Continuing the Characters I Love series I began yesterday with Terra, I wanted to take some time to appreciate one of my absolute favorite characters from any of the Final Fantasy games with her compatriot Locke Cole, who I would pretty much always rename TREVOR back when Final Fantasy games let you do that.
Locke is the second playable member of the party introduced in Final Fantasy VI. The self-proclaimed “adventurer” or “treasure hunter” is the archetypal roguish thief with the heart of gold. A member of the Returners, he is called upon to help Terra when she is freed from the Empire’s control and escort her to the Returner base as a potential ally.
Years before we meet him, Locke met and fell in love with a girl in Kohlingen named Rachel. Her father refused to support the relationship, viewing Locke as little more than a common thief but Rachel loved him. In an effort to prove himself as something more, Locke took Rachel exploring Mt. Kolts one day to seek out what would be her engagement but tragedy struck when a bridge collapsed. Rachel pushed Locke to safety and fell, nearly killing herself. Locke rushed her home and worked to nurse her back to health but the fall left her with a case of amnesia and she had no recollection of their time together.
This experience is a key moment of Locke’s past and the basis for his immediate desire to help and protect Terra as she struggles with her own amnesia. Blamed by the townspeople for Rachel’s condition, Locke was effectively run out of town and became a solitary “treasure hunter.” Eventually, he learned that Kohlingen suffered an attack from the Empire which claimed Rachel as a casualty. But not before Rachel’s memories returned and she declared her love for the absent Locke one last time.
Locke’s guilt over her suffering and eventually death have stuck with him and his hatred for the Empire in this attack led him to join the Returners. Desperate to bring Rachel back to life, he had an herbologist preserve her body while he searched the world for the legendary treasure that can revive the dead.
By the time we meet Locke in the present day, he has developed a convincing mask of charm to hide the pain underneath. Locke guards Terra with his life and doesn’t question or judge her actions. When his ally King Edgar of Figaro is surprised Terra’s innate magical abilities, Locke is accepting and insists she still needs their help. As the party eventually arrives at the Returner headquarters, a plan is put in place to return to Narshe and convince them to join the Returners movement. But Banon, the leader of the Returners, needs Locke to infiltrate South Figaro which has recently been taken into Imperial control.
Working with his allies in South Figaro, Locke infiltrates and learns that the Empire plans to attack Narshe. It is here that he discovers the Imperial General Celes Chere being interrogated. Again, driven by his guilt over Rachel, he immediately rescues her and vows to protect her as the two escape and head to Narshe.
After the party reconnects in Narshe and fends off an attack from the empire Terra loses control to her Esper-side and tears off into the sky. Once she is found, the Esper Ramuh asks the team to infiltrate the Imperial capital Vector and save the Espers that are imprisoned within. Celes leads the team and Locke offers to accompany her. The team acquires the aid of Setzer Gabbiani and his airship through some mild deception (which I will cover in more detail when I write about Celes herself). But as the party starts to escape the Magitek Research Facility, Locke and Celes are separated when he questions her loyalty and she casts a spell allowing the rest of the party to escape while she remains behind.
Locke is later an integral member of the team, traveling to the Crescent Island, where Locke and Celes (working on behalf of the Empire in a makeshift alliance against the Espers) are reunited but unable to discuss what happened. After negotiating peace with the Espers, Locke and Celes reconcile but their reunion is short-lived before Kefka initiates his secret plan to destroy the world.
In the World of Ruin, Locke, now filled with the regret of being unable to save Celes or Terra (as he believes them both to have perished the day the world died), returns to his quest to find the legendary treasure that can bring Rachel back. This leads him to the Phoenix Cave which has re-emerged in the world where he finds a somewhat damaged magicite for the Esper Phoenix. The magic works to restore Rachel but due to the damage the effects will only last a few moments. But the two reconnect long enough for Rachel to forgive Locke and insist he stop carrying the guilt and burden of what happened to her because the time they had together were the happies times of her life. She insists he move on and “give his love to the one who now dwells in his heart” before she passes on again.
The weight lifted, Locke returns to the party and helps the team in their quest to defeat Kefka. After the battle as they flee, Celes drops Locke’s signature bandana that had given her hope in trying times, nearly falling in the process. Locke grabs her and, in a moment reminiscent to when Rachel fell, exclaims “I will not let go…I promise!” He pulls her up and the two escape to the airship where they fly off into future together with their friends.