Darkness Falls Chapter 16
Red looked at Aeris, trying to comfort her, He died protecting us, Kaedes efforts were not in vain...
Our victory is ashes, said Aeris, still sobbing.
Its true, said Rude, without him, we have no idea of what to expect.
The group looked to Seto, silently asking him for answers.
I am sorry, young warriors, replied Seto, but I have no answers, it was thought that everything would fall into place once we awoke.
Cloud clenched his fist, There may still be a way.
Aeris looked up at Cloud.
What do you have planned? she asked.
Cloud led the others back to the Kitana. Reds mother took the rest of the Cian to gather in Cosmo Canyon, as Seto and the others followed Cloud.
Wait here, said Cloud, leaving them outside the ship. When he returned, Cloud had with him four red summon materia.
I see, said Reno, the Knights or the brothers Bahumet may know what he was planning.
Cloud nodded, then set the four orbs in a row. Taking each one in his hand in turns, Cloud summoned the guardian forces.
The Knights appeared instantly.
Greetings my friends, said King Arthur, how may I-
He stopped at he saw Kaedes unmoving form lying in Aeris hands.
What happened? asked the Knight.
Three large figures appeared in the sky, answering the call of the glowing materia.
Bahumet landed, I am sorry I did not come sooner, but I-
The dragon stopped speaking when he saw the fallen Kaede.
Bahumet Zero snarled, Who did this?
Aeris tried to tell them, but was choked with sobs. Cloud explained what had transpired...
King Arthur bowed his head in grief, as did the dragons.
It is good news that the Cian return, said King Arthur to Seto, but Kaedes fall does not bode well. Without him, we are lost...
This is why we called you, said Cloud, you knew him the best, perhaps you could tell us what to do.
This is dire news indeed, said Neo Bahumet, but there may still be a way.
How? asked Aeris.
Bahumet turned to Seto, did not the Cian race fall into the Deep Sleep, to be awakened at a later time?
Indeed, answered Seto, we did.
Bahumet pondered for a moment, looking at each of his brothers. The other dragons simply shrugged.
King Arthur looked at Bahumet, are you suggesting what I think you are?
Bahumet nodded, If the Cetra and their allies knew of the technique, I can see no reason why the Planeswalkers would not...
What are you implying Bahumet? asked Cloud, that he may not be dead?
Aeris looked to the king of dragons, I felt his life essence fade, how could he be alive?
Bahumet shook his head, I am not saying one or the other, however if he knew of the process...
I see your point, said King Arthur, his soul could still be trapped between states, waiting to die...
What is this? asked Reeve, You mean he-
Sire Kaede may have explained to you, said Bahumet Zero, that all souls lie temporarily in stasis...
Aeris could not remember if Kaede had said so, but remembered well her own experiences within the Lifestream, go on.
If we could heal his body, continued Zero, his soul may be able to find its way back.
How do we do that? asked Cloud.
That is the difficult part, said Bahumet Zero, we do not know. Few ever attained the knowledge of such things.
Sire Kaede himself only learned through attaining high rank within the circles of the Planeswalkers, as well as the Drahk, continued Neo Bahumet, even then, it took years of training.
Then, said Nanaki, he is still lost.
Aeris raised herself to her feet, No!
Tifa went to calm Aeris, Please Aeris, youre tired-
No! screamed Aeris, I refuse to give up on him! He gave his life for me! The least I can do is try to return the favor! I am one of the Guardians of this planet, and Ill be cursed if...
She began to choke on her sobs, ...what good are my healing powers...if I cant even save him?
The others looked at the determined Cetra, thinking on her words.
What do you propose? asked Rude.
Aeris thought hard about her after-death experiences. Then, something clicked in her mind. Kaede had said it was made easier under certain conditions, such as...
Take me to the City of Ancients, said Aeris.
What? asked Cloud.
Hurry, were running out of time, she pleaded.
I will take you there, said Bahumet.
Aeris raised Kaede onto the dragons back, then climbed aboard herself.
Brothers, said Bahumet to his kin, bring the rest of them, those who will follow.
The other dragons nodded, and Bahumet took off.
Once airborne, Bahumet spoke with Aeris, I think I know what you are planning. Will it work?
I hope so Bahumet, said Aeris, but I dont know. I just dont know...
Bahumet had taken Aeris to the City of the Ancients, in the hopes that Aeris plan might succeed. She had spent the last half power preparing Kaede's body, and preparing herself, for what was to come. The others would be coming soon.
I hope this works, said Aeris to herself.
She planned to use the healing powers of the Lake of the Ancients to revive Kaede. He had said that its unique properties had saved her, perhaps it could do so for him as well.
Oh Planet, she pleaded, please let it work.
With surprising strength, Aeris managed to carry Kaede all the way to the lake. She could still remember the cold embrace of those placid, glowing waters. Aeris shuddered involuntarily as she looked upon it again. It was like walking to her own grave.
Aeris lowered Kaede into the peaceful water, washing away the blood from their battle ravaged bodies. The blood tainted the water, before disappearing to the glow of the lake. Tearfully, Aeris guided her hand to his heart.
Kaede... she whispered.
He had given her his heart, literally, given his body and soul for her. And Aeris would be damned before she allowed him to slip so easily through her fingers.
Aeris heard rustling coming from behind, turning to see her friends just arriving.
Is this...where he- started Red.
Yes, said Aeris, this is where he saved me.
Will it work for him? asked Cloud.
Well find out, returned Aeris.
Aeris rested her hands on the dead mans heart, and closed her eyes. She concentrated, hard, calling forth to the planet.
If nothing else, just grant me this last wish, please let me see him once more, more tears rolled down Aeris face, please return to us our selfless guardian.
Aeris reached deep down into her inner depths, the place where hidden powers and dreams reside, as well as nightmares...
Aeris felt a cold chill overtake her body, as she tried to reach out to Kaedes lost soul. She couldnt find him anywhere. Not in Lifestream, not anywhere on the planet.
I beg of you planet, she cried out in her mind, please help me find him...
Cloud noticed the pallor in Aeris features.
I dont like this, he said, what happens if she fails?
Bahumet pondered, I have never studied the implications, but she has entered into the abyss beyond life. If she fails, she may die...
Cloud snapped his head to look at the dragon, you mean, we could lose both of them?!
Bahumet remained silent.
Dammit Aeris, whispered Cloud, I hope you know what youre doing.
Aeris swam through the depths of darkness, her body calm to the world. However, her mind was in turmoil, for each second in these cold depths was like a year of sheer agony. She searched and searched, trying to find Kaede through the darkness.
Then she finally found something. She came upon the still form of a man. It was too dark to see anything, but Aeris had a feeling this was him. She went to the unmoving figure, but could see nothing of his face. Then he opened his eyes, and Aeris saw deep into his soul. All his pains, all his emotions, she saw everything. She became lost in that penetrating gaze, and she knew at last that she had found him. Aeris grabbed his hand in hers, and began to lead him from the darkness...and she knew this was it. She was with him now, and she would never let him go, whatever the cost. The coldness gripped her tighter, as the screams of thousands of the dead rang throughout her mind, pulling her down to join them.
No! Im not giving up! Ive come this far, and I wont leave without him!
Ignoring the pain and the noise, Aeris pulled Kaede away from the cold darkness of the lifeless vacuum. Then, she was blinded by a flash of white light...
Aeris opened her eyes to find herself back in the City of Ancients, still in the icy cold lake. It took her a moment to gather her wits, then she realized...
The Cetra looked down upon the lying form of the Planeswalker, hoping for some sign of life. She was relieved to see him grimace.
If he can feel pain, at least hes alive...
Aeris was caught off guard when Kaede opened his eyes suddenly.
Kaede had felt himself sinking into the depths of the cold black void, then inexplicably, had felt himself pulled out by a strangely comforting presence...
He awoke, feeling that presence near him yet. But Kaede could still hear the bone-chilling voices of the dead, calling out for him to join them. When he opened his eyes and saw nothing, that was the last straw. A cold vise clutched at his heart, and Kaede screamed into the darkness.
Kaede! he vaguely heard a familiar voice, as hands clutched him tighter, Kaede!
Unable to see, Kaede managed to raise himself to his feet, grasping his head, as he wrenched free of the hands. He writhed in pain as he tried to escape from what felt like an ocean. Kaede clutched his chest in agony as the pain struck him again, and he felt himself losing consciousness. He fell into the waters, letting himself become engulfed by the coldness.
He felt someone pull him out of the depths, and onto the shore. There, he shivered, clutching his stomach, as a soothing hand caressed his aching back. Actually, his entire body ached, but wherever that hand touched, his pains seemed to disappear.
Kaede finally opened his eyes, and woke up to find Aeris, cradling him in her arms. He was at a loss for words, and tried to speak, but found he couldnt.
Hush Kaede, she said, try to save your energy?
He whispered her name, then clutched at his heart again, and found his skin was whole. Kaede questioned Aeris with a look.
She smiled reassuringly, You were a hard soul to find, we almost lost you...
Kaede finally managed to find his voice, How?
Aeris shuddered as she remembered, I...had to enter your mind, it-
She couldnt continue, the memories of pain and coldness not meant to be felt by the living. Kaede brushed her cheek with his hand, telling her it was all right. He got to his knees, holding her shoulders. He felt weak, but it was Aeris that looked to be in pain.
I almost lost you... she repeated.
Kaede held her close, letting her cry the tears away in his embrace.
Quiet love, he said, you did it, Im alright, dont cry...
Aeris looked up at him, startled by his words.
She smiled, jabbing Kaede in the ribs, dont you ever do that to me again!
Kaede winced slightly from the pain. He put his arm over her shoulder, allowing her to help him get up. Slowly, he limped back to his friends.
Bahumet bowed, A blessing indeed to see you returned.
It is I who am fortunate, returned Kaede, to have friends such as you.
Cloud strode up to Kaede, with an uncertain look in his eyes.
Kaede, said he, Im sorry-
The warrior raised his hand, silencing Cloud, forget it, I know what you must have felt, you are not to blame.
Cloud simply looked at Kaede, silently thanking him.
When the brothers Bahumet returned the group to the Cosmo Canyon area, Kaede strode forth to meet with the Cian. Reds parents met with Kaede as the ambassadors of their race.
It is an honor, voiced Seto, nodding to Kaede.
Please, said Kaede, there is no need for formalities. It is indeed good news to witness the Cian race has returned. We will need all the help we can get against the Drahk.
Our people have gone back to their old homes in the valley, said Seto, but we have many questions.
Reds mother continued, Indeed, most importantly, what is happening here?
Before Kaede could speak, Red chimed in, I brought them up to date about the events up until now.
Kaede nodded, for now, I am unsure of how to proceed. However, something about this planet interests the Drahk enough that they have dedicated a substantial amount of resources to it.
Pardons, Sire Kaede, said Bahumet from behind them, but I may have some important information.
Kaede turned to the dragon, What is it?
My brothers and I, we found a hidden place, deep beneath the sea.
Kaede raised an eyebrow, go on.
Bahumet continued, we were examining this area before we felt the summons of Master Cloud.
And what of this undersea area?
We believe it to be the work of the Ancients, answered the dragon.
Kaede nodded, I see, allow me to recuperate and we will investigate within a day or so.
Bahumet bowed, as you wish, my brothers and I will continue to search for more information.
The dragon turned to fly away.
Bahumets! said Kaede.
The dragons turned.
The dragons flashed toothy grins before flying off again.
The Cian were left in Cosmo Canyon, to prepare for whatever might come ahead. Red decided to stay with his parents, to be with his people and help them to adjust to the new world. The others headed back to the Kitana, to return to Costa del Sol.
Kaede couldnt gather the strength to do the flying, so he asked Cid to pilot the ship back to Villa Cloud. Surprisingly, the pilot managed to get them back relatively peacefully, knowing full well that no one felt up to his more energetic style of flying. Yuffie silently thanked Cid for his kindness.
Upon landing, the group took some time to relax, simply waiting for sunset along the beach. Cid and Shera returned to the Highwind, eager to learn about its new capabilities. Elmyra was still asleep inside the house, which was probably just as well, for she surely would have been shocked by the groups condition.
Aeris smiled at Kaede, you know, you look awful.
Kaede grinned back, hey, its not that bad for a man that was dead not long ago.
He saw the blood on Aeris clothing, and noticed a few bruises through the rents in her dress.
Were you hurt? he asked.
Im fine, now, returned Aeris.
They simply stared into each others eyes.
Cloud walked along the beach, Tifa snuggled against his side.
Tifa could see the concern in her husbands eyes.
Is something wrong Cloud?
Cloud shook his head, today...just reminded me of things...
Like? asked Tifa.
Cloud looked into her eyes, like when you leapt into the Lifestream after me.
Tifa remembered the incident well, it had happened just after the Ultimate Weapon attacked that first time.
You knew it could have killed you, said Cloud, but you jumped in anyway.
Tifa shed a single tear, clutching Cloud close to her.
It was the only way to save you...
He shook his head, you did more than that Tiff, you made me whole again.
Tifa Lockheart Strife tried to speak, but was silenced by a kiss from the man that could still send her heart fluttering...
Barret laughed at Yuffies disgust.
All this mushy stuff makes me sick! groaned the ninja.
Come on girl! joked Barret, you wouldnt mind it if it were Vampy over there!
Vincent simply stared at Barret, you like committing suicide, dont you?
Before Barret could answer, Yuffie was screaming into his face.
FOR THE LAST TIME! HE ISNT A VAMPIRE! she yelled.
Oh I dont know, shrugged Vincent, wouldnt mind biting on your neck Yuff...
Yuffie stopped dead in her tracks, staring at Vincent.
She turned to Barret, he didnt, no way! Did he just...?
Barret stared at the mysterious man.
Hes just as weird as Kaede, voiced Barret, all this time with the dude and I still cant figure him out.
Barret simply raised his hands in futility, forget it, Im just gonna go inside and take a nap!
Yuffie was still staring at Vincent, then shook her head.
Hey Vince, she smiled, Im going to walk around the town, wanna join me?
Vincent shrugged again, why not?
Reno and Rude had already gone on to the Highwind, finishing some last minute work before going retiring for the night.
Elena continued to walk the beach, looking at the last rays of sunlight with her employer.
So, she asked, what does a lonely president of a major corporation do for fun?
What fun? laughed Reeve.
Oh come on, you surely-
Okay, okay, said Reeve, the truth is, I usually just do what you saw me do earlier...busy work.
You cant possibly use up all your time doing that, returned Elena.
Well, how about you? asked Reeve, after all, I put you in charge of a lot of the Corporations major accounts.
Elena shrugged, like I said before, ever since I broke in my workers, its become a self-automated workforce
Reeve groaned, youd think that people with our problem would find ways around boredom.
Elena laughed, Some people are too efficient for their own good.
Well, maybe we can do lunch sometime or something... Reeve trailed off, realizing what that must sound like.
She looked at him uncertainly, adding to his tension, then smiled and shrugged, that would be nice.
One by one, everybody went inside, everyone but Kaede and Aeris, who continued to stare into each others eyes. Tifa and Cloud shared a knowing look before retiring inside.
The sun had set, but Kaede didnt notice. All he saw was Aeris deep, beautiful eyes, eyes that saw into his very soul. Aeris noticed the others had gone, and saw that the stars had come out. She turned to gaze at the night sky.
Kaede, she breathed, when you...gave yourself up for me...why did you do it?
The warrior sighed, it was the only way to counteract the spell.
Kaede startled Aeris by wrapping his arms about her. She sank into his grasp, feeling safety in those arms.
Kaede brought his lips close to her ear,
I vowed Aeris, that nothing would happen to you, that I would die before I let them take you, whispered Kaede, and through all my years of learning, it was the only way I knew of saving you.
Aeris looked into his eyes, asking him that silent question.
Kaede brushed away an errant tear from her cheek, before saying, I did it Aeris, because I love you.
Her breath caught, and she lost all ability to speak. Kaede silenced her questions with a kiss. Aeris melted into the embrace, her heart felt as if it would explode from sheer excitement.
Kaede broke the kiss, and stepped back.
Whats wrong Kaede? asked Aeris.
Uhmm... wavered Kaede, he simply gestured to his clothing, Im not exactly fit company right now.
Aeris smiled, silly, I dont care.
She wrapped her arms about his neck
Just the same, said Kaede, we had better find something more presentable, or Elmyra may die of fright.
Aeris simply laughed.
Authors Note: No, this is not the end of the story. We aren't even halfway..., well, maybe we are halfway done. Sorry it's been taking a while guys, but the next chapters kind of hinge on one another and I need to make sure they fall together correctly before I post them. As such, it will take longer than it has been. On the bright side, the fleshing in of the final chapters is almost done...and I hope to have this all posted by early February at the lastest.
Finally, I manage to end a chapter on a happy note. Mushy stuff galore (everyone shudders). I just couldnt keep Kaede dead for long. Anyway, we still have a ways to go. It may take longer for me to post now, since Ive been having some epiphanies concerning this story. Accordingly, Ive had to make several changes to different chapters. This section is mainly where plot development will take over again, but Ive gotten some pretty interesting ideas that I may try to work in. Look out for some more twists later on (hopefully). Oh, Im having fun with the next few chapters (rubs hands in anticipation). Anyway, bear with me, and Ill see this story through.
Go To Chapter 17
Return To FF7 Fanfic