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THE DOOM OF DULLAHAN
By Jared Milne
bmilne@agt.net

Foreword: When Celes, Sabin, Edgar and Setzer arrive at Darill's Tomb, some yahoo in a chariot named Dullahan, with no explanation as to who this wacko is attacks them. Well, now I offer some explanation, in this story of the past of Darill and Setzer:


The scowling man looked up into the sky. Ever since the death of their parents, he had raised her from childhood, now growing into a nineteen-year old girl who was nowhere near as responsible as she should be. He had been trying desperately to teach her the serious side of life, and that there was no room for fun, and that one has to work everyday of every week of every year if they are to ever become a person of true worth. Dullahan hated her irresponsibility. She refused to dress in the dark blue pants and long-sleeved blouse he had bought for her and put her hair in a bun, preferring to dress in a skirt that was far too revealing, a blue blouse, and red boots, letting her strawberry blonde hair fall free. Little upstart. Didn't she realize that to become a person of any real worth, she had to do exactly what he told her, and become subservient to his every demand?

"If women were meant not to be the servants of the men, they would have bigger muscles," he muttered bad-temperedly. Grumbling, the giant man picked up his sword and marched off to the market. The Jidooran merchants always knew when to give bargains to the truly deserving, he thought with an arrogant smirk. Those who didn't know learned very quickly.


Darill ran far from the hut in the wealthy section of Jidoor. She had grown to hate her brother and his bullying; he had even threatened their uncle with death unless he gave up his house to them. It had been a prison for Darill; night and day she was forced to do what he said, or she would be beaten. It wasn't fair, she thought as she ran through the streets. Why won't anyone stand up to the big bully? Why won't he let me go my own way?

She paused at a local cafˇ, preparing to buy a meal with all the money she had lifted from Dullahan's strongbox. She knew he would be livid when he found out what she had done, and she wondered where she would go. She had money, and plenty of food, but she knew she had to get out of town fast, and run, because Dullahan would be out for blood. The cafˇ was brightly lit, people sitting at booths around the room, talking, drinking and gambling. One man in particular caught her attention. A young man in grayish robes tossed the dice expertly, laughing.

"Read 'em and weep, fellas," he grinned as he gathered up the coins. Darill did a double take. His hair was pure silver, and his skin was so pale he was almost an albino! As she watched, he continued to fleece his opponents with incredible skill, winning every time. Eventually, he walked towards the bar and ordered a drink. He sipped it lightly. The music on the phonograph played a tune "If you change your mind, I'm the first in line, honey I'm still free -- "

It was nice. Darill walked up to the bar and ordered a drink, striking up a conversation with the strange man.

"Hello."

He was taken aback at the picture of beauty sitting down next to him.

"Good day to you, dear lady. What can a humble gambler such as myself do for you?" he asked, kissing her hand.

Darill found herself enchanted by the man. They talked for a while, until Darill finally spilled the beans about why she was running away.

"This sounds like a pretty nasty fellow. Tell you what. I'm heading for Figaro. Best engineers in the world there. Damn good fighters too. I'm going there to have the propeller-heads build a flying machine. Care to come? I am no warrior, but I assure you that I will do all I can to protect you."

The man enchanted Darill. She nodded. As they got up to leave, the door burst open. Darill went white, as a shiver crawled down her spine.

In the door was an immense man in armor. A huge shield was strapped to his left arm, while an immense sword was strapped to his back. His face was flushed with anger. "JUST WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?" Dullahan demanded. In one fluid motion, he had drawn his sword and stood there, ready to cleave someone in two. "GET HOME NOW, BEFORE I TEAR THIS PLACE APART!" he screamed, as his eyes became bloodshot with anger.

Setzer remained calm and quiet. He had slowly been reaching into his pocket, for the tiny slot machine, no bigger than a human fist, concealed therein. He flipped the lever. Three diamonds came up. He sighed. It was the only way. He pressed the button to activate it, imagining Dullahan as the target.

A bunch of flat squares in the shape of playing cards, glowing various colors, shot up from the ground at Dullahan's feet and slammed into the armored man. He fell back with a shout. Setzer pulled Darill to her feet and the two dashed out the door. Putting the slot machine back in his pocket, they dashed through the streets for the stables. Dropping money on the counter of the astonished owner, they snatched up two Chocobos, each one hopping on one, and ran out of town. By the time an enraged Dullahan appeared, they were long gone, with no way of telling where they went.

He screamed in rage. He screamed in frustration. But above all, he screamed in hatred for Setzer Gabbiani.
CHAPTER II
Setzer and Darill rode on their chocobos, not looking back in the direction of Jidoor. They both knew that Darill would likely prove a hindrance to Setzer on the road. With no weapons or armor, she was all but helpless in a fight, and didn't even know how to use a sword in the first place. She had none of the special ki-related powers that most notable people had, such as the sword techniques of the swordmasters, the blitzes of the blackbelts, or the lightning powers of the generals.

Setzer himself was an experienced gambler, and had traveled the road for over six years. He was a decent fighter with his daggers, but he would not likely be able to protect Darill very well from her angry brother. His light armor would be unlikely to offer much protection from the horrible sword that Dullahan carried.

They stopped off for three days in Kohlingen, thanking the gods that Dullahan did not turn up. Getting provisions was no problem; both Setzer and Darill had ample money for food and water. However, Setzer insisted that Darill put on a special bandana and a suit of leather armor if worse came to worse and they were attacked by monsters or bandits along the road. If Setzer could not protect her, she had to have at least some protection. Buying fresh chocobos, they traveled through the desert to Figaro Castle, which, fortunately, had stopped off in the desert southwest of Kohlingen for its bi-monthly trading expeditions.


The barkeep of the Hog's Grog kept a clean and respectable inn, despite the name of the place. When he had bought it, it was rotten, wormed, grungy, and only the thieves and ninjas who came through occasionally visited. His rich uncle had paid to refurbish the place, in exchange for a goodly cut of the profits.

Now, customers of all walks of life came into the inn for a few drinks or a place to crash for the night: Merchants, townsfolk, even the odd adventuring group.

It was a quiet night, with only a few customers, the five barmaids and his bouncers, Big Hamfist and Norden the Rib-breaker, two brothers who had the muscles of yeti and the hearts of moogles, diligently protecting their employer and the waitresses.

The door smashed open, hanging off its hinges. The two brothers advanced, fists cocked. They flashed their smirks, customary before they clobbered troublemakers. A veritable giant of a man stood in the door, sword and shield readied. He was even bigger than the brothers, speaking in an eerie calm.

"A woman with strawberry blonde hair, and an albino in gray robes. Were they here?" "Nope. And you'd better sit down and order a drink or get out of this inn instead of antagonizing our boss's customers." Hamfist said, scowling at the man in armor. "LIAR!" With one slash, he had slain Hamfist. Norden landed a powerful punch into Dullahan's chest, but he seemed not to notice. Grinning, he slew the man where he stood. Both brothers were dead.

The customers and barmaids cowered against the walls of the inn, fear showing on their features. None of them were trained fighters.

Dullahan looked over each of them, trying to decide if they were the ones he sought. Scowling, he marched up to the innkeeper.

"Did you see those two?" he demanded.

"N-no!"

"Tell the truth, or what I did to your bouncers is nothing to what I'll do to you!" Dullahan shouted into the man's face.

The color drained from the innkeeper's face. "They were headed south, to F-Figaro Castle."

Banging the man's head on the bar and knocking him out cold, Dullahan turned to the barmaids and customers.

"Anyone who calls for the Watch will be fish food by the end of the night." Saying this, he marched out, preparing to head for South Figaro.


CHAPTER III


Finally arriving at the grand castle, a marvel of engineering if there ever was one, the two were overawed. The massive stonework, the towers, the windows, everything was perfection in engineering.

Two guards in green uniforms stood at the gate.

"Who are you two?" one of them asked, spear at the ready.

"We are merely humble travelers who wish to stay for a night at your wonderful castle and perhaps travel across to the other province. We will pay quite well for doing so," Setzer indicated his full money pouch glibly.

Nodding, the guard admitted them. Surprisingly, the castle was packed with travelers and adventurers, all preparing to go to the other side. Darill paused to examine a bulletin board. One notice in particular caught her eye.

"Setzer, do you think I could take one of these engineering seminars?"

"Say again?"

"Perhaps I could try and learn how some of these inventions work, and perhaps learn to defend myself if Dullahan catches up with us again."

Setzer saw no problem in it.


Darill proved to have some talent for engineering, as she learned some of how basic functions worked. The two weeks it took to cross underneath the desert taught Darill much of engineering techniques and principles. She came out with an auto crossbow of her own design, and some basic training in self-defense, as she had also been taught. The two then traveled east to South Figaro. Darill had designs in mind for an invention of her own; a flying machine.

Setzer made a name for himself in the casinos of South Figaro, providing Darill with the funds she needed for R&D. Soon, the Falcon was built, a stunning feat of engineering, especially from a woman who had just picked up the craft. The next one was to be for Setzer. He added a few personal touches, such as his own casino therein.

As they flew up into the skies for the first time, they were shaky fliers with their new machines. Still, they learned quickly and picked up the basics of aerial flight. Soon, word spread all around Aeolus about the magnificent flying machines.

Unfortunately, Dullahan, who had been forced to travel by boat to Nikeah and then South Figaro, got word of their achievements, and pursued them with even more anger and hate festering within his soul for the man who, as he saw it, stole his 'property', Darill. He left a trail of destruction in his wake as he traveled down to South Figaro for what he thought to be the reclamation of his property.


Dullahan smashed into the town of South Figaro, extremely angry. His rage had boiled up for all these months as he pursued the two, and he was now quite insane. He sneaked quietly into the garage where they had parked their ships. He had food, water and a lot of patience. He climbed into the bowels of the Blackjack, as Setzer had christened his airship, and waited.

Darill and Setzer had become bored with South Figaro, and decided to return to Jidoor. They knew that Dullahan would come, but now, with Darill an expert engineer and Setzer a skilled gambler, they would be ready.

What they didn't know was that Dullahan was stowed away beneath the bowels of one of the airships, ready to kill.


CHAPTER IV


As they landed outside the city, they rapidly found accommodations in an inn and parking for their airships. Little did they know that that night they would face one of the worst battles of their lives, even worse for Setzer than the battles with Hidon and Kefka that were to come several years later.

The two had become very much in love, and they were finally sharing a romantic walk down the starlit streets of Jidoor. They were just about to kiss when the call sounded out to them.

"SO! IT'S COME FULL CIRCLE! ARE YOU READY TO FIGHT ME, SETZER GABBIANI?"

The voice filled them both with dread. Almost a year ago, they had fled Kohlingen because of this man, and now they could not flee, leaving their beloved airships behind. Darill had her sword ready, and Setzer had pulled out a dagger as well as having his slot machine within easy reach.

Then he leapt out at them.

He moved incredibly fast for someone so large in heavy armor, and nearly beheaded Setzer as he swung. Setzer's expert agility allowed him to duck underneath the blade and jump back. He flung a razor-sharp playing card at the huge man, which was deflected by his shield.

That gave Setzer and Darill all the time they needed. Activating his slot machine as Darill raised her crossbow, the arrows slammed into Dullahan's chest, hurting him for the first time. He screamed in fury, now determined to take back his sister dead, if need be. The three chocobos on the machine manifested themselves in two of the giant yellow birds, trampling Dullahan as the heroes prepared for another attack. Sending another card in Dullahan's direction, Darill backed him up with another volley of bolts aimed at her brother.

Dullahan took the missiles, but now fought with the strength of a giant, and dashed forward, screaming insanely.

Setzer was smashed with a powerful blow from the sword, which lifted him up and away, making him land several meters away. The gambler was left dazed from the pain. He knew that the only thing that had stood between him and death was his armor. Even then, he had taken a terrible hit. He groaned as he got up.

Darill desperately dueled with her brother, but it was obvious that Dullahan was the better fighter. Several nicks were adding up. However, they then heard the motions of a spinning slot machine, and then a few seconds later, the image of a small woman with rabbit ears and wearing a pyramid shaped hat and blue clothing hopped up and down, asking the two: "mugu mugu?"

Darill's wounds closed slightly, as did those of Setzer. Dullahan scowled and pressed forward, until, foolishly, he turned his back on Setzer completely. A metallic playing card ended the bully's life.


CHAPTER V


Dullahan floated in the void. He was in the realm of the dead, where all those who die go. He didn't want to be here! He wanted to kill those two who dared to not bow down to him! He roared in anger.

Something floated through the void towards him. It was a man, in purple robes, with a bald head. His purple skin was unlike that of any human Dullahan had seen.

"You wish to return to the material world?"

"What's it to you?"

"I feel your hatred. Let it fester, consume you. Then I can let you return to the Mortal Realm."

"Who are you?"

"My name is Zemus. I can help you return to the mortal realm, but you must promise one thing; total devotion."

"NEVER!" Dullahan screamed with rage.

"I will be back in a few years to repeat my offer, or I may not. That is up to me." He grinned, as he knew he had manipulated Dullahan right where he wanted him.

Several years passed, as Dullahan's hatred and anger grew deeper and deeper, until he screamed for Zemus to return.

"I am here," he said, laughing. "Note that your sister is dead, killed while flying in the mountains. She has been buried in a tomb by her lover."

Dullahan was now completely over the deep end. "Get me back there! NOW!!"

"Easily. But not like that. The gambler is much more powerful this time, and he has brought friends with him. You would be killed. Instead, I believe I can augment your powers with magic. Also, I can give you this." He indicated a chariot driven by a massive beast.

Dullahan laughed. The pact was sealed, his agreement was given.


CHAPTER VI


Setzer sighed. He, along with Celes, Sabin and Edgar had journeyed long to reach Darill's Tomb, and now he could barely manage to return. The pain was just too great -- he hadn't even found a body!

The four heroes finally approached the tomb where Darill's casket was waiting for the body -- once Setzer found it. He still considered it unlikely. Tears welled up in his eyes. He knew that Edgar would be able to get the machine going again. It was just behind the casket, in another room. He had buried it, just as he had tried to bury the sadness. He silently approached the casket, Celes and the brothers standing behind him. He touched it, praying silently. It was then that the screaming was heard.

Setzer froze. Dullahan had been dead for over four years! He couldn't be alive! He wasn't. Setzer saw the roaring chariot approach fast, Dullahan riding it. He had become a nightmare; his flesh was gone, leaving only the skeleton of undeath behind. The monster who drove the chariot was just as horrible, some kind of dark spirit. Dullahan still carried his gigantic sword, and his shield in the other hand. He guided the chariot with his twisted mind.

Dullahan opened its mouth. A stream of flame burned into the companions, as Edgar, Sabin and Celes took up fighting positions.

Sabin repulsed the monster with his Aura Bolt attack, the pure light burning Dullahan. He screeched, and swung his sword. A flurry of dark fireballs slammed into the black belt. He grunted as he absorbed the brutal attack.

Edgar and Celes jumped into melee, sword and drill wailing away. Celes's sword slammed into the nightmarish monster that carried Dullahan's chariot, cutting a line. Edgar let the thing impale itself on the drill. He then pulled it out and struck again. He was smashed by the claws of the thing.

Setzer was struck dumb for over a minute. He could see that Dullahan's evil powers would finish off the three of them unless he joined in. Several playing cards slammed into the mad warrior. The skull face of Dullahan seemed to grin. It turned from Edgar and Celes, and dashed straight for the gambler. He was the one Dullahan wanted to kill the most, even to the point of ignoring the others until Setzer was killed, and then attacking them.

Setzer chanted. He had learned magic from the Espers, being taught the lore of magic by the creatures that were the source of magic in the world.

A wave of flame slammed into Dullahan. It screamed in rage and in pain, and did so again when Sabin's Fire Dance burned it.

Setzer activated his slot machine again. The three silver birds were incredibly lucky, even for him. The Mega Flare attack would cost Dullahan dear.

The massive fireball scorched the mad spirit, and Edgar stabbed Dullahan with the drill, while Celes joined in by burning the spirit with her own magic, Dullahan threw them both off. He had been severely wounded, and his sword then cut deep into them. They were stunned, losing control of their muscles completely, twitching and laying on the floor. They would stay like that as long as Dullahan existed.

Sabin could not get to Setzer's aid in time, so another Aura Bolt slammed the thing. Setzer had the chance to dodge away from the chariot as it crashed into the wall. The monster grunted, as it took a nasty hit from the wall. A dark wave smashed into the black belt, stunning him.

Dullahan was badly wounded, and he would kill Setzer's friends slowly for interfering. The glowing cards that Setzer's slot machine activated slammed into Dullahan, nearly killing the dark spirit. His sword whipped out, and shattered Setzer's shield.

Setzer thrust in with his dagger, desperately trying to get away from Dullahan so he could regroup. It was then that he remembered how undead monsters were vulnerable to curative magic -- he chanted frantically, and as the swirling stars burned Dullahan fiercely, he activated his slot machine again. The toy airship bombed Dullahan, burning the mad spirit relentlessly. Setzer threw one final playing card.

Dullahan's undead spirit was destroyed, roaring in rage that he was destroyed by the man he hated most.

As Celes and Edgar got up slowly, Setzer healed Sabin. All of them were unsettled; that had been the fiercest battle since the battle against the Atma Weapon. But then, all eleven of the friends, along with Shadow, had been there to fight it --

Setzer wondered two things. He knew that some of his companions were likely alive, and he prayed that it was the case. Also, he had found no body of Darill's, nor any evidence that she was even dead. Could she be -- ?

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