Life’s Little Triumphs—Shadow
a mini-series by Dot
(Eleven years before the Unbalance)
Clyde opened his eyes to find the most beautiful woman he had ever seen hovering over him. “Are you an angel?” He croaked.
The woman giggled. “You’re more out of it than I thought!” She mopped his forehead with a wet, cool cloth. “No, I’m Schala Magus, and you’re in Thamasa.”
Thamasa. That name sounded familiar. He and Baram had been trying to make it to Thamasa when they were on the run.
“Baram!” Clyde exclaimed, startling Schala. “Where’s Baram?”
Schala shook her head. “I’m sorry, but I don’t know who you’re talking about.”
“He’s been seriously injured! He needs help!” Clyde tried to sit up, but Schala wouldn’t let him.
“You’re in no condition to go anywhere,” she scolded.
“But—what about Baram!” Clyde couldn’t help but remember his partner’s desperate plea. Just finish me off now!
“I’ll ask some people to organize a search party.” Schala pushed Clyde firmly back into bed. “You just concentrate on getting better.”
The anxiety that Clyde felt seemed to subside at Schala’s soothing words. As his eyelids grew heavy, Clyde closed them and let himself be overtaken by his exhaustion again.
– Shadow –
Clyde awakened to a delicious aroma.
“I thought you’d be hungry,” Schala explained as she carried in a rather large tray stacked with food.
Mumbling his gratitude, Clyde dug in, not bothering to use much etiquette. He noticed out of the corner of his eye that Schala stayed in the room, watching with silent amusement. When Clyde finished, he thanked Schala again, and asked her if there had been any news of Baram yet.
“No problem,” Schala replied. “As for your friend, it’s too early to tell now. I’ll let you know as soon as we find anything.”
“As soon as I can walk, I’m going out there and looking for him myself.”
“He means a lot to you, doesn’t he?”
Clyde looked away. “He was injured—he wanted me to kill him so that he wouldn’t slow me down.” He closed his eyes. “But I abandoned him.” he clenched his fists. “I’ve got to find him! I’ve got to! Or else I’d never be able to live with myself!”
Schala laid a hand on his shoulder. “Of course. I understand.”
“You’d better be prepared to find a body,” said a much older man, walking into the room.
Schala frowned. “Strago! Don’t be so pessimistic!”
“I’m not being pessimistic, Schala, I’m just giving this gentleman here some practical advice from an elder.” Strago turned to Clyde. “You’re setting yourself up for a lot of disappointment, friend. Think about it: you were already on the brink of death when you dragged yourself into town. What kind of chances will there be for that Baram fellow, who according to you was not only seriously wounded but didn’t have the will to live?”
Schala began pushing Strago out the door. “That’s enough, Strago.” After she got Strago to leave, she sighed and shook her head. “I’m sorry about that. My uncle always seems to have a way of saying the wrong things.”
Clyde managed to unclenched his fists. “I can’t believe such a terrible old man is related to you.”
The slightest hint of a blush rose in Schala’s cheeks.
– Shadow –
Thanks to Schala’s attentions, Clyde was soon pronounced in the best of health. Of course, Clyde made no delays in preparing to look for Baram.
“So I guess this is goodbye,” Schala noted as she watched Clyde pack the few belongings he had.
Clyde didn’t look up. “Not that I don’t like this place, but there’s a price on my head; I can’t stay anywhere very long.” He slung his bag over his shoulder and began heading out, passing Strago along the way, but the other man ignored him. Clyde was about to head out of Thamasa for what he thought would be forever when he heard Schala call out for him.
“Wait! Please don’t leave yet!”
Turning, Clyde saw Schala racing to catch up to him with a large black Rottweiler at her heels.
“I want—I want—” Schala gasped, heaving from her run.
“Catch your breath first,” Clyde advised. “I can wait.”
Schala did, then looked Clyde straight in his eyes. “I want you to take Interceptor with you.”
Clyde’s eyes widened. Of all the animals that Schala had taken in and cared for, Interceptor was her favorite. “But—”
Schala didn’t seem to hear Clyde’s half-hearted protest. Bending down to Interceptor, she patted its head. “From now on, you take good care of Clyde for me, okay?” The dog let out a few short barks. Rising again, Schala turned to Clyde. “Please.”
“All right. If you insist.” Clyde turned to go again. “Thank you.”
– Shadow –
Clyde, now known by most people as the ninja Shadow, stroked Interceptor’s smooth fur. “We never did find Baram, did we?” He looked towards the town that was just visible in the horizon. “I guess the old geezer was right, after all.”
Even from this distance, Clyde could tell that although Thamasa still hadn’t recovered to its former state, it was well on its way to becoming town full of life again.
“Thamasa,” Clyde muttered to himself. He had never thought he could be so attached to one place. Of course, it helped that Schala had been living in Thamasa. Meeting Schala was one of the few things in his life that he didn’t regret.
And then there was Relm. During the short time that he was reunited with his daughter, Clyde had been both hopeful and fearful that she would discover his true identity, but she never made any sign of whether or not she recognized him. And, when he had wanted to die in Kefka’s tower, it was the thought of leaving Relm an orphan that kept him going.
She wasn’t even three when I had to leave, Clyde recalled. She might not even remember me. He sighed. And if she does, she might never forgive me.
This thought caused Clyde to hesitate a bit. He wondered again for the umpteenth time during the last two years of drifting whether revealing himself to Relm was that good of an idea after all. She had grown up to be so strong and independent; did she really need the painful reminder that her father had abandoned her?
Interceptor whined and tugged at Clyde’s pants, as if it were urging Clyde to hurry up and make up his mind.
“Yes, yes,” Clyde sighed, patting Interceptor’s head. “There’s no avoiding it, is there?”
Interceptor barked and ran out a few steps ahead of Clyde, turned, and barked again.
“I’m coming, I’m coming.” Summoning what was left of his courage, Clyde forced himself to keep walking again, with Interceptor bounding around him.
After nearly ten years of wandering, Clyde Arrowny was going home at long last.
Unnecessarily Long and Tiresome Authoress’ Notes:
It’s possible to recruit Shadow while he’s in Kohlingen, and if you sleep at the inn in Jidoor, you’ll occasionally see his dreams. Later, if you waited for Shadow at the Floating Continent, you’ll get to see yet another one of his flashbacks after rescuing him from the cave in the Veldt. Putting all of these together (plus some comments by the citizens of Thamasa), it’s pretty easy to see how Relm and Shadow are related. Besides, they’re the only two who can equip the relic Momento Ring, whose description is: “departed mom’s love protects against fatal magic attacks”.
The name Schala is bummed from Chrono Trigger, one of my other favorite SquareSoft titles.