Categories > Games > Final Fantasy 9 > Inochi Wa Tsusuku

Chapter Six

by AccountingNinja 0 reviews

Vivi watched his charges, desperately fighting the urge to rush in and dispatch the beast himself...They have to do it, he told himself, just like I did.

Category: Final Fantasy 9 - Rating: PG - Genres: Drama - Characters: Mikoto,Vivi Ornitier - Warnings: [!!!] - Published: 2008-07-16 - Updated: 2008-07-17 - 4008 words

Chapter Six~The Potential of Youth


Jun woke to rustling noises close by his bed. He sat up, trying to focus in the dark room. The sun had not risen yet and one of his brothers sounded like he was sneaking out.

"Go back to bed, Jun," came the congenial voice of Marty. "I didn't mean to wake you."

"W-Where are you going?" The youngest brother asked.

Marty kept his voice low. "A new Chocobo is arriving today from Condie Petie. As Mr. Timothy's apprentice, I want to be there."

Jun shook his head. "But I thought you were already the synthesist's apprentice."

"Who's skipping out?" piped Daney, from the far end of the room.

Annoyance tinged Marty's voice. "I'm not skipping out. I'm working."

"Boy, that's all you think about, Marty."

A pillow flew out from the black, beaning Daney over the head. Another voice snarled, "Will you all shut up? Some people are trying to sleep!"

Daney raised his pillow menacingly at his invisible enemy. "All right, let's go, Yugi! Fight me!"

"I don't want to fight. I-want-to-sleep!" Yugi punctuated each word with ire.

Marty sighed as he heard every brother stir and awaken. "Wonderful." He rolled his eyes. "You know, I was trying to be considerate."

Suki whined, "What time is it? You guys're making too much noise!"

"Shut your cry-hole," Yugi growled.

"You leave Suki alone," said Daney angrily.

A light flared up, illuminating the room. Berty held the magic flame in his hand, a look of deep disgust in his eyes, and lit the nearest oil lamp. "I've had enough of this. Thanks a lot, guys." He stormed out to the washroom, clutching a worn leather-bound tome.

Marty shouldered his backpack. He turned to Jun. "I'm off. Tell Dad and Mamiko I'll try to be back in time for Lessons."

Jun frowned, knowing how irked Mamiko could get at tardiness. "Okay. Just please don't be late again, because then I'll be in trouble."

After Marty left, Daney threw his arms up and sighed. "I guess we're all up now! Who wants to go for a swim?"

Suki cringed. "We aren't allowed to go if no one is there to watch us."

Yugi was in rare agreement with Suki. "There's no way I'm jumping in icy water at four in the morning." He tugged the sheets back over his head. "Have fun catching pneumonia."

None of his brothers shared Daney's zest for the lake. "Fine, I'll just go by myself." He stuffed some clothes into a knapsack, grabbed his hat and ran outside in his pajamas.

More than one year had passed since the six new Mages had been "born". The first couple of months were the toughest as they adjusted to their schedules in the village. They all had much to learn, and luckily they were all very intelligent for their age. Most of the day consisted of schooling from various teachers: Vivi and Mikoto, (who, of course, provided most of the primary education), Mr. 288 (whom the boys affectionately referred to as Grandpa), Dana, Blue Water, and countless other Genomes and Mages. Each boy had also been encouraged to pursue anything else that interested him.

While Marty leaned toward the practical side of life, Suki to the domestic life, Jun and Yugi to the ways of magic, and Berty to, well, nothing yet, (/except reading boring, smelly old books/, his brothers thought), Daney just wanted to fill his senses with fun and excitement. He did things on the spur of the moment, whenever he felt like it. His laissez-faire attitude often annoyed his brothers, but, by his very nature, he could not care less.

He trotted over the grassy sand toward the lake, stripping off his nightclothes on the way. This was great! Not a body in sight. The soft glow of the rising sun had just begun to seep into the horizon. A few birds trilled their morning calls.

Daney plunged into the cold water. He, Marty and Yugi were the only ones that had learned to swim, so far. Daney fancied himself the best swimmer; his two brothers could only doggie-paddle at best. Shaking off the initial chill, he flipped and splashed, impressing the frogs with his aquatic feats. By the time he grew bored with the lake, the sun had come up, and faint sounds of village bustle started to carry over the winds.

Daney drip-dried on the beach, stark naked, fists planted on his hips. He obviously did not inherit his father's extreme modesty. After he put on his clothes, he adjusted his bauble-clad hat and shouldered his knapsack. He raced into the village, heading to the Old Side. He wanted to say hello to his new best friend, the Innkeeper, Mr. 234.

He passed many friendly faces on his way, and, being a sociable boy, greeted them all cheerfully. He barged into the Inn with a loud, "Hey, Mr. 234!" He flung his sack with his pajamas unceremoniously into a corner.

A soft-spoken voice came from the other room. "Is that you, Daney? Good morning. My, you are up early." Mr. 234's voice had a touch of melancholy. His companion, Mr. 123, had passed away two months ago. The two Mages were known for their beautiful artistic gifts, as well as their deep friendship with each other. Many of Mr. 234's lovely paintings hung on the walls of the Inn, including one of Zidane, Garnet and Vivi, immortalizing their very first visit to the village so long ago. It was titled, "The Beginning of the New Age." A few feet over hung a lovingly detailed portrait of the late Mr. 123, in which his weathered, kind face could be seen without a Shroud. It was called, "My Friend."

All the Ten-series Mages had died, and now the Hundred-series was slowly fading away. Only eight remained now, not counting Vivi and the six boys. The name Black Mage Village started to sound ironic.

Daney peeked around the corner to see Mr. 234 making one of the beds. Anxiously, the little Mage drummed his fingers on the doorjamb. "So, can I see it?"

Mr. 234 laughed quietly. "Just a moment. It won't go anywhere."

The big Mage took a long, long time to finish making the bed, it seemed. Daney bit his lip impatiently. Adults could be so slow. Couldn't Mr. 234 see how important this was?

"Now then, let us go see it." Mr. 234 said at last.

The Innkeeper herded the small boy behind the counter, and with a grunt, heaved a heavy, sliding door aside, revealing a dimly lit back room. Crates and bags of food and equipment lined the walls, along with some tools and various old decorations. But on the far wall, a blue tarp concealed something large.

"Aah!" Daney lunged, ripping off the tarp. He suddenly became very still, out of reverence.

It was an exquisite piano. Daney yanked off a glove and ran his fingers over the cool, glossy oak finish. After paying proper respects, he lifted the cover and pulled out the seat, making himself comfortable.

His fingers hovered over the keys briefly, and then the boy launched into a lively song. It was not perfect, with an odd sour note here and there, but still impressive, seeing as Daney had only been playing for a couple of months. He had taken to this instrument immediately, feeling some sort of inborn kinship with it. In fact, the very first time his hands felt the smooth ivory keys he was able to pound out a comprehensible tune, to everyone's amazement, especially since neither Vivi nor Mikoto had any musical aptitude.

Mr. 234 just listened, and once he dabbed his eyes with his sleeve. Mr. 123 had purchased this piano only weeks before he died. It was the late Mage musician's dream come true to procure a piano all the way from Treno, ever since Alexandria opened trade routes to the Outer Continent. Unfortunately, his time with the instrument had been limited.

When Daney had finished, the last note rang into silence.

"Lovely! Simply lovely," said Mr. 234, voice slightly choked. "You have such a talent. Tell me, what song were you playing?"

The boy shrugged. "I dunno. I made it up just now!"

"Such talent," he gushed, and wiped his eyes once more.

Daney frowned. "I didn't mean to make you sad. It was supposed to be a happy song. Sorry..."

"No, no! It's not the song at all. And I am happy, actually. I know that he wouldn't have wanted this piano to gather dust in here. He'd be pleased that you could play it."

Daney beamed at the man, then his face fell. "Aw, nuts! I'm late for Lessons, aw man! Mamiko's gonna kill me. I gotta go, Mr. 234."

Mr. 234 nodded as the boy rushed past him.

"Thank you!" Daney cried behind him.

"See you later," called the Mage.



An hour before sunset, Vivi waited at the entrance to the village. Through the low sun he spied the figures of his sons approaching. Jun, Marty and Yugi led the pack, followed by Suki and Berty. Trailing far behind was Daney, who kicked rocks on the path petulantly, grousing under his breath.

Vivi was about to ask him what was the matter when Jun whispered, "He was late this morning, so Mamiko gave him a hundred extra lines."

Yugi added, "Yeah, but he's really mad because Marty was even later and didn't get punished."

"It's just so /unfair/," Daney grumbled as he joined the others.

Marty glared behind him to admonish his brother. "I was at work, not just goofing off, plus, I actually /completed /my homework with perfect marks."

Daney made rude faces and kissing noises at Marty's back, mouthing an unflattering imitation. To demonstrate his maturity, Marty ignored him.

"All right, you guys," said Vivi patiently. "We're going out into the forest."

Suki's eyes widened. "There are monsters out there!"

Vivi nodded gravely at him. "Yes, there are. And we're going to fight some."

Suki squeaked.

Yugi folded his arms and laughed. "I'm looking forward to this!"

"This will be a lesson in control," Vivi continued. "What matters is not blasting everything"- his eyes rested on Yugi- "but maintaining control of your magic. If you can't control it, you may end up destroying the forest. Or worse, you may end up hurting or killing someone."

The boys fell silent. They had practiced their magic before, but always just minor spells, and always in controlled environments closely supervised by their powerful father. Never had they fought real beasts, nor ventured beyond the boundaries of the village.

"Let's go," said Vivi.

They anxiously followed the elder Mage, whispering to each other about what sort of horrors they would face.

"I heard the Zahgnols are the size of a house."

"There are also man-eating owls that can put you to sleep. You won't even know what hit you!"

"Even the plants are dangerous. /Don't touch that mushroom/!"

"Aah! Oh no, I think I stepped on it! I need an antidote!"

"Heh heh heh..."

"I swear, you're so immature."

Vivi wheeled around angrily. "Sshh! Quiet! Every monster in the forest is gonna hear you. The worst thing you can do is get yourself ambushed. Remember, we're in their territory, and"-

"Dad! Look out!" Jun cried as a gigantic red pig-beast roared out of the trees at them.

The Zahgnol had caught Vivi from behind, and the Mage could not move fast enough. Its horn clipped his left shoulder and sent him flying into some prickly, dead bushes. Pain seared from his shoulder down his arm, not to mention from the myriad of tiny cuts all over his face. Vivi groaned and gritted his teeth. He touched his hand to his shoulder to check for blood, but luckily the horn hadn't broken the skin. Though it ached fiercely, it wasn't a serious injury, and his mind raced with thoughts of his sons' safety.

Jun tugged on his hat. "Dad!" He started towards the bushes where Vivi had landed.

"I'm okay! Focus on the monster," his father called.

Surprisingly, it was Suki who made the first move. When the Zahgnol had stopped and turned to charge the others, he threw a Poison spell at it. The beast faltered, looking ill, but still as furious as ever. It raked the moss-covered forest floor with a hoof.

The boys ran to surround the monster until Vivi's pained yell froze them in their tracks.

"No! Never surround it, if your magic misses it'll hit one of you!"

Their father's warning had caused the boys to hesitate, giving the Zahgnol time to recover and barrel toward Suki, who, because of his bold act, was nearest to it. Suki froze like a small animal, his mouth hanging open, all courage escaping his body.

Suddenly, someone tackled Suki to the ground just in time as the frightened little Mage heard the thunderous hooves pounding just feet from his ear, spraying him with dirt and broken plants.

"You stupid, useless idiot! Don't just stand there!" Yugi straddled him across his chest, screaming at him and shaking him by his collar. The worry in his eyes betrayed the rage in his voice.

Suki shook his head. "Yugi..."

"Get up, it's coming again!" Yugi yanked his brother's arm and dragged him behind a tree as it galloped past again.

Berty hung back. He had volunteered to act as medic for this battle, but that was only because he hated using his magic in battle. He darted between trees, trying to look busy. However, he did not seek out his injured father, nor check to see if Suki and Yugi were all right. He and Jun locked eyes, and Jun gestured urgently, only to be ignored.

Daney had an idea. He began taunting the beast, waving his arms. "Hey, piggy piggy! Over here, think you can catch me?"

The Zahgnol zeroed in on him, grunting madly and thrusting his horns into the air. Marty tried to use Fire on it then, while it was distracted, but the spell merely charred a small patch of fur and fizzled out. The Zahgnol snorted more from annoyance, it seemed, than pain.

"My magic's not strong enough," said Marty, and unfortunately the beast had now turned his sights from Daney onto him. He slowly backed away, hands raised defensively, panic rising.

Vivi watched his charges, desperately fighting the urge to rush in and dispatch the beast himself. He shook with anticipation. /They have to do it/, he told himself, just like I did.

A sharp cry pierced the air as Marty went flying, struck in the chest. Some tufts of grass broke his fall, and he lay still. Daney ran after him.

Immediately, Jun squared off in front of the monster, shouting, "Slow!"

The Zahgnol looked like it was swimming through water. It bellowed wildly, confused as to why it was unable to move quickly.

All the Mages rushed to Marty's prone form, save for Vivi, who kept his watch from a distance.

"Give him a potion!" Jun hissed to Berty, who stood apathetically apart from the crowd. Jun snatched up Berty's bag of medicine. "I'll do it myself!"

Marty groaned as Jun poured the cool medicine over his lips. Suki clapped his hands. "He's okay!"

"Don't move him just yet," said Daney.

Vivi watched the boys huddle, their backs to the slowed beast. Come on! Pay /attention/, he thought. It's not over...

After a few moments, the Zahgnol started to shake off the Slow spell. Vivi knew these beasts were highly resistant to many status spells, and considering the boys' low power, he was not surprised to see the beast begin to recover so quickly. The boys were oblivious, still tending to their fallen brother.

The beast saw its chance. It reared onto its hind legs and charged with a triumphant howl.

The brothers heard the pounding and their faces fell open in sinking horror as they turned to see the charging monster tearing up the grass toward them. They could not scatter. What about Marty? He would surely be trampled to death.

Yugi bolted to his feet, shaking with fury. He spread his long fingers, and yelled, "Firaga!!"

"No!" Vivi finally leapt to interfere, but it was too late.

Enormous flames shot from the young Mage's outstretched hands, sizzling and crackling with sheer power. The Zahgnol let forth an anguished death wail as the fire ravaged its body and it hit the ground with an earth-shaking crash. The force of Yugi's own spell startled him and sent him flying backwards, nearly falling onto Marty.

The flames torched all the underbrush and trees in the surrounding area. A forest fire threatened to ignite until Vivi slid to a halt in front of the blaze, hosing it down with a Water spell.

The Zahgnol had not died, but lay twitching, clinging to life. When the fire was out, Vivi faced the beast and said quietly, "Sleep."

It fell into a deep slumber, and then Vivi closed his eyes and raised his gloved hand once more.

"Death," he said.

It shuddered its last breath. Water dripped from scorched branches and pooled on the charred ground. The place looked like a war zone. Marty sat up now, holding his ribs and wincing, but otherwise okay.

A dreadful silence fell. The boys knew they had failed miserably. Yugi rose to his feet, staggering, and his face white as a sheet.

"I-I'm sorry, I know I shouldn't have, but it was coming for us and-and-"

Vivi put a hand on his tallest son's shoulder. "It's okay. I'm proud of you. I never knew you had such strong magic." The praise rang hollow, as concern and trepidation colored his tone of voice.

"Yeah, that was so cool!" Suki said, hopping up and down.

"I could've killed us all," Yugi answered softly. "Just like you said. I couldn't stop it once I cast it. I was just so angry."

Vivi stared at him. How in the world did this boy have such power? Vivi certainly had not had even half that power at his age. Was this a product of how they had been created? Then there was Marty, whose power was negligible. He would have to remember to tell Mikoto of this later. Maybe she would have an explanation.

Daney laughed. "But you didn't kill us, you saved us! Just take the glory already!"

Yugi managed a tight-lipped smile. He glanced at his father, ashamed of the subtle disapproval in Vivi's eyes.

"You just need practice controlling it. Don't worry." Vivi took a deep breath and turned to Jun. "Excellent use of a status spell. You too, Suki. Black magic isn't only about elementals. Status spells are less flashy, but sometimes they can be the difference between winning and losing. You should all practice those, uh, but not on each other. Marty, nice try, and I'm impressed you took that blow as good as you did. Daney, good use of distraction, but I'd really like to see your magic. I don't think I ever have."

"Ah, I'm not very good. I'm like Marty," he admitted.

Marty nodded. "Yeah, he's as terrible as me! I'd say we got the short end of the magic stick."

"'Magic stick'? Wow." Yugi rolled his eyes, back in form. "Your analogies are also terrible."

They all laughed briefly, except for Jun, who stood with his arms crossed.

"Berty's gone, Dad. He didn't do anything."

"Yeah! What's his problem, anyway?" asked Daney.

Vivi shook his head. "I'm not sure. I'll have to talk to him." The boys could tell he was not at all happy with Berty. "Come on, lets hurry home before we're attacked again."



Berty stole into his house, relishing the silence. He had made his escape while Yugi was showing off, like usual. He narrowed his eyes. Were any of his brothers not nitwits?

He rustled under his bed, pulling out a musty leather book, an ancient Olmsmudian bible. He read several passages very quickly, finding relief in the scripture. The Olmsmudites had been a prominent church on the Mist Continent around two hundred years ago. Although now defunct, he still followed the teachings. Something had to cleanse the horrible taint of his birth.

The truth was, he hated his family and everyone in this village of freaks. He never asked to be brought into the world so artificially. He hated his cursed black magic. Such were the tools of demons and ghouls, according to any book he read, and he was inclined to trust the rest of the world. He hoarded all the religious texts he could find, to somehow find salvation from the creature he was. When he looked into the dusty washroom mirror, a pudgy little boy with black hair and squinty eyes stared back innocently enough, but Berty felt as though his own face was a mask, hiding something base and vile.

As though the divine spirits were punishing his very existence, every night strange and unsettling dreams plagued him, and during the day, passing waves of unexplained emotion made the hairs on his neck stand on end. Why, when all of his childish brothers were laughing, did he always feel this vice grip of dread? Such constant stress made him gruff and twitchy, and most of the other little Mages did not like to spend time with him.

The sound of voices interrupted his meditations. It was Vivi (he refused to call the boy his father) talking to all the others. Berty quickly shoved the book back under his bed and stood, arms folded defensively.

The door creaked open, and only Vivi entered, looking very serious. They stared at each other in silence for a moment.

Vivi sighed heavily. "If you didn't want to come, you didn't have to."

Berty just stared at the floor, and did not answer.

"How could you let your brothers"-

"They're not my brothers!" Berty hissed.

The older boy furrowed his brow. "Of course they are."

"No! I hate this place, I hate you all." He stormed past Vivi and out the door.

Daney and Suki had pressed their ears against the door, with Jun nervously asking what they could hear. Yugi and Marty hung back, not about to be caught eavesdropping. When Berty flung the door open, he bowled his three brothers over into the grass. Berty snorted at them and kept going, until he had stalked out of sight.

Affronted, Daney dusted off his slacks and called after Berty, "Yeah! Good riddance! Hope a monster eats you."

Jun nodded in agreement, until Vivi had stepped out the door. The disapproving look on his face withered Jun's smug smile.

"You shouldn't say things like that," Vivi warned.

"And why not? You heard him. He said he hated us," Daney retorted.

"I don't think he means it. He's just dealing with a lot of stuff right now. Just leave him alone, you guys."

"At least it'll be quiet," said Marty. "No listening to him quote old books."

Yugi leaned against the side of the house. "Can we go to bed now?" His thin face was drawn, and large circles hung under his eyes. The powerful spell had taken every bit of energy from him.

In fact, the hard battle had made each boy welcome sleep that night. Vivi said goodnight to each of his remaining sons.

As he trudged down the dirt road toward his own house, the pain in his shoulder throbbed once more. Vivi really did not feel like going home now. He had so many things on his mind. He had not realized that it would be difficult for any of his sons to adjust to the facts surrounding their creation, of which all except Berty had accepted rather easily. Vivi tried to remember how he felt when he saw the machine in Dali making Black Mages. That was how Berty felt now, and no one could help him overcome it, not even Vivi. It was something he needed to sort out himself.
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