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The Thirteenth Zodiac

VIEWS: 3 PAGES: 12

  • pg 1
									                                         The Zodiac War

Chapter 1 - One Final Breath

Explosions rocked the interior chamber of a natural cave, as the air buzzed with the excess
energy from hundreds of spells that had been cast within a short period of time. Strewn about the
cavern were pieces of a monster that was made of neither flesh or stone. Fires lit the semi-
luminescent walls of the cavern as a precursor to another set of explosions, while an unearthly
screech of sorts sliced through the noises and echoed along the darkened passages of the
underground complex. This noise came from a colossal monster that suddenly flopped to the
ground twitching like a bug that had been squashed, and it seemed to signal the end of a titanic
battle.

With the fire light flickering everywhere, the shadow of a human — who wore blackened,
metallic greaves and crimson, leather armor while sporting a black cape that had a silver design
on it back that seemed to represent a set of scales — seemed to stand up and look down at its
defeated opponent.

The living construct shuddered and released another grinding screech as the human standing over
it shoved his wicked black blade — which was covered in silver etched runes that ran down its
back end — into its ocular cavity. With a quick upward jerk, the sword split open the casing that
would probably be considered the creatures head.

Huffing in disgust, the man reached into the slimly blue ichor that was the creatures blood and
pulled out a strange looking stone that shone bright green in the dim fire light. The gem pulsed
brightly as energy seemed to seep out of it and into the man. ―Finally,‖ croaked the man with his
deep gravelly voice, ―and with this last piece I can finally complete my goal!‖

Directing his gaze down at his opponent the man smiled as he said, ―It has been too long since I
have had such an invigorating battle. You were strong. I must not forget your name...what was it
that the locals called you?‖

―Ah yes...‖ smiled the man in happiness, ―...now I remember...‖

The turned on his heel, the man‘s body was slowly wrapped in a emerald green energy while the
air around him distorted and began to ripple. As the air distorted, so did the mysterious man‘s
body, and with each second that passed the man slowly began to vanish as the distortions
themselves began to slowly dissipate. All that was left was the echo of the man‘s voice as it rung
through the empty cavern.

―...Omega Mark XII!‖

****

Silver hair stuck unceremoniously up in the air as its bearer blew out a stream of breath in an
attempt to remove the offending hair out of its owners eyes. Sweat poured down a wrinkled brow
and face, as the sounds of exertion and fatigue were heard echoing through the giant underground
cavern. A lone old man slowly made his way down a old collapsed wall of an ancient buried
temple with only the help of his aged, but wiry muscles, and hands.

The old man wore a dirty, and torn, white shirt under a beautiful leather vest, which seemed to be
made from a blue dragon‘s hide. A beautiful red silk sash, with golden designs, was wrapped
around the old timers waist. Black leather pants, with several pockets and buckles, hugged the his
legs. A pair of black boots, with shiny silver trinkets hanging off of them, completed the look
that the man wore. What was even more surprising was that on each hand there were three
unique rings that seemed to have seen much action, as they all held the dents and nicks of
constant use.

―Damn the gods, and their whores as well!‖ cursed the man as he lost his grip and slid several
feet before finding purchase on the rock wall once again. His heart was beating fast and a
familiar pain seemed to race down his left arm, but still the man trudged with nothing more than
a grunt. Taking his time to climb down the wall, the man finally lowered himself to floor and
looked around.

Patting all the dust off his body and getting out all the kinks of his aging joints, the man turned
his head towards a small pile of rubble that blocked a pair of solid iron doors. Shaking his head
the man quickly cast a illumination spell and began fumbling around his back pack.

Looking at the old geezer many would misjudge him as „harmless‟ and „senile‟, but those who
had befriended or crossed him knew differently...

The man smiled, he finally found what he was looking for in the bag. Pulling out a small black
sphere he mumbled something before hurling it at the door and rubble. The explosion that rocked
the ruins caused giant chunks of earth from the ceiling to rain down all around the man. You
would think that any normal person would have been scared for their life at this moment. Yet, the
elderly adventurer had yet to even so much as blink. Instead, the old geezer adopted a smile on
his face, and began walking into the now ‗cleared‘ tunnel.

...the man was well known and revered on several continents, and infamous on several more. His
life was lived to the fullest and his dreams had all been accomplished. He was wealthier than
most kings. His power, strength and skill was almost unrivaled, as was his influence...

―How many times do I have to tell them not to touch my bag,‖ complained the fogy to himself, as
he shifted through his back pack before removing an ancient document. Sighing deeply, the man
winced as he felt another pain rip through his chest.

...and yet, with all his accomplishments, the man suffered a fate that many adventures would
never wish upon themselves. Living far beyond the expect life span that many a friend had
expected him to live, the man had watched, with a heart filled with indescribable pain, as many
of his loved ones slowly succumbed to the ravages of time. Now, he was the last of them, and he
lived day to day waiting for the inevitable to catch up to him...

Drawing forth a beautiful blade that seemed to shimmer slightly in the magical illumination that
he had conjured forth, the old man dispatched an ugly two-headed snake that had tried to sneak
up on him while he was reading the old document in his other hand. He might be up there in age,
but his body was still geared for combat. His reflexes hadn‘t dulled one bit, combined that with
the experience of literally hundreds of thousands of battles and it equaled a warrior of
unsurpassable power and grace.

...to most people of the main continent he was a myth and a legend. Others, who knew better,
knew him as the unequivocal leader, and king, of the sky pirate nation of Penasbathan. He had
many names, but above all of them, only one name seemed to stick with him though out his long
life.

Never mind that the nickname was something that a sarcastic asshole of a friend had come up
with just to tease him and his looks. Despite his wishes for the name to disappear, it just
wouldn‟t go away, and that was how the legend of Aster Thraist was born.

Though many would come to either fear or be awed by the man that bore the name, none would
understand the private joke that the man and his friends all shared. You see, “aster” came from
an ancient, and very much dead Murond language, word for “boy”. In the same token“thr-aist”
was borrowed from a bastardized Zelinninen dialect, and could be translated as “full of sun, or
sunny”. In private, the one who christened him with the name often laughed as he would
translate the man‟s nickname time and time again...

...“sunny boy”...

Finally reaching his destination, the old man stood before two solid blocks of stone that had been
polished to a fine sheen and were in perfect shape. There were no handles on the door, nor were
their any devices to open them, like buttons or levers. Instead, there were three impressions on
each door, and each one looked like a small item could fit into it. The man sighed as he slowly
took off each ring and placed them into the impressions. With each ring a loud click could be
heard from the other side, and when the final ring was place a low rumbling was heard as the
slabs of stone slowly started to part.

Beyond the door there were three beautifully crafted tombs of alabaster as well as a large ‗living‘
tree. The trees boughs seemed cover the three coffins as it watched over them protectively.
Smiling at the scene, the old man rolled up the document in his hand as his vision slowly began
to blur. Walking slowly to the tree he leaned against it and smiled as his breathing became ragged
and labored.

―Everyone,‖ croaked the man in a weary voice that spoke of exhaustion of the soul, ―I kept my
promise...we shall all be buried in the same place...friends to the end. I am ready, what ever
awaits me on the other side…be it the Wood or the gods themselves…I am ready… ‖ It was with
those last words that the legendary sky pirate, Aster Thraist, closed his eyes and imagined his
friends calling his name from the afterlife.

―Vaan...‖ the man heard a woman voice calling him as he smile brightly and breathed on final
breath. However, as the old man‘s last breath began to slowly leave his body the boughs of the
tree that held him up slowly bent and wrapped him in what could be considered a warm embrace
as a sapphire blue energy slowly began to wrap itself over him, and with in seconds the dying
pirate king had completely vanished.
Chapter 2 - This Isn’t The Afterlife

The chilly feeling of water being splashed on his face awoke the young man as he sputtered
slightly and opened his eyes only to quickly close them as pain shot through his eyes. The
stinging was reminiscent of the time that he was caught in particularly violent sandstorm, with no
protection for his eyes, near the Estersand of Dalmasca.

―Ye gods! That hurts!‖ he said suddenly aware that the voice that he was use to hearing was of a
higher and younger in pitch than usual. A deep breath later, the familiar – but long forgotten
stench – of the sewer filled his nostrils and conjured many image of his youth. Another breath
and he confirmed that he was either in a sewer or a really nasty alley of some sort as the stench of
mold and stagnant water made themselves known to his senses.

―Vaan!‖ called out another young voice that brought with it a slew of memories, both sad and
happy, ―Are you alright? See, I told you we shouldn‘t have come into the waterway. Aw, I can
just see it now…Old Dalan‘s gonna have our heads if he find out we‘ve been disobeying him.‖

―Kytes?‖ a now confused Vaan asked, once again feeling strange at hearing his voice sound so
young.

―Yeah?‖ warily responded the other voice .

―Is this heaven?‖

―Oh man,‖ groaned the Kytes‘ voice in distress, ―What happened to you? One minute your
decimating those giant ugly sewer rats, and then next thing I know, you fall down and I have to
pick up where you left off! One of those things almost took my hand!‖

―So…this isn‘t the afterlife?‖

―No, it is most definitely not the afterlife, Vaan. You can stop screwing around now,‖ the voice
of his old friend said as his tone dripping with exasperation.

Opening his eyes slowly, allowing them to adjust to the lighting in the sewer, Vaan was shocked
to see a familiar face looking at him in annoyance. Kytes mousy brown hair was damp with
sewer water and he sported a cut that ran from his shoulder to his elbow. The boy‘s face,
although showing annoyance, was betrayed by his kind brown eyes, which held genuine worry
for his older friend.

―S-sorry, Kytes. My head‘s a little foggy,‖ said Vaan shaking his head while looking into the
reflection of the water that covered the ground of the overflow cloaca. The old Sky Pirate king
had heard of some strange coincidences, but this had to beat all of them hands down!

‗What in the nine hells…‘ thought the man as he stared at his reflection, a reflection that showed
a young blonde haired boy of no more than seventeen summers. Touching his face to confirm the
reality of the situation, Vaan thought, ‗What‟s going on? Didn‟t I die? Why am I young again?‘

Seeing the confusion paying on his friends face, Kytes place a hand on his shoulder and said,
―Vaan, are you sure you‘re alright? One of those rats weren‘t poisonous, were they?‖

Taken from his thoughts, the now younger Vaan looked at his friend and said absentmindedly,
―Huh? Oh, uh…no, no they weren‘t poisonous.‖ Thinking fast, Vaan made up an excuse as he
stood up and was surprised how easy it was to stand. No more back aches, arthritis or any of the
other annoying problems that had come with growing old were present in this body.

Walking over to where he had dropped his mythrial sword, Vaan picked it up and gave the old
familiar weapon a couple of test swings. ‗Hmm…it just as I thought,‘ thought the teen as he
looked down at the sword and performed a ridiculously sloppy version of an attack that he had
learned several years ago. Mentally cursing his performance, he gripped the blade tighter and
thought, ‗Great, I have all memories of the skills and how to use them…but my body doesn‘t
match my knowledge. I‘ve gotta work on that.‘

―Kytes?‖ asked Vaan as he turned around to address his friend, only to find the young boy gaping
at him in awe, ―What?‖

―How…when…that was the coolest attack I‘ve ever seen! When did you learn that!? Can you
teach me?‖ yelled the kid as he begun bouncing on balls of his feet in excitement.

Vaan could only chuckle as he nodded his head and said, ―Sure, but only if you give me some
information.‖

―Anything,‖ the boy agreed now imagining how he could impress the others with that attack.

―This may sound a bit weird to you, but…‖ Vaan said receiving a slight confused look from his
old friend, ―… do you know what year and day it is?‖

Slapping his forehead with his hand Kytes knew that this was going to be a very long day.

                                              ~x~x~

A violent storm raged over the sea of Sardakis, yet as the winds howled and the rains beat down
ferociously on the dark blue-grey sea, the murk depths were calm and still. Below the surface of
the sea laid something long forgotten, it had long been buried under the ever shifting silt and
sand that made the sea floor.

An old temple sat in the darkness of the depths half covered by the sands. Its ancient carvings –
that usually would have denoted its patronage to a god or goddess – were worn away by both
time and the great sea. At these depths the rock of the temple had become the home of many an
aquatic species of monster and animal alike.
So, when a flash of green light erupted and the door of the half buried temple swung open it
wasn‘t surprising that the water was filled with the churning bubbles that denoted the monsters
and animals evacuation of the area.

Water rushed into the dry interior of the temple and pooled at the top of a flight of chiseled stone
steps. The old door, which had been opened only a second ago was now suddenly shut as a
familiar green glow began to illuminate the surrounding area. Ever so slowly the bright mass of
illumination coalesced into a shape and from out of the frigid dark waters stepped the man who
wore red leather and carried in his hands a black sword and a shinning green gem.

Walking through the darkened halls of the abandoned temple the man made his way to a set of
beautiful crystal doors. The image of a majestic woman cradling a child while images of ice,
lightning and waves surrounded them, was etched into the crystal with what could only be
described as ―godlike artistry‖. The man ran his fingers over the relief and shook his head in what
seemed to be disappointment.

―Open,‖ commanded the man, and the doors shuddered as they slowly began to swing outward
revealing what was within the room.

The sound of heavy chains rattling echoed within the chamber that the man stepped into. That,
along with the raspy sound of deep breathing was enough to make any man or woman fearful of
what awaited them within the room. However, if the sound had affected the man, he did not show
it. Striding into the room with his glowing gem that was shifting its color to crystal clear.

―Stop!‖ said a dark voice that held great power behind its raspy sound. ―Who dares enter my
temple? Speak your name, or be cursed,‖ commanded the voice as the shadows in the room seem
to grow darker and the temperature of the room colder.

―I am but a humble servant of the twenty-four,‖ said the man as he bowed slowly and elegantly,
though his eyes never relaxed their vigilance.

―Hah, a servant indeed,‖ mocked the voice punctuated by the rattle of chains. ―What fool would
serve that which was cast away, like so much trash?‖ asked the voice, its hatred could be felt
with each word that was spoken. ―Purpose achieved. No longer needed. Unfit for a new world!‖
the last sentence was screeched out with an anger that seemed to cause the very walls of the
room to groan from its pressure.

―The Occuria…‖

―Speak not their name lest your life be forfeit!‖ rattled out the voice as the pressure in the room
increased.

―Their time has come,‖ said the man as he sunk his blade into the pale-blue stone of the ground.
―Will you stand and fight? Or would you rather rot for all eternity with in a temple made prison?‖
asked the man as he held aloft the stone.
From shadows of the room stepped an old woman whose faded blonde hair was dirty and matted,
as if it hadn‘t been washed in centuries. Her skinny emancipated body looked frail, but the mass
of black iron chains attached to her legs and wrists told another story altogether. The bottom of
the woman‘s face was covered by an old white mask that had designs of gold inlayed into it and a
dirty white dress with a mix match of armor covered her once youthful body. A jagged crack ran
from the bottom of the mask and reveal that behind the mask was nothing but darkness.
Wrinkled, sallow skin and sunken but piercing pale green eyes could be seen under the long
unkempt hair and it made her visage that much more frightening. At her hip, a beautiful marble
vase was tied to her waist, and she leaned heavily on a staff that seemed to be made completely
of coral. Narrowing her eyes the female asked in poison laced tones, ―What makes you believe
that we can succeed where twelve others have failed?‖

The man smiled as he spread out his hands and said, ―Twelve was a good number…but twenty-
four might have a chance at accomplishing much more than they could ever imagine.‖ Holding
out the stone the man closed his eyes and concentrated. The gem flared to life as the chains
holding the being shattered into nothingness leaving the woman to look down at her arms in awe.

―Though you were cast away by your creators. Those who were afraid that a second rising might
take place. You were once a life giver…would you not want to take back that which is rightfully
yours…‖

―…Emmerololth?‖

On the surface of the sea, far from the location where the temple was located, several fisher men
watched in fear as the eternal storm of Sadakis calmed itself and disappeared. The men, naturally
superstitious in nature, took this as omen of some unforetold darkness that might loom nearby
and decided not to tempt fate as they made their way back to the shore.

                                              ~x~x~

Standing atop the stone walkway that over looked the lower levels of Rabanastre, a currently
confused and displaced blonde allowed his mind to wander as he pondered the turn of events that
had brought him to this time and place. A slight breeze tousled Vaans golden locks as he stared
into space thinking, ‗Ignius tenth of seven hundred and six…Vayne‟s ceremony. This was the
start of everything…‘

Vaan spied two Archadian guards engrossed in a deep discussion, and that‘s when an urge to test
his skills at pilfering suddenly hit him. Smirking to himself, he casually strolled into the path of
the oncoming guards. ―Whoa!‖ he yelled as he bumped into the guards while his hand quickly
and flawlessly slid into the man‘s money pouch. Flopping to the ground, giving the guards a false
sense of strength and superiority, he looked up with a genuine look of surprise and dismay that
once again was only there to feed the guards inflated egos.

―Hey churl! Watch where your heading!‖ yelled one of the guards while the other, who seemed
much more wary of the situation, checked his money pouch and found it still attached.

―My apologies, sir,‖ stuttered Vaan as her stood up and move out of their way, hearing the guards
grumble some curses before heading back to the southern plaza.

When the two guards had vanished from sight, Vaan smile lit up as he opened his fisted palms
and held within them several large silver coins that represented hundreds of gil. ―Ha, easier than
taking candy from a child,‖ said the young thief as he flicked one of the coins in the air only to
have it snatched by a feminine hand.

‗Déjà vu,‘ thought the boy as an old memory of him getting scolded by Penelo crept into his
mind.

―I see you‘ve been up to your old tricks again haven‘t you? You have got to stop stealing, Vaan,‖
said a soft voice as a familiar sent of desert flower oil and soap invaded his senses, ―What if you
get caught? Your no good to anyone if you‘re locked up in prison.‖

Penelo was waiting for a smart-alecky reply, but when none was forthcoming she turned to see
her old friend standing stock still, like a living statue. Vaan‘s head was lowered and his bangs
shadowed his eyes, but just from his posture the girl could tell that something was wrong.
―Vaan? Is everything okay?‖ asked the girl as she touched his shoulder and was surprised when
he twitched his shoulder away from her.

Controlling the emotions that began welled up inside of him, Vaan forced them down as he
turned around as was greeted with the sight of his oldest and dearest friend. Her blue eyes looked
worried, but in contrast they were filled with life and vitality. Her blonde hair shimmered in the
sunlight and almost took on an ethereal glow. ―I‘m fine. You just caught me by surprise…don‘t
think it will happen again,‖ his cocky comeback had erased much of the worry that had been
etched into her face, and now had her giving him a angry pout.

―Besides I only took as much as I needed, nothing more,‖ said the teen as he counted up the
booty and found he had eight-hundred gill.

―What‘s this? Another saying of yours, oh wise one? Wasn‘t it you who said to me, not more
than a day ago might I add…‘the imperials took away our money, so it is the duty of all
Dalmascans to take as much as we can back from them‘,‖ Penelo, of course, took the opportunity
to say this in the most silliest voice that she could muster while posing and putting on a serious
face.

Vaan was flabbergasted and a bit horrified, he really hoped for the sake of his pride that Penelo
was just kidding with him. ‗Gah, I was such an idiot back then,‘ thought the blonde before
asking, ―You‘re kidding, right?‖

Penelo laughed, it was like the sound of chimes on the wind, and made Vaan‘s chest tighten with
good memories that he would never forget. ―Well,‖ said the girl as she adopted her ‗cute thinking
pose‘, ―it might not have been that bad but…‖

―Ha, ha very funny,‖ replied the thief as he rolled his eyes at his friends antics.

―This,‖ said the pig-tailed girl as she held up the silver gil piece, ―will be for the bread you took
yesterday. Also, you know that Migelo is looking for you, right?‖

―Is he?‖ Vaan said as he easily slid several more coins into his friends hand, which had her
looking at him in confusion and suspicion. ―What?‖

―Why did you give me more?‖ asked the girl now looking at the gil in her hand.

Vaan smiled easily as he walked passed her on his way to meet with Migelo, while saying in a
elderly voice, ―Wise man say: Better to share and enjoy what we have now, than lose all in the
end.‖
Chapter 3 – Of Omens, Reunions, and Remembrances

With its relentless heat, the noon day sun shone down upon the empire of Arcadia. Humidity
hung in the air like an unseen specter, squeezing the life and energy out of even the most robust
Arcadian. Many shops with cooling units were overflowing with customers who where making
their out of the stifling heat. Noble and commoner alike were feeling the oppressiveness of the
day. Especially one noble in particular…

―Of all the days…‖ an articulate voice complained, as its owner strode angrily through a wide
hall with polished stone floors, ―…they would have you believe this country is the epitome of
civilization, and yet a single mildly hot day appears and suddenly we all lose every single scrap
of reason only to spiral into anarchy.‖

The click of the man boots echoed through the halls before becoming muffled as the polished
stone became a luxurious crimson carpet. Fiddling with his eyeglasses the frazzled man
unbuttoned his overcoat and fanned his face as sweat dripped off his brow. Taking a sharp turn at
the next corner the man‘s eyes narrowed in anger as he saw four fully armored guards standing in
front of his labs.

―Good day, Dr. Cid,‖ called out the obvious leader of the small group.

―Good day indeed,‖ Cid raised a skeptical eyebrow, while fanning himself.

―Ah…yes…well, we have been informed to tell you that the both generators have overheated.
Engineer Syklan estimates that he‘ll have the generators back online in under four hours,‖ said
the officer as his voice echoed within his metallic suit.

―Syklan…hmm…well, four hours is too long,‖ said Cid as he pinched his brows with his fingers.

―Sir?‖ questioned the guard as he couldn‘t understand Cid‘s reasoning.

Shaking his head the doctor explained, ―The backup generators, that keep some of the labs more
delicate weapons and equipment cool, will not last for four hours. At tops I would say they will
last only one and a half hours.‖

―Go back to Syklan,‖ said Cid as he got a faraway look in his eye, ―tell him that I will be sending
two more helpers to speed up the recovery of the generators.‖

―Yes sir!‖ replied the guard as he lifted his arm across his chest before calling out to his
subordinates and leaving.

Watching the armored men rush off, Cid could only sigh in exasperation. After his brief bout of
frustration had passed the doctor went back to his original mission as he fumbled for a few
seconds with loop of card keys. Finding the right one the man began to, yet again, speak to
himself, ―Should we start testing the prototype as soon as it comes out of the crucible?‖
Passing through the door and into an air conditioned lab, Cid wiped his brow with a handkerchief
and turned his head as if regarding something that was occupying the space behind him. When
the door to the lab closed the air in the lab seemed to grow thick, slowly the illumination around
the door began to fade as the very air shimmered and rippled revealing a ghost like apparition. It
calmly hovered over the floor as its bright glowing eyes seemed to take in everything before
locking on Cid.

The voice that replied to Cid‘s question was neither fully female or male in its tone. In fact, if
someone was to hear the being speak, at times they would swear that it even fluctuated between
that of a child and an elderly person. ―Yes,‖ said the ghost as it turned its gaze to the egg like
device in the center of the lab, ―the sooner you succeed, the better chances your race has against
my brethren.‖

―Ah, yes,‖ said Cid sitting down at a desk that had several large folders of paper strewn across it
surface, ―the Occuria. My dear Venat, we were very close on our last attempt. I cannot help but
believe that this next attempt will end in success.‖

―Let us hope so,‖ Venat said as its voice took on a very feminine tone, ―you humes are
fascinating as a race…I would hate to see you…‖ Hearing Venat cut her speech short, Cid looked
up from his abundance of paperwork and saw the specter look to the east. ―Impossible…‖ said
Venat as the Occuria‘s eyes began to glow brightly

								
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