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The Spinning Wheel of Fate

by Manoftyr

Chapter 1 (2006)
Chapter 2 (2006)
Chapter 3 (2006)
Chapter 4 (2006)
Chapter 5 (2006)
Chapter 6 (2006)
Chapter 7 (2006)
Chapter 8 (2006)

Chapter 2

Chapter 1: A Clockwork Arrowny

My name is Clyde Arrowny, or at least... it used to be. Everyone calls me Shadow, and I'm more comfortable with that then Clyde, I'm too scum to deserve a name anyway. I'm the scum of the earth, I have done everything wrong that one could possibly imagine. I've killed innocent people for money, I let my best friend get captured, I abandoned my daughter as an infant, and to top it all off I sold out to the empire knowing FULL WELL what that meant. Then, in a pathetic attempt to redeem myself I tried, and failed, to stop Kefka from ushering in this age of ruin, I failed in the ONE chance I had to redeem myself, but thatís to be expected I mean... I am a failure. I'm a failure as a hero, I'm a failure as a father, I'm a failure as a friend, I'm a failure as a lover, I'm a failure as a companion, I AM A FAILURE IN EVERY POSSIBLE SENSE OF THE WORD... they should of just left me to die on that floating continent.

I was in Albrook when I got the message, and considering everything Strago's done or rather 'did' for me I figured I should at least pay my last respects so I booked passage on a commercial transport ship. It took about eight hours to get there and the boat ride was completely un-eventful, when I got off I was surprised to find that no one else was there yet. I made my way to Strago's house and found a note on the door, again in Relm's handwriting "funeral at General Leo chapel" the General Leo chapel was a chapel built after the final battle in front of the site where Leo was buried to honor his memory. I entered and saw a small congregation gathered consisting of a few townspeople, the Elder, and Strago's boyhood friend Gungho. Relm was sitting up front left dressed in black; she noticed my presence and turned to face me as I approached the casket to take a last look at the man who raised my daughter.

Suddenly, Relm asked in a very matter-of-fact tone "Where's Interceptor?"

"Died," I replied. "About half a year ago," I continued

Relm took an annoyed tone.

"And you didnít tell me?"

"Saw no need," I responded.

"He was my puppy before he was your attack dog! Clyde, don't you think I would of liked to know?"

She grew visibly irritated... this was going largely as I expected

"The thought didnít occur to me," I was lying, I just never wanted to tell her. "And please don't call me that," I continued.

"Don't call you what?" Relm retorted now practically snapping at me,

"... Clyde."

I was beginning to get annoyed myself.

"Well thatís your name, ISNT IT?!, CLYDE ARROWNY?!"

"I DON'T HAVE A NAME! I'M SHADOW!" I found myself shouting, I then noticed the entire congregation staring at us.

"Bah!" Relm snapped as she threw her arm out in disgust and turned away.

"I invited everyone else, they should be here soon," Relm spat out as she stared at the ground in front of her.

I slunk away into a shadowy corner by the doorway, I figured I'd stick around... I had nothing better to do, and it was important to me on a sentimental level to stay, after all Strago did more for me then I could of ever thanked him for.

I waited around for a few minutes before the first attendees arrived, it was the Figaro brothers Edgar and Sabin, and they were each dressed in matching black suits. Sabin looked over in my direction "Hey Shadow! It's been ages how ya been?" he shouted in his usual jovial tone, I looked over and gave Sabin a slight nod to let him know I was acknowledging him, but I didn't feel like speaking. Edgar nudged Sabin and whispered, but I could hear him anyway as my senses are extraordinarily acute.

"I know you try to see the good in everyone little brother, but even after all we've been through I still wouldn't trust that man... he's done a lot he's yet to answer for."

Sabin just looked at Edgar and shook his head. Edgar shrugged. His words didnít anger me at all really, after all I wouldn't trust me if I knew me.

The two of them were followed immediately by Cyan who was as per usual dressed in his armor with his sword sheathed and dangling from his belt. The three proceeded upwards to take a last look at Strago, Cyan ceremoniously took out his sword and placed it point down on the ground while resting his head on the pommel, and mumbled a quick prayer. Meanwhile, Edgar and Sabin looked down at Strago and talked amongst themselves.

"It's weird he'd die so young... I mean, he was only in his late seventies, right? And he was really healthy as far as I knew, I was figuring he'd be pushing a hundred plus before he finally kicked off," Sabin questioned.

"Cancer," Relm spoke up in a low tone. All three turned towards her "It started up a couple years after we killed Kefka," Relm continued.

"Cancer? What's that?" Sabin asked as Edgar and Cyan looked on equally puzzled.

Relm continued "It's this weird new disease that's been happening to people ever since the collapse, but with magic and all it was never really a problem and you could treat it real easily as long as you knew someone who could heal or had a healing rod or something like that."

"What does it do?" Edgar asked,

"No ones really sure," said Relm. "It's like your body starts eating itself, it's really slow and painful, a truly horrible way to die," she continued.

'I deserved that, not Strago' I thought to myself while overhearing their conversation.

Relm continued "I didn't tell anyone what was happening because I didn't want any of you to see him like the way he was, he was in so much pain and just slowly dying getting worse and worse and no one could do anything... I didn't want any of you to share the burden of knowing him like that, me and the townspeople just did everything we could for him in his final days... he was in so much pain he couldn't even move or eat, I... ." Relm started crying.

Cyan quickly knelt down beside her, hugging onto her "It's alright, It's alright m'lady" I felt like shit, a deadbeat worthless sack of excrement like myself had to rely entirely on others to comfort his own daughter, all I know how to do is kill, and the killings over... I personify the term 'worthless'. Relm continued crying, as Cyan ever the chivalric ideal continued to comfort her "He's in a better place now m'lady Relm, a place where he ist' to be rewarded for all he hast' done for thee and the world" he rubbed her back as Edgar and Sabin looked on sympathetically.

Relm regained her composure "Thank you" she squeaked out between sniffles. "You're all like a family to me," she continued.

Cyan arose "I mourn thine loss, t'is a loss for us all," he spoke then bowed before taking a seat in the third row from the right behind the townspeople.

Sabin put a hand on Relm's right shoulder and looked down "Hang in there kid... I know how you feel, I lost my father when I was around your age."

"Strago practically 'was' her father Sabin," Edgar chipped in. Whether or not this was an insult intended for me I know or care not, he was right after all.

The Figaro brothers smiled down at Relm who smiled back weakly then they took seats beside Cyan, meanwhile I contemplated killing myself for perhaps the third time today, suddenly my train of thought was interrupted by several footsteps and my eyes darted to the door. Locke, Celes, their daughter Rachel and Cid had entered. Cid rushed past me between the rows of seats and up to the coffin with Celes frantically trailing behind him as Locke with Rachel in his arms slowly made his way past me without even making eye contact... Locke didnít like me much, I knew it and he knew that I knew, and couldn't care less.

Cid glanced down at Strago "the new disease?" he asked without taking his eyes off Strago's corpse.

"... Yeah," Relm replied somberly.

Cid banged his fist down on the side of Strago's casket "Damnit!" he exclaimed while holding his head down as if in shame,

Celes hugged onto Cid "it's not your fault granddad, you couldn't of done anything for him" she reasoned.

"Ever since Kefka was destroyed I've sworn to atone for all my past sins against humanity!" Cid exclaimed once again, "I swore to use my scientific knowledge to help, not hurt, mankind... and this disease is more my responsibility then anyone else's" he continued "... after all, I had a hand in creating Kefka... the monster who caused this all" he added with a hint of bitterness and shame.

"You couldn't of done anything Cid" Relm added still somberly.

"Thatís not the point" Cid continued "this is just another life claimed by this terrible sickness that I in all my scientific and medical knowledge am totally powerless against, just yet another life cruelly taken away by a baffling and terrible disease that I am in a way responsible for!" Cid continued to exclaim, now shouting.

"Calm down" Locke reasoned as he approached. "It's not like blaming yourself is going to bring you any closer to a cure," he continued.

"Thatís true!" Celes added as Cid regained his composure.

"I apologize for flying off the handle like that... but this is a highly emotional issue for me," Cid explained. "I have to find a cure, it's my life's mission," he concluded, and took a seat in the row behind Sabin, Edgar and Cyan. Cid has become a bit obsessive about atoning, methinks he went mad on the solitary island, he could cure every disease known to man but that still wouldn't change what he's done, he's a fool.

Locke looked down towards Relm "I know how hard death is, trust me, I'm no stranger to it and if you need a place to stay our home is your home... I know you have no family other then Strago."

Locke added that last bit glaring at me from the corner of his eye with a scowl. I pretended not to notice it.

"Thanks" Relm answered "but I'm not a little girl anymore, I'll be fine here on my own" she continued then looked up at Rachel .

"This must be your daughter I heard about" Relm concluded with a smile.

"Hi Rachel," she continued.

Rachel looked down towards Relm with inquisitive childlike eyes and proclaimed "Hi!" while waving her arm in front of her face. Rachel got down from Locke's arms and walked up to Relm, looking up at her face Rachel again proclaimed "You're pretty!" as Relm gave a half hearted laugh.

Celes pulled Locke over to a corner and spoke softly, but again I could still hear "you promised me you weren't going to be an asshole today!" she whispered to Locke in a sharp tone.

"I'm not! But I'm not going to pretend I like the guy either, I *never* did... I hate people like him!" Locke responded even more sharply now barely whispering.

"Fine!" Celes replied now exasperated. "Just don't start lecturing the guy or start a scene or whatever" she continued,

"I won't," Locke replied.

Locke really didnít like me, we were polar opposites, were as I ran from and ignored my problems Locke developed a psychotic obsession over his, at least I never preserved the corpses of anyone 'I' killed in some lunatic's basement... fucking nut. The irony of myself 'a self-hating, suicidal, sociopath' calling someone a 'nut' was not lost on me.

Locke and Celes came back from their corner, took Rachel and then seats behind Sabin, Edgar and Cyan next to Cid. I heard an airship swish through the air, hum briefly, then land and I knew Setzer had arrived, and sure enough he soon came tromping through the doors to the chapel, but with Terra and Gau in tow. I figured Gau and Terra would come together, they had grown really close over the years considering the last four or five years of Gau's teens were spent with her. Setzer was dressed as usual with his sleeved trenchcoat and pirate-ish getup... stylish my ass, Terra had on a black dress while Gau was nude from the waste up and barefoot, clothed only in a pair of loose fitting tartan chequered trousers. I remembered when Gau used to be short but muscular, he's still muscular but he's not exactly short anymore, he must be at least 6'10 by the look of him, probably more, he might be pushing 7ft as a matter of fact and he couldn't be any less then 285lbs... Needless to say he was towering over Setzer and Terra, neither of whom could be considered 'large' by any stretch of the imagination. All three stopped to say hi to me, I smiled and nodded then raised my right palm to signal that I didnít want to talk and they proceeded down to see Strago.

As soon as they got near the corpse, Gau bent down and started sniffing

"Yeah, definitely dead" he said aloud to himself as the townsfolk looked at him with odd expressions. Gau shrugged.

"Old habits die hard I guess," he offered as an explanation.

The three took their last looks at Strago, "Weeeel, that's the luck o' the draw!" Setzer added as an attempt at conciliation, "Life can end any moment, that's why ya gotta live it up while you can," he continued.

He was so empty-headed and foolish, dear GODS did I ever want to hit him. Terra looked down at Strago's corpse, then she started to get emotional and turned her gaze away. Gau hugged Terra and whispered "It's alright ma, it's alright."

I guess he must've started calling her that after living with her awhile. Terra's really emotional, very different then me, and yet, she is more so convinced then anyone that there is a good person inside me... perhaps it has something to do with that advice I gave her before the collapse, and I'd be lying if I said I didnít feel some form of empathy for her, even then. That and she looks so much like Melinda... those same sparkling green eyes that Relm seems to have inherited.

I cleared my minds of such thoughts, they're futile and stupid. I began to wonder, why am I still here? What purpose am I serving! I know I was planning to kill myself and I probably would have, that is if Strago hadn't of revealed all when he did, but what difference does that make? Why haven't I ended my life over the past seven years? Lord knows I've contemplated it time and time again... I mean, everyone, Relm especially would be much better off if I just died. Why did Strago even tell her anything? He swore to me long ago he would never speak a word of it... I thought he cared about her, he couldn't possibly think her knowing would do any good for anyone... well... it's all irrelevant, she hates me, I know she does, I mean *I* hate me... to hell with it all, I should just slit my own throat right now in front of everyone to see, so they can all rejoice. 'Hurrah, hurrah! Shadow is dead!'

I suddenly could not stand to share anyone's company, so I silently slipped out the door and rounded the side of the church, finding a shadowy corner to skulk into. I sat with my back to the brick wall and rolled up my sleeves, the scars where still there. I laughed to myself, none of the others knew that when they found me in that cave after the collapse that those wounds weren't made by those behemoth monsters but were self inflicted, an attempted suicide on my part, and if Interceptor didnít look for help when he did then well... I'd be dead. I leaned back against the brick wall, suddenly I was overcome with memories flashing across the panel of my conscious mind... usually they're just limited to my nightmares but this was different somehow. Baram and me on the run, robbing the trains, running from the law all across the continents, and in the end I couldnít do it, the only time he ever asked me for anything, and I failed him... just like I've failed myself.

It's hard to believe how fast I blew all the money we stole but, booze, whores and drugs will do that... it's all such a haze, I don't even remember half the shit I did, I was so messed up out of my head. I could see it like it was yesterday, wandering into Thamasa drunk and high... I didn't even know where I was or how I got there, and then thatís when I met her. Melinda, she was so beautiful... it was as if, it all made sense, as if my life had meaning... why did she have to be so sickly and weak! she died delivering Relm, and I guess that would be the moment Clyde Arrowny died and Shadow was born... it was as if I couldn't take it anymore, my emotions, my humanity, myself... it all just died. Thank the gods for Strago, I don't know how it all would of worked without him, bless his heart, I hope wherever he is now he's getting all the rewards he deserves... he took my daughter in as his own, and gave her everything I couldn't. The things I've done... the people I've killed, all the families I must have torn apart, just killing for money... I kept telling myself I was just doing what I had to do, it was them or me, if I didn't kill I didnt eat... I... I CAN'T TAKE IT!

Suddenly, all the emotions, all the rage, all the self-hate, all the pain, anguish and grief I keep buried inside assailed me at once in a violent torrent. My mind was racing with thoughts that were not mine, and yet were mine at once "You're a liar Clyde," "You're a despicable human being Clyde," "Your eyes just relay your lies Clyde, burn them out," "You make me sick Clyde," "You're a fucking SCUMBAG CLYDE!" I couldnít take it anymore and I found myself for the first time in a very long time... crying. Not just a few tears but flat out balling, I was sobbing with grief "I'm sorry," I muttered while tears streamed down my face "I'm sorry Relm, Baram, Strago... I've brought you all nothing but pain... I'm a failure... nothing but a failure, a miserable wretched excuse for a human being," I continued into the ground as my tears streamed down from my face and into the soil forming a small puddle... suddenly I sensed a presence. I looked up, it was Cyan... I wondered how much he had seen, how much he had heard, I didnít think anyone would see me here, how did he find me? My mind raced with many questions when suddenly Cyan spoke.

"Thou remindest I of I many years ago... thou must let go," he began as I stared up at his aged face "Thine past is thine past, it will consume thee if thy continue upon thine path of self-destructive self-loathing... life is worth living despite past tragedies" I knew exactly of what Cyan spoke, but he was forgetting some key difference... he had no choice, I did. There was nothing he could of done to save his family, the poisoning took everyone by surprise... I on the other hand, I could of saved Baram... but I didn't, I could have been there for Relm, but I wasn't, and *still* won't... because I'm weak, much weaker then the man standing across from me now or the man who has passed on.

I regained my composure as the decades of self-taught numbness returned, I arose "... not a word of this to anyone Samurai," I stated coldly, Cyan nodded and proceeded back around the church, and I slumped back into my corner to nod off, knowing full well that Cyan's word was his bond and my display of emotion was a secret safe with him.
Caves of Narshe: Final Fantasy VI
Version 6
©1997–2019 Josh Alvies (Rangers51)

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