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Cyanide Scene 1

The Prisoner Within

Dear Sir Cyan,

These days are as dark as the inside of a tomb. Or has it been weeks? Months? As I write this I feel but a mockery of the breeze against my cheek—where hath the wind gone? The seas rage like a great beast while the earth rots even as I walk upon it. Balance has become ruin. What hope can a person find in a world like this?

I couldn’t find any hope; not at first, anyway. To watch as our loved ones perished, felled not by swords but by the evil of the Empire. Your strength never failed to astonish me—how you picked yourself up and charged into the enemy camp. Though you’d not partaken of the foul waters I’d given you up for the dead. The Imperial army was vast and ruthless and you were but one man.

I mean, who’d have expected to hear from you ever again?

Yet I did. A friend I’d made in Zozo described you to me. I cannot tell how much my heart sang with joy at learning of another survivor. But then again, how could I have expected any less? The commander who’d single-handedly slew a hundred of those Imperial dogs…Cyan, my friend, my liege, you bring hope back to one who hath lost it.

I implore you to take it a step further. Come to Doma, Cyan. Help me restore our kingdom. Do not turn away in despair. Long and far hath I searched for an answer to our mutual dilemma. How was I to know that the answer lay within the walls of our beloved castle itself? Hasten back to your homeland and come see hope renewed.

Yours truly,

Gareth


“Huh? Oh, I think we may have a problem.”

“Nobody ever wants to hear that, Setzer.”

A smile crept across Cyan’s face though the rest of his stance remained stern. Wind lifted the sash across his chest and his raven-black hair that had streaked silver at the temples. Silver? Since when did that happen? Cyan found he could not recall. Days blurred into nights; months into years. His whole life felt like a dream….

Or a nightmare.

The Falcon veered sharply to her starboard side, sending Setzer and Edgar into a fit of frantic labor. His hearing impaired due to the wind, still the retainer heard their efforts to keep the airship afloat. The Figaro king was indeed correct, as far as Cyan was concerned. Airship woes ranked among the last things the retainer needed to worry about.

This ordeal would be difficult enough as it stood.

With a sigh, Cyan dropped down from the railing, having perched upon it like a bird for the better part of an hour. Sabin lounged around deck, flexing his many muscles and appearing generally amused at his brother’s and the gambler’s sweat-streaked expressions. Just like Cyan, the Figaro prince was not fond of the machines, though he suffered the abominations with greater ease.

Hands on the hilts of his swords, the retainer prowled the deck, his impatience intensifying like a fanned flame. Ever did his mind lure back to the letter in his pocket. Cyan dutifully left it untouched in their presence, not desiring to worry his friends any more than strictly necessary.

“You know,” Sabin rambled as he inspected his catclaws, “I think this is the third malfunction we’ve encountered since sending this beast into the skies.”

“Beast?!” Setzer shouted, pinning a strand of starlit hair behind an ear. “This ship is a marvel…But don’t tell Daryl that!” He grinned as Edgar popped up from underneath the wheel. “This ship hasn’t been used in years. She’s bound to malfunction occasionally.” Leaning down to deck, the gambler whispered, “Falcon dear, I’ll give you all the repairs your heart desires if you’d just get me to that damn island.”

Island….

The retainer’s hazel eyes cast out to the like-color sky. The island? Is that how people referred to the late great Doma now? The kingdom Cyan had defended for over thirty years? The retainer felt heartsick at the oft-recounted knowledge of his failure to protect Doma and her people. His people, his family…

“Setzer, Setzer, Setzer…” Edgar brushed dust off his blue attire, “You have it all wrong. You need to learn how to speak to her.” His brother laughed until he was doubled over as the Figaro king whispered sweet nothings to the hull. Though pretending to be annoyed, Setzer too, engaged in the mirth of the moment.

Cyan did not. His stomach lurched and not just from the unsteadiness of his ship. Tiny needles of remorse and regret stabbed his gut as he remembered his deception to these fine friends. With little suspicion his comrades had eaten up his story of needing to see his homeland one last time before resuming his hunt for Kefka. Such fine friends, such foolish friends….

“I can’t believe even you would stoop so low as to charm the airship, Edgar!”

The retainer spiraled out of his dark thoughts to see Celes appear on deck. Hands on hips, the rune knight stared intently for an answer from the Figaro King. Fortunate for him, Edgar was spared any embarrassment when Setzer cried, “Land!” Along with the other Returners Cyan darted to the ship’s side, eyes eager to peer through the murk. As the castle loomed into sight, the retainer’s breath caught in his throat.

As if with a mind of its own, his right hand rubbed his left wrist.

“Bring her down. Let Lady Luck be with us!”

Beneath his black boots, Cyan felt the drop of the airship. Her prow cut cleanly through the unnatural mist, affording a better view of the once-mighty fortress. Huge boulders sprawled in the courtyard and the wall lay shattered in several intervals. No sentries warded Doma—none could, for any who knew the tale of the ill-fated kingdom would marvel at even a single citizen within her walls.

Unless they knew differently, like he.

Falcon landed on the sand a stone’s throw from Doma. His senses barely noted the rumble of the boards at the slight lurch. As the group filed out of the airship and headed for the fortress Cyan followed, his gaze straight ahead.

“There’s something not quite right,” Celes whispered, taking the lead. After he strode to her side, the retainer found himself in agreement. Something did not fit into place. The lines in his face more prominent as Cyan frowned at his own vagueness. Things normally fell within definable categories. This…feeling…did not.

But, then, what did any of this make sense? Generals defecting, the free-spirited taking on responsibility and royalty braving the world to make it a better place…

Where did he fit in all of this?

Cyan’s hands returned to Murasame and Tempest’s hilts like into the hands of a comforting friend. With growing disinterest he watched his comrades discuss arrangements for Falcon’s restoration and the investigation of Doma. Cyan sighed. He’d have much preferred to handle the matter himself. His friends wouldn’t consider that, of course.

“Someone should remain on board to guard the ship,” said Celes as she tied a bandana around her wrist. “That someone should be you, Setzer.”

“Me?” Setzer pointed at himself. “Why me?”

Sabin answered for her. “It’s your ship.”

As the three discussed repairs for the Falcon, the retainer made his way toward the castle. What would he find once within her walls again? Bodies, probably, half-eaten by the birds. Poison, undoubtedly, leaving a horrid smell in the air. What Cyan longed to discover was the man who’d composed the letter; the man who claimed to able to undo that damage…

Doma. As the past and present merged, the image before Cyan spun sickeningly, twisting to a sight long since gone. The sight of Doma in happier, healthier times. Doman sentries lined the parapets, spears and swords hoisted proud. Young knights rushed about the courtyard to kiss their fair maidens goodbye. The air and water smelt sweet, the color as pristine as a bright afternoon sky.

These days are as dark as the inside of a tomb.

“Cyan?”

“Are you coming?”

“Are you alright, Cyan?”

The images shattered like someone had punched a mirror in front of the retainer. Blinking rapidly, the retainer stared without recognition at his companions. Then his mind returned to the present and Cyan noted Edgar’s hand upon his shoulder, an uncharacteristic look of worry etched upon the Figaro king’s face. Sabin and Celes hung around, both with similar expressions. Cyan knew at once that he must dispel their ill-ease.

“My appreciation for your concern, but I am quite well.” The retainer gently but firmly shoved Edgar’s hand off his shoulder. That action exposed his wrist and Cyan immediately knew that to be mistake for Sabin’s eyebrows lifted and Celes gasped slightly. The latter took a step forward, clasping his hand in hers’, peering at it curiously.

“How’d you get that?” Before the retainer could protest, Celes called over a shoulder. “Sabin, bring the Sraphim magicite here.”

At once, Cyan recognized the intent and he panicked. The presence of the wounds might prompt questions; questions the retainer had not the heart to answer. As Sabin plucked the magicite from his pocket, the retainer yanked his hand away. He winced at the shock crossing his friends’ faces but kept his voice stern. “As I have said, I am quite well. Shalt we go on?”

Sabin, Edgar and Celes exchanged looks. That could not be of a boon, but there was no helping for it. To make his point clear, the retainer took a deep breath and dropped his hands to Tempest and Murasame. With the discipline of a warrior, the retainer suppressed the uncanny images. Then, Cyan strode up the steps, hearing the sounds of his friends in his wake.


Scene 2

All That Glitters Is Cold 2 Fanfic Competition
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