Fade To Black Chapter 16

By Xyris

Darkness over the World of Balance was so concentrated that fair noon that almost no light, artificial or otherwise, could possibly pervade it. Terra and Locke's only refuge from the dead of night was the lone tower that was once Kefka's. It was, after all, the last of the once-whole monuments left standing after Rivalin and his ominous rule over the world.

Locke took Terra through the twisted lumps of raven environs to the Vector-oriented interior of the spire. In one of the rooms, one which had not been discovered before by the Returners, there was a tabernacle. It was not nearly as pacifying as the one back at Doma. Wreckage was littered out around the sanctum and the corpses of several imperial soldiers sat inertly in the columns, still clutching their rosary beads. Still, it held the many familiar religious icons, which said a lot for such brutal men finding shelter here of all places.

"Locke, I don't want to end up like them."

"You won't. You'll be safe here, I promise."

He took out his pocket watch and saw that only ten minutes were left until the new millennium. He told her to go and rest in one of the pews until the year 1000 rolled around. She hugged him, then did as he asked.


The world was so empty now. Everyon Locke knew was dead. Every place he knew was burned to the ground. Terra was all he had now. He approached the anterior of the temple piously. Not quite the knight in shining armor, but Terra's protector nonetheless. He regarded the figures before him carefully. They looked just as saintly as ever. Two large stone statues clutched marble swords that were raised heavenward. At either side of these statues was a righteous portrayal of God Himself.

What was he feeling?

Memories of Rachel began flooding back to him. His beloved. His one. His true. His all. He so wanted to see her again, more than the heavens above and all the riches in the galaxy over. Would he ever see her again? Was his own personal tally of successful kills shameless in the next life? Usurping it not (for murder was never without regret), Locke surrendered the bastard sword that was his hatred. His litanies lay with God now.

"God. . .please give me strength. . .please."

Tears welded his eyes shut. His benediction was answered by a tremor that ran its hand over the earth like a wizard's wave over his crystal ball. A crystal ball that saw the revelation hidden within. The statues were suddenly blown out of place as the entire floor at the front of the temple uplifted in an ungodly tide of fire. Through it arose the face of the Devil, wicked and deformed in all its human embodiments. Its eyes were bottomless. Locke felt sure he would get lost in them.

He never recalled what transpired after that, only that he was on his back with but a mere one minute left on the clock.

"Locke? Locke, are you alright?"

Terra's voice rang with a chime that never appealed to him before. She helped him up and for no reason embraced him.

"Is it over?"

He nodded to indicate yes.


She couldn't have been more relieved. She took his hand into her own, ready to stroll carelessly out into a now-safe world.

Then, his grip tightened. Terra turned back to him, confused.

"Everything is perfect now."

Terra suddenly found that Locke's sapphire-blue eyes were replaced with a set of jet black onyxes. She shook her head in denial, ready to faint.

Locke was possessed by Rivalin.

"No!!" she screeched, as he feasiblely tore the young girl down through the aisle and slammed her back onto the altar. "Locke, don't!! Please! You're stronger than him!! I know it!"

But he listened to none of it. He heedlessly tore through her clothes, gazing voracious down at her when Terra's soul was bare. But even as he did what he was capable of, his face seemed to be lost between hatred and confused faith. It was this that prompted Terra to keep battling verbally with whoever this was.

"Don't let him dominate you, Locke!! You can beat him!!"

A pause. Locke's body thrashed about, off of Terra and down the side of the platform. His watch bound free from his pockets, counting down the last seconds of the tenth century. Within this body was a war toggling over control of Locke's soul.

"Run," he whispered to a concerned Terra.

She did. Locke tried to find his composure, though the battle raged on. His face warped continually between his own and that of the demon. The instant he was sure he had the devil beat, Locke Cole, son of Maria and Greven Cole, made a leap of faith, physically landing atop the marble sword of the fallen statue.

Terra gasped. "No!"

But it was too late. Locke's heart became impaled directly through its left ventricle. Blood seethed out of its chambers and up his throat until it bubbled out from his mouth.

But his true heart knew no destruction.

The devil's cry rang out through the world over as its form slid from the mortal's body like a glove and back into hell. His pocket watch, lost somewhere among the pews of the tabernacle, stopped forever as all three hands came to rest on the twelve.

The year 1000 had arrived.

As his strength quickly left him, Locke Cole gazed up one last time to see the most angelic form of Rachel he had ever seen in his life. Terra saw all of this, and shed her tears. Not for Locke nor Rachel, but for them both. They were united at last.

Locke Cole was her Fallen Hero.


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