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Shining Force

Final Fantasy

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Shining Force: Epilogue

Mae makes her way to village inn, finds Max.

Heavy hoofsteps sounded off the cobblestones of the paved road, alerting others to her approach. The people of the small village gazed up from their tasks, intruiged by the sight of a stranger. Especially one so pretty.

And especially one dressed in armor.

Mae's cool blue eyes gazed out over the placid scene before her, taking a small bit of satisfaction in the peace and relative prosperity of the village. Hard work and a distinct lack of invading armies had ensured a bountiful harvest this year, and with it, all the accompanying economic and social benefits resulting from a plentiful supply of edibles.

Speaking of which...

Mae stepped through the tavern door, ducking her head underneath the frame, as centaurs typically do when entering human sized buildings. Taking quick measure of the inhabitants, she dismissed them as peaceful farmers and nonthreats, and bellied up to the bar. A human bartender nodded to her in casual greeting. "Milady knight." He pulled out a mug. "What'll it be?"

"White wine." It had been his favorite...

Cool from storage, the cheap vintage nonetheless tasted somewhat bitter on her tongue. She shrugged and swallowed anyway, lowering the mug raised in silent toast. "I need lodging for the night. And something to eat."

"Stable's right through that door. Fresh straw'll cost you extra. We've got wheat bread, corn bread, and we've still some pork, if you want meat."

"Please." Mae passed over coinage. "Thank you."

"Thank you, Lady." The bartender waved over to the kitchen area and shouted for bread and pork. Soon, Mae was brooding over a platter heaped with thick slabs of rich brown bread and tasty corn bread. Several thin slices of bacon rounded out the meal.

I do a lot of brooding these days, Mae thought. Ever since...

She shook her head to clear her mind, and bit down furiously on a piece of bread. Draping bacon over the slice, she took another bite, then chewed determinedly on both mouthfuls at once, her cheeks bulging, as she tried to ignore her own thoughts by concentrating on the conversations held by others.

"...great job tilling the fields this year. Just like last year."

"Aw, shucks." A young voice. Somehow familiar. "That's easy stuff. It's caring for the crop during the summer that's tough. We'd have lost everything to weeds and bugs without you, boss."

"Don't sell yourself short, kid." The older voice chuckled. "I've seen humans pulling plows before, but none of them ever did it better than a ox."

"I dunno. Brute stuff seems easy to me, that's all."

"Restful?" Wry chuckle.


"Well, you wanted rest, Max, and you got it..."

"MAX!" Mae launched herself across the tavern, her food forgotten, mug tossed carelessly aside. Before the shocked farmers could respond, she'd grabbed a young human and slammed him against the wall.

"Max?" She searched his face. It was him... the light brown hair, the clear eyes, the strong features... "Max, where have you been?" She devoured him with her eyes, tears streaming.

His own eyes were clear of tears. But wild with fright. "Lady!?" He gasped. His eyes stared at her...

And failed to recognize her.

"Max? It's me. MAE..." Max began to writhe, as her fingers dug into his shoulders. She noticed, and released him.

Max backed away hastily.

"You know the lad, Lady?" asked the old farmer. Mae stared at the man disbelievingly.

"Know him? That's Max! My Max!" No response. "Commander of the Shining Force.

THAT elicited a response. Everyone in the tavern stared at Max, as though he'd suddenly acquired a halo and angel wings. He cowered against the wall, his eyes darting about for escape.

"Max, it's ME," Mae implored. "Don't you recognize me...?"

"Doubt it, Lady," the old farmer explained. "He wandered into our fields last year. Didn't know a damn thing except his name. He's a hard worker though, really strong. Guess now we know why." He glanced at the young man. "Explains the armor he was wearing, too..."

"I... I don't know what you're talking about," he begged. "Please, go away..."

"Max..." Mae recoiled. "It's me. Don't you remember anything?"

Max swallowed, his forehead dotted with sweat. He shook his head.

Mae sighed. "I'll take you back to the castle. Anri and Lowe'll know what to do."

"But..." Max turned to gape at the farmer. "The harvest..."

"Don't bother." The farmer waved his hand dismissively. "You've already tilled the fields. We can handle the rest. Go home, Max," he added gently.

Max turned to Mae, trembling visibly. "All... all right, Lady."


"All right... Lady Mae."

Mae sighed. "Come sit next to me, Max. We'll talk. See if I can't jog your memory.



The amazing thing about the discovery of Max was not that he'd survived inevitable doom. Nor did his condition surprise anyone, when they heard the news. The truly amazing thing was WHERE he'd been found.

The village lay less than a day's ride from Guardiana itself.

Mae moved along at a canter, her thoughts a churning jumble. She'd found Max, at last! -but a Max sans memories. He'd left her to sleep the night in his room at the inn, before she could so much as imply bedding down together in fresh straw. The night for her had been hours of restless tossing, thwarted love and desire churning within her.

Not that Max looked much better. He'd been too terrified by the unknown future to sleep. He nonetheless kept pace with her, running easily with his armor stowed in a pack borne by the hardier centaur, along with his few other belongings.

Before them, the gates of Guardiana rose in the horizon. "Almost... there, Max," Mae panted. Max nodded, gulping air.

The guards saluted Mae as they slowed to a trot before reaching the gates. Their faces registered their shock at recognition of Max. "Send word to the castle," Mae ordered one of them. "I've found him."

The guard nodded and called to a messenger. Filling him in on the details, he sent the elf off, before returning to his post. Mae led Max away, moving at a sedate walk.

Anri met them at the castle gates. Max took one startled glance at the crown on her lovely head and fell to his knees. "Y-your Majesty," he stammered.

Anri stared at the awkward man, her expression deeply disturbed. She glanced at Mae.

"He's lost his memory, Anri." Mae tapped Max on the shoulder. "He doesn't remember any of us."

"Oh. Ooohh..." Anri's eyes misted in sudden understanding. "Rise, my Hero."

"Huh?" Max' eyes widened at the formal and respectful tone.

Anri sighed. "Get up, Max."

She walked up close to him as he stood, her hand reaching out to caress his forehead. He flinched at the familiarity, then gasped. Anri held him frozen with her gaze and touch, her eyes burning with intensity, glowing with enchantments...

"It's him," she concluded, the glow fading from her eyes. "But his mind is... it's not damaged, it's SHATTERED. Ripped to pieces. Oh, Max..."

She embraced him, burying her head into his shoulder.

He stiffened.

"Max... what happened to you?" Anri moaned. Then, somewhat hesitantly, she released him.

"It doesn't matter, now. You're home!" She pivoted on the heel of an elegant boot, black skirt swirling about her. "Servants! To me!" she called out in stentorian tones, following that up with, "Josh! Get your butt in here!"


Max sipped the wine hesitantly.

"It's nice," he said, attempting a smile.

"It was your favorite," Mae told him, her knees resting on padded cushions, one arm draped around him. "We took the batch from Uranbatol. After you defeated Balbazak."

"I... did?" Max glanced down at the cup. "I must be a really tough guy, I guess."

Mae almost melted, her heart singing at his tone. He'd started to remember his sense of humor... "Oh, Max..."

"So what did I like to eat?" He asked, glancing at the feast laid out on the table. Platters of meat, fruit, pastries...

"Meat and fruit, mostly." Mae grabbed up a bunch of grapes, snapped one off. "We'd feed the fruit to each other. Like this..."

Max' eyes bulged, as she popped the grape into his mouth. He chewed reflexively, swallowed. "We had a lot fun, didn't we?" he gasped.

Mae laughed. Then turned at a frantic cry.

"Ah!" A halfling stood in the doorway, his form draped in the robes of an Archvicar, a Holy Staff in midair, tossed carelessly aside. "Ah!" Lowe cried again, running towards them on his stumpy little legs. Max blinked as the little holy man approached...

...Passed him, and leaped into a chair, grabbing up an apple tart.

"Yum!" Lowe mumbled, flecks of crust spraying from his lips. "That's good eating!" He swallowed. "It's about time you showed up," he added.

"He's lost his memory," Mae explained. "Max, this is Lowe. He was your best friend, and your physician."

Max stared at the plump little man, his face shining with serene joy as he polished off the pastry. "You're my best friend?"

"Against my better judgement, yes." Lowe's face maintained it's expression of complacent serenity... aside from one eyelid, which winked spasmodically.

"In that case, friend... hands off my cherry pie." Max grabbed the confection before Lowe could succeed in snatching it away.

"Max! I'm disappointed. Have you forgotten my sermons on selflessness, on giving of yourself to others?"

"Apparently so."

"Good. 'Cuz I never gave any. How about half?"


"I will remember you in my prayers, my child." This in a dire tone.

"Half..." And the two friends split the pie evenly. Mae smiled and reached for an apple. Max licked his lips and stared up at her.

"Shouldn't I be feeding that to you?"


They entered her bedroom together. Max seemed somewhat disconsolate, Mae more so.

"So he can't fix my head, either," Max shrugged. "I'm sure I'll remember everything eventually."

"Yes..." Mae nodded, glancing in the mirror at her face, the circles under her eyes. "Time for bed..."

"Uh... this is my room?" Max glanced down at the enormous pile of straw. It seemed very soft, very fragrant... and very equine.

"No." Mae pulled the laces on her shirt. "It's ours."

Max' eyes bulged. He stepped back a pace, jaw agape.

"You mean... You... and me...?"

"Yes." Mae pulled the shirt off, exposing her human aspect in all it's glory. "Come to bed, Max."

"Uh..." Max glanced about, as if searching for escape.

"What's wrong?" Mae stepped forward, concerned.

"I... I..."

"Hush." Mae grabbed him, pulled him close, smothering his protests. "Don't be scared."

Head nestled within paradise, Max nonetheless managed to protest. "But... you're a centaur..."

Mae stroked his back, found the bottom of his own tunic. "That never mattered before," she informed him, pulling at the garment.

"I've seen male centaurs. I'm not... that... big...?" Max backed away slightly, his face crimson with the admission.

Mae chuckled tenderly. "Silly. That doesn't matter." She succeeded in getting his top off, despite a distinct lack of cooperation. "It's not the size that counts... it's how you use it."

"But I don't REMEMBER how to use it," he wailed.

"I'll show you." Mae smiled, kissed him. "First, put your hand there. No, there. Ah, Yeesss..."



He looked up from the book he was reading, as Anri approached. Then he leaped up to his feet. "Your Majesty... uh... Yes, Anri?" He barely remembered not to genuflect to his Queen. Her lips quirked at the sight of his knees partially bending, then locking straight.

"Domingo and Bleu are here to see you."

"Are they my comrades too?"

Anri smiled and shook her head. "More than that, Max.

"They're your children."

Max blinked, his jaw working silently for a moment. "I have kids?"

"Adopted." Anri held out her hand, and Max immediately offered his arm to her. They began walking towards the courtyard.

"Um, Max, I probably should tell you. They're not human."

"Huh?" Max peered at her. "I loved a centaur. Why should that matter."

"Well... Bleu is a baby dragon. Well, he's not really a baby anymore, but..." They reached the doors.

"And Domingo is... oh my GOD!"

Max recoiled instinctively from the sight. Tentacles reached imploringly for him. Blank eyes peered at him from underneath white goop resembling a rakishly cocked turban. "Max!" The aparition cooed in a high pitched voice.

"Easy, Max, it's okay. He has Amnesia, Domingo, remember?" Anri held Max gently but firmly, preventing his flight. The tentacles retracted.

"You don't even remember me?" The squeaky voice was filled with a sudden grief.

"Ah... no..." Max said, shaking. Then he gasped again, as a large head bent down towards him. Silver scales swept down a long neck, leading to a long body, powerful limbs, and a slender tail. Powerful wings spread themselves, casting a shadow across Max' form.

"Do you remember me, Max? I'm Bleu. You gave me your ring." Bleu held up a taloned forepaw. A ring forged completely of steel, with a strange symbol inscribed thereupon, lay within his palm. "It made me strong."

"I'm sorry." Max swallowed. "I don't remember."

"It's okay, Max." Domingo drifted closer, and Max forced himself not to flinch. "We remember." His tentacles reached out again, carresing Max' cheeks. "And we love you."

Max nodded, and this time his knees did not tremble from just fear.


"So... where are we headed?" Max asked.

Mae smiled over her shoulder at him, as she galloped along. Max clung to her unarmored back, his arms wrapped around her midsection. "To see Gong."

"Oh." Max buried his face against Mae's sweaty shirt for a moment, then raised it again. "Who's Gong?"

"A monk. Lowe and Anri thought he might be able to help. Domingo agreed."

"Domingo does magic?" His hands shifted slightly.

"Domingo IS magic." She turned her head forward again, watching her tread over a rough patch. Though the damage caused by the quake of years past had largely been erased, the road remained somewhat rough. "He's been staying at Manarina with Arthur, Tao, and Gort. There's a very big brain underneath thos tentacles."

Max rested his chin on her shoulder. "And Anri?"

"Enchantments and weather magic, mostly. She's been working on things to help the people."

"So we had her to thank for our good harvest last year?" Max' hands shifted again.

"Yes... uh, Max, you're pretty insistent for someone who's not even sure if we were really lovers."

"Call me an opportunist."


They reached the hermit's retreat shortly thereafter. Max slid off Mae's back somewhat reluctantly, and followed her into the cottage.

"Gong? It's me," Mae called out. "And... I brought Max."

An enormous brute of an ogre erupted from the back of the cottage. "Max!" His crude features broke into a surprised grin. "You're alive!" He looked over Max' shoulder and called out, "Diane! Max! He's alive!"

A pretty little elf came running up, her hands clutching a crossbow. "Max!" She rushed up, barreling into him and wrapping her arms around him in a fierce hug. "Max!" She cried again.

"Uh..." Max slurred again, staring at this cute little thing clutching at him.

"Gong, we need you help," Mae informed him soberly.

"At your service, Lieutenant," Gong replied immediately.

"Max has amnesia. He can't remember any of us." She looked at Max, who was gently attempting to pry Diane off of him.

"Huh? Is that all?" He stepped forward. "Diane, move away from him. Max, turn around."

As Diane parted from him, Max turned as ordered. "Okay. What are you going to-"


His world flashed a brilliant white, and the ground rushed up to meet him. Max lay on the ground a moment, twitching slightly.

Then he rolled over.


After about a minute of this tirade, Max paused for breath. "Gong... start running. When I get my hands on you..."

His voice sounded differant than before. Stronger. More confidant.

The voice of one accustomed to command.

"See?" Gong smiled. "Works every time." He reached out with one enormous hand and pulled Diane in close.

"It worked?" Mae asked, uncertain.

Max turned to look at her. Then he grabbed her hand and pulled her down to the ground.

"What do you think?" He snarled. Then he kissed her...

"Oh..." Mae sighed, when they finally came up for air. "Hmmm. Back to Guardiana, love."

"Uh uh." Max shook his head, and stood up, pulling her up with him. "We're going to Waral."

"Huh? You want to see Bokken?"

"Maybe aftward." He grinned. He wrapped his arms around her midsection, holding her tight.

They faded from sight.

The End

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