Dancing The Darkened Dunes

By Kin Ryu

Sand whipped around barren ankles, stinging the exposed skin. The short blonde picked up his shoes and walked through the fallen archway, sidestepping broken stones. He could almost see it again, the way it had been in that early youth long since forgotten. The white Corinthian patterned entrance, the lighted hallways. All that was seen now, dark and forbidding. Decayed and destroyed by wind and the flying desert. The animals Matron had Cid carve into the walls, each one their favorite, worn away and barely visible.

A lion, mythical creature of strength and royalty, power and courage. Squall.

A scorpion, another figurative of the wasteland they had lived in, raging destruction in a small symbol, ready to lash out in a second. Quistis.

Snow Lion, creature of the cold, soon to be tied in so tightly with her life. Selphie.

Two Grendels, intertwined, back to back, small packs with extreme loyalty. Irvine.

A Chocobo, fast and graceful, relying completely on their selves. Zell.

And Cygnus, the swan in the night sky, but now the symbol looked so ... different. The cruciform sword. It wasn't Cygnus, it was the cruciform sword. Seifer.

The man laughed to himself and rubbed his hand over a seventh symbol which hadn't been there in his childhood, quickly silencing himself. It was a dove. He'd heard of these birds. Like small, white Chocobos. They were supposed to represent peace. All the places he'd been and never once had this SeeD seen a bird like this.

He allowed his fingers to easily trail over the detailed feathers, the small branch held in its beak, its softly crested head. This one little drawing was more clear to him than any of the others, regardless of its youth.

'Rinoa...' he said quietly, his voice swallowed by the dark emptiness of the shattered memories. Quietly, as though tickling the back of his sluggish mind, a silent requiem floated to his ears. Its quiet, mournful melody drew him to it. Slowly, each step taken of its own accord, the fighter moved into the moonlight. Standing there on the crest of the dune was a tall figure, outlined black against the moon. His trenchcoat fluttered in the breeze as the notes from his instrument slid over its silvery waves.

The young man sat on the stairs and replaced his sneakers, tying them delibrately and carefully. He had no doubt that the player had seen him, but still he waited for that sharp glimmer of a gunblade's edge to call him forward. The music stopped and a crystal shine reflected the sand at his feet.

'Why are you here?' he asked. The instrumentalist sheathed his weapon and continued to play, bowstring flying across the viola in a hauntingly fast melodic calling. 'Who do you play for?'

'I play for the ghosts of the past,' the musician answered, his deep voice richly mixing with song. 'I play for the spirits to come. Finally, for those that have lost their way now.' The music slowed and its low, sad tones brought a glistening tear to those who heard. Neither listened so much to the music as the words left unspoken.

That's not why you've come here, is it?

I've come to play for us, the Orphans. I've come to console our lost souls, who have fought each other for years and have yet to destroy the others. Finally, I come to heal my tattered and frayed shade, that I will find peace in the now.

Why have you carved the dove?

She is one of us now. An Orphan in all respects of the word. She is abandoned from her father, she has no mother. Her family is us now.

But ... you are different to her. So is the lion. So why do you play?

I play to introduce that world to her. I play to allow the dove to fall to Gaia and break her wings to join us. I play for the dove.

You play to hurt her. But how can she join us if you are in the sky?

My symbol is in the sky, I am here.

Her symbol is also in the sky. Why must she break its wings to be with us? Why do you not free yourself from the stars?

I have always been set apart. I must stay that way now.

Why must she come down and become forced as one of us? Why must she leave the sky?

Because it is mine.

'Why is the sky yours?' The music swirled around his blonde hair and it fell over his eyes. The man pushed it from his view of the composer of the soft sounds.

'Because I was there first,' the answer came quietly on the breeze, even though it wasn't really asked for. 'Why do you run, when you have wings?'

'I cannot rely on my wings.' He waited for minutes, for some response. Any response was expected, rather it be harsh or silent, it was waited for. The musician paused in his music for a second to laugh.

'You chose those gloves on your hands so that you may rely only on yourself. Yet you say that you are not able to rely on your wings. Why do you seperate yourself from them?' The requiem started again with its saddened song of a bird lost from the sky.

'These gloves,' He looked at the worn Dragon Skin on his hand, 'These gloves are what I rely on. I can fight without them, but I am afraid to.'

'And you say you rely on yourself?' The tune sped to an almost chaotic voice, the man's hands flying gracefully over his instrument. 'Maybe you have already broken your wings!'

My wings were always broken. I relied on others. I relied on you.

Why would you rely in me? I was the one who tortured you. I am the one who made you miserable. I am the one-

Who was strong and protected us. You were the one who told Matron you would protect us. You are the one who ran away everytime you were adopted, so that you could protect us. I remember.

Then stars will no longer support the hilt of my sword and I will come to ground and pierce it with my blade. I will help to forge that which seperates us.

I will always wait on the other side for you to heal your soul.

The mercernary rose from his seat and turned his back on the player. With the requiem back in place in the silent hills of sand, he left and didn't turn back. The Orphanage was lost, the children seperated but one day, they would all return here together.

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