The Creation of Heaven and Earth Chapter 5
Relm took a deep breath, tasting the salty sea air. The large ferry had left Thamasa around three hours ago and was now cutting through the ocean waters at a descent rate, kicking up a white foam on both flanks. Interceptor had become the center of attention for a pair of children, and the old dog loved it. The children scratched him behind the ears, under the chin. He barked happily and licked one child's face who giggled with delight. Relm smiled as she watched this scene play out. It reminded her of the first time she had meet the large animal. He had taken to her instantly. Shadow's claim that Interceptor hated strangers was apparently false. In fact, the canine was a hog for attention. He ran around the deck of the ship, the children chasing him, laughing all the way. It seemed as if the years had lifted off the old dog and he was a puppy once more.
Relm had found a place to sit underneath the canopy of the ferry where two rows of metal benches were set up. She had just finished her book and was digging through her duffel bag, removing the first of Stragos' journals along with a sandwich that she had prepared for lunch. She was left alone for most of the trip so far, with the exception of some old man who had noticed the book she was reading and made some comments about it. One was that he disliked it because, according to him, 'There wasn't enough character development.'
Relm didn't care for character development, she just liked the story.
She returned her book to her bag and then, balancing her grandfather's journal on her lap, unwrapped the sandwich and took a bite. She scrunched her face up as she tasted the meat. "Like cardboard...but probably wasn't as good for you.' she thought dryly.
"Interceptor, come." she spoke, using the command Shadow had summoned the animal with so many times. At the sound of her voice, the dogs ears pricked up and he trotted over to her, his nails clicking against the hardwood deck. One of the children. a little girl, had followed him, trying to keep pace with the large animal.
Relm removed the slice of meat from the sandwich and held it out to the dog. "Here ya' go boy. Just cross your paws you don't get bound up after eating this."
The dog inhaled the slice. It was gone before Relm even realized he had taken it. Relm watched him for several seconds, as if she expected him to go dashing over to the railing and losing his lunch. Relm smirked at that thought.
"Hey lady." the girl had spoken to her. Relm looked down at the toddler, who pointed at Interceptor. "Is that your dog?"
"Yes he is." Relm acknowledged with a nod of her head.
"He's a BIG dog." the child said. Then, satisfied that she had informed Relm of that fact, she turned to resume the game of hide and seek she was playing with her brother. Relm shook her head and smiled. Children could seem to find something wonderful about the most insignificant things.
Meanwhile, Interceptor sat on his haunches in front of her, eyeing her 'lettuce' sandwich. Relm shrugged and handed it to him. "Go ahead, that crap I used for filling killed my appetite completely." Interceptor dug into the food, spreading its contents all over the floor. Relm muttered a comment or two about the dogs 'iron clad stomach' before picking up the first journal.
Relm cracked open the book and began to read. She had a hard time reading Stragos' handwriting but she could make out enough to fill in the blanks.
Wednesday, 3rd Month, Year 990 A.W.M. the date read, nine hundred and ninety years after the War of the Magi.
I no longer fear hell, for I have been locked in the
same house as a woman in labor. Teta, one of the girls in the town, stopped
by to thank me for all the help I gave during her pregnancy. I offered her
something to drink. Ironically, it was water. And right then and there, hers
broke. Her husband, Clyde, and the doctor were nowhere to be found. So here
I am, trapped, for the next few hours as the woman brings her child into
the world. Writing this journal entry is the only way to keep my
Thursday, 3rd Month, Year 990 A.W.M. This entry was much shorter.
The long ordeal is finally over after fifteen long hours. Stubborn little thing, this baby. A girl so small I could have held her in the palm of my hand. Clyde and the doctor had arrived in the night, relieving me of "duty." Their daughter was born in the late morning, at which moment Teta said I passed out. Silly girl, I did no such thing. I simply feel asleep real fast.
Relm threw her head back and laughed the moment she read that. Interceptor looked up from his 'feast' as she did so, curious. It was the first time she had laughed in days. 'God, that feels good.' she said inwardly.
Saturday, 3rd Month, Year 990 A.W.M.
Clyde and Teta have given their daughter a name. Relm. Relm Arrowny...such a pretty name. They asked me to be the Relm's godfather. I was honored and excepted right on the spot.
The next few entries had little or nothing to do with Relm or her parents so she skipped past them. She vowed to read them later, however. The next one that discussed her family had a much sadder tone to it.
Tuesday, 4th Month, Year 990 A.W.M.
Things have taken a turn for the worse, Teta is slipping away from us. Something went wrong during labor. It's reached the point where she can't even walk now. Clyde tells me not to blame myself, but I do. If I had gotten her to the doctor earlier...
The sentence was broken off. He couldn't finish. The next entry was almost a week later.
Monday, 4th Month, Year 990 A.W.M.
Teta has died. Clyde is beside himself with grief. He hasn't gone out of his house all day. I've been taking care of Relm today and I feel so sorry for her, growing up in the world without a mother.
Relm scanned the next few pages, searching for the answer she needed to know most, What had happened that made her father abandon her? It wasn't until the second journal that she found out.
Sunday, 2nd Month, Year 997 A.W.M.
Relm has been asking about Clyde today but I don't have the heart to tell her he's gone. Clyde came over and left Relm with me this morning. Something was definitely wrong. I could get no information from him other than he had to leave, for good. I sent that dog that he and Teta adored so much to go find him. But it hasn't returned either. I wondered what would posses my friend so that he would abandon this child he loved so much.
Then the innkeeper, who is always wary of strangers, told me of a bounty hunter that had arrived the previous night. He said he was a frightful character, a giant of a man, dressed in red and black and wore dragon skulls. The man wasn't very talkative but the innkeeper did manage to catch him mumbling something about Albrook.
Relm's eyes widened as she read the name of the town. "If there is a God," she said in amazement, "then he's fond of coincidences."
Dragonhead had wanted a hangover so bad that he would forget the events of the previous night and he got it. Almost. No amount of alcohol, no number of women could make him forget that night. It was the end of an obsession that was part of a war with Huzo and his father, Sagan, and the war with the guilt he carried. Through the fog that settled in his brain, past the pounding headache, Huzo's words could still be heard. Each word cut into him like a dagger.
Your friends...your friends you backstab.
The remark had offended and angered the bounty hunter, but he was right. Clyde and Baram were the only people who had ever called him friend, and he had handed them over to Sagan to save his own sorry hide. He was a traitor, pure and simple.
He had handed Huzo's body over to the authorities in Tzen. The sheriff had been replaced by a Camelot lieutenant, a lizard of a man who had cheated the bounty hunter out of two thousand gold coins. Not that it mattered to him. He would waste the money on liquor and whores, waste it on attempts to bury the past for just one moment and bring him some shade of happiness.
His mask had come off and it lay discarded to one side. Ayin was sitting on the floor at the foot of the bed in the room. He had arrived back in Albrook that morning and bought a room for the night. Griff had given him what he asked for, the strongest drink he had.
Dragonhead looked over at the sword that lay by his side. It was Huzo's. Dragonhead had taken the sword from his capture's room upon return from Tzen. Seeing it made him think about something else Huzo had said to him and how he had answered.
You probably could have gotten me at anytime Ayin, but you waited until I got here, back where all of it began, to do it.
Coincidence Huzo, this isn't a personal vendetta.
Dragonhead wanted to punch himself for saying that. Of course it was a personal vendetta. For the past five years he wouldn't accept an assignment unless they were one of Sagan's associates or the old man himself.
'Sagan is dead.' Dragonhead reminded himself, remembering how he had stolen into the old man's mansion and killed him in his sleep. The fear drenched look that washed over Sagan's face gave Ayin no satisfaction. He had been praying for years to see that look frozen is Sagan's eyes. Yet when death finally claimed his old enemy, Ayin felt hollow. No sensation of vengeance satisfied, no relief from his burden, nothing.
'Get over it.' he told himself. 'It's finished! Huzo is dead, just like his
old man! He was the last.'
Dragonhead thought about what he said and gnawing on those words a moment before protest. 'It isn't over yet, not yet.' He reached over and lifted the sword from its place on the floor and unsheathed the weapon. 'There's still one more that has to die.'
The bounty hunter took the weapon in both hands and turned the point of the blade toward his stomach. All it would take was just one thrust of this sword into his belly and it would finally be over, finished where it had begun.
But Dragonhead's arms refused to move. His muscles wouldn't budge and it was as if his arms had become rods of steel. He ordered himself to finish it. Finish this monster. But his arms would not respond to his mental command, they would not finish him. Deep down, somewhere within him, something was fighting for survival.
Anger and disgust twisted his features into a mask of bitterness. He threw the sword across the room with enough force to embed itself into the wall . Dragonhead looked at blade, anger boiling with him. Anger that erupted a moment later as he roared at the top of his lungs. "Damn Sagan! Damn Huzo! DAMN ME! DAMN EVERYTHING!" He leapt up from his position on the floor and peered into a mirror that was hanging on the wall. The face of the haunted man returned his gaze.
Ayin Strifeild was almost forty, but to look at his face you would think he was decades older. Time had not been good to this haunted soul. Deep creases and lines covered his face. A scar ran down the side with the eye patch. Both made him look more sinister. His brown hair was wild and unkempt and he hadn't shaved in weeks. He shot his reflection a look that was hard enough to shatter bone.
"Who are you?" It was a legitimate question. He didn't know anymore.
Suddenly, he staggered back as two other faces looked back at him from the mirror. One was a blonde man with an eye patch like his. The other was a grayish brown haired man who wore blue armor and a brown cloak. Baram and Clyde. Their mouths opened to speak with Dragonhead just staring.
"LEAVE ME ALONE!" he screamed as he struck the mirror with one of his large fists, creating a spider web of cracks in the glass. He stood there for a moment as he stared at the mirror. His heart was still pounding as the rage drained from his veins. Ayin beheld his reflection in the mirror, shattered and in chaos.
A different kind of pounding came as Griff hammered on the door of his room. Dragonhead turned toward the door as Griff entered the room. The innkeeper examined the room and the damaged mirror with an angry expression.
"All right, that does it!" Griff yelled at him, shaking his meaty fist at the bounty hunter. "I let you get by with what you did last night because you said you would pay for it, but this is the straw that broke the chocobo's back, pal! You're outta here!" the balding man pointed toward the stairs.
Without a word said, Ayin stood up, gathered his belongings and left the room. Once he was sure Dragonhead was gone, Griff let out a breath he hadn't realized he had been holding. He removed his large handkerchief and mopped his forehead with it. He was relieved that this confrontation hadn't become any larger. He doubted that he could have handled himself against that giant. He doubted anything short of a Behemoth could.
The same fear that gripped his heart when he peered into the eyes of the demon knight had a hold on him now. He stared at the limp body of the woman of the woman who lay on the ground in front of him. He had killed this woman, killed her in a delirium induced frenzy.
'I don't even know her name.' he realized. It was this trivial matter that bothered him the most. It was one thing to kill those you knew but to kill one you never met before and not even realizing it was far worse. Remorse like no man had ever known racked his soul. Soon her friends would come looking for her and find her lifeless form here and there would be no chance to explain. Not that having an excuse for such an act was any better. He was just as guilty of this crime as if he had planned on it.
He reached over to her, as if to ask her forgiveness. He touched the side of her face, her skin so soft to the touch. "I'm so sorry." he told her. 'Lot of good that would do.' he told himself.
Then, as if by some miracle, the second he took his hand away from her face, her eyes fluttered open.
The stranger was the first thing she saw.
"You son-of-a..." were the first words out of her mouth.
Before the blonde haired man could say anything the woman swung and hit him square in the jaw. She hit him hard enough to knock him back against the brick fireplace. The man's head hit the brick frame with enough force that it sounded like a gunshot. Pain exploded in his skull as he grabbed his injured head. When he did, he discovered the bandage that was wrapped around his forehead.
Terra never looked so mad in her life as she shouted at the blonde stranger. "WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOUR DOING? I nearly froze to death dragging you out of that storm last night and that's how you thank me, trying to ring my neck! I should've just..." Terra's tirade faltered when both individuals realized that the man didn't have a stitch of clothing on.
As the stranger snatched up a blanket to cover himself with, Terra turned away, her face burning red with embarrassment.
"I'm sorry." she stammered. "it's just that I've never really..." She was even more embarrassed to say it. "seen a grown man naked before."
"You're kidding?" his voice came from behind her. "At your age?"
Terra still hid her face from him. "Let's just say I've had an," she searched for the right word. "'unusual' life." 'Understatement of the century.' she thought to herself.
"Is that so." he said to her. Terra felt a smile cross her lips. It was almost funny having this encounter go from the man attacking her to this little chit chat they were having. "It's okay now." she heard him say. "You can turn around."
Terra cast a glance over her shoulder before turning around, just to make sure he was telling the truth. He had stood up to his full height of six feet and the blanket he had acquired had been made into an improvised toga. "This is all well and good, but I kind of prefer something with pants."
Terra looked him over. "There's probably someone in the village who has something you can fit into."
The man nodded, then offered his left hand in greeting. "We haven't been probably introduced. I'm Kalas, Kalas Comax." The corner of Kalas' mouth curled up into a half smile that Terra found somewhat charming. A few scarce moments passed before his hand dropped back to his side. "It's alright. I understand." he said quietly.
Terra felt her face begin to turn red with embarrassment as she saw his hand fall away. "My name's Terra Branford." she finally said after a second or so, holding out her hand to him.
Kalas took her hand in his and shook it firmly. "Nice to meet you, Terra." He gave her that half smile again. "As you can see, I don't bite."
Terra smiled, still not believing how this whole situation had turned around. Was she crazy or was he flirting with her? She shook that question from her mind and replaced it with a question that was more important. "Just one thing." She decided to go ahead and be blunt about it. "Who are you?"
The man released her hand, that smile replaced with a troubled look. "Ma'am, I've been asking that question everyday for the past eight years."
Final Fantasy 6 Fanfic