She'd always known that in the end she'd follow in her father's footsteps and become a blacksmith. Even when she'd itched to see the world, even when she'd chafed against the constant training, she'd still known that if she was ever able to leave her path would lead her home in the end. She was even happy about that, though anyone who'd ever heard her complaining about being stuck behind an anvil all day might have been surprised to hear it. But she knew that most girls weren't lucky enough to find a job that they were really good at and actually liked, as long as they could get a break to so other things once in a while, while they were so young. She was lucky for that, lucky for Takka.
Anyway, once she took over she'd be able to set her own hours. Good blacksmiths were hard to come by. If she wanted to shut things down early once or twice a week and go out to punch monsters to death until she stopped feeling antsy, there wasn't much the townspeople could do about it. And they should appreciate someone keeping the monster levels down anyway.
That was how she'd always seen her life going. But the one thing she hadn't foreseen, that she would never even have imagined could happen to her, was that when she finally got to go out there in the world for awhile it wouldn't just be a little sight-seeing tour that would let her know what was out there and leave her ready to settle into her career when she returned. She'd been a hero. She'd done amazing things, things that most people couldn't even imagine accomplishing. She'd seen an entire world that the people of the floating continent had never realized existed. She had fought gods, or beings close enough to them that outsiders wouldn't be able to tell the difference. She had walked through the World of Darkness, and returned from it unharmed.
And she no longer fit into the life she'd been... well, not born into, she knew that now, but had been raised into, which was as good as the same thing. She might as well have been born there no matter what she'd learned about her infancy from Cid; it was the only life she could remember before she'd walked away from it, after all. Once she'd been able to look at a hunk of raw ore and simply know what she'd want it be, see the sword or the plow or the horseshoe hidden within and begin the long process of smelting and forging and smithing until it had come to the surface. She could still create things just as easily--she was probably even better at it than ever, since she'd stood at the Legendary Smith's shoulder and watched her as she worked--but she'd lost that easy knowledge of the metal which had once guided her hand. Even Takka had commented on it, though otherwise he'd actually seemed like he was trying to be easier on her since she'd come back; her technique was as solid as could be, but she could no longer put her heart into the forge.
Or into anything else about the small village life. Maybe it would have been different if the other townspeople still treated her normally, maybe if they had than in time she'd be able to convince herself that they were right and being back in Kazus still normal for her. But they were awed by her instead, though they would never even hear about most of what she'd done. Just helping to save them from the Djinn would be enough, she could have done nothing else from there on out and they still would have looked at her as their hero and treated her with awe because of it. They came to her forge because they had to, because when her father turned it over to her their choices were only to use her or wait until a day when he was working instead and if their work required a part being fixed they couldn't afford to wait, but they acted apologetic about asking her to work for them. Like it was wrong for her to have a career, like now that she was a hero she should spend the rest of her life lazing around resting on her laurels.
They, more than anything else, made it impossible for her to ease back into the life she'd once known. How could she forget that not so long ago she'd been part of something so much bigger than running a small forge, or at least push it to the back of her mind so she could move back on to other things, if the instant she started to someone she'd known since she was in diapers walked in stammering that they were so sorry for bothering her, 'Miss Refia, ma'am', but their horse had thrown a shoe and their was no one else they could go to.
She'd thought that once she returned from traveling she'd be able to settle down. Instead she found herself wanting to leave again more than ever, though the idea caused a pang of guilt that she'd never experienced before; she'd never seen the need to feel guilty about wanting to leave when she'd been sure she'd one day come back again, but if she walked away from Kazus again she knew that Takka would need to find a new apprentice. She would be abandoning her father, no matter how many times she came back to visit she'd be turning her back on the life he'd built for the abandoned orphan baby he'd once taken in. It would be so ungrateful for her to leave again.
It would be so impossible for her to stay. She recognized that more every day. She hoped that maybe Takka did too, though they'd never spoken to each other about it.
At heart she was just waiting for any excuse to go.