Fade To Black Chapter 6
Throughout the World of Balance, Rivalin's dark errands were becoming engraved into the minds of people both young and old. Rumors spread like a cancer as to where the Army of Darkness would crop up next. None seemed to manifest signs of hope, for they knew that the Returners themselves had begun to fall victim to the symphony of destruction.
Their last hope was without hope themselves.
Terra tried to remain steadfast, not paying any attention to these inconclusive rumors. Strago and Relm were there for her, comforting her, telling her that her friends were still out there somewhere. But what did they know? They weren't the ones (yet) who were having the nightmares of that diabolical creature. The one who wished, on top of all of his endeavors, to mate with her.
Why was sex so important to them?
Time after time, she tried bringing this question to Strago's attention, then refrained from doing so. After all, he was the one that brought her in from near-poverty. And that left Relm out automatically. She was only a teenager. The only vindication?
Rivalin was a demon, plain and simple.
"Leo," she uttered one day in staring out through a window pane towards the grave of her old friend. "If only you were still here. You knew the answer to everything."
"My dear," Strago spoke out from behind her back. "Must you always be so crestfallen? Granted the world has its problems, but you must learn to take the good with the bad."
"What good is there, Strago?" Terra deplored, lying back on her bed. "Our friends are dead."
"We don't know that!"
"Don't we? Face the facts, Strago. They're not going to be around forever. I may have been brainwashed by the Empire but there is one surefire certainty in life. Everybody dies."
The old man smiled.
"But not everybody really lives, love. Remember that."
Nodding, the esper girl curled up on the mattress and soon drifted off to sleep.
"Rest now, my child. It might be a better day tomorrow."
The Thamasa sun had started to set. The townsfolk retreated to their homes for fear that Rivalin would take them next. Strago requested that Relm go out to the item shop and pick up a provision of potions and remedies that would help Terra's condition. She did as her grandfather asked, but in walking home, she would be fated to encounter a mob of leather-clad evildoers, courtesy of the Dark One.
"Relm Arrowny," came the foreshadowing voice that led the fray, somewhat feminine and unusually familiar. "You're out awfully late, pretty girl."
A shower began to descend onto the band as the circle of demonic figures closed in on the teenager that was scared half to death. The flash of lightning shattered all of Relm's expectations to the sound of rolling thunder.
"Celes?" she cried, her head spinning to see the rest of the undead Returners. "This can't be real!"
"Evil is as real as you don't want it to be," she answered, craning her neck towards the zombified forms of Sabin and Edgar. "Live with it, sweetie, for life won't be with you much longer."
The servants of Rivalin beat the young girl to the ground, unrelenting in the eventual murder of the granddaughter of Strago Magus.
"Strago?! Strago?!" Terra cried miserably, running down over the stairs in a panic-stricken manner.
"Terra! What's wrong, sweetheart?"
"Relm! Something's wrong with Relm!"
"What's the matter? Is she lost. . ."
"Nah!" the black-hearted Celes Chere howled, prancing through the door and dropping Relm's beaten and debauched body at their feet. "But she made her last moments count!"
Strago was beside himself with unparalleled rage and sadness, gathering up his granddaughter in his arms. Terra was there for him, but could do nothing to draw back on their tears of suffering. The Army of Darkness tore through the windowpanes and flooded in through whatever other apertures there were to get at them.
"Celes. . ." Terra began.
"The name's Rivalin. . ." the ebony-eyed woman said, tilting Terra's head so their sight could meet one another's. "Don't you remember me? Your dreams should paint the perfect reference, my love, for you are the chosen one."
"Get away from me!" Terra screamed, knocking her hand away.
The order of Celes came to the attention of everyone immediately. The undead brothers of Figaro seized the esper girl and began stripping her atop Strago's living room table. As this occurred, Strago himself continued to cradle his granddaughter in his arms, positive that he could hear that petite little voice tell him something.
Never sleep again, grandpa. Never sleep again. . .
Before the bewitched Celes had a chance to make well on her satanic desire to procreate with Terra, Strago's mystic lore powers exploded out of control. Swells of ugly fire and brimstone incapacitated all but one of Rivalin's dark messengers, who looked out amongst the destruction of Strago's cottage as Terra took the underbrush. Blurry with despair, Terra's eyes beheld the many wicked figures cascading out through the hellfire that quickly consumed Thamasa.
"You can run my love, but you cannot hide," Sabin griped.
As for Strago, his anger had turned him servant at the hands of Rivalin.
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