Adversary Chapter 11
Guardia Castle, 1004 A.D.
Never before had he felt so much pain.
So this is what it's like to be defeated...
His body ached. Nauseating pains racketed through him as he inhaled and exhaled, and even the slightest motion of his limbs burned like the devil.
This is what it's like to...fail...
Tears of shame formed in his eyes, his cheeks burned, and he held his breath so no one could hear his shaky gasps. Turning his eyes sideways, he could make out the shape of his older brother, sitting up on his bed, running a cloth over his blade. The room was almost pitch dark, except for the small stream of light that flooded in from the door, and shed a dim golden glow upon the outskirts of the room. He wasn't worried though, he knew his sibling couldn't see him, for he'd just as soon mistaken him to be asleep, and was concentrating on polishing his sword, not babysitting his "little brother".
Ironically, that's exactly how he was feeling right now. Little. Insecure, defenseless, timid, and fragile. He missed his parents. He missed the odd chemistry that flowed between them, and he missed their attention. He missed his mother's kind words and his father's detached guidance. They seemed so far away now, and every day he felt more and more out of place in this strange new world. He sighed. He wished he could be more like his brother, confident and sarcastic. It seemed like whatever happened to him, he could just laugh it off with a snyde remark and keep walking. It didn't seem to bother him that he'd been defeated in combat. He'd fought and lost, tried and failed. He primarily blamed it on the fact that he'd been "double teamed" by the two fighters, and had that "goddamned pilot" not interfered, that "stupid little bitch" would've been good and dead.
But his brother had put up a good fight. He'd at least lost with some honor, some consollation in the fact that he'd fought a decent battle, and didn't give up under pressure. Elianor, however, could not say the same for himself. He couldn't even remember much of what had happened, and was left with few memories, and a great deal of suffering. His eyes closed, recalling the scene...
It had all happened so quickly. The instant he brought out his staff, the large man was attacking him relentlessly, his long spear cracking and slamming dangerously against Elianor's weapon. The pilot was a veritable grizzly bear, and he showed the young warrior no mercy whatsoever. It didn't take long for him to break through Elianor's weak defense and start driving in poweful blows. From the moment the first attack connected with his flesh, everything sort of faded out into a blur and he soon found himself passing out on the asphalt next to his broken, useless weapon.
He sighed. How he wished that he could've landed a few strikes here and there, or just held out his defense a little longer...then he wouldn't have to feel so bad about everything. But now...he was just filled with a saddening shame, one that would surely submerge when he faced his parents...
The door swung open, and the room was instantly illuminated, both young men turning their attention toward the doorway. A young woman with golden hair, clad in a white dress was standing calmly in the entranceway, curiously looking at the two people that lay on the beds in the room. Elianor forced himself to sit up, and noticed a devilish grin spreading over his brother's face, who quickly sheathed his sword and leaned forward, very interested, all of a sudden.
"Hello there, I'm Princess Nadia." She said, rather formally. "I understand that you two gentlemen have some injuries that need tending to?" Alex smiled.
"Oh thank goodness...someone finally got one of our letters! You see, we've been lying here for months and no one's come to see us, and we started writing notes on little pieces of garbage we found on the floor and pushing them out the door, hoping someone would find us, but no one would ever stop by, what with the terrible draft and all, but just look what happened! They sent us an angel, straight from the heavens..." He said, most sincerely. The princess blushed. Elianor rolled his eyes.
"Wh-why thank you, sir...um...sir..." she stammered, caught completely off guard. The eldest brother stood up and bowed, one arm bent slightly behind his back.
"Alexander. Alexander Sephiroth Gainsborough...at your service, my leige." He rose back up, standing a few feet from her. She stared up at him in awe. He was tall, magnificent, and undoubtedly graceful.
And most of all, he's not a cold jerk like his father...
"Well then, Sir Alexander...I understand that you two are the sons of Sephiroth, the man that is working for my father." She stated, expecting a positive confirmation.
"Indeed we are. Allow me to introduce my brother, Elianor. Elianor, this is Princess Nadia." The younger brother merely waved his hand, and uttered,
"Hello..." Marle and Alex laughed, making Elianor's face redden.
"Well, he certainly is quite the conversationalist, Alex. You two sure have a lot in common!" She teased.
"Yep. He gets it from my side of the family. Anyway, I don't need much tending to at all. My brother here, however, recieved quite a beating. You might want to take a look at him." he gloated. She looked at him, conspicuously.
"That's funny, you're neck looks like it's been wrung full around...and your clutching at your stomach a lot...you sure you're okay?" Alex was annoyed.
"Yes, I'm positive. I'm absolutely fine. Nothing a little rest won't cure. Say, if you're not doing anything later, we could always..."
"I'd better take a look at your brother here." She cut him off, walking over towards Elianors bed. He seemed uneasy around her, watching her every movement, and tensing up the places she was examining. It became so obvious that he was uncomfortable, that Nadia couldn't resist asking.
"What's wrong? Am I hurting you or something?"
"N-no. You're just...I, I'm fine, actually. I can take care of myself, I just needed a little sleep, that's all. I'll be okay. Don't you worry." She looked at him, puzzled.
"Okay then! Now that that's out of the way, we can finish up here, and go..." Alex started, but again he was interrupted when he noticed his father lingering outside the door, impatiently. His expression instantly changed from flirtatious to extremely worried. "Nadia, I think we have to go. I'll see you later...just a minute, father." He and his brother gathered up what few possessions they had with them, and left the room, leaving Nadia standing there, wondering...
What in the world is going on here? And why haven't I been told about anything...?
They followed close behind him, neither of them saying a word. Worrysome glances were exchanged between them, as they dreaded the pending conversation with their soon-to-be furious father. As Sephiroth opened the door to a large, dark chamber within the castle, the boys took one last look at each other before continuing into the room.
He stood with his back to them, gazing out a stained-glass window, his great shadow falling on the floor in the arc of light. Neither son knew what to do, and Sephiroth seemed like he had no intention of striking up a conversation any time soon, so Alexander decided to play dumb and hope for the best.
"Father? Is there something you wanted to talk to us about?" He asked, nervously. Sephiroth's shoulders heaved, and he glanced over his shoulder at them, soon returning his stare to the window.
"We...we were able to detain the Wutaise girl and the pilot man for a while. I hope it provided enough time for you to...to confront the man you were looking for..." Elianor timidly tried his luck. Again Sephiroth looked over his shoulder, but this time, turned around shortly afterward.
"If you are referring to Strife, then you obviously haven't been listening to anything I've been saying for the past several weeks, Elianor. I don't have any interest in Cloud. He means nothing to me. He is a puppet. A foolish puppet that is disillusioned enough to think that he has a soul and a free will. He is not what I'm here for."
"B-but...he is the most powerful man in this plain! He is the one that prevented your conquest! He is the one that lead all the other's to..." Alexander shoved his brother hard, silencing him with a detesting glare.
"Strife is but a pest to me. His power is formidable, yes, but he means nothing to us. He has already served his purpose. The true key now lies within the other man..." The Dark One trailed off. Alexander began to protest.
"You mean that idiot, Crono? The punk that the king of this castle wants you to bag for some land? What in the hell do you possibly want with him? He's nothing compared to Cloud Strife. Nothing." Sephiroth's eyes glowered, and his disposition darkened.
"You are a fool, Alexander. Strife may be an experienced adult, his powers at their full extent, but he lacks the key elements Crono posesses. The Kensai has no idea who he is, where he is from, or what his true destiny is. He is as blind to fate as a newborn child. Great powers reside deep within him, and his arts are dangerous and unpredictable. Once he enters his prime, however, his powers will be limitless. Which is why, my sons, he must be dealt with immediately." He explained in a low voice. Alexander nodded.
"So we just hunt him down again, which isn't too hard, and we grab him, mess him up a bit, and haul him back here. End of story. What does that leave us? It leaves us with a bunch of land in a medieval kingdom, that's what." he shrugged. "Sounds easy enough."
"You're right about one thing, Alexander. We shall capture him...however we will not be turning him over to Guardia. That would be an unforgiveable waste of his power, not to mention he would most likely destroy the entire castle and simply walk away with some minor wounds. They underestimate him greatly. It is all part of the weaknesses inherent in their social heirarchy. Crono was born a peasant, so the story goes, and was looked down upon throughout his whole childhood. But nevertheless, we will be putting him to much better use, better than anything these idiotic Guardians would put him to..." And with that, he turned and left, Elianor calling after him,
"But what about the land we were promised? I thought that was important..."
"It is indeed important. But, you will see more as time progresses. You should have a word with your mother. She's upstairs in one of the guest's chambers. Goodbye." Alexander shrugged.
"There goes pops, cryptic-as-ever. Ya think he could maybe be a little more vague?" he murmered, as he walked out of the room, Elianor following at his heels, deep in thought.
More powerful than Strife? That's...impossible. Especially from what Mother has said about him...
The great throne encumbered his movements as he rushed through the royal agenda, discarding the unimportant matters. The last week had indeed kept him on his toes, as it had done to most other people in the world. Yet he was also left to deal with the shady new cast of characters that had arrived at the castle...
There was the loudmouthed boy and his taciturn brother, both were rarely seen unaccompanied by the other. They seemed to create a balance between each other, and in an eerie sort of way, almost shared a consciousness that helped them work together.
Then there was their great, shadowed father, whom towered over all, and commanded affairs with a terrifying force. Even the king himself was extremely intimidated by him. He hoped that the man could be controlled until his objective had been completed.
"Sire...you have a visitor. It is one of the special agents." The guard kneeled before him. Guardia raised an eyebrow.
"Which one? Lord Sephiroth or his sons? I'm slightly busy right now, I-" He stopped speaking, as the black hooded figure walked into view. It bore a long staff, and came up beside the kneeling guard.
"Excuse me, your highness." It spoke. A definite woman's voice, clear and soft. He was shocked at this.
"Erm...yes? What can I do for you, m'lady?" He set his papers aside. She said nothing at first, but then finally mused.
"I...I need to talk to you. It's about my husband and sons..."
"Your husband and sons? Who might they be?"
"...The men you have employed to hunt down and destroy that other man. I am concerned for their safety, your Highness." He looked at her quizzically, squinting to see the shaded face under the hood. She was young, astoundingly beautiful, and certainly did not look like she could possibly be the mother of either of those two older teens.
"Are you sure? Sephiroth is your husband?" She nodded slowly.
Well then...I can't turn her away...
"Have a seat over there." He motioned. "Please...tell me your concerns." The woman uneasily took the seat, and laid her weapon across the arms of the chair. She dropped the hood back, revealing all of her face.
"For the past week I've been recieving mixed messages from my...family. I would like to know more about the issue than I've been being told."
"Certainly, anything you would like to know I can tell you, ma'am." He replied, acting concerned.
"Well...why is it so important that you detain this man? Is he that important to you, that you must dedicate all of your rescources to capturing him? Honestly, your majesty, why not let him be? He's nothing but trouble for you, from what I understand."
"I undserstand your concerns, miss, but there is a deeper issue. We have a strict criminal justice system here in Guardia. Those who harm the kingdom will be brought to justice no matter what. It is the way we run things around here. A zero-tolerance policy, if you will." She sighed.
"But what will killing him, if that's what you intend to do, solve? Whatever he has done to you will still be done...it won't accomplish anything..." She trailed off. The king tried to smile, reassuringly.
"Listen, I understand you are concerned about your husband and children, but surely Crono is no match for them. I know him, and he has been smiled upon by fate many at time, yet I fear his luck is at the end of it's rope. One cannot be fortunate forever. We'll get him, you'll be rewarded, and all will be settled. Please do not worry. Everything is in the hands of experts...miss? Where are you going?" She hurried out of the throne room, cloak trailing behind her. Her words were not reaching any permeable brains. She was running out of options.
Please...let this madness end...
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