Disclaimer: See Chapter I for the standard disclaimer.
Underline: Speech in Japanese
Note: All Japanese and Egyptian translations are at the bottom under the authors notes.
Alright, so long awaited chapter 4:
Hakumei-chan: It will eventually reach M-rating (I work in a game store, technically as soon as it's got blood it hits the M-rating )
Golden Feathers Edward: Uke Cloud sound's good to me ^_~.
Dimonyo-anghel: Can't reveal too much, but here's more. Yes that was the first appearance of the bad guys. Read ahead. I'll repost the story's summary in CH1. Possibly.
Pride1289: Vincent will definately be in this. I'm just working out the kinks to get him there.
Wingsong5555: For a little while, my art took up my life. Then I went to college. Now I'm an Assistant Manager (lol...let me tell you THAT keeps me very busy)
And thank-you to Fireotaku18, Brokenwindow23, Crossing Dreamer Silverdramon, CrimsonpuppetP, Near Kitten, _, and all the other readers who have watched/read/reviewed AFA.
Angel from above
Everything in its Proper Place
Cloud yawned, stretching his arm over the young girl, smiling at the memory of her climbing into bed with him after a bad dream. Atem hadn't had a problem with letting Cloud keep the girl, and had given her a room a few hallways down from Clouds. In the late night, it seemed, the girl had had a nightmare, although he didn't know what as the girl still hadn't said a word to anyone. She had snuck out of her own room and had woken Cloud up trying to wedge the door open quietly.
In return for her efforts of braving the cold palace at night with the rougher of the guards, he had told her stories in his native tongue, which worked admirably in putting her mind to ease and put the young girl to sleep. Now, it was a new day, and he was going to have to figure out what to do with her while he was still attending his 'lessons'.
'I suppose I could just bring her with me.' He mused to himself, to lazy still to try and free the arm trapped beneath the girl. 'That and I need to find out her name. I cant be calling her 'girl' or 'her' all the time…' During his pondering, the girl began to stir. Eventually she peered open her eyes, before hiding shyly under the linen sheets. "Don't hide." Cloud said with a smile. "You still haven't told me your name, ojou-chan." he said, knowing his language was still broken, but it was manageable.
The girl shrugged misurably, getting up and moving to leave, before pausing, watching Cloud's wrist. The blond followed her eyes, and smiled when he saw her watching his Wizard Bracelet, the six materia glowing faintly in their slots. He had been quite thankful to find the accessory hadn't fallen from his clothes on his way through the lifestream to this new place, where ever Kemet was. He still only used materia when he absolutely had to.
He sat up, pointing at one of the connected slots with a green and indigo orb connected, then a red and indigo, then a green and red, and another green "Comet and All, BahamutZERO and Final Attack, Barrier and Odin, and that is Lightning."
The girl stared at Odin and Bahamut's deep red spheres, moving a hand to gently touch the orb before pulling away with a furious blush.
"You like them?" He asked, smiling when she nodded. "What do you like? Their names? Their colour?" She paused and nodded at the second one, and Cloud took Odin from its slot, wrapping it in a small piece of linen and tieing it securely to the cord at her waist. "There."
The girl picked up the orb dangling from her sash, the linen make-shift cord long enough that she could look at it closely but short enough that it didn't drop on the floor. She hugged the blond, shocking his slightly before he hugged back, chuckling.
"Are you going to tell me your name?" He asked, sighing when she didn't shake nor nod her head. "Am I going to name you?" The girl didn't do anything at first, but then nodded, again surprising the blond. "Saa…Alright then. What to name you…" Cloud said a couple names in his mind, shaking his head at each one, he also said a few he thought were suitable, watchign as she wrinkled her nose cutely at the ones she didn't like, which was the majority. "We might have to think of something later." He said when there was a raping outside his door "Hai?"
"Are you awake, son?" Called one of the aged guards Cloud had made friends with in his time at the Palace. "Priest Maha'ado is waiting for you."
Cloud nodded and said he'd be there soon. Getting up and stretching, Cloud made his way around the room, looking for a cleaner set of robes to wear. He was indeed thankful they made him wear the thin linnens instead of his clothes. His blue vest and black pants would've killed him by now.
After changing and redoing the bandages on his arm, he smiled to the girl and offered his hand. "Want to come?"
She looked momentarily frightened for a moment, before taking his hand as he led her through the palace, heading for one of Maha'ado's many rooms. The priest had said that Cloud could sit in on Mana's magic training, and that he would tell Cloud about the lore of Kemet, and more about the different gods. Cloud held a particular intrest in Anubis. For some reason, the god reminded his of Zack. He had seen his friend come back to him in the form of a wolf multiple times, and the thought of how Zack had protected him made him grin as he couldn't help but compare the good man with the god.
All through his after noon classes, the girl followed him. She amused herself if he was learning something that held no intrest to her, but would pay attention if it was interesting. When they arrived in the garden where Isis was, however, she was content with running around the greens and yellows and reds seen no-where else in Kemet. The priests had agreed that since he was picking up the language fairly well, he should learn the heiroglyphics, if, for nothing else, to keep him busy.
He was copying the symbols dutifully, the brush held loosely in his left hand. He was having little difficulty, since his own language's writings were mostly stick-like lines. If it had been something flowing he'd probably have problems with it. The suddeness of the red in his field of vision caused him to pause and blink stupidly before following the beautiful red petals and green stems up a tanned arm to look at the young girl, who was blushing.
Grinning, he pushed the papyrus sheets and ink away before swining the girl into his lap, enjoying the delgight hidden in her face. If he had known Zack for any fewer of years, he wouldn't have been able to pick out the hidden emotions under the fake masks. Taking the flowers from her, "For me?" She shyly hid her face in his collar and nodded, and he paused in thought as he glanced from the red flowers, to the red materia clutched in her small hand. "Akane." He said, with a soft smile. "It means a deep red, like your flowers. How about we call you Akane?"
The girl smiled shyly and nodded, liking the sound.
"Cloud, I believe it is getting late."
Cloud glanced up, nodding. "Akane. Will you go with Isis-sama to get cleaned up?" he asked the girl, who nodded.
Isis smiled and held her hand out, leading the little girl away. In a brief instant when she walked through the door, time managed to slow slightly, and for a moment, it wasn't Akane, but Marlene, who was walking through the doorway, and it was Tifa smiling brightly as she held her hand. Cloud closed his eyes and waited for the home-sickness to fade, attempting to meditate slightly like he had in the church, when his geostigma had first manifested itself and he had fled into hiding. Taking a few more shaky breaths, he got up, walking slowly out of the courtyard, the sun's fading light causing the numerous pillars to cast about abstract shadows.
"I saw him, Pharaoh! He took down a shadow monster without using anything but a sword and an elemental magic of sorts." Karim said.
Cloud moved behind a pillar, hiding himself firmly more on instinct then anything else as he listened to what he could make of the conversation.
The footsteps paused. "That is…alarming. I wouldn't fear Cloud, even with his strength, though." Atem replied.
"Pharaoh," Karim whined.
"Karim, I will tell you something that you must not repeat to anyone. Not Seth, not Maha'ado, not Cloud, do you understand?" There was a pause in the hushed tone as Cloud assumed Atem was waiting for a reasurance, and looking around. "Good. Now, a few moons ago, Isis had a vision. Not a regular vision either, this one only visited her on the night that her brother was found to be kidnapped. The vision read that Kemet will fall to the ever-present darkness, but a gift from the gods will be the only thing to be able to save us all. He will be brought from a far off land. At first when Isis saw in her visions what the man looked like, she thought it was her brother, but now…"
"Its Cloud." Karim finished solemnly.
"Yes. We need him to defeat the black rulers of the upper kingdom."
Cloud felt anger spike at the thought of being used. He tried to calm himself, as he knew the geostigma had a habit of forcing one's emotions to be extreme, but the anger still bubbled.
"We should inform-"
"No, we will not be telling Cloud. The dark rulers have a mad man to rule them, and I fear he can even best the powers of the gods. If Cloud defeated a shadow monster on his own, as you said, then it proves that he might just be stronger then the gods as well."
There was a pause. "Pharaoh?"
"He's powerful, Karim. I can feel it since he arrived that his power knows no bounds. If worst comes to worst- Ra, I hate to ask of you such a difficult task-"
"I will do my best Pharaoh." Karim said. They waited, looking at each other for a short while longer, before walking along, going past Cloud's hiding spot and up another flight of stairs.
Cloud pulled himself from the pillar, heading towards his rooms as he steamed. He collected his swords, and a cloak before jumping onto the rail of the balcony, knowing no one would notice him this time of night. He lept from the second floor, avoiding the guards as he made his way out of the palace grounds and into the city, wrapping the cloak around himself to avoid getting noticed. He just needed some time to vent. Once, he came back though, he was going to need answers.
Maybe taking on three of the mage's of the black ruler's wasn't such a good idea, he thought idly.
Apparently, he was in their territory, and apparently they thought he was helping a band of theives who had stolen one of their rare artifacts. He hadn't bothered to correct them, when they accused him, nor was he even really sure if they would have listened, but now, he decided, it might have been a good idea to try. He dodged a large bird-like monster, jumping off it's head and twisting away from a white dragon just in the nick of time. One of the gigantic monsters, one that looked like it had a healthy dose of Mako, roared and tried to grab him out of the air. He deftly slammed his sword down into the monster's knuckles, hitting the quick release on his sword to send the other 5 flying up the beast's arm. He winced as the monster's shriek echoed in his head as he ran up it's arm to collect the swords, dodging the other fist, which was easily double his size, he jumped into the air with all swords, planning on using a quick and simple braver to split his opponent's head in two, when the dragon slammed him from the air, sending him spiralling down to the ground. Cloud gasped as he landed wrong, and he instantly berated himself for his foolish mistake.
The monster slammed a fist into him before he knew what was happening, and he wondered if he should be seeing his life flashing before his eyes as he fell from the high ground, tumbling harshly as blood flowed from a gash on his temple from the monster. It had been bleeding freely for the better part of the battle, his head rushing when every he was anywhere other then right side up. He winced as he failed to catch himself, smashing his head and battered body into rocks all down the hillside, before landing in a crumpled heap as the monster roared, charging towards him. In his pain addled brain, he only vaguely noticed when the ground began to suck him up. His breath sealed in his throat on instinct, to avoid a rapid death, before he fell with the sand through the roof of a dark cave. He almost thought it was he who had grunted when the sand spit him back out, before his subconscious noticed lazily that there was another warm body under his own. He didn't even think of the winds above blowing the sands to cover the mark of his existence, nor did he pause to think of possible dangers as he slipped into a blurred sleep.
He could hear loud hustle and bustle around him. People talking amongst each other, some discussing prices, other's going through morning prayers, children were laughing, playing with each other. It was far louder then the quiet bustle of the priests and politicians of the palace. Surprisingly, no headache accompanied the noise, and he rubbed his eyes blearily.
He was in a flax tent, shadows of people moving around behind the tents tan coloured walls. He sat up, a momentary dizzy spell hitting him. Moving his hand to his head, he paused, noticing the soft cotton bandages wrapped around his head, sure that his hair was sticking out everywhere. Beside him sat several small bowls, most smelling like various spices either in a cream or liquid form. He got up slowly, pleased to note that the mako in his body had already taken care of the light-headdedness, pushing the flap of his tent open and getting out slowly.
Unlike the palace, no one took too much note in him. A few people said friendly hello's, to which he replied politely, and a few simply carried on with their day.
"Ah, I see you're awake."
Cloud turned, startled, smiling at the hunched old-lady dressed in peasant-brown robes with a white shall over her shoulders.
"Yes, thank you." He said, noticing that the numerous other wounds on his body were also wrapped in bandages.
"Oh, don't thank me!" The elder lady admonished. "Thank the Priest of Sekhmet." she said, pointing towards a large group of children and teens playing kickball.
Cloud nodded his thanks as the elder lady continued on her way. He headed towards the children, catching the ball quickly as it came whistling towards his head.
The children stopped and stared, and cloud realized how fast he had moved with a blush, tossing the ball back down to the group of children. They hastily looked away, before going back to their game, taking glancing looks at him whenever any one of them went by them.
"Wow. That was impressive." A sandy-haired teen said as he moved to Cloud's side, grinning at him.
"Good reflexes, I suppose. Shouldn't you be apologizing? You were the one who kicked it." He replied, wondering slightly about the teen's indigo eye colour.
The blonde laughed. "I was just trying to see if my salves worked in getting rid of your headache! A good jolt to the head usually sees how strong the medicine was."
Cloud stared at the blonde, eyebrows raised. "You're the Priest of Sekhmet?"
"What, too young?" The blonde asked, motioning for Cloud to walk with him. "Priest of Sekhmet is so formal. Just call me Malik." The blonde turned with a flourish, his arms wide. "And welcome to Kul Adofo."
Cloud took pause and glanced around. The entire city- and it was a fairly large city- was held within a giant cave. There were buildings carved into the walls, tents pitched on the dark sand-littered ground. In the roof there were a few small pillars of sand, raining from above, and into large sand-rivers which trickled slowly down into groves in the walls. On the far east side, there was even a river, where women carrying baskets were dividing water amongst the people.
"You sure gave us a scare." Malik said with a laugh, leading Cloud closer to one of the larger sand-falls. "I mean, you took down four houses between you and your gaudy swords."
"No one was hurt?" Cloud asked, feeling his stomach drop. A 10 pound rock dropping from that height would probably lethally wound a person, let alone his 70 pound-a-peice swords.
"No, the only person who got hit was Thief King, and that was only by you." Malik looked him over. "You probably weight about 8 wheat bundles, maybe nine." He teased.
Cloud blushed pink, crossing his arms. Like Zack's teasing attitude, Malik's personality was addictive. "Just because I'm short doesn't mean anything. I weigh at least 15."
"Lies." Malik laughed, knocking on the wall beside a door cut from stone. This house was set further away from the rest, solitary and away from all the light of the torches.
"What?" A gruff voice demanded from inside.
"Come to get the new-commer's swords." Malik responded.
The deep purple curtain moved to the side, and Cloud was momentarily thankful that he was good at hiding when he was really embarrassed.
The man was taller then he (not that that said much), probably about 5'9-Tifa's height. His skin was a dark cinnamon like the rest of Kemet's people, except for the dark scar over his right eye, which was almost as white as Cloud's own skin. His eyes were indigo, and his shoulder length white hair fell to his shoulders. What got Cloud was that the man was wearing nothing but a short white kilt, showing off his broad shoulders and compact musculature. It took him back to the Shin-Ra army for a moment, where he was chased around the showers with rolled up towels, and the other boy's stealing his clothes. Most of them just so happened to have the same physique, ironically.
The man looked Cloud over, before nodding his head inside. "And you know for sure that this bastard isn't going to kill us all and run off with our heads?" He asked, leading them past vast piles of gold, and treasure chests over flowing with expensive clothing, jewelry, and coin.
Malik turned and smiled at Cloud. "Don't worry about Thief King's bad mood. It just so happened he was the one you landed on."
"Sorry." Cloud said, seeing his swords propped against the back wall of the main room, beside the large pile of cushions and blankets. He paused, double counting his swords, before closing his eyes with a sigh. "Was there anymore then 4?"
"Not that we saw." Malik replied, as the dubbed 'Thief King' tapped his foot impatiently.
"Kuso." Cloud swore quietly, slightly thankful that he had managed to keep a hold of Vigilante and Vendetta. Carrying around the other blades without his sheathe would have been ridiculously difficult without the main blades.
"Why?" Malik asked.
"I'm missing Merciless and Sidewinder." Cloud said.
"There's more?!" Malik asked incredulously, gawking openly as Cloud began putting the blades together with little to no effort.
"Told you they were actually his." The Thief King taunted. "Now get of my house, and take the annoying Priest-brat with you."
Cloud nodded, heading out the house followed by Malik.
"Ra, he's always acting like he's Pharaoh." Malik complained.
"You do call him Thief King." Cloud responded, allowing Malik to walk ahead of him so he could follow.
"Ya, that's because everyone down to the elders call him 'Thief King'. He won't tell anyone his real name. Doesn't mean he can treat us like dirt." Malik ranted, throwing his hands in the air.
"He probably has his reasons." Cloud said, not really knowing why he was defending the man. He probably was still feeling sorry for landing on the man. "Besides, weren't you the one asking me to forgive his bad mood?"
"Watch your tongue, priest." An elder man said, slapping Malik upside the head. "The only reason you have a home is because Thief King keeps it safe."
"Doesn't mean he needs to be a donkey about it." Malik muttered.
"Thief King is the last survivor of our sister city- Kul Elna. Only the black magick of his people keeps us safe." The man said, heading inside his own tent.
Cloud followed Malik back to the tent he had woken up in, flopping down on the flax mattress, rubbing his eyes. Even though he had just woken up, he was already tired again. He drifted to sleep, thinking of the odd feeling that the Thief King gave him. It was an oddly familiar feeling, and he had the sudden image Vincent, standing in candle light, with the flickering image of Chaos pasted to the wall within Vincent's own shadow, before the comparison was forgotten in dreams.
Ojou-chan- Young lady/little princess
To- informal 'and' (Forgot for last chapter XP)
Vigilante- First, larger base sword
Vendetta- second sword with it's hilt built into the blade
Merciless and Avenger- two identical long-swords comprised of the flat edge and serrated edge
Ascalon and Sidewinder- twin swords with gears holding the flipping hilt