Chapter 13: Colliding Destinies
Where was god when I,
Needed a friend and,
Where was god when I,
Came to an end...
Where were you, to save me there?
Where was the fear,
When I said I was scared?
-Drowning Pool: Sermon
Squall stared at his empty, dark, gloomy, cold cell. It looked just like an old-fashioned cell with iron bars and stone floors and walls. He looked around to see if he had a jailmate.
He surely did.
An old man with white hair and white eyes was in a corner. He was humming something to himself. As the old man heard Squall move, slightly, he looked up, his hands embracing his worn-out robes.
“Who’s there?” the old man asked.
“Don’t worry, old man.” Squall said, “I won’t hurt you.”
“Your voice is young.” The old man said, “Come closer to old Clif. I won’t hurt you too.”
Squall, reluctantly, crawled at the old man. He didn’t care for company, but the old man gave him comfort, to a point.
“You seem young, I can feel it.”
Hyne, Squall thought, I will not forgive you. Oh, no I will not! I don’t believe in you anymore! You’re my silent audience. And that’s it. You only exist in my head. You don’t even exist fully. You don’t care about us! You never did! I hate you! I went to the churches, I confessed my sins, I seekd your help. In return, I got bad advices, traps, my friends dead. Your grace is nothing but a cock-and-bull story everyone tells me about.
“You seem troubled, young man. What is your name.”
“Squall, you want to tell this bored, old man about it? You surely will both make my day with some talking, and let go of them all.”
Let go? I can’t. They’re inside. I can’t rip them out. I can’t get the thoughts of Hyne out. How was that old saying; “You can get a child away from Hyne. But you can’t get Hyne away from a child.”.
“I... Look, old man, I am not religious. I’m a sinner, okay? I sin a lot. Because I’m a mercenary, I sin daily. And lately, when my life crushed down on me, I found out that Hyne didn’t exist. That it was a lie to keep the ignorants in line.”
“Oh?” Clif exclaimed, “As a Hyne priest, young man, I can say that, this is not true.”
“How come? Where was Hyne when I needed a friend? And when was Hyne when I came to an end? Where was Hyne when I needed help? Nowhere to be seen.”
“Son, would you like to confess your sins?”
“You’re not supposed to see me in a-“ Squall stopped, noticing his blindness.
“I won’t see you, I swear!” the old man chuckled, “I have never even seen the woman I loved. Now, begin the confessional session.”
“Won’t you tell me the atonement and mercy passage first?”
“Old men like me don’t have time to waste, son.”
What can I say?, Squall thought, That I killed people? That I finally ceased believing in Hyne? That I was one of the Sinner Saints Of Hyne myself, a SeeD? That the girl I loved with all my heart, and protected from a death in the hands of Black SeeD is the key to the world’s destruction? That I had lead to one of my friend’s death? That I let one of the most important people in my life die? That I am a lion? What!?
“I can’t hear your thoughts, son.” The priest said, “You must express them.”
“Father, forgive me, I’m a sinner. I have forgotten Hyne. I don’t believe in Hyne anymore. If Hyne did exist, why is there suffering in the world? Why doesn’t almighty Hyne just raise his hand and take us out of this misery?”
“You think of Hyne as the purest thing that exists?” Clif asked.
“If Hyne was our superior being with infinite mercy, it must be so.”
“Think of Hyne as a parent. Is it not a parent’s right to punish their child once that child does something wrong?”
“Then this world is full of darkness. We do everything wrong. We must, cause I see no other possible way of our punishment.”
“Maybe yes, maybe no. If it were not for pain, how would you learn your lessons? If your ‘misery’ was not to be, then could you learn the worth of what you had?”
“I would.” Squall said, bravely, “I didn’t need to see death around me all the time to learn the worth of what I had! I could’ve lived in Trabia Mountains, hunting down Snow Lions or Mersmerize, and be grateful for what I had! I see no proof!”
Clif reached out to him, and his old, wrinkled hand slipped into Squall’s body. Feeling the hand on his back, gave him a chilling feeling- coldness, but yet, calmness.
“Son, what is this?” the old man asked, his hand stopping on Squall’s tattoo, “A tattoo? Let me see...” his fingers followed the lines of the tattoo. Suddenly, the old man gasped.
“What is it?” Squall asked, as Clif fell onhis knees, and bent all the way down, his forehead brushing the stone floor.
“Forgive me.” He said, “Forgive me, please! I am not worthy enough to judge you, I never could-“
“Old man, get up!” Squall said. Clif managed to sit back up, his blank eyes still looking upwards as Squall continued to stare at his face.
“The tattoo on your shoulders. I did my ‘reaching out’ to search for something. Suddenly, I sensed your presence.” He stopped, “Look at me, Squall. I’m an old man. My days are limited. And that’s just so that I can see what others can’t, just like my blindness.”
“How did you get that tattoo?”
“It... was there all the time.” Squall replied.
Yeah, he thought, Edea was mostly surprised to find out I had a tattoo. It had been there all the time, for what I knew. And everytime I stared at my back, I saw it, in the mirror.
“I see.” Clif smiled, “You are the one.”
“The one? Look, if this is going to be one of the ‘The one to save us all’, I’m not playing along.”
“The one that ‘can’ save us all.”
“No. You are the bearer of the penultimate force.”
“Penultimate force... I think I read it in Hynicale too. Next to something that was like The One Who Grieves.”
“The One Who Grieves, is you.” Clif said, “And you have the penultimate force.”
“What is penultimate force?”
“Penultimate means the last one before the actual last. Your power is only below Hyne’s. Your power exceeds even the Guardian Force... Especially, the Guardian Force.”
“So I have a power that can only be outrun by Hyne’s?”
“Yes. The One Who Grieves.”
So I grieve. For what? Why do I feel like this is something significant? Why?
“Young man, tell me, do you have a ring, and a necklace, and a weapon, with a likewise lion figure.”
“How do you know?” Squall asked, cursing himself for revealing it.
“And I suppose, you named that lion?”
“And the name was Griever?”
A silence fell.
“WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE!?” Squall asked, as he reached out and grabbed Clif by the collar, and pulled the old man to himself, “WHO ARE YOU!? WHAT DO YOU KNOW!?”
“Let me go!” Clif struggled, “Let me go!” as Squall let him go, he said, “You are Griever. Not the actual one, but the one which has been blessed by the power of Griever. Until now, you have been used as a pawn. Now, you walk as a bishop.”
“At last, we meet.” A voice said.
Squall immidiately got up, and got ready for hand-to-hand combat. He got more surprised as a dark figure threw him his gunblade. Squall caught his weapon, and was relieved by it’s presence.
“Ah,” Clif said, “Yes. This affair must take place.”
“It must.” The dark figure said. Squall noticed that the figure that was a shadow was wearing a black armour, and robes that were barely holding on.
“Who are you?” Squall asked, cautiously.
“My name is Messeniah.” The figure replied, “If you have read Hynicale, especially the part that mentiones The One Who Grieves, you will know that, I am the forerunner.”
“You’re the messenger?”
“The forerunner of doom, yes. Time is crucial. We must take our leave, immidiately. Things must be explained for the puzzle be solved.”
Squall completely forgot about Clif as he followed Messeniah out of the dungeons. The corridors seemed empty, and they walked to the opposite direction of Caraway’s office.
“Wait, where are we going to?” Squall asked,
“To a place where no one knows of. The place is secret.” Messeniah said, as he continued to lead on. Squall followed him, without saying a word. As they slipped into the darkness of the night, Squall felt a comfortable breeze coming over him.
Messeniah lead Squall into the streets of Deling City. They walked around, while getting wierd looks from everyone around them for almost an hour. At last, Messeniah went to a back alley, which had a worn-out warehouse at the end of it. There was a man standing in front of the warehouse.
“Who goes there?” the man asked.
“Messeniah.” The messenger replied.
“You have a guest?” the man asked again.
“Yes. The one we had been expecting over centuries.”
“Go inside, Messeniah. Your guest is more than welcome.” The man bowed down to Squall.
They went inside the warehouse. It looked just as Squall expected it to look- dirty, worn-out, dusted... And lots of other words could’ve been used, but “dirty and worn out of uselessness” covered it up. Squall looked around, wondering what it was.
“Down here.” Messeniah said, as he pointed at a pile of useless, burnt down tables, and they moved aside, revealing a concealed staircase. Snapping his fingers to light up a small faerie light, Messeniah said, “You first.”
Not liking it, Squall stepped forward and went downstairs from the staircase. The tables moved back into place, making the stairs darker, as their only light source was Messeniah’s faerie light.
Squall started to see some light downstairs where the staircase ended. He continued to descend the staircase, while trying to get a clue what that place might’ve been.
Messeniah stepped forward when they came to a doorless doorstep, and he went in. Squall went after him, LionHeart ready and steady in his hand.
When Squall took a step in from the doorstep, he froze. His next reaction was to raise his gunblade.
Black SeeDs were everywhere. The whole room was covered with black, latex uniformed ‘martial assassins’, the ones who had tried to kill Rinoa for numerous times, the ones that had led to Ellone’s death.
“Put your weapon down, Squall.” Messeniah said.
As Squall’s mouth dropped open, the Black SeeDs knelt down in front of him.
“The One Who Grieves.” One said.
“He has come to us!” another one said.
“Onward, Squall, for there’s much you should learn.” Messeniah stated, and immidiately Black SeeDs moved aside to form a tunnel- leading to a doorstep with a door. Squall was suddenly surrounded by his enemies- asking him what they could do to please him.
Hyne, you’re doing this to me again, aren’t you?, Squall thought, You’re putting me here with the people who tried to take my most precious thing away. But if I truly am ‘The One Who Grieves’ and if this whole thing isn’t a scam, then, you may exist after all.
But still, even your power isn’t enough to chase away my demons. Because I have lost my faith a long time ago.
Squall stopped by the door. He could feel something behind it, but couldn’t quite name it. Sighing to himself, he opened up the door.
A whirlwind knocked him off his feet, as Squall started to fly in circles in thin air which had turned into a tornado. Circling, screaming, and trying to find a place to hold on to, Squall thought he was losing his mind.
When all the motion around him ceased, Squall felt the cold ground underneath him. With shaking hands, Squall looked around.
He was in the middle of a room. At least he thought it was a room, because it seemed to have no boundaries. Squall was lying in a circle of light. He looked around, but nothing could be seen, except his shining gunblade.
Getting LionHeart, Squall crawled back at his feet. And then, lights came on around his circle of light. As if they were spotlights, they just lighted up huge thrones, filled with familiar beings.
Diablos, half-sitting like a bat in a rather seducive position. Doomtrain, steaming the light in it’s throne made of railroads. Gilgamesh, sitting in his throne which included places to insert his swords. Alexander, the castle-like GF was sitting on a throne which looked more like a modified rock.
Quezacotl, sitting on his tail, onto a throne of clouds. Ifrit, giving waves of flames to a small area around him, sitting on a throne of flames. Shiva was on a throne that was beautiful-and made of ice. Cerebrus was on a cushion, but the cushion was in such a shape that it was as if it was created for Cerebrus. Tonberry king, with his lantern and chef’s knife,was sitting on a plain throne.
Then they saw Brothers, sitting on the thrones that were the opposite of suitable for their bodies. Pandemona, on a throne of wind and dust. Leviathian, crawling on a throne made of waterfalls. Eden, on his throne of a data net. And Bahamut, on his gleaming blue throne. Siren, on her throne, in the middle of the seas and rocks. A flaming bird on a flaming bird’s nest: Phoenix. Two of the thrones were empty-one for Odin, one for Griever.
“What the hell?” Squall muttered.
“I know of your presence.” Alexander said, leaning forward a little bit, “I have served to your companions for a long time.”
“Alexander...” Squall muttered, “The Guardian Force are... Here?”
“We are The Guardian Force, yes.” Pandemona said, with an official voice.
“Not that we guard anything.” Diablos grinned at his own joke.
“That, I find it truth that’s seen from an ocean in a windy day.” Leviathain exclaimed.
“Or behind a cloud of thick smoke.” Doomtrain added.
“Why haven’t you been responding to us!?” Squall demanded, immidiately, “Why haven’t you been responding when someone tried to summon you?”
“HE HAS QUESTIONS. THIS WILL TAKE LONG.” Minatour exclaimed.
“but do we have time, bro?” Sacred asked.
“DON’T THINK SO, BRO!”
“We are, indeed, short of time.” Gilgamesh exclaimed, “Time is cut short for us.”
“Ask your questions,” Shiva allowed, “But be prepared for the icy truth.”
“Does Hyne exist!?” Squall asked, without even thinking, as the events of his confessions blasted in his mind.
Diablos let out a disturbing laugh, he was amused.
“Information is given to whoever that seeks it.” Eden said, “And as an answer to your suggested poll; Yes, Hyne does exist.”
“I want to see proof!” Squall pushed in.
“Sad to say,” Diablos chuckled, “You’re looking at it.”
“What!?” Squall asked.
“Have you read Hynicale at all? Felt the fire of the one that would last forever?” Ifrit asked.
“Do not electrify him up, Ifrit.” Quezacotl stated, “He needs to know the truth.”
“Were Griever and Odin here, they could’ve provided answers with more voice.” Siren stated.
Squall felt confused.
“I have read Hynicale.” Squall replied Ifrit’s question.
“And, if it’s not a too sharp guess,” Gilgamesh said, “You were stuck on the 21 Saints Of Hyne?”
“But what does that have to-“
“Everything.” Cerebrus’ heads said altogether.
“Indeed.” Alexander said, “You are looking at the 21 Saints Of Hyne. We are-“
“No need, I’ll explain myself.” Came a familiar voice.
Squall got more confused as the Hyne’s descendant walked in. The Guardian Force knelt down before him.
“You see, my faithless son, Hyne does exist.”
“Yes. I am Hyne. I am the ultimate being.”
Squall looked at him. He seemed so... Plain. Regular robes, a Hyne’s descendant, down to the book, always talking about religion and Hyne...
“I don’t believe it.” Squall replied,
“You disbelieve many things.” Hyne smiled, “But is The Guardian Force bowing before me, not a sufficent proof?”
Squall crawled back inside himself to find the only answer within him;
You know it’s true.
“What am I supposed to do?” Squall asked, finally.
“Ah, I am glad that we came there quickly.” Hyne exclaimed, “You see, as Hynicale was written, an oracle had made a prophecy about the prevailing darkness. And until that time, we had to find a way to shield ourselves from it. I have turned my saints, my faithful saints into the Guardian Force. They would be tools to stop it. But there hadn’t been a ‘chosen one’, as you thought. No, you have been choosen... Randomly. I do not hand-pick those who have to stand up and fight. Many have perished in her way. Sorceress Lichia, herself a saint of Hyne, turned away from the light.”
“And I need to kill her?”
“Not so rashly.” Hyne said, “First, you have to stop her from restoring her full strength.”
“The Ritual Of Reviving Blood?”
“Precisely!” Hyne exclaimed, “The Ritual Of The Reviving Blood. It’s Tear’s Point for you- the place where the prophecy will be fulfilled.”
“How are you so sure?” Squall asked, “Prophecies, messiahs, mystisism, they all tend to have one flaw.”
“Oh, it does have flaw.” Hyne said.
“And that is?”
“If you cannot stop her from taking Rinoa, then you yourself must be sacraficed.”
Squall took his time to evaluate that. He knew it meant his death, his end. And, he said to himself, is there truly a world for me, without her?
“You finally understand.” Hyne smiled.
“What am I equipped with?” Squall asked.
“Penultimate force.” Hyne replied.
“What the hell is this penultimate force!?”
“The force which I alone can defeat. You have great strenght, great power, a powerful soul that can resist and sense darkness. Penultimate force comes with believeing into yourself. GFs here will help you, Squall Leonhart. They may protect you.”
“What if I refuse?”
“Will you?” Hyne asked.
Squall had to admit that he couldn’t.
“You see, you cannot.” Hyne said, “For your love for her goes too deep for you to give up everything. Of course, you may. You may just die right here, and we shall wait for the darkness to prevail.”
“I have to...” Squall said, “Push in. I will break the gates of hell open for her if I have to. And it seems as if I have to.”
“You have to. It is not easy, but you have to. I know it sounds far easier than performing it, but you have to. You truly are a hero.”
Squall looked at Hyne’s face, his mind fixating on a single possibility.
“Can you...” he asked, “Bring Sis back? Bring her back to life? Bring Quistis back?”
“I can.” Hyne replied, looking unexplainably sad, “I can. But the question at hand is- would you like me to? Would you come this far if they hadn’t died?”
“I...” Squall stopped. “I couldn’t.” He voiced his thoughts.
“You now see, what we must ask of you. To go on with the knowledge of this.”
Squall turned his back on the Guardian Force and Hyne.
Can I?, he thought, Can I really go on? I know they can be back... Do I want them back? Can I look Ellone in the face, knowing I killed Kiros? Can I still face Quistis, knowing she had always been a collegue, nothing more? I can’t.
But now I know what I must do. I must face Lichia, and save Rinoa.
But I’m afraid to do it.
“Don’t be afraid, son.” Hyne said, putting his hand on Squall’s shoulder, “For we will be there to support you.”
“If I will die, then I will die.” Squall stated, “But at least I will die happily- knowing I had died to save the world again. Knowing I had died in a battle.”