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Descent

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For as long as Kain can remember he's wanted her, the sweet blonde girl with the bright smile. At first, in the simplicity of his youth it’s enough, she’s enough as is. Friends, nothing more: Cecil, him and Rosa together. Foolishly perhaps, at the time Kain believes they can maintain this forever.

He's a quiet child, often overshadowed by Cecil: Rosa is quieter still, but with a will of iron which means that often she's the ringleader in their childhood schemes. He and Cecil both follow her readily, and neither of them begrudge her the resulting punishments they all suffer when their endeavours fail.

It isn't until his fourteenth birthday that Kain begins to realise that perhaps the only reason he is happy being just friends with Rosa is that he doesn't know what else to want from her.

///\\\

Time passes, Baron prospers, and Rosa, as Kain has always expected, grows from a strong-willed girl into a bright, confident young woman. His desire for her now has a form, and Kain plans many elaborate ways to reveal this to her, but dismisses them all. Sometimes he thinks Rosa looks at him as though she has already guessed what he cannot find words to say just yet.

Winter is looming when the rumours begin, a trying season even during peacetime, and the war Baron is currently entangled in only worsens the unfounded whispers throughout the castle.
Cecil, captain of the red wings, heir to the throne of Baron has turned traitor. Rosa pays no heed. "Cecil is a good man," she tells anyone who will listen.

Kain wishes for her strength of conviction when he is summoned by the King's advisor.
"Cecil is my friend, my lord," he says when asked,"I have never known him to be untrue."
"Then find me proof of this," Golbez snaps. "As his friend, any duplicity will reflect badly on you - and his young lover, too."
He means Rosa, Kain realises, with a flash of bitterness which surprises himself. He would never have begrudged Cecil anything, but now...

///\\\

The mission to Mist, a way for Kain and Cecil to prove their loyalty, is both a success and a resounding failure. When their task is all but completed Cecil stares at the damage they have wrought, clearly distressed.
"There is a child here Kain. What have we done?"

"We have done as we were bid," Kain replies.
Surely it is that simple; Baron is at war, after all. There are always innocents caught in the crossfire during such difficult times. This child that Cecil has found is one such unfortunate, yet she could be a danger to them both. She cannot be allowed to live.

"No." Cecil tells him, shaking his head. "This is not right. I love my King and my Country, but not so much that I would soil my name in theirs."

Kain feels this like a slap to the face. So, the rumours are true: Cecil is a traitor. This leaves him with a dilemma; Cecil is his oldest friend, true, yet faced with the threat of losing his livelihood, betraying his country, this seems irrelevant. He must take up his weapon once more.
Here though, Kain hesitates; his orders are clear: Baron is to be a centre of great power, the summoners of Mist could pose a significant threat to this. None are to leave the village alive.
However the child appears seriously wounded, and despite the days' events he is reluctant to lift a hand against Cecil.
"Let them be, then," Golbez's voice inside his head instructs him. "None of them are likely to survive such an arduous journey anyway. You have performed adequately."

"Thank you," Cecil says, as Kain helps him to his feet.

"I'm not doing this for you." Kain replies tersely.

///\\\

Cecil is gone. Good, something dark inside him whispers, now maybe Rosa could be mine.

There is little time for courting in Baron now, however, as her war has reached its peak. The king appoints him commander of the Red Wings, though it is Golbez who congratulates him on his success, his loyalty.

It is only later, in the privacy of his own chambers, that he reflects on the irony of his reward being an honour which Cecil received almost by default. That is irrelevant, the voice inside his head, deeper and darker than his own for some reason, informs him, you will prove yourself more worthy than Cecil, will you not?

Rosa still refuses to believe in Cecil's treachery. "He is a good man," she insists, "I shall find him, and bring him home, and then everyone will see that this is a mistake."

Kain allows her to leave. She will realise, as you did, the voice tells him, and then she will return to you.
It is not until Rosa does not return that Kain realises: Rosa's affections are yet another honour Cecil has won from him without any effort.

///\\\

Fabul's crystal is his test, an indicator for both his conscience and his king of just how far he has progressed. Though both Rosa and Cecil have left him, he has remained true, and he intends to prove just how far he has come alone.

Cecil's presence is an unexpected, though not insurmountable, obstacle. It would stand to reason, of course, that after defecting from Baron's army Cecil is now supporting her enemies. All Kain has to do is eliminate him.
Rosa's appearance is far more unexpected, enough so that Kain is shaken by her interruption.
"Stop, Kain" she says, and he has never been able to deny her. "Please tell me you've not turned traitor!"
The plea in her voice gives him further pause. To see Rosa's kindness and goodness, the very essence of a white mage, turned towards a treacherous cause turns his stomach. He cannot move, and the thought that he may fail, that she may see him fail in his task is worse still. He cannot bear for her to look at him when he is so close to failure, even if she has already fallen.

He turns away, finally, leaving Cecil to a different fate for now. Rosa must not see the weakness left in him. He must not have weakness left.

///\\\

It is distressing, even now knowing where her loyalties lie, to see Rosa tied up like a common villain. Perhaps they should release her from the bonds, at least.
"Do as you wish," Golbez replies in his mind, or perhaps it is merely the darker side of himself, it has become dificult to distinguish. "Just know that if you allow it she will return to Cecil."

With that, Kain's decision is made. If Rosa stays, she will see his triumph and know him for the man he is. She will admire him, perhaps even return his love.
She must not be allowed to leave.
The tower of Zot has done nothing to dampen Rosa's spirit. Kain expected little else from her; even in chains she holds herself with grace and poise. She is defiant, too;
"Cecil will come," she tells him, "I believe in him."

Kain clenches his fists tight against his anger. How is it even now, when Cecil is the one following his whim, that Rosa still desires Cecil?

"I will become more than Cecil ever will; I'll show you," Kain promises her. It is true; he can feel the power of the crystals mounting, awaiting the final one to realise their full potential.

Rosa laughs, her voice light and beautiful as the rest of her. "You aren't powerful Kain," she says, "you are just following someone who is."
Those words stop him in his pacing, aghast. He has hidden his weaknesses so well, how can Rosa still read his fears and concerns so easily? Before he is truly aware of what he is doing he has Rosa pinned to the wall, his face contorted into a snarl. He will show her how powerful he is.

"She is yours," Golbez's voice booms inside his head, "so claim her as such."

Rosa does not fight him. Instead she sighs softly and shakes her head.
"You don't have to do this Kain," she whispers. "You don't have to prove anything to me."
Kain hesitates, falters, and then, disgusted with his own weakness, re-fastens her chains and retreats to a nearby saferoom.

///\\\

As a Dragoon, Kain was afforded little time to himself, and he soon finds that as leader of the Red Wings he has still fewer moments of his own. Most of his time not spent in active duty is spent with Baron's leaders, planning strategies and predicting attacks.

When he finally has time to spare, it's almost impossible to relax. He's fought so long and so hard to be the one people notice that anything personal, such as relaxation, seems to have fallen by the wayside. It's been months, years perhaps since he can remember having any goal but Rosa's affections.

It is almost a relief to be summoned by Golbez once more, when Cecil enters the tower. Definitely a relief to escape his own thoughts, and return to his post in service of his country.

"We shall see how he fares now, my lord," he comments, with amusement. As he speaks he's startled by his own voice; even that sounds like Golbez now.
"Go to her then, while there is still time," Golbez instructs as they wait, "claim her for your own, finally."
With a smile, Kain goes.

///\\\