Feral Wind
by Mazrim Taim

The savage winds buffeted Cecil as he fought his way from the stable to the castle. The only thing that crossed his mind was the need to get back safely. Thinking this, he hunched his shoulders and steadily pushed his way through the winds toward the front gate. Two soldiers were waiting there for him, and they cranked the pulleys behind the gate. The great oaken gate opened, creaking, and Cecil rushed in. He thanked the soldiers, but seemed to be preoccupied with some thought or another. Cecil opened the door from the gatehouse, and stepped into his castle, the Castle of Baron.

As he walked to his chambers, his mind wandered. Many soldiers came up to him to offer their relief at him coming back safe, as well as to salute his return. He accepted these salutations, but he seemed to them preoccupied with some train of thought. He waded his way through the soldiers, and absentmindedly waved them away. That wind, it seemed almost…unnatural. Could the fiends…? No, that would be impossible. We killed them and Zeromus a long time ago. But still…I have an ominous feeling about that wind…it did not seem ordinary, the way that it bit at my skin, tore at my clothing… Cecil’s mind turned to the matters that he’d had to take care of during his absence. It was a simple council of defense, accompanied by a large banquet. This banquet had made it seem like a trifling matter, but now, it seemed to be a matter of great importance. Could those animals attacking and that wind…could they be connected somehow? All thoughts and musings disappeared from his head as he came to his chambers, and his eyes fell upon his wife, Rosa. Her expression was one of concern, yet also of relief. Her golden hair sparkled in the candlelight.

"My love! Thank goodness you are safe!" Her voice quavered. "I…I was afraid you wouldn’t return…that wind…" She stopped talking and turned away, a tear in her eye.

"Yes, I felt it too…" Cecil made an attempt to console his wife. "But let us forget about that ill wind for now…Perhaps it is just this atmosphere tonight that is misleading us…We will examine it and think more about it later." He drew her close, embracing her, as the wind howled against the parapets of Baron Castle.

* * *

The ninja’s two swords twirled and stabbed with blinding speed against the wind. Edge, the ninja king of Eblan, had been training when the wind came. Now, as the wind bit into his exposed skin, his swords bit into the wind. As he whirled and tossed, trying to match the speed and power of the wind, a voice broke through the howling.

"Sir! My lord Edge!" Don’t listen. Continue training. The thought seemed to pop into Edge’s head, and he went along with it. His swords continued to twirl about.

"King Edge! Snap out of it!" Two rough hands grasped Edge’s shoulders. "You’ll get yourself killed! This wind is too powerful!" Edge continued to fight against the wind. "I apologize for this, my lord Edge." Something hit Edge on the back of the head, and he fell to the ground…

Edge woke up mere seconds later, and looked into his assailant’s eye. This ninja was an old one, with gray hairs sticking out from his hooded cape. His face seemed etched in stone, and he carried a large sword. The hilt… Edge understood immediately. He got up, nodded to the ninja, and fought against the wind to get back to Eblan Castle. That’s strange…wasn’t the wind blowing in the other direction?

* * *

Yang, the monk-ruler of Fabul, walked aimlessly through his garden. His thoughts dwelled on memories, memories of the battles for the crystals. In particular, he remembered the hopeless battle to save the crystal of air in his own castle of Fabul. So many died…so many useless deaths for what? Just for power… Yang sighed deeply. Was there a way to prevent that? I can’t help but think if we were ready…if we understood what Baron was up to…But they had so many men…and other creatures, stronger than humans. Not to mention they had the support of the Red Wings and Golbez…Yang shuddered at that name. Golbez, who had seemed to be a great evil, but who had really turned out to be controlled by Zemus, an even greater evil…He was Cecil’s brother…they could have lived in peace, but for him, but for the root of all hatred, Zeromus. Why must evil interfere in the lives, the families, the friends of the world? Why must they try to get their way at all costs? Thus Yang’s thoughts went. He circled the garden, taking in the fragrant smell of the flowers, planted here by he and his wife a long time ago.

Yang’s thoughts were cut short as a violent wind suddenly started to blow. What is this… He tried to run toward the door of the castle, seeing that this violent wind might surely be his death, but he found himself restricted…somehow. He watched in amazement as the winds formed a spiral, a miniature tornado, in front of him. The wisps of wind inside the spiral moved around at a rapid speed, and seemed to be moving toward him. Yang struggled with all of his might against his restriction, to no avail. Yang felt, for the first time in his life, completely and utterly powerless. The spiral moved closer, closer, until it met with his body…and disappeared…

* * *

Kain walked through the dense forest, so thick that only thin rays of sunlight could get in. Where those rays came in, patches of grass and weeds sprung up. The forest had a dark and foreboding feel to it, with the sunlight timidly showing through, the shadows ruling over all. But then Kain was used to darkness. He had lived with the darkness for a large part of his life. Kain’s thoughts traveled back to that time…

How could I have been controlled so easily? I…I’d always prided myself on my willpower…but that was brushed aside like a fly. He voiced his thoughts aloud. "Why didn’t they take Cecil? Was he too strong? Damn him! Damn Cecil’s righteousness, his willingness to spare the life of one who made his life hell!"

Kain had previously been controlled by Zeromus, and forced to do horrible things, and to take the crystals of power and bring them to Golbez (who had also been controlled by Zeromus). Zeromus had hoped to use these crystals through Zemus, a Lunarian, and the only evil one, to gain a power unimaginable. No one would have been able to stand against that power, and, used for evil, it would destroy the world as everyone knew it.

A sharp wind suddenly pierced howled through the forest. Kain, being a former knight of the Dragon Order, was very familiar with the air and the wind. It didn’t seem to harm him, and for moments, he seemed almost feral, sniffing at the wind, sticking his gloved hand tentatively toward it. At last, he looked up, and thought aloud, "Fabul…that is where this wind comes from…the castle of the Crystal of Wind. That is where I shall go next." Kain looked northeast, the direction of Fabul Castle, and trudged on towards it, wondering what the source of the wind could be.



Cecil and Edge sat at large table, covered in maps. The wind had finally stopped. Their maps showed the reports of the position and direction of the wind in almost every place in the world. Though the wind did shift very quickly, one thing was certain. Seen on this map, the winds were spiraling around Fabul, as if it were the center of a huge, worldwide hurricane. Cecil and Edge, upon discovering that, looked each other in the eye, remembering their friend Yang, once captain of the guards of Fabul, now king. "Perhaps we should go have a look?" Cecil suggested.

"Yes, that would be a good idea. Do you have a spare airship on hand, though?" asked Edge.

"I’m very sure that we do, but I’ll ask our master engineer just to make sure." Cecil got up out of his chair and walked toward the doorway.

"Where are you going, Cecil?" asked Edge, who remained sitting.

"I’m going to find Cid, our master engineer, to see if we have enough airships, as I said earlier."

"But couldn’t you just have someone else look for him?"

"Yes, I could, but why bother, when I can easily find him myself? Besides, this old body needs some exercise." The young Edge looked skeptically at Cecil, but then stopped and put his feet on top of the table, his usual smug expression appearing on his face.

Cecil walked through the passages of his castle, going almost by instinct to the machine shop of his castle, where he knew that Cid would be. How many times have I walked these halls? Cecil’s mind wandered aimlessly as it often did nowadays. However, when needed, his mind was still sharp as an arrow. And it was needed now. Cecil’s mind speculated on all of the things that the wind could entail. Is the Fiend of Wind, Valvalicia, back? Could Zeromus have been resurrected? Is this a natural wind, or something…different? Does it mean harm? Such thoughts circled through Cecil’s head as he walked through the foot-worn halls of Baron Castle.

Cecil eventually came to the Machine Shop. He peered inside, and felt a blast of hot air hit him in the face. He now realized why most of the men working inside wore sleeveless shirts or went bare-chested. He looked around from the doorway and saw a heavyset man in a brown sleeveless shirt, holding a wrench, supervising a group of men hammering at some red-hot metal. He was reading off a list of plans and yelling for various reasons. Cid. Cecil walked into the room, and those workers who saw him bowed, but then quickly resumed their work. Evidently they were more afraid of Cid seeing them not work than they were of the king getting angry at disrespect. Cecil called out to Cid, "Cid! May I have a talk with you?"

"Come back tomorrow! I’m busy!" A gruff voice yelled across the room. Cid didn’t turn around, instead mixing that in with the yelled directions to his workers. Cecil chucked silently to himself.

"Cid! You are lucky that you don’t live in another kingdom, or else you might have found yourself locked up by now!" Cid turned, walked toward Cecil. His goggled face and unkempt beard made him look like a mad dwarven inventor. Indeed, rumors spread around the castle and town of Baron that Cid was part dwarf, but he usually waved these rumors aside when he heard them, and started talking about his adventures when he saw dwarves.

"Well, don’t just stare at me! What do you need, Cecil?"

"I need to know if we have any spare airships. King Edge and I need to get to Fabul quickly." Cecil looked at Cid expectantly.

"Edge? That cocky youngster? Hmm…I might have a spare airship, which I’d be willing to lend to you. Hell, I’d come along myself, but I have to supervise these louts." He pointed towards all of his workers. "Hmph…they couldn’t hammer a nail in without my watching…" Cid’s voice was gruff, but his eyes beamed with pride. "Oh, about the airship, there’s a spare one in the hangar. Well, so long, Cecil!" Cid went back to his work, yelling at his workers, while Cecil walked out, chuckling again. He made his way to the vehicle hangar, the most recent addition to Baron Castle in a long time, suggested and built by Cid himself. He immediately saw the airship that Cid was talking about. It was somewhat small, but it would do the job well enough. It looked like one of the ones that Cid had tested, but crashed…Cecil noticed some distinct patchwork on the left wing. He wondered at its safety, but his trust for Cid’s work overcame that anxiety. He trekked again through the castle back to his war room, where Edge still sat with his legs up on the table, apparently lost in thought. When Cecil opened the heavy oak door, Edge seemed to snap out of a trance, hurriedly taking his legs off of the table.

"What took you so long, huh?" a sneer coming into Edge’s voice. Cecil’s face became hard and stony, and he glared icily at Edge.

"Am I not allowed to converse with my loyal subjects and friends in the castle?" Cecil asked dangerously.

"What, you talked with your insane dwarf inventor who can only yell at other people all day long?"

"Don’t speak of my subjects like that again, Edge, or I swear I’ll…" Cecil’s voice trailed off. "Let us not speak of these things. You may stay here tonight, I’ll have a feast in your honor, and tomorrow morning we will see what is happening in Fabul." Cecil walked off to the kitchens to inform them of a feast, and Edge waited in the war room, just thinking. A few minutes later he stood up and walked to one of the guest rooms to await the coming banquet.

* * *

The banquet had been meant for only Cecil, Rosa, Edge, and a few government officials, but as soon as he saw the immense meal laid out on the great table, he opened the doors to the people of Baron, inviting them to partake in the meal. He and Edge sat at the head of the table, with Rosa and Edge’s minister of war.

"Is it customary to allow commoners to a state function?" Edge asked, seeming a bit perturbed, "After all, it is in my honor, and half of these people don’t even know me."

Cecil smiled, to Edge’s discomfort, "You always did have the ego…The fact is that we couldn’t finish all this food even if we had a week to eat it all, so I figured that we should allow some others to feast as well. But never mind that. This should be a time of joy, of remembrance. I haven’t seen you in what…five years?"

"Yes, that sounds about right. How has your castle been doing?"

"We have been doing all right, I had Cid remodel the architecture a bit in the last three years, and just recently it was completed. And in good time, too, with all this wind I’m sure that our castle would have been destroyed, either by the wind, or by objects falling."

"Ah yes, the wind," Edge’s minister said. He stroked his thick beard, "I remember, only six or seven years ago, a huge wind of this kind came. It subsided rather quickly, but it was still really bad…it also had an…unnatural feeling, like it wasn’t supposed to be there." Edge and Cecil looked at each other, worried.

"Six years ago…" Cecil mused, "Didn’t Golbez steal the Crystal of Wind six years ago?" Edge nodded, and Cecil continued, "This only confirms that the Crystal of Wind is responsible for this." Cecil frowned severely. "What could be happening in Fabul…?"

Edge laughed, "Relax! We’ll see tomorrow morning! Right now, we can just worry about having a good time!" He grabbed a leg off a plate of chicken nearby and bit into it, chewing it with his mouth open and saying, "Mmph…good stuff!"

Rosa chuckled, "Five years, and you still haven’t learned any manners? It’s a shame Rydia decided to go back to Vanaheim (Author's Note: the Land of Summoned Monsters – from Norse mythology), otherwise she could have taught you how to eat at a table properly!"

Everyone laughed, except for Edge, whose face fell. An expression of pure longing entered his eyes, and he lifted them up, forcing a smile and a laugh. They ate together in silence.

* * *

Edge awoke the next morning with a blinding headache. "Ohh…" he muttered to himself, standing from his bed and stretching, "Why did I drink so much when I knew I’d have something to do? He sleepily went through his morning routine, cursing when his balance was slightly off in his exercises. After dressing in his ninja gear, he took two knives he had found hidden in the wall, and placed them in his sash. "Cecil’ll never know they’re gone…" he chuckled to himself, despite the pain. He calmly stepped out of his room, and walked to airship garage, where Cecil was waiting, in full plate armor, in front of a mix of about fifteen knights and ninjas.

"Sorry I’m…" Edge started, but Cecil put up a hand.

"We don’t have time for that, Edge. We have no time to lose. About face!" The soldiers turned around, except for one ninja, who stood without flinching. She stared evenly into Cecil’s eyes, but said nothing. "I said about face!" Cecil yelled. Taking control…just like he always did… Edge thought, with a smile.

The ninja smirked at Cecil, "So sorry, sir king, but my loyalties lie to my master." She looked at Edge, awaiting orders. Cecil sighed, "Damn it, Edge…can’t you discipline this soldier?"

Edge laughed, and said to the soldier, "Mariko, your new orders are to do as this king says. He is the leader of this operation, and once it is over, you will defer to me. About face!" Mariko spun on her heel to face the airship, and Cecil said, "Now. Let us commence this operation. March!" The soldiers marched into the small airship, followed by Cecil and Edge.

The door to the garage opened, and a sharp blast of wind hit the airship. It shook, but no great harm was done. In the pilot’s seat, Edge moaned. "It’ll be a rough ride…" The airship’s engines began to move, and soon the ship was hovering over the floor of the garage. The wind was now buffeting them on all sides, yet the airship remained motionless except for the movements of the propellers, keeping it in one place. Cecil pushed the steering console forward, and the airship rocketed out of the garage, into the savage winds.

They flew far, and the winds grew stronger and stronger as they approached Fabul. It was now clear to see that the winds spiraled around Fabul, for there appeared to be an almost solid, enormous white cylinder where Fabul should be, stretching into the heavens. Cecil felt the airship circle around the cylinder, muttering, "Almost there…NOW!" Edge threw all of his weight onto a lever, and the airship shot forward, through the cylinder of spinning air. He stopped, in surprise. The air was completely calm over Fabul. Cecil brought the ship, battered as it was, to rest on one of the many fields of Fabul.

None of the villagers were outside. All of the windows were shut tight, all of the doors locked. Cecil’s soldiers, Cecil, and Edge stepped out of the battered airship, and proceeded to Fabul castle. As they approached the gates, ten men fell from the sky, in front of the gate. They wore the traditional garb of the Fabulian soldier, their thick braids tied around their necks. They held no weapons; they had no need of it. In unison, they spoke, "You are not allowed entry into the Castle of the Wind." All of their mouths moved at the same time, and their eyes…were completely blank, devoid of any spark of life. Cecil whispered, "They…are being controlled," to Edge. Edge nodded, and whispered, "Mariko, draw them away from that door, your job is to hold them off, so we can get into the building." Mariko took out one of her chain knives, and flung it at the eyes of the rightmost guard. His face didn’t flinch, and his hand simply shot out and grabbed hold of the taut chain, diverting the point of the knife. Dropping it to the ground, all ten soldiers advanced toward Mariko, trapping her in a semicircle to the wall.

Cecil shouted, "Soldiers! Attack their backs!" and ran toward the doors. He forced them open, thankful that Yang didn’t like drawbridges or steel gates, and ran into the castle. Edge was simply watching the battle. Mariko had just placed her foot on the wall, and as the first Fabulian warrior aimed a punch at her, she pushed off her bottom foot, kicking at the wall to propel her over the head of the warrior, catching his head with her boot as she sailed over his head. Edge clapped instinctively, then looked toward Cecil, abashed, and ran into the castle.

They proceeded in silence to the throne room, avoiding any guards. They came to the twin doors. They were protected by two guards, who also had the same blank look. These two were evidently picked for their size; standing over six and a half feet, with arms and legs the size of tree-trunks, they were quite an imposing sight. They stared ahead, oblivious to the two people who had come.

Edge took out one of the daggers he had borrowed from the room, and said, "I’m going to try something…" He let the dagger fly at one of the guards, who made no effort to defend himself. It buried itself in his chest, and he fell, stricken instantly. The other guard, in reaction to this, ran with a speed belying his size toward the two. Cecil unsheathed his sword, and attempted to slice the Fabulian guard in two, but he kept on getting blocked by the guard’s steel armbands. No matter how many times he tried to hit the guard, he was effortlessly blocked. Suddenly, Edge came flying from behind the guard, aiming a kick at his head. The guard crumpled to the ground. Cecil started laughing, "You should have killed this one first, the other one didn’t have armbands."

Edge peered at Cecil, and started laughing as well, "Hah, but the other one probably had steel toed boots!" They stopped laughing, and Edge continued, "You know…it IS just like old times…we used to laugh about battles like this all the time, about how goblins wouldn’t stop coming, yelling at monsters to retreat, even though they didn’t know what we were saying…" He sighed, and said, "Well, let’s go." They pushed open the doors to the throne room, almost as big as the giant castle entrance.

And inside stood Yang. He was as large and strong as they remembered, his thick braid coiled around his neck like a viper. He had been standing in a fighting position, almost as if he had been expecting a fight.

"So, at last we’ve found you, what have you been doing here, Yang?" Edge unsheathed his swords, snarling menacingly. Cecil placed a hand on Edge’s arm, and whispered, "Calm…" Aloud, to Yang, he said, "Yang, we are pleased to see you after all this time!"

Yang turned, and looked at Edge and Cecil. His eyes were not devoid of all intelligence, as the soldiers’ were, but instead replaced by an animal cunning, an intelligence far older than any human. Yang snarled at the two. "I am no longer Yang. I…am the Wind." He lifted into the air, his orange and purple robes billowing, and continued, growling, "You! With your airships, with your wars, with your new factories being created! I am dying! I shall take this world back…now!" Yang launched himself at Edge, his foot outstretched. Edge barely managed to jump out of the way, such was the ferocity of Yang’s attack. Cecil said, "He’s possessed too…by what seems to be the Spirit of the Wind." Turning around, he started. Yang was standing right in front of him, staring down savagely. "I shall travel the world!" he yelled, aiming a punch at Cecil. "I shall wipe it of this destruction to me and my brethren!" He kicked the side of Cecil’s helmet, sending him flying against the opposite wall. "All humans will come under my control…" He launched a flurry of punches at Edge, while yelling, "or be destroyed!!!" A fist finally connected with Edge’s face, and he flew backwards, screaming in pain, to a sickening thud on the far wall.

Cecil stood up, pointed his sword toward Yang, and began…to chant. "The spirits I call…Demons come, demons go…May this one before my blade fall…May the stream of time ebb and flow…" Yang stopped, transfixed by the sound of Cecil’s voice. Cecil continued, stepping toward Yang, "This animal, this beast, this fiend…so calls my blade…Motivated by hate or greed…Oh spirits! I call upon thy aid!" A ray of white light shot out of the tip of Cecil’s sword, toward Yang.

Cecil was blinded by the flash of light that came from Yang’s body, and when he could see again, Yang’s body was lying motionless, and a…spirit of some kind was floating in front of him. It looked like a disembodied skull, surrounded by yellowish fog. When it moved, a trail of fog stretched behind it. From its square eyes came a dull glow.

Cecil fell to one knee, drained from the exorcism that he performed on Yang. Holding his sword to keep the spirit at bay, he said, "Don’t…come closer…Please…leave me…us…go back to your crystal." He remained kneeled, but kept his sword outstretched.

"Fool!" a deep voice rasped, coming from the maw of the spirit. "You cannot hurt me, even with that most sanctified of all swords!" A blast of wind hit Cecil’s hands, causing the sword to be flung to the far wall. "You are stronger of spirit even than him…"a tendril of fog drifted in Yang’s direction. "You will make a fitting…host." Cecil stood up, awash with the implications of this. "No! I will never allow myself to be controlled by a spirit of evil!" Cecil stepped backwards, rapidly, the spirit always keeping up. Its mouth was contorted in a hideous display of laughter. "Ha ha ha! With you, I will wreak vengeance on humanity!" Cecil had backed into a wall. The spirit moved ever closer. Cecil braced himself for the spirit’s entrance…but suddenly, the ceiling above him broke apart, and an armored man with a spear fell from the ceiling. He landed on his feet, between Cecil and the spirit. "You shall not pass, oh Lord of Wind!"

"Kain…?" Cecil asked, squinting his eyes. Kain did not respond, but instead pointed his spear toward the spirit. "Please, Lord, go back to your crystal, and bring balance to the world." The spirit stood in one place, paralyzed. The rasping voice, this time with a twinge of fear to it, said, "I…cannot pass you. Are you…brethren? Why are you protecting this destroyer?" Kain sighed. "Yes…I suppose I am a being of the wind after all of this time abroad. I have learned not only to sense the wind, but to follow it, and to USE it…" Kain smiled behind his mask. "But. Before I became a being of the wind, I was a dragoon in the service of the former king of Baron. This man is a friend, and I would rather destroy ALL birds, than to have an action of mine kill him." Kain placed the bottom end of the spear on the ground.

"Ties…of friendship? With a human? How…dare you?!" The spirit’s face…disappeared, replaced by a dark yellow flame, amidst the light fog.

Kain replied, "I pray your successor can understand the joys of protecting others..." He plunged his spear into the middle of the flame. A piercing howl emitted through the room, and Cecil had to cover his ears. After the screech had risen to a cacophony of high-pitched squealing, it suddenly stopped. The yellow flame now floated in front of Kain. Cecil removed his hands from his ears, and glanced at Kain. "Thank you, Kain…" Cecil faltered, unsure of what to say. Kain merely nodded at Cecil, smiled, and said, "I…I have been chosen…" Kain beamed after saying this, looking the happiest that Cecil had ever seen him. "I pray that I can be a better protector of the wind…than I am a person…than I am a warrior." Kain reached out and touched the flame.

Afterwards, Cecil and Edge were standing over Yang’s body, waiting for him to wake up. He was alive, just unconscious.. Edge said, "Aw, man…I missed all the action! What happened, anyway, after I was knocked out?"

Cecil smiled serenely, and said, "The winds changed."