Fade To Black Chapter 4
Dolefully, Cyan Garamonde, alone in his vacant throne room of Doma, cycled through his hands the various reports of death and destruction brought to his attention from insiders and vagabonds by way of carrier pigeons. Why did such docile creatures have to be the bearers of such bad news?
The reports were short but far from sweet: the tragic excavation of the body of Celes Chere from the abyssal underground of Narshe by Mog and Umaro; the disappearance of Figaro desert with all hands lost; a family of Mobliz natives were exhumed from the charred remains of their quiet home southeast of Cyan's realm; Gau, bless him, was found gruesomely impaled upon a large wooden cross in the dead center of the Veldt, his last facial expression lingering in perpetual terror.
He tried his best to paste together some type of vindication for such ulterior motives, and found there were none. And it was he that was supposed to be the king of Doma. What a waste!
"Your highness!" came the feminine cry of one of his most loyal subjects. "My apologies!"
As soon as she was at his feet, she prostrated down out of respect for him. She was no more than nineteen. Cyan grew impatient of all these formal addresses.
"As you were, Talia," the king said calmly. "What do you have to report?"
She handed to him a scroll rolled into a red piece of linen. His eyes glazed over it. He lowered the note, his eyes now closed in melancholy.
"Cid too," he whimpered, ripping the paper in half.
"A group of Returners found him disemboweled seven miles south of Tzen. It was as if he was trying to get home."
He chose to ignore her description. "Ensign, do me a favor."
"Anything, my liege."
"Look after the throne for me while I'm gone."
Ensign Talia was almost outraged at the request and expressed how much she was against the idea.
"Your lordship! You mustn't abandon your throne! More important news may be quick to follow! Please, you must. . ."
"LOOK!" came Cyan's cantankerous yell. The woman fell to her knees, the leggings of her uniform crunching against the stone pulpit of the castle floor. "You have your orders, ensign. Make me proud."
"Yes, your majesty."
Alone in a ramshackle lean-to at the western tip of Isle Doma, Cyan drowned out the light of day with the drapery and lit several candles until their radiance burned like a ritual was about to take place. With a large tome in hand, he sat down at the cot of a bed and cracked it open, looking for the right page. Removing its bookmark, he was given awareness that today's date was the twenty-first of December. Looking to the page adjacent to it, he took in the various superstitions that were ramped during this time of year. One footnote threw his belief system into a completely dark state.
It was currently circa 999 common era. The number of the beast was this number when viewed upside down.
For the longest time, the entire day even, he stayed in his shack, not wanting to believe it. Then, as he exited the hut for his castle to see to his ensign, he felt Judgement being pass over his people. The death toll steadily rose. The bizarre illusions of some demonic figure haunting the living in their nightmares. Even the king of Doma couldn't help but admit that this held true to his own dreams.
But there was no way he would tell anyone about those.
"At ease, ensign," he pressed onto the obedient soldier in finding home again.
"You've been gone for a long time, my lord. Is there something wrong?"
"Everything," he replied morbidly. "Everything is wrong."
The last of his orders that night was to summon the one called Setzer Gabianni. It was time to bring the Returners back together one last time.
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