Broken Wings, Final Fantasy IV (Kain/Rosa) Title: Broken Wings Author: Lassarina Aoibhell (ficjournal: angharad) Rating: PG-13 Warnings: Spoilers, assorted abuse heaped on characters. Wordcount: 2100 Summary: 'Tis kinder by far to leave her without hope, though he must be cruel to be kind. A/N: Follows as a direct sequel to yesterday's fic, Aufer Calorem Noxium, but can also stand alone. Beta-reading by celeloriel and seventhe.
Kain prepares himself meticulously for this meeting. He bathes thoroughly, washing the traces of Valvalicia from his skin. He shaves his beard and trims his hair, and dons fresh clothing to replace that which Valvalicia shredded. He cleans and polishes his blue Dragoon armour, and fancies that the cobalt sheen is darkening, though he knows it to be fantasy. Metal plates do not reflect their wearer's soul.
It would be the height of ill manners to go before their valued guest unwashed and untidy.
Golbez's minions draw back from him as he makes his way through the Tower of Zot; they are none too clever, as monsters tend to be, but they can recognize those who outrank them in Golbez's hierarchy. He ascends to the pinnacle of the tower, and there he finds the Fiends who yet reside here, awaiting their master's pleasure. Rubicante gives him a civil nod; Valvalicia turns her back with an expression of disdain. He expected no less.
Golbez has bound her to a metal slab set into the wall; the chains are just long enough to permit her to sit or lie down, but no further freedom than that. He is speaking to her in the soft relentless thunder-voice that means he is utilizing his powers on her; Kain cannot hear what he says, but he sees its effect. The weight of Golbez's magic presses down upon her until she bows her head, tears streaming down her cheeks. He can hear the soft sound of her voice when Golbez stops speaking; though the words are lost in the howling of the wind and the crackling of flame, he can well imagine what she says. She is protesting that her brave fine knight will save her, that Cecil will rush off to sweep her away in his arms.
Kain knows better. Golbez promised her to him; he will save her from this place, and not Cecil. When Golbez places him in Baron, she will reign beside him as its queen.
Golbez speaks again. No bright crackle of lightning flies from his hands. She does not scream at the feel of magic wrapping around her bones like molten fire. Kain is grateful for that; as bad as it is to have the icy torment of magic wrapping around the mind, he would spare her the torture of Golbez's cruelty. He knows only too well how harsh that magic can be when Golbez seeks to cause pain, and she has not his military-trained endurance. She would crumple before it like a lily crushed underfoot.
Golbez turns, and sees him standing there. His master smiles and makes a broad gesture. "As I have promised," he says. "Unlike your former liege, I keep my promises to my servants. We will speak later regarding your failures earlier today, but you have served me well enough for now. Enjoy her."
Rosa shakes her head, but makes no sound, curling into herself on the floor. Kain wonders what images Golbez pressed into her mind to so reduce her.
Golbez nods to his Fiends, and they follow him to the door, leaving Kain behind on the dais.
He waits until they have all left, smoldering fire and rushing wind and an endless darkness his eyes cannot pierce, and approaches her. He has never seen her slump so, never seen such a look of utter despair. She raises her head slowly, and her smile when she sees it is him is heartbreaking.
Never has he seen her look so disheveled; her hair is in tangles, her face tear-streaked, her usually pristine white robes streaked with Cecil's blood and the grime of the tower itself. She tries to reach out to him, but is caught up short by the chains.
"Kain!" she says, and he wonders if already she has forgotten that he did his best to kill her precious Cecil not a full day since. Her next words dispel his doubts. "Kain, I can help you, I can free you from this spell, and we can leave this place."
He steps closer, so that she must tilt her head back to look up at him. Part of him longs to lift her up, cleanse the dirt from her, and restore the smile to her face. Yet another part of him wants to crush her will, leave her broken here at his feet. She is his now; Golbez promised her to him, and he may do with her what he wishes.
His father would never have done this.
Kain clenches his hands into fists, the metal of his gauntlets creaking as he does so. "Do not look to me for aid, Rosa. I could spare none for myself; how much less use am I to another?"
She shakes her head. "No, that's not true. You never had training in resisting magic, but I can help you--they taught us skills to heal the mind--"
Kain stares down at her, puzzled almost beyond words. He tried to kill the man she professes to love; he aided in her capture. Now he stands here, able to do anything he wishes to her, and her first thought is to heal him.
The logic of a mage has ever evaded his understanding.
"I advise you not to struggle against Golbez, nor seek to undermine his control. His power in this place is absolute, and it would go very ill with you if you oppose him. I would not see you harmed, and I cannot protect you."
She rises slowly to her feet, still not at eye level with him but better able to meet his gaze. "Kain, what has he done to you?"
"Recall what I have said," he says, and turns away. "Though he has given you to me, still I hold no dominion here save what he grants. It will go easiest for you if you do not resist him."
Her despairing cry is nearly enough to turn his steps back toward her, but he holds fast to his will and leaves the room. Hope, in this place, is the greatest cruelty there could ever be; is it not kinder to strip that last, deepest weapon away and leave her armoured against the dark?
The days have a pattern. Kain trains in the morning, as he has ever done, and while he trains, Golbez takes the time to speak with Rosa, to throw his magic against her mind like waves crashing at the foot of a cliff. She does not speak of those times, but each day her face is a bit paler, drawn slightly tighter.
Rubicante has refused to have aught to do with this, holding to his strange code of honour. Valvalicia has no such scruples. Betimes Kain arrives to find the Fiend of Wind toying with Rosa as a cat with a wounded bird.
Rosa, for her part, entreats him daily to let her heal him. He ignores her pleas and returns her kindness with cruelty, taunting her with tales of Golbez's expanding hold on the major nations of the world. Her robes grow dirtier by the day, yet the spark of hope in her voice will not be extinguished.
Attend me, Kain.
The command rolls through his mind, a low menacing rumble that sinks bright claws into his nerves and pulls, drawing him so far off balance that he actually stumbles into the wall. When he recovers, he goes to Golbez's chambers, and knocks on the crystal doors. They swing open to admit him.
Golbez stands upon the dais at the far end of the room, wrapped in his cloak. Kain approaches and sinks to one knee before him.
"In Fabul," Golbez says, "I ordered you to kill Cecil Harvey and bring me the Crystal. Did you do so?"
An excuse rises too easily to his lips; Kain chokes it back, for it will only make the situation worse. Even that gesture is futile, for the cold sharp points of magic are digging into his mind, and he knows that Golbez saw the thought ere it was even fully formed. Yet appearances are important. He bows his head. "No, my lord."
"I asked a simple thing of you," Golbez says, and though he does not move, Kain can feel the gathering of magic around him. He braces himself.
It begins as a slow prickling on his skin, as though he has lain too long in one position and his limbs have gone to sleep. Then it sinks deeper, sharp points piercing through skin and flesh until they strike bone. Kain clenches his teeth and endeavours to direct his thoughts away, for it will only get worse.
The ache in his bones intensifies, drawing inward until every bone in his body burns. He struggles to draw breath. The sharp edges of magic lacerate his skin, wrapping around him in a grip so firm he cannot move.
He knows not how long it goes on, how many hours he is pain-wracked and unable even to writhe thanks to the grip of Golbez's magic. Thrice the sweet ease of a Cure spell wraps around him in gentle comfort, only to be stripped away by the renewed force of Golbez's rage.
At length Golbez lets go the puppet-strings, and Kain collapses to the floor. Golbez steps down from the dais and walks to him, and the faint vibrations of his footsteps on the floor are pure agony.
"You may wish to tell your captive," Golbez says, "that Leviathan attacked a ship bound to Baron from Fabul. All aboard were lost, including the former heir to Baron."
Kain is unsure that he heard correctly over the pounding of his own blood in his ears, and then the world fades to green-black and he finds himself in his own chambers. He drags himself to his feet, moving like a decrepit old man, and staggers to the washstand.
Even the faint touch of a damp cloth on his skin is nearly too much to bear. He grits his teeth and endures the feeling of every nerve exposed and scraped raw, cleaning himself as quickly as he can. He dresses and pours fresh water into a small basin. Taking it, along with a clean cloth, he makes his way to the pinnacle of the tower, cursing Golbez's sorcery with every step.
For once, Valvalicia has not arrived before him. Rosa looks up as he enters the room, and he notes the blue-black shadows beneath her golden eyes.
"Kain," she says, and her voice is hoarse, as though she has been wearing it out in prayer or pleading or crying or any number of things.
He sets down the basin of water and the cloth next to it. "I thought you might wish to be clean," he says quietly.
He sees the bright gratitude that flashes across her face at his offer, and wonders why she does not suspect his motives. It was the same with Cecil in Fabul; it is though they both think he but play-acts at this vile servitude, and that his "true self" will resurface do they only wish it with sufficient fervor.
"Thank you," she says, and begins with her face, wiping away the evidence of tears and exhaustion. There is little to be done about the state of her robes, not that he wishes to just now. Still she holds out her bright hope that Cecil will come to rescue her. Kain does not intend to permit that hope purchase any longer.
"There is news," he says deliberately, and does not miss the sudden blaze of hope, nor the following clutch of panic, that crosses her face.
"Of Cecil?" she asks quickly.
"His ship sank en route from Fabul to Baron," Kain says.
He wonders why the news of Cecil's death wraps sorrow round his heart like a leaden weight, instead of the fierce triumphant joy he expected.
Rosa shakes her head fiercely. "He is not dead. I would know!"
She cannot see it behind his helm, but he smiles nonetheless. "You may think as you will," he says, "but I bring you the truth."
She seems smaller now, diminished by these tidings. He gives her a cursory bow and leaves the room.
The last obstacle is gone, and Rosa is his utterly. If not now, then when the shock of grief has passed.
He smiles to himself. These are the rewards of his servitude. For this, he will endure Golbez's torments.
He returns to his rooms, and tells himself that no one will notice if he spares a prayer to Bahamut for Cecil's soul.