Section 54: archives


Author: Stealthy

Glowing eyes in a black face, so much like mine. A ragged steepled hat, almost a duplicate of the one I'm wearing.

Hatred heaped upon anger heaped upon evil - there's the difference.

The third Black Waltz was the biggest monster I'd seen in a long time, though not in terms of size. I'd fought against bigger, beside Zidane and Steiner and Dagger, fought and won. But I'd never seen anything more evil. And yet, here I was, sitting on the floor of the airship as Dagger tried to pull me to my feet, pull me away from the abomination that had just landed - but I could barely move. So much power - frightening and alluring at the same time.

The Black Waltz shouted at me, amazed that I'd destroyed the second one that had come after us - when had the first arrived? I wasn't sure, but I knew it hadn't been when I was there. What I did know was that the third of them, the most powerful, meant to annihilate us all - the only reason it planned on taking Dagger back alive was because it had to, it was under orders. It raised its hands, the staff it carried filled with power, and I knew then that oblivion was waiting for us all.

Then the black mages came out of the ship, stood between the Waltz and me. Don't they see that he'll kill them if they interfere?

"Mindless dolls" he calls them - they might have been acting like that before, but they have minds now, they have souls and they can fight against what they've been told to do. They channel their power into a spell to drive off the threat while Dagger drags me away - but they're too slow.

Death falls upon them, and the ship, like the rain from the skies over Burmecia. The Black Waltz had more power than all of them combined, and could call on it far faster. Lightning blasted them from the deck of the ship, knocked off barrels containing the new mages, shattered them and let our brothers fall to the ground. Part of me screamed in terror - but another part surged with anger. He was killing his friends! Other black mages just like him or me! What sort of a monster could do that?

The others said something as the carnage ended, leaving the deck clear except for the Black Waltz, but I didn't hear it. I remember screaming before I ran out, yelling at the monster, trying to get some sort of explanation, trying harder to control the rage I felt inside of me, to follow my grandfather's teachings.

When he attacked the three of us, I was almost glad that I could finally release my need for vengeance. A surge of power, and raw anger flooded my mind, reducing conscious thought to pure instinct. I barely had enough control to channel some of my spells through Steiner's sword, the rest of them pouring out of me faster than I could ever remember casting them before. Soon, the Black Waltz fell to its knees, and took off, yelling 'I exist only to kill.' I turned away from it in disgust, mostly at myself for not finishing the job then and there.

Then I saw a hat sitting on the railing, from one of the destroyed black mages. An old, battered hat sitting on a soulless piece of wood - I don't know why I thought it, but that's what came to mind. Along with the thought that it was the perfect symbol of what I had become just then.

I don't know how long I stood, staring at the sight and trying to reconcile what I had been taught with what I had just done, just become and heard. Grandfather had taught me that there was no shame in defense, but that violence for the sake of destruction was a crime against everything that lived. And here I had almost fallen into that trap, almost kept fighting once the Black Waltz was down, simply to destroy it. Even if it was an abomination, which its parting words had proven to my satisfaction. There was only one possible resolution - the Black Waltz had to be stopped, but I couldn't let anger be the reason I killed it. It was just like the plant monsters in the Evil Forest - a threat to be dealt with.

That was when I heard another ship coming up behind us, and realized that it was coming back. I turned to watch it approach as the ship swerved through the mountains, somehow keeping to my feet, perfectly calm, perfectly at peace with everything around me. How, I don't know, but it was like I was meditating with grandfather again. The Black Waltz flew in close, and charged another of its lightning bursts. I simply raised my hands, and let out a blast of fire, fueling it with the last of my energy, hoping it would be enough. I saw the Black Waltz' ship rock, then spin off through the air.

"I AM BECOME DEATH," I thought to myself, "DESTROYER OF SOULS." Then, all was blackness until after the destruction of South Gate....

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