Hey yo, here's Chapter 30. First though I just want to give a shout out and a MASSIVE thank you to DaggerTribal and AnD for reviewing. Thanks SOOOOOOOOOOO much guys; I really needed those fresh reviews. I'll take all your comments and suggestions on board and see if I can implement them to help improve this story. I apologise for taking so long to update, it's just that I really needed to take a week or so off from writing to recharge my brain and get my creative juices flowing again. It always happens, I write for about 10 chapters solid and go into lulls where I really struggle for motivation and I believe this has been becoming evident in the last few chapters. I apologise for that and promise I won't let it happen again. I feel much better now and I'm ready to push on with the rest of this fic so let's get to it. For this chapter we check back in with Steiner and Zidane who are on their way back to Alexandria.
Zidane began taking quicker and quicker breathes as he slowly came back into consciousness. He had been out of it for a really long time, he could tell by how his body felt. He felt like he'd been buried six feet under and had just managed to crawl his out because his limbs felt so weak. It was exactly how he'd felt when he'd first emerged from the Iifa Tree. He ever so slightly opened his eyes, but all he could make out was blindingly bright light. That confirmed to him that it had been a while since he'd last been awake.
After several minutes of slowly easing his eyes open Zidane was finally able to regain his site and other senses so he could see could figure out where on Gaia he was. He noticed the room was rocking and was sure he could faintly hear the sound waves. He must be on a boat. What in the world was he doing on a boat! How did he get here? Where was he going?
Deciding that he needed to find out he slowly tried to sit himself up on the bunk he'd been lying in. It was far more difficult that he'd expected to be. His muscles were so weak that merely sitting up felt like trying to lift a boulder. His body felt so heavy that it took a monumental effort to finally lift himself up off of his back. Zidane just about managed to just about get himself into a sitting position but that was as much as he could do at this point in time. Feeling totally out of breath like he'd just ran for an hour straight when he'd only simply sat himself upright from his back, Zidane stopped moving and tried to gather himself together.
"Where am I?" he thought to himself. "What the hell happened? I must have been out a long time, the last thing I remember is standing in the Black Mage Village talking to Steiner and Mikoto when all of a sudden my mind felt like it just suddenly collapsed in on itself. Then it had all gone black and he remembered nothing. It must have something to do with Garland, he did remember trying to stop Garland from making him attack Steiner and Mikoto. The evil creator had tried to make him hurt his friends, just like he'd promised he would. But Zidane didn't allow it, just like HE'D promised. He remembered fighting against Garland's will with everything he could. The battle of wills that he underwent with his creator had caused his body unbearable pain which it just couldn't handle. But now (apart from the exhaustion) he felt well… fine. Then that must mean…..
"He's gone," said Zidane out loud. "He's gone… Garland's gone! I'M FREEEEEEEEE!" Zidane would have jumped up into the air in joy if his muscles would have had the energy but he instead just raised his right arm upwards with first clenched, celebrating coolly like he'd just slayed a vicious fiend after a tough battle. He'd shouted very loudly and somebody must have heard him. This was confirmed when he began to hear the sound heavy boots (and clanking armour) moving closer and closer. The door suddenly flung open and there stood somebody that Zidane was very pleased to see indeed.
"Steiner, it's you," said Zidane with a friendly smile.
"ZIDANE, YOU'RE FINALLY AWAKE!" shouted Steiner who stood in the doorway transfixed. His eyes bore a look which told you that they couldn't quite believe whether or not what they were viewing was real.
"Yeah I am," replied Zidane still smiling a little. "I'm awake and I feel completely fine. It's really me, I feel just like I used to feel."
"It really is you….?" Steiner stuttered. This was just too good to be true.
"Yeah Rusty, it really is. Garland is gone, I managed to defeat him and take back my mind." Zidane's small smile turned into a big beam.
Steiner didn't know how to react. He wasn't sure whether or not to roar at the top of lungs in celebration like Zidane had, to jump into the air and whoop or whether to pull Zidane into the rib breaking bear hug. He eventually settled upon just returning Zidane's beam and walking over to him to shake his hand. Fortunately for them both he'd decided that hugging Zidane was a bit too unmanly (and weird considering the somewhat awkward love-hate sort of relationship they'd always had).
"So then, you're feeling completely are you?" asked Steiner curiously after he and Zidane let go of one another's hands.
"Pretty much, yeah," answered Zidane calmly. "I do feel quite weak to be honest, I'm not sure if I tried to stand up whether or not my legs would support me. I guess it's just down to my muscles not working for so long that it'll take a little while for me to get all my strength back in them. How long was I out? It must have been a while to leave me feeling like this."
"About 2 days exactly," answered Steiner. "You collapsed Tuesday afternoon in the Black Mage Village. It's now Thursday afternoon."
Zidane looked around at his surroundings and asked Steiner more questions. They were questions the knight was expecting.
"Where the hell are we and what are we doing right now? Where is everyone else? Are they okay? What happened after I passed out?" Steiner took a deep breath before answering.
"There is much you need to know my friend. Get comfy and prepare yourself because what I'm about to explain to you will take a lot for you to wrap your head around."
Steiner then proceeded to explain EVERYTHING to Zidane, or everything he knew anyway. He spoke for what must have been at least 15 minutes as he informed Zidane of what had been happening back in Alexandria and what the current situation was. Zidane didn't interrupt him at any point as he spoke, but as he slowly learnt of what misery and suffering this Lord Randle had been inflicting onto Garnet, or Dagger as he liked to call her, raging anger began to slowly build up inside of him and it eventually managed to reach the surface. When Steiner eventually finished and allowed Zidane to speak, he did so in a tone that the knight had never heard before the normally cheerful and laid-back thief use before.
"That bastard threatened her!" he said, his voice like thunder. "He kidnapped Regent Cid and his wife Hilda so he could threaten Dagger? What absolute son of a bitch! I'm going to rip him apart when I get my hands on him!" Zidane had a look of pure fury in his eyes, it reminded Steiner of how he'd looked when Garland had had control of him and was he ranting about how his time had come to destroy the planet and everybody in it. This sort of behaviour caused Steiner to (ever so slightly) wonder whether not the normal Zidane really did have full control of his mind again. He decided to try and cool the situation (and his friend) down a bit.
"Zidane I understand that you are furious with Lord Randle's treatment of Her Majesty, I am absolutely beside myself with everything he's been doing too but we mustn't let our emotions dictate our next move. We must use our heads her. As I explained, I came to find you and bring you back to Alexandria so you could help us rescue the Regent and his wife. THAT must be our main focus right now, as long as he has them held hostage he can force Queen Garnet into agreeing to anything because she'll do whatever takes to make sure that her beloved aunt and uncle aren't harmed."
These words had the desired effect on Zidane. He breathed a deep sigh as if to let out of his pent up anger and then slowly stood up. He was still feeling a bit weak but Zidane now had enough strength back in his legs to hold up his frame whereas 20 minutes ago he certainly hadn't. Steiner stood up too and got ready to catch Zidane if he fell. There were no such problems though and Zidane instead responded to what Steiner had said, this time sounding much calmer.
"You're right Rusty, we have to get Cid and Hilda out of harm's way before we deal with that bastard." Zidane gave shook his head and sighed again. "I can't believe I let this is happening. If only I hadn't let Garland control me then I could have gone back to Alexandria with Dagger from the village and this whole thing wouldn't have happened. If I'd have been with her all this time then this Randle guy wouldn't have been able to bully her into marrying him just so he can be king. Because that's all this guy is, a pathetic bully. I don't like bullys, especially ones who pick on those who can't defend themselves like poor Dagger. I mean what I said Rusty, when I get the chance to do it I'm going to make this guy suffer for what he's done to Dagger and everyone else."
Zidane was a hundred percent serious. Normally he wasn't at all the sort of person who took pleasure in hurting others. Whenever he battled a fiend or some other enemy he always sought to end the battle as quickly as possible. Also, whenever he sensed an opportunity to land a killer blow to whatever he was fighting he always took it, he didn't ever deliberately try to drag out a battle and make it any longer than it had to be just to see an enemy suffer. But this time he would make an exception. What this man had done to his friends and one true love had been deplorable and unforgivable. He would make sure that Lord Randle would pay the price for the hurt he caused. And Zidane would ENJOY inflicting it.
"So then," he said turning to face Steiner. "How far along are we? How long will it be until we reach Alexandria?"
Steiner was the one who this time gave a sigh which he proceeded by giving his sweaty forehead a wipe.
"I'm afraid that's something that we're having a bit of a problem with I'm afraid. We we're supposed to dock in Alexandria port several hours ago but I'm afraid we ran into some problems. Normally a journey from Alexandria to the Forgotten Continent takes about 12 hours in a boat like this. Unfortunately though, last night a violent storm blew us way off course and we're now miles away from our continent. The navigator told me this morning that from where the storm took us too he thinks it'll take us another day to get back to city now."
"Another day!" exclaimed Zidane in disbelief. "DAMMIT!"
Several hours on later, still onboard the ship which slowly sailing our heroes back to Alexnadria.
Zidane had by now gotten all of his strength back and rather than just sit in his cabin and be bored senseless for the rest of the journey he decided to go up onto the deck and help man the boat in anyway he could. It also gave him a chance to speak to some of the soldiers who'd Steiner had brought along to the Forgotten Continent and learn more about this Lord Randle man. The soldiers were also eager to speak to Zidane because they all wanted to learn more about this man and why he was so important to the Queen.
"So this Lord Randle guy, why is his wedding to Dagger suddenly back on? I thought she called it off," said Zidane who was helping rig one the sails and was talking the knight named Tidus.
"Dagger?" asked the knight with a confused look. Realising his mistake Zidane quickly backtracked.
"Sorry, I mean Queen Garnet," he replied calmly.
"I got no idea dude," said Tidus answering his question. "It's a strange one I'll tell you that. The whole continent was overjoyed when Queen Garnet first announced she was going to marry Lord Randle. Everybody had been willing her to find a husband and allow a king to be crowned for months and when she finally did she couldn't have picked a more popular guy to marry. Everybody likes Lord Randle because he's a self-made millionaire who made his riches in weapons and items dealing. He and his organisation have helped provide the people of Alexandria, Lindblum and countless other places with weapons and items for many years. He's the main supplier to all the stores everywhere on the continent. But all of a sudden though about a week or so ago just a few days before the wedding was due to happen the engagement was mysteriously called off and Her Majesty just upped and left the kingdom for several days with some of her closest associates leaving everybody really confused. Then just when everyone was getting their heads around the cancellation she came back a few days later and announced that the wedding was back on again. People are still scratching their heads trying to figure out what's been going on in the Royal Chambers where Her Majesty holds her private meetings. Personally, I just think Queen Garnet had some last minutes jitters and overreacted a little bit which is understandable in my opinion, she still so young for a Queen after all. After a few days away to clear her head she probably realised what a big mistake she'd made and returned to ask Lord Randle to go through with the marriage after all."
After Tidus had finished he looked at Zidane carefully. The blonde thief and had been listening to his every word intently and now knew more about what had been going in his absence. He thought about what he'd been told and what it meant.
"So this guy has built himself a reputation as a nice guy who helps provide people with things to make their lives easier so everybody will love and support him when he tries to become king. That means I won't be able to do anything to him publicly. If I'm going to get him for what he's done to Dagger then I'll have to do it privately where they'll be nobody there to see it and nobody to help him. And once I'm finished with him I'm going to have make sure nobody ever finds out what's been done." He thought all this inside his head and it gave him an intense look on his face. Noticing this, Tidus spoke again.
"Err dude, are you okay?" he asked tilting his head a little.
Zidane snapped out of his trance and answered him.
"Yeah pal, I'm fine. Just getting lost in thought that's all. Anyway, I gotta go find Steiner and see how much further we have to go to reach Alexanddria. Nice talking to you." And with that he turned on his heels and walked towards the cabin.
"Hey hang on a minutes," shouted Tidus after him. "There's still a few things I wanna ask you!"
It was no good though because Zidane didn't answer him, he just kept on walking until he reached the cabin door. He knocked lightly out of courtesy more than anything and then entered.
Phew that's Chapter 30 done. Thanks for being patient to anybody who's been waiting on an update because like I previously said, I've spent the last week or so having a mini-break to recharge my batteries before carrying on with this story. I hope you're enjoying this more now, I took on board some of your suggestion and tried to implement them which I will continue to do. This chapter wasn't anywhere near as dark as some other previous ones if you noticed. The next chapter will probably be up in about few days I think I can find time to write it. I go back to college after the Easter break very soon so after that it may take another while for me to update but rest assured I WILL update when I get the chance. I will finish this story even if it takes forever and it kills me! Until chapter 31, see ya!