Chapter 9: Unforseen In Blindness
Keep an eye on your world it's cheating,
Keep an eye keep an eye ON ME!!!
Deep inside there's a little place for me,
A little place for me...
-Soil: Breaking Me Down
Squall woke up to the peaceful music of the Hyne church, and the extremely dimly-lit room’s ceiling staring back at him.
Great Hyne... What happened to me? Where am I? What time is it? Why can I feel bandages all over me? What the-
And then, in a horrible moment, the memroies flashed in his head. He was already dead if he had epilepsy- everything was coming back to him with brief flashes; Zell’s mother, Rinoa, his double suicide attempts, Kiros, Ellone, the assassins, SeeD...
As tears fell down on the pillow, leaving their trails across his cheeks, Squall tried to get up. He could only move up, and get his upper torso a little bit up, leaning on his elbows.
He looked around. It seemed like a regular room with dimly-painted windows that blocked the light to a point. Except for the bed, there were a couple of furniture here and there. As he tried to hold the tears back, he saw a book on the sidetable. Squall concentrated on the book to make the image of dying Ellone go away. He picked it up, and struggled to see it’s title. Seeing the letters almost “carved” on it, he decided to use his fingertips to find out the title.
Hynicale!?, Squall thought, The holy book of Hyne? I thought the original one was destroyed during The Sorceress War, and no copies had been made! This-this can’t be true!
Reaching out and lighting up a small bedside lamp, Squall changed his position slightly to read. Unimaginably, he found himself absorbed within the core of the superior being in his world... Squall, for the one millionth time in his life, was surprised. They all made sense, the verses, the revelations... Saints of Hyne, whom had ceased existing during the Sorceress War. Squall kept it in mind that, there were 21 saints of Hyne, all known for a certain talent; one could do fire conjuring tricks, while another could provide fresh energy out of pure magic for the rest.
Hynicale was finished in almost an hour. Getting up, fully awake, Squall found his clothes, cleaned up and ironed, resting on a chair next to his bed. His gunblade, necklace and ring were also on top of the pile of clothes.
Squall got dressed, felt a strange wave of relief, almost a physical pleasure as his leather trenchcoat slid into place. He put on his necklace and ring, and checked his gunblade- it was fully loaded, with the safety off. Looking around to the dimly lit room, Squall sighed. Surely, as gloomy as it seemed, he would be missing the sense of being sheltered that had been into the scent of this room.
As he turned around, he remembered leaving the light on. Squall turned back to turn off the light. He reached out to the lamp, and put the light out, as his elbow brushed against Hynicale, and knocked it down to the ground.
Looking down, Squall spotted a strange shape. Curiosity won over him as he turned the light on again. But when he looked at the page, no shape could be seen. He turned the light off, and the shape came back again.
“What the hell?” he muttered under his breath, and bent down to take the book. He turned the light on, and the shape disappeared, leaving it’s place to a passage that didn’t make sense.
The One Who Grieves shall awaken the forerunner of doom, and find his salvation of the endless pretence of terrible lament. Blood shall flow down to the soil- leaving the world scarred and broken at the wake of the Revival Blood, for she who possesses similarities to the ancestors shall be sacraficed, thus, the darkness shall prevail.
The forerunner shall cross his paths with The One Who Grieves, to inform him of the penultimate force he shall contain inside him, though uninformed.
The uninformed must prove their deficit or die. The One Who Grieves shall be chosen, marked as equal to the face through the mirror. Blood shall be shed to end it all.
It started with blood. It will end in blood.
Squall turned the light off again. And in that brief moment, the shape re-appeared. Squall changed his position to get most of the outside light inside. When he finally made out the shape, Hynicale fell on the floor again, as Squall stood there, shocked.
The shape that was at the same place as the nonsensative text, was a lion. Not just any lion.
It was Griever.
The same shape on his necklace, the same shape on his gunblade’s handle-chain, the same shape on the blade of his weapon, the same shape on the ring...
Squall felt breathless. The shadows of the room didn’t seem peaceful at all now, they all seemed just hostile. Squall got out of the room as fast as he could, and walked straight to the main hall, where sermons were prepared. Where he had asked help of Hyne’s descendant. Squall almost ran past the holy symbol and walked fastly to the exit of the church.
Griever! Why!? What is Griever? It was my imaginary Guardian Force... I had this necklace and ring, and the gunblade...
Wait a sec-
I remember this wierd thing... I woke up a morning, thank Hyne I can remember this, and found the necklace on the desk, the ring on my finger, the gunblade at the side of my bed... I knew they weren’t there yesterday... And they were there all the time. I couldn’t solve it.
So I named this lion ‘Griever’, it had just come to me.
“Going somewhere, son?” Hyne’s descendant asked, walking in the main hall.
“I- Father, I have to go.” Squall said, “I have to. Thanks for everything you have given to me, you have shown me.”
“You know where your faith lies, son. You know it.”
The door of the church opened up, inviting someone inside. Out of pure respect, Squall shifted his position slightly and raised his gunblade.
“Son, I will not allow bloodshed in the house of Hyne, put away your weapon!” Squall turned the tip of his gunblade down.
“Whatever.” He said, “Father, thank you. I must leave now.”
“May Hyne shed light on the road ahead of you, son.” Hyne’s descendant said.
“Whatever.” Squall repeated.
He was walking to the door as this stranger (Squall noticed that except his face, his whole body was covered in a black armour, as his “clothing” part was made of black- almost ripped but barely holding robes) walked in. Halfway to the door, Squall turned around and faced him for a brief second. He walked on as the figure in armour stopped.
The dark figure turned around and opened his mouth to say something at the young man who was walking into the evening twilight, but he felt a hand on his shoulder.
“I did not expect you so soon.” Hyne’s descendant said.
“I had to come, sir-“
“Do not speak of my name!” Hyne’s descendant said, “For I do not wish my actions to be uncovered by our enemy.” As Squall walked out of the church, the dark figure kneeled before Hyne’s descendant.
“Messeniah.” Hyne’s descendant said, “I must admit, I did not expect you so soon.”
“I had to come. I felt it! The One Who Grieves was near me! I am most afraid that my mission is at hand.”
“Me as well.”
“Who was the young man walking out of this holy place?”
“I do not know completely. There certainly is a lot of darkness hidden within him- he is walking among the dead.”
“Do we have dark days ahead of us?”
“Indeed we do, old friend.” Hyne’s descendant said, “Indeed we do.”.
Squall couldn’t catch any part of this “interesting” conversation, because he had taken off to Balamb Garden already. As Ragnarok switched to auto-pilot, Squall looked outside for the brief minute it would take the spaceship to reach Balamb Island.
Gathering my mind, Squall thought, I think I notice some thing. ‘Martial assassin’, as the one who had attempted to kill Rinoa. The assassin that was hired to kill Ellone was a SeeD... Or someone else wants me to believe that. Okay... What do I know?
Hah, a miserable pile of nothing is what I know.
I know Caraway hired us for the assassinations of Jenna Dincht and Kiros, and taking the logical step, he might’ve hired that SeeD who assassinated Ellone... Damn, but why so hostile, taking things out in the open? Is he over-ratedly excited? What did I save Rinoa from at Tear’s Point, the darkness?
‘Martial assassin’ is way to elusive. And I think the only martial assassins were killed during The Sorceress War, as Galbadia and Esthar governments tried to take each other out.
Seeing that he had come to Balamb Garden, Squall landed Ragnarok and walked out of it. The night had gently fallen, the stars were shining, but Squall didn’t care- he had seen enough light to know it just hurt him more.
“Squall?” came Quistis’ voice from nearby. As Squall turned around to face her, he saw her hair was all untidy-quite an extraordinary situation. Her SeeD uniform was dirty and she was wounded.
“Hyne, what happened?” Squall asked.
“Goddamn GF’s!” Quistis spat, “They didn’t come to my help when I asked for it!!! Can you ask one of your GF’s, what the hell mine were thinking?”
Diablos?, Squall asked via thought.
No reply came.
Diablos, come out this instant!
Then, Squall felt the emptyness in his head.
“Damn. Mine won’t reply.” Squall said, “What the hell is going on in this world lately!?”
“Wish I knew.” Quistis said, anxious to create a conversation. Squall turned away from her, knowing that, she was still feeling love towards him. But Squall knew as well his heart belonged to someone else.
“Squall!!!” came Zell’s freaked out voice.
“What’s going on?” Squall asked.
“Come to Infirmary, quickly!!!”
Following Zell, who was having a panic attack, Squall ran. He got past the empty corridors, and finally their sprint ended at the door of the Infirmary. Squall walked inside, as Quistis, breathing fastly and irritated, came after them.
Squall walked inside to see Irvine, Selphie, Dr. Kodowaki, a few Med-SeeDs, Zell and Quistis, and in addition, himself there. The core of the power that could save the world, as long as they made it out together.
“What the hell happened!?” Squall asked, while thinking; Hyne, please don’t let it be what I think it’ll be!
“She was brought in like this, by Zell, Squall.” Irvine explained. Squall walked over to the bed chambers.
“Great Hyne in heaven! Rinoa!?”
She was lying in the bed, covered in bed sheets, and hospitalised clothes. She looked asleep, but a bloodbag was attached to her, and Squall, immidiately noticed the bandages covering up her hand except her fingers, and went some point to her elbow. There was a major bruise on her head, not to mention a cut on her throat, which didn’t look so deep. She was covered in minor wounds, and had a black eye, her nose broken, her lips bleeding. She was twisting and turning, but she was tied to the bed.
Just seeing her, lying down there like that... It broke Squall’s heart. And then, his sudden shock and pain made way for another feeling... Anger.
His mind blasted, his brain melted in the anger he was feeling, anger was running through his veins, anger all over him.
“What the hell happened?” Squall asked, rather angry.
“I have no idea.” Dr. Kodowaki said, “Suddenly, Zell walks in, with Rinoa in his arms, heavily wounded, and tells me he had heard her screams in the main hall. Noone was there, as he said.”
“There’s got to be someone around!” Squall hissed, in a hostile tone, “There’s got to be! Maybe Zell wasn’t smart enough to see!”
“Not if it was some kind of a ghost stalker.”Irvine said.
“A what?” Selphie asked.
“Remember that movie, Selphie, we’ve seen last week: ‘Ghost Stalker’, maybe it was just some kind of a ghost stalker.”
“A ghost who sneaks up and hunts people?” Squall asked, frowning at him, angrily “Impossible, Rinoa would’ve realised. No, it must be something more major than that.”
“Like what?” Selphie asked.
“Martial assassins.” Squall said, absent-mindedly.
“Martial assassins!? Come on, man!” Zell said, he was freaking out even more, “Come on, this can’t be true! Martial assassins!?”
Dr. Kodowaki’s hand got between them, holding a small, shiny object, with a little bit of blood dripping from one of it’s four sharp edges.
“This one, I just took out of a spot so near her neck vein. There also were others, one in her chest, the other in her stomach.”
“What the hell?” Squall muttered to himself as he observed the object. It was circular, with four sharp edges, two of them were stained with blood. A little hole was in the middle of it. Squall took it between his index and middle fingers, and then, threw it.
The thing whistled in the air and got stuck to the Infirmary wall.
“A shrukien.” Squall said, “It’s a shrukien. First class professional martial assassin weapon. It supports my theory. The question is, why?”
“Martial assassin? It sound sooo cool!” Selphie exclaimed.
“But those ‘martial assassins’ stuff was around The Sorceress War, man, come on!” Irvine said.
“No, this is different. This isn’t a shrukien left from the war, actually it seems quite new. A normal shurkien would’ve been heavier, and bigger, more like a loop, just like Fujin has. But this... This thing is something new.” Squall was still observing the other shrukiens.
Shrukiens... Martial assassins... Great Hyne, I think I’m losing my mind... Why Rinoa? Cause she’s a sorceress? But she’s in the middle of the only Garden that trains combat units against the sorceress, like she said in her letter. Is it a major scene?
“Why is the Garden all silent?” Irvine asked, scared of Squall’s reply.
“The curfew, idiot!” Selphie snapped, “The curfew!”
“Oh,” Irvine said, his trick of creating relaxing small-talk revealed, “Right.”
“Seriously, are you some sort of cover-up moron!?” Selphie asked, giggling.
“Now look here, Selph- Squall? What the hell are you-“
Squall didn’t reply. He just walked outside the Infirmary.
“Okay!” he shouted at the silent, and dark night of Balamb Garden. No response came. “I’m here! Come and get me, or does your strength only work on girls? Or sorceresses, without doubt you used an Odine-brand magical good to supress her powers, you coward!”, Squall almost laughed at himself;
I must look so stupid, shouting here all alone. Trying to get my enemy who is nowhere to be seen angry by mocking him... Can it really be a ghost stalker as Irvine said? Or is it as illogical as it seems it is?
“I’m still here! If you’re out there, and you value your honor, like it or not, you have to come here! Now I’m gonna count until five, and unless you come out, then I’ll believe you’re a total sissy!”
Squall looked around. Still nothing.
“One!” he said, taking a quick glance over his shoulder, “Two!”. He decided to pass the next numbers and then shouted as “FIVE!”.
“This is crazy...” Squall said to himself “What am I doing here?” he turned around to leave.
Then, silent as a falling feather, a figure dressed totally in black jumped in front of him, and threw Squall a kick. Squall stumbled but he didn’t fall, he managed to keep his balance. Squall got his gunblade ready.
“Who are you?” Squall asked, but as a reply, his opponent threw four little shrukiens at him. Squall tried to duck them down, by jumping to the side, but immidiately he met with the kick of his opponent, which sent him on his back.
The dark figure unsheathed a sword. It was a regular, single-sided sword, not a gunblade. Squall’s opponent swung the sword in a vertical slash from upwards to downwards, Squall rolled over to avoid it. Squall managed to get back to his feet, when another series of slashes came at him. Swinging LionHeart was surely more difficult than swinging that single-sided blade. The sound of steel crashing on steel echoed throughout the Garden.
“Who the hell are you!?” Squall repeated his question, while avoiding yet another move from his dark-clothed opponent. His opponent jumped up and did a backflip, while kicking Squall squarely on the chin, sending him backwards. As Squall managed to regain his balance, the sword came at him, in yet another vertical slash. Squall swung LionHeart upwards in a defensive move. The swords met, and jets of flame emerged from their meeting points. Squall felt the extraordinary strength of his opponent, yet he wasn’t strong enough.
Squall tensed all of his muscles up, suddenly feeling his katal wound, and lifted himself totally up to a standing position, while pushing his opponent back. His enemy managed to kick him in the stomach, making Squall collapse, all the air released out with some blood coming out of his mouth. Another kick landed on his face, sending him on his back.
As Squall got back up to his feet, his enemy was gone by the wind.
What the hell?, Squall thought, looking around him in a little bit of paranoia. No one seemed to be around. Squall decided not to push his luck too hard, and turned his steps towards the Infirmary.
He noticed the familiar whistling sound too late.
As Squall turned around, his palms clutching his gunblade tight, he saw four shiny objects coming at him. Squall lifted up his left arm to protect himself. Four shrukiens got buried into his skin, blood rushing out of his wounds. Squall gritted his teeth in pain, but he surely wasn’t about to let out even a moan.
The figure in dark clothes threw another kick, which nailed Squall’s right arm to the wall. Squall could feel his opponent’s foot still hanging near his wrist, as he tried to block the fast punches he was throwing at him. Blocking one, Squall felt fingers wrapped around his right wrist. Squall managed to point at his opponent, and concentrate in a second.
“Slow!”Squall said, and his opponent’s moves slowed down. Squall threw the best punch he could throw, sending his enemy, slowly, backwards. As Squall got his arm free of his clutch, he was about to grab him by the collar of his clothes, as he sprung free of his spell, and managed to get back his pace again. Squall swung LionHeart from his right to his left, while his opponent jumped backwards, and then jumped forwards, doing a little side-flip in mid-air, kicking Squall in the face, sending him to the door of the Infirmary. Squall tried to find something to hang on to on the door’s smooth surface, but there was nothing to hold on to.
Squall slipped and fell, as he saw his opponent, running away into the darkness. He couldn’t care, because he could feel his wounds, giving him pain again. Squall dragged himself back to his feet and stepped in from the Infirmary.
“Squall? What happened?” Selphie asked.
“What? What do you mean?” Squall answered with a question.
Dr.Kodowaki held out a mirror. Squall saw that, his scar had started to bleed again, alongside with his nose and lips. A little, minor cut was on his right temple, but he didn’t care about that.
“Great Hyne!” Irvine said, pointing at Squall’s left arm, “What the hell happened out there!?”
Squall then acknowledged the pain in his left arm, felt every shrukien’s cold steel inside his body.
“I...” Squall said, “Challenged that martial assassin... And then...” he stopped to breathe, his conscience shook.
“I managed to keep him from killing... Me.”
“Come here!” Dr.Kodowaki called out. As the door inside the Infirmary swung open, med-SeeDs rushed inside to take their commander and lay him into the bed chamber next to Rinoa’s.
“Poor Squall.” Selphie said, “It was a bit of a nasty shock for him.”
“Yeah, he’s down.” Irvine said, “And I thought nothing could take him down.”
...As the night progressed, Infirmary became dark. Dr.Kodowaki was sleeping in a little private room built in, right next to the Infirmary, she could be there in a second, if needed.
The door slowly slid open and led a figure, totally embraced by darkness inside. It moved silently, and without making a sound, not even his footsteps on the soft carpet was heard.
The figure reached to Rinoa’s bed chambers, and stood there in the dark, searching for something. The figure took out a little object, and the moon light danced on the shrukien. As the figure bent down, a small clicking sound was heard.
“I wouldn’t do that, if I were you.” Irvine said, calmly, holding his shining Exeter to the dark figure’s face. The figure stopped, and muttered something, maybe a curse to his luck.
“Now, slowly, “Irvine commanded, “Take off that goddamn mask.”
The figure’s hands moved up to the mask, but then, with a sudden movement, one hand grasped the barrel of Irvine’s rifle, while the other threw the shrukien. Irvine managed to avoid the shrukien, but he also pulled the trigger. A gunshot whipped the silence of the Infirmary, as some of the window came down. Irvine took a step back and attempted to shoot again as Rinoa’s attacker jumped up. Irvine shot again, and the glass broke down with the bullet, and the figure jumped off the window.
“What the hell is going on here!?” Dr.Kodowaki asked, as she and med-SeeDs armed with rifles came inside.
“Someone dressed in dark clothes, was here! I shot, but couldn’t hit him, I guess. The lunatic jumped off the window.”
“What!?” Dr.Kodowaki’s jaw dropped open “He will die, for Hyne’s sake! Let me take a look!” she hurried forward and took a look out of the window, she looked down.
And nobody was there. Nobody and no body.
“This is getting out of hand.” Dr.Kodowaki said, “Assassins in the middle of the Garden? I shall talk to Garden Faculty, and Cid too, first thing in the morning!” she stormed off, and the med-SeeDs went back to their interrupted sleep, and the night left itself to a dark dawn.