The Story of Tata Chapter 16
Death of an Old Friend
By The Man
"Three years!?" Tata cried from his bed. "I was in a coma for three years??!"
"That's what the doctors said." Glenn responded. "Your wounds were critical and you were only hanging on by a thread."
It was the first night after Tata had awoken from his deep sleep. For most of the day, doctors had poked at him and prodded him about his health. Now, at ten o'clock in the night, Glenn visited Tata once again. The two had been talking for an hour.
"Three years " Tata could almost not believe what his green-haired friend had told him. "No wonder I sound and look different. I must be seventeen now."
Glenn lightly nodded and grinned. "You almost look like Crono when I journeyed with him to kill Lavos. He was seventeen then, too."
"Really?" Tata always had little fantasies that he and Crono were somehow long lost brothers. He could see himself going up to the redheaded man and saying 'hey, brother, how are you?' But they were simply fantasies.
"Yes, he was." Glenn said, not missing a beat.
For another minute, the two simply sat there, silent and in deep thought. Tata does look like Crono, Glenn thought, eyeing the teenage boy. Not a boy anymore, though, but a man.
"So, uh, Tata." Glenn began, leaning back in his chair. "Did you dream in your coma, or anything?"
"What?" Tata was not prepared for such a question.
"I mean, was it just a second passing for you? Or did you actually feel the time passing?"
Tata thought about it a moment. Could he tell Glenn, his trusted friend about it? Should he tell him?
"Well " Tata began. The he sighed it. "Yes. I did feel time passing. And yes, I dreamed."
"About what?" Glenn pressed him.
"Paradoxes." Tata responded as if he was saying he ate bread. "I dreamt about the paradoxes of my life."
"What?" Glenn was slightly confused.
Here it goes, Tata thought to himself. "Glenn, do you ever look back on your past experiences and wish you had done something different in them?"
Glenn blinked. "All the time."
"That was what my dreams were about." Tata said quietly. "You see, if we could go back and change tiny things about our lives, nothing else would be the same. People think that if they could have stopped that or may have pursued this, then they would lead the same lives as before only slightly differently. Well, that is just a lot of bull, I'm afraid. Changing the past is a gesture that almost mocks the timeline. It threads out this intricate world and then you and the others come along and change it utterly. But this is destiny, too. Nothing happens by accident. Absolutely nothing. The Entity, the gods, they knew you and the others would find away to travel across their worlds. It was meant to be."
"Tata, what are you trying to say?" Glenn was surprised at the boy's intellect.
"Let's say you spill some red wine on a shirt. It stains and you burn it. Then you buy a new one that becomes your favorite shirt. If you never spilled that wine, you never would get that great shirt, right? See, what happens it that by changing one tiny thing and it destroys a whole chain of events."
Tata looked the same as before but Glenn could sense an air of certainty and understanding about him.
"I dreamed about these things, Glenn. As I lay here nearly dead, I saw my universe from every angle. I altered small things, I altered big things. I never met Len. I never met Minka. I became King of Guardia and crushed the onslaught of Mystics. I became a sailor and found new land. I grew old and died. I traveled about the world, and saw every corner of the world. I did these things without knowing that it was supposed to be different."
Tata looked at Glenn. "What I realized is that we, all of us are connected. You, me, Robo, Crono, even Magus we are all bound to each other's destiny. And our destinies are ones that shall shake the world. We will fight and we will suffer greatly. We very well may not live. But it is destiny, Glenn. We can never change it."
Glenn leaned closer. "So what is our destiny, Tata?"
Tata made a small shrug. "We're all going to die eventually. I guess we will all know by then."
"I guess " Glenn was about to say more, but kept his mouth shut.
Two minutes later, Glenn left because Tata had fallen asleep again. Tata didn't dream this time.
No mind numbing dreams for me thanks. Tata thought just before he drifted off. I've had enough already to last me a lifetime.
"At least now he realizes it."
"Tata would have figured it out eventually. I know I knew him. He was always highly intelligent."
"Well I guess we had better prepare for our leaving."
"It won't be for a while yet. We should enjoy Eimla with whatever time remains to us.
"I don't know about you, Jacob, but I'm already bored with this place. I want to see Tata, even though "
" Even though he will-"
"Stop, Jacob! It's not as if I don't know!"
"You know, you should harden up a little: you cry too easily."
"I plan to, Jacob. I will."
"You know that once we return, you will forget all of this until next time."
" He seems very special to you."
"I love him."
"You love this never-dead man who was created to protect life? You really know how to pick them."
"I love him, Jacob. It doesn't matter what he is, or what he must do. I love him."
"But you know what will happen, even if you forget it later."
"Yes. I do. But I will never stop loving him."
Tata woke up from his deep, dreamless sleep, only to find Denner standing at the foot of his bed. Unlike other times, Tata didn't even act surprised.
"Denner, how nice to see you, and why are you in my resting room?" Tata spoke rapidly.
Denner had his helmet held by his right arm against his side. His blonde hair was cut in a very short, flat plane. His skin was almost perfect, save for a long forgotten scar above his left brow. His face had no expression on it, but he seemed to be slightly content. He was in his beetle-black armor, as if ready for an attack.
"If you need something-" Tata began.
"I know you, Tata." Denner interrupted.
Tata was unsure on how to respond to this plain statement. "And I know you, Denner. We were introduced before my accident"
"Perhaps I'm being a little unclear." Denner said. "I suppose what I meant to say was; I know you, Beowulf."
Tata's bones froze. No one knew his real entity except Robo and
"Who told you that? Was it Glenn?" Tata asked in a low, ready voice.
"No, Beowulf." Denner was as calm as Tata thought humanly possible. He had just named him the eternal warrior and he was acting as if he had just said the sky was blue in the daytime.
"I am surprised you don't remember me, Beowulf."
It suddenly clicked in Tata's head. The man Denner knew his own soul like Tata knew his.
"Grendel, you-!" Tata reached for his blade, which he knew only to be a foot away from his bed.
"Please, Beowulf, don't degrade me as to name me that wretched beast. I helped you destroy it many times in our history."
Him. Tata suddenly recognized this man's soul. "Aladren?"
"It's good to see you, Beowulf." Aladren held out his hand and Tata sat up and shook it heartily.
"It seems we can never separate, Aladren." Tata said with a laugh. He released his hand shake. Then: "Does anybody know-!"
"No, no." Aladren shook his head quickly. "But it seems a good many people know you!"
"And why not?" Tata grinned. "I've only been around before Creation, you know."
"And you got that foul monster to deal with." Aladren added sadly.
"Grendel " The name tasted bitter in Tata's mouth.
The pair fell silent on that word for many minutes.
" The bastard." That from Tata.
"We fought him so many times." Aladren sighed. "Him and that other-"
"Don't say it." Tata suddenly seemed very afraid. "You know what happens when you give his name."
"He's sealed, Beowulf. Remember?"
"Yes, yes, he is." Tata admitted. "But it is still dangerous."
Aladren barked a small, nervous laugh. "That word sounds funny coming from you, Beowulf. You, who has faced down Grendel countless times admitting fear. The word, last time I checked didn't exist in your vocabulary."
"Grendel was is small potatoes next to him." Tata said carefully.
"But we got him." Aladren offered.
"Yes. We got him."
Tata fell silent again. Tata had never seen this man before. But Beowulf knew him well. They had fought together countless times, protecting the realms and all. The man was one of the bravest souls Tata ever knew.
"You know," Tata began. "You never, in the ages we've know each other, ever gave me a reason why you chose to stand by me and fight again and again."
Aladren stared Tata strait in the eyes. "Because we both know that I am second only to you in the Old Power, fighting, swordplay, and spirit. Because we are connected, my friend. And also, if it not too obvious, because I have more honor than to stand by when I know I could help destroy Grendel rather than watch you overcome him. In short, Beowulf, I fought because I could."
"But you are absolutely horrible when it comes to women." Tata grinned like an idiot.
Aladren furrowed his brow. "Hey, that's your department." He smiled again. "You always were popular among them."
"Yeah, I guess." Tata's smile vanished.
Aladren replaced his smile with a look of concern. Beowulf had always been one to change his temper quickly, but something else seemed to be gnawing at him. "Something wrong?"
"No, I uhm " Tata stroked his forehead with his fingertips, as if he had a headache. " I guess I'm just a little tired, that's all."
He sighed. "You used to be a much better liar, Beowulf." Aladren said it like he had been made the center of a cruel joke.
"What is it, Beowulf?" Aladren leaned forward a little. "You can tell me. I'm your friend."
Tata lightly bit his lower lip. "Yes, you are." He sighed again. "Alright, fine. I'll tell you."
Tata sat up a little more. He stared at Aladren.
"Grendel made me realize my true spirit. He used his power. He turned me into Beowulf. But shortly after, Glenn used a force that I never knew was inside him to turn me back into this boy, Tata. Now I am Tata, but I still have all of Beowulf's knowledge and memories. But I am still Tata, Aladren."
Tata now stared off at the far wall.
"When I was a young boy, no more than six, I met this pretty girl. We bumped into each other at the local café. She was impossibly beautiful, so unimaginably lovely. Her eyes were like the sky, so gorgeous I sometimes just wanted to stare into them, to be captivated by them forever. She was intelligent and kind like nothing I ever knew was possible. Her spirit almost shames us, Aladren.
"We fell in love before we were even ten. We spent nearly every spare moment together. We were of course far too young for marriage, but me promised ourselves to each other when we were twelve. But her mother wanted to move away to live in the mountains. They, her mother and herself, were Mystics. I'm sure you've heard of them."
"The townspeople hated her for her race, because the Mystics were waging war on the humans at the time. I began acting as her bodyguard, making sure no one hurt her. I made her a promise to protect her from harm.
"But I failed. She was murdered by Grendel, who had been a bully up until that point to me."
Tata looked back at Aladren.
"He killed her, Aladren, in cold blood. I know he has killed more times than either of us care to count but I can't put this into words very well, but he just he killed " He began to cry.
"Hey, hey, hey." Aladren said in a soothing tone. "Here, let me get you a towel."
"No." Tata said a little louder than he meant to. "I'm fine. I need to say this. I told her I would protect her and I failed. But I haven't killed him yet; her soul in not avenged. I have failed her for too long!!"
"Beowulf!" Aladren patted him on the shoulder. "Listen to me Beowulf, listen to me. I know who this spirit is. Her name is Elayne and you and her have fallen in love this deeply at least a million times. Beowulf, this is not the first time Grendel has gotten her, I know it has happened before. Don't you remember?"
"No." Tata had regained himself and his tears were already vanishing. "No, this time it is different, Aladren. Much different. I let her die. And now we won't be together for who knows how long. No, my friend, this time I am putting an end to his torment of her. I will destroy him utterly. I am going to shove my face into his face and I am going to say: 'My name is Tata, and you killed my love. It is time to die!'"
Aladren made a small, understanding nod. He knew this thing his friend did. He had seen him make this kind of dedication before. But he wasn't about to tell him. No use in upsetting the boy. Aladren almost laughed at the thought, Beowulf being a boy. He was a warrior, not a child.
"Beowulf, Tata, whatever you call yourself, I think I need to report to my station now." Aladren stood up.
"Yeah, okay." Tata mumbled.
Aladren grabbed his large gun and headed to the door.
"Oh!" He turned around. "How is my son, Beowulf?"
"Oh, he's fine, last time I checked." Tata said casually.
"Beowulf, please keep and eye on him." Aladren looked very worried. "I don't want him to fall to this monster."
"I'll protect him as best I can." Tata said truthfully.
"Okay. Well, goodbye."
This time he was dreaming. He knew it was a dream because he was dancing with Minka. They were apparently alone with a single spotlight on them and total darkness all around them. They waltzed around the large circle of light, gazing lovingly into each other's eyes. Minka had a small smile on her perfect lips. Tata found he was grinning too. He noticed she was wearing an elegant, golden-laced white dress that seemed to glow in the lighting. He was in a black suit with a white shirt and bow tie.
They were a beautiful couple, they were, their smiles never ceasing, their eyes ever happy. For Tata, this was a perfect moment, dancing to the soft melody that played off in the distance. For Tata, it was perfect. Totally perfect.
Finally, the music stopped playing and they stopped as well, but their hands stayed together, but they fell to the front of them.
"I love you, Tata." She said softly.
"I love you, Minka." He said back with a larger smile.
Okay, kind of sappy, Tata thought. But it didn't matter. He felt utter happiness. Dream or not, he was happy about everything. The world seemed all right in every way.
It lasted only a second longer. Then a black blade that seemed to swallow the light around it ripped through her chest. Her blood fell on Tata and he screamed a long howl of anguish. Suddenly, Grendel was behind her, smiling contemptuously at him. His eyes looked at him with a mix of glee and hate. His blade pointed at Tata accusingly, telling him of his failure.
Minka stood there with tears in her eyes. He wanted to help her, to kill Grendel whose grin boiled his blood. But he simply could not move. He was helpless. Helpless.
Minka sobbed. "Why, Tata?"
Grendel roared with laughter.
Tata woke up with a shuddering gasp. He was already forgetting the dream, but he had a sudden realization.
"Grendel." Tata gasped. "He's here."
Tata scrambled out of bed and consequently tripped over his sheets. Getting up with a few muttered curses, Tata yanked on his usual garb from the next empty bed. After looking around for a second he spotted his blade resting against the foot of his bed.
Picking it up and looking at his reflection in the thick blade, he said, "Old friend, don't fail me now."
He ran like an arrow down the winding corners, trusting on pure instinct to bring him to where Grendel was. As he passed through the halls, he saw few people, but those he did see were on the floor grimacing and clutching their ears. Most seemed dead, whereas others were simply silent. Still others were still conscious, moaning about their pained ears. Tata grimaced himself, realizing what was happening, but he ran on, leaving those poor souls lying on the ground in silent agony.
Eventually, he took a left and was outside. There were more people outside than inside by far. Soldiers lay everywhere, all in the same state as those inside. Tata realized he didn't have to run. Cursing under his breath he teleported onto a hill on the outskirts of the complex. Upon looking around at his new surroundings, he saw Glenn was on one knee, looking like he had a headache. Tata saw Aladren in his combat gear grimacing but still on his feet. They were both glaring with raw hatred at the dark sky. Slowly, he followed their gaze.
The sky was a dirty orange color, like a rotten fruit. The dark clouds made it even darker. He saw the orange lights of the nearby city off in the distance. Probably the reason the sky looks that way, Tata thought. It appeared to be night, for there was no sign of the sun. But even if the sun had been high in the sky, shining as bright as a summer afternoon, it would have been eaten up by that.
At first look it appeared to be a black cloud in the evening sky. To a normal person, it might have appeared to be a dark spot in the clouds. But Tata knew better. He looked hard and long at that dark shape up there and saw the pit of evil in that cloud.
"Glad you could ugn finally join us, Beowulf." Aladren managed through clenched teeth when Tata realized he had spoken the name.
"Wouldn't miss it." Tata muttered. He looked at Glenn, still on the ground. "Is he alright?"
"He isn't as resilient against it as we are, but he will survive if we can find a way to stop this." Aladren responded.
Tata shook his head. The black wraith was taking on the shape of a great horned owl.
"I remember the last time he had enough power to do this." Tata said. Distantly, still looking at the dark form. "He destroyed me and most of a continent full of people."
Aladren nodded solemnly. "I wasn't there then. He won't be able to stand up to both of us, though. This time, he will fall."
"He must fall." Tata said. "This world depends on it."
Aladren did not answer. Instead, he hollered words incomprehensible to an untrained ear.
"Mehalo di guhen, Grendel! Bonmahand dran An, mefigai do mahowe!"
Death be yours, Grendel. Betrayer of Life, thou shall die. The Old Chant, Tata knew it. He joined in the chant.
"Far hametol el alrego der mai!" Shouted Tata defiantly.
"Hegre do manto la tres!" Hollered Aladren.
The darkness seemed to laugh without uttering a sound. But the owl-shaped wraith seemed to be roiling, bubbling, it almost seemed, in anger as well.
Their chant became fiercer. Tata raised his blade high above his head just as Aladren threw his arms forward. Their chant became more vigorous, fiercer, more tense. It became nearly a ramble, calling upon the power they used like they were born with it, which they were.
Then, there was light. Roaring like thunder, the light of the day flew from Tata's blade and Aladren's hands. It hurt a normal eye to look at it, shining, as it was like the sun itself. Absolute light flourished through the night sky and struck the black wraith with all of its fury. The chanting from the pair continued, louder now, barely heard over the blasting noise of the light. Their brows were furrowed with concentration, each partially grimacing and with large trickles of sweat rolling down their faces. That was from concentration; the heat was unimaginable, practically making Tata's bones melt, and at that moment it did feel like they were; his legs were shaking, trying to keep him up. He endured and poured the light onto the seething black wraith. He endured and continued to chant in a near scream. He endured, and endured, until finally ceasing his attack and nearly collapsing onto the ground.
He was out of breath and his clothes clung to him like it was his skin. He felt almost dead, and he very nearly was; it had been many lifetimes before when he had enough power to perform a spell like that. Grendel must be dying, he thought, because I sure feel like I am. He slowly looked up, into the dirt orange sky, grimacing at the pain that simple movement caused, and
And there it was, hovering over the land in all of its dark power. Still silently laughing, still the black owl it was before. It was as if Tata had never even done the spell.
"No." groaned Tata as a look of realization crossed Aladren's face. "No. You monster, you, can't be " He could not finish.
Then, two eyes appeared on the great shape. Two burning reds, like heated coals from Ji'groo eyes that chilled Tata's bones. The eyes scared him. They looked like they were searching his soul. They were eyes of absolute evil.
Then it did what Tata knew it would do: it howled the mournful note of death. Indescribably hideous and evil, it rang in Tata's ears, long and terrible. Tata could have played the low note on a piano, but only Grendel truly used it.
Tata grimaced and covered his ears. Dropping to his knees as the note tried to rip his own soul away from him. He somehow heard Glenn screaming in pure agony and Aladren literally crying in pain. Tata knew that many others back at the base were dying from the sound. The weaker souls died sooner.
"You pig !" Grunted Aladren, who was suddenly on his feet, a look of fury on his face.
The howling intensified, but Aladren would not back down. Not now. Not ever. Not so long as he lived, Tata knew.
"Coward pig !" He shouted at the wraith, whose eyes were getting brighter with each word.
"Destroying lives you can not help but envy! You abom min ation-!!"
That was all he got out. The wraith stopped howling and shot pure blackness at Aladren. He did not move as the blackness flew towards him.
"Aladren!! NOOOOOOOO!" Tata howled himself.
But it was too late. The blackness enveloped him, covering him in total blackness, taking him, taking his soul. It made no sound; nothing made any noise in that horrible blackness. It was like a giant leech, devouring its victim from the inside out.
Tata would not have it. From his crouched position, he shot a blast of light at the blackness that covered his friend. Instantly, the blackness recoiled away. He fired two extra shots and the shadow retreated.
Tata saw Aladren lying on the ground, looking dead. He rushed over to his friend and scooped his head up in his hands. He was still breathing. Barely.
"He didn't get me " Aladren moaned.
"Shh. Quiet, Aladren." Tata knew the man was breathing his last few breaths.
Aladren put a hand on Tata's shoulder. "Beowulf," he said. "You are the uhhnn you are the Phoenix
"Aladren " Tata felt a tear roll down his left cheek.
"Burn him Beowulf." Aladren's eyes closed slowly as he uttered two words. "Burn him."
Aladren's last breath escaped his mouth. It touched Tata's face. It felt cold, not a hint of warmth on it.
Tata let Aladren's lifeless head fall back to the ground. Aladren. Dead. Again. Not again, Tata thought. Not again. No. Not again! This isn't even his battle! Not his! Tata sat back on his haunches and let his head droop. Another tear fell from his eye, rolled down his cheek, and fell from his chin. It hit Aladren's face. Not his battle, Tata thought. Mine. Always, forever
Tata whirled around with a look of fury on his face. He glared at the roiling, black owl-like shape in the orange sky. He barely noticed his sword, that was still on the ground, was beginning to glow.
"GRENDEEEELLLLL!!" Bellowed Tata as his fists clenched so tight they shook uncontrollably.
The wraith howled again. The solitary, mournful note echoed throughout the land. It seemed to make the air itself bubble and twist. It held for a minute before ceasing. Tata still stood, if not more angry. The sword had begun to glow brighter.
"Heart of Darkness!" Yelled Tata. The sword grew brighter.
The owl wraith seemed to be roiling with laughter.
"Shadowed Shadow!" Tata screamed louder, now on his feet. He vibrated all over now, seeming ready to burst. The sword's light was now blinding. It floated up in the air, slowly at first. As it passed Tata, it picked up speed, continuing up in the air, point up, almost like a dividing line between Tata and the wraith. Tata's body seemed to glow. No, he did glow! And he, like his blade, grew brighter and brighter. A wind picked up and threw his cape behind him. It whipped about like some appendage, flapping about on the high winds.
"Eater of Souls!" Tata shrieked now, his voice carrying on the wind and ringing through the land. "Burn you!"
He threw his arms up in the air above his head, his hands outstretched. His skin was as bright as his sword now. The light shone out of him and spread across the world, turning the ground white as well. For a moment, Tata wasn't there; the light was all that could be seen. It was more brilliant than the sun by far, fiercely blinding to the human eye. Tata screamed again.
Glenn had to shield his eyes with his hands. That monster had practically killed him with its howl. He felt weak all over, like he hadn't moved in a very long time. His muscles felt like noodles, his bones like twigs. He lay there on his stomach, trying to see something- anything- but there was nothing. Nothing but that light that had consumed the boy Glenn had known since the lad was four.
Glenn knew, of course, of Tata's unusual strength. Even when young, the boy had uncanny strength and endurance. One time when Glenn had decided to visit Tata at his house when he was about five, he had decided to sneak up on the boy while he was having a drink at the table. He had crept on him as silently as he could manage, which Tata couldn't hear. When Glenn grabbed Tata's shoulder, however, the boy's hand clenched so hard it crushed the clay cup he was drinking out of. Tata had gotten angry with Glenn, getting out of his chair and scolding him for playing such a cruel joke, and Glenn was apologetic, but he also noticed that the lad was almost oblivious to the fact that he had broken a cup Glenn certainly would have had trouble crushing. Completely oblivious, he had been. Completely oblivious.
Snapping back to the present, Glenn looked up at the rising sword, which now lit up the land like it was the sun. It hung right in front of the roiling black owl-like wraith, mocking it with its brilliance. Those horrible eyes of its were now two fire pits, raging holes of fury. They burned fiercely, trying to make that light-wrought sword vanish. The heat was incredible; Glenn felt like he was turning to liquid. His head was reeling; he could barely think. His hair was matted down and clung to his scalp. The air was thick with the heat. He could barely breathe.
Then, the sword shattered. It simply broke apart. Its light vanished and the shadow seemed to laugh triumphantly.
However briefly. Tata screamed even louder, eradicating any other sounds. It was his battle cry, Glenn could tell.
The light and its heat consumed the world.
End of Chapter 16
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