Prompt: Smoke, trap
Spoilers: No spoilers, just some angst
It's irrational, but Terra doesn't like staying in inns overnight. No matter the comfort, there's still a part of her that feels a little bit nervous in enclosed human spaces, a little bit trapped.
Celes sits against one wall, sharpening her sword and humming some old Vector battle song as she works, deep in concentration. Like Terra, she seems to find the floor more comfortable than furniture, accustomed to austerity or just unaccustomed to the trappings of civilization. It's surprising, how much more at ease that small similarity puts her.
Terra is looking out the window, over the rooftops and the city below. The streets are crowded and noisy, thick with the scent of smoke from cooking fires and chimneys, and the smell of burning wood sets her nerves on edge. It feels like a storm brewing somewhere above, dead heat and pressure, lightning in the air. It's the kind of day that leaves her restless, out of place in her own skin. If they were out of sight of the city, she could shift form and rise above the clouds, faster than shadows could catch her. As it is, all she can do is pace the walls of their little room and wait.
There are children running along narrow streets, kicking a ball and shouting. The sound is distant, not quite real. Precarious. That bothers her too, and –
“People shouldn't build so close together,” she says.
“The entire town is made of wood and thatch. If someone started a fire and the wind was blowing wrong, this whole place would go up like dry tinder. You wouldn't even need an army. Just fire, and some wind.”
She isn't sure where that last part came from, about the army, but Celes is looking at her oddly, and Terra doesn't blame her. There are still things she can't remember, and there's something in her mind right now that she doesn't want to look at too closely, a door that once opened will not be easy to close again.
Then Celes sets the sword aside and rises abruptly, lays a careful hand on Terra's shoulder.
“If it helps,” she says, “I notice weaknesses in the defenses of every town we pass through. It's just reflex.” Her voice is brisk as always, but there's a note of sympathy there that Terra hasn't heard before, and she remembers how people say the General feels nothing, knows no mercy or anything else outside of the icy purity of magic. It's the first time Terra has ever suspected they might be wrong.
They said the same about her once. She still doesn't know whether or not it's true – and maybe that isn't how it should be, but Terra doesn't know how to change it, has never known how to make things be what they are not. She draws in a harsh breath, tastes smoke and remembers fire. Dry lightning snaps overhead, too close. Dangerous.
Celes doesn't step away.