Fade To Black Chapter 11

By Xyris

Clyde and Terra pressed southward on chocobos which had been bred professionally with the help of a nearby rancher. The two Returners were in awe as to espy how weathered the land was becoming. Carcasses of a million dead animals were strewn out along the isthmus they were gradually putting behind them. Even the ocean, which was as wide as the day was long, seemed to be slowly withering away. And then, their observations numbed their movement.

"Please tell me this is just a heatwave," came Terra's objective voice from behind Clyde and his steed.

Saying nothing, Clyde got off of his chocobo and walked to the edge of the shoreline. He dipped his hand into the ocean, immediately retracting it from the water. He should have known that the vapor arising from water was the result of more than just another drought season. He faced Terra gravely.

"It's a bit more serious than that, I'm afraid," he negated, rubbing his hand painfully from the heat being given off.

Terra was about to ask Clyde something else when it was already answered. Beaching themselves onto shore were all of the great ocean giants of the world, as lifeless as all the cadavers back on land. Throughout the horizon, the pair of them saw more and more sea creatures arising to the surface of the water. Terra groaned.

"Are you okay?" Clyde said, seeing that Terra appeared faint.

"Kinda dizzy, that's all," she explained to him.

"When was the last time you had something to drink? Being out in the blazing hot sun without water tends to speed up the symptoms of dehydration."

"A long while, I guess," she was able to say, though she was certain that dehydration was not the answer.

"Well, I suppose you're expecting me to answer by saying that ‘Yes, I am a ninja and I've always been able to make it on my own, like a native of the Veldt, right? The truth is that Rivalin will anticipate our predicament and try to buy us over with something that would protect us."

Saddling up once more, Terra pulled the hood of her white robe down low and tightened it against her emerald green hair like a turban. Clyde did the same. Like vagabonds, the two Returners pushed on through the badlands, hoping to see Nikeah just around the bend.


On any other day, the sun would have been down by now, but it remained inert over the eroded land, like a lamp no one bothered turning off. The chocobos of Clyde and Terra strove with all their might to pursue shade but their sprinting was in vain. They began letting out cried like vultures and finally keeled over on the backs. Terra tended to them with the most peculiar feeling of regret.

"We can't just let them die, Clyde. They've gotten us so far."

"You obviously never had a pet, have you Terra?"

She didn't seem to understand where he was coming from . Clyde knelt down beside her as she stroked the exhausted head of her chocobo.

"You notice anything missing when you met me back outside Thamasa, Terra?"

She nodded.


"Sometimes, Terra, there's no one you can save but yourself. Let him go. We must continue on without them."

With heartache flooding her soul like the tears did her eyes, she got up and walked away from her chocobo, barely able to stomach the heart-wrenching wails of the animals begging her to come back. It was anguish for Terra, but for Clyde, it was almost justice.


The drought seemed to intensify. Land had become dry, cracked pits of dirt and sand. For Clyde and Terra, now sluggish hulks of humanity prominent of sun stroke and insatiable thirst, there was no refuge. Only a lone skeleton of a tree which stood bravely in the middle of nowhere. Above all else, the two of them most definitely did not want to die this way. They lay their backs against the trunk of the tree, loosening their collars and fanning away the perspiration of their foreheads with scorched hands.

"We may as well save our strength, Terra," Clyde guffawed through the dead flakes of skin on his lips. "We're not gonna make it come nightfall."

But Terra could hardly hear him. She looked out vacantly past her sunburnt face to the distance where her hallucination stood in the form of a man. A devastatingly handsome man! She forced her feeble body up from the deadwood tree and staggered away from the position of her sadly afflicted friend. Her heart thumped with a beat of renewed hope as the man she was approaching came closer and closer. When she was right before him, she dropped to her knees, condoning the irate heat of the sand.

"I've come," she murmured, refusing eye contact.

"A toast," the man exulted, dangling before her a glass of ice-cold water like a hypnotic eye. "To peace. . .and long life."

The esper girl answered by making a covetous grab for the glass. The man denied her the satisfaction of finding home. She crumbled before him like a withered statue. He laid the glass down on a slab of sandstone and pulled back her hood. Terra's head of green hair bound free from the neck of her robe, flowing down her back like a waterfall. She developed a lust for the way this person handled something as trivial as her tresses, like she was the most important thing in the world to him.

"Let me touch you, Terra," he hushed intimately, beginning to slacken the robe around her body.

Trying to keep the tired woman from reality as long as possible, he took the glass of water and placed it to her sweaty cheek. In doing so, his free hand probed the inside of her attire. His fingers fumbled about her chest. Terra didn't know which of these actions she enjoyed more.

"Yes, that's it," he whispered, seeing her reeling in the bliss of his touch. "Make your father proud of you."

Her eyes snapped open. That was the straw that broke the chocobo's back. Terra ripped his hand out from her robe and pushed him back with all the strength she had left. The man went head over heels into the sand. The glass of water was sent flying, eaten up into vapor before it had a chance to touch the ground.

"A drop of water can't help me any more than it can help you," she growled, genuinely proud of her decision. "Go back to hell where you belong."

The mirage before her faded. Languidly, she tightened her robe back around her and made her way back to the lone tree where Clyde was sure to be waiting for her.


What Terra didn't know was that while she was gone, Clyde himself was faced with a hallucination of his own. He strayed from the tree as well, striving to reach what he was sure to be a young woman who was the bearer of his child. Even now, she was a woman to die for.

Or from.

"Clyde," she said to hiim, raking away the blonde hair from her azure blue eyes. "This is quite a jam you're in."

"Karin," his lips creaked out. "I thought you were. . ."

"Waiting, Clyde. I've been waiting for you."

He thought it was too good to be true when the dark visage of Rivalin came to her side and wrapped an arm around her. Clyde cursed under what breath was left for him to exhale. He looked up to them both, practically in reverence.

"You wish to hold her again, don't you Mr. Arrowny."

"More than anything," he garbled out.

"So much that you'd toil to bring Terra before me?" Rivalin asked him, seeing that Karin was almost enjoying the presence of the Dark One.

Ironic it was that Clyde was above and beyond anything and everything that the devil would tempt him with. Resilent to enticement, he got on his feet and faced his threat like the man he was.

"I'm not taking Terra anywhere," his cracked and moldy voice spat out harshly. "My intentions are to kill her, so she'll never have to be with the likes of you."

"You think it's so easy, don't you?"

"One life for millions of others? Doesn't sound to hard to me."

Never in all the rest of his days could Clyde discern what made him faint right then and there, but it happened, as though it was the easies possible way for Rivalin to get rid of him. Unlucky for Terra that she was too far away to pick up on her friend's grim intentions.


And in the end, both of them had swooned to the massive wave of heat that had practically stripped all life from the southern sandbar of the World of Balance. Death was sure to take them both when their angels in disguise descended from the heavens, taking the two sadly desiccated souls into their airships.


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