For as long as Luneth could remember, he’d had night terrors. He’d wake in the dead of night, screaming and shaking and sobbing, drenched in cold sweat –
-and it wasn’t until his mother came for him that he found the strength to silence himself and simply cry in the warm embrace of her arms, losing himself and slowly calming. But when asked what it was that he’d dreamed about, what it was that had scared him so, he’d always been unable to say.
When his mother had let slip the tales of his screaming in the night, Topapa had looked at Luneth with those faded eyes. His weathered face was concerned as he moved to comfort his charge.
“All will be revealed in time, Luneth,” the village Elder had told him, his aged voice holding a note of certainty. “The darkness in our dreams will come to light soon enough.”
A child of Luneth’s four summers didn’t catch the deeper meaning in Topapa’s voice as he and Nina exchanged significant glances.
The night terrors faded as he grew older, became less frequent. Much to his mother’s relief, Luneth no longer woke her at night. Topapa was no longer troubled to hear of the nightmares that Ur’s most adventurous boy suffered, and for all anyone knew, there was no longer a problem at all.
It had become reflex, Luneth would think as he touched the shallow bite in his lip, to stifle the screams when they came. Perhaps only once a week he’d wake up, to find himself shaking, blood welling from his lower lip from where he’d bitten it hard. He had quickly realized it was an attempt to stop the screams from bubbling over, and when he grasped after their cause, he only ever found that same blankness and shadow where his memories of the dream should have been.
On a bad night, he could almost remember-
((claws, blood, laughter))
-but his mind shied back from faded images and half memories that he wasn’t even sure existed, if they weren’t merely figments of his imagination.
((laughter and fire and blood – always the same lunatic laughter))
When he began to travel with Arc, Refia and Ingus, it seemed like the dreams had all but fled into the deep recesses of his mind. There was something deeply comforting about the presence of the other three Warriors of Light-
((he was the warrior of light, and he was their leader even at the end, and then there was cloud who was the rock, and she was the light and the reason to fight))
-that he couldn't put his finger on. Such a refuge from his nightmares was far from permanent. On their journeys between the Floating Continent and the Surface World, Luneth encountered a gentle, blonde Maiden, her name was Aria-
((why are you doing this, terra?))
-who used the last of her life and her powers to save Luneth from a blow from Kraken that would have surely killed him. As he held her in his arms as she faded, he noticed there was blood on his hands. The old images hammered at his mind. Another time, another woman, another boy. Their positions were reversed, and there was blood on her hands. He couldn’t remember why.
((a sacrifice, his life for hers, a life to stop the madness. a life gladly given, if only she'd smile again for him))
Those dreams – that which could be memories, Luneth could admit when he was alone at night, when the others slept and he stared with red eyes into the dying fire - grew stronger with every step they took towards their final destination. He was beginning to connect the dots, to see the hidden lines running between his life and something else entirely.
((warrior of light. crystals. claws. blood. laughter. terra. oh terra please stop crying))
He needed to know. Memories, delusions, nightmares – what were they? Merely something related to his status as a Warrior of Light, or were they something else? When he first saw Xande, he was strangely disappointed. This was not the freakish clown that haunted him, nor the malevolent darkness given feminine appearances. A dupe – he should have been relieved. Perhaps fate and granted his wish, for after Xande fell, it came, the boiling darkness to consume all.
Luneth stood with his friends and allies, for they were the Warriors of Light and would be those that pushed back the darkness. He drew his sword, baring his teeth as he stared directly into what seemed to be the eyes of the Void-personified-
((a lone heart will not change the world... what awaits when you awake is always nothing but despair))
-his mind shied back from it, and the brief moment he paused to clutch his head cost him dearly. He fell to his knees as the Cloud of Darkness’ beams tore through him.
((you will serve us))
When Luneth awoke again, it was to the warm sensation of gentle light. Desch. Sara, Cid, Alus, and the man from Amur had used their light to save the Warriors of Light, to give them one last chance to do battle with the Cloud of Darkness and push it back into the Void.
((don't get me wrong - i still won't fight against anyone i can't beat. but i've decided in my heart to fight. that's why i’m going to beat you!))
It was with the sacrifice of others – the Warriors of Darkness, from a time long before, who spoke of balance – that the Warriors of Light were able to confront the Cloud of Darkness on equal terms. Attempted balance. Light and Dark in equal parts, each trying to engulf one another in an eternal cycle, a conflict without age and without respite. As their light drove the Cloud of Darkness back into the Void from which it came, Luneth raised his chin in defiance to meet its eyes once more, daring-
((this is neither the beginning nor the end, arrogant youth. shinryu waits))
It flooded back to him, a raging torrent of white heat and burning coldness. A thousand lives, a thousand cycles, a thousand deaths. Pitted without mercy against a creature of fathomless evil, only to be torn apart in the end by the woman he’d looked up to all this time, the woman he’d vowed to protect. Faster they came, burning his mind with information he no longer wished to recall.
((shinryu – won’t let me go, not ever. just want to go back to ur, refia, arc, ingus, aria-terra i failed you))
Luneth’s eyes were open, he could see Refia’s mouth moving silently as she was crouched in front of him, one hand on his shoulders and her hand glowing with magic. Arc looked frightened, Ingus defensive – Luneth realized he was muttering, words coming so fast that he didn’t understand them himself. It was too much. Too many lives for one person to handle, too many deaths. He no longer questioned the wisdom of Cosmos in removing memories of many previous conflicts. So much agony would drive a man insane.
((no more. no more for this youth. may he be free of the cycle of conflict, for however long the memories lie dormant. let him be, and let him live a true life))
His eyes widened in horror at the sudden recollection. A memory from outside the wars, of where he lay broken and bleeding in Cosmos’ Valhalla between the rows of those damned to eternal battle, the sight of a great serpent and the voice of somebody else entirely. A pact. A release. And by pressing for information, trying to follow half-memories and grasping through the empty blackness in his mind, he’d doomed himself once more.
Luneth was screaming as Shinryu ripped him from the World of Darkness and thrust him into the midst of the endless cycle again.
((all he could see was terra’s tear-streaked face as she dropped him and went after the warrior of light and cloud, the sudden blankness in her eyes, and the sound of Kefka’s chilling laughter))