He leaned on his sword. "Selphie…a hi-potion!"
The girl nodded and threw him a bottle. He straightened up and focussed on the creature in front of him.
"Renzokuken!" he shouted at the top of his lungs.
He dived forward and aimed for every bit of enemy in sight. Behind him he could hear Selphie cast several spells. He concentrated on the monster again.
No, monster wasn't correct. It used to be human…but it had been transformed.
He cursed under his breath. He cursed the one behind this inhuman act. He was caught off guard as a strong arm crashed him down to the ground. For a second everything went black. Then it felt like feathers were brushing his cheeks as light returned.
'Did it…get stronger?' he wondered.
Then he saw why. Selphie's ice spells were boosting it.
"Shiva! I call you!"
He had to stop her, but it was almost too late.
"Ifrit! I call you!"
Before Shiva could appear, Squall could feel heat coming from the empty spot in front of him. Ifrit, the deity of fire, slowly stepped out and unleashed his power. Squall dove in front of Selphie as rocks and flames surrounded them in a mad frenzy of explosions.
He held her tight, taking every rock in his back to protect the girl who was still in summoning trance. The heat cooled down. When Squall looked around, Ifrit had gone, just like the creature. Selphie opened her eyes.
"…Oh…Hyne, I'm sorry Squall. I should have noticed…"
"It's alright. I'm just glad I trained with Ifrit enough. Come on, we have to go."
He took her arm and pulled her away from the open forest ground they had just been fighting in.
"Where…where are we going?"
Squall ignored her as she tried to keep up with his steady pace.
"Keep up, Selphie."
She put her hands on her hip and glared at him. "Squall Leonheart…I'm not going anywhere until you tell me where we're going!"
She watched him stop and turn around. He sighed and raised his hand to his head.
"…As your captain-"
"I don't care you're my captain, I want to know where we're going." She said with a stubborn look on her face.
"We're just setting up a new camp! That's all. Hyne…why did Cid have to pair us two up for this mission…Just…come on."
He turned around and started to walk again. Selphie sighed and followed him.
"Hmph. Some camp. There are only two of us. Not something you can call a real camp…" she muttered to herself stubbornly.
She watched him put up his tent from within her comfortable own tent. By the grumbles and grunts coming from Squall she judged it was going to take a while before he would be done.
Without saying something she climbed out her tent and started to pick some dry blocks of wood from the pile. With a few twigs she tried to get a fire started, but it wasn't working.
"Fire." She whispered.
Tiny flames appeared at the tips of her fingers and worked their way down to the dry leaves and twigs.
She smiled. Spells always were her more potent attacks.
The flames licked the woodblocks and soon a nice campfire was crackling away. She watched the orange flames, letting her mind drift.
She thought about the battle that afternoon. She could slap herself for that Shiva-disaster. How could she not have noticed that her magic was boosting the monster instead of weakening it? She practically would have signed her death sentence, hers and Squall's, if the summoning had been completed.
Luckily Squall had seen it in time…then again, that was why he was the team captain.
She was startled when she felt a hand on her shoulder. It was Squall. He was finally done with his tent and he sat down next to her to enjoy the fire.
"Listen, Squall…I'm sorry about this afternoon. I should've paid more attention. I-"
"It's alright Selphie. You don't have to apologise. You couldn't have know that this…creature…was so different from the ones we fought before."
Selphie was silent for a second. She knew Squall only said this so she wouldn't fell guilty and nag on about it. But before she could say anything about it she thought about the creature they had fought.
It had been human once, she knew. She had seen the look in its eyes, so frightened, so desperate. Desperate to die.
"Squall?" she asked silently. "That thing we fought…it was…human…"
"Who would do such a thing?" she looked at Squall, trying to find an answer in his eyes.
But he just looked away. "Selphie…we have to take her out. You know we have to."
"We can't let out feelings or emotions take over. She might look like Ellone, but it's not her."
"I know. Ellone would never do these horrible things. And Ellone isn't a sorceress…she is."
Squall picked up a stick and prodded the fire to keep it going. "Cid sent us. He knows we can defeat Koë."
She nodded tiredly.
'She is a sorceress, like you have fought before…but do not underestimate her. She is not like Rinoa or Edea. She has strange powers. According to a messenger squad she was surrounded by strange monsters who obey her every command as if she was their master. The people that joined her have disappeared. I do not wish to lose either of you, but she must be dealt with.'
Cid's words still sounded clearly in her mind. It had frightened her that the Koë supporters were all disappearing. And then there were those monsters…
"Squall!" she shrieked. "Those monsters! They're the ones….the people who- She's turning her own people into these creatures!"
It slowly started to make sense…Koë…
Squall nodded. "…Yeah….I think you're right. It's…scary…"
She sulked. "I won't be able to sleep now. I'll have nightmares all night!"
He looked at her, trying to suppress a smile. "…Why?"
"Because I forgot my dream catcher. It's still at home." She answered grouchily.
"You forgot your what?"
"My dream catcher. It's a stringy, feathery thing you hang above your bed. It makes you dream good dreams."
He chuckled. "And you believe it works?"
She bit her lip. She knew she came across really tough and happy, but sometimes she got scared too. And other people criticising her only made her feel even smaller.
"You don't have to make fun of me." She snapped, making sure he couldn't hear the tears in her voice. "I get scared easily, you know. And I'm not proud of it."
Squall sighed. "I didn't mean it like that. It just sounded a bit…funny."
"Well it's not! You don't know how it feels to be afraid to go to sleep."
Squall looked around for something to say. "…Listen…if it really scares you that much…then I'll promise you that I'll wake you up if you have a bad dream."
"Really?" she sounded more cheerful already.
"Yeah. If you need me, shout and I'll chase the bad dream away."
She smiled broadly and hugged him tight.
"Thanks Squall! You're the best. I can go to sleep now."
She crawled into her tent and closed her eyes.
Squall rolled his eyes. Selphie could be calmed down so easily. But he couldn't help wondering what he had gotten himself into with that promise. She might expect him to really wake her up when she had a nightmare…
He cast a water spell to put out the fire and crawled back into his own tent. One last time he flicked through the information he had gotten from Cid before they had left. Getting Sorceress Koë was priority number one. So tomorrow they would try and burst through into her 'keep'.
He put the photograph down.
'She can shape shift she'll change into someone close to both of you.'
That's what Cid had said.
He closed his eyes and let the sleep finally come.
When she opened her eyes she could see the sun shining brightly through the fabric of her tent. She heard Squall rummaging about outside and decided to get up.
"Good morning!" she said cheerfully.
He nodded. "Had any nightmares?"
She shook her head. "Nope. Not one. I felt safe last night."
He rolled his eyes. "Come on. We've got to get going soon. It's not safe to linger long, who knows if they've discovered our coordinates."
She looked at where his tent had been. He had already packed it.
"I'll pack your tent while you eat breakfast." Squall pointed at the plate of food near the pile of burnt wood.
She sat down and nibbled the somewhat burnt sausage.
"Squall…we're going today…aren't we…"
He nodded. "Yes. The sooner, the better. Have you junctioned your magic? Your GF's?"
"Right. Let's go."
She held her breath as the scent of death penetrated her nose. She didn't need to see the bodies on the floor to know that they were there. She had killed them. She had killed them all.
And the last one…so young. So innocent. A young girl. She had seen it in its eyes. It had been a young girl once, but she had been transformed into a monster, only recognisable by her eyes, and now that girl was dead.
All because of the Sorceress that now stood before her. Squall had charged in, only glancing back at Selphie once to confirm that it was battle time.
She tried to focus on the battle, she knew she had to.
'Don't fight me…it's alright, everything will be alright.' A strange voice sounded in her head.
It sounded clear as a silver bell. She immediately knew what was happening.
"Squall! She's trying to get into my head!"
He didn't hear.
"Squall!" she repeated. "She's in my head!"
He could hear she was panicking. He had heard her, thank Hyne.
"Fight it, Selphie. She's trying to get you within her power! Fight it!"
She nodded, hastily casting shell.
The tall woman in front of them didn't flinch at the blows Squall delivered with his blade. But when he sliced her skin once again, he could see her give in to the pain for less than a second.
Behind him he heard Selphie casting gravity spells. He thanked her silently. This was making his attack frenzy a lot easier.
He was caught off guard and momentarily knocked unconscious by one of the monstrous arms protruding from Koë's body.
No longer did she look like Ellone. Now she looked like Matron, only distinguishable by the slimy purple arms at the sides of her body.
The familiar feeling of feathers and wholeness cradled his body after a second and he was on his feet once again.
"Don't do that again Squall! You frightened the crap outta me! You want me to have nightmares again tonight?"
"Nah, we can't have that. I'm supposed to make them go away, not create them. No more nightmares for you, missy." He answered back to keep morale high. "Keep the gravity work up!"
She nodded, even though he couldn't see.
'Don't kill me…I'll reward you…Selphie…you will have such a great reward…just close your eyes…slowly.'
Confused she cast a thundara on herself. She found it had worked, the voice was gone again. But then…
'Sleep Selphie…close your eyes. When you wake up you will get a reward. Sleep…sleep.'
"No!" she screamed. "Diabolos! I call you!"
Squall heard Selphie's desperate cry.
"Renzokuken! Fated circle!"
The sorceress in front of him was already limping.
"Renzokuken!" he shouted again.
Why wasn't Diabolos coming, he wondered vaguely. But as his sword danced across the body of his enemy, Diabolos was no longer needed. The sorceress fell to the ground, shrieking in pain.
A great whirlwind surrounded the two skilled warriors. Squall shielded his eyes. Where was Selphie? There! Still in summoning trance.
Again he shielded her defenceless body, like he had done the day before. When the shrieking had died down as well as the whirlwind Squall snapped around and searched the are with his eyes.
The sorceress was gone without a trace. No body, no ashes, no dust, nothing.
He felt a strange form of relief. It was done. The sorceress had been defeated. He turned around with a hint of a smile on his face. Then he saw her.
Selphie still had her nunchakus crossed, eyes closed, body frozen in summoning stance.
Why did this look so strange? He noticed her eyes. They were closed, not with the normal look of concentration, but more as if she was…
He reached out to touch her shoulder. The moment his fingertips made contact with her skin she crumpled and fell to the floor, her body lifeless.
That was the first chapter of Dream Catcher. I hope you enjoyed that. Reviews are kindly welcomed!