The Roses of Death
Chapter 10He sat there hardly daring to move; feeling much like the boy with a pet in his lap that he didn't wish to disturb, lest it awaken and fly off. He wanted to hit himself for allowing his personal defenses to be disturbed as much as he had allowed them to be. His own resentments and personal hesitancies wouldn't allow him to feel comfortable in this situation, although part of him felt like it was trying to move towards such. The end result was Siegfried felt as though his stomach had taken up residence in the top of his throat, and would not move.
"How did it come to this, you fool?"
He watched her sleeping, noticing the intricate contours of her face, and the content look on her face as if she was in peace. He wondered if the children were still alive in her dreams; he knew his past lived on in his own.
"But your own past is much more disgusting."
Shrugging off his self loathing, he stood up as steadily as he could, cradling her in his arms as though she were a child. She felt light as a feather as he gently stood up and carried her to the bed, lying her gingerly down on the overstuffed mattress, much like a parent laying their child in bed.
Sighing, he walked over to the window and looked out. The southern horizon was clear as a bell as far as they eye could see, which was a great deal, however he still could not see his destination which he knew lay that way, nor the demons Terra would have to face before it was all over. Siegfried's eyes glazed over as he entered a catacomb of pensive thought.
"Time has a way of catching up with you, eh?"
He hardly noticed Terra had woken up and was standing mere inches behind him. Reality swam back to him, and his senses were aware of the girl suddenly, causing him to spin around rapidly in a less than dignified manner. Not a word passed between them, as she gazed expectantly at him, and he shifted his vision from the mask on the table to her eyes, trying to avoid vomiting his own stomach under the pressure of the repressed emotions clawing their way to the surface. All the while Terra just continued to look at him with the wide innocent eyes that one might expect from a child. Seemingly na´ve to the dangers of the world and caught up in the belief that now would be forever. Wordlessly, she embraced him, which once again forced him to realize that he positively dwarfed her, as she only came up to just past chest height. He wanted to pull away, he wanted to get out, but desperately, he wanted to stay; which he did.
"Let's never leave," She muttered to him softly, "lets just stay like this forever."
And much to his own dismay, part of him wanted to do just that. He almost said it back before his apprehensions hit him, causing him to stiffen slightly.
"What the hell are you doing? This isn't you. Sword's don't have emotions, remember?"
His face twitched violently, and he knew which part of him was right. He began disentangling himself from her grip, which caused her to stare up at him with eyes that screamed of a confused hurt. He desperately wanted to get away, to go back to the Colosseum and kill a hundred men to slay whatever emotion he had begun to feel again. How many years had he worked to protect himself from such things? How many men had he killed in cold blood, as he looked into their eyes, only to have all the walls torn down by a girl? The prospect both excited, and sickened him, as the parts of him which cried for redemption from his sins fought against the side of him which absolutely demanded he kill all emotions he might possess.
"I'm sorry," he murmured to her, "I can't; it's not right for you. I told you before, I'm not a human, I'm a sword; and swords can't allow themselves to feel that way."
She was made of tougher stuff than most women though. Instead of doing what he expected and breaking down crying, she got a stern look on her face, and simply nodded, as if she understood. Perhaps she understood more than he knew. Perhaps she too was just a sword, or was becoming one.
Siegfried could not help but feel somewhat responsible.
"Why sir, I must say you're a better dancer then I ever might have imagined."
The leaves whirled around them in a gust of wind, reluctantly picked up off the forest floor.
"It's been some time since I've had a good partner," Siegfried intoned drolly, "I'd been looking for a suitable partner. Sadly, a partner, no matter how well they dance, can only dance once."
The dark man nodded sagely, his blade still pointing at Siegfried's ribs.
"Aye, that is so. Let us hope the song is a long one at least."
The rest was instinct. The invigorating feeling as his sword sang in harmony with his opponents.
Then he woke up, his ears still ringing with the sound of steel kissing. What a dance that had been. The waltz had gone on for hours, but time had felt as though it stood still. He rubbed the scar on his cheek as if feeling the blade rip it asunder still from years ago. The prize had been worth it, he reflected, fondling his dagger in its sheath.
"A real treasure from the days of old."
That had been a different time though. At the least it had been simpler. Purpose was defined by want, and want was achieved through skill of sword.
Now, feeling rather disheveled, he sat up and rubbed his eyes. He had long since discarded his usual mask, regarding it as more or less useless for staying incognito. He might as well have been anonymous still, for nobody knew him. He was just a tall man with a female companion.
"A silent female companion."
Terra had scarcely opened her mouth since they had left town. There wasn't a lot to discuss, truth be told. They had a destination and as one foot moved in front of the other, so did they day go from dawn to dusk. But today...today they would pass the tower... or what remained of it. They had seen the silhouette of the rubble from a long way off, and it had been getting larger all of yesterday, and was nearly an eclipse of the southern horizon now. Breaking his fast on some of the supplies he had purchased from the town, primarily jerky, he quickly packed up and made sure the girl was ready to move before starting out at his easy pace.
About three hours past mid day they were there. The pile of rubble was so immense they could not even see over the top of it. All the destruction of that day had gone into the materials of the tower it seemed. But it wasn't the tower which held his imagination of this spot. It was the capital which had come before it. He could almost hear the fanfares, as processions of Magi-Tek troops marched through the streets, smelling of iron, sulfur, and science. Terra, however, was engrossed in a nearer past than that. Wordlessly she walked up to the wall of rubble and reached in; when her hand resurfaced she had a piece of black cloth in her hand. Emotionlessly, she seemed to fondle the material as though trying to evoke some memory attached to it.
Stone-faced, Siegfried simply watched as she took the bit of cloth and put it in her pocket. Without anything better to do than people watch, he inclined his head to her and began to scan the plains behind them.
"He was a lot like you," came her voice, shattering the silence of the day, "very somber, pensive, and emotionless. But he had emotions, and he had a daughter who he tried very hard not to love." She walked next to him to stand watch for nothing and began to speak again, "He knew when it was over. He could have escaped, but he chose not to. He had nothing to go to, so he stood back and let the world fall in around him. There was no world beyond Kefka's world of ruin. He had made himself a tool of combat, and he knew he had to stop running from the things that were contrary to that persona."
Siegfried continued to play mute, grinding his jaw together.
She continued, "But I won't forget what he told me, and I will continue to take it to heart. Not you or anybody else is going to force me to kill me emotions," she continued louder, "Maybe he was amoral, and reckless, but he did it because he cared, and he knew himself and the people around him. He came off hard...but I think in the end...he really loved after all."
He thought to himself.
How many times did we meet? I never liked the man, nor can I say I disliked him. I sensed we were kindred, and I believe he did too, but neither of us cared, as was the nature of our similarities.
He closed his eyes.
"The Ox bellows!" he heard himself boom, but there he sat, unrelenting and silent as the wind.
His mind skipped a bit.
"Striker," He heard a voice say, and then he spoke.
"I know only bits and pieces, but I'd heard it was buried under the Veldt. Might be Kefka dug it up for you."
And then, the present was there again, and he opened his eyes.
Turning around, he caught a glint of metal in his eye. Slowly, he walked over to the pile, and now stuck his hand in. Terra eyed him warily as he walked back up to her with a hand behind his back. He held out a rusted throwing star to her. Without a word, she pulled a loose thread from her cloak, and tied it around the star, which she hung from her neck.
Silently, they began due west around the hellacious mass of rubble. As they were walking, the sun began to set in their eyes, and glancing at Terra, Siegfried might have sworn he saw a single tear roll down her set face, but perhaps it was just a trick of the light.
Caves of Narshe
: Final Fantasy VI
©1997–2019 Josh Alvies (Rangers51)
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