Echoes of the Past Chapter 1
Terra stood at the edge of a small island of rock, only a few steps away from plummeting into an endless chasm. Before her, a larger flying mountain hovered in defiance of nature, hideous spires reaching into a sky painted with blood and fire. Behind her were her friends, her trusted companions, and, standing at the base of the spiked mountain: a masked silhoutte, the destroyer of their world.
The voice, like its owner, was maniacal. It mocked everything, laughed in their faces. In two simple words Kefka showed them that he regarded all of their efforts as totally useless.
Terra raised her head proudly, trying to defy the fear that threatened to overcome her at every second. The man-god looked and acted like a fool, but in his grasp was a power that could rend worlds. In his dark, unknown mind was a will that would use that powerand indeed had. Fearing her voice would crack, Terra said nothing, but simply defied him by standing there.
Kefkas form erupted into light as a dark blue pyramid of crackling energy formed around him. Four bright white sparks flashed into being around the rotating pyramid, shedding illumination on the man-gods wicked grin and mad eyes. He was still dressed in the same ridiculous clothing, flamboyant dress fit for a clown, not the ruler of the known world.
His chest heaved as he said, I knew youd make it here, so Ive prepared some suitable entertainment for you!
name of the Goddesses, what is he going to do to
us? The dark part of Terras mind
wondered. Her heart sank suddenly
and uncontrollably. He could
just destroy the entire world now, and wed never have a chance at fighting
him. How can we stand up to
that power? Were strong,
we killed off Atma, and the Goddess
but how much stronger is he
and Celes were nearly killed fighting the Apocalypse
What if we fight
him, and he simly wipes away all of us?
What if all this turns out to be in
The strong side of herself, the Esper side, she had always thought, reproved herself, Do not do this. This man this beast, before you, killed off every single one of the Espers without mercy, for his own gain. Including your father. Remember what he did. Remember your pain, and the pain of the others. Kefka deserves to die, and we are the only ones that can kill him. If we lose the world will probably end for eternity. We cant fail. We cant. Theres no choice. She regained her voice.
How long are you going to let the destruction continue?
Kefka didnt answer. He just grinned even wider, even more sadistacally. After a moment, he threw his arms into the air, and said on a tangent, Ive tapped into the ultimate power! Observe!
Suddenly, the ground fell out from her feet. At least, thats what it felt like, and in those first moments she despaired, thought she had been simply flung off of the island. However, she was floating upward instead of downward. Terras body was lifted violently into the air. Her clothes and hair battered furiously back and forth in the cyclone of Kefkas wind magic. Gasping in horror, she felt herself being pulled over the side of the cliff. She heard Locke and Relm call out her name in alarm, and then a frightened growl closer to her. She looked to her left and saw that Edgar was also
being danced around by Kefkas magic.
The wind magic stopped abruptly and she fell. NOOOO! She screamed in her mind, as she looked down at the grey abyss. Im going to-- The magic snarled her again with buffeting force as Kefka picked up his puppeteer strings one more, and she was pulled higher, over the spiked rocks. She felt a small relief, not having to look down and see that endlessness, but she was still in Kefkas total control. If he wanted to, he could dash her life away on those sharp rocks and it would all mean nothing.
Such magnificent power! You are like insects to me! The glint was in his eyes, Terra saw. The glint of insanity. Of mad power. The fear flooded over her again, seizing her limbs and making her mind numb. She hovered there before Kefka. He grinned at her, enjoying the control. She saw Edgar suddenly disappear from beside Kefka.
She cried out as she was hurled backwards in the air. Her shoulder slammed into the edge of the hovering island and she yelled in pain as she flipped over herself and crashed into the unsteady ground. She laid there for a moment, her mind trying to register what had just happened and how close she had been to death. The half-esper woman tried to ignore the fiery ache in her back and side as she stood back up to look at the concerned faces of her friends. She looked over and saw Edgar, rubbing a shoulder with a large, deep cut that was covered in red. He was also hurt, but he looked at her with confidence. Hes much more brave than I am, she thought. Or is he just pretending?
I will exterminate everyone, and everything!
Whats the point!?! she wanted to scream at him. Why are you doing this to us? Instead, she only said, in defiance: People will keep rebuilding the things you take from them!
Then Ill destroy those too, he said, laughing as if he had just told the worlds best joke. Why do people rebuild things they know are going to be destroyed?
His logic made sense. That was what scared Terra. Kefka honestly believed he was doing them all a favor by trying to end the world.
Without warning, the shield that circled around Kefka changed from its former blue to an ominous purple. The energy crackled more furiously now, white bolts of lightning striking forth into the abyss with ear-rending, gut-punching sound. The sky darkened to a night blue. Terra tried not to think about the enormous power it would take do something like that.
Why do people cling to life when they know they cant live forever?
Terra had no answer. She was afraid of driving him over the edge. She knew eventually they would have to fight, but the fear still gripped her, no matter what she tried to do.
Think, how meaningless each of your lives is! Here, let me show you how easy it is to DIE!
And with this, the pyramid around Kefka flared into a brilliant red. Floating into the air above them, Kefka laughed the laugh of a madman. Before she could react, Kefka flashed into an orange aura and shouted, Fire 3!!
A triangular column of flame appeared before her, incinerating the air around her with its enormous heat. Her eyes stung with the sudden brightness and heat. With unnatural speed it spiked into her.
She roared, rolled forward, flailed her arms about her. The fire would not go away. It clung to her and burned, burned, it felt like her flesh was coming off, and maybe it was she screamed and screamed, calling out for her mother, for her father, both of whom Kefka had taken away from her. From the groans and screams behind her, she knew her friends had all been hit too, but it was so distant to her immediate suffering, it was a vague hurt and sadness to contest a soul-rending conflagration of pain.
Noo! Its not supposed to end this way!! Words could not capture her utter feeling of loss and despair, of wrongness, of futility. We were supposed to be the worlds salvation! Look at us now! She span around in a maddening, dizzying spiral. She stumbled around, clawing at her face, and she saw the skin on her arms blacken and peel off, showing grisly red muscle beneath. Her eyes were about gone, she knew. She didnt have much left. And there was Kefka, still hovering before her, laughing, laughing, laughing
Damn him! Goddeses damn him to eternal hell! If I must die, I will take him with me!
She screamed through lungs whose breath was being burnt away every second. He was close, so close. She drew her sword, made a prayer for her father. I will be with you soon. Holding the silver blade before her, seeing on it a reflection of the fire that was now consuming her hair and face, she thought, I pronounce a deaths wish on you, blade. I wish for my death only after the death of my enemy.
She lifted the sword high and readied a leaping jump at the villain. He was so close, so close, laughing over that blasted spiked rock, smugly thinking that nothing could touch him, that he was omnipotent. In his arrogance, he believed he was a god.
Drawing the sword behind her head to prepare for the killing blow, she reached the edge of the cliff and leaped, fire streaming from her back as if she were one of hells demons come from the pits of the abyss to wreak judgement on the evil.
Indeed, she thought, I shall.
She was in the air, flying, flying, and Kefka was laughing, laughing He looked at her with sudden menace, all mirth fled from his eyes. Suddenly she wasnt flying anymore, and she wondered if she was just deluding herself. The last thing she saw before her eyes were gone was Kefkas triumphant smirk and the blasted, spiked island, and the sky that was a sea of night. Then, she burned, and all was blackness.
She plummeted into the abyss, she plummeted into darkness, helplessness, despair, futility. Her stomach lept up into her heart. She screamed for the others, but no help came. Up there, they were burning, burning, just as she was burning she wondered whether she would turn into ashes first, or keep falling into this endless chasm
One final scream, a wail of agony, torment, and sadness for thousands of souls who would never get vengeance, and then it was over.
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Her heart was pounding. She hurtled upright.
Terra frantically grabbed at herself, but there were no more flames. She wasnt falling, she was still, nothing was moving, nothing was moving. My skin my eyes what she felt her face, and it was smooth, damp, cold. Not charred, flaking, burning.
rubbed her forehead with her fingers, gradually realizing what had
happened. She raised her head,
feeling as though she was about to break down in tears.
The half-esper looked around and saw familiar things, remembered that she was in the Figaro inn. She was lying in bed, half covered in thick, wrinkled blankets. She was wet with sweat.
Damn, she thought. Again. And it felt so real like always She shuddered.
Why do I keep having these dreams? We killed Kefka three years ago. Why wont he leave me alone? Why wont he go away damn him, hes dead and hes still trying to hurt me. Hurting me with my own mind, my own memories. Except theyre always warped.
Sighing, Terra rubbed her forehead. Thats it, she thought, looking around at the fancy decorations on the walls, painted in the dull monochrome of the night. I need to get some air. Not going to get back to sleep like this.
She pulled the covers of the bed off of her legs and bent to the floor to get her satin, ruby colored robe. Slipping it on, she rose to her feet slowly, stifled a yawn with her hand, and walked quietly out the door.
The young, lithe woman glided through the halls of Figaro, thankful for the fact that no one was awake at this hour of the night. The smooth stone felt good on her bare feet. She climbed up a stairway and opened the door to the outside.
A blast of chilly desert air hit her, startling her. She took in the majestic rise of the royal chambers before her, its stone façade lit with beams of quiet moonlight. Walking barefoot across the stinging brick, she decided that she couldnt complain about the temperature.
Its better than being burned alive, after all. Im still a warrior. I can handle a little cold. The dream came back to her again in a flash, and she felt her legs weaken. She forced it from her mind. I came out here for peace and quiet and damnit, Im not going to let you mess it, Kefka.
She reached the walled edge of the floor and leaned over onto her elbows, raising her head to look around at the rising, blue-gray hills of sand. The moon was nearly full, and only a few clouds covered her view of the stars. She could never find as many as she had before Kefka had destroyed the world; she supposed the dust that had turned the daytime sky red also blocked the view of space. But there were still too many to count.
Just like people, she thought. Kefka killed more people than weve found bodies for, but the rest of us are still here, surviving in spite of it all. His dream of destroying everything was futile Something must always exist to give everything else a purpose. If he had succeeded he would have taken away everything that had ever mattered to anyone.
But his view was that nothing really mattered anyway. That we all die eventually, and eventually even the greatest people are forgotten. That if he simply ended it all in one grand stroke he would save the world a lot of trouble.
Well, that was his view, as it seemed, until he went all out insane. I wonder what could drive a person to that.
Again, the memory of burning that felt all so real, the intense agony and despair and fury
Well, I suppose Im not the only one that couldnt sleep tonight. Dreams of me kept you up?
Terra yelped in surprise and reached for her sword.
A hand on her shoulder, gentle, comforting, not attacking. She remembered that her sword was in her room, and she was in her nightgown. Habit. And one hell of a night.
Hey, hey, its okay. Its just me. Dont spear me just yet.
She looked into Edgars light blue eyes, saw his lopsided, pretty boy grin, and relaxed, letting go of the breath she hadnt realized shed been holding.
Sorry, I just didnt expect
Edgar took his hand from her and propped his head up on his knuckles, resting his arms on the wall like she was.
Its okay. I wasnt exactly expecting to look out my window and see my old traveling companion hanging around my castle in the middle of the night.
Ah, sorry. I just had a long trip from Mobliz, to the port, to South Figaro, to here. I arrived really late and was tired anyway, so the guard just checked me into the inn.
She looked over at Edgar, dressed in a luxurious scarlet housecoat. He looked just as handsome as he always did, but there were newly etched lines of worry, work, and stress on his face. Being a king isnt easy. But then, what is?
So what brings you up here? Theres not any trouble in Mobliz, is there?
No, no trouble. Everythings fine. I just decided that Duane and Katherine needed to learn some responsibility, and I needed a break, some time alone. Believe it or not, watching after a town full of kids isnt easy. I love them, and Id do anything for them but three years of constant nagging, and whining, and yelling, and cleaning up messes not to mention that I rarely ever got a break, had some time to relax. After a while you start to lose the love and you see only a bunch of annoying, bugging children. I know it seems mean. But when it gets to that point you have to leave, so that when you come back you see them the way you first did.
Edgar nodded. Mm. Seems like a good enough reason.
So how are things here?
Ah personally? Well, I just got engaged, if that says anything.
Terra took this with a shock. Huh? You mean
Ha. Never thought youd see me settle down with anyone, eh? This was said with an underlying sadness. Edgar had always had a special affection for Terra, but she just
couldnt return the feelings. She wasnt sure exactly why. He was attractive, and it was clear from their travels together that it would be hard to find a better man. But it just didnt feel right in her heart. And shed always trusted her heart before.
Im getting married to Sonya. Sonya Friedrich. Shes one of the leading people in the New World Restoration Movement.
Oh, said Terra simply. Inside, she was severely dissapointed. Married for politics. Of course, I should have known. Edgar will do anything for Figaro, even marry someone he doesnt know. But it doesnt seem like him, still. He needs to find true happiness, care more about himself
Its funny, added Edgar, looking at the horizon thoughtfully and grinning, Of all the people Ive flirted with and embarrased over the years, she was the only one who flirted with and embarrased me back. Right in front of the Movements Committee, too. Nearly busted out laughing right in the middle of the meeting. Caught a few stares. But it was worth it. Weve known each other about two months now, and we just really fit, you know? The first time I saw true love, it was with Locke and Celes. But they never really said what they felt, and it took them a while. So I thought finding love would be really hard. But with Sonya, it all just seemed so right, and it wasnt hard at all.
Having said all this, Edgar took a breath and was silent for a moment.
Huh. Should have made Edgar out for more than that. Of course he wouldnt do something as shallow as that, even for the good of his country. She mentally apologized for her thoughts.
Out loud, she said, Im glad to hear that. Youve finally found your special person, it sounds like.
Wonder when Ill find mine, she didnt say.
At first, she had thought she had found something with Locke. Hed shown up, rescued her in the most heroic way possible, and was faultless in his behavior to her. He didnt make any real advances, though, and she, having the self-esteem level she did at the time, didnt dare to. He did seem to have a fondness for her, though. Shed decided to wait until she was more comfortable with herself and her feelings. Then shed met Celes in Narshe. That was where her hopes had been dashed.
There was that brief time with General Leo. But hed been killed shortly after. And, of course, shed said barely anything to him, either. By then she had admonished herself, thinking she was simply desperate for affection and would fall in love with any man who walked her way. Of course, this wasnt true, she wasnt some sort of little whore. Shadow would not respond to any means of conversation, and Setzer never did talk to her that much.
Of course, there was always Gau, and Gogo or even Ultros.
What are you grinning about, Ms. Branford? asked an amused Edgar.
Hmm?! Nothing. She didnt realize shed been smirking.
For a few moments, neither said anything. The only sound was the sound of the night wind picking up the desert wind, carrying it off from place to place, much as fate did to people and countries and worlds. Thinking this, Terra sank back into her memories again, the environment setting her into a kind of calm, reflective mood.
How did I get to be here, right at this place, right at this moment? How many different coincidences of fate brought my mother to my father, brought me from the Esper world to the World of Balance, to Kefkas lab, to Narshe, to Figaro through the end of
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one world, to a hideously warped version of its former, to the end of yet another world, the place of my birth. The end of magic, and everything dealing with magic. In all practicality, the end of magic changed the world anew yet again Without all those creatures dealing with magic, it became a lot safer. But it also made the healing of Kefkas damages more difficult. With every gain, theres always some kind of loss. Always.
Edgar inhaled slowly, and asked, So, what kept you up tonight? If you dont mind my asking.
Terra bowed her head. I had a dream.
Understanding, Edgar stated, You mean a nightmare. Yeah, I still have those too. The Intangir one I have a lot. You know, its invisible, and you cant see it, and it sneaks up on you and Edgar shuddered. Anyways, you shouldnt be too worried about it. They always go away, and, well, Im sure everyone whos fought has them at sometime or another. Its just our way of dealing with the horror of battle.
Terra was somehow surprised that Edgar would so openly admit a fear of his, or even speak in that manner. It was a little out of character for him, who was always so brave and dashing in front of everyone, who always went a little more for bravado than Locke, who helped people just because he felt he needed to.
Maybe just talking to me alone draws that out of him. No one ever had too much time between themselves, it was always one big group
Terra shook her head. No, it wasnt like that. It was one of Kefka.
Yes we were back in his tower, facing him. And he suddenly just cast a fire spell on me and I fell off into that bottomless pit. It sounds silly, I know, but it was so real it felt like it was really happening. It really did.
Edgar put his hand on her shoulder again. Its okay. I know how it feels. All you can do is wake up to reality and remember that the bastards dead. Truly dead. Alexander made sure of that.
Terra nodded, and Edgar withdrew his hand, propping himself back up on the wall of the castle.
Goddesses, Edgar swore, shaking his head. Fruity sonofasuccubus has been dead for three years, and hes still being a pain in the ass.
Edgar grinned sympathetically. Terra laughed until she cried.
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