Foreword:

Now that I've finished the first book of the series, I thought it would be a good idea to explain where this story is going and what I am trying to do.

This is my attempt to fully flesh out the entire history of the Final Fantasy VI world from beginning to end. To that end, I am writing a series of books, each chronicling the major eras of the world. The first book, The Beginning, introduces the world before the birth of magic, over a thousand years before the events of FFVI. The second book, The Goddess War, follows the conflict between the Warring Triad that resulted in the creation of Espers and set the stage for the War of the Magi. Eventually the series will cover the War of the Magi in detail, and finally intersect with the actual story of FFVI, although not in the way you might expect.

I should also note that having any experience with Final Fantasy VI is not required to understand this story since it is a prequel. Knowing how the world eventually turns out will certainly help in catching references and predicting where certain plot threads may be headed, but I guarantee there are enough twists, turns, and surprises to leave fans and newcomers alike guessing how it will all turn out. Also, I will usually stick with the original SNES names for things, but if I like the Advance version's name better, I won't hesitate to use it instead.

I know the idea of a FFVI story with almost none of the FFVI characters may be off-putting, but I feel the rich history of the FFVI world is a story worth telling, and I hope to do it justice. If you agree, then you may find this lengthy tale quite interesting. And if you're very patient, the characters we all know and love will eventually join the fray. Any comments, criticisms, or suggestions are heartily welcome, even if it's just to point out a single typo or say a single word of encouragement. I try to update on a weekly basis, and so far, I have managed to keep to the schedule admirably. *crosses fingers*

Now then, enough expository banter! On with The Sands of Time!


~x~

"Perhaps you've heard this story? Once, when people were pure and innocent, there was a box they were told never to open. But one man went and opened it anyway. He unleashed all the evils of the world: envy... greed... pride... violence... control... All that was left in the box was a single ray of light: Hope."

~x~

Final Fantasy VI: The Sands of Time

Book 1: The Beginning


Chapter 1 - Pandora's Box

Where did this cycle of desire and destruction start? Nothing is left of the most ancient eras of history but fragments of pieces of myths. Some of them seem too fantastic to believe, others have been proven true, despite all my years of scientific training screaming "Impossible!". If nothing else, the great wars of the past should have been a clear warning to us. We took the warnings for granted in our lust to revive the knowledge and glory of another age, and suffered terribly for it. How could we have been so wrong? How many times have we humans searched for that which should never be found?

As penance for my sins, I must delve deeper into the mysteries of our world, go farther back than anyone has before...to the beginning, if there is such a thing. I must find out what set such a tragic chain of events into motion, and destroyed our world.

-From Apologia, by Cid del Norte Marguez, Year 1 After the Fall (AF)


Part 1.1 - The Rock

"Hey, Dune."

It was another dreary dust-filled day in the middle of a large desert. The sun was blazing a path across the clear midday sky, and nothing could be seen stirring as far as the sand and sun lasted. At first glance, this desert was just another sea of sand, with only the occasional island of rock upsetting the smooth motion of the sand dunes. There was something different about this desert, though. This place was particularly unforgiving, and there was no trace of even the smallest hardy desert creature to be found. Not even a struggling blade of grass or stray cactus was willing to try and survive in this lifeless world. This land was dead. Most people would never come out this far into the scorching heat and blinding sands if they valued their life, but here amidst a small outcropping of wind-blasted sandstone two men were busy digging. Or more precisely, one was digging and one was watching impatiently.

"Dune!"

"Almost...got it...," the digging man said quietly to himself between swings of his pickaxe. He was tall and gaunt, almost to scarecrow proportions, and every visible part of his body was burnt to a golden brown. His face was covered in grime and stubble and his thick, almost unnaturally grey-white hair was tied in a ponytail beneath a wide brimmed hat which he wore to keep the sun out of his eyes. He had a pair of small spectacles resting precariously on his nose, which was entirely too small to support them. He breathed heavily with every stroke of his axe, the sweat streaming down his face. He looked every bit like someone who should be in a museum giving tours, not out in the middle of the desert swinging a pickaxe.

The pickaxe made an odd "clink" and the man immediately threw it aside and knelt down. He dug his fingers into the small crack in the rock he had exposed with his pickaxe, his archeologist's instinct driving him forward with a zeal unfitting of the bland surroundings. He knew, just knew, that something was here. He was completely oblivious to everything except the crack and what lay in store behind it. His mind ran in circles while his fingers carefully expanded the crack in the brittle sandstone. The possibilities were endless.

"Dune! Are you listening?"

There was nothing except him and the crack now. A few more centimeters and the crack would be wide enough to reach his hand into. The sweat was dripping from his brow and his mouth was painfully dry, but he kept both his hands working the crack. The thrill of the discovery had completely absorbed him.

"Dammit, Dune!"

"Just...a bit...more...ack!"

The crack blurred for a moment, and the man was suddenly aware once again of his surroundings, his thirst, and the unbearable heat. He was also aware of a throbbing pain in the back of his head. He wiped the sweat from the front of his head, and rubbed the pain from the back. The impatient man had given him a well-placed smack with a wooden leg. From the look on both men's faces, this was nothing out of the ordinary.

"You back with us now, Dune? I reckon it's time we get going."

Dune got up and gave a tired look to the impatient man. He was an old man with a black eye patch covering one eye, a startlingly bald head gleaming in the sunlight, and an impressive paunch heaving with frustration. With his wooden leg, he gave off the aura of a grizzled sea captain in almost every way. A sea captain in the middle of the desert? Nothing would have appeared more out of place here than this man.

"Yes, Captain, sorry about that. You know how I get carried away sometimes. But...if you could just give me a few more minutes, I'll be able to reach..."

Dune narrowly dodged another kick from the Captain's wooden leg.

"No! We've wasted enough time out here. I still have no idea why the Committee sent us out here in the first place. It's nothing but a barren wasteland. There's nothing here except sand and rock. Give me the sea and the salt any day!"

Dune gave the old Captain an inquisitive look and asked him something that had been eating away at his thoughts for a while. "I know why I'm here, at least. But why were you, Narsille's premiere marine biologist, assigned to accompany me?"

The Captain shot Dune a derisive glance. "Hmph, I guess they figured that there should be someone around who knows their ass from an anguiform in case you do actually manage to find something here. Or have you forgotten?"

"Anguiform, sir?" Dune replied.

The Captain took this as an affirmation to Dune's ignorance. "That's what I thought. Some archeologist. This whole area used to be the bed of an ancient sea. The anguiform was a giant eel that used to inhabit this region. Blind as a bat, it was. Of course, if you managed to find the remains of one you'd probably think you'd found a sand worm! Gahahaha!"

The Captain laughed heartily at his jab at the archeologist, his paunch shaking with every guffaw.

"Some archeologist," he repeated after a moment.

Dune, seemingly unmoved by the Captain's barb, shifted his spectacles and replied, "Well, I suppose you would know better than I on such matters. I am an archeologist primarily versed in the study of desert lifeforms, and this area is unfamiliar to me. I could easily differentiate an areneid from a coelecite at a hundred paces, but I am quite at a loss when it comes to aquatic lifeforms. If this was indeed a seabed long ago, then I am quite glad you are here."

The Captain shifted his gaze out over the horizon. Sand, sand as far as the eye could see. He grimaced.

"Damn straight!" was the Captain's only response. He obviously wasn't paying attention.