“Golbez!!” Cecil’s voice echoed sharply off of the cold face of the summit. Stumbling out of the Rift and onto Mt. Ordeals had been the first shock. The next shock came when he and FuSoYa actually caught sight of the Master Wizard. He lifted his voice again, “Golbez!?”
His brother wasn’t responding. Curled up, knees clutched tightly to his broad chest, the Half Lunar’s cloak hung in tatters around his shoulders. His eyes were vacant, hair pouring down across his face. Cecil had never seen him like that before.
FuSoYa would have none of it. He pushed his way forward with a demanding tone, “Why did you have to go and do something so foolish, boy! Rifting away without a word! Where is Incrytan?”
Still there was no response. The Paladin reached out with his hand, clasping his brother’s shoulder. Just a slight shake.
Golbez was cold as death. The feel of decay and destruction was so thick in the air that the rocks of the mountain top steamed, a plume of grey like a signal fire. Only, there was no fire. The stone and the air itself were alive with power… green flickerings… and a pressure so great it pounded against his skull.
“Golbez?” When Cecil’s voice came, it was less than a whisper. “Shiva… what happened to him?”
“He’s… in great pain,” FuSoYa spoke slowly, a knowing gleam in his eye.
“Uncle?” Cecil’s voice was broken as he glanced over at the Lunarian Sage.
FuSoYa did not speak another word. His own expression was one of concentration, soaking in every detail. A deep regret. An overwhelming sadness. He was visiting his brother’s tomb. It was part of his very soul now.
“What… happened to him?” Cecil craned his head back to study the Summit. As if the mountain itself might give an answer, he asked, “Why? Why is he here? What did he do?”
What did he do…?
“The Trial,” the Paladin whispered, face slowly drain of color as it gained in realization. The paleness of his cheeks gave his eyes a brighter glow of fiery green. “No… Oh, Golbez… why?”
The Paladin King knelt beside his brother, placing a steady palm upon each of Golbez’s broad shoulders. Then, slowly tightening his hold he pulled the Half Lunar up to face him. For a moment, Cecil wanted to pull away. The sight of the deadened jade depths of the Master Wizard’s eyes was more frightening than the living glow that had once resided there. But he regained his senses and forced his grip to hold.
“Golbez?” His voice was gentle, “Answer me, brother. Tell me what happened?”
The Master Wizard blinked slowly. His gaze locked upon Cecil, a hissing whisper issuing forth.
“Ceccccilll… I…” Golbez raised a hand weakly, only succeeding in pawing at his brother’s face clumsily. Tears streaked down the wizard’s haggard face, “I failed…”
“Failed?” FuSoYa’s brows bristled sharply, hooded eyes peering down at the broken Half Lunar.
“I… failed. Cecil, I failed. I’m… I’m…” he continued to struggle, fighting to find the words.
“No…” Cecil stopped him with a tight jerk upon his shoulders. Tears stood in his eyes as well. “Don’t even say it! Don’t even think it! This… this.. it… means.. nothing! Nothing!”
Life drained back into Golbez’s eyes suddenly. A fierce raw anger, a fury out of nowhere. The Master Wizard snarled and Cecil drew away as his brother rose swiftly, snapping the air with his words.
“It means everything! Don’t you understand? I’ve failed! I’ve failed everything! Everyone! Father… Mother… Uncle Fu… you! The Blue Planet… everything…!” He loomed, standing tall over Cecil, body trembling.
What’s happened to him?
“Boy! Stop this!” FuSoYa attempted to intercept, only to be nudged back out of the way.
There was a fevered cast to Golbez’s expression, pure and simple rage. Cecil gave a shout of alarm as his brother scooped a handful of his shirt-front in one fist, nearly lifting the Paladin from his feet. His voice rose as he demanded through bared teeth, “What is the secret? Where is the light? You’ve got to tell me, Cecil! How do I find it? What do I do that’s always so wrong? Tell me!! TELL ME!!”
“G-Gol…bez!” Cecil clutched at the fist that held him. “It doesn’t work like that!”
“Then,” Golbez’s eyes had grown dark, the colors deepening, his voice menacingly low. “It’s all a lie. It must not exist after all.”
“No… that’s not what I mean!” Cecil flinched away.
“Then you mean, it exists. But just not for me,” Golbez’s gaze shot up, withering. The grip on the Paladin’s shirt tightened. “Never for me.”
Cecil gasped for air. He had drawn the Crystal Blade as a warrior’s reflex. The tension between the two brothers narrowed, Cecil’s face growing hard.
A sudden light.
At first, Cecil couldn’t tell where the light was coming from – he wondered if it was a spell that Golbez had cast. But then he could see it, a flicker of white that seemed to be hovering in front of them both, not quite on the ground. A voice golden… powerful… familiar… emanated from within the swirling glow.
~This will not solve anything, my sons! Therefore…~
The glow dimmed, a pale shape growing from it, taking form. It was tall man – a good bit taller than Cecil’s height. He had long pale hair of iridescent white that cast about him, flowing in an unfelt wind. His eyes were soft green with flecks of unnamed colors swimming deep under a kind, gentle brow. A young, handsome face. A face lined with unmeasureable pain and patience. He stretched one shimmering hand towards Cecil, the other towards Golbez, stepping between the two.
~…Let it not be…~
Both brothers fell to their knees upon the sight.
“F-father!!” Golbez’s tone was strangled. Once again, he tucked himself together, eyes tightly shut, shivering in the light. As if he feared its touch.
Cecil’s blade clattered to the stone. Despite the fact the light was gentle, not frightening, he also felt a tremble rush through his body.
FuSoYa stumbled forward, mouth working with no sound. For the first time ever, there was a flood of emotion upon his wrinkled cheeks, an expression of pain and extreme loss. He, too, flinched from the light. He finally managed to splutter, “KluYa!?”
The light about the figure diminished completely, as the image stood strong enough to let one think that that this man was more than just a figment of the past. The power of his soul draped across the mountain. Everyone could feel it.
“Fu! So you finally came to visit me?” the Spirit turned towards ancient Lunar. A gentle smile drew across his face as he cocked his head slowly, kindly. There was a powerful love shimmering in his strange eyes. It nearly melted the cold depths of the mountain’s stone, “I’m happy to see you again, brother.”
“KluYa,” the Sage choked on the name again. Then his face twisted with a mutter, “You were always the troublemaker.”
“Has time been kind?” the Spirit continued, grinning conversationally. “I hope you are well?”
FuSoYa blinked as if he could not believe it. He slowly reached out and took his brother’s hand in his own. Then he knelt, words falling like tears. “I’m… so very sorry… Can you ever forgive an ignorant old fool?”
“Whatever are you babbling about Fu?” Father chuckled good naturedly. He pulled his brother to stand again, giving the old Lunar’s hand a gentle squeeze.
“Everything… All that has come to pass,” FuSoYa shook his head. “Is it all my fault?”
Golbez raised his head, a twitching motion. Shock was in his face, “Your fault? How, Uncle? It was mine?”
FuSoYa looked pained again, “It was my stubbornness that ran KluYa off to the Blue Planet. None of these events – nothing — would have happened if I hadn’t been such an unfeeling fool…”
“No, Fu. There is no blame on you,” Father shook his head slowly, reaching a hand down to both of his sons, drawing them to their feet as well.
The four of them clustered together, an awkward reunion.
The Spirit placed a gentle finger along side of first Golbez’s face, then Cecil’s. His expression spoke of a father’s longing. “My sons… You’ve both grown! I’m very proud of you. Both of you!”
Shock and awe left Cecil without a voice. Finally, here it was. His chance. And he had not a word to say.
Golbez didn’t seem to be having the same trouble. But when he opened his mouth to speak, Father deftly intervened.
“I know, Benjamin… You want to take the blame of the world upon your shoulders. But this is not true…” the Spirit shook his head to accent the point. “There is stain. Nothing that holds your soul from the light that you don’t create for yourself. There is only a string of time that has been in the making since the very first day. A line that you can trace back into the darkness of unconsciousness… to the Time Before. The fault cannot be yours, for there is always one who came before you that put into motion the very events that lead to your own.”
Cecil’s mouth had parted, his soft eyes staring fixed upon the vision before him. Longing. “Father… I… wish…”
“I know. So do I,” Father stroked a hand through the Paladin’s bushy white hair. Then he smiled softly. “You must never stray from your path of light, my son. Promise me?”
“I promise,” Cecil swallowed.
“Then my heart is at ease.”
Golbez turned away, shamefully. His voice cracked as he forced the words from between his lips, “I’m sorry, Father. I’m your failure. I wanted you to be proud of me. I wanted so much to be…”
“My Benjamin. My silly boy!” Father was laughing now, gently. Mirth lit up his eyes in a strangely familiar way. “Did you actually expect to be able to follow in Cecil’s path? When you have a path all your own waiting for you to discover it?”
Golbez lifted his head.
“The Light you seek, it exists. Never give up your quest for it. The world will wear at your heart but you must never give up hoping. And always… always…. be true to yourself.”
“How? I can’t remember my past at all… I don’t know myself. How can I be true to something I don’t know?” the Half Lunar gave a pleading look.
“To know yourself isn’t just to know your past. Yes, it’s important to acknowledge the past… but it’s just as important to embrace the present.” Father looked solemn, “Do not hide from your truth. No matter how terrible and dark it may seem… you have to face it. The only way you can begin to change and grow again is to understand that within each of us there is both the dark and the light. Then seek the balance between them.”
Golbez’s eyes began to shimmer suddenly. A passage of insight flowed into him, a visible wisdom.
“You have your own path in life to follow, as I said before. Not Cecil’s path. But your own,” the Spirit continued. “What works for one, does not always hold true for another. I would have kept you from entering this trial if I could have… but you were always a stubborn boy.”
FuSoYa followed with his own remark, “He must take after his father.”
“Fu…” the Spirit addressed him slowly, pausing to glance across the horizon. His form seemed somehow dimmer, less concrete. “There is so much I want to say to you but my time here is nearly done. My strength has lasted through the ages… and is now beginning to fail me. But I want you to know that of all the gifts I could ever have, to see all the ones I love… my sons and my brother… all together for one last time… is all I could ask for.”
“Father!” Cecil’s eyes widened in pain. “You’re going to leave us?”
“There must be a way that we can get you out of here!” Golbez’s head jerked around, “There must be something we can do!”
~Yes… There is something you can do, Benjamin.~
Slowly, the Spirit’s image began to fade, breaking away into tiny motes of light.
~Protect this world. And love it with all your heart… as I did…~
The shimmerings fluttered around their head like fireflies lost in the day time.
~That is my only wish.~
“Father! No! Don’t leave!” Golbez craned his head back, white hair wild, swept by the chill winds. His eyes fought to make out the light, to keep it just a little longer – his hands uplifted, straining for one last moment in unity. As he reached towards the sky, something small and round landed in his open palm, clanking with a metallic sound.
~Go now, my sons, with my love.~
There was a moment of shivering silence. And nothing more. Father had gone just as he had come. Upon the light.
“KluYa…” FuSoYa breathed finally. The reflection of tears stood in his eyes.
Golbez lowered his hand and peered into his open palm. Cecil could see a soft glow of deep green spreading from it, a color that matched the depths of the Master Wizard’s eyes. The illumination came from a large, round gem set into the heart of a medallion. Etched into the stone was the image of one planet orbited by four moons.
For a long moment, everything was very still. Cecil fought back the lump that threatened to rise in his throat. He could see that the others were doing the same.
This… isn’t how he would have wanted us to be. Father wants us to keep going. To protect the Blue Planet.
“Golbez… I…” when the Paladin turned around, he paused. There was a newfound glimmer in the light of his brother’s eyes.
“Father, I swear that I — Golbez Benjamin Ya — will do everything within my power to protect this world and the ones you love,” the Master Wizard closed his large fist around the glow of the green stone. He slowly lifted the chain over his head, placing the medallion around his neck. Then he peered up into the sky. “I will fulfill your wish and honor it… with my life.”
There was no answer. Only the sunlight slipping through the clouds above.