The Story Chapter 2
Kain stared at the path he tread leading to the summit of Mt. Ordeals. 'What is this wall? What is this creator of silence?' the voice had asked. Kain adjusted the pack on his shoulders. A wall. He hadn't noticed any change within his mind other than a truer calm. A silence, as it were, from those external sounds and voices that tried so often to direct his attention. The guilt and rage brought by the memories of his past treachery had finally drifted to the wayside after the weeks and months of meditating and training his mind...
A wall. Kain released a deep breath. I didn't know there was a wall, my lady Oracle. Perhaps this is the next question--? Kain halted when he felt the warmth of her presence within and without.
'And what question would you have me ask, Lord Dragoon? For you have already discovered the purpose of the silence the wall causes.'
"Yes, but I want to understand the purpose for the wall itself."
And her question was gently probing, urging him to search deeper yet again. Kain released a slow breath. "Walls are a form of protection, yes. But they also cause separation. Distance. They are a barrier."
'And so they are,' she intoned gently. 'My question, then, is this: how do you trespass beyond a barrier?'
Kain slightly nodded. "How indeed. Do you tear it down? Or do you search out the gate?" He heard a soft laugh.
'Well said, my lord, and such is the key toward the next step of your journey.'
Her presence didn't dissipate as Kain again moved up the path toward the summit. He looked to his left, but she was not there. He focused ahead.
'What troubles you, my lord dragoon? Do you hesitate to search for this answer?'
Kain blankly stared at the path his feet tread so doggedly. "No. I hesitate to admit the answer I might choose." He felt her soft and gentle grip on his shoulder.
'Then you must not choose the answer. Seek it out, my lord, and allow it to choose you.'
Kain nodded, continuing to feel the warmth of her presence though he did not necessarily feel her hand. "And this option will be the struggle, my lady Oracle. I'm a soldier of position and status. Decisions are my life. To not make the choice..." He again glanced toward the left. Nothing. He looked away. "This is the true test. Will I humble myself and accept the choosing?"
'Have you not humbled yourself to allow my company? Have you not humbled yourself to ask and accept my help?' The warmth on his shoulder moved to a soft stroke against the side of his head. 'This is the next step, my lord, and your soul is ready. If it were not, you would not have voiced your concern.'
The touch moved away, but Kain could still feel the warmth and the presence. It was the longest she had remained at his side. "My lady Oracle?"
'Yes, my lord?'
He glanced to the left-- There shimmered a slight vision of white... and then it vanished. Kain looked ahead. "Are there dangers ahead? Is that why you haven't gone?"
Quiet. 'In life there are always dangers, my lord dragoon. We have but to watch for their coming. But no; such is not the reason I remain. I do so to continue my study of this wall you have built around your weary spirit. So that I may understand its cause and be of help to you on your journey.'
'Your silence intrigues...' "You don't often 'hear' silence like mine," he commented.
'No. I do not. All who journey to this mountain are open souls to me, so that I might encourage their search for their new future.'
Kain felt again that slight touch within.
Sigh. 'This wall has been so long in building, my lord. I fear that it shall take great pain to tear it asunder. The thought of that pain grieves me.' The touch slowly vanished. 'But from this pain will come great happiness and wholeness. This I sense and envision for you, my lord dragoon.'
Kain noticed movement to the left of him and glanced toward it... leather sandaled feet beneath a white robe-- and then it was gone. "Pain is expected in the life of a soldier, my lady Oracle. It's our punishment for wrongs and injustices done on behalf of our lord and king. Don't grieve."
'I grieve because the pain is what made the wall necessary,' she intoned gently. 'When you first came to this mountain the wall was jagged and rough, quickly built. I know that a happening in your not-too-distant past caused this great wall to be built, and it is likely that past will continue to find its way here. Though pasts are to have no power, yours continues to florish.' Sigh. 'It is this silence, my lord. This wall that keeps your feelings and experiences distant that creates a diffi--' A gentle touch. 'But I say too much when your heart is not ready. Forgive me, Lord Dragoon.'
Kain slightly shook his head. "There is nothing to forgive, my lady Oracle. Soldiers are accustomed to harshness. Your words have always been truthful and direct while being, at the same time, gentle." He shook his head again. "There is nothing to forgive."
Soft laughter, and Kain heard the sound of her robe brushing against his armor. When he glanced to his left, her form shimmered longer before vanishing. He focused ahead.
'I am not accustomed to this silence, my lord, therefore I doubt the wisdom of my words and how able and ready you are to hear them. For many years I have been free to gauge the responses and reactions within the souls of those I help. You are the first to not allow such a viewing.'
"I apologize, my lady Oracle." And there was another brush of robe against armor, longer this time. "I don't wish to cause you hardship."
'It is no hardship, my lord. The silence is a treasured occurance, one that I am not familiar with. I only regret I am unable to offer you more help.'
Kain heard the soft crunch of her sandals against the path for several steps before silence came. "You are Oracle, my lady. The help and wisdom you offer are more than what others give us. That is why we journey here."
'Thank you, my lord, for those kind words.' Soft laughter. 'It has been many years since this Oracle has needed words of encouragement. Perhaps this journey will be of great benefit to us both?'
Kain glanced to his left but was unable to see her profile, as it was hidden by the hood of the white robe. He focused ahead when the form didn't shimmer and fade. "I will offer what help I can, my lady Oracle."
Another soft touch, on his arm, more real. 'Yes, I know of your deep desire to protect, my lord dragoon. But here, on this mountain, you must try to allow the protection of your person. For such is my duty while you journey toward your future.'
"Of course, my lady Oracle."
Her touch lowered from his arm, and Kain noticed an oak staff with a pearl orb affixed to the apex point forward.
'The summit. You must go on from here alone.'
Kain halted and kept himself from facing her. She was an Oracle. He was only a dragoon.
'Remember,' she gently touched the side of his head, 'seek not the answer. Listen and hear.'
"I will stay until the answer has chosen me," he told her.
'I will watch over you, searching soul.'
Kain stepped forward to the summit, feeling her presence within and without and taking comfort.
Night descended and still Kain searched for the answer. Silent. Waiting. Listening to the wind and the trees and the creatures who tried to reason why he was on their mountain.
There is a wall. Why is there a wall? Why have I designed this barrier? The calm and control it spawned protected him and his friends, but if that protection distanced him from those people who were important to his life? Was the silence worth the presence of the wall? But if I remove the wall, will I still have control? Or will I again be a danger to my friends?
Kain released a deep breath and opened his eyes. He stared down at his hands as they rested on his knees, and then he brought them out in front of him. He had battled his best friend. He had done evil to the woman he had loved. Kain fisted his hands. Will I still have control if I tear down this wall? Or will I do horrors to the ones I want to protect?
Kain clenched his jaw and stood, turning for the path that led down the mountain.
Sara watched the dragoon stand and knew he hadn't found the answer. His past continued to haunt him, and Sara felt certain it was this past that had been enclosed behind the wall. A past he believed still held the power to hurt those he had vowed to protect.
Sara's expression saddened as he approached. The defeat at not finding this answer would add more to the layer of silence, and she had to find a way through to the help he needed.
The dragoon's steps slowed as he drew closer to her, and he kept his focus on the ground at his feet. When he stood almost directly beside her, he halted but didn't face her. She had noticed the same reaction to the vision of her presence beside him before. Eyes averted. Extreme respect in tone and carriage. Bestowing upon her high honors and humbling himself to none.
And now, as Sara watched his profile and clearly saw the anger and shame at his defeat... The expression tore at her. 'Do not berate yourself, my lord dragoon.'
"I have failed," he said harshly.
Sara placed a hand on his shoulder. 'You have failed at nothing. The answer may only await another month or year of searching and listening; until your soul is ready for the answer it requires. You have but to continue forward in patience.'
"There are too many questions!"
Sara nodded. 'Then let us answer these questions, so that their power fades and your strength grows.'
The dragoon clenched and unclenched his hands, sending her a brief glance before speaking again. "How?"
'Come with me to the summit,' she urged gently.
Sara stepped forward, hearing his step follow on the path behind her. She lifted her staff as they approached, and a large white circle filled with symbols and old writing appeared on the level ground of the summit. Sara stepped within it, standing in the direct center before facing the dragoon. He stood on the outside, eyes still focused on the ground.
Sara softly smiled and produced a hand. 'Come forward, Lord Dragoon.'
He briefly looked up, meeting her silver-blue gaze before focusing again on the circle and stepping forward. Sara took hold of his hand and drew him into the center of the magic circle, again lifting her staff and calling the protective barrier that now surrounded them. Sara lowered the staff and directed the dragoon to stand fully in front of her, still holding his hand.
'The questions you ask will be answered here, within this circle. However, you must remember that the answers are able to be changed. As in anything in life, our course is constantly evolving. Therefore our questions and answers, our futures and possibilities change with them.'
Sara gave his hand a slight squeeze, and he lifted his gaze to hold hers.
The orb of her staff brightly glowed. 'Ask your first question, my lord.'
He clenched his jaw.
Sara watched as the expression of shame grew to irritation and anger that he had to confess questions. Then a deeper shame because of the anger. And then guilt because he had felt anger toward her. But through the expressions there was no rumble or burning. No icy rage or spark of emotion from the man's soul. There was silence. There was nothing to lead her to the question that would lead him to the answer.
Sara felt a tear escape as she said 'Lord dragoon, I cannot help if you do not voice the question. The silence of the wall keeps my gifts useless and your help distant. Please.' She searched his gaze as yet another tear fell. 'Please, my lord. Ask the question so that I may be of help.'
The dragoon went to one knee and lowered his head. "Forgive me, my lady. I can't. The wall was built to protect my friends from the weaknesses that caused me to do evil. I can't allow you to see them. Nor can I allow them to have power. The wall must stay."
Sara lifted his head with a gentle touch under his jaw. 'Why must you alone battle the weaknesses that lie beyond that wall? Who decreed this punishment? The king? An Oracle? Did a great sage determine that this battle should be yours alone?'
The dragoon removed her hand from his jaw to again lower his gaze. "No."
'Then why have you done so?' He didn't answer. Sara knelt, lowering her oak staff to the ground to take both his hands in hers. His gaze refused to meet hers. 'My lord dragoon, battles are more easily won when waged in the presence of friends.'
Sara nodded. 'And you are now aware of a weakness that must be strengthened.' The dragoon's gaze finally met hers. 'So do not refuse the help that is offered to you. Accept it and stand.'
"And what if the consequence of standing against the wall were your death?" He shook his head and pulled his hands free. "No."
Sara released a deep breath as she continued to watch his face, her hands delicately clasped in her lap. He only stared at the ground. Silent within and without. The silence hurt her. Goaded her. Teased her...
Sara sighed again as she took up her staff and laid it carefully across her lap. 'Very well,' she said softly.
Sara closed her eyes, and when she opened them she was again before the wall. She rested a hand upon the wall's smooth and cold surface, and the orb upon her staff began to brightly glow; so bright the entire barrier went white. Sara's form began to pass through--
A hand caught her by the arm and pulled her back. It was the dragoon, and his eyes showed a type of fear she didn't recognize. 'No. You mustn't enter there, my lady Oracle.'
'This past will not be allowed to barr your way to your new future, searching soul,' she insisted with gentle passion. 'If I alone must quest to find the key to its destruction, then I am ready to do so for you. I am Oracle. This is my gift.'
The dragoon shook his head and pulled her farther away. 'No. I will ask a question, but you mustn't enter.'
'And will this question you ask help you design the removal of the wall? Or will it serve only to distance me from entry?' Sara saw the answer in his lowering of gaze. She gently gripped his arm. 'My lord, the builders of this wall reside in your past. You must usher this past away. If you do not, I greatly fear that your friends will lose you to the silence as I have.'
He took her hand from his arm and released a deep breath. Then he turned and faced the wall, examining it as Sara examined his profile and the expressions therein. 'And how do I remove a wall that may release a monster?'
'Tell me the story of your past.'
The dragoon faced her. 'No.'
'My lord, you must relinquish its hold on you, or you will never be freed to that destiny which awaits you. In the telling of the story of your past, the wall's power is stolen and you are given new life.'
His expression showed intensity. 'I cannot confess these horrors to you, my lady!'
'What horrors have been done that I have not already seen?' she asked passionately. 'I have witnessed death and life. I have witnessed treachery and honor. I have witnessed murder and the giving of new life.'
Sara released her hold on her staff to cup his face in her hands. The pair immediately vanished from the sight of the wall to the reality of the white circle.
She willed the urgency and concern she felt to be shared by his spirit. 'To be free from the wall you must confess the weaknesses you hide behind it, my lord Kain, Dragoon of Baron.'
Final Fantasy 4 Fanfic