"The Me That You Know" by Sean Cassidy

The Me That You Know

by Sean Cassidy

"It's inhuman," Baigan thought to himself as he looked at the King. "The amount of water his Majesty drinks is simply uncanny."

The King slurped down the last of his giant mug of water and smiled at Baigan. Baigan managed a polite grin back though it was hard not to grimace at the trail of unslurped water flowing down the Kingís chest and stomach. It was also hard not to grimace at the fact that he knew the King would request another pitcher in about twenty or thirty minutes.

After the King made it clear that there was nothing particularly interesting going on and that he wanted to be left alone, Baigan headed out to the hallway just before the throneroom. There, he tried to get a different image stuck into his head, desperate to replace the one of the King licking the inside of his mug for stray droplets of water.

Just then the door in front of him opened and through it walked Gill, the teacher of the Black Magic classes taught in the castle.

"Good afternoon, Gill." Baigan began. "What brings you to His Majesty?"

Gill gave Baigan a bow, and handed a pile of papers to him. "The King wanted me to research any information I could on eidolons."

Baiganís eyes lit up. He was never able to master magic, but he was intensely interested in the art of summoning monsters. "Thank you very much, Gill, Iíll give these to His Majesty right away."

"Thank you, sir." Gill said with another bow and walked back through the doors he entered.

Baigan was about to turn an open the doors to the throneroom, but he hesitated. He looked at the papers he held in his hands with a burning lust to read them. He knew that these materials were probably confidential and that the King would be more than upset if he looked through them, but a voice in his head seemed to pop up and say, ĎOh, the Kingís just probably curious about summoned monsters like you. And itís not like thereís a seal on the papers or a stamp indicating theyíre confidential...í

He ran his fingers through his golden blonde hair as he contemplated... Oh, what the hell. The voice was right. The King would never know that heíd taken a peek.

As said before, Baigan wasnít ever really good at wielding magic, but he knew his fair share about Calling. In his free time, heíd often sit in the Baron library looking up any information he could find on summoned monsters, or "eidolons" as people were starting to call them now. As He looked through the pages, he some of the usuals. Chocobo, Shiva, Titan, Leviathan, Ifrit. He saw some new ones he hadnít seen before, too. Atomos, Carbunkle, Shoat, Golem, Pheonix. He was particularly interested in Atomos and his shadow abilities when his conscious snapped him back to reality. He put the papers back into a neat order and walked into the throneroom.

The King was dozing on the throne.

Baigan had the tiniest thought about how the King hadnít been himself lately, but he brushed it aside as he cleared his throat.

No response.

Baigan cleared his throat again.

"Mmm...meh...Ferron..." the King, still asleep, said with a fart.

Baigan winced. Then he sighed. "Your Majesty," he projected.

The King woke with a start. "Hmm...huh...yes. Hello, Baigan. What is it?"

"Gill asked me to give these to you." Baigan said as he handed the papers to the King.

The King gave his full attention to the papers as he glanced through them. Baigan sweated a little, hoping the King wouldnít suspect that he had looked through them. "Very good." The King said.

Baigan nodded, relieved, and proceeded to the hallway again.

"Ohhh, Baigan?" His Majesty sing-songed.

Baigan started sweating again and turned as red as his regal garments as he turned around. "Yes, my lord?"

The King said nothing, but held up his pitcher and started to swish it around as if there was water in it. Baigan got the message and sighed.

* * * * * * * *

The next day, at around the same time, Baigan found himself in the hallway again. The King hadnít been a very good conversationalist lately, and Baigan sort of enjoyed his alone time in the hall. In fact, the King has been behaving downright strangely lately. ĎMaybe heís going senile?í Baigan thought, but quickly dismissed it. ĎSenility doesnít appear out of nowhere, itís a gradual process. And the Kingís change in behavior was so sudden..."

But his thoughts were cut off. Gill came through the door holding more papers.

"Good afternoon, Gill." Baigan greeted. "More information for His Majesty?"

"Indeed." Gill replied, bowing.

"Eidolons?" Baigan asked, his eyes sparkling.

Gill chuckled. He knew Baigan loved summoning magic just as much as a little boy loves toy soldiers. "Yes, Baigan." Then Gillís face straightened.

Baigan notices the change in Gillís air. He seemed to be debating something in his head. "Everything alright, Gill?"

"Yes..." Gill began hesitantly. "...you wouldnít know why His Majesty is requesting information about eidolons, would you?"

"No..." Baigan replied, intrigued.

"Well..." Gill started again.

Baigan put his hand on the sageís shoulder. "Gill, you can talk to me. Itís okay."

Gill seemed to ease up a little. "Well, today, His Majesty asked me to research some rather peculiar information about summoned monsters."

"Oh?" Baigan asked.

"Yes." Gill replied, and drew in closer. "Heís having me find out their weaknesses."

Baigan didnít know what to say. "Weaknesses?? But...I donít get..."

Gill nodded. He didnít either. He handed the papers to Baigan and proceeded out of the hallway.

Baigan stood motionless for a while. ĎWeaknesses?í he thought. It just didnít make sense. Thereís no good reason to research something like that. Eidolons only appeared for a brief amount of time, certainly not long enough to deal damage to...

But his thoughts were once again cut off.

Helm, one of the scouts of Baronís infantry, walked through the door. "Master Baigan." he said with a bow.

Baigan snapped himself out of his daze. "Helm." he replied.

Helm held forth some more papers. "The layout of Mist, sir."

Baigan just stared at him blankly.

Helm seemed to pick up on his confusion. "The map of the town of Mist..." Helm said, hoping Baigan would understand. He did not. "...that His Majesty requested?"

Baigan made a quick decision to play along. "Oh, yes. Sorry, I was in my own world for a second there." He took the papers from Helmís hands. "Good day, soldier."

Helm saluted and walked off.

Baigan was dumbfounded. It was odd enough that His Majesty was requesting knowledge of eidolonsí weaknesses without telling Baigan, but a map of Mist as well? The village of Summoners? The King always confided in Baigan about everything. He even knew how interested Baigan was in Call Magic. Why would he keep something like this from him?

Baigan decided it would be best not to keep these papers from the King for long, so he turned around and walked into the throneroom. Perhaps the Kind would clear everything up?

The King was sitting on his throne, his chest puffed out, his head held high, and a smile on his face. He seemed to be relishing sitting in the grand chair.

Baigan approached him, bowed, and said, "These documents from Gill and Helm just arrived sir."

The King took them, glanced them over, and said, "Very good. Thank you, Baigan."

Baigan stood still for a while longer, hoping His Majesty would shed some light on the documents.

The King just gave Baigan a quasi-annoyed look. "That is all, Baigan."

Baigan was disappointed. "Thank you, my lord." he said, and walked out of the room before he could ask for another pitcher of water.

* * * * * * * *

Baigan couldnít sleep. He tossed and turned in his bed. It was really getting to him that His Majesty wasnít clueing him into what was going on. What was the King so interested in eidolons and Mist for? He had never cared for what the Summoners did before, and now this sudden interest? And at this particular point when the Kingís behavior was changed so drastically and suddenly?

ĎSomething is going on,í Baigan thought. ĎSomething huge. And Iím not in on it. The King has never left me out of his plans before. I must get to the bottom of this at once. I wonít confront the King about it just yet, but if it gets to a critical point, I will."

Baigan eventually did fall asleep after some time. He dreamt of water. He dreamt he was being chased by a tremendous tidal wave.

* * * * * * * *

The next day, Baigan paced back and forth nervously in the hallway. The King was sitting proudly no this throne again, chugging goblet after goblet of water. Baigan was secretly relieved the King preferred to be alone during his little chugfests.

Just then, Gill came through the door, again with papers in his hands. Todayís stack was much bigger, though, and he had a worried look on his face. He even forgot to bow to Baigan.

"Gill." Baigan said. He didnít care that Gill had forgotten to bow, he didnít think such things were necessary for one in Baiganís position.

"Good day again."

"What troubles you?" Baigan asked, concerned.

Gill seemed hesitant again, but answered the query anyway. "His Majesty.....>sigh<...His Majesty is asking again for peculiar information."

"Eidolons again?" Baigan asked.

"Not at all." Gill replied. "This time he asked me about making a BombRing."

Baigan was stunned. BombRings were a lethal magical combat weapon, capable of obliterating a small army or even...

"...a small town." Baigan whispered aloud.

"Eh?" Gill asked.

"Nuh...nothing." Baigan replied. "Uh...thank you, Gill. Iíll see that the King gets these papers right away."

Gill wanted to know more, but he was a wise man. He knew Baigan would confide in him until he was ready, and certainly not in the hallway right outside of the throneroom. "Good day." he said and exited.

As soon as he shut the door, Baigan immersed himself in thought. Things were most definitely critical now. He must talk to the King. But how? He mustnít be too confrontational. He was the King after all. Baigan decided he would just be direct. How long had he known the King? Many years. Despite his rash change in his behavior, he was still the King and he would still listen to Baiganís advice.

Baigan burst open the door said, "Your Majesty, I must ask about these documents youíve been inquiring about. Eidolons, Mist, BombRings, I donít know why..."

But he was cut short. The King was not alone in the room. There was a very tall man clad in grand onyx-black armor standing at the Kingís side. As Baigan got a closer look at this man, a wave of fear swept over him. Baigan had interrupted some sort of meeting, and the two were not pleased.

"Baigan..." the King began, "...what are you doing in here? What are those papers? Are they from Gill?"

Baigan could not answer. He could not take his eyes off of the man in black armor. He couldnít explain it, but he was absolutely terrified of this stranger. He could not even see his face inside his helmet. It was like looking into a black void. Surely, he would have remembered such a man passing him in the hallway to get to the throneroom. But he didnít. How did this man get here?

"Baigan!" the King snapped.

Baiganís gaze broke. He looked at the King, then at the papers, then at the King again. "Y...y...yes. These...this is from Gill."

"Good." His Majesty replied, sounding over-patient. "Now give them to me."

Baigan hesitated. "W...what are you planning to do?"

The King was silent. So was the other.

"Mist! What are you going to do to Mist? The Callers, they...the BombRing...what are you going to...?"

The King slowly stepped toward Baigan. "Hand those to me at once."

Baigan stepped back. "Eidolons...their weaknesses...why are you...what is...?"

"Baigan..." the King said, still stepping closer.

Baigan kept stammering, though. "The BombRing...why would you...Gill suspects...he knows something..."

The King stopped. "He does, eh?" He turned towards the man in black.

The man spoke. His voice chilled Baigan to the marrow. "He mustnít talk."

The King smiled. "What should we do to him?"

"Iíll transfigure him into something. An animal, perhaps."

The King chuckled and turned back towards Baigan.

Baigan kept backing away. "What?? You wouldnít...why in the name of Asura...?"

The King stopped. "I tire of this." Baigan watched in horror as what he thought was the King started to melt away. In his place now stood a very large, blue, turtle-like figure. Baigan was frozen with terror. He could only move right after the creature pounced at him. Oddly enough, the same fear that paralyzed him drove him to run. But the creature was quick. He landed on Baigan, and the last thing he thought of before he drifted away into unconsciousness after his head his the stone floor was of the massive tidal wave that chased him in his dream.

* * * * * * * *

Baigan came to with a start. ĎMy god, that creature! What happened to the King!?!?í he thought to himself. He noticed two very disturbing things immediately after that thought, however. First, he couldnít move. He seemed to be shackled in an upright position to a metal slab. Second, he had absolutely no idea where he was. Strange machinery was littered about the place. Bizarre gadgets that hummed, clicked, blinked, and sparked were strewn about. "Hello???" was the only thing that came to his lips.

A small, wiry man responded. He walked up to Baigan and said, "Aaah, youíre awake. Finally." This man had a white moustache and hair, glasses, a white lab coat or sorts, and was so thin it seemed an imp could give him a fair fight.

"Wh...who are you?" Baigan demanded, fear running rampantly over his face.

The old man didnít respond. He just looked to his left and shouted "Golbez!" Not long after that, the man in black armor walked over, followed by two others. One was a very tall man clad in a fiery red cape, and the other was a woman clad in almost nothing, her wildly long hair trailing after her. It seemed she did not walk, but glide.

"Heís awake." The man in black observed.

"Yes." The strange man responded.

"I know what Iíd like to do with him." The woman said with a nasty grin.

"You would say something like that, wouldnít you?" The man in red quipped.

"Lugae," the man in black started, "you think you can work your wonders on this man here?"

The old man grinned. "Certainly." he replied. "Who is he?"

"His name is Baigan." the man in black said, his words rippling over Baiganís ears. "He is an officer and the advisor to the King in Baron."

The old man cackled. "Heh heh heh! Wonderful, Golbez!" He drew in closer to Baigan, "Wait Ďtil you see what I have in store for you, Baigan!" and his grin widened, revealing nasty yellowed teeth.

Out of some small place in Baiganís soul, bravery began to grow. "Youíll do nothing to me, you madman. My allegiance is to the throne of Baron, and if something has happened to the King, you will all pay."

The old man just chuckled in response. "Yes, my boy, whatever you say." He reached up above Baigan, to a spot where Baigan couldnít see crane his neck to see. "Your allegiance to the throne of Baron...you have no idea how funny your choice of words is."

And Baigan heard the old man pull some sort of lever. As the old man stepped away, some device lowered to eye-level, and fired a razor-thin beam of purple light onto Baiganís forehead.

"Rrrgh..." Baigan tried to struggle. To break free of his metal constraints. The four...creatures...in front of him just laughed. Whatever it was that this machine was doing to Baigan, it was draining his energy. He felt as if some veil was being draped over his mind. Baigan continued to struggle, physically and mentally. ĎI must not be corrupted!í he thought.

But he was getting so tired.

So very tired.

And Baigan knew no more.

* * * * * * * *

Six months later, Baigan was sitting in the throneroom with the King. The King was gulping down his seventh mug of water that afternoon. Baigan just sat there, ready to attend to any need His Majesty would request.

All of a sudden, they heard an airship overhead. They listened closely, and heard it land in Baronís airport. Baigan looked to the King, and His Majesty nodded. Baigan walked out of the throneroom, out of the hallway, and into the court. Soon after, the captain of the Red Wings approached him.

"Oh, Cecil!" Baigan began. "Is it the Crystal of Water?"