The Cross And The Switchblade
A Wild Arms III Fanfiction By:
Black Waltz 0
A/N: This will probably end up being the second fic in a series of epic WA3 fanfictions. This one deals with Clive's life story, from his sixth year of life all the way up to the beginning of the game itself. This fic is recommended for a mature audience, though, because it details life in Little Twister without sugarcoating the events. I'm talking drugs, implied sex, both het and yaoi, foul language and a lot of crime. The title itself was taken from David Wilkerson's famous novel, and I apologise for it's usage. I also don't own WA3 either, only my original characters. This is set a month and a half after Lust Jaw, in it's aftermath. (Beware the spoilers!) Enjoy!
Baskar colony, home of one of the most ancient religious practices in all of Filgaia. The sun was high in the sky at the approach of noon, though the comparative coolness of the winter season took the edge off the high temperatures of a usual Filgaian day. The center square of the town was decorated with flowers and hardy plants from the Zenom mountains, holly and ivy taken from the bushes and trees, and, hanging above the archway, the entranceway of the town, sprigs of mistletoe dangled down and bared their pure white flowers, replacing the hawk feathers usually claiming that space. In the center of the town, upon a great flat stone used for conferences and a dancing stage for the Baskar people, a large pine tree had been placed there and decorated with trinkets belonging to the townsfolk, making it glitter under the light from the sun. It was in the middle of December, the heart of winter, only a few more days before the celebration of Christmas.
Everybody was there, all the friends and loved ones of the Maxwell Gang, congregating in the little colony for the annual solstice celebration. Halle and Shane had organised the entire thing alongside all the other people of Baskar, the former not hesitating to reprimand Gallows for his lack of assistance. Virginia's guardians, her Uncle Tesla and Aunt Shalte had readily responded to the invitation and took the train from Southfarm over to the Midlands, wishing to spend their Christmas with their niece. Likewise, Catherine and Kaitlyn were also there, nothing could keep them away from Clive at such a special occasion. The Maxwell Gang had agreed that though they wanted to spend the solstice with all their families, they also didn't want to spend it apart from one another. So why not, and this was surprisingly Gallows's idea, why not just gather all the families together and just have one great big bash, instead of three smaller ones?
So that was what they did, and this was the day for their celebration. Gallows and some of the other Baskars were working as the orchestra, the big Baskar leading it with his trusty ukulele and two Kramer dolls, acting as the trumpet and the drums. They were playing a merry little tune, one that Kaitlyn was dancing to on the stage and laughing happily, trying to make her cousin Annette dance with her. Halle had dressed the girls up in a pair of traditional Baskar frocks, and Kaitlyn had tied feathers into both her own hair and Annette's. Pike was leaning on his crutches and watching them, having been invited by Jet, seeing as he had no family and not many friends to consider. Tesla and Shalte were sitting next to Catherine on their knees, just listening to the beautiful music instead of participating in the dance. Virginia and Jet were sitting with Shane and quietly chatting, the latter much more than the former. Halle was presiding over the celebration as town elder, a smile creasing her aged face. Kestorael sat perched on the entranceway, trying to eat the decorations.
Gallows paused in his music-making for a few moments, his Kramer dolls freezing as well. He smiled goofily and waved to the audience, trying to gather their attention. "I'm here all week! Try the fish!" He announced to the crowd, eliciting groans from the older members of the party that understood the joke. Cordell swatted at him with the bow from his fiddle, but Gallows ducked and artfully moved away, resuming his performance a sizable distance from the others. Ellen started to sing some kind of song meant for the occasion, and the woman did have a fairly impressive voice, deep and full.
Some chickens were mulling about on the grass, clucking softly and pecking at the ground for worms. The two girls on the stage jumped off and started to chase them for amusement, giggling like they had not a care in the world. Pike sat down and stretched himself out on the grass, closing his eyes. It felt like a perfect day, an excellent day, and one that anybody would hardly want to end. Kestorael fluttered over and sat on Pike's stomach, cawing loudly when Annette made a dive for the wind sprite with outstretched hands. Pike yelped when the girl landed on his stomach, knocking all the wind out of his lungs. "Sorry!" The girl explained, hastily scrambling to her feet. "I miscalculated my move. Kestor! Come back here!" The bird had hopped away and was making his exodus on the ground, leading Annette on a little chase. Kaitlyn appeared and took her older cousin by the hand with a smile, the two beginning their game once more.
"I cannot believe that in only a few more months I will finally undergo my coming of age ceremony!" Shane exclaimed happily to Jet and Virginia, the youth smiling openly and freely. "And then, after that, I will be allowed to leave this colony and see the world for myself! I just cannot wait! Of course, I will not forsake this colony and my lineage and destiny, but I still would like to go and gain some world experience, so I can have a better idea about the things I am protecting, and the things I love the most."
Jet closed his eyes and looked away. "…Be willing to back up all that big talk with some substance before you leave. Make sure you can at least defend yourself before you go rushing into the unknown." Shane nodded and smiled at this advice, knowing that Jet talked from experience and that his words were wise and filled with past experiences. It was true that Jet had no distant memories of himself as a person, but the recent ones that he had gathered in the Maxwell Gang were just as important and special. "Because if you find yourself in a situation you can't get out of, talking and praying ain't always gonna save your ass."
Virginia didn't refute or contradict his words in any way, because she knew that the silver-haired boy was indeed right. If she had learnt anything from her own fledgling time, it was that show and substance were both two very separate and very different things, and that one needed both to survive out there in the wastelands. If you could survive long enough, then the experience gained would keep you alive through the very worst of predicaments.
Thinking about this triggered something in her memory and Virginia turned to Catherine, her hands in her lap. "How has Clive been doing lately? We haven't really seen him as much as we would've liked to this month, and well, I've been a little worried about him. Is he okay?" It was still a bit of a delicate subject to discuss, and it had been dubbed 'The Incident' by the other people around him. Clive had been on sporadic drifting jobs with the rest of the Maxwell Gang for the past month and a half, but overall, he spent most of his time home in the East Highlands, back at Humphrey's Peak. Clive seemed to be fine whenever Virginia saw him, but she still couldn't help but feel worried about the man, and wondered how he had coped with everything that had happened.
Catherine smiled warmly, and, Virginia noticed, a little bravely. "He is as well as can be expected." She replied. "He does have a little bit of trouble maintaining a human shape during the full moon, so he has decided not to even try. He is harmless though, quite docile, and he spends most of his time sleeping. Other than that, he is just like the way he used to be. Actually, he was talking about being well enough to go back to his work full-time, provided that the rest of your team has no qualms about it."
"Of course we have no qualms about it," Virginia reassured her, "There simply couldn't be a team without Clive's help and input. All of us have missed his presence terribly." Pausing, Virginia looked around, wondering exactly where the green-haired man was. Now that she thought about it, she hadn't really seen him around since early that morning. He had been rather quiet, but still quite friendly. "Speaking of that," Virginia said, scanning the crowd of people outside their houses and in the main area of the colony, "Where is Clive? He isn't avoiding us, is he?"
"I do not think so." Catherine replied warmly. "He was feeling a little restless this morning and decided to go for a walk. He promised that he would be back before dark. He probably felt like training, and large crowds make him somewhat uneasy. Truthfully, though," She leaned forward a little towards Virginia, smiling, "I do hope he gets back soon. There is something most serious that I need to discuss with him."
"About what?" Virginia asked, intrigued.
"About many things." Catherine answered. "About life, and what the future will hold for all of us. Have you noticed that the days are becoming cooler? This cannot be merely the simple change of the seasons. Hopefully, and this is a tiny hope, mind you, but hopefully a new life is rising from within this world, one that the demon war couldn't take away. I may just be rambling, but… I have believed that there is always a light shining within the darkness."
"The light of hope?" Virginia pressed.
"Indeed," Said Catherine. "Hope."
When Clive struck the balloon creature with a small burst of dark power gathered from his Lust Jaw, it did not have the desired effect that he wanted and only made the creature more powerful, causing the swordsman to step back and rethink his attack plan. Clive clenched his open spellcasting hand and gripped his blade once more, biting his lip. Then, he ran forward and sliced the monster in two with a clean vertical cut, the spherical beast deflating like a bubble that had been soundly popped. There had been only air inside it's mottled pouch of skin, and now that it had been ruptured, the monster was dead. Clive sighed and lowered his sword, his breathing only a shade deeper than normal, wiping the beads of sweat from his face caused by the battle.
He sheathed his sword and took out a small notebook that fit snugly into the palm of his hand, along with a pencil, jotting down a few words. Clive sighed. "The monster population is decreasing rapidly from the change in Filgaia's environment. With the recent climatic change created by the resealing of Hyades and the death of Beatrice and the Prophets, this could be thought of as an improvement, but…" Only a regular person could think something like that. As a drifter, and as a medium for one of the Guardian Lords, Clive had an inkling that Filgaia's new reality would seem to be just as treacherous. "Though the population is decreasing, existing breeds of monster are becoming more adverse and resilient, and are even increasing in size. This cannot possibly be a good thing."
Clive quickly checked the location of the sun, recognising it's place as midday. That was good, he wanted to be back at Baskar before the sun decided to set. The drifter started to walk again in a quiet and thoughtful way, traversing through the Midlands like an idle nomad. He was heading south, towards the Fallen Sanctuary, having some business there that he needed to complete. The wounds from his last big commission had healed well over the time he had taken off from work and didn't bother him anymore, though he still had a few tiny scars here and there as small reminders. Things had been quiet, and Virginia and the others had begun to travel again without him, though this didn't disturb him at all. When the time came for him to continue his work, he knew that he would always have a place to return to as a member of the Maxwell Gang.
"And loyalty to the gang is absolute, right guys?" He asked nobody, glancing up at the sky, his sensible and somewhat refined accent roughing up just a little bit to allow a slight southern dialect. Clive chuckled to himself as he looked back at terra firma, seeing the monument of the Fallen Sanctuary looming in the distance. He had left the party early because he freely admitted to himself that I didn't much like large crowds anymore, or so many people staring at him and his mutation, whispering behind his back. His cover story for his recent changes had been that he had infiltrated a Guardian shrine and had been cursed by that Guardian into a different physical shape, which had been the loose truth, but not the whole truth. Because of this, he had lost a few casual friends, but it didn't really matter, giving Clive a chance to find out exactly who his real friends were.
Pushing the great doors of the sanctuary open with a small grunt, a rush of stale air struck him in the front and smelt of dust and age itself, causing the green-haired demon to cough momentarily, raising a hand to cover his mouth. He wondered vaguely if it was right for him to come out here all alone, and whether or not the others would berate him for doing so. This place was washed out with sand and filled to the brim with solitude, Clive had the feeling that if he even talked too loudly in here, some kind of God would come down and yell at him for his insolence
He ascended the staircase which led to the upper open area of the shrine, a few of the steps nearly crumbling under his feet. Clive tried to step lightly, but it really didn't help much anyway. Sunlight was streaming through the opening into the shrine as Clive walked through it, the fresh air much more enjoyable than the stale kind wafting throughout the lower levels. The four monoliths representing the four Guardian Lords stood tall and unmoving in each of their respective locations, north-east, north-west, south-east and south-west. He faced the northeastern one, branded with a carving of an animal claw, the sigil of Luceid, the Guardian of desire. Clive smiled. "It is quiet here. I prefer the quiet. I just did not feel like being around people today, do you think that that feeling is a selfish one?" All Clive received was silence. He did not expect anything more.
Clive did not have Jet around to help him ascend the high ledge that required one of Jet's important tools to scale, so he instead strode over to it and placed both his hands upon the ledge, pushing down on it to lift his own weight up. Swinging one leg onto the ledge, he used it as a lever and hauled the rest of his body up as well. He could hear some tiny little birds chirping on top of the ancient monolith, breaking the silence somewhat and making it less overwhelming. "Filgaia will be green and healthy again in a few centuries, as long as it's rate of recovery does not slow down or be halted. Does this mean that what we have accomplished will be the entirety of our mission, or will there be something more? I just do not know. It almost saddens me to think that this is the full extent, the end of the line to which my journey has taken. Will this… be everything?"
I know what you have…Clive's inner self told him smugly. A pretty little mid-life crisis wrapped up with some post-traumatic stress disorder. How sad. Boo hoo. You're not who you used to be anymore. You're different. You've grown up.
Ignoring his own thoughts, Clive changed the subject, taking a seat in front of the giant desire edifice. "I do not know if you can hear me, Luceid, but I need to talk to somebody who will not talk back. I hope you can listen to me. I had a discussion with Halle the other day, regarding my… incident. The Baskar priesthood wants to keep me under loose observation for the next few years, in case I do anything to jeopardize Filgaia's future. I do not wish to deny them this request, however I am not too enthusiastic on the prospect of being studied like a lab specimen for such a long period of time." Clive sighed, then smiled. "Halle has also informed me that I am no longer a lycanthrope. It seems I am a werewolf instead. I did not think there was a difference, but I did research the subject last month in the Ark of Destiny's library, using an alias to prevent suspicion from arising. A lycanthrope assumes a partial form. A werewolf assumes a total form." He chuckled quietly. "How amusing. It should make my life interesting, nonetheless."
"Still," Clive continued, leaning back, putting his weight onto his hands, "I cannot help but think about the path that my life has followed, such an unexpected path that I never would have undertaken if under different circumstances. By all rights, if it were not for Catherine and Berlitz, I would most definitely be one of your run-of-the-mill cutthroats or ruffians, or dead, either way. I learnt so much from the both of them, and I tried, so very hard, to make something of myself. My goal had always been to be more than what I was, to be, if not legendary, then to be no less than a great remembrance to all." He smiled almost bitterly. "But when I was born, I was nothing. I was less than nothing. Both my parents wanted me to die."
Clive heard an animal bark, and he turned around slightly, his right hand unconsciously moving to the hilt of his sword. He relaxed though when he noticed the originator of the sound, the small brown and white hound from Baskar colony padding up the steps, it's fuzzy little tail waggling happily back and forth. "Oh, so you followed me?" Clive said with a relieved sigh, "I thought you were a monster." The animal cocked it's head to one side and barked again, a little louder than before. "You were following me?" Clive translated from the dog's speech, "Well, I only came here for the peace and quiet, not much more. It is okay, girl. You can come and sit up here with me, if you want."
The dog stretched itself forward a bit in a small little bow and yapped, then happily bounding up the ledge and jumping into Clive's lap. The green haired man patted the animal softly on the head, letting out a deep exhalation of breath. "I should really be more social." Clive told himself a little sternly. "I should not even be here. I should be with the others, celebrating." The dog whined in question, looking up at the drifter with curious eyes. "You want to know what I am so troubled about?" Clive said. "Nothing much, really. I am just thinking about the past." Barking again, the dog nuzzled his front and whimpered. "I understand," Clive replied, "You are right. Talking about it does indeed help. And also, I suppose, having somebody to listen is also equally helpful. Good girl, good girl."
He rested his hand on the dog's back and noticed that it's light brown fur was tangled with burrs and other nasty things, which seemed quite irritating if not downright painful to the poor beast. Clive started to gently pull them out, one by one, thinking deeply at the same time. "My story begins way back when I was a little child, no wait, probably even earlier than that. I was born in Little Twister, and my mother had been a local prostitute, while my father was probably one of her many commissions. I am not one hundred percent sure on this, but this is what I believe to be true. A few days after I was born, I was left all bundled up on a cliff-top near the town, to be exposed to the elements until I was meant to die. I did not die however, I was picked up by a small group of people who took care of me for a while, but after that, I was passed around a lot and lived in many different homes and places. I was named Clive, in the old english tongue which meant cliff-dweller. I have no idea what my real name was meant to be."
Clive closed his eyes. "My earliest memory that I can consciously recall would have to be when I was about six years old, perhaps even a little younger than that. It was a very important day for me, I suppose. It was the day that I met Berlitz for the very first time. Looking back on it now, it is probably one of the most fondest memories I can recall…"
He slipped into nostalgia, and then his story began.