The Story Chapter 3

Seeking a Future Name

By Mintbaby

Kain could only see the Oracle's silver-blue eyes as he stared down at her in shock and horror. He pulled her hands from his face and stood to back away from her.

The Oracle slowly rose to her feet, expression and face still hidden by the shadows caused by the hood of her white robe. 'Yes. I know the name of your past. I have seen visions of the actions done by this man of pain and honor controlled by a black heart and soul.' The Oracle's tone tightened with pain as her eyes darkened with it. 'It is the name of your future we seek, Lord Dragoon. As King Cecil sought and found his new future, battling the darkness of his past self.'

Kain turned away but didn't move down the mountain path. He fisted his hands.

'It is the future the Prince of Eblan and the Summoner desire for you. One of happiness and wholeness,' she continued. 'It is the future the Elder of Mysidia has wished for you. A future filled with peace. It is the future the woman you once loved wishes for you daily. One of love and family. It is the future and the name I wish to guide you toward, my lord.'

Kain felt her soft touch on the back of his head, gently stroking.

'I have the freedom to do so only should you allow me beyond the silence to the voices. When you face them, that is when they cease to have power over your waiting future.'

"And what future should I seek?" he asked, his voice low and controlled. "You have seen my past. What future do I deserve but the life of constantly seeking a peace I do not?"

Kain noticed, again, the bright glow of the gem on the apex of her staff-- He heard children's laughter and the melody of a woman's greeting... He paled and turned, his eyes focusing on the images of family within the white circle. A slightly older version of himself walked toward a simple home outside of Baron castle. He wore the armor of Captain of the Guard for the Baron Kingdom with an insignia of the highest honor emblazoned upon the breastplate.

Two boys were there to welcome him, ceasing their sword play to charge toward him. There was also a pale-haired girl carrying a doll in one hand and reaching for his with the other while a woman of ethereal beauty and bright eyes greeted him with a soft touch of lips on cheek and a softer smile.

'This is a future waiting for you,' the Oracle intoned with gentle passion. 'Not enough? What of this?'

The oak staff moved slightly and the images changed. Showing instead an even older version of himself training an older pair of sons in the techniques of battle while a beautiful daughter cheered from the sidelines performing needlework beside her mother. Kain watched the scenes as his stomach settled at his feet.

'Or this? Would this future be enough, my lord?'

The images changed yet again. Showing the cathedral within Baron Kingdom and rows of soldiers and civilians watching as he led his smiling daughter to the King's son waiting with bated breath at the altar beyond. A royal marriage. A future of prosperity, happiness, and honor for his daughter... And his sons standing near the king in the armor of the Dragoons with honors decorating their tunics and hanging from their necks. Futures of honor. Lives of protection and duty--

Kain turned away. "Stop," he commanded harshly.

The laughter and the images faded as her oak staff lowered. He heard her deep sigh before she rested a hand on his shoulder.

'My lord,' and her voice was soft and gentle, 'this is a future waiting. A future you deserve. A future your friends wish for you.' Her hold on his shoulder tightened as she turned him slightly to face her; her face still hidden in the shadows of her robe. 'Will you truly turn your back on these? Will you not fight also for the protection of these souls? Will you not give them their lives?'

Kain slightly shook his head. "How? How can this be possible?"

'You must quest through the horrors of your past and realize their importance.'

He clenched his jaw and looked away. "Importance, my lady Oracle? My past caused pain and death, nearly collapsing the kingdom I had sworn to protect. How do I find importance within treachery?"

'You seek it. You compare who you were to who you now are and seek the beauty within the change.' The Oracle turned his head toward her with a firm but gentle hand to his jaw. Her silver-blue eyes sparkled with intensity. 'You admit the strengths caused by the overcoming of the weakness.'

And the need to have the future rose up within Kain like a torrential wave. A desire burned to hear the laughter and feel the pride of fatherhood... Kain tightened his fisted hands and shut his eyes. Then he pulled her hand from his jaw and lowered himself to one knee, head lowered. "Guide the quest, my lady Oracle, for this future I will have."

The Oracle rested her hand on his head. 'And this future will have you, my lord.'

Sara watched the dragoon as he knelt within the center of the white circle, mentally preparing himself for the first journey into the past. Solemn. Girding himself for the viewing of a past treachery. Steeling himself against the horror of seeing an honorable man dishonored. And yet the wall kept his pain silent, viewed only by the expressions of his face and the actions of his body. Sara couldn't use her gift and lessen the weight of that load of guilt and anguish. Lord Kain of Baron was forced to carry it alone.

Sara lowered her scrutiny to the softly glowing pearl of her staff, feeling the tears that fell and allowing them to do so in plain view of whomever would see them. She mourned his pain. She mourned her inability to help. She mourned the man whose honor had been so horribly twisted. I shall give his silence voice. I shall give his future a name.

And the vision of that future...

Sara lifted her eyes to again watch his face. She had seen the vision of his future before their journey this day to the summit. But she had seen only his honor as Baron's Captain of the Guard and the home that waited outside the castle walls. The warmth that waited within its rooms. She had not seen the family and their possible futures.

Not until today.

The dragoon released a deep breath, and Sara stepped forward. 'Are you ready, my lord?' she asked gently.

He gave a brief nod as he stood to his feet, eyes averted as he kept a slight distance from her. "Lead on, my lady Oracle."

Sara moved to stand close beside him, resting a hand on his back as she lifted her oak staff and focused her attention ahead of them. The pearl glowed brighter, lighting the white circle and the barrier that surrounded them. When the light faded, Sara saw the reenactment of one of the many scenes from his past that she knew caused him humiliation and rage. She felt his body go rigid beneath her hand, and the wall within seemed to moan and groan against the visitation to the memory.

'Release the memory, my lord,' she urged softly. 'Give the silence voice.'

"You know of the attack on the village Mist, village of the Summoners?" he asked through clenched teeth.

'I do.' Sara reached forward to the wall of silence with her staff and touched one block. It vanished.

"Cecil and I were separated there. He was left to his fate." The dragoon's voice lowered. "I was given a different one."

Sara touched another block of the wall. It vanished, and she willed her comfort and compassion through the slowly growing hole to the hurting man beyond it.

The dragoon pointed roughly ahead of him to the images. "That is me, my mind being twisted and tortured into submission. My soul being poisoned with hatred and jealous rage for a man I saw as my own brother." He pointed again before focusing an agonized gaze on Sara as she watched him. "That is the image of my honor being tainted with blackness before my first act of treachery. That is the man who hides behind the wall we destroy, my lady Oracle."

Sara destroyed another block. 'That is the image of a man who no longer exists,' she intoned softly, holding his gaze. 'The blackness was destroyed, by your hand as well as those of your friends.' She motioned to the images with her staff. 'Remember. Dispense the blackness and the image with a memory of that final victory, my lord dragoon.'

The dragoon held her gaze, fisting and unfisting his hands before speaking. "Yes. I remember that victory." The images of darkness within the circle began to shift as another few blocks vanished under her touch. "A sweet victory over hate and the lust for power. A total victory over a darkness that had turned brother against brother and friend against friend."

The images fully shifted to the final moments of the battle against Zeromus. The victory against hate. The rigidity of the dragoon's body lessened, and the groan of the wall ceased. Sara touched another block, this time with a tender touch of her hand, and it vanished.

"Yes," he said in a less harsh tone. "Yes, that was a sweet victory of vengeance."

'And what strengths have you gained from this weakness?' The dragoon released her gaze to scrutinize the continuing victorious battle against Zeromus. 'What blessings have you been given that turn the blackness to light?'

Sara watched his profile as he sought the answer, looking past the weakness and the blackness to something that could be good. Looking for something that could be claimed as honorable. Sara willed more comfort and compassion beyond the wall, her soul still seeking the tortured one beyond it. The silence remained.

Sara touched another block. And another. They vanished, but still the silence was heard. She released a soft breath, adjusting her hand upon his back as she looked again to the images from his past and raised her oak staff. The pearl glowed and beckoned forth another collection of painful memories...

The Oracle's touch remained within and without as Kain revisited each and every moment and memory of his treachery and humiliation. She didn't ridicule. She didn't accuse. She beckoned him to see a blessing in each, no matter how small. And each blessing and strength he had gained from the horrible past removed another part of the heaviness within. Settling the calm and firming the control. Easing the guilt and shame to a peace, her touch gentle and warm; within and without.

'Do you see the calm you now have, my lord?' the Oracle gently urged now. 'Do you see the wisdom you have gained? A wisdom you can offer to those young men who seek glory through power? Do you see the invaluable experience able to be used to save other young and tender souls?'

Awe soothed over the jagged remnants of his tattered calm, and Kain slightly nodded. "Yes," he said slowly. He looked down at her, vaguely noticing a glimmer in her silver-blue eyes. "Yes. I can save others this torture."

She softly smiled through the shadows caused by her robe's hood. 'And so you rob the darkness of a meal, my lord, offering a soul to the light instead. A feat not many are able to do.'

Kain moved his gaze from her shadowed face to the images of light's victory and evil's defeat. Of friendship and love. Of Cecil and Rosa's continued acceptance. Of their forgiveness. They had offered his soul to the light, giving him the opportunity to do the same for others.

The Oracle lowered her hand from his back, and he felt the touch within dissipate as well. Kain focused his attention on her to notice a hand raising to her forehead and her stance not as steady as it was before.

Concern flared as he stepped forward, a hand to her back and elbow. "My lady Oracle?"

'I--' Her hand clutched his arm to steady herself and the white circle and barrier faded as the pearl's glow dimmed.

Kain lifted her into his arms just as he felt her knees buckle. "My lady!"

She released a deep breath and her body relaxed against him, her head against his chest. Her hand loosened its hold on the staff, and it clattered to the ground at his feet. Her breathing deepened and slowed as Kain stared down at her partially shadowed face. He released a slow breath and adjusted her within his arms to gather her oak staff from the ground. Then he straightened and made his way down from the summit of Mt. Ordeals.

She had exhausted herself to guide him on his quest. She had used all her strength and power and wisdom to lead him to the peace and rich experiences he had hidden beyond the wall. She had protected him. She had led him, gently but firmly. She had given voice to questions needing to be answered, most often voicing the difficult questions he had not wanted to ask. She had made her own experience and gifts available to him, and now he would be able to do the same for others. Using his valuable... past as a glorification for the kingdom he had almost toppled.

Kain glanced again to her face, still hidden behind the great folds of her white robe. To pour herself so completely into the rescue... This Oracle was an unsung hero in a much different battle. A lady of great honor and duty. And she followed this duty with passion and intensity, never shirking her gifts and the responsibilities those gifts rested upon her shoulders.

How much longer would he have hidden on this mountain if she hadn't stepped forward to battle for him?

"Thank you for that, my lady Oracle," he said in a low voice.

And how much more had she done for him that he didn't even know?

Kain arrived at his camp site much later, midnight long since gone, ignoring the weariness of his arms as he continued to hold the Oracle close and steady. He entered his tent and carefully placed her oak staff against the gear within the center before gently settling her within the cot to the right of the entrance. She slightly stirred, and the movement caused the hood of her robe to fall back from her face--

Kain sharply straightened as he stared down into the face of the woman the Oracle had envisioned for his future. The face of the woman who would be wife and mother to his children. The face of the woman who would greet him in love and warmth... He adjusted his position to kneel close beside her, examining the almost ethereal perfection and loveliness of that face.

The same as the soul-moving beauty of the woman within his future.

The owner of the warmth and gentleness he had felt within and without for nearly a year.

The speaker of the voice of tenderness and passion that had led him to the peace he had craved for so long.

Kain almost hesitantly gathered her hand within his, and he again felt the warmth within; drawing him toward something he hadn't understood. All these months she had been drawing him toward her very self... But what will this possibility do to her future as an Oracle? Kain had never heard of an Oracle continuing with a family. And the thought of her possible future with him negating her future as an Oracle made him resolve to distance himself from--

'My staff.

Kain felt and heard her confusion and trouble and examined her face with a softening within and without.

'Where have I...?'

He reached out for the staff and pressed it gently within her hand. The trouble faded, but the muted confusion remained. Concern and care rose up within Kain.

'I am well,' she intoned gently within his mind. 'I seek only the answers to my confusion. Be not concerned for me.'

A slight smile tilted Kain's lips as he again felt the draw to this woman. The draw and the pull he had felt even greater with each passing day on the mountain. Now that he saw her face...

He lightly caressed her hairline. "And what question confuses you, my lady Oracle?"

'I am confused by the face I see within the vision,' she confessed, and her brow furrowed. 'For an Oracle to place herself within a future of the one she helps is a serious sign. A sign that her days of Oracle are soon to end, and that she has chosen the continuation of her future.'

Kain absently nodded as he watched the expressions move across her face. "It stands to reason."

'But how can this be? I haven't been sent an apprentice to train, and Mt. Ordeals must have an Oracle to lead those who seek a new future.'

Kain nodded again and forced himself to stand and step away from her. He began sorting through his gear to set up a second cot on the opposite side of the tent. "That is a problem," he admitted. He began to organize different duties to be seen to throughout the coming day. "But I'm sure that if this is a true future, the White Order is likely finalizing an apprentice and will soon send one on to you," he assured her.

Kain felt a resonation of gratitude and warmth within. He smiled and gathered up his spear and the tools required to maintain it.

'Thank you for your strength,' she gently intoned.

Kain turned from the gear within the center and moved to stand over her. "It is yours, my lady Oracle," he vowed softly.

He touched her gently on the arm and then turned to exit the tent as her conversation continued within his mind.

Chapter 4

Final Fantasy 4 Fanfic