Final Fantasy V: Call of the Eternal Wind

* * * * *

The moon hung low in the sky, dreamy strands of silken cloud drifted around its’
luminescent form and cooled the great eye as it watched the rolling lands below.
Moonlight slithered wetly along the red slate roofs of the houses and dribbled
down the walls in glowing blue rivers.
Wind whispered silently around the houses and sang in hidden choirs amongst the
trees and the luscious grasslands in the meadows beyond the town.
Far in the distance, slithering almost unseen through the grasses, a troupe of
goblins marched headlong for the safety of their settlements hidden deep in the
great lip of forest that encircled the plateau. Far beyond the forest, the
magnificent curl of mountains that hemmed in the town sat dejectedly against the
sky rending at the cosmos like huge gnarled fangs.

* * * * *

“He’s dead.” Bartz whispered.
Nora clutched his hand, chasing the cool spike of the cold from his skin.
“Is that why you’ve come back Bartz?” She asked.
Bartz sniffed and nodded without speaking.
“I knew he was ill, I knew. He kept trying to hide it, pretend like the pain
wasn’t crippling him but it was. I could see it on his face.”
Nora sighed and held the freezing hand tighter. Their breath poured from chapped
lips like great streams of ether, escaping out into the sword-sharp chill of the
winter night.
A gentle tear streaked down Bartz’ face and dropped for all eternity to the
ground, stripping the gentle coat of frost from the luscious green stalks.
“He could barely hold his sword by the end.”
Nora sighed and clutched at Bartz’ hand again, holding it tighter and banishing
more of the nip from his skin.
A chill wind blew from the crest of the mountains, rustling the trees and gently
rolling over Bartz and Nora. Nora shivered, pulling her cloak in around her
slender shoulders and huddling in tighter. Bartz didn’t move, staring forlornly
at the long granite fingers of the Rikks mountains as they tickled at the soft
silvery underbellies of the clouds that strung across the sky in thin dreamy
Nora felt her heart sink as she watched the deep pang of grief that twisted
Bartz’ face.
“I’m so sorry Bartz.” She whispered.
A smile broke across his face, one totally starved of humour. It looked as
though dread and grief had stolen away his smile, perverting it into something
that looked so familiar but was totally alien.
“I’m all alone in this world now Nora. All alone.”
Nora felt a soft tear warm in her eyes and drip down her ice-chapped cheeks.
“I’m here Bartz, you still have me.“
He shook his head and released her hand, standing up and focusing his whole
being onto the horizon.
“You know what I mean Nora. I’m the last of my family now, I’m all alone. The
last of a kind.”
The wind screamed again, billowing Bartz’ cloak and pulling it from his thin
body to reveal a sword sheathed by his side.
“Is that…?”
“My fathers’ sword.”
Nora stood up and put her arm around Bartz’ shoulder.
“Why do you need a sword Bartz? Aren’t you going to take up the job at the item
Bartz shook his head again but didn’t look around.
“No, I’m not.”
He turned to look at Nora, putting his hands on her hips and holding her a
little tighter.
“I’m leaving again Nora, probably for good this time. That‘s what I wanted to
tell you, that‘s why I asked you to meet me tonight.”
The wind blew again, chilling Nora to the bone as her face sank and her heart
sank even further.
Bartz nodded.
“But…but, why?” She stammered.
Another smile broke across Bartz’ face now, one filled with wonder as he turned
his head to look out once more onto the world beyond and the deep hem of the
mountains in the distance.
“I can hear something on the wind now Nora, it started with my travels with dad
but now it comes to me all the time…”
He looked back around.
“I can hear the eternity of the world and it feels…..wondrous.”
He dropped his hands and turned away, taking a step further away from her. The
look on his face was like he was possessed and he rested a weary hand on the
hilt of the sword.
“Something is calling me Nora, calling me to travel, to see the world and all
the things in it.”
Bartz sighed and turned back around. He looked almost frustrated.
“I really can’t explain it. It’s like this feeling in every bone of my body,
this compulsion.”
Nora sniffed and held a hand to her face as she turned around slowly, the wind
swirling her cloak around her slender body.
“When did you decide this Bartz?” She whispered.
He exhaled slowly and turned back around to look at her again as the frozen
ether of his breath twirled around him like a restless spirit.
“There has always been this mystery ever since I was a small child.”
“How do you mean?”
“My father. He never really explained properly why he travelled and did what he
did. He told me he was a ranger and that it was his job to make us safe by
hunting down monsters but I never really believed that.”
“Why not?”
Bartz sighed hard and looked back out onto the mountains.
“I remember this one night when I was really small, before my mother died. I was
pretending to be asleep and I heard them talking then I heard him ask my mother
not to tell me about the crystals if anything ever happened to him.”
Nora frowned.
“The crystals? The Elemental Crystals?”
Bartz shook his head.
“I dunno. I guess.”
“Why would a ranger be involved with those aren‘t they more magical?”
Bartz shrugged again.
“I don’t know. We never once visited a Crystal Shrine when me and dad travelled.
We visited lots of strange places but never a Crystal Shrine.”
A chill breath licked the pair on its’ way down the valley. Cloaks sighed as the
current passed through them and billowed like the sails of a great ship as it
passed through the endless ocean of the night.
“Is that why you want to go Bartz? To visit the crystals?”
Bartz shook his head.
“I don’t care about the crystals, all I know is the world is a strange and
fantastic place and I want to see it, now more than ever. I know my dad was the
Bartz smiled and turned to the mountains, sweeping his whole gaze over the
vistas as they scraped at the sky. Stars seemed to pass through the peeks like
grains of sand through timeless fingers.
“He heard the call of the eternal wind too.”
Trees rustled and the wind whispered again. Bartz’ hair waved across his head in
deep brown folds and the cloak sailed around him like liquid. Nora watched him
as he gazed out upon the world.
“You can hear it even now, can’t you?” She asked.
He nodded.
“More than ever.”
Nora smiled and stood up, wrapping her cloak around her body as the cold winter
fangs bit into her.
“Is there any way I could change your mind Bartz?” She asked.
He shook his head.
“I can’t Nora, I have to do this.”
She smiled and stood next to him, holding his hand in hers. He turned and looked
at her, his face lifting just a little as the wind ran its’ fingers through his
hair once more.
“You could come with me Nora. We could see the world together.”
She smiled but felt sadness rise inside her.
“I would like that very much Bartz but I can’t. My whole life is here in this
She looked up and caught the bright flames of his eyes.
“I can’t hear the call like you can.”
Bartz smiled and turned away from the mountains to look at Nora, placing his
hands on her hips again.
“I guess this is it then Nora, this is farewell.”
She smiled then looked away, almost bashfully, the wind catching the delicate
tentacles of her hair and wrapping it around her face like an angel-dust shawl.
“I’ll….I’ll wait for you, you know.”
Bartz hugged her tight.
“Please don’t do that Nora, I don’t know when I’ll be back.”
He held her even tighter, the warmth of her body blocking out the wicked chill
of the winter.
“I might never be back.”
She held him tighter and there was a forlorn moment of almost deathly silence,
broken only by the orchestra of nature around them. She sniffed and wiped a
rebellious tear from her cheek.
“If I can‘t have you Bartz, kiss me so at least I can have that when you‘re
Bartz smiled and leaned in closer. They embraced, hugging together closer as the
wind howled all around them.

A moment of eternity, timelessness passed as they kissed. The chill of the world
and even the elfin whispering of the wind silenced to nothing, replaced by a new
and wondrous warmth as two people for that briefest of moments became one.
In the next moment, one became two again and the chorus of the wild started up
in exaltation, ushered into being by a strong pulse of wind, so sudden and
desperate that it was as if the world had held its’ breath in respect of the
brief symbiosis that Bartz and Nora had shared.
They stayed in each others’ embrace for a long moment.
“I’m leaving tonight Nora, I’ve never been good at big goodbyes’.”
Nora sniffed again and another tear escaped from her big green eyes as she held
“Did you speak to Mark already?”
Bartz shook his head.
“I couldn’t face him. He’ll be ok though, he knew that I was leaving someday and
now he has his scholar training to worry about. I wouldn‘t want to burden him.”
Nora sniffed and almost sobbed as Bartz pulled himself away.
They stared at each other in silence for a long moment, wind passing its’ long
icy fingers through their hair and pouring the rich sails of their’ cloaks
around their bodies.
“I had better go Nora, the pass over the mountains will be tricky and I want to
hit it by sunrise.”
She sniffed and nodded, wrapping her cloak around her body as the cold bit
harder than ever.
“Take care Bartz, please take care of yourself.”
He smiled and began to turn.
“I will, I promise.”
“And…” She called urgently.
Bartz looked back around at her, disturbed by the note of desperation in her
“…please come back someday, even if you’re old and grey please come back Bartz.
Don‘t just leave forever.”
He smiled and held still for a long moment, playing with the hilt of his sword.
“I’ll see what I can do Nora. Tell Mark that I said goodbye and wish him luck.”
She nodded and sniffed.
“I will Bartz, I will. Goodbye.”
He drew the cloak around his body and ran a hand through his hair.
“Goodbye Nora.”
With that Bartz turned on his heel and headed out into the meadow beyond the
town. A dumpy little building sat on the edge of the pastureland and the faint
chirping and mewling of chocobos was blown to him on the chilly night breeze.

Bartz walked into the stable, the smell of hay washing up his nostrils alongside
the strange smells arising from the four birds resting in the stable. Bartz
walked to the second pen and looked inside.
“You ready Boko?”
The chocobo mewled and stood up from the big mound of hay that it had been
resting on.
“Waaark!” It chirped.
“Good man. You said your goodbyes too?”
The chocobo cocked its’ head and glanced around the stable.
Bartz nodded and hooked a saddle to its’ back.
“Ok, we’ve got plenty of cash, plenty of Potions. I have a few Phoenix Down’s
too but hopefully we’ll not need to use those, eh?”
Bartz checked the saddle, checked his pockets and wrapped the cloak around his
body, taking one of the reins that drooped down from the fitting around the
chocobo’s beak and holding it.
“Ok, we’re all set! I’ll walk till we get to the mountains then you can carry
“Why? Because that’s your job.”
The chocobo mewled in protest and clicked its’ beak.
“Right. Let’s go. The wind’s calling us.”

* * * * *

The frozen grass crunched underfoot and the reins clicked and jangled as Bartz
and Boko walked in silence through the meadow. The great granite talons of the
mountains loomed ever larger beyond the insulating hem of forest, blocking out
the moonlight and growing ever more malevolent as the pair drew closer.
“Watch it in the forest Boko, I saw some goblins going in there earlier.”
Bartz let out a long sigh. Boko craned his long serpentine neck around and
touched the side of Bartz’ head, ruffling his chestnut hair with his big shiny
Bartz sighed again and ruffled Boko’s feathers.
“Nothing Boko, nothing. Just feel a bit overwhelmed that’s all.”
“Anyway…” Bartz said.
“We’ve got some adventure ahead of us don’t we Boko?”
Boko nodded his big head and chirped.
“It’s a big world though, where do we want to go first?”
Boko cocked his head again and mewled, flapping one of his wings and clicking
his beak.
“I always wanted to visit Tycoon, we could get there in a few weeks if we really
Boko chuffed and looked at Bartz accusingly. Bartz chuckled and ran his hand
through Boko’s feathers again.
“Ok, ok, if YOU really tried!”
Bartz smiled for a moment and dropped his hand to the hilt of the sword.
The mountains loomed like brooding goliaths over the two as they came to the
edge of the Rikks forest. A frozen shroud of mist churned and convulsed amongst
the great boughs of the trees and the faint sounds of animals and birds
scurrying around floated through the trees like the whispers of spirits echoing
from the darkness of the netherworlds. There was something eerie about the
forest, especially in the silence and blindness of the night. Bartz drew the
sword, quelling his fear and watching as starlight gleamed on the blade as he
concentrated on the one thing that called him on through the gloom and the evil
of the trees.
“Let’s see what dad saw…”

* * * * * *

Nora watched on, the wind pouring through her as though it were trying to
grapple onto her soul and pull it from her body, carry it off across the plains
to some hidden well of souls far across the world at the point where the winds
met. She had watched as Bartz and Boko had made their way across the
moonlight-washed meadows and the last glimpse she had caught of Bartz was just
as he fell into the gaping maw of the forest, sword in hand listening always to
the call of the eternal wind.
“Farewell Bartz…” She sighed.

The wind sighed all around her, curling and looping through the stillness of the
town like a great unseen river thundering proudly down a valley but try as she
did, she couldn’t hear that voice, that one thing on the wind that echoed in
Bartz’ ears and transfixed his mind and soul. As eternal as it was, she was deaf
to its’ voice, deaf to the call of those great sirens and she watched, unable to
break her vigil as the two figures in the meadow vanished from her sight
forever. She sniffed, catching a straying tear with her cold fingers as it
traced the contour of her face.