I don't own FFIV. I'm sure you guessed that already. This is a sequel to "Allergies and a Harp," although it's not necessary to read that story first in order to understand this one. It's strange -- I really thought I would never write a sequel to "Allergies," but this story just sort of came out of nowhere.
I welcome all feedback, including suggestions for improvement. Especially pointing out mechanical errors or plotholes.
I will post subsequent chapters as soon as I reproof them. I'll aim for once a week at least.
I hope you enjoy this story!
Please note: I've found that this site doesn't like my creative use of punctuation -- such as tildes. So, telepathic conversations will be indicated by (italics) inside parenthesis.
How to Save the Environment in Two Easy Steps
Step One – kill a lot of monsters.
Step Two – make the Lunarians go away.
Chapter One – What Dreams May Come
Kain fell out of his bunk with a scream. He was simultaneously shivering and sweating, and his skin was completely prickled in goose bumps. He crouched on the floor, palms flush against the icy stone floor, just trying to get his breath back, just trying to reassure himself that the world he presently saw around him was real.
In his nightmare, Golbez had come for him again.
Though Kain rationally knew that the half-lunarian wizard was far, far away from him – and though he strongly suspected that his ex-captor was now much more benign in the absence of Zemus's influence . . . nevertheless, his subconscious mind could not let him forget.
The dream's images still lingered in Kain's mind, so much more vivid than reality. Golbez had called Kain's name, and appeared in his concealing, black armor, just as before. Then he had removed his helmet, revealing a tangle of white, lunarian hair that topped a skull instead of a face. The toothy jaw grinned, then Golbez spread his arms wide apart. Suddenly he held a wooden board in each hand, such as used to manipulate puppet strings. He jerked his arms around sharply, and Kain suddenly found himself moving against his will. Helpless, he watched in horror as his traitorous hands drew out a blood-red spear – and then, against his volition, he stalked through the castle, hunting down all the inhabitants one, by one, by one . . .
The door to Kain's private room flew open. Kain gasped and drew back at the sudden sound.
A pair of nervous guards peered in. "Sir! Sir? Is . . . everything alright? We thought we heard a . . ."
"It's fine," Kain replied stiffly, hurrying to his feet. "Just a dream – it's nothing. Go back to your posts."
There was hesitance in the guards' eyes. Kain was sure it was doubt of his trustworthiness – or even doubt of his sanity. Nothing had been the same since he had been used by Golbez. But before he could add anything more, though, the guards saluted quickly and departed. They left the wooden door open as they left.
Kain walked over to shut the door, then stopped. What was the point? Sleep had fled far away from him, and would not return while images of the nightmare still lingered in his mind. Kain instead pulled on some boots to cover his stocking feet, threw his sheets into a messy heap on his bed, then went into the corridor for a walk.
The hallways of the castle even proved too confining for him. Kain headed out onto the battlements where he could stare down at the sleeping castle and the village beyond. Baron was still a tense place by daylight; anyone who knew he had been under Golbez's command would try to avoid him. And maybe he was just paranoid, but it seemed like dark looks followed him everywhere he went. At least now, at night, he had peace.
Kain jumped. He heard Golbez's voice as clearly as if the man was standing right next to him, nothing like the faint whisper he'd heard when Golbez had last called to him from distant space. He expected to spin around and see that human-like monster in his black armor, just like in his dream. When Kain surveyed the whole battlement around him, and even looked up into the sky and still found nothing, he only grew more worried. This is it. I've really snapped now! First I dream he's still controlling me, and then I think I can hear him. Next, I'll probably –!
(Kain? Are you awake now?)
Kain shivered from his head down to his toes. He aimed his thoughts directly at his unseen tormentor. (Leave me alone, Golbez!! I'm not supposed to hear you anymore! You're supposed to be gone, gone forever!! Stop talking to me!!!)
(Oh good – you are awake, at last. I was getting worried. You see, I need your help . . .)
(No!!! Absolutely not! Leave me alone! I don't want to go crazy . . .) Kain grabbed onto the stone wall before him, as though it could somehow anchor him from being swept away by this wave of madness. He heard shouts coming from within the castle, and belatedly realized that he had actually expressed his last thoughts aloud.
(Kain, what I really mean is . . . is FuSoYa needs your help. I'm just relaying the message on his behalf.)
(FuSoYa?) Kain thought back incredulously. (Needs my help? May I point out, Golbez, that I am currently on the Blue Planet and not about to go anyw–)
(So is FuSoYa. I mean, he is also on the Blue Planet. He came back because he needs Cecil's help–)
(So why don't you ask Cecil to help him?)
(I tried! Cecil wouldn't wake up! But you did – so that's why I'm asking you!)
(Uh-huh.) Kain's breathing finally settled back to more normal. Now that he was slowly becoming truly awake, he realized that his whole nightmare might have just been engineered by his mind in response to hearing Golbez's voice again. The man probably had no idea of the trauma his midnight call had caused.
Of course, even if he wasn't being malevolent, there was no reason for Kain to simply trust him either. (So what you're saying is that FuSoYa, the great Lunarian mage, has suddenly come back to the Blue Planet to find Cecil – and now this great mage needs my help?)
Golbez started sounding a little frustrated. (He doesn't need your help – he just needs somebody to help him! He tried to land next to Baron, but failed. Now, he is being attacked by swarms of monsters – monsters that are immune to magic attacks! So will you please go to assist him?!)
A doorway opened at the far end of the battlement, and Kain heard brisk footsteps. He ignored it for the moment. Kain was still not convinced of Golbez's honesty, but if FuSoYa really was in danger . . . (So, you're saying you want me to go alone?)
(No! Kain, please – FuSoYa needs help now! Go alone or take the whole army of Baron with you. Wake up Cecil, too, if it pleases you. Just please, please hurry! FuSoYa landed roughly halfway between Mist and Baron. I think he's . . . just east of the main trail right now.)
"Sir? Is something the matter?"
It was one of the soldiers who had run to his door before. Kain started strongly suspecting that Cecil was having his door watched at night. Evidently the king trusted him no more than Kain trusted Golbez. Hardly a surprise, though, Kain thought to himself. But the soldier was waiting for an answer, and Kain could hear other guards coming. He thought quickly. "I was taking a walk to clear my head . . . and I just heard from a messenger that a swarm of monsters is attacking a small party of travelers just north of Baron."
Three other guards arrived by then and caught the last part of Kain's explanation. Baron had so many new soldiers now, after Golbez and the fiends had wiped out so many of the others – but Kain recognized the blond, Jared, in the back. He looked concerned. One of the newer guards at the front saluted and asked, "What are your orders, Captain?"
Kain was surprised by such respect, and assumed this guard had yet to hear the full story of Kain's vile betrayal. But still, it gave him some hope. "Ah . . . I was considering whether we ought to wake the king, to inform him . . . But unless the situation proves very serious, I don't think we should bother him." These guards might be willing to buy that Kain 'just happened' to get word from a messenger that no one else had seen – but Cecil definitely wouldn't swallow it. And Kain didn't like going on Golbez's word either . . . but FuSoYa was Cecil's highly-esteemed uncle, and if he truly was in danger, then Cecil would surely go to his aid. Kain set his voice authoritatively. "Gather a medium-sized scouting party. I'll lead it personally to investigate this report. And assign someone to inform the king, on his waking, of where we've gone. Understood?"
"Yes sir." The formal one saluted again, and the others carelessly followed suit a moment later.
Kain just brushed through them to head back to his room without another word. His heart was pounding again as he belatedly thought about how bad things were going to look for him if any part of this mission proved to be a trap.