Of Light and Love
by Archone

I gazed out over the forecastle, staring at the wide open sea. My lungs expanded, my tongue tasting the salty sea air, savoring the flavor. As my eyes and tongue were occupied with pleasure, my ears kept to business.

Footsteps approaching.

"Ready to set sail, Captain," Johanne, my first mate, the most trusted member of my crew, said, as he stopped, a few feet away.

I nodded. "We won't be relying on the wind, this time, Johanne," I informed him, as I looked down at the prow of my ship, with it's curiously carved structures. Almost like a handle...

"Uh... Captain?" I could hear the confusion in his voice.

"Watch." I held up my hands, thrusting them forth imploringly. As the magic surged and swelled within me, I called out, in the ancient Caller's tongue.

"I summon the Esper, Syldra!"

The magic coursed through my body, erupting forth in a whirlwind of aural effects. As Johanne recoiled in startlement, the magic flowed outward, forming a gate. A caller's magical energy was divided in half, when casting. Half the energy was given to the Esper, giving them the energy to perform as needed. The other half... also went to the Esper, as payment for services rendered. The gate swelled open, and the Esper of my choice flowed outward, his sinuous, scaly body pouring out into the water. The splash sprayed a fine mist onto my face, mingling with the tears.

Syldra. My brother. My martyr.

I love you, Syldra.

Syldra roared his response to my silent cry, as his neck twined it's way through the handle shaped structure, pulling it forth. When the chain reached it's full length, I fought to keep my position as the ship lurched into motion. I smiled down at the spirit of my dear Syldra, as he resumed his accustomed place, as the driving force of the ship of the Dread Pirate Faris.

"Assemble the crew, Johanne," I told him, whirling to face him directly. "I would speak with them."

"Aye, Captain." Saluting me with a casual finger to his brow, he turned to rally up the men with screams and curses.

They assembled before me, the scourge of the seas. Filthy, scummy, their ragged clothes contrasting with the gold and jewels looted from our unlucky prey. They were scum in the truest sense.

But they were MY scum.

"Heads up, men," I said, straddling the deck with my leather boots, "We're headed to Tycoon."

The men scratched their heads and looked at each other, befuddled.


"We're going to sack Tycoon?"

"Cap'n's flipped his rocker..." This last was met with a resounding blow to the head from Johanne.

"We're not going there for plunder, gentlemen," I said, sniffing at the ironic usage of the term. "In less than a week's time, Princess Lenna will be crowned Queen. You DO remember her, am I right?" Jeers and catcalls.

Lenna's the pretty one.

Lucky me.

"One of Lenna's first acts as Queen will be to reward us for our noble and charitable assistance." Further joking, in response to my own. "Each of us will receive a full pardon for all past crimes." Shocked murmering, at the very idea. A chance to live an honest life!

How revolting...

"Furthermore, each of you will be receiving a commision as ensign in Tycoon's royal navy. Well, except for Johanne-he's getting a captaincy." Cheers and roars of approval. Now THIS was a reward. An honest life-on the sea! And as officers, no less... A far better life than these scurvy dogs could have hoped for.

"Now tend to your duties, men. I'll be in my cabin." I left them to their tasks. Even with Syldra to provide the thrust, there was still much to do. Meals to prepare, metal items to be kept dry and free from rust, inventory to be kept, the rudder to be kept on course, the lookout to be kept, and of course, the constant practicing of the skills a pirate-or any seaman-requires: ropework and knots, the sword, dagger, and bow, fishing, even water purification, where a quantity of seawater in a glass container was boiled into steam, which travelled along a pipe until it condensed into fresh water in another container. The men sometimes gossiped behind my back about my requiring a bucket of the stuff for bathing purposes at all times. None of them to my face, though.

Johanne came to my cabin that evening, bringing me my dinner. I rolled up the navigational charts and set them aside, as he laid down the platter of seafood and ship's biscuit, enough for the two of us. Two bowls of dried fruit promised to keep the sailor's sickness at bay, and I popped a couple of dried berries into my mouth as he poured the wine. "Quite a reward you've garnered for us, Captain," he growled, taking a swig from his goblet, "But I can't help wondering what you're saving fer yourself."

I smiled. "Let's just say I hit the jackpot."

Johanne grunted. "Don't tell me you're marrying the girl."

I feigned indignation. "What, you think I'm not good enough for her Highness?"

He tore a piece of freshly cooked fish with his barehands, and stuffed it in his mouth. "Naw," he said, after he'd finished wolfing it down, "'Cuz you're a woman."

I trust Johanne more than any other member of my crew. The fact that I palmed a dagger before he'd finished his sentence speaks volumes of the moral character of my men. But then, saints don't make very good pirates.

Of course, that says something about MY character, too.

I inhaled deeply, to calm myself. "I... won't insult either of our intelligences, by denying it. What do you intend to do with that knowledge?"


I quirked my eyebrow. "Oh? No blackmail? No coersion? Nothing at all?"

Johanne shook his head slowly. "I don't think blackmail'd be a good way to start my new, honest life."

"What about coersion?"

Johanne swallowed, then stared me straight in the eye. "I'd never force you, Faris."

I blinked. Then I swallowed in turn. "...What... what is that supposed to mean?"

He took a deep breath, to steady himself. "I... I love you, Captain." His eyes drifted down to his plate. "Have since I found out."

I drained my goblet, to steady myself. "How long?"

"Oh... years." He refilled my goblet. "And no, no one else knows. Kenny used to." He gave a little grin. "Shame, his getting killed during that raid."

I blinked, then grinned despite myself. "You killed Kenny? You bastard!" I laughed, and stuffed a chunk of biscuit into my face. Crumbs drifted down as I continued to chortle.

"Yeah, well, that's a pirate's life for ya. Short but sweet." He drained his glass, refilled it. "So what are you getting for a reward?"

I smiled. "You saw Lenna's locket?" A grunt in the affirmative. "I've got one, too. Our FATHER gave them to us."

Johanne stopped with a chunk of fish halfway to his maw. "No joke? You're a princess too?"

I nodded, grinning. "I've got me a blank check. Whatever I want, it's mine."

His face grew a little troubled. "And... what do you want?"

"I..." I looked into his face. "Johanne, you're my first mate. I trust you more than anyone else in this crew."

"Hence the dagger?"

I managed to blush. "Hey, with THIS crew..." We both chuckled. "But... there's someone else."

"Oh." More an exhalation of breath than an actually utterance.

"But, I will always think of you as a f-"

"Don't!" He snapped suddenly. "Don't use that word!" He drained his cup. "Just... let it be."

I nodded, my eyes beginning to mist. "You know... you'll be a captain of your own, soon, in the legitimate navy. You'll make quite the catch, for some lucky young lady."


We finished our meal in silence, and without much appetite. He left for his cabin, and I undressed for bed.

With my dagger under my pillow.

Old habits die hard.

And I dreamed.

Of Butz.


Ah, what a feeling. The wind in my hair. The feel of Boco's strong, feathered body underneath me. Plated armor wrapped around my body.

Being a great hero is SUCH a trip.

We stopped off to make camp in the woods, not far from where we'd camped when I first met up with Lenna and Galuf. As I gathered up firewood and set up camp, Boco tended to his family. His wife, lovely Coco...

Well, lovely to him, anyway. Still, she was kind of cute. Not as much as the kids, though. They were huddled around Coco's legs, half grown, reaching to their parents' chests, waiting for some food. "Kue, Kue..."

Well, far be it from me to deny hungry kids. Soon enough I'd gotten a fire started, and the large deer I'd killed earlier that day and stored atop Coco's back was roasting nicely. While the meat was sizzling nicely, I opened up a large bag filled with assorted greenery, and laid it out for the hungry birds. Then I cut pieces of flesh for myself, occasionally handfeeding a stalk of greens to one of the youngsters.

Ah, well. One more day to go. Then I reach Tycoon.

And the SWEET life...

When King Tycoon asked me to take care of his daughters, his dying wish, I imagined the fulfillment of his wish as hardship and adventure, as fighting alongside Faris and Lenna... and Galuf... danger and pain all around.

But now that was over. Exdeath was defeated. And after one last journey around the world, we'd drifted apart for a time. Faris to her pirate crew. Cara to take the throne of Bal, Lenna to the throne of Tycoon. And I, home to Lix, for a little rest, relaxation.

And now I was headed back to Tycoon, to take care of Lenna and Faris. As the Queen's Champion.

Sweet. Bed fit for royalty, heaps of good food, the occasional quest-nothing too difficult, of course... oh, yeah...

Of course, I deserved it. I looked down at my hand, clenched it into a powerful fist. The shards of the Crystals...

When we'd taken the Crystal fragments, we'd found that each shard contained the spirit of an ancient hero, the master of their art. By keeping them close, we could enable the spirits to possess our bodies, casting spells and using ancient fighting styles. Better yet, as we fought under the Crystal's influence, we learned those arts for ourselves. We became masters of not one path, but many.

Lenna... nice girl, but not much of a fighter. So she followed the path of magic. Whoo BOY, did she ever. White magic, Black magic, Blue magic, Red magic, Jikuu magic, Summoning magic... Well, she did follow a few warrior's paths, like the Monk. Still, with the magical power she was packing, a sword was almost superfluous.

Faris had gone into arts well suited for a pirate. Thief, Ninja, Dragoon, that sort of thing. Plus Caller, just so she could see her Syldra again. But when she took up the path of the Dancer... oh....yeah...

I couldn't wait to see Faris again. We were just friends, of course, but I've got eyes...

Cara inherited all the abilities Galuf left to her, plus the ones she learned on her own. Trainer, Elementalist, Chemist, a few warrior's paths, a few magical arts. Versatile.

And then there was ME.

I squeezed my fist tighter, watching the definition rise in my forearms. The strength of a Monk. And a Knight. And a Mystic Knight. And a Dragoon, a Samurai... The deer I was feasting on died from an Archer's arrow. A few magical skills-mostly White magic-rounded out my abilities.

I was a human juggernaught.

And proud of it.

I double checked my equipment before sliding between my blankets to get some rest. Excalibur lay close at hand, just in case, while my body was down to warm clothes instead of the bulky armor. I was warm and comfy, with a bunch of feathered friends nesting up around me for the night, my fire down to hot embers.

A good life.


I adjusted the hem of my dress once more, as I gazed at my reflection anxiously. I had to make very sure, to look my absolute best. For him.

"How do I look?" I asked my lady in waiting, for what must have been the thousandth time.

"Exquisite, Highness," she murmured, pleasant in spite of my continual nagging.

"Lenna." The Chancellor stood in the doorway to my dressing room. "He's been spotted on the horizon."

I whirled, my long skirts swirling around me. "Butz is here?" I forced the ridiculous grin on my face down to a properly demure smile. "I... I would see him arrive."

I made my way at an absurdly slow, stately pace, finally reaching the parapets in time to wave my handkerchief at the lone rider and his herd of Chocobos. He raised a gauntleted hand in salute, slowing from a canter to a walk, finally stopping before the gates, which opened at his approach. "Permission to enter, Highness!" he roared out.

He's learned some manners, it would seem.

Even better.

"Permission granted, brave Warrior," I called down to him. And he passed through the gates.

I made my way to the top of the steps to meet him, where he dismounted, then knelt before me in obeisance. I touched his head with my hand, murmured a polite greeting, then called for grooms to tend to the Chocobos. As Butz took my hand in his own and rose, I turned to lead him into the castle proper.

"So..." he murmured quietly, "where's Faris?"

I smiled. "She'll be here soon, as well. Our lookouts sighted her ship on the horizon this morning. We can all have dinner together." I glanced at him sideways. "And dancing."

"Hm." He merely grunted.

"Lathan," I called out to a nearby page, "kindly escort Butz to his rooms, to wash for the coming festivities."

Butz made a wry face. "I do smell pretty ripe, don't I?"

I smiled. "Don't worry. I won't say anything."

Until tonight, anyway.

I've got a lot to say, tonight.


I ripped another chunk of roast meat from the bone with my teeth, savoring the ripe flesh. As I chewed the savory morsel, my eyes wandered across the table, at my friends, enjoying their own platters of food. Lenna sat to my right, nibbling delicately at her own chunk of flesh, her eyes demurely downcast as she committed the unladylike act of feeding herself. My eyes were a bit bolder, however.

Like I care.

Butz, for his part, was tearing his way through his own joint of beef, his second of the meal. I wiped my mouth-with a napkin, for a change, instead of my sleeve-and gave him a quick smile, before reaching for my wine. Before us, musicians played for our entertainment, while about us, courtiers alternated nibbling at their meals with commenting on the reappearance of the Princess, as well as this new, uncouth “Champion.” I gave them the finger in my mind, and went back to eating.

After we’d finished, the floor opened up, and we rose to dance. Handsome young men, and others not so young, began to crowd about me, eager for a dance.

I checked to make sure my hidden dagger was still in place, beneath my dress. Then I held my hand out to the least threatening member of my pursuers, allowing him to sweep me out to the dance floor. An older man, he smiled in a somewhat less than paternalistic way. I smiled back, contemplating dirty old men and the women who use them.

Next to me, Butz danced with Lenna. She damned near clung to him, gazing up at him adoringly, as he twirled her about expertly. A Dancer, same as I-or Lenna-they moved with uncommon skill, other dancers slowing to watch. My partner continued to set a fast pace-or rather, followed the pace I insisted on. Soon, his forehead was bathed in sweat, his chest heaving even as he matched me step for step. As the music ended, I gave him an almost innocent smile, moving to trade partners with Lenna.

“Marquis Boris didn’t give you too hard a time, did he?” Lenna whispered quickly.

“Naw,” I told her. “He didn’t even try to grope me.” Lenna snorted, before allowing the Marquis to sweep her away. I half fell into Butz’ arms, clinging to him at least as tightly as Lenna did. I met his gaze with my own. A timeless moment later, we began to dance.

Butz smiled as we moved about the floor. “If I didn’t know better,” he said, “I’d think you were coming on to me.”

I almost lost my place, before recovering and moving into a twirl that left myself dangling from his arm, his head bent close to mine. “You don’t know any better,” I murmured. As his eyes widened in shock, I darted my tongue out, licking at his ear.

We recovered, resumed our footwork. “Uh… Faris…” he stammered. The darling was actually blushing.

“I want to be with you, Butz,” I told him. “I… love you.”

“Faris…” He stared at me, dumbstruck. “I…”

Dammit, don’t say you don’t!

“…I love you too.”

We gazed into each other’s eyes adoringly, and before we knew it, the music had ended. I realized, too late, that we’d stopped dancing, merely clinging to each other as we swayed to the tune.

Oh well. Like I care what the courtiers think.

“I’ll be waiting in my chambers, Love,” I told him. “Hurry.” I kissed him quickly, then fled.

I can’t wait.


I fetched myself another goblet of mead, and took a deep sip. I needed some liquid courage, for what I was about to do.

She loves me?

I’d always loved Faris. Actually, I loved both sisters. But I never dreamed one of them would love me back…

She loves me.

I took another sip of the mead, trying to work up the nerve to head for her chambers. I was a little nervous. More than a little nervous.

I’d never done this…

She loves me…

I finished my goblet, and headed out. Out the archway, and down the hall.

Straight into Lenna.

“Oh… um… Lenna… I…” I stammered.

She smiled, blushing a little. She seemed nervous too. “Hi, Butz,” she murmured. “Um, can we talk?”

“Uh… okay…” She began to blush even deeper.

What’s got her so worked up?

She took my hand and led me to a private alcove. “I… I have something to tell you…” She looked down at the floor, and swallowed hard. I could feel the heat from her cheeks, bright red as they were.

“What is it?” I put my arm around her, trying to reassure her. She pulled closer to me. Slowly, she raised her eyes to meet my gaze.

“I… Butz…” She took a deep breath, then finally blurted out, “I love you!” Then she lunged forward and kissed me.

I couldn’t say a word. And not just because her lips were locked to mine. She… loves me?

I love her too.

I love…


I gently pulled away, raised my hand to caress her cheek. “Lenna…” I began.

“Don’t say you don’t,” she hissed, clutching at me urgently.

“Oh, I do,” I held her tight. “I do. But…” I swallowed. “Faris told me she loved me, when we danced. She’s waiting for me now.”

Lenna’s eyes began to shimmer. “You mean…”

“I won’t go to her bed, Lenna…” I told her.

Then I gently pushed her away.

“…and I won’t go to your bed, either. I love you both too much.” I turned my head away. “I won’t be the one to come between you.”

“Butz…” Lenna was crying now.

“I don’t want to hurt either of you...” My voice was barely a whisper.

I jumped to my feet, and ran off.

I don’t want to hurt either of you…


Everything was ready for our first night.

My bedcovers lay turned back invitingly, the soft satin a delicious caress on the skin. My skin glistened with a few drops of perfume, my body clothed-barely- in a sheer nightgown, softly falling over my curves. I’d even painted my face, putting a little rouge on the cheeks-and some other places- darkening my eyes, and rubbing my lips with coloring. I was ready to claim my man.

A knock at the door!

Fresh meat…

“Lenna?” I gaped at the figure in the doorway, dropping my hand from the doorknob.

“We… need to talk, sister,” she said, her eyes somewhat clouded.

What’s going on?

“What’s going on?” I voiced my thoughts. “…Where’s Butz?”

“He… he told me he wouldn’t be coming…” I felt my face flushing with the beginnings of murderous jealousy, “…to either of us.”

I paused. “What?”

“I told him the same thing you did, Sarissa.” She sat down on the bed, her eyes downcast. “He… he said he loved us both. That he didn’t want to come between us.”

I stared at her. “So he’s not going to choose?”

“He doesn’t want to hurt us…” She whispered.

“Well he’s doing a wonderful job of it,” I snarled, throwing my dagger into the far wall. Lenna’s eyes bulged.

I plopped down on the bed next to her, and did not speak for a while. I simply sat there, quietly fuming. Lenna sat next to me, quiet, lost in her own thoughts. “So what do we do?” I finally asked.

“I don’t know.” She carefully did not look at me. “I love him… but I love you, too.”

“Same here,” I muttered. “Which makes things complicated. Normally, a pirate captain just takes what he wants. Concubines included.”

Lenna’s lips twitched. “They’re also usually men. Are you suggesting Butz simply take us both? His own personal harem?”

I started to retort. Then I paused, considering. “He wouldn’t do that. Still…”

Lenna comprehended my idea. And gasped, completely aghast. “We couldn’t! I… think what the gossips would say!”

I smirked. “Like I care. Think what they’ll say about my past. Or Butz’, for that matter,” I added, glancing at her.

She looked down at the floor, contemplating…


I lay in my bed, quietly mourning. Regretting my morals.

So much for love conquering all…

The door quietly opened.

“Who is it?” I asked, my hand reaching for my sword.

“Me.” I know that voice.

“And me…”

BOTH sisters?

Lenna and Faris both crept into my bedroom, quietly shutting the door behind them. I lay back and gaped. Faris… no, Sarissa… I’ve never seen her dressed like that. Or Lenna? She’s worn robes before, but… not like that…

“We’ve made a decision,” Lenna quietly explained, settling down on the corner of the bed.


My voice WOULD crack at that point…

They both suppressed smiles. “We both love you. And you love us both,” Sarissa added. “So… why not…”

“Um…” I felt the heated blood rushing up to my face, and down… “I… uh…”

“So…” Lenna settled down next to me, wrapping her arms around me. Sarissa did the same on my other side. Cutting off my escape…

“Take us.” Sarissa’s breath was hot in my ear.


I felt myself trembling with trepidation. So were the girls…?

“You’ve never done this before, either. Have you?” I asked.

Sarissa paused. “You mean… you’re a virgin, too?”

“Uh…” Now I’m REALLY embarrassed.

Sarissa smiled and hugged me tighter, giggling. “Hey!” I protested. “I haven’t exactly had that many opportunities…”

“Me either,” she pointed out. “If anyone had found out my secret, I wouldn’t be here now.”

“I had my virtue guarded by our father,” Lenna added. “Princesses are supposed to be pure. Men are supposed to be… you know, experienced…”

“So who am I supposed to do it with?” I retorted, my desire ebbing fast. I sat up angrily. “I’m no older than you guys! The only girls I grew up with think of me as a friend! I…”

“Calm down…” Sarissa soothed, pushing me down gently. Lenna cuddled up closer yet. “No one’s judging you, Butz.”

“To tell you the truth,” Lenna added, “it makes me think even more highly of you.”

“Uh… it does?”

“No playboys here,” Sarissa smiled, moving in for a kiss.

A timeless time later, I came up for air. “So… what now?”

“You don’t know what to do?” Lenna asked.

“Well… I’ve seen animals. I did grow up in a village. I… guess it’s the same.”

Sarissa added, “Just kiss us a lot. Anything that feels good… I guess…”

So I began to experiment…