The Creation of Heaven and Earth Chapter 4
The Golden Haired Stranger
'My God, It feels like grandpa's still here.' Relm Arrowny thought sadly as she surveyed the room. It did. His spirit, his essence still inhabited this old house. Every inch of it reminded her of her grandfather, Stragos Magus.
Her eyes came across the old clock that hung on the wall. Stragos had given her as a gift on her eighth birthday. It was a fine piece of craftsmanship for the man had built it and carved the intricate designs that framed the clock face himself. Relm had always remembered how she used to shriek with excitement when the little wooden moogle popped out of the doors and announced the hour. The clock was made to look like a moogle cave, much like the one where Mog dwelt. For old times sake, Relm wound the clock hands forward a few minutes. A smile born out of sadness appeared as the little figure shot out of the 'cave' door and excitedly announced the time. It said one "KUPO!" for each hour. It did so twice. Two o' clock. Relm couldn't sleep that night, and wondered if anyone could sleep on a night like this.
She looked over at the other furniture and items that were placed around the room. Stragos always liked to keep things meticulously neat and in order. Often Relm would push something ever so slightly out of place, just to annoy him. If he ever got upset she would lay the 'doe eyes' routine on him, trying to butter the old man up. That quit working on the day she turned thirteen, though.
Relm was no longer the child who aided in Kefka's defeat. In the years since, she had grown into a young woman of eighteen. She was somewhat stocky, but not extremely so. She had kept her hair cut short because she had found that if it were any longer it would never stay combed. Her face still held all the features of that child, including her big brown 'doe eyes'.
She caught a glimpse of the old rocking chair, and remembered how her grandfather would sit in it at night, slowly tottering back and forth, smoking his pipe, staring into the air, as if he was contemplating the mysteries of the universe.
Then she saw the phonograph, were Stragos would play that music that would drive her crazy. She often said he should throw the old thing out and get a record player. That's what everyone else was using. Then Stragos would jokingly give her the 'if everyone jumped off a cliff' speech.
A thump came from behind her. Relm looked behind her and spotted a large, black and brown dog, lying on its side. Its tail flicked against the floor, the source of the thump. His paws kicked out excitedly as he dreamed.
Relm quietly crept over to Interceptor and scratched him behind the ears. "Probably thinking of Shadow, aren't ya boy?" Relm whispered. 'Shadow, now he was a puzzle.' Relm thought. He was cold, emotionless, but there was something about him Relm found so familiar. Interceptor was the ninja's most faithful companion, willing to jump in front of whatever weapon threatened his master. Shadow had disappeared when Kefka's tower collapsed, and Interceptor remained with them ever since then. The fact that Interceptor never went to look for his master lead Relm to believe that he had perished at the Tower.
Relm shook her head sorrowfully. 'First Shadow. Now Grandpa.' Relm tried to fight back the tears that were welling up. 'Everyone I know is dying. Who's going to be next? Locke? Edgar? Terra?'
Her gaze fell on the stove and more memories came back to her. The many times Stragos had made an attempt at cooking, only to have it get burned to a crisp. Relm would joke that the old man could prepare a bowl of cereal and it would still burst into flames.
Then the painting came into her field of vision. She had told Stragos that one day she would like to paint his picture, and on his last birthday she had made good on that promise. Many in Thamasa had said it was the best painting she had ever done. It was as if she had captured the very spirit of Stragos' life. Relm also found it very unsettling at that moment. It was as if her Grandfather was looking back at her.
'It wasn't fair.' She said to herself. 'Grandpa survived the burning of Thamasa, the Year of Ruin, the whole second War of the Magi, damn it!' Stragos had died in his sleep only a week ago. He had taken ill but said it was nothing. Relm knew there was more than that to it, though. She saw that he was eating less and moving more slowly. He was at least eighty, and Relm knew that he could die at any moment. But knowing it and accepting it were two different matters entirely.
Then she came to the bookshelf, packed with countless leather and cloth bound volumes. There were stories of love and hate, good and evil, heroes and villains. Relm ran her hand across them, checking each of the titles, looking for one book in particular.
She found it after a moments search. It was her favorite story, The Legend of Mysidia. She always loved to hear Grandpa read it. He would always do the voices of the characters with the flair of a stage actor. The memory of the first time she heard it came back to her. She was eight then Stragos' hair still had traces of chestnut in it. He sat in a chair by her bed. She was tucked into the covers, only her head sticking out. She was hanging on his every word. She could still hear his voice. The emphasis he put on every sound and his tone of voice. She remembered it all.
One to be born from a dragon. He began in a soothing voice. Hoisting both light and dark arises high up in the sky to the still land. Veiling the moon with the light of eternity, it brings another promise to mother earth with a bounty and mercy.
Hot tears broke free and streamed down her face. They had shared many moments like this in her life. And although Stragos still lived on her memory, she wished he was still alive, just so they could share another. Relm tried to quit crying but tears still flowed forth. "Stubborn..." was all she muttered. She withdrew the book from the shelf, because she would take this one with her. As she did, another book came with it, and fell. Relm's hand shot out and grabbed it just inches above the ground. As she did, the grip on the other book slackened and a piece of paper slipped out. It fluttered to the floor and came to rest underneath the nearby table.
Curious, Relm put the books aside, knelt down and retrieved the folded slip of paper. Relm opened it and found herself looking at a note in Stragos' hand writing.
My dearest Relm,
If you are reading this note, then it means that I have passed away. I am truly sorry my dear, to leave you so suddenly. There were many things that I wished to tell you, about your parents, why your father left, but I never found the time.
Relm thought to herself before continuing. 'Or I didn't give you the time.'
Therefore, I give you one last gift. In my closet you will find my journals, they are our legacy together, recounting all eighteen years of our life together. These will answer many of your questions. Take these with the knowledge that I love you as if you were truly my blood grandaughter.
Relm shut her eyes as she refolded the letter, the last sentence of the letter repeating over and over in her mind. She picked up the other book and returned it to the shelf and then went upstairs to Stragos' room.
Stragos did little more in his room other than sleep, so there was very little furniture inside it. A writing desk, with a lantern and chair and a mammoth bed were all that was in there. Relm always thought the old man was too small for it.
Relm had to make use of the chair to reach the assorted objects that had made themselves quite at home on Stragos' shelf, because of her height. She still had to reach, though. It wasn't difficult to find the journals. After all, Stragos wanted her to find them. There were three of them. They were all bound together with a piece of string. After taking them down, she held them for a minute, considering what she held in her hands. Then she gave her grandfather a silent thank you, for perhaps the best gift he had ever given her.
All of a sudden, Relm felt sleepy, and though she wanted to shove sleep away, to read the journals until the sun came up, and past that, she knew she had a boat to catch tomorrow. She was leaving Thamasa, to get her head on straight and find her lot in life. Stragos's house she would leave with his old friend Gungho. The two had journeyed all over the world, slaying monsters, saving damsels in distress (or so they bragged) and experiencing life, in their younger days. Gungho had continued on for a while but, like Stragos, he had settled down into the village. Relm had found the idea of leaving the house in anyone else's care unthinkable.
She had bought a ticket to leave on the ferry to Albrook tomorrow afternoon. She would take the book, and the journals with her, and start her life anew.
The doorway to the post office creaked open and a small child peered outside. He blinked many times as his eyes became accustomed to the golden light of the sun. And when it did, he threw open the door to the post office, satisfied with what he saw. The morning light of a new day washed over the village of Mobliz. The violence and fury of the storm that had happened the previous night, merely a memory. The only evidence that it even happened were the pools of mud and the debris that littered the ground. The children of the town poured out of the entrance, returning to their lives. They would repair the damage and their lives would go on. No one had died the previous night, that was all that mattered. The children were no longer curious about who the man Mama had brought to the cave was. 'Mama would tell us.' they said. 'Mama knew everything.'
But that was the problem, Terra had no idea who this man was. Questions fired off in her mind. 'Who was he? What was he doing out in the storm? And that voice, was that him? It spoke in the first person, but it couldn't have been possible. Magic had disappeared when Kefka crumbled to dust and the Goddess statues were destroyed. Was it just some blind intuition that had guided her to him?'
Terra shook her head. Too many questions, too few answers. She was still somewhat weak from her ordeal the previous night. But she had strength that would allow her to overcome it. She glanced down at the man, who was still lying underneath the blankets.
She had gotten her first good look at his face. He was young, around her age, but perhaps a year older. 'That would make him twenty-seven.' Terra estimated. His face was cleaned up, and the gash in his forehead was bandaged. Some color had returned to his skin and he had quit shivering. His hair was blonde to the point of being gold and was braided into a long pony tail that seemed to reach all the way down to his waist.
Terra looked down at her left hand. It too had been bandaged. Terra curled her fingers, then uncurled them, and felt a slight soreness as she did so. Terra hoped that the wound had not become infected. 'I kind of like this hand.' she joked.
A rumbling in her stomach reminded her of time. Curiosity begged her to stay by this man's side, but reason prevailed. She had responsibilities as the village elder. 'Besides,' she thought, 'he's not going to go anywhere for a while.' She would check up on him later.
Two weapons meet with a loud clang that reverberated in the confines of the cave. Somewhere within its depths a strange light reflected off all surfaces, giving everything a garish, neon coloration.
The weapons belonged to two warriors locked in violent combat. Fury was behind each of their swings, and when their weapons meet, it was as if the earth shook from the force. One was a horned monstrosity clad in ebony armor who wielded in a claw like scythe. His eyes glowed with a demonic fire that brightened as his rage became stronger.
The other was a warrior clad in silver armor. On his breastplate a red insignia a large dragon, flying vertically, his wings outstretched. It looked like a cross. A sword with a blade of gold, and jeweled hilt was his weapon of choice.
Behind them was the light's source, a gigantic portal that lead to an empty abyss. In the liquid blackness of the abyss, the outline of grotesque shapes could be made out. Demons. The sound of their voices shot forth from the portal and into the cave, so loud that it could rupture an eardrum.
The two reeled from the first strike, but regained their stability and went after each other again. The demon warrior raised his scythe and swung it downward with such for that the weapon became a kinetic blur, hoping to bury it in his opponent's skull. The sword of gold came up and blocked the swing and knocked the weapon away. The demon warrior cut at his side, but his opponent leapt back as the scythe blade struck only the armor, causing a loud screech, like someone had ran their fingers down a blackboard.
The demon twirled the scythe around and swung at the swordsman's head. The other ducked the attack and thrust his sword at the dark one's midsection. But before it could connect the scythe came around and blocked what would have been a fatal blow. And with one quick motion, the dark warrior whipped his weapon arm upward and the golden sword flew from the silver knight's hand, landing on the dusty floor of the cave. The unarmed man dived for his weapon, which seemed to slide further and further out of reach. His attempts were in vain, however, for the dark one strode over to him in a few steps and seized him by the neck.
It's over. the dark warrior growled, his voice sounding like it had come from the very heart of hell.
Even you cannot stop what is to be. This world shall pass away. Accept your fate with it or be destroyed a thousand times over. The black knight then lifted his opponent into the air and then with a flick of the wrist sent him flying across the cave, where he smacked into the rocky wall and bounced off like a maniac pinball. He landed faced down, his whole body aching from the impact. And as quickly as he recovered, he began to push himself into a fighting stance. The demon didn't give him a chance. He raised his weapon above his head, the black armor seeming to give off a strange aura in the light of the portal.
His arms came down like a steel trap and the blade struck home, between the shoulder blades of the swordsman. Armor was pierced and muscle was severed. The silver knight let out a cry, a mixture of pain and anger as the force of the blow drove him to the ground. Then, like a fisherman who had just baited his hook, the demon knight dragged his fallen opponent over to the portal. The demons within the portal could be seen more clearly now, and they looked eagerly at the treat their master was about to give them. One creature, a large bat like monster with a skull for a face, raked its claws at him, eager to feast on the flesh of the silver knight. The demon knight took one last look at the silver knight, who was grasping at the blade of the scythe trying to dislodge it from his back. It was to no avail.
You, who once stood tall against the heavens, will now die, fodder for the children of the void.
The swordsman hissed curses at his opponent as he was hurled into the liquid blackness of the portal, and swallowed by its darkness.
The blonde haired stranger, the man Terra had brought to the cave, was there. He had witnessed the entire fight, from beginning to end. He had hidden himself behind an outcropping of rock. He couldn't move, afraid the demon knight would see him. But it was if the monster sensed his presence any how. The phantasm turned toward his hiding place, those eyes of fire still glowing. To be seen by those eyes were enough to make his joints and muscles freeze. He tried to scream for help, but his vocal chords had stiffened. He was at the mercy of this creature, this harbinger of death, that was slowly walked toward him. And those eyes, one look told him that evil was not a finite entity, that this creature was the incarnation of hatred without limits.
Perhaps it was simply fear manifesting itself, distorting reality, or perhaps it was truly happening, for with every step the demon knight took it seem to grow larger until the blonde haired man was a mere ant in comparison. Towering over him, the demon reached down and lifted him of the ground. The young man struggled in the demon's grip but it did no good. He could only cry out in rage at the creature and its uncaring gaze. The creature raised its hand back and with one gigantic swing hurled the man into the portal.
He had been cast into hell itself. As soon as he crossed into whatever demonic plane the portal lead to, demons, horrifying beyond description, slithered out from the blackness and fell upon him. The struck at him with steely claws that tugged at his clothes and cut his flesh to ribbons. His blood spilt out into a weightless environment and formed into crimson globules that floated in all directions.
One beast lunged directly for his face. A serpent woman with green snakes for hair. Despite how useless he knew it would be, he threw his hands around the monster's throat and squeezed with every ounce of strength he could muster. The snake woman hissed, splattering its acidic venom onto his arms and chest. The monster's tail coiled and uncoiled as it thrashed about, screaming in rage.
"I'll kill you!" He screamed at the medusa creature. "I swear to God I'll kill you!"
"What the..." was all Terra could get out before the man attacked her. Moments before she had returned to the cave to check on the golden haired man, only to find him thrashing around on the floor, mumbling something that she couldn't make out. When she tried to snap him out of it, the man woke up with a scream and started to strangle her.
Terra dug her nails into his wrist, trying to give him incentive to let go. It wasn't working. This guy held on like a bear. She stared into his eyes, and saw blind madness looking back.
"Die, just die." He seethed at her through clenched teeth.
Spots danced in front of Terra's eyes as the flow of oxygen was cut off from her brain. Her body started to go limp as her lung lost the fight to breathe..
Then it all went back.
Much to the man's surprise, he had done it! The demon had ceased its struggle and gave one last, shuddering breath. He let go of it, watching it fall back into the darkness from whence it came. The other demons were shocked at the thought that a mere human had killed one of their own. They turn and fled into the abyss, their shrieks of rage fading with them.
Nothing stopped the man from leaving this hellhole now. It took him a second to become accustomed to the disorientation of this place but he was able to make his way out. He was home free the second his feet touched the ground of the cave. The portal closed behind him, plunging the cave into darkness once again. But he gladly welcomed it, because it meant he was free of that hellish abyss.
He collapsed onto the cave floor, kicking up a cloud of dust as he sat down. His eyelids became heavy, telling him that sleep was setting in. He shook it off because he had to get out of the cave. But sleep was insistent and he felt his eyelids close. 'No' he retaliated. 'I can't.'
He forced his eyes to open, and was shocked by what he saw. He was still inside a cave, but not the one the battle had taken place in. This one was much smaller and was converted into some kind of home. A brick fireplace was built into one of its walls and the embers of a fire still glowed cherry red. Wisps of smoke slithered up the chimney while dim lighting was provided by wax candles.
But when he glanced at what lay before him, his blood turned to ice. It was no demon but a beautiful human girl, emerald green hair, dove white skin, and a slender figure. She was lying on her side, not moving.
He had killed her!
Final Fantasy 6 Fanfic