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Chapter VII: The Road of Trials

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5:48 pm
January 30, 2017

dystopia
Admin

posts 125

Post edited 12:48 am – January 31, 2017 by dystopia


  Chapter VII: The Road of Trials
 
  Cloud took in a deep breath, the cool mountain air filling his lungs. Around them the towering peaks of the Nibel range jutted like knives into the sky, the low later afternoon sun illuminating them from behind blurring their details in darkness. Cloud had stopped, the path towards Nibelheim well worn, snaked through the valley towards the foot of the mountains. Behind him Cloud gazed back at Tsuna, Leveche, and the Highwind behind them, it's silvery metallic shell refracting the beams of warm sun like a kaleidoscope of colors.
   ” We'll be at the town gates in a few minutes. ” Cloud said to the others, his mind drifted as he completed his thought, pictures of the last time he had arrived seeping in for the briefest moment before they disappeared once more. A vision of Sephiroth, of Zack, and Tifa. Somewhere inside it felt as if he was coming home, but he knew deep down that it was not his home anymore, that had all burned in the fires of their escape. ” Come on, let's not waste anymore daylight. ” Cloud exclaimed, knowing full well that it was his own trepidation that had wasted so much time already, as he started back up the path towards destiny.
 
 
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3:44 pm
February 2, 2017

griff
Member

posts 86

  The Road of Trials  
 

 
Still wearing his water stained suit, Tsuna followed after Cloud, “You know with all the odd balls that have joined us, you'd think one of them would have the ability to sew.” Tsuna had the option to change while aboard the Highwind, but he refused to wearing of those commoners clothes. Even his frayed and water stained clothes were more suiting than anything Cid had on hand. At least his cane remained mostly intact. The cane sheath paint chipped slightly, showing the steel below. 

Nibelheim. The one place Tsuna wished he would never have to return. The years were countless that he was tortured here. Turned into the monster that he wished son to surpress, but not amount of class kept it away for long. As long as Tsuna could keep focused on his class, CM-3 may stay hidden.



 
 
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10:24 am
February 9, 2017

sanarian
Member

posts 99

Post edited 5:24 pm – February 9, 2017 by sanarian


  Chapter VII: The Road of Trials
 
     Levy walked a fair distance behind the others, the recent revelation of Zack's fate having taken a heavy toll upon him. The loss of his sense of purpose left him haggard and broken, his normally confident smile usurped by a crestfallen grimace. A faintly visible pair of bags hung under his sky blue eyes, an indicator that he hadn't had a good night's sleep recently either. A gentle breeze brushed away a few stray raven locks from his face, carrying the cool mountain air with it.
   At first when the others had revealed his friend's final fate Levy had desperately tried to convince himself that it wasn't real, but he couldn't run away from the truth for long. With the knowledge of Zack's demise came a loss of confidence in his own way of life; SOLDIER Honor, Pride, and everything they symbolized now seemed to be little more than lies meant to keep them under Shinra's yoke.
   For the immediate future the ex-SOLDIER had no intentions to abandon the group, if only until he had the chance to visit the site where his friend had died.
   With a heavy heart Levy quickened his pace to catch up with the others as they made their way to Nibelheim. “I….” Levy half-heartedly started to say something, but let the words die in his throat. What was the point?
 
 
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5:39 pm
February 9, 2017

dystopia
Admin

posts 125

  Chapter VII: The Road of Trials
 
  Images of that night flooded Cloud's mind like an uncontrollable torrent, sweeping him and everything around him away. He could recall the haze that had grasped him then, it's weight heavy on his mind and body that night. He remembered the heat of the flames and the pain he felt at the others helped him along the Mt. Nibel route. Lastly he remembered the image of Zack's fallen body in the clearing next to the aged rope bridge overlooking the reactor complex and the wave of crushing sadness that had overcome him in that moment. Looking at Leveche he recognized that fear in his eyes, the fear of loss, and he sympathized. Ahead the gates into Nibelhim drew close, Cloud expecting to encounter the charred and burnt remains of his hometown, readying himself for that blow. As he neared Cloud stopped, taking a moment as he looked into the town square, before turning to the others.
   ” This… This isn't right, the whole town was ablaze! ” Cloud exclaimed as he took several quick steps forward, reaching the entrance into the town. His eyes flowed from left to right, from the familiar sight of the inn, past the homes and shops, across the water tower to his and Tifa's homes. They were all there, as if nothing had happened. He lifted his head looking past the water tower to where the mansion hung in the distance, the late afternoon sun glaring from behind it's towering frame. ” What is this? ” Cloud asked himself, as he began to question his own memories of that night, knowing that memory had failed him before.
 
 
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1:59 pm
February 12, 2017

griff
Member

posts 86

  The Road of Trials  
 

 
Looking up at the now restored town, Tsuna beared his bangs, growling slightly to himself as he looked up at ShinRa mansion, “I thought it was finally gone.” Said Tsuna speaking about the mansion that had been his prison for so many years. Looking over at Cloud who was also in shock, Tsuna knew that he wasn't the only one who remembered the fire. Cloud and Tsuna had started here, in this was destroyed city, but why had it been rebuilt to what seems to be exactly what it looked like before? 


 
 
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2:42 am
February 17, 2017

sanarian
Member

posts 99

Post edited 9:42 am – February 17, 2017 by sanarian


  Chapter VII: The Road of Trials
 
     Leveche shuffled into the remnants of Nibelheim, or rather what have been the remnants of Nibelheim, just after the others. It came as a bit of a surprise that the small town had been entirely reconstructed, but Levy knew well enough that there was little ShinRa wouldn't do to cover-up their misdeeds. With a frustrated sigh he strode forward and placed his left hand on Cloud's shoulder. “Calm down, we don't need the extra attention.” Leveche warned as he carefully cast his gaze about the area. “If this place really did burn because of what they were doing here, then there's no telling how far they would go to hide their culpability.” Leveche declared confidently, and for just a brief moment he was back to his usual self–but then that languid demeanor returned as his thoughts refocused upon the loss of his friend and his purpose.  
 
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7:18 pm
February 21, 2017

dystopia
Admin

posts 125

  Chapter VII: The Road of Trials
 
  Leveche's words struck a chord with Cloud, only cementing the fact that Shinra would go to whatever means necessary to cover up what had happened the night that seemed so far in the past. He wondered as his eyes drifted to his childhood home what the interior looked like, was it exactly the same? Could they actually pull off that level of detail? Something about the aged look of Nibelheim told him they could and had.
   ” TWe should head towards the mansion, that's where everything started. ” Cloud said after pausing with his thoughts, taking a long look back at the others before he started towards Shrina Mansion, knowing that if their was more to find out from this place it would be there. ” How many years has it been. ” Cloud said to himself as he briefly remembered something from his past, it's dreamlike essence making Cloud question if it was real, an image of he and Zack shuffling up the path to the mansion, both of them hurt and in dire need of rest. Before he could finish the thought he had reached the towering iron gate, it's bars now keeping them out as they had once kept them in. Cloud reached out, grasped the gate and with a rusted squeak he pushed inward.
 
 
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7:03 am
February 26, 2017

griff
Member

posts 86

  The Road of Trials  
 


S
 
Shinra Mansion. Tsuna had finally thought that the mansion was gone for good, but yet here it stood and was their next destination. Reaching to grab the brim of his hat, Tsuna remembered that it was no longer there and ran his fingers through his hair. Tsuna had been hatless for sometime, but he still forgot it was gone. If the mansion was rebuilt, Tsuna hoped he could find another in there. “It's going to burn again.” Tsuna said looking up at the house. One way or another, he was going to make sure the mansion burned again. It was the only way he could ever step foot in there again.


 
 
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3:05 pm
March 16, 2017

sanarian
Member

posts 99

Post edited 3:37 pm – March 22, 2017 by sanarian


  Chapter VII: The Road of Trials
 
     —  
 
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Well, fuck. This is the post I accidentally gimped John. ><
 
 

6:51 pm
March 16, 2017

dystopia
Admin

posts 125

  Chapter VII: The Road of Trials
 
  Cloud moved solemnly through the large oaken doors into the foyer of the Shinra Mansion. His nostrels flared and filled with the smell of burn wood as Tsuna's words struck him, and for a moment he too wished to see it burn again. The floorboards creaked with age as Cloud stepped forward, his mind registering the age of this place but knowing deep inside that it was all a fabrication, a perfectly constructed lie—Much like his own memories had proven to be. Dust glittered in the spears of light that cut through the musty curtains, floating slowly into the dimness.
   ” Zack and I, we were here together once. ” Cloud said after several moments, turning his body to the others, to Leveche. ” Those times are murky for me, but I remember this place and I see his ghosts everywhere. ” his voice broke as he spoke, turning away from the others towards the branching stairway that lay directly ahead. He knew where he was going, subconsciously he was being drawn back there. Climbing cloud turned to the right on the small landing taking each stair slowly, feeling the wood shift under his weight. As he reach the right wing of the house he moved through the small corridor, his eyes glancing past the pictures on the wall, perfectly fitting his memories, into the small bedroom.
   ” There is a secret passageway here. ” Cloud spoke as his eyes met Tsuna's, knowing that he would remember this place, remember the things that happened to him there, and realize why the would have to continue on.
 
 
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4:48 am
March 17, 2017

griff
Member

posts 86

  The Road of Trials  
 


S
 
The inside of the mansion was a perfect copy of what it was before the fire. If Tsuna wasn't there for the fire, he would never guess that this was a copy. The smell of the wood remained the same, without the slight tinge of blood that usually accompanies that smell was gone. As if ShinRa meant to wash away their sins, the fake mansion seemed to act as if nothing happened. Memories of the first time Tsuna was brought here filled his mind. At an age when memories were a fleeting thing, the smell was the same when he first entered, before any experiments. A shiver went down Tsuna's spine as he was brought back to the age and his guard was dropped for a moment. His hand moving unconsciously to his hat brim, that was no longer there. Just prior to touching his hair, his hand rubbed the back of his neck. 

Following Cloud on instinct to keep himself moving, Tsuna nodded as they approached the door that led to the basement, to where to atrocities occured. Knowing he had to face it to get any answers, Tsuna stepped forward and moved a dresser off the side of the wall and pushed on the wall behind it that swung on slight hingers, revealing a spiral staircase that led into the basement. The familiar smell of blood that hung heavy from when he was forced that there was still present, but to a lesser capacity.
“The basement may have survived the fire.” Tsuna looked towards Cloud, “Or they've started back up with experiments.” Tsuna's fangs showed as he looked back down towards the basement stairs. The fire may have left the stones that made uo the basement intact, ShinRa may have reused them, or they started back up with their inhumane experiments. Either way, Tsuna could feel CM-3 returning with the familiarity of the smell.


 
 
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8:36 am
March 22, 2017

sanarian
Member

posts 99

  Chapter VII: The Road of Trials
 
     As they entered the mansion's foyer a faint scent of burnt wood hit his nose. Beneath their feet the floorboards creaked with age, as if to decry the acrid odor, but still there was little doubt in his mind that the other two were being honest about the town having been reduced to ashes. If there were even a bit of damning evidence to their activities here, they wouldn't stop until it was completely dead and buried. At that thought Cloud had spoken, distracting Leveche from his thoughts, but once more the ex-SOLDIER couldn't manage to find the right words to say. All that Levy could do was sullenly turn his head and resume his examination of the manor.
   Every single moment in this manor felt twisted and wrong, and Leveche couldn't shake the sensation that was someone or something else in the mansion. When they came into the small bedroom Levy made his way over to a nearby window, looking out over the village as he was lost in thought before Tsuna revealed the secret passageway. A wayward sigh escaped his lips, and even as he followed after them Levy couldn't help but wonder why. It would be easy to walk away from all this; to leave it behind and try to return to his happy, if hopelessly ignorant, life in SOLDIER….
 
 
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7:44 pm
March 23, 2017

dystopia
Admin

posts 125

  Chapter VII: The Road of Trials
 
  Cloud moved close to Leveche as Tsuna pulled the dresser free from the wall and opened the secret doorway. A cloud of dust shook itself free and drifted past them, gleaming like a sky full of stars in the rays of light that escaped the trap of curtains hung against the far windows. Cloud hesitated but took the first step, crossing the threshold and entered the cylindrical chamber whose wooden staircase spiraled downwards into darkness. The steps moaned in displeasure with each step as Cloud descended, his right hand drifting to touch the stone wall, sensing and absorbing lost memories.
   ” Zack pulled me out, he carried me up these stairs. I remember feeling these same walls that day, leaning against them as he went ahead to clear the way. ” Cloud was remembering aloud, for himself and Leveche, their bond the lost SOLDIER.
As he reached the bottom the pale green glow of far off lights illuminated the rough unhewn passage way. Old wooden buttresses held the walls firm, though he knew that had seen better days. To his left light danced on the rushed metallic supports for a very old door, he had not noticed it before, or he did not remember. Ahead the glow of light grew stronger, Hojo's lab would still be there, it was protected from the fire, he knew it would be just as it was before, and that terrified him.
 
 
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12:32 pm
March 26, 2017

griff
Member

posts 86

  The Road of Trials  
 


S
 
Tsuna's mind seemed to dive deeper and deeper into his most beastial instincts as he descended down the sprial staircase. Flashes of his memories trapped in this basement sweeped in and out of Tsuna's vision. Gliding his finger tips across the exposed stone as he walked, Tsuna began to revert back to the experiment trapped in the mansion. The faint green light showed that the mansion was still in some kind of use. The basement was the same as Tsuna remembered. Stopping at the first doorway off the hallway, Tsuna looked inside to the bedroom, Tsuna bedroom. Well, if you could even call it a bedroom. “Hold on.”

Hay could be seen sticking out of the bed that laidd on the floor. A blanket too small to even cover a teenaged layed on top. Tsuna looked past all of this to the top hat that sat on top of the bed. It shined as if just polished. Tsuna moved into the room, his hand graced the brim. It was either an exact replica like the rest of the house or Tsuna's hat he had lost some time ago. Placing the hat upon his head, Tsuna forgot how ruined his suit was and felt more like himself than he had in quite sometime. Rejoining the group, Tsuna looked down towards the green lights that led to Hojo's lab.


 
 
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10:42 am
March 27, 2017

sanarian
Member

posts 99

Post edited 5:45 pm – March 27, 2017 by sanarian


  Chapter VII: The Road of Trials
 
     A storm of dust drifted past them as the secret passage came open. Levy casually waved it away to the best of his ability, and then moved in line behind the others down the spiral wooden staircase. Just as he had been for the majority of their time in Nibelheim he remained quiet and reserved, still wrestling with the knowledge that he couldn't save his most treasured friend. When Cloud spoke of Zack's actions in the mansion, Levy remained totally silent, but a faint twitch at the corners of his mouth was proof that the story stirred something within him.
   When they reached the base of the stairs they emerged into a roughly hewn passageway, which somehow felt more genuine than the rest of the manor. Levy solemnly followed them ever forward, until they reached a side door in the hallway. It was then that Tsuna moved away from the group, only to promptly return with a top hat resting firmly upon his head. At the sight Levy couldn't help but crack a smile, and spoke for the first time since they had entered the mansion. “I like the hat, it suits you.” Levy couldn't help but smile at the sight, nor did he even understand why. All the same he was clearly in a slightly better mood than he had been recently.
 
 
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8:45 pm
March 27, 2017

dystopia
Admin

posts 125

  Chapter VII: The Road of Trials
 
  With each successive step Could felt the fear rising inside of him, growing and grasping at him. The green light ahead grew as they neared, the details of the arched doorway—left slightly ajar—coming into better focus. Cloud tried to think back to they day he and Zack had left this place, had they left the door just like this? Were the last people here? Could that even be possible? He didn't know the answer to these questions and instead just pushed forward, doing his best to quell his own doubts.
   ” Hojo's lab is right through this door, Zack and I were both kept here for some time. ” Cloud said as he reached the down, his voice breaking as he reached out and felt the cool steel handle, pushing it inward.
The light was bright, and it took Cloud's eyes a second to adjust to the change in brightness. As he entered everything seemed to swirl around him. Cloud felt faint and stumbled forward, catching himself on the massive oaken desk that dominated the first room. Around him the shelves seemed to dance, their contents of books and jars laughing at him. His eyes moved to his right where the massive tanks still glowed with their bright green hue. Cloud felt darkness overtaking him, and in a flash of memory he saw Zack pulling him from the cylindrical glass chamber. He felt the cold that had gripped him that day, the wetness of the fluid he was covered in. Cloud felt his knees give way as he slid to the brick floor, his hands grasping at the desk as he fell.
 
 
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1:24 pm
March 28, 2017

griff
Member

posts 86

  The Road of Trials  
 


S
 
Running his fingers across the brim of the top hat, Tsuna smiled, large canine showing. Though the smile was genuine, it held a sinister undertone, “The scientist thought so as well.” Though Tsuna had grown to embrace the attire chosen by the scientist, it ultimately was chosen to mock his existence. Tortured, forced to fight, then given fine clothes. Tsuna knew what it meant, but it allowed him to keep his class and his sanity for the most part. 

Tsuna could not believe the the lab survived the fierce fire. He vowed it wouldn't survive again. The books and scientific equipment was still in tact, possibly even the same equipment that was there prior to the fire, it was all just pain for Tsuna. Running his hands over the ends of the books, Tsuna examined the shelves for any sign of change. A lining of dust stuck to all the surroundings. Tsuna wondered why ShinRa kept the lights on if no one seemed to be here. As Tsuna pondered the thought, the sound of Cloud collapsing snapped him out of the tangent, but was too far away to grab Cloud, though logic didn't stop his body from trying to get there in time.


 
 
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12:22 am
March 31, 2017

sanarian
Member

posts 99

  Chapter VII: The Road of Trials
 
     It would have been impossible not to note the sinister undertone in the man's smile, a tone that was all too familiar for the ex-SOLDIER. Whenever one of the higher-ups would give him a direct order for some unsavory task, for one reason or another, they would don a similar visage. The look of a predator, eagerly awaiting the chance to pounce upon its prey. Without another word Levy moved to follow after Cloud, left to silently wonder whether those he traveled with now truly were different from Shinra, or if he had thrown in with yet another devil.
   As they came ever closer to the distant, sickly green lights the objects near it came into better detail. An arched doorway lay in their path, the hung slightly ajar. Cloud opened the door and a blinding light shone upon them, leaving Levy to cover his eyes while they adjusted. When they entered the room proper, the first thing Levy took notice of was a massive oak desk which occupied the majority of the room. All around them were shelves adorned with a vast collection of books, and jars–the contents of which Levy felt better off not knowing. Then Levy's eyes fell upon the gigantic tanks, more than large enough to hold an adult male, their haunting green glow reminiscent of his own Mako-infused sight. Before he could voice his concerns over the matter Cloud began to topple over. Acting on instinct alone Levy threaded his arm beneath Cloud's shoulder to brace him from collapse. “You alright?”
 
 
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11:53 am
March 31, 2017

dystopia
Admin

posts 125

  Chapter VII: The Road of Trials
 
  It was if the weight of the world had settled itself on Cloud's shoulders, and in a sense it had as his small group of friends was battling for the future of all of Gaia's children. This feeling had overcome him but before he could fall Leveche was their to give support, pulling him back up as his friends had consistently done through this journey they wer eall on, and for a split second he swore Zack was by his side again.
   ” This place, just remembering the small pieces that I can, it's almost enough to make me give up. ” Cloud said as his vision began to return, the darkness clearing as he steadied himself against the oaken desk on which a large tome was laid open. His eyes glanced across the open book and the word JENOVA seemed to jump out at him. Cloud frantically grabbed at the book, pulling it closer and aligning it correctly with his vision. The top of the page read “JENOVA Project: Day 2193 observations”, it was part of the log they had come here to find.
Have spent several minutes flipping through the pages it became clear, JENOVA was—at one time at least—primarily kept at the Nibelheim reactor. This fact seemed to put much of Cloud's dicey memory in order, at least he knew the reason he and Zack had come here that fateful day.
   ” What if… Zack was the last person to see these logs? ” Cloud was thinking out loud, his vision rising from the page to Leveche then back to Tsuna who had been there that night when Zack was slain. ” He went to the rector and left me behind here in the mansion the night of the fire… and.. ” His voice broke as the pieces began to come together.
 
 
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8:39 am
April 1, 2017

griff
Member

posts 86

  The Road of Trials  
 


S
 

Watching as Cloud collapsed due to memories, Tsuna couldn't help but glance over at the large tank, wondering what had taken place here for Cloud and this Zack. Not wanting to overcrowd Cloud after almost passing out, Tsuna stayed back from the duo and glanced over at the books like for the words JENOVA anywhere. That word seemed to haunt Tsuna since the fire. What was ShinRa up to here that this little town was so important to them. It seemed Zack had found out and payed the price.

Thinking over how long and how much Cloud had went through, still many questions have gone unanswered. Cloud had been the first person Tsuna had learned to trust and a new part of him had formed, the desire to help someone else out.
“We'll find out what he discovered. He saved you…and probably me that night.” Tsuna trailed off at the thought of that. There was a good chance Tsuna never woke up that night. Why had he? Tsuna had no way to know how long he was asleep, but not wanting to over think his luck, Tsuna never asked himself that question. The thought left him speechless.

 
 
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