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

The New World

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: 2006-06-24 - Updated: 2006-06-25 - 3351 words

The sand on the "beach" is just as coarse as the sand in any desert and some parts of it are looking almost like quicksand. It's a desolate and unhappy place and Eiko wishes that things could be different - but the Burmecian citadel has been demolished and what was left of the ruined Cleyra has sunk beneath the sand they had just passed over.
The Burmecian soldiers - all of them strong, capable individuals - have a kind of wary, unsettled feeling to them and Eiko doesn't think they'll ever get over what's happened.
"What are we doing here?" Puck asks the summoner in a quiet voice, trying not to draw attention to them, "It's a dead end. Unless you're planning on swimming?"
He doesn't mean it sarcastically and Eiko smiles at him - he probably wouldn't be surprised if she did just start wading out into the water.
No, she's got something much better. Hopefully the water levels didn't crush her surprise.
She walks up the beach a little ways until she is within a few meters of a low rock wall, the beginnings of the mountains that have crumbled slightly under Eidolon command.
Here, she lifts her flute to her lips and before Amarant can reprimand her on her "stupid music" she is casting a spell - one she hasn't used in /ages/, not since she was last here.
Parts of the rock wall begin to shake and she hears a Burmecian guard exclaim, "She's /moving the mountains/," but no, she's not going to attempt anything so strenuous today.
The movement is focused just off the shore and rocks gently pull away from their places on the cliff, floating towards Eiko and then dropping into the water. None of them are very big but they're all just surrounding a massive boulder, easily five times Amarant's size width. She takes a breath and then begins again, tune harder and faster and fiercer than before.
The rock shudders and she closes her eyes.
When she opens them, the boulder is floating a meter in front of her, and Amarant is telling her to stop because she's turning red.
She does so, and the rock crashes to the ground, shaking the sand and dirt around them.
There is a hole in the cliff now, and Eiko laughs in delight.
"The water didn't wreck it!"
She watches the group strain to look into the newly revealed cave, to understand her excitement, and suddenly Puck exclaims, "You put it behind rocks? Why would you do /that/?"
Eiko smiles and looks at the bow of the Blue Narciss II, and then to the Burmecian king.
"If I told you, it wouldn't be any fun." She crosses her arms and pouts, "We have to get out to it somehow."
Fenrir is pacing along the edge of the quicksand and looks to Eiko worriedly. She smiles at him in response.
"First," Amarant growls, earning the attention of all the others, "We'd have to be able to navigate that damned thing. Unless you can, or one of these rats is a damned sailor, you've hit your first snag."
"I hate it when you're so serious!" the girl exclaims. "It's not hard to figure out!"
"...I, um."
The entire group now looks to the young guard, who has his ears flat against his head.
"You /what/?" Amarant snaps.
"...My father was a sailor," he says in a quiet voice, "I can handle ships fairly well."
"There we go!" Eiko nods, "We have someone who can navigate her. Now, we need to get out to it..."
"Swim," Amarant grumbles, dropping into a crouching position, "I'll wait here."
"Why? You /scared/?" the girl teases.
"Frightened of sinking like a large /stone/, perhaps?" Fenrir snaps.
"Back off, you overgrown Fang."
The Eidolon's hackles raise and he growls, sending the Burmecian guards for cover.
Eiko knows why the Eidolon is getting so upset but it's not good for anyone - if he gets too angry, he might do something...
"Fenrir, please," she tries.
The wolf looks to her fiercely but she returns his gaze and he backs away from Amarant slightly.
"...As you wish," he growls.
"Let's just get out there. We can take the Blue Narciss II to Madain Sari."
Fenrir looks away and Garnet asks, "Won't that be dangerous?"
"Everything's dangerous, princess," Amarant mutters, standing up again and heading towards the water. "We better get going."
Eiko turns to Puck, who seems to already know what she's about to say. "Puck... I don't think you guys should come."
"Nonsense," one guard speaks up, "We have to-"
"Shut up, you old rat," Puck snaps.
He looks at Eiko for a long moment and then nods. "I don't think it'd be a good idea either. We need to stay here... to help Lindblum and Alexandria. Not much left to do for Burmecia."
That hurts Eiko almost as much as it does the king and she wraps her arms around him. "It'll be okay, Puck. I know there are still Burmecians in the world - Cleyrians went to Daguerreo, after all, and I'm sure there are some in Esto Gaza. Not everyone was here."
"...Lady Eiko."
The two step away as if caught in a crime and look to Freya, who is standing there with her head down but ears forward.
"...I would like to offer my services to your quest."
Eiko smiles and shakes her head. "No way, Freya." Before the Dragon Knight, now shocked, can say anything, the girl continues: "I know you want to stay here. You're needed /here/. We can do this part alone... Take care of Burmecia and Puck first."
She's not sure if that's relief or just acceptance on Freya's face but she takes it well, nodding and stepping away.
Puck turns to her. "You sure you don't need any of us?"
"Just the one who knows how to sail."
The king looks over his shoulder at the young guard, who winces slightly and scratches his ear in embarrassment, and then turns back to Eiko. "Just don't kill him, okay? He's one of my better guards."
The guard's fur bristles slightly and he looks away.
"I'll do my best," she tells them both. With a bit of flair, she turns to the sea and says, "We better get going, you guys - there's no time to lose!"
As she marches towards the ocean, she hears Fenrir behind her.
"Come, little king. I will take you and your companions back across the sand."
Puck calls after her, telling her to be safe, and then she reaches the water.
She doesn't look back as she wades in.
The ship is kind of rickety, but Amarant's not really complaining. It definitely reminds him of the now-defunct Blue Narciss - it has the same stream-lined build and the same designs on the hull, but it's bigger and built more for shoreline work, not going across the sea.
Eiko knows what she's doing, he reminds himself. She's got divine help.
Already the shoreline is just a speck, and he has a feeling that this trip - normally six days on water - is going to be only half the time it normally is. Not that that's bad - he wants nothing more than to finish this and be done with the entire ordeal - but he's almost sure that being out in open waters for any length of time is a bad idea.
Amarant shifts his weight onto his other foot and puts his hands against the heavy wooden railing. The thing he likes about the ocean is that it always looks the same. Even if Bahamut has attacked ships on the water, they're well below and it's as if they never existed.
The thought that there are perhaps hundreds of dead sailors beneath them at this very moment makes him turn away and stalk towards the navigation deck.
Eiko, Beatrix, and Garnet are somewhere below, having a private conversation about what is going to happen when they hit the Outer Continent. The rest of them are forced to hang around and wait for the solution to their problems.
If there is one.
He enters the cabin to find the Burmecian guard-cum-sailor staring off at the very farthest vanishing point of the horizon, hands kind of slack on the wheel.
"Hey, shouldn't you be /steering/?" he growls.
The Burmecian snaps to attention, eyes returning to the here and now.
"Uh, yes, I - I am. You know, there's no set destination for us, other than the Outer Continent."
"So what?" Amarant asks, crossing his arms and leaning against the bare wall to the back of the cabin.
"Well, without a destination - how am I to know if we're going the right way?"
"The right way is away from Burmecia. You got that down?"
"...Well, yes."
"Then we're doing fine."
The Burmecian makes a noise but nods in agreement.
After a time, Amarant decides to ask, "What's your name, anyway?"
The guard jumps again. "...Eumol," he mutters, and then turns his head. "And yours is Amarant, right?"
"You been eavesdropping, kid?"
Eumol's ears flatten against his head slightly and he says quietly, "Perhaps a little."
Amarant snorts. "Don't get us lost," he tells the other, before leaving.
Water is Lani's least favorite thing in the world - the things that could be lurking underneath cause her no small amount of paranoia, and even now, in the dark and in the middle of the deck, she can feel and hear the sea - that's all she needs to fuel her fears.
She doesn't like ships because they rock around so much. She feels like she's about to go toppling into the ocean. She had complained to the Burmecian but the brat had waved her off, telling her to "grow up."
She hates that brat /so much/.
The deck's only illumination is the blue moon - the light casts blued shadows over the wood and tints her skin. She's alone on deck, sitting with her knees up against her chest and arms wrapped around her calves. The rocking isn't so bad here and she can see the horizon - not that there's much to see.
Water, water, everywhere.
The Queen, General, and Brat have given their decision - they'll swing loose around the shore of the Outer Continent and land as close to Madain Sari as possible. Madain Sari will be safe, Eiko had told them - it's a holy place that the Eidolons won't dare touch.
That is, if they haven't already destroyed everything on the other continent.
She saw Steiner and Beatrix earlier in the evening, talking under their breath and exchanging words of either apology, accusation, or annoyance. And fear. Fear seems to be an underlying emotion throughout this entire ordeal.
The deck creaks and she decides she better go to her cabin and try to get some sleep. Standing, she brushes herself off and rolls her shoulders, looking up at the blue moon for a long while. It's so strange to see only one moon. The blue one's her favorite - Eirini is what the scholars call it; Polemos is the red one. All the legends say that the blue one is feminine while the red is masculine - that the blue promotes peace while the red promotes war.
Ironic that the first one to shine solely upon them is the blue.
There's a sudden flash from just below Eirini and she jumps in surprise. Beyond the horizon, barely visible, is more blue light, bright and almost blinding. Her hands come up over her eyes almost instinctively and she tries to figure out what the hell that could be, because things like this don't happen for no reason -
The sound of water rushing away from the boat alerts her to massive impending damage and the sudden heave as the boat drops almost a fathom pitches her forward and knocks her head against the wood railing.
She struggles to stand as the ship rocks dangerously from side to side, and when she looks up all she can see is water, with a lingering serpentine shape just visible in the deep blue
She screams, one sharp and piercing, quick note - and water rushes downwards.
A hand grabs her shoulder and she shuts her eyes, but no water smothers her and she can breathe fine.
She takes a moment and then opens her eyes, trying to see the wall of sea but only finding a smooth, motionless horizon in front of her.
She turns and Amarant's standing there, face battered from Treno but not soaking wet and not burst apart by the force of water, and he's asking her something, his mouth is moving too fast but she thinks he's asking "What the hell is wrong with you?"
She doesn't know.
She shrugs out of his grasp and crosses her arms tightly, realizing very suddenly that she hallucinated the whole thing. Again.
Again, when last time she was really predicting.
Amarant grabs her shoulder once more and she looks at him. "What do you want, Red?" she asks, trying to pull off clueless and apparently getting it right. Now he looks like maybe he's thinking /he /hallucinated /her/. Amarant's easy enough to confuse if you do it just right, when he's thinking just the right way.
He shakes his head and motions towards the steep stairwell down to the cabins.
"I was just going there," she says, and when she walks away, he doesn't follow.
She climbs down the stairs and she goes the wrong way from the start, heading towards Eiko's quarters. The kid knows what Lani doesn't, and Lani's tired of not knowing.
Beatrix stalks past her, appearing from the gloom and almost immediately disappearing in it. The other woman's been very uptight lately, and she has a feeling it has something to do with good sir knight. Or, maybe it has nothing to do with him... but the fact that it doesn't is what's causing the rift between them.
Either way, she walks by and finds Steiner's door half open. He's sitting on the bed, head tilted down and eyes on his feet. His hair is dirty, ragged, and it's probably longer than he wants it - he's even tying it back now.
Steiner looks up and then stands, going to the door and looking at her levelly. There's a little less of that good-hearted, small-town knight in his eyes and his left hand awkwardly grips the handle, as if he's about to slam it in her face.
"...I had another hallucination."
The door creaks slightly but it's opening wider, and he steps to the side, so she enters and tries not to shake when he closes the door. They're technically under the water and at any moment, this whole room could flood.
She looks to him and asks, casually, "Your lady being a little chilly tonight, sir knight?"
He doesn't even look her way - he just goes back to the bed and sits.
She feels suddenly a little self-conscious and mutters, "Sorry."
He waves a hand in response - utterly nonchalant and completely unlike what she's now used to seeing in the knight.
"Tell me what you saw," his mouth reads, so she leans against the wall and looks around.
"I was going to tell the brat. You know how I had that whole Bahamut thing... and how that turned out."
He nods.
She looks at the ceiling, counts the knots in the wood and says, "I saw a tidal wave."
He shifts and puts his hands on his knees. His eyes get that look she so often imagines in her own and she smirks.
"You afraid of water?"
He shakes his head but she knows the real answer.
"...There was something in the wave," she continues, deciding to let the other matters drop for now. This is more important.
She explains to him how the ship was rocking, and how the water loomed up like a mile high wall and just inside it she saw a snake.
His lips fill in the word Leviathan and she shudders involuntarily.
"I guess I'll go tell the brat, huh?" she rasps, not feeling at all like talking to anyone now.
He closes his eyes and nods.
Lani decides to fuck it all - it's the end of the world and he's not acting like himself anyway.
"Are you okay?"
Those three words cause such a strong reaction in the knight. He opens his eyes and stares at her in a kind of... relieved disbelief, as though he can't picture her saying it but god is he glad she did.
He motions to the corner of the room and she sees a shoddy looking desk - likely made out of driftwood as one of the brat's summer projects years ago - and goes to it, finding old and slightly stiff parchment and a fountain pen. The pen is nice, really nice, and it has the Regent's name monogrammed on it.
She takes it to him because hell, she started this and she's kind of wondering how it will turn out.
So she stands by him while he writes out literally pages of rambling stories about how the Queen was such a strong girl who just didn't know it until Zidane came along, and how Beatrix was the most beautiful woman he'd ever met until she started kind of withering under her skin, and how he just wants to go back and stop this all from happening because damn it he actually had something good for once. He was respected and trusted and loved, and now, again, all of that's gone and he's stuck without his armor, without his /arm/. He's without his Queen, who's half shut-off so that Zidane doesn't hurt her anymore, and he's without his wife, who's silent and uncomplaining and secretive. He had such a nice thing going on, such a happy life and it all got taken away because some goddamned animals couldn't handle anarchy among their ranks.
He knows that none of his knights, none of them are alive; they were all buried and even if they lived through the destruction they surely have died from starvation by now. He knows that his Queen is gone, and his wife is gone, and hell, his grudging leader is gone too and he knows exactly how he feels about it all but he just can't get it out to anyone who cares.
He runs out of space and looks as if he's going to start scrawling across his arm, but he instead puts the pen down and she's been reading over his shoulder without comment. He looks to her and asks wordlessly, "Am I okay?"
She looks over a few of the words she can see from the parchment and then shakes her head. "Do you feel any different now?" she asks, because Amarant used to write for hours at a time before he kind of lost interest in writing, and it always made him feel... different. Not always better, but rarely worse.
When he shakes his head she nods.
"Welcome to the new world, sir knight," she mumbles, before turning on her heel and leaving the room with as little effort as she had arrived.
The next day is relatively quiet. The sun shines down on them and Eiko spends most of the day on the bow, laughing and talking with anyone who bothers to come within range - by midday Amarant has settled into the shade on deck and the girl has taken to catching up with him.
Beatrix spends most of the day within the navigation cabin with Eumol, who starts calling her "ma'am" and stops being so worried over the General's presence.
Garnet ends up with Amarant and Eiko and there are some moments when Eiko is silent, just listening to Amarant and Garnet talking.
No one asks questions, or really even notes the fact that Lani and Steiner have their eyes on the sea stretching out in front of them. They don't even notice that the only people they're really looking at are each other.
Eiko laughs and is completely unaware, and Lani decides that she really doesn't want to tell anyone anything.

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