The Story Chapter 6
The Oracle 'stood' beside Kain on the deck of the trading vessel as it approached the dock behind Baron. 'And so you have arrived.'
She turned her focus on him as he continued to examine the busyness of the dock; the soldiers guarding the entrance to the city; the soldiers keeping watchful eyes on the arriving and departing ships. A surge of welcome rose within Kain as he viewed the city and the bustle and the soldiers... and the castle rising up behind.
"Yes," he whispered beneath his breath. He tightened his hold on the railing and immediately felt her essence cover one of his hands with her warmth. 'It is good to be home,' he told her.
'I am glad for you, Kain,' she intoned softly. 'As I am glad to be here to share this with you, if only in spirit.'
The week on the trading vessel bound for Baron had gone by too fast. They had talked of all things: futures and opinions and plans for a future together. The Oracle had originally been hesitant to do so, but Kain had pressed onward; gathering her opinions and desires for those things that he knew she had dreamed of as a child. Now those images and memories of her past came faster and easier, and her presence and warmth had become a constant form of comfort and care.
But Kain had not yet discovered her name.
Sigh. 'I wish I could stay fully with you,' she intoned gently.
Kain slightly nodded. 'As do I, but Seth still has questions and things to learn. I will be fine alone.' His lips twitched. 'Though I never feel alone, my lady. Your presence is always a warmth within.'
She enfolded his hand in the warmth of her essence and gave it a gentle squeeze. 'As is yours, my lord dragoon. A warmth of strength.' Then she caressed the hair above his ear and touched his cheek. 'I will be wishing for you,' she whispered.
The ship touched into the dock as the Oracle's presence and brightness dimmed. 'Be well, my lady,' he called after her.
The Oracle caressed his spirit, and he returned the touch before gathering his gear and proceeding down the plank to the dock. Sailors and soldiers and merchants and commoners jostled about the dock disembarking and loading and greeting. Kain thirstily drank in the bustle and noise. It felt as if each individual welcomed him home. A home he had separated himself from for months, nearly a year, in search of a calm and peace that had only come once he had accepted what his past could teach him.
'Thank you for your patience and care, my lady. For without you, I would still be searching.' He felt her touch within and slightly smiled.
Kain drew his awareness from within, noticing she still lingered, and focused on a man of middle age with auburn hair and athletic build. The man's face bore scars of battle but held a smile and bright eyes of charcoal.
Kain returned the smile and eagerly clasped the man's forearm and shoulder in greeting. "Ebb! It has been too long since we fought together!"
Ebb, one of the Dragoons of Baron, laughed heartily as he returned Kain's firm grip. "Too true! And here you are, finally returned from your quest to Mt. Ordeals. How does your self fare, sir?"
Kain released the man's forearm and began walking beside him through Baron city toward the castle. "Very well. And victorious."
Ebb enthusiastically nodded, charcoal eyes tinkling. "Good, good," he chortled. "I've heard the Oracle of Mt. Ordeals is a true miracle-worker. It seems it's no lie and no embellishment." Ebb pointed at Kain as a serious expression tightened his features. "She was bonded once to one of His Majesty's Red Wings. Duncan, I think his name was. Poor lad died before they could be married." He clucked his tongue while shaking his head. "Poor lass. I've heard she's been up there for nigh on two decades, since she was but a wee thing no bigger than a bucket."
Kain nodded. "Yes. Her gifts--"
"And what a gift they are!" Ebb interrupted. "Can speak straight into a man's soul." He again clucked his tongue and shook his head. "Miracle worker, that's what I say."
Kain's lips twitched. "I agree, heartily." And he could feel the Oracle's slight laughter at the colorful personality of his friend.
"Are you on your way to the castle?"
Kain nodded. "I need to make arrangements to meet with His and Her Majesty."
"Arrangements? Don't you know? Any soldier of the Guard or Dragoons that sees you is supposed to escort you immediately to the royal chambers."
Kain blinked in surprise as he stared at his friend. "How long has the order been in effect?"
Ebb laughed his hearty chuckle. "Since the day you left, sir."
Kain's spirit resounded with the roar and rumble of comradarie and friendship at the thought and the action. Cecil... All these months... He had never stopped being a loyal and trustworthy friend.
Ebb clapped Kain firmly on the back. "Every day His and Her Majesty ask after you, wanting to know if anyone has heard a message or a snippet of a 'How does he fare?'. No one's been able to give them that, and I'm a little surprised that you didn't leave word, sir, no disrespect intended."
Kain waved it away. "Of course. I should have realized..."
Ebb motioned ahead. "I can't leave my post, I'm in charge of security here on the dock, but you better quick-march on to the castle, sir. They're meeting with diplomats from some country to hell and gone, but I know they'll make special--"
"Thank you, Ebb," Kain said absently, turning away.
Kain strode forward, navigating his way through the crowd to the castle that stood beyond the city gates. The Oracle's presence heightened somewhat beside him. 'My lady...' But the emotion of the constant acceptance and concern that his friend had held toward Kain took away all words.
'I know, my lord. I heard and felt the Truth.' Her touch was soft within. 'I am happy for you, Kain. Happy that this friendship you treasured has grown stronger in your absence. This is proof that the vision of your future is indeed a possibility.'
Captain of the Guard. A royal wedding. Sons holding places of honor within the Dragoons, thereby furthering the honor begun by his father. Kain's chest tightened, and the level of the emotion nearly choked him.
The diplomats were escorted from the room.
King Cecil released a deep breath and leaned back in his throne, his fingers absently tapping a rhythm on the arms of the massive chair as he focused his gaze outside. Queen Rosa noticed his distraction and reached over to cover his nearest hand with hers. Cecil focused on her face and forced a small smile as he covered her hand and gave it a slight squeeze.
"He will come, my love," she soothed. "Please don't give up hope."
Cecil nodded, releasing another deep breath as his handsome face tightened with concern. "It's been so long, Rosa. I wish..."
Her expression softened. "I know. I wish it as well."
Suddenly there sounded a commotion outside the throne room and a castle guard hurried into the room.
Cecil stood and stepped forward as Rosa rose up to follow behind him. "What is it?"
"Lord Kain!" the guard excitedly reported. "He's returned!"
"Kain!" Cecil smiled wide and pushed forward to hurry into the halls and beyond, Rosa stepping quickly after him.
The guards of the castle entry didn't question Kain's approach. They simply opened the doors and spoke greetings and welcomes that encouraged Kain's feeling of belonging and urged his feet forward to a faster pace. Knights in the hall. Dragoons. Guards. Diplomats. All recognized and greeted Kain with well-wishings, congratulations on a safe return, and more.
Kain heard and recognized the voice of his childhood friend and looked up. His comrad of arms. The new King of Baron, Cecil, strode toward him with a welcoming expression. Rosa, his Queen, hurried along behind with smiles and tears and laughter of welcome.
Cecil strode up to Kain and firmly embraced him, laughing heartily as he spoke "Kain, my brother, welcome home!" in a voice that reverberated through the halls of the castle.
Kain returned the firm welcome, accepting also Rosa's softer embrace and the tear-filled whisper of "Kain..."
Kain's spirit overflowed with joy and welcome, spilling over onto his cheeks even as he felt the Oracle's tears burn within.
Kain's lips twitched upward as he took a long draught of wine from the golden mug in his hand. Cecil and Rosa sat across from him in their personal chamber, the fire in the hearth crackling merrily in applause to the tale told of Kain's rescue from the wall of self-torture and the vision of his future as well as the confession of his current quest.
Cecil's expression broke forth in a bright smile. "You went in search of peace and found more. Congratulations, Kain."
"Will you be returning to the lady Oracle immediately?" Rosa asked softly.
Kain set his goblet aside, welcoming the Oracle's presence beside him with a caress and an inward smile toward her. She had sent Seth along on a specific quest as a test. "I don't know," Kain said slowly. "She trains her apprentice, and I don't want to disturb that. I had planned to remain here for a time, to offer my services once again to the protection of the realm."
"Don't be ridiculous!" Cecil protested. "There will be time for that once you've discovered her name and returned with her to make her your wife."
Rosa softly giggled. "Cecil, my love, Kain knows best, I'm certain."
Cecil's expression relaxed into a smile. He chuckled. "Of course. I apologize. I suppose the adventure and romance of the tale worked its magic on me."
Kain absently stroked the essence of her hand as it gently rested within his. "Yes. The lady Oracle has that affect."
The Oracle smiled and increased the pressure of her hand in his. 'Kain, might I speak with them?'
'Of course.' Kain cleared his throat and motioned to Rosa and Cecil. "She would like to speak with you, if you don't mind."
Cecil and Rosa exchanged a surprised glance. Then Cecil leaned forward, intrigued. "She's here?"
"In a sense." Kain motioned beside him. "She stands here."
"Amazing," Cecil whispered.
To Kain's surprise, the Oracle's presence and essence shimmered and then took on a more physical form in front of them.
Cecil stood and bowed, and Rosa curtsied low. "My lady Oracle. It's an honor to finally meet you," Cecil said.
'Yes,' the Oracle said as she accepted their honors with a nod and a graceful curtsy. 'A great honor indeed.' She straightened, her hand still holding Kain's. 'I have watched you long, My King. Yours is a great future. One that gives hope to the hopeless and strength to those who have not the courage to move forward.'
Cecil's ears flushed as he bowed again. "Thank you, my lady Oracle." Rosa reached over and clasped his hand. Cecil sent her a smile and tightened his clasp. Then he focused again on the Oracle as he and Rosa sat. "I'm surprised I didn't meet you also on Mt. Ordeals when I was there seeking my Paladinship. To be truthful, I hadn't heard of your presence on Mt. Ordeals until just recently; being King has its advantages," he added, smiling.
The Oracle's smile and voice were gentle. 'You had no need of my guidance, My King, for your father waited at the summit. Yours was a destined battle which had long burned within you. Therefore...' Her smile slightly widened. 'I was not needed, and such a lack of need gives me joy.'
Cecil chuckled. Then he motioned to Kain. "Well thank you for your great care with him. Name anything and I will see that it's done."
The Oracle smiled. 'I am Oracle, My King. It is my gift to help those who search for a different future.' She focused on Rosa. 'It is good to see you again, Rosa.'
Rosa returned the Oracle's smile. "It is. I've thought of you often, my lady Oracle." She giggled and motioned to Kain. "I wish I knew your name, so that I could tell him."
The Oracle softly laughed. 'Yes. I know. Perhaps that is why the White Order instructs us to keep our names to ourselves?'
Rosa's eyes twinkled.
The Oracle motioned to Cecil. 'May I tell him of the future I have seen for you?'
Rosa's cheeks tinged pink, but she slightly nodded. "Of course."
Cecil raised an eyebrow as his focus moved from the Oracle to Rosa. "Future?"
Kain's lips twitched. 'Be kind and gentle, my lady.'
She caressed his spirit as she spoke. 'Blessings on you in abundance, Just King of Baron.' Cecil's ears flushed again as he looked to the Oracle. 'The years of prosperity and growth stretch out like the seas; filled with happiness and joy for your people and those you touch with your generosity and protection. So also, will your house be filled. With honor. With justice. With friendship and with family. The sons of Baron will be honorable and strong, wise with the wisdom of their father and mother the King and Queen. Your daughters will be beautiful and loved. Truth will fall from their lips and grace their table, directing their paths and the paths of their family. Such is the future I see for you. Such is the vision that will be.'
Cecil sat in his chair in amazed silence.
Rosa softly smiled as she examined his profile. Then she directed his dazed attention to her with a simple tightening of her grip on his hand. "And I'm carrying your first child."
Kain laughed outright. "Congratulations!" he offered.
Cecil mutely nodded, still dazed with the futures and children dancing in his head.
Rosa giggled and then focused again on the Oracle. "Thank you."
'Thank you for offering your wishes regarding this man of honor. The constancy of your friendship... I could not have felled the wall without it.'
Cecil pulled himself from the amazement and wonder at that and smiled. "Kain is like a brother, my lady Oracle. I couldn't do less. I would have gone to Mt. Ordeals to help... but I knew he had to fight this battle alone; just as I fought my own inner demons."
Kain shook his head. "I didn't fight the battle alone, Cecil. As the Oracle says, your wishes were constantly there offering strength and a press to move forward."
Cecil's smile widened. "I'm glad it did, Kain, just as I'm glad the Oracle was able to give you the guidance you needed." And understanding twinkled in Cecil's eyes as he caressed Rosa's hand with his thumb. "You weren't alone from day one."
The Oracle caressed Kain's inner self as she spoke to the King. 'I must go, My King. A searching soul needs my care, and my apprentice will soon discover the answer to his quest.'
Cecil and Rosa both stood. "Thank you for this visit, my lady Oracle. You're welcome back any time."
'Thank you, My King. Should my future indeed be paired with this man of honor, it would be my gift to act as Oracle to the King.'
"Of course!" Cecil looked to Rosa, who quickly nodded her agreement. Cecil faced the Oracle again. "And I will send Kain back to you as soon as I can persuade him out the door of the castle."
The Oracle softly laughed and then turned to Kain. 'Do as you feel compelled, my lord dragoon.' She touched his cheek with her lips and whispered 'The name will come when it is time to be spoken.' Then she straightened, curtsied gracefully to Cecil and Rosa, and disappeared.
Her presence and brightness dimmed, but as usual Kain could still feel her within.
Cecil released a quick breath. "So that is the Oracle of Mt. Ordeals."
Rosa smiled and stepped close to Kain, resting a hand on his shoulder. "Kain, I'm so happy for you."
Kain caressed the presence and absently nodded with a very slight smile.
"Well." Cecil clapped his hands once and rubbed them together. "Let's celebrate the future and the child and the arrivals with a feast." He pointed to Kain. "Then we'll help you arrange transport back to Mt. Ordeals via the Serpent Road to Mysidia and a fast chocobo thereafter."
Kain stood and bowed low. "Yes, your Majesty."
Cecil laughed and then urged Kain and Rosa forward to the halls and the banquet hall beyond.
Kain heard soft footsteps and turned. Rosa approached his position on one of the higher parapets of Baron castle. Kain had retreated there after dinner in an effort to gather his thoughts and discuss a 'plan' with the Oracle for a questing of her name.
Unfortunately, she was in the midst of an important part of Seth's training and couldn't be with Kain in anything more than a slight tickle of warmth and wistfulness. This particular portion of the apprentice's training would keep her at a distance for nearly a week.
"So this is where you've come to hide." Rosa smiled and came to stand beside Kain. She softly chuckled. "I have never seen Cecil so excited and determined to push his decisions on others. I'm sorry for that, Kain. I suppose it's the fact that you've found happiness after such a long period of pain. He wishes to hurry it along."
Kain slightly smiled as he turned back to a viewing of the city below and outside the castle walls. "It's all right, Rosa. His push for me to return to Mt. Ordeals makes me even more determined to do what is necessary to hurry that return and arrival."
Rosa regarded Kain's profile before leaning also against the stone walls of the parapet. "Are you close to finding the name?" she asked carefully.
Kain gave a slight nod. "I feel it lingering; just outside." He released a quick breath and shook his head. "I don't know where else to go in order to find a path to it. I have spoken with the Oracle of those images and memories I see. I have spoken with her about the future she envisioned for me and what she would want for it..." Kain focused on Rosa's understanding expression. "What else do I need to do, Rosa?"
"What do you normally do on a quest to find something?"
Kain blinked and then smacked his forehead with the palm of his hand. "You go to those places where the answers would most likely be found," he said, disgusted. "I've been an idiot!"
Rosa laughed as she rested a hand on his arm to draw it away. "No, you haven't, Kain. You've been distracted by the welcome that was to be had here." Rosa gave his arm a squeeze. "I would recommend that you leave tonight, before Cecil can again bombard you with the demand to return to Mt. Ordeals."
Kain smiled and slightly gripped her hand. "Thank you, Rosa. If you distract him, I will gather my gear and leave for the White Order. That seems to be the place most prevelant within her memories."
Rosa nodded, eyes twinkling with adventure. "Travel well and safe, Kain." She kissed him on the cheek. "And if you feel the name begin to whisper, hurry to Mt. Ordeals. I know she will be deeply touched if you speak it to her before you even realize you've found it."
Kain drew back and briefly nodded. "I will. Thank you again."
Rosa gently pushed and directed him away. "Hurry, Kain. A name waits for your arrival."
Kain smiled and turned to stride away, eagerness and adventure tightening his throat as the Oracle's presence brightly burned within.
Final Fantasy 4 Fanfic