A Mist Over Winhill Chapter 9
By Kate Lorraine
Irvine walked into the second floor deck when he opened his mouth wide in surprise. He was about to yell when Squall reached over and covered his mouth with one gloved hand.
"Don't make a sound," Squall ordered as he released him. Irvine stared with his mouth half open. There, leaning against the balcony was Rinoa Heartilly.
"Oh for Hyne's sake Squall, you brought the evil sorceress home?" Irvine asked in shock. "Just you wait, you'll wake up tomorrow morning and half of Garden will be dead!"
"Don't tell anyone who she is," Squall growled under his breath.
"But why?" Irvine asked staring at Rinoa. "You went a bit out of it when you saw her at the parade but this? You are even more love sick than me and I'm the end all of love sickness."
"Just tell me, will you do this for me or not?" Squall asked abruptly.
"No! She's evil. Are you insane?"
Rinoa turned from her place at the rail. She smiled at him as she walked over. The wind blew her hair away from her face as her eyes shimmered in the mid-evening sun. She was so lovely it nearly made the flowers hide their faces in shame. As she approached him, Irvine bowed as he would greet any girl, sorceress or no.
"Irvine," she said, "if you won't do it for Squall, will you do it for me?"
Irvine was silent. How could he say no to such a girl? He glanced at Squall and saw him frowning once more. Rinoa reached over with one hand and touched him gently on his leather clad arm before moving her eyes back to Irvine.
She looked at him curiously and she pressed her lips together in a disapproving look. It made Irvine want to laugh. Surely she was not as evil as they said she was.
"Alright, for you Rinoa, not for Squall. Can I at least have a kiss?" He asked.
She smiled mischievously. "That would depend on what my fiancee says." she said glancing at Squall.
"What?!" Irvine exclaimed. "You're kidding aren't you?"
"No I'm serious," Rinoa said nodding earnestly.
"Hey, Squall, this is really going to wreck your SeeD career." Irvine said remorsefully.
Squall looked away in contempt.
"She's seriously kidding, Irvine."
"Oh," Irvine said rubbing his chin. "I didn't realize that sorceresses were capable of that."
* * * *
Squall, Irvine and Rinoa stepped off the elevator when a Garden Master suddenly approached him.
"Are you Squall Leonhart?" he asked. Squall nodded suspiciously.
"The Garden Master Norg would like to see you. Please report to the basement immediately."
Squall glanced at Rinoa and Irvine but before he could say a word Rinoa spoke up.
"We're coming with you."
Squall decided not to argue with her.
Irvine scratched his head. "Hey, I get no say in-" Rinoa jabbed him in the ribs before he could finish. "Ouch," he muttered as they filed back into the elevator.
As soon as they stepped out of the elevator Squall caught the sight of the headmaster being thrown on the ground. Cid stood up, yelled a few insults at Norg and turned to leave when he caught sight of Squall.
"What's going on?" Squall asked.
Cid shook his head with a look of pain on his face. "You'd better go." he was about to speak up again but he caught the sight of Rinoa standing beside Squall which shut him up fast. Cid turned and left.
A Garden master came up to Squall and his party. "Master Norg is ready to see you now."
As the group stepped in front of the pod they were greeted with a large obese Shumi villager.
"Well Master Norg wishes to see you he will see you immediately. You will not be a second late!" he yelled. Rinoa frowned insulted, she was about to step forward to counter when Squall grabbed her arm motioning for silence again.
"So you are the SeeDs that attempted the assassination," the Norg said gruffly, making bubbly sounds with the deep crevasses of his chest that were gruesome to the ear whereas his appearance was horrific to the eye.
"This is my Garden!" The Norg stated. "I am the proprietor of this academy. Cid and Edea that pathetic married couple will try to take it from me, well so let them try! Their orphanage of scum will litter the world with trash. So Galbadia has turned against Garden for assassinating Deling, well I will serve your heads on a gold platter to Galbadia to calm their wrath. After that I will deal with the Sorceress Edea and the Sorceress Quistis."
"What?" Squall asked as he suddenly felt his anger and shock overflow. "What did you say about Quistis?"
"Yes," the Norg said. "Your god forsaken childhood acquaintance, the Sorceress Quistis. Too bad she won't be here to witness your death."
The Norg raised his flabby horrific arm and cast poison onto the group. The orbs of his pod flashed red as a tornado surrounded Squall, Irvine and Rinoa. Squall saw the white wind swirl around them trapping them in its eye as thunder erupted from above. He glanced to his right watching the wind sweep Rinoa from his side. She glanced at him once, there was no fear in her face as she raised both of her arms and cast shell on all three of them. It was then when Rinoa raised her arm and attacked the Norg with meteor. As the Norg laid back injured fatally by her spell, he spoke up.
"The sorceress Rinoa, I should have known."
"You never had a chance against me," she answered. "You will never have a chance with the sorceress Quistis. Be glad that it is I who will put an end to your life for I am sure she is far crueler than I."
The Norg made one last terrible cough with his deep grim chest and then he relaxed. A giant ball of energy surround the pod in a form of a hibernation chamber.
Rinoa turned to Squall. "Are you okay?"
He glared at her. "You lied to me about Quistis."
Rinoa frowned as she reached out to help him. He swatted her hands away.
"I know she is a Sorceress. Edea told me once that there are two great sorceresses in this time. Me and Quistis. Edea is a weak sorceress the kind that comes a gil a dozen. I forgot she told me this since it seemed irrelevant at the time. Squall, I never lied to you."
Without saying a word, Squall turned and left. Rinoa stood there silently, she wrapped her arms around herself and felt tears coming to her eyes. No she would not cry! Sorceresses don't cry. But it was too late, she choked out a sob and felt the dam open. Irvine reached over and took her by the shoulder.
"Rinoa," he began.
"Leave me alone," she said and ran from him.
Irvine stood there alone holding his Ulysses tightly in his right hand. He felt a fire burning in his chest as he realized that it was not Rinoa who had lied but himself. He knew what became of Quistis. Knew it so well that he could not sleep at night. But he didn't go after them, Rinoa or Squall. The truth will come into the open sooner or later. It always did.
* * * *
"You want to see him now?" Dr. Kadowaki asked as Squall walked in.
"Yes," Squall said without hesitation.
"I'm afraid he is resting. . ." Dr Kadowaki began but Cid interrupted him.
"Let him in," the headmaster ordered.
Squall walked into the back room of the Infirmary and saw Cid standing before the bed.
"I need to see Ellone," Squall said. "Where is she?"
Cid frowned. "I had them send her away. She's far safer where she is now."
Squall glared viciously at the headmaster no longer caring about the impression he left on the man.
"She is my sister. I have a right to know where she is."
"As long as you harbor Rinoa Heartilly in your company I will not tell you where Ellone is." Cid said with a calm expression on his face.
"That's ridiculous. Ellone has nothing to do with Rinoa."
"Squall," Cid said. "Do you honestly know nothing about Ellone's power? She has the power to send people to the past. Should the sorceress lay her hands on Ellone, she will have infinite and awesome power, enough perhaps to destroy the world."
Cid's words shocked Squall into silence. His dreams of his father's death, of Rinoa walking out of the mist in Winhill . . Ellone was the one sending them to him. The words she had said to him on the balcony after the dance came back to him.
Because I did nothing that's why the things between us can never be right.
Squall raised his hand to his forehead. So this is how she choose to correct their past. She was the mysterious origin of these spontaneous dreams. Ellone. In a matter of seconds his entire world had fallen apart. Squall took a seat at the edge of the bed and tried to collect his thoughts.
"Headmaster, will you please tell me what you know of Quistis?" Squall asked in a weary but desperate tone.
The headmaster reached over and placed his hand on Squall's shoulder. "She loved you Squall. She loved you so much she gave up everything for you. That's why I choose you for this mission. I need for you to save her because I couldn't a decade ago. Rinoa Heartilly cares nothing for your welfare Squall. She has spun a web of illusions across your eyes."
"Leave her and I will make you the leader of Garden" Cid continued. "Consider it Squall."
* * * *
"Irvine?" Selphie asked as she skipped into the cafeteria. "Why are you so gloomy?"
Irvine peeked out from the brim of hat as Selphie gingerly took a seat beside him. He shrugged with a forced smile on his face. Yet as his lips curled up he did feel better. The very act of smiling was mollifying.
"I'm okay Selfie," he said. "Whatcha doing?"
"Tell me what's wrong Irvy," she said reached her slender hand across the table. Her tiny figure leaned forward and never before did she look so much like a doll in his eyes.
He tipped his hat lower.
"Rinoa . . Squall . . " He muttered shaking his head slightly. "They are so messed up, both of them."
Selphie giggled as she cupped her mouth with a single hand.
"Is that all?" She leaned forward to speak in secrecy. "I think they go well together. They are both so sad and so serious."
"Just the opposite of you huh Selfie?" Irvine asked flirtatiously.
Selphie looked thoughtful.
"The truth Irvy, is that I'm always happy. Not happy with what happens here on this planet but what's in my mind. Maybe Squall and Rinoa's problems are that they live too much in this world and not enough in the sky."
Irvine smiled as he removed his hat. "No Selfie, don't try to understand Rinoa and Squall, but I don't think they are attached to this planet either. They live in a place neither you nor I can ever understand. But I want hear more about what's in your little head Selfie."
Selphie nodded as she leaned back. "I've never told anyone this before, Irvine, but I feel like I can trust you. Sometimes, Irvy when I sing your song I pretend you are walking beside me and we are talking."
"What are we talking about?" Irvine implored gently.
"About my world, my secret place which makes me so happy. People don't understand me they think I'm strange for being so optimistic when terrible things happen but the truth, Irvy is that sometimes I don't see them. Sometimes when you dream so much in the sky, your eyes get blocked by clouds."
Irvine reached over and patted her on her knee.
"I understand, completely."
"Do ya really?" Selphie asked gently.
"Sometimes I feel like I'm living in a dreamworld too Selphie. The past, I know it existed yet no one here remembers any of it. I walked around day to day seeing people, and I remember them the way . .they used to be, but they don't remember. Sometimes I wonder if I dreamed it all up in my head."
Selphie frowned, her soft lips forming a gesture which was so unnatural to the joyful little brunette.
"I don't understand, Irvine, the past, what you know of the past of the people here?"
Irvine looked away, trying to conceal his sudden pain and isolation.
"Maybe one day, Selphie, when the time is right .. .I'll tell you."
"Okay Irvine," Selphie said as she watched the table with a dreamy look in her green eyes. "Maybe one day I'll tell you my secrets too."
* * * * * *
* * * * *
"Matron," the little boy with the dark hair implored. "Is my mother ever coming back?"
The sky was bleak as Edea turned to him. She knelt down beside him and placed a hand on his tiny shoulder.
"Your mother will always be watching over you Squall, from up there," Edea said pointing to the sky.
The boy looked thoughtful for a moment.
"She's dead isn't she? Just like my father."
The boy's face betrayed a indifference that was far too cynical for his tender age. Edea felt a chill run down her spine as she watched him.
"Yes she's dead but she'll always watch over you, Squall." Edea said making one last desperate attempt to salvage his innocence."
"No, the dead just disappear. There is no one watching over me."
Edea shook her head, absolutely clueless as to how to respond to that. She finally turned and to her relief she saw a little blond girl sitting on the steps of the orphanage, playing triple triad. Edea took Squall's hand and led him over to her. Perhaps all he needed were some friends.
"Squall meet Quistis. Quistis, take care of Squall okay? He's new here." Edea said.
Quistis glanced up and smiled. "Would you like to play Triple Triad with me, Squall? No one else would, I keep winning all the time."
"Take it easy on him," Edea warned as she turned and left.
"Here," Quistis said, handing Squall half of the deck she was shuffling. "Practice with that, I won't take any from you for now. When you get better we'll see then."
Squall shuffled the cards, copying her motions. A few games and a many losses later, Squall began to give up.
"You're too good at this, Quistis." He admitted as he handed the cards back to her.
"I'm sure one day, if you keep practicing you'll beat even me. She refused to take back the cards he handed her. "Keep it Squall, it's a welcoming gift from me."
Squall look embarrassed as he accepted the cards. "I have nothing to give you in return."
Quistis carefully packed her cards away in her box.
"In return say you'll be my little brother."
"I already have a sister," he told her in a serious tone.
"You can have more than one," she said.
Squall nodded. "Alright, as long as Ellone is still my sis. She's all I have left of my family now .. .my mother Raine is dead."
"My parents are dead too," Quistis said absently as she reached into her box once more and drew out her most prized card. "Look at this, Squall. It's a Gilgamesh card, these are very rare."
Squall admired the lovely GF card in awe and knew one day . . . he would beat her.
* * * * *
* * * * *
"Squall, are you sleeping?"
Squall rolled over and saw Rinoa. It was another vision, this time of the orphanage. He sat up and scowled. How did she get into his room?
"Can we talk?" She asked.
"If it's about what I said earlier, I'm sorry. I was mad."
"No, it's only partially about that. Listen, why don't you take me for a tour of the Garden?"
"Can't you go by yourself?" He asked.
"Squall, you are going to send a evil sorceress wandering around your Garden without supervision?"
"Good point, I'll ask Zell to accompany you."
"Oh shut up," Rinoa said with humor in her voice as she reached over and tugged him by the arm. "Come, just this once."
Unwillingly, Squall stood up, picked up his gunblade and followed her out of the dorms. As they stepped into the main hall, Xu approached them suddenly.
"Squall," she said. "We've entered Balamb. The Galbadians have taken over. Cid wants me to ask you to take a couple of SeeDs and investigate."
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