A/N - This is...-holds back tears- The last chapter of The Unlikely Warrior. *sobs*
I am carrying the storyline on because I love it so much - but it will be under a different title called Into The Heart Of Oblivion.
I have decided to stop this part of the storyline here - because it has gone as far as I can take it. I've had so many problems with trying to motivate myself to write this last chapter it's been unreal. And the hectic amount of work from Uni also took its toll. So in terms of creativity and motivation - I think that starting the next part of Kathryn's journey in a completely different story - under a completely different name will give me the creative spark I need to carry on with the story that I am so fond of :)
Anyway - I hope you like this chapter! Kefka gets his just desserts and Cloud and Terra...well. Let's just say I've implied a bit of romance coming their way ;)
I would like to thank everyone who has reviewed - put this story on alert or even added it to their favourites list! - Your encouragement has always been the driving force I needed to carry this on - and I'm so glad it has got this far.
Please look out for Into the heart of Oblivion. :)
I plan on adding a few more characters on both sides - seeing as though Jecht and Golbez are now on the Cosmos side -
But I will say no more. I only hope that you will enjoy this story, and support me in my next endeavour as you have done with this one :)
Thankyou so much again!
'If you're as bad ass as you obviously think you are, Mr. Palazzo, then come down and face me like a man!'
Kathryn's new found courage surprised everyone – especially herself. She would never have dared shout such a thing an hour ago. What on earth had changed?
'Uwee hee hee! Oh ho! So – my boring play thing might not be so boring after all!'
Kefka's shrill laughter sent a chill down everyone's spine. Cecil and Cloud instinctively drew their swords as the voice echoed menacingly around the room.
'Don't speak to him – please! It will just make him worse.' Terra turned to Kathryn and gave her a fearful look. Cloud walked over to her and placed his hand gently on her shoulder. She smiled at him but it was clear to everyone that she was still quite scared.
'Don't worry Terra. I won't – I promise,' saod Kathryn, feeling rather guilty.
Kathryn and Cecil were being a lot more wary than Terra and Cloud, who were now joined in a tight embrace. Kathryn was scared more than anything that Kefka would find a way to seperate her and Cecil once more. She didn't think she could bear the pain of being seperated from him again. She knew that she wanted to stay by his side for the rest of time, because being with him gave her more courage and support than she could ever have imagined.
But, as the four Cosmos warriors battled fear and nerves; desperately trying to figure out what they should actually do next – Kefka sent down a torrent of Thundaga spells that shattered the Esper tubes that lined the walls, sending shards of glass flying in every direction.
'You'll be cut to shreds!,' Kefka shrieked gleefully; jumping and dancing on the spot as he watched the shards of shimmer, razor sharp glass tear through the air.
Cloud and Terra had instantly thrown themselves to the floor and curled up; shielding themselves from the onslaught of the glass. It was a narrow escape to say the least.
Kathryn had pulled Cecil around the nearest corner, but a piece of glass had managed to graze her cheek quite deeply as she peered around the wall to see if Cloud and Terra were okay.
She could feel the warm blood running down her cheek, and when it congealed on the middle of her neck.
It stung a little, but not too much, so she was not concerned by it at all.
Cecil, on the other hand, was very much concerned with the wound. It did not seem to want to stop bleeding, and he could see her skin turning paler and paler with every second that went by.
'Kathryn – your skin. It is becoming insipid...,' he turned her head around softly by her chin to take a closer look at the seeping wound.
It was more out of instinct than worry, but Kathryn went to touch the wound to gauge just how deep it was; and as her fingers neared her pale cheek they began to tingle and grow warmer and warmer until they were burning hot and beginning to glow.
Cecil stared in complete awe as he watched her bloody, open wound seal up and cease bleeding as Kathryn ran her fingers down the edges of the serrated skin.
'Kathryn you...' Cecil began. He was in so much shock that he could not muster the proper words to say.
'What?,' she asked fearfully. She did not realise what she had just done. 'Am I going green or something?'
Cecil slowly shook his head. He was still quite unsure about what had just happened.
'Am I losing more blood?'
Kathryn frantically searched her cheek for more blood, and to see if the wound had gotten deeper, but she couldn't feel anything on her skin. Panicking – she ran her fingers down her skin again, only to find nothing.
'My wound – where did it go? I felt it a moment ago...'
'You – you healed yourself...'
'But how? I don't know how to do that...'
Kathryn was completely bewildered, not to mention completely and utterly flabbergasted and scared. How had she managed to heal herself like that? She had only ever seen someone healed in this world with a potion – and she had witnessed Terra healing Cloud when he had gotten wounded – but Terra was a mage, a very powerful one at that. Kathryn had no powers what so ever.
Or so she thought...
Terra and Cloud slowly crept around the corner to see if their companions were okay. They did not expect to be greeted by an awe stricken Cecil who was completely lost for words; and a panic stricken Kathryn who was staring at Cecil like she had gone completely insane.
'Uh – guys...is something up?' Cloud looked at Cecil as he asked the question, which seemed to snap Cecil out of his pensive mood.
'Kathryn – she just...healed...I don't...'
'Wait, what? You're not making any sense...' Cloud tried to walk over to Cecil, but he was interrupted by Kathryn suddenly speaking – her voice was shaking with trepidation.
'What he means is...I healed my wound...'
Cloud and Terra looked at Kathryn like she had actually gone insane.
'You had a wound? But, I don't get it...'
Kathryn sighed in exasperation and shook her head.
'I looked round the corner to see if you guys were okay and a shard of glass cut my cheek, and as I went to touch it – I don't know...I didn't even realise I had done anything to it...'
Kathryn gulped and shook her head, trying in earnest to regain composure of herself.
Cecil shook his head as well, and walked over to Kathryn. He wrapped an arm around her shoulders and gave her a reassuring squeeze.
'Did you see how she did it?,' Terra asked Cecil. 'You must have seen something...'
Cecil nodded at Terra.
'Her fingers started to glow – and after that, well, it looked like her skin was weaving itself back together...'
Terra nodded in thought; a faint smile appeared on her beauteous face.
'It's just as I thought...'
Everyone looked at her, surprised. What she had just told them was completely unexepected.
Kathryn looked at her with suspicious eyes. Why was she only just saying this now?
'What do you mean just as you thought? You knew this would happen?'
Terra was quite startled by Kathryn's change of heart, and her tone of voice, but she completely understood why she was behaving this way.
She shook her head at Kathryn.
'Not this specifically – but after Kefka had stunned you, your body managed to retain some of the magic, just like you had absorbed it or something. And now its clear that the magic has completely infused with your cells, and you can utilise it...'
'You mean...absorbed it like a sponge?'
Kathryn was aware she sounded completely and utterly stupid for asking this, but it was the only way she could understand. As Terra nodded at her in reply – she did understand. Her body had managed to absorb Kefka's magic and now she could use it. But there was one problem. She didn't actually know how to use it.
'So...how do I do stuff...I mean – conjure things like you do?'
Terra seemed to be quite taken aback by this question. She had never been asked anything like this before.
'Well,' Terra began. 'I just – imagine it in my mind, and imagine the target, and then I just let go. It won't happen like that to begin with though. It takes a lot of self control and...'
Terra didn't get to finish what she was saying because Kathryn had rushed away in an act of complete courage.
She didn't want to be scared any more. She didn't want to have to rely on anyone else for protection. She knew now that if she ever wanted to get her crystal, and help Cecil get his, she would have to face her fears – and face them alone.
She was going to face Kefka – all by herself.
'Kefka!' she roared with all of the passion and courage that was burning in her heart. 'Get down here, and face me – now!'
As Cecil, Cloud and Terra tore around the corner to see what was happening, Kefka peered down at Kathryn from the pipeline he was sitting upon. He had been sulking about being thwarted by his precious play thing once again, but something about Kathryn's change in attitude had certainly piqued his interest.
He grinned malevolently at the adamant young woman that was glaring up at him like he was pure poison.
'Oh?,' he sneered. 'And just how do you intend to fight me, little girl? Need I remind you that you failed to defend yourself last time...'
'Things have changed.'
Kathryn smirked nastily at Kefka, who was now more than intrigued by her change in attitude.
Clearly, he thought she had a death-wish, but he really didn't mind. He would finally get to toy with his meat before slaughtering it for certain.
He just loved the thought of sweet, fresh meat...
Without almost any hesitation, he jumped down from the pipework that lined the roof of his macabre tower, and landed on the metallic platform across from where Kathryn stood.
'Showtime!' he hissed maniacally before bursting into a peal of raucous laughter.
Cecil let out a cry of protest and dismay – but Cloud and Terra; who seemed to understand what Kathryn was intending to do; held him back.
'I have to help her!,' Cecil said in protest. He was struggling against Cloud and Terra's restraints but it was no use. They were not going to let him go.
'You don't need to help her,' Terra said calmly. She smiled at Cloud and he smiled at her in return.
'But she could get killed!'
'You need to have more faith in her Cecil,' said Cloud, wisely. 'She's more stronger than any of us ever thought she could be. She will be okay...'
'But if she isn't – you will let me help her?'
'We will all help her,' Terra said adamantly.
Cloud and Terra relaxed their tight hold on Cecil, and together the three of them watched as Kathryn made her stand against the might of the evil mad mage court jester that was Kefka Palazzo.
Kathryn wasn't even perturbed by the clown stood in front of her. All she had to do now was relax, concentrate, and focus. Normally she would have been put off by the thought of killing another sentient being, but it was clear to her that Kefka was certainly not sentient by any means. He had to die – and he had to die now.
She closed her icy blue eyes and focused her mind entirely on the magic she wanted to conjure. An image of molten lava, and the brightest most potent of flames and fire flashed before her eyes until she was able to focus fully upon the heat and the fury.
In a flash, she had opened her eyes, and her hands began to glow. They were a brilliant colour of luminous orange, and as soon as Kefka saw what she was doing – his eyes opened wide in fear.
This was the first time Kefka Palazzo had been afraid of anything...
As she raised her hands high above her head, Kathryn began to yell at the top of her lungs. Her eyes burned the same colour as her hands as all of her energy – all of the love she held inside her for her friends, and for Cecil, they all merged into one and mixed with the fire in her heart.
Then, in one solid eruption, flames and pure molten magma purged forwards from her soul.
She directed them towards Kefka, and with a howl of pure defiance and rage – they struck him.
He could feel his skin burning. He could feel it singing and peeling away. He could feel his own skin melting from around his muscles and his veins.
Kathryn was pushing with all of her might. The flames and the magma continued to erupt from her soul as she pushed them further. She wanted to hurt Kefka just as much as he had hurt her.
But something wasn't right – her strength seemed to be waning, and as Cecil saw the brilliance of the flames fading from before his eyes – he leapt forwards and struck Kefka with all of his strength and might.
With a final indignant cry – Kefka slumped to the floor. His body was burnt. His strength was null.
Kefka Palazzo, was dead...
Kathryn's eyes and hands had ceased to glow. She was exhausted. The strength and might of the magic she had just produced had sapped every last ounce of her strength – ripped it from her body.
Cecil took one last look at the bastard clown.
His body was rigid and burned. The look of fear on the harlequin's face before he had died said more to Cecil than words could ever say. Kefka had been scared to the core of his being. And justice had been served.
From behind Cecil, Kathryn's knees buckled underneath her. She simply did not have the strength to hold herself any longer.
Cecil ran over to her and knelt down. He scooped her body into his arms and smiled down at her; tears of joy forming in his eyes.
'You did it!,' he said, laughing and smiling out of pure happiness.
She shook her head and smiled back.
'No – we did it Cecil. You dealt the final blow...'
Cecil did not say anything, he just continued to smile at her.
'And I couldn't have done it – without your love Cecil. You gave me the strength to carry on. Everyone did.'
Cecil kissed Kathryn passionately. He couldn't imagine ever being without her. Not now. Not after what they had just been through. As he finished the kiss, and ran his fingers through her soft hair, tiredness and exhaustion got the better of Kathryn, and she fell into a deep sleep; a wide smile spread across her face.
Cecil lay her gently down on the platform, and stood up – taking the moment in. He was overwhelmed by so many emotions it was almost unreal. To think only a moment ago he could have lost everything that he had worked towards, everything he had hoped for. But she had done it, and he was so proud of her.
And that was when he saw it. That was when it appeared.
A crystal; in mid air – the most beautiful crystal that had ever graced his gaze appeared in front of him.
Cecil stared at the magnificent blue crystal as it shone so brightly before his eyes. He began to smile – but the smile faded as quickly as it had come. Something was not right.
'Go to Kazz, okay?,' Cloud said to Terra, who nodded in reply. 'I'll go and see if Cecil is okay.'
Cloud ran over to his companion, who was wearing an expression of confusion and dread.
'Cecil – is everything okay?'
Cecil shook his head.
'I don't understand...' he said, gazing intently at the crystal. 'There is only one. There should be two...'
Cloud stared at the crystal with the same intent gaze with which Cecil looked upon it. He peered into the crystalline depths of its eloquent formation, and in the centre of it, he could see a light. It was red, and pulsating rapidly.
'Just like a heart...' he said absently.
Cecil looked dumbstruck at Cloud, who turned to look at him with a smile on his usually solemn face.
'This crystal...is for both of you...'
Cecil blinked at Cloud. He was deeply confused.
'But Cloud I -'
He watched as Cloud pointed to the centre of the crystal, and his eyes opened in complete wonderment.
'It's beating...' Cecil whispered.
Cloud nodded at his companion and patted him on the back.
Cecil could hardly believe it. Here it was. Their crystal. Cosmos must have known from the start. Of course she knew! She would not have told him to look for his one true love otherwise...
Relieved, tired, and thankful to still be alive – Cecil ran back over to Kathryn, crystal in hand, and lifted her body from the floor.
It was time for them to leave this tower. Time for them to leave this realm and return to Cosmos.
She would be waiting for everyone.
As Cecil, Cloud, Terra and Kathryn (who was still fast asleep!), made their way out of Kefka's tower, and back to their other companions who were longing to hear of what had happened to the four of them, they were certainly in high spirits.
But little did they know, that the adventure they thought was coming to an end, was really just beginning.
Little did they know, that the horrors they had faced, had not faded like they had thought.
And as they made their way towards The Order's Sanctuary – little did they know that when they started their new adventure – not all of them would be coming back alive...
to be continued in : Into The Heart Of Oblivion