Locke Cole, treasure hunter extrodinare, greatest one there ever was, and ever would be. Locke Cole, protector of many, among the fourteen that crushed the Empire. Glamour was a fine thing for many people, but it was not for him. What did they see in someone as he was? Treasure hunter, yes, hero, no. It was sickening to know anyone would ever consider him a hero. Had he done a thing to save anyone? Not at all. Everyone he knew he lost. Hero. Disgusting term.
What more did life hold for him? As he now knew there was nothing left in the world for him, nor anyone else. Kefka had done more than just take magic and all that rot, he stole something much more cherished. The old world. It was gone, and with it when Locke’s memories as well as his life with someone else. He couldn’t face the world knowing that he had committed wrong there, and in this world he could only make it worse.
Maybe… Maybe this way he could fix it all. If only he could know that one person, that one person that meant the most in the world to him, would forgive him, he could die honestly. This was the only thing left for him in this world. Everyone was gone; all that was left was this one last ray of hope, however dim it was. This time, he wouldn’t let it pass. It was too important to him, something he needed badly.
The old man in Kholhigen advised him not to go. Perhaps the legends were lies, but Locke Cole was also a man that believe greatly in faith. If it was not for the one thing he had to do here, the one thing he needed, he would not have believed in those old legends. That was maybe what had prompted him to believe in faith, hearing those legends shortly after the incident. He could attempt it. He had to.
The man had questioned even further of this. If Locke still did care for that person any longer, or if it was only his need to apologize, to see her again. All of this, Locke denied. There was nothing in the world that could stop him from believing in how much he cared for that girl. All except one thing, though. One thing.
He scolded himself for even thinking that. She didn’t mean anything to him, she was only a friend. At least, this was what he wanted to tell himself. For another fact, she was most likely now dead, like everyone else. There had been no trace of anyone at all, all except for two he had been able to speak to. Both Sabin and Cyan told him sadly there was no trace of her.
This could be his back up resort. If he could not have her, he could turn to his past, where he had left someone else. Where he had left Rachel. It was something he needed to sort out for himself, but in this cave, he was alone with nothing but his own thoughts and his own breathing. It wouldn’t be long now before he reached the sight. The only trail he had left was empty boxes.
That was something he would have to hold back soon. It was a daily trip of treasure hunting that had led to Rachel’s death. That tore at him for so long, that his own 'profession' actually killed her. If he had only gone alone like he wanted to and not allowed her to follow him. Maybe if he had been more careful then, she would still be alive. If he had only stayed by her side.
He could blame himself until the end of time. Nothing else was there to stop him, not even a helpful voice around. With the others gone, with everyone dead, he was now truly alone in the world. Being in this cavern only furthered those thoughts. He was not one to grow frightened when he was alone, but being in this place, alone like this, he could not help but be nervous. With the others he never had that feeling. Everything changed then though, when the Statues were set out of alignment.
It couldn’t be long now before he reached the main chamber, where it was said to be. There he would be able to get the one thing in the world that would be able to save her, he would be able to forgive himself. And maybe she could forgive him as he was not even now forgiving himself.
It was so dark in here. It was a tangled mess that reminded him of many things, in a much more deep way. Darkness reminded him of his life, how he was always trapped in darkness. He was blind. He walked the earth with a blindfold on his face, without listening to anyone, just kept walking. To where? No where really. Somewhere. Maybe one day, he would find that place.
Not soon. It was too late. Too dark. He had given up his chance to learn and try over again long ago. Resorting to lower things got him by in life. His trade of stealing, his life as a thief. It got him where he wanted to go in life. Stealing, begging, killing. It came along with the trade of a ‘treasure hunter.’
It was their term. ‘Treasure hunter’ was an excuse not to call one’s self a thief. That worked for sometime, he had even started to believe it himself. He was no thief, but a treasure hunter. Still, if he had stayed away from that in his life, being a thief, he could have made it a little better.
Stupid, some could call him. Not once in life did he look forward to the good things he could let it be, but only to those dark things from his past. Deaths, stealing, loss, danger, hate, lies. This was why he wore his mask, to hide him from all of those things left in the world. Things he witnessed for himself firsthand. Things no normal man could live through seeing. Things that tear and pull at one man’s soul, never letting go, never ceasing to pain.
That place he wandered to… He supposed he would never find it, but he knew what he wanted to find there. Recently, he saw what was waiting for him at the end of his life. A smiling face. It was her face, not that of Rachel’s. Dreams didn’t mean anything, though, he reminded himself. It was a dream. She meant nothing.
How could she? She was the one that betrayed him and his friends. He could not trust her after that moment. She ignored him. She hated him. He apologized. She stood away. She meant nothing.
She returned to them, something reminded him. She came back to them and helped battle Kefka and Gesthal at the Triangle Island. A simple one turn, it would mean nothing soon. What did she care of the world? She was born a Magitek Knight; she was owned by the Empire. He was born a street urchin, nothing she could ever want. She wasn’t something he could ever want.
He denied himself. Perhaps, somewhere in the reaches of his mind, he truly did want her to trust him. Somewhere he wanted her to turn to him, smile, and everything would be perfect. A dream. Nothing more than that. For all he knew, she was dead now. It would never happen.
Maybe this was his retreat at losing her too. Couldn’t he… if he found her dead, he could return her to life. He shook his head. It was turning his back to his past once again. He couldn’t do that. He owed Rachel that much.
The red flames of the pits below were lapping close to his heels as he walked upon a platform. It was seated deep in the middle of the lave pit, one thing resting upon it. Dirt, rocks, yes, but it was something else. There it was, his last ray of hope, hidden inside that ancient treasure chest.
His hands were shaking as he tried to open the lid. He took a small step backward as he realized it would open easily; it was not even locked. Did he want to open it? Turn back now, and he wouldn’t have to face it. He could find her and forget everything. Kefka, the Statues, everything, if he had only saw her.
He lifted the lid.
He looked inside.
There it was.
"Locke, talk to us."
He turned around.
"Look at this…," the words softly escaped his mouth. "Behold… The Phoenix Magicitie!"
It was now he laid eyes on the group before him, staring at him, all with different expressions upon their faces. Terra, smiling slightly at seeing him again. Good Terra. She was always a wonderful friend and ally. Edgar, staring at the Magicite in Locke’s hands, knowing what it was intended for. Cyan, a much confused and satisfied expression on his aging face. And the last…
If there was any Angel in Heaven, it had the face of this person. She looked so frightened as his eyes met hers, dark sea blue eyes. Golden hair falling to her waist, slim figure. Staring at him. Watching him, studying him. Hurt? Was that was what showed in her eyes?
"So you found it after all these years," Edgar remarked in his ‘kingly’ tone of voice.
Locke nodded in a somewhat nervous way. "Yes. Finally… Do you want me to join again with you all? That all depends on this right here. The legends of the Phoenix Magicite tell of the gift to return life. If it works, I will not come along again."
She was staring at him.
* * *
His home village, where he was born, where he supposed he would die one day. With all of his traveling, he doubted he would ever be able to die here as well. Rachel had died here. This was where he knew he would die.
She had insisted upon waiting for him outside while he went to talk with the old man. Not once had he ever turned down an Angel such as this, and merely nodded. She was sitting down beside the creek that ran through the village as he entered the house. It was where she would be when he returned.
And there. There Rachel was, looking as though she was simply sleeping. At times, Locke would imagine her opening those emerald green eyes of her, smiling, and telling him they should head out early to go treasure hunting. It never happened.
"Is that the Phoenix Magicite?!," the old man exclaimed as he entered. "Well, ol’ boy, you’ve finally found it, have you?"
Locke said nothing to the crazy old man, but simply murmured something. "Please."
The Magicite began to hum again as it glowed a dim yellow color. As Locke’s eyes followed it, the glowing stone left his hands, literally floating over to the bed. There it waited, glowing above Rachel’s body. Her own body began to glow that yellow color as well.
Sending golden shards to the floor, it shattered.
"No…," Locke began. "No! You owe me this much! This much…"
He fell to his knees. The tears came, unwanted, but they came all the same. It was as though he was feeling her death all over again. He was losing her again. After all the years of his life spent in searching for a way to bring her back, Fate owed him this much.
His voice came out shaky. "Rachel?"
His eyes fell to the bed, where she was still lying, only this time, those emerald green eyes were now open. Open and looking right at him. His entire heart soared. Jumping to his feet, he nearly ran to her bedside, looking into those eyes again after all those years.
"I wanted to see you… But the Phoenix has given me very little time, so I must speak quickly. Locke, I love you, but you must learn to go on."
"No. I won’t give you up. I’ve lost too much…"
"She’s waiting for you, Locke. Go on. I’ll see you again, just give me this once. Let me go this once. For me, please."
"Waiting for me? Rachel… Rachel?"
Her eyes were closed, leaving him to never see those eyes again. After those words, after Fate killed him once again, she was only left to leave again. He let her go. He couldn’t hold onto shattered dreams any longer. He owed her that much.
She’s waiting for you.
He slowly walked outside back into the daylight. As the door snapped shut behind him, he turned to look to the Angel seated next to the creek. She looked nervous and upset as she ran her fingers along the cold surface of the water, staring at her own reflection. He knew she was not even seeing the reflection. She was looking at his standing behind her.
He shook his head. "Time to move on…"
"I’m sorry, Locke…"
"Don’t be. I’ve chased this long enough. At least I know some things I didn’t know. And now I see what I have to do in life."
He extended his hand to her, helping her to her feet.
"I’m going to go on this time, and stop Kefka," he declared. "Coming with?"
She smiled. "You bet I am."
"Great. And… one more thing… Thank you, Celes."
Author’s Notes: Knocking off the old habit of putting a paragraph between each sentence… Hum.
Well! I do think I said once to some people Celes and Locke are highly over rated. But all the stories (well majority of them. Hands up to fic writers that put everything in Locke’s view) anyways, all stories are pretty much Celes mourning Locke, whine, whine complain. Um… who gives a damn?!
I never liked Celes. I never liked Locke. But what I do like is writing for semi-interesting characters. Celes, I don’t like. (Maybe I over rated her in this? Y’know, with the Angel crap)
Hell with this. Want to hear me rant, send me an e-mail and yell at me for these little notes. I don't care much. (No, I’m not bitter)