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Ultionem Crystallis: Final Fantasy

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    "SUP BITCHES! I'M BACK!" Blackrose boomed as she strutted into the gathering room, with a renewed sense of self, bursting through the doors. She looked around to only see some of the monks sitting around in silence. "Wait. Am I really the first one to finish? Haha! Go me! Literally first place in EVERYTHING." She slammed her boot onto one of the chairs and grabbed a glass of wine, chugging it. "I am NOT waiting around here with you losers. Where's the ladies' room? I haven't pissed in AGES."

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      Cirrus, still sunk to his knees, was now just somewhere he didn't understand. It was like an ocean, except for two things: Cirrus was floating atop it, with only his shins half-submerged, and there was no end to it. The water was crystal clear, but he couldn't see any seafloor underneath him, nor could he tell where the water ended and the non-color of the sky began. It was almost like being trapped in a bubble.

      He felt oddly at ease here, despite the horrors of the last few minutes, and the ache in his stomach where he saw the dragoon's spear tear through him. This was a plane of tranquility, he decided, and he let the gentle lapping of the waves wobble him back and forth rhythmically. Bizarrely, this was the first chance he had to think his situation through.

      He was in the Trial of the Dragen, he recalled from a Northern monk saying. They- himself and the rest of his party- were brought into meditation rooms, where they were to confront their biggest fears. For their victories, they were to be given the blessings of Leviathan, so of course they had to try. But as Cirrus recovered from his biggest fear, he started to get uneasy. Of course his fear was Mercury, and of course Cirrus couldn't beat him. But still, he had to find a way to overcome this trial...

      As he ruminated on how to defeat the Dragoon hero, Cirrus was distracted by something underneath the water, maybe the only thing in the water. It looked tiny, although it was hard to tell- maybe it was just far away. It was barely a blue shadow, a thin snake that might fit in the palm of his hand.

      Huh. Weird. Anyway, Cirrus came up with the ideal counter-strategy to a dragoon warrior, based on watching his father's fighting style for years. It was gonna be hard to work, but he thought he had a strategy for once he got back onboard.

      "I'm ready," he said, the first noise he's heard since he got into this realm. There was a moment where Cirrus felt... disappointment? In himself, maybe? But the moment passed, as suddenly his weight gave into the water. There was a sudden strong current, pulling him away from the light, rushing him through darkness until

      (fade)

      He woke up in a crumpled pile on the ground. He pulled his face up from the cobbled ground and pushed some debris off his armored form, before struggling to his feet. Everything hurt, and he winced as he got up. He remembered this moment, this was just a moment after the blast in Puerto De Oro. Somewhere around here was Alistair, looking for a replacement bow...

      But there was no one around the dragoon, not yet. He considered waiting, but he started noticing shambling, groaning bodies in the edges of his vision. He grabbed a twisted chunk of iron that worked well enough as a short spear, and went to work. The zombies didn't serve as much of a threat, at least not now in ones and twos, but seeing their faces wrenched at his heart. These were people he recognized from childhood, every single one of them. To lay a hand against them felt unnatural, even as their teeth try to sink into his armored flesh. What was worse was the knowledge that they were already gone, every one of them, and he couldn't do anything to stop it. This was just a dream, a vivid illusion... but it was true in reality, as well. These people were probably all dead.

      A child zombie ran up behind him and started gnawing on his calf. He jammed the iron pipe into its brain, then noticed on the upswing that it was Wedge. This kid was out playing with Nimbus on the day of the Requiem. Cirrus's breath caught in his throat, and tears started to sting his eyes.

      "Damn you, Leviathan," Cirrus cursed under his breath, as he turned and saw three zombies shuffling towards him. One of them gave him free Ice cream on his birthday when he stopped at her shop. Another one beat him at soccer a lot. Cirrus felt like he was about to break down, and with all the effort he could muster, he Jumped into the air to try and get away from them.

      And he fell on his ass. It felt like he was trying to jump through water, while wearing armor. It just didn't work. Meanwhile, the monsters scuttled closer to him. Cirrus scrabbled to his feet just in time to get overtaken by one. He grabbed it by the forehead to keep it from ripping his throat out, and smacked away one flailing hand, but the other one got underneath his helmet and started to claw at the right side of his face.

      Cirrus yelled in disgust as the fingers scratched for purchase. One finger pad found his eye, a serrated fingernail clawing at his eyebrow. Cirrus stabbed its brain through the bottom of its mouth, and watched the purple glow of undeath fade from its eyes, just a moment before Cirrus lost his own eye. He dropped his helmet and the iron bar both, shoulder checked Biggs- or, rather, another zombie- and ran out into the streets.

      Here, on the main thoroughfare that was packed with people, absolute chaos ensued. There were those who survived the initial blast, trying to take residence in locked buildings as zombies came up behind them. Cirrus was close enough to save none of them, they were a few survivors on the opposite side of a hoard.

      "NOOOOO!" Cirrus screamed in frustration. He watched as an old man was chased by his undead grandson, as a wife struck down her pleading husband.

      "CIRRUS?" A squeaky, childish voice yelled out from somewhere. Cirrus knew that voice, and in a panic he ran straight into the crowd to find her.

      "NIMBUS!" He yelled. He had to shoulder check a zombie to push it out of his way. "Where are you!?" Punch another in the gut. Something from behind clawed at his ear, he instinctively ducked forward to avoid it but he was still bleeding heavily on that side of his head.

      "Over here!" painted an exhausted Indra. She was casting aero magic to keep the monsters at bay, but she was getting tired.

      Something grabbed Cirrus's leg, he dropped to the ground. He felt something's knees hit his back, and he felt strong hands grab either side of his head.

      Indra and Nimbus both shrieked in horror, and the wind barrier died out. Cirrus rolled to knock the zombie off from on top of him, and threw his hand up to block its bite. Blood seeped out from his gauntlet, but before he could save himself, another zombie jumped on top of him, and then another after that. Both Nimbus and Indra were swarmed as well, and their panic-stricken faces were the last thing he saw before he felt a pair of jaws closing on his throat and he

      (faded)
      Originally posted by Wade
      Everything is hidden in plain sight, like in Men in Black. We've all just been neuralized to think it is "normal".

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