THE CRAVE GAMING CHANNEL
V'lanna
 

OF MAGIC AND MAYHEM

By Jared Milne

Bmilne@agt.net

Foreword: I felt betrayed by the ending in FF3. The scenes with each character were great, but magic vanishing made me feel as if I was stabbed in the back by a really close friend. This story is dedicated to all my friends at the Final Fantasy Pen and Paper RPG. Thank you for doing the right thing and restoring magic to Aeolus!

 

PROLOGUE

 

Her airship fell through the air, crashing hard down on the ground. The airship smashed apart as it crashed through the mountains. The woman slowly got up off the ground. She was incredibly lucky to have survived. She felt several broken ribs. Her shoulder was dislocated. She fell into blackness.

She came to in a cabin, bandages wrapped around her ribcage and a poultice applied to her shoulder. A man sat in an old oak chair by a fire, in a small wooden hut.

"Who·" she groaned.

"Are you all right, young lady?" the man asked. He looked to be about forty-five, and easily the size of a gold bear, with arms and a chest to match. His thick black beard reached down to his neck, but kindness showed in his eyes and he was clean and washed. A spear and bow hung on a rack by the door, as did a suit of leather armor and various items needed for survival in the forest.

"Whatās your name?" the man asked, concern in his eyes. He was obviously a ranger, by his appearance.

"Darill," she muttered.

"What were you doing out in the mountains?"

"My airship crashed."

"Really? Well, youāll need to rest awhile. You were pretty badly hurt in that impact." He said.

Two weeks passed, and the manās hospitality was at Darillās disposal. She was nursed back to health. She helped the man with some chores, such as sewing and cooking.

"Youāre an engineer, are you?" he asked. She nodded. "Well, most of your gadgets were destroyed in that fall. An engineer who had no resources and no weapons or armor wonāt last long here. Come with me. I could try and teach you the ways of the forest, but since youāve probably lived in cities all your life, you wouldnāt be a quick learner." She nodded again.

"Well, I have an old adventuring friend. She might be able to help you."

The man and Darill trekked north for two days, sailing on a boat that the man had built himself. They eventually arrived at a hut. It stood all alone in the wilderness, with a woman in strange clothes standing outside, chopping wood with a heavy axe. She seemed to be quite clumsy with the blade.

"Ahoy, Sarana!" the man called.

"Kevin, you old dog! Itās been months!" the two embraced. "Whoās the young lady?"

"An engineer from Jidoor. Her airship crashed in the mountains a few weeks ago, and she has no way of getting back."

"Oh, come on, now! What do ya expect me to do for her? Iām just a mimic!"

"Exactly! Teach her how to do that stuff, and youāll get a pouch of gems that I found in the lair of some leafers!"

"All right then." She smiled. "Young lady, how good are you at acting?"

"Acting?"

"Yeah, on stage."

The training lasted several months, during which Darill was taught not only the finer points of the stage, but also how to focus her inner ki into mimicking other peopleās attacks. Eventually, the two became close friends. Sarana was amazed by Darillās talents at dancing, singing and acting.

"A true mimic never lets people know their real name," Sarana told Darill one day. "Make up a new name for yourself, and thatāll be your mimicās name!"

"Gogo," Darill thought to herself. "That would be a perfect name."

"Iāve been retired for a few years now, but I can give you another piece of advice. Stay incognito. I have a few fancy clothes you can use." She handed Darill some bizarre clothes that were all manner of colors. Darill tried them on, and found that they were a perfect fit.

Eventually, Darill was desperate to find Setzer, as she knew he must be driving himself into the grave over her. He didnāt even know what had happened to her! She left her newfound friend and began the long journey back to Jidoor. Mimics on their own were not usually well able to fight, so she had hired several warriors to protect her, as well as being able to mimic them. Surprisingly, it worked amazingly well. The techniques she had been taught worked incredibly well.

Unfortunately, as they were making camp one night, the group heard a loud rumbling. Drawing their weapons, the guards were almost instantly crushed by the bulk of the gigantic monster that rose from the ground. It then began opening its huge mouth. A horrible blast of wind arose as Darill tried desperately to avoid getting sucked in. What she had in quickness, intelligence and agility she lacked in physical strength, and she was easily sucked in.

Darill found an incredible mini-ecosystem inside the beast! She wandered through it, and found, to her surprise, that there was an incredible amount of food, fresh water, and light in the belly of the beast. She had no idea how this was possible. During her explorations, she rapidly became lost. She eventually found one place to settle down, as she could certainly not find her way back outside of the monster now. She felt depressed. Now she would never see Setzer again!

Gogo lived in the beast for over a year, practicing her acting skills. She thought often of Setzer and wondered what he was doing right now, and whether he was still searching for her.

Her existence in the monster ended once she had encountered the thirteen companions who had been exploring it. Among them, to her shock, was Setzer! She wondered whether to let him know that she was Darill. Her confusion was great, and she had changed her mind a dozen times over the voyage that she and her companions had shared. She had grown to care for the strange group of people who had accompanied Setzer. Gogo took care to keep her identity a secret from them, though, as she wished to tell Setzer later in private. She never got the chance to, however. As the fourteen of them had finally penetrated Kefkaās tower, destroyed the horrors and monsters that the madman had created with his power, and finally struck the madman himself down in one final stroke.

 

PART I: A Cultās Attack

 

Terra had settled into a peaceful life in Mobliz. She was mainly concerned with its rebuilding, though she also enjoyed playing with the kids as adults and their families adopted the kids and began rebuilding the shattered village. Since the dark monster Phunbaba was destroyed, the village had remained peaceful from then on.

As she sat in her home one day, she saw a white dove begin flying down towards her. Terra sat up, opened the window, and let the dove land on her windowsill. A small message was tied to its leg. She looked at it, untying the message from the doveās leg.

She studied it carefully. In it was written the careful, delicate script of Strago, the Blue Mage whom she had traveled with, along with his granddaughter Relm.

 

Dear Terra,

 

Please come down to Thamasa at once. One of our villagers has just made a most important discovery here. I fear it may stop my old heart, due to the shock of it all. I am writing letters to all our other friends, and as I write this, things both terrible and wonderful are happening.

 

Sincerely,

Strago Magus.

 

Terra sat, wondering how she would get to Thamasa. It was a long journey by boat, and Strago had seemed pretty impatient.

Half an hour later, an airship flew down and landed. Driving it was an albino man in unusual robes. His white hair flew behind him in the wind as he brought the ship in for a landing skillfully.

Terra recognized it as the Falcon. She had packed her sword, shield, helmet and armor. She walked up the plank, and greeted the albino man who stood on deck.

"Welcome, dear lady." Setzer said, bowing graciously.

Terra smiled and accepted Setzerās hand as he helped her aboard. "Please get below decks, for the winds are unusually strong today."

Terra walked down the stairs and into the main cabin, where most of her other friends were: the mimic Gogo, the ninja Shadow, the MagiTek knight Celes, the dancer Mog, the barbarian Umaro, the black belt Sabin, the engineer and king Edgar, the thief Locke, the beastmaster Gau, the artist Relm, and the Blue Mage Strago.

"Now that weāre all here," said Strago, pausing for breath, "I need to tell you that somehow, magic is returning to this world."

"Thatās impossible! Magic vanished when the Espers left this world!" Sabin said in disbelief.

"Is that so? Go ahead and chant the words to a Scan spell."

Sabin did so to humor the old man. Sure enough, the blue globe of energy with the crosshairs within appeared, and Sabin suddenly understood the strength and mana force of his brother, on whom he had cast it.

"How this possible?" Gau asked.

"Iām not exactly sure. Apparently, magic never really left. With the Espers gone, it needed a new source. Whatās the most powerful source of energy you know?" Strago asked.

"Kupo! Nature!" Mog answered.

"Exactly. Esper magic is gone for good, but the magic of nature is taking its place, and since nature, in and of itself cannot be destroyed, it appears magic will be in this world for a long time to come," Strago answered.

Setzer quickly came running down into the main cabin. "I just picked up a radio distress call. It seems that a group of crazies is attacking Narshe. Theyāre using magic! Is that possible?" he said.

The group quickly filled him in on the new discovery.

"Incredible," he muttered. "Iām taking us down to Narshe ASAP!"

As the Falcon landed in Narshe, there was sounds of a terrible battle going on. Dozens of people were fighting what appeared to be men and women in strange robes with numbered medallions on them. It couldnāt be·the Cult of Kefka!

Locke unleashed the Wing Edge, sending it flying towards a Cult member. The boomerang slammed into the back of the manās head, killing him instantly. Locke caught the boomerang expertly and drew out his dagger.

Relm and Strago were unwilling to enter the melee. They chanted as they stood far back from the fight. Fireballs and icicles pulverized several cult members, who whirled about in shock, realizing that the magic of the Heroes had returned as well. They retaliated with their own spells. Flames tore into blue mage and artist, but the behemoth hides they wore protected them from the brunt of the blast. Relm quickly sketched the leader. The painting unleashed a fire wave which sent the cultists scrambling for cover.

Mog quickly said "Get Īim," which was his command for Umaro to go completely nuts. Umaro raised his immense club, which was carved from the thighbone of a dragon, and dashed forward. Flames burned him and ice chilled him, but his magical snow muffler protected him, even healed him. He smashed down three cult members with one swipe of his club and stomped four others down. Mog himself had danced the Love Sonata, as the Elf Fire scorched and burned at the cultistās robes. A large man raised a huge sword and charged the moogle, but Cyan stepped in front, and in a blazing display of swordsmanship, slammed the man over and over with the Sky Render, which left the man dead on the ground. The swordmaster protected the moogle from attackers as he performed his dances, accepting the hits stoically.

The brothers had fought beside each other in a hundred battles, and each knew his place. Sabin cleared the way with a blazing Fire Dance while Edgar slashed about with his Chain Saw. Sabin followed right behind with the Bum Rush, which tore his foe apart. Both of them suffered because of the long spears of the cultists, and the spells at their disposal, but they could easily absorb the punishment when innocent lives were in danger.

Gogo was using its Īmonkey see, monkey doā policy in battle, as it slammed down a foe with the Bum Rush that it copied off of Sabin. As Strago cast a Pearl Wind spell on his allies, Gogo did the same thing, augmenting the healing power of the spell.

Shadow and Locke, although they belonged to less than honorable professions, fought beside Gau, Terra and Celes. Celes cleared the way with her skilled blade, as Gauās animal rage shredded the foes to ribbons. Terraās magic sent a blazing lightning bolt crashing into the leader of the group in front of them, dropping him instantly. Locke and Shadow threw boomerang and throwing star, dropping several more of the cultists, as the fierceness of Gau and the skill of Celes kept any attackers at bay. Those who were in the path of either one were usually there by accident, not design!

Setzer stayed back, using his Slot machine. Three airships came up, and a toy airship appeared out of thin air, dropping bombs on the cultists. They screamed and dodged, forced to stop their spells, as the fireballs dropped on them.

Cultists began casting Warp spells, teleporting out of the battle. People began to count the dead, and bury the corpses.

"Why were they here?" asked Celes quizzically.

"Money, perhaps?" Locke said.

"I doubt it. They were probably trying to lure us he-" Relm was cut off by a scream coming from the mines. A massive beast was rising out of the mountains west of Narshe. It had the body of a snake, but over twenty heads. The monster was obviously some mutated hydra, but the beast was almost the size of a house. The heroes raised their weapons.

The Heroes had fought many horrible foes together, ranging from the nightmare creature Wrexsoul, to the angry spirit Dullahan, even three mad goddesses and the source of all magic in Aeolus iteself. Nothing could have prepared them for what they battled here: Their weapons were useless, as were their spells. They had put up a valiant battle, but eventually all of them had perished at the hands of the monstrous thing. It then vanished.

 

PART II

 

The man slowly got up from the ground. The last thing he remembered was being crushed against the mountainside by a flailing snakehead. He had blacked out after that. Now, he wondered where he was. Night loomed overhead, in a cloudy, moonless night. He was in the middle of a pine forest. A chill swept over him·if he had reached the dino-forest somehow, he would be finished if one of the beasts came looking for lunch.

It was then that he noticed the thirteen bodies all around him. They too, were slowly getting up off the ground and taking stock of their surroundings. They all seemed to have all their equipment. Incredibly, they were all in one piece, despite being killed by the giant beast.

Mog got up. "Kupo·where are we, Locke?"

"I have no idea."

"Locke, I have a feeling weāre not in Aeolus anymore," Celes muttered, as the others got up.
Gogoās reaction to their surroundings was surprising. It walked over to Setzer, holding him tightly. Such emotion from the mimic was totally surprising.

Setzer looked up into the face of the strange mimic. He had no idea who was under the hood, as did all the companions. He was also surprised at the show of affection from the mimic.

"Who are you·?" he asked.

Gogo removed the helmet, mask and hood. Shoulder-length, strawberry blonde hair spilled from under the hood. Setzer reeled in shock as his lover was back from the grave in front of him.

"Darill!" he said, hugging her fiercely.

"Yes. Itās been awhile." She kissed him on the lips. She then proceeded to tell the story of her apprenticeship in the ways of the mimic, her rescue by the old ranger, and her being swallowed by the Zone Eater as she traveled to find Setzer again.

"I hate to spoil a reunion like this, but where in the Light Realm are we?" Sabin asked.

"Also, how are we all still alive and in one piece?" asked Relm.

"I believe that I may have the answer," Cyan said grimly. "Thou didst all enter my own dreams and battle the Dream Stooges and Wrexsoul after they didst attempt to take my soul?"

Edgar nodded. They all remembered the horrific battles in Cyanās dreams, in which they themselves were trapped in living nightmares.

"So whose dream are we in?" he asked.

"I am not sure yet. We may be in the serpentās dream, or we may be in someone elseās·" Cyan let the thought end.

"How we were sent here by getting killed by a giant hydra, I donāt know. But we have to get out of here."

Gau was examining the ground. "This funny ground, not like soil on Veldt."

"Do you know a way out of this forest?" Relm asked anxiously.

"Me no make guarantees, but me try." After searching on the ground for several meters around the area where the group had materialized, he began leading them out of the woods.

The forest seemed to last forever. They had no idea how long they were walking, but they stopped often for meal breaks and rests. Unfortunately, their food supply was dwindling rapidly. Gau had cautioned them against eating any of the berries or leaves.

Finally, the food supply was gone. The group was forced to continue on without any sort of food or water, hoping that they would be lucky.

Another eight hours of walking, and the heroes noticed something unusual; they were neither hungry, tired nor thirsty, despite having marched for eight hours straight.

"What this? Me not hungry or thirsty." Gau said.

"It seems that the dreamās powerful magic sustains its inhabitants. How this is, I do not know. Basically, we have let our food supplies go to waste." Strago said.

Finally, Umaro began snorting and growling, growing agitated and raising his bone club. His alertness saved them all, for suddenly two and a dozen robed beings appeared out of the trees, tossing throwing stars at the group.

Locke, Sabin, Cyan, Umaro and Celes were hit by the stars, drawing blood from the wounds. Heroes drew their weapons, drawing out back to back.

Locke quickly filched a pouch on the belt of his assailant as he jabbed his foe with his dagger. The man staggered, and brought his long katana down at the thief. Lockeās quickness saved him as he dodged, thrusting his dagger into the side of his foe, then pulling it out and jabbing it in his enemyās unhelmeted head.

Umaro accepted a vicious hit, returning it a hundred fold with his club, crushing his victim completely. The barbarian leapt at another one of the men who thrust a sword at his master, who was trying desperately to activate a dance. The sword was blocked by the club, and a flurry of leaves blew the man back, hard into a tree. He did not get up.

Edgar and Sabin got back-to-back. Edgarās drill cut down an enemy viciously as Sabin slammed his fist several times into his enemyās chest with the Pummel technique. Neither foe got up.

Celes and Cyan, both masters of the blade, cut down their foes with skilful thrusts. Cyan slammed his foe with the Dispatch technique, as Celes spun the Illumina to parry a blow. Then something totally unexpected happened. The Pearl power of the weapon activated, but a blinding flash of light, which interrupted the combat, even brighter than a normal Pearl spell, destroyed-literally-the man standing in front of her.

Relm controlled one of the ninjas advancing on her and Strago, and commanded him to slice down the other man. He did so, but then suddenly broke free of Relmās control. Stragoās Step Mine ended the matter.

Terra had drawn the Excalibur, but she cast a Fire 2 spell at her attacker. A massive wave of fire, much more powerful than she had intended, disintegrated her foe. She looked at the scene in shock.

Setzer and Darill fought back-to-back. Setzer had cast a lightning bolt at his foe, as Gogo mimicked it, but, shockingly, the charges of energy were much brighter and powerful than they had intended. Their foes were completely destroyed. How this happened, they had no idea.

Gau wisely activated his Stray Cat rage, and as the blade cut deep into his foe, Gau snarled with animal rage. He slashed out with his own claws. The man fell doomed.

Shadow had responded to the missile attack with a thrown cloud of throwing stars of his own, and his wakazashi thrust in surely, knocking his enemyās blow wide. Shadow then thrust his small blade directly into his foeās heart.

As Locke cast a curative spell to heal his wounds, he was shocked by the results. Giant swirling stars of myriad colors flashed around all the heroes, curing their wounds.

The whole group was caught off guard by the power of the spell.

"Whatās going on?" demanded an agitated Sabin.

"It seems that magic is being augmented in this dream. If we cast a spell, its power is amplified several times over," said Terra calmly. "That would explain all the crazy reactions of our spells during the fight."

Gau had begun checking for tracks again. He searched about, sniffing the ground. He began tracking the men to where they had come from. As the group followed Gau, they began feeling a sense of palpable evil in the air. The pine trees gradually began turning darker in color, and became more ragged.

The group was becoming more and more unnerved by the scene. The sky remained dark, and not a silver of moonlight remained. Terra was forced to cast a spell on her blade to permit the group to see.

They began hearing an eerie chanting coming from the trees in the direction they were heading. They were feeling extremely uncomfortable now, and each party member felt their hands going instinctively to their weapons.

They heard an eerie chanting coming from a clearing of trees. Pale light was emanating from it. They noticed, through the trees, a group of cultists of Kefka chanting. They also noticed horrible beasts, beasts that they had fought before. They realized just whose dream they were in.

Strago was stunned. Hidon had been dead for three years. He had killed the monster himself with Grand Train! Apparently, the monster had mastered the very secrets of life itself. His creatures, along with the cultists of Kefka, were planning on resurrecting the horrible creature.

Hurriedly he outlined his theories to the other party members.

"But why did they attack Narshe? And what was the hydra for?" asked Setzer.

"They were just meant to lure us into a trap. The hydra was a creature created by Hidonās angry spirit. It was designed to take us into this dream, so he could have revenge on us. You all remember·"

They did indeed remember the terrible battle in which Hidon had supposedly been destroyed by Strago.

"Heās mine!" the blue mage snarled.

"Gramps, are you insane?" demanded Relm. "We have to take that thing on all together!"

"Itās either him or me. Fifty-three years ago, Hidon and I first fought. Gungho was there with me, and I nearly perished. I was the one responsible for sinking Ebotās Rock, and heās been out for blood ever since. After I nearly destroyed him with Grand Train, that was the final insult. He will try and destroy me, and then you for killing his pets."

Nodding at what they had to do, the battle began.

Firestorms burned the cultists and Hidonites severely, interrupting the ritual. Throwing stars, boomerangs, arrows and wind blasts from Sabin and Mog heralded the first attack. Umaro then leapt into a fierce melee with several of the beasts, going completely berserk.

Mog sent a long line of leaves blinding the cultists, as they scrambled to respond. Edgar and Sabin leapt with practiced grace, drill and Bum Rush cutting them down like a scythe cuts down grain.

There were well over a hundred of the enemies, but the heroes had the advantage. Celes and Terra drew their swords and leapt down into the melee, as Locke raced forward to fight at his loveās side.

Shadow and Gau struck together. Gau ripped apart a Hidonite while Shadowās twin blades-the Stunner and Striker-each took down a foe. The two were unstoppable, a whirling rage of force.

Cyan struck down four foes, each with one swing in his Quadra Slice attack. Darill copied him as Setzerās chocobos trampled down two cultists each after he got them from his Slot machine.

It was then that Hidon appeared.

If he had been bad before, now he was a thing out of nightmares. His poison struck all the group, weakening them. As their systems battled it, Mog performed the Wild Bear dance, curing it. Roaring, he zapped the moogle with a series of beams, which disrupted the dance. Mog screamed in pain.

Strago and Relm faced the beast. Relm had struck down a Hidonite with a sketch of itself, but blue mage and artist were the only heroes facing the thing. Strago focused his inner mana force into a Step Mine. It blasted Hidon hard, as the monster roared. Relm blasted him with a fireball, which Hidon absorbed while only slightly staggering. His mandible-like legs tore into Relm, and she screamed. Strago frantically cast an Aero Lore, which blew the beast off Relm. It crashed into a large tree, felling the pine.

It was now angry. It wanted to destroy the blue mage and his friends more than anything in existence. Beams lanced into the two, as Relm struggled to cast a healing spell.

She managed to pull it off, and all the wounded heroes were healed as the magic went wild.
Something horrible struck Strago then, after he had unleashed Grand Train against the beast. Nothing had harmed it!

"CORRECT, OLD MAN!!! I AM NOW IMMUNE TO YOUR PETTY ATTACKS!! UNDEATH GRANTS ME THIS!! WATCH HOW A REAL MAGE CASTS GRAND TRAIN!!!"

Strago knew at once that he was doomed. His friends were all doomed. Unless·undeath was vulnerable to·

"Everyone! Cast Cure Spells on Hidon!"

The cultists were in full retreat, and the fourteen heroes faced off against Hidon. They looked at him as if he were mad, then understood.

A virtual storm of healing, pretty, multicolored sparks rained down on the beast. He roared in frustration, knowing that his doom was nigh. There was no escaping the end this time. No Hidonites were left, nor any cultists.

As the healing stars rained down on him, he roared as he finally died for the last time.

With its dreamer dead, the dream was fast deteriorating. A terrible explosion was heard, as the trees fell and the sky vibrated. The heroes vanished.

 

Umaro woke up, the cool breeze caressing his face. He sat up and looked around. He was on the funny flying bird, with his boss and all his friends.

"Uhhh·boss·" he said, nudging Mog.

Mog groaned as he came to.

The other heroes slowly woke up, realizing that they were on the airship Falcon. They also realized that a great change had happened on Aeolus; magic was back, and it would be around forever.

 

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