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Kain, part 4
by Weiila

Back to part 3

Chapter 15 To the moon!

Following Rosa and Cecil through a short corridor, Kain found himself in the room where he and the others had been teleported before he fainted. Now he had strength enough to wonder about the crystal in the middle of the room, but only did so briefly.
"Charming," Rydia's voice said, with a poisonous scent, "I bet you tell every girl you meet stuff like that, if they don't run screaming in the first place."
Edge's voice gave a short, dry laugh. It seemed like the two of them were behind the pillar.
"I conclude you consider yourself very brave, then?" he teased.
"I do, but the only reason I didn't back off the first time I saw you was that you were a miserable, defeated lump!"
"Now, now, lady, let's not bring up old mistakes."
"Better not," Rydia replied, "if you would make a list of yours, I'd die either of boredom or laughter."
"A heart of stone that perfect chest carries within..." Edge sighed.
"I wouldn't let my mind wander in that direction if I were you, my friend."
"They make such a sweet couple, don't they?" Cecil said with a tired smile.
He raised his voice.
"Get over here, you two!"
Edge and Rydia emerged from the pillar's other side. The ninja still watched Kain with disbelief, but the young woman smiled warmly at him. He was glad to know that his friends cared about him, it made his heavy thoughts a little lighter.
"Let's go to the moon and smash this Zemus, damn it!" Edge said, as if it was already set, "you know we can't stay here doing nothing!"
"You're an idiot," Rydia snorted, "you mean we're just going there without planning or anything such complicated?"
"I don't know exactly what's going on," Kain growled, "but I agree with Edge!"
Everyone stared at him, this sudden anger that filled his voice had startled them all.
"Do you know something about Zemus?" Cecil carefully asked.
"I know that he controlled everyone, including Golbez and the fiends. That is enough for me; he is the one we must fight!"
"Let me explain everything to you," Rosa said to calm him, "when we went through the giant we got a lot of help from an old man named FuSoYa..."
Kain just listened, even though he already knew about the old man's name and that Cecil and Golbez were brothers. What he wanted most of all was to save time and enter the battle as soon as possible, and interrupting Rosa would only cost more, precious minutes.
"He and Zemus are both lunarians, which is a humanoid race. They have been sleeping inside of the moon for a long time, as the rest of their people. However, Zemus had sinister plans for the Earth, so FuSoYa sealed him away and forced him to sleep. But his mind wandered, and he found that a man of the lunarians, KluYa, had two half-human sons on Earth. Those are Golbez and Cecil. Zemus could easily control one of them since they were of his own race, picking Golbez."
She fell silent for a moment, and Kain realized that the chosen one just as well could have been Cecil instead. That realization almost made him shiver; the thought of his friend in the dark armor and black cloak, talking with the fiends...
Nobody said anything for a moment. Then Rosa continued:
"Now that Golbez' mind is free, he decided to come with FuSoYa and help him defeat Zemus."
"I say we go and help them!" Kain said, grimly.
He knew that he would fight with anger and the pure wish of avenging Valvalis. But he couldn't help the hate he carried within. Valvalis had suffered and died, just as many, many others, only because of Zemus. It could by no means be tolerated any longer.
The room was silent for a moment. Then Cecil slowly nodded.
"Alright. We'll go to the moon again," he said, "but..."
He turned to Rosa.
"You and Rydia won't come with us."
She stared at him, mouth open. Rydia did the same.
"What?!" Rosa finally stuttered.
"It's different this time," Cecil gravely said, "nothing can assure our return. Therefore I don't want you to come."
"I won't leave you behind!"
"Neither will I!" Rydia snapped.
"Come on now," Edge smirked, "be a good girl and stay home."
Rydia gave him an extraordinary cold gaze, and this time she was really mad. Edge blinked, realizing that he maybe had gone too far this time. But the caller didn't say anything.
"I won't go!" Rosa said, almost desperately.
"Yes you will!" Cecil harshly said, "I don't want you to die, now leave the ship. Please, Rosa!"
She stared at him for a moment longer, then she turned around and went down a stair in the room's bottom corner without a single word. Still silent, Rydia followed her.
Cecil clenched his teeth and stared at the floor for a moment. Kain knew that his friend had suffered greatly giving Rosa such an order. It hurt the dragoon as well. The prince of Eblan only sighed a bit as Rydia disappeared.
"Let's go." Cecil said.
He went up the stair to the crystal and said something in a low, demanding voice. Everything shook a bit, and Kain felt the familiar sensation of being inside of something that was flying. He had learnt it as he had grown up in Baron, with its airships.
"To the moon again," Edge said, in a strangely lazy voice, "well, better get equipped."
He went down into the corridor leading to the room with the beds, probably only because he needed to get the belt with his katanas. He seemed to have everything else. Except Rydia. Kain easily saw, with a bitter smile, that the prince of Eblan and the caller of Mist undoubtedly liked each other very much, though they'd rather die than admit it.
The dragoon lazily looked at the grey floor.
'Valvalis, I will avenge you!' he thought, frowning.
He was well aware he was a fool for even start feeling something for her in the first place, she had been a fiend... but he couldn't help it. The way she had made him nervous as they had met in Baron, in the cell... all the time she had seemed so confused. Kain had only known her for a short while, during which she had intended to kill him a few times, but... it was hopeless trying to deny anything, or even point out how silly and foolish it was. Valvalis was dead, and she had brought a major part of Kain with her.
He heard Cecil walk the same path as Edge, also intending to get equipped. The dragoon concluded that he might as well do the same.

"We've landed." Cecil concluded.
"Then let's go." Edge grimly said.
Kain followed his two comrades towards the exit. Cecil was about to walk down the stair when he suddenly drew back with a surprised gasp, forcing the dragoon and Edge to step backwards.
"Rosa?!" the paladin whispered.
She stepped into the room, her arms resolutely crossed and with a harsh look in her eyes.
"I'm not leaving you behind, Cecil!" she said.
"It's too dangerous, you..."
"I'm not moving an inch if you don't agree to let me come with you," Rosa said, coldly, "if you die, I will be with you!"
Cecil hesitated.
"Damn it, Cecil!" Edge exclaimed, "you have a woman begging to come with you, and you show her away? Rydia obviously call the wrong person a moron!"
The paladin sighed.
"Alright, then." he said.
He stepped forward and wrapped his arms around Rosa. She suddenly smiled warmly and buried her hands in his thick hair.
"It worked!" somebody cheered.
Rydia entered from below, grinning broadly.
"Oh, I see I have yet some hard times ahead!" Edge smiled.
"Right you are, oh prince of the world's lousiest pick-up lines." the caller laughed.
She gave the three men a smirking look.
"I'm not a 'good girl' who stays home, you know. Besides, I'm the only caller you've got."
Cecil smiled a bit, then he turned his whole mind at Rosa again. He held her tightly, and they kissed.
"Whatever happens," the paladin softly mumbled, "I will protect you."
'If only I could have promised you the same, Valvalis...' Kain sadly thought, 'I'm sorry, my friend, but I will just have to do what I can and defeat the devil who tormented you.'

Chapter 16 The birth of Zeromus

"Zemus sure has some sour pets!" Edge grumbled, grimly watching the giant, yellowish bat with the enormous eye dissolve on the floor.
"Holy power of healing, please heal us all!" Rosa exclaimed.
Cecil rubbed the blood from his lips and lifted the glowing spear from its carved stone-pillow as the light ceased.
"And we have another sacred weapon." he grinned.
Holding the spear forth, he turned to Kain.
"It belongs to you, I believe."
"Indeed." Kain said.
He took the spear, and it buzzed softly as he held it. The weapon amazed him, just as all the other holy weapons they had found on their way down through the moon; the Masamune and Murasame that Edge now wielded, Cecil's new sword... and now this.
The spear was made of a material unfamiliar to the dragoon; it was heavy as iron but was similar to pearl. He couldn't find a better description. It glowed softly, almost like a promise of power and victory. He smiled at it, as a new friend, and it buzzed in his grip.
"Come, I think that we are closing in." Cecil said and once more took the lead.
Kain didn't think much for the moment. He was silently preparing himself for the approaching battle.
"Oh, my..." Rosa said as they went down a stair after a short walk and entered something completely new.
She wasn't the only surprised one. Leaving the dusky, cold caves of the moon, the small troop had now stepped out into a world made of crystals. The floor and stairs ahead was clear as glass, held up by pillars of the same material. The distant cave-walls were reddish and somehow flaming; light came from a gigantic orb below. Somehow, Kain knew that the glowing orb was their destination. He noticed that the others also looked down, frowning. They all knew, and hurried on.
There were few monsters here, and by now Kain and his comrades had become strong enough for beating even two Behemoths with little trouble. They were determined not to let anything stand in their way.
And so, they used yet another teleporting-plate to move on. They had used so many by now that Kain couldn't count them all. But this time, it wasn't silent where they materialized. There was the sound of a battle, above several stairs.
"Hurry!" Kain growled, and he rushed upwards after Cecil.
Then he saw Zemus.
The lunarian was even taller than Rubicant, dressed in a dark cape. His skin was purple, his claw-like hands moved like snakes as he chanted. Below the bold forehead his dark, cold eyes flashed by his chanting.
"Meteo!" two voices yelled in unison before Zemus had finished his spell.
It was Golbez and FuSoYa. They stood on each side of the wicked one, their faces strained in determination and the torment of controlling the powerful magic.
"Good, show your power!" Zemus snarled.
Then the burning rocks started crashing upon him, and he fell.
FuSoYa and Golbez stood there, gulping for air, watching the seemingly defeated enemy, waiting for the slightest movement. But Zemus didn't even seem to breath. Slowly, the two standing warriors lowered their hands.
"Pity," FuSoYa sighed, "he wasted his whole life on hate..."
"Hey!" Edge yelled, cheering.
Golbez and the lunarian turned around in surprise as they heard the call and the footsteps.
"Oh, you came!" FuSoYa smiled.
With a slight sigh, Kain looked at the one he had come to defeat. Zemus was dead, that was for sure. Was it enough to see him die? The dragoon nodded inside of his mind. It had to be enough. He had to keep his rage down, or he'd turn into the wrong kind of warrior sooner or later; one blind for anything except the own hatred. Valvalis was avenged, and that was what Kain had wished most of all. He was a bit disappointed he hadn't been able to help out more, but Zemus was dead and that was the only important thing. Kain hoped that his love's spirit would be able to find rest now.
"Cecil...?" Golbez carefully said.
But the paladin turned away. Everybody looked at him, sadly. Just as Cecil had done, his brother had chosen to change paths. Yet that wasn't enough for the paladin to forgive. Not yet, anyhow.
"Cecil..." Rosa said, softly.
She put her hand on his cheek, comforting, trying to encourage a feeling of forgiveness. But her loving powers had no chance to begin working, because there was suddenly a screech. Everyone spun around.
"I'm not gone yet...!" Zemus snarled.
His body was consumed in eerie flames, and out of it stepped a horrible monster, covered with long, grey tentacles. Its fierce jaws were blood red, its eyes burned.
"I am Zeromus," it screeched, "product of Zemus' hatred! Now you will now the meaning of true suffering!"
A massive wave of dark energy brought everyone to their knees. Kain gritted his teeth in pain; his skin burned while his flesh felt colder than ice. He fell to the ground, unable to move. He saw, through the dancing, purple stars before his eyes, that his friends also dropped.
"Death only increased his hatred...!" FuSoYa growled through his clamped teeth and slowly managed to stand up.
Snarling in pain, Golbez forced himself to arise from the ground. The two men approached Zeromus, determined to fight or die.
'Golbez, be careful...!' Kain thought, though his brain felt as if daggers penetrated it as it accomplished the mere task of thinking.
'Hang on, Kain!' the man in black grimly answered.
"Meteo!" two voices once more demanded in unison.
For a second time, burning rocks fell through the air. But as they hit Zeromus, they seemed to be absorbed by his tentacles, and he gave a screeching laughter.
"Use the crystal!" FuSoYa yelled, with despair in his voice.
Shaking because of the dark waves, Golbez reached for his belt and brought forth a glistening stone, as big as a man's fist, from a small bag. He held it above his head, and it sent a wave of white, shivering bubbles at Zeromus. But the foe only laughed again, as the pure power faded before touching him at all.
"One who follows a dark path cannot use the crystal to summon light!" he sneered.
"Damn!" Golbez snarled.
By Zeromus call, Golbez and FuSoYa were hit by several flaming stones, all bigger than any of the two men. They fell to the ground, lifeless.
'No...!' Kain thought, desperately, 'it can't end this way...'
"Suffer and die!" Zeromus screeched, "my hatred will destroy everything!" (There goes the Void-thing again. Viva la Final Fantasy... author's stupid note.)
It was the end. It was just as when they had all been paralyzed by Golbez in the land of the dwarves, yet this time there wasn't going to be any friends coming to save the day. Everyone of their friends were stuck on Earth, and they wouldn't have been able to help anyway. Cid, the eccentric mechanic, Yang, who Kain never had a chance to know better... and Valvalis was dead, even if she had been able to help in any way. It was really the end this time, for Kain, for Cecil, for Rosa, Rydia, Edge, FuSoYa and Golbez. And judging from Zeromus' character, they were only the first ones. He was surely going to proceed to his own, sleeping people, and then go to the Earth to fulfill his work. Nothing and nobody could stop him now...
He startled at the careful, soft voice inside his head.
'Val... valis...?'

Chapter 17 For the love of a fiend

Even Kain's mind was about to break down because of the pain. But suddenly, it didn't seem to matter.
'Kain, don't give up. Your and Cecil's friends are sending you their powers,' Valvalis' voice whispered inside of his burning brain, 'look!'
He moved his head. Cecil had gotten to his feet, shaking and unsteady. But he stood, and he walked towards Zeromus. As the paladin reached his fallen brother, Golbez reached up a hand, the one holding the crystal.
"Golbez..." Cecil whispered with a hoarse voice.
"My brother..." the man in black stuttered, "take the crystal and entrust it with your power!"
Cecil took the crystal, and Golbez' hand fell. The paladin turned to Zeromus and spoke:
"I am not defeated yet... Zeromus, this is the end!"
'Stand up, Kain!' Valvalis said.
He shivered, the dark magic had drawn most of his strength. But he rose up on his arms, moved his weight from the knees to the feet and stood up.
'I know you will win!' Valvalis smiled, encouraging.
'I won't let this devil be victorious, my love, I swear!' the dragoon silently growled.
Around him, Rosa, Rydia and Edge also got to their feet, gasping in pain but determined not to give up.
Suddenly, there were several half invisible figures standing between the warriors and Zeromus, facing Cecil. There were Yang, Cid, a young, blond man who Kain recalled from the now distant fight in Fabul, a small boy and a girl, apparently twins, dressed in Mysidian clothing, and that old man who had died as he had used Meteo in a fallen attempt to kill Golbez in the tower of Zot. They all smiled, yelling their own cheers:
"Don't give up! Concentrate and fight, we will lend you our power!"
Kain felt his strength return, and he reached for his glowing spear.
'I will give you all the power I can,' Valvalis softly whispered, 'and I wish you luck, Kain.'
'I wish that we could have had a chance to know each other better, Valvalis...' the dragoon sadly thought.
Cecil raised the crystal, holding it in both his hands as the many illusions of the friends dissolved.
'I wish that as well,' Valvalis whispered, with a slight bitterness in her voice, 'and I hope that you can forgive me for what I did to you. I now give you my remaining strength, with the love for you that almost sent me to where you know are.'
'For my love for you... nothing you did in fear matter to me.'
The crystal in Cecil's hands exploded with pure bubbles of light, which swarmed towards Zeromus. He roared in rage as the sacred power hit him, and his body with all the tentacles cracked up. From out of it, as a hatching demon, an embodiment of every man's nightmare arose. It was so hideous it couldn't be described, but Kain grabbed his spear in both hands, determined not to let the fear bring him down.
"We fight for every living thing!" Cecil shouted and drew his glowing sword.
"Go! You must be brave!" FuSoYa yelled, somewhere behind Kain.
Edge smiled ironically and looked sideways at the grim Rydia.
"You have to admit that this being is uglier than me, sweetness." the prince of Eblan said.
The caller's determination split up in a short moment's smile.
"I give," she said, "you are handsome as a god in compare."
Edge smiled broadly.
"Ah, those words fulfill my life, now it doesn't matter what happens here!" he said.
Then both of them turned back into grim warriors, resolutely facing their foe, ready for battle.
Rosa's and Cecil's lips touched briefly. Kain knew what his friends were doing; if they shouldn't survive, at least they would have said farewell to the ones they loved.
'I love you, Valvalis,' he thought, 'I might be a total idiot, but I do.'
'Both of us are idiots in this love,' she replied, 'will you please fight for the memory of Rubicant as well, since he wanted to help me?'
'For anyone you called a friend and meant it, my love.'
'I thank you. Good luck, love!'
Zeromus roared and charged, but a massive wave of fire from the dragon king Bahamut's mouth forced him to draw back a little. Kain jumped as Edge sent one of his old katanas flying through the air, burying it to the hilt in Zeromus' chest.
"All good powers, lend me your strength and send me thy blessings!" Rosa yelled, conjuring a tornado of shining orbs, all aiming for the demon.
Cecil rushed forwards, protected by the confusion the holy magic provided.
The paladin's sword cut deeply into what probably was Zeromus' stomach, while Kain's spear was buried into what theoretically was a back. The evil creature roared in pain and sent out wave after wave of dark power at its enemies, but Kain ignored it. He fought back the wish to succumb to the pain that the darkness sent through his body, and ripped out the spear. Green blood stained Zeromus' back and the holy weapon that Kain wielded. The dragoon jumped again, weary of Rydia's second call. Another proof of Bahamut's powers hit Zeromus, and before he had recovered, he had recieved several new, deep cuts from the three men's weapons. He screeched, trying to fight back his foes with both magic and his powerful arms, all in vain.
"All good powers...!"
"Now, Cecil!" Kain shouted as he rushed downwards.
The paladin leaped, stabbing. There was a half-strangled dump! to be heard from the inside of Zeromus. The sword and the spear had hit each other in the middle of the demon's body. But it still wasn't enough. The two warriors were sent flying in one direction each, clenching their weapons in tight grips. Edge rushed forwards, but a heavy arm hit him. He flew backwards and would have fallen past the platform's edge, down into the depths of the planet, if Rydia hadn't got a grip of his hands and changed his flight. They both fell down, only a few feet from the plateau's end. Without hesitating, both of them got to their feet, ready to continue the fight.
Cecil had been temporary knocked out as Zeromus had hit him, and now he was shaking his head, trying to stand up. The demon noticed this and turned to him, opening the enormous mouth and unveiling one feet long, sharp teeth. But before Zeromus could bite, Rosa had rushed over to Cecil and shot an arrow that hit the monster's throat.
Not even that killed Zeromus, yet he screeched in pain and charged forward. Cecil had managed to get up by then, though, and he ran out of the way, holding Rosa's hand in his.
"Everyone, now!" the paladin shouted.
Rosa and Rydia closed their eyes, mumbling. Cecil grabbed the hilt of his sword in both hands; he held it for another, powerful stab. Edge held a katana in each hand, ready to cut through anything. And Kain jumped.
"Bahamut, I conjure you!"
"... Send me thy blessings!"
As the blinding wave of fire and the holiest of all magic hit the foe, Kain put all his weight into the spear, and Cecil leaped forward followed by Edge.
The four weapons penetrated Zeromus' throat.
Every movement froze for one second.
Zeromus gave a loud, gurgling sound.
He began to fall into pieces, all of the loose parts dissolving as they left the falling, main body.
Kain hit the ground.
Zeromus was gone.
It was over.
'I have avenged you, Valvalis...' Kain thought.
But she didn't answer. Sadly, he guessed that she had given him all that was left of her to help him in the battle.
'Rest in peace, my love.' he thought, bitterly.
His first love hadn't loved him, and his second had died. Two times, even. He almost hoped that he would never find a third, since it seemed like he couldn't carry any warm feelings towards anyone without somebody getting hurt.
"You did it!" FuSoYa cheered, jumping wildly up and down despite his age.
"Yes, indeed." Golbez smiled.
"Now I can return to my people and continue to sleep for a while," the old lunarian said, "it's better that way. I want to thank you all for coming to our aid."
He bowed, and then started walking towards the long stair rising from the platform.
"Wait," Golbez said, "I want to come with you."
FuSoYa turned around with a kind smile.
"But..." he began.
Golbez shook his head.
"I cannot return to Earth. Besides, I'd like to meet my own people."
"Very well," FuSoYa said after a short hesitation, "but it will be a long sleep."
Golbez nodded, and then turned around to look at the paladin and leader of the heroes.
"Cecil..." he slowly said, making one last attempt to ask for forgiveness and peace.
But Cecil looked at the floor, his eyes filled with confusion and questions. Golbez sighed and began to follow FuSoYa up the stair.
Then suddenly Cecil straightened up, looking after the man in black and the bearded one.
"Brother...!" the paladin exclaimed, "farewell!"
Golbez turned around, with a small, careful smile.
"Thank you, brother." he said.
Then he continued up the stair.

Epilogue; Reunion on the mountain

Kain stood on mount Ordeals and allowed the wind to bite his cheeks and move his hair as it wished.
"I'm sorry I won't be there on your wedding, Cecil," he said, silently, "but I need to be alone and realize who I am and make peace with what I have done."
In the middle of the night he had left Mysidia, where he and his friends had spent the night after returning to Earth. Without a word, he had gone away and left the others behind. He knew they'd understand.
However, he didn't know why he had gone to mount Ordeals. It had just felt right. This was a place for facing your sins and erase them. But he had no intention of becoming a paladin, nor find the power of Meteo, and therefore the mountains were of no real use for him. Yet he had traveled here, maybe in despite of other options.
He looked at the forest growing below, the green ocean only held back by the vast chain of mountains by the horizon. It looked soft, peaceful. Not at all what he felt like.
Killing Zeromus and avenging Valvalis had only brought him a short peace of mind. Still his heart was bitter, and he could neither deny nor fight it. The pain was still there, and Kain was aware that maybe time only could heal it. Only time could smooth his bitter thoughts. Even though he had thought that it could have been enough to only see Zemus die, he was now forced to realize that it had been a lie. He had been forced to lie to himself to keep sane. It wasn't enough. Nothing was. But the feeling was no longer hate. Only loss.
With a sigh, he put his helmet back on to keep the wind away from his face. It only reminded him of Valvalis.
There was no mending what had gone wrong, he couldn't have stopped her from fighting whatever he had said. She had been afraid of her master, and she hadn't been able to fight that back. Kain could understand her fear. Zemus had been a monster, and nobody could possibly have been able to fight him alone. It was the group's strength that had brought the victory. The dragoon tried hard not to imagine Valvalis desperately trying to defend herself against the power of the lunarian.
He turned around and started to walk over the cracked cliff. He really had no goal, though the top of the mountain seemed like a natural point. But that wasn't it. He had no business there whatsoever, really. Yet he walked upwards all the time.
There was a canyon ahead. Kain walked over to it and glanced down. It was deep, and pretty wide too. Cecil and his friends had been forced to take another way, for sure. But they couldn't jump like Kain either. He grinned a bit and took a few steps backwards. Just as he was about to start to run, he heard a loud screech and looked up.
It was a seagull. So what? On a mountain at least forty miles from the nearest ocean?
It screeched again, sounding exhausted.
People often scorned seagulls as ugly birds, but for Kain they had always meant the end of winter, the carriers of summer. They might be loud and not pretty like swallows, but they had the nerve and will to scream out that the warm season was approaching fast. They were strong, powerful birds.
But this one was very, very tired. It could hardly keep flying, and with one last screech, it fell from the sky. It was going to fall into the canyon.
Kain ran and jumped.
The small, white body landed in his hands, and his feet hit the other side of the deep crack.
"Don't worry," Kain whispered, suddenly breathing hard, "I've got you."
He held his hands up in the height of his face, carefully holding the saved animal. It looked straight back, and it didn't have the cold, sharp eyes of a bird. The white wings moved tiredly, and the small head slowly rubbed against Kain's fingers. He dropped to his knees, staring at what he held.
"You..." he whispered, with a growing, soft smile, "you're alive!"
The seagull began to glow with a yellow, warm light, and it slowly started to grow. The small, bone-like legs became longer and thicker, the wings turned into arms. The beak changed into a nose and a mouth, long, blond hair flowed from the growing head. All of the feathers assembled to become a white-grey, short dress.
"I'm alive... love..." Valvalis whispered with a small, exhausted smile, "at least... sort of..."
Apparently the flight had drained almost all of her strength, but Kain could not stop himself from asking her to keep fighting a little longer.
"How?" he whispered, stroking her hair.
"Rubicant," she mumbled with bitterness in her voice, "as I was about to die... he used all of his remaining power to teleport me out of the giant... and I never had a chance to thank him..."
"He was an honorable man." Kain softly said.
"Yes... I must rest a while..."
"I'll be right here, love. Sleep as long as you need to."
She smiled tiredly and raised her hand to touch his by the helmet shadowed cheek. Then she closed her ice-blue eyes and fell into a peaceful slumber.
Kain stood up and carried her away from the canyon. The plateau he had landed on should be safe from the remaining zombies, so he decided it would be stupid to go anywhere else. To protect her against the cold wind, he carefully put Valvalis down behind one of the big rocks that lay around everywhere.
The cliffs weren't totally dead; there were moss and stubborn dwarf-spruces fighting for survival. Kain collected a few of the small trees that had been forced to give up, and set a campfire since the sun was sinking. But before that, he rolled out his bedroll and placed Valvalis between the blankets.
Valvalis was not aware of any of this. As her body slept, recovering from the flight between Eblan and mount Ordeal, her mind tried to pick up the last pieces of her long lost memory. Zemus had robbed her of all the thoughts of her earlier life as she had become his prisoner and later minion. He had done so in order to control her easier, since she'd had a very strong mind. Even though she had fought him with all her might, the evil had become victorious. But now it was all returning to her, bit by bit.
Her family, her father who had been a warrior of the Dragon, as well as her brothers. Her mother had been a maiden of the Wind before she had fallen in love with Valvalis father. Their names were still vague, but Valvalis knew she'd grasp them sooner or later.
It had been very long ago, very long. She didn't know how long, but it was surely a couple of centuries... Zemus had frozen her age to keep her strong.
She had begun her magic training as a small girl, hoping to become a maiden of the Dragon, a female warrior with great skill in both weapons and magic. She had been a fast learner and grown to her great power, which had surprised many. There had been words about making her a warrior of the Great One, the finest of all titles. All because she could use the sky's magic better than anyone else, and could jump as high as any man. Her future had been bright.
Then the Darkness had come.
It was a mysterious creature wearing a cape, killing everyone it met. Undead monsters had followed its paths, making life a torment of fear for the living. Together with other warriors, Valvalis had gone to fight this creature.
Of course it was Milon. He had been stronger back then, much stronger. After a long battle, Valvalis had been the only one standing, and her undead friends was attacking her as well as Milon's other "children". Valvalis had unleashed all the power she had in an attempt to kill all of the undead and the source of them. She hadn't won, no, that was the last thing she had done. The undead army had fallen, but so had she, while Milon still was standing. He had taken a revenge worse than anything else; bringing Valvalis as a gift to his master. What had followed was a long and painful battle between Valvalis and Zemus, and she had fallen again, becoming his slave. Her mind had been so tightly bound that she had changed it herself to keep sane, becoming the monster her master wanted her to be. After Zemus had defeated her, she had sought a way to free him totally, together with the other three fiends.
However, Zemus had found his own way. All he needed was for FuSoYa, who had bound him, to become a bit confused. A little split concentration was all it would take to break free. So in order to turn the lunarian king's mind to something else, Zemus had sent his own mind to control one single human and bring him to power on the Earth. Valvalis had no idea who Golbez once had been. She had shared Milon's, Kainazzo's and Rubicant's disbelief and disgust as they were sent to Earth to play the servants of this puny human, but they obeyed since Zemus was their master. They had helped Golbez in any way they could, doing away with people standing in his way and replacing them to increase the controlled human's power. They had started to collect the crystals in order to awake the giant of Bab-Il, because that would shake FuSoYa gravely.
Everything had worked due to the plan. Then it had dawned that Cecil, dark knight of Baron, was the only other lunarian on Earth, Golbez brother. Kainazzo had made up the idea of having the dark knight go to Mist and take care of the summoners; Zemus knew the power of the espers and didn't want them to meddle with his plans. After that threat was gone, Cecil would be killed easily.
Valvalis had got the order to follow this other half-lunarian to Mist and make sure he didn't make any mistakes or turned around. It was then she had seen Kain for the first time, and he had made something scream inside of her, some lost memory wanted to escape its chains. Now she finally knew why. It was his ability to jump and his armor that had reminded her of her earlier life. "Dragoon" was just the developed title of "warrior of the Dragon". Valvalis had watched this puny human with growing fascination and brought him back to Baron alive as the last summoner had called upon the Titan. Then the fiend of Air had gone to Golbez, no, Zemus, and asked him to spare Kain's life. She had said that it was because he was a strong fighter, who could be useful. In reality she was confused and wanted to understand why she felt that way.
When she had seen him hanging on the wall in the cell, beaten and helpless, the memories had fought even more. He had reminded her of herself then, as she had been bound by Zemus long ago. Of course she hadn't been aware of that then, she had only known a strange compassion. Somehow, she had liked the dragoon. As he had called her a monster it had hurt her very deeply, and that had confused her even more. For many years she actually had believed she was a monster, but as Kain said so she was hurt. Then he had said that she was beautiful, somebody gave her a kind (even if it was in twisted way) word for the first time in ages.
The confusion had grown and bent in fear for her master. Yet, as she saw Kain beg Golbez for mercy, it had shocked her. For a moment she had remembered how she had been enslaved. And her master had confronted her, scaring her half to death. But she couldn't help that Kain somehow healed the one she really was, and that last surviving human part of her knew more than gratefulness towards the warrior. She couldn't help it, and definitely not fight it. Rubicant had tried, but she could not love him as he loved her.
As Kain had been able to break free, Valvalis had exploded because of her own pain. The dragoon had the nerve to almost send her to Zemus again, and he was even able to break free from his bounds. This twisted bitterness and jealousy had driven Valvalis into rage, and she had attacked. It had been hard to keep fighting as Kain begged her not to, but she'd known that she wouldn't be forgiven if she stopped, and by then nothing else seemed to matter anyhow.
One of her powers was to hear when somebody thought of her, and what had passed through Kain's head as he had jumped to kill her had been a wild series of painful thoughts, a mess of things he wanted to scream in despair... and a growing feeling he couldn't help. He had also begun to love, even at that early rate.
He had thought that he killed Valvalis, but he hadn't. Her body, yes, but her soul was given a new place almost immediately. Almost as if Zemus had known his minions needed to go through death and then get new bodies to become slightly stronger. He had prepared for such an occasion. He should have prepared better, really...
And then, in the giant...
Kain had been thinking of her, and that was what fought Golbez back in his attempt to enslave the dragoon's mind. Valvalis had been outraged for a while, scared that Zemus would know...
And he had asked her not to fight again. He had been all too right about Cecil's strength. But Rubicant had sent Valvalis away with his last powers, just before he died. He had loved her as well, and it hurt Valvalis that she hadn't been able to at least like him a bit. He had been better than Kainazzo and Milon, but she had foolishly lost her heart to a just as foolish dragoon.
It was impossible, but it was true. Kain was the one she loved.
'I thank you for everything, Rubicant,' she thought, 'I owe you my life. Rest in peace, my friend.'
She had been very weak after the fight with Cecil, but had hid in the mountains of Eblan, meditating and sending her mind after Kain. To her amaze, he and his friends were really going to try their luck and skills against Zemus. Valvalis had given all the strength she dared to send to Kain to help him in the battle she had once lost.
And they had won. Kain, Cecil, Rosa, Edge and Rydia. They had done what seemed impossible. Zemus was dead, and Valvalis' mind could begin to break free completely. Soon it would all be back, and she would be herself again; the human woman who had been among the finest of Dragon warriors. (Allowing a small game with words here... author's note.)
She had followed the dragoon and his friends back from the moon and to Mysidia, even though her spirit had been weakened. As Kain had left the magic town and gone towards mount Ordeals, Valvalis had sent her mind back to her body and managed to turn herself into a seagull. Then she had flown, as fast as she could, crossed the oceans, mountains and forests, just to reach the dragoon. He wasn't only the one she loved, he was also the only one she possibly could turn to.
Valvalis hoped that Kain would love her true self just as the fiend of Air. The only main difference would be that she no longer feared to love him. Everything could be perfect, at least she hoped so. She didn't want to hurt Kain in any way. He was the key to her freedom, he had helped her to become more human again.
She was still the fiend of Air, which was a problem. Even if she was weakened, that was who she was. That hadn't changed at Zemus dead. It meant that she wasn't completely human yet.
But that could be mended.
It had been forgotten, but once mount Ordeals hadn't been a place to only become a paladin or find the most powerful of spell. It was a place where one could mend one's body completely, found the true self if it had been lost. The pure power here could turn her back into a true human. She'd go through any ordeal, face anything, to become what and who she had been all those years ago. Not only for her own sake, but also for Kain. He deserved better than a half-monster. Even if she risked to loose her magic powers. It was worth it.
Valvalis opened her eyes and looked at Kain. He sat down by a campfire he had lit, for the moment deep into his own thoughts. The two moons were almost hid by the clouds above, but their light was still reflected by his armor that lay beside him. Now he only wore a simple shirt and pants, which the flames painted yellow and red. As Valvalis whispered his name, he looked up and smiled warmly, as she had secretly wished that he would do for a long time.
"Are you feeling any better?" he asked.
"Yes," Valvalis smiled back, "thank you."
She sat up, pushing the warm blanket away. Then she stood and walked over to him, sitting down by his side. Carefully, he put his arm behind her shoulders, and she leaned against him, wrapping her own arms around him.
"We're both fools, aren't we?" she mumbled.
"Indeed, love," he whispered, "we are."
She would tell him about her life as a human, that she had been a dragoon, only with another title. She would tell him that she could become human again if she went to the top of the mountain. She would tell him everything he wanted to know. But not right now. For the moment it was enough to feel his warm arms and listen to his breath, watching the fire and knowing that he loved her whoever she was. It was all she asked for right now.
And it was the only thing that Kain wanted too, watching her calm face. He turned his head and kissed her hair, as he once had wanted to kiss Rosa. But Rosa was happy with Cecil, and Kain was happy with Valvalis. She looked up at him and smiled warmly, and he held her tightly, determined not to let her leave him in any way again.
The end.

There's a slight chance that there'll be a sequel to this, centering around Rydia and Edge. Yes, yes, that old story... I'll give it a shot anyway, I think. If so, there might be a big bad octopus, poison, a bet and a lost key at work. Maybe... ;) Now go and read another story. I'll go and write one.

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