It was snowing heavily outside. The towering mountains around us were clothed in a thick coat of a freezing white under the dark, moonless sky. The wind was starting to howl with speed, swinging the old and elaborate lanterns around the hall with creaking moans and eerie, shifting shadows.
Aside from the fire of the lanterns, there was no warmth that breathed in these ancient hall. The round and stony chamber was wide open for the winds to ravage, the large, aged pillars that shouldered the huge dome above, didn't shelter much from the biting gusts. Near impenetrable Blackness reigned outside and Shadows covered the hall from the inside, except for the small patches of swaying light the lanterns were throwing around. We all cuddled under their faint light, trying to draw any warmth from the dancing fire within with no avail. No one thought to cast a fire of his own.
We were all exhausted, cold and have been without much food for a while. I had lost my cloak on our way here, but the shiver in the others' bodies around me told me it wouldn't have done a much better job anyways. Some of us were still panting, others had slouched upon the stone floors to take rest. I leaned against one lantern, beads of sweat covering my forehead, and irritatingly matting the hair around my face. I strained for any sound outside, hoping I don't hear one and thankfully, none came. But we couldn't let our guard down. We all still clutched the weapons in our hands, though we knew we could hardly lift them, but what other choice did we have? We only hoped we don't come to use them. A slight nod from my partner's head, told me and the others that it was clear outside after his routine check. At least, we could rest assured that we were not followed so far. Needless to say, we were all in need of some warmth and good rest. Yet we were all stuck here in wait for our only hope to be answered.
After an immeasurable amount of silence, in which we caught our breath and talked of nothing, one impatient friend of mine stepped forward.
"How long are we gonna wait in this secluded, no man's castle? we have been waiting for a while and no one answered!"
"Should we break in?"
"Guys guys, calm down a bit. Let me remind you, that this is our only chance. So let's try and not ruin it. If it weren't for him anyways, we wouldn't have even made it this far."
We all fell in silence again. No body dared to deny his words, we all knew that every syllable carried nothing but the truth. And I had to remind myself bitterly, that if it wasn't for me, we wouldn't have needed to be here in the first place. I hated myself for bringing this upon them. No sooner had I thought so, then the large, main doors slid noisily open. We all sprang quickly to our feet and stepped forward anxiously. A lone hooded man stood behind them, clutching a long wooden staff with a ring of gold in its middle. It was him, alright.
"Your Reverence," I started, trying to hide the quiver of desperation in my voice as I walked closer, bowing my head with respect. "We have come a long way to seek your help." His face was shrouded mostly under the hood, I could only make out his chin and smiling mouth, he looked rather youthful for someone of his age. "Please, we have--"
"It is alright now." he patted my shoulder reassuringly. I could hear the others' sighs of relief behind me, feel the smile spreading on my face against myself. Finally, we're done with it, I can rid them of my doing. "It'll be over soon..." His smile curved wider, and I, feeling I could never thank him enough, looked up in his eyes to thank h--
My Smile froze. These EYES?! You're--
Before I could utter any warning, the hand on my shoulder tugged me harshly forward and I felt a sharp, tearing pain cut through my chest and into my back. I gasped, taken by surprise and disbelief. How could he have... Why?...ugh. The entire world dissolved into the sheer pain and searing cut of the blade that pierced me. I had often swore to never show a sign of pain no matter what, but the wrench of the blade out of my body, pulled more than just blood. And I was drowned in my scream of agony, swallowed by a mind blanking pain as he pushed me away, and stared hungrily at the others.
I hit the floor hard, writhing in pure anguish. I could hear some screams rising around me, laughter, more feet hitting the grounds, clang of weapons, bullets firing, shouting, chaos just broke out. But soon enough, nothing mattered but the pain. I felt as if my lungs were on fire, I tried to drag a breathe but It hurts so much. It hurts so damn much. The pain in my chest spread like fire, it burned in my stomach, in my head, in my eyes, in my fingers, everywhere. It was unbearable. I fidget trying to throw it out of my body, but it grabbed harder, I could hear myself sobbing in utter desperation. The blade that struck me was infused with a spell of pain and poison. A blade that meant for those it struck, a torturing death.
Drawing a breath in hurts, letting it out hurts. It was agony, stealing a gasp of air was a terrible effort. Something gurgled in my throat, and I yielded into the pain and coughed, tasting the warm crimson of my blood as it spilled out of my lips. I lay there feeling chilly, my limbs are numb with cold, the air hits me hard with soft icy currents, and I can't stop my body from quivering and throbbing like a raw nerve. What were the others doing? Are they safe? ...No, I don't want any one else to--
I strain to breathe, to contain my whimpers but I feel heavy, dull, out of all strength. Someone came around, I couldn't tell who, and then another and another. Soon enough faces were swimming above my head, I couldn't tell who was who, but I could tell they were distressed, they seemed to talk, but I didn't understand... or rather I couldn't make out what they were saying. I wanted to tell them it doesn't hurt that much anymore but I could hardly breathe.
I kept looking, looking for that single face, in the sea of swimming faces above me. He must be there, he must be safe. Please, be safe. Something was tugging me down, my head was swaying with dizziness, and everything was dulling into blackness. My ears couldn't hear a thing, as if blocked by air pressure. My senses had lost sense of anything, it was as if I'm being put under. I felt so sleepy, the kind of sleep that you have been waiting to have after long, hard days of continuous fatigue and weariness. The one where the moment you put your head down on the pillow you lose contact with the world, and sink into a dreamless oblivion.
I was dying.
I gasped through the tears, and what was left of breath. I had to muster all my entire effort to utter something important. I had to tell them, I had to, before it is too late...
"I am so sorry... I--"
The words came out a near inaudible murmur but they must have heard them, right?
Guys, Please forgive me...
A final tug of breath and I felt my heart thump, one last time. Then It all went so still, into the dark it all faded, and I felt no more.
How could we have ever come to this?
When did the path go so wrong?
When did we become our own enemy?...
Final Fantasy: Sin
Six Months Before...
The crisp, afternoon rays, spilled through the curtains showering the large room in a light golden veil. A slow, peaceful piece of piano played in the background from some excellent pair of hidden stereo speakers, threads of steam wafted gently from a delicate cup of tea that sat on an antique, and very expensive wooden table near the terrace. On it laid, a set of ebony and ivory chess pieces in mid-game, and against the ebony side of it sat Athena sipping her tea.
She had her dark honey brown hair pulled up in an elegant and simple chignon. Her red, v-neck blouse, had long puffed sleeves that matched perfectly the black of her loose, sleek pants, high heeled half boots, and black, leather belt fastening around her waist.
She ran her long fingers along the edge of the table, eyes fixated in thought on her chess pieces. She was planning an important move. Although, it had hardly been the first day of the new term, Athena had the time to indulge herself with a little game. Most of the students had arrived last night, and as per the tradition, the first day was a long day of festivities to welcome both new and returning students to the Academy.
After Morning breakfast, she had made her speech to the academy, introduced the teaching staff, and the new additions to it this year. After that, it was rather some office work, and Aspis section preparations to take care of. The head of students and academy affairs would be handling especially the new first years, giving them a tour of the academy and orienting them on how things go about. The other teachers, went about their own business, preparing themselves for the day to follow or resting through the day much as the students would. Students on the other hand, get to enjoy a day long with activities and events, stuff such as swimming and dueling contests, a band concert, some plays, or simply fun games. It was full of many, and always witnessed a new addition every year. At night, there would be a large dinning feast, and fireworks would then be fired in the sky, marking the end of the first day. Students would then head to their dorms, readying themselves for a work filled day next.
After a long time of contemplation, Athena moved the bishop two steps to the right, threatening one of the ivory knights. She sighed, and rose from her seat and walked into the terrace for some air. Although, a couple of papers still need her signatures on the desk, she had to put them aside for now, and think of matters more important a bit. Matters like the last couple of incidents near the Felonhark factory. Although, they probably passed as normal incidents, she had her other doubts. And she'd need to make sure of them. But, that will be all in its due time. For now, she might as well enjoy the day.