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Afterstorm

by Sherick

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Chapter 9

Chapter IX: Vector

After hearing the news about the invasion in Jidoor, the Returners were paying close attention to smaller things, such as Terra's dream about Kefka.

"Terra," Cyan said to her, "doth thee remember where Kefka's house was?"

"Yes, it was relatively close to the Tower."

"But Terra," Locke said, "we flew all around the Tower before, we would have noticed a mansion in the middle of nowhere."

"Well, maybe he put a spell on it," she said. "You know, to make it invisible, so no one would know."

"Well, we could go look," Cyan suggested. "To see if yon mansion even exists."

Edgar came to where the three were talking. "What's going on?"

"We're going to see if Kefka's house is where I think it is," Terra answered.

"Reasonable," Edgar said, with less reluctance than they would have expected. "It'd be the best course to see if the dream was real or not."

"It's a fair ways away," Locke said. "How'd do we get there?" Over the years the area that used to be Kefka's Tower had been overrun by monsters, no one else wanting to live in the accursed lands of the madman.

Then, as if cued, Setzer joined them. "What's up? Uh, why is everyone looking at me?" he asked when they stared at him. Then they looked at each other and grinned.

The Falcon was the same as it had been five years ago. Like a large boat with one large hot-air balloon to keep it airborne, had six large propellers on the sides to do the same, and two bigger ones in the back to make it go forward. A huge wooden deck with rails all around and a slot machine for a control system, and under it was the "casino."

An assortment of blackjack, poker, and craps tables lined the ship. Several different rooms used over the years with the Returners for quarters also, along with a master engine room. This airship had once belonged to Daryll, Setzer's close friend and lover. She and Setzer had created the first known airships, Falcon and Blackjack, and were also both well-known and very lucky gamblers, hence the "casino."

Celes could remember when they first met Setzer, six years ago. He was going to gamble the Blackjack's assistance for matrimony to Celes. She had won by using Sabin's Figaro Brothers coin with two heads to win the coin toss. Rather than being mad, Setzer had just smirked and made some crack about losing the ability to gamble. Sounded cheesy at the time, but now she understood what he had meant.

It felt comfortable to be back in the airship. "Welcome aboard," Setzer said when they had all made themselves at home. "Just like old times, eh?"

He then headed up to the deck. They heard the engines pop on and the propellers twirl. Celes got goosebumps of excitement from the thought of flying again. She felt the ship lift off the ground, and then push forward. The feel of flight was exhilarating, something Celes had not experienced for a while. Though the treasure hunts with Locke had their fun, nothing beet flying in the familiar airship.

She noticed Sabin, Edgar, and her dear husband at a card table, setting up for a game of what seemed poker. She walked over. "Okay," Edgar said, "let's have a little fun, shall we?"

Sabin shuffled some cards. "Okay, let's. What do we bet?"

"How about 300 gold to start?" Locke suggested. Celes thought about that. Three hundred was a lot for what the two had right now, even though the Figaros probably could let that much slip. Locke looked up. "Hey, doll. I'm going to get us some big money." He winked.

She nodded understandably. She then walked behind Edgar.

As the game went on, the brothers got weary of Celes and Locke's cheating method. Celes would look at Edgar's hand; Locke would quickly look to her, she signalled with her head, and then used the right methods to win the game. They had now won 2600 GP in this game.

Before they could raise steaks and become filthy rich, Setzer yelled down the entryway, "Get ready, we're approaching the Hell Hole. I'm about to land."

The three put the playing cards away and got up. Celes hugged Locke as she looked at the gold points on his side of the table. "Locke, I really love you."

Upon leaving they looked out to the so-called "Hell Hole." A barren area that had once been the site of Kefka's Tower. Ruins of the unholy fortress were barely visible through the clouds of dust and debris that had never ceased flying for five years. The scarred lands were filled with monster nests-the only beings that dare get so close to the tower. The land was deformed, seemingly impossible to establish a home the size of what Terra had described.

Celes covered her eyes from the debris in the air, as did everyone else.

"Let's look around," Setzer yelled. The house must have obviously been impossible to see from the air.

It was hard to see ten feet in front of you, somewhat because the ground all looked the same. How am I supposed to find a house, even a mansion in this? she asked herself.

After what seemed like hours, Celes stopped and sat down. She tried to look for Locke or Edgar or Terra, or anyone to remind her she wasn't alone in the Hell Hole. Just as she was about to go back and search for the others, Locke ran through the never and grabbed her arm.

"Celes, c'mon," he said.

"What?"

"Setzer just spotted it, the house that is."

Vulkrum looked up and gawked at the huge ruins of Vector. Huge, burned structures with great brick carvings and what seemed to be banners, burned and charred through whatever had done this to the big area. He looked over to Vector; the Aquadalin was obviously enjoying himself.He looked at the structures and smiled with pride.

Vulkrum and his Asassens walked through the streets along with the Aquadalins. Whatever had destroyed the community had really left a toll. Holes in the middle of the large structures still looked as fresh as the day they were put in there.

"What happened here?" Vulkrum asked. "What is this place?"

"Oh, it's hard to start, my young friend," Vector said dreamily. "The best way to put it is this is the place that started it all. The place where empires started. Where legends started."

"Hey," something had been on Vulkrum's mind, "do the town and you have something together? I mean-"

"By our names," Vector finished. "Yes. This town was named in my honor. I created this place, I ruled this empire, I created history."

"Then how come I've never heard of any of this?"

Vector chuckled deeply. "You've heard enough. Most kids haven't heard of this. Most adults either." He sighed. "I guess it's just as well."

"What good could've come out of here?"

"Oh, enough. I haven't seen this place for so long, I wouldn't be surprised to see it in such bad shape. Though I've heard that Espers attacked this place sometime."

"Well, I don't really care about your glory days or your little history so let's just move on."

Vector walked to the largest structure in the town, what appeared to be a ruined palace. He sighed longingly.He turned to look at his younger companion.

"Vulkrum, would you like to help me create history in this place yet again?"

Vulkrum smirked. "That sounds like fun." The two grabbed each other's forearms and squeezed in a friendly gesture.

They made their way into the palace and into the main foyer. The palace had been made of a heavy metal and in a very regal way. The long red carpets that lay on the floor and doorways had obviously once been brilliant but were now wore and ruined by moths. Half-disintegrated portraits hung on the walls of all corridors and foyers.

Vector and Vulkrum, followed by a small number of their own men, ascended up the stairways to the throne room. It was a long and rather narrow room with one long red carpet, somehow more regal and more splendid than the others in the palace were. At the end was a single throne, tall with a noble yet sinister metallic style to it.

Vector walked hastily up to it and admired it. He got on his knees and stroked the rusted silver armrests with an open mouth. He patted the red cushions. Vulkrum walked over to try to see what the Aquadalin was so amazed at.

"'Tis just an old chair," he said disapprovingly. "Rusted over and all."

"Oh, ho-ho," Vector chuckled. "'Tis not just an old chair. This is my throne! The throne!"

"Still just an old chair."

Vector turned and looked at him with slightly watered eyes. "You wouldn't understand. You're too young to understand. It has to do with honor and pride."

"I know what honor means," Vulkrum snapped.

"Do you? Do you really? Well let's see you rise to greatness and then fall to where you are the lowest life on Earth. Thenyou'll know of honor, and of pride."

Vulkrum took in those words. "So," he said at last, "are you going to just sit there, gawking at some old chair, or are you going to show me your ‘honor'?"

Vector chuckled. He then rose up and turned to his men.

"This is a great day in history. You will forever remember this, even you, m'young friend. This is the day..." he slowly sat in the throne.

"This is the day," he said lower, "that Vector made his second rise to power. I hereby proclaim myself, once again, Emperor!"

Terra looked at the huge mansion-styled house. It didn't quite strike as the home to such a disturbingly insane warlord such as Kefka. It was, however, hard to believe that someone would live in the Hell Hole area, even before the Tower fell.

She walked up to the front door with Setzer, Edgar behind them. Setzer used the rusted and ruined golden doorknocker and banged loudly three times on the door, though meaninglessly. After a few more knocks, they confirmed that there were no more occupants, and opened the door and entered.

Without a lantern or light of any kind, the front foyer was only barely lit by the almost blanketed sun outside. A few moments later, Locke and Celes joined them. As they ventured farther, the light became scarce. Setzer turned around.

"Someone go and get a lantern from the Falcon."

So Locke went off to the airship. The four others wandered until there was no more light to see with. They waited.

Then a light came that made them shield there eyes. Locke appeared with a lit lantern that illuminated the room, showing what seemed to be a sort of parlor. Just as the house itself, it did not seem like the living area of a deranged maniac to Terra.

"We still have no proof that this is actually Kefka's house," Edgar said. "We must search around so that we can prove this."

They split up and searched the close-by rooms. It seemed like several minutes later when Terra heard Locke.

"Hey, Ed, look at this."

Edgar and she gathered toward the lantern light. "What is it?"

"The world's biggest bong."

He came into the light, showing him carrying a huge smoking bong, about the size of a short human being.

"What the hell?" Edgar said. "Kind of figures though."

"Yeah, but it doesn't prove anything," Terra pointed out.

"Proves what I knew all along," Locke said.

Terra hit him on the arm, making him drop the bong on the floor with a loud thud.

"What the hell was that?" Celes yelled from somewhere else.

"Nothing, sweetie," Locke answered. "Find anything?"

"Anything that gives us proof?" Terra added.

"Well come here," she called.

Edgar grabbed the light as they continued down the hall, where they went up a flight of stairs, then another. As they went, Celes's echoing voice guided them along.

They finally came to the top and met Celes. "What is it?" they asked in unison.

She further guided them down the corridor. Up in the higher levels the sun shown through the windows, giving precious daylight. Celes found the room she was investigating earlier when Setzer met them from the opposite hallway.

They went into the room where Celes showed them a huge wardrobe.

"I still don't get it," Edgar said.

In answer, Celes opened the wardrobe. Terra almost had to shield her eyes. The clothes were all bright glittery green and red, with many plumes and fur attached.

"Yeah, that's proof," Locke said, shielding his eyes.

They assumed this to be one of Kefka's rooms and set down the lantern. Setzer found a picture book. He made sure no one looked as he opened it up. As he did his eyes widened and he let out a few giggles.

Terra went up to see it. "What is this?" She grabbed it from him as he yelled for her to stop.

"Oh!" she yelled

Celes and Edgar came up to look. It was a book with offensive pictures of attractive nude women.

Terra kicked him in the leg. Edgar leaned over. "Maybe I should take this, just in case."

Celes smacked him hard on the head with the book. "You're married."

She caught Locke with a freezing glare as he laughed at his friend. "And so are you, so shut up!"

She then through the book out of a window.
Caves of Narshe: Final Fantasy VI
Version 6
©1997–2017 Josh Alvies (Rangers51)

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