Chapter 20: The Vision
For a while I could not sense, nor feel anything. One could not tell if he is alive or dead from his unconscious mind. The only way to be sure if he's still alive is once he awakens from his sleep. Soon my consciousness hit me with a cold breeze, stirring me from the void. I softly grunted as I started to regain my senses. I started started to feel again; however I felt rather numb and frozen. I opened my eyes; I felt very groggy as if I just woke up in a hard place. It was rather uncomfortable, and soon I was finding out why. I rubbed my eyes allowing myself to awaken completely. However, I could only move slowly like I'm either half asleep or partially numb. I looked down and saw that I was laying face down on a bed of rock partially covered with snow.
"Where... am I?" I asked myself, grunting and groaning. I cupped my head with my hand wondering if I just got a headache. I was feeling quite sore at a few places, but I still pushed my hands onto the ground to lift myself up to my knees. I lifted my right foot and pushed myself slowly, grunting a little bit due to the sore spots until I finally stood up, and brushed the snow off my shorts and legs. All the energy within my body had returned to me in a wave. "How did I get here?" I then asked myself. I took a look at my surroundings, and saw that I was standing at the base of a mountain. The rocks are of a light brown color, and partially covered with thin sheets of snow. The area was surrounded by canyon walls several feet high, and the floor of it is fairly open. In front of me were two stone pillars that are fairly big, and reaching about the same height as the walls. Ahead of the pillars, the walking path starts sloping upward leading to the mountain above.
Behind me, smaller pillars are neatly lined up in rows, curving a little to my right as the path slopes downwards. The mountain ahead is enormous, with a height extending past the clouds. The sky itself is completely covered by gray clouds, showing no signs of blue sky anywhere. It gave an air of... Well, I'd want to say emptiness or sadness, but I wouldn't know. Speaking of which, I started to wonder. There was no one else here; it's just me, all by myself. Not even Kimahri was there. There was nothing, and no one else; just completely empty and silent.
"Where is everybody?" I asked myself, and closed my eyes and folded my arms thinking. How could I possibly get here, and what exactly happened that would lead me here? I asked these questions to myself and pondered. I remembered the most recent events that had happened to me, so I retraced my steps.
I was in an arena on top of a volcano. Then Xanirb, whom Kimahri was sure to have turned to stone, breaks free from his petrification, and challenged me to a fight. Everyone's lives were in danger, and I fought to the best of my ability, struggling to stay alive. Though even that wasn't enough as I almost died. Luckily Honda was able to save me, and...
I suddenly stopped myself, and held my head down. I then remembered the tragedy that struck me that day. I closed my eyes and pondered. Honda heroically sacrificed himself to save my life. Despite being tied down to that pillar next to Kimahri, he fought and gave his all until the bitter end.
"Stay gold, Eric Lewis." His last words were to me. "'Stay gold..." Had he not given up his life for me, I would not be living right here and now. I could not forget his selfless ace, and I will always be grateful for it. Before he died, Xanirb destroyed the arena in a last ditch effort to destroy us, and Honda's body disappeared. That was what I remembered so far, but if it weren't for that dragon's sick, sadistic nature, Kimahri and I could've given Honda a proper burial.
It was still hard for me to think of Honda without the danger of tears, and I'm sure Kimahri is mourning for him as well. However, I still had to keep his promise to still be myself again. He knew that if I were to be happy again, it would make him happy too. The first thing I had to do was find Kimahri; wherever he could be. I reopened my eyes, for all the thinking I did, I didn't realize that I was freezing cold. I started to shiver and folded my arms.
"C-Cold..." I muttered to myself. My forearms, unprotected by any layer of clothing, felt nippy to the touch while rubbing them with my hands. I got the same nippy feeling from my thumbs and fingertips Luckily the rest of my hands were covered by my gloves. My legs became numb; I felt nothing from them, but I can still move them.
"N-need... Fire..." I was right about that. I need to find warmth and shelter, otherwise I'll just end up freezing to death. So I finally started to move forward; walking up the path ahead of me. As I walked up to the pillars, which I assumed acted like a gateway to the narrow slope ahead, I started to sense some familiarity with this place. But how could I, if I have never been there before? This mountain, I thought to myself. Looking around and walking through it is giving me a sense of nostalgia...
I passed the gate and started trekking up the slope. I reached the top of the slope, and I didn't realize that I heard footsteps coming from behind me in the distance. I noticed this and turned around, and saw a familiar face. I smiled when I realized who it is.
"Kimahri!" I shouted with glee. I ran back down the slope to jump and hug the Ronso, but strangely, I didn't feel a thing. It felt like I was hugging nothing but air. I realized this and felt puzzled and confused. I look back to see Kimahri just walking forward ahead of me as if I didn't even exist.
"Huh?" I ran to catch up to him not knowing what was going on. Soon I was right behind him. "Kimahri, what's going on?" I asked as I reached to touch his back. I then saw that my hand was phasing right through him, and made him transparent for a short time. I gasped and pulled back in shock. Letting go made him fully visible again, but what I just witnessed was just crazy. It was like an illusion; he couldn't see me, acknowledge me, or even hear me. I looked at my right palm and started feeling scared. I didn't know what to think, or even what to do. I just stood there dumbfounded and were left with questions.
"Could I be a ghost?" I asked myself. "No, it can't be. I could never have died." That's what I was sure of anyway. I ran back up the slope to the upper levels of the mountain, and looked up the path ahead to catch up with Kimahri. Upon looking, I didn't see him anywhere; he was long gone. That was when it hit me. Before I saw Kimahri here, I didn't have a clue what this mountain was, but it also felt like I had been here before. Then after I found him, that familiarity started to come back to me.
"Could this be... Mount Gagazet?" I was right about that. This time I knew for sure what this place is. It is Mount Gagazet, the homeland of the Ronso tribe in the land of Spira. This is where Kimahri came from. This is his home. But I was curious though. If Kimahri here was just an illusion, then what exactly was going on. I was curious and decided to venture forward.
I once again started the trek up the mountain path. Each step I take I leave a footprint trail behind me. As I took each step, I took in the scenery. It was even more beautiful in person than in the game it came from. Everything here was just so crystal clear. I was excited, and only made the trek upward much better. Several minutes pass and I've walked over a mile up this mountain, and I haven't found Kimahri or anything else. It was also very peaceful. No fiends or monsters appeared to attack me. It allowed me to make my walk more manageable, but it also left it very empty. I kept walking although at a slow pace, folding my arms together. I was feeling lonely, and very cold. It didn't help that my stomach was growling now, and I became very hungry.
"At this rate I'll eat anything." I said to myself. "Even killing a monster and cooking it will satisfy me at this rate." It didn't matter to me, I was still freezing my ass off to the point where it's becoming unbearable. To top it off, the icy wind began blowing, stinging my ears and wearing on my eyes. If this keeps up any longer, I might end up with snow blindness. With what I remembered from classes at school, that is definitely no good. I didn't have the energy to use magic to warm me up, and I didn't feel like it with the risks involved. I'm sure there was a cave somewhere on this mountain, but it was still a ways away, so I had to hurry up there.
From there, the trail began to take me down a slope that was attached to a canyon wall. Although there was still enough walking space for me on this road, I kept myself close to the wall so I won't run the risk of tripping and falling off. Then I turned to follow the next curve in the road, which acted like a bridge that arched under the previous walkway, and continued walking from there. I kept looking around as I continued my cave search, and alas, there's still no cave I could shelter myself into. There was no way I could keep this up. I'll die at this rate if I don't find one soon. I just wish Kimahri was right by my side. Keeping my bare hands warm with his fur, and holding me tight and secure under his muscular arms.
As I was keeping Kimahri in my thoughts, I looked up, and with a little puzzlement, there he was, the Ronso I love, right up the path just sitting there on the rocky snow right next to a canyon wall. He didn't seem to notice me, much like before. He was just sitting there still, pondering, and the only sign of movement was the slow swishing of his tail. Is he okay? I asked myself. However, something seemed off with him. I looked up to see what it is, and there doesn't seem to be anything out of the ordinary. That is until I looked at his horn. I was surprised, his whole horn is on his head, completely unbroken.
"His horn?... But how is it not broken? Was it fixed." I didn't know what to think, but there it was, his horn was there, untouched. Not even a single crack was there. I don't know how, but it's there. As I was thinking about it, Kimahri got up off the rock slowly, and walked forward up the next path. At the very next second, he vanished.
"Wait!" I shouted, but it was too late. He once again vanished on me, and didn't even turn to notice me. At this rate I was about ready to give up. There isn't a trace of shelter anywhere, and I was beginning to lose hope. I have no magical energy left, and I'm slowly starting to feel pain inside me. I walked up slowly up to the corner where Kimahri had just sat before he left, and then sat at the same spot, leaning my back against the jagged wall. I closed my legs and held a hand on my left shoulder insecurely. I looked to my left and gazed at the gray mountain sky. I had some time to think, and asked myself more questions. I wanted to make sense of it all.
Could this be Kimahri from the past? Is this all real, or just some kind of dream? Maybe it's a vision. The way Kimahri just disappeared on me, I can imagine. It just had to be a nightmare. A nightmare which I can't seem to wake up from. But I'm feeling awake, and starving greatly. There's no doubting it, I'm suffering, and was slowly tortured by this freezing tempest with no end. I laid my head back, not caring about the freezing numbness anymore, and closed my eyes, recollecting all the crazy events that happened which brought me this far.
This all began, roughly about a month ago. It was just an ordinary day of summer vacation. Nothing really special was going on, but Ryan was at home, getting ready for his day at chess camp. I was just at home by myself, playing games, watching TV, and working on my computer. It seemed like the whole day was just going to be another day. Even that evening it was just normal. Ryan, my mom and I were just eating dinner, and having a conversation about how our days went. It wouldn't be long before we were going to start school again. We were going into high school, and we'll both be seniors at that, meaning we just need to get through one more year and we'll graduate. I was pretty nervous and excited at the same time, but I didn't think it would be too much trouble. Ryan was looking forward to becoming a graduate too, and I could sense the confidence in his eyes. He also hoped the Pine View Panthers chess team would succeed too. I just figured at this rate, nothing would ever go wrong. I didn't mind if these ordinary moments would last forever.
That was where everything went wrong, for it wouldn't if it weren't for what happened at the very next day. We never knew exactly why or how it happened, but he was gone, vanished into thin air. At first it seemed like he went to chess camp again, albeit early. We called the chess center and the guy who owned it said he didn't show up. We were really starting to worry, and my mom, feeling scared out of her mind, contacted the police. They investigated the sudden disappearance of my brother, and searched far and wide throughout the city and it's outskirts. It's not like he didn't just simply run away from home, nor would there be a reason for him to do so. However, time passed and there was no trace of him anywhere. There were no leads to him at all, yet the only clue there was left of him were just the arrangement of the blankets on his bed. After that, there was absolutely nothing left.
It had been suspected that there was a kidnapping, and poor Ryan was the victim, but there was hardly any evidence or clues to suggest that. There hadn't been many kidnappings at all in the state lately. Therefore they couldn't figure out any suspects. News of his disappearance spread through the town like wildfire following the investigations. Even all of our friends who found out couldn't figure out what happened to him. School was coming really fast, and at this rate, the police were beginning to give up searching.
"I hate to break it to you, Mrs. Lewis." One of the police chiefs said. "But there's a mighty big chance he's just gone." Soon after, most of the town believed that Ryan was dead, and overtime my mom was beginning to accept this fate. That didn't sit well with me; there was simply no way. I was the only one who refused to accept that Ryan was gone.
That following week, I fell into an immense depression. I kept trying to convince myself that it was all just a nightmare which I can just wake up from, but to no avail. To top it off, I had to start school all by myself, without my brother, and I have to deal with a crowd of people who want to know exactly what happened. I didn't want to go at that rate, but I had to.
"For your future." My mom said. I ended up quitting my job just to avoid any judgment or pity from other people. I didn't even bother to get a haircut either. That was when I decided to spike my hair. I didn't know exactly why I wanted to spike it, but I felt the desire to. Maybe I just wished for something, but didn't know what it was. Maybe I was alone and was only seeking acceptance. I just wanted to be happy again since my brother won't be there for it.
This reality was weighing in on me heavily that I just wanted to escape from it. Escape from it and never look back. Everyday I come home from school I turned to my games for help. I played through them hoping to find what my heart most desired. Sure enough as the days have gone by, I just wished there was something or someone that would make me happy. I didn't have many friends left near me, and most had moved away, and moreover my own family is too preoccupied by their own affairs to even help me with my problems. At around this time, I think the gods and goddesses felt pity for me after this chain of events, and summoned Kimahri to my side.
All this leads to the events that followed all the way up to now. After the encounter I had with the stalkers, a door had opened up for me. I felt that this was my chance. This was my chance to find my brother, and bring him back home so everything can go back to the way it was. But now that I look back on it, I bet the exact same deal that went on with Ryan's disappearance is going on for me right now. My mom must be in an emotional wreck right now. Hopefully my grandparents, while very disheartened, are sensible enough to help her through these tough times. My friends will also fall into depression, and the school will surely take a moment of silence and grief over my disappearance. First Ryan turns up missing, and now from their point of view, I followed suit. Looking at the backgrounds of Mt. Gagazet, it was a fact that I wasn't home anymore, yet as it seems it couldn't possibly be true.
From that point on, I heard a faint sound coming from the distance. It seemed like laughter, but I couldn't tell. I got up, looking around, it was still pretty empty, but it sounded like someone was there.
"What was that?" I asked myself. Then I started walking again, this time at a more normal pace up the next path. I was curious to find what it is, but then again like before, if anyone was there, they wouldn't notice me. I pressed on anyway, and made it to the top of the mountain path. By then, I actually heard some hearty laughter. It sounded really gruff and deep. Maybe it could be another Ronso? I wasn't sure, so I had to investigate.
I took a look while hiding behind a rock wall, and sure enough, I was right. Kimahri was there, and in front of two other Ronso that were explicitly taller than him. One of them had blue fur similar to Kimahri, but it was slightly brighter. He also sported brown fur tufts around parts of his overall fur. His nose was a pinkish color instead of the bluish black color Kimahri's nose is. The horn on his head was rather black in color. On his chest, he wore a blue-green plate with a thick orange border around it that covered his pecs. The plate was held by some kind of strap like handle of the same colors which adorned his shoulders, and on the bottom sides of the plate, there's some small dark orange ropes that all wrapped around his back. His biceps are adorned by an orange band wrapped tightly around it like it was hugging his muscles. His arms down to his wrist were covered by an armlet of the same blue-green color as his chest plate, and with the orange borders to boot. The armlet is wrapped around and attached by a tiny black lace in criss-cross patterns. Around his waist he's wearing a black loincloth, with gradients slowly turning to beige right at the very tip at the bottom, that covered his front and backsides. The cloth was held together by a red belt with a cream color line around the center. Much like his biceps, his thighs sport an orange band in a similar fashion that Kimahri's straps wrap around his thighs. And that Ronso's front legs are covered by blue-green leggings held by a canary colored cloth that adorned the top of his calves, and extends to his feet with an orange border that stops just barely before his beastly toes.
The second Ronso was even taller than the first one by just a couple inches. His fur was a rather dark shade of blue with a hint of ebony, and had additional yellow fur around parts of his body. His beige horn stood tall and proud on his forehead, much like his overall physique. The braids that hang in front of his ears are held together neatly by tiny orange bands. He also wore a chest plate on his torso, just like the first Ronso. However, it was much bigger and covered not only his chest, but also his upper abdomen. The plate is also a more red-orange color with tints of green around the lower pecs and upper abs area. The borders of the plate and it's shoulder straps were black in color. The sides of the plate are attached to orange straps that traced his ribs and wrapped to his back. His biceps are adorned by a more metallic like blue band with silvery gray borders and whitish beads neatly placed on the center. The same bands also wrapped on his wrists Along with his armlet of the same colors, tints and borders as his plate that greatly covered his hands and arms. Underneath the armlet contained gray wrapping that completely covered the rest of his lower arms all the way to his elbows. His hips and sides are completely covered by a yellow cloth with a brownish colored criss-cross pattern that starts with an 'X' and the outer patterns extend from there. The cloths are held together by a beige loin wrap that tightly covers his crotch and buttocks, so it practically resembles underwear. His thighs are also wrapped around by the same, albeit bigger, metallic blue bands, and also worn by his ankles. His leggings are worn similar to his armlets. With the same gray wrapping underneath that covers his upper calf muscles.
The very second I saw them, they were familiar, but I could already guess who they were. The bigger Ronso had finished his laughter.
"What's wrong?" He tauntingly asks with a smug grin. "Could not catch that fiend?" He chuckled again, obviously enjoying the torment he's bringing to Kimahri, whom is just standing there silent with a feeling of defeat. The other Ronso joined in on the fun, and got into Kimahri's face.
"Little Ronso is weak Ronso." He said. "Weak Ronso not strong like brother Biran."
"Leave him, Yenke." The taller Ronso said. "Kimahri not worth talking to. Kimahri just make more shame for tribe no matter how we teach him." I just stood there and quietly listened to the conversation, helpless as I watched the two bullies pick on him continuously.
"Little Ronso!" Yenke exclaimed. "Weakling Ronso!"
"Real Ronso are strong. Full of pride." Biran stated. "But Kimahri cannot hunt fiend. Kimahri too weak and small for Ronso. Kimahri scare away fiends. Winter fast approaching. Without meat, pups will starve." At this point, Kimahri just turned to his left and started walking away through my direction.
"Maybe Kimahri should throw self at spear." Yenke added. "That way Kimahri be more useful in feeding pups." Kimahri ignored them and kept walking. I felt disgusted by this statement, and for good reason too.
"Kimahri not make good enough meat." Biran smugly said. "Tough and stringy, feed only to pups when pups are being punished."
"That's disgusting!" I stated out loud. "I thought they were intimidating before, but... ugh..." I placed a palm on my forehead, and shook my head trying to forget such a gruesome image. Little did I know that Kimahri was feeling pushed to the edge. What clued me in was a steady, rising growl he emitted. Then he finally roared, and turned back with spear at hand, and charged straight ahead towards the two bigger brutes.
"Wait!" But before I could reach out and act, the three Ronso disappeared, and area began to blur slightly around me. This sudden twist had caught me off guard as if time stood still, or at least it seemed like I was moving slower than usual. Then the background's image returned to normal and I find Kimahri kneeling down partially, breathing heavily and full of bruises. Then out of nowhere, Biran shows up and uppercuts Kimahri in the chin, and knocking him back.
"Stop it!" I shouted, but to no avail. Before I knew it, I saw poor Kimahri down on the ground deeply injured. Bruises everywhere and blood stains from his nose, face and parts of his body. Right next to him, his own spear is broken; practically snapped in half. "Oh no..." I said to myself. Biran went up to him and grabbed him by the horn. He lifted him up, Kimahri was unable to move showing that Biran has clearly dominated.
"Submit, Kimahri!" Biran made his demand and waited for the defeated Ronso to comply.
"N-n-noo..." Kimahri stuttered, refusing to meet Biran's request. This infuriated him, causing him to punch Kimahri in the nose really hard. Kimahri winced and moaned in pain, unable to react with Biran's strong grip on his horn.
"Submit now!" He demanded once again. However, Kimahri was too disoriented to get the word out. Biran, naturally infuriated, kicked Kimahri in the ribs. Kimahri groaned in pain after the blow, and breathed heavily albeit with some trouble now.
"S.....s....su-" Kimahri winced and groaned trying to word it off.
"Well?" Biran waited, gripping his horn even tighter.
"S-submit..." Kimahri faintly said. "Kimahri, submit..." Biran grinned, and then laughed with satisfaction finally getting what he wanted. Yenke praised the winner for his victory. However, I shivered in fear, and felt like I was stabbed in the heart. I saw my Kimahri defeated in battle, so I felt the same feeling of defeat. I kept wishing I never witnessed it, and that all of this is just a dream. But alas, it was all for naught.
"What you think, Biran?" Yenke asked. Biran pondered.
"Hmm." Then he looked at his now submissive victim and smirked. "Kimahri made shame for tribe. Biran think Kimahri need to be punished."
"No!" I shouted. "Leave him alone!" At this rate, I didn't even know, nor did I care if all of this was a vision. My instinct kicked in and I felt that I needed to protect Kimahri, like how he protected me. I materialized the Keyblade into my hand and charged straight at the two Ronso. Then after I got close enough, I started slashing away against Biran blindly. Each swing phased through him like I was swinging the blade against nothing but air. I grunted and shouted with each swing, only getting angrier with each swing. No matter how hard I try to actually hit him, it only phased through Biran's torso like a phantom.
"Come on!" Then I lifted the Keyblade upward with all my might and swung straight downward. I exerted all my energy for this one critical hit. As it was about to hit, the visions of the three Ronso were disappearing. By the time the Keyblade hit the snow covered ground, they had finally vanished. I just stood there, breathing heavily. My heart was pounding fast, and I became disoriented. I figured I didn't even hit anything, and only wasted my energy. I started recollecting myself and regaining my senses. However I could not make any sense of any of this going on. Ronso appearing and disappearing, and I could only find this nonsensical. That's when I decided.
"This has to be a dream!" I exclaimed. I got down on my knees, grabbed a handful of snow, and splashed it in my face. "Wake up!" I demanded of myself, and threw more snow all over my face hoping it'll work. "Wake up! Please..." I let go of the Keyblade, and just grabbed snow and tossed it all over my face. Nothing obviously seemed to work. At this rate, I started to give up and started to face reality. I was doomed to die alone at this frozen mountain with no warmth, comfort, or hope. This all put me in danger of tears for feeling so isolated. In one last feeble attempt, I called for help. "Kimahri! Where are you?!"
"Kimahri not here." A voice said to me. I got confused right there and looked around wondering where it came from. "Kimahri never here to begin with." I then looked to my right, and I saw Biran, right in the flesh and even talking to me as if he finally noticed me.
"What, you?" I got up off the ground and back on my feet to face him. "What are you talking about?"
"What you see is vision of the past." He explained. "Here is when Kimahri felt shame on Ronso name and left mountain, long before pilgrimage with summoner. Biran and Yenke felt it right for Kimahri to be properly punished for not submitting like he should."
"What do you mean?" I asked him sternly. Biran then looked into his right, and pointed that direction.
"Look." I turned to look at that direction, and found Kimahri. I was shocked to find him more badly damaged than before. He was limping slowly, but hastily down the mountain. His body battered, beaten and abused. His horn I could see is now officially broken like before back when I saw him.
"Kimahri!" I shouted and ran after him. I stopped to take a closer look, and felt a sharp stabbing pain in my heart from what I saw next. Half of his clothes were torn apart, and his exposed body, especially his nether regions, I could see some white stains coating his fur. It kind of reminded me of semen. That was when I realized the revelation before me. "No..." It couldn't be, I thought to myself, it just couldn't.... There was no denying the evidence however. Not only did they bully Kimahri into submission, but they had raped him too, confirming my worst nightmare. I wanted to bawl my eyes out at this rate, but the impact has left me speechless, and unable to express my emotions. Biran then chuckled as he walked up to me.
"Now you see?" Biran asked me. That's when I finally exploded.
"You bastard!" I turned back and looked up to face him. "I can't believe you would go this far! I don't want to believe it, but why would you do that?!!"
"You pretty much figured out, boy!" He said talking down to me. "When Ronso fight, submissive must give in to dominant's demands." I glared at him intensely, not believing how horribly nonchalant he is about the sexual abuse he laid against him.
"That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard!"
"You realize you upset about the past?" Biran asked me. "What had happened, happened long time ago. Kimahri come back ten years later and conquered. Regained honor to cross sacred mountain. Biran proud of Kimahri, but Biran did not know he still felt jealous. Darkness slip to Biran's heart. Maester Seymour claimed Ronso life..." Then suddenly, a dark aura surrounded his body. I was taken aback as the Ronso suddenly vanished within that darkness, and then it vanished as it revealed someone else in his place.
"... And that darkness manifested itself into me." A familiar voice said as he grinned. I couldn't believe it myself, but it was revealed to be Xanirb, standing right here in Biran's place.
"Xanirb!" I shouted. "But how?" The dragon laughed.
"I'll tell you how since you're too stupid to get it." He started to explain. "This realm that you're in exists in the darkest corner of your heart." I looked down at my heart and put a hand on my chest.
"My heart?" I asked.
"Yes, your heart. Before I died, lets just say I put a hex on it to trap your consciousness within this realm."
"Yes, a hex, or curse, or whatever the hell you want to call it." Xanirb continued explaining. "Here, there is no one, you're unable to find anyone, unable to feel anyone, or even be acknowledged by anyone. You are doomed to wander forever until this cold place finally claims your life. If I were to die, I'm taking you with me!"
"I can't believe you!" I shouted back at him. "I still don't get how you're still alive after I supposedly killed you. Just what do you want from us?!" Then he began retorting.
"I may be officially destroyed in reality. However; I am still here able to exist as a spirit. As long is I'm within this realm. Why are you even here through all of this in the first place? There isn't even any reason for you to be here."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean what does this 'Kimahri' guy see in you? You're nothing special. You're just an ordinary human boy with no friends or intelligence. You are a freak. You don't deserve him, and he shouldn't have to suffer being with you."
"What?..." I asked confused.
"Think about it." He said. "You and he are two different species. Don't you even see how wrong that is? It's an unnatural abomination for you to even be together! You don't even share the same appeal as him."
"Good." He said. "Looks like I'm getting to you. Now do you realize? He never loved you, nor did anybody else because you, just like every human in existence, are a selfish, uncaring bastard. You are so boring, weak, scrawny and hideous! You are a nobody. The only reason why you're even special at all is because of that weapon." He then pointed to the Keyblade I hold in my hand. "You two are not supposed to be together! He is supposed to be in relationships with his own kind rather than with a weak, pathetic excuse of a being like you. A handsome, fully muscled anthropomorph like him should only share chemistry with another muscled guy like himself instead of a scrawny little pretty boy like you, and that makes me sick. Now you will stay here to die alone, forever, so he can be free from you and be with the right man for him! Just as how it should be in nature!"
"Xanirb..." I closed my eyes and shook my head thinking if this is what he truly believes. In my heart, I knew he was the one truly in the wrong. I opened my eyes again saying this. "You are a tool."
"What?" He angrily said to me.
"Is this seriously what you believe about me?!" I confronted him and really started giving him the smack down. "You kidnap Kimahri and take him away from me, and then you abuse him. Then you lure me into your battleground to try and kill me and my friends just because you can't handle us being in a relationship?! You're the one who is pathetic! Kimahri loves me for who and what I am, and I love him just the same way. Whether it's either straight or gay, or humans and anthropomorphs together, it shouldn't matter. True love is never wrong! If there is anyone that is 'unnatural' around here, It's you! Saying I can't be with him because of my body type. It's just like you and any other stereotypical muscle head out there! Just because I have a scrawny human body doesn't make me the bane of all existence. If anything, it just makes you an egotistical bastard because 'everything sexy is supposed to be masculine and manly'!"
"And what's more." I added. "What is it exactly that you care about?! You only seem interested in harming people to your satisfaction. I can't believe that you think it's fun to assault people both physically, and sexually without anybody else's consent! You don't even care how anyone feels, which truly describes you as heartless. Maybe you're the nobody around here! I wouldn't even be surprised if you only existed because Biran lost his heart from Seymour! This deep hatred you have against me, my mate, and any of my friends had completely taken over you, and that's really pitiful, and sad. All you really care about is death's sweet release! So take it, and leave the rest of us alone!" This finally struck a nerve with the sadistic dragon and unleashed full on fury.
"Fine then, I'll just take you with me!" Then he charged forward at me and lunged his arm at me. I quickly grabbed it with my left hand to hold in place. I countered with my own punch directed at his face. However, he tightly grasped my wrist in place just before the punch could hit. We soon found each other pushing and struggling to get a hit in. I struggled to break free while keeping him in place, but little did I know the dragon had another tactic and head butted me in the face, knocking me on my back hard. That's when I realized the cold temperatures of Gagazet were taking a toll on me. I did not have much energy, so I was incapable of fighting back.
Xanirb came up to me and grasped my neck. He lifted me up in the air effortlessly. I gasped and squirmed and struggled for air. His grip only got harder the more I struggled getting to the point that I felt my eyes were going to pop out. He could only watch and smirk as he finally has his target right where he wants it, and laughed.
"I see this tempest is starting to take it's toll on you. Soon you'll submit to your eternal despair!" At this rate, I started to feel faint. My struggling started to ease, and my breathing began to slowly bring itself to a halt. I could only watch in horror as I felt my conscience fading away and succumb to the darkness of death. That is until a voice spoke out to me.
'No, you mustn't submit!'
"Huh?..." I quietly muttered. Then I felt a force help me to lift my hand up, and suddenly I gained the strength to materialize the Keyblade.
"What?" Xanirb noticed before it was too late, and I slashed him in the face. The force knocked him back enough to drop me from his grip. I dropped to the ground and found myself catching my breath. Slowly but surely I began to breathe again and regain my senses. I looked at Xanirb squirming with agony, and I noticed the cut on his face emitting a dark black aura.
"So that's how it's going to be... You may have defeated me. But!..." Then with a powerful burst of power, unleashed his dark aura everywhere. "I SHALL RETUURRRRNN!" Then with that, his voice faded away in an echo, and he finally vanished. Despite this, the mountain became engulfed in darkness, fading away into nothingness. Then the last remnants of Gagazet were gone, and I found myself falling. Gasping and screaming in horror as I plummeted to the dark abyss.
It seemed like I would fall for eternity, but after a while that I've been falling, I began to see images, familiar images ring in my head. Snatches of dark memories flashed through my mind. A whirlwind of dark events and emotions began to overwhelm me, and made it impossible for me to comprehend I was submerged in a maelstrom, I did not know who or where I was. The images I found are of my past self crying in sadness from either pain or humiliation. Violent, cruel images of bullies and other assailants ganging up on me began to surface as well. I felt too weak to fight these images and the alienating presence that clouded my thoughts. Violent, cruel images from many wars and invasions exploded around me until I cried out in anguish from the nightmarish sights.
From there I saw innocents dying and whole cities burning and taken from life by the hands and orders of many rogues. Suddenly a cluster of my own memories began pouring into the mix of darkness that binded me. All of the events leading up to and past my first meeting with Kimahri came to me in a rather cold sense of reverie. My accomplishments and failures both displayed simultaneously. I had lost so much that was dear to me, yet fate seemed to provide me with rare and fantastic gifts; for the first time, I felt proud for who I am. I truly felt blessed for having the Keyblade choose me, and given the chance to expand my abilities with the power of the crystals I hold in my pendant. And finally, I felt true love in my heart that manifested into Kimahri. His kind and gentle heart, and his selfless devotion to my life and out love knew no bounds and had given me the strength to get this far.
Then, as if in response to my brief self-confidence, the smothering darkness began to assault me anew. My identity trailed away into the void as my perceptions were consumed by fear and uncertainty. For that moment I began to blank out and forget who I was supposed to be. Am I a scared little boy or a brave young man? Am I a hero, or a villain, or maybe neither? Am I worthy of love and it's warm light, or am I doomed to remain alone in darkness all because I just wanted to love and be loved; smiling carefree the whole time like nothing else really mattered? All these questions were jumbled together in a meaningless frenzy. I was completely lost and utterly hopeless in this endless, empty mass.
I waved around like the flame of a candle, and tried to fight back against the endless pain of darkness. I was aware of this pain, and it was so great that it threatened to snuff out the very thread that's keeping me alive. I prayed for someone to lift me from this nightmare, but there was no one around to guide me. Not even Kimahri would be around to reach me as I desperately called out to him. I reached out my hand into the sky in an attempt to find someone or something to grasp onto and lift me away. It seemed like it would be of no use; however, I then sensed something - or someone - answering my call, and keeping the dark forces at bay.
'Come to me.' A voice faintly said. 'Take my hand.' Then a glimmering light appeared and pierced through the dark void, shining brightly as it descended toward me. From within that light, I felt a hand grab my own hand that had reached out desperately. Then before I knew, the light grew powerful and shined so beautifully, it pierced the darkness around me. With a flicker of unspoken thought, Xanirb's dark influence was brushed away like unwanted dust or a cobweb. I have been freed by the oppressive weight, and the gruesome images that had haunted me had faded away and cleared from my mind. I began to relax, and felt rather warm again. I could finally think for myself again as I felt a healing aura of light cleanse me.
I slowly opened my eyes feeling like I woke up from a bad dream. A bright light made it to hazy to comprehend where I was. I found myself lying still, flat on my back on a rather comfortable bed. I could also faintly see the room surrounded by gray brick walls and a few shelves of books.
"Where am I?" I asked myself.
"You are where lost spirits are healed until they can truly reawaken." A voice spoke to me from my left. "But that is all I can tell you for now."
"What do you mean?" I asked. "Who are you?" I slowly turn my head to my left, and I see someone sitting near a desk and writing with a quill pen in his hand. It was an anthropomorphic dragon. He had scales that elegantly glittered sapphire blue. His wings are opened slightly revealing an air of grace that I couldn't quite figure out. He wore a darkish gray robe with fur bordering the sleeves and end lines with a tinted orange color. Wrapped around his neck and hanging around his back is an orange mantle that hung gracefully behind his wings. He walked toward me and gazed upon me with soft yellow eyes that just beamed with wisdom. I stared back at him and felt a sense of comfort.
"I am one who would help." He gently said as he stroked my face. "Good, you shall be able to awaken soon."
"Again." I asked. "Who exactly are you?"
"I am Shia Osthato. A great sage of light. I came to free you from the remains of the dark knight Xanirb, and cleansing your heart of his curse." He explained this to me as he stroked my hair and then let go. "Although I mourn for one of my kin, rest assured he will not ever return to wreak havoc again."
"One you awaken again, come find me." He said to me as he walked back. "For I have answers to all you ask."
"But where do I go to find you?" I asked him.
"Your answers will come in due time. Seek me out in the heavens. I will be there." And with that, he slowly vanished into the light. "You must rest, Eric Lewis. When you wake, do not speak of me to anyone. Your companions will find out on their own. Remember, you must seek me out in the heavens, but do not delay or it may be too late. Now, sleep..." Shia raised his hand and peace crept inside me as if in benediction.
"You are much more great than you know, Eric." He said. "Think of what you had done, and smile, and rejoice, for you have rid your home world of a great evil. You have wrought a deed that no one else over there could. Many are in your debt." He was right; what I had accomplished was worthy of recognition. The earth shall be peaceful again, awaiting the day that Ryan and I can come back home. The last thought I had before falling asleep is that Kimahri would be proud of me, and Honda would have been too.
It seemed that a long time has passed, like a peaceful dream I slept like normal with no worry. Soon after, my consciousness was coming back to me. I opened my eyes and began to wake up. Gracefully I began to sit up, placing a hand on my forehead trying to recall what happened. Those memories of that vision were still fresh in my mind, yet it also seemed to pass just like any dream. I rubbed my eyes with my forearm to clear away any sleepiness, and I looked to see that I was sitting on a soft bed, and covered under a white blanket. I looked around the room which is unfamiliar to me. Shortly after I saw somebody walk up the stairs that lead here. What I saw was a little girl wearing a small pink dress and brown shoes. She had bright green eyes and chestnut brown hair with two red ribbons that wrapped around it to make pig tails.
The girl turned and saw me and gasped. I guess I must have startled her. It'd only be a normal reaction for her to find a stranger sitting in a bed at her house.
"Hey, you're awake!" She said to me, and then ran back down the stairs. "Mommy! That boy is awake!" I was very confused. How does she know about me? I thought to myself. Have I always been here? I was curious and took the time to look around the room. All there was is a wooden floor with a few books laying about. A couple book shelves lined up against the wall right next to each other. A table sat right next to it in front of a window, which had a bright sheet of sunlight pierce right through and illuminate the room. Left of the table were a couple of small trees and right behind me is a dresser with several drawers. Before I could take much of the scenery, I heard footsteps coming from the stairs up to this room. There came the little girl from earlier followed by a middle aged woman.
"Oh this is very fortunate." She said to me. "Are you alright?" I hesitated a bit as she asked me, but then I nodded.
"Y-yeah... I'm okay..." I shyly said to them and scratched the back of my head embarrassingly. She smiled.
"That's good news." The woman said with relief. "We were afraid that you were sick, or in some kind trouble. You tossed and turned all night, and it made us worry."
"Tossed and turned?" I asked with concern.
"You were acting you like had a tummy ache or something." The little girl said and then turned to the woman. "Right mommy?" She nodded in agreement.
"Yes, and it especially worried the one who brought you up here. That person was afraid that you'd be lost to us." I started to wonder and and looked back down on the bed. Who else was there? I asked myself. Could it be...?
"Oh yeah, he's got to know this too!" The girl exclaimed. "Shall we go and get him?"
"Of course." Then the girl ran back down the stairs, and before the woman followed suit, she turned back to me and said. "We'll be right back." Then she disappeared down the steps. I looked back down on the bed trying to piece together where I was. Nothing came up, and a few long minutes passed. Soon after footsteps came upward again and the two came back.
"He's finally awake." She said downward. I looked at the stairs as someone else was coming up this way. Before I knew it, what came up the stairs and showed himself is none other than the familiar face that I love. He smiled with glee as he looked back at me, seeing me alive and well.
"Kimahri!" I shouted happily with excitement, smiling as bright as I can be with tears of joy suddenly running down my eyes. The Ronso walked right up to me and gave me a great big hug. He held me around his arms with the lovely, secure feeling that I missed dearly. I responded by hugging him back tightly around his broad back and shoulders. We let go of our embrace and looked back at the girl and her mother who just stood there quietly with warm smiles on their faces.
"Well, we'll just let you two get reacquainted with each other." She said to us. "Come on now, dear."
"Yes mommy." We just watched there as they left, marching back down the stairs. Kimahri waited patiently until the two were out of sight and turned to embrace me again, pulling me into a deep kiss. I returned that kiss without holding back, yet another wonderful thing about the big guardian mate that I missed. We soon broke it off and began to tell Kimahri everything that happened.
"Oh, Kimahri. It was horrible." I wanted to let my emotions from what recently happened pour out. "I was in Mt. Gagazet, and nobody was there. I felt so cold and alone, and I wanted you by my side. But then you showed up and you couldn't see me or hear me! And then Biran and Yenke were there too! And... and... and..." I wanted to get it out there, and tell him the inconvenient truth about him and the other two Ronso, but Kimahri put his finger in my lips and quietly shushed me.
"It matters not what happened." He said to me. "What has happened in past had happened." The Ronso petted me softly on the head as he spoke. "Kimahri move on since that day years ago, when Kimahri reclaim Gagazet's honor. After pilgrimage Kimahri became elder, and learned many new experiences. Then Kimahri met you, and became happiest Ronso alive. Kimahri loves you Eric. Kimahri really does, and any who loves you as well. No one can ever take that away from you. You are kind, honest and free-spirited. Never forget that."
I looked back at him and smiled. It was true after all. At first it seemed like it was just loved at first sight, and contrived as it sounds, our love had been challenged. However, I gathered up the courage needed to face the challenge. Now I have conquered it and found light at the end of the tunnel. I can say it now and without a doubt that I have earned my true love, and nothing could ever try and tear us apart again.
"Kimahri is proud of you." He then said to me. "You manage to fight courageously. Proved to Kimahri that you can face danger by yourself, and also proved that mates can be found anywhere. You taught Kimahri this, and Kimahri owe you greatly." And with this, he gives me another hug, cradling me softly. "Kimahri is proud of you, and Honda is too."
I looked back upon it, and once again thought about what Honda said to me. We would've mourned his death, but we knew he didn't sacrifice himself for nothing. We both thought about it, and we feel that we granted his final wish. We were to keep each other happy no matter where our journey takes us. I smiled knowing that now that once great American hero may now rest in peace. Kimahri suddenly licked my left check like a cat, which practically tickled and made me giggle. He looked at me as he stroked my hair.
"You grow stronger, but are still a pup." He said, and I just kept smiling. His words couldn't ring any truer than they already felt. I do feel stronger, but I had a lot to learn. Of course I realized that it's not even over yet. There's still my brother I have to go find. We haven't got a clue where he could be, but I'm not giving up in the slightest. I'm only continuing this search, as our adventure has only really just begun. Don't worry Ryan, I'll find you somehow, someway. I know I'll see you again, I promise.
As I finally wrap all of this together, there is still one more thing that I had to wonder. Something didn't seem quite right as I looked to see that girl and her mother. I noticed their clothing was different, and rather... simplistic.
"Hey, wait a minute..." I said and let go of Kimahri. "Where am I?" Then I pushed the covers and jumped off the bed. I ran straight down the stairs to the bottom floor of the house. I charged in straight ahead, grabbed the knob, and opened the door.
Phew, hey guys. After a long hiatus this next chapter in the series has finally been published. Hope you guys enjoyed reading this as I did writing it.
End of Chapter Results
Eric Lewis Human Class: Freelancer Lv. 10 Exp: 3225 Next Lv: 97 HP: 1183/1183 SP: 759/759 G: 800