Disclaimer: I don't own anything but the story.......

Chapter 1

It was a dark, cold night as Squall Leonhart traveled through the mountainous region of Trabia. But the cold was of little importance to him at that moment, as he had rented a car in the city Esthar to make his journey easier.

He was driving over a rocky path that led up a mountain when the gas light came on. He looked at the meter and saw that it was nearly empty.

"Great," he muttered to himself.

There was no town in sight. If he didn't find one soon, he'd be stranded in the freezing cold near the top of the mountain.

He drove on, however, for some reason unconcerned about his current situation. A tranquil feeling had come over him as he was driving.

Soon enough, though, the car slowly rolled to a stop and refused to move anymore.

As he stepped out of the car, rain began to fall, softly at first then harder and harder as the moments passed.

(Damn) he thought, (Just my luck)

He began walking then, hoping to come up on a town or at least a hotel to spend the night. By the time he finally could make out a building of some sort through the rain and darkness, he was half frozen and stumbling forward like a zombie. He felt like walking death.

As he came closer to the structure he had seen, he saw that it looked like some sort of mansion, or even a castle.

Although he didn't understand why there would be a mansion or castle hidden away in the mountains, he was glad it was there.

The place was surrounded by a high wall with gaps where bricks had been removed in pattern. At the front, was an iron gate where two statues of lions stood guard.

For a moment he thought he had seen one of them move out of the corner of his eye, but he decided it must have been his tired, dizzy mind imagining things.

He slowly opened the gate, wondering who lived in the castle and how they would take to him suddenly showing up out of nowhere.

Once he was on the other side of the gate, the rain let up a little, just enough for him to see his surroundings better.

The castle was unlike any he'd ever seen before. It was circular and several stories tall, with a layered roof that pointed up as if reaching for the sky. It was made of dark, smooth stone. The front door was located high above the ground. The only way to get in was by two large, stone staircases that came together at one point, parted again, and then came together again at the door. There was a tunnel that gradually led underground between the two stairways that led off to some unknown destination.

Wearily, he climbed the numerous steps to the front entrance. At the second gap in the stairs, he looked down to find that the space was full of water that poured into it through holes in the sides. He squinted against the darkness and thought he could see the shape of something long, and narrow like a serpent.

At the front entrance, which was a set of wide, arched double doors, he knocked softly, not wanting to scare whoever it was that lived there.

There was no answer. He tried again, this time harder. Nothing. Finally, he banged on it as hard as he could, and the door slowly creaked open from the force.

Cautiously, he stepped through the door and yelled, "Hello!"

Once again, no answer. He examined the room around him carefully. It was empty of people, but it looked as if someone had been there a short time ago.

The room was richly decorated, with long tapestries on the walls, and a thick carpeted rug on the floor. There was a fireplace in one wall, with a fire still burning in it. There was also an old fashioned sofa against the other wall, and a small table sat in front of it that looked as if it had been set for tea.

"Hello!" he called again, even creeped out by the place now than he was before.

No reply. Squall was tempted to go and warm himself by the fire, but something told him to keep looking aroung.

He passed through another door and found himself in a wide, open room with a large staircase that had two small creatures adorning the ends of the banisters. One wall was made entirelt of glass and curved outward. The room was dark because the only source of light, a giant crystal chandelier that hung from the ceiling, was turned off.

Squall wandered over to the glass wall and watched the heavy rain fall outside, as it splattered against the glass, distorting his view of the outside world.

He suddenly felt uncomfortable just standing there, so he turned away and once again yelled, "Hello! Is anyone here?!"

The only reply was the sound of his own voice echoing of the walls of the mostly empty room.

He hung his head in weariness until something caught his attention. He looked up at the banister where the two small creatures had once stood. One was gone. Or was it ever even there at all?

He shook his head at the thought and returned to the wall to watch the rain. He couldn't explain it, but the rain made him feel somewhat calm. Or perhaps it was just that the simple act of watching the rain gave his tired mind a break.

Whatever it was, it was taking affect on him. He felt a tickling sensation begin at the back of his mind and spread to fill his entire head, making him feel dizzy.

Squall leaned his forehead against the glass, and slowly let his heavy eyelids fall...

"Is there a problem, Yoru?"

The tiny, four legged creature nodded its snake like head and gave forth a series of high pitched squeaks.

"What did he say, Shiva?"

The pale, scantly dressed guardian force floated up to her master, "He said that he saw a stranger in the castle."

Her master nodded and stood from her seat. "I'll just have a look at this stranger then."

She crossed the room to a small stone pool that rose from the ground. She leaned over it and said, "Show me the stranger."

The water in the pool rippled slowly until a dark figure visible. He was standing there against the wall, seemingly staring at nothing.

"What do you think, Shiva?"

"He looks tired. In fact, I believe he's falling asleep where he's standing. Poor thing."

"I wish I could see him better. All I can see is the back."

Laughter rose behind the two, and they turned to find Siren looking over their shoulders at the pool.

"Well, if you ask me, he looks good from the back."

Shiva shook her head in dissaproval at her fellow GF, then turned her attention back to her master. "What shall we do about him?"

There was no answer. Her master was too busy watching the stranger.

"Move closer," she said to the pool.

The view of him got better as it got closer. Then, all most as if he sensed that there were eyes upon him, he opened his own and turned around, giving them an even better view of himself.

"Wow... he has the most beautiful eyes I've ever seen."

"Yeah, but that's not the only thing on him that looks good," Siren commented with a smile.

"Siren!" Shiva exclaimed exasperatedly.

Siren flashed an apologetic smile at the older GF. "Sorry. I was just making an observation," she said innocently.

"Master?" Shiva asked softly, choosing to ignore Siren.

"Hmm?" was the absent-minded reply she recieved.

"What are we to do with him?"

Her master suddenly snapped to attention, "Oh. Well, he's awfully tired. It would be rude to throw out. I need one of you to show him to the guest room."

"Oh! I'll do it! I'll do it!" Siren exclaimed.

"No. On second thought, I'm not sure I trust you alone with him. Shiva, you had better go."

Shiva nodded then bowed, "Yes, Master Rinoa."

If you had to do it all again, would you choose the same path?

"What?" Squall asked. "Why do you keep asking me that?"

It is your decision. Would you choose the same path?

"I don't understand the question!"

"I aksed if it was your intention to stand there all evening."

Squall jerked his head up suddenly, feeling a freezing cold hand on his shoulder. The hand was do cold, he could feel it through his jacket.

"Well, glad to see you are awake. I was beginning to worry."

Squall blinked a few times in an attempt to clear his vision.

"Shiva?" he asked. "Shiva, the GF?"

"Nice to see that I am still reconized after these past few years," she commented. "Now, if you will, I've been told to take you to the guest room so that you may rest."

"Been ordered...? By who?"

"My master. Now are you coming?"

He nodded slowly, uncertain about this sudden change of events. "Yeah, I guess. Your master doesn't mind?"

"Of course not. Did I not just say she was the one who ordered it?"

"She?" Squall repeated. "....So why does she have you running around doing errands for her? I thought you only assisted people in battle. Or did you retire? I mean, you haven't be seen in two or three years."

"That is because I've been here the entire time," she answered as she led the way up the stairs. "No, I have not retired. Silly boy, GFs do not retire. I, along with the others, are here in service to the Master. That means that we serve her in any way we can. We do this because she needs us."

"Is that the only reason?" Squall asked.

Shiva nodded, "You would understand, I believe, if you met her."

"And there's more than just you? Is there were all the missing GFs have gone?"

"I am not sure about all, but yes, there are many of us here. Now, here is your room for the evening."

The two had come to a stop in front of a set of arched double doors.

"When you awake in the morning, someone will come to assist you. Have a peaceful sleep," Shiva said before she dissapeared.

Squall sighed as he shut the door and looked at his surroundings. The room he had been taken to was rather large, but empty. It had a queen size bed, a dresser, and a desk. A large chandelier hung from the ceiling and one whole wall was made of glass, like the one in the room he had been in before. This wall curved inward, and from what he could tell through the darkness, looked out over a spacious garden.

He really didn't like the idea of staying in a stranger's house, especially since this stranger seemed, well, strange. But he knew he had no other choice. He could either stay there and sleep in a warm bed, or he could freeze to death outside.

What was even worse that all of this, in his mind at least, was the strange dream he was having when Shiva woke him up. It had seemed so real. He had never had a dream like that before. Did it have something to do with the strange place?

Finally, Squall decided to put these thoughts aside and get some much needed rest.

He stripped down to his boxers, neatly placing his shirt, jacket, and pants on the dresser and his gunblade on the desk.

Back in her room, Rinoa was still watching him as he prepared for sleep. She was accompanied by Siren, of course.

"Oh, for heaven's sake, are you going to give that boy any privacy?" Shiva asked as she appeared behind the two.

Rinoa drew back suddenly and blushed. "Oh...I kinda spaced. I'll leave him alone now." She then turned to the pool and said, "Fade out."

Slowly the pool grew darker and darker until nothing could be seen in it but the bottom.

Shiva shook her head, "I've never seen you act this way, Master. What is it about this stranger that makes you like this?"

"Geez, Shiva. Are you blind?" Siren asked. "Just look at him. That's all the answer you need."

Rinoa shook her head, "No. It's more than that. There just something about him... I can't explain it."

Shiva sighed, "Well, I'm off to my own room to rest. If you need anything more, just call me."

After Shiva had dissapeared, Siren grinned and shook her head, "Shiva is such a stick in the mud. Anyway, I was thinking, you should introduce yourself to him. I mean, obviously I can't have him, so you might as well."

Rinoa frowned, "I can't. You know that. You know what I am. And you know how people act towards me."

Siren smiled at her sadly, "Yes, Master. I know. But maybe this one'll be different. You never know until you try."

Rinoa sighed, "I can't risk it. Even as much as I'd like to. He could be one of them. I mean, did you see his weapon? He has to be one of them. In fact, he's probably on a mission to kill me and just doesn't know that he's found where I'm hiding."

"I understand what you're saying. But one of who? I mean, there's not like groups of people out there to get you, is there? Not anymore, anyway," Siren said. "Everyone has forgotten."

Rinoa shook her head, "I wish that were true. But there is one group out there that's determined to kill me, only because I'm the last sorceress on the planet."


"They call themselves SeeD."