The Dragoon's Farewell
A Final Fantasy IV fanfic by Matthew Liam Smith
I bet I know what you're thinking. "Not him again!" Well, what can I say. Bad luck comes in threes, and so far I've only hit RPGamer once! That's correct, there may be another one on the way, God willing! It's unlikely to be any time soon, so you don't have to pack your bags and flee JUST yet.
Only almost completely deterred by the increasing abundance of Kain fics on RPGamer, I decided perhaps the gaming public might like to have a read of my own work on this, the character I regard as Square's most intriguing. This is certainly not the entire story, though....
From November 1997, I have been working on an epic-length fanfic entitled "The Tale of Kain Aron Highwind," which, I think, proves that you don't need many games to create a long fic - just one and a vivid imagination will suffice. And judicious adaptation of ideas from other games and mythology! However, as it now stands, the fic is close to 1.7 MEGAbytes long. So, sending the entire fic to RPGamer would be very impractical as it takes several days to read - and that assumes you have few interruptions, read quickly, and find the fic interesting enough to finish!
As such, I am submitting this, an excerpt adapted to stand alone. This scene is adapted from the final scene of Chapter 38 of "The Tale of Kain Aron Highwind" (Chapters 18-38 document the events of Final Fantasy IV). The title comes from a Jutish folksong. If any of you are familiar with the works of Percy Grainger (more famous for his settings of "Country Gardens" and "Shepherd's Hey"), this is one of the songs incorporated in his "Jutish Medley." I spotted the title as I was skimming the score, and as I had already begun work on TTOKAH, as it is commonly known, it caught my eye. More recently, when I was trying to find a scene to cut for shortfic purposes, I decided to take the title and find an appropriate scene. This, since it is not documented in the game, seemed the most fitting. All we know is that Kain left for Mt. Ordeals. What went through everyone's mind when he actually left, though? Surely he didn't just sneak off when no-one was looking. At least, I refuse to claim he did. And it's my fic! :)
Quick note: I realise that, of the surnames I've given Cecil, Rosa, Rydia, Edge, and Kain, only Highwind is used in the game. However, when I started writing the fic, Highwind was the only surname I remembered. Besides, I can never quite get over how absurd Harvey and Farrell sound, hence Lunaxis and Fairbridge, which are at least mildly less ridiculous.
For those who are interested, TTOKAH as it now stands can be read at RPG Vortex - http://www.rpg-vortex.com/works/fanfiction/kainaron#.html (replace the # sign with a number to get the actual files - as of January 2000, there are four, so enter a number between 1 and 4). If it sounds good, please read it - I'm always eager for feedback as the fic is under incessant revision!
Thanks are in order - to Square for making the game but NOT for translating it - as with Breath of Fire II, the translation is so shoddy it makes me cringe. I must have a thing for badly translated games.
Thanks to James Anderson and Andrew Vant, the two voluntary editors of TTOKAH in its entirety over the years. You guys are the best and don't you forget it, all right!? :)
Thanks to Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, to whose Piano Concerto No.1 in B-flat minor I listened while adapting this passage from TTOKAH for shortfic purposes. (All of it, too - not just the famous bit at the beginning!)
Thanks to everyone else who supported me in my writing endeavours, particularly the crowd at alt.games.final-fantasy between November 1997 and June 1998, when this fic made its first appearance in any form.
Most of all, I'd like to thank my girlfriend, Margaret Anne Matthews, for her love, support, and reviewing of this fic before it hit the press, as it were. Read her fanfics at nightangel.webjump.com or I won't be very happy! :) Margaret Anne, if you're reading this, I love you.
Matthew Liam Smith AKA Kain Aron Highwind
email@example.com (no spam or flames please!)
The Dragoon's Farewell
a Final Fantasy IV fanfic
Cecil Lunaxis, Rosa Fairbridge, Prince Edge d'Eblana, Rydia Vymaril, and Kain Highwind all looked out of the enormous front window of the Big Whale as the surface of the earth drew near. Guided by the autopilot engaged by the Crystal of Flight, the enormous Lunarian spaceship touched down at the point it had emerged from the seas south of Mysidia, just west of the majestic city itself.
None of the party members exchanged a word as they gathered around the portal to the airlock. During the voyage back from the moon following their triumph over the demonic sorcerer Zeromus, a conversation had taken place that had left them all in silent contemplation for most of the last hour. Each member of the five struggled to fully absorb what had passed between them, both before and during the voyage.
As they appeared on the portal in the airlock, Cecil opened the door leading outside and stepped onto the soft earth, feeling a surge of relief at being, literally, on familiar ground once more. Rosa followed after him, then Edge and Rydia exited the ship side by side. Last to leave the Big Whale was Kain Highwind, his gaze directed toward his feet rather than his companions.
Its passengers on terra firma once more, the Big Whale began to quiver as the door to the airlock slammed shut of its own accord. Even Kain raised his gaze to watch as the enormous spaceship lifted itself a few inches from the ground, then slowly glided to the south, toward the sea whence it had emerged not twenty-four hours previously. As it drifted over the sea, it slowly began to lower itself again as a giant whirlpool opened beneath it. The further it drifted out to sea, the further it descended into the whirlpool, until it was completely submerged. As soon as the very top disappeared from view, the whirlpool ceased spinning, and no-one could tell the Big Whale had ever been there.
The spectacle over, the five heroes' attention now turned back to each other. To strike casual conversation on the voyage home, Edge had asked his companions what they planned to do once the celebrations of the defeat of Zeromus had passed over and normal life, such as it was, resumed. Cecil and Rosa announced their wedding plans, Rydia declared that she was returning to live with Leviathan and Ashura, and Edge himself said he would have to rebuild the kingdom of Eblan. But Kain....
Cecil and Rosa turned to Kain with sad expressions. "Do you have to go, Kain?" Rosa asked, looking at Kain as if begging him to say "No."
Kain nodded sadly. "Rosa.... I've treated my two best friends like they were my two worst enemies. Even before this whole quest started, I had a lot of inner rage and lack of focus to overcome. I've disgraced family and friends with my actions since then. I can't just go back and live the same way," he explained.
"But Kain...." Cecil began, placing his hand on his friend's shoulder.
Kain shook his head, gently pushing Cecil's hand away. "Sorry, Cecil.... I wanted to share the happiness of your life with Rosa.... but I can't. I have a heavy price to pay, even if I'm the one charging myself for it," he sighed.
"You will come back, won't you?" Rosa asked, hoping she could at least salvage some hope from this situation.
Kain looked at his feet, not saying a word.
Cecil bent over to look into Kain's eyes. "Kain? You will come back some day, right?" he repeated.
Kain paused for a few seconds, the finally replied, "I don't know. I may, but I may not. I may never be able to clear myself of the guilt of what I have done. Only time will tell."
"So will we ever see you again?" Edge asked.
"You can't stay away forever!" Rydia exclaimed.
Kain looked at Edge and Rydia and shook his head. "I can.... and if I must, I will," he told them. "I'd love to share in your happiness as well, Edge.... and Rydia.... but I don't know if I'll be able to. I must go to Mt. Ordeals and strengthen my mind, body, and spirit to their full potential if I hope to follow in my father's footsteps."
"Kain, I'm sure Aron would be proud if he could see you now," Rosa assured her friend.
Kain shrugged. "I don't know.... I won't know unless I ask him personally, which of course I can't since he's been dead for nine years," he pointed out.
Cecil sighed. "Then this is goodbye. Maybe forever," he remarked.
Kain turned to the prince of Eblan and placed his hands on his shoulders. "Edge.... I'm sure you'll make a good king of Eblan as long as you settle down and tone down that ego of yours!" he declared, smiling slightly.
"I'll try," Edge promised, smiling back.
Kain turned next to the young Caller from Mist, placing a hand on her shoulder. "Rydia.... you've become a great wizard in your years below ground. I'm sure you'll continue to flourish when you return there," he smiled.
"I know I'm heading back.... but I don't know for how long. Thanks for your faith in me, though," Rydia replied. She looked at her feet, then back at Kain before throwing her arms around him and giving him a quick farewell hug, which he returned.
As Kain and Rydia let go of each other, the young dragoon turned to his two childhood friends. "Rosa.... Cecil...."
Cecil and Rosa looked at him, wondering how he would choose to bid them farewell.
"I've enjoyed every minute I've spent with you two. Even when we were arguing. I value your friendships more than anything else in the world. But I feel as though by turning on you I violated our friendship," Kain sighed dejectedly.
"Kain, you didn't-" Rosa began, but Kain raised his hand to cut her off in mid-sentence.
"Please, Rosa.... it doesn't matter what you may say. I have a lot to purge from my mind whether you forgive me or not," he told her.
"Then.... goodbye, Kain," Cecil said with a sigh of resignation.
Kain clasped his best friend's hands and shook them. "Goodbye, Cecil. Look after Rosa...." he requested.
"Yes, Kain.... of course," Cecil replied.
Kain let go of Cecil's hands and turned to his other best friend. "Rosa, look after Cecil. I'm sorry I won't be able to attend your wedding, but I'll be thinking of you," he promised her.
"We'll be thinking of you too...." Rosa told him. She paused, then threw her arms around him, hugging him tightly. "Oh, Kain.... I'll miss you...." she said as she began sobbing.
"I'll miss you too, Rosa.... you and Cecil both," Kain replied, hugging Rosa just as tightly. He somehow knew the separation would be hardest for her, and he had hoped to make it as easy as he could. But even he could feel his eyes moistening as he let go of her.
He stepped away from Rosa as she ran into Cecil's arms, trying her very hardest not to break down. The young dragoon looked back and forth between Cecil, Rosa, Rydia, and Edge, and finally spoke. "I hope some day I can be with you again.... all of you.... for now, farewell, and my thoughts are with you all."
With these words, Kain turned and walked off toward the east. Cecil, Rosa, Rydia, and Edge stood and watched their friend disappear, all of their eyes glistening.
Prince Edge d'Eblana sighed. When he first met Kain in the cave between Eblan and the Tower of Bab-il, the ninja's ego and obvious womanising tendencies had set him off on the wrong foot with the Baronian dragoon. However, the young prince was quick to realise that such behaviour would not only win him few friends, but would also prevent him from ever showing himself to be worthy of Rydia's affection, something he found himself desiring greatly as the party progressed through the Tower of Bab-il. And so he had shown his more seldom revealed side to the dragoon to mend relations, even if it was primarily to gain the desired end of showing Rydia he was not the lecherous egotist he at first showed himself to be.
And then it was Kain who, through no wish of his own, had put a foot wrong with Edge by succumbing once more to Golbez' control, attacking Cecil, and escaping with the eighth elemental crystal. Edge was furious, not just at this betrayal by the party member whose loyalty, according to Rydia, had always been in question, but that he had bared his soul to a man who could not even be trusted to combat the Lunarian evil.
Although Kain's aid had been crucial in helping the party escape from the Giant Bab-il, Edge still didn't quite trust the dragoon. He had softened somewhat as Kain displayed his prowess and genuine loyalty to his four companions in their final march against Zeromus, but it was not until their conversation on the Big Whale that Edge's perspective of Kain had really changed. The desire to avenge his parents, and the feeling that he had never lived and would never live up to their expectations.... the feeling of loneliness and frustration at not being loved as more than a friend by anyone.... these were feelings Edge knew all too well, even if he was fully responsible for the latter condition. And to see this young warrior torn apart by his subconscious anger at being spurned by fortune so many times, anger which was directed at the two people he loved most after his family had been slaughtered.... feelings Edge could not comprehend, and which he hoped he would never experience for himself.
Rydia Vymaril stared, speechless, after the departing dragoon. Of the four figures watching him leave, she knew that she had been most openly critical of his apparently wavering loyalties. She certainly had her reasons; her first confrontation with the dragoon had been his arrival with Cecil in Mist, the village to they had unknowingly been sent to destroy. As if this were not crime enough, the death of the Mist Dragon guarding the path between her village and Baron, for which Cecil and Kain had been responsible, had stopped the heart of her mother, Lavinia. And while Cecil had defended her from the Baronian soldiers in the inn in Kaipo later that evening, Kain had vanished without trace.
Their second meeting was just as inauspicious as their first - after his mysterious disappearance from her life, Kain had reappeared at the front of the army Golbez Necrisol was leading against Fabul, the orient kingdom Cecil was trying to defend. Rydia watched, shocked, as Kain defeated Cecil in single combat and aided Golbez in kidnapping Rosa. She was now convinced that the two men who had destroyed her village and caused her mother's death were polar opposites - one a virtuous man involuntarily used as evil's pawn, the other a willing servant of the dark side.
She made no secret of her distrust after helping Cecil and Kain defeat Golbez in the Dwarven Kingdom, despite his obvious regret for his actions. True, he was now helping Cecil and his allies to retrieve the seven captive crystals, but so far she only knew him as a destroyer, traitor, and kidnapper. His betrayal of the party in the Sealed Cave only served to destroy the image he had tried to cultivate following the Summoner's return to the group.
But if Rydia had learned anything in her life, it was not to judge by primary appearances. It was this philosophy that had led her to befriend the inhabitants of the World of Summoned Monsters. And she had been spurred on the crusade against Golbez partly to avenge the death of her mother, as she struck at the ultimate cause of the tragedy. And this was what drove Kain as well - a desire to avenge the family he loved so dearly that had been taken from him at such an early age. He had treated Cecil and Rosa, the closest people he had to family, as his worst enemies. And his atonement for shaming the family he had lost and attacking the friends he still had had begun with the defeat of Zeromus. Perhaps Kain wasn't as bad as she thought he was.... Rydia sighed as she thought of the crimes committed by his subconscious for which his entire self now had to enter into redemption. Would he ever return?
Rosa Fairbridge could only watch Kain departing for a few seconds before she turned and buried her face in her fiancé's shoulder, sobbing copiously. Unlike Edge and Rydia, she had known Kain before he had been seduced by the dark side of his mind. She had known him when his mother had been killed before his eyes.... when his father had suffered a fatal heart attack as he prepared to avenge his wife's death.... when word had reached him that his older brother had committed suicide after two years of daily torture.... when his own love had been killed in an explosion.
Not only had Rosa's parents known Kain's parents since they were children, but she and Kain had spent nearly every day of their lives in each other's company for at least a few hours. She had long known of his grief at the demise of his family, and his anger at being unable to track down and exact justice upon those responsible. She knew of his sadness at being forever passed over by the breeze of love, and of his anguish at having the one candle that had been lit in his heart snuffed out by tragedy. She knew he had always felt unworthy of carrying the renowned name of Highwind.
She knew that it was not the real Kain that had aided Golbez Necrisol. It was not the real Kain that had attacked Cecil, kidnapped her, and strapped her to a table to be chopped in half by a scythe. It was not the real Kain that had betrayed the party in the Sealed Cave and helped Golbez resurrect the Giant Bab-il. Like all humans, Kain had his emotional weaknesses.... and Golbez had exploited them to his fullest advantage. He had used Kain's grief, anger, loneliness, and low self-confidence to turn him against the two people who had helped him deal with the negative emotions.
But most of all.... many years previously, Rosa had felt something stronger than the love of a close friend for Kain. Tragedy had intervened, and in the aftermath, she had grown closer instead to Cecil, but she never forgot how much she cared for Kain. She no longer loved him as much she loved her fiancé, but as he had always been by her side when she had been ill or in emotional distress, and he, along with Cecil, had always rushed to her side if life ever seemed to be getting the better of her, he had always been second only to Cecil. And now she was about to lose that for what could be many years. And for what? Because his mind had been manipulated by lies, causing him to turn on his two best friends. Golbez could have picked anyone. Why did it have to be Kain that served evil, and ultimately suffered for it?
Cecil Lunaxis glanced down at his fiancée as she cried on his shoulder, and patted her back lightly. "It's all right.... he'll be back some day," he whispered. But he was not sure of the truth of that statement.... after all, he thought, his childhood friend had a lot to purge from his mind.
As a fellow member of Baron's military, Cecil understood more than anyone how Kain felt at not being able to live up to the Highwind family legacy. His father Aron, his grandfather Seth, his great grandfather Julius, and his great great grandfather Damon had all become legends on the battlefield, and respected citizens off it. While Kain had not yet matured fully as a dragoon, he had told Cecil on many occasions that he felt he never could, that the standards expected of him were just too high. The thought never crossed his mind that perhaps he alone had set the height of his standards.
Cecil had also sensed, although he never heard it directly said, that Kain had been in love with Rosa before the fateful day on which Farrell Fairbridge and Sereia Lunaxis were both killed in an invasion of Baron town by its recently razed rival kingdom of Erdan. Although Rosa meant too much to him now to give up for Kain, and it seemed she could never let go of him, Cecil always felt sorry for the frustration at lost love his best friend must have endured.
Perhaps this did not fully excuse the kidnapping he had aided Golbez in staging. But it did explain it. Frustration over losing Rosa.... a feeling of inadequacy as a warrior, and a desire to prove himself before his friends if no-one else.... these stuck out in Cecil's mind as two of the inner demons his brother Golbez must have summoned in Kain to get him to turn on the dark knight.
Cecil sighed again as this thought entered his mind. Just as Kain had been fighting his two best friends without realising it, Golbez had been fighting his younger brother without realising it. And Golbez had returned with FuSoYa to sleep for what may have been millennia as a way of atoning for his crimes, which were surely far more heinous than Kain's. And now, just as he had lost his brother forever, now he was losing his best friend indefinitely. Cecil glanced after the now distant Kain, and a tear rolled down his own cheek as he prayed silently that the dragoon might return some day. That some day, he would be able to forgive himself for the crimes for which Cecil had already forgiven him in part. Perhaps he would never be able to forgive him entirely - but then, only part of Kain was innocent. And it was this part - the virtuous, loyal, and sympathetic friend with whom he had spent his childhood - that Cecil Lunaxis knew he would miss most.
Kain Highwind dared not raise his eyes from the ground as he wandered east from Mysidia. He knew that one glance over his shoulder at his four friends would make this departure all the more unbearable. Leaving them behind would be painful enough as it was.... but he told himself this was the only way.
He recalled FuSoYa's words on the moon.... "Evil is as much a part of our minds as good." Clearly, Kain had a lot of inner evil to quell. All of the hatred and sadness he had ever felt, whether it be anger at the brigands responsible for his family's death, frustration at only having had someone to love once, and then only for a few months before fate intervened, envy of Cecil and Rosa for having each other to love, inadequacy as a warrior and carrier of the name of Highwind.... if they could band together to make him turn against the two friends who had always been there for him, who had stopped him from taking his own life after he received word of his brother Leon's suicide, who had helped him recover from a near-fatal case of pneumonia.... then evil was clearly the stronger part of his mind.
Perhaps his conscious mind, which sided with the light, was more in control most of the time. But his subconscious mind, which clearly sided with the darkness, was nine times as large. He could not return with his friends if the capacity to commit such treacherous crimes was in his mind. He told himself he had to crush his inner demons, and to strengthen himself as a warrior worthy of the Highwind name.... to become a warrior of light who would match his ancestors in prowess and virtue.
He would have given anything to stay with his friends. He wanted to see Cecil and Rosa marry, and he wanted to see their children.... he knew that it would not be long before Rydia softened toward Edge, thanks to his and Cecil's intervention on the ninja's behalf, and he wanted to see them united as well, should they fall so deeply in love.... but he knew that he could not hide behind a mask of lies and pretend that his crimes, even if they were not committed consciously, did not require severe punishment. Leading an attack on Fabul, striking down his own best friend, kidnapping the former object of his affection, executing a trick to lead the Toroian crystal to Golbez, stealing the Crystal of Darkness and helping Golbez resurrect the Giant Bab-il.... these were not small crimes, and the punishment would not be light.
Perhaps what his friends said was true. Perhaps the demons that had surfaced and driven him to commit these acts were only strong because Kain believed them to be so. But whatever the reason behind the inner evil that consumed his mind, its presence could not be denied.... and he could not bring himself to face the friends he held so dear, but whom he betrayed in such horrible ways, as long as the demons lived.
He could not hope to guess how long it would take before he felt worthy of the respect of Cecil, Rosa, Rydia, and Edge. Certainly he would earn their respect long before he earned his own. "After all," he thought to himself, "sometimes the strongest demons in our lives are the ones we create ourselves."
When Kain became no more than a blue dot on the horizon to Cecil, Rosa, Rydia, and Edge, they turned, the taste of victory now bittersweet, and headed for Mysidia for the heroes' welcome they knew they would receive. Each of them tried to conceal the regret they felt following the dragoon's farewell so that they could openly share the happiness the world felt at Zeromus' defeat.
Concealed within all five of the warriors who had defeated the Lunarian sorcerer was the hope, however faint, that Kain would be able to redeem himself, and, some day, share in his friends' lives again....