Chapter 19: Burmecia: Realm of Eternal Rain

We wandered for a few hours before we came into sight of Burmecia. Then it started to rain. 'Great…well, they don't call it the realm of eternal rain for nothing' I thought as we approached the city. After a few minutes of walking we made it to the front gates.

Zidane ran ahead of me and looked at the city. "So…this is Freya's home…" he said. Vivi and Quina rushed past me to go to Zidane's side. I turned around and saw Freya hesitating behind me.

I called to her. "Freya…come on. We have to get going" I said.

She slowly approached the gates of Burmecia. "It's been five years... I've been away for so long. Not a night went by when I didn't dream about home. I can't believe I'm here... I am no longer the selfish child I was five years ago. The time has come to serve my kingdom as a Burmecian dragon knight once again!"

Zidane nodded his head, "I'll do what I can to help!" he said.

Vivi spoke. "Me, too."

Qunia nodded her head as well. "I help, too!" she said, enthusiastically. Freya turned and looked at me.

I smiled at her. "If you think I'm going to abandon you guys now…forget it. I'm going, too" I said.

Freya nodded her head at us. "Thank you."

Zidane turned around and motioned for us to follow. "Let's go" he said, and ran through the gate.

Vivi, Quina, and I ran in after him. I could sense that Freya was hanging back, but I soon felt that she was coming up behind us. I smiled 'here we go' I thought.

We entered one of the city streets. It was a disaster. The buildings were wrecked and burnt by fire magic, and the street was littered with bodies. It was a horrific sight to behold. It was definitely more graphic then the game made it look. Freya came up beside me. I heard her take a quick breath at the sight before her. Other than that, there was no way to tell that she had been affected by any of this.

I could sense that she was doing her best to keep her emotions in check. All I knew was one thing…I pitied the fool who would dare cross her path when she's in this mood. I wasn't any better off. After witnessing this site it took every ounce of willpower I had not to cry out in fury. I never knew these people, but I knew that they didn't deserve to die like this. Having successfully contained my rage we moved on to the center of the city.

We moved on to a large structure that appeared to be some kind of guard house. We had made it to the front entrance when one of the two doors above us opened up. Someone emerged out onto the balcony. I looked up, and narrowed my eyes in annoyance…it was Zorn.

"It is them again!" he yelled.

The other door opened revealing Thorn. "Most persistent, they are."

I looked up at them. "Don't you two ever shut up!" I yelled, annoyed.

They looked offended by my comment. "Loud mouth brat…we will teach you respect" Zorn said.

"Black Mages!" they yelled together and left the balcony.

At their call four Black Mages emerged onto the balcony. They jumped down to face us.

"KILL" they all said, in unison. I unsheathed my reverse blade sword and saw the others draw their weapons. It was time to fight.

I charged at the Black Mage closest to me. He raised his hands and formed a fire spell. I decided to take advantage of the moment. I stuck my sword into the wet ground, shouted "Do Ryu Sen," and sent rocks, mud, and dust at the mage. The mage was to slow to react and was hit by the full force of my attack. He was knocked off of his feet. Vivi took advantage of the mages inactivity and set him on fire with a fire spell; the mage was dead.

I turned to see Freya throw her lance from above at another mage, piercing his head and killing it instantly. I also noticed Zidane attacking his mage with his daggers. The mage fired a spell at Zidane, but he quickly dodged it and managed to slit the mages throat. The mage fell to the ground dead. I turned and saw Quina attack her mage with her fork. She stabbed the mage in the chest. She quickly pulled her fork out of the mages chest, and retreated back. The mage was still alive.

It cupped its hands and formed a fire spell; preparing to release it at Quina. Quina, though, began waving her hands in the air. Then, suddenly, a huge frog fell out of the sky and landed on the mage, crushing him flat. The frog disappeared, leaving the flattened body of the mage behind. The battle was over.

I sheathed my reverse blade sword and the others sheathed there weapons as well. I heard the doors above me open again. I looked up and saw Zorn and Thorn on the balcony again.

Zorn spoke first. "The general will punish you for this!"

Thorn chimed in as well. "Yes! Very scary, it is when the general gets mad!" The two left the balcony.

That was when I remembered. 'Beatrix…she should be here…I wonder if I'm strong enough to face her' I thought.

Zidane spoke. "Come on. Let's get moving." We all nodded and walked up the stairs to our right to enter the building.

The building was a wreck. It had definitely suffered greatly from the attack. There were bodies here, too. We quickly moved on through the building until we came to a door that was locked by a bell.

"Not another bell" I complained. I was really getting tired of these delays.

Zidane sighed. "Come on. Let's find the bell." We moved on to the left wing of the building.

We entered and found ourselves on the second floor. We walked along the walkway until a section of the walkway collapsed under us. We all gasped in surprise as we fell. We hit the ground; landing on the first floor walkway. We all got back up to our feet. Zidane spoke "is everyone okay?" We all nodded our heads. We decided to investigate the room that was on this walkway.

We entered and found ourselves in a storage room of some kind. I looked over at the door on the right and saw a balcony. I walked over to the door and peered outside. I looked to my left and noticed another door. I also looked down at the balcony itself. The middle of the balcony had collapsed due to the attack, but I knew I could make the jump. I motioned for the others to follow me.

I walked out onto the balcony and jumped over to the other balcony. I turned and saw that Zidane and Freya had jumped after me. Vivi and Quina were left behind since neither of them could jump that far. I looked at Vivi "you two stay there. We'll be back soon." Vivi nodded his head, and he and Quina walked back into the room.

While I was talking to them I noticed that Zidane and Freya had already gone inside. I saw Frey kneeling by a dying soldier and I saw Zidane over by the bed, apparently, looking for something.

I walked over to Freya and knelt down by her. I looked at the soldier "is he…?" I paused, Freya nodded her head. That was all I wanted to know. I bent my head and whispered a small prayer for the dead soldier. I heard Freya do the same.

I turned around when I heard Zidane approach us. He spoke "I found the bell. Now we can get going." Freya and I both nodded our heads. We went out the door, jumped back to the other balcony, meet up with Vivi and Quina, made our way back to the gate, rang the bell, and proceeded deeper into the city.

We were ascending a bunch of stairs when Freya suddenly stopped. We all stopped to look at her. She turned to Zidane "Zidane... Burmecia's royal palace is beyond these steps. It must be in ruins, just like everything else. I can't bear to see it like that..." she paused.

Zidane gave her a sympathetic look "I understand, but we can't go back now. We have to find out who's behind this" he said, determined.

Vivi spoke. "...I wanna find out who those guys were...and why I look like them." I looked at Vivi and smiled at his courage.

Zidane spoke again. "Look, Vivi's scared, too. But we have to face reality."

Vivi spoke to Freya "Come on, Freya. It'll be okay..."

Freya walked over to Vivi and knelt down to his level. She spoke to him "Vivi... Do you really know what you're doing? The answer you seek may forever change your life for the worse."

I looked at Freya. "I think Vivi has already made his choice. He made it as soon as he decided to come here with us. He could have stayed in Lindblum, but decided to accompany us. Rather than hide from the truth, like most would, He intends to seek it out." I said.

Vivi looked at me. "T-that's right."

That's when I heard four figures approach us. I turned around and faced a burmecian soldier and his family. He grabbed the hilt of his sword. He looked at Zidane and myself "Who are you? Are you in league with the Black Mages?" he questioned.

Zidane and I answered together "No."

He looked at us in disbelief "You're lying! There's a black mage right behind you!" he yelled; hand still on his sword hilt.

Vivi walked up behind me. "No! I didn't do anything! I would never hurt anyone!" he yelled.

The soldier spoke "Lies!"

I was getting angry with this guy's attitude, but I curved my anger on the fact that he had seen many of his comrade's die at the hands of the Black Mages. However, I still didn't like how he addressed Vivi.

Freya, thankfully, stepped in. "He's telling the truth!"

The soldier turned to her, recognition crossed his face. "...Freya?" he said in disbelief.

Freya smiled at the soldier. "It's good to see you Dan."

Dan removed his hand from his sword hilt and relaxed. He addressed Freya. "Damn, I haven't seen you in years! Where've you been?" Then he remembered "actually, this isn't the best time to talk! We've gotta get out of here fast. There are Black Mages swarming all over this place." Freya wasn't fazed.

Dan ran past her with his family. Dan's family kept running, but Dan turned back to Freya. "What are you waiting for?" he asked, surprised that she wasn't moving.

Freya stood her ground. "Where is the king?" she asked him.

Dan shook his head. "I don't know. I didn't see him in the palace. Well, I'm going. I've got my own family to worry about. Freya, forget about the king and get out of here! We're no match for those Black Mages!" he yelled, running off again.

Freya turned to us, determination in her eyes. "I will protect my home and my king at any cost. Let's go to the palace." We all nodded our heads in agreement. I smiled at Freya's resolve. We turned and ran up the stairs.

We found ourselves in front of another wrecked building. We heard someone inside and decided to enter. When we entered we saw two burmecians; one of them was badly injured. Zidane ran up to them "It's too dangerous to stay here. You have to escape to Lindblum. I'm sure Regent Cid will protect you."

The woman turned to him "But my husband... He was hurt by those Black Mages. He can't move. How can we possibly escape to Lindblum?" I saw the statue start to wobble, fortunately so did Zidane.

"LOOK OUT" he yelled, he ran over and dragged the injured soldier away from the statue. The statue collapsed, but none of them were harmed. Zidane wiped his forehead and sighed "whew! That was close."

The soldier spoke. "geez…thanks" he said.

Someone entered the room; it was another burmecian. "Wei! Kal! Are you alright?" he asked as he saw the two burmecians.

Kal responded, "Yeah, we survived, somehow. Can you give me a hand?" The soldier walked over and helped Kal to his feet. He slung his arm over his shoulder and helped him hobble out.

Before he left he turned to Zidane "Thanks again, pal. Maybe I'll see you again in Lindblum. By then, my kids'll be born. You definitely have to come and see them."

Zidane looked touched "I'm looking forward to it. Take care." Kal, Wei, and their friend left the building.

I smiled at Zidane "good thing you were here."

He looked at me and smiled. "Nah, you probably would have done the same thing."

I chuckled a bit. "You're right, I would have, but I saw that you had everything under control."

He responded, "Yeah…anyway, let's go." We all nodded and ran out the door we found on the second floor.

On our way to the castle, we stopped in the armory. Vivi found a 'Fire Staff' and Freya found a 'Mythril Lance.' After raiding the armory we advanced to the castle.

The castle was in bad shape. It was definitely hit the hardest during the attack. Freya took one look at the damage and collapsed to her knees. Zidane looked at the destruction and commented "Geez, this is terrible..." he trailed off. He looked at Freya, who was still on her knees. "Freya, I'm sorry, but from the looks of this, I don't think the king made it" he said, sadly. Freya didn't respond she just kept looking at the castle, silently.

Zidane shook his head and turned to us "Michael, Vivi, Quina let's go see what's over there" he said, pointing to our right. We were about to leave when Freya suddenly got back up to her feet and jumped up to the second story balcony of the castle. Zidane ran over to where she had been kneeling and looked up at her "Freya, what is it?"

Freya looked down at him. "There's someone inside the palace! What are you waiting for? Get up here" she said, and ran off into the palace.

Zidane looked at the ground in disbelief. "You make it sound so easy..." he said. He looked at the statue. "I guess I'll start here" he said and jumped onto the statues feet. Then he jumped to the statues knee. He turned to us "come on."

I spoke "Zidane, there is no way Vivi and Quina can make it up there. We'll have to find another way in."

Zidane looked at me "I guess you're right…but what about you, Michael? I've seen you jump. You can easily make it up here."

I looked at him "yeah, I know, but I want to stay with them in case they run into trouble. We don't know how many Black Mages are still lurking around."

Zidane nodded his head in understanding. "Alright, I'll meet you guys inside." He jumped onto the statues head and ran into the castle to join Freya.

I looked back at Vivi and Quina. "Come on, let's go." They nodded their heads and we began to go right; searching for an entrance.

It took us a few minutes, but we finally found an entrance. I looked inside and saw the throne room. I also saw Queen Brahne, General Beatrix, and Kuja. I held out my hand to halt Vivi and Quina from entering.

We stood there and watched what happened. Then, a soldier approached the group and prepared to fight Beatrix. I saw Zidane and Freya jump down behind Beatrix. Beatrix was distracted by their appearance and the soldier escaped. I looked at Vivi "that's our cue. Let's go." Before I moved even an inch I felt a multitude of things approaching us.

I turned around and saw no less than ten Black Mages behind us. 'Oh boy…this isn't good. Dan was right; this place is crawling with Black Mages' I thought. I sensed that Quina and Vivi had readied their weapons. I spoke to them "you guys get in there and help Zidane and Freya" I said, unsheathing my reverse blade sword. "I'll handle this."

Vivi spoke up "b-but Michael there are too ma-" I cut him off.

"Zidane and Freya are taking on the greatest swordsman in all of Gaia. They need your help more then I do. I got this covered."

Vivi spoke again "A-alright…come on Quina." I heard the two of them leave.

I turned my attention back to the mages. "You want me…come and get me!" I yelled.

They all looked at me and spoke as one. "KILL." The battle had begun.

I immediately jumped into the air and targeted the nearest mage. I executed a "Ryu Tsui Sen" and slammed my sword down on the mages left shoulder. I successfully struck a nerve and the mage fell to the ground, unconscious. I turned to find my next target and saw one of the mages preparing a spell. I immediately executed a "Do Ryu Sen" and sent it at the conjuring mage. He couldn't dodge it and fell to the ground, unconscious as well, since he was hit in the head by a rock.

I sensed something behind me. I turned around and was slugged in the face by a mage. The hit didn't do much, but it had caught me off guard. I fell to the floor and stared up at the mage who had hit me. I gave him an evil eye and jumped back up on my feet. I quickly maneuvered to his left side and executed a "Ryu Kan Sen," striking him in the back of his head, hard. He fell to the ground, unconscious.

I turned to face another mage when I saw two fireballs flying at me. I sidestepped the first one but the second one managed to hit my sword. My sword was knocked out of my hands, and clattered to the floor. I went to retrieve it, but four mages stood in my way. I was not in the mood for this.

I quickly ran at the nearest one and delivered a punch to his face. He fell to the ground, unconscious. I dodged a punch from another mage and countered by elbowing him in the gut, hard. He doubled over and fell to the ground, unconscious. I turned to the other two and noticed that they were trying to use a fire spell. I quickly jumped at the first one and performed a jumping roundhouse kick to the side of his head. My attack succeeded; He fell to the ground, unconscious.

As soon as I touched the ground I saw the other mage aim its spell at me. I quickly ducked as the fire spell blazed over my head. I used a sweep kick and knocked the mage to the ground. I got up and kicked the mage in his head, hard. His body went limp, he was unconscious.

I retrieved my sword from where it had fallen and turned to face the last three conscious mages. To cut the distance I ran and jumped into the air. I targeted the nearest one and executed a "Ryu Kan Sen Arashi." My sword hit the mage in the head, and he fell to the ground, unconscious. I turned to the last two and noticed that one of them was conjuring a fire spell. I ran at that one and executed a "Ryu Sho Sen" hitting him in the face. He fell down, unconscious. I turned to the last one he was conjuring a fire spell as well. I ran at him and executed a "Ryu Sou Sen" hitting multiple parts of his body with my sword. He was badly beaten and fell to the ground, unconscious. I looked around the battlefield for another opponent…there were none left. I sheathed my sword. The battle was over.

I breathed a sigh of relief 'it's a good thing it takes them a while to cast their spells. Not to mention there movements are rather sluggish' I thought.

"Well, that wasn't too bad" said an unknown voice behind me.

I put my hand on the hilt of my reverse blade sword and turned to face this newcomer. My eyes opened in surprise; that octopus hair, that armor, and that eye patch…it was General Beatrix.

She spoke "you took on ten mages by yourself and managed to beat them without as much as a scratch."

'Says you' I thought remembering that one punch. I spoke to her "what have you done with my friends?"

She laughed. "Those weaklings…I left them back in the castle. If they know what's good for them they won't challenge me again."

My anger rose at her words. "You…I'll make you pay" I said, readying myself to fight.

She grabbed the hilt of her sword. "you may have proven yourself against mages, but you're no match for me" she said in a steely voice.

Neither of us moved; we each eyed each other for weaknesses. After a few seconds I realized that I had other things I had to be doing. I dropped my stance. Beatrix was surprised by my move. I looked at her. "We will cross swords another day, General Beatrix. Right now, I have more pressing matters to attend to." I jumped up high and landed on the second balcony of the castle. I ran into the castle, hoping Beatrix wasn't following me.

It took me only a second to reach the throne room. The castle wasn't that big. I saw all of them lying on the ground. I prayed all of them were unconscious and not dead. 'If Beatrix killed any of them I'll…' I left the thought unfinished.

I jumped down and ran towards Vivi. I didn't see Kuja. 'He must've already left' I thought. I had reached Vivi's body. I knelt down, turned him over, reached into my pocket, grabbed a potion, uncorked it, opened Vivi's mouth, and poured the potion into his mouth. His eyes slowly started to open.

He looked at me "Michael…" he paused.

I smiled at him. "Glad to see you're alright" I said, relieved.

"What about the others?" he asked.

I lost my smile. "Still unconscious…can you stand?" I asked. He slowly got up to his feet; he was a bit shaky at first, but he steadied himself. I handed him two potions "give these to Freya and Quina." He nodded and walked over to Freya.

I turned and walked over to Zidane I gave him my last potion. His eyes slowly opened and he looked at me. "Michael…where were you?" he asked.

I smiled sadly at him "I'm sorry, Zidane. We ran into ten Black Mages outside. I saw that you and Freya were in trouble, so I sent Vivi and Quina to help you while I fought the Black Mages myself. I'm sorry I let you down."

He looked at me with understanding. "Its okay, Michael. You had your reasons. I'm just glad we're still alive…we're all still alive, right?" he asked.

I looked over my shoulder and saw that Freya and Quina were both conscious again, and, from what I could see, they were fine. I looked at Zidane and smiled "yeah, we're all still alive Zidane."

He let out a sigh of relief, and slowly got back up to his feet. We all gathered at the center of the throne room. I spoke up first. "So, were do we go from here?" I asked.

Freya spoke. "My people have apparently fled to Cleyra…if they have; they should be safe…at least for now."

Zidane nodded. "I guess we're going to Cleyra."

I spoke "where is Cleyra anyway?"

Freya responded, "It lies to the desert; west of Burmecia."

Quina spoke. "There good food in Cleyra?" she asked.

I looked at her. "I'm sure there is, Quina." She looked excited by this news.

Zidane spoke next "let's go." We all nodded in agreement and left the palace.

We left the city of Burmecia behind and went west. Our destination was Cleyra. Nothing was going to stop us.

I was standing on the deck of her majesty's ship; the 'Red Rose.' I couldn't stop thinking about that boy. 'He had the look of a warrior in his eyes. And his battle stance was like nothing I have ever seen before. He also took on ten Black Mages, by himself no less, and didn't kill a single one' I thought. 'Who was that boy? Were did he come from? I guess it doesn't matter' I thought. I walked back to my chambers and opened the door. Before I entered I turned back to look at Burmecia. I smiled "yes, warrior…we will cross swords one day." I turned and entered my chambers, closing the door behind me.