Nova Leonhart: Eldest Leonhart child, powerful warrior and battle sorceress. Can see the past.
Aurora Leonhart: Middle Leonhart child. Has the gift of foresight and telepathy (along with healing magic and telekinesis). Named senator of Galbadia and became its ruler after Caraway’s death when she was 18.
Seth Almasy: Eldest son of Quistis and Seifer. Nova’s knight and lover.
Christof Leonhart: Youngest Leonhart child. No magic abilities, and is much like Squall.
(this was originally going to be a potential ending to the Sorceress War series… after Nova kills Hyne… but, seeing as I’m not finishing that, I’m making it into a vignette. Yeah…)
Rinoa’s fist clasped around the green robe that covered her body, and shook in nervousness and mental anguish. Her dark raven hair, now lined with gray streaks running down the length, was unkempt and flowing down across her shoulders in a disheveled mess. It was quite obvious that the now forty something woman was toiled with much mental pain, especially as she turned to bury her face into her husband’s chest as a failing attempt at comfort. Inwardly she was crying out in sorrow, yet externally she remained silent, for fear that all their plans would come undone.
Squall was silent, as he always was. Yet Rinoa could feel his rapidness of breath, as if he could barely take in air. His muscles were tense and he looked down on her with sadness gracing his stormy eyes. The aged ex-commander had his old revolver gunblade strapped to his leg by a worn sheath that he had used during their younger days. His SeeD uniform, which he worn on all formal occasions, was still surprisingly well intact and still fit his body. They had been scheduled for a diplomatic conference with Galbadian and Estharian senators that day, yet something more urgent came to their call.
His eyes darted to a pair that was a similar color. Blue within blue. His twenty-six year old eldest child, whom resembled her mother almost shockingly, glared back with such seriousness that it nearly startled him. Nova, who most often acted recklessly and with sarcasm in everything she did, was now a silent as he. Squall searched her eyes for distress, yet found none. Her resolve was strong, and in her mind, she knew that what they were doing was only in benefit, despite what it was doing to Squall and Rinoa.
Nova’s husband, the son of his rival, accompanied them this day. The Hyperion slung over his back, much as it had been for the past few years. He was there for ‘security’ purposes; at least that was what Nova had said beforehand. She wouldn’t let him far from her sight, especially in these times of war.
Rinoa trembled, cursing both Ultimecia and Edea (despite now being a close confidant to the latter) with a terrible passion. She hated them now for giving her the ‘gift’ of sorcery. It was now tearing their family apart, and her worst fears had finally come to be a few years prior. She just never paid heed to the warnings. Nor did Nova. It was all a fading hope that if it was ignored, then it would vanish.
”Remember,” Squall spoke, uneasiness in his voice, which was a rarity. “Killing is the last thing we want to do. But if it comes to that…”
“We know.” His eldest replied curtly, closing her eyes tightly, for fear that tears would fall from the deep blue pools already.
“Christof, announce us.” Squall spoke, louder and with more authority towards his twenty year old son, a body guard to Galbadia’s lead senator. Ex-body guard to be precise.
The raven haired man nodded faintly, using a gloved hand to throw open one of the twin black oak doors that had stood in their way. Once the pathway was cleared, a large room overlooking Deling City’s skyline came to view. Elaborately decorated in what was easily placed as Celtic designs, the room was a masterpiece of art. Paintings and sculptures suited to the taste of the owner littered the walls, a breathtaking place of beauty. But beauty was easily a mask for pain.
“Sister!” Christof called, once he was sure his family had stabilized themselves. “Mother and Father are here to see you. Nova and Seth are company to them.”
A head turned back towards him from a gathering of several trusted advisors, most of which were familiar faces. Zell, chief of guards; Quistis, tactical advisor; and Seifer, general of armies. However, it was the face that turned that was the one of interest. Wavy chestnut locks cascaded far down the woman’s back, and a pair of fierce almond colored eyes twitched once in annoyance of being interrupted.
Aurora calmed herself, and then waved one of her arms. Zell, Quistis and Seifer each looked at each other hesitantly, and then veered away from the map of the world and positioned themselves along the borders of the room, their aged faces betraying no emotions. The twenty four year old Leonhart feigned a careful smile, knowing that if she didn’t do it perfect, Rinoa and Nova would easily see through to her irritation.
“Mother, Father! It’s lovely to see you again.” She spoke, hugging her father and kissing him on the cheek in a childish behavior of affection. “I was afraid you’d depart before seeing me, as the meeting today had to be cancelled.”
“Of course not.” Rinoa said smiling, though inside she was torn apart by her false cheerfulness. “I couldn’t bear leaving my child here by herself without saying good-bye first!”
Aurora chuckled to herself, but knew something was wrong with her mother’s mood. She was a joyful person, yet now the joy seemed forced. She looked her dear sister in the eyes, and while the raven haired woman was silent, she could tell there was a trace of bitterness in her. Seth also seemed uncharacteristically apprehensive.
She tilted her head to the side and smiled once more, the ringlets of her shorter locks of hair falling into her eyes. “Was there anything in particular you wished to discuss? Or is this simply a leisurely talk? If so, I can easily set aside the strategy meeting.”
Squall clenched his jaws together, causing a slight muscle to bulge. A sign of his anxiousness. “You dismissed the peace conference today.”
A simple statement, but it had an underlying tone. “Father, are you insinuating that I’m disobeying the Galbadian senate?”
“You said it.”
Aurora’s eyes darkened. “It was a matter of urgency that it was postponed. A front has opened up near Timber and Winhill. Fighting cannot be tolerated, and we need measures of safety. That comes first. You live in Timber. You of all people should understand.”
Nova looked at her younger sister with a steely glare. “That is the action of a dictator, Aurora. You had no right to do such a thing.”
Her brows furrowed in irritation. “How dare you say such a thing? You’re a SeeD unit captain; you know that on occasion drastic decisions have to be made! I only did what was good for Galbadia.”
“Stop it Aurora.” Rinoa said with unusual sternness. She knew that Aurora would be angered by her own tone, as she and the younger daughter were never close. Aurora was more Squall’s child than hers.
“We know very well what has been going on. Word from SeeDs fighting on the front tells us that. Not to mention Nova and I doing our own mental handiwork.”
“You’ve been prying into my mind.” Aurora stated, and a flash of blatant anger went of in her dark eyes. “We… decided that we would never do that to each other when Nova and I were children.”
“Desperate times call for desperate actions.” Nova replied hotly, the Heartilly temper flaring up in her now. “We both know that you’ve become a captor of your own sorcery!”
Aurora’s face contorted in rage. “Nova, silence yourself! You’re talking like I’ve become evil!”
“Perhaps that is what the two hundred civilians escorted from Timber to Galbadia thought before you executed them. And it was all in the name of your ‘war for peace’,” Squall spoke bitterly. “Which, ironically, you started in the first place.”
“Esthar brought it upon themselves! With grandfather Laguna out of power, they were demanding things which were not rightly theirs! Had I left them, who knows what harm they could have caused in their desperate attempts at re-stabilizing themselves?”
“Aurora…” Rinoa spoke in a motherly tone, walking a few paces forward and reaching out towards her daughter. “…I know that the sorcery has taken it’s hold on you. That it now drives you for blood and dissonance. I nearly went down that path after the Second Sorceress War, and Ultimecia was lost in her own sorcery as well. Please… let us help you. Your sister and I…”
“You compare me with Ultimecia!?” Aurora nearly screeched, feeling betrayed by her own mother. “I was placed in charge of Galbadia long ago! I am only doing what is best!”
“You’re lying and you know that… you’ve let your guard down…” Nova hissed. “…I can sense your falseness now.”
Squall stepped passed both his daughters and towards the aged slayers of Ultimecia, his friends and allies. “Listen to me. I was commander once, and because of that, I know when an officer becomes corrupt.”
Aurora’s eyes twitched in hot anger, but he went on despite it. “My daughter is unfit to command in her condition. I’m taking her out of duty. Quistis, you take her place. I’ll talk with the senate and try to smooth things over.”
He sighed, remembering a time when it was not called in anger, but innocent within a child’s voice. This woman before him was his own flesh and blood, and it pained him to see her taken under control by her own birth-given powers. A girl whom had been a mirror image of his own personality had become lost and misguided. All he cared to do was take in the girl and embrace her until she had righted herself. Yet, he knew it would not be that easy.
Seth looked away from the scene. He, Nova and Aurora had grown up together. This was a most disturbing thing to watch. He was surprised his wife was as calm as she was. Inwardly he had expected her to knock out her sister and forcefully remove her from power. Their days playing together now seemed like a fleeting dream. That dream was now tainted by Aurora’s corruption.
Rinoa was barely keeping her wits about her. She knew that Aurora, despite lost to sorcery, was still just a confused girl not knowing why her own parents were acting against her. Anger in the girl’s eyes masked the sorrow and hurt that had piled up over the years of painful torture by her prescience and ability to know what all around her were thinking. Aurora, unlike she and Nova, was feared as a girl for her silence coupled with her power of telepathy. Inwardly, Rinoa wondered if she had foreseen this coming.
“What are you doing?!” She yelled at her father, who remained with his back turned to her. “You are putting the entire country in jeopardy! Please… I know… what I am doing…”
Aurora had trailed off in the end, closing her eyes and clenching her teeth together tightly. Voices screamed in her head, of old sorceresses and thoughts of people in the room. She sank to her knees as she envisioned blood and a pale figure, much as she had when she was little. Then, she had woken up screaming, unable to stop for at least ten minutes. Even then, she slept nestled in between her parents for a few nights after.
“What did you expect…?” Aurora mumbled in a voice slightly alien to the others. “…a girl ostracized all her life, and then placed in power… it was bound to happen. The citizens are blind fools. They are sheep. Clinging to false idols in hopes that they are not alone in this. I loath humanity now. The sorceresses… they just showed me the proper view.”
“Aurora…” Rinoa’s voice quivered, and then broke into a loud sob. The elder sorceress placed her pale hands over her mouth in hopes of silencing the now heard agony.
“You three were in on this plan!” Aurora called to Quistis, Zell and Seifer. The three looked away in guilt. It was true, they had allowed the group into the palace in order to do this. Aurora bit her tongue in order to remain slightly tactful.
Nova shook her head and angrily stepped forward. “Aurora… just step down! You… can’t honestly hate humanity so much as to wanting to destroy it all! That’s the sorceress talking!”
A bitter laugh echoed through the room. “Really? All I know… is that I cannot simply let you…sniveling whelps take over what is mine… or divert me from my plans. It would be wrong…”
“’Wrong?!’ Wrong to stop a tyrant gone mad?!” Nova screamed. “Just shut up, step down, and let Mom and I help you! We’ll… we’ll even give you and exorcism if needed! Odine can remove powers if it’s a terrible enough situation!”
Aurora went defensive. “You’d rip them away from me!? I won’t allow that! You used to be just as bitter as I did! Then what?! You had more pressure than I did, being the oldest. Come on, didn’t you see the way they looked down upon you, because I had the better intelligence?!”
“More intelligence, but less control and power.” Nova said angrily. “Please… I’ve had enough of this…”
A hand went to the broadsword that rested at her side, and Aurora saw this. She snarled, and glared at her elder sister.
“Your insurrection is the most immoral thing I’ve seen you do.” Aurora hissed. “You betray your own family.”
With that, Aurora lashed out with a dagger hidden beneath her long silver robe. She stepped forward and aimed a strike at her sister’s neck, now completely under the will of the darker sorceresses in her mind that hungered for blood. Nova leapt back and smacked the dagger away with her blade. Seth, unsure of what to do, only looked on in worry and concern.
Rinoa hid her face in her hands. How did it come to this? Why her children of all people? Aurora and Nova had both been innocent. Now they were trying to kill each other within the private chambers of the Presidential Palace. She cursed Edea again for bringing this upon the girls, who had been such adorable bystanders in their youth. Then, because of natural powers, they had been treated poorly by society. Looked down upon. Now it all was erupting in chaos.
“Stop it!” Came an anguished cry. But not from Rinoa.
The gunblade came between the sword and the dagger, creating a small spark as metal met metal. Squall held it firmly between attacking daughters, unable to stand it any longer. His paternal feelings took such strong hold on him, that he did not even see the danger in his parry.
Aurora, acting on instinct alone, which was odd of her but common for the sorceresses inside, immediately countered. She pulled her dagger back, bringing it down into her father’s unarmored abdomen. The eight inch blade sank fully in, and her father screamed in pain both from the attack and the attacker’s betrayal. A trail of crimson blood began to pour onto both the floor and Aurora’s hand, snapping her attention to what she had really done.
“Squall!” Rinoa cried out in horror, shocked that Aurora had come to such a thing.
The ex-Commander sank to his knees, looking up at his daughter with a pain filled expression. His stomach convulsed, and he placed his head on the ground. Quistis and Zell rushed to his side, though Seifer was simply glued in place by fear. Quistis was certain Squall would live with treatment, though she didn’t know how long they had. She placed a hand on his stomach and sent a Cure into it, hoping to mend it enough for him to last a while longer.
Aurora dropped the blood soaked knife from her hands, and it clattered to a halt once it hit the ground. “Oh….Hyne…”
Nova was unsure of what to do. She too, like Seifer, was held in place by shock and fear for what her sister had decided on. Part of her wanted to tackle Aurora and rip her to shreds, but the other part only wanted to make sure her father was safe.
“What have I done…?” Aurora muttered in panic to herself. Quietly, under her breath, she rambled on. “…why? Father… oh, gods…”
She gripped Squall’s gunblade in her hands now, as she spotted Nova getting up with her sword drawn. Nova, while still in shock, was now damned and determined to end this in any way possible. Be it death or stunning her.
The gunblade parried a blow from the sword, slower than usual, as the weight was foreign to the woman. Aurora was screaming inside, yet the sorceress grasp held such firm hold on her that she had no choice but to give in.
My child… they are all against you. A voice hissed. Do what you must. The end justifies the means. You are the true victor.
The two Leonhart women exchanged blows back and forth, but Nova noticed that tears were running from Aurora’s face. The raven haired woman was confused as Aurora began to back away and break down in sobs and weeping, much as Rinoa was.
Aurora raised the gunblade over her head, a feat which required most of her strength. Poised to attack, Nova backed away a few paces, expecting her to fire off a gunblade round once she struck. Seth jumped into action and fell in beside Nova, ready to take a bullet if needed. Hyperion drawn, he expected the very worst.
Rinoa’s heart froze as she realized what Aurora was going to do. “God, no!”
I cannot break from your hold sorceresses…. Yet there is another way… Aurora thought.
The gunblade spun on her index finger and swung back around away from Nova and Seth. The tip of the blade sliced through Aurora’s own torso as the woman sliced it through her own body. Tears fell from her eyes to the blade, and she used her fleeting strength to shove it all the way through. The blade exited through her spine, and she fell onto her back as she was forsaken control of her limbs.
Nova froze once more in shock, and began to violently cry in a fit of sorrow and pain. She threw her sword to the ground and buried her face into Seth’s chest, weeping. He wrapped his arms around her and sank his head into her neck, unable to look at what just happened.
Rinoa rushed to Aurora’s side, taking the girl into shaky arms that were stained by tears. She clutched Aurora tightly to her, pressing her forehead against the girl’s cold one.
“Please, Aurora…. No…” Rinoa cried, in an oddly cooing tone. “…why?”
Aurora blinked weakly, smiling with blood covered teeth as the liquid streamed up from her torso. “I accepted the fate long ago… prescience remember? I already knew… It… was for the best.”
She and Aurora had never been close, but now Rinoa cursed the gods above for it. She hit Aurora in the arm, stunned by the fact Aurora had already known. “Why didn’t you try to avoid it?! ‘Rora… god…”
The Griever pendant sank from Aurora’s neckline and onto her chest as Rinoa moved her, and Aurora used one hand to loop around Rinoa’s own. She hated to admit it, but she was giving into the child like ways of wishing for her mother’s presence. It was bittersweet comforting.
Tears trailed down her cheeks, but she spoke a last time. She repeated, “It was for the best. I… am sorry. I could not break free. I love you… mother.”
Before Rinoa could say one thing more, Aurora’s other hand went to the trigger of the gunblade and squeezed, releasing a heated charge from the weapon. It exploded in fire, and Aurora’s torso blew open, immediately ending her fading life. Rinoa began to hyperventilate, and as the blood splatter slightly hit her jaw, she once again broke to sobs and tears, hitting her deceased daughter on the shoulder as she could do no else.
Nova hid further within Seth, the pain of losing her sister now too much to deal with. Had it been her hand that dealt the blow, she would have the guilt. But the guilt of a suicide was stronger. She knew that this event would never be able to vanish from her life. It would be worse for the parents, who had witnessed the entire thing unfolding.
The hand dropped from the gunblade, hitting the ground, shaking loose the Griever pendant from her chest. It snapped, and the lion landed in the pool of blood that collected below. There it remained, tainted by the flesh of it’s own family.
(bad ending, but, it was getting rather long. Meh, I had a burst of creativity last night, and had to write the damned thing. siiiighs back to my original stuff now. Ta-ta!)