Faris was sitting at her desk and writing in a small leather-bound book when her servant showed her visitors in. "Oh, not now," she said, not even looking up. "I've had enough of court t' last me a lifetime. Can't ye just go away?"
Bartz smiled a bit as the servant beat a hasty retreat. "Aren't you being a little bit rude, Faris?"
She looked up in surprise, then stood up quickly and turned to face her visitors. It was always a bit jarring, seeing Faris - or Salsa, he supposed, although he'd never really be able to think of her as anything but Faris - in court dress. She was wearing a fancy deep blue gown, complete with a hoop skirt, puffy sleeves, and glittering sapphire earrings and necklace that must've been worth a fortune. Bartz couldn't help but wonder for a mad instant if any of the castle's jewelry was coming up missing on a regular basis. Princess or not, Faris was still a pirate.
"Aye," she finally said, putting down the book and pen. "But that's all right. I'm right glad t' see ye again."
Krile grinned. "It's good to see you too, Faris."
The balcony of Tycoon Castle was quiet; the sounds of workers and soldiers below barely reached them. The three of them sat there, not speaking for a long time, just grateful for each other's company again. They'd separated for months and months after everything had been over, and they'd only just started to realize how much they'd missed each other.
"We've come a long way," Bartz finally said. "Hard to believe where we were just a few years ago, isn't it?"
"Aye," Faris said. "That it is."
"All the people we've all lost... I sometimes wonder if they're proud of us," Krile said thoughtfully, tracing a pattern on the stones with her finger. "But I'm sure they are. I mean, we did it. We won."
Bartz and Faris could only nod. They couldn't forget that only a few years ago, Tycoon Castle and everyone in it had been swallowed up into the void, along with so many others.
"If there's one thing I wish I could do, it's see Reina again," Krile continued wistfully. "We owe her so much... we even owe her our lives. If she hadn't saved my dragon all that time ago, we would've been trapped..."
Faris grew distant and thoughtful at the mention of her sister. "Aye," she said. "There's so much I wish I could've asked her. It was jes' so hard to talk about... all those things I'd taken fer granted all those years bein' wrong, and me bein' a princess and havin' no idea what I was supposed ta do 'bout it. An' losin' my father when I didn't even know 'im..." Her strong face twisted in a small smile. "She knew I was 'er sister, ye know. She knew a long time before I could admit it to anybody, even m'self."
"She was quite a woman," Krile agreed. "It seems like she saw everything." She turned to look at Bartz. "So what about you?"
"Yeah, you." Krile shook a finger at Bartz, her face mockingly stern. "I'm sure you had plenty of special moments with sweet little Reina, didn't you?"
Bartz had to laugh at that. "Oh, sure. Like when Galuf blurted out that I was acting like I had a crush on her right in front of us. If I wasn't such a nice guy, I would've decked him."
Krile giggled. "That does sound like something he would've said..."
Faris shook her head. "Heh, I'm half-surprised she didn't deck the both of ye fer that one."
"What, Reina? She wouldn't do that."
"I wouldn't be so sure 'bout that. She's a real lady, and they don't like bein' trifled with." Faris smiled, but it was a bleak sort of smile, as if she'd just remembered that she didn't even know that Reina was really still alive.
"Faris..." Krile took her hand. "Please try not to worry about her, ok? I mean, we couldn't help her. There's nothing we can do but wait and see..."
"I know, but..." She broke off, looking off into the distance, toward the scar on the earth where the meteor had fallen. "I can't help but think that if I coulda reached out fer her, I coulda saved 'er."
"You don't know that," Bartz said softly. "And you might've just ended up trapped there too."
"Aye, but that don't help much. I almost wish I'd stayed in the Void with her. Just ta see her face again..." She sighed. "Dammit, I'm bein' a selfish fool. Stayin' there wouldn't ha' done her any good."
"It's ok, Faris," Krile said softly. "I wish there was something we could do..."
"Aye, there is. Ye could get me well away from this castle, at least for a fortnight. All the pomp an' circumstance is startin' to wear me down, and jes' look at what they're makin' me wear!" She glared down at the ruffled, low-cut blue dress.
"Really? I think it's kinda pretty," Krile said innocently. Bartz, sensing danger, coughed loudly before she could say any more.
"Then yer welcome to it, and good riddance!" Faris snapped back.
"Hey," Bartz said, not wanting to let that go any further and not sure what he was going to say until the words came out of his mouth. "I think you're right, Faris. We should get you out of here for a while. We could sneak out tonight and do a bit of traveling together."
Faris looked up, her usually-hardened eyes showing a spark of hope that Bartz hadn't seen in months. "Ye mean it? Ye'd risk bein' imprisoned as kidnappers fer me?"
"Um, well... I guess," he said, sounding a bit more reluctant than before but not wanting to go back on his word. "I mean, we're friends, right? And we did save the world... I really think we deserve a bit of a vacation, don't you?"
"Bartz, that's a really good idea," Krile said, reaching across and patting him on the hand. "When should we leave?"
Faris laughed, a real laugh, for maybe the first time since they'd left the Void. "What's wrong with tonight?"