Categories > Games > Final Fantasy 9 > The End of Times

Tied With A Ribbon

by DevilishKurumi 0 reviews

It's the end of the world as we know it... [Character Death, Character Mutilation, Character Bad-Stuff-Happens-To. See inside for full warnings.]

Category: Final Fantasy 9 - Rating: R - Genres: Drama, Horror - Characters: Adelbert Steiner, Amarant Coral, Beatrix, Blank, Eiko Carol, Freya Crescent, Garnet Til Alexandros, Marcus - Warnings: [!!] [V] - Published: 2006-05-07 - Updated: 2006-05-08 - 3600 words

Steiner doesn't know what Beatrix found a few nights ago in the ruins of the Grand Castle, but it's put her in a very melancholy, irate mood.
It's driving the knight absolutely crazy, because this is the second thing in a week that she has kept from him, and that Amarant seems to have some kind of hint about.
It's not that Steiner is a jealous man by any means. He is devoted to his wife and knows her; if there were truly any issues going on between them, he would have been told by now. So the real fact of the matter is that this has nothing to do with him - which makes it all the more worrisome. What if there's something wrong with either her or Amarant? The queen holds them both in high regard, and so does Steiner - though a bit reluctantly on Amarant's part - and it wouldn't do anyone good if either should be unable to help Garnet.
He's not sure where Beatrix is at the moment; all he knows is that she's with the queen. He thinks that they're probably trying to find Regent Cid, or Eiko.
He does know where Amarant and Lani are, however, and decides that he needs answers that Amarant most certainly has. So he waits until the healers have made their rounds upstairs and then heads down, ducking his head against the sun as he exits the hospital and starts towards where he assumes the two bounty hunters are.
Amarant is at the top of the pile of rubble separating the north shopping district from the rest of the district, sitting on a large rock and sorting through a rotting corpse's belongings. Lani, lower down on the wall, is picking through the rubble and has an array of household items and food that hasn't quite gone bad yet, along with some jewelry and a small pile of gil.
"What are you doing?" the knight asks warily - wearily.
"What do you think, Rusty?" Amarant holds up a long string of pearls that glint in the sunlight, and grins sickly, "Think she's gonna need it?"
"That's - you're ravaging dead bodies?"
"Not just the bodies," the hunter replies amicably, "But the houses too."
Lani takes this moment to look up, and spots Steiner.
"What are you doing out here, knight? Don't you have a queen to protect or something?" She grumbles and turns back to counting out some gil in her head, "Seems like all he does is mope around."
Amarant winces a little and throws a small bit of plaster at her head, earning a glare.
"She's found a lot of food that hasn't gone bad yet," the redhead tells Steiner, "It'll probably do someone good."
Steiner watches Lani count for a few more moments, running over the comment on his moping, and then looks up at Amarant in determination.
"I'm not here to reprimand you. What you do is... your business. I'm here about Beatrix."
Amarant takes this moment to bite into a piece of gold and growls, throwing it away. "Who the hell carries fake gil around nowadays?"
"What/ about/ her?" the bounty hunter asks, looking at the knight from under greasy, dirty dreadlocks. "She isn't here, if that's what you're asking."
"I want to know what happened to make her so..." Steiner can't think of the right word so he waves his hand, hoping that the other male will get the gist.
"Well," he growls, frowning in annoyance - and maybe anger. "First, her kingdom's been reduced to cinders, as has its neighboring regency. Second, her queen is blind and is silently suffering over her beloved's death." He spits the word "beloved" out and makes Steiner wince, but doesn't acknowledge this and continues. "Third, her husband - that's you - has recently lost his arm and isn't in any condition mentally or physically to protect the borders of neither regency nor kingdom. And /fourth/, she's been faced with death, chaos, and destruction for about a week straight now with less than an hour of sleep a day."
He crosses the arms of the corpse and then puts a rag over its face, before looking back down at Steiner again. "If you ask me, I think she's got a lot of reasons to be pretty /whatever/."
The knight tries to form some sort of rebuttal but all the facts are laid out in front of him. It'd be damned hard to counter them and both hunter and knight realize this.
Steiner turns away and says, "I'm going to go do something productive - such as help the living, instead of helping myself to the dead."
He marches off, intent on showing that he is not moping around, and that he is perfectly capable of helping.
Beatrix stands about a meter away from her queen; arms crossed and face deceptively blank and apathetic. Garnet is kneeling in the rubble of the Grand Castle, head low and hair hiding her face from view.
"A...Are w-we sure th-that it's him?" the girl asks in a quiet, broken voice.
"...Yes. I am sure."
The General doesn't tell her queen that the only way she knows is because of the clothing. The body is beyond recognition.
"Your majesty," Beatrix begins, realizing that this development is more than detrimental to an entire land - realizing that this is affecting her queen, who's sometimes more like her daughter than either care to admit. She comes to Garnet's side and puts a hand on her shoulder, eyes averted from the corpse. "...What will we tell the others? The people of Lindblum?"
Garnet tries to stand so Beatrix helps her away and down the slope, finding a relatively shady place for them to sit, fairly concealed behind destroyed walls. The queen's face, though upset and distressed, isn't wet with tears, and her eyes are harder than normal. Beatrix prays that Garnet isn't losing herself in all of this.
"...We can't tell the people. Not until we know where Eiko is. Without someone to lead them..."
Beatrix nods and puts her hand on Garnet's shoulder again. "And the others?"
"...I don't... I don't want to tell them; not yet. Amarant, Lani, Steiner... They have too much on their minds right now. This wouldn't help."
Beatrix knows Garnet means well, but the idea of holding more from each other doesn't feel right. "Are you sure, your majesty?"
Garnet shakes her head. "I'm not sure of anything right now, Beatrix."
That knight is watching a few able bodied kids "playing" in the dirty, ruined streets, and his expression absolutely depresses Lani. Amarant has gone over to the northern part of the district, but she herself is laden with a few pricey rings and other goodies - and has a whole sack full of food - so she's content with wandering around and handing out some of the food to others.
But he looks so miserable/, and even though she doesn't really give two gil about him, it makes /her feel just a little miserable.
So she tromps over and easily sets down her bag of food in front of him, crossing her arms and 'hmph'ing significantly.
"Moping around, huh?" she drawls, rolling her eyes, "Not that I don't expect anything else." She turns and sits easily next to the knight, who now looks more confused than depressed.
He looks at the bag in front of him and then looks to her, almost questioning but not able to phrase it for her eyes. She grins, because she can tell what it is, anyways.
"Food," she points to the bag, "For people. I don't know if it'll do any good, but who cares?" She pulls the long string of pearls Amarant had been waving around earlier out of her pocket. "I've got plenty of stuff here."
He eyes the necklace worriedly and Lani frowns. "What's the matter with you, anyways? You act like you've never seen dead people before."
When he opens his mouth to talk, she realizes that he's not someone who can simplify his thoughts into one or two easily distinguished words.
"Never mind, we both know I won't understand what you're saying."
A little boy comes limping up to them both with his shoulder and upper left arm heavily bandaged, and a roughly stitched shut wound on his face. Lani doesn't like kids, but she manages a small smile for him. It feels more like a grimace.
He asks her something, with wide eyes, and she says, "Sorry, kid. Can't hear a word you're saying."
So the boy looks around and then seems to yell in delight, because he's found a stick. Kids have such short attention spans!
He grins at her and then squats down next to Lani, scratching out crude letters in the dirt. /What's in your bag?/, he writes, and she smirks.
"Smart brat," she rolls her eyes, before pointing to it, "There's some hopefully good food in there. If you and your buddies want some, go ahead."
The boy grins and then drops the stick on the ground, running to his friends and telling them in what she supposes is a loud voice that she has food and she's going to give some to them.
She looks at the knight, who is looking at the bag, and then asks, "What's your name, anyways?"
He blinks, and then looks at her in confusion.
"I don't know your name. Doesn't seem to make sense, what with us fighting for our lives together and all."
The boys come over and she lets them drag the sack off to the side - she can still see it, so she's not too worried. She looks around and then grabs the stick the boy had used earlier, scuffing her boot against the dirt and then handing the stick to the knight.
"You are literate, right?"
He frowns and makes an annoyed face, before scratching out Steiner in the dirt.
"Steiner, huh." She looks at him sideways and he's looking at the sky. She thinks that if he weren't grimacing all the time, perhaps...
"How long have you been married to the General, anyways?"
He looks back to her and his face is really a somber mix of confusion, depression, and... something else. Something that reminds her of her dreams and makes her fee very uneasy.
He holds up three fingers.
"I can't see myself getting married," Lani mutters, speaking up to say, "She doesn't seem the type to settle down."
Steiner shrugs and looks at the dirt.
"You know..." Lani leans back a little and examines her new rings. "If you're so worried about your missus, she's at the castle with the queen. Why don't you just go talk to her?"
The knight almost stands, almost goes to do just that, but at the last moment his mind seems to shout at him because he shakes his head and looks at the castle in a kind of disguised longing.
"We really can't have people getting depressed and stupid right now," Lani snaps, regretting the words but not really. "Just because everyone is falling apart at the seams doesn't mean you can too."
He looks at her and asks something, before grabbing the stick and scratching out, Why do you care about our wellbeing?
"I don't give a shit about your wellbeing," she grumbles, "But I sure as hell can't deal with this right now. Red's already getting fucked by whatever he did, the queen is sinking into a hysterical pit she's not going to get out of, and damn it, I really would love to be able to hear my voice right now!"
Steiner gives her a sympathetic look and it pisses Lani off because she doesn't need sympathy, damn it, she needs her hearing back! ...No, what she needs is her axe and a good solid bounty. She needs how things were.
"So why don't you even have kids?" she asks in annoyance, looking to the three boys who have set up a miniature picnic nearby; bread with the mold picked off, a chipped jug of water, and meat cooked just enough to keep it from going bad all make the kids giggly and happy.
She wishes it was that easy for everyone else.
"I mean, three years and no kid?" She glances at him sideways with a smirk that feels violent even to her, "What, are you sterile or something?"
He looks at her in utter disbelief, eyes wide and mouth opening and closing like some kind of fish. He starts babbling, eyes narrowing and he looks just absolutely aggravated and astonished and embarrassed. She can tell he's saying no, because it's all in the words she can figure out.
"Or is it her that's all dried up?" she adds, fueling the knight's little tirade and making him jump up and shake. She decides that Amarant was right - this guy is easy to rile up. But at the same time, she feels kind of guilty for getting him so upset, just so she wouldn't have to focus on her own feelings.
"Quit bellowing, I can't hear a word your saying. Besides, I'm not serious."
He stops almost abruptly and stares.
"What's the reason, then, if it isn't lack of ability?"
Lani's surprised to find that she actually kind of cares.
He takes a minute and then sits down again, heavily and wearily, and picks up the stick, looking at it idly.
"Well? I'm not going to wait all day, sir knight."
He starts scratching in the dirt like he's never going to stop.
A woman in Beatrix's position can't afford a child right now it's not that we don't want but we can't because of her duty to the queen.
Lani reads the knight's explanation easily enough and finds that kind of stupid. Then again, she wouldn't want kids either, if she were too busy fighting for her life to save a kingdom. Hell, she wouldn't want kids /period/.
"Is that your excuse, or hers?"
Steiner looks away and nods towards where the castle should be. Lani nods in understanding and looks at his scratched writing again, before scuffing her boot across it and making it illegible.
She doesn't have anything else to do so she's content enough to sit next to this knight, who seems to have a lot more on his mind than he's letting on. She wonders why she's finding this fool so interesting - Amarant hadn't thought much of him, and she can see that no on in this ruined town really does either. Then again... He's an Alexandrian. The Lindblum folk probably don't think too highly of Alexandria right now, no matter the fact that the queen is just as hurt as they are.
You were right/, he scuffs out onto the dirk at her feet, a grimacing smile on his face, /I mope.
She feels even guiltier than before but shrugs and says, "If you say so," turning her eyes away and back at the boys. A little girl has joined them - probably about five or six years old - and even though her face is dirty and tearstained, she still is enjoying the food the battered boy is offering.
"Wonder if they're orphans," she mumbles, looking briefly to Steiner. The knight watches the picnic as well, and then nods half-way to himself. He's got his eyes on the little girl and has a wistful, kind of nostalgic look on his face; as if he's remembering something from a long time ago that he forgot completely.
Lani thinks it's a shame he's not going to have kids.
Amarant focuses his eye on the glinting piece of silver in the wreckage of the weapons shop and crawls through the tightest tunnels of debris to get to it. He has a feeling that whatever he's going for is going to be /worth it/, and swears loudly when a sharp, jagged bit of metal scrapes against his arm and leaves a long, angry welt. He hopes it doesn't get infected, but he's so damned close -
There! He closes his gloved hand around the silver and tugs - the front of the tunnel collapses but he's rewarded with a long sword, with a wavy blade nearly two feet in length. He tries to remember what the hell it's called. Flam-something.
He turns his head and eyes the distant exit of the tunnel and sees that it's going to be damned hard getting out.
His stomach twists and he realizes very suddenly that this was not a good idea.
Gravity pushes down on Amarant's shoulders and he struggles very quickly to get out of the tunnel before the rest of the weight comes down on him, but gravity's already pushing the bricks and plaster down onto him and pulling wood and metal towards him. He wants to shout or scream or something but his mouth isn't working right, his tongue is kind of lolling in his mouth and he can feel the stitches on his eye pulling apart trying to pop out of his skull so he struggles more and hears dangerous creaking beneath him and he can't breathe because everything's pushing towards him, he can't see and he's pulling everything around him into a huge gravitational pull and he's going to become a fucking star, or sun or planet and suck everyone down -
He realizes that something's punctured his stomach and realizes it's the sword he had been dragging beneath him but the blood isn't dripping out it's kind of going deeper into the wound and it hurts so much he can't concentrate and all he wants to do is will the gravity away tell it to stop wait until he gets out before it keeps going
He's going to be a fucking door matt
He can feel his tongue and though there's still pressure all around him it's lighter, because gravity's leaving him alone.
He screams but is drowned out by a roar.
Everything kind of stops and Lindblum grinds to a halt under the sheer force of the roar echoing down the streets.
At the highest point in Lindblum, Garnet and Beatrix stand and stare because this is something both of them can see.
The King of Dragons swoops low over the city and snarls at the little bug people running beneath it and away from it. Beatrix tries to pull Garnet away from the open, tries to get her to hide but she can't and won't/, and then there's shouting from the bottom of the castle, "Beatrix," and the General prays that Steiner just stay /out of this because she doesn't want-
The Dragon lands in front of them, hunkered down and wings spread out over them like a giant leathery canopy. Garnet stares and Beatrix, not one of the dragon knights of Burmecia, draws her sword and pulls the Queen behind her.
The King of Dragons looks as though he's smiling at her and he pulls his long neck back, eyes far too intelligent for just any damned dragon stare her down.
"Bahamut," Garnet rasps, and He looks at her with an uncomprehending, spiteful glint in His eyes. "Bahamut, please..."
A growl stretches across the sky and fire licks the rims of the Dragon's grimacing maw. Beatrix doesn't have fire-resistant clothing on but neither does Garnet so she pulls the girl close and says "everything will be alright" as fire erupts from scaled lips and Steiner shouts hoarsely, clearing the ridge.
No heat scalds her back and no flame tears her down; when Beatrix cautiously turns back to the Dragon she is greeted by golden fur and long, slender dragon wings that are clashing against Bahamut's overgrown wings.
A deep, warm growl penetrates the air and a voice deep and rich and smooth and rough commands all attention towards the golden mass of light. "Get /away/!"
Bahamut rears backwards and snarls, almost hissing out words but not quite, mouthing out fire that is deflected by huge, furred paws that almost resemble full hands.
"This is not the time," Madeen snarls, "Nor is it the place! Be/ gone/, Lord of Dragons!"
A mighty shove forward and Madeen sends Bahamut spinning through the sky, eyes rolling in confusion and anger. The Dragon rights itself, and His wings create huge gusts of wind as He stares down at the golden Eidolon.
He looks as if He's about to speak, but then instead He wheels in the sky and soars off towards the sun.
Garnet pulls away from Beatrix and asks, weakly, "...Madeen...?"
The Eidolon turns and sees the queen staggering blindly over debris, so he steps forward and seems to nearly shrink half his size, becoming less intimidating and more... warm.
He smiles, but doesn't respond to the young queen, merely turning his head towards the horizon.
Garnet nearly falls but out of the dark, other than Madeen, she sees someone and stops trying to run forward - all of her momentum draining out of her when she sees it.
Beatrix, Steiner, and Lani stagger forward almost as one and Beatrix asks, "Lady /Eiko/?"
The little girl - not so little any more, more like an adult than anything - smiles kind of serenely at them, before turning her eyes onto Garnet.
"I...I can see you," the queen whispers.
Eiko nods once. "I want to stay and talk, but..." She looks to Madeen, who nods down at her. The little girl reaches out her hand and says, "We have a lot to do, Dagger. Come on."
The queen looks almost hurt by the insinuation that they can't stop for a moment, but then she nods and takes Eiko's hand.
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