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A Call to Darkness

by SpacemanSpiff

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"Kain?"

The voice was distant at first, hollow and questioning, grazing his ears softly and intimately, pulling something deep inside of him, yet still pushed so far away.

"Kain!"

There it was again, filling his head much louder now, making that pain shooting between his temples flare, and yet soothing it at the same time. If he were conscious enough to think, he would wonder what voice could do such things, but he still knew. He would always know.

"Oh my God! Kain!!"

The woman bent down, elegant, grasping the dragoon's cold wet hand, drops of morning dew standing deathly still upon the ocean of his armored body. The chilled sensations that filled her palms drove the feeling of the dead through her, but she knew better than that. Though his chest barely crested with each short breath, he was still breathing nonetheless, and she could feel his heart beating inside.

"Kain, please say something..."

Her voice was growing frail through her sadness, seeing this man she knew, shattered here on the ground. Her tender fingers stroked his rough cheek, wiping the filth that rested upon his face. Gently she removed the dragon that sat upon his head, his helmet broken in so many places, nearly falling apart in her hands. Tousled tufts of damp blonde hair fell wild upon his brow, soon to take a pinkish hue. A trickle began to run down his forehead, a stream of deep red racing down his face to its ultimate end on the earth below.

Pain was all that he could feel at that moment, his senses blind to everything but this great pain that pounded and tore down walls inside his head. If he were conscious enough to think, he would scream, but he knew no one would hear him. No one ever did. He knew this warm touch upon his skin was not meant for him, and it would not hear his cries for more as his heart screamed so loud within. Of all the pain coursing through his body, his heart ached the most, for nothing hurt more than the thought of a love he would never have. He wished he would never wake up, for the feeling of her loving caress would then last forever.

When her hands had left his skin, something died inside of him, some feeling of all hope lost. He wanted so badly to simply cease living, for it would be so empty to live without that feeling when she touched him. But his heart kept beating, as though it was mocking him, keeping him alive for the simple sake of watching his tormented soul. Tears felt as though they would burst from his eyes, but he was past the point of weeping, past the point of caring so much. So his tears simply fell within, dripping down his dry heart down to his feet where they pooled in a pitiful puddle beneath the sole of his soul.

As quickly as his hatred for his heart had come, it passed as her hands once again graced his body, but this time with such a warming sensation filling him. He could not explain it, but he was saturated by a river of light flowing from her holy hands, and was happy to drown in it all. If he were conscious enough to think, he would call to her...

"...Rosa," the words just barely escaping his lips as the last of her healing magic seeped into his skin. His eyes opened wide to the searing sun that clawed so viciously at them. His hand quickly shaded his face as he tried to adjust his focus, unable to actually see his own skin.

"Kain, I'm so glad you're alright," she spoke with love and affection, but Kain still knew somewhere within that it was not meant for him. But he craved it so badly that he had come to make himself believe that it was. He slowly turned his gaze to the woman at his side, her graceful face but a blur, but still so beautiful in his eyes.

"I'm so glad you're here," Kain let out, still somewhat unconscious of his thoughts as that was surely a slip of his tongue. But she didn't seem to notice as she had launched herself upon his chest, hugging him dearly as one does seeing a long lost friend. A friend, not a lover, and he had to make himself realize that.

His eyes started coming around, finally able to see his surroundings clearly, the humble trees perched within this valley, the small village torn in half by churned earth, and the hint of smoke still lurking in the air. But that all seemed so disconnected from his mind's eye, which could only see the glowing beauty of all creation laying there with him, sharing a brief moment of a bond Kain wished could run so much deeper. As Rosa picked herself up, leaving a few tears to mix with the dew drops on his blue steel skin, he gazed at her angelic figure, glowing lovely under the sun.

"Give me your hand," she instructed, his hand immediately reaching for hers as he only wanted to have it at every moment. She just smiled as she gave a playful tug, "Now, up!"

She helped him to his feet as best she could, though in his condition he would've been better off with a small tree and a piece of string tied to it. His legs wobbled a bit under the unexpected weight of the rest of his body, but he had a kind shoulder to lean on as he gained his balance. Staring at her lovely face seemed to be the only thing his eyes could do as they stood there face to face, her lips still curled wide in a smile. He nearly collapsed again as she wrapped her arms around his waist, hugging him warmly once more as though he might die if she let go. Kain found his hand stroking the silken strands of her blonde hair, so bold and bright under the sun, as she spoke so melancholy.

"I was afraid I would never see you again," her voice reflected off his shimmering armored plates as her face rested upon his chest. Kain didn't know what to think of it, but he didn't want it to stop. He didn't want her to take her arms from around his body, to take the warmth away from his soul. He was lost in a moment of pure bliss, as he held the woman he had always dreamed of in his very arms. Such a moment could've only been ruined by one thing, and Kain saw it coming before she even spoke, as her head lifted from his chest and her eyes gazed so deeply through him. He knew exactly what she was about to say, and it seemed to tear a bit of something from him as she spoke so sincere, "Where is Cecil?"

"Cecil...?" He was still surprised to hear the question hit his ears, even though he had been expecting it, and it brought some alarming sense to him. He realized he hadn't even thought about Cecil since Rosa revived him, hadn't even given his friend the dignity of a thought. Cecil could've been dead for all he knew and it seemed as if he didn't even care. He was so overtaken by these feelings for Rosa, this raging love in his heart, and he never even had an ounce of consideration for his most true and faithful friend.

Rosa's expression seemed to change from worry and woe, to a face more of irritation as she watched Kain's blank face, his eyes lost in some other world. Kain couldn't find any real words to spit out, but Rosa was quickly upon it to try and wring a few out of him.

"Yes, Cecil!" she sternly repeated to Kain's estranged expressions, taking a step away, her arms leaving his waist. She hadn't noticed it, but Kain slightly winced when she did this, and she had no idea what shot of pain had just pierced his heart. She continued to speak, rather annoyed that he didn't seem to have more of a mind for his friend, "You know, your best friend? The one you came here with!"

"I...I don't know," Kain spit out through bumbling lips, so consumed with this mixture of two emotions pouring over him. He had to make up his mind, and he finally pushed his love for this angel away, though it would not sit still in its little corner. He tried his best to compose himself, now looking at Rosa with more knowledgeable eyes which seemed to turn down her irk level a few notches. He had to keep his mind on the matters at hand, which were first and foremost finding his lost comrade.

"You really don't know?" Rosa was losing her state of irritation and returning to levels of anxiety. Her eyes seemed to beg of him to tell her something, something to comfort her. Unfortunately, he had nothing, and he knew he could never comfort her with the words he would say. He truly had no idea where his friend was, and only fragments of memories of what had happened the night before were able to seep through the cracks.

"We were..." Kain tried to recall the events for Rosa, but they were hidden somewhere so very deep. His fingers rubbed his temple harsh, as though perhaps the punishment would bring out the memories, "We were sent to Mist to deliver a package..."

Rosa was becoming more and more anxious with each word he spoke, and she drew closer to the Dragoon as he continued. But he wasn't thinking about her anymore as he fought for the bits and pieces of what he remembered.

"But there was something terribly wrong," Kain began to see just what had happened, and it took all of his strength not to stumble as it came back to him, "Our intentions in Mist were not sound."

'We were there for something else, some other reason than to simply deliver a package,' Kain began talking himself through it within his own mind, rushing to find words to explain the story. As he remembered, he and Cecil had approached the village of Mist by dusk, and things seemed peaceful enough. But what it was that was so horribly wrong about it was escaping him.

"Kain, it's okay," Rosa tried to calm him with her graceful touch. She wanted to know what happened, but not at the expense of Kain's mental breakdown, "Just take it slow, don't try to force your memories."

'Somehow our hands were within the destruction of this village,' Kain continued to mumble in his head. He took a deep breath as he closed his eyes, letting the scene play out against the darkness within. He didn't even feel Rosa's touch, although he could feel something warm inside of him. His heart was reacting to her presence, even without his mind having any awareness of it.

"We were used..." Kain finally let out, Rosa's eyes begging for more, "...by His Majesty, for some reason, to destroy this village."

"Kain, what are you saying?" Rosa didn't exactly follow him completely, and part of her didn't want to believe what he was saying. She couldn't possibly understand why the King would send Cecil and Kain to annihilate a tranquil village such as Mist. Her hand was wrapped tightly around Kain's arm as she listened anxiously, and had it not been for his armor she probably would've been leaving a nice bruise.

"The package..." And that was it, those two words unlocking the key to his retention. The night played out perfectly from there, the intense flash of light as the small box opened in Cecil's hand, followed by high pitched screams ripping through screens of thick smoke. The town was burning alive, everything ignited in a single, literally breathtaking moment. His eyes opened to Rosa's fearful face, "The package was a bomb, and we were ordered to bring it here in order to burn down this village. We were sent here to wipe out these people."

"Why would the King do such a thing?" Rosa was simply appalled to hear such words. She didn't think the King of Baron was capable of such evil doing. Her hand tightened on the slick steel of Kain's arm.

"Genocide," the single word was all Kain really had to say, but the look in Rosa's eyes seemed to ask him for more, "His Majesty wanted to eliminate those who could call the power of otherworldly monsters, whom all happened to live here in this village."

"You mean Summoners?" Rosa was beginning to understand as Kain drew out the King's intentions. Kain gave Rosa a sure nod to her question, and she sank back in a pit of realization, releasing her death grip on his armor, "So it is true what the townspeople have been saying. The King truly is mad."

"It would seem so," Kain continued to gaze into Rosa's wondrous eyes, so beautiful and perfect. A smile was beginning to creep out upon his face, but had he known it he never would've let Rosa see it. Unfortunately she caught him in the act, and immediately gave him a questionable stare, an eyebrow quirked devilishly at him.

"What is it?" she asked with that adamant, yet coy, voice that she used so well. Usually it got an answer pretty damn quick, but Kain was simply overwhelmed by her magnificent shape...again. Her hands found her hips as she stood there before him, impatient for an answer to her question, "I don't think this is any time for you to be smiling, you know you--"

"May I ask you something?" Kain interjected, leaving Rosa a bit stunned. She wasn't used to being interrupted, and she didn't usually take it very well. But this time she was a bit curious of what the Dragoon had to ask.

"Well, I suppose," she gave him the respect of allowing him through, though only on one condition, "As long as it's more important than what I was saying."

"Well then I probably should remain silent," Kain admitted through a cute grin that actually seemed to keep Rosa's commanding aura at bay. He found that he had to continue, "But I must know, Rosa, why you are here?"

"Oh, don't you start with that!" she immediately drew a finger at the Dragoon, playfully yet at the same time quite menacingly aiming it between his eyes, "We've known each other for long enough, and you should know by now that I always know when you guys are in trouble. I won't just sit around waiting for you two, especially when you could be coming back in a casket."

"Patience is a virtue, my dear lady," that little comment got Kain a hard shove in the gut. He stumbled back a few steps, still not entirely stable after just waking up a few moments ago, but he couldn't help but laugh. She just scowled at him, though she was smiling just as well underneath it. She shook her head and waved her hand at him, as if to shoo him away, or at least shoo his thoughts away.

"See if I ever come and save you again, mister." she gave him a quick irritated look before turning her eyes away from the stupid smile still drawn across his face. As her sights set upon the demolished ruins of a once lively village, she was reminded of what she was here to find, "We still must find Cecil. I'm worried about him..."

Kain's smile seemed to dim quite a bit as he realized she was still thinking about her love, Cecil. His heart drooped a bit as well, as his eyes fell upon the grass, wet still with dew. He wanted another moment, like the blissful moments before, where he could lose himself in love. He still could not make himself understand why he would never have that, why he would never have her. He tried so hard, and was able to push it away, but he knew it would just come back stronger the next time. Pushing the feelings aside, shaking his head as if to force them to osmose, Kain pulled himself together and walked up to the woman draped in white.

"Come on, we'll go find him," Kain offered as he laid a gentle hand upon her shoulder. She was still looking off into the village, but she responded as her hand fell on his, soothing, relaxing. Her head turned slowly, or at least it seemed that way to Kain, for everything felt as though in slow motion when he was so close to her. Her eyes eventually met with his, and he thought he saw a wall of tears behind the gleaming hazel.

"What if we don't?" she dared question, though Kain had the same thoughts trafficking inside his head.

"We will," he assured her, trying his best to brighten her spirits with a smile. He hated to see her so depressed, and he could only take it upon himself to relieve her of that, "He can't be far. He's probably on the other side of the village."

"I hope..." her voice trailed into the breeze, the breath of nature on her face moving hair randomly about her porcelain skin. Kain took her hand and began to lead her into the earth ravaged ruins of Mist, though she seemed reluctant to set foot upon the soil. He figured she was scared, or maybe just a little shaken, but he had no idea what was truly chasing her thoughts. He had thought about asking her, but it seemed as if she could sense it coming, as if she could see it on his face although she never once looked at him, "You know, Kain I--"

"Shh!" Kain had stopped dead in his tracks, and only for his hand tugging against her, Rosa stopped as well. They stood silent for a moment, as Kain's eyes had begun searching the skies behind them, for what Rosa could not see. Seconds seemed to drag on for even longer minutes, as Kain's senses went off and on, drawing small pieces of a puzzle he had yet to build. But it all started coming together as a light hum filled his ears, the silent strokes of steel cutting air, and the stench of death ever so pungent. They were coming for them.

"What is it?" Rosa whispered to her friend, whose mind milled over courses of action. She became a little tense as Kain's hand squeezed hers so slightly, and she knew something was wrong, "Kain?"

"It's the Red Wings," Kain responded to the sky, still keeping his attention on the sound. He still could not see them, but the sound was growing rapidly, pounding upon the drums of his ears. He felt a faint tug on his arm, and it was all that was needed to take his attention away as his eyes came back around, staring beautiful blue at her. She peered into those deep oceans, so strong and handsome, and without ever speaking a word, she asked him why.

"They're coming for us, Rosa."

Kain wondered why he had said such a thing. It sounded as if Baron was out to get them, as if they were criminals on the run from an airborne assassin. But he knew that the King had expected them to die on this mission, and had it not been for Rosa he probably would have. His Majesty didn't even know, and probably much less cared, that Rosa was here. They were coming to make sure the job was done, and to "clean up" what was left if necessary. Unfortunately, that meant that they would more than likely be killed, or jailed for being witness to all of this, and Kain didn't want any such thing happening to the wondrous woman at his side. She begged with her eyes to hear his thoughts, and he graciously fed her curiosity.

"Rosa, you have to go," Kain began to explain, but Rosa was already unhappy with the plan so far. She glared a bit harder into his face, trying to see any logic in his words. Kain knew she was going to be obstinate to his idea, but he had to get her away from him, as much as it pained him to think it, "You can't be here when they arrive."

"Don't tell me what I can't do," Rosa snapped a bit at him, and she figured by the look in his eyes that she had already broken him. But it was a different kind of brokenness, something Kain would never admit to. It was his heart.

"Rosa, please." Kain persisted, hearing the sound of airships closing in even louder now, though Rosa still seemed deaf to it all.

"I'm not going to leave you here!" she declared, tearing her hand from his in mild anger, her foot driven strongly through the grass, "I could've lost you today, and I don't want that to happen again!"

It tugged so warmly at his heart, hearing how she cared for him so much. She truly would never leave him behind if the choice was hers. But this was not her choice anymore, and Kain knew he could not keep her here, even as his heart beseeched his conscience. He actually found his face in a distasteful frown, as he stared harshly back at her, and it hurt him to see the soft fearful surprise in her eyes.

"Listen, if they see you here then they might..." Kain didn't want to use the words that were springing into his mind, but he had to make his point, "They might kill you!"

Rosa was no longer standing so strong against him, as his brief voice of forceful truth hit her hard. She realized he was only trying to protect her, but she still could not find it in her to leave him alone. He was always so alone.

"Kain--"

"Rosa, please, just go." he cut her off so gently, trying not to hurt her delicate spirit. He had to make her see, and he knew how to do it, "You still have to find Cecil. He needs you."

That surely did it, for the dawning of his words brought upon her the look of someone giving in to some great injustice. She knew she had to find Cecil, for his life could be resting on a thin line, one that could break at any moment. But she still couldn't understand one thing.

"Then why must you stay here?" she asked, so plain and unemotional, as though she was fighting her anger and her sadness, and was sitting somewhere between.

"I must face up to this," Kain answered just the same, though he wished he could sound more caring for her struggling mind. He knew what she wanted to ask before she even could spill the words from her mouth, and he answered calmly, "Don't worry about me. I'll be fine."

"I know," Rosa replied, a bit distraught still. She had to make sure he would truly be okay, "But you said they might kill me. So what's to say they won't kill you?"

Her eyes were so worried as they sat on a face still trying to fight the emotions behind it. Kain wanted to soothe that strain, and he tried as he broke into a smile. The twinkle in his eyes as his brow lifted, open to the sun, seemed to calm the worried woman a great deal. She knew that confident face too well, and it made her feel that much better to know that he would be alright.

"Like I said, I'll be fine. I can defend myself," he assured her with his easingly cheerful voice, breaking barriers in her quickly. She could only smile back at him, for he was nothing but deserving of it, "After all, I am a Dragoon."

Kain was surprised to have her arms immediately tied around his waist, squeezing so tight that if he had no armor he would be unable to breathe. Her face was buried in the blue waters of his chest, and just as the dew continued to roll down his body, so did her tears. It was another moment of pure bliss, and he basked in its warmth, taking in the sweet aura of emotion. He placed loving arms around her slim figure as well, only letting her go softly after a moment as she took a step back. Her wet eyes reflected endless rays of sunlight, and it only made her seem that much more divine. She certainly was a gift from God, although not his gift...Cecil's gift. A single string of his heart broke.

"I better see you when I get back," she said as she clutched her dangling robes. She didn't want to leave him behind, and Kain didn't want her to go either, but the thought of what would happen to her if she didn't was more than enough to send her away.

"I'll make sure of it," Kain responded as honestly as he possibly could. He knew in the back of his mind that there was never a guarantee on anything, but she seemed so desperate to have it.

"You promise?" she asked so sincere.

"I promise."

* * *

The monstrous sound of incoming airships was so close that Kain could almost feel the winds stirred by their propellers. He watched Rosa's splendid figure until she was clearly out of sight, quickly vanishing behind large outcroppings of overturned earthen rock.

'How could I let her go...?' Kain's thoughts rose up to meet his eyes, but before he could dwell on them she was gone. Now he only saw the ruins of Mist, and his thoughts sank down into the pit of his stomach, 'What a waste of life. How could I let this happen?'

It was a horrible sight to see, and he wanted so bad to just brush it aside, but how could he? This once delicate village had been a lively community, and now it was just a landfill for the dead. He still couldn't remember exactly what happened, but he knew more than he cared to. Just having these peaceful people's lives on his conscience was overwhelming enough, and he would certainly give Baron a piece of his mind...if he was alive to do so.

At that thought, he turned back to the increasingly violent roar of engines that would seem likely to crush him where he stood. The wind was surely starting to pick up now, as his sun-dried blonde hair swirled slightly, scratching his brow so softly. His eyes never faltered, even as the sun screamed rays of bright light down to him. He had to keep track of the skies, even though clouds roamed in rampant herds over it. He was solely relying on his sense of sound, which he noticed was heightened somewhat since he was not in his helmet. He had learned to hear so well through the steel of his armor, that it made his senses that more attuned to his environment. An advantage he would surely have to remember.

'They're so close. But where are they?' his mind ran from ear to ear, as if somehow they could show his eyes where to look. He figured they were hidden behind one of the enormous masses of clouds hanging there in the sky, but they wouldn't hide there forever. Not unless they were just passing overhead, or if they were...Kain froze, 'They wouldn't!'

Kain's eye twitched at the thought that had so swiftly and viciously struck his mind. Though it didn't seem to be plausible, it was a possibility that they would rain fire from the skies. But Kain and Cecil had already done that much, and dropping firebombs would simply be a waste of their time and money.

'But then again, the King has gone mad.' he continued to wrestle with the idea of this cockamamie mission, 'It's possible that he believes we failed our mission, and has sent the Red Wings to get the job done. But so soon?'

The persistent rumble of thundering ships was only getting louder, and trees started to waver slightly under the increasing winds. They were certainly not just passing overhead, for the stir of winds so close to the earth only meant they were descending, but still it left the question to linger.

'They also must descend to drop any bombs, but I still have not seen them breaking through the clouds,' Kain was beginning to seriously worry about whether or not standing so close to these ruins was such a good idea. 'Perhaps the cover of trees would be a wiser place to wait,' His idea seemed like a good one, but he was reminded just of what was still left behind him, and it wasn't the thought of the dead, 'Rosa! Cecil!'

He couldn't leave them there in the village to die, a vision of his two friends engulfed in flames. He wouldn't let them go like that, and he knew he was the only one who could save them. He would've started running if he hadn't seen something, a faint shadow lingering within a white blanket just above. His eyes were locked on that stray cloud, though his body had been nearly on its way back into Mist. He only turned back around completely when he saw the hull of the ship tear open the soft belly of the cumulus. He let a short sigh of relief escape his lips as he watched the stained red planks give way through its misty cover, the blades set tall on top twirling valiantly to keeps its descending body from cratering.

'Good. They are landing.'

He watched and waited, as the enormous ship fell ever so slowly from the sky, and he wanted so bad to tear it down. If he could somehow send it crashing into the earth, it would make his day that much better. The anger was swelling up in him as he watched this thing, seemingly so smug with its destructive power, its uncanny ability to spill the blood of innocent people. His fists were clenched so tightly, fingernails digging into the rough skin of his palms. He couldn't feel the pain, only the hatred of this country he had once fought for and the disgrace it had brought to his name as a Dragoon.

'A Dragoon would never let a thing like this happen!' Kain thought violently, 'My father never would've let this happen...'

The ship had eventually disappeared behind a small wall of trees built just in front of the village, its destroyer and protector standing in one body before it. Kain watched with wary eyes as the trees stopped waving so wildly, the engines dying down to a mere growl. The sound made him feel as if they were threatening him in a way, and it made him wish he had his spear with him. For all he knew it was lost somewhere in the ruins, and now was no time to go off looking for it, for he noticed the hint of animate shadow within the wall of trees. Three figures marched heavily through the thick darkness of the small forest, the sporadic sparkles of their golden helmets reflecting spots of sun clearly giving them away.

'They stick out like a sore thumb,' Kain thought with an amusing grin, 'If they were going into battle, they would already be dead.'

The three soldiers soon broke through the darkness, and Kain still stood defiantly to whatever cause they could possibly have. They had noticed him as well on their walk through the woods, surely able to see his cerulean armor standing out in the open. They immediately approached him, and to Kain's alarming discomfort, they were smiling. They were happy to see him, but the Dragoon had no such similar feelings towards them. They looked familiar, and he knew he had seen them before while training outside of the barracks, or perhaps just having a friendly drink in the mess hall. But for some reason now they didn't seem so friendly, even with they're smiles plastered to their sun-darkened skin. One of them reached out a seemingly gentle hand as he walked up to him, the thought of shaking it never even crossing Kain's mind.

"Sir Kain, it's good to see you." the soldier said, so genuine that Kain almost felt bad for not showing him any respect. The soldier's hand continued to hang in the air as Kain stared so coldly back at him.

"I'm sure it is. Why are you here?" Kain quickly drove to the point, sparing no idle chat between them. The soldier disappointedly dropped his hand back to his side, keeping it firmly upon the hilt of his sword.

"We have come to ensure His Majesty that you have done your job, Dragoon." the soldier answered, a new tone immediately jumping into his voice, losing its formal air, "And we are ordered to take you and Sir Cecil back to Baron so that the King can decide what should be done with you."

'Why do I not like the sound of that,' Kain thought as he heard the words, spoken rather sadistically. He feared that they were here to take him to his execution back at the castle, and perhaps he was not far off.

"You should come with us, Sir." another soldier spoke up, stepping forward as if to try and get Kain into a compromising position. Kain didn't move at all, but he stared down the soldier rather easily, his figure obviously able to strike fear into even the army of Baron. It made him feel a little better to see that his status as a Dragoon was respected, if not feared.

"And if I don't?" Kain questioned, even though he knew the answer would not be what he wanted to hear.

"Then you will be taken by force, and once in Baron you shall be held before the King as a traitor." the cold words fell easily from the soldier's mouth, but not so easily into Kain's ears. He knew what happened to those charged of treason. The gallows didn't seem like a good place to be hanging around anytime soon.

"A traitor?!" Kain returned sharply, taking a step back from them. He glared at each of them in turn, seeing what truth lay behind their eyes. It stunned him for moment, as he saw something horrible inside of them...something evil.

Two soldiers were immediately at Kain's sides, grappling his arms strongly, and the third had his sword quickly at the Dragoon's throat. Kain was speechless. He didn't even know what to think as they held him there, merciless. He didn't fight it, but he wanted to in the worst way. If he were set free at any moment, he would kill each and every one of them.

~Yes Kill Them~

'What was that?' Kain immediately drew back, and the soldiers fought to keep him under control, the sword drawing dangerously close to his skin. He couldn't explain the voice that had just seeped into his head, but he was sure it was there, 'Someone else is here.'

"Kain, if you resist us then we cannot guarantee your life!" the soldier shouted, though Kain wasn't even paying attention. His eyes were darting swiftly across the open area, as well as the trees beyond. He found nothing, though he swore he could feel the presence of another, perhaps behind him.

~I'm Right Here Kain~

'Who are you?' Kain tried to talk to the voice in his head, though he wasn't entirely sure if it would hear him. He wasn't even sure if this voice was real, but it had to be. It had clearly spoken to him twice now, and there was little more reassurance that he needed. The soldiers began trying to walk him back into the woods, but Kain resisted, digging his heels into the ground.

"You are not taking me aboard that ship!" Kain shouted at the soldiers, the one leading them once again raising his sword threateningly.

"You are leaving us with little choice." the soldier answered with a deathly solemn tone, a strange feeling that he wasn't truly himself, "We'd rather you be alive for His Majesty to see. But do not test my patience. I will not hesitate to leave you here for dead."

"And I suppose you would just tell that man you call a King that you found me that way." Kain gave him a flaring retort, almost playing with his threats as a cat does with a mouse.

~If You Do Not Fight Them They Will Kill You~

'What?!' Kain nearly fell over, mentally, as the words had hit him so earnestly, as if it were a guardian looking after him, but it felt so strange...so iniquitous. He didn't know what to think, but he figured he could only trust this voice that spoke so reassuring.

"I won't go peacefully," Kain assured the soldier before him, the two at his sides still holding tight to his arms. The sword at his throat dropped down to the soldier's side, and a depressing sigh strangely fell out of the man. He glanced at Kain one last time, and the Dragoon could see the deepest, darkest emptiness filling his eyes.

"So be it!"

The sword was quickly back in the air, high above the soldiers head, prepared to deliver a fatal blow down through the base of Kain's neck. The Dragoon had only a split second to react, and he used that time as best he could, pushing hard to his left side. He knocked the soldier to his left off balance, dragging the other's arm into the line of the blade's descent. The sharp edge went cleanly through the bronze armor, tearing through bone and sinew. The arm was ripped apart just above the elbow, and it fell with a sickly thud to the ground, wet with red blood, mixed with the screams of unimaginable pain.

Before the soldier even realized what he had just done, Kain was already taking the few seconds he needed to disable the man holding his left arm. His armored knee shot up into the soldier's gut, sucking the air from his lungs as the bronze plate impressed. The soldier's eyes were wide as his hand left its grasp at Kain's arm, meeting with his other at the pit of his stomach. With only a second to spare, Kain had taken the man's sword from its sheath and dropped the end of the handle into the back of his head, sending him face first into the dirt, knocking him completely unconscious.

The last soldier standing was taking no time mourning for what he had done to his friend, and was already charging at Kain in a possessed fury. The sword was coming quickly for him, and Kain knew he had no chance to block such a strike, and so he took to the air. As if he was but a feather, his legs propelled him over the swinging blade, the soldier staggered from the missed target. Kain started to twist in mid-air as his legs were brought over his head, back arching so elegantly, sending him into a reverse somersault. Upon the soft landing, he was facing the soldier's back, who still was trying to find his balance. Kain's sword was already aimed for the soldier's throat as he turned, staring down the smooth blade, the sky reflected in its polished steel. Fear was evident in the soldier's eyes, as he knew he had lost and was unsure of whether or not the man standing behind this sword would send it through him.

"Drop it!" Kain ordered sternly, his eyes giving plenty of warning that he should not be taken lightly. The soldier obeyed, his sword falling long seconds to the grass where a small stream of red was chasing after. Kain looked down to see blood swirling around his boot, and he could only imagine where it was coming from. Behind him, the soldier lay crying in pain, holding the stump of his arm though unsuccessful in stopping the cascade of scarlet, soaking the ground around him and filling the air thick with its stench. Kain knew he would probably die, but isn't that what he had wanted just a moment ago? No, it was that voice that had spoken to him.

~Good~

"What do you want with me?!" Kain blurted out, finally giving in to the tormenting curiosity that ate at him. He kept the sword upon his would be executioner, but he had to glance around quickly, as if the voice had come from some one place other than his mind.

"No need to shout. I am right here."

The voice had come from the woods, from where the airship had landed, from where these soldiers had once come. His eyes wanted to look, but the soldier before him had a warrant for his life, and he could not lose sight of him for even a moment. But all that didn't seem to matter, for the soldier had seen the man, and he fell to a knee, bowing with the respect only reserved for royalty.

'The King?' Kain thought for a moment, a moment that didn't last long as he turned to face what he never expected to see. The darkness engulfing the woods seemed to follow him, devour him, as he stepped through into the sunlight. Even in broad daylight, the man was but a shadow, towering in his darkness. The endlessly onyx plates of his armor curved and fitted like a perfect architectural stronghold, all the way from his sturdy steel boots to his devilishly manifested helm, horns jutting menacingly from either side. His cloak was like the blanket of midnight, swirling back and forth with each step, a curtain of death. Kain didn't know what to think, but he knew one thing for sure, 'That's definitely not the King."

"No, Kain. I am not the King, but you're not too far off." The man's deep penetrating voice seem to infest his ears like a looming disease, waiting to strike. His amusement to Kain's reaction was apparent as he chuckled a bit to himself, though Kain could hear it like church bells.

"Master Golbez." the soldier beside Kain uttered, still on his knee, head low enough to draw in the dirt with his breath. The man clad in darkness stopped only a few feet away from Kain, keeping a safe distance for reasons Kain wished he understood.

'Master?' Kain pondered, 'One would never say Master unless they were...'

"Slaves," the darkness finished his thoughts, speaking so nonchalant, as if it were a usual thing for him to say.

"So you can read my thoughts," Kain immediately followed the man's statement, an apprehensive frown drawn across his face. He was worried about this, for it meant he had already lost any and all advantage over him if he happened to be an enemy. Chances were, by the shear looks of him, that he probably was.

"Yes. Does that bother you?" he asked with such a strange tone of sarcastic kindness.

"You expect me to say no?"

"You didn't seem to mind at first," he spoke with a certain cold tone, and it sent a chill down Kain's spine, "But surely you were just curious, nothing more. I suppose anyone would've reacted just the same given the situation. But you followed my orders so well."

"Don't confuse me with one of your puppets," Kain responded, the soldier still on a knee at his side, unwavering in his Master's presence, "You can't make someone kill another if they don't have a good reason."

"Perhaps..." the man of black replied as he lifted a hand built into a claw by its dark armor. Some unseen force suddenly filled the space between him and the soldier kneeling beside Kain, and the soldier's head suddenly shot upright, staring at the hand lifted to him. The man then stood at his Master's command, following where the hand guided him. He was soon standing over the body of the soldier still bleeding to death from his wound agape in his arm. He reached down and took the soldier's sword from his sheath, taking it in both hands over his head, and driving it through his heart. The man was dead in a matter of seconds. No screams. No tears. Just silence.

Kain had watched it with some amount of surprise, but then again he would've liked to kill them himself. After witnessing the scene he turned back to the man standing in shadow, staring coolly without a change in the look of his face.

"He would've died anyway. Better to put him out of his misery," Kain explained, knowing that Golbez was trying to prove his point, "I would've done the same thing."

"Very interesting," Golbez commented, seeing something inside the Dragoon that he rather enjoyed, "So you have no problem with killing others, as long as there is some reason for it?"

"Where are you going with this?" Kain demanded, not feeling up to answering such questions as these. He was a bit angered by this stranger who thought he could simply waltz in and take over. He wasn't about to become somebody's slave to carry out the dirty work.

"I'm simply trying to figure you out, Kain." Golbez answered, never moving at all as he spoke, "I like to know my puppets, as you say, before I take them."

"Really..." Kain actually found himself laugh a bit at the man's presumptuous attitude. Golbez seemed to find it amusing as well which kind of set Kain a little off balance in his emotions. This man was certainly not to be taken lightly, but he surely could not simply take what he wanted whenever he wanted. Especially not Kain, "I suppose next you'll wave your little magic hand and start stringing me up."

"I wish it were that easy," the darkness replied, still rather amused at Kain's responses, "Unfortunately it's a rather painful process...for the puppet, of course."

"Of course," Kain came back dryly, "But still, you're just wasting your time with me. I won't be taken under as easily as these soldiers."

"No I don't suspect you will, although..." Golbez seemed to trail off for a moment, as if he had a thought was too good come out with all at once. Kain was immediately impatient with him, and Golbez could see it, smiling behind the steel of his helmet, "...your friend Cecil."

"What does Cecil have to do with anything?" Kain asked, a little worried that his friend had been mentioned by this unknown darkness. But he could read minds, so surely he would know about these things, and yet Kain felt as though it was still wrong of him to know.

"Cecil has left you behind, Kain. After he woke up, he simply left, heading straight for Kaipo," Golbez informed the wary Dragoon, and he could see the distasteful emotions springing up and suppressed in Kain's mind, "He didn't even bother to look for you."

"And you expect me to believe you?" Kain shot back at him.

"No. Of course not. But see for yourself."

With those words, Golbez's hand waved out from beneath his cloak, performing a short semi-circle as Kain's eyes couldn't help but follow it. Then a brief flash of light erupted from the dark figure, and a vision was played out in the blinding curtain of white. Kain could see something, a person. It was Cecil, as he focused more on the scene, and the Dark Knight was trudging through the valley, barely able to walk it seemed. He had something in his arms, but it was just a blur of green and grey. Just as Cecil approached the Kaipo desert, the vision dissipated, and Kain was returned to a darker persona.

Kain couldn't believe it, Cecil had actually left him here, crushed and unconscious and, if not for pure luck, nearly dead. But as angry as that made him, he truly could not hold it for long, for he hadn't even thought about Cecil either when he first woke up. He didn't want to think that his best friend would not at least think of him, and for all he knew, this man was showing him a lie.

"Do you still expect me to believe you?" Kain once again asked.

"No. I expect you to believe what you feel deep inside. What lies hidden so deep, and that you keep pushing away," Golbez let loose with a devilish smile, although Kain could not see it, "I think you know what I'm talking about. Your so called friend has done this to you before, has he not?"

"Shut up!" Kain shouted with a short burst of fury, nearly looking as if he would advance on the man. He couldn't believe he was hearing this from a complete stranger, mind reader or not. This was too much for him to bear, and he was rapidly growing tired of listening to him.

"Ah, I see. Struck a nerve, have I?" Golbez teased with such an evil, mocking voice, like sand paper to the ear drum, "You know, Kain, you are extremely open with your thoughts. Especially for this girl, what is her name?"

'Rosa!' the name immediately springing to his mind, though he mentally slapped himself a second later as he knew what he had just done.

"Ah, Rosa. She seems to be very important to you," Golbez continued, thanks to Kain for his input, "And yet, perhaps you are not as important to her as you would like?"

'How dare he! Talking about Rosa like this. I'd kill him if he gave me the chance,' Kain thought with such rage as he had never remembered having for any one person. His teeth were gritting against each other so hard that his jaw was becoming sore, and his eyes seemed to breathe fire.

"I'll give you your chance, Dragoon. Take your best shot." Golbez mocked, even worse than before.

"Damn your mind games! I will not give in to this!" Kain shouted, even angrier than before. He wanted to kill him, put an end to his cruel mocking voice, but he continued to suppress it. He would not become his slave.

~What Makes You Think You Haven't Given In Already?~

"Get out of my head!" Kain screamed, his hand grabbing his head as if to tear the dark presence that lurked there out through his skull, "I will not let you have me! I don't care if Rosa doesn't love me! I don't care that Cecil is better than me! I don't care that I'm all alone! I don't care!!"

"But you do, Kain! You care more than you could ever care to imagine, and it comes out a little more every day!" Golbez continued to taunt, nearly yelling himself as if to drive his words into Kain's mind, "These are your true feelings, and you should embrace them!"

"No! Stop it!" Kain was frantically pushing thoughts in and out of his mind, trying to keep some sense of sanity inside. He was nearly about to fall to his knees with all the stress on his psyche, "I am not your slave!!"

"Then prove it, Kain! Show me that you are not what I want you to be!"

~Kill Me~

That was it. He couldn't take it anymore. Kain was pushed to so many limits that he didn't even knew he had, and it was tearing him apart, setting wild emotions loose. He wanted to end it so bad, and he found no other solution than to destroy the source. Kain's knuckles turned ghostly white as he gripped the handle of his sword tight, took a slight crouch, and with tears bursting from his eyes he leapt at the man cloaked in shadows. Though it took only seconds to cross the space between them, it seemed to last an eternity as Kain was so infuriated inside, letting everything out at once. He felt as though he would die before he ever got there, and he didn't care. He didn't want to live like this anymore, with all the hidden guilt, the hidden love, the hidden jealousy. It was all so overwhelming, and the tears falling from his eyes were torn from his cheeks as he split the wind towards this endless darkness. He was so close, that he could peer through the dark slits in this evil's helmet, where his eyes began to glow eerily, and suddenly bright white.

~I Have You~

Kain didn't even have time to think, as a dark hand was swiftly lifted out before him, and Golbez sent a vicious shock of energy into his heart. Time was frozen for a split second, as Kain was held in mid-air, the sword fallen from his hand as it spasmed uncontrollably, and his eyes staring wide at a boundless white light. And then he saw nothing. Darkness.

Golbez kneeled down to the body of the Dragoon, sent into an unconscious oblivion. The glow in his eyes had faded, and his figure returned to complete emptiness, looming over Kain's body. He smiled so wickedly, filled with such evil satisfaction, and he reached a hand down to the Dragoon's head.

"Such hatred in your heart," Golbez spoke with such abounding pleasure, knowing that he had captured just what he needed, "The perfect slave."

Upon his hand touching Kain's head, a horrible energy was released, sending darkness throughout his body. Though he was unconscious, Kain could still feel the immense pain as this darkness stung every nerve in every fiber of his soul. He was surrounded by it, and he couldn't fight it, for it had him stripped of everything he ever knew. It broke him into pieces, and put him back in disheveled heaps, uncaring for what peace he had created before. This was all of his pain, all of his sinful emotions, all of his doubt in himself, all of his darkness, and it had complete control of him. He was lost in darkness, and at that moment when he realized it, he wondered why he had ever cared to fight it.

Caves of Narshe: Final Fantasy IV
Version 6
©1997–2017 Josh Alvies (Rangers51)

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