This was a set of 10 prompts from the Dreamwidth prompt challenge comm "Parthenon". In this case, I took Maria from shortly after the whole introduction with Hilda to after the end of the game. I chose the ten points through looking at my fovorite walkthrough and going from there.

Dungeon by Dungeon, Fight by Fight
by Estirose
c 2011

We Are Not Warriors (Altair)

I've always believed in the divine, and even more so now. Why else would we have gotten away from Fynn, even as evil took it over and destroyed it? Why else would we have been saved by Princess Hilda's patrols, saved, given a safe place to live?

But I think we were meant to do more, be more than what we are now. I want to help Hilda. I want to find Leon, kidnapped before we were rescued.

Firion and Guy feel the same way. Firion paces, his light blond hair glinting in the firelight where it spills out from his bandana. Guy sits there steadfastly, willing to follow wherever we go. We are not warriors, but we are friends. Family, in a way.

Perhaps Hilda is right: maybe we are doing something incredibly foolish that will cost us our lives. Perhaps she is right, not to send us to fight and die.

So, we are sending ourselves instead. I have my bow, Firion his sword, Guy his axe. We are going to prove ourselves, get her support, find Leon. It is a big step to take, but we are not helpless, or at least we don't want to be. I've never shot anything other than game, Guy has never used his axe on anything but wood, and Firion has only used his sword on wooden and straw targets, but we want to use them to help.

I don't want to die, but I have to take that step. We all do. To step into adulthood, prove ourselves, save my brother. And hopefully the divine will help.

The Healer who Fights (Semitt Falls)

The ring on Firion's finger glints in the sunlight if you look carefully. Firion is careful to keep it hidden, but it means something to us, to all of us. It's Prince Scott's ring, the symbol that we needed to prove to Princess Hilda that we weren't just kids from Fynn trying to get ourselves killed for our new liege.

At least that's what I want to believe. With us now is Minwu, the court healer. I sometimes think he's more babysitter than partner, watching over promising young heroes that might still get ourselves killed. We've defeated goblins of several stripes, and giant bugs, and plants trying to eat us, but I know there are greater challenges still.

To add to things, we have no idea of where Leon was taken, and to me, that's as important as stopping the Emperor and his evil.

Minwu tells us that he knew his destiny and ours were interlinked from the start, from the moment the patrols brought us in, half-dead. He had faith that we would prove to Princess Hilda that we were worthy of being heroes, of being fighters, and apparently convinced her to let him come with us. I look at the light in his eyes and can't bring myself to question him. I have my faith, he has his. I cannot disparage what brings him hope and drive.

Still, I cannot help but think that Minwu considers us his proteges as well. We're all learning his magic, even Guy, how to heal, how to save. How to bring life as well as death. He is a true white mage, and no matter how willing he is to take on a little destructive magic, he would rather heal first. It's sometimes hard to tell, with the veil he wears, how he feels. But I know he's a gentle soul, only here because he needs to be.

I feel that we shouldn't be taking him into these mines. It's one thing to risk us, the young people, the ones who can die. We are the ones tasked with finding the mythril and the men of Salamand, not him, no matter how he feels the need to tag along. If we'd been able to leave him safe in Salamand, I think we would have. Firion and I discussed it softly, tried to sneak off without him, but Minwu caught us. There's nothing like being lectured, however gently, by a healer about keeping yourselves safe.

And it's his canoe that we're using to get to the mine, so I'd feel bad for stealing it from him, even to save people.

So, as we approach the entrance, we hope that we don't get ourselves killed. But more importantly, we try not to get Minwu killed, either. I like him. I don't want him to die.

Not an Exotic Trip (Kashuan Keep)

I'm on an airship for the first time in my life. The old Maria would have been wide-eyed at the prospect, but she'd be going for fun, or maybe to visit an exotic place in a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Me, as I'm now? I'm going to a keep in order to get mystic fire so that I can blow up an even bigger, nastier airship that can possibly level entire cities. It maybe says how desperate Hilda is that she sent us. Or maybe she's finally gaining confidence in us, though I can still see her worry as she sends us out on missions.

After having seen Josef die, stopping Borghen's trap in order to keep us alive, I'm starting to understand how she feels. She doesn't want to send us out; she doesn't want to hear of how we died, like Josef died.

But at least she won't be sending untrained kids out like she was afraid to do the first time. Instead, she's sending us, the ones that have proved ourselves time and again.

At least that's what I keep telling myself. I still want to be the wide-eyed girl, not the warrior with bow and spells going to yet another place to save the world.

Near me, Guy and Firion make sure their weapons are sharp. We don't know what we"ll find in Kashuan Castle, what dangers we'll face and what treasures will help us. All we know is that we have to do it. That Hilda and all that escaped the destruction are counting on this.

So we test our weapons, test our spells, hope their confidence isn't misplaced. Hope that someday, we can go home.

Three's a Team (Diest)

It seems that there's both little and too much time to think nowadays. Firion and Guy and I are always on our way to somewhere, or back from somewhere, with maybe a day or two's stay in a inn. Sometimes we get lucky and can afford a little magic to heal our wounds and replenish our magic while out in the field.

Sometimes I think that it would be nice if the world could do without us for a few days. A week, even. But even with the Dreadnought gone and the princess rescued and back in Altair, things never really stop. We're to go seek out the dragoons, enlist their help. Why they'd send warriors instead of diplomats... wait, I know. We're more impressive.

There's definitely a downside to being part of Hilda's crack team.

Prince Gordon, who has been with us since we visited Kashuan Castle, finally split from our team to take care of Hilda and her father. I'll miss him, but I have to admit that while we shared some adventure, he was never really part of our team. Not that he didn't fight alongside us, but Firion and Guy and I are used to being together. When I think of the team, I think of them first, and anybody else tends to be an afterthought.

We've nearly been killed, had to get each other back on their feet more times than I thought possible. Even as we hit enemies with weapons, flame, ice, thunder, we keep the spells Minwu taught us close by as well, to heal and save and cure. In the evenings, as we check the binding on our wounds, we keep each other motivated.

Sometimes Firion and I discuss going farther than that, but we've both agreed that it's not a good idea right now.

So, it's a brief break, a quick rest, a stop for potions before we head back to port. Adventure awaits us.

Dark Green Eyes (Diest)

There's beds at Diest's keep. They're nothing compared to my bed at home, but they're luxurious compared to some of the places I've slept over the last couple of weeks.

The four of us are sleeping in one room - Firion, Guy, myself, and the newest person with us, Leila. Like Minwu, Josef, and Gordon before her, Leila has joined our party and fought with us, helping us get through the caves north of here to save the last dragon's egg.

I don't know what to make of Leila, really. She joined us when Firion had the bright idea to ask her to join the rebels - which she took with some amusement. I think she likes Firion - or at least she's looked at him more than once in a way that makes me have to take a deep breath, lest I do something permanent to our newest ally. She told me when we were on our way here to this island not to worry, that Firion's too law-abiding, even as a rebel, to interest her. But I have my doubts. I think that if I hadn't been here, Leila would be all over Firion.

At least I am here, and she every so often realizes that Firion is taken. Sometimes. It's her nature, I think, to take what she wants. She's also not stupid, and she saw how easily we took on her supposedly tough crew. She's not willing to cross me and take Firion, not yet.

I can't wait until this quest is over and maybe she'll leave me and Firion alone. It's tiring enough trying to save everybody without having to worry about a pirate falling for Firion. As it is, I'm not sure I asked the woman who lives here about Leon, like I've been doing at every town we go to. Or have I? We've gone so many places, and everything else seems to be such a higher priority over my own personal quest.

I can't help but look at our hostess and think of how things could have been. Even though she's lost her husband, her son's father, she's more content than I am. She's not at war. She's not fighting. She's just living.

How I envy her! I'd like to have settled down, gotten married. But that's not in the cards. Not yet. Not for me.

But maybe someday....

A Gleaming Crystal Tower (Leviathan)

In my wildest dreams, I never thought that I'd add "getting swallowed by a whale" to my list of experiences. But I did. Or that there would be a small town full of people stuck in the place, trapped by the fact that they shared a ship with a man in search of a tower.

Well, Ricard was more than that, but it applies. As I look up at the tall crystal tower that is our destination, I just hope that we're not going through all this for nothing. In this tower is the Ultima tome, and it's supposed to be the greatest magic ever. Nothing short of what we're going through would anybody be sane enough to seek the spell that apparently trumps all spells.

Even I, having been through so much, can't help but look up in awe at the shining tower of this place. It's supposed to be deadly, but nothing that Firion, Guy, and I can't beat. We lost Leila when we were swallowed by the whale, or at least got separated from her. I can't say I'm sorry. I think she's a good asset to our rebellion, but I like her as far away from Firion as possible, even if she saved him from the false Hilda. Even if she helped us regain Fynn, our home.

Okay, she's pretty much realized he's unobtainable, but I just... got nervous every time she looked at him. I don't know why I can face unimaginable dangers and yet get spooked by the possibility of them together, but maybe it's because I've been forced to focus on war instead of love like I'd like to.

But instead, I'm following on the trail of Minwu, who is pretty tough himself. I think we really underestimated him before; he's fully capable of defending the world without us, it's just that he's a healer first and foremost. He leaves the fighting to those of us who use attack magic.

Not that white mages are totally defenseless; Firion, who prefers his weapons over destructive spells, is also our healer, and I would be hard-pressed to defeat him in a fight, too.

Someday, there are going to be some amazing tales to tell my kids and grandkids. Preferably next to a crackling fire, at home, where it's safe.

Sacrificing for the Greater (Crystal Tower)

"Maria sad. Guy grieve too."

Guy has never been the most eloquent of speakers, but it's nice to hear him say the words as we sail back towards Fynn. Firion holds me close, letting me know that he, too, grieves with me. He can't even try for words; his eyes are too red-rimmed, and I think that he would choke up if he had to say anything.

We lost Minwu. The man who taught us our first healing spells, who made sure we could keep ourselves going even when we were hurt, who told us to never be without a healer, who kept us alive in those early days. Who was there for us, even as he was there for the King and Hilda and Gordon.

Minwu, who went to that tower to die, hoping his sacrifice would save the world.

In some ways, we were his proteges, the ones that would inherit everything. The ones that would take what he'd done and make the world better for everyone. We listened to him, and Firion learned every damn healing spell he could, because what were we without a healer?

Of course, Guy and I know our share too, but Firion... Firion took Minwu's teachings to heart. The world cannot be free if its heroes aren't there to protect it. Firion might grieve even harder than I do, but he'll never show it. Guy and I must be there for him, instead.

I now wield Ultima, the ultimate spell, but I'd freely return it to that horrible tower if I could get Minwu back, we all would. Yes, war demands sacrifices on the part of those involved in it, but this was one price that we were unwilling to pay, even if Minwu was.

Princess Hilda will grieve, too, when we tell her the news. She, too, knows the pain of sacrifice.

But for right now, the three of us grieve alone.

What Has To Be Done (Palamecia)

I think I stopped asking about Leon a while ago, and of course when I stopped, I found him. I have to admit that I'm glad he's alive, but… I never thought he'd be brainwashed and working for the Emperor. Or taking over the Empire since we killed the Emperor himself.

Now we're on our way to Palamecia Castle, to save Leon… or, I fear, kill him. I've lost my brother once; I am afraid to lose him again, but… if I can't save him, I swear I will kill him. I know any of us would, to save and protect those we love and care for.

I've lost so much, we all have. We're strong warriors, hardened warriors, or at least I thought so until today, until the guard brought us, Hilda, and Gordon the news. I remember keeping my composure long enough to get out of everyone's sight before I started to cry.

Firion held me while I cried for a few minutes, and then I managed to compose myself long enough to at least not look like I was going to break down and cry any moment. Of course, there were more people to grieve, more people dead because of the Emperor's cyclone.

At least he's dead too, and nobody's grieving.

It's odd to see our work nearly done, but then again, we hadn't exactly expected to be on this last adventure either. We had thought we'd won, thought we were at peace, thought everything was all right, mostly.

Maybe this is our last adventure. Maybe we will rest. Maybe we will be at peace. All I know is something has to happen with Leon, and I will do what has to be done.

Camping in Hell (Pandaemonium)

It's hard to camp in hell. It's near impossible, in fact.

But even we need a break after fighting enemies, to heal up and to refresh ourselves in this crystal palace. Guy is sipping a potion; they don't heal as much as they used to, but we need to conserve our resources, at least a little. We don't know how far we have to go to reach the Emperor, and while it was easy to defeat him the first time, I don't think it'll be that easy now. Besides, I think we got lucky that first time, with a well-aimed teleport spell from Firion.

The enemies are tougher now. We've all nearly died several times now, by the same monsters that nearly killed us before, just after we fled Fynn. We were unskilled youngsters then; we're now hardened warriors, though I hope this doesn't take too long and I can stop being a warrior soon. At least I can say we're harder to kill; it doesn't take one glance from their lances to nearly end us; it takes three or four now. And by then, we can take at least two out.

Nearby, Leon serves as our lookout. I know he's filled with guilt, because of all the brainwashing the Emperor did, and I know he wishes we'd killed him instead of snapping him to his senses and letting him realize what he'd done. I keep telling him that he can repay it, that people can forgive him, but I don't think he believes me.

If he could die killing the Emperor, I think he'd think it was a fitting end. But I don't intend to let him die. Firion isn't the only one who can heal someone from near-death.

I don't wan't to lose him, not after finding him again. Leon's accused me of being selfish because of that, and I know that I had to leave so he couldn't see me cry. I want my brave, protective brother back, no matter that I'm far more powerful than he is now.

It's not our first fight between us, it won't be our last, but it still hurts. I know in his eyes that he still has to protect his little sister, but that doesn't mean we have to be on speaking terms.

Maybe I am selfish, but I really can't let him commit suicide by Emperor. But it's not like we can talk about that now.

Firion gets up; it's time to go. Time to explore more of this place, find the Emperor. Defeat him.

And maybe then we'll be able to go home.

That Ends (Fynn)

The celebrations don't seem to end.

We're free of the Emperor now, free to rebuild, and all of us who saved the world will forever be considered heroes. We're beloved by the people of Fynn, and Hilda looks at us with adoration in her eyes.

It's over, finally, and we've been promised land, land to live on as befitting those who saved the world. Of course, we wouldn't imagine living anywhere than Fynn, though we might settle for some land outside. Fynn Lake is beautiful when you're not hurrying across it on yet another adventure.

The only thing I regret, out of all my regrets, is what I've lost. The people in particular; Josef and Minwu and Ricard. I thought I saw their ghosts when Hilda was thanking us for all we've done, but it might have been my imagination.

Of course, with all I've seen, are the ghosts of beloved friends and mentors really that strange?

Leon is not talking to me. He knows that we needed him in that last fight, but he still wanted to strike the last blow, die with the man he hated so much. And I told him the truth; I wouldn't let him go, I wouldn't let him die.

I think he hates me now. Or maybe he hates himself, I'm not sure. Or both. Firion says to give him his space and let him realize that we meant well.

Really, all I wanted him to do was come and dance at my wedding.

It's hard, but I'm trying not to let it dampen my spirits. I have my life ahead of me now, and I don't think that I have to worry about saving the world again.

I hope.