sudden movement. You just sigh and let the ropes bind your hands to your sides.

Sierra jumps, but stops when a row of spears block her path. “What is the meaning of this?” she demands.

“We are the guardians of Akravator. We don’t need help from anyone, especially not Vadise’s Dragoon.” one of them jabs a claw into your shoulder. “Besides, how do we know this ‘partner’ of yours isn’t one of Draconis’ spies?”

“Vadise—”

A snort of derision rises from the crowd. “Vadise is a coward who hides among the enchanted trees! What does she know of protecting the Norn Peaks?”

Sierra flares with anger but otherwise says nothing. Then she flickers and all but vanishes from view, causing the others to panic.

You feel the ropes go slack as Sierra reappears beside you, daggers drawn. “Take your things. We are leaving. The Guardians of Akravator—” she all but spits out those words, as if she is daring them to start a fight, “have no need for the likes of us.”

You dress and re-arm yourself, keeping your senses open, but no-one moves.

***

Night falls over the mountains, sunset sky draping the peaks with every shade of color imaginable. You and Sierra sit in front of a roaring fire, waiting for Larc to make his inevitable rampage. You wish you could set up some sort of ambush instead of waiting to intervene at the last possible moment, but such is the price you pay for being one of the good guys.

Sierra pretends to watch the fire. “Penny for your thoughts.”

“Are you really okay with this?” You poke at a log. “I don’t think I can stop Larc without killing him, and I’m pretty sure that’s going to screw things over with his soul.”

Sierra sets her jaw. “He chose his path a long time ago. I may be his sister, but I am a Dragoon of Vadise first.”

Before you have any time to wax philosophical about the situation, you hear the distant sound of bloodcurdling screams carried by the mountain’s winds. You stand and extinguish the flames. “That’s our cue.”

Sierra nods, her expression solemn. “Let’s go.”


Unnecessarily Long and Tiresome Authoress’ Notes:
This started out as a novelization of the game, but I couldn’t find any good scripts and I wasn’t interested in retyping dialogue. Also, plenty of adaptations already exist anyway, so I decided to go with the other idea that was nagging me.
For whatever reason, playing Legend of Mana on New Game Plus (i.e. starting the game over with the character you built up in a previous save file) depresses me to no end. I can’t explain it, because I don’t have the same problem with other games that have a similar feature. I guess it doesn’t help that all three major storylines have rather bittersweet endings and there’s nothing to tie everything together.
Feedback greatly appreciated, especially on the usage of Second Person Present and whether those of you not familiar with the game were able to enjoy the story.

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