Rating: R

Disclaimer: Final Fantasy 8 and all related characters/places remain the sole property of Square-Enix.

A/N: Setting is post game, a few years. This is primarily plot driven but does contain significant Seiftis, Squinoa, and Selvine romance.

This Final Heaven

Prologue: Legend

Ancient Trabia, Wilderness

Snow was beginning to fall, drifting out of a black sky and fluttering in the heavy moonlight. Fires were burning. Somewhere, a dog was barking. And within a canvas tent hardly sufficient to ward off the cold, an old hero was spending his last hours in dignified repose.

Jorgan E'Lizul tightened the musky, fur coat around his shoulders and glanced to the north where he could just make out the glow of dozens of torches and several bonfires beyond the strange shadows of bristling pine. Even in the dark, work continued at a fevered pace. Artisans, stone masons, quarrymen, architects, priests, and soldiers were scrambling about, called to action by young King Zebalga II, who was new to the throne and attempting to recapture the zeitgeist of his grandfather's reign. He wanted people to recall troubled times. And, more than that, Zebalga II wanted them to remember that they owed their lives to his family.

Reviving that memory was Jorgan's mission. That was why he had sailed the treacherous waters near the barren salt flats, lost two of his chocobos in rocky mountain passes, and trekked through weeks worth of chilly tundra to reach this place: the cursed Tomb of Hyne the Magician -- soon to be the final resting place of Centra's greatest hero.

Jorgan descended into the camp across a barren expanse of windswept dirt.

"Stop!" a soldier barked and tilted a spear upon his hip to level it at Jorgan's heart. The solider glanced from Jorgan's miserable face, to his one remaining chocobo, and to the small entourage that accompanied him -- a young slave boy no more than fifteen and two members of the king's guard who were still wearing the green feathers in their hair that signified their station. "Who're you?" the solider asked.

"Jorgan E'Lizul." He made a small, perfunctory bow. "Palace scribe and historian for his majesty, the Lord Zebalga II, may he live forever and lead us in peace. This is my company."

"Why are you here?" The soldier seemed genuinely curious. He wasn't Centran but, judging from his accent and broad face, an ethnic Trabian. A rarity. A barbarian in the flesh.

"I've come to speak with Vascaroon, of course." Another barbarian.

"He's ill."

"Yes. I know."

Jorgan was admitted into Vascaroon's tent which was smaller on the inside than it appeared from without. A heavy flap separated the area into two rooms. Illuminated from behind, Jorgan could make out the broad silhouette of Vascaroon, seated with his back to the door. Jorgan pulled back the flap and introduced himself with the same obsequious lilt he used when addressing the king.

Vascaroon was well into his nineties, and he looked nothing like the statue that rested in the middle of Centra's capital. His hair, once flaming red, was now wispy and gray. His frame spoke in hazy breaths of once having possessed great power, and his hands and shoulders still appeared strong, but the rest had wasted away with time.

"Zebalga sent you?" Vascaroon asked.

"Yes. To record your story."

"My story?" Vascaroon was indignant. "Who doesn't already know it?"

Jorgan sat down on a wooden stool a few feet from the deflated hero. "You're the greatest man of our time," he said simply, "and you're dying."

"Not yet."

All of the fuss, all the building and activity around the Tomb of Hyne the Magician, was for this man's legacy. He didn't seem to appreciate it. And, at his age, Jorgan supposed he couldn't blame him. After all, he didn't believe in burial and had been conducted to this place against his will. The trip and the harsh weather had weakened him. Not long from now his time would pass, and with him the last living memory of the auspicious beginnings of the Centran Empire.

"Do you still recall the war?" Jorgan asked.

Vascaroon gave him a haunted look which said he did.

"And the Magician?"

"I haven't forgotten Hyne." Vascaroon settled deeper in his chair as if the memory of Hyne was crushing him.

Jorgan E'Lizul reached across the space between them and touched the legendary man on the arm. "Tell me what you know."