Chirijiraden - Vanishing Memories Chapter 6

Strength from Sorrow


The midday sun beat down upon Aeris as her mount struggled to keep it’s laborious pace. The rough terrain was harsh on it’s feet as it continued to make haste through the desert. Beads of sweat flowed from her brow and down her face, dropping to the chocobo’s body to be lost in a mass of feathers and the creature’s own vat of perspiration. The rough terrain was harsh on it’s feet as it continued to make haste through the desert. The beast slowed to a gallop as the heat from the burning sand began to warp it’s vision with images of trees and water. Aeris looked down at the staggering bird wondering what had gone amiss.

“Naucitos...? Naucitos, what are you doing? Naucitos... we have to... hurry... Hya!” Aeris screamed into the bird’s ears and dug her heels into it’s ribs, sending it back into a sprint. The feathered beast breathed heavy gasps of breath as it ran as fast as it’s exhausted body would allow. She looked out into the vastness of the dunes, her objective, once firmly etched into her mind now fading with her spirit. Slowly both rider and mount drifted in and out of awareness as the heat seeped deep into their bodies. Without warning Naucitos crashed, tumbling through the sand with Aeris clinging to it’s feathers as they rolled, sending waves of pain through her body as the weight of the huge animal cracked her ribs. Slowly she stood, clutching her aching sides before walking over to the black chocobo lying in the sand.

“Naucitos? Get... up. We... have... to...?” The blood left her face as she viewed the lifeless expression etched into the bird’s face, its tongue hanging out of its mouth and onto the burning earth. “Oh Naucitos...” All at once her emotions and sorrow caught up with her in the midst of the heat when her body could take no more. The frail young woman fell to the sand and she was enveloped in a flurry of feverish dreams, her body resting beside that of her dearly departed friend.

Her mind was exhausted and confused, and the nightmare that came to her was distorted and vague. All around her drifted spirits and wandering souls, grasping at her, tearing her clothes from her body. Paralysis gripped her as she had to watch her assailants attack and rape her again and again, slashing her skin, tearing her unborn child from the womb and devouring it in a bloody mess that wrenched in her stomach. In a sudden instant the dream shifted to utter blackness. Not a ray of light pierced the unholy shadows as her body shone like a solitary silhouette, like the last remaining hope of a dying world. Everything was distorted, like viewing through a pool of water that was constantly being disturbed by ripples and waves. The darkness clutched at her, covering her nudity in a silk woven from nothingness. Suddenly the world around her flashed in a blinding light, and she was shrouded in the blackness while the world around her became an opaque and obscuring white. Her insides lurched with the chaos and she could no longer keep herself from spilling its contents across the floor. Aeris lifted a hand to wipe the vomit away from her mouth as the mess continued to creep along the room. Across the floor, up the walls, over the ceiling it continued to spread. Her mind caved in and she gave way to a sleep inside a dream.

She awoke in a hazy room in a pool of sweat and vomit, her insides ached with the pain of the fall. Her vision cleared as time quickly passed and she viewed her surroundings. Her skin felt moist and she reeked a putrid stink that most animals would dread.

“Ah, she wakes!” Aeris turned hate-filled eyes on a comely young man to her rear clothed in ragged brown robes. He held up his hands and produced a genuine smile. “Hold! I’m a friend!” She looked around her with renewed sight. The room was small and littered with sand. Wooden planks lined the walls and ceiling and boxes laid scattered across the area in random fashion. The robed man removed his hood revealing a shaven head as he approached her with a bucket of water and a cup. “Here, drink.” Aeris grasped the cup greedily as her thirst reached her attention. Drink after drink she consumed the cool, fresh water until the pain of her sides became fresh in her mind. She felt like hell and looked rightly so. She laid the cup on her seat of a box and breathed short, painful breathes.

“You have my thanks, good sir.” The man closed his eyes and smiled as he gave a nod of acceptance. “Tell me--” The man held up a silencing hand to her lips.

“Don’t talk. You must feel terrible. There’s a bath in the next room. It’s filled with sand, of course, but it should make you feel much better. Don’t worry, I’m a man of honor. I’ll leave you your privacy.” He stood to leave through an adjacent door. “I’ll have a fresh set of clean clothes when you’re finished.” Aeris opened her mouth to speak a word of gratitude but the man had all ready left. She sat silent, contemplating her nightmare and her flight to Limberry. She rose to her feet, her mind adamant to resume her journey, but her body weak and still exhausted from the desert heat. She surrendered to the fact that her body must rest and she opened the door to the bath. The room was much like the previous, brimmed with boxes and sand. She closed the door behind her and dropped the tattered dress to the floor. A small broken mirror reflected her unsightly appearance as she laid herself into the cool water, her aching body resting on the soft damp sand lining the bottom of the bath. Her eyes searched for the familiarities of a bath: soap, a towel, clothing. She found naught. She sighed in the blissful simplicity and closed her eyes as she allowed the cool water to rush over her face and hair, relieving her mind and body of the boundless filth.

She ran her hands over her body, scrubbing the dirt and grime away with her palms. When she felt that she was free of the stench of her own vomit she receded into the water and closed her eyes. “Oh, Tue Sho... please be alive.” A knock at the door awakened her senses as she frantically searched for a means to arm herself.

“It’s me,” the voice was of the robed man who had met her upon waking and she calmed herself. “When you’re done I would like to speak with you. I have some clothes right outside the door that should fit you.” Aeris took one last moment to enjoy the sanctity of the bath before standing and walking over to the door. She pushed lightly on the wood and made sure she there wasn’t a soul present to view her in this exposed state. Her eyes danced around the room until she spotted a bundle of earthen-colored cloth beside the door. She put on the cotton brown clothes: a small shirt, some loose fitting pants, and a flowing cloak with a hood to protect against the elements. She walked across the room and opened the door. Inside sat the nameless man whose hospitality she had appreciated. He sat on a wooden box toying with a needle and thread and a ragged cloak much like the one draped over her shoulders. A cloak in the heat of the desert was unimaginable, but the desert nights were quite cool around this time of year.

“I trust you’re feeling better?” He looked up to see the young girl, clothed and clean. “My name is Aine.”

“Thank you for your hospitality Aine. My name is Aeris.”

“A pleasure. So I’m assuming you were fleeing either Goland or Lesalia?” The young woman looked at the stranger quizzically.

“Why would you say such things?”

“Well. You DID push your mount until it died of exhaustion, for one, and judging from the direction of the bird‘s tracks you were coming form the north. Seeing how it died I‘m sure that you couldn‘t have come from any further, no matter how strong the beast. The distance you traveled would take at least a day from Goland, two if from Lesalia. I’m astonished the animal made it this far in such a short time!” The man took a water skin in hand and quenched his parched throat as Aeris sorted her thoughts. She lowered her head and closed her eyes.

“I was going to Limberry.”

“For what reason may I ask?” Her narrowed glare told him to leave it at that. “Okay, I can take you tomorrow at the soonest. For now you might want to rest. I’ve prepared a bed for you on the floor.”

Aeris looked around for a window only to find the entire room was sealed from the outdoors. “What time is it?”

“About a quarter ‘til midnight. You slept for a while, although it seemed it wasn‘t too restful judging from your previous condition. Now I suggest you go lie down. I’ll wake you when it’s time to leave. Sleep well.” Without allowing time for argument he departed into the next room, leaving Aeris the space to herself. She laid upon the bedroll and thought about the fruits the day had brought. It seemed that her whole world had been thrust out from under her within the span of hours. Her mind was ragged with thoughts of hate and pain, and she felt that she had dealt with enough for one day. She succumbed to sleep, leaving the rest for tomorrow.

Chapter 7

Final Fantasy Tactics Fanfic