Scene 7

The Heart of Man

Cyan drifted through a long tunnel of impenetrable darkness. Unlike the other times this darkness did not suffocate the retainer; rather it wrapped him in tranquility. Then, light seeped in. Initially Cyan resisted, favoring the tranquil darkness. But memories fluttered into his mind and the retainer realized the necessity of awakening.

Though he gave a mighty effort, his eyelids slid open slowly. He was on his back, staring up at the stone ceiling. Cyan climbed to a sitting position, noting with joy and relief that his friends surrounded him. Celes sat by his side while Sabin was at his feet. Edgar was happily strewn over the throne.

"How is that you found me?" the retainer asked.

The three took turns telling their story. When one fumbled with a detail, another would supply it. They'd followed him into his dreams, catching glimpses of the retainer from time to time. Cyan was shocked to learn of the monster Wrexsoul that had enslaved his mind for its own vile designs. Yet, he had to acknowledge that that made perfect sense.

And, for once, not the insane kind of sense.

"My injury…" Cyan whispered as his gaze lowered. "…the poison?"

In answer, Celes and Sabin presented two magicite. One healed wounds; the other cured ailments. "You were so adamant about not receiving healing before," the rune knight said. A smile lightly touched her lips. "However, a person is easier to help when they're asleep."

Cyan flushed. "Your timing is most excellent."

"Speaking of timing," Edgar said. "I'd say it was time to leave. Setzer is bound to have the Falcon ready by now."

"One can only hope," his brother added.

The retainer accepted the hand Sabin offered him and rose to his feet. The Figaro prince then stepped over to Edgar and hauled him off the throne. Celes followed the brothers toward the door. As the Figaro prince realized that Cyan remained standing still, he hung back. The retainer stood with his back to the door, eying Gareth's weapons.

How was that they remained and his body did not?

Perhaps Gareth had been a figment of his imagination, much like his ventures through the corridors, the train and the mines. His hand slipped to his pocket, very much aware of the letter within. If Gareth was indeed nothing more than an illusion, then how did this appear? Was it a letter from many weeks, months before his passing?

Cyan supposed he'd never know. Not sure he wanted to.

"Hey," Sabin tapped him on the arm. "Are you coming?"

"In a moment."

Nodding, the Figaro prince chased after the others, attempting to do damage control for his brother. Edgar was making a pass on Celes and the rune knight rebuffed. The Figaro king never saw a challenge he couldn't beat, so he continued his ill-advised behavior. Sabin tried desperately to keep Celes from slugging his brother.

After the footfalls faded, Cyan plucked the letter from his pocket. It saddened him to note that Gareth had fallen to despair. Whether he'd merely died from grief or was actually a part of the madness that had imprisoned the retainer, it mattered not. Cyan was determined not to ascribe to that insanity any longer.

He tore the parchment to shreds and let it fall to the poison-and-bloodstained carpet. His head lowered, ashamed of his weakness. The fact that he'd survived should have cheered the retainer, yet it brought him no comfort. The cloud that had followed him upon Doma's fall sprang over him once again, drowning him in the knowledge that the kingdom and his family were unsalvageable.

Turning on a heel, Cyan lifted his head. His mouth fell open at who stood at the door.

Elayne and Owain.

Hath the illness of the mind taken hold of me once again? "Elayne? Owain?" At first, the retainer kept himself at a distance. Something, though, told Cyan that the apparitions before him were neither malignant nor intent on dragging him back into Wrexsoul's madness.

"You survived, my love," Elayne said, ecstatic. "I am so happy."

"Papa is strong!" Owain pumped a fist in the air.

"No. I could not do anything then…and I can do nothing even now." Cyan's head dropped again, not wanting to see their happiness for the retainer felt none himself. How could they not hate him? He hated himself. "I am a man with no honor."

"No!" cried his wife. Her image wavered inconsistently. "You have entirely too much. Do not despair, my beloved. We will be together again soon."

"Papa, we love you!" Owain added.

They faded.

Perhaps this was the test Gareth had failed. Cyan bent to pick up the sentry's sword. The dagger was rusted beyond use but the sword seemed in near-top shape. The retainer flipped it up into the air and caught it by the hilt. "All this time I hath been poisoning myself. Killing myself." He turned his gaze full his own reflection in the blades. "As long as I live, Kefka shall not. Goodbye, Elayne. Goodbye, Owain. Wait for me."

Then the throneroom was empty except for memories and ghosts.