Night fell on the Magdalene Forest in its usual manner; rapidly and noisily. It was so because of the numerous Zemzeletts, crickets, and other animals in the forest which started to sing as the sun sank beneath the horizon after its daily rising, and often enough, frogs would also contribute to the nocturnal noise, croaking merrily from where they sat, on moss-covered rocks and in water where streams bent and the currents were sluggish. Every night, the forest's symphony would be different, each performance a unique work of art that would never again be duplicated exactly. And the Black Mages, living in their quiet little village deep in the Magdalene Forest, appreciated the music as something beautiful and lovely.
When the Genomes first arrived at the Village, they were puzzled and mystified by the symphony of the wild, for nothing on Terra had ever come close to being even remotely similar to the wondrous show that was put on every night. So a visitor to the Village would, upon taking a look outdoors at night, see almost all the local Genomes sitting or standing close to the stream that made its way through the middle of the Village, taking in the sounds around them with peaceful expressions on their normally impassive faces.
It was on one of those music-filled nights, in one of the Village's little huts of thatched straw, that one of the Black Mages felt as though he was surrounded by silence.
Despite the continuous cacophony around him, Vivi Ornitier somehow felt... that the night was for once, silent. He sat on the edge of his straw mattress, having just returned to his hut after tucking in his six 'children', and pondered this unusual occurrence. He had never experienced any form of hearing problems before, so this was indeed a questionable turn of events. So he sat there in the darkness, occasionally blinking his glowing yellow eyes as he thought about what to do about his dilemma of sorts.
Finally, he decided to light a candle and lighten up the room; despite being a Black Mage, he didn't particularly like being surrounded by darkness. Darkness often enough gave life and brought forth horrible things, sometimes even things that would have been best left as memories. Iifa's roots, Mount Gulug's bowels, Memoria's winding stairways... In the darkness, his imagination frequently made him re-live all of his most terrifying experiences during their journey to save Gaia.
Light, on the other hand, brought with it comfort and security. Warmth generated along with the light stirred up memories of better times, of happy moments. Sometimes, sitting in his hut at night, with naught but a single, lit candle for company, he would just enjoy the candle's gentle, glowing warmth. It always made him feel better by bringing back memories of the good times he'd had during his admittedly short life. The eight of them, huddled around a campfire in the middle of some perilous wilderness, the times when Grandpa Quan lit his huge cast-iron stove with sticks of kindling, the scent of flowers in spring.
So yes, he decided, a lit candle wouldn't be unwelcome, despite his exhaustion. He'd stay up for a wee bit more with the candle, then he'd rest.
With a single gloved hand, he reached out towards his bedside table for the candle in its little brass holder. Strangely enough, his hand closed on nothing.
He blinked once in confusion. He clearly recalled having put his candle there on his tiny bedside table. Reaching out once more, he felt is hand brush over something, and took hold of the object. Ah, there it was; his candle.
For a brief moment, he wondered why he hadn't felt the candle brushing against his hand the first time he'd reached out for it. Shrugging it off as another instance of clumsiness on his part, he brought the candle closer to himself, and magically made a small flicker of flame sprout out of his fingertip. He brought his fingertip to the candle's wick, but the missed the wick altogether, nearly setting fire to the hut's wall instead.
Chiding himself for his clumsiness, he steadied his hand, and touched his conjured flame to the wick. The wick ignited, and out of nowhere, the sounds of the forest returned to him suddenly. He very nearly dropped the lit candle in his shock, and it was with a trembling hand that he placed the lit candle back on the small table beside his bed. He reveled in the amazing nocturnal symphony for a moment, before realizing something was amiss.
He was clumsy, that was true. But he had never felt his hands tremble like that before. Sure, he had trembled one time or several during his journey with the others, as he faced monstrosities that a nine-year-old child was never intended to confront, and as he was thrust into situations that grown men would have run away from. But not like this, he hadn't...
Shaking his head once to clear any possibly lingering disorientation, he stretched out a hand to grab the candle, and was not all that happy to see that his fingers shook ever so slightly as they closed around the candle's holder, with its mounds of melted wax.
In that brief second of contact, the candle went out, and the night was silent once more.
Confused, he brought the candle close to himself once again, and lit it for the second time that night. What was going on?
Out of the blue, he remembered something he had been meaning to do, but had always forgotten. He had always wanted to write a note of sorts, in case he Stopped. Stopping was all too real; half the Black Mages he knew had already Stopped, and he knew that he was similar to them in that regard also. So he had decided to leave a letter to those he cared about, as a sort of farewell in the event that he Stopped before he could see them for one last time.
Shuffling awkwardly off the bed's edge and onto the dirt floor, he walked a trifle unsteadily towards the little desk he kept in the opposite corner of his hut. It didn't escape his notice that the sounds of the forest had yet to return, and that he was walking much slower than he usually did. Dismissing it all as the effects of being tired, he sat down before his desk, and brushed aside the various sheets of paper that covered the desk's wooden top. Mathematical workings, doodles, and even cooking recipes were pushed to the edges of the desk, as he placed his candle carefully in its bracket on the ball, and stowed the holder away beneath his desk for the time being.
His hands groped around on the desk for a moment, not finding his quill. Ink and inkwell were found quickly, but his quill somehow remained hidden. He at last spotted its tattered black feather sticking out from beneath a small book of mathematical formulas, and took the poor, battered writing utensil out from under the book with a puzzled frown.
"Didn't I look there?" he wondered aloud, staring at the quill as though it had fallen from the sky.
Now even more muddle-headed than he was just five minutes ago, he dipped the quill in the inkwell, and touched its sharpened point to a fresh sheet of paper. With a sigh, he began to write.
It didn't go unnoticed when his written words began to take on big and loopy shapes, as opposed to the fine, neat script he usually wrote with. His fingers felt numb, and the words started to swim on the papers before his eyes.
Nonetheless, he merely gripped the quill tighter, and persevered on.
This was one letter he had to finish.
The night remained as silent as it had been since he first tried to light his candle, which had been replaced by a new one after the first one had burnt itself into a puddle of molten wax.
"- wherever you may be. I always talked about you, Zidane. How you were a special person to us, because you taught us all how important life is," he read softly to himself as he finished off a paragraph, which now left the letter requiring just a sign-off for it to be complete.
He paused for a moment, trying to think about what words were most appropriate for a sign-off, ignoring the silence around him and the way his vision was becoming even more blurry as the night progressed. Nodding his head once as he finally decided on a suitable sign-off, he touched the quill to paper once more.
The dimly-illuminated hut was silent, almost ominously so. All around it, the insects, birds, and frogs continued their songs obliviously.
Five minutes later, when the new candle was extinguished by a gust of wind that blew in through the hut's open window, there no longer was anyone in the hut to light it.