To See Another Day Chapter 27
And Good Men Fall
By Kain Servant
The night managed to be quite a bit darker than the day. It had been one hell of a march through the ice caverns, having to lug Steiner part of the way. But no one had wanted to sleep there, so they really had no option. Waves of frosty mist still wafted from the open mouth that stood to their south, as Amarant looked over the gloomy hill at the crumbling carcass of Dali, where Vivi had disappeared.
Vivi... Amarant had a spot for the little guy - he was so gutsy, even though every thing was against him. So trusting... a growl came from his throat - the world was so damn unfair. And sad... Stuck between punching something and lying down to wallow in his misery...he slowly stumbled down the hill. His mind was too troubled to sleep anyway.
Above him lay what was left of his life. His companions from the cave he had left at Lindblum. They were probably either dead or they had answered Menoth's call by now. He had felt the call too - deep inside him, a strong pull for him to find his master. But he knew no master - he knew only truth.and his life was the only truth he knew...he thought that his friendship with Zidane had changed that, but the added people in his life only made the lines clearer. Everyone was in control of their own lives, all he could hope to worry about was his own.
Hmm...he toed a loose stone as he made the steep descent. His bounty hunting days seemed like such a long time ago. He could be positive... atleast now he had people to live the crisis with...back then there was no one. Well...Lani....He sighed. What a damn shame.
"Amarant..." A gruff voice sounded from below him, and Amarant blinked, then continued down a few more steps to the flat plain below. Steiner was hunched on the ground a few yards before him, the big knight's back away from him.
"Hey. Done crying?"
"Yes...I..." He paused, then his head moved closer to his chest, his voice smaller, "No."
"'least you're talking now. Care to let me in on it?" Amarant moved forward to sit down next to Steiner. The man looked at him, and the lines that had formed from the tears made him look ancient. Technically Amarant was older - but he would never age. Ellians never aged, they simply began, then lived and died - no difference, no change whatsoever. Because of this, Steiner, even at his fairly young age of fifty or so, looked quite the old man, while Amarant still looked in the peak of his years, though he was near three hundred years old.
"It's just...because I'm useless." Steiner began, averting his eyes once again, "I feel like everything I do results in failure - and I always let down the people I love...and I don't want to do it anymore."
"And...the dragon clued you in on all of this?"
"He was right." The knight spoke quickly, "He was right about everything. He knew me to the core."
"And I'm sure your depression is all a part of his good intentions, right?"
Amarant chuckled, "You're so damn naïve, Steiner. Look at this situation...a dragon comes to you, tells you the truth about your life, and suddenly you're out here all alone - knife in hand, and you're not suspicious of his intentions?"
Steiner shuffled his knife between hands thoughtfully, "Why should I care if he tells the truth?"
"The truth." Amarant repeated blandly, "You should care...you should care because there is a great lack of truth in this world. Everything is coated in shades of gray, what was once clean and white torn with lies and deceit and malice. How can you be so blind as to accept truth without question?"
"But I did abandon Garnet, and Beatrix...I don't know why - I thought I was leaving her in safety - but now I'm safe and she may not be...and I don't know...what to think."
"Put the damn knife down - that's not thinking." Amarant contributed helpfully, reaching his hand to grab the hilt from Steiner's hand. The knight didn't resist, and the knife slipped from his hand, "You were thinking one thing when you left, and now you changed your mind. That's no reason to go crazy...humans are fickle - they look behind them too often and worry about what went wrong." He shrugged, "Maybe if you were ellian you would see how futile that is. All we have is the present - ellians don't change much, we don't do many drastic deeds...maybe once or twice a lifetime..." Those would be him running from Tialtor and...him joining Zidane. "So we learn easily to accept ourselves and live with what we have now. Sure, the world looks like it's dying and all - but your dark mood won't make it go away."
"...." Silence...Amarant sighed and took in a deep breath of the cold night air. To his right he saw the quiet orange glow of dawn creeping to the sky...bad choice - he should have opted for more sleep. "Can't be helped...well, Steiner, hope you make the right choice - I'm gonna catch a few hours of sleep while I can."
"...." He had tried...no real reason why - maybe there was something in him for old Adelbert as well...hell, he was turning more human than he thought. With a grunt he jumped to his feet and turned to go, barely catching Steiner's quiet word as he trudged up the hill.
The slow pendulum of decision wavered from side to side as Kain ran, his side throbbing from a mixture of pain from Adam's punches, and pain from running the whole day without rest. The pendulum shifted... he could have stood up right then and there, punched Adam once and run off with Kate.but no he had to lose his courage at the last second. What was to say he wouldn't lose his courage again once he found Tyen. Or even if he would find Tyen at all. Maybe he should go back.
The pendulum turned once again. No matter how much he tried to talk himself out of it, he had a burning infatuation with Kate, and there was no way he was going to turn his back now - now that he was sure she was in trouble, and after all that had happened in the past weeks. There was no damn way!
But he was so scared... he sighed and slowed his run to a walk, looking sadly forward at the trees that were thinning ahead. Soon the forest would end and the open grasslands would come again...leaving him naked to the eye of the sun... the sun...she was the only one who had witnessed all the long tedious years of his folly. Always watching his mistakes and laughing quietly to herself... she was the only one who truly knew him. He didn't even know himself.
The pendulum stopped.
Slowly Kain walked out into the open sunlight and blinked against her glare...the grass below him came up to his knees, pushing wanly against his legs as he trudged forward, further south...closer to his goal. To his right he could now see a path, worn by countless human and chocobo feet...now bare dirt contrasting heavily against the live green grass. He moved toward it, trying to muster a new spurt of energy to keep moving. He found none...but his feet continued to fall forward, heavy like his heart... and slowly he broke into a slow run once again, his eyes set on the faint horizon ahead of him...willed on by some power he couldn't understand, afraid of something he couldn't grasp.
Who was he?
The day was long gone as the airship set down in the port of Treno, and the passengers began to silently file out of the ship. Eiko whispered a few last minute reminders to Orion as they walked down the ramp.
"For the last time, please don't start any of this savior nonsense here. You already got yourself in enough trouble back in Lindblum. Just...look for your heroes, and stay low."
Orion sniffed haughtily at that...which annoyed her to no end. "That's ridiculous, everyone loves a hero, and I plan to be one. Well...as long as I don't have to take on Kuja."
"You are an idiot!"
"No I'm not!" He defended rapidly. She sighed and threw her hands into the air,
"Whatever...hey, I'm not responsible for you anymore. We're off the ship, we both have our own little things to do.so I guess this is goodbye." That stopped him. She looked up into his eyes for a moment as he assessed the situation...a grin crawling to her face. She had actually been looking forward to this moment the whole journey. His face had developed a blank, moping expression rather quickly, as he repeated the word dumbly,
"That's right. There's really no reason for us to continue travelling together. Not like we know each other or anything." She tossed her hair carelessly and continued walking quickly toward the tall gate to the city.
"But...wait. I don't know anyone else here!" He continued after her, "And of course I'm not prone to leaving a beautiful young girl all by herself in a dangerous city like this. Let me guard you for a while."
"I think I can do quite well by myself, thank you."
"I said no." A slight edge came to her voice, and instantly she regretted it. With a sigh she looked back at him and into his eyes once again...halting there. "I'm sorry - but I just...need to figure some things out right now. And you're not the one to help me."
"I could help you...Eiko."
Eiko averted her eyes and moved away from the busy stream of traffic to a quieter stretch of road near the gate to the city, "...I don't think I ever told you before, Orion.but I'm already promised to another." She could feel his reaction instantly - like a shock running through his body. Eiko glanced over at him...she had never thought that the simple truth would make a dent in the unflappable man...but he stood, eyes wide, mouth slightly open, staring down at her.
Eiko shrugged, "I suppose I could have made it a bit clearer before, but...you know, I didn't realize that would upset you...not like it changes our relationship...right?" A smile twitched at her lips, and he instantly raised his wall once again, offering her a glamorous grin.
"Why would it - we're just friends."
"If you say so."
Orion dried the plaster over his skin once again and gave a soft chuckle, "Oh well - I suppose we'll meet again...I'd better start acquainting myself with the ladies.and gentlemen of this fine town.hey, what's this!" They had reached the gate through the wall, leading to Treno...and it was closed, with the exception of a small, side door. This was explainable, with all the calamaties and wars of late, it was reasonable to be a bit edgy. Eiko filed in behind Orion in the line passing slowly through the door. Beside the door stood a formidable man, garbed completely in black chainmail and cloth. Emblazoned on his breast was a silver cloud.
"I never knew Treno had a military force..." Eiko murmured. "I've been here quite frequently and I've never seen his insignia before."
Orion would have answered, but the gatekeeper stopped him with a rough grab to his shoulder. Orion turned cautiously, "I beg your pardon?"
The voice was grating, "I see you're wearing white armor. Would that have anything to do with the Lightbringers down south?"
"That's right, son...the Followers of the Deliverer...they're destroying our world." The man smirked when he saw realization come to Orion's face. Dread simultaneously crept into Eiko. "So...you with them?"
Orion took in a deep breath, "Actually...what a coincidence, but...I am." Orion laughed wryly, "You wouldn't believe this, but actually I am their savior." Silence...in fact, the whole crowd turned to look at him. Orion just continued smiling, waving his arm around in the air, "Didn't see that one coming, did you? Well sometimes I surprise even myself - it's like I was someone else my whole life, and then one day I just woke up saving the world...very strange indeed." Still silence reigned.Eiko coughed lightly, and began to speak, but Orion drown her out with a laugh, "But I don't know where this nonsense about me destroying the world came from - really I'm a quite peaceful man, you just have to get to know me and such...but there is nothing in the plans about destroying the world, believe you me. So maybe we can just forget our differences and let bygones...go. Eh?"
The man continued smirking. "You know...I don't think that's going to work." He drew his sword. "I think you're going to have to prove your identity...then maybe we can chat this little deal over."
Orion stared placidly at him, "Erm...haha, you don't really mean that. It just so happens I sprained my swordhand this morning. Darn...guess we'll have to have this little fight some other day. Can't you just...let me in?"
"Rion..." Eiko whispered, touching his shoulder. At her touch, he turned and looked down at her with a smile, taking her shoulders and pushing her back, his form welling with confidence,
"Oh don't worry, Eiko. This is all taken care of." Then, in a much softer voice, he added, "Trust me."
"Blackswords!" The doorguardian roared, and at his call, two more armored men charged through the door, drawing their swords. The civilians began clearing away, shouting words of fear and excitement. Eiko kept her eyes trained urgently on Orion's face.
"But I don't trust you. You're a coward and a...a... I just don't want you getting killed over your silly delusion."
"Killed?" Orion glanced back, "Three men? Oh come on, they should have sent a whole army!"
Orion sighed, then turned his back on her, raising his hands in a mock fighting stance. But his voice was as solemn and calm as the frigid lakes of Alexandria, "Maybe then, Eiko, it's time for me to be completely honest with you."
Then he went forward to face the battle.
Final Fantasy 9 Fanfic