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Magic Lessons

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The whistling of the wind made it difficult for Terra to sleep, but it was the crackling of magic through the ether around her that fully roused her. It was unmistakable, the power running through the air, and made the hair on her body start to stand on end with horror. She knew of only three people who had that sort of power besides herself, her tired mind was telling her, and Celes wasn't there, not anymore.

She quietly opened the door to her chambers, following the magical disturbance, a small magical flame burning in the palm of her open hand and ready to strike. Her mind was racing - had the man who'd flown her friends to Vector betrayed them after all? Was it Kefka, or was it the Emperor himself? Had they somehow found them and decided to take her back?

She kept walking, fighting her instict to run away from the place that made her body prickle with energy, until she reached the door to another cabin. It was coming from there, she could feel it... but there was no reason why Kefka would be in a cabin on the ship, was there? If the ship had been boarded, wouldn't she know? She'd barely slept the entire night, still not used to the uneasy motion of the Blackjack; they'd never stopped moving, either out of wanderlust or paranoia. No one could've boarded the ship. Could they?

In the end she reached out and gently knocked on the door, twice, and then stood back and waited, the fire still ready and burning in her hand. She waited for the door to open - and then stepped back, blinking. She dropped her hand, and the fire went out almost at once. "Locke," she said lamely, looking at his black jacket thrown over rumpled sleep clothes, his tousled hair and wide, alert eyes.

"Terra? What's up?" He ran a hand through his hair, as if trying to smooth it down. It stubbornly refused to be smoothed. "Are you okay?"

"I... felt something. It felt like magic." She shook her head, and fought the impulse to take it back and say that it was nothing. How would she learn to control her powers if she couldn't trust them? "I know it sounds weird, but I know there was something, and it worried me."

He sighed. "Oh. Don't worry, okay? You're not imagining things. I told Edgar we should tell you right away, but he said we'd all had a rough day, that we should get some rest and wait until tomorrow."

"Tell me about what?"

"About..." He smiled slightly, and opened his palms. "About this."

The bolt of lightning that arced between his hands was white-hot and far too bright - she had to turn her face away. But the feeling of disturbance flashed with it, making her body tingle. "I... how?" she asked, her face still turned away.

He lowered his hands, and the light faded. She turned back to look at him, and saw his lips twist into one of his odd half-smiles. "That's what I said, too. But was because of this." He reached into his coat, producing a stone that looked like the one that had spoken to her. "This is... well, I guess it's what's left of Ramuh, the one who called you to Zozo. He... turned into this when we came for you. I don't know if you remember."

"It's all kind of fuzzy," she admitted. "I think I might... there was an old man, but then he disappeared."

"More or less." He put the stone back into his coat and stepped out of his cabin, sitting down and resting against the wall. "He said he'd help us, that he'd give us his power. None of us really understood - even Celes had never seen anything like it. But I kept him with me, because I didn't feel right putting him aside."

She sat down beside him, pulling her knees in close to her chest. "And he gave you magic?"

"Yeah. It was weird." He closed his eyes. "I could hear chanting in my head when I fought, but I didn't know what it meant. I couldn't hear it very clearly, not at first. I thought it was just my imagination. Then we ran into a patrol outside of Vector, and it turned out it wasn't my imagination at all. My aim wasn't that great, though."

"What do you mean? What happened?"

"Well, next thing I remember, I was on the ground next to the guy. Celes was looking at this arm and saying something about how it would probably heal, but I might not wanna try to fight with it for a little while. It felt really strange for a while... left a scar, too." He pushed up his sleeve and traced his fingers over what looked like an upside-down tree, a few jagged branches.

She winced at the sight. "It must've hurt," she said. "But... the others know?"

"Yeah. Edgar wasn't keen on letting me near his tools after that. He and Sabin didn't even want to touch the stones - not for a while, anyway. But even they had to admit that it might give us an edge, as long as they didn't lose control like I did." He looked down at the mark on his arm. "Looks better now, actually. But it might be a while before it fades. I was surprised that it came back on me, though."

"Honestly, I'm not." She opened her hand. The fire crackled to life again, hovering above her palm. "I can use fire, but it still burns me, if I'm not careful."

"Yeah, well, you have the advantage there." He shook his head wryly. "Ramuh can't talk much - or, you know, whatever it is that he does. Feels weird to say I'm talking to a dead man. But he's given me a few pointers. My aim's still not great, but at least it goes in roughly the right direction. I'm not going to hurt myself again, or... or my friends."

She noticed the pause, but let it pass. There were so many things that Locke didn't seem to want to say to her, and had been since she'd first met him. But pushing someone who'd helped her the way he had didn't feel right. "If you need some lessons," she said instead, "I've had a lot of experience."

"I'd really appreciate that, Terra," he said, and smiled at her.

"Don't mention it! You helped me, didn't you?"

"Yeah, but I didn't do it for...." He stopped, then shook his head again. "Sorry. Edgar's right, still dealing with some issues."

"Like what?" she asked, brow furrowing.

"Um. Things I'd rather talk about later." He shook his head quickly. "But yeah, if you're serious about the magic lessons, maybe we should start soon? It might help if we both can know what we're doing, once the others decide they want to learn too."

"So you want me to teach you so that you can help me teach the others," she said. "I... I think that's a good idea."

"Of course it is." He stretched. "We'll get started in the morning, all right? Sorry I woke you up. We should both get some sleep."

"Yeah." She pushed herself up and reached out a hand to him, the way he'd reached out to her before. "Come find me when you wake up."

He grinned wryly as he took her hand. "Sounds good."