Darkness Falls Chapter 21
Kaede jumped back from the gray goliath, sword drawn. However, Tiamat made no move to follow. The glaring eyes simply stared back at him.
He is dead sire, came a voice from behind.
The Planeswalker turned to see a ragged Bahumet, slowly treading towards him.
Are you injured? asked the King of Dragons.
Kaede shrugged, Ill be fine, and you?
Bahumet let out a deep breath, I am a little weary, he answered gruffly.
Come my friend, let us see what mysteries this Fortress holds, then we can rest...
The next day, Cloud and the others were lazing about the villa in Costa del Sol. They had decided to relax after an exhausting day at Midgar Bazaar, as Cloud called it. The blond swordsman had not quite the same enthusiasm for shopping that his wife did.
Red had returned from Cosmo Canyon, bearing strange news.
Did you see the anomaly? asked the Cian warrior.
The others simply stared at him blankly.
What are you talking about? asked Cloud.
While I was in Cosmo Canyon, answered Red, I saw a huge pillar of light in the distance. It seemed to be coming from the seas near Junon and here. Im surprised you didnt see it.
We were in Midgar, replied Aeris, what happened?
Before Red could answer, Clouds phone rang.
Tifa picked up the receiver, Hello? Oh Kaede!
The others looked at Tifa, who seemed to be intently listening to what was coming from the other end of the line.
When she hung up, Cloud asked her, what is it?
Kaede said he found something, answered Tifa, told us to meet him over the oceans between here and Junon.
Did he say what he found? asked Vincent.
She shook her head, just said that we had to see it for ourselves.
You think this has anything to do with that light Red saw? asked Aeris.
Well find out, answered Cloud.
The Highwind soon carried the group to the Kitana, hovering above the ocean. They had assumed they would find the anomaly Kaede went to investigate, but nothing could prepare them for what they saw.
Oh my... gasped Elena.
What the hell is THAT?! demanded Barret.
The great city, that pinnacle of Cetra technology, gleamed in the sunlight. The island stood like a jewel against the cool blue waters that surrounded it, while glowing lights along the edge of the city added an ethereal quality to the structure.
Lets move out, said Cloud, glancing at Cid.
The captain grinned back, got it right for once kid.
Cid landed the ship on an open field, along the outskirts of the city. When the group filed out of the Highwind, they could see a multitude of stone ruins in the distance.
Glad to see you made it, came Kaedes voice.
The others turned to see the Planeswalker coming out to meet them. Aeris ran to Kaede, jumping into his arms. He laughed slightly as he swung her around, lowering her back to the ground.
Glad to see me? asked Aeris.
Always, replied Kaede.
The others walked to join the two. For once, Yuffie managed to not complain about the mushy scene.
What is this place? asked Reno.
Come with me, said Kaede, heading back into the city.
The others followed him as they entered the wondrous testament to Cetra engineering.
Kaede turned around to face them, and spread his hands, welcome to the Fortress of the Ancients.
The others stared in awe at the scene before them. The great city boasted a multitude of buildings, joined together by an elaborate series of roads and walkways. Open areas that could be parks rested everywhere. And not far off, near the center of the city, a golden dome gleamed like a jewel against the sapphire blue of the city.
This place, said Aeris, was beneath the sea, all this time?
Whats it for? asked Cloud, why did they build this?
That is what I brought you here to find out, answered Kaede.
They followed Kaede as he walked toward the great dome. On their way, they passed King Arthur.
Greetings master Cloud, said Arthur, are you well?
Fine, thank you, Cloud nodded, what are you doing here?
Ive asked the Knights of the Round to guard the city while we investigated, answered Kaede.
Arthur grunted an apology, I regret that we could not-
Kaede waved his hands in dismissal, forget of it, my friend. Besides, I had Bahumet with me.
Arthur nodded to the others as they continued through the city.
What was that about? asked Tifa.
We had some...trouble getting in, said Kaede, Ill tell you later.
As the great gates of the dome drew near, Cloud and the others stared in awe.
That, gasped Yuffie, is huge.
What is in there? asked Vincent.
That is what we must find out, answered Kaede.
He led them within the walls of the dome, to a vast chamber, a large hall with a shaft running through the center.
Aeris saw cracks along the walls, shards of metal lying on the floor, What happened here?
The chamber was devoid of the smoke and debris that had littered it earlier, for Kaede had made a point to clean up the place before the others arrived. Even still, it was still apparent that something had happened. And along the walls ran several veins of crimson from the blood of the monsters that were destroyed here.
Bahumet and I...ran into some...problems on our first trip, said Kaede, you should have seen it before we cleaned up the mess.
Were you injured? asked the Cetra.
He didnt want to dwell on it, so Kaede simply shrugged, Were fine. This is what I wanted you to see.
He led them up to the shaft. As they neared it, Cloud and the others could see that a large, circular dais surrounded the cylinder. Along the side of the shaft was some sort of panel with strange writing.
What is this? asked Red.
Ive been trying to figure that out, said Kaede, the Kitanas been able to scan most of the structures within the city. But this dais, and the floors above us dont even register, as if they are hiding themselves from analysis.
Kaede brought out the White Materia, handing it to Aeris.
I used this to raise the island, he explained, maybe you can use it to activate this device, whatever it is.
Nothing you tried has worked? asked Aeris.
Kaede shook his head.
Aeris took the orb and sighed, Ill see what I can do.
She too a closer look at the strange writing along the surface of the panel, What does this say? I dont recognize it.
Kaede stood next to Aeris, slowly deciphering the strange characters, They are actually an amalgamation of several languages...it says...HERE LIES...THE KEY,...THE PATH...TO THE LIGHT OF...THE PROMISED LAND.
The others became silent as they took this in.
Damn, said Cid.
Wait a minute, demanded Barret, did he just say...?
Sounds like he did, answered Reeve.
Kaede turned to the others, this may be the key to the light they spoke of in the scrolls, but what is this Promised Land?
Aeris answered this time, the Promised Land...is many things. Different people have varying theories as to what it is, but they all agree that the Promised Land will bless its finders with a great bounty.
Kaede brought his hand up to his chin, deep in thought, is there anything else?
The young Cetra raised her hands as if to say I dont know.
Hmmm, what I do know, pondered Kaede, is that this place seemed to react to the White Materia.
He failed to point out that his sword had reacted as well, but Kaede himself could not explain that. Perhaps later, when he knew more...
You want me to use the materia, said Aeris, cutting into his thoughts, to see if it will react to me.
The Planeswalker nodded.
Couldnt you find out anything about this place? asked Reno.
I tried to search for some information, replied Kaede, but much of it was destroyed when we fought with Xizor-
XIZOR!!! fumed Cloud, HES ALIVE???!!!!
He was, said Kaede.
The others darkened at the prospect.
What happened to the fool? asked Barret, breaking the silence.
He didnt die the first time, so I killed him...
The others looked to Kaede, the eyes full of questions.
The Planeswalkers face became grim, his voice almost feral, I owed him.
They were taken aback by the darkness in his voice, but understood it.
Aeris felt a twinge of anguish at the sound of the Sleepers name, Kaede...
A tear rolled unbidden down Aeris cheek. Kaede brushed it away, his face softening at the sight of her pain.
Are you alright? he asked.
Aeris shook her head.
Dont worry Aeris, said Kaede, he cant hurt us anymore.
But the Drahk are on their way, she replied.
Thats why I need you to see what you can do, answered Kaede, please try.
Aeris nodded, and looked again at the panel. Bringing forth her White Materia, Aeris concentrated, letting her instincts guide her.
Whats she doing? asked Tifa.
I dont know, said Cloud.
A low rumbling softly shook the floor, causing a slight hum to fill the air.
Whatever it is, said Rude, it seems to be working.
The others were caught off guard as the dais slowly raised itself from the floor. It ascended towards the ceiling, almost as if it were some sort of elevator. The circular platform continued to rise, the shaft still running along its center.
Soon the dais rose past a hole in the ceiling above, showing the group another level to the building. Cloud and the others could still see the bottom of the vast hall through the gaps in the new floor. They continued past several floors, until there were no more. However, the dais didnt stop, it continued to rise toward the ceiling above it, at the top.
Yuffie was the first to notice a problem, Uh, guys, I think we just ran out of floors.
The others looked upwards, and saw that it was true, there were no other levels left. At least, none that they could see. At this rate, the dais was going to crash into the ceiling.
Oh great, exclaimed Cid Highwind, what now?
Almost as if in answer to his question, the structure started to rumble again, this time with more force. A loud cracking noise was heard, as fissures began to form in the ceiling, allowing light from outside to enter the building. The crevices along the ceiling divided it into four equal quarters. Kaede and the others blinked their eyes and brought their hands to shield there heads, as dust began to fly through the air.
Cloud stared as the four parts of the ceiling began to open outward, revealing more of the sunny skies above. The dais continued to rise...
The brothers Bahumet had been hovering above the great dome, waiting for any word from Kaede. They were discussing what had happened on the first trip inside the Fortress.
So, cursed Neo Bahumet, Tiamat was alive.
Yes, answered the older dragon, it was with great difficulty that I finally destroyed the wretch.
Were you injured? asked Bahumet Zero.
Nay brother, Bahumet shook his head, I was simply tired, but I am well now.
That is good news, said Neo Bahumet, do you know what sire Kaede is doing? Has he found anymore enlightenment about this place?
Bahumet growled, that cur Xizor destroyed most of the archives before and during the battle. What we have been able to glean are bits and pieces.
There were no other records anywhere else? asked Zero.
To be sure, answered the King of Dragons, but that vile Drahk destroyed most of the clues as to its purpose. The last bit of information was destroyed when sire Kaede interrupted the Sleepers transmission.
The other two dragons smiled, but were grimly aware of what that meant...the only way to discover the secrets of this place would be the hard way...trial and error. Of course, the Fortress of the Ancients boasted an extensive archives collection, but all the information concerning this place had been purged during that transmission, everything important anyway.
What good is that expansive library, snarled Zero, with all its knowledge, if we cannot even find one book concerning the purpose of this place?
You are sure, asked Neo Bahumet, that there is no more?
The King of Dragons nodded.
I wonder, mused Neo Bahumet, how much information the Drahk received before the line was cut.
Zero shook his head, There is no way of knowing, we can only hope-
The dragon was cut short, as a rumbling shook the giant dome. The three brothers looked on, speechless, as the top of the structure slowly began to open, revealing the insides of the building. Bahumet could just make out Kaede and the others, rising on a strange circular platform.
The top pieces of the dome continued to extend outward. Eventually, they descended, changing in shape as they went. As soon as the tips touched the ground of the Fortress, the walls shimmered with energy, sending a strange rippling effect along the surface.
The ripples stopped as the former dome ceiling became a vast, encompassing staircase. Great steps formed along four sides of the Fortress, surrounding but not covering the giant doorways that led inside.
Had Bahumet been inclined to think of it, he would have noticed that now one could enter the building by using either the vast doorways, or the great steps that were now in place. However, he remained stunned and silent, as did his brothers.
All the while, the dais continued to rise, eventually stopping once it reached the top of the pillar. From here, Kaede could see the entire city.
What in hell? demanded Barret.
The building shook again as a ripple ran down the length of the opening dome. Stairs formed, and the dais began to shake, throwing its passengers to their knees. Cloud held on to Tifa as the tremors continued. All the bodies huddled close together as the shaking grew more intense. Then Kaede saw the floor of the dais...
Its...growing, said Elena, for indeed the edges of the platform began to stretch outwards until it reached the head of the stairs.
When it was over the group stood atop a giant platform, with a massive staircase running down the sides of the fortress. Various openings and doorways adorned the sides of the building.
Strange cracks began to form along the surface, raising dust and smoke.
Whats...going on? coughed Aeris.
I dont know, said Kaede, holding her tightly.
When the smoke cleared, Kaede and the others found the dais to be quite different. Now it was adorned with strange symbols and writing. In the center, a giant circle was etched, which rose slightly higher than the rest of the surface. Columns rose up into the air along the edges of the roof. The roof itself was easily fifty feet in diameter.
What madness is this? came a growling voice.
Cloud looked up to see the brothers Bahumet, still hovering above.
I dont know, he answered, but we have to find out.
Cid raised his hands in anger, Okay, will somebody please tell me what the hell is going on here?!
Kaede walked towards the center of the roof, asking the others to get back. He carefully began to mutter what could only be the inscriptions.
What do they say? asked Tifa.
Kaede said something in an unintelligible language. Suddenly, a light tremor started again. Four small projections rose out of the ground, ten feet away from the circle.
The others looked to Kaede, asking for an explanation.
The Planeswalker shrugged and went to the circle again, this time reading the inscriptions so the others could understand.
It says: The Light of the Ancients shall purge evil. Here lay the final element.
What do you mean lay the final element? asked Yuffie, is that even proper grammar?
Im not sure what it means, said Kaede, lets read the others.
He walked up to the projections, and noticed that they lied along the four compass points around the central circle.
He walked by each projection and read the inscriptions in turn, POWER OF LIFE...HARBINGER OF DEATH...PLANETS WEAPON...
Then he came to the final spire, with the longest inscription, WALKERS LEGACY, CHOSEN BASTION OF THE HEAVENS.
Aeris walked up to the circle, feeling a slight hum responding to her presence. Kaede felt it as well.
Theres something here, said Aeris, something that is reacting to our Cetra bloodlines.
The Planeswalker nodded, I cant make out what they mean, as if they are on the bare edges of my perception.
So, asked Reeve, what do we do know?
Red, said Kaede, I have not been able to glean any information from this place. However, could you check again in your records...?
The young Cian nodded, I shall study our texts as soon as I return to Cosmo Canyon.
Thank you, The brothers Bahumet, the Knights, and I have been searched the archives for a long time. It looks like Xizor managed to purge all information concerning this place.
The bastard, cursed Barret, so what do we do know?
I dont see what we can do, answered Cloud, unless any of us know how to work an Ancient Cetra device.
Kaede shook his head, it is some kind of defensive measure, that much is clear, but against what? And how do we use it?
We could try to check this place out again, suggested Reno.
I suppose so, replied Kaede uncertainly.
After nearly two days of searching, the group still could not find any helpful evidence. Indeed, the Cetra archive was wondrous, boasting immense records on everything imaginable, except for the purpose of the fortress. On the third morning, Kaede decided to stop the search.
We have been looking for days without success, he said, I dont want any of us to burn out.
Cloud agreed, Xizor did a thorough job, I think our only option in to see what Nanaki can find at the Canyon.
So, the group left the island, keeping the Knights and the brothers Bahumet behind to protect the city and search for more information. Cloud and the others returned to Villa Cloud, while Kaede took Red to his family in Cosmo Canyon.
They were walking outside the village. Kaede could see that the Cian had finally settled into their old lives once more.
I finally feel whole again, said Red.
The Planeswalker smiled, I glad you found your family Nanaki.
Are you sure you dont want to stay here my friend? asked the Cian.
No, thank you, demurred Kaede, its been a tiring week for me.
Red nodded, rest well Kaede, Ill call you if I find anything.
Kaede returned to the Villa to find the others standing on the beach. Elmyra was with them. He looked at them critically before speaking.
What is it? he asked.
Barret shrugged his shoulders, we kind of wanted to ask you that.
What should we do now? asked Reno, Train? Research? Whats our next move?
The Planeswalker sighed and rubbed his temples.
I have no more to teach you, he said.
What? asked Cloud.
Kaede smiled, You assumed I was a endless fountain of knowledge?
Well no, started Tifa, but...
Look my friends, I think weve trained enough for a while, he answered, Reds back at the Canyon doing whatever he can.
Kaedes right, agreed Elmyra, I think you kids deserve a breather.
Great! shouted Yuffie.
So, asked Elena, where to?
The others hazarded various responses before Vincent spoke up.
It seems to me, he said, that the Gold Saucer is a popular place to unwind.
Authors Note: Hello again. I just have this need to write these few chapters where the gang relaxes. Its taking me a while, so please bear with me. Got a lot of things coming up simultaneously in my life. Anyway, thanks for reading, and as always, feel free to write back.
Final Fantasy 7 Fanfic