The Creation of Heaven and Earth Chapter 1
Voice in the Wind
That same night, miles away in sands of Figaro's Great Desert, a howling wind kicked up a large cloud of dust and carried it across the arid dunes. The strong breeze shook the little plant life that was found in the desert. Dead bushes were uprooted from the granular surface and rolled along with the dust cloud. A minor belch of dust storm and a few tumbleweeds. So far, those had been the most exciting things that prison guards saw all night.
The Sandstone Prison was without a doubt an engineering marvel. The massive three level structure had been carved out the side of a mesa. It had running water, electricity, and was built solid enough to take any amount of damage conceivable. It could keep a large army out, and keep the approximately three hundred inmates inside.
The guards were no slouches either. Many of them were former soldiers, some former members of the Empire's armies. All of them were highly trained and disciplined. Such guards were needed. This was a maximum security prison that housed criminals who had committed horrifying acts. Here there was no chance of parole for they would remain here until dead.
Yet despite all of these things, life at the prison was, well, boring. For the guards, their shifts consisted mainly of patrolling the dingy hallways of the complex, checking on the prisoners. Others watched the security cameras. Tap water was more exciting. "Nothing ever happens here." many of the guards complained.
Famous last words.
Two guards walked side by side down the hallway of cell block C. There was always two guards in each patrol. The taller of two, a muscular man with a shock of blonde hair, carried a tray of food. They had a special delivery to make.
The shorter of the two, a grizzled old soldier named Saed, come to a stop at one cell. "Cell number eight-nine-nine-one." He said, reading the numbers on the large steel door. "Lovely, the guy in here gives me the creeps." He turned to his companion "Why the hell are we delivering him food at this time of night?" The hands on his wrist watch told him that it was well past ten.
The other guard, Biggs, shrugged. "Warden's orders, this guy refuses to eat anything."
Saed looked at Biggs, "So what if he starves himself to death? It's not like he's going to be released."
Biggs shrugged again. "Yeah. Well, the warden is getting reviewed by the end of this week. A prisoner starving himself won't earn him a gold star."
Saed gave a little snort. "Just wants to keep his job, figures."
Biggs nodded then turned to the door. He slid back the cover of the doors barred window and tapped his nightstick against it. "Anak." The windowless cell was pitch black, and reeked with a foul odor. Biggs unclipped a small lantern from his belt and aimed it into the room. The powerful beam exposed the visage of what had to be a dead man.
He was impossibly thin, nothing but skin and bones. From what Biggs could gather, the man couldn't weigh more that a hundred and twenty pounds. His face had been pulled tight against his skull, causing his check bones to stick out. His eyes bulged in their sockets and his lips were pulled back, exposing his dirty teeth, and twisted into a death's head grin. His skin was tinged a sickly yellow. Splotches of purplish blue were all over it. His black hair was a dirty, tangled mess, that looked like a rat's nest. Each breath he took was heavy and labored, sounding like the hiss of a serpent. He was sitting on the floor, cross-legged, and dressed in tattered robes. His eyes were closed, but somehow, Biggs thought, he was, somehow, still watching him. 'Saed was right.' Biggs thought, 'This guy does give you the creeps.'
"Anak." Biggs called the prisoner's name again, louder this time. Anak's eyes opened. They were black, but clouded over by a milky whiteness. Biggs grimaced as their eyes meet but quickly regained his composure. "We've brought you some food. The warden wants you to eats it." Biggs said to him.
Anak let out a throaty chuckle. "Give your warden my thanks." his voice sounded like the scrape of a blade against concrete. "But." he continued. "I believe I will be dining on much finer foods tonight."
Both Biggs and Saed looked at Anak quizzically. Then Biggs felt something fall onto his shoulder. He reached up and wiped it away with his hand and examined it.
Puzzled, Biggs looked up and saw small streams of dust fall to the floor and tiny pebbles of rock coming loose from the ceiling and dropping to the ground.
Saed grabbed Biggs' shoulder. "Holy...Do you feel that?"
In the next five seconds, Biggs, as well as everyone in the entire prison felt it. A load rumbling noise exploded, seeming to come from all directions. It was as if a giant hand had seized the prison and began to shake it. Lights blinked on and off, alarm klaxons sounded in the hall, and prison doors began to come loose from their hinges. All hell was breaking loose. Biggs ears were filled with the sounds of breaking rock and tearing metal. The floor Biggs and Saed were standing warped and cracked. One crack widened until it swallowed Saed whole. The old man had time for one incoherent yell as he plunged into the pit underneath. Biggs was thrown face down onto the floor only inches from where Saed once stood.
Then as quickly as the 'earthquake' began, it stopped.
Sparks shot out from more than one damaged light, chunks of rock littered the devastated hallway. Most of the overhead lights had gone out and much of the area was draped in darkness. Prisoners, dazed from the ordeal, didn't ever realize that many of the cell doors were wide open
"Saed? If you're still alive answer me!" He called out as he slowly pushed himself up from the ground hoping against hope that his friend was still alive.
Saed's voice floated up to Biggs. The younger guard was relieve when he heard Saed's voice. "I'm alive." his voice was weak, however." "But my leg...Oh God." he groaned "Shit, I think it's broken."
"Don't worry, man." He answered. "I'll have a medic team down here before you know it."
"Biggs!" Fear was present in Saed's cry now, his voice shaking. "There's something down here with me."
A monstrous, gutteral roar erupted from the hole, loud enough to rattle the lights overhead. Biggs jumped back, startled. "God! Biggs! Help!" Saed's frantic cries echoed in the darkness of the hole. "Please!" Biggs snatched the autocrossbow from his belt and prepared to climb into the hole. But what he heard next, made him stop in his tracks, his blood turning to ice.
The wet snapping sounds and piercing shouts of pain as whatever monster was down there ripped Saed apart. Final plea, nothing more than a wet gurgling, crawled from hole before silence fell once again. Bile burned in the back of Biggs throat and he fought hard to keep from vomiting. Worst of all, was the tempest of emotions he felt as he realized he could do nothing to save Saed. Then with grim determination, Biggs readied his weapon. If he could not save his friend, then he would kill whatever ended the old guard's life.
"Give me something to shoot at, you son of a ..." he said through clenched teeth. The hole seemed to grow as he stared at it, getting ready to swallow the whole world. Biggs shoved any fears he had away, and applied pressure to the crossbow's trigger. He was going to kill it the instant he saw it.
Suddenly, a black blur shot out of the massive hole and knocked Biggs onto his back, forcing all the air out of his lungs in a single breath. The crossbow fired but the arrows were launched uselessly into the stone ceiling and bounced off.
The prisoners who had tried to get a better look, drew back into the recesses of their cells at the sight of the creature that emerged. It was well over eight feet tall, and a mountain of muscle. Its skin was a dark brown color and looked as if it was made from stone. The creature's face was expressionless, and its eyes were completely white, no pupils. Its head was bald save a single scalp knot. The only clothing it wore was a loincloth, with a strange symbol embroidered on it. It was a serpent swallowing its own tail and forming a ring.
Biggs didn't need to think. He raised his weapon and drew a bead on the monster's head. The prison became deathly silent in that moment. If it was threatened by this, the goliath's facial expression didn't betray any such emotion. He brought his gigantic foot down on Biggs' arm, pinning it to the ground. The muscular man felt a thousand bolts of pain shoot up his shoulder and yelled in pain. It was most definitely crushed. Biggs closed his eyes and prayed. He prayed to every god he knew of. He new what was coming next. He just wanted to leave with a few regrets as possible. Finally, he spoke to this mindless beast. "If you going to kill me, do it."
Anak's voice sounded in the hall. "What are you waiting for, Tilgath?"
Tilgath, the titan, raised both hands above his head and brought them down onto Biggs with jackhammer force. The guard's skull was crushed, his head split open, and blood and brains spilled out onto the floor. Biggs life was snuffed out in an instant. No one should die like that. But the titan and the gaunt man didn't care. Sick bastards.
The sounds of footsteps came from on end of the hallway. Guards that had been slowed down by the damage caused by the quake. Tilgath wasted no time. He reached out with his huge hands. He took hold of Anak's cell door, and with little effort, yanked it out of the wall. The sick man walked out his cell and began to climb down the hole. A trio of guards had gotten into firing range and sent a flurry of arrows toward Anak.
With an agility that should have been impossible for one his size, Tilgath leapt over the hole and Anak. The arrows struck the creatures thick, armor like skin, and shattered. The guards would have done just as if well if they tickled him with a flower.
Hefting the cell door like a Frisbee, the titan let out an inhuman roar and whipped the large slab of metal at the guards. The lucky ones, the first trio, dived out of the way. A pair of guards that came in behind them wasn't so lucky. They were crushed from the impact.
Satisfied with the destruction it had created, the titan followed Anak down into the hole.
Several yards underneath the Sandstone Prison, Anak and Tilgath had finally reached their destination. A labyrinth of caverns that went on for miles.
"Master Anak." a voice came from behind them. The two turned and was greeted by a pale man dressed in black robes adorned with the same snake symbol. His face was pockmarked and his features were angular. His hair was white and tied back into a ponytail. His nose was thin and hawk like. His eyes were entirely black. Attached to his belt was a large cutlass with an ornamented handle. In his right hand he carried a torch. The pale man raised his right hand in greeting and spoke one word. "Illumina."
"Illumina." Anak returned the greeting giving. "Greetings, Brother Pilesar."
"I trust that my brother allowed no harm to come to you." Pilesar spoke with his tone being reserved and proper. Anak shook his head. Pilesar smiled and then turned away. "Then come, Master, you chariot awaits." Pilesar held the torch far out in front of him, revealing the 'chariot.' A large vehicle was in front of Pilesar, the torch light reflecting off the metal. It looked like a metallic bug. A saw blade-like digging apparatus was attached to the front and two manipulator arms at its side. On the cockpit an insignia could be made out. It was the black flower that symbolized the Empire of Gestahl.
"What is it?" Anak inquired.
Pilesar pointed at the symbol. "An old magitek vehicle. Tunnel Armor." He stepped toward it and pressed a button on an outside console. The blue hatch opened up, revealing a claustrophobic three seat cockpit.
"It was donated to us by..." Pilesar continued," an ally of your children."
"The same one who revealed my whereabouts to you?"
"Yes." Pilesar answered.
Anak asked. "When do I get to meet this 'ally'?"
Pilesar climbed into the Tunnel Armor's pilot seat. "We will rendezvous with a freighter that will take us to him."
Anak and Tilgath entered the vehicle behind Pilesar. Surprisingly, Tilgath was able to fit in the small space. The cockpit hatch closed. Pilesar gripped the controls of the Tunnel Armor and the machine rumbled to life. His fingers danced across the control panel and the digging mechanism came on line. The pale man steered the vehicle around and attacked one of the nearby pillars that held the ceiling of the caverns up. The rock ceiling rained down upon the machine and the resulting cave-in blocked off their pursuers. The machine then dug into a nearby wall like a predator tearing into a fresh kill. Soon it and its three occupants were gone.
A dark threat has been released.
Cyan Garamonde staggered back after blocking his opponent's blow. The sound of the two swords meeting echoed in the large open room. Never before had the old knight felt such a strong sword strike.
And this was merely a practice session.
Cyan and his foe, a man close to his height, were both decked out in protective padding, and mesh masks covered their faces. Cyan considered, however, that the heavy equipment he wore might not be enough to protect him from the attacks his sparring partner was hitting him with.
His opponent struck again, swinging at Cyan's neck. Cyan pirouetted away and countered with one of his own. Their swords meet again. The man threw all of his strength behind his weapon and pushed Cyan's down to the floor. Cyan countered by whipping his foot behind his foe and tripping him.
The other man had the instincts of a cat, for the minute he hit the ground he did a backwards roll and was on his feet again. The man raised his weapon and put everything he had into this one strike.
Cyan saw it coming, threw himself sideways, whipped around and struck his opponent between the shoulder blades with the hilt of the sword. Combined with the direction the other man had put his weight, the blow sent him sprawling. His hand shot out and he was able to steady himself against the stone wall. Cyan lowered his sword and walked toward his opponent. "Truly sir, I believe that thou need to rest."
The other man said nothing, and instead he whipped the saber at him again.
"What are you...?" Cyan yelled as he ducked. The blade whistled mere inches over his head scoring a large black mark in the stone as it struck the wall.
Both Cyan and his opponent stared at it, slack jawed. After several tense seconds, his opponent turned toward him and stammered. "Cyan, forgive me. I...didn't." he couldn't finish the sentence before the sword slipped from his hands, clattering against the ground and the man collapsed against the wall. He removed his mask which revealed a man in his thirties with his blonde hair matted by sweat. Edgar looked back at his old friend. "Forgive me." he repeated. "I had no right to be that mad at you. Especially over something so insignificant."
Cyan had overcome the shock and reached out a hand to his king. "You have been under much stress lately. You merely needed to vent your frustrations."
Edgar shook his head. "Still, that is no excuse, Cyan. I nearly killed you."
"Nearly, is the correct word, sire. As you can see I am unscathed. Thou did no harm to my body, just gave me a few gray hairs." A smile lit up the old knight's face. Every hair on his head and mustache had become completely silver over the past seven years.
"Jokes Cyan? Your taking this little incident too well." Edgar took his old friend's hand and stood to his feet. The king walked over to a basin of water which had been set on a stone bench nearby. He splashed some of the cool liquid onto his face. He then removed a cotton towel from the stack next to it and began to dry his troubled brow. Edgar sat down on the bench and studied at the floor. "Sometimes, friend, I wonder if my father would be proud of me."
"Sire, how could you ever doubt that? In the years since Kefka's defeat, thou hast given everything to build a kingdom of peace and prosperity."
Edgar still didn't look at his friend. "On the day of my coronation, I swore to the people of this world, not just the people of Figaro, that I would protect them." Edgar rubbed his eyes. "I told them that as long as there was breath in my body, I would never allow the likes of Gestahl or Kefka ever seize power." His voice took on a tone of shame. "And then what do I do? I stand idly by while one of the Empire's generals reclaims the southern continent."
Cyan placed a reassuring hand on Edgar's shoulder. "You were caught by surprise. The swiftness with which he attacked was unbelievable."
"And innocent lives were lost." A hard knot had formed in Edgar's stomach. Hundreds had been reported dead as the villages of Tzen, Maranda, and Albrook fell into the hands of the New Empire of Camelot. Perhaps the biggest shock was who was now in control of the Imperial forces, Zimeon St. Cloud. He was one of the Empire's generals who had served Gestahl with an unmatched fanaticism. In the year following Gestahl's betrayal at the hands of Kefka, many believed that Zimeon had died when Kefka sent execution squads out to eliminate any remaining Imperials they could find. However, two years ago, Zimeon had resurfaced, alive and well, with the remnants of the Empire under his command. Another irresponsible fool had been given power, and people were dying because of it.
Edgar muttered under his breath. "First Gestahl and Kefka, now Zimeon. The more things change, the more they stay the same." He thought to himself. 'If people knew what it was truly like to be king, they wouldn't be so damned eager to become one.' He was right, with such prestige came responsibility that could break the spirit of any man. Zimeon's actions were only making it harder.
"Any word on Sabin's whereabouts?" He asked, even though he knew what the answer would be.
"No sire," Cyan closed his eyes and shook his head. "Sir Sabin is still missing." Cyan swallowed hard as he saw what little glimmer of hope in Edgar's face fade. He didn't want to say it. "Sire, we have to look at the possibility that your brother might very well be dead."
"No!" Edgar proclaimed. "Keep searching. After Kefka devastated the world, Sabin never quit looking for me. I owe it to him to keep searching until we either find his body or bring him home alive." But Edgar knew Cyan could be right. After Kefka's defeat, Sabin had returned to South Figaro in order to watch over his Blitz instructor, Master Duncan, who had taken ill and continued in his footsteps. Word had reached Edgar that he had disappeared in the nearby mountains five days ago. Zimeon could have killed Sabin, just to get at him.
As if that wasn't enough, reports had reached them of a naval fleet that was gathering near Albrook. Where and when they would strike, however, was up for grabs. Ironically, Zimeon named his empire after one of the first kingdoms of the world, one that had been built upon peace.
The burden of all these events choked Edgar like a noose. He couldn't sleep or eat. To take his mind of this ordeal he would have late night sword fights with Cyan or one of the soldiers. His nerves were becoming frayed. The anger and frustration he felt had erupted like a volcano, and he had attacked Cyan with the viciousness of an animal. That shocked Edgar the most that he had attacked a friend.
He had brought Cyan into the ranks of Figaro's armies after the Empire destroyed the kingdom of Doma by poisoning their water supply. Cyan was the only survivor. Counted among the dead were his wife, Elayne, and his son, Owain. Cyan didn't show it but he still mourned their loss, even after all these years. He visited their graves several times a year, leaving gifts there on their birthdays.
Edgar had also introduced Cyan to Marion, one of the citizens of Figaro. Edgar could definitely tell that something was happening between the two.
"Sire?" Cyan's voice had snapped Edgar out of his daze.
Edgar shakily stood up. "I'm sorry Cyan. I need to rest." The king turned away from Cyan, but lingered. "Good night, Cyan." He said, then left the practice room.
Cyan began to remove his fencing equipment. His jaw muscle tightened as he thought of what might have happened to Sabin. If he was dead, then that would be one thing Camelot would pay for.
A bolt of lightning illuminated the entire world for a brief moment. The violent winds picked up anything that wasn't nailed down and tossed it around like they were nothing. Icy rain slapped the ground hard, almost as if rocks were falling from the sky. The tempest howled like a banshee and the sky was pitch black. This was no night for man or beast to be out.
So what are you doing out here, Miss Branford?
Terra summoned every ounce of strength she had in order to keep standing. Her lantern had been blown out by a gust of wind, plunging her into darkness. With her free hand she clutched her cloak to keep it from being claimed by the storm. A small chip of rock hit her in the face, cutting across her cheek. The rain hammered the young woman, and numbed her to the bone in seconds.
It was only her determination to reach the cave underneath the post office in the middle of town that kept her going in such conditions. She had to make it to the cave. She had to see if the children were all right.
However, her vision was limited by the violence of the storm. She stumbled blindly through the village, wincing as the rain slapped against her. She tried to picture the village's layout in her mind and hoped that her sense of direction was good enough.
"Katarin and Duane's house was on the left..and...the post office was just a few paces after that...so I need to head..." That particular thought was cut in two when something happened. Something that made Terra stop walking and stand out in open during the worst storm in several years.
Final Fantasy 6 Fanfic