My whole body was a mass of pain. I would have liked to use my sword to help me walk, but I was afraid to damage the end. Next to me, Trista was leaning heavily on her spear. Shanna was using the staff she had found as a walking stick, her left arm hanging at an odd angle. Yet we continued on, deeper into Sephiroth's lair. Knowing what awaited us at the end would be certain death.
With Diallo and Mitsu dead we were down to three. But that wasn't much help to us. The three of us were covered in blood and hardly able to walk without assistance.
"We have to stop," Trista said, collapsing against a wall.
Shanna dropped to a sitting position, and I was more than happy to stop as well. Gingerly I touched the bandage that encased my left ear. Or at least what was left of my ear. A momentary lapse in judgment had allowed General Cloud to get close enough. It had been cut diagonal so I at least had the bottom half of my ear. My back was a mass of bruises after being thrown into the cave's wall so many times.
Kneeling next to Trista, I looked over her back. Blood stained her shirt, which was shredded in many places. Finally, the bleeding had stopped, thankfully the whip marks were not too deep. General Cloud had done a number on her back though.
"Are you going to be okay," I asked.
"I'll be fine," she reassured me with the slightest glimpse of a smile.
Moving slowly I went to sit next to Shanna. With careful hands Shanna pulled her sleeve away to reveal her arm. Jagged white bone broke the skin right below the elbow. Quickly she glanced away, letting the material fall back into place.
"I'm not going to be much use in the final fight," Shanna stated. "I can't move my arm, I can't hold my gun."
"You can use Mitsu's knifes," Trista said.
Palming one of the blades, I could see the pained look in Shanna's eyes. Mitsu had died protecting her from General Cloud. He had insisted that she take the blades.
"I wouldn't feel right using them," she whispered, tears appearing in her eyes.
Leaning heavily against the wall Trista rose to her feet. Back straight, she walked over to us. It would have been impressive if she wasn't limping so badly. Glancing down, I could see her swollen ankle.
"He wanted you to take them. Shanna, you can't back out on us now," she said, towering over us. "We have to continue on."
There was silence as we exchanged looks. She was right, we had to continue on. Everything we had ever done had led up to this. We couldn't let people die in vain, we had to stop him.
"People died to get us here," I said my voice determined, slowly rising to my feet. "We can't disappoint them."
Pushing off with her good arm, Shanna also rose to her feet. "I don't know about you two. But I made a promise to Diallo. I intend to keep that promise to him."
The three of us exchanged looks, each with a burning determination.
"We are in this till the end," I said, holding my hand out.
Trista rested her right hand on top of mine, a tight smile on her face. Shanna nodded, placing her good hand over Trista's.
"Till the end," the two mimicked me.
The walk to Sephiroth's lair was silent. Occasionally we would check over our backs to see if General Cloud was somewhere behind us, stalking within the shadows. We had left him tied up in the circular room after moving Mitsu's body out of it. I know we were simply being paranoid, but you could never be to careful.
"I am starting to think we are never going to find it," Shanna muttered, slamming another door closed.
So far we had come upon five different doors, each one leading to a different room. But Sephiroth wasn't behind any of them.
"We just have to keep looking," Trista reassured her, closing another door.
"Up ahead," I said, pointing down the hall.
Shanna and Trista came to stand beside me, staring at what I had pointed out. At the end of the hall was a single door. We walked forward and I knew that this was it. Behind that door was Sephiroth and whatever fate had in store for us.
"Do you think he is here," Shanna asked, as we paused outside the door.
"I'm sure of it," I said, reaching for the door handle.
Trista's hand shot out and grabbed mine, pulling it away from the door handle. Glancing over at her, I was surprised to see a look of uncertainty.
"Before we go in, there is something I need to tell you," Trista said, looking into my eyes.
I nodded, unsure of what she needed to tell me. Shanna stepped off to the side, to give us room. My guess was, Shanna knew what Trista was wanting to tell me. Glad I was finally going to find out, always nice to be the last to know.
"What is it?"
Trista opened her mouth to speak but froze. The door handle was slowly turning on it's own. Dropping my hand, Trista stepped back near Shanna, spear ready. With a click, the door slowly swung open.
"It's impolite to simply stand outside," a smooth baritone voice filled our ears.
In the middle of the room, stood a tall silver haired man. He was dressed simple enough, he only wore a pair of black combat boots and black pants. Clutched in his left hand was a long sword. Sephiroth smiled at us, his green eyes glowing wildly.
"Welcome to my home," he said, giving us a sweeping bow. "Please, do come in."
I was froze in place, unsure of what to make of this man. I was expecting something completely different. This was not the raving mad man I expected to find. Sephiroth seemed almost civilized, for someone who was controlling the world and killing people on a whim.
Trista pushed me slightly and I moved into the room. Sephiroth took a few steps back, giving us room to enter. The door swung shut behind us, being pushed by some invisible force.
"Now," Sephiroth said, looking at us. "It would be impolite of me if I did not ask you your names. Please, feel free to tell them to me."
The silver haired man nodded, mouthing our names to himself.
"And you already know that I am Sephiroth," he said.
I gripped the handle of my sword cautiously. At any moment I expected an attack, but from the looks of it, it wasn't coming. Green eyes flickered to my wrist, then back to my face.
"Now that is unnecessary," he said, his tone light and filled with a laughing melody.
His mood was unnerving. He was suppose to be an evil god, but he talked to us like we were children that had done something wrong and needed to be punished.
"Are you simply going to tease us," Trista snapped, shifting her grip on her spear.
Shanna's sharp cry of surprise invaded my thoughts. Glancing to my right, I gasped. Shanna was slowly rising into the air. Reaching up to grab her arm I frowned. My whole body was locked in place. The only movement I had was my head.
"I see you are surprised," Sephiroth laughed.
With a flick of his wrist, Trista was slammed against a wall behind us. She groaned as her torn back hit the wall. Her spear clattered to the ground at her feet. He rested his sword against the wall, turning back to us. I had a feeling he wouldn't lay it down without knowing he could get to it in a matter of seconds. Since we were all frozen, who knows what else he could do.
"Don't be surprised that you made it this far," Sephiroth said, walking around us.
I tried to struggle against the invisible bonds that held me, but it was no use. My arms were locked at my side. The only part of my body I was able to move was my head. Shanna was dangling a few feet above the ground. Her eyes were narrowed at the silver haired man. The staff she had been carrying lay at her feet.
"I was truly hoping that you all would make it," Sephiroth continued, still walking around us. "But it seems your numbers have been depleted. And here I thought I made it so easy for you."
"What?" Shanna asked, her voice skeptical.
Trista said nothing. She simply watched Sephiroth, her face giving no thoughts away. She caught my eye as I looked at her and gave a reassuring smile.
"Did you really think you could defeat my Generals? If I had wanted them to kill you, I would have let them kill you," the silver haired god explained, drawing my attention back to him. "But that would rid me of the pleasure of killing you myself."
"Your crazy," I snarled at him.
He stepped up close to me, his face inches from mine. The look in his eyes frightened me.
Finally, Sephiroth stepped around me and moved away. Looking over my shoulder, I was able to watch his movements. Shanna was doing the same thing, never taking her eyes off him. Sephiroth came to a stop in front of Trista and looked her over. Tilting her head up slightly, she met his cold emerald eyes.
"Your reasons are different than the others. You come here with a new purpose."
The words Sephiroth spoke to Trista confused me. To my knowledge, her reasons were no different than ours. At least she never said her reasons had changed.
"You come to preserve," Sephiroth paused, resting his hand on Trista's stomach, "the new life growing within you."
A rushing sound filled me ears and for a second, I feared I was going to pass out. So that was what Trista was going to tell me earlier. That she was... That I am going to be... This is too much.
"You know, I can simply rid you of that burden now," Sephiroth said, palming a blade.
I hadn't realized that the person to yell had been me till Sephiroth turned to look at me. He smiled and turned back to Trista, resting the tip of the knife on her forehead. He pulled it down at an angle, leaving a trail of blood in it's path. The wound started at her forehead, running between her eyes and down her left cheek, stopping at her jaw line.
Trista had her lower lip clamped between her teeth to keep from screaming. Sephiroth turned away in a swirl of silver, his face twisted into an ugly smile. Through narrow eyes I watched him casually toss the crimson stained blade away. It arched through the air, striking a wall, leaving behind a bloody streak.
"Well that was entertaining," Sephiroth said, lacing his hands behind his back. "What shall we do now?"
"Why don't you explain to us why you want to destroy the planet so bad," Shanna said, her voice surprisingly calm for somewhere floating four feet off the ground.
Sephiroth nodded, a smile slowly creeping back onto his face. Inside of me, something shuddering at the smile. I finally realized that Sephiroth was not just simply evil, he was completely insane.
"Where to begin?" he asked himself, absentmindedly weaving strand of silver into a braid. "It's not that I really want to destroy the planet. All my life I was bossed around and told what to believe and do. Now, it's my turn to be in control."
"Don't you think that to be a little petty," Trista asked, rapidly blinking to keep the blood out of her eyes.
"Petty!" Sephiroth shrieked, pulling at his hair. "It is not petty you ungrateful bitch!"
"But why slaughter so many people?" Shanna asked. "You can't control them when they are dead."
"Blocking out the sun doesn't bring control," I stated. "It only brings death."
"The only people you controlled were defeated," Trista spat at him. "If you controlled them, how was it that they were defeated?"
Sephiroth shook his head, his face contorted into an angry mask under the barrage of our accusations. His wild green eyes were squeezed shut. As hard as he tried to block us out, we weren't going to stop.
"Lies, lies, lies, lies, lies!" Sephiroth screamed. "Silence with your miserable lies!"
The ground under our feet lurched violently. Sephiroth's eyes shot open, searching desperately around for the source behind the movement. I frowned, thinking this was not an appropriate time for planet tremors.
"What is going on?" Sephiroth asked shifting from one foot to the next. "Tell me!"
The floor birthed a jagged crack at Sephiroth's feet. The silver god stumbled backward as the crack erupted. A cloudy green liquid cascaded into the air, covered the three of us. Blinking, I tried to clear my vision. When I was finally able to see clearly again, there was nothing to see.
"Sephiroth," a soft female voice said.
That soft voice tore through my head. Trista and Shanna screamed out, their voices a unison of pain. Whoever the voice belonged to, it wasn't meant to be heard by human ears. Sephiroth was cringing but it didn't seem to affect him as much as it did us.
"Who's there?" he demanded to know.
"Sephiroth," a deep voice echoed the first.
I couldn't keep the cry of pain from escaping my mouth.
"I know you," Sephiroth mumbled. "Little soldier boy and his flower girl bitch."
Please don't speak again, I pleaded wordlessly. Fighting desperately, I tried to move my hands to cover my ears. But I didn't really think that it would have made much of a difference. The voice was as much in my head as it was in the air.
"You do not see the real truth of what you are doing," the female voice said, her soft voice echoing loudly. "You are as a much a puppet as Cloud was."
"Lies!" Sephiroth screamed, green eyes wild. "I am in control now!"
"In control of what?" the second voice asked. "Jenova is dead and you never found the Promise Land. But yet she still controls you from the beyond."
Above me I could hear Shanna pleading for the voices to stop. The floor shook and I pitched forward, realizing at the last second I had full movement. My arms shot out to brace my fall. Shanna gave a muffled scream as she landed awkwardly on her already broke arm.
"You don't know what you are talking about," Sephiroth snarled, his voice laced with rage.
Glancing up, I noticed that Sephiroth now seemed oblivious to the fact that we were still there. He had retrieved his sword but his back was too us. He was completely absorbed in the voices. It was now or never, this may be our only chance.
Grabbing my sword in my right hand, I clutched the handle getting a good grip. Feet dug into the ground as I readied myself. The muscles in my legs burned but I pay them no mind. Left hand bracing the ground, I take one final deep breath.
Pushing off, I launch myself forward hardly making a sound. Once upon a time, I would have refused to attack a person while their back was turned. Those times were long over.
Screams of anger pierce the air as my sword tore into his exposed skin. Sephiroth spun so swiftly, my sword was torn from my grip, dropping to the floor. The fear that swam in his green eyes terrified me.
"Should have known," he muttered, raising his sword high.
With one swift movement, my world erupted with pain. Raising the sword to his lips, Sephiroth's tongue darted out, slowly licking crimson blood from the silver blade. My legs gave out and I collapsed to the ground. Sephiroth's face was a mask of pure serenity, his eyes glittering.
Trista's voice broke the silence, her scream of rage filling the air. She was upon Sephiroth before the silver haired god could react. Hands positions apart, she swung the spear like a bat. The blade flashed through the air, embedding itself into Sephiroth's exposed side.
I glanced down to see Shanna pressing something into my hand. Above us, Sephiroth was screaming madly, Trista matching him scream for scream.
"The heart," she gasped.
Nodding, I leapt to my feet, nearly slipping in the pool of blood gathered at my feet. My whole body jarred as the dagger plunge into Sephiroth's chest. He stumbled away from us, collapsing against a wall. Looking at us, I could almost swear a look of peacefulness overtook him. Head dropping to his chest, he slowly disappeared in a flash of light.
"Conlan," Trista gasped, catching me as I stumbled.
Shaking arms wrapped around my blood stained chest, helping me to the floor. My eyes were growing heavy and all I wanted to do was rest. Looking into her frightened eyes, I struggle to stay awake.
"Don't you dare leave me," she snapped. "Don't leave us!"
Cool drops of blood splashed on my cheek, sending a shiver down my spine.
"Don't worry," I whispered, my chest burning for air. "I won't leave you."