Repine with Torment
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by Liminal Raz

Disclaimer: Uh, no, I don't own Final Fantasy VIII. Square-Enix does.

-
Frailty-

It was a quiet morning. Uneventful. Lonely. She kept herself withdrawn and disconnected from society. Living alone in a house deep in the country, she lived on a day by day basis knowing in her heart this day would come; waiting anxiously for the present to catch up to the future. It had been agonizing over the years, the separation from those she loved. The separation from her children had been the hardest; her heart ached daily as she could only imagine where they were, what they were doing. Knowing her fate did not bring solace, nor did it allay her anxiety. This day had to come. She knew it. She could not accept it.

The first sign, a simple knock on her front door. She rose from the wooden chair in the kitchen and placed the white envelope on the counter before stepping into the hall. The sunlight gleamed brilliantly through her open windows creating dancing shadows from the swaying curtains. The scent of winter here in the south was not much different than spring. The only exception, the air didn't seem to carry as much life in it.

The knocking persisted as she made her way closer to the main door. Before taking the sturdy knob, she glanced through the window beside her to see exactly who was out there. She knew what awaited her, she'd known for a long time. What she could never have known was who the messenger was going to be. It was time to discover the instigator.

She opened the door, ever reluctant to release the sturdy knob. "May I help you gentlemen?"

A man wearing a black suit and tie stood directly before her, two more about a meter back at either side. Parked not too far away was a black sedan; a vehicle not too well equiped for a country setting. All the windows were tinted, the tags bearing political insignia. They were from Galbadia. Had they really driven a thousand miles to find her?

The man smiled, tilted his head with curiosity. "Might you be Ms. Edea Sacera?"

Edea Sacera... Her maiden name. They'd finally found her. She always knew they would. "What may I do for you?" she asked again, avoiding direct affirmation of her identity. She was not certain the letter came from this man and would first need to know his identity.

"May I come inside?"

She stepped up and closed the door behind her. "No. Who are you?"

The man turned to his guards for a moment, waving his hand as if to signal there was no need for hostilities. Looking back up into Edea's eyes, he extended his hand to hers. "I am the President of Galbadia."

"Vinzer Deling." She knew him. Or rather, she'd read about him over the years. She kept herself out of societal affairs, but once in a while felt it necessary to check in on the world she secluded herself from. If only to keep the insanity at bay.

"Yes, that's right." He raised his hand higher, still awaiting a friendly gesture.

Edea refused contact with him and turned back around. "You've come a long way from Galbadia, Mr. President. You must know what you're after, else you'd have never come this far." She opened the door and stood aside, allowing him entrance into her house. It pained her to do so, but defiance would only postpone the inevitable.

Deling walked up the front steps and waved to his men.

"No," Edea said. "Only you are permitted. Your guards will have to wait outside." The look in her eyes was serious and unyielding. She would not compromise, that was perfectly clear.

Taking a deep breath, he smiled and nodded to his guards. "It's all right men." One last look at Edea and she closed the door.

"Would you like something to drink? Are you hungry perhaps?" She did not want to cater to him, even less did she feel it necessary to show him any respect at all. She did, however, solely to keep away conflict.

"Water would be fine, thank you." Deling followed her through her country home, taking notice of the paintings on the papered walls. The small house was warm and cozy, very well lit. The air was as fresh as the mountain's and smelled just as clean. Ornate earth-tone rugs decorated an already lavish environment of vases and sculptures. There wasn't a hint of technology anywhere in the house from what he could see. Entering the kitchen, he saw she didn't even own a refrigerator. It was likely she had an old fashioned ice box in the cellar. Her water; probably pumped from a nearby well and heated on the wood stove for use with bathing and laundry. Her way of life here reminded him of the country home his family had when he was a child. That was in the past, however. In the age of today there was no room for the past, only the future.

"I hope it's all right, I don't have any ice." She'd have lied, even if she did have ice. Deling did not deserve even the water.

"That's quite all right."

"I'll just be a moment." Edea reached into a cupboard above the old iron stove and removed a clear drinking glass from a full shelf. "The pump is out back. I haven't distilled any recently, but the spring is clean, I assure you."

Deling stood silent, but his eyes didn't show any immediate disapproval.

Watching Edea exit the kitchen into the yard, the President walked up to the window to observe her actions. He briefly thought about the possibility of her poisoning him, but dismissed it rather quickly. He hadn't given her any reason to. He hadn't even mentioned yet the letter he'd sent her.

He turned around and took a seat at the table. Sitting in the center was a basket of rolls and a vase of colorful flowers. Judging by their texture alone, he would have to assume they were real. Though he could not smell them, for he'd been smelling flowers all morning and this sense was almost numb.

Looking around he noticed a ceiling fan above him and a light fixture attached to it. She did have electricity out here then. Where the source was, he couldn't tell from where he was sitting. Perhaps she had a wind-powered generator on the roof. Maybe even solar panels.

That didn't matter.

Edea returned with a full glass of water and sat at the table across from Deling. "Here you are."

He examined the water before taking a sip. Tiny suds floated to the surface with slight impurities, but the water itself was crystal clear and without tint. He took a sip and found it to be the best tasting water he'd ever had.

"How did you find me?" Edea finally threw out.

Placing the glass down in front of him, Deling folded his hands on the table. "We are, perhaps, more resourceful than you give us credit for." He smirked as he spoke his words. His pride was evident alongside his arrogance.

Edea averted her eyes to the flowers, shaking her head. She spoke softly in reply. "I always knew this day would come."

"Did you?"

She snickered at him. "Yes." Leaving the gentle colors of the flowers, she made contact with Deling's dark, aged eyes. "I never knew the reason."

"You got the letter then."

She nodded and reached to an envelope on the counter behind her. "Yes."

"And you read it?"

"I did," she replied in a whisper, once again averting her eyes. "And now I know why you've come."

Deling leaned forward and spoke gently, quietly. "Are you accepting my offer?"

She tried not to laugh. Staring at the handwritten letter from the President of Galbadia, she couldn't help but feel a loss of control in her life. Time had finally caught up to her and she wasn't prepared. Could she have ever been? "I understand perfectly what you propose to me. What benefits you in this deal?"

Deling shook his head and relaxed slightly back into his chair. "What Galbadia gets out of this alliance is not what's important. Just think, Ms. Sacera. You'll be accepted into society again. Free to live a normal life without fear of persecution. Join us and the witch hunting days will be over, I promise."

There was no amount of truth in his eyes, his smile conveying only deceit. Edea could not be fooled by words. "I'm sure you'll understand when I say I don't trust you."

"I could as well say the same thing." Deling fully relaxed into his chair and took another sip of his cool, fresh spring water. "Allying with the Sorceress is a very... risky move, to say the least. Both politically and personally. However, considering what we are offering, I doubt you would betray such generosity."

This had Edea cracking up inside, and a brief scoff escaped her lips. "Generosity? Is that what all you politicians call blackmail nowadays?" She stood from her chair and paced over to the window. The grassy meadows held no solace in this moment, no answers to the choices she had to make. She didn't know what to do.

"Please," Deling said. He remained seated, his voice pleading as his eyes demanded. "Just consider the possibilities."

"I'm a sorceress." She spun around, a moment of glow in her eyes fading just as she connected them with Deling's. "The possibilities before me are endless, whether you are in the picture or not. I'll ask you again, what's the catch?" Her voice was growing with hostility and anger. Not much more of this would she take.

"Ha." Deling sipped his water one last time before getting on his feet. The old floorboards creaked under his weight as he stepped closer to the sorceress in front of him. "I see you are quite stubborn on this matter." He stared her directly in the eyes, her gaze back never faltering. With a wide smirk, he walked over the arch connecting the kitchen to the hall. "All right then, yes. Galbadia does benefit greatly from this alliance. Should the Sorceress side with us, it will surely deter conflicting nations from attacking our soil and provoking needless wars."

Edea folded her arms with a look of disgust on her face. "You mean Galbadia can claim any land she wants without concern of resistance. Who would dare oppose a nation backed by a Sorceress? You think I'm a fool." Her anger was growing.

"I think no such thing, Ms. Sacera."

"You want me on your side so that you can scare others into submission." She walked towards him, within inches of him. That faint glow returned to her eyes, and her voice carried a stern tone. "It is a daring thing for you to come into my home with such expectations as my cooperation. You have no control over me, what assurances do you have that Galbadia won't fall down the same path as Esthar? What secrets are you hiding, President of Galbadia?"

"None. We have no assurance. Only trust."

She scoffed again, shaking her head. "Leave my house. Don't ever come back. I would sooner take my own life than side with a tyrant, even if it meant my spirit could never rest."

Deling swallowed; a sweat had broken out on his wrinkled forehead. "Are you sure about that?" He tried to keep himself composed, not let any shred of fear escape him. He was failing miserably, and Edea had taken a stance.

"Quite sure," she stated, almost in a shout. Raising her arm, she pointed to the door. "Now leave, before I remove you from this place by force."

With a final bow of respect, Deling turned and headed for the door. Not a single word was spoken on his way out, not a second glance as the door closed behind him. He left, and Edea breathed a long relief.

What choice had she made today? Had she only postponed the future? Of course. There was no escaping this; they would return. Galbadia she could resist, but there was another force involved. It was that quiet voice behind her thoughts, the shadows in her dreams that had her truly frightened. That force, that entity within was growing stronger. Deling would return, but with whom would he be speaking upon his second visit? Edea? Or the woman who haunted her dreams?


A/N:

This was originally a very rough dialogue-only script that I used while planning certain background stories and twists for Dreams of Knight. I fleshed it out and polished it up to create a short story, kind of like a prequel you could say. I have many such "clips" in fact and might polish and flesh those out as well. Anyway, there are three more parts to this one, so stay tuned!
- L Raz