Legacy of the Hero

By Taran

He had everything. Everything he would need for his quest. Before leaving, he looked out of his window just once. Of course, he saw the rooftops of other homes, but he saw past them. Past them towards the open plain, the open fields that he had once traveled, the open fields that he would travel again.

After taking in this site, this revisiting of his youth, he crossed the room and went down the stairs. There, his wife looked at him, not mockingly, not as if he was crazy, but lovingly, praying for his safety, for she knew he had to do this, she felt it too. Seeing him like this, dressed in his old traveler's clothes, wrapped in the old cloth, sent a flicker of memory into her heart. She felt the need to go with him, but she would just be a nuisance, just like before. Then, as if he could read her thoughts, they embraced, and she could almost hear him saying, "No. No."

That voice, strong and secure, even though hushed from many years of use, it comforted her. It gave her the strength to fight back the knowledge of their death, gave her the strength to say what was needed. "You be careful now." she said, tears held back behind her eyes, but he could see them there too.

He put his hand to her face, relishing the beauty of his love, even after all these years, remembering what they had together. He closed his eyes, lost in the past, and smiled. "I will." he answered. They hugged again, she didn't want to let him go, but she had to, and did. He slowly walked out of the house, into the center of the ever-expanding town. Walking across the cobblestone that composed town square, he made his way from his home, out into the world again.

It was dark, the grass crisp with morning dew, the air filled with a light mist, but dawn was approaching. Rays of light slowly made there way up from the horizon between the two ranges of mountains. Though, when he turned around, he could not see the effects of dawn. It was always night over there, always night at Midgar. But now was not the time to worry, he had a journey to take, and only a short while to do it.

Only a short while... Ginlun turned his gaze skyward, above Midgar, up towards Meteor. Only a day or two now until the Planet was destroyed, only a day. But as it was, he had no time to sit and ponder this, he had to keep moving. Only a day.

It was dark, the grass crisp with morning dew, the air filled with a light mist, but dawn was approaching. Rays of light slowly made there way up from the horizon between the two ranges of mountains. And as he turned around, he saw that light shining on Midgar as well. The light had taken over the dark city, life began to thrive. Real life. Then, out of habit, he looked up towards the sky. Meteor, they had destroyed Meteor all those years ago. That had been his journey, that and so much more.

Making his way across the plain, towards the rising sun, he breathed deep. The fresh air did him good, stirred up the adventure in him. Suddenly, he heard a growl behind him. Turning to see three wolves, he prepared for battle. The first wolf leapt at him, but he defended himself with a walking stick he had been carrying. Then whirling around, he struck the dog with the stick, and surprisingly put it to sleep. After ducking under the second wolves attack, he struck that one too. Then, taking it's pack for dead, the last wolf ran off into the distance.

Ginlun chuckled to himself. He didn't like killing these harmless beasts, which is why he always kept an Added Affect Sleepel materia combination in his walking stick. Continuing his journey, he kept walking, walking and walking, onward towards the now risen sun. It was times like these he wished he still had his chocobo. Where had his chocobo gone anyway? Again he chuckled to himself, thinking of the young lad he had given her to. "May she serve you well lad."

Pulling his hood over his head to protect himself from the heat, the Cloud trudged on and on across the plain until he was tired. There, he sat down in the grass and took out the lunch his wife had made for him the night before. Smiling, not at the food, but at the work Tifa had put into it, he eagerly ate and regained his strength and energy. Then, getting up once more, he walked.

After many hours of walking towards his destination, it was reached, but not before night fell. The lanterns were lit at the ranch, welcoming weary travelers to come and rest, and Ginlun accepted this invitation. He made his way over to the small house next to the barn and knocked on the door. Another old man opened it and looked at him. "Ginlun? Is that you?"

"Yeah, Bill. It's me." Cloud responded.

"Well come in, come in. You must be tired. Come on in and rest." He made the way for Cloud and showed him the way to the spare bed. "Just have a good night and you can catch me up in the morning. And don't worry, it's on the house."

Ginlun thanked him and prepared for bed. Kneeling in front of it, he prayed for his lost friends and that his journey would continue to be a successful one. Then, he slept.

The next morning, Ginlun woke and set out to find Chocobo Bob. It wasn't hard though, as he was sitting just outside the bedroom at a table with his son, Billy, having breakfast. "Ah, good morning Ginlun. Did you have a pleasant rest?"

He nodded. "Yes, thank you. But I'm afraid I have another favor to ask of you."

"Name it, anything."

"Do you have a chocobo that I might borrow?"

"Well of course I do! I am Chocobo Bob after all. In fact, you wouldn't believe what just happened. A young man has recently started raising chocobos and I've been taking care of them in my stables. Then, just yesterday, he comes along riding Zenith! Can you believe that!?"

"Actually, I can. I gave her to him."

"What? Why?"

"He needed her more than I did. besides, he also had something I needed."

"Well, anyway, he's off now, said he wouldn't be back for a while. So I can let you ride her."

"Really? Thanks! I'll never forget your help."

"Don't mention it. Billy, go get Zenith for Ginlun."

The boy responded. "Yes sir." and then ran outside.

Again turning to Cloud, Bill asked a different type of question. "So, what exactly do you need Goldy for?"

"Do you remember Aeris?" Bill shook his head. "I didn't think so. She came with me and the others, on our quest. She... she was killed. Tifa and I thought this would be a good time, for me to go see her."

"I see. Well, Goldy is ready now. I'll see you again someday?"

"Yes." Cloud replied. The two shook hands and then he was off. Riding on the chocobo he had raised gave him a rush of memories from his past quest. Some good, others he would rather not remember. But either way, they were there, they were a part of him, and he could not forget them. Shaking it off, he directed Goldy towards the northern most continent. With her outstanding speed, it wasn't long until they crossed the mountains and oceans between the Chocobo Stables and Bone Village. This was not his destination though. Instead, he crossed the icicle area and headed down, down into the Forgotten City, the City of the Ancients.

This place brought back memories. The crystal waters, the stone pathways, slowly turning to sand, the great thicket of old, dying trees, the shadows they cast, the very air that stirred the soul, the pool where she lay, and the sand next to it where they were to be buried.

Ginlun took his shovel and began to dig. Three small holes were quickly formed, shaded from the trees above yet lit from the sun shining through the branches and reflecting off the nearby pool. The place was cool, a breeze blowing through it. He sighed, and continued. Next, he took out three viles, each containing the ashes of one of his friends. Placing them in the hole, he began the proper burial. Finally, when they were covered with sand of the Ancients, resting where they rest, he placed a rose on their graves.

Cloud observed a beautiful rose by the pool. Somehow, it seemed familiar, he couldn't place it, but it did. Stepping around it, not wishing to disturb the beauty on which Aeris could gaze, he stepped down into the pool. Here, a tear formed in his eyes. One of few he had shed. Kneeling down in the waters, he began to talk to his friend. "Aeris... I... I'm sorry about what happened. We... we all miss you here. I want you to know though, we understand... we understand you had to do it. And... and... I'm sorry..."

Taking the Earth Harp, Ginlun knelt and began to play. A beautiful melody filled the clearing. The music was not that of any earthly sound, but it was. It was the sound of the Planet and it was beautiful.

There, where he knelt, green lines of energy began to form, like giant vines growing from the ground. Lifestream. It was Lifestream. It reached out, down into the pool, into their graves, into his heart. Then, there, only a few feet away, were two other men, just like him. Old, but having the past of young heroes, having been on an adventure, just like him.

"Who are you?"

"I... I was a hero, from the past. But..."

And to the other, "And you?"

"I... I was a hero, in your future?."

"What are you doing here?"

"Morning, for the death of my friend. Yourself?"

"I too was a hero. And I too have lost my friend. But... I am not anymore. Me legacy dies here, with my friend."

"Mine too."

"As does mine."

Then, the Lifestream called out to them. "No. Your legacy does not end. This is your legacy. Here is the next hero."

"But... I don't understand."

Again, it spoke to them. "As long as there is wrong, as long as there is evil in the world., the heroes will continue . As long as there is need, as long as you pass on what you have, as long as the next can learn from you, there will be a legacy."

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