The Returnby Nathan Bounds
A funny acting man had crawled out of the Kohlingen bar. Probably drunk, speculated Locke.
Presently, another customer entered the bar. He went up to the counter and ordered a drink. The bartender delivered the drink. The customer grabbed it and crashed it against the bartender's head. He then pulled out a match, lit it, and set the beverage on fire.
By now, Locke and Setzer had their weapons ready. But before they could get to the attacker, swarms of cloaked people entered the bar holding spears and swords.
Locke slashed one across the chest, but was immediately grabbed from behind and choked. He was saved by a well aimed Ace of Spades.
Locke and Setzer had no chance against hundreds of Kefkanians in a burning bar. They rushed to the back exit and crashed through without even opening the door.
"They just don't make them like they used to, eh?" Locke said.
"Right. Hey, what about the bartender?"
Locke looked into the now flaming bar and saw the bartender still lying behind the counter. His clothes were aflame and he was screaming. He jumped up and screamed for help, and was answered by a volley of spears.
"Don't ask," Locke replied in answer to Setzer's inquiry.
"I don't think I will. Let's hurry to the Falcon."
They ran as fast as they could to the airship, which was on the outskirts of town.
A couple of minutes later, the airship lifted off.
"H-Bomb them!" said Locke.
Setzer dropped a bomb on the crowd of Kefkanians. Several flew up into the air when hit by the explosion. Setzer dropped more bombs, one at a time, killing more and more Kefkanians.
The Kefkanians were running around erratically, causing the airship to be as agile as it ever had to be. Setzer was presently following the largest group. He was looking down at them, deciding when to let go another bomb, when Locke yelled, "Look out!" The airship hit the houe wher the funny old coot lived. The airship spun around in the air, and Locke fell completely off. He landed in the river.
When he resurfaced, he saw that the entire town was burning. The airship was now rebalanced and searching for Locke. Locke scrambled up onto the bank and pulled out his sword. The Kefkanians rushing at him were only three in number; they were easily dispatched.
The Falcon was getting lower to the ground. Setzer screamed to Locke. "Climb the ladder!" Setzer had let down a rope ladder. It was just in reach.
Locke grabbed on to it. He started to climb. He was near the top when an arrow hit the top rung of the rope ladder. He fell and grabbed the bottom rung. Another arrow hit the top left part of the ladder. The ladder swung. Locke climbed as fast as he could up the broken, swinging ladder. Setzer was vainly trying to pull the ladder up and keep the airship from crashing at the same time. He couldn't do both however, and when the airship made a sickening dip towards Rachel's pre-death home, Setzer yelled to Locke, "You're gonna have to do this one on your own," and went back to the controls to level the ship in time for Locke to lose no more than his shoes on the roof of Rachel's house.
Locke climbed up another rung on the mangled ladder. Suddenly, the airship changed direction, and the ladder swung frighteningly close to the moving blades.
Locke was now swinging back and forth on the ladder. The ladder was starting to fray. With every swing, the moving blades hit a little more of the rope ladder. Locke was suddenly less than a centimeter from one of the blades. He swung the other direction, and he knew death from blade cuttage was inevitable. He closed his eyes and held his breath, and waited for his life to end. Then, suddenly, he felt a dropping sensation. He opened his eyes and realized that that was because he was dropping. The ladder had broken.
Setzer watched as Locke plummeted to his death below. "Damn," said Setzer.
Strago looked towards Ebot's Rock. It now seemed unimportant, even pointless, now that the Hidon was gone. But Strago felt that all was not what it seemed.
Something drew Strago there. Something mysterious, something unknown. Strago was seventy-four, but the warrior's spirit was not yet gone from him.
Strago went to the elder's house and knocked on the door. The elder answered.
"Might I use the town's boat?" asked Strago.
"May I ask why?"
"I believe that there is something on Ebot's Rock, and I need to know what it is.
"Very well. Please return safely."
Strago went to the dock after making sure that he was armed. He got into the boat and untied it. He rowed to Ebot's Rock, brought the boat to shore, and went to the entrance of the cave. There he stopped and turned around to take a look at his home town of Thamasa. He had a strange feeling that he might never see it again.
After one last nostalgic sigh, Strago entered the cave.
Inside, the weeds had begun to grow. Now that the Hidon was gone, life was slowly returning to the cave. Strago walked up to the pad that would take him to another level of the cave. He stomped it with his foot, but nothing happened.
Strago looked around for anything else. He saw nothing. Except for one thing. A patch of ground where nothing grew. Upon closer inspection, Strago could see that not even the dirt was there. Straining his eyes, Strago could see strange words written on the bare, gray rock. The letters, though spelling out words from another language, were of the present day language. They said the following words, which, though Strago knew not what they meant, sent a chill up his spine:
Strago, feeling slightly intimidated, tapped the rock with his rod. He was immersed in darkness.
Strago was bound and gagged. He saw no one around, and could not cry out for help. Then, out of the darkness came a blood-chillingly familiar voice.
"So it is time!"
It took Strago a moment to remember who the voice was coming from. When he suddenly remembered, it frightened him so much that he tried to speak while gagged. "Ehuh!"
"Oh, I'm sorry." The familiar voice stepped into the dim light surrounding the chair in which Strago sat. "You want me to remove that gag don't you?"
When the familiar man took the gag off of Strago, Strago gasped, "Kefka!"
"The one and only!" Kefka shrieked. "And thank you sir, you have freed us!"
"Oh yes, us. Me and the rest of the Dark Espers."
"The Dark Espers?"
"Yes. An Esper is simply a person of great magical ability. When the person dies, their soul is transformed into the form of an Esper. If the person was good, they become a Light Esper." Kefka gagged with disgust. "If the person was evil, they become a Dark Esper. It's as simple as that." Kefka laughed that hideous, demonic laugh.
"Does Magic still exist?" Strago asked.
"Yes. When the power of the Esper's was sapped when I died, that was a simple reaction to the great power I held being taken out of the Magical Convection."
"A person who uses Magic takes the power from an energy field. After they use the Magic, a little bit of their energy is put back into the field. That is why you can only use a certain amount of Magic before you start getting weak. When I died, I was contributing all of the Magical energy into the field, except for you and the rest of those people with you as well as the people of Thamasa. When I died, so much of the Magical input was missing that the field of energy sucked up every bit of loose Magic on the planet. That included the Magic that your friends had. But because of the great dent in the field, even that wasn't enough to fill in the missing input. Thus there was not enough Magic in the energy field for you to use. That is why you have not been able to use Magic. But when the Dark Espers are released, we will release the Magical energy that has been stored up within us and Magic shall be more powerful than ever!" Kefka howled his demonic laugh several times before quieting down and leaving.
Because Sabin couldn't walk, he was being carried on a litter through the caves which Figaro Castle normally moved through. In a few moments they would all come into daylight.
By the time they arrived, it was night. They stopped to decide what to do. Before the king and his council came to a concensus, they were interrupted by a noise overhead. When Sabin looked up, he saw an airship. And an airship could only mean one thing. Setzer. They were saved.
The airship landed. Sabin had a vague feeling of something being wrong. When he looked over at the airship he knew what it was. The airship's wooden hull was red. Something was definitely wrong.
Suddenly, hundreds of torches lit up the night, and the silhouette of a man stood in front of those torches.
The man was wearing a cloak. He stood there for a moment as if waiting for something. Then for a split second, his eyes shown red.
Sabin knew something was more seriously wrong than he originally thought. He felt as if something was lost...
The man stepped forward, his cloak flowing in the breeze. "Hello," he said in a deathly voice. "I am Graticus, the MagiMaster of the Kefkanians. You people will be returning with us to our headquarters."
No one dared ask where the headquarters was while they boarded the airship.