Chapter 14:The Angel And The Lion
-Lacuna Coil: Angel’s Punishment
“Everything’s set, sir.” The Galbadian soldier reported to Caraway. Caraway turned to Rinoa.
“Well, you heard him.” Caraway said, “Might as well get you into the ceremony clothes.”
“Ceremony clothes?” Rinoa asked, as every molecule in her body tried to move, but failed in the attempt.
“Ceremony clothes, idiot mortal.” Lichia said, her voice sounded itching for her freedom, “The clothes you will wear as you are to be sacraficed for my rebirth!”
“I will die before letting you rise again!” Rinoa said, boldly.
“You are free to die.” Lichia mocked her, “Your body, your blood... The only thing that matters to me is your body, not your soul or mind.”
Caraway disappeared in the doorway, as Rinoa felt a warm sensation travel through her entire body, and Rinoa saw a transparent vision of Lichia, sitting right across her.
“I saw fit that we should talk, face to face.” Lichia said.
“You do the talking.” Rinoa replied.
“Do you recognize my reasons for sacraficing you? To revive myself?”
“Why do you even care?” Rinoa asked.
“I care, because I want my revival to be perfect. I want you to be fully aware of everything. That your own father betrayed you beyond any reasonable doubt. That the man you love left you alone. That you are alone.”
“He isn’t my father!” Rinoa said, grudgingly, “Caraway had only been my biological father- the sperm in the core of my mother, that’s it! Nothing else! And what do you know about being alone?”
“Everything.” Lichia replied, “I was born alone, raised in an orphanage. I was without parents, without friends. My friends had fleed from me, fearing my power. I knew then, the path of a sorceress is a lonely one. The path is always lonely when you are superior to others.”
“Superior? Why not use the power for good?”
“Have you ever heard of the phrase, foolish mortal; ‘If I could only use this power good, I wouldn’t, not even if I could’? You can not. Power is meant to be used for your own twisted reasons.”
Rinoa refused to reply.
The path of the sorceress is a lonely one... Yeah, right. I now see why I didn’t turn out to be as twisted as Adel, or Ultimecia. Because Squall was there. Squall was there to hold me. He was there to trip over his own two feet while trying to comfort me. I could stand strong because I wasn’t alone.
Where is this ‘Squall’ now? Is he here, by your side? No. Hyne alone knows where he is. And you still trust him? I do not understand why. He has left you alone, with me. Left you alone to die. Left you alone to be sacraficed by your own father.
He may not be here now but he knows... He does know where I am and he will be here, as soon as he can.
‘As soon as’ may be too late for you.
Rinoa turned away, but there was no way to turn away from the voice within her, the presence that crawled inside her all the time. Lichia was there forever. She would only be exorcised when Rinoa was sacraficed. Rinoa had the feeling that, she wasn’t going to make it out of that ceremony alive.
“Well, time’s up, my dear daughter.” Caraway said, hurling her some clothes, “Dress up, so we can begin.”
“Sure.” Rinoa replied, bitterly.
Caraway disappeared once again, letting Rinoa dress up in peace. Rinoa looked at the dress- it looked nothing more than a womanly black robe.
Slipping out of her own clothes, Rinoa stared at the boring, depressing grey borders of the vehicle, wondering if she would come out of it alive. Slowly, she dressed up in the robe. Rinoa, intentionally, left her chain on her neck- her necklace, taken back. Squall’s ring wasn’t on it, but her own clone ring made by Zell glistened on the chain.
I wish there was a mirror. If I’m going to... die, I want to look beautiful. I’m sure Squall will come in time, though.
He will, will he not? Lichia mocked her.
Just hearing that voice made Rinoa feel naked beyond recognition. She felt as if she had been “exposed”.
“Okay... I’m done here...” Rinoa said, calling on to Caraway, her voice slightly shaking.
“You look gorgeous.” Caraway stated, observing her. When his eyes connected with her boots, Caraway said ‘tut tut tut’, “No shoes, not even socks, dear.” He explained, “Barefoot- the way of the ritual requires it.”
“Barefoot? I won’t have feet left on that Estharian soil!”
“Don’t worry, soldiers will carry you.”
“Gee, I’m so relieved!” Rinoa smacked back as her despair and fear melted away in rage, “You didn’t care for a second, did you!? You’re killing me, your daughter! And I thought I meant something for you!”
“You do mean something for me, Rinoa.”
“What, fresh, Sacrifical meat!?”
With a tiny sparkle of hope, Rinoa asked, “Your daughter?”
“The only thing I needed...” Caraway said, as Rinoa tried to press down all the hope choking her throat. Lichia was silent, and Rinoa took it as a good sign.
“The only thing?” she asked.
“The only thing I needed in this world.” Caraway said.
Silence fell, and Rinoa’s face brightened up with hope. Maybe her father wasn’t too much of a monster. Maybe he would realise it all now.
“The only thing I needed to conquer my goal! To give birth to a new world order! To release Lichia!”
“Damn!” Rinoa clenched her teeth, all of the hope had been drained out of her suddenly. Her knees buckled and she collapsed on the ground.
This is how it ends, she thought, that’s just it. I’ll die here... Killed by my father, and I will walk straight into it. Squall, where are you!? Why didn’t you come?
Thus, it ends. Lichia stated, This is the end of the path for you, girl. Squall cannot save you now. Everything he has done has been in vain. And now, I shall reign. My prevalence shall rise before me! You truly are a treasure, girl.
“Shall we go, then?” Caraway asked.
“Sure...” Rinoa said, “I’m ready to... die.” It was so hard to confess that she was going to die without seeing Squall once again, with his frown on his face.
She repeated, “I’m ready to die.”, this time, her voice got out a little bit better, and less choked.
“Hey, you!” Caraway called out, “Get your team!”
“Yes sir!” the soldier ran and called out to some other Galbadian soldiers. The soldiers all approached to the vehicle, as Rinoa stood in the warm wind of Esthar, the hem of her robes caught the breeze and started to dance in the air.
Letting herself go, she felt the soldiers gently pick her up and carry her on their soldiers. Rinoa shot one look at the horizon, to the sunset. It looked so beautiful. Her look lasted for two minutes, as they slowly marched on the hard Estharian soil. Finally, with tears glistening in her eyes, Rinoa looked away. She knew it was the last sunset she had ever seen.
Thus, it ends. Your tale, little sorceress, will be told. You will always be in the tales the historicans will tell about me. You are my ‘Sacrifical lamb’. Little sorceress, who do you have now? Yourself. I told you- the path of a sorceress is a lonely one.
Rinoa preferred not to reply.
Caraway was muttering something to himself. Rinoa tried to pay attention- because she didn’t want to concentrate on her hopelessness.
“What is that you’re murmurring?” she asked.
“Oh, this?” Caraway asked, and whistled a melody, “Just a song.”
“A song? Sing a little bit of that song, will you?” Rinoa found a little moment to observe the irony- end of her life was the beginning of a conversation with her father that probably wouldn’t end in a fight.
“Hmm, wait.” Caraway said, “I don’t really remember the lyrics, because it was basically some ‘teenager’ music. Wait.” He thought about it for some time, as Tear’s Point grew closer.
“Oh yes, got it!” Caraway exclaimed, “You... Hold me down... I... Don’t need you no more... Bad... Feelings gone... You... Can’t hurt me no more...”
“Interesting...” Rinoa said, “I feel like I know that song from somewhere. Why did you choose that?”
“It sums it up. Your situation. Not on my behalf, you wouldn’t hurt me- not enough. I deserved to be hurt more, but you were always so merciful towards me... It is about your situation with Lichia, she will be gone. And you won’t live with her anymore.”
“Cause I won’t live anymore?”
“Precisely. You really were a soldier, after all.”
Silence fell again. Rinoa looked at the pinkish sky. She felt a strange rush of a tingling sensation- a moment of pleasure. The sky had never looked so great. She only wished Squall-
No. Squall isn’t here with me. He may even be dead. But that’s good, isn’t it? We will be back together... On the other side. And mom...
Mom... I never had a chance to say goodbye to you. I never did. I dunno, I hit the road the day you died, and didn’t think about it much.
“Here we are.” Caraway said, showing a carved stone, right in the middle of Tear’s Point. The soldiers laid Rinoa down on the stone, and retreated to form a circle.
“Do you have The Sacrifical Blade?” Lichia asked, her voice in a I-just-noticed kind of panic, “And, Solomon’s Ring?”
“Yes, Sorceress Lichia.” Caraway replied. His right forefinger rapped on the ring that was on his left ring finger, “This is the ring, and here is the blade.” He took out a knife.
Rinoa observed it. She felt curiousness in her- she wanted to see the weapon that was going to take her life away.
It was a dagger. Carved alongside the candle with demon symbols- runes, or even drawings of demons with bat wings and claws. The blade curled up a little bit, it drew a sinuous shape. It curled in a zig-zag, and the tip was straight. The bottom line of the handle was shaped like a snake.
“All we need now is Demon’s Tears.” Caraway said.
“You know what you need to do, Caraway.” Lichia stated.
“Indeed, I do.” Caraway sighed.
He turned to the statues of angels.
“From the darkness to the light, from the light to the darkness. Power of darkness, grant me strength in my mission! Take my sacrafice!” in horror, Rinoa watched him take the blade into his palm, and run the entire cutting edge through it- ripping the skin and the muscles. He didn’t even make a sound.
“Take my blood.” Caraway said as his fingernails dug into his flesh to spill his own blood. Caraway drew a rune with his own blood. The sky got dark all of a sudden, clouds covered it up. Wind whipper Rinoa’s hair and clothes, Caraway’s hair was flying around.
“The power of darkness! Please, grant the power to The Sacrifical Blade, for The Reviving Blood finally came! Help me use The Sacrifical Blade as a tool of darkness, to shed blood before you! Cry with me!”
Rinoa almost jumped up when howls of monsters and wind joined in. The place was getting crowded, Iron Giants, Death Claws, Chimeras, even Malboros stood at the edge of the circle. Their cries and howls and growls rose up with the tearing wind, as Caraway raised his voice.
“All I am in need for is a blessing from the hells above! Demon’s Tears for The Sacrifical Blade, for your unworthy servant! Cry with me, and with your sorrow, let me shed darkness upon tomorrow!”
Rinoa almost hoped the absence of Demon’s Tears. It meant her end, and the world would be lost alongside with her.
But, disappointed and let down for the last time, she saw a single raindrop- was it a teardrop? It was falling dwon from the darkened sky onto The Sacrifical Blade. Caraway struggled to hold the blade still. The single teardrop touched the cutting edge as the monsters howled once more to the blessing of demons.
Lightnings crashed down around Caraway, forming a rune of their own, the rune of ruination.
Caraway turned around. The single teardrop was making the dagger emit a green aura. He approached to Rinoa, his hair all messed up, his expression fixed on the expression of someone who had came to do something.
“Take this sacrafice, take the blood of my own daughter, of my own flesh and blood, for the revival shall begin!”
Rinoa saw the dagger rise on top of her.
It rose. It rose. Rose... Rose... Higher... Higher...
And when Rinoa closed her eyes to concentrate on Squall, she heard someone call her name. She couldn’t open her eyes, all she could hear was someone call her name- but howls of the monsters around her blocked the sound.
Squall had seen Tear’s Point before, and it hadn’t changed a bit.
At his place, all he cared for was Rinoa. He was there to take her away from Lichia, and kill Caraway alongside with Lichia, if both was possible.
He approached carefully to hear Caraway begging for dark blessings. He saw the sky get dark, and the raindrop. As Caraway approached to Rinoa, and rose the knife, he screamed, “Rinoa!!!”
But the monsters around the circle had emerged like a sea of thousand fangs and claws. They were coming at Squall from all angles, all sorts of monsters were coming out of every which way. Squall differentiated Malboros, Iron Giants, Evrolets and Death Claws. He didn’t care. Rinoa had just screamed, “Squall!”.
She needed him.
Squall didn’t know how to use his “penultimate force”, yet. He focused on the Iron Giant that was approaching to him like a massive pile of running iron. He rose his hand up to the sky, and then, pointed at the Iron Giant.
The effect was incredible.
For one moment, Squall didn’t see, but felt Quezacotl next to him. A huge lightning bolt crashed down on the Iron Giant, and fried the creature up. Whatever that was inside that armour surely was dead.
As a Malboro growled and hurried as quickly as his tentacles would allow it, Squall looked at it and grinned sadistically. He pointed at the creature. Diablos flashed behind him, and his Dark Messenger attack came melting the creature.
Incredible amounts of monsters came at Squall, he was encircled, they were all around him, they were coming for his life. Bloodthirsty fangs and claws were rushing at his direction. They attacked him from all angles.
They died in all angles.
Squall could feel the great beings of The Guardian Force around him. They weren’t his servants, his tools- but his allies. Squall used the power within him, and felt as if the penultimate force was beginning with his own being, and being supported by The Guardian Force, to build a bridge.
Squall was in the middle of a wave of monsters, fighting. After seconds, Squall decided to make his way through. Uniting Shiva with Quezacotl, Ifrit, Diablos, Eden and Alexander, he made a strange compound, and kept his hand low, pointing at the direction Rinoa was at. He rose his hand, as a wall of ice emerged from the ground. Squall clenched his fist as the wall of ice broke down, sending frozen and electrified, purified non-elemental dark hell fire everywhere.
But there was a catch in his move. A major catch.
The wave was coming directly at him.
Squall didn’t feel anything. As he looked around, he saw the transparent forms of The Guardian Force, flashing like the lightnings in the sky. Squall broke in a run.
Now I know, he thought on the way, what they are guarding. What they have been guarding. What they have been guarding by erasing my memories about my mother or Matron. What they have been guarding by serving us... They were guarding me- the penultimate force.
“Rinoa!!!” Squall screamed again.
“I beg of you, O Power Of Darkness! Rise! Prevail with my sacrafice!” Caraway said, as he started to push the knife down.
Rinoa stiffened up over the stone as her name sounded again.
“Squall?” Rinoa asked, opening up her eyes. The knife missed her, but managed to make the blood flow. Enraged, Caraway made a few major cuts on her arms, to make the blood flow down. Rinoa screamed in pain as her blood was spilled on the stone.
“DIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIE!!!” Squall screamed as he pushed the ground, as fast as he could. LionHeart slipped through Caraway’s chest, and Squall flew with a man at the tip of his weapon till the angel statues. When Squall felt the ground underneath his feet, his hands were in Caraway’s chest.
Squall pulled out his weapon with disgust. Caraway fell down, he was dead.
As Squall looked down on him, and thought he had been a stupid, monsterous loser, he lunged at the stone on which Rinoa was lying.
“Squall... We failed... The ceremony was performed...”
“We still have time, Rinoa, we still have time.”
The ground shook. As Squall tried to get Rinoa down from the stone, the ground shook even more. The angel statues shook as well. As Squall looked at them, they were smashed into pieces, their pieces flying every which way. Instinct took over as he shielded Rinoa with his body.
“Witness my power, weaklings! Witness the true power- it lies not in the light, but in the dark! Witness the true power, bow down in respect, and die as you come!” Lichia said, as she emerged from her broken seal, embraced by darkness. Dark Dragons were flying everywhere, bats were screaming, as every monster in the area howled to salute a sorceress.
“Hope!” Rinoa said.
“Hope! A sorceress mustn’t be alone, as long as she has hope! That, I see only now! Hope, is what we need!”
“I have hope!!!” Squall stepped forward, “For I am the penultimate force! I have hope for this world, hope for her, for myself! I’ll fight you Lichia, you won’t be sucessful!”
“Is that so? Who can stop me now? You, the penultimate force? You are mistaken! And I shall prove that- come! Let us clash!”
Squall ran forward, but an energy blast knocked him backwards to Rinoa. Squall’s back hit hard against the carved stone.
“Squall!!!” Rinoa said, and she bent down to embrace him. Here they were, at the rebirth of ultimate darkness, together again. After all the pain they had been through- they were together.
“Rinoa... I can’t fight her... This isn’t my job to fight her...”
“Then I will!” Rinoa said.
She got up. She wasn’t afraid anymore. Not afraid of darkness, of death, of pain. She had seen Squall. That was all she wanted.
Whitest angel wings emerged from Rinoa’s back, as Lichia sprouted her own pitch-black bat wings. They rose in the air.
“Thus, it ends, little sorceress! I shall show you the true power! I will crumble this earth down!”
She reached out to Rinoa. Rinoa screamed in agony as her feathers, bloodstained feathers flew every which way. Rinoa was feeling shards of glass running through her veins, the pain was the only thing that was there for her.
“HYNE!!!” Rinoa screamed, “HELP ME!!! HYNE, HELP ME!!!”
“RINOA! NO!!!” Squall screamed, “THE GUARDIAN FORCE! GRANT ME POWER! HYNE! GREAT HYNE IN HEAVEN, HELP US!!! WE CAN’T WIN THIS BATTLE ALONE!!!”
“Leave this place, Lion!” Lichia warned him, while keeping her grip on Rinoa, “Is it your will to fight? What is the source of such strong will?”
“IT IS NOT WILL! IT IS MY DESTINY! I AM A SOLDIER! I MUST FIGHT!!!”
Then came a rumbling from the sky; “ENOUGH!!!”
The black clouds were torn into pieces as the whitest light ever passed through it. Rinoa felt her cuts cured, the pain gone away from her. She slowly fell down, as Squall rose in the air to catch her. Rinoa looked at his face. He was there for her. She loved him. Her place was his side.
Squall looked at Rinoa. She was there with him. He loved her. His place was her side. They were as one.
“I have tolerated everything until this day, Lichia! Tolerated even the darkness you were plaguing the earth with! But no more! My mercy for you have come to an end! You must be punished for your sins!”
As light embraced Lichia, she screamed.
“It burns! It burns!!!”
“It indeed does, for a being like you who has denied light! You shall burn forever! Burn!” and Lichia caught fire. She screamed and tried to cast a spell to extinguish the flames. It failed.
“Burn!!!” Hyne commanded, “Burn till eternity ends!”
Lichia disappeared from view as her screams echoed through the whole place. Squall and Rinoa remembered those screams, they echoed inside their nightmares as the years passed by.
But looking at each other, they found the screams as a lovely background music they could dance to.