Demigod by nightbug

Chapter One: Advent

He was born on a cloudy day. The skies over Midgar were thick with them, a dry storm over the desert. As if uncomfortable with the dark atmosphere of impending rain, pure white clouds broke away from the mammoth thunderheads and floated over to distant Nibelheim.

The sun shone oddly brightly that day over the small mountain village. The skies were a clear blue and dotted with clean white puffs. The village had been coated in a layer of freshly fallen snow from the night before, still untouched by all but a single trail of footprints.

From far below, a pregnant woman looked skyward, and could have sworn she heard the sound of a baby's cry. As if echoing it, she suddenly fell over, clutching her belly. Villagers rushed out to help her as soon as the first pained gasp escaped her parted lips.

"My baby?" The soft voice called from the bed.

"Congratulations, Strife. It's a boy." A woman's voice informed her kindly.

"He looks just like his father." The new mother said with a smile. She brushed her fingers lightly through the child's hair, marveling and its downy softness. Slowly, blue eyes opened, gazing at his mother in wonder. "My child." She murmured lovingly. She trailed a finger down the boy's cheek, tracing and memorizing every line of her child's face.

The baby responded in kind, leaning into the touch.

"He's being sent to the Planet." The mid-wife said abruptly. She bit down uncomfortably on the inside of her cheek to keep from frowning. It was wrong of her to have broken the bonding moment, but the mother needed to know as soon as possible.

"What?" Surprise washed over Strife's face, startling the infant.

"Director Lazard has already appointed him to become one of Gaia's guardians." The mid-wife continued.

"So soon? He hasn't even shown any signs of potential yet." The woman said worriedly, cradling her newborn closer to her chest.

"Yes. The director had a particular interest in him. I'm sorry." The mid-wife said sounding genuinely apologetic.

Her charge simply shook her head, understanding the situation. While rare, it happened on occasion that infants were appointed with a task that had been pre-determined.

"A name?" The mid-wife asked, indicating the baby. Until the newborn was properly christened, he could not receive his gift or his curse.

Strife looked down lovingly on her child's features, still innocent and untouched by the world. She closed her eyes and touched her forehead to her child's.

"Cloud." She murmured, and pressed a gentle kiss on her baby's tender forehead. A symbol appeared where her lips had met the infant's skin, marking him as one of hers, a Strife. Then it faded and she opened her eyes with a regretful sigh. With that her baby vanished from her grasp, leaving her now empty arms with only a lingering warmth.

Lazard stared at the newborn, curiosity lighting his eyes. He had never thought that Strife would actually bear a child, and it was such an odd one. Blonde haired, round faced, and frail in appearance, Lazard studied the child as if it were a strange thing. Not too many of their kind was born so young looking. He looked like a Chocobo chick. Only the baby's eyes, clear and comprehending, assured the director of his decision.

"Your mother moved you to a good place." He said idly. They floated over Nibelheim, a small and clean region that was near perfect for beginners, with the exception of one rather large thorn. "It's really too bad that we're short on guardians. I had wished that you would have been able to stay by your mother's side for even just a moment longer, but we have no time to waste."

He held the infant above the land below. "This is Nibelheim. It's a rough land, but it's pure. It's the kindest place I can offer right now. It will be your training ground, your test. Tame it and the beast that guards it, and then you can return." He spoke clearly, enunciating the task to the baby with the curiously clear blue eyes, who understood every word.

Lazard smiled. Then he dropped the child and watched as it plummeted toward the ground.

"Your first test." Lazard said quietly. "Landing."

Cloud fell, tumbling through the sky with hardly a sound. The white puffs that were his namesake parted easily before him, feather-light cushions that barely slowed him down. Even still, as the earth rushed up towards him at impossible speeds, he rotated once to face it.

Cloud crashed into the earth. The air itself cracked, as if announcing his arrival, yet all he left were footprints in the snow.

The director's small smile widened. Descending wouldn't have been a problem for any one of them, but he was pleased to see how neatly the child had performed it. A drop from the Heavens could be difficult for some. The child displayed a particularly high aptitude for someone so young, even if he was a newborn God.

"One last thing." Lazard continued. "The name of the guardian beast."

Cloud looked up as a massive clawed paw took up the expanse of his vision. He raised his head to meet the gaze of a monstrously huge creature. It was all heavy black fur and large sharp teeth in a snapping jaw. Thick muscles rippled beneath the darkened hide. The beast lowered its head and growled, its brightly glowing eyes shining green.

"Fenrir." Cloud whispered in awe.

The colossal wolf glared down at the tiny cub that dared stand up to him, and roared.

Happy October! 'Tis the season for Theme Park Merry-Making! This is, sadly, one of my favorite seasons to go Theme Park visiting since all the parks and rides are Halloween'ed out. I write this in celebration!