Don’t Take the Sword

This is a story about a sword in a video game. It’s also a story about the weird ways of memory. 

I am replaying Final Fantasy VI. I first played this game when it was new, but I guess I didn’t finish it. (My daughter Traveler claims to know for a fact that I did not.) I do remember the castle moving under the sand, and the opera, and the airship, but nothing past the mid-point of the game. Nothing about waking up in the W of R. Certainly nothing about Cid. If you know what I mean. 

So the other day in a weapons shop, a merchant offered me (and by “me” I mean Locke) the magicite known as Ragnarok. Which teaches the Ultima spell. Or he could make it into a sword. One or the other. Can’t have the cake and eat it too. 

Esper or Sword, which will you take? Wise people have debated this question for an age. But I knew the answer immediately. Reflexively. 

Strange and a little sad how memory works. Strange, how a small and trivial thing can unlock a memory of another small and trivial thing from so long ago. And a little sad, that this happens randomly with small things, while memories of bigger, more important things fade with time. 

But let me get back to my story. In the 90s we bought a Super Nintendo. Soon after, my Aunt Cat (a gamer) suggested a list of videogames that she thought we would like. I didn’t realize it then, but this list was really and truly a list of 90s JRPG all-stars, and by providing me with this list, she set me on a whole path. Thanks, Aunt Cat. Anyway, with the list, she passed along some advice: Don’t take the sword, she said.  

What that meant, I didn’t know. But Aunt Cat said: You’ll understand when you get there. Well, I played a lot of games, and I completed them if I could. But it would be nearly 30 years before I would come across the sword that I was not supposed to take. 

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