by Brendan McGrath
"BRIEBREEUU!" whistled dragon, as he flapped his wings, all the time soaring higher and higher. Mindi looked down, through the hair which was blown in her face. She saw the towering mountains beyond the Great Forest, near Matango. To her left, she saw the vast Kakkara desert, and south of that the Lofty Mountain range. She saw the peaks disappear into the clouds, and then, from this vantage point, she could see at appear on top of the cloud. She saw the world spread before her, on a living map. She began to understand even more what Nasia had been fighting for.
Up ahead loomed a volcano, but it had been inactive for years. Inside grew a green forest, lush with vegetation. "The Pureland," whispered Mindi. "It's so... peaceful..."
The white dragon began to descend, and Mindi saw a thick cloud barrier. The vaporous shapes began to morph into beasts, who began to advance towards Mindi!
"No! Please!" she cried. But she needn't have feared. They were guardians, and as they sensed her loving heart, and innocence, they faded away.
The mists began to surround the white dragon and Mindi, and neither could see. Yet they could feel a peaceful presence below. They were gliding towards it. And then the clouds parted... to reveal a miracle!
A valley was below, surrounded by forests on cliffs above. Two crystal clear rivers flowed through the valley, towards the center, where a single, great, tree grew, glowing faintly. It was the Mana Tree! The white dragon and Mindi were above it, descending in a circular motion around it, until they reached the ground in front of it. Mindi climbed off of the dragon, who flew away, leaving a feather behind, as Mindi called after a word of thanks.
"Welcome, Mindi..." called a soft, gentle, motherly voice.
"Tree of Mana?" whispered Mindi.
"I have been waiting. You are a very strong, and wise little sprite. You are to be a powerful guardian of Mana one day. I know it is hard for me to ask so much of you, while you are so very young. Though the Great Forest is only a small part of the world, all things in this world are connected. The Great Forest, and all who live in it, are special to this world, as is all life. Some day you will understand this."
"Mana Tree..." Mindi said, in an awed, humble voice, "May I have a drop of your sap? I must create a Garuda Stone to defeat Melcifia!"
The Mana Tree's bark began to become a sort of thick liquid, as a small bowl appeared near the base of the tree. A fountain of sap began to pour into the bowl from a hole above. The sap was a violet syrup, sweet to the mind and soul. Mindi approached the fountain, and pulled the Nasha plant out of her pouch. She mixed it with the sap, and then stirred it with the feather, which dissolved and left a white trail in the sap.
"Mana Tree, will you bless it?" requested Mindi.
"I have already blessed it," replied the tree, "Through you..."
Mindi did not understand, but she merely knelt before the Mana Tree, waiting. A cool wind swept through the valley, and swirled into the fountain, drying the sap, and mystically making a green stone, which began to pulse, softly. On one side was a hole, where Mindi fitted her arrow, point into the hole.
"Mindi... Melcifia brings tragedy to the Great Forest with every heartbeat. I will send you to her. Please Mindi, child of Mana, bring new life to the Great Forest... for Mana... for your loved ones..."
A green glow engulfed Mindi, and she vanished. She then appeared on high cliff, which jutted out from a mountain. Up ahead, at the end of the cliff, looking down at the forest below, stood Melcifia! Mindi slowly walked forward, her heart beating faster. Below her, on each side, the Great Forest lay, her home. She came closer to Melcifia, each step, her heart skipping a beat. Melcifia still didn't notice her. Or so Mindi thought!
"I am astonished," said Melcifia, in a calm voice, which grew ever angrier, "That, you, a little sprite, a child, actually thinks that you stand a chance against me!" Melcifia turned to face Mindi. She towered above the little sprite child, fearsome and full of hatred.
"The Great Forest is my home," cried Mindi, "And the home of my family, friends, and all the moogles, and the trees, and the animals! You want to destroy it for a vengeance that you feel you need! Why?!" Mindi was near tears.
"I have always hated you sprites, and all the creatures of the Great Forest!" screamed Melcifia. "I will take each of your lives to pay for my suffering! I was imprisoned for years, forgotten by all! All because I couldn't let you live in that battle years ago! I have waited to finish what I started! And now, my wish will be fulfilled!" Melcifia raised her hands to the sky, and lightning crackled across the sky, and struck a tree, which burst into flame. And another bolt hit. Then another. The sky flashed with hatred.
"Melcifia, no!" shouted Mindi. She raised the Garuda Bow to her chest, and pulled the arrow with the Garuda Stone back against the string. Her eyes were only half open; the power of Mana and her own inner strength guided her. The arrow began tremble, and glow Mana. Mindi's fingers parted, and the arrow flew to Melcifia, and as it struck, the Garuda Stone's power was unleashed, flowing over Melcifia's evil soul. In a burst of light, fell over the edge of the cliff, tumbling to the forest floor far below. As she hit the ground, the spot lit up with the power of Mana from the Garuda stone, as Melcifia and all her hatred was vaporized, and love and hope was born of Mana!
Mindi collapsed, worn out. She couldn't believe it. She had done it! She hoped Nasia was watching her.
"I am, Mindi, I am!"
Mindi heard Nasia's voice, but this time, a faint flickering image of her appeared next to Mindi, who lay watching her, smiling.
"Mindi," began Nasia, "Thank you for saving my people, and the Wind Seed, a small part of Mana. You are very wise, and strong. Mana will always guide you, and help you. But you accomplished most of this with your own gifts."
"Nasia..." whispered Mindi.
"Though Melcifia is gone," Nasia continued, "she has caused much damage. It will take time to rebuild the Sprite Village, and replant parts of the forest. But you are the Hope which with others help, will bring the future of our world. Mindi, we will be together again... very soon..." With that, Nasia faded away, back to the Realm of Mana.
Mindi lay there for a few minutes, letting the warmth of the sun shine down upon her.