Lament for the Death of Dark Gothic Innocence
Pairing: Zack/Aeris (and, if I ever wrote more, eventual Zack/Aeris/Sephiroth/Cloud)
Chapter Rating/Warnings: PG13 - parody, language, vague mention of molestation by creepy people.
Summary: Someone's obviously been reading too many gothic romance novels. Really now, Zack, you should know better.
Note: I'm not so secretly a fangirl of outrageous gothic subculture, so - this is a fusion with Castlevania, specifically Lament of Innocence. You needn't have played the game at all to understand this. Unbetaed.
The ShinRa mansion was less a mansion than a castle. Sitting at the peak of the Nibel mountain range, it soared hundreds of feet upwards under never-ending night, higher than the forest of dead trees surrounding it until the turrets were nearly lost in low, red-tinted clouds. Shredded pennants flew in a wind that smelled like it came from a fresh grave.
Zack stood at the base of the path with his hands on his hips and wondered who the hell was playing this cosmic joke on him. All the mansion needed now was the creepy guy who warned wayward travelers to beware, beware the evil that dwells yonder.
“You shouldn’t have come here,” said a low voice, and Zack mentally flipped the cosmos a huge bird before turning around.
“I dunno, I kinda like spending my Friday nights hanging out in dark forests full of blasphemy,” he replied. “How about you?”
The man blinked at him slowly, and Zack had to give it to him, he really was pretty creepy. Ruby-red eyes, skin white as ivory and the kind of elegant fine-boned build normally found amongst the aristocratic class. At least that’s what Zack thought he saw, but it was hard to be sure when the man was draped in a ragged red cloak that made him look like he’d just crawled out of a crypt.
“Why are you here, hunter?” the man asked.
“Well, you see, my girlfriend, Aeris – she kinda sorta disappeared without telling me. And one of the men in my company, he said she was taken by the guy that lives up in that mansion, Sephiroth or whatever. So I’m here to rescue her.” Zack flashed a big grin.
“You are Sir Zackary Fair?”
Sir Zackary Fair winced. “Er. Yeah, minus the ‘sir’, that is. Don’t have a title anymore. And seriously, call me Zack. You don’t want me to make up a humiliating moniker for you too, do you?”
The man blinked at him slowly again.
Zack glanced back at the mansion and rocked on his heels.
“So. Uh. This is awkward.”
“Your lover is a witch.”
“Don’t talk about Aeris that way,” the knight said automatically. Then he paused. “Oh. Hey. Hey, that was alleged. She was cleared of all charges.” Never underestimate the power of pretty smiles and homemade cookies.
“The evil in that mansion is playing a game with you,” the creepy guy murmured. “He kidnapped your lover so that you would come, and he could toy with you.”
“Obviously he doesn’t know my girlfriend. I’m just here to lessen the psychological damage.”
For being a mostly expressionless person, this guy could do ‘bemused’ rather well. After a moment he said, “Follow me.”
“Wait, what? Hey man, you seem like a nice guy and all, but my momma told me never to follow strange men through the woods. Didn’t raise no fool and all that, and I rather like having my head attached to my shoulders and my privates unmolested. You know how it is.”
The stranger ignored him and started off through the trees. Zack glanced once more at the mansion, then at the man, and sighed before following.
The man (Vincent was his name, and it only took a few rounds of coming up with alternative names that had made him crack. Raunchy pub songs bellowed at the top of one’s lungs, however, didn’t seem to faze the guy for some reason) led Zack to a cabin that looked ramshackle but was actually pretty sturdy and well-made on second glance. There was a bar inside, which was awesome, but no barmaids, which was less awesome. Instead there was a gruff, chainsmoking blond guy behind the counter who leveled a mild glare at the knight.
“Been a while since we had some young idiot with notions of being a fucking hero goin’ through here,” he muttered. “What’s your name, kid?”
“Zack Fair,” he said cheerfully, having dealt with people who were far less sociable. At least this guy wasn’t trying to stick him with a spear, and hey, bar. No wonder Vincent didn’t seem to care about songs with barmaids and their cocks. Roosters, people, none of that silly perverted stuff.
“Cid,” the blond growled. “Lemme guess, your girlfriend was kidnapped and you’re here to rescue her.”
“Yep. Well. More like rescue the kidnapper because he’s never had to deal with Aeris when she’s annoyed.”
“Aeris? Ain’t that the name of some witch that nearly got hung by some town council somewhere?”
“Allegedly,” Zack said. During this conversation Vincent had disappeared into another room, and he now returned with a vial in his claw-like left hand. He passed it to Zack and let him examine the glowing green contents with a skeptical eye.
“When you have to find something that no longer exists, this will help you.”
“You heard ‘im,” said Cid, slamming a pint glass on the counter and filling it from the beer tap. “You gotta find something that ain’t real, then fucking drink it. Planet, don’t ask stupid questions.”
Zack was starting to like this guy. “So what can you tell me about the mansion?”
“Built by rich assholes back when it was popular to waste money on looking impressive. Supposedly a powerful evil witch lived there, some thought it was some mad scientist, but who cares? Now Sephiroth’s gone all doom-and-gloom and wants to take the rest of the fucking world with him, one person at a goddamned time.”
“Why would he want to do that?”
“How the fuck should I know, do I look like a psychic? Shit, kid, no wonder we nearly lost the war.”
“Take this,” said Vincent, who seemed determined to keep Cid and Zack from ruining his role in the story, and he passed the knight a foil ticket.
“…You want me to take Sephiroth to the zoo?”
“This is a Magical Ticket.”
“…So we get to go see the unicorns? I agree, zebras are so passé nowadays.”
“Should you fall into trouble, or run out of supplies, it will bring you back to this house.”
Zack flicked an edge of the ticket thoughtfully. “Oh. That…doesn’t make much more sense, honestly, but I could see how it’d be useful.”
“Beware the evil that dwells yonder,” Vincent told him solemnly, and then looked confused when Zack laughed so hard he nearly gave himself a hernia.