To See Another Day Chapter 2
Reliving the Past
By Kain Servant
Marcus peered down the hill at the city of Alexandria below, His blunt face showed no emotion, but inside he was confused. Confused at why there were thousands of mist spawn advancing slowly upon the city. Confused at why they seemed to be traveling in rank and file, instead of their usual helter-skelter form. Confused at why they were there at all.
Slowly he turned to the man thing at his side. Baku. His boss looked back at him, and Marcus could read the puzzlement stamped on the old mans face. Why-
I know. And I dont know why. Marcus grunted out. But it looks like theres going to be a party in Alexandria tonight. Theyll be in the city in an hour.
Cinna popped up from seemingly nowhere behind him, Um I know you two want to bash it out with the mist thingies, but what do I do? Im a thief, not a warrior.
Marcus smiled as his sword rang against its sheath. He let the steel play against the sunlight for a moment, then lowered it to his side, Youre going to take the airship back to Lindblum and find out why these creatures are here. Maybe Cid will send a probe to the Iafa tree to check it out. But whatever it means, it aint good.
Baku nodded, then reached down to draw his own sword, but Marcus caught his hand, No. Youre going back to the airship too. Youre too old to be fighting again, and you mean too much to Tantalus to be killed yet.
It was true. Tantalus was growing, and Baku was needed to instruct the members and make sure they were properly trained. Of course they werent entirely a thief organization anymore. It was more a secret service for Cid they didnt mind though. But the first reason was true as well, Baku was getting old, maybe not too old to lead, but much too old to go around swinging swords at monsters. And those monsters down there did look pretty tough.
Baku sighed and nodded reluctantly, then turned back to join Cinna, who was already dashing back down the hill toward the parked theatre ship. Marcus nodded, then began running down the opposite slope, toward the monsters.
Of course he wasnt going to take on the whole army single handedly, that was foolish for anyone. But he had to get into Alexandria before the spawn somehow, and that probably meant a bit of fighting. Marcus gritted his teeth. Bring it on.
Baku grunted and cursed quietly as he stumbled down the hill. He might be old, but he had never avoided a battle if he could help it and Marcus shouldnt be ordering him around like that! He was the boss, not Marcus!
Cinna, could you wait up? You cant leave for Lindblum any faster if Im not on the ship. Panting, he staggered down to the level ground below and stopped. Blood soaked the ground in a wide circle around him. His eye followed a jagged line of the fresh blood to the center, his throat working furiously, his brain not wanting to believe what he was seeing.
There was Cinna what was left of Cinna. What was left started at the next, ripped muscles dangling out visibly until they were met by a few tendrils of what had been the happy mans brain. Only half of the head was left, one lifeless eyeball opened, fear still showing in its glassy depths, one half of his mouth opened in a silent scream.
Baku whimpered quietly as he heard footsteps, and looked up expecting to see a gruesome monster, a slimy vermin with three million teeth and slashing razor claws. The last thing he ever saw were two pitch-black eyes set in a hollow face, with bright-red hair cascading down the forehead. Blood red hair.
The monsters were closer and closer in his vision now. They sure move slowly, maybe itll take them longer than an hour to reach the city. That would be nice I guess. That would, of course, be nicer for everyone else involved. It wouldnt be nice for him if he actually got past them and if they used long range weapons while he turned his back to them and ran to Alexandria. Of course what kind of long-range weapons could gigantic spiky slugs with no arms use anyway?
He saw a broad break between two files of mist spawn, so he headed for it, suddenly wishing he was a black mage, or a summoner, or anything besides a stupid man with a sword running into a horde of big ugly things.
He almost fell flat on his face when he saw a figure marching behind the spawn. Almost. It was a man, or looked like a man, with a dense mass of red hair atop his head, something like an Afro. He walked in a straight-backed, military march, looking for all the world like some sort of commander. His armor, what looked like plate mail, didnt even gleam dully as the sun shone on it, it simply was black. Marcus wasnt sure if he was more surprised that the mist spawn were being led at all, or that they were being led by
Amarant! The big man swung slowly toward him. Nothing else seemed to notice him. The mist spawn continued to move toward the city, Marcus suddenly noticed that the redheaded man was carrying a black glowing staff. Not the kind of weapon Amarant would carry.
The man smiled, a completely terrifying smile, Inferior! His hand moved forward smoothly, and he pointed the staff at Marcus.
No, Im Marcus. Remember me? Marcus was less than half-positive that this was Amarant anymore, but that theory completely went out the window when suddenly black flame burst forth from the staff. That was all it could be described as, it was hot, it roared it was black. Marcus ducked with a startled yelp, wincing as the flame that rolled over him singed his skin. He jumped quickly to his feet and rushed forward, swinging his sword with a yell.
The blade passed through the man as easily as a bread knife through butter. The red head looked somewhat confused as half of his body toppled over the other half, but he fell, that was all Marcus was concerned about.
For a moment he stood there panting, then he wiped his sword on the grass, and set off toward the city at a brisk pace, well, it was brisk until he heard a roar over his shoulder. Looking back, he saw that the man he had just killed was rising to his feet. The man he had just killed. The man he had just killed Not even black fire could catch him as he bolted the rest of the way to the gates, cold black eyes chasing him in his mind.
Garnet walked quickly to her quarters, brushing past cheerful greetings and solemn bows. Her day as the sovereign of the realm was over, and she wasnt about to start talking to someone she didnt even care for about the weather.
Nodding politely to the assortment of servants outside her door, she quickly swung it open and then closed it behind her. Flopping onto her bed, she closed her eyes. Not only was she tired after the long day of being queen, she was also upset. Upset that she was still thinking about Kain, upset that she was thinking about him at all. And her thoughts were not at all about the meeting she had set up today. Of course, they had met, and she had melted into his eyes and they spoke of the book that she hadnt opened. He knew absolutely nothing about it, but she just wanted to talk to him, so she told him she would meet him tomorrow as well.
She had never even lain in the same bed with Zidane, not that she didnt love him, she was just scared. Scared partially of having a child at all, she was no mother, she probably could never be one. And what if the child was born with the horn of the summoner, would she cut it off? Could she, and deny her own people, the two of them that were left? If her child was born with a horn, it could mean the rebirth of the summoners, but what if the people wouldnt accept that she wasnt really the heir to the throne? What if they dethroned her?
The other reason she was afraid was completely different. So much had happened to her, and to the world because of her. So much destruction and ruin. In a way she couldnt allow herself to have the pleasure. She didnt really consider herself celibate, but it was a penance of a kind, for what she had done. Maybe one day she would decide she had served it long enough.
Whenever that is, I will not give myself to this Kain just because he has a pretty face. Zidane will be the only one I will give myself to.
A knock sounded at her door. Quickly she stood, arranging her skirts in an orderly fashion, and then called out Come in.
An Alexandrian soldier barged in. Garnet was always slightly appalled that the soldiers under Beatrixs control always had their legs bare, but then Beatrix was a woman of fashion, no matter how skilled and battle-hardened she was. But it was no time to dwell on that, fear reigned in the soldiers eyes, Your highness, we are under attack!
Adelbert Steiner wove his way quietly through the throngs of people in the street, his arm casually draped over Beatrixs shoulder. His brow knit in puzzlement, the people looked worried, scared, murmurs were running through the crowded streets. Of what he could catch there was some sort of enemy outside the city, but he had not heard enough to be sure.
He saw Beatrixs hand go down to grasp the hilt of Save the Queen And he nodded, Its better to trust a rumor than to act foolishly. But stay near me, do not go off trying to take on the world single handedly.
She rolled her eyes and he blushed in spite of himself. No matter how big he was, she was probably twice as skilled with a blade, and her sword moves were legends in other countries. And he said he would protect her? Well he would try the best he could.
The city gate began to loom before them, and then he saw that the rumor must have some reality to it. Swarms of guards, soldiers and even a few knights were crowding at the entrance, brandishing their weapons and looking around nervously; as if they expected an attack from the inside. Ethan saw the gate Captain, a girl barely older than the queen, shouting orders to the female soldiers, who responded quickly, marching off into different directions.
Beatrix quickly marched up to the gate and hailed her, Captain Sera! What is going on out there?
Seras face appeared slightly haggard, and Steiner saw sweat trickling down her face probably not entirely because of the heat. An army, General. A huge army is marching on the city. They appear to be mist spawns, General. Ive been awaiting your orders, we can either set a line and fight them, or close the gates off and prepare for a siege. Either way, I await your command. The woman bowed, and Beatrix began chewing her lip.
Mist spawns? Surely we arent so weak that we cant take an attack from mist spawns. Open the gates and set a defensive formation at all of the gates, four lines, mind you. Steiner, I want your knights in the lines as well, at least ten knights to a gate. Are they coming from all sides?
Steiner smiled down at her before saluting. He had not only married a beautiful woman, she was also most likely the most intelligent one he would ever meet. Then he hurried off to carry out her commands. Even if they were only mist spawns, there would be much blood shed, and he, Adelbert Steiner, was going to prevent that as much as possible.
The swords rang together in a sweet flow of motion as Blank pushed Zidane back across the stage. As Zidane retreated a little more, Blank let himself take a peek at the theatre. A large crowd was packed there, looking up at the stage in awe, apparently advertising Zidanes appearance in the improvised play had done a lot for business.
Ruby had decided on a scene or two from I want to be your canary as the play they would do, because it was popular and because they knew it so well they would not mess up. Of course the sword fighting would be the main feature of this play, they did not have enough props or actors to pull off the entire thing.
And the sword fight was good, Blank had to admit it. Zidane was in top performance, maybe it was because of all the anger he was releasing into the sword, or maybe because he had gained a lot of skill since they had last performed the play over ten years ago. Blank did a back flip, letting Zidanes circle kick slide under his legs, then their swords met, up and down. The sword fight was almost over, and he regretted that. The feel of cold steel in his hands felt so good he didnt want to end it all.
Suddenly Vivi was standing between him and Zidane, if slightly further away from the edge of the stage. Stop the act! Emergency! Stop the act! He whispered as loud as he could without the crowd hearing, then, with a few sparks of energy rolling around him, he raised his hands above his head.
Blank felt his feet leave the ground, and he found himself flying backwards, approaching a wall at rather ouch. As he recovered his breath in gasps, he watched the curtain close, among the hearty cheering of the crowd. At least they thought that was part of the act. Slowly he stepped behind the curtain, ready to give Vivi a piece of his mind
He found Vivi and Zidane standing together near the center of the stage. Vivi, I thought you didnt want to blast magic at us, little-
Vivis words were loud and serious to shut him up, The City is under attack! Garnet wants you to come right now, in her room.
Blank whistled softly under his breath. Under attack that hadnt happened since the Kuja crisis. But then again, too much peace always meant something was brewing. He didnt sheath his sword, but he let it rest at his side as he strolled calmly over to Vivi, And I bet no one cares where I go, right?
Zidane punched his shoulder lightly, surprising Blank by showing real concern in his eyes, Be careful, bro. I dont want to hear that you were killed for being stupid.
Yeah, you be careful too. I dont want to hear that your wife killed ya for being stupid.
The glance Zidane shot at him before taking off at a run for the backstage exit showed that all concern was gone, but Blank couldnt help it. He grinned happily, So point me toward the fighting, Vivi, my steels been getting a little dull.
The little black mage shrugged. It was funny, knowing the black mage was more powerful than he was, and also two feet shorter than him. All around us. I can get you there real fast if you want me to um I havent tested this much, but He took a deep breath, and more colorful sparkles surrounded him. Blank shuddered, just as well it wasnt him that was the black mage. Magic was creepy, definitely more for little guys with no mouths and beady eyes, not for him.
A small wind crept in from seemingly nowhere, surprisingly cool compared to the stifling heat of the room. Slowly the space in front of Vivi began to revolve slowly, then faster and faster. Then, just as slowly, a sort of hole, began to open in the middle of the air. The hole widened and widened, until it was big enough to be a full-sized doorway, then stopped. Vivi turned to Blank, who nodded appreciatively.
Lemme guess, you can magick up a portal to wherever there are monsters.
Vivi shook his head slowly, Um not really, I just focus on traveling to a certain place, and it opens. It even works for a place far, far away. Ive tested it.
Blank shrugged, Pretty nifty. Ready to rumble, Vivi?
The little black mages nod seemed almost excited. Blank couldnt be sure. Then he stepped into the swirling black hole, and felt his body go spinning away
Kain wasnt quite sure what he felt as he stumbled back into his room at the inn. Excited? Scared? It was hard to judge. He had seen the queen again, that was enough to scare him, and excite him at the same time. She really was the prettiest girl he had ever seen, he would probably be thinking about those delicate bare shoulders, her pale skin, her bright and wonderful smile, for weeks. But he thought she was married, and anyway, the queen wouldnt call a fletcher to a personal audience because she wanted to have a love affair with him, it had something to do with the book. Maybe she knew something about it probably everyone did except for him.
Muffled shouts hailed him from below. His brow furrowed worriedly. What could be happening now? Opening the door, he lumbered downstairs, into a chaotic jumble of commotion. People were everywhere, alternating between yelling madly and clutching at one another in fear. His worry soon turned into confusion. The common room was packed, and no seemed to be trying to do anything about the near-mob inside the inn. What had happened?
He turned as he saw the innkeeper enter slowly from a back room and raise his hands for silence. The robust mans voice was unnaturally squeaky with fear, Theres been an attack on the city. The room suddenly burst into commotion again. Kain tightly closed his hands into fists. Of course he was scared. His little town had never seen more than a single monster try to invade it, never armies or hordes. But his people wouldnt be squawking in fear if they had thousands of soldiers to protect them. Macemians were a hard lot.
The queen has ordered! The innkeeper raised his squeaky voice enough for the mob in the room to hush again, She has ordered for all residents of Alexandria to return to their homes and watch the streets. Any travelers are to go to the castle for refuge. If the city walls are breached than everyone will take shelter in the castle, unless you want to fight with the soldiers. If you do your part in defending the city, you will be well paid after the battle. This is the word of the queen!
Where the man had gotten this word was beyond Kain. All he knew was the common room emptied as fast as if the man had told them the horde was trying to take the inn itself. Kain shrugged and moved back up to his room to get his belongings.
Against one wall lay his long bow, unstrung, and beside it a quiver with twenty arrows, all as straight as straight could be. With all his fletchering he had become a pretty good shot himself. But he wasnt going to defend the town. Its useless. He muttered to himself, What horde can stand a chance against these walls and defenses? As far as he saw it, he would be able to leave by the time his audience with the queen was over, at noon tomorrow. Now he was going to head to the castle.
Garnet sat worriedly wringing her hands together on her lap. Why were mist spawns back, and why were they attacking Alexandria? Rumor had told her that they were coming in orderly fashion, like an army. The thought itself made her shudder, someone controlling them.
Kuja is gone, the mist is gone, they should be gone! She thought angrily. This all ended ten years go, why is it coming back now?
As she leaned back against her bed, her hip brushed against something. She jumped, then, realizing how silly that was, turned to see what it was. A heavily jeweled and gold-adorned book met her gaze. Had she really brought it there? She didnt remember but while she was waiting for Zidane, at least she could find out what was in the book.
Hastily she found the clasp and unlatched it, swinging the heavy golden cover open. The inside was just as elaborate as the outside, the pages were of some shining metal, all carved in flowers and fountains. Slowly she began to read,
Born but not raised in Madain Sari. Born of the horn but not carrying it. A summoner, a link, a precious jewel with a precious jewel. Young she was when ripped away, the immortal other worldly eye ripped her away, across the sea. Princess of the lost tribe died with her mother, and became princess of the eidolon.
Garnet frowned, and read it again, slow recognition dawning on her. It was the story of her life, all in flowery words and hidden phrases, but definitely her story. The immortal otherworldly eye was the Invincible from Terra, and Princess of the Eidolon probably meant Princess of Alexandria, or Alexander, the Eidolon. So this elder in Macema had sent her own history to her? Why?
The why dawned on her with a gasp. Could it be hastily she flipped through the pages while forming thoughts in her mind. Perhaps it was some sort of magic book that could tell her future as well as her past. If it was all laid out for her than her life would be complete, she would know what she would do before doing it, and
Her fingers slowed as she realized she was turning blank pages. Dammit! So the book was unfinished, it only went as far as the village elder had decided to carve. Probably meant to be some cute memory book that she could carve events in to, like a journal.
With a slow sigh Garnet looked up at the door. Zidane still was not there, and she could not hear any battle sounds. There was time to see where the elder had stopped, just for curiositys sake. She flipped back hastily until she found a page only half finished with writing. Settling the pages, she set back to read,
Otherworldly man who was dead came to bring life to the Queen of the Eidolon. Love did he bring, but love she would not have, denied to herself because she denied herself. Garnet growled. So the old man had found out that she made up excuses not to sleep with Zidane. Probably a nosey old man, not someone she ever wanted to meet. With a grimace she read on,
History calmed for years because historys writer was unaccepting, but the waves of time were unrelenting, long pushed she it away, but it sought her and found her. Faal em Delamfar. Found her, wanting to destroy. Creatures of and not of the heated water rose to snuff out life, rose against the city of the Eidolon.
What!?!? She nearly screamed, not sure if it was panic or surprise. That had happened today. Today! And it was in this book. All her thoughts of knowing her future had been a silly dream, but this magic was real, and it scared her. Scared her because her future did not look bright. Found her, wanting to destroy did not sound bright at all. Slowly she turned her eyes down to look at the book again, and her breath stopped within her. Words were beginning to crawl out upon the page slowly, letter by letter, they formed a new sentence.
The door burst open and Zidane snapped briskly in, his sword unsheathed and his face showing clearly that he was ready for anything. When he saw Garnet sitting there with a book in her hands, he sighed, I heard you scream and I thought how the hell can you be reading at a time like this?
She looked up at him then down at the page, back and forth, trying to stammer out a few assuring words. She had to read the next sentence. She had to! I it was a gift and I was trying to see what it was.
Well what is it? What made you scream? Even in the situation, his face quirked into an unbelieving smile.
And there it was!
An Arrows love came by night, tearing her heart, turning the waves, sorrow came. Much sorrow.
She felt as if she would throw up, and she closed the book tightly, closing the latch and looking up into her husbands eyes fearfully. Would this book tell her if she was going to die? Its just a silly story about a girl, the writer made it to sound like it was me, thats what made me gasp.
Gasp? He said incredulously. She nodded and giggled,
Sorry if I upset you. Now Suddenly her mind clicked back into gear. She wasnt some foolish girl to get tricked by magic or to be sitting giggling on her bed while her city was in danger! I called you here because I want to go to watch the battle, and I want you to guard me.
No. He said firmly, crossing his arms, the sword dangling from his fingers as if it were a simple piece of steel. Garnet knew that in that mans hands it was more than that. He wasnt Terras Angel of Death for nothing. But whoever he was, she wasnt going to let him bully her around.
Am I not the Queen of Alexandria? Do you wish to disobey my orders?
Youre also my wife and Im not going to let you die!
I wont die with you protecting me. If you protect me like you should dear. The last word was as pointed as she could make it, and she saw him flinch, Now take me to the battle.
Vivi couldnt help smiling as he began casting another spell. A dense mass of water surrounded three of the slug-like, mist spawns, lifted them up, thrashing wildly, and then brought them crashing to the ground. The black mage could tell by the limp way they settled to the ground that they were dead. Before the water had completely drained away from the three bodies, he turned to another mass of monsters and began casting another spell.
Out of the corner of his eye, Vivi could see Blank, dashing from spawn to spawn and hacking wildly. Blank was a brave man, and a skilled one, too. The thief flipped back to avoid the snapping jaws of one of his enemies, then found time to throw Vivi a grin and a wink before dismantling the slugs head from its body.
As he finished killing two or three more mist creatures, Vivi turned to find new targets. His eyes locked upon a group of men standing aloof from the fighting. A group of men who had giant sparks of magic flying around them and their black glowing staffs. A group of men who looked almost exactly like Amarant.
The sky grew black, pitch-black, and the ground began to tremor quietly. The redheaded men took a few steps back, then watched quietly, calmly, with smirks on their faces. Vivi knew what was coming he was a black mage, how could he not know?
A few more slashes came from the thief before he answered, Yeah, kid? What is it?
Blank I think wed better get back inside the city now. Vivi was already beginning to build the portal to the main gate. He had to warn whoever was commanding there about the danger.
Why, this is as easy as stealing from a blind old man!
Not when you throw that in! Vivi pointed at the sky, and Blanks eyes followed his finger. A huge, black comet was pushing downwards through the atmosphere, its fiery head seemingly pointed directly at him. He had learned the spell long ago, learned how to cast it, but never used it. It was almost as dangerous to the caster as it was to the target. Doomsday.
Shit! Blank yelled as he turned back to Vivi, eyes wild with fright, Lets get the hell out of here!
As you wish. Vivi nodded toward the portal, then quickly took a step inside. The dark comet met the ground in a horrendous earth-shattering explosion seconds after Blank stepped into the portal. And the city was breached.
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