Pairings and Characters: No pairings, in this chapter there is Cosmos, mentions of Warrior of Light, Garland, the Emperor, Firion, Onion Knight, Cecil, Ceodore, Gilgamesh, Bartz and Terra.
Rating: T (violence, character death, some swearing from Gilgamesh)
Word Count: 3,590
Spoiler Warning: Contains spoilers for Dissida, and some spoilers for Final Fantasies I, II, III, IV (+After Years), V and VI. Next chapter covers other main games and spinoffs too.
Inspired by SentinelBurrito's (known as Doctor Burrito on this site) 'The Cosmos Report'. For meta, discussion, prompt-fills, updates and previews, check out my LJ! Link's on my profile.
The empty hall was silent as the dead – which, Cosmos supposed, was only the right of it. Only the sound of the steadily running fountain reached her ears as she materialized in the center-most of her domain. The stone hall was darkened, chillingly like a crypt, filled with strange shapes in the darkness. It had been too long since she had been in here – too long since her Valkyrie had collected the souls of the worthy to this hall. For too long had the stones within the hall sat quietly, waiting for the end of days.
Cosmos gently lightened the stone hall, the torches lining the walls crackling to life with but a small nudge of her powers. She felt the tension leave her as she looked around the now brighter hall, a small smile curving her lips.
Valhalla. The place where only the most worthy of warrior's souls were taken, awaiting the final battle with Chaos. But even in the torchlight, the many statues that represented her beloved warriors were cold and still – nothing like what the legends said. No eternal battle, no food, no drinking. Just the cold embrace of stone and crystal and darkness, and the promise of eternal servitude until the final war was called.
She would be lying if she said she wasn't just a little bitter towards Chaos, for forcing her to do this to the bravest of warriors. For forcing those chosen to take part in war after war, forever and ever-
Following the events of the thirteenth war with Chaos, the God of Discord had been forced to retreat and heal – and it had been quiet for centuries after. Cosmos' world had begun to heal; her power began regenerating from the terrible agony of fading during the previous war, though victory had been hers.
At least it had been her choice. For Chaos, doubtless the pain of death had been excruciating – perhaps it still was. Cosmos remembered all too vividly the anguish of defeat in all the previous wars, of having her finest warriors ripped away from her by the machinations of Chaos' nightmarish and infinite army. But not this time, and for that she was thankful.
She approached the first of the many statues, laying her hand on his frozen stone arm, a half-hearted smile on her face.
Always the foremost and perhaps the most loyal of all her companions, the Warrior of Light was still crouched in a reverent bow. Clenched in his right fist was the legendary sword Excalibur, the ruby set into the hilt glimmering in the torchlight, while his left hand held something protectively to his chest.
Cosmos felt her smile become a little more genuine – the shard of glimmering blue crystal she'd entrusted to him was always held close to his heart, and the events of the thirteenth war had done nothing to change that. She felt glad of that. The Warrior of Light had been by her side since the very beginning, since the very first war with Chaos-
The Warrior flashed her a daring smile, still the rash and impulsive young fighter her Valkyrie had snatched up from his home world. He'd take Garland easily, he'd told her confidently. After all, hadn't he done it before? Hadn't he destroyed the corrupt Knight and Chaos himself?
Not long after he'd reassured Cosmos of his skills, he was slain by Chaos' Garland. The brutality of the young man's death had only been a sign of the violence to come.
Since that First War, though, the Warrior had only increased in skill and wisdom, rising until he became only the logical contender to defeat the incredible warrior Garland, the foremost of Chaos' followers. Cosmos stared up at the Warrior's youthful face, feeling a sense of both gladness and bitterness, as she tried to take in every detail of his stone visage.
How did he feel, being trapped in a war between Gods for all eternity?
She removed her hand from his armoured forearm, walking the short distance to the next stone statue.
The Wild Rose Warrior had also been among the first to join her in her war against Chaos – perhaps since his world was in close proximity to the Warrior's own, they had been among the first to come into contact with Cosmos' rather questionable Valkyrie.
Dressed in a long cape and practically sprouting weapons from every angle, the Wild Rose Warrior was as skilled as he was powerful. Perhaps only beaten by the Final Aeon in raw strength, Cosmos had been drawn to the youth not because of his might, but because of the strength of his dreams. Unlike the Warrior of Light, however, he raised his sword boldly and swore deference to nobody as he held his glowing red crystal.
Perhaps that unyielding defiance was a result of sharing a world with Chaos' power-hungry Emperor Mateusm Palamecia.
"My dream… is to see a world in which the wild rose can bloom freely."
The Goddess and the Wild Rose Warrior sat in companionable silence for a short while. They had few chances to speak frankly, as they did now, and Cosmos welcomed it.
"And they could not, on your world?" she questioned, touching his forearm and looking into his hazel eyes.
The Wild Rose Warrior's answering smile was wistful. "Not without the steepest of costs. The man I thought of as a brother was never the same… my friends were sacrificed. Was it ever worth it?"
Cosmos inclined her head.
No further words were needed between the two.
The Wild Rose Warrior could be just as prickly as his namesake, but he was a good and honest man who could not help but follow his dreams with a ferocity that alarmed all but the Hero – even if some reincarnations could no longer recall what those dreams were, or the reason for his wish.
She looked back fondly on the Wild Rose Warrior as she moved on, stopping before the next stone structure in the line of many.
The youngest of his many comrades, the Onion Knight had often felt over his head during the eternal wars. Fearing the worst and knowing that against some of Chaos' fiends he stood no chance, the Onion Knight still fought as bravely for his friends in his realm as he had in life. She paused, brushing away few cobwebs that had formed between the onion helm and his hair. He was just a child, though…
Cosmos pursed her lips for a moment.
"I really don't mind…" the Onion Knight trailed off, his eyes distant from the lie. Then he swallowed, staring at Cosmos, his eyes now brutal with honesty. "But some of these guys… they scare me. And I'm so alone…"
Cosmos nodded. She understood.
"You fought the eternal darkness, did you not? When Xande summoned it to your world?" she questioned gently.
"Yes, but- I had my friends with me then! What can I do now? I'm just a kid, I don't know what I can do against the Cloud of Darkness-"
Cosmos raised a hand gently to forestall more words. "You have your allies." She placed her hand on the armour over the Onion Knight's heart. "Right here."
Those eyes looked pained, as if she'd just said the most ridiculous thing he'd ever heard.
"I'm not that stupid, you know," he groused, crossing his arms over his chest.
She smiled indulgently, knowing that he would understand eventually.
A week later, they found the body. If not for the onion helm, they would never have identified the Onion Knight's mangled remains as one of their own. For some reason, Kefka had always had a vendetta against the boy.
Cosmos suddenly couldn't bear to look at his young face. How many times had he died for her, in this eternal war? The crystal she'd entrusted to him was so large he struggled to carry it in the one hand he had free, and the Onion Sword sheathed at his side. The torchlight made the faceted surface of the turquoise crystal glimmer. The Onion Knight, in all the wars following, could not help but feel the glimmer of cowardice, the urge to run from the legions of Chaos and live.
She never once blamed him for it.
The Lunar Knight had been a fearsome warrior from the world he'd originated. Fully knowing the lure of the darkness and the horrors it could wreak, he'd denied the power it had over him and turned to the light. As a paladin, he'd faced hatred incarnate down, and earned his world a respite. Not enough to save it from the war between chaos and harmony, Cosmos reminded herself bitterly. No matter how brave or incredible the exploit, it would never be enough…
Perhaps it was because of that lingering link to darkness, that her Valkyrie had chosen the Lunar Knight for one of her chosen. The Valkyrie really did have a twisted sense of humour, after all. Vaguely, she wondered why she'd chosen the rift-hopper in the first place.
Here, he was sealed away forever as a paladin – proud, his silver hair blown back in the nonexistent breeze and the dark crystal lay by his feet. She still remembered his face twisted in agony. Once, the Lunar Knight's brother had betrayed Chaos for harmony – only to find the Emperor waiting to punish the treachery.
"BROTHER!" the silver haired Lunarian screamed, as the man in black was ripped asunder by the Emperor's mines. He strained desperately against the bonds of the crest Mateus had trapped him in, his breath sounding desperate and sobbing.
Cosmos reached out for her two warriors, unable to help them at all. If only she'd conserved a bit more energy, if only she had the strength to manifest one last time-
The Emperor covered his mouth, laughing cruelly. "How tragic. Your brother might have been a traitor, but rest assured. He'll suffer yet more deaths in these wars."
The Lunar Knight's eyes blazed as they shifted from the smoking ruins of the body, to the Emperor himself.
"He was a better man than you could ever hope to be!" The Lightning Crest began to wear off, allowing the remaining Lunarian to climb to his feet. His hands trembled with rage as he gripped the haft of his glaive even tighter.
The Emperor brandished his elegant staff – it was a tool useless for anything but magic. He could never hope to take the Lunar Knight physically, but with his immense magical power and strategic mind, he hardly needed to.
Cosmos stared after the Emperor as he glided away. Only Mateus would have ever had the arrogance to turn his back on an enraged paladin.
"Why don't you go cool that hot head of yours?" The Emperor chuckled again, discretely placing a few invisible mines behind him as he walked away from the Cosmos Warrior. Cosmos wanted to shout a warning to the Lunar Knight as he charged after Mateus, changing glaive for Lightbringer-
The Hero and the Zodiac Brave came across the destroyed bodies of the Lunarians not ten minutes later, and they'd been unable to believe the carnage that had been wrought.
Cosmos braced herself against the next stone figure before she could fall. There had been a reason she'd avoided Valhalla – and her chosen – for so long after the end of the thirteenth war.
The Star Son hadn't been a hero of the Lunar Knight's level, when her Valkyrie had visited their world on that fateful day. He'd been more modest, overshadowed by his father's vast achievements and had seemed like nothing out of the ordinary. Perhaps he'd just been lucky to have allies in high places. Perhaps not.
When she'd questioned her Valkyrie on his choice once more, and in an uncharacteristically serious moment, he'd told her gruffly,
"The light. It was so strong – at first I thought it was all from Mr. Paladin over there, but…" He trailed off into one of his ridiculously loud laughs. "What the hell am I saying, eh your Godliness? If I'm wrong about this kiddo, feel free to fire my ass. And I ain't wrong."
She was certainly used to his trash-talking and bravado, but the tone in his voice that time… it was different.
And in the end, it had been because of the Star Son's inner strength, and the bond with his father, that she had even won the Sixth War. It remained one of the very few times she'd defeated Chaos and his minions.
The Star Son gripped his father's discarded Lightbringer sword, tears streaming silently down his face as he swung the blade down. A dull thunk, a groan – the final Chaos soldier died so easily. Even in her weakened state, Cosmos could feel that the Star Son believed that such a swift end had been too quick for Emperor Mateus Palamecia.
Seeing the agony on the boy's face, she couldn't say she disagreed now. The Goddess of Harmony agreeing with the darkened thoughts of vengeance? Stranger things had happened.
Minutes passed, as the boy stared down at his slain father's bloodied sword. Everything was silent, aside from the occasional sob as the Star Son grieved anew.
Cosmos watched, unable to materialize to the boy and offer comfort, as her last remaining warrior shouldered the sword and turned towards Chaos' fiery domain.
The determination in his eyes was almost too much for Cosmos to bear as he set off to settle the score with Chaos.
Gilgamesh had been right about him.
Speak of the devil… Cosmos thought as she approached the next warrior in the long line.
Hailing from the same world as the Valkyrie, the Adventurer had been a normal boy from the town of Lix, when a man riding on a meteor had completely changed his life. Cosmos' lips twitched into a smile. Even now, after all these years, it still seemed utterly improbable that the Adventurer would step forwards to fill the role of leadership after Galuf's death and tackle the Void and Exdeath – just as his father did long ago.
The Adventurer was staring down at the crystal shard cupped in both his hands, a grin across his face. As carefree in death and stone as he had been in life, he was among the few that Cosmos knew enjoyed the time spent with the others, considering it all to be fun and games. The glimmering red Brave Blade, thrust into the stone beside him, caught her eye.
The Valkyrie was weary, she could see it now. The Void would wear down all those who traversed it in the end – should she be more surprised that Gilgamesh lasted as long as he had?
Her eyes widened as he roughly offered her the true weapons – the souls – of the warriors he'd collected. He was practically bristling with the terrible replicas he'd made of them, now. The fake Buster Sword, the imitation Brotherhood, the copy of Excalibur and Lightbringer and Ultima Weapon and so many others-
He nodded as she accepted the collected souls, knowing fully she'd infuse them in stone. Sentencing these people to eternal battle no longer bothered him.
As he turned to head back into the Void, he paused beside the figure of the Adventurer.
She could practically hear the cogs work in his head as he considered the statue of the boy
"Was a pretty cool guy. Doesn't afraid of anything and all that crap. Except heights."
Slowly, the red-cloaked man held out his hand, as if reaching out to take something from the air. The weapons on Gilgamesh's back flared once – and in his fist was a gleaming red blade. The Valkyrie belted out some laughter, before turning in a swirl of red back to Cosmos.
"You give the Brave Blade to Bartz," he told her lightly, passing her the final sword.
Cosmos looked down at it wordlessly, guessing at its properties. Gilgamesh's own powers…
"He ain't much of an apprentice without a decent sword, you know."
And with that, he vanished into the Rift again.
As far as epic heroes went, the Godslayer's timidness and uncertainty made her a rather unlikely candidate for being one of Cosmos' own. In the interlude between the Sixth and Seventh Wars, while Chaos gnashed his teeth and his fiends gathered yet more power to throw as Cosmos, the Goddess of Harmony first met the girl who would, many times over, destroy her Goddess and her fellow warriors.
Like the gentle Lunar Knight, Cosmos had been surprised to learn of the immense power and dark past of the girl. With enough power to destroy the fallen god Kefka – a terrifying being that Chaos had dredged up from the depths of hell – she'd accepted the girl's soul and sword, and awaited the Seventh War within the silence of Order's Sanctuary.
Little did she know that the Godslayer's blood-soaked past as Kefka's mind-slave would return to haunt them all.
The Onion Knight and the World's Enemy were travelling with the Godslayer, trying to locate the ever-elusive Dark King from the rubble of Midgar, when Kefka first reached out and seized her mind. Safe within her sanctum, Cosmos doubled over as she felt her 'ace in the hole' for the war explode in feral energy and bloodlust. There was so much of it, Cosmos' skin began to crawl. The ungodly power was so strong – Cosmos felt her heart begin to pound.
Was she… afraid?
The Warrior of Light was beside her in an instant, supporting her as she staggered from her throne.
"Cosmos!" he gasped. He knew fully that her power was waning during the final stage of this war. Then he felt the bloodlust hit him, sending him to one knee from the intensity.
"Kefka has seized her mind!" Cosmos pushed herself up, staring at the distant and looming ruins of Midgar.
The Warrior's eyes widened in dawning comprehension.
"Cosmos. We must stop this!" he declared, and she agreed. They had to stop her, before everything was destroyed. Kefka was a fearsome puppeteer, sadistic and uncompromising. Her eyes moved to the Warrior, and she nodded once. She vanished in a teleportation spell before he could move to join her.
When Cosmos arrived at the scene of the explosion, the scorched ShinRa building was alive with magic. Fire burned in a terrifying whirlwind around the ruined surface, lightning flashed, and parts of the rubble were covered in nasty looking hoarfrost. Cosmos doubled over as her magical strength fled her. She'd vastly underestimated the strength of her reserves, it would seem…
The Onion Knight and the World's Enemy both had their blades drawn, their bodies covered in cuts and burns, red scarves and capes ragged and streaked with soot. The World's Enemy's left arm looked dislocated at the shoulder, hanging uselessly by her side as their pair of them circled the fully-transformed esper warily. Both of them seemed to register her appearance, though neither looked her way.
The Onion Knight was barely holding back his tears as he cast a half-hearted Firaga at his old friend. The Godslayer deflected the magical flames almost scornfully, before whipping in. The claws of her left hand clanged against the onion blade when he blocked. The World's Enemy shouted a warning, but Cosmos knew it was too late. Fire blazed forward from the Godslayer's other hand, scorching towards his eyes-
He stumbled backwards, screaming and clutching at his ruined face, unaware of how dangerously close to the edge he was-
"LUNETH!" the World's Enemy cried out, dashing for the boy before he could topple over the edge. Her fingers grazed his – just before he fell.
The redhead was still staring after the fallen boy when, perhaps still possessing a sense of irony, the Godslayer blasted her down after him with a fully-charged thunder spell.
In the silence following, the Godslayer turned to her new guest… her eyes grief-stricken.
It was then that Cosmos felt it. There was still a part of the Godslayer that knew – that was aware of what she had done to those she'd called friends. The truth nearly broke Cosmos' heart.
The last thing Cosmos remembered about the Seventh War was the esper's claws ripping through her fading avatar, the Warrior's pained shout as he arrived just seconds too late, the sensation of her troops being dragged back into cold stone… and Kefka's maddening laughter.
That small amount of awareness hidden beneath layers of Kefka's control had driven Cosmos to distraction in all the following wars. The Godslayer, given the right time and support, could throw off Chaos' control and help her allied Goddess once more. Cosmos was certain of it.
War after war passed, until Cosmos had nearly given up... until the Thirteenth War. There, the Godslayer had thrown off Kefka's attempts to invade her mind, and instead focused on a world in which the flowers bloomed. A free world. The Goddess noted the slightly prouder set to the girl's shoulders now, the small smile on her face as she held her crystal close.
Perhaps she had been wrong all those other times to throw the Godslayer into the fray, only to lose out to Chaos… but that smile on the esper's lips? It meant the world to Cosmos. Perhaps she did more than ruin the lives of her chosen, dooming them to eternal battle and agony.
A/N: Kudos to SentinelBurrito for the term 'Godslayer' - little did he know at the time that it would be so apt a description of Terra's bloody history in Dissidia.
In this chapter, we have the Warrior of Light, the Wild Rose Warrior (Firion), the Onion Knight (occasionally referred to as Luneth), the Lunar Knight (Cecil Harvey), the Star Son (Ceodore Harvey), the Adventurer (Bartz Klauser), and the Godslayer (Terra Branford), along with a mixed assortment of villains (both seen in the Thirteenth War and not) and mentions of heroes to come. Plus the spotty and unreliable flake of a Valkyrie that is Gilgamesh. Indeed, the Valkyries gathered the fallen einherjar to Valhalla, but these beings were female. What Gilgamesh doesn't know won't hurt him, though.
Stay watching for the next part of Valhalla: Duty.