The Confrontation in Zot
Beth Davis

"I thank you," spoke the ebony-clad knight in a tone of droll amusement. His face, though hidden by his helm, still radiated a smirk.

The party of warriors took a defensive stance, eyes not leaving the dark knight and the dragoon. The metallic gleam of the Tower of Zot's interior reflected onto Cecil's newly acquired flame armor, giving the paladin a holy glow.

The old man, Tellah, barely contained his rage as he snarled at the dark knight, "Golbez!" His purple robes shuddered with fury.

Hand on sword hilt, Cecil warily advanced towards Golbez. "Where is Rosa?" he demanded, his jaw taut. His blue eyes harshly studied his opponent, this time making no foolish underestimates as he did during their confrontation in Fabul.

"The crystal first." Golbez stood firm, making no errors with his bargaining chip. His muscular pauldron-adorned arms were crossed in a defenseless manner, begging someone to take a shot at him.

Cecil's distinctive brow lowered as he quietly growled, "You haven't hurt Rosa, have you?"

The hum of the flying citadel loudly filled the chamber amongst the tension-filled hush. Golbez calmly intoned, "Of course not. Now, give me the crystal."

Cecil slid the Crystal of Earth out of a worn kidskin pouch at his belt. With a quick nod to his companions Cid, Tellah, and Yang, Cecil steadily approached Golbez. His silver boots clanged against the metal floor as the paladin kept cautious eyes on his former friend, Kain, and Golbez. The dragoon stood as a silent sentinel behind his Master.

"This is it!" said Cecil, passing the crystal into Golbez's palms. "Now give back Rosa!"

"Rosa? What are you talking about?" mused Golbez with a spiteful chuckle.

Cecil whipped back, royal blue cape twirling about him, as he unsheathed his flame blade in an instant. "What!?" snarled the paladin, his blue eyes sparkling with a fire as intense as his red hair.

"You cheated us!" barked the heavyset engineer, Cid, withdrawing his club.

The old man, Tellah, stepped forward. "Foul traitor!" he hissed, leaning against his staff for support.

"I have no business with you, old man," the dark knight scornfully retorted, dismissing the mage with a wave of his hand.

"But I do!" Tellah eagerly responded, storming up to Golbez. He pushed aside the surprised Cecil, confronting Golbez alone. "This is for Anna!" he cried, evoking the name of his precious daughter, slain by Golbez's hand.

Tellah launched a barrage of spells at the dark knight, ranging from every elemental attack to the most fatal of poisons. Golbez stood before him and received the spell blasts with disdain. A glancing lightning strike left an almost unnoticeable mark on his ebony cuirass. "No one can ever defeat me. . . " Golbez arrogantly stated.

With a shuddering breath, Tellah plunged into the depths of his aged mind to retrieve his last resort. "Devecidous Mosfratium. . . "

Startled, Tellah's companions immediately realized that this spell was not an average incantation. In despair, they had to resist rushing forward to stop him; disturbing Tellah's concentration in the midst of a spell would only bring chaotic disastrous consequences upon them all.

"No, don't!" yelled Cecil, grinding his teeth in frustration.

"It'll destroy you!" cried the Karate master Yang. Though unable to cast spells himself, the martial artist understood the horror unfolding.

Tellah's blue-tinted glasses slid off the end of his nose. His face dripped perspiration. His old, vengeful eyes focused on the massive warrior. Speaking the last words of the self-destructive incantation, Tellah concentrated as he pointed a gnarly finger at Golbez. "I'm spending my life to defeat. . . you!" he wheezed.

Fiery meteors rained from the heavens with a screeching sound, converging upon Golbez. The dark knight had just enough time to incredulously shout, "No way!" as a hail of marble-sized rocks impacted. The party watched in dumb amazement as Golbez was engulfed in hundreds of fireballs. A thunderous concussion rang out, nearly deafening them all. Tellah swayed and collapsed in a flutter of purple robes, his life energy spent on his daughter's vengeance; a brief smile lit his lips as he witnessed Golbez falling before the ultimate spell.

Cecil, Cid and Yang rushed to Tellah's fallen form, knowing already that he was as good as lost to them.

Golbez, with remnants of his cape still smoldering, rose slowly and unsteadily to his feet. His voice growled with shock and disgust, "You used Meteo. . . grrr. . . ". Battered but not beaten, Golbez smiled as he observed with a raspy croak, "But I still have the crystal. Now come, Kain!" Unsettled by the lack of response, Golbez glimpsed over his shoulder to find the dragoon lying prostrate on the metallic tiles.

Lips pursed, the dark lord spoke, "The Meteo must have broken my control over him! So be it, you no longer serve my purpose." Straightening, Golbez turned to find Cecil glaring at him through mournful, red-rimmed eyes. "I will settle this score later, Cecil!" Golbez swirled about, leaving his back exposed to the young paladin as he strode toward the rear door.

"Never!" barked Cecil, his head lifting in pride. The tall knight approached his dark opponent menacingly, long strides quickly catching up with his weakened foe. Golbez glimpsed back at the upstart paladin, surprised but not intimidated in the least. A chuckle reverberated from his black helm as Golbez released a blast of energy from his fingertips, hurling Cecil towards the far wall. Cid and Yang watched from beside Tellah, knowing this was not their fight.

Each dragging step resonating loudly, Golbez staggered up to Cecil, obviously preparing to vanquish the paladin. Yet two steps from Cecil, Golbez abruptly stopped.

"Why not finish me off?" snarled Cecil, choking up a bubble of blood. He glared up at the dark knight through a mat of tangled, sweat-drenched auburn hair.

"You. . . who are you?" asked Golbez blankly, his arms relaxing at his side. Cecil looked up at him in bewilderment. Giving the impetuous paladin a final glance, Golbez departed through the rear door and vowed, "I shall see you again!"