By Kursed SeeD
It's quiet in this dark space. Never moving, never breathing, never ending. Over and over again, nothing will ever change.
It's been almost a thousand years, and no one has come. No one has bothered with me, with what I've become. No one wants to die by my hands, no one wants to suffer.
I just float here, lost within my memories. It plays throughout my head repeatedly. A never-ending mirage. Perhaps if I could get just one moment of peace and quiet, things would be different. But I don't, so it isn't, and I doubt it ever will be.
Is this my punishment?
I can't help but think of it as a new form of hell. Some way to punish me for my actions, for trying to save the summoner.
I just want to rest.
But, no, they won't let me. Over and over again. Slowly driving me mad. I don't want to remember, I don't want to know. I don't want to see. But they continue to haunt me, to chase me through the corridors of my mind. No matter where I run, no matter how quick I hide, they always find me. They always have, and I fear they always will.
Her face is etched in my mind. All of the trouble, only for two sentences to remain behind.
"You must stop!"
Stop? Who wanted to stop? Stopping would have meant failure, and I'd be damned if I would fail. Not for her. For her I must succeed.
But fail I did. I just wanted to protect her, to save her. To end the war and any possible threat. But instead I lost the one person who was most precious to me. Instead of reaping happiness, I reaped sorrow. I guess I planted it, though.
"That is enough!"
Enough? How was it enough? She was still a summoner, still at war, she was still going to die. It wasn't enough unless she was safe, unless the war stopped and she was withdrawn from the front lines.
"I know you're listening. If she was your girl, what would you do?!"
I will always be able to recall the pain in her eyes, the confusion. The tears that fell silently against her cheeks as she realised we were about to die... Her thoughts were almost visible.
"Why did you come here?"
"Why did you do this?"
"Why won't you stop?"
And then she nodded. Hate coursed through me with that one single nod, for I understood what it meant.
"I will die... for you."
That wasn't what was supposed to happen. I would have willingly, happily died for her. But her? No, she wasn't supposed to die. I was. It was supposed to be me. Not her... not her!
I have lost control of who I am, what I used to be. I have become a monster, and deep down I know this, but I cannot stop. The pyreflies will not allow me to stop. Once desperation drove me, now it's only hate.
I want to rest, to finally be with her again, but they won't let me. There is no quiet ending for me, no rest, no salvation. Only this dark, dismal cave, filled with one thousand years of agony and defeat.
They scream out for vengeance, slowly pushing me further towards the brink.
Everyone will pay for what they did, for what they cost me. For their foolishness and their ignorance. For their death and their destruction, they will pay.
Is that them or me? Is it fair to say that it's merely the pyreflies extending my emotions, creating a life of their own, or would it be more truthful to say that it is I who seeks said vengeance?
I don't think I can recall anymore.
Everything has become so blurred. I'm not sure if my memories are mine or a result of no rest. Something planted by the shadows or something that was there all along.
I can tell you that she tastes of strawberries.
I can tell you that she has the softest hands in the entire world.
I can tell you about the passion that fills her eyes when she sings.
But I can't tell you why.
I can't tell you much of anything anymore.
I have only one lucid memory left within me... and that is a memory that I will share with you, here and now, before it too fades away from me... as precious as it is, it must be known to someone... someone who will care, someone who will know our story... how hard we both fought, even if for different things...
Let me share it with you...
The night was a cool one, the breeze drifting through like a quiet song. It was picturesque and no one would have ever imagined it was a night of dismay and dread.
"The night before the end", some called it. "The calm before the storm", said others. It all boiled down to one fact-
Life would never be the same after this night.
Among the millions affected by the oncoming slaughter, two stood out. Two rather tragic figures, both walking on opposite ends. One wanted to defend lives, the other, only a solitary person.
The girl was a beautiful child whose melody captured even the coldest of hearts. She was a summoner, destined to join the front lines, destined to die. She was not brave or courageous, as many thought her and the other summoners, merely human and humans often protected one another, as was their nature. The summoner did not accept her role for the glory or the fame, but instead for the off chance that she might do some good, that perhaps her efforts would not be in vain. What no one knew was that she was afraid- nay, she was terrified. This mere child, this summoner and songstress extrodinaire, was absolutely terrified beyond her wildest imagination. She did not want to die. She did not want to watch her friends and family be slaughtered. She did not want to watch her country, her home, her pride, fall.
But the summoner had no choice. Had there been another option, a way to avoid the bloodshed, she would have jumped at the chance, as would every other person in Zanarkand. But, there was not. Bevelle screamed for their blood, and would settle for no less.
And then, we have the boy. The cynical, hopelessly romantic, would-be hero. This was a child who lived by passion, not reason. His feelings were his thoughts, his knowledge, and his feelings told him this was wrong. The boy saw no sense in the war, the useless bloodshed. But, unlike so many others in Zanarkand, he did not feel a moral obligation to his fellow man to fight anyways. Nay, the boy refused to lift a weapon because, by doing so, he would be saying it was okay to fight, when he knew it wasn't.
There was, however, someone that he would fight for. Someone he would kill for, die for, and breathe for.
You see, the boy, the almost heroic man-child, loved the girl, the haunting woman from Zanarkand.
The boy did not want the girl to go to war. Everyone knew the summoners would die, and the boy did not want her joining their ranks. He did not want to have to stumble across her lifeless body, to live without her. Nay, the boy would not have it.
And so, the boy thought. And thought. The boy thought well into the night of how to save his beloved summoner, his love, his life. He would not give up until he had found a way, no matter how hopeless it seemed.
He thought of kidnapping her and taking her away, he thought of begging and pleading with her, he even thought of killing them both so neither would have to suffer... but in the end, he knew these were only foolish plans, he would never go through with any of them.
And so, things began to seem a little hopeless for the boy and his quest.
That was, until a man came along. An old man, full of wise wisdom and choice words. A man the boy had not paid much attention to before.
The man had not been speaking to the boy when he spoke, but the boy listened anyways. For once, the boy opened his ears and allowed anothers knowledge to pour through.
And so the man spoke. "Such a hard, hard time indeed. Zanarkand has a hard road ahead of it, one they are not likely to survive. This is all the fault of Vegnagun. Had that machine not been created, I daresay the war would not be happening."
The man he had been speaking to asked him, "What is this Vegnagun, exactly? I have heard rumours of it, but I am not sure what it is. We were only told that Bevelle was dangerous."
So the old man answered him, "Dangerous, indeed! Vegnagun is a weapon fit to destroy the world! Impressive machina, they say. Hidden deep under Bevelle for a defect."
"It could destroy the whole world, you say?" The boy asked, breaking into the conversation.
The old man nodded. "Indeed, it could. Terrible weapon, the thing is."
So the boy thought upon this for a moment. To destroy the entire world. It would mean no wars, no brutal slayings. The only way that mankind would ever learn is if it were to perish. All problems would be solved with death. He wouldn't have to worry anymore. "What is your name, old man?"
"They call me Maechen." The old man replied.
And for the first time, the boy showed real warmth to a complete stranger, hugging the man tightly. "Thank you." The boy whispered, running off quickly, leaving the old man, this Maechen, surprised as ever.
The idea was still fresh in the boys' mind, causing him to become quite giddy. He would make a plea to the girl one last time, and if she refused as she had been prone to do, he would solve everyone's problem.
So the boy ran, all the way to the girls' house, hoping for a chance to speak to her.
When he arrived, much out of breath and quite weary, he called out to her. "Lenne! Lenne, are you home?!"
And the girl, this angelic angel, peeked her head out of the window, to see who was calling her at this hour. "Shuyin?" She asked after a moment, "Shuyin, is that you out there?"
"Let me in, Lenne!"
A few moments later, the door opened and the boy stepped inside.
"What is it you want?" Asked Lenne, already knowing. She was no fool- the boy wanted to convince her to stay, not to fight. How she wished she could explain to him it was worth it. If her death saved one life, then it was more than she could have ever hoped for. Why couldn't he see that?
The boy, however, had a different idea. A life for a life was not a fair deal. You see, the boy knew. He knew that one life was not more important than anothers. Everyone had the right to live and no one should have to die for another to live. The girl however, could never understand that logic.
"Can I not convince you to stay?" He asked after a moments' time.
The girl looked up at him with her big, wistful eyes, and shook her head sadly.
"Even if I begged?" He was only holding onto a ledge now, slowly slipping away.
The girl bit her lip. "Please do not beg me, Shuyin. It will only hurt me further. This is something I must do."
The boy sighed, defeated. He had tried and he had failed, but he would not fail again. This time, he had a different plan. A plan that would not, nay could not, fail. "Can I at least stay the night with you?"
Finally, she smiled. "I would not have you stay anywhere else." And then she took him into her arms, holding him tightly. She closed her eyes and breathed in his scent, trying to memorize everything about him. The way he smelt, the way he felt, the way he breathed. She wanted those memories to give her strength during her battles, to will her to go on. He would be her hope in times of despair, and she hoped he knew that.
And so the boy and girl, the fatefully tragic couple, spent their last night together. Arms entwined, breaths across skin, they never strayed away. They were afraid to be out of sight, even though it was never mentioned. They both feared the other would not return if they left, they would never see them again. So they stayed, together.
When the morning light shone through, the girl was both optimistic and downtrodden. Today would be the beginning of the end. But, hopefully, she would make some progress with her battles. She prayed her skill would be of some help to Zanarkands' cause.
The girl carefully leaned over and kissed the boys' brow, then stood up and stretched. It was time to get ready.
By the time she had gotten ready, the boy had woken. He didn't tell her, but he had been awake since she had first stirred. He himself did not want to admit to his conscious state. The boy wanted it all to be a dream... a horrible, horrible dream. There was only a slight glimmer of hope for him, and it was a morbid glimmer indeed. Entire world destruction.
"Will you walk me to the gate?" Her first words to him on that chilly morning.
The boy nodded and got up, quickly slipping into his clothes. When all was ready, they made their way outside and began to travel through the city, the outside gate being their final destination. The place where they would finally be separated, and lives would be taken. The boy idly wished he could just destroy the gate, but then realised if all went according to plan, he would. Such irony, it was.
They were quiet for most of the trip, each lost in their own thoughts and insecurities. Their nightmares and dreams wavered over them like a hazy fog, never relenting, never ending.
The girl was thinking of those she had known, those she had loved, those she had never met before. Those were the ones she'd be fighting for. For their freedom, their happiness, and their lives. The thought brought a small smile upon her lips. Yes, she would give her final breath to protect them, if that's what it would take (and she knew it would). But, if they were okay, then all was not lost and never would be. There was still some hope.
The boy was also thinking of those he had known, those he had loved, those he had never met before. Those were the ones he'd destroy, the lives he'd take. For their freedom, their happiness, their... release. He smiled along side her, and it was a sight indeed. Her, for the idea of protecting lives. Him, for the thought of destroying them.
Indeed, despair brings upon interesting results.
"You seem happy." She finally commented, as they drew near.
The boy thought about this for a second and nodded. "I am." Yes, he was. He had every reason to be. He had finally found a way to save his precious summoner, even if the result would be death. In his mind, in his despair and loss, death was a welcome companion. The only means to an end.
"I'm glad." She said, and she meant it. She wanted him to be happy on this day, she needed him to be happy on this day. She did not know if she would be strong enough to leave had he not been.
When they reached the gate, they were together. Her hand in his, they walked side by side almost as if they were joined and nothing could separate them. Perhaps nothing could.
"You are Lady Lenne, right? Welcome aboard." A man, apparently in charge, told her upon their arrival. "We're moving out very soon. Bevelle is heading directly our way, and we want to try to catch them before they reach the city, so I suppose you need to start saying your good-bye's."
The girl nodded and, when the man had left, turned to the boy. "I guess I have to go now." She said quietly, not sure of what else to say. There were so many words she wanted to give him, but she couldn't seem to form them.
The sudden reality of the moment hit the boy like a sledgehammer to the back. Up until that precise moment, there had been some small hope that it indeed was all a dream, but now it proved to be just wishful thinking.
"Lenne, don't go." His voice was low, desperate.
The girl looked at him in surprise. A few moments ago, he had seemed as happy as she, and now he looked like he would either kill or cry. The quick change of emotions shook the girl to her very core. "You know I have to..." She whispered, not wanting to cause a scene. Didn't he realise this was hard enough for her? Couldn't he just stand by her, as he had promised to always do?
"No, you don't..." The boy wished he could make her see, help her to understand. Going to war was not the answer. Bevelle was full of nothing but fools, arrogant bastards looking for their own gain. Zanarkand was just small fish for them. Everyone knew Bevelle could crush Zanarkand in a second. So why did they keep on trying? Why did they keep on insisting on fighting this war, this death mission? The boy could not understand it.
"Please, I have to go..." The girl whispered again, this time a little more urgently.
"Lenne, you can't leave... I... I love you... and we're supposed to be together, but how can we be together if you're just gonna go off and die?" The boy was beginning to ramble on, his hysteria rising. To hell with the plan, he wanted her alive, with him. "Please, Lenne... stay with me, tell me you're not going to leave... let's just turn around and walk away right now... please?"
The girl felt her throat close up at his words. She wanted to scold him for picking now as the time to tell her his feelings, yet she wanted to wrap her arms around him and whisper to him, "Yes... I will go with you...". But she knew she couldn't. She had a duty to uphold and she'd be damned if she would fail.
"Shuyin, I..." Her mind tried desperately to say the words that she wanted to say, but her voice failed her, her tongue seemingly glued to the roof of her mouth. The closest she got was a small gurgling noise.
"Lady Lenne? I'm sorry, but we really do have to go now if we hope to catch them in time."
The girl looked back and forth from the man and the boy. A stranger and her love. Her death and her life.
She closed her eyes and gritted her teeth. "I'm sorry..." She whispered. "I have to go." With those words she turned away from him and began to walk away, breaking into a run.
It was another painful blow for the boy. His declaration had had no effect on her, it had not changed anything. And now she had left him, without even offering him a small consolation.
His hands curled up into fists and he began to shake. Everything meant nothing anymore. He had tried and failed, yet again. He blamed Bevelle, he blamed Zanarkand, he blamed Lenne's sense of righteousness, but most of all... he blamed himself. He felt he had somehow failed both himself and her. He had not been able to prevent her leaving, he had let her walk off to her death. It was his fault, his.
"Are you okay, son?" The boy took a deep breath at the voice, willing himself to become calm.
"I'm fine." He said after a moment, opening his eyes and staring out at the world with a newfound hatred. He took another deep breath and nodded, more to himself than anyone else. He then began to walk, slowly, in the direction that would forever alter everything. But that was fine with him, as far as he was concerned anymore, they deserved it. For their stupidity, they would pay... yes, they would pay.
Lone footsteps echoed through the empty hallway. A form began to take shape as the shadows slipped away, the form drew closer to the light.
The form was actually a man, who had once been a boy. A strange glow emanated from the man's eyes, casting the blue off for brown. His body was tense and his clothes were blood-soaked. Getting there had been no easy task, and he had had to kill several Bevellians in the process. Not that he had minded, though. It was Bevelles' fault that everyone was in this mess, that he was in this situation being forced to take such drastic measures.
It had been weeks since the summoners had left to defend the fair land of Zanarkand, and those weeks had drastically changed the now man. His hope and childishness had been replaced with a toughened shell. He had forgotten his idealisms, had forgotten his dreams. All he knew now was destruction, that ever-present urge to end everything.
The man had witnessed horrors that no human being should ever have to see. He had seen grown men cry and beg for their lives, he had seen women and children shot down like dogs. Everything he had been had been destroyed in those times, and now he was a different form entirely.
And then, at the end of his journey, there it was. The means to an end. His final hope and salvation.
The man strode towards the massive machina carefully, being careful not to upset it. He had heard that the machine was sensitive to hostility, although the man knew it'd find none in him. Vegnagun was all he had left anymore.
When the machina did not assault him, he began to feel a little more comfortable. He climbed up the machine, upwards and upwards, until he finally reached the control panel. He sat down and looked at the keyboard in front of him and suddenly he understood. He began to play.
The music flowed through the room and the hallways as the lights lit up and the machine began to open, readying itself for the destruction.
The man lost himself in the moment, thinking of only one goal. Finally, he would be free. They would be free. No more death, no more tears... only sweet, sweet release.
"You must stop!"
The sudden voice shook the man. It was the voice he had heard in his dreams, the voice that haunted him, the voice of his angel.
He quickly turned around, hoping against hope, not quite believing.
"That is enough!" The girl stood on the platform, her arms held out as if offering herself to some god for sacrifice.
As soon as the words escaped her mouth, the pattering of footsteps were heard. The girl whirled around, clasping her hands to her stomach in shock.
Without another thought the man jumped from Vegnagun and raced to her side. When he reached her, he grabbed her tightly, as if he could somehow protect her.
Before them stood a group of soldiers, their rifles readied and aimed at them. The man, once again a boy in his fear and loss, glared at the army and then turned back to his love.
He wanted to say a million things to her, but he knew there was no time. He hoped his eyes explained everything. His regret, his desperation... his love.
The girls' eyes welled up as she stared at him, trying to understand his reasoning, trying to let him know it was okay.
He tilted his head to the side, almost as if asking her if she still cared. He hoped he hadn't messed up too bad, he wanted her to know it was all for her. Always for her.
She bit her lip and nodded, a single tear escaping down her cheek. She knew they would die, but it was alright. They were together and she couldn't imagine a better way to die. If she had to, then this was it.
The boy wanted to scream, to shield her. She wasn't supposed to die for him. No, no. Everything was all wrong.
He held her tightly as they heard the guns go off, the bullets racing towards them. It was an instant that seemed to last forever.
They turned slightly in anticipation, as the bullets hit them, flowing through their body and shattering their bones. Their grip on each other weakened and then fell apart completely as they fell to the floor.
The boy hit the ground roughly, landing on his face. Pain ebbed through him like a blistering sore, but he didn't care. He looked over at his love, his hand trying desperately to reach her.
A million thoughts and memories rushed past the girl, all too fast to catch. All she knew was she wasn't alone. She wasn't going to die alone. He was with her and everything was perfect. There would be no more worries, no more sorrows. Tears began to stream down her face as she curled her fingers, as if holding his hand. They were both tears of sadness and tears of joy. At least they were together, but she had wished for more time. She hadn't wanted it to end this way.
The boy again tried reaching out to her, but it was a useless attempt. The blood began to pool around him as his vision grew hazy, his eyelids closing on him. "I'm sorry." He wanted to tell her. "I'm sorry I failed you, I'm sorry I couldn't protect you."
The only noise he made was the slight gurgling as the blood began to well up in his mouth. "I love you." A single thought, and then- darkness.
"Get up." A rough voice commanded.
The boy felt a sharp stab of pain as a foot connected with his side. He groaned and sat up, feeling both incredibly dizzy and incredibly sick.
"What..." After a few seconds his vision began to clear and his memories poured over him. "I'm... I'm alive." He said dully, noting the obvious.
"Well, how'd you ever guess that?" The man asked, sounding very annoyed.
The boy was filled with the urge to cry. "Where is she?!" He shouted, trying to stand up, only to be hit in the back of the head.
"Do not stand up." Was the command.
"Where is Lenne?!" He shouted again, not caring if they beat him beyond recognition.
"I'm afraid I don't know who you are talking about." The man responded coolly.
"That's not true and you know it! Where is she?!"
Another kick to the head and then it was once again dark.
The next time the boy awoke, he was alone. He noticed he was in a cage, suspended in mid-air. They could have put him in a small box for all he cared, he just wanted to know about the fate of the girl.
"Is anybody out there?!" He screamed, hoping that someone would hear him, someone would pity him and tell him what had happened. It was a small hope, though, for it was Bevelle they were speaking about. The country and their people had more than once proved they lacked any true compassion.
The door opened and a man strode through, a small sphere in his hand. The boy stood up immediately, opening his mouth to speak.
"You're only chance for survival is to apologise." The man said, cutting the boy off. He placed the sphere in front of the cage. "If you apologise and beg for forgiveness, you might just get to spend the rest of your life here." Without another word the man walked off, as quietly as he had come.
The boy looked at the sphere in disgust. Apologise?! The boy had done nothing wrong. He decided to tell them so. "No, I'm not sorry!" He cried out, holding on to the cell bars. "I haven't done anything wrong!"
No response came from the sphere or the outside, even though the boy knew they had to be listening. "I know you're listening. If she was your girl, what would you do?!" His voice became even more shrill. Couldn't they understand that he had only wanted to protect her? To keep her from suffering? He had just wanted to be with her, together...
"How can you blame me for trying to use your weapon? It was the only way I could save the summoner!"
The boy clutched the bars tighter, his face quickly becoming a mask of rage. "What would you do if you were me?!" If only he could get them to understand.
"Let me out!" He screamed, shaking the cage fiercely. But, no one came, no one released him.
A sob escaped his throat as his anger slipped away from him. He slid down to the floor, the pain overwhelming him. "I want to see her..." He said, his voice thick with emotion.
He began to cry quietly. For everything that had been lost. For their fate and his mistakes. He hoped against hope that the girl was still alive, but deep in his heart, he knew.
At that moment, more than any other moment, he wanted to die. He wanted to just vanish from the planet entirely, never to return again. It was his fault. Lenne was dead and it was because of him.
"No..." he whispered, shaking his head wildly. "Not me, it was them! It was YOU!" He screamed, desperately wanting to destroy the sphere, the people, the entire world.
His chest began to burn fiercely from all of his screaming and thrashing about, but he didn't care. He hoped it killed him. At least then he could be with her again.
He let out a long, unintelligible scream, daring the pain to get worse. Daring it to kill him.
Instead, he was once again greeted with mere darkness.
The boys' wish came one fatefully chilly day, the same it had been when the summoners had left Zanarkand and the end had begun.
For the first time he was taken from his cell, put on a vehicle (of what he could not tell, for he was blindfolded) and taken far away from the deadly land of Bevelle.
It seemed to him that they traveled for years, when in reality it was only a few days. The boy refused to speak, refused to eat. He was hit so many times he didn't even bother to count, not that it mattered anymore. Not that anything did.
They took him to a small cave, damp and dark. The place reeked of death, the pyreflies surrounding him, welcoming him.
"Take off the blindfold."
When the boy refused to cooperate, the cloth was ripped from him as he was hit, yet again. He fell to the floor, his hands holding himself up. He panted, the blood beginning to trickle out of the corner of his mouth. His wound had still not healed. He wouldn't let it.
The boy heard the click of a gun and understood immediately. They meant to kill him here. "Please..." he managed to whispered between laboured breaths. "If you're going to kill me, then please tell me... what happened... to the summoner?" Speaking sent white-hot pain up his chest, but he took no notice of it. He just wanted an answer.
For a moment there was only silence. Then, finally, someone took mercy on him.
"The summoner is dead."
The boy nodded, his fears confirmed. "Then kill me." He whispered, giving up the last of his resistance.
The man was more than happy to oblige.
Shuyin held only one image in his mind as he died, and that was of Lenne... Always of Lenne.
And that is where my story ended. The release I had so feverishly prayed for was denied when the pyreflies captured my memories, sticking me here.
Now I have nothing. No hopes, no prospects. I don't even contain my sanity anymore.
I do have my hatred, though. My hatred for Bevelle, for causing the war in the first place, for killing Lenne and for taking everything that was precious away from me. My hatred for Zanarkand, and it's refusal to just give up, for letting the summoners march to their death and not caring. Then there is, of course, my hatred for myself. For failing to protect her, for failing to save her... for failing her in every way possible.
I just... I want to rest... I want to see her... why can't I see her?
But then, it begins anew. I will have my vengeance.
My story started again when the cave was opened and countless soldiers walked through. For the first time in almost a thousand years, another chance had finally arisen.
Yes, they will pay.
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