Chapter 1

Author's Note: This story came to me one day and I really like the idea. I'm going to publish this first chapter to see whether anyone else will find this intriguing. I hope people find this story to be captivating : )

Rating: M

Summary: Darkness engulfed the hume. Was there any hope for recovery, any light to shine through it? (Story occurs five years after game.)

Disclaimer: I don't own any characters of Final Fantasy XII, nor am I making a profit off of this story. I am merely doing this for my enjoyment.

He was running. He had been running for days. Or had it been weeks? He wasn't certain.

In fact, he wasn't certain of anything, except for the tortuous emptiness inside of him: the emptiness in his mind and, more painfully so, in his stomach. The pain…the agonizing feeling of famine…

He was desperately rushing through a deserted field, no sign of life anywhere. Where was he? How did he get here? How had he managed to survive this long without food, to endure the burning sensation infesting his stomach?

He wanted to scream in rage and frustration. His clouded memory, his tormenting malnourishment- when was the aggravation going to cease? His misery was overpowering. But all he could do was run, because that was the only thing frustrated people could do. Run. Attempt to flee from the suffering…or find civilization.

Yes, that was all he needed; humes. He didn't need hundreds of humes; just a couple would suffice, or maybe even just one. Anyone to tell him who he was, where he was, and where he came from. And other things aside from that, but he couldn't focus on that now. He was in an indescribable amount of pain, and the only thing he could clearly focus on was that horrible, caustic sensation occurring in the pit of his stomach. The feeling as though his stomach had been split open, and the acid inside seeping out and corroding his organs and skin.

He wanted to escape from his reality, if only for a little while. He had fallen asleep for a few hours before, but not peacefully. Even his sleep, the supposed escape from reality, was congested with nightmares. Awake or asleep- it didn't matter to him. He was in a hellish situation where there seemed to be no escape.

Hours elapsed and he lost all hope. Even the diminutive amount of hope he held hours earlier had kept him going. Survival had been his predominant goal. But now he understood his hopeless situation. He just wanted this all to end. He was emaciated and haggard and he didn't want to undergo any more pain.

Death…it sounded so harmonious to him. How much longer did he have to wait before he could just die?

But then…his hope was restored.

He smelled blood. A hume must be nearby! The smell was so pungent, it seemed as though an onslaught had occurred. He followed the scent immediately.

Please let there be survivors. He ran again, only this time, he was slightly more composed. Slightly. He raced across the barren fields, everything around him a blur.

His stomach felt raw and calloused inside of him. He was growing mad with hunger. The humes could provide him with food and answers. This was his only hope to ease his hurting.

He continued to follow the scent of blood until he approached a rocky area. The blood lingered in the air outside of a cave-like structure. Without any hesitation, he entered into the damp, murkiness of the cave. All around him, he saw skulls and heaps of bones. Bats were eyeing him from the ceiling, tempted to lunge at him but thinking better of it- he probably did look like a maniacal savage after enduring such agony for a prolonged period of time.

Or perhaps they sensed an intense wave of energy flowing deep within him? An energy so indomitable, it seemed bestial?

But no matter… he needed to assuage the throbbing ache within him.

Finally, he detected the location of the scent's origination. He entered into a large room in which hundreds of bodies scattered the ground. This had to be some sort of prison.

The bodies reeked of decay. Rats ravenously gnawed on their sickly yellowing skin. Yet, even with the sordid display of corpses covering the cold, moist ground, even with the noisomeness that lingered in the musty air- he wasn't afraid. He ignored all the dead and rotting, and observed the room in hopes of spotting a survivor. He perked his head up from the ground when he heard a muffled groan from another room. He realized the groaning came from a tiny, lighted room at the far end.

He entered the tiny room. Before him were two breathing humes; one conscious, the other unconscious. They were in chains and were stretched uncomfortably on fractured boards. The conscious prisoner looked up and started begging when he noticed him at the entrance.

He walked over to the prisoner and peered down at him.

"Please!" The prisoner pleaded. "I am dying! There is no hope for me! End my suffering, please!"

Desperately, the hume responded, "What is this place? Where are we? Tell me and I'll spare you!"

The prisoner gasped for breath, his lungs straining with every waking moment. "A-A-Archadian D-Dungeon… Prisoners'…hell… Please, end my pain now. I am dying so…slowly…"

"Archadia..?" He muttered to himself. He wanted to ask the prisoner more, but he decided to keep true to his promise. He searched the room until he found a broken, splintered truncheon. He could've easily killed the cadaverous prisoner with his own hands, but that didn't seem humane, and so he seized the splintered truncheon and pierced the prisoner's heart. The prisoner's eyes had closed just before his heart ceased beating.

Looking at the prisoner, the hungry hume was envious. This man's suffering had ended so briefly, and yet he still lived in agony. He rummaged through the deteriorating room in search of provisions.

A long while later, he evacuated from the dungeon with meager scraps of moldy bread and a dusty blanket, the two prisoners he had encountered in the torture chamber now a heap of bones.

He awoke late in the afternoon the next day, the sun shining brightly on his pallid skin. He jumped to his feet, feeling somewhat revitalized. His hunger was reduced, but he still craved more food. He tried downing the moldy bread, but couldn't tolerate its bland and repulsive flavor today and discarded it on the grass. He would look for something better. Meat…that was what he craved the most. Thick and juicy and fatty- he desired nothing else.

This desire was fairly answered when he noticed a couerl running through the dry, grassy field a hundred yards away. Savagely, he gave chase and broke the couerl's neck facilely. He skinned the beast and started a fire, gnawing at the burning meat.

Who was more the beast; the couerl or he?

His hunger dwindled; he headed towards another cave to the north. Perhaps he'd find more humes and provisions, and more information as well. But this cave was different. Decomposing zombies and the like resided in this cave. He probably should've been frightened of them but, on the contrary, the zombies were frightened of him. He couldn't suppress the smirk that formed on his pale lips as he realized this. The zombies were avoiding him. How humorous… He must look terrible!

He pressed on, covering himself up from head to waist with the dusty blanket for warmth.

Needless to say, he traveled through the cave easily and finally approached a contraption. It seemed to be an elevator and so he stepped into it. He touched a device and stepped away when it glowed a light blue. It reacted to his touch and ascended upwards. When the machine stopped, he stepped out and into a slovenly settlement.

A settlement! He wanted to shout aloud in joy. He had finally located an area where humes lived!

He looked around him and observed the gaunt-looking humes who reeked of sweat and filth. It was apparent this settlement wasn't a pleasant community to live in for them. They all looked miserable, with their lifeless eyes that stared ahead into nothingness, as if there was some sort of impediment confining them from something more desirable. It seemed ironic to him that these humes would loath this atmosphere, whereas he regarded it as his saving grace.

He had been desolate and indigent for an indeterminate amount of time previously, with no knowledge of who he even was. He didn't know his name, his status, or whether he even lived here or not. Yet now, he was provided with the opportunity for receiving information he deemed incumbent for the sake of his sanity.

He approached a withered, decrepit man who was leaning against a greasy stone wall.

"Excuse me, sir." The hume began, the blanket hiding most of his face. "What is the name of this settlement?"

The man looked up at the hume, glaring at him with disbelief. "You must not be sane if you don't know this place, son! This is none other than Old Archades! How could you not know of such a dreadful place!"

Perhaps he was insane after all.

"Old Archades...?" He repeated quietly.

As he heard the young hume's confusion in his voice, the old man was overcome with pity for the 'mentally challenged' young man and proceeded on explaining all he knew about the Old and New Archades.

Satisfied with the old man's answers, the hume politely thanked him and continued through the cobblestone streets. He managed to sneak past two soldiers standing guard due to the fact that they were arguing with a beggar over some matter. He wanted to reach New Archades, where luxury and knowledge went hand in hand- as the old man had informed him. He was filled with glee when he realized he was approaching the bustling city. He swiftly divested himself of the dusty blanket and threw it to the ground.

When he officially entered Archades, he was overwhelmed by the architecture, the many civilians, and the flying airships ahead. He remained stationary in the center of the clean, cobblestone street, mouth agape in awe. And then…

He felt a vague sense of déjà vu as he continued to admire the city. Something so familiar…but he couldn't quite put his finger on it…

He didn't know how long he contemplated that feeling, but eventually, he heard someone shouting incoherently a small distance away. When he turned around, he discovered the shouting hume was directly calling out to him.

"Larsa? Is that you Larsa?"

He locked eyes with the young woman as she approached him.

She smiled at him. "Larsa…I hardly recognized you. You look so different since the last time I saw you. And look how much you've grown..!"

Larsa? Was that his name? Larsa…The name didn't sound familiar to him. But he was relieved he had finally discovered his own name.

"So, how have you been?"

Larsa furrowed his brow. Who was this young woman? How was he acquainted with her? He studied her intently. She had angel blonde hair that cascaded down to her waist, glowing rather brightly under the intense sunlight. She was very small, too…at least compared to him. She had to bend her head almost completely backwards in order to gaze up at him. She was wearing a brilliant yellow sundress adorned with white buttons that started from her chest and proceeded down to her abdomen. The dress revealed her toned, tiny arms and calves. On her feet were white, lacy flats. And when his eyes traveled back to her face, he noticed blood rushing to her cheeks, reddening her face. Very beautiful.

And then it dawned on him how rude he was behaving. He hadn't even responded to her question. Clearing his throat, he replied, "H-hello…I've been f-fine." What a terrible lie that was. "H-How have you been?"

To him, she was a complete stranger. He didn't know what else to say.

"I've been alright, thanks. Is something the matter, though? You look rather perplexed by something…"

Damn it. What could he say? He was going to have to extemporize throughout their entire conversation and hope that he didn't sound like a fool. "Oh, n-nothing…" He stammered, searching for something else to say.

The sun was beginning to set, and he felt his stomach growl. He was hungry. Oh, how he detested that empty feeling in his stomach…He was going to be forever traumatized by his past suffering of near-starvation. Now, as his stomach continued to growl, he became aggravated. He never wanted to feel so famished again.


He couldn't stop studying her skin. It was so smooth and soft…and she looked very delicate. He could smell her rich, saccharine scent. It was quite alluring.

"Larsa, what's the matter?"

He came back to his senses, and looked down at her. "I-I'm sorry… I just…haven't seen you in a while, so it is rather…pleasant to see you once again." He prayed what he was saying made sense to her, and he sighed in relief when she smiled to him again. Perfect.

"Yeah, it has been a while. But what are you doing in the middle of the city? An emperor doesn't usually just come out of his castle for a stroll down the streets." She teased.

Another shock.

He was an emperor?

Automatically, he gazed upwards and focused on the tallest building that sliced through the sky. He had been examining that large building before when he had felt that sensation of déjà vu. That must be his castle.

If he was truly the emperor of Archades, then how had he managed to be hundreds of miles away from Archades before? He remembered the seemingly ongoing fields he had ran through, searching for food. He felt his stomach growl again, infuriating him. He needed to calm himself, to assure himself that he wouldn't go so hungry again.

"Larsa, I know you've never liked discussing personal matters in public. Would you like to go somewhere more private instead?" She was looking at him quizzically, nervously interlacing her fingers and twisting them. He must've looked quite disturbed …

He grinned at her suggestion. Yes; somewhere private and completely out of the public's sight. He wanted that more than anything. He wanted to be all alone with her…

"Yes, I would like that very much." He said, concealing his roguish grin. "Where would you like to go for some…private time?"

"How about an inn?" She proposed. "We can have our own room."

An inn was perfect… He smiled at her and nodded. "Then let us find an inn."

Attempting to be well-mannered, he took her suitcases from her hands and led her to an inn. There were inns at every corner. Therefore, this feat wasn't so difficult to accomplish. When he approached the counter of one inn, the clerk looked up at him with wide eyes.

"L-Lord Larsa..?"

That was going to take some accommodating to. "I would like one room to rest in, please." He requested.

"G-go right ahead, milord. No charge, of course…" The clerk stared in disbelief as he watched the emperor lead the young woman beside him upstairs. He never realized the young lord had become so…concupiscent. But alas, the young lord was seventeen years old and so he had to be at his peak stage of hormonal activity. The clerk smiled at such a thought.

The emperor quickly dropped the suitcases on the bed and closed the door behind him. This was going far more easily than he had thought it would. He was becoming overly excited. She was completely oblivious…

"This is quite a lovely inn, Larsa." The young woman remarked, admiring its immaculateness.

"Yes, very much so…" He absent-mindedly agreed, growing rather impatient. He was gaping at her from behind. That angel-fine hair looked so lovely…and he couldn't stop inhaling the scent of her skin…

The familiar feeling of bestiality crept through him…He needed to act now. He couldn't suppress the urge any longer. He felt his teeth sharpen and grow, morphing into long fangs. His veins were bulging from his skin and pulsing quickly. His pupils were dilating, covering his eyes completely with blackness. He took a few steps towards her, preparing for the lunge. It was going to be quick and painless…

He grinned knavishly as he listened to her humming so contently. Completely oblivious. This was ridiculously easy…

He took tiny steps closer to her. He approached right behind her…and then lunged.

But he was never able to grab her, for she had turned around and flung herself at him, entwining her arms around his waist tightly.

"I've missed you so much, Larsa…" She whispered.

His eyes widened as he felt her soft touch, completely taken aback by her sudden embrace. He felt his arms drop limply back to his side, his razor sharp teeth returning to their original shape. His dilated pupils contracted back to their normal size as well. He was able to refocus on his surroundings, rather than just single-mindedly concentrating on what he had wanted to do to her.

At that moment, his world had changed. He was seeing things, remembering things from the past. The warmth of her arms spread all over him, and the fog in his head was dispersing. The feeling was overwhelming…but in a good way. And then, he wasn't so confused anymore. It was as if he was seeing a lighted path in a cave for the first time when, previously, he had thought it only held darkness.

Memories…they were flowing through him again, they replenished him. In just moments, he started remembering. He remembered himself as a little boy, crying in someone's arms on a snowy mountain. He remembered what his castle looked like in the inside, and recalled the small pond on the roof of it. He remembered his father and brothers, and recalled all of their deaths.

He didn't feel so empty anymore. This was what he had needed…

She started pulling away from him, blushing at her capricious behavior and his seemingly impassive reaction to it. But before her arms left his waist, he pulled her firmly to him again. The sensation was miraculous. He knew what he wanted. Everything was so clear now…

Larsa lifted her off the ground so he could whisper in her ear. "I've missed you, too…Penelo."

Author's Note: So, how was that first chapter? Dark, mysterious, interesting..?

I'm sure every reader has many questions after reading this first chapter. Those questions will be answered…eventually. : )

Anyway, please tell me what you thought about this chapter. Depending on the number of reviews I get on this story, I may or may not continue with it. Reviews encourage me to continue.

I hope you all liked it :)