Fade To Black Chapter 14

By Xyris

Secluding herself from the residents of the castle, ensign Talia concealed herself within storage, unable to comprehend the damnable losses of the world. Curled into a fetal position on the stone floor surrounded by crates, she shuddered at the thought of not being with Trevon again. Rage swiftly chewed into the core of her conscious being, slow to become the form of the Shadow. Her body convulsed, paralyzed, and at last lay very still.


Attired in Talia's flesh, Rivalin made his way through the kingdom of Doma. . .


December 30th. 999. Days had passed, distinguishable only through silence and a series of mysterious heart attacks. Fearing for the welfare of his men, Cyan Garamonde issued a health warning and placed it upon his best scientists to try and devise a vaccine for the instantaneous deaths. Upon issuance, they too perished. The remaining soldiers, but moreover the Returners, began to fear for their lives and turning to God more and more as the hours passed.

Night soon settled on the badly cudgeled landscape. Inside the underground Doman chapel the remaining survivors found refuge. Cyan's parents had always claimed that this was a true sanctuary from evil and he had no choice but to take their word for it now. Throughout its many pews, the Returners prayed profusely over their rosary beads and tears of fear as well as for the souls of those who had gone before them. Terra lay wailing over her beads, Locke at her side joining in the sending of prayers. Collectively, they were all left to wonder if there was a God to begin with.

As this happened, Clyde Arrowny entered the synagogue, looking up indifferently to the figure of St. Anne before the altar. In retrospect, his life was a plethora of sin: he fought with hate in his heart; he killed off Kefka without remorse; he gambled in Setzer's company; he womanized; he drank; and worst of all, he was proud of it. With his own set of rosary beads gripped between his fingers, he approached the last of the Returners mournfully. Locke and Terra turned to look at him, instantly noticing the tears streaming down his cheeks.


"What is it, Clyde?"

"I need to talk to you for a minute. . .in private.


The two of them went before the entrance of the chapel, both of them uncertain as to how the other would converse.

"I'm going to hell, Locke."

"You're not going to hell, Clyde."

"I've been having these dreams, as I'm sure everyone has. I used to think it would have been best to dispose of Terra so that Rivalin wouldn't kill us. What does that mean, Locke?"

Sweat began to bead down along the gems of the rosary. Locke embraced him, unable to find the right words to contradict Clyde's grim enlightenment.

"We have to stick together on this. Division means death."

"I can't. . .do this anymore," Clyde babbled.

Gogo turned his head to watch them both on.

"What are you talking about, Clyde? We're going to live to tell about this. We're going to live to call it just another close call. . .aren't we?" Terra said in standing to confront him.

"I'm. . .I'm sorry."

Clyde vanished out the doorway to the temple. Locke tore off after him, and that was when Terra took in the gravity of her danger.



No answer. Locke ran faster. The silence stabbed at his sanity like a million glass shards. There was absolutely no sound anywhere in the castle save for his own footsteps. He climaxed the staircase, circled out into the antechamber, and exited the castle of Doma. It was then that he saw the nature of Clyde's self-destructiveness.


His words were lost to an insurmountable explosion. Beyond the eventide of hell swarmed a legion of undead. The Falcon erupted in a mass of fire, with Clyde's prayer beads falling solemnly at Locke's feet.

"Clyde. . ."


Terra called out Locke's name to no avail. She said another four ‘Our Father's', then stood and wandered, comforting the others in proximity. The esper girl never expected that they'd be jabbering something else, something which sounded almost infernal in dialect.

"No, no, no," she stressed to them, helping one of them with their beads. "These are the ‘Our Father's' and these are the ‘Hail Mary's.' Do you remember what the words are for the. . ."

The soldier sent the beads flying and faced her. She gasped and staggered back from him. His eyes were as black as jet. She went to one of the others for help but he was exactly the same way. She heard Cyan's voice stir from somewhere in the echoing spaces of the chapel. Banon and Setzer's followed. Perhaps the only human voices left in the entire world and she never even addressed them. She yearned for the company of Locke.

"Locke! Please help me!" she screamed at the top of her lungs.

And that's when the three voices of her friends caught up with Terra, seizing her and began with the ritual of Terra's sacrifice.


Locke's feet raced away with him back to the cavernous recesses of Cyan's safe haven. From a distance, he saw in reaching the chapel that Cyan, Setzer, and Banon had Terra pinned onto the altar. The retainer of Doma held but a single dagger just above the bosom of the esper girl. Locke roared with interjection.

"What in God's name do you think you're doing?!"

Cyan looked up.

"If we kill Terra, Rivalin can't fulfill the prophecy."

"But she's our friend, Cyan."

"Wrong, son! She's your friend, not mine! It's Terra or the World of Balance."

"But you can't fight evil with evil!!"

The walls of the cathedral began to shake violently. Its stain glass windows exploded inwards. Shards of razored debris rained down on Locke. Terra took this opportunity to pull herself off the pedestal and ran to his side.

Cyan's tone dropped to a faint hush. "Holy Mother of God."

Locke and Terra stared at each other, then towards the entranceway. In poured all of the dispatched Returners, cognizant to those still free of Rivalin's magic. Familiar were their physiques, yet their faces had been aged and twisted as a result of joining the Shadow. Lining up and filling the backgrounds, his servants cleared a path as the Dark One himself took prestige over the entrance.

"I've come for my wife," boomed Rivalin's voice from all around.

Banon grabbed a crucifix and faced Rivalin himself. "I command thee to vacate these consecrated. . ."

The Dark One grabbed the cross and embedded it into Banon's skull. Locke's mentor hit the ground, dead in a millisecond. The shade then approached Terra, looking on lustfully at her. She slowly wavered under his spell and did likewise.

"Don't you even think. . ." Locke began.

But a simple backhand sent him flying through the air and crashing down onto the sacrificial table. Gogo at last stood from where he was sitting, but rather than helping Cyan and Setzer with Locke, he went to Terra and Rivalin instead.

"Gogo, you have to help me, please," Terra entreated. "Mimic his backhand or something! Please! Gogo?"

It was then that Gogo removed his mask. Terra Branford felt like she was face to face with a ghost.

Gogo was Gestahl.

Terra was shellshocked. "Gestahl. . ."

The bearded figure nodded sullenly, appearing satisfied. "My dead, the time has come for you to pay homage to your esper counterparts."

"But you can't. . .I mean, you're dead.

His brow furrowed with disappointment.

"You'd be surprised what you'd agree to when you're plummeting towards the ground at a hundred miles an hour."

"With the birth of your children, you will bear witness to the End of Days as my Queen," Rivalin said for her.

With that, Rivalin's lips fell upon Terra's. Ignoring the lingering pain of his back, Locke shook away Cyan and Setzer, bellowing like a madman at what the prince of darkness had done to his friend.

"Don't listen to him, Terra. That man is positively Primaeval!!"

But to Locke's horror, he found that Terra wrapped her arms around Rivalin's neck under her own free will. For this was excruciating delight, that she had given way to her own convictions of lust. Here, the demonic figure of Celes Chere approached Locke, a hideous sneer wrapped around her face.

"The children of the Shadow have gathered, Locke, and together, we shall destroy the World of Balance."

And in the hours following midnight, Locke, Setzer, and Cyan were left at the mercy of their erstwhile Returners while Rivalin was away with his prize. The shadows encompassed and trounced ruthlessly onto the three, and as their bodies bruised and hemorrhaged, they were scarcely given time to recognize all of their attackers.

Gau, the demon child; Talia, the mutinous ensign; the Figaro brothers, kings of betrayal; Strago the elder of the Magi; his granddaughter Relm, who knew no better; Cid, Vector's instrument of destruction; Stygian, the object of Locke's affection; and leading them all was, of course, Celes Chere, who took it upon herself to have these warriors of light condemned.

In the traditional fashion.


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