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The Unforgiven (FF6 fan fiction)

Posted: 15th July 2004 19:53

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Dragoon
Posts: 1,706

Joined: 7/4/2003

Awards:
Member of more than ten years. Member of more than five years. Major involvement in the Final Fantasy VII section of CoN. 
NOTICE: See below this quote for more information.

Quote
The Unforgiven

Prologue

"A great man must first find himself, before he canst find glory." – Sir Richard Baramoure, ca. 547

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Some men are warriors.  Some are travelers.  Others are adventurers, loyal only to the cause within their heart.  Still more are romanticists, and men of duty.

The noble knight Sir Cyan Garamonde is all of them at once.

However, since the death of Kefka, none of these traits have seemed to do him any good... the only attribute seeming to favor him at the moment being a capacity for travel and adventure, a dimension of his personality developed only late in life, after the fall of Doma and meeting first Sabin, then the rest of the heroes.  Together they slew the madman that fancied himself a god, a feat worthy of song and praise... but after that, what is there for an old knight without a home to do?  His travels have taken him far and wide... to Jidoor and back again, and to the footsteps of majestic Figaro Castle... all in search of the survivors of Doma, in the hope of rebuilding their homeland.

But what he found was apathy.  Almost none cared to rebuild what was lost, and he soon came to realize the impossible enormity of the task, much too great for a single old man and a handful of roaming wanderers to accomplish... no, Doma is lost, and there's nothing he can do about it.

And so, his journeys have led him inexorably here: the Coliseum.  It seemed the only fitting place left in the world for a warrior like himself was here, where the art of battle is exalted and the only thing that truly matters is a man's mettle and reputation.


* As you can see from the original post dates, I worked on this originally between July and August 2004 (I had actually forgotten that it was that long ago; I thought I was working on it into early in 2005).

For more information, see the latest post, so as to better inform new and old readers alike...

This post has been edited by Zephir on 24th October 2013 23:34

--------------------
~Status Report~

* Completed... Dragon's Head
* Completed... Soldiers of the Empire: Disciples (release pending)
* In Progress/Undecided... Of Love and Betrayal
* Planning/Assembly... Where it all Began
Post #52139
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Posted: 15th July 2004 19:53

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Dragoon
Posts: 1,706

Joined: 7/4/2003

Awards:
Member of more than ten years. Member of more than five years. Major involvement in the Final Fantasy VII section of CoN. 
Quote
Chapter 1

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The lobby bustles with activity, with patrons and competitors alike rushing back and forth.  The break periods between fights are usually the most chaotic, with many spectators hurrying for either the concessions or lavatories, while competitors themselves recover from their battles and collect their spoils... or lick their wounds.

The immense, ornate double doors leading in swing open with an air of grandeur, announcing the presence of a new arrival in stately fashion... who arrives with no fanfare and just slightly more attention.  Cyan Garamonde of Doma steps in and pauses to look around, noting that most here ignore his arrival, taking him for but a simple passerby, while others simply glance him over once and quickly, passively taking stock of the bundle of possessions slung over his shoulders and the hard, weathered gaze of the old man.

It seems anonymity is to be part of his new identity as wandering hero.

Standing at the entrance, he stops to look around him, taking in the dιcor as he gathers himself and his bearings, studying the many tapestries and artworks hanging about the lobby, his attention especially falling on a statue at the center of the lobby, to the left of the reception desk.  It captures his attention as he is all too familiar with its visage: Majin, Goddess of War and Destruction.  Harrumphing, he can see why the owner chose this statue be commissioned: Megami – Goddess of Life – hardly fits this setting, and Kishin – Goddess of Death – might be a bit extreme.

He ponders the freshly–carved marble for but a moment longer, then shoulders his belongings for a better fit as he steps to the front reception desk, standing there at proud attention as a familiar talking octopus busily fiddles behind the counter.

“Yeah, whaddaya– say, do I know you...?” Ultros asks, peering up at Cyan's stoically expressionless face.  “Yeah, I do know you... you're Mister Thou–Speak, ain't 'cha?”

Sneering, Cyan answers, “Sir Cyan Garamonde shall suffice.”

“Gyah hah hah!  Lighten up, will ya?” Ultros quipped, pacing strangely behind the desk... the curious purple beast never seemed to be able to sit still for very long.  “Now, whaddaya want?”

Looking about the room again as he answers, Cyan states, “I shall need room and board, and wish to participate in these... games of thine.”

“Came to fight, eh?  Well, you'll hafta talk with that guy over there...” Ultros barks, waving a tentacle at the well-dressed young man standing before a large set of double doors at the back.  “...If you want to get in th' ring, but for rooms you gotta talk to the innkeep.  He's out back.”

Cyan's gaze follows the raised tentacle, his eyes falling on the door tucked in the back right corner of the lobby.  With a frown, he shifts his weight to the other foot, the heavy bag sliding a bit on his shoulders as he states, “I require not an inn, sir.  I require a more permanent residency.”

“Stayin' a while?” Ultros asks, twitching a tentacle in curiosity.  “That'll cost extra

Eying him over once and regarding him suspiciously, Cyan asks, “How much?”

“Ten thousand.  And that's per month!”

“A bit expensive, Sir Ultros,” Cyan remarks, recalling the name from memory, his gaze drifting to the man tending the arena doors... after a short pause and some contemplation, he then glances back to Ultros and lifts a finger.  “Just a moment.”

He then walks off towards the north end of the lobby with purpose, leaving Ultros rubbing his mouth with a tentacle.  “I wonder what he's up to...?”


This post has been edited by Zephir on 8th November 2013 23:31

--------------------
~Status Report~

* Completed... Dragon's Head
* Completed... Soldiers of the Empire: Disciples (release pending)
* In Progress/Undecided... Of Love and Betrayal
* Planning/Assembly... Where it all Began
Post #52140
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Posted: 15th July 2004 19:54

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Dragoon
Posts: 1,706

Joined: 7/4/2003

Awards:
Member of more than ten years. Member of more than five years. Major involvement in the Final Fantasy VII section of CoN. 
Quote
Chapter 2

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

An hour passes.  In his claustrophobically tiny little booth, Ultros paces back and forth, having little to do now... everyone's either eagerly watching the fights or waiting in the lobby for the results to come in, huddled about the odds boards.  Greedy people.

He takes out a rag and wipes the counter idly, removing a spot of spilled water.  As he watches it disappear into the cloth, he sighs and muses to himself, “Well, it's a full life, anyway...”

The side doors suddenly open up and out pours a throng of people flooding into the lobby all at once, many of them rushing to the gambling booths as an outburst of arguments over the winners and losers erupts.  Amid all the chaos, Cyan steps calmly out from the center door and heads for Ultros, carrying in his arms a load of weaponry and armor.  “I believe these shalt make for a fair trade, Sir Ultros?”

Standing back, Ultros looks over all the equipment in surprise.  “Where did you–? How–?!”

He grasps several of the pieces in multiple tentacles, inspecting them, and at length looks back at Cyan and shakes his head.  “I don't believe it.  But yeah, that's plenty

“Thank you, kind sir,” Cyan says, nodding his head to him as he gathers his belongings up.  “Which way wouldst thy residencies be?”

Ultros wordlessly points a tentacle to one of the doors at the side of them, to which Cyan nods, gathers up his bag of belongings, and walks towards them.  As he leaves, Ultros glances back down at the spoils, then smiles and giddily rubs his tentacles together.  “Hoo hoo, I'm rich!”

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Stretched out before Cyan is a long hallway, in which lie rows upon rows of doors all lined up along each side... none of them marked, each one more the same as the next.  Wondering to himself how one is supposed to remember which is his, Cyan looks over at a maid busily going about her business nearby, and steps over to address her.  “Excuse me, madam, where might I find an empty suite to occupy?”

She looks about the hallway, apparently trying to remember which ones are full and which aren't, and in a voice contradictory of her fair likeness answers, “Ahh, those o'er 'dere oughtta be free.”

Cyan draws back, scowling at her in confusion.  “My pardon, miss, but where ever didst ye acquire that atrocious accent?”

Stepping back in offense, the maid regards him with a squinted eye.  “Zozo, what's yer 'scuse?”

Looking down on her incredulously, Cyan leaves the question unanswered, instead stepping beyond her and down the hall, heading for one of the rooms at the end of it while she shakes her head at him, returning to her mopping as she mumbles under her breath.  “Bloody fighters.”

Cyan approaches the final two doors in the hall and stops before the next–to–last on the right, pausing before rapping a knuckle on its wood.  He waits for an answer, but hears none, and so opens the door a crack, peering inside as he asks, “Hello?”

Stepping a foot inside, he repeats himself.  “Hello?  Anyone here?”

Again, no answer, so he enters and looks around him, shutting the door silently behind him; only basic furniture – table, chair, bed in the corner, dresser next to it – and two doors on one side of the room... he surmises that one must be the washroom.  No sooner has he tossed his bag down on the table when a knock comes at the door... a visitor, so soon?  He turns about to look at the door, his lip curled questioningly, and steps back over to open it.  “Yes?”

“Ah, you must be the new arrival!” declares Cicero with grandiosity as he steps inside without an invitation.  “Cyan, is it?  Ultros told me I'd find you somewhere back here.”

“I beg thy pardon, sir, but I don't believe I invited thee–” Cyan starts before Circero interrupts.

“I am Cicero, owner of this Coliseum,” the curious man answers, taking Cyan's unwilling and confused hand – shaking the limp arm about enthusiastically – then walks about the room, looking at the furniture.  “Yes, a fine Coliseum, indeed.  Shame about Kefka, though...”

His voice trails off for just a moment, but he quickly recovers, spinning back to face Cyan.  “It's not much to look at, but I'm sure it can be spruced up a bit.  I was watching you down there today, Mister Cyan, and I must say, I was quite impressed...”

He points a finger in the air, wagging it at the ceiling as he regards Cyan with raised brows.  “And that's not an easy thing to do.”

Crossing his arms behind his back, Cyan turns to face him fully, and bows his head contritely.  “My apologies, sir.  I was not aware thou art the proprietor.”

Cicero dismisses it with a wave of his hand.  “Trifles, don't fret over it.  Now, I've seen thousands come and die here, all for the glory of the art, you see, and I can tell you're something special.  I see big things in the future for you, Cyan...”

Cicero steps towards him, wagging his finger in emphasis as a smile spreads over his face.  “Very big things.  In fact, I don't think I've witnessed such splendid fighting since... well, since our champion left, ha!”

His humor seems to escape Cyan, who simply looks down on him with a curious expression... the eyes behind that gaze incredulous that this small, simple man could take such pleasure in the art of killing.  He seemed practically giddy at the mere mention of it, in fact... Cyan had to wonder how cold one's heart must be to descend to such depths.  Even the shrill pitch of his voice was beginning to annoy him.

After an uncomfortable silence, Cicero draws a long breath, sighing, and clasps his hands behind his back.  “Well, if there's anything we can do for you to make your stay more pleasant, please let me or one of my staff know.”

Cicero nods, then turns to leave, but as he reaches the door Cyan calls out, “Excuse me, sir, but I do have a question...”

“Go on,” says Cicero as he turns back.

Cyan steps in place, rubbing his hands behind his back as he casts his gaze to the ground in contemplation.  “I hath heard tale from some of the other competitors of a tournament here... prithee, the champion, how doth one fight him?”

Waving his hands out, Cicero shrugs and glances askew in his answer.  “Simple: win in the tourney.  But it doesn't matter right now, anyway, he's not fighting.”

Puzzled, Cyan squints an eye and turns his head aside.  “Why not?”

“He's not here right now.  He left with a friend some time back... sommmme...” he answers, waving his hand about in search of the right words.  “...Little excursion of theirs, I'm not sure when he's returning.”

“Oh... well, good day to thee, Sir Cicero,” Cyan replies, bowing his head, ever the courtly one.

Cicero flashes him a smile before leaving, shutting the door behind himself as Cyan faces the center of his suite... his new abode for the foreseeable future. “Hm... I shall have to inquire more about this tournament... and this champion.”

Looking about at the room, however, he adds to himself, “But first I shall have to do something about this room.”

Starting with his bag of possessions, he sets about unpacking and tidying up, settling in for the long haul... he could be here a while.


This post has been edited by Zephir on 31st October 2013 23:49

--------------------
~Status Report~

* Completed... Dragon's Head
* Completed... Soldiers of the Empire: Disciples (release pending)
* In Progress/Undecided... Of Love and Betrayal
* Planning/Assembly... Where it all Began
Post #52141
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Posted: 15th July 2004 19:57

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Dragoon
Posts: 1,706

Joined: 7/4/2003

Awards:
Member of more than ten years. Member of more than five years. Major involvement in the Final Fantasy VII section of CoN. 
Some of my shortest chapters EVAR. I think I'll keep it that way, though... ^-^;

I don't really know (exactly) where it's going, but I have a general direction. =) Stay tuned for more cameos... wink.gif

--------------------
~Status Report~

* Completed... Dragon's Head
* Completed... Soldiers of the Empire: Disciples (release pending)
* In Progress/Undecided... Of Love and Betrayal
* Planning/Assembly... Where it all Began
Post #52142
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Posted: 15th July 2004 21:49

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Lunarian
Posts: 1,394

Joined: 13/3/2004

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Member of more than ten years. Vital involvement in the Final Fantasy VI section of CoN. Vital involvement in the Final Fantasy V section of CoN. Member of more than five years. 
Whereever this is going, I bet it's someplace nice. It's nicely written, usual Zephir-style. A few notes:

Keep in mind that the builder of the Colloseum is regarded as a (semi-)looney. His own brother calls him 'a bit touched'. He's an eccentric, a loner and above all war-crazed. I found none of those traits so far. Maybe I just look at him differently then you, but somebody who clearly states he's happy when the whole world is ruined deserves a little more oddness then what I've seen so far IMHO.

Ultros mentioned Cyan's nickname...it's unlikely that Ultros could have known about his nickname Gau gave him. The other way around, I find it odd that Cyan would say 'sir Ultros'. Polite as he may be, this guy optionally attacked him three times. He didn't go around and say 'sir Kefka', right?

I love it so far....I'm rooting for some Siegfried in there. At any rate. keep this up.



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Post #52164
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Posted: 15th July 2004 22:49

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Dragoon
Posts: 1,706

Joined: 7/4/2003

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Member of more than ten years. Member of more than five years. Major involvement in the Final Fantasy VII section of CoN. 
Right. I don't know what I was smoking. @_@

Sir Ultros will have to stay, though. It's a double-edged sword, really... on the one hand, he probably wouldn't want to... on the other hand, he isn't exactly on a first-name basis... and on the other hand (three hands?), he's a bit too polite to be dropping titles like that even when he's been attacked by him before... and on the other hand (now I look like an octopus...), he is just a receptionist now, so...

This is actually an example of why I don't like writing fanfiction using main characters. I can make my own characters and keep them consistent, no problems there, but I have trouble taking other people's characters and keeping them accurate. ._.

--------------------
~Status Report~

* Completed... Dragon's Head
* Completed... Soldiers of the Empire: Disciples (release pending)
* In Progress/Undecided... Of Love and Betrayal
* Planning/Assembly... Where it all Began
Post #52170
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Posted: 16th July 2004 03:16

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Holy Swordsman
Posts: 2,033

Joined: 29/1/2004

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Member of more than ten years. Participated at the forums for the CoN's 15th birthday! User has rated 25 fanarts in the CoN galleries. Member of more than five years. 
Second place in the 2004 Gogo Fanfiction contest. Third place in the 2009 Quiz contest. 
So far it's nice. Makes me want to write some more fan fiction. I like it. Djibriel was right about the owner though, He was eccentric. I would think he'd be a little more bummed about Kefka's Demise.

--------------------
If you've been mod-o-fied,
It's an illusion, and you're in-between.
Don't you be tarot-fied,
It's just alot of nothing, so what can it mean?
~Frank Zappa

Sins exist only for people who are on the Way or approaching the Way
Post #52213
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Posted: 21st August 2004 00:46

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Dragoon
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Joined: 7/4/2003

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Member of more than ten years. Member of more than five years. Major involvement in the Final Fantasy VII section of CoN. 
Quote
Chapter 3

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

“Two weeks...” Cyan tosses the sack of spoils on the floor, getting it out of his way for now.  “I hath been here two weeks, and still no answers have come to me.”

Regarding the open closet before him, he notes that it's begun to look more orderly, but the jumble of thoughts in his mind is hardly as organized.  “How many weeks must I stay here before I can finally make sense of it all?  Four?  Eight?  A year?  Bah... if only things were much... simpler... perhaps then I would not be where I am now.”

Closing the closet door, he turns and leans against it, crossing his arms and laying his chin into his chest, losing himself in brooding contemplation... he already knows the whole exercise is futile; he's only been through this same guilt routine dozens of times before, and each time it always leads him back to one single conclusion: he doesn't have a clue where to go from here.  With Doma gone and forgotten and Kefka defeated, he's found himself without a purpose... and without them, there remains no great quest to fill the void.

He was even left without a family to return to – Kefka saw to that – and his friends had long left and found something else to live for... and what does he have?  The clothes on his back and his good name... not enough for a solitary old man to comfort himself with.

The clock chimes, reminding him of the hour.  A glance at it confirms his fear, and with a heavy sigh he grabs up his sword in its scabbard, attaching it to his belt with regret as he leaves the room.

Naught but his good name, and a sword to uphold it.

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Dust swirls around Cyan's blade as it swings in a wide arc, coming back around to parry his opponent's attack low.  Across from him, his enemy – a rough–looking samurai of sorts – spins sideways and strikes again, but again Cyan parries with ease.  They then both spin in the dirt at once, locking their swords crossways and grabbing the other's arm.

Snarling through their grapples, they grip each other a moment longer until Cyan releases and pushes his sword downwards, backing off to parry as the samurai swings again in retaliation.  Then, as the samurai returns with another slashing strike, Cyan quickly ducks under it and smacks the broad side of his blade to the man's wrist, causing him to release his weapon and hurl it across the arena.  Around them, the spectators cheer, while in the pit Cyan punches the hapless warrior in the crown, sending him sprawling to the ground.

Huffing from exertion, Cyan stands over the man as he gathers himself, leveling the tip of his sword at the man's throat.  “Enough, sir... you are beaten.  Yield!”

Glowering up at Cyan, the samurai rises to one knee, digs the other foot in the dirt, and mutters under his breath, “In Kefka's name...”

He then springs to his feet with a sudden burst and hurls his body upon Cyan's sword, impaling himself through the heart and shouting into the air with a mighty cry as he leaps, “I must die!”

Aghast, Cyan stumbles backwards, unable to avoid the man's charge, and has to let him slide off the blade and to the ground, blood pouring already from the wound to the pale sand.  Cyan gasps for a moment, his stance faltering, while the crowd around him rises to its feet, torn in its response... some cheer his victory, while others boo the samurai's sacrifice, still more standing in silence reverence for the fallen warrior.

Glaring up at the crowd him, Cyan regards the myriad faces with a seething disgust, born lately out of repulsion for their bloodthirsty desires.  The samurai is the fourth man to die at this hands, and his fifth casualty... and every time he slaughters one of his opponents, it seems the crowd eats it up, savoring the moment.

It turns his stomach.  Killing others for sport and game was never something he condoned, and yet here he was met repeatedly by suicidal men and women, bent on dying in some hellish blaze of glory, his mercy each time answered with suicide... his one moment of relief came when he managed to avert the woman's attempt.

And the most disturbing part of all?  They all seemed to desire death, in some sort of tribute to Kefka, seeking the cold embrace of the void...

Above him, the announcer calls for the next match, and he glances back down at the body, mouthing a silent prayer for the man...

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

In the corridors beyond the fighters' staging area, Cyan hurriedly rushes, trying to make it back to his suite before Cicero–

“Cyan!”

...Finds him.  He slows in his step and sighs heavily... this is a tradition he's come to loathe, the requisite praise by Cicero following a successful battle.  “Excuse me, Sir Cicero, I–”

“That was brilliant, Cyan, brilliant!  Didn't you hear the crowd?!  The emotion, the praise, the utter enjoyment of it all!  This is the reason war was invented, my friend,” the old man exclaims, arms flailing excitedly about as he speaks.

“Actually, Sir Cicero–” Cyan endeavors, his voice drowned out again as Cicero continues.

“Not for mechanical killing and mindless dreams of power, but for the joy of it all!”  He pauses for only a split second, a grin beaming wide on his face.  “Yes, my friend, the world is not whole if it's not fighting in the name of–”

“Look!” Cyan suddenly explodes, causing Cicero to back away a step, stammering incoherently.  “Slaughtering my enemies neither amuses me nor strikes me as holding any kind of... honor, when the whole point is violence for violence's sake!  I will not be a part of this charade – any longer!”

Cyan then stomps away in a huff, but Cicero follows after him, a scowl crossing his own face as he shouts back, “No kind of honor?!  No kind of honor?!  It's all about honor, you ungrateful–!  Once you get behind these walls, Cyan, the only honor that matters is your name and skill!  It's war for honor's sake, you hear me?!  War for the honorable!”

Cicero stops as Cyan dismisses him, waving the back of his hand in the air to him, never once breaking stride as he storms off to his suite.  Huffing and grunting in rage, Cicero regards the wide back of the man as he turns the corner, disappearing from his gaze... he'd seen it coming for some time, the growing moodiness of the knight, the constant displays of mercy when he could simply finish the match.  In the past, he might've forgiven that mercy – such as in the last championship bout – but when it's given often and repeatedly... well, then the fun is just sapped out of it.  He turns and storms off the other way, mumbling to himself.  “That ungrateful man... he doesn't know his own skill, or his own worth... after all I've done for him, and this is how he repays me...”

He rounds a turn in the halls, passing a dark, hulking shape on the way, but pays it no mind and continues to the rostrum, while the draped figure of Siegfried stands watching him beneath his heavy mask with curiosity.  After a muffled hum, Siegfried then turns back to look down the corridor in the direction Cyan left.


This post has been edited by Zephir on 31st October 2013 23:52

--------------------
~Status Report~

* Completed... Dragon's Head
* Completed... Soldiers of the Empire: Disciples (release pending)
* In Progress/Undecided... Of Love and Betrayal
* Planning/Assembly... Where it all Began
Post #57000
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Posted: 21st August 2004 01:47

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Holy Swordsman
Posts: 2,033

Joined: 29/1/2004

Awards:
Member of more than ten years. Participated at the forums for the CoN's 15th birthday! User has rated 25 fanarts in the CoN galleries. Member of more than five years. 
Second place in the 2004 Gogo Fanfiction contest. Third place in the 2009 Quiz contest. 
Simply Marevelous. Another Zeph masterpiece in the making. happy.gif

--------------------
If you've been mod-o-fied,
It's an illusion, and you're in-between.
Don't you be tarot-fied,
It's just alot of nothing, so what can it mean?
~Frank Zappa

Sins exist only for people who are on the Way or approaching the Way
Post #57008
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Posted: 21st August 2004 01:50

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Black Waltz
Posts: 970

Joined: 23/4/2004

Awards:
Voted for all the fanart in the CoNvent Calendar 2015. User has rated 150 fanarts in the CoN galleries. Member of more than ten years. User has rated 25 fanarts in the CoN galleries. 
Third place in the Final Fantasy Music CoNtest, 2010-2011 Member of more than five years. Second place in the 2007 Name that Tune contest. Second place in the 2009 Quiz contest. 
I really am starting to like this story. The way you are getting inside Cyan's mind is great. And not to mention your nice way of capturing his formal English accent (something I have a hard time doing).
Post em quicker. Like in the next 5 hours!

--------------------
I fear my heart and fear my soul
Life goes on, it surely will,
Without me and I wonder:
Will I ever see light again?

Life goes on...
Post #57011
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Posted: 24th October 2013 23:48

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Dragoon
Posts: 1,706

Joined: 7/4/2003

Awards:
Member of more than ten years. Member of more than five years. Major involvement in the Final Fantasy VII section of CoN. 
Quote
Chapter 4

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

There's a grunt from the young man as he's tossed through the air and dumped unceremoniously on the mat, where he yelps in surprise.  There he rolls on his side and grabs at his back, his face contorting in pain as he feels at the tender area, while above him Cyan steps around, waiting for him to get back up... but when he simply writhes in agony, Cyan raises his voice, growling down at him angrily, “What, boy?!  Dost ye not have enough fight left in ye?  Stand and take it like a man!”

A heavily shrouded foot lands some distance away, thumping softly against the floor.  “The boy's had enough.”

Cyan spins about with rage in his eyes, and examines the tall, bulky figure standing across from him... the thin black shrouds, the distinct mask and eye patch, the plated armor and weaponry draped about him.  “I know thee... Siegfried, was it?”

The hulking man nods his head slightly in affirmation.  “At your service.”

Relaxing, Cyan shakes his head as he draws himself to his full height, then walks to the side, looking away.  “I hath no services to give.”

"Then would you care to take a walk with me?" Siegfried asks, turning slightly aside as he waves a palm to the dojo's entrance.

Cyan takes a towel into his hands and pauses, furrowing his brows at the man... usually when he met people here, they were more interested in fighting than talking, but this Siegfried...  “...All right, sir...”

He quickly dries the sweat off his face and stuffs his gear in a bag, slinging it deftly over his shoulders and following Siegfried from the room.

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

The two walk in silence for a moment out in the hall, their gazes locked ahead of them, when Siegfried glances over, studying Cyan's face.  “You fought well, Sir Cyan.”

“Listen, I–” Cyan angrily starts, until Siegfried holds the back of his hand up, interrupting him without breaking stride as he looks forward again.

“I know, I know, you're tired of compliments by now,” Siegfried remarks, then sighs, lowering his head very slightly.  “Very well then, I'll get straight to the point: you told Cicero you weren't going to participate in the fights any longer.”

Cyan shoulders his bag, affirming his statement.  “Indeed, I hath had quite enough of this mindless killing.”

“Then why were you in the sparring room?  Or better yet, why are you still here?”

Pausing, Cyan gives him an incredulous glance in response to his cagey remark, telling him, “My transportation is not scheduled to arrive until the morrow; until then, I hath decided to remain in my board a night more.”

“I think it would be a mistake to leave,” Siegfried plainly states, never once taking his gaze from the way ahead.  “There is still much for you to do here.”

Feeling his anger boil, Cyan steps in front of Siegfried and nearly pushes him, but catches himself before he can lay his hands on the man's chest.  “Like what?  Hast there not been enough killing for me already?!”

“There is more for you to do besides that, Cyan,” answers Siegfried, his voice calm and measured.

“Like what?  What, I say!” Cyan growls back, his voice rising as he grabs Siegfried's shrouds and shoves him into the wall, slinging the bag off his shoulder first in the process.  Surprisingly, however, and in spite of Cyan's outburst, Siegfried calmly pushes Cyan's hands off his chest and pushes off the wall, standing straight again.  He waits a moment for Cyan to calm down, then answers in a smooth cadence, “You're frustrated, I know.  I can help you.  Meet me in the arena tomorrow; I'll show you how to find what you think you've lost.”

Cyan watches in confused silence then as Siegfried takes his leave with a nod, stepping past Cyan and walking quietly away down the hall.  Considering his words, Cyan's eyes fall to his bag on the floor, and he repeats them in his mind, pondering the significance of them.  “What I think I hath lost...?”


Remarkably, I actually finished this chapter years ago, likely at the end of 2004... I have no idea why I never posted it.

This post has been edited by Zephir on 31st October 2013 23:54

--------------------
~Status Report~

* Completed... Dragon's Head
* Completed... Soldiers of the Empire: Disciples (release pending)
* In Progress/Undecided... Of Love and Betrayal
* Planning/Assembly... Where it all Began
Post #205230
Top
Posted: 25th October 2013 00:05

*
Dragoon
Posts: 1,706

Joined: 7/4/2003

Awards:
Member of more than ten years. Member of more than five years. Major involvement in the Final Fantasy VII section of CoN. 
Quote
Chapter 5

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Cyan's stomach growls as he enters the dining hall, and he discovers yet another thing to be disgusted with... how can he be hungry with so much death and suffering around him?  It offends his sensibilities.

All the same, a man must eat to survive, and he approaches the serving tables with that goal in mind, looking about himself as he walks and taking in the faces of the warriors around him.  He observes some digging into their food ravenously, others picking at it more politely, a rare few seeming to be as moody as himself... he wondered a moment whether they were simply upset over a recent loss, or brooding over the same issues he was struggling with.

He's about to reach the serving tables when he hears footsteps approach from behind... angry footsteps.  “You've got a nerve coming here.”

His brows raised, he turns about to look at the voice... then steps back, his mouth opening in surprise: the woman he spared in the ring.  Astonished to see her on her feet so soon, he stammers, “Miss...”

“You should've let me die out there,” she bites out, her eyes burning with a cold, hollow rage as she glares into his.  “You should've let me end it.”

Shaking his head at her, his brows furrow as he asks the simple question, “Why?”

“Because it's better than living,” she spits at him, yet as she continues, her voice lowers, softening as she struggles to control her breathing.  “You know what it's like out there.  It's better to get it over with now.”

Taken aback by her contrition, Cyan pauses a moment to compose himself, then draws himself up to his full height and steels his gaze, remembering himself the dogged determination that he and his friends once put up against Kefka's tyranny.  “Only the weak surrender to despair, madam.  As long as ye hold hope in thy heart, ye wilt prevail.”

A single, gasping laugh escapes her lips as she shakes her head at his rhetoric, but she says nothing, a pause falling between them... he takes the moment to study her again, eyes glancing over the cool greens of her eyes and the silken black of her hair, tied back now with a ribbon, though bangs of it hang low over her eyes.  He muses that she carries such gentle lines in the curve of her face, with bronzed skin and a trim body belying days spent laboring in the sun... how does one with such fair countenance gravitate to this life, he wonders.

She's dressed now in a simple thin tunic and cloak, but even the tunic can't hide the bandages beneath them... a small spot of blood even now staining the front of her waist.  As he watches her shaking her head, he begins to understand the reality of her situation... she doesn't know how to believe.  Another thought occurs to him, and he softens both his stance and gaze, his voice lowering in kind as he asks her, “Why hast thou not finished it yet thyself, then?”

She shrugs, blinking long and slow.  “There's no honor in it.  I'm just a coward then.”

“Art thou not a coward now?” he pointedly asks, making no qualms about attacking her beliefs.

She feels a rage build in her again, but she has no desire to continue this conversation... and so she spins about and hurries away, huffing under her breath.  Quickly, however, Cyan steps forward, waving a hand to her.  “Wait, miss!”

She stops, considering leaving him anyways, but as she observes some of the other fighters looking up at them from their dinner, she decides she might as well humor the man, and turns back to face him.  There, he steps towards her again, closing the distance as he states, “I never got thy name...”

Her eyes glaring coldly into his, she waits a second in her response, regarding the stately knight... wondering why he had to be so damned cordial, so damned proper and respectful... and more than that, she wonders why he seems to be so compelled to help.  Finally, she answers, her voice quiet against the din around them.  “Luna.”

He reaches down, and before she can pull away takes her hand in his, raising it up and catching her gaze.  “If you ever need to talk, Miss Luna, just ask for Sir Cyan Garamonde.”

She shakes her head again and frowns, a new wave of cold anger washing over her face.  “It's too late for talk.”

She then spins about and hurries away, her hand slipping from his loose grasp.  Around them, some of the other competitors in the hall watch the scene with curiosity, some gazing at her, others at him, while he stands quietly contemplating the woman... wondering what it takes to make one lose hope so completely.

...Wondering what it took to make him lose his purpose so completely.


...And this is the material that's actually new. Yes indeed, I have finally returned to work, to finish this piece after letting it sit idle almost nine years now.

However, there is something new about it: I have revised the entire piece into my modern style, which entailed some substantial modifications in prose and style. If you originally read this back in 2004, you should read it again, as it's been updated wholesale.

I'm afraid, however, that complaints about Cicero will have to go unanswered... I don't remember the dialogue exactly, but my memory of the game tells me he wasn't exactly flipped-out psychotic, but more eccentric and giddy about the games... to me, he was less off his rocker as much as... odd. The fact he takes such giddy pleasure in death and destruction is sociopathic enough, in my estimation; I don't have a particular inclination to make him as psychotically broken as Kefka.

All the same, it reconciles more neatly with the character as I drew him up in "Blood and Honor". And yes, if it wasn't quite noticeable by now, this work is actually a continuation-slash-companion piece to that old work. Speaking of Blood and Honor, I also intend to go back and revise that piece into my modern style, in spite of my dogged adherence in past times of sticking to my first draft as my last draft... because I'll simply need to reconcile it with my modern style, which contrasts greatly against my old style; in the day, the prose was very amateurish.

In all, this will actually end up being the second novella in the series I'll be titling "Dragon's Head", with a third and final installment to come after The Unforgiven. In all, the three novellas will end up combining into one single novel, and I'll be producing a master pdf of that file - as I have with the compilation pdfs of my past works - once I finish the entire work. For now, I'm posting the old Chapter 4 and the new Chapter 5 to slake your appetites until I finish more of it... or should I say, thine appetites?

♪ Doma theme ♪

P.S. As an additional note, I only began work on this piece because I have finally finished a long-forgotten work earlier this week: a novel of epic length. I am only awaiting word from Del on how I should proceed with submitting it before doing anything else with it. That particular novel will come with a release of - hopefully - the version here on the CoN, a pdf in a proprietary 7x9 format, and a release in U.S. Trade Paperback "A" format - the small books you see on commercial bookshelves.

That novel is also, notably, only the third in a series of four, so it'll be subject to the Star Wars effect if the good folks here take it up... work on the continuation has already begun - particularly outlining and planning - but the prologue is also written. The continuation also, notably, looks to be potentially larger than the novel already completed... so stay tuned, 'cause HUGE things are potentially on the way.

- "The Playwright" KL Sanchez

This post has been edited by Zephir on 31st October 2013 23:55

--------------------
~Status Report~

* Completed... Dragon's Head
* Completed... Soldiers of the Empire: Disciples (release pending)
* In Progress/Undecided... Of Love and Betrayal
* Planning/Assembly... Where it all Began
Post #205231
Top
Posted: 25th October 2013 23:44

*
Dragoon
Posts: 1,706

Joined: 7/4/2003

Awards:
Member of more than ten years. Member of more than five years. Major involvement in the Final Fantasy VII section of CoN. 
Quote
Chapter 6

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

“Cyan!  Cyan!  Cyan!”

The crowd above him chants his name repeatedly, triumphantly, while down in the arena he regards them with broiling revulsion... he doesn't want their admiration, not if it comes at the hands of fallen warriors.  There is no honor in this... only the blood of misguided, displaced fools.

He lowers his gaze to the arena, settling his eyes on the shrouded form of Siegfried across from him.  They share a moment of silent calculation as the crowd again chants his name, studying each other's eyes and the intent within them... here, Cyan wonders what the man's purpose could possibly be; what is there to be shared on the field of battle that can't be shared in private?

In the rostrum, Cicero gazes on the scene with unfettered glee, giddy to see Cyan having returned to the ring... he would be his champion, indeed, his biggest draw since the last one took his sabbatical.  Already word of his deeds had spread far and wide, and people were flocking in to take stock of the Coliseum's newest Great Champion, the noble knight of Doma.

Ah, and that would be his title!  The Great Knight of Doma... Cicero giggled, waving a paper fan on himself to cool off, eagerly anticipating the match.

Below him, the two warriors squared off, neither drawing his weapon as the crowd chanted around them; but it was Cyan who shifted his weight first, putting a hand on the hilt of his sword.  “All right, Sir Siegfried!  We art here... shall we have at it?”

“It is what we are here for,” the hulking swordsman replied, drawing two identical longblades from hidden sheaths in his shrouds.  “At least, ostensibly.”

Cyan drew his sword and flipped it around, waving the blade in the air before pointing the tip to Siegfried, holding it high at his side.  The two then begin to circle about each other, cautiously eying the stance and step of the other.  Squinting an eye at Siegfried, Cyan then asks, “In the hallway, thou spokest to me of things which I hath lost...”

Siegfried nodded.  “Is it not obvious?”

“Perhaps thou wilt humor me,” Cyan remarks, waving the tip of his sword in preparation for a lashing strike.

Siegfried, however, strikes first, lancing out with staggered attacks, swinging his swords in wide arcs and testing Cyan's defense.  For his part, Cyan deftly parries the attacks, aware that his opponent is holding back, testing him for the time being.  After a series of testing strikes, Siegfried swings high and holds his blade against Cyan's, keeping the other to his side as they circle about each other.  “It's the same thing all warriors who wander here have lost... the same thing that once drove them, but has left them lost without it: purpose

Gritting his teeth, Cyan suddenly pulls his second, shorter sword from the opposite hip and lashes out with alternating strikes.  Across from him, Siegfried deftly parries each blow, stepping backwards with easy grace as he bemusedly defends himself, having wondered when Cyan would start getting serious.  Their strikes clang loudly on each other, then fall silent as Cyan abruptly stops swinging, snarling back at Siegfried as their swords slide over each other, “And what makes thou an expert?!  What is thy purpose?!”

“I am an adventurer,” Siegfried answers, slowly stepping in a circle and causing Cyan to follow suit.  “I have chosen it.  But the warriors who come here... they once fought for a cause... causes that are long since gone.  Without it, they are nothing

He then cocks his head aside.  “Or so they seem to think.”

Clenching his teeth tighter, Cyan then suddenly steps back and pulls his swords from Siegfried's, circling faster and twirling his blades at his sides.  Above them, the crowd eats it up, two great champions testing their skills and sizing each other up for what will surely be a fierce battle.  Leveling a glare, Cyan raises his voice in remarking, “Thou claim to know much about me.”

“I see it in the way you fight,” Siegfried replies as he switches stances, flipping his swords into alternate grips.  “You seek honor, but everyone around you seeks death, your mercy turned away with disdain

Siegfried then steps forward, lashing out with quick, tight slashes that Cyan easily deflects, when Siegfried pauses and holds their two swords together – one high and one low – catching his gaze.  “They need a revelation, a truth that you once realized.”

Setting his jaw, Cyan quickly taps the tips of his swords to Siegfried's and steps forward, lashing out with tight lunges and arcs of his own, attacks which Siegfried parries with easy efficiency.  Cyan then stops, setting his feet as he asks, “What truth is that?!”

“If you didn't already know it, then you would be seeking death beside them,” Siegfried answers, then swings twice – wide and high – which Cyan blocks easily... their swords remain there, metal holding against metal.  “It is the truth which keeps you alive, which keeps you from needlessly killing.”

Cyan squints his eyes, his thoughts returning to Luna and their conversation in the dining hall.  “Hope against despair, is that it?”

“Death is not the answer,” Siegfried firmly states.  His gaze then falls on the crowd around them, still cheering loudly as the two of them square off, their blades touching at the ends high over their shoulders.  “They need a champion.  But not a champion of the blade... a champion of hope

Cyan ponders the words for a moment, peering beyond the mask to Siegfried's lone, exposed eye.  “And what of thou?  Canst thou not be their champion?”

Siegfried tilts his head forward.  “They regard me as a champion... but not of the people.  They will listen to you; the people believe in you, as you once believed in yourself when you stood against Kefka.”

In the rostrum, Cicero leans forward in his seat, noting that the two of them were doing an awful lot of talking, and very little actual fighting... his practiced eye could tell they were holding back, toying with each other.  He squinted studiously... when would this battle get serious?

“They seek death as a release from their despair,” Cyan states, trying to piece together Siegfried's meanings.  “Because they do not know any other way.  Is that it?”

“It's part of it,” Siegfried answers, then abruptly steps sideways, swinging quickly at Cyan's blades, strikes that are parried in kind and with equal precision.

Tiring, however, of simple games, Cyan then lunges forward and lashes out, forcing Siegfried to step back against the flurry, when the two of them begin exchanging lunges and slashes, each of them stepping forward and back against the assaults.  With a wide sideways strike, Cyan then spins in a circle to his right, bringing his shortblade around to bear as Siegfried parries the first, then blocks the second.  A short lunge with the longblade is then met by Siegfried's, and the two again face off, the metal of their weapons flashing between them as Siegfried continues, “They are lost and alone now, left to fend for themselves in a world that's forgotten them.  They need to know they are not alone in their suffering, that there is always another way if they persevere.”

“And why should I be held up as an example for them,” Cyan can't help but wonder, stepping to his side.  “...When I am as lost as they?”

“Because you still believe,” Siegfried answers as he taps the tips of his swords against Cyan's, backing away.  “You still have hope

Frowning, Cyan then leaps forward, slinging his blades in wide arcs that Siegfried deftly repels.  In return, the shrouded hulk digs his heels in and lunges forward with his swords, causing Cyan to step back and parry them high, then ratchets up the intensity by spinning in a cyclonic motion, dashing towards Cyan while moving to a side.  Responding in kind, Cyan spins the other way, and their swords clang and slide off each other in melodious harmony until they each stand across from the other again, their swords at the ready.

Around them, the crowd cheers again at the display, reveling as the two master swordsmen again approach each other and lock blades.  Pausing a moment in his attack, Cyan levels his gaze at Siegfried's one eye and remarks, “I cannot help but notice ye art intentionally holding back.”

He can almost make out the faint outlines of a smirk under the heavy mask, as Siegfried pauses before replying, “I have become a master at not being a master.”

“Why do it?” Cyan asks with curiosity, suddenly stepping back, spinning, and slashing in fast horizontal arcs that Siegfried parries almost before they're made, as if attempting to make his point.  Their swords again locked, Cyan catches his eye and adds, “Ye couldst win every match thou participate in.”

Siegfried nods, then steps back and switches stances before charging at Cyan, changing his attack so suddenly to a valid one that he nearly catches the old knight off guard.  Reeling against the abrupt flurry, Cyan's eyes widen until he figures out the pattern and manages to block Siegfried's swords, holding the man barely a hand's breadth from his face as they again lock gazes, the shrouded hulk then saying, “Glory is for those who seek validation; I do not.”

Siegfried then pushes off, unlocking their weapons as he backs away; across from him, Cyan changes his own stance before asking, “Ye might have made a powerful ally against Kefka... why didst ye not render thy aid?”

Siegfried again nods.  “While you and your friends were here, I tested your skills, to see if you were worthy... otherwise, I might have attempted it myself.”

Cyan's brow cocks... such intense confidence coming from the master.  “One man against an army of hundreds?”

Siegfried twirls his weapons around and stands tall and proud, the tips pointed to the ground beside him.  “I am Siegfried, world's greatest swordsman.”

“Indeed,” Cyan deadpans, lifting his brow again... part of him feels a bit slighted, and yet, considering the undeniable skill with which Siegfried seems able to downplay his abilities, there is no doubt a ceiling far above it.  Cyan is forced to concede the hulk may well be a greater swordsman than he.

He has only that fleeting moment to muse, however, as Siegfried quickly brings his weapons to bear again, twirls them in tight circles as he switches stances, then dashes across the distance to him, flinging the blades in taught arcs aimed at Cyan's chest.  With rapid skill Cyan deflects them, until Siegfried begins to press home his attack, causing Cyan to reel and step backwards.  Abruptly, the hulking man then ducks down and twirls in a cyclone, dashing towards Cyan headlong, to which Cyan is forced to make contact with his swords' tips and spin in kind, directing the weapons away from him as he steps aside.

Having stepped beyond him, Siegfried then twirls about and strikes wide and high twice quickly at Cyan, when Cyan reverses the attack, stepping and lunging forward with short jabs of his own, changing the momentum back in his favor.

And, finally, with Cyan on the attack, Siegfried sees his opening.

The tall Doman carefully slides his feet forward in the sand, keeping his balance firmly beneath him as he strikes tight and high, when Siegfried suddenly loosens his stance, a change so subtle even Cyan barely notices... a hard swing of Cyan's longblade and the sword in Siegfried's left hand dislodges and hurtles to the ground away from them.

Grasping the other sword in both hands, Siegfried then parries a pair of fast strikes from Cyan, who spins his blade in a wide sideways arc before lunging... and surprisingly – shockingly – jabs the hulk in the left shoulder, who loudly grunts in pain.  Gasping in spite of himself, Cyan had not the time to recoil and avoid the strike, all too aware that the master had intentionally leaned into the blade, another action so subtle even he barely noticed.

Watching Cyan's shocked expression with amusement, Siegfried grins under the mask, letting himself hang on the sword a moment longer.  “Touchι.”

“Sir Siegfried, what...?!” Cyan stammers as the hulk steps back, staggering as he draws himself off the end of the sword.

Collecting himself as he grabs at the shoulder, Siegfried pauses to draw a deep breath, then answers, “Combat continues until one fighter is rendered dead... or incapacitated.”

Cyan knowingly nods, recognizing now what Siegfried has meant to do... with a victory, Cyan's reputation only grows, especially against the master swordsman Siegfried.  His respect will only multiply as a result.  In the silence that falls over them, Siegfried stands taller, clicking his heels together as he addresses Cyan.  “The people need their champion, Cyan... show them the folly of this nonsense.  Even now there is one who needs your help.”

Cyan's eyes squint as he considers the words, a name hanging in his mind... “Luna?”

Across from him, Siegfried then bows deeply amid the roar of the crowd, yielding to their approving cheers.  “Well fought, Sir Cyan.”

Composing himself quickly, Cyan stands tall as well, then returns the bow in kind, acknowledging an honorable end to their match.  High above them, Cicero sits back in his chair, unsure if he should feel satisfied... or disappointed.  He could almost swear that he noticed Siegfried lose the match on purpose...

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Cyan strolls down the corridors back to his suite, all too aware that any second now Cicero will no doubt–

“Cyan!”

...Rush up to meet him.  Stopping with a long sigh, he turns about and faces the annoying little man, watching the owner hurry over with a wide grin on his face.  “Splendidly fought, Cyan, well done!”

Cyan bows his head forward, his voice thick with sarcasm as he remarks, “Glad to meet thy approval

Cicero slows to a stop before him, peering up at the face as the grin fades... then spreads wide again, a slow, quiet laugh coming forth from his chest.  “What you need isn't my approval, Cyan, you need a worthy opponent

“Let me know when thou hath found him, then,” Cyan deadpans, turning away.

Cicero quickly steps forward, putting his hand on Cyan's shoulder, an action that meets heavily with Cyan's disapproval.  The knight turns back again, leveling a glare down at Cicero as the small man replies, “Ah!  Just a moment... before that happens, there is a special match that has been requested for you.”

Furrowing his brows and lowering his voice, Cyan asks, “What special match?”

A sneer spreads over Cicero's face.  “The lady Luna seeks to avenge her loss.”

Cyan's head rolls back, looking up past the man and to the ceiling beyond, aghast that the woman would try again so soon... and with a wound, no less.  Why would Cicero approve such a match?  The woman is in no condition to pose a serious threat.  Mumbling with surprise in his voice, Cyan repeats the name, “Luna?”

“I know!  What wonderful fortune, isn't it?” Cicero exclaims through a chuckle, rocking on his heels as he clasps his hands behind his back, beaming with pride.  “The fool doesn't stand a chance

Cyan's glare falls down on Cicero's shit–eating grin with sharp displeasure, and he growls from deep in his throat in reply.  “What heartless monster condemns a lady to death?!”

Without another word spoken, Cyan twirls about and storms off down the hall, returning to his room... and for once, Cicero doesn't follow.  Standing in confused silence, Cicero struggles to comprehend Cyan's question, genuinely baffled by his response.  “But, surely wounded prey is an easier kill than a healthy one?”


This post has been edited by Zephir on 31st October 2013 23:58

--------------------
~Status Report~

* Completed... Dragon's Head
* Completed... Soldiers of the Empire: Disciples (release pending)
* In Progress/Undecided... Of Love and Betrayal
* Planning/Assembly... Where it all Began
Post #205254
Top
Posted: 25th October 2013 23:52

*
Dragoon
Posts: 1,706

Joined: 7/4/2003

Awards:
Member of more than ten years. Member of more than five years. Major involvement in the Final Fantasy VII section of CoN. 
Quote
Chapter 7

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

“So, it hath come to this,” Cyan asks himself, looking down at his hands.  “Our swords must be met, to satisfy this man's bloodlust.”

Cyan turns his gaze up to the rostrum, and there he sees Cicero gazing out at them with glee.  With a frown he wonders to himself how one man can be so touched as to not see the fallacy of his actions... every day sending fighters to their deaths in this arena, sometimes knowing the outcome.  He looks around then at the crowd, and he expands his disgust to them... ordinary men and women, paying good coin to watch others suffer.

He shakes his head gently... he had heard it said that in this arena there is only blood and honor... but there is no honor here; only death and suffering.  He remembers that – when magic still thrived – it was customary to heal the fighters following a match.  Why, then, continue this farce when such an out doesn't exist?  This arena has become a graveyard, he surmises... a true testimony to the art of murder.  Cicero doesn't care for the fighters... he only cares for the killing game.

His gaze then turns down on the woman across from him, and he regards her regalia carefully... the thin, battered armor and cloak, and the short sword in its scabbard at her side.  Her eyes glare at him with a raging fire in them, and a pain touches his chest.  “She will fight to the death.”

His eyes glance around them again at the crowd, his fists clenching against their raucous cheering, his blood boiling at every chant of his name as he recalls Siegfried's words... “The people need their champion...”

He wonders what these people would do with a champion... raise him on a pedestal?  Shower him in gifts?  Lavish him with jewelry and money with each passing kill?  His gaze falls again on Luna, and as he watches her clench her fists tighter, he recalls the rest of the statement... “...show them the folly of this nonsense.”

She wants him to kill her.  They want him to do it spectacularly.  And above them all, Cicero demands blood be spilled.

But he won't do it.  Their champion will have to be one of peace... because he won't do it.  “Perhaps thou were right, Siegfried...”

He draws both his swords and holds them to his sides, while across the pit Luna draws hers, holding its blade towards him in both hands, intent on fulfilling her wish.  “They need a champion of the people... for the people.  If there is to be an end to this vicious cycle... someone has to give it up.”

He raises his swords towards her, causing her to stiffen her stance, and the two warriors face off, glaring into other's eyes... when Cyan abruptly lifts the swords and hurls them into the ground at his sides, the blades sinking harmlessly into the sand.  “And it shall begin with me.  I refuse

Cicero sits forward in his seat as a chorus of gasps and exclamations circles the crowd, while Luna shifts her stance, stepping in place in confusion.  At the center of it all, Cyan clenches his fists in defiance, glowering about at the crowd as he raises his voice, shouting into the air, “Ye seek of us a sacrifice!  Because that is exactly what this is: throwing a wounded woman before me... as good as if ye had placed her head on a chopping block! This is not honor... this is an execution

His glare then falls on Cicero, and he watches the confused little man stand in reply, continuing to shout into the air, “There art many warriors among ye who have embraced this life, chosen that cold destiny... because they hath lost hope.  Ye hath all forgotten what we fought so hard against to defeat Kefka... it is not the fruits of life that make it worth living, it is the struggle itself!”

He lowers his gaze to Luna, and softens his expression as a deathly calm falls over the crowd... his words echoing from the stone faηades and across the distances.  “I will not continue this cycle... there hath been enough killing and death.  We should be seeking ways to embrace life and overcome our struggles... not finding the easy way out.”

Across from him, Luna shakes her head, the long black hair tossing about.  “What do you know about struggles?!  What's left to live for when your family is dead and your home destroyed?!”

His lips curl in a wry frown, shaking his head back at her, keeping his voice raised so all can hear.  “I know only too well the pain of loss...”

Standing taller, he gazes about at the crowd, observing their responses as he shouts, “I was once retainer to the King of Doma... I had a wife and young son, who was to be a knight himself when he came of age.  But Kefka slew them all – the King, my family – and poisoned the waters of Doma.  She is a dead nation now... her walls crumbling in ruin.  I hath lost everything

He turns his eyes upon Luna's again, and tries to give her as comforting a look as he's able.  “But I refuse to surrender.  As long as I draw breath, I shall overcome.”

“Overcome to where?” she shouts back, waving the sword as she steps in place.  “You're as lost as we are!”

“If there is a place for this old man in the world, I will find it,” he answers, nodding.  “But it shan't be here, spilling blood only because others demand it.”

She shakes her head again, then begins walking forth, approaching him with her sword held menacingly towards him.  He holds his ground, fists stoically clenched at his sides, while the crowd rises to their feet, enraptured by the drama as Cicero walks down to the railing and lays his hands on it, inwardly cheering her to charge and attack.

Awaiting her approach, Cyan stands in place, until she steps in front of him and raises the sword, bringing it down heavily... only to have her wrists grasped by Cyan's, his grip powerfully unyielding.  She growls through clenched teeth, struggling to bring the sword down on him, while he merely frowns down on her, not giving an inch.

Finally, she gives a gasping exclamation and shuts her eyes, a tear forming in the corner of one.  “Even if you can go on living like this, I can't!”

He shakes his head, softening his face.  “Thou must believe in thyself first, Luna.”

So quiet is the arena that their voices echo from the walls still, audible to all.  She shakes her head again, her arms trembling against his grip, weakening.  “I don't know how

“If there is a way out of this,” he begins, gazing down on her gently.  “Let us find it together

She shakes her head again, giving no reply as the tear finally rolls down her cheek... feeling her arms weakening and seeing her whole body tremble now, he lowers his voice so only they can hear, his cadence as fatherly as his memories of Owain can muster.  “Please, Luna... choose to live

Why did it have to be him, she wonders... why did he have to be the one to stop her from killing herself?  All the pain... all the emptiness... it would be gone now if it weren't for him.  And most of all... why did he have to be so damned caring?  He reminds her of her grandfather... and those memories only serve to stir more pain in her.

Clenching her teeth, she struggles once more against his grip, pushing her arms down towards him, when her grasp of the sword abruptly relents, the weapon clattering harmlessly to the ground beside them.  Feeling her suddenly collapse weakly, he draws her up into his arms, where she stands sobbing into the thick shoulder plates of his armor.

As he holds her, he fights back a tear of his own, for once realizing the depth of his own pain... for once realizing how fortunate he was to have met Sabin and his friends.  Without them... he may well have ended up like her.  A cheer begins to sound around them, and he glances his eyes up to see the crowd finally turning to support him, and as the resounding roar of their approval meets his ears, he begins to feel that... perhaps there is hope for mankind, after all.  A weak smile curls his lips as he feels her hair tickle his face, and he finally relaxes.

“This – is – lunacy!”

Frowning, he looks back over to Cicero, watching the annoying little man wave his arms angrily in the air at them.  Luna then pulls away to look up, too, her eyes regarding him with surprise, in contrast with Cyan's seething anger.

“Where is the battle?! Where is the bloodshed?!” Cicero asks, waving his hands out towards them before throwing them into the air at his sides, motioning to the arena about them.  “This is the Coliseum!  A monument to war!  If I wanted a history lesson I'd have built a library!”

Cicero then points his finger down at them, wagging it angrily as he chastises them, his glare raging hot.  “This is a disgrace... a joke... a farce!  There will be no honor here for you two!”

Tilting his head slightly back, Cyan shouts back to him, his voice measured and stern.  “There is more honor in a peaceful cause than a deadly one.”

“Peace is a joke!” Cicero growls back.  “An abhorrent side effect of the lack of battle!  Here, the war continues forever! This...”

Cicero wags his finger at them again, stepping a foot forward.  “...Is not art!”

“If bloodshed is an art to thee,” Cyan shouts back, stepping aside.  “Then I want no part in being an artist.”

He turns aside then, keeping an arm wrapped about Luna's shoulder, who glances up at him before allowing herself to be led from the arena, matching his step as they walk to the double doors leading to the staging pits.  Cicero leans forward again to shout back, pointing his finger, when he suddenly notices the crowd around him beginning to file out, as well... many of them glaring in his direction as they turn to leave.  Shocked, he glances around in fits and starts, catching the eye of many patrons both new and old... even the more diehard supporters are leaving.

Gasping and stammering under his breath, he waves his arms out to them, seeing too many individual faces to address... what are they doing?!  Surely, they can see that the game has been ruined?  Without fighters in the pit – without war to be waged – there is no art!

“Stop... come back!” he pleas helplessly, his voice lowered amid the din.  “The games will continue!”

He hurries up the steps, attempting to chase down the spectators as he raises his voice again.  “The war is not done!  Wait!”

Cyan and Luna reach the doors at the rear of the pit and quietly exit, while Cicero charges into the stands, running after the disgusted patrons... and at the rear of the rostrum, Siegfried stands with crossed arms, looking on Cicero with a wry smirk, pleased with the outcome.


This post has been edited by Zephir on 1st November 2013 00:00

--------------------
~Status Report~

* Completed... Dragon's Head
* Completed... Soldiers of the Empire: Disciples (release pending)
* In Progress/Undecided... Of Love and Betrayal
* Planning/Assembly... Where it all Began
Post #205255
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Posted: 25th October 2013 23:57

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Dragoon
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Quote
Epilogue

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

The lamps are put out, the stands are empty, and the sand is cold and lifeless, lit only by the pale light of the moon overhead.  Amid the vast emptiness stands Cicero, his head hung low as he ponders the afternoon's disastrous events... around him, the cool night breeze blows again, and he looks up to see sand swirling in places, a pitiably cold reminder that the game had just changed.

His gaze searches the stands and eventually falls on the rostrum, where it conjures the memory – still vivid in his mind – of Cyan bidding a not–so–fond farewell, leaving with Luna earlier in the evening.  He doesn't know where they're going, nor does he care at this point... the champion – his champion – had left, and with him, his last great chance at renown.

He sighs heavily... he just hates it when champions grow a heart.

Stepping forward, his memories fall then to the very beginnings of the Coliseum, and he smiles as he recalls the fond memories... he even remembers the speech he gave to Kefka, committed word for word to memory.

Feeling that proud moment return to him, he proudly presents his arm to the air and addresses it, his voice slowly raising as he sells the very idea of the Coliseum once more, speaking to a person who is longer there.  “You see, sir Kefka, it will be a monument to war!  A testament to all those things you hold dear!  The thrill of battle, the exultation of victory!  It will be mankind's greatest achievement!  With your support, we will build a palace to the memory of war, where the games will continue forever!”

The words echo out over the distance, and Cicero lets his mouth hang in an open–mouthed grin, feeling the rush of excitement in his chest as he recalls the joy of the moment.

The sound of feet shuffling over the sands shakes him from his daydream, however, and he spins about, seeing Siegfried approach him from behind.  Turning to face him, Cicero then listens as Siegfried states, “But the games will not continue forever.”

Cicero levels a glare at the man... not him, too?!  “They will continue as long as this building stands!”

Siegfried shakes his head, lowering it to the ground as he steps nearer.  “No, Cicero... they will continue only so long as the people fail to realize the barbarism of it all.”

“There is no barbarism in a masterpiece,” Cicero incredulously states, his voice caught somewhere between a growl and a murmur.  “A master artist like yourself should realize that!”

“Art is an expression of beauty and love,” Siegfried rebuffs, coming to stop finally before Cicero, looking down on him with hidden expression.  “In killing, there is only ugliness.”

Shaking his head up at him, Cicero frowns in confusion, genuinely unable to see the truth in the argument, forever unable to grasp the reality.  “There is no art in love.”

Smirking beneath the mask, Siegfried decides to put an end to this circular argument, and instead takes his leave, bowing respectfully as he closes his eyes.  “Goodbye, Cicero.”

He then turns and leaves quietly, his feet noiseless as they move across the sands, leaving Cicero alone with only the empty Coliseum and his own delusions for company.

"True victory is won in the heart... not by the tip of thy sword." – Sir Richard Baramoure, ca. 547


...And there it is. I surprised myself with how I ended it. =)

There is a slight possibility there may be revisions in the future, but since I can't think of anything to add, I'm calling it completed and ready for submission.

This post has been edited by Zephir on 1st November 2013 00:00

--------------------
~Status Report~

* Completed... Dragon's Head
* Completed... Soldiers of the Empire: Disciples (release pending)
* In Progress/Undecided... Of Love and Betrayal
* Planning/Assembly... Where it all Began
Post #205256
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Posted: 26th October 2013 03:21

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Engineer
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Member of more than five years. Voted for all the fanart in the CoNvent Calendar 2014. User has rated 500 fanarts in the CoN galleries. User has rated 300 fanarts in the CoN galleries. 
User has rated 150 fanarts in the CoN galleries. User has rated 75 fanarts in the CoN galleries. User has rated 25 fanarts in the CoN galleries. 
I like it! I like your writing style, and this fanfic is one of my favorites. I wish to point out, however, a few errors you made concerning prounouns: thy = your, thine = yours; "thy cause", "thy name", "it is thine". Sometimes, if "thy" is directly followed by a word beginning with a vowel, "thine" can be used in its place: "thine approval". Just some nits I wanted to pick. For the most part, though, I was impressed by your excellent use of early modern English. It is worth noting, too, although you may already know this, that "thou" and "thee" are only ever singular; if it is meant in the plural sense, "ye" and "you" are correct. Anyway, I really like it! The ending left me satisfied; and the emotion was brilliantly portrayed, so that I often felt with the character before the feeling was described (something I have a hard time doing). You handled Siegfried remarkably well, too. I really think this is fantastic.
Post #205262
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Posted: 26th October 2013 05:01

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Holy Swordsman
Posts: 2,033

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Second place in the 2004 Gogo Fanfiction contest. Third place in the 2009 Quiz contest. 
Quote (RavenLalonde @ 25th October 2013 23:21)
I like it! I like your writing style, and this fanfic is one of my favorites. I wish to point out, however, a few errors you made concerning prounouns: thy = your, thine = yours; "thy cause", "thy name", "it is thine". Sometimes, if "thy" is directly followed by a word beginning with a vowel, "thine" can be used in its place: "thine approval". Just some nits I wanted to pick. For the most part, though, I was impressed by your excellent use of early modern English. It is worth noting, too, although you may already know this, that "thou" and "thee" are only ever singular; if it is meant in the plural sense, "ye" and "you" are correct. Anyway, I really like it! The ending left me satisfied; and the emotion was brilliantly portrayed, so that I often felt with the character before the feeling was described (something I have a hard time doing). You handled Siegfried remarkably well, too. I really think this is fantastic.

... I had always wondered how that worked! biggrin.gif

--------------------
If you've been mod-o-fied,
It's an illusion, and you're in-between.
Don't you be tarot-fied,
It's just alot of nothing, so what can it mean?
~Frank Zappa

Sins exist only for people who are on the Way or approaching the Way
Post #205264
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Posted: 26th October 2013 16:19

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Magitek Soldier
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This is awsome, but how do you submit Fanfiction?

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Excuse me? Would you mind not talking while I'm interupting?
Post #205267
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Posted: 26th October 2013 17:34

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Dragoon
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Quote
RavenLalonde

I shall have to make thy corrections, then, Sir Lalonde. (bows)

My understanding was that thee is used when it would be used in the German Akkusativ sense, while thou would be used in the German Dativ (direct vs. indirect, respectively; the German convention is actually more accurate for what I'm trying to describe and for how Old English works), where ye is interchangeable for plural and in the formal sense, the same as Spanish "usted" and "ustedes" but in one word. Thy and thine, I thought, were a matter of making it simply sound right, with thine always taking precedence.

Ach, doch zumindest wir nicht im Deutsch versuchen mal zu sprachen, na? wink.gif

Quote
HolyCeles

If the fiction is already posted somewhere else, link to it. If it's not, post it in this forum in a series of posts, as I have here. You'll need to click the "New Topic" button, title it, and post the material either in chapters or all at once if it's short enough.

The method of "quoting" the chapters is something proprietary that I developed for my Jack fanfictions for posting commentary and notes outside of the chapters without cluttering up the chapters themselves.

This post has been edited by Zephir on 26th October 2013 17:42

--------------------
~Status Report~

* Completed... Dragon's Head
* Completed... Soldiers of the Empire: Disciples (release pending)
* In Progress/Undecided... Of Love and Betrayal
* Planning/Assembly... Where it all Began
Post #205270
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Posted: 26th October 2013 17:40

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Magitek Soldier
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Thanks alot! So i just start a new topic! Cool!

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Excuse me? Would you mind not talking while I'm interupting?
Post #205271
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Posted: 26th October 2013 17:41

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Dragoon
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Quote (HolyCeles @ 26th October 2013 12:40)
Thanks alot! So i just start a new topic! Cool!

Sehr ja, mein Freund! Ist nicht hart. =)

--------------------
~Status Report~

* Completed... Dragon's Head
* Completed... Soldiers of the Empire: Disciples (release pending)
* In Progress/Undecided... Of Love and Betrayal
* Planning/Assembly... Where it all Began
Post #205272
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Posted: 26th October 2013 18:20

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Engineer
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User has rated 150 fanarts in the CoN galleries. User has rated 75 fanarts in the CoN galleries. User has rated 25 fanarts in the CoN galleries. 
Ah, one more thing: a vowel which comes directly after "thou" generally ends with "st"; "thou wouldst". Haha sorry obsessive-compulsion got the better of me, lol. And, yeah, German grammatical terms are way better for explaining Early Modern English; I generally use Latin, actually, since that is what I am familiar with. Anyway great fanfiction!
Post #205275
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Posted: 1st November 2013 00:10

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Dragoon
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Quote (RavenLalonde @ 26th October 2013 13:20)
Ah, one more thing: a vowel which comes directly after "thou" generally ends with "st"; "thou wouldst".  Haha sorry obsessive-compulsion got the better of me, lol.

I wondered what the rule was on that... anyways, don't fret, there aren't any particularly great articles out there that explain the grammar of Olde English; I had to cull together everything I know from dozens of various sources. I'd like to make it perfect if possible, I just don't have a handle on all the rules.

Seems to be more of general rule, also, with certain verbs; "claimst", e.g., doesn't show up in any dictionary I'm seeing. Also I think you meant "verb" instead of "vowel". =p

ANYWAYS!

Changes made; only minor ones to parts of the dialogue and Cyan's thoughts where appropriate. No major revisions have been made.

Additionally, an announcement: Blood Brothers - the third and final chapter in the Dragon's Head series - is now posted. See there for the continuation...

Notice:

Well, the artist I targeted for a cover and title covers has gone silent (I suppose in prep for TFF, or possibly just Life), so I'll just go ahead and post those two pdf's. There are two versions: one in my proprietary, 7x9 size (it's actually 6.86"x9"), and one in traditional, U.S. Trade Paperback "A" Format size (the small ones you see on commercial bookshelves).

[ 7x9 Version ]
[ "A" Format Version ]

This post has been edited by Zephir on 27th December 2013 20:28

--------------------
~Status Report~

* Completed... Dragon's Head
* Completed... Soldiers of the Empire: Disciples (release pending)
* In Progress/Undecided... Of Love and Betrayal
* Planning/Assembly... Where it all Began
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