Haste

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As Shiva and I wander together into the cavern—her ice creating paths for us to safely tread— Leviathan's stomach opens wider than ever before, to a wondrous city of Eidolon. The Land of Summoned Monsters is home to imps, elementals, and dragons; fey, titans, and chimera. 

It is enough to make me question if I'm awake I we dream; if in this moment of waking, I am also dreaming. I always thought my village was such a wondrous place, with its bushy green trees and bright blue rivers. But the Land of Summoned Monsters glows with purple torches on round huts glittering in fireflies and magic, and the monsters talk with people while waving cantrips from their glowing hands. It's unreal.

Seeing so many magical beings at once terrifies and excites me, but I try to keep myself together. I don't want to look like a fool in front of Shiva. As the Fire spell fades from my hands, and the cavern darkens, Shiva turns around, then closes the few feet of distance between us, calming me with the otherworldly glow of her bioluminescent skin. 

"You okay?" she asks.

"My bones hurt," I admit, before wanting to take it back. I sound so whiny.

She takes me to a small hut with a round roof, over on the edge of town. The bright red shingles surrounding the hemispherical roof glow same as the embers of my home. Memories of Bombs rushing through Mist—the screams of my neighbors, of my mother—of my mother's dragon—

When I start to cry, Shiva pulls me into her chest, and my body feels cold and numb. I suck my tears up and force my face into stoic hardness, same as Cecil used to do. I'm scared by how much I like feeling so cold; I like feeling numb. 

Just as I think I might slip into sleep, she pulls away, whispering, "Listen, Rydia."

I lift my eyes to meet her gaze and startle myself. 

I don't have to lift my eyes at all.

I'm, like, two inches taller than two hours ago.

But how's that possible?

My arms and legs scream with a great ache—not sudden pain, but a long and hard ache, like after I summoned Titan on Cecil's friend, that raging moment I opened the earth—and I stumble. It's hard to stay standing. I decide to sit on the ground, in front of this ember-studded hut. My legs don't feel like my legs, but the spindly legs of a broken doll.

"Rydia, you're growing," Shiva says. "That's why you hurt so much."

"What's happening to me?" I ask. 

My voice sounds strange. Even my hands feel strange. It's like I have crab claws for hands. I wiggle my fingers in front of my face, making sure they're still working fine. Can't cast spells without wiggly fingers.

I groan. I don't feel like I belong in this body anymore. Is this how Mom felt when she turned into the Mist Dragon?—when she and her Eidolon became one person? Sometimes I used to scare myself into nightmares, thinking about how I might turn into an Eidolon one day. But I'm human. I'm a summoner.

"You passed through a gate," Shiva explains. "At the mouth of Leviathan, your body began to change. Remember how I said, time is different now?" 

After I nod, her brow furrows. 

"You may have felt it as a gust of wind," she says. "You may also be under Haste..."

I remember the wind that pushed me forward and swallowed the Sylph into the depths of Leviathan's bowels. "Yeah," I croak. "There was wind." But was there Haste?

"Right," Shiva replies. "It accelerated you—the essence of you. Your magic. Your consciousness. All of that sped up. And it's not like a normal Haste... It's a much stronger version. It's the time magic equivalent of Meteor." 

Shiva places her hands on my shoulders, bringing me back to her; keeping me from passing out.  She's kneeling so close to me, I can feel her glow like a chill. 

"Your body is trying to catch up," she says. "Just hang in there. You're going to make it. The same thing happened to me, too."

It's too sudden. The change in my body is too damn sudden. 

I'm seven years old. I'm just a kid. I don't want to stop being a kid.

"Ifrit can help you," Shiva continues, "but I can't go in there with you. His heat will kill me. You'll have to enter his hut alone."

"I hate fire," I mutter.

"You were using the Fire spell just fine," Shiva says. "Now come on. Up on your feet."

I smile at her, calling upon my deepest reserves of courage.

I must always remember: I am the last summoner of Mist. I've survived so much. Too much. That means I can survive Ifrit's burning hut, too.

♥♥♥

Author's Note

So I played a lot of Dungeons & Dragons as a child, and I always thought, "Rydia is so much more powerful than my elf wizard, even though she's just a kid!"—and that's why, in elementary school, when we were rollercoastering through family hardship, I often imagined Rydia as the strong girl I wanted to be. 

I may even attribute my love for Rydia for my love for wizards and magic in general, which led to writing all the fantasy and science fiction stories on my Wattpad account. Crazy how far one pixelated video game character can take a person!

But that's why I'm writing this fanfiction; I simply must introduce you to my favorite wizard, this little green-haired girl from a 1991 video game. Hopefully I've written the story in a way where it's enjoyable, even if you've never touched Final Fantasy IV before.

Please star (⭐) if you like the chapter and you want other people to read it, too.

First draft: June 18

Second & third drafts: August 18

Word count: second 600 / third 985

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