Redemption

by Amanda Freitag

(It has been eight years since the crushing blow of Mia's death. Constantly conscious of this fact, Nash refuses to be the kind, happy, and social person he had once been. Every day he asks himself the same question: "Why?" and still it is never answered. Of course he still has his friends, but he will never be the same again. But just when you think there is no hope, Nash may find a way to get another chance, to change the past, to make things right, to make all mistakes forgiven.)

"Nooo!" Nash cried while jetting upright from his bed. "Not again." He suddenly started gasping for air in deep breaths while wiping a cold sweat from his forehead. "Damn this blasted dream, when will it leave me be?!" he asked himself aloud as his gasping slowed to a steady rate. "This is ridiculous! It has been eight years and it still haunts me! But why ?" He rose from his bedside and walked around his room while violently stroking the back of his neck. "Why can't I just die and end this torture?"

Then he settled into his favorite chair and picked up an old spell book he had never seen before, opening the tattered cover to the title which read: Powerful Spells for the Advanced Magician. His face began to take a stony, puzzled expression. As he turned the page to the text, he raised a questioning eyebrow. The spells were written in an odd type of hieroglyphics which he couldn't even begin to understand. Yet they seemed familiar. (But if he wants to fix his life he better learn to understand.)

He grabbed his glasses from the nightstand next to him and switched on the lamp. When he fit his glasses into place he began trying to translate the bewildering text. Nearly a minute after he began, he started to get the most terrible migraine, and began to slowly doze back into a deep slumber. He placed a bookmark at where he had left off, took off his glasses, switched off the light, and flopped back into bed to an unusually peaceful sleep.

/ / / / /

He awoke the next day feeling abnormally cheerful and prepared for his day of teaching at the guild. As he walked down the guild corridors, all he heard was the low banging of his own footsteps. The halls weren't always this quiet.

Ever since the fall of the Ausa Dynasty, all the students and the teachers seemed to be struck with the same plague of eternal silence. He slowly opened the door to his classroom to see his students silently sitting in their assigned desks, hands folded on the desktop, and their heads bowed.

Slowly the day passed, the classes soon ended, and Nash had some time to himself. He and the council have been running things, and Nash didn't have much private time. As he sat in the empty classroom, he began to think; he knew he had somewhere to go but it just slipped his mind.

He suddenly looked out the window to see a long green vine blooming white flowers, then he smacked the side of his head. "Duh! Could you be any more dense?" he asked himself. Today was their anniversary of being together, and Mia's birthday. On this day every year, he would bring flowers to her small grave, and recall the great memories they had shared so long ago.

Slowly he would kneel on the soft grass in front of the small memorial, set the flowers aside, and let his mind wander. Always thinking of a way he could have prevented this tragedy from taking place, always thinking of a way to redeem his name from the blame he had placed on it. He suddenly placed his thumb on the headstone and started tracing the letters one more time, always reading the same name as it had eight years ago, AUSA.

Nash gave a large sigh as a gentle tear crept down his saddened face. "Someday, I will make it right again, I promise... I love you, and I miss you," he whispered to himself as he turned around to return to his room.

When he entered the door, two commands went through his head: Limbs go limp, flop on bed. And a big crashing type noise arose as he did so.

"Why does my life suck so bad, it's... not... fai (snore)," he tried to finish his sentence but suddenly drifted off to sleep.

/ / / / /

His dreams were full of blurs of the past, then came a barricade of visions of pages from the old spellbook as if to give him the answer. The odd signs from the pages seem to change to pure English, simple figures that only a two-bit half-wit couldn't figure out, then the dream suddenly ended.

Nash flashed his eyes open and rushed over to retrieve the spellbook from the table where he had left it, and his glasses. He slowly returned to his bed and switched on the light. He flipped quickly to the beginning page of the odd writing and read on. He reached the first spell and grew extremely tired, but he forced his eyes to stay open to finish.

"May the sands of time be turned, may the past return to its former splendor, may all mistakes be forgiven, and may what was be changed," was the form of the odd text. He read on to the late hours of the night, nearly until dawn, and fell asleep chanting the words over and over aloud, never knowing the result of his actions.

After repeating the words a certain number of times (nine times, just to split hairs), he suddenly felt very cold, and sore. (?) He slowly forced his eyes open, then suddenly shielding them from the blinding light from a nearby window. Just trying to move a single muscle in his body sent a shocking charge of pain through his entire body. But he felt a warm, cozy, tingling feeling on his left shoulder.

He slowly tilted his head up to see he was sitting on the floor, propped up against a chair. Then a warm smile spread across his face, and he sighed happily to see Mia sleeping peacefully in the chair. "Yes," Nash whispered to himself as he nestled back into his former position, still smiling. "Well, I better get up now; hopefully I can stop Risha from crashing in on us this time."

Dammit, sore, ouch! I have forgotten how much it hurt me to move after last night's little episode, he thought to himself as he stiffly stood up and headed for the door. As soon as he had opened it, he saw Risha in the process of reaching for the doorknob.

"OH! Sir, forgive me for barging in, but Lemia sent me to see if y'all was awake," she said quietly.

"Don't worry about it. Well, as you can see I'm awake, but Mia is still out," Nash whispered with a slight chuckle. He let Risha in the door, then turned around and knelt down by Mia's chair. He lifted one of the strands of raven black hair that hung over her ear. "Time to get up, Ms. Heavy Sleeper."

She stirred from his whisper and mumbled, "I don't want to get up (yawn), just five more minutes."

He just grinned. "Heh, heh, maybe this will help," he said softly to himself when he suddenly gave her a soft kiss on the face.

Her eyes flashed open, and she smiled. "I'm awake!"

"That's what I thought," he said under his breath.

Mia sat straight up in her chair and started to rub the tension from her neck. "I can see you're feeling better," she said, referring to last night.

"Well, what can I say? One day you feel crappy, the next day you feel good as new!" he explained while changing into some travel clothes.

"Do you feel well enough to travel?"

"If I wasn't, do you think I would be changing?" he asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Well, to tell you the truth, I don't know you that well to give you a reasonable answer to that question."

"Forget it," he blurted while he slipped his shirt over his head. "We better hurry or we'll miss breakfast," Nash warned.

"You go ahead, I'll meet you there," she replied.

"Suit yourself," he said carelessly as he trudged down the hall, but then it hit him. Your carelessness got you in that particular mess the first time; don't make the same mistake! Then he paused and went back. "On the other hand, I'll wait right here," he suggested with an unsure smile.

/ / / / /

They walked alongside each other, and talked together on their way to breakfast. Mia was amazed at Nash's sudden change in appetite. She just stared at him as he practically inhaled his food. "Not hungry, are you?"

He looked up from his plate with bulging cheeks. "(gulp) Sorry, I'm just really hungry!"

"Obviously!" she replied with a laugh. It made Nash feel so warm and cozy inside to see her smile, and to hear her laugh again.

The day replayed itself as it had the first time, except different words were said, and different feelings stirred. The only feeling Nash could help but feel was happiness. Even after his little quarrel with the old woman (Xenia), he still felt overjoyed.

/ / / / /

When the three reached Nanza Pass, Nash was on top guard, looking around himself over and over again. "Is something wrong, Nash? What's the matter?" she asked in a worried tone.

"There is a strong magical force, and it's very close! Can't you feel it?" he warned, nearly yelling.

"No. Why, what's wrong?"

"It's evil magic."

"What I don't see is how you can feel it, but I can't!"

Suddenly a wall of fire flashed up out of nowhere, and the horses were forced around to run the other way but were halted by another firewall.

"This could be bad," Nash suggested in a distressed tone. Suddenly, a burst of evil, demonic laughter started to ring throughout the rocky pass. "Okay! This could be worse," Nash corrected himself. Nash put on a strong face, then dismounted.

"Nash, what are you doing?" Nash remained silent.

"All right, Xenia! I know you're there! Come out and fight! "

Then from the shadows that the fire had animated, she came forward and made herself known. "Well, it seems that not ALL the students of Vane are completely brainless after all."

"Speak for yourself!" he yelled strongly.

"Wise words from a foolish mortal, but of course I wouldn't have expected any less."

"Well, let me give you a lesson on expectations, Xenia; never expect to win a battle so easily!" Suddenly Nash launched a Spark Ball spell at Xenia; it had missed, but it still enraged the evil sorceress enough to chase him down. Sensing this anger, Nash dashed through the firewall, leaving his skin slightly charred, and she followed close behind him.

"Nash! Are you crazy? Come back!" Mia shouted after him. She stayed behind to keep a close eye on her daughter, who was just as clueless as she was.

"Don't worry, Mom, Nash is a big boy now; he can take care of himself," Maru reassured her.

"I hope you're right."

/ / / / /

Nash just kept running. He didn't know where he was trying to reach, but all he did know was that anywhere out of the reach of that witch was good enough. When he felt like he couldn't run anymore, he reached the top of a giant slope that led all the way back down the mountain. But the fall was long, and the trail was covered in large and jagged rocks. He stood before it in absolute fear; when he turned around he found he was all alone!

Where did she go?! he thought to himself. Suddenly, Xenia appeared out of nowhere and smashed him in the face with a powerful punch, and it sent him falling down the slope to land on a wide, platform of rock. When he came to a complete halt, he heard something 'SNAP' and pain shocked through his body. Upon his landing his right wrist twisted backward under his back and the impact shattered it! His swollen cheek started to leak blood as he writhed in pain. Xenia felt proud to bring one of the Five Heroes down to this level of punishment, but it surprised her that Nash didn't die after his fall.

Nash moaned and looked towards the sky when he suddenly did a single-hand (well, he couldn't use the other hand! Can you blame him?) handspring to dodge a plummeting charge from Xenia. Now was a better time than ever to strike back! Nash swung his leg around and planted it in the side of her ribs.

The stern blow sent her falling. She gave a loud hiss as a black, saber-like blade emerged from her fist. Xenia caught Nash by surprise as she slashed the blade in an upward arc and caught his forehead. Blood started to gush out in fountains as the slice slowly spread across his skin.

This really pissed him off to the highest level of pissivity. Nash, in anger and determination, shot a high-powered Thunderbolt at the accursed creature and hit a perfect bull's-eye! Xenia wailed in pain; Nash shielded his ears as well as possible to keep from hearing its horrible amplitude. The attack left Xenia in a horribly disfiguring state. In short, she was FRIED!

Nash could feel nothing but pity for the woman that laid disabled on the ground before him. "Xenia, it doesn't have to end like this. Just leave me and the other Heroes alone, and all will someday get better. Otherwise I'll have no choice but to finish this fight!"

Xenia just gave a raspy laugh and forced herself to stand. "Brave words; I look forward to ramming them down your throat."

He frowned at her words. "Ya can't say I didn't warn you!" Nash took a few steps back, dropped down on one knee, and shut his eyes. He never uttered a word but a strong magical force was building inside of him. He unlocked his clamped eyes, and Xenia saw true fear as lightning bolts danced in his sight. He suddenly stood up and thrust both arms towards the sky, and a giant Thunder Bird outlined his body. This bird was made of pure electricity. As it flew overhead, it left yellow sparks in its wake.

Swirls of thunder magic surrounded Nash, with a harsh glare fixed on Xenia. "I gave you a chance, Xenia, but you refused to take it. Now you shall pay the ultimate price!" Then with a single blink, a single twitch, the Thunder Bird swooped down, flying right through Xenia and making several return dives before stopping and fading away. Xenia was now super fried!

"It's over, Xenia, give it up," he demanded in an exhausted tone.

"NEVER! " Xenia screamed and sacked Nash; they both went falling down the jagged slope. They managed to come to a stop, and Xenia took advantage of the moment; she poised her nails and swiped them across his upper chest. (I bet that hurt.) His cry could be heard for miles around, it rang through the mountains like an explosion.

"Well, Xenia, you were right about one thing."

"OH, yeah? And what might that be?"

"History does repeat itself!" he said in near-laughter as he slammed his knee strongly into her gut, and threw her past him, eventually snapping her neck during the fall. Final victory had been achieved at long last; the threat was over. Now the hard part was getting back up the mountain with one hand, and being wasted wasn't going to make it any easier. And the blood and dust nearly blinding him made it worse.

/ / / / /

After the event of Xenia's downfall, the firewall suddenly disappeared, leaving a veil of smoke behind. Mia suddenly started to scan the surroundings in a confused, worried, and clueless manner. She didn't know what happened to make the fire go out. Was Nash alive? Was he laying dead hanging off a cliff somewhere? Or did he defeat Xenia?

Her mind was boiling over with questions; she was starting to get highly PARANOID ! Her eyes were starting to fill with tears, but she resisted them. She bowed her head and looked down at her puzzled daughter. Maru just repaid her look with a small, shy smile. Mia didn't know what to say. All she could do was give a saddened sigh.

Her mood all of a sudden changed from sad to slight aggression as she heard a faint coughing, and sliding rocks. It was too far away to define the voice, and the smoke still lingered so she couldn't see. Is it Xenia? Is it Nash? That was the only question that was now stirring in her mind.

She cautiously got off the horse and slowly walked toward the gray, towering barrier of smoke. She seemed to vanish as the gray swirled around her, and the dry feeling in Mia's throat made her short of breath. Her eyes started to water as she began coughing, then she suddenly paused to hear weak footsteps. Mia squinted her eyes, trying to see through the mist. Well, that is, until she saw who it was.

Her hardened expression changed to happy relief as Nash stood with a sheepish smile, wavering on his weak knees with his right arm tucked under his left arm. "Did'ya miss me?" She ran over to him and embraced him as hard as possible with tear-filled eyes. "OW, OW, EASY, EASY! I'll take that as a yes!" he said as she unclamped her grip on him, and she started to chuckle softly. He smiled and raised an eyebrow. "What are you laughing for?"

She just gasped, trying to stop laughing, but it didn't help until finally she managed to squeak out, "You look terrible!" She finally got serious and said, "But what really matters is that you're all right," she said and embraced him again. (Gently this time.)

Nash only sighed and wrapped his good arm around her. "Well, Nanza isn't getting any closer with us standing here!" Nash said, screwing up the moment. (Now what did ya have to go and do that for?!)

The smoke finally cleared from a sudden breeze, and the two headed to join Mia's daughter, who was still waiting with the horses. "See, Mom! I told you Nash could take care of himself!"

Hearing Maru say that made Mia feel good about being wrong. She just smiled at her. Nash sorely mounted his horse, wrapping the reins around his broken arm while the left arm supported his weight. After she mounted, Mia gave a concerned look at his broken limb. It was deformed and swollen, also having a bluish tone to it, making her feel guilty for not being there to help him.

She just shook the thought aside, suddenly reaching over, and softly ran her slender fingers through his bushy hair with a calm smile. Nash just heavily sighed and gazed into her soft eyes in admiration; then they were silently on their way.

/ / / / /

(About an hour or so later, they met with Alex and the others at Kyle's home and waited anxiously for Jessica's baby to arrive.)

"Ouch! Jeez, Luna, take it easy!" Nash whined.

"Oh, Nash! Don't be such a baby! But you have to think, this is the first time I've ever had to sew someone's skin back together!" she snapped.

"Well, you do have a good point," Nash replied.

"Then hold still and be quiet!" she commanded, and then went back to her work. With the stitching complete, Luna finally placed a bandage over it to finish.

Suddenly, Nall flew in and landed on Luna's shoulder. "Dang, Nash what did you do?! Pick a fight with Kyle or something?!"

"Don't EVEN go there, CAT !" Nash hissed with a grimaced expression.

"FOR THE LAST TIME, I'M A DRAGON, NOT A CAT, YOU IGNORANT -------!" Nall screamed, being fed up with the flying cat wisecracks.

"NALL! Calm down! I'm sure Nash was only teasing! Weren't you?" Luna gave Nash an urging look, until he gave in and apologized.

All of a sudden the midwife came bursting in. "Luna! Come on, it's time!"

"Nall, stay here with Nash; I'll be back in a moment. And try not to kill each other!" Luna left the room, leaving Nall and Nash ALONE! Nall and Nash just stared at each other, never saying a word.

Soon the two joined Alex and Kyle in the common room. Everything was quiet; the kids were all outside and guys waited inside. Well, almost everything. Kyle couldn't sit still. He was constantly moving. If he sat down, two seconds later, he'd be up pacing the floor again.

"GOOD LORD, KYLE! SIT DOWN, FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE! You're acting as if you have hernia or something!" Nall said sarcastically.

"I KNOW! I'M JUST TIRED OF WAITING!" Kyle yelled.

"Good things come to those who wait, Kyle, just be patient," Alex said softly.

"You can talk, you've already got a kid, and besides, I have been patient for NINE whole MONTHS!" Kyle pointed out.

"Well, at least you have to deal with this problem! I consider you to be lucky! Look at ME! I'm not even married yet!" Nash said. Everybody looked at him, then all was silent. Shortly after, Kyle finally decided to sit still, and sat patiently on the couch by Alex and Nall, who was sitting on his shoulder.

Luna suddenly emerged from the hallway. "Kyle, Jessica wants to see you."

He rose from the couch and quickly followed her down the hall, his heart throbbing with anticipation. Jessica smiled weakly as her husband entered the room. "Hi, Jess. You okay?" he asked softly.

"I'm fine, Kyle. I needed to ask you something."

Kyle slowly walked over to his wife and knelt at her bedside. Kyle felt a happy tear fill in his eye as he looked at the baby, and he smiled. "What did you want to ask me?" he asked, wiping away the tear in his eye.

"What would be a nice name to give to your daughter?"

Kyle was shocked. "She's a spittin' image of you, Jess!" he said, referring to the child's pointed ears and the two brown stripes on her cheeks; the only difference between them was the hair color. Jess was blonde and her daughter's hair was pure black. "I haven't really thought of any names lately."

"C'mon, Kyle, be creative!"

A list of names started to roll through Kyle's mind until he found the perfect one. "How about Felicia?"

"Hmmm, Felicia de Alkirk." Jessica tested it in her head a few times to see if it fit the bill. Jessica smiled and looked at Kyle. "I always knew you were the smart one." He smiled back at her and gave her a kiss on the head and headed for the door. "Oh, Kyle!"

"Yeah, Jess?"

"Don't forget to tell Gabriel that he has a baby sister."

"Will do, babe." Jessica blushed and said goodbye. Kyle walked back into the common room with a huge smile on his face. Luna and Mia had joined Alex, Nash and Nall earlier while Kyle and Jessica were talking.

"Wuz up, BIG DADDY?" Nall said, snickering.

"Nall! Mind your manners!" Luna snapped.

"Yeah! What she said, CAT!" Nash blurted out.

"Mind your own business, 'Mr. I'm Still Single'!" Nall hissed.

"Hey, I wouldn't be talking, Nall! I haven't seen you with any girlfriends lately!" Nash remarked.

"It's not my fault that there are hardly any dragons left! And the next time you call me CAT, I'm gonna pull those stitches right out of your bulbous little head!" Nall snapped back.

"I'd like to see you try, squirt!" he said, inviting the threat.

"Knock it off, you two!" Mia demanded.

"Sorry," they both said at the same time, and they completely forgot about it.

/ / / / /

Soon they had dinner, reviewed memories of the past, then all was quiet.

Alex and Luna fell asleep on a bench on the front porch, Gabriel, Dyne, and Maru shared a room, while Kyle slept on the floor in Jessica's room along with Felicia. Nash was sprawled out on the couch in the common room, and Nall was curled in front of the fire. Mia, on the other hand, was not snoozing out in la-la land. No, she was just sitting in an armchair that was next to the couch where Nash was snoozing, watching over him.

Mia was leaning over the arm of the chair and was softly stroking Nash's hair. He didn't notice because he was practically 'dead' to the world in his sleep. She couldn't have been more proud of him being so brave (or stupid, I can never tell) when Xenia had attacked them. And she smiled at the thought of it. Mia curled his hair around her small finger and sighed. She couldn't take her eyes off of him.

There was a low-pitched humming sound floating around the room, either it was Nall purring, or Nash snoring, but either way, she didn't care.

Mia suddenly stopped petting Nash, and got up to stretch her muscles. She had a strong notion to go join Alex and Luna on the porch, but something inside her made her change her mind. Instead she got down on her knees, and laid her head on Nash's bare stomach. Just hearing his steady heartbeat made her smile. She began to run her fingers up and down his side as she sighed.

Suddenly Nash twitched and softly grabbed her hand. "That tickles," he mumbled sleepily. She bit her bottom lip and smiled with a chuckle.

"Well, it seems that Mr. Almighty Premier has a tender spot!" she said softly.

Nash gripped her hand tighter and let it lean freely on his side. Nash took his injured hand and gently placed it on Mia's head. She felt it shaking from the pressure and painful tension through her ruffled layers of black hair. Mia looked at his face with the fire reflecting off of it warmly, revealing a tear streaming from his eye. A worried look spilled across her face. "What's the matter?" she asked, somewhat surprised.

He just smiled and laughed, followed by a sudden happy sigh. "For once in my life," he began, "absolutely nothing," he finished slowly.

"Oh my GOD, it's a miracle!" she gasped sarcastically. They both started to laugh quietly, and soon drifted off to sleep. Smiling.

/ / / / /

He slowly opened his eyes and turned his seemingly weightless head over to see the dim light of the sunrise flood through the open window.

A sudden breeze blew in, flushing across his bare chest, arms, and legs, giving him a chill. Only a dream, he thought to himself as he rose from his bed while he noticed he was back in Vane. He took a long look at himself in the mirror. His hair was all frayed and brushed back in what seemed to be unbelievable ways. His face was pale with the exception of the two dark circles that hung under his eyes. "But it seemed so real," he said aloud to himself while pulling up his black boxer shorts back around his waist.

He started to scratch his chest vigorously as he coughed, trying to clear his throat. He laid back down on his bed and burrowed himself back under his covers, coming very close to falling back to sleep. He slumped himself over to the edge of the bed with a small, whimpering sigh, with his mind seemingly turned off. His body started to lean over, but paid no mind to it.

All of a sudden a loud pounding erupted from his door and he shot up his head in surprise, making him crash onto the floor. Oh, my poor butt, he thought quietly, groaning as he rose from the floor.

Hearing the large thud from his fall, a concerned voice came from the door. "Are you all right?!"

Nash suddenly paused; he knew that voice from somewhere. He jumped up from the floor and headed to his door, his heart beating uncontrollably. He swung the door open and rubbed his wide-open eyes in disbelief at what he saw, then suddenly slamming the door closed again. A sharp 'SMACK' sounded from behind the door, and then it re-opened. "Maybe I wasn't dreaming," Nash mumbled to himself, with his hand rubbing his cheek.

When he moved his hand, the woman standing in front of him raised an eyebrow, looking questioningly at the red, hand-shaped mark on his face. "Rough night?" she asked him with a half-cocked smile.

"I was too asleep to even remember last night!" he softly explained as he brushed his hair back in attempts to fix it, but it just stayed the way it was. Don't tell her about the time travel spell, not just yet! he thought to himself frantically, still trying to cope with believing who was standing in front of him.

"You're looking awfully pale, are you sure you're okay?" the dark-haired woman asked him in a concerned tone of voice. Nash's heart paused as she reached up and placed a hand on his forehead. He felt a sudden urge to touch her caring hand, but was too afraid. He still thought he was dreaming.

"I'm fine, Mia, don't worry about it. Besides, I'm always pale in the morning," he said, trying to stay calm.

"You never were this pale; you look as if you've seen a ghost," Mia said seriously.

"Trust me, you'd be surprised!" he said with a small laugh.

"Knowing you, I probably would be!" she laughed softly.

"Just a shot in the dark, but what are you doing here anyway?" Nash asked, scratching his head.

"Well, Alex and the others should be here soon, and I thought that you might want to get up," she explained sarcastically.

"Well, I'm awake now," he said yawning.

"Well, it might be good if you got some decent clothes on first," Mia said slightly, poking the center of his chest. "And do something with that hair while you're at it!" she joked.

He just smiled and blushed. "Yeah, that might be a good idea!" he said, chuckling. Nash started to curl behind his door to close it with a small smile, and gave a whispering "Bye" to Mia, followed by a sheepish wave, and the door clicked shut.

As he leaned on his door, he listened carefully for Mia to turn into the other hallway, until he jumped onto his bed on his back and just gazed at the ceiling. There was nothing in the world that could screw around with his past, present, or his future. Not now, not ever again.

Back to the Library of Vane.

Back to the Shrine to Ghaleon.