Darkness Falls Chapter 34

By Gemini83

Kaede led the others through the darkness of the Fortress, using the light of his sword to illuminate the dark passageways. Aeris was behind him, her White Materia also casting a dull glow to uncover the path ahead.

The Planeswalker looked cautiously around him, wondering why the Fortress was not alight, as it had been before. It hadn’t even reacted, to him or Aeris...which meant that something was wrong. The only other sources of light came from interspersed torches along the hallways, fighting desperately to repel the shadows. But their was a...presence...here that could not be dispelled. It had to be something Methos brought with him when he entered the Fortress. There was a strange darkness about this place. It wasn’t like anything he had ever felt.

Cloud shivered, “it feels so cold in here...I don’t think I’ll ever be warm again.”

Tifa walked to his side, companionably walking with him and sharing her warmth with him.

Aeris walked up to Kaede, to do the same...but something in his eyes held her back. It wasn’t as if he was pushing her away, but he seemed to have grown cold inside. Ever since the battle had begun, something had changed in him. Kaede once more donned the mantle of the lone wolf she had met when she awoke in the City of the Ancients. His mask was gone, but masks didn’t need to be physical to be present. He was shielding them from something, but what?

“Kaede?” asked Aeris, “you haven’t said a word since we entered this place.”

Kaede made no move to indicate he had heard her, and Aeris was about to repeat herself when Kaede finally replied, “after all these years...I’m finally going to confront Methos again. What’s he like after all these years, I suppose? Does he have any of the child in him that I knew so long ago?”

Aeris frowned in worry, “Kaede, you shouldn’t do this to yourself. I can feel your guilt, twisting it’s way through your heart...it wasn’t your fault.”

Kaede turned his eyes to her, an expression in his eyes that chilled her for all the sorrow they held. He wanted to tell her something, but he couldn’t get the words out.

The Planeswalker gripped his fist, “I...I...”

He closed his eyes and looked away, cursing himself.

“It’s okay Kaede,” said Cloud, “we all have secrets and regrets. Believe me, I would know.”

“We can’t let them consume us,” continued Tifa.

Kaede was about to reply when he heard something, he halted the others.

“What?” asked Cloud, “what is it?”

“Quiet...” signaled Kaede.

He heard a faint whooshing sound...almost like...

Aeris walked forward, trying to make sense of the sound.

Kaede pushed Aeris to the ground, and an arrow narrowly missed her head...

More came out of the darkness, like a torrent of rain. Kaede and the others jumped in all directions, fleeing the hail of arrows. Kaede encircled Aeris in his arms and leapt away, sheltering her.

“Kaede, no!” shouted Aeris, “get out of here!”

He merely held on tighter and kept moving away, his movements clearly slower due to her weight.

Cloud and Tifa ducked and weaved their way through the wave of arrows. Tifa stopped as one clipped the space just in front of her face, then felt herself pushed away as Cloud fell on top of her.

“Keep moving!” he shouted.

Cloud rolled away, carrying Tifa with him. They flattened themselves against the floor, struggling to stay below the flying arrows. He struggled to carry her to the relative safety of the pillars nearby. Then Cloud saw another one spearing it’s way towards them.

‘No time to dodge it,’ thought Cloud, ‘this is going to hurt...’

Cloud raised his arm to deflect the blast. The arrow pierced through his palm...and stopped. Cloud cried out and closed his fingers, crushing the projectile in his bare hands. Sheltering Tifa with his other arm, he carried her away from the flying arrows.

The projectiles eventually stopped flying, and the four slowly stood up. Cloud shook his hand back and forth, trying to get back feeling in it, while Tifa tended to the wound with her materia. Kaede helped Aeris up.

She looked at him, and gasped, “Kaede! You’re hurt!”

He looked at his sides, and saw a few arrows had struck him. He calmly pulled them out without so much as a grimace.

“I‘m fine,” he assured, “they didn’t breach the armor.”

A faint clapping engulfed the room, the echoes reverberating, making it louder. Cloud turned to find the source of the sound.

“I must say,” came Sephiroth’s voice, “well done for a failure.”

“Sephiroth,” cursed Cloud.

The menace glared at Aeris, “ah, dear Aeris. How is the puncture wound?”

Cloud’s eyes flared, “you stay away from her you ba-”

“Really Cloud, you must control yourself,” laughed Sephiroth, “although you’re right, I shouldn’t have killed her...I should have made her suffer while you watched, but the look on your face when she died was so...gratifying...”

Cloud coldly glared back, “it won’t work Sephiroth.”

The ex-Soldier nodded, “you’ve grown Cloud, improved. I shall enjoy killing you.”

Kaede glared back, unimpressed, “finally ran out of arrows Morbius?”

The Horseman of Pestilence withdrew from the darkness, “I don’t need them to kill you.”

He threw away his short crossbow, and the Horseman’s hands became great claws.

“I will kill you with my bare hands,” he continued.

“No,” said Methos, “you won’t. That is my pleasure, and mine alone.”

Kaede glared as an old face appeared from out of the shadows.

They simply stood looking at each other, completely oblivious to anyone else. Years of pain and suffering were traded in a matter of seconds, as Kaede and Methos looked into each other’s eyes and saw the past staring back.

“Kaede?” asked Aeris.

“Coming to admire your handiwork,” said Kaede, mimicking a conversation from so long ago.

“You never change,” scowled the Chaos Lord, “do you?”

Kaede nodded, “it’s been a long time Methos.”

“I’m impressed Kaede, I knew we would cross paths once more,” sneered Methos, “I will kill you eventually, but I am afraid we have more...pressing matters than you right now.”

Kaede brandished his sword, “you’re not getting away from me this time Methos.”

Veletta drew up alongside Methos, “we’ve moved beyond you Kaede, have the decency to lay down. We will grant you death momentarily.”

Cloud and Tifa looked at Kaede, seeing an unspoken dialogue take place between him and their enemies. Aeris grasped the Planeswalker’s arm tightly.

He narrowed his eyes, “I will see you damned before you take this world.”

“No Kaede,” replied Methos, “you will suffer now. Then I will make a new Hell just for you and send you there personally.”

Cloud glared at Sephiroth, “always trapped in someone else’s shadow Sephiroth?”

Sephiroth’s gaze grew cold, “I’m follow my own will Cloud. But you will never see the grandeur of what I will become.”

“Attack,” ordered Morbius.

Scores of shadows withdrew from the mists of darkness, the torchlight causing their silhouettes to waver.

Kaede, Aeris, Cloud, and Tifa stood back to back, preparing themselves for battle. They looked back and forth, seeing dozens of dark wraiths staring back.

“Cowards,” cursed Tifa.

“You should be grateful,” prodded Sephiroth, “your friends, if they are alive, are busy with the others, or you would be surrounded by hundreds right now.”

“We grow tired of you,” sneered Morbius, “ATTACK!”

The shadows fell upon the four, who disappeared under the mass of bodies.

Morbius turned away, “let us go.”

Methos and Veletta didn’t move.

Morbius raised his reptilian eyebrow, “it is the Emperor’s will that we finish this before anything else.”

Methos grunted, “their deaths will come later, I will have that satisfaction.”

Sephiroth grinned, “I would be rather disappointed if they didn’t survive. I have such...interesting plans of what I will do to them.”

“You will reserve your zeal for the task at hand,” glowered Veletta, “if you know what’s good for you.”

Methos brought his hand to Veletta’s chin, “worry not, we will have our revenge...and their cold hearts will wither in our hands...”

Veletta grinned back savagely, and fiercely kissed Methos.

Sephiroth raised an eyebrow. This was something he hadn’t expected. They were braver than he had thought, if they trusted each other enough to do that kind of thing.

Morbius coughed, “milady and lord...”

Methos and Veletta withdrew.

“He knew,” said Methos, “I could see it in his eyes.”

“One more pain in a series of what we will do to him,” answered Veletta.

“Indeed,” replied the Horseman of Chaos.

Morbius turned to Sephiroth, “very well, lead the way. But remember, try anything, and you die.”

Sephiroth remained silent, ‘you fools! Do you honestly think you control me? Follow me, and we shall see who is the master here!’

He smiled instead, just to set Morbius ill at ease, “follow me...”

Cloud was cutting away enemies as fast as they appeared, but time was of the essence.

“Kaede,” shouted Tifa, “we could destroy them all and still lose! We have to get out of here!”

The Planeswalker calmly assessed the situation, trying to find a way to dispatch the wraiths in time to stop Methos.

Aeris solved the problem for him, for she surrounded herself in a strange field of light.

The others looked at her uncertainly, while the wraiths fell back, biting and yelling.

Aeris let out a beautiful cry, a dangerous song. Strands of mako came from her hands, spearing through the screaming hordes, as they fell one by one. The light was blinding, engulfing the entire room...

When it was over, she closed her eyes and collapsed, only to be caught by Kaede. He easily lowered her to the ground, drying her sopping forehead with his gloved hands.

“What was THAT?,” asked Cloud.

“Aeris’ powers have been manifesting themselves,” explained Kaede, “her recent pains and headaches have been indicative of this.”

Aeris opened her eyes slowly, “are they gone?”

Kaede nodded, “yes...you shouldn’t have done that.”

“No choice,” returned the Cetra.

“Yes there was,” answered Kaede, “we could have done it together.”

Aeris shook her head, “you must conserve your strength...”

Kaede took a flask from his belt and brought it to Aeris’ lips. She groaned slightly, and allowed herself to be helped up by Kaede. Slowly, she nodded to him, telling him she was alright. Kaede stepped back.

“Will she be okay?” asked Cloud.

“I’m fine,” breathed Aeris.

She stood up straight, and smiled, “see?”

Cloud shook his head and grinned, “you have to let us help sometimes Aeris. That’s what friends are for...”

Tifa squeezed Aeris’ hands, then drew her up in a hug.

“We have to get going,” proclaimed Aeris.

“What are they going to do here?” asked Tifa.

“We will have to ask them ourselves when we find them,” answered Kaede.

“Watch your backs,” warned Cloud, “I have a feeling they have more nasty surprises in store for us.”

The four drew close again, the two couples walking close together. And if Kaede was a little bit colder than he had been before, the others reminded themselves how this must be for him...facing his past.

The walked onward through the torch-lit catacombs of the Fortress, still unsure of what lay ahead...

Author’s Notes: Don’t worry, it’ll pick up again soon. Keep reading and sending feedback. Thanks!


Chapter 35

Final Fantasy 7 Fanfic