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Kain, part 3
by Weiila

Back to part 2

Chapter 10 Edge, prince of Eblan

But Kain felt his mind cease to work again, and he couldn't fight it. He was aware of the world just as he had been from Baron to Argot; only vaguely. He noticed that Cecil and Giott talked about some tower, and then there was a long walk, firstly in a dark, hot place and then through light, strangely lit rooms and corridors. There were several fights, and once he heard a voice distant voice which he knew belonged to someone named Rubicant. After that, another fight took place, but not with that one who the voice had come from. Running and an explosion followed... somebody was gone, and Cecil and the two women were sad. Then they exited the light place. And Kain's head became clear.
He stood on a bridge by the foot of an enormous tower, Cecil, Rosa and Rydia were walking away from the portal leading back into the high building. Kain rubbed his forehead and started to walk. He knew that his strength had been drawn, and that Golbez had recovered consuming the dragoon's power. He had to warn Cecil...
'Don't even think about it.' Golbez' telepathic voice told him.
'Watch me!'
'I don't think so.'
"Enough!" Golbez voice said so that everybody heard it.
Kain's friends all froze.
"You've been irritating me for far to long," the dark voice sneered, "good-bye."
There was a sound from behind, and Kain spun around. The wood of the bridge was being consumed by fire, too fast to be natural.
"Run!" the dragoon screamed.
Cecil grabbed Rosa's hand, Kain got a grip of Rydia, and they rushed over the shaking bridge. But they weren't going to make it, Kain felt the planks break up under his feet, and he fell, with Rydia's scream making his ears shiver, followed by Rosa's and Cecil's. He closed his eyes, awaiting the hot, molten lava.
Instead, he heavily landed on a wooden floor. It was only luck that he didn't break anything or land on his spear. Rydia hit the floor by his side, and two other loud thuds told him that Rosa and Cecil also were safe.
"You OK?" a familiar voice called.
"Cid!" the saved ones yelled.
"Well hello!" he smiled, "but hang on, cause the Red Wings are after us!"
The Enterprise soared through the air, followed by an entire fleet of red airships.
"They're gaining on us!" Kain yelled.
"They've been modified!" Cid called, "damn it...! Cecil, take the wheel!"
The paladin hurried over to his friend.
"What are you going to do?" he asked.
"I'm going to close the path to the Underground!" the mechanic answered and made the ship set course for the tunnel leading up, "go to Baron and talk to my workers, they'll help you!"
"What are you saying?" Cecil exclaimed, "stop, where are you..."
"Rosa, I really wanted to see the two of you married," Cid said with a bitter smile, "but you'll have the wedding without me staining everything with oil. Kain, Rydia, take care."
But as the Enterprise entered the tunnel, Cid jumped, and he held a big, black ball in his hands.
"Golbez!" his friends heard him scream, "I've got a gift for ya!"
The wave of pressure erupting from the explosion made the Enterprise shake. Everyone left stared down as soon as everything became quiet, their mouths open in screams that couldn't pass their numb throats.
Somehow, silently, the four warriors reached the surface.
"Cid... Yang..." Rydia mumbled as the sunlight touched her face.
"They also died to help us and many others..." Rosa sighed.
'And I still live.' Golbez sneered inside of Kain's head.
'Leave me alone!' the dragoon thought, snarling.
'You wish...'
But then the telepathic voice became quiet, and no mist filled Kain's head.
The dragoon lazily thought about warning Cecil about Golbez, but it didn't seem to matter. They knew now anyhow, since he'd tried to kill them. And why tell them that the evil one could talk to their friend telepathically, really... it would only make them more miserable and worried than they already were. Kain felt like he couldn't take anymore of his friends suffering, therefore he chose to remain silent. He knew it was dumb, but he just couldn't take it.
Cecil brought the Enterprise to Baron, and they all entered the castle. Cid's two workers almost started to cry as they heard about what had happened to their boss, despite their usual grumbling.
"We got orders to make a hook ready to add on the Enterprise," one of them said, "the boss said something about a tower raising from the Underground close to Eblan, and that there is said to be shallows by a cave on the beach..."
"The tower of Bab-Il?" Rosa asked.
"Yeah, I think that's it."
"We could use the hovercraft!" Cecil said, "that must be what he meant with the hook! He probably wanted us to find a way back down, secret to Golbez..."
"We'll get to work then, you just rest a while."

"I wonder where the people of Eblan is, they are too fierce to be wiped out..." Rosa said.
"Let's hope they're alive." Kain mumbled.
The empty castle had really been a depressing sight. Not a living being, except some monsters hiding ready for prey. The prey hadn't been too easy to take down, however.
It was cold and dark inside of the cave. The torch in Cecil's hand flickered.
"How long can this tunnel be...?" Rydia wondered.
"Is there a light over there?" Rosa suddenly said and pointed.
Truly, around a corner. And there were a couple of guards, too. Eblanian ninjas?
"Who are you?" they called.
"Friends!" Cecil called back.
"Come closer, and no fast movements!"
After some explanation, the two ninjas calmed down a bit.
"We have heard about you, our spies have noticed that Baron and Golbez has had some trouble with you people." one of the guards told the travelers.
"Go on in, you should talk to the chancellor." the other one said.
They pointed at a door in the cliff, and then pushed it open. Inside of the cavern behind were women, children, ninjas, old men and women...
"We've hid here since the attack, waiting for a chance to strike back." the second guard explained, "come with me, I'll bring you to the chancellor."
That one showed up to be an old man with a very concerned look.
"I'm so glad to meet the people who's been giving Golbez a hard time," he said, "but right now, we face terrible problems..."
"Can we help you somehow?" Rosa kindly asked.
The old man sighed.
"Our king and queen disappeared in the attack against our kingdom, and we fear that they are dead," he explained, "and now prince Edge has gone to avenge them! We couldn't stop him, he's got a terrible temper..."
"All alone?" Rydia asked, eyebrows rising, "he sounds like a mo... a man who moves first and thinks afterwards."
"That is true..." the chancellor sighed, "he went into the tunnel leading to the tower of Bab-Il..."
"That's where we're going!" Cecil said, "we'll try to find him for you."
"You will?" the old man exclaimed, "thank you so much!"
And so they set forth on another walk through the dark caves. The dusky, boring world seemed to chew on Rydia's temper, as well as some facts.
"This prince seem like a total idiot to me!" the caller grumbled after an hours walking, "going all alone...!"
"It wasn't exactly wise, no." Cecil agreed.
The scream almost made the walls of the cave shake.
"Weak fool..." a voice said.
"That's Rubicant!" Kain whispered.
"The one we saw in the tower earlier?" Rosa said as they hurried on towards the sounds.
"The fiend of Fire!" the dragoon growled.
They turned around a corner, just in time to see a red flame cease. On the floor, an unconscious man laid. The four warriors ran over to him.
"Cure3!" Rosa exclaimed.
"Urghh..." the man muttered and managed to sit up with some support from Cecil.
"I suppose that you are the prince of Eblan?" the paladin said.
"That's me..." the man growled and scratched his cheek, which was covered by a piece of purple-grey cloth, "now leave me alone, I must defeat Rubicant..."
"Are you an idiot or do you only act that way?" Rydia snapped, "he just brought you to your knees like breaking a twig!"
Edge looked up, raising his eyebrows.
"Well aren't you a sweet-cheek," he said with a smile, "now lady, that was only the first try, next time I'll get him."
"Let us help you, we're after him too.." Rosa said.
Edge turned to her.
"Where did all these pretty women come from?" he smiled, but continued much more resolute; "thanks, but I don't need your help."
"Idiot!" Rydia growled, "you're even worse than I thought! What does it take for something to penetrate that thick head of yours; you cannot defeat Rubicant on your own!"
The prince of Eblan startled. Then he shrugged his shoulders.
"Well, can't argue with such a beauty," he said, "alright, you can come with me."
"Men!" Rydia sighed.
Cecil and Kain exchanged glances and were about to start laughing. However, they managed to fight it back. Edge stood up and the five warriors continued their journey. They reached the tower and worked their way up. The prince spent the time annoying Rydia until she was about to send a Titan at him.
"You really got a sweet back..." he said.
"Don't even think about it." she snapped.
Cecil covered his mouth with his hand. Kain would also have found it amusing, if Rydia hadn't used the same words as Golbez had done at the bridge.
'Applause,' the dark voice suddenly said inside of Kain's head, 'you're closing in.'
'Leave me alone, for the last time!'
'Actually, I was thinking of giving Rubicant a little help. I feel a craving for life-force...'
'Why you... you...'
Mist... he fell into the dusky world again. He felt a slight, fading anger, but then he just forgot that he even was alive. He thought he heard somebody scream...
"Mother! Father!"
And another fight... and then the same person screamed again, with such pain and rage in his voice that it almost brought Kain out of the spell. He awoke for a brief moment, seeing Edge kneel by two small heaps of ash. Rydia stood right behind him and her hand, close to his shoulder was twitching, as if she wanted to touch him but wasn't sure if she really could.
"Damn that Lugae, experimenting with humans...!" a voice suddenly said.
Rubicant emerged from a flame few yards from Edge, who stood up so fast that he almost made Rydia fall backwards.

Chapter 11 Golbez call for his minion

"You!" the ninja stuttered.
"I am sorry about your parents," Rubicant said, "I didn't know about it. I'm not like the others; I want to play fair."
His eyes stopped at Kain for a moment, but there was no expression in the flaming, red eyes.
"Shut the crap-hole!" Edge roared, "I will avenge them!"
"Well then," the fiend said, "let us fight, though you are too weak. I will restore you all to make it fair."
'Sleep, Kain.' Golbez commanded, and the dragoon couldn't fight the mist.
He knew he fought, but he didn't do it very well. Only well enough to make the others believe that he was fine, just had a little bad luck. But even though he almost didn't hit Rubicant at all, the fiend finally dissolved under several magical waves of water and icicles. Kain hardly mentioned it, trapped deep inside the wicked magic. Somebody talked a bit, then there was the sound of many footsteps leaving. Had they closed in earlier? Maybe. Kain wasn't sure, and he really didn't care. Cecil said something about a crystal-room, and Kain felt himself walking. Four voices suddenly screamed in surprise and fear, and there was something about falling for a long time. Like through a wall, the dragoon heard voices talking.
"We're close to the bottom of the tower!"
"Inside of the Underground? Great..."
"Let's see if there's a way out."
Walking again. Shortly or for a long time, Kain didn't know.
"Hey, it's an airship!"
"Great, let's go!"
'Too bad that your abilities are about zero in this suspended mode...' Golbez' voice said.
'Let me go, demon!'
'First you will bring me the last crystal, my slave.'
'I won't!'
'You will.'
Flying? Yes, he was on an airship. But why? Then landing and walking again. And some familiar voices, but Kain didn't know whom they belonged to.
"Lali-ho, you're back!"
"We didn't get the crystals..."
"Well then, there are two things that I need to tell you. Firstly, Golbez is about to break the seal of the Sealed Cave, so you must get the crystal before he does. Luca has the key to it."
"And what is the second thing?"
"Your friend Cid is still alive. He's in the healing-quarters. Wait, if you go visit him, be careful, he's wounded. Come back here when you've greeted him."
Kain felt rushing and heard happy yells, but didn't understand what the excitement was about. He heard some more voices, but everything felt more and more distant.
'Careful, Golbez,' a woman's voice inside of the dragoon's head said, 'if you drain more he might collapse.'
The voice almost made Kain scream. He recognized it, he wanted to see the one it belonged to, so much that his heart ached. But why...?
'It's the only way I can keep him under control, Valvalis. Now pipe down.' Golbez said.
It was dark again, and there were big things with fierce jaws. Kain heard somebody yell that some cave was totally screwed up, filled with living doors, and that almost touched his mind only because of the strangeness of it.
"The wall's closing in!" somebody screamed.
There were so many screams. How irritating. Kain wished that they would all become quiet so that he could get some sleep.
He walked again, for a long time. The others seemed very relieved about something. Then Golbez' voice spoke:
"Well done."
"Watch out!" Cecil's voice snarled.
"Kain," Golbez sneered, "return to me and take the crystal with you."
The world became clearer again. Golbez. Cecil, there. Edge and the women, looking concerned.
"I'm... I'm fine," Kain stuttered, "he can't control me..."
Cecil has the crystal. He is over there. Go. Hit.
The paladin dropped to the floor, and Kain snatched the crystal as it fell from Cecil's hand.
"Now we have all the crystals..." the dragoon snarled harshly and hurried out of the small cave.
In the enormous cavern, he ran as far away from the entrance of the Sealed Cave that he could.
'Well done, Kain.' Golbez' telepathic voice said.
'You!' the inner part of the dragoon growled.
'Now, you will return to me.'
'Yes, indeed. Valvalis, go fetch.'
A wind made the dust on the ground dance, and the fiend of Air emerged from it. Her eyes were overfilled with a mixture of anger, pain and confusion.
"We meet again, Kain." she said.
He somehow knew he should be surprised about seeing her, but he couldn't remember why. She grabbed his shoulders, and wind whistled in his ears. Then he stood inside of a small room with white, slightly flashing walls. Golbez was there, and a dark figure in a robe, Kainazzo, and even Rubicant. Why were they there, they shouldn't, really... but why, and did it matter?
"The crystal." Golbez said.
"My liege."
Kain sat down on one knee and held his hand up high. Golbez took the crystal and then smirked.
"Stand up, my good man." he said.
The dragoon slowly obeyed.
"I will leave the crystal in it's room," the man in the black armor said, "you just guard our friend here for a while, my dear friends."
"Surely, Golbez." Kainazzo sneered.
The man in black disappeared into a shadow.
"And you can wake up, Kain." his distant voice said.
The dragoon blinked and shook his head. He lifted his hand to his forehead, but before he could touch it, he was thrown into the wall by a massive wave of water. Staggering, he got to his feet, desperately grabbing his spear. All his memories and knowledge returned, and he realized where he was and who were there as well.
"You!" he stuttered, "you are dead!"
The one in the robe (Kain was glad the cloth hid the body, it didn't seem very pretty) edged closer.
"Surely," it hissed, whispering, "we were all dead, sssweet dead..."
"Master Zemus brought us back to life," Kainazzo sneered, "and now, you belong to us, you foolish man."
Valvalis and Rubicant said nothing. The robed one (Kain guessed that it was Milon of the Earth) reached out a twisted arm and put his rotting, clawed fingers around the spear. He didn't seem very strong, but he easily pulled the weapon out of the dragoon's frozen hands.
"Hang him from the ceiling," Milon hissed, "let me play with him..."
"No, I will drown him!" Kainazzo snapped, "and this time, I'll have the water rise slowly..."
"No." Valvalis said.
The other two fiends angrily turned around.
"What are you going to do?" Milon smirked, "blow him to death?"
"I won't kill him and neither will you," she said, "the master still wants him."
"Golbez is the only one who wants him alive," Kainazzo snapped, "and we were never under Golbez' control, remember?"
'You are wrong, my faithful.'
It was that terrible, cold voice again. Kain dropped to his knees, the feeling of total evil was so violent that his soul trembled.
"You do want him, master?" Kainazzo said, a bit surprised.
'Indeed. It makes me very irritated that I cannot control him completely. Golbez will have to work with him until I am satisfied, he's got one of the most stubborn minds I've ever encountered. I am pleased to hear that you feel my wishes, Valvalis.'
"Thank you, master..." she mumbled.
'When all is over, you will finish both him and Golbez off, my four faithful, this is your reward.'
And so the evil presence left.
"I will take care of this." Rubicant snarled.

Chapter 12 A victory

Rubicant pushed Milon aside and lifted Kain by the throat.
"Why don't you make yourself a bit comfortable, you pest?" the fiend in red clothes growled and threw the dragoon towards the middle of the room.
Kain heavily hit the floor and tried to sit up to make the world stop spinning. But before he was able to move, he was violently lifted again. Rubicant held him above the ground by his shoulder, and waved a bit with the free hand. A flame erupted from the floor and formed a chair. By the fiend's command, the fire turned into burned iron, and Kain was thrown down at it. His arms hit the two elbow rests, and at once his wrists were chained onto the dark metal. By instinct he tried to break free, but he already knew it was pointless to even try. Rubicant violently ripped off Kain's helmet and sent it flying into the corner where Milon had dumped the spear.
"Now you just sit here like a good boy and wait for Golbez." the fiend sneered.
Kain caught Valvalis' eyes through the jumping stars, but she resolutely looked away.
"How long do you think it will take to awake the giant of Bab-Il?" Kainazzo thoughtfully said.
"A couple of days," Rubicant said, turning away from Kain, "maybe a week, even. It hasn't moved in a while, as you know. Might be hard to get to move."
"Giant...?" Kain harshly whispered.
"It isss a weapon of the lunariansss," Milon hissed, smirking, "it will bring all humansss to sssweet death, for the glory of our massster."
"Why...?" Kain stuttered, "Valvalis, Rubicant, you said that you were once human, how can you..."
"I could make his armor melt while he's wearing it..." Rubicant thoughtfully snarled, "you little pest, that was centuries ago. We only obey our master's wishes."
"Roassst him!" Milon hissed, hopeful.
"No, I won't. I'll leave him to Golbez. Though it is most tempting."
Valvalis said nothing. She just resolutely looked at the floor, with firmly clenched fists.
"I see you've been playing a bit." Golbez' voice said, sarcastically.
He stepped out from his usual shadow.
"Had fun?" the man in black asked the fiends, with raised eyebrows.
"Not as fun as we could have had." Kainazzo grumbled.
"Better not, that will have to wait."
Golbez turned to Kain, who stubbornly met his cold glance.
"Now then," Golbez growled, "I will seize control of your mind, even if it's the last thing I do."
"Well then, go on," Kain snarled, "this time it won't be as easy as you think!"
"You're truly a fool."
The man dressed in black raised his hands, and Kain's brain caught fire. But he clamped his teeth and put up his whole will against it. Knowing no magic, he used all the memories of Cecil and his other friends to create a wall against the evil influence. Golbez frowned and clenched his fists; Kain concentrated on the memory of Cecil's and Rosa's laughter. His head hurt, but he fought the spell back.
'Concentrate...' he thought, 'Cecil is my friend, he is my friend! Don't scream, must not loose concentration... Cecil is my friend! Rosa, Rydia and Cid are my friends!'
"Clever, I give," Golbez snarled, "but it won't work in the long term!"
The pain was getting unbearable, but Kain refused to give up.
'Cecil!' he thought, 'he won't loose hope...! I trust in him, because he is my friend, he won't let this giant destroy the planet! Cecil... Rosa, Rydia... Cid... Valvalis...!'
It was as if the fiend had heard him think of her; she looked at him with her eyes widened. Kain himself didn't really know why he had thought about the fiend of Air, but somehow, his mind had caught the memory of her shivering voice as she had spoken to Zemus and Rubicant. And that memory made him feel compassion towards her. His lips moved a little; not a word, not a grimace, not a smile. They just moved a bit.
'I care, Valvalis, I didn't want to kill you... you were a prisoner, just as me, and you're scared!'
She turned away, shuddering.
"Most fascinating," Golbez snarled, "and irritating beyond compare."
He lowered his hands and Kain fell back, gulping for air.
"You have become much stronger than I expected," the man in black armor growled, "then we'll just have to let you become a bit weaker."
"Will you leave him to us?" Kainazzo said, with hope dribbling from his voice.
"No," Golbez said with an evil smile, "time will help us instead, time, hunger and thirst. That will bring even the strongest down. Come, we must begin working on powering up the giant."
"Very well." Rubicant said with a harsh glance at Kainazzo.
All five of them disappeared through their own element, Milon in a fountain of mud. Kain leaned back, smiling broadly of triumph. He was aware that he would soon suffer nature's own, cruel torments, but the victory made him feel that starving was a minor event. He had been able to withstand, he had been stronger than Golbez! If it was only for a brief time that he was victorious, so let it be that way, one victory was better than nothing at all.
A few hours later, his throat was beginning to get dry, but he refused to surrender the remaining flame of triumph in his chest. It kept burning even as his armor started to feel like it was made of a thousand spikes, all trying to penetrate his skin. After surely ten hours, he fell asleep of the pure exhaust to keep his strength up.
Since there were no windows in the room, he couldn't know for sure how long he had slept as he awoke. The flashing lights on the white walls began to make him dizzy, Kain closed his eyes to stay sane. He thought about his friends, went through his whole life and all his dreams and hopes to keep his mind strong. His stomach moaned about being empty, his throat felt like it was made of torn paper.
'I mustn't give up...' Kain thought, resolute, 'I know that Golbez will try again sooner or later, but I will by no means beg for mercy!'
An eternity seemed to pass, and he slowly fell into half unconsciousness, weaker and weaker for every minute that passed.
There was a sound similar to the wind's warm whispering in the treetops, and then slow, soft footsteps.
"Val... va... lis...?" Kain harshly whispered.
"You're such a fool!" she growled.
Kain felt a non-sharp edge at his lips and managed to open his mouth enough for the cool liquid from the cup to be poured over his dry tongue. His throat burned as he swallowed the water, but it felt much better immediately.
"Don't lit any false hopes," Valvalis snarled, "I'm only doing this because my master wants you to survive a little while longer, and Golbez don't understand that you are about to die."
Kain slowly managed to force his eyes open. The fiend of Air snorted.
"You know you can't fight, why don't you give up and spare yourself all this?" she snapped.
"Hope..." Kain whispered, and his lips even moved into a tiny smile, "it is what leaves the human last of all."
"There is no hope!" Valvalis snarled, "there never was! Nothing can stop my master! Fighting Golbez back means nothing!"
"That I am held captive means nothing... but Cecil and the others will find a way to stop even your master."
"What does it take for you to understand that it is impossible?!"
"How do you know that?" Kain asked, "has anyone ever tried?"
She opened her mouth, froze and closed it again. She and Kain stared at each other for a moment.
"It is impossible," she finally snapped, resolutely, "he is far too strong for any human to defeat. You have felt his presence yourself; that evil mind can bring anyone to kneel before him."
"How did you end up in his clutches?" Kain asked.
She startled.
"What did you say!?"
"I heard you speak with Rubicant in the tower of Zot." the dragoon said.
His head was thrown at his shoulder as her palm violently hit his cheek.
"You!" she growled with unsteady voice, "you have no sense of gratitude, do you?! Have you any idea what you can bring me to by causing imbalance in me?!"
Kain calmly looked back at her eyes. They were filled with rage and fear.
"I'm sorry about that, Valvalis." he said.
She raised her hand once more, but didn't slap again. Instead she turned away, shivering with anger.
"I am a fiend!" she growled, "and I am going to help my master destroy your planet! Why don't you hate me, you pathetic insect?!"
Kain said nothing. Valvalis spun around and grabbed his hair, pulling his head backwards.
"Answer me!" she snarled.
"I can't..." Kain stuttered, clenching his teeth, "you told me not to cause imbalance."
"I'll break your blasted neck, you...!"
'That is good, my beauty,' a familiar, cold voice said, 'I see that you finally try to fight your humanity back. But you better not kill him yet.'
"As you wish, master." Valvalis said and let go of Kain.
The dragoon felt that a dark gaze rested upon him, but he clenched his fists and forced himself to stare at the opposite wall, not to look at the shadow that sent coldness through the room.
'You are truly stubborn,' Zemus said, 'almost even more than Valvalis was. Fascinating, really.'
Kain said nothing.
'It doesn't matter,' the more or less telepathic voice continued, 'there are more than one way to break a strong will, and you are fading quickly.'
"Are that all you care about, demon?" Kain asked, "to control me?"
'You are very brave or most foolish, human, to dare talk to me like that.'
"Maybe I should fear you, but I don't."
'Valvalis once said something similar. Fascinating...'
The fiend of Air resolutely looked at the floor.
'Humans are such strange creatures,' Zemus said, 'you know that your planet is going to be destroyed, and yet you refuses to surrender hope?'
"I have never believed in the Apocalypse," Kain said with a strange smile, "tomorrow is another day."
'Not for much longer. I will let you see what happens with your own eyes, then maybe you will come to your senses.'
The evil presence left. After a moment, Valvalis did the same.
Kain kept awake a while longer, but then he fell into something which was a mixture of unconsciousness and sleep.

Chapter 13 The giant and feelings awakes

A hit in the stomach awoke him a while later, but he only gave a silent moan, too weakened to even show pain and surprise.
"Time for surrender, sleep-over." Kainazzo said with a vile grin.
"Keep dreaming, you deformed fish..." Kain muttered.
"Stop it, Kainazzo!" Golbez demanded as the fiend of Water growled in an alarming way.
The blue monster-turtle sneered.
"Of course, Sir..." he said, forcefully calm.
Golbez and Kain glared at each other.
"Today you won't be the victorious, trust me." the man dressed in black snarled.
"We'll see about that." Kain replied and clenched his teeth.
Golbez raised his hands.
"What?!" Golbez, Kainazzo, Milon and Kain growled.
Valvalis only turned her head in surprise.
A flame erupted from the floor, and Rubicant rushed into the room.
"What is it now, then?" Golbez asked, most irritated.
"The giant is ready for start, Sir! Don't waste time on that puny human now!" Rubicant said.
Golbez smirked.
"Well then," he said, "I suppose that seeing whole countries fall to their knees by a wave of my hand even will bring the revolt out of this foolish dragoon. Bring him with to the control-room."
"Of course." Valvalis said.
She grabbed one of Kain's shoulders, and everything became unclear to the sound of whispering wind. The dragoon next found himself hanging on a wall in another light room. The opposite wall had an enormous window, covering the upper half of it. But it was too dark outside of it to see anything through the glass. The other half of the wall was hidden behind peculiar, grey tables covered with strangely colored buttons. Some of them flashed silently. The four fiends and Golbez stood by the tables, the one in the black cloak sneering over his shoulders.
"Watch carefully, Kain," he said, "I will now turn the last pieces of Eblan into fine dust."
He and Rubicant pushed a few buttons, and everything began to shake. Then there was a heavy crash to be heard. Another one followed the first, and a third and forth... Kain slowly realized that what he heard was footsteps. But they were loud enough too... oh no, could it really be true!?
Sunlight hit his eyes, and he had to look away. When he once again looked at the window, he watched in horror as the land of Eblan, with its crumbled and empty castle to the east could be seen way down. He could even see the distant ocean. The room was as high up as any airship could fly...!
Golbez pushed another few buttons, and a stream of fire cut a wound in the grasslands. Crashing step, more fire. Crashing step, the castle of Eblan was going to get burned to the ground...
Then suddenly everything shook again, but not because of another step.
"What the...?" Golbez growled.
"Ssstupid, ssstupid dwarwesss..." Milon hissed, irritated.
"With their stupid, stupid tanks, I see." Kainazzo scornfully said.
He gazed through the window. Something big and red flew past.
"I see that the Red Wings also wants to play." Golbez sneered.
Everything shook again.
"They can't hope to win," Kainazzo smirked, "the central computer will heal any damage with normal and scientistic magic."
"It's hopeless to fight," Rubicant snarled, "silly humans... what!?"
His hands crashed upon several buttons as he leaned forward and stared out, upwards, through the window. A shadow covered the sun.
"What in the name of...?!" he said and pointed, "look, can it be?"
"But it's impossible!" Kainazzo growled.
"The Big Whale?" Valvalis exclaimed, "it can't be!"
"It's Cecil, that's what it is!" Golbez growled.
"I see that there might be trouble anyhow, Sir!" Kain sneered.
Golbez snorted.
"Don't start the celebration too soon, my friend," he said, "even if they should manage to somehow enter the giant, there's far to many monsters in here for them to pass through."
There was a beep to be heard from the tables. Rubicant rubbed his forehead.
"Sir Golbez," the fiend of Fire said, rather tiredly, "Cecil and his friends have entered the giant, and I believe that they are aiming for the central computer."
"So, so..." Golbez said, frowning, "he never know when to stop, the little knight... very well, you four go to guard the computer. Should he manage to get there, which I do doubt, his friends are all yours. But bring Cecil himself to me, alive."
"Finally..." Milon sneered and vanished through his fountain of mud, leaving no trace at all.
Kainazzo and Rubicant disappeared without a single word, but Valvalis quickly looked at Kain before she snorted and left.
Golbez pushed some more buttons. The wall to Kain's right turned blank for a moment, then suddenly showed a picture of Cecil, Rosa, Rydia, Edge and an old man in purple robes, with a beard so long that it reached to the floor. All five of them moved through a strangely lit corridor, their hands equipped with their weapons of choice (the old man held a mage's staff) and their eyes dark with determination.
"Fascinating." Golbez muttered as a huge robot stumbled with the help of Rydia's whip and then got massacred by Cecil and Edge.
The ninja-prince didn't see the small, eye-formed robot sneak up behind him, but the old man and Rosa did. The white magician sent an arrow into the vital part of the attacker, and then, before it had re-energized, the bearded one sent it a powerful lightning-spell, blowing it into bits. Another giant robot came running. Rydia and Edge exchanged glances and nodded. The summoner/black magician chanted a second lightning, just like the old man had done, at the same time as the ninja leaped forward. The shock of the magic stunned the robot just long enough for Edge to penetrate its metallic throat with his katanas, ripping the head off. Though the prince and the young woman had argued through all the time Kain had been awake and around, they were a great team, that had to be admitted.
Kain watched with a good sensation of triumph, but yet he also felt a rising fear. It grew for every step his friends took, filling the dragoon and pushing the sensation of victory away.
Cecil and his group would undoubtedly make it all the way up to the central computer, where the fiends awaited them, and...
"Golbez!" the dragoon shouted, "let me fight instead of Valvalis!"
The man in black glared at Kain, surprised and irritated.
"What's that rubbish about?"
"She'll get killed!" Kain said.
He knew it was true. Cecil and his friends would defeat all of the fiends, nothing could stop them. And then Valvalis would truly be dead, Kain strongly doubted that Zemus would consider resurrecting his servants if they failed him a second time.
"Killed?" Golbez scornfully repeated, "do you really believe that Cecil will accomplish that?"
"I know he will! Golbez, I'll give you my mind, please!"
"I see that I never understood the depths of your foolishness. Are you telling me that you're actually in love with a fiend?"
Having Golbez speak the truth that Kain hadn't seen himself was like an ogre's fist hitting the dragoon's stomach. All that the warrior had thought he felt was a desperate urge not to let Valvalis die or end up in Zemus clutches again. He had thought that it was because that she had saved his life and he had paid her back by killing her. That the shame about that was why he wanted to protect her. But he now understood that it was more than that, his despair was far to deep. Yes, it was foolish, even stupid and insane.
But he loved Valvalis. He loved the fiend of Air. Because she had saved him, she had suffered like him, being a slave. She was a fighter of the air, as she had said to describe him, Kain, once. She was strong and yet vulnerable, just like the dragoon had felt for a long time. He hardly knew her at all, but somehow he did anyway. The thought of her had helped him withstand Golbez' power, better than the memory of his friends had done. It was so, stupid, silly and foolish; it didn't matter. He loved her.
"Yes." Kain said.
Golbez snorted.
"No, you won't fight instead of her." he said.
"But..." the dragoon growled.
"Answer me this; are you a fiend? No. You might want to give me the power over you, but I will take it anyway. Later. You and Cecil will scream in unison as I destroy your puny resistance."
"Golbez, he will kill all four of them!"
"I doubt it. They became much stronger as they were resurrected, and this time they are working together."
"It won't help them!" Kain desperately yelled, "Cecil and the others will defeat them, don't you see?! Look how they wave off the monsters in here!"
He pointed at the moving picture. Rosa sent a flood of healing stars over Edge, who didn't stop his quest on punching a screeching dragon even at that. Cecil grimly ran his sword through the beast's chest, while the old man and Rydia sent lightning-bolts flying in all directions.
"It doesn't matter," Golbez snorted, "they're no match for the fiends. Now shut up."
A bolt of dark energy left the evil one's hand and hit Kain's lips, covering his mouth. He wildly shook his head, trying to get it of, knowing it was hopeless. Even if he could speak, nothing would make Golbez listen. He could only watch in growing horror how his friends ran over a long bridge, approaching a big platform. As they reached that, a fountain of mud, one of water, a tornado of dust and a flame erupted around the warriors, and the fiends entered. Cecil and his companions gasped in surprise, but then grabbed their weapons, ready for battle. Rubicant held up his hands and sent a rain of healing stars over his enemies.
"Idiot," Golbez grumbled, "that man has a far too big sense of honor."
'Valvalis, get out of there!' Kain desperately thought, 'they are too strong! Rubicant, don't let her fight...'
He saw both the fiend of Air and Fire frown and exchange bewildered glances. But the dragoon wasn't very surprised, after all his arguments with Golbez consisting of mere thoughts he knew telepathy. And Valvalis had seemed to know that the dragoon had been thinking about her as the man in black tried to convert Kain a second time.
'Listen to me, Valvalis, Rubicant!' Kain thought, hoping they could hear what he wanted to tell them, 'Cecil and his friends have become too strong!'
'We have no choice, Kain,' Valvalis' voice whispered in his head, bitterly, 'farewell.'
'No! Valvalis!!'
But she didn't answer.

Chapter 14 Bitter freedom

Rydia pointed at the four fiends, and green, flaming orbs danced around her. She called something, and the intensity of the orbs' glowing gave away that it was something powerful. What appeared in front of her was a giant, blue sea snake, and Milon was brought to his knees by the powerful tidal wave erupting from the long body. The old man raised his hands, his strangely light-green eyes flashing as he mumbled. A massive lightning-bolt hit Kainazzo and the wave of pressure forced Rubicant to stagger aside. But as the magicians had to draw back for preparing a second magic blow, the fiends attacked. Cecil and Edge held their swords ready, Rosa had an arrow in her bow. Kain turned his head. The knowledge was enough, he didn't want to see Valvalis die again. He didn't want to know which one of his friends it was who turned his heart to dust.
"What the hell...!?" Golbez gasped.
Kain sighed deeply, and his breath shivered. It might as well have been a sob.
'Farewell, Valvalis...' he bitterly thought.
He still didn't turn his head to watch his friends advancing. But there suddenly was a blinding flash coming from the wall with the moving picture; like an explosion.
"You have to do everything yourself..." Golbez growled in outrage.
He pushed a button on the tables, and a door opened a few feet away from Kain, to his left. Golbez' cloak flowed behind him as he rushed out of the room, leaving the dragoon alone. Lazily, Kain turned to the right wall.
Cecil, Rosa, Rydia, Edge and the old man stood silent, watching their work. They had destroyed something; three black orbs laid cracked on a mess of smashed mechanical stuff. Suddenly, they all looked up. Golbez entered the screen, his dark eyes glistening with hate. He shouted something, and the old man ran over to him, trying to speak with him. But Golbez fist hit the bearded one, and he fell. However, the man in black suddenly froze, staring bewilderedly at the old man.
Nobody moved.
The old man said something, and Golbez rubbed his forehead. As he spoke, slowly, Cecil looked like he had seen a ghost, and backed a few steps in shock. Rydia's, Rosa's and Edge's eyes went between the paladin and Golbez, their gazes filled with disbelief.
'What's happening?' Kain wondered, frowning.
Golbez reached out a hand and helped the old man to stand up. This really startled the dragoon.
Suddenly, his chains dissolved, and he fell to the ground. It was not a soft or silent landing, since he wore his armor, but at least he was free. He had no idea why, though.
The old man and Golbez rushed out of the screen on the wall, though Edge and the women shouted something after them. Cecil seemed paralyzed.
'I won't bother you anymore, Kain,' Golbez voice growled in the dragoon's head, 'I have been used, and I'll go to take my revenge.'
'What's happening? Who is the old man?' Kain thought, confused.
'His name is FuSoYa,' Golbez answered, 'and he was a friend of my father KluYa. And my father is also Cecil's father.'
'I didn't know. Your friends can tell you everything, now hurry to get them out of here.'
Kain got up and staggered out of the room. His whole body was stiff after the rough treatment he had received in the past few days, and it was long since he had moved last. There was a stair outside of the door, and something lay on the floor down there, between two metallic doors.
'I've sent your helmet and spear to the flight of stairs,' Golbez informed, 'take them and then go to the right to find your friends. The left path will bring you out of the giant. Hurry, it'll start to break up any second.'
Kain somehow made it down the stair. He picked up his stolen equipment and pushed the right door open. There was the smashed machinery, and behind it his friends. Everything began to shake as the dragoon staggered inside.
"Come on!" he shouted, "the giant is about to fall, I'll bring you out of here!"
Everyone except Cecil (who just stared at the floor) spun around to look at Kain.
"But you betrayed us once!" Edge growled.
Kain was too tired and broken to start explaining. There wasn't any time for that either.
"Should it happen again, don't hesitate to do away with me," he called, "but right now you have to trust me!"
Rosa shook Cecil's shoulders to bring him back into life, but he still moved like a zombie as the four warriors followed Kain.
The dragoon forced the second door open, entering a small, flashing room.
'It's a teleportation-room,' Golbez explained, 'just call where you want to go, there's still just enough power left. Good-bye, Kain. I won't torture your mind again.'
But there was no answer.
The flashing lights on the walls were becoming less and less flashing for every second that passed.
"This will bring us out," Kain harshly told Rosa, "where do you want it to bring us? Hurry!"
"The Big Whale!" Rosa yelled, and everything became unclear.
Kain found himself in another light room with flashing walls as he opened his eyes. In the middle of it was something astonishingly similar to a crystal's holy pillar. There was a crystal there, but Kain was too exhausted to really care.
"Are you alright, Kain?" Rosa asked, worried.
"Tried to weaken... haven't eaten in..." he mumbled.
His legs couldn't carry him and his armor, and he fell to the floor, unconscious.

He awoke in a bed. It was grey and seemed to be made all out of metal, but despite the looks it was soft and comfortable. On the other hand, he felt as if he'd consider anything soft and comfortable. His armor lay on the floor in a tidy heap, and beside it was his spear. Kain only wore his usual, simple light-brown shirt and pants he always wore beneath his armor. He knew that he had changed from the prisoner's clothing into his own some time when he had been hypnotized in Baron, but those details were all too vague to grip.
Kain tried to move, and his whole body exploded with ache. He moaned slightly.
"Oh, you're awake." a relieved voice said.
"Rosa...?" Kain harshly whispered.
With a cup in her hand, she sat down by his bed.
"You need to eat something," she softly told him and helped him to sit up, "here, have some soup. Don't drink too fast."
Kain managed to hold the cup and lazily blew on it to cool it down. Though his body screamed and pleaded for him to swallow the meat and vegetable soup, he wasn't in the mood for it. His head was spinning with questions and bitter knowledge.
"She is dead..." he whispered.
"Who?" Rosa carefully asked.
He needed to tell somebody; it was too much for him to carry alone.
"Valvalis... she saved my life, and I killed her, Rosa! She didn't want to listen... she was a slave too, I... I..."
Rosa moved over to his bedside and put her hands on his shaking shoulders.
"Look, Kain, if you hadn't killed her back then, she would have killed all of us. It was the same this time, when..."
"Don't tell me," Kain whispered, "I don't want to know who killed her once and for all."
Rosa put her hand on his pale cheek, calming.
"Now drink the soup," she kindly told him, "you're very weakened, and I can't heal hunger."
Ignoring the remaining heat, Kain slowly swallowed all of the soup. It sent warmth through his battered body, though his throat burned by it.
"Holy power of healing, i bid of thee to cure this man's wounds..." Rosa softly chanted.
Kain's body stopped aching, and his strength returned as a warm light engulfed, or rather embraced him for a miment. But it didn't help his darkened, sad mind.
"Do you feel any better?" the white magician said.
For as long as he could remember, Kain had wished that she would be at his side, caring only for him. But now it didn't matter at all.
"Yes, thank you." he forced past his lips.
It was Cecil. He looked very tired, and more or less fell down on the bedside, by Rosa. For the moment he also had taken off his armor, only wearing the same simple clothing as Kain did.
"Kain, Golbez is... he is..."
But the two words couldn't touch the paladin's tongue, though it burned everyone's mind. "My brother".
Kain slowly nodded.
"I know." he said.
"Can you stand up?" Cecil asked, "we'll have to talk about how we will proceed."
"I'm coming."
Kain pushed the blanket aside and managed to get up. His legs protested, but he refused them their wish to let him fall.
Part 4

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