The Creation of Heaven and Earth Chapter 2
An Unholy Alliance
Travelers who have seen the capitol of Camelot, would have thought they were looking at the heavenly palace of the Creator. A large two tiered structure made of stone, marble, and gold with jewels faceted in some rocks. The towers at the four corners of the ramparts seemed to touch the sky. The courtyard is just as impressive, extravagant garden sculptures of beast of legend. Lining the pathway to the entrance are marble statues of heroes past and ribbon streamers made of the finest silk.
Do not let such splendor fool you for the heart of this building is black as midnight. Deep within the hallways, which are as extravagantly furnished as the outside, nestled in his quarters is Emperor Zimeon St. Cloud.
Were you to pass him by on the streets of a city, you would forget him as soon as he left your field of vision. He is appearance is forgettable, a stark contrast to the structure he calls home. His hair was a light gray with a sprinkling of brown that one could only see at close range. The beginnings of a beard framed his face. His almond shaped eyes were a piercing steel gray, his only distinguishing feature. Though the air about him and his mannerisms gave you the impression he was much older, Zimeon was only twenty-nine years old. His clothing consisted nothing more than a blue uniform. He rarely every wore anything extravagant. Sometimes he added a white cape and a gold necklace but that was all.
Zimeon was also a brilliant tactician, one of the reasons he had risen so fast in the ranks of the Empire. Even at this time of night, his mind was working hard, trying to put the finishing touches on his plans to topple Figaro. If all things went accordingly at the Sandstone Prison, he would soon have the means to topple it in one swift stroke.
He intensely studied the maps and charts of the world, scrutinizing every detail. Nothing escaped his eyes. He spotted every mountain, every hill, anything that could be used to his advantage in the main assault.
A knock came from the direction of the large oak doors.
Zimeon's eyes never left the map. "Enter." He commanded. His tone was as cold as ice.
The large door creaked open, and a man dressed in the uniform of an Elite Imperial Guard stepped in. His scalp was shaved bald. He had a sour expression permanently chiseled into his face. He stopped and stood at attention.
"My liege, your 'guests' have arrived." the bald man informed.
"Thank you, Palleon. Tell them I will speak with them momentarily." Zimeon answered. The Emperor had still not turned to face Palleon.
"As you wish, sire." Palleon said. With that he turned on one heel and left.
Zimeon remained at his desk for a second, staring at a particular point on the map. Then with lightning quick reflexes, he seized a dagger from the sheath in his boot and plunged it into the map. The blade lodged itself in the table with a dull thunk. He sneered at the spot on the map before leaving. "Your days are numbered." Zimeon turned around and strode out of his chambers, leaving the dagger embedded in the table. On the map, drawn in an old script, two words could be made out where Zimeon stabbed it.
Zimeon walked down the hallway in a military style walk, something that had become instinctual. The leather heels of his boots produced a soft tap every step he made. The life of a soldier was in Zimeon's blood. He was always a soldier first, an emperor second. Perhaps the fact that he was willing to be the first to go into the battle, to risk his life, that had made it easy for him to reunite the Imperial Army.
He had arrived in a private dining room. It was one he had used many times before if he needed to persuade someone or seduce his guests of the female gender. In the center of the room was a large redwood table. It was around eighteen feet long and six feet wide, the legs of the tables where carved in the images of angels. One wall of the room was lined with a series of suits of armor and shields bearing the insignia of Camelot. The insignia was a clenched fist surrounded by a ball of flame.
The other wall was ornamented by two large stain glass windows, depicting different scenes from history before the War of the Magi. In one, a knight in black armor removed a sword of light from a wall of crystal. In another, a paladin and a dark mage fought side by side against a grotesque monster.
Zimeon sat down at the head of the table, propped his elbows on the tabletop and locked gazes with the three who were at the other end of the table. Only one was sitting down while the other two stood by his side and watched over him like hawks. They stood so still one would mistake them for statues if they didn't know better. The figure seated was the sickly form of Anak, who was still dressed in the shabby cloak and robes he had worn in prison. Palleon wrinkled his nose at the odor that accompanied this skeletal creature.
Anak, surprisingly, was the first one to speak. "Who are you? Why am I here?"
Zimeon's thin smile curled across his face. "Quick and to the point. I like that."
Anak just looked at him. Zimeon had to avert his gaze away from Anak's. Though Anak had the appearance of a sick old man, there was something about his eyes. It seemed to be a blackness behind them. It seemed to give him the ability to look past one's face and peer directly into your soul. A very disturbing ability indeed. Zimeon shook that feeling away and spoke to Anak. "To answer your first question, I am Zimeon St. Cloud, Lord and Emperor of the New Empire of Camelot."
Anak wasn't phased by his statement and his expression remained emotionless. "Your name and title mean nothing to me boy." A muscle in Zimeon's face twitched. Anak found something that annoyed the young man. 'Good.' the gaunt man thought.
Other than that twitch, Zimeon never allowed his annoyance at being called 'boy' show. "Of course not, why should it?" Zimeon gave Anak the slight nod of his head. "You owe allegiance to no one but yourself." Zimeon pointed at him. "You made quite a name for yourself during the Year of Ruin." Zimeon paused for a second. "A cult leader, with hundreds of followers that would gladly walk through the fires of hell for you." Zimeon's smile dropped as he looked Anak over. "Considering what I heard about you, I expect something a bit more grand."
Anak's face remained emotionless. "Do not be fooled by appearances, there are creatures in this world that look harmless, but can kill you instantly."
Zimeon nodded in acknowledgment. "True. But, I'm being rude. To answer your second question." The white haired man stood up. "I wish to take on the world." Zimeon's face took on a look of pride as he recalled his greatest accomplishment. "Ten years ago, I had become a general in the Imperial army of Gestahl, the youngest ever to do so. Soon, words of my, shall we say, innovative strategies reached the ears of the Emperor himself, and I became second only to General Leo in the military hierarchy."
He began to walk around his end of the table and head toward Anak. "Time went on and the Emperor made public his plans to revive magic. Everything had gone according to his plan. Soon, the Empire would be masters of the most powerful force known to man."
Zimeon paused at one of the windows and studied the picture. "It would have been a golden age for the Empire. Instead, we who were still faithful to Gestahl were forced to run and hide like insects when that ingrate Kefka betrayed and murdered the Emperor." Zimeon did not see it, but at the mention of Kefka's name Anak's eyes flashed with anger. Then it was gone, and his face became stone once again. "I went into hiding. From the shadows I watched in horror and disgust as that clown destroyed everything we had built. But I could do nothing to stop him. He had become too powerful." Zimeon turned away from the window and looked back at Anak. "I had only one mission from that point on. I was to find a power that could match Kefka's, surpass it. Magic was pointless, he was in control of it." Zimeon smiled again. "It was then fate intervened. Kefka had dispatched squads of beasts to hunt us down and slaughter us. I escaped one such squad by hiding in an old monastery. Inside I found an ancient text, written in a language lost to the river of time."
"I could make no sense of it but something told me that this was the key I had been looking for."Zimeon walked toward them. "Word of my search found its way to your followers, the Children of Illumina. They contacted me and arranged a meeting with you second in command." Zimeon pointed at Pilesar. "He translated it for me and confirmed my suspicions. A passage told of the power of the Gods. The very same power they used to breathe life into a ball of dust and create this planet we call home. It also read that this power was sealed away on Earth after the War of the Magi."
"The power of Creation." Anak replied, recognizing the story that he had told t hundreds of times to his followers.
Zimeon shook his fist at the old man for emphasis. "Yes, compared to what the text described, magic was nothing. This was the power I looked for."
"Kefka is dead." Anak pointed out. "I would say that you're a little late."
"True, Kefka is dead, but there are still obstacles." The New Emperor grinned. "Conquering cities where there is only a handful of people to fight against you is one thing. Conquering a kingdom that spans numerous continents and possesses the strongest army in the world is quite another."
Zimeon leaned toward Anak until their faces were only inches apart. "With this power, I will destroy Figaro." He said with venom. "and then bring MY Empire into the golden age that Kefka thwarted."
"And what role do I play in this glorious resurrection of the Empire?" Anak expressed an emotion now. Boredom.
"Simple, the reason I aided in your escape, why I had searched for you all these years, using every connection I had." Zimeon spewed. "You know where this power has been sealed away. You, Anak, will get it for me."
Anak's lips curled into a crocodile grin. "And in return?"
"Whatever you desire?" Zimeon said, satisfied at Anak's willingness to help him. 'Every man could be bought.' Zimeon mused. That was one of the truths he had subscribed to ever since he joined the Imperial Army. It had helped his rise through the ranks and eliminate any of his rivals.
The sick man reached out with one of his hands and took Zimeon's, shaking it heartily. "It is done then, the birth of an unholy alliance."
"It's not possible! I must be hallucinating..." Terra thought.
"Help me, please!" the voice called to Terra again, begging her, proving that it was no hallucination. The icy rain struck her again. The needling sensation of numbness had set in, causing each movement she made to be stiff and painful. She had to find whomever the voice belonged to fast. Otherwise, she knew they both would freeze to death.
"Somebody!" The voice had become frantic now.
A bolt of lightning streaked across the sky, turning the blackness into a world of iridescent blue. It lasted only an instant, the twinkling of an eye. Terra wished it had lasted longer because with her lantern out she could barely see an inch in front of her face.
Terra would have to use her ears to find this person but that was made impossible by the constant howl of the wind. Her body also felt as if it would give out any second. It was as if existence itself was challenging her to find this person. Good enough for Terra, she liked a challenge. She would give everything she had to find this person. Then when that gave out, she would resort to plain, old stubbornness.
But none of these could prepare Terra for what came next.
Please! It was the voice, no doubt about it, but she didn't hear it with her ears. This time it had been spoken directly into her mind. Terra felt a sense of dread build up in her. Only one thing could give a person the power to perform telepathy. But it was impossible. It couldn't still exist, not after the Goddess Statues were destroyed.
Terra didn't want to even think it. The word was like acid in her mouth.
Someone, please! Terra was wary, but she couldn't let her fears prevent her from saving this person.
'Keep calling to me.' she thought. 'Tell me where to find you.'
I'm on the beach. The voice called again. That startled Terra until she remembered that a telepathic link opened a two way path with the speaker and the listener. She had learned how to create such links herself, during her forced stay with the Empire. Whoever this was, they could speak to her and she could answer back. 'But the beach?' She couldn't even tell what direction she was facing anymore much less where the beach was.
I'll show you the way. The voice came again. Terra jumped. Having her mind become an open book was very disorienting. Then a sensation came over her as if this person was guiding her. The Espers had such a power but not this exact. She knew where to step and what to avoid. It was as if she was given a sixth sense. Soon she felt the soft sands of the Mobliz shore.
It was there the presence left her. She was deaf, dumb, and blind once more. Terra stopped in her tracks and felt that sense of dread returning. But now it was because, she thought in panic, that the person who called to her had died. 'No!' she cried out. "NO!" she repeated, out loud this time. "Not after all this."
Don't worry. I am very much alive.
When she "heard" it, Terra was both angry and elated at the same time. Elated that they were alive. Angry because of the flippant tone the 'voice' had taken.
'But where are you?' she asked.
I'm right in front of you! It said.
'What?' Terra took one step forward.
Her foot hit something fleshy and she pitched forward onto the sand. Her lantern that she still clutched, flew from her hand, hitting a nearby rock and shattering into a million pieces. She felt around, trying to find something stable enough for her to lift herself up with. In the process she cut open her palm on one of the glass shards, but her body was to numb to notice.
She pushed herself up, gagging and spitting out mud. She craned her neck to see what she had tripped over. She had to squint to see, but she could make out the shape of a man. He was lying prone in the sand, unmoving, the waves lapping at his legs. Around him Terra could make out the remains of a wrecked boat.
Terra scrambled over to him and turned the man over. She shook him and called out to the man. "Are you all right?" He uttered no reply. Terra tried to get a response through the telepathic link. No answer there. Terra pressed her fingers against his neck, feeling for a pulse. One was there, but it was weak.
Despite the pain that was now racking her body from the cold, Terra threw the man's arm across her shoulders and lifted him up. Unconscious, the man was little more than dead weight and without the presence to guide her, she had to rely on her determination and whatever luck she had left to get back to the cave.
The crackle of the hearth's fire was the only sound that could be heard in the cave. The glow of the fire bathed the rock walls of the cave in a swirl of cherry, yellow, and orange. The fire had provide enough light, so the candles and lamps remained unlit. The children had huddled around it, many of them already asleep, comforted by its warmth. Duane had gotten all of the children into the cave, the town's storm shelter. Counting him, his wife, and the children a total of thirty people were in out of the storm.
That left Terra.
Duane paced back and forth, muttering under his breath. "She should be here by now." Worry had etched in his face. He felt a deep love toward her, like she was part of his family. He couldn't stand still, but tried the best he could by leaning against a nearby wall. His wife Katarin sat against the wall he was leaning on. Their daughter Nia, a small child for her age of seven, lay fast asleep in her lap. Katarin had calmed her fears by singing a lullaby, a song about a mother deer finding her lost fawn. It was a beautiful song. Katarin made it even more beautiful with her angelic voice. Duane loved to hear her sing. 'Katarin could make a living out of singing, if she could overcome her shyness.' Duane thought.
A pounding at the door yanked Duane from his trance. He ran toward the door taking such large strides that he was at it in three steps, taking the appropriate measures to avoid the children who awoke and scrambled toward the door, letting out excited shouts of "It's Mama!"
As soon he was in arm's reach of the door, he tore it open to be greeted by Terra. Duane would have laughed at her comical appearance. She was dripping wet and her green hair matted flat against her scalp. Her clothing was caked in mud. Would have laughed, were it not for the man she was holding up. From what he could gather, he was about a head taller than Duane, making him around six feet tall. He had a compact build. His hair was blonde and done up in a braided ponytail. His face was covered in blood that originated from a gash in his forehead. His clothing, a plain outfit consisting of pants and a shirt was torn and covered in mud. Both were completely pale and their lips had turned blue and both were shivering violently.
Nia had awakened and sat up, rubbing her eyes. Katarin helped her daughter aside then hurried over to Terra. Duane had taken the man from Terra and was ushered him over to the fire, ordering the children out of the way. Terra's body and her luck had finally given out. Her knees buckled and she crumbled to the floor. Katarin rushed to her side helping her friend up. "Terra?" she called to her friend. Terra opened her eyes, revealing that they had become glazed over. Katarin realized that Terra had exerted herself too much, bringing the man her, she was probably even in worse condition than him.
Duane had told two of the children to gather as many blankets they could
find. He laid the man down on a straw mat and began to pull the man's shirt
off. If he remained in those wet clothes, the man would die. So If he wanted
to keep him alive, Duane had to throw modesty out of the window.
Duane pulled the shirt off and gasped. The man's torso and arms were covered in vicious scars. It looked like he had been mauled by some sort of animal.
The two other boy's had arrived with bundles of blankets. He directed one boy over to Katarin and Terra. The other handed him the thick covers. Duane finished removing the man's clothes and draped them across the shivering figure.
After securing the blankets around the man, Duane turned his attention to Terra. She was still shivering, but Katarin helped her out of her soaked garments and wrapped her in other blankets. Children had gathered in close, curious. Katarin turned them away, telling them Mama was sick and needs to be left alone.
"Don't worry, Terra, you'll be all right. You'll both be all right." Those were the last words Terra remembered echoing in her skull before sleep claimed her.
Final Fantasy 6 Fanfic