Halloween has just passed! Did everyone have a good Halloween? Did you go out in costume in the cold to be a nuisance to your neighbours? Or were you the unfortunate soul forced to give away a month's worth of candy to Elmo and the Cookie Monster at your door?
As was the case with a similar event I held for Birthweek a few months ago, I would like to thank everyone who submitted an entry. I fully understand that on this occasion I allowed people a much shorter window of opportunity to write and submit a story, plus horror as a theme can be very difficult to satisfactorily nail down, especially when it concerns Final Fantasy or the community of Final Fantasy Forums in general.
So without further ado, here are our four entries!
[Quick disclaimer: A number of stories contain macabre descriptions and imagery of violence and body horror. Furthermore, there may be heavy implied story spoilers for both Final Fantasies VII and XV, so proceed at your own discretion!]
#1 - 'Scary Stories By The Campfire'
“…But he was never heard from again.” Zidane’s low voice whispered above the cackling fire as both Eiko and Vivi covered their ears in absolute terror.
“Zidane!” Eiko shrieked as she stood to her feet, tossing her hips back as she pointed an angry finger forward, “That story was too scary for little kids! Look at Vivi! He’s terrified!”
“I-I’m okay…” Vivi clasped his hands together, darting his eyes back and forth the surrounding campfire. “Well, maybe it was a little scary.”
“Obviously! That’s the point of scary stories!” Zidane plopped back down onto his log and gave a bit of a tut, “What about you, Dagger? Do you have any scary stories?”
“Ugh! She’s a princess. Of course she doesn’t have any scary stories!” Eiko slumped back to the ground and crossed her arms as Garnet gave her a soft chuckle.
“That doesn’t mean anything. Who knows what scary specters are roaming the castle halls at night.” Zidane gave a cheesy smile and leaned in towards Garnet as he batted his eyelashes at her, “But just know that my bed is always open if you ever get scared at night, Dagger.”
“Gross.” Eiko stuck a tongue out in fake disgust as she pointed and gagged.
“Will you keep it down!” A voice yelled from within the tent’s confines, making the group of four apologetically grimace.
“Anyway, ghosts aren’t real, so you can just stop right there, Zidane.” Eiko continued, a bit lower in voice, and the two began bantering back and forth. Vivi sighed at the two and looked over at Garnet, whom was deep in thought.
“Actually… there was this one time.” Garnet tapped a finger to her lips as she thought some more, catching the attention of the others as they stopped to listen.
“Is it about ghosts…?” Eiko glanced around again, sitting back down in her place as Garnet shook her head.
“Well not exact-”
“What about a m-monster?” Vivi tapped two fingers together as he scooted in a little closer to Eiko.
“Or a murderous murdering murderer? Or a grotesque blob-ridden Fang? Or maybe something so hideous - so disgusting - that the mere sight makes you wanna puke in a bag?!”
“Zidane!” Eiko yelled again, jumping to her feet.
It was a rather disconsolate and thunderous night when I had roused and woken from my premature slumber.
Could you at least tell the story like normal?
It was a dark and rainy night when I had decided to go to sleep early. I had been unwell all evening, and the atmosphere was rather cold and damp. By late evening most of the staff had gone home, and the castle halls were virtually desolate. The thunder began to pickup just after sundown, and one particularly loud clap of thunder and lightning had jolted me straight out of bed!
This just sounds like a bad nap.
Are you gonna talk through the entire story?
Goosebumps from the cold covered my entire body, and chills ran down my spine. Normally I have a glass of water next to my bed, but this particular night it had been knocked over in the midst of my tossing and turning. Deciding I needed more water, I grabbed a robe from next to my bed and made my way out of my room.
It was much darker than I had anticipated, but the low glow of the torches in the halls were just enough to guide me down to the main kitchen. Occasionally the lightning illuminated my route, but the continuous downpour of the rain made the air thick with dampness and chill. I had taken in about two glasses of water before deciding to return to my room, and I had made it pass the kitchen doors before another loud bolt of lightning and thunder startled me. I shivered and quickened my pace, but just as I crossed into another hallway I heard... it.
It IS about ghosts!
Shhh! Let her finish!
A low moan echoed through the entire castle from many angles, drolling on in a nonhuman tone. I froze in my tracks and clenched my hand to my chest, holding in my heartbeats before being startled by another long moan. My heavy and panicked breathing was beginning to get louder, and when the moaning ceased I mustered up the courage to bolt for the staircase.
I rounded the bend and made it to the top, stopping to catch my breath and calm my heartbeat. The ghostly moaning had thankfully ceased, and my mind finally began to rationalize the possibilities of its origins. The castle walls, as you can imagine, are older beyond my, my mothers, and my mother’s mother’s years. Certainly this isn’t the first time I’ve heard them - Maybe today I am just particularly sensitive to the castle noises in my sickly-state? My thoughts were enough to convince me, and I turned on towards my bedchambers to return to sleep.
It was as if a clash of lightning and thunder signified my horror as the moans, much louder than before, echoed out of my mother’s corridors. The sound of gurgling and groaning boomed with a deep baritone, and I could sense a dark presence beyond her doors. My deep concern overshadowed my fear, and I dashed as quickly as I could to my mother’s room. The patter of my bare feet against the marbled floors echoed along with the now much louder groaning, and I pushed through the partially cracked doors into my mother’s room.
“Mother?!” I cried out, frantically looking around the room. The shadows along the walls cast down on me as the rain outside poured down harder. It was as if the room was laughing and mocking me as I began to panic. “Mother!!” I shrieked again, tossing my arms out as thunder once again boomed through the castle.
“Uuuuuuuughhhh...” The ghastly voice called out once more, just beyond the adjoining room from where fog was rolling out. My fear gave way and I rushed in to my mother’s assistance!”
I screamed at the top of my lungs! Pure horror struck me and sent terror down my spine! Through the humid mist I could see the poltergeist’s ugly, deeply pitted and grotesque skin as it sagged down to the floor. The pits in it’s pale skin, and the bulbous black moles on it’s back, stuck out most to me in contrast to the long wiry hair that ran down. The several layers of flapped skin sagged far lower than any human could burden, and the inhuman shape before me jiggled in motion as it turned around in surprise.
“AHHH!” I screamed again as the creature revealed it’s blushing face, unfiltered from any makeup or any trace of clothes. My scream startled it as the dense fog cleared from my vision, and the ghostly creature before me raised it’s chubby hands in shock, further revealing it’s truly horrific and naked form.
“G-Garnet! My dear!” The familiar voice called to me as I became vastly aware of the situation at hand. “What is the meaning of this?! Barging in on your own mother during her previous bath time?!”
“Wait,” Zidane held a firm hand up in pause, “Are you telling me that your scary story is about you walking in on your naked mother taking a bath?”
“W-well you asked if I had a story of anything hideous or disgusting - Something that the mere sight makes you want to puke.” Garnet gave a sheepish smile and then shrugged, “And, well, now any time I see black beans It makes me want to puke.”
Zidane’s cheeks puffed out in laughter as he toppled back over the log he was sitting on, laughing even harder as he pounded his fist into the ground. Garnet stifled her own laughter as she exchanged a smile with Vivi, and Eiko rolled her eyes at the whole lot of them.
“Hey! I said KEEP IT DOWN!”
#2 - 'Nibelheim - Post Incident'
“It's like walking through the gates of a theme park…” Joe mused as he entered through the wrought iron archway of Nibelheim. “That is, if Hades had designed the Gold Saucer.”
Prior to this, the farthest Joe had ventured from Midgar on business had been Kalm. Despite all its grime, he’d always preferred the familiar toppings of the ‘big pizza’ to any mysterious, potentially poisonous additives of an alien environment. However, the private detective’s informant, Penelope, had never given him any cause for concern until now. It had been a week since her final message: Hurry to Nibelheim!
Ahead, near the well, a chained dog gnarled and revealed its fangs. Joe stopped to eyeball his drooling adversary, then smirked at the thought that this hellscape even has its own Cerberus.
Curious faces peered from the windows of an otherwise lifeless town, mere shades seemingly shackled to their appointed abodes for eternity, never to emerge and mingle as townsfolk should.
“I guess this is how towns can get…” sighed Joe.
Nevertheless, there was an unpleasant whiff in the air. Joe had heard rumours of a Mako reactor in the region, so it might not be entirely a backwater town.
As Joe entered the inn, the innkeeper sprang to life like a toy just wound up.
“Welcome, sir! How can I help you?” voiced the innkeeper through a fixed grin.
“I’d like to stay the night.”
“Certainly! That’ll be 100 Gil! And your business?”
“Holiday…” lied Joe, irritated by his prying. The innkeeper laughed, knowing his deceit, while lifting up Joe’s case without breaking eye contact.
Unburdened of his luggage, the detective marched straight to the place his contact was investigating: Claudia’s house. Well, it was supposed to be Claudia’s. Penelope’s more panicked penultimate message to him made it very clear that Claudia was inexplicably nowhere in town, nor was there any trace that she had ever existed at all.
Joe knocked on the door and an elderly woman answered, wearing an unwaning half-moon smile. She cordially invited him in, almost as if she wanted to show off her home.
The photographs on the sideboard seized Joe’s attention. Penelope’s message had highlighted the very absence of photographs in this house (as in all houses at Nibelheim) and she’d pestered this resident on the peculiarity that her family possessed none. Yet here they were, now… Photographs. But not the cumulative collection one might expect. There were no baby’s first steps. No daytrips to the coast. No photographs with embarrassing hairstyles betraying the era in which the homeowners had enjoyed their prime. These were all current, as if they had been taken yesterday.
“So… You gonna say anything?” asked the woman, her smile emanating sarcasm.
Joe shook loose the lunacy from his mind and composed himself for a mild interrogation.
“Where is Claudia? Are you her mother?”
“Claudia. She used to live here. She had a son and…”
“I’m very sorry. Never heard of her. If she ever lived anywhere in Nibelheim she must have moved out. I’ve lived here all my life. If you’ve come all this way for that then you’ve wasted your time.” Her eyebrows feigned concern.
“Pity. I’d hoped to inform her that she’s inherited 100,000 Gil...” Joe put out the bait, but the woman exhibited no hints of being impressed.
“I sent an associate ahead of me. Have you seen her?”
“No. You are the first outsider I’ve spoken to in years.”
The blatant dishonesty in these words sparked a bomb of rage inside Joe, but he maintained calm. Indeed, Joe observed a truck loaded with plastic water bottles rolling into town; clearly Nibelheim enjoyed some visitors!
Joe held similar conversations with other residents. Some young newlyweds flashed doll-like rehearsed smiles, their stiff arms unlovingly wrapped around each other as they explained how they thought Joe should check another town. Maybe everyone was right, but he had a job to do. This town was smothered in mist; his duty now was to clear it.
Later, lying in his bed at the inn, Joe tossed and turned, incapable of sleeping for the myriad questions clouding his mind.
Looking up at the beams above his bed, he found himself contemplating further questions. Are these timbers really hundreds of years old? Where are the runic apotropaic marks carved onto them to ward off evil spirits? Where is the evidence of old woodworm damage? Likewise, the whitewashed wattle-and-daub walls smelled fresh and looked purer than an unworn bridal gown. This went beyond a clean inn; this was clinical and characterless.
Eerie screams from the mansion near the entrance to the mountains interrupted Joe’s chain of thought, leading him to visualise his present impressions more precisely.
“The only difference between that place and this whole town is that the mansion ghosts aren’t putting up a pretence! They may be the only real things left in this damned place!”
The creepy cacophony was soon accompanied by the raised voices of the married couple in the adjacent building. Joe climbed out of bed and tentatively peered out of the window to listen more intently.
“…and you could be right about him. If so, we have no choice!” argued the woman.
“But why even invite him, boss?” asked the flustered man.
“We need to iron out the creases.”
This was no lover’s quarrel. This conversation signaled a very different, businesslike relationship. More worryingly, Joe picked up on a Midgar twang in their accents which had been absent during their rather awkward conversations earlier in the day.
“Oh, mogballs! Are they undercover? Please don’t be Turks!” dreaded Joe.
The Turks were the bane of any private detective, for nobody but Shinra’s own had the legal right to do his kind of investigative work. The last thing he needed was Turks breathing down his neck.
The dog by the well barked loudly and seemed to swallow all other noises in Nibelheim. Joe ducked immediately. The ‘married couple’ leaned out of their window and looked in all directions before shutting it with a slam.
Joe gingerly peeped over the frame and noticed that the dog had yanked out its chain, dislodging a slab of stone as it ran off.
“The hellhound hath abandoned his post!” Joe laughed victoriously, then he crept down the steps and out the door to investigate.
Alongside a pile of water bottles near the hound’s bowl, Joe noticed that where the broken paving slab had been the earth was charred and ashy. Several loose slabs lay nearby. In fact, they all appeared to be rather hastily laid on the ground.
“There has been a fire here… A rather extensive one… But how…?”
He lifted up a stone, then another. The same. All of the ground had suffered in like manner. Then he encountered a bone, blackened and burned. A hand. Human.
“@$%&! What?!” Joe called out, his discovery akin to being struck by lightning.
He stumbled backwards and tripped over a large plastic water bottle. Flat on his back and frantically waving his limbs about like a struggling insect, Joe looked up at the well framed by a clear sea of stars. These calming, silent sentinels guarded the night, but he reasoned these soldiers of order would lend him no aid now.
“They’ve paved over their sins!”
The awful stench Joe had attributed to Mako on his arrival was most pungent here. It appeared to be originating from the well.
Rolling onto his front, Joe scurried along the ground and examined the water bottle which felled him. Sealed. It had the Shinra logo stamped on its label. This wasn’t drawing from the well. It was imported. Similar bottles, albeit empty, lay scattered near the dog bowl.
“Their well is a distinctive landmark of the town, yet not even the dog drinks of its water… Why?”
He had to check. He climbed up to the well and hesitantly peered inside.
What Joe saw sapped his remaining strength. He managed to steady himself on the side of the well so that he could turn his head and vomit onto the pavement below.
At this moment, the townspeople surrounded the foot of the well with lit torches.
Joe understood he was a cornered dog. Knowing now what they truly were, the brewing bomb of rage within him exploded.
They were silent, but the fake-wife climbed up to his level, her right hand behind her back. Joe knew now she wasn’t a Turk; even the Turks wouldn’t stoop this low.
“By Bahamut! This town has evidently suffered enough! Why insult its memory?”
“We’ll get it right next time…” she said coldly, then swiftly swung her right arm around and shot Joe in the chest.
Joe staggered backwards down into the well, the soft corpse of his informant, Penelope, breaking his fall. His gasping, blood-curdling voice resonated within the wooden chamber of the well.
“One day the t-truth will clear the mist! No cloud shall h-hide! No-“
A bullet ripped through Joe’s head, silencing him forever. His blood drained between fresh bodies and charred bones, mixing with the well’s unpotable soup; a hellish concoction suitable only for a toast to insult the memory of this sad town.
#3 - Untitled
#3 - Untitled
So you want to hear a story eh, well then sit your ass down around that campfire and grab those sticks, stab the marshmallows and make some g** d&^% smores. Now I will tell this tale of adventure, mishaps, carnage, and treasure. You see it all started one night on a strange communication system that is lost to man now, it's name lost to the legends passed down, but you don't need to know that. No what's important were the people and what they were talking about for that's where the real intrigue lies.
It began just like any other night when the one know as McGee after a drunken stupor and tinder date came into the room shouting in caps for no reason, “WELL THAT WAS A TOTAL BUST, THE NIGHT WAS TERRIBLE AND THE LASS WAS TELLING ME HOW SHE PRESERVED DEAD ANIMALS IN A JAR.” Now while most people would find this odd and the overwhelming use of caps lock a irritation to the eyes, not this magic box channel no sir, it was common place to see this and it's people have grown accosted to it. So instead it was a curious couple who asked about the preserved animals. Soulcorruptor asked, “You dated a girl who preserved dead animals, did she have any jars of other preserved dead things?” Adam quickly said he didn't stick around to ask and noped right out of the girls apartment, but not before Ryan came in and shared a story of a drunken bender and hiding a near dead body in a bathtub one night in a hotel room. So what do these two things ave in common you may ask, well they involved the dead and one ill fated moonlight conversation gave rise to them walking again as if they had life.Who knew hiding the body would be an unknown ritual to let the animals break out of their jars and let us have Pet Cemetery actually happen as we know it.
Now that the walking undead animal apocalypse has started you may ask what pour unfortunat....ahhem I mean brave souls would answer such a call to help, why none other then FFF'S own zombie/ghost hunting team! The Ghostbuster S.T.A.R.S. Unit. It consisted of Dionysos the master of all lore, Vircon the Piassia slayer and questionable savior of Erozea, Soulcorruptor the psychotic pyromaniac, and for some reason Paddy McGee the drunken idiot, only these four could answer the call to handle the undead plague. What about their mascot though you say of course they have one for it is the short loveable Linnaete who supports our crew by wearing the even more loveable Mishy costume, this may be due to the fact that she is also a Mishy fanatic herself, and shares this unbridled passion for Mishy with another character who we don't know. Long story short these five managed to put a rest to the undead rising, or some would think there may have been some that they let run away, but what matters is that everyone thinks they got rid of them all.
So with that are adventures did find some treasure, the people graciously paid them for killing the zombies and they found that helping people was it's own reward. “Wait that's it, I thought you said there was gonna be some real treasure and that was way to succinct to be a proper story, you need more detail.” “Shut it you dirty little orphan or your life is going to be succinct, also you're getting no dinner tonight.”
#4 - 'Zegnautus Keep'
#4 - 'Zegnautus Keep'
Gralea: seat of the Niflheim Empire. Atop this metropolis stood Zegnautus Keep – the culmination of the Niflheim Empire’s worst excesses. Fuelled financially by a reckless expansion of the military industrial complex at the expense of domestic economic affairs, this unsightly titan lingered over a sea of grey concrete and steel, fixed to the ground only with a thin elevator system and resembling an umbrella of iron.
Having now separated from his retinue of childhood friends, Noctis could only forlornly glance up at the fortress that awaited him. If nature had any sense of poetry, it was revelling in the pathetic fallacy, as heavy, unabated rainfall violently lashed down on a lightless necropolis that the imperial iron umbrella was unable to protect. Though still aching from the unceremonious separation from his friends and not knowing their fate, he had to press on for the sake of the Crystal.
Where was everyone? Daemons had run amok, scurrying along in the blackest of shadows, ever evasive of the city’s remaining light sources amidst a sunless sky. Yet there were no visible signs of human inhabitants or even a recognisably human corpse. Even once inside the fortress, replete with miles’ worth of iron and steel hallways, the only discernible sound reverberating through the air was of Noctis’s own perturbed heart rate, heavy breathing and footsteps.
It couldn’t be. At that very moment, a multitude of thoughts raced through his head all at once, creating ripples of mental whiplash that reacted violently with an ocean of palpable anxiety and terror already dwelling in his head. Thoughts ranged from the impossibility of it all to a feeling of sanctuary and relief that he had never felt as vividly in recent memory.
There, appearing from an adjacent room to one of the countless, identical iron hallways that comprised this impregnable labyrinth was a ghost. Or at least, it should have been a ghost, for her pale complexion and attire clashed conspicuously against the dreary, grey, half-lit darkness of the fortress walls.
“Luna…?” Noctis could only muster a shaking, barely audible vocal response. He struggled to countenance her presence. It really looked like her – those shimmering locks of golden-blonde hair juxtaposed with those vivid azure eyes that were trained on him. He could only reach out a hand to try and touch this spectre and his fingers found contact with flesh.
“Yes, I live,” she said, her tone too eerily serene given the current situation and context of their unlikely reunion, “I had to once again mask my escape by leaving behind the impression that I had perished. Noctis, I sincerely apologise for the deception and for not telling you. I had to escape alive and undetected by imperial forces...” She seemingly trailed off as she took Noctis’s hand and gently squeezed it assuredly. Her hands felt icy to the touch, though his trembling hands felt no warmer.
She had plenty more to say, regarding the sunless blight now befalling the world, how she surmised that Noctis and his retinue would journey to Gralea to seek out the Crystal, and her escapades while incognito. Yet Noctis struggled to absorb the words she was saying. All his anxiety, concern for his friends, the overwhelming weight of duty before him…Luna reappearing once again lit a powder keg of emotions and he could only tightly embrace her while tears trailed down his worn cheeks. Respite had felt so alien, so unattainable.
Daring to hope and rejuvenated by Luna’s gentle reassurance and presence, the journey through the remainder of the fortress no longer seemed utterly insurmountable. Noctis’s heart nearly skipped a beat when the pair of them crossed paths with Gladiolus and Ignis, both of whom expressed genuine shock and awe at Luna’s inexplicable presence.
“Lady Lunafreya, I too saw and thought you had perished, though I concede I wouldn’t have had full access to the faculty of my eyes,” joked Ignis in an uncharacteristically self-deprecating way. The poor man was after all, now blind and ironically more used to a world permanently cloaked in darkness than any of his friends.
“We should now look for Prompto,” said Gladiolus with his usual curtness, “that damned Chancellor must have him holed up in this daemon-ridden hellhole to screw around with us. We’re sticking together as a group. There is no way in Eos we’re splitting up and falling into one of Ardyn’s tricks again after having just found each other.”
Noctis solemnly nodded. Though elated and relieved to be reunited with most of his friends again, he was to blame for Prompto’s separation from the group during that fateful day on the train when another of Ardyn’s accursed sleights of hand had made a mockery of him.
Prompto himself was located in one of the fortress’s larger, albeit still anonymous research rooms. Unconscious, his hands bound and his body strapped to an iron chair resembling that of a prisoner already sentenced to death by electric chair, Prompto looked to have endured quite an ordeal. Upon waking, he too reacted to Luna’s presence with similar uncomprehending awe, followed by an aggressively relieved embrace by an emotionally turbulent Noctis.
“Noct…” said Prompto, “I knew you hadn’t given up on me. I was never mad at you, man. I still believed you the whole time – that you and all of us were being screwed around by Ardyn.”
Gladiolus characteristically shattered the emotional atmosphere of the full group reunion by pounding his left fist into his right palm.
“Alright. We’re all gonna find the Crystal, save this world and if Ardyn dares get in our way, that bastard is going to have his hat shoved through his skull.”
“That’s all well and good,” interjected Ignis, “but is it not utterly peculiar that we have heard nought from Ardyn the entire time we have been here? I for one am deeply concerned that this rare silence from him is a harbinger for something I scarcely wish to imagine.”
“No sense trying to imagine what that creep is planning now,” replied Gladiolus, “let’s just bust in to the Crys-“
The serenity was instantly ruptured and echoes rapidly ricocheted off the fortress’s metallic walls. What followed were alarmed exclamations of surprise by Prompto, a horrified scream by Luna and Noctis’s breathless gasps.
Gladiolus peered down and his brain finally registered the presence of a gaping bullet wound through his lower abdomen. Just as soon as he noticed, another shattering sound ensued followed instantaneously by a second hole through punctured flesh.
Pairs of eyes darted to the source of the shots. There, aiming at the fallen Gladiolus with inexplicably clear precision… was Ignis, with both of Prompto’s handguns emanating the fresh, mild scent of gunpowder.
“Gods, no!” cried Luna.
“IGNIS, WHAT THE HELL!” screamed Prompto, to which the blind man charitably responded by dropping the pistols. They clattered with twin heavy thuds to the steel floor. A wide smirk enveloped his scarred face and through his lips emanated a foreign voice.
“My apologies,” said the voice with excited delight, while a gloved right hand furtively fumbled through an inner pocket, “I never did master the art of subtlety.”
A gleaming projectile whistled through the air and before either Noctis or Luna could practically react, Prompto collapsed with hands clutched against his throat, overcome by grisly sounds of visceral gurgling and seeping blood.
Noctis erupted. Brandishing one of the many blades in his repertoire, he lunged forward, though steel never found its quarry. “Ignis” dematerialised and re-appeared metres away, now brandishing the flamboyant appearance of one Ardyn Izunia.
“If you’re curious, the unfortunate blind man never did get anywhere far,” his voice emanating pure oiliness, as he casually slipped his fedora atop his head, “let us say he…didn’t see what hit him.”
Though Noctis uttered another primal howl of anguished rage, a sight that sent his stomach plummeting to his feet stopped him.
Cracks and seams enveloped her face, like a delicate porcelain doll in its final moments. Rather than break like rigid porcelain, the skin condensed and tautly wrapped itself around bone. Her hair withered into ashen-grey clumps and her eyes slowly sunk into her skull. Fissures and boils erupted all over her skin, and extending bones forcibly jutted from the ends of her fingers, knees, toes and joints. Luna’s screams of unbridled terror and pain lasted only a minute before her violent transmogrification was complete.
What transpired next was an inhuman roar as the creature, now bereft of its free will and rationality, lunged itself at Noctis, who had stood stationery and in inconsolable shock. Now governed only the evolutionary parts of his brain that demanded self-preservation, the Prince could only act with instinct, cleanly striking at the abomination before him with a firm hand on steel.
A decapitated, convulsing head landed with a dull thud before Noctis’s feet, followed by the clang of a discarded sword. Noctis dropped heavily to his knees, quivering and sobbing.
“Your breath-taking bride is simply marvellous,” cackled Ardyn, “I feel like a veritable artist admiring his magnum opus. Her corpse was like fine clay, so malleable and easy to shape into any daemon I wished.
“Please, Your Majesty,” he continued, his tone simply dripping with wily, sardonic bemusement, “you’re no longer bound by concern for your companions’ wellbeing. The only path available to you now is to become the Chosen King. Let us go visit the Crystal. It doesn’t wish to wait any longer…”
BONUS - 'Joseph Brown'
By Squal Lionhard
[Note: This is just a fun little bonus entry and therefore won't appear on the poll!]
BONUS - 'Joseph Brown'
By Squal Lionhard
[Note: This is just a fun little bonus entry and therefore won't appear on the poll!]
It had been several months since Adam got rid of Joseph Brown. He was out of his hair now, or so he thought...
Adam bought a lovely Pikachu doll to celebrate the removal of his nemesis. He really loved Pikachu! It became his favourite toy in his bedroom and he used to read it bedtime stories and take it to the bath. He knew Pikachu liked these stories, even though it was a doll, as the darling had such a cute and happy smile.
Sadly the story did not end here.
One day when Adam was giving Pikachu his morning hug, he could have sworn he felt static tingling his beard! He thought that sort of thing was strange as it is but a toy, but maybe he rubbed it on his face too fast and it caused static or something. He went to work and thought nothing more of it, except for how much he missed his Pikachu.
That night he read Pikachu his night-night story (about the 800 years of oppression of Adam’s species) and then sang a happy song about lovely Clickers. Pikachu smiled, as he always smiled 24/7.
Adam turned off the light, stroked his beard, and attempted to sleep. But he couldn’t. There was light in his room. At first he thought it was his mobile. Maybe a Discord notification from Liv reminiscing about The Quiet Man. But it wasn’t. It was Pikachu! Sparks appeared to be shooting from his little cheeks!
Adam shook his head in disbelief and Pikachu appeared to be normal again. Maybe he was tired.
Adam tried to sleep again, but he could hear whispers.
Adam was not a fan of this situation at all and decided to sleep in his wardrobe to be safe. He managed to sleep and woke up in the morning without any incidents.
Taking it to be a dream, Adam was set to continue his routine of having his breakfast with Pikachu. But every time Adam turned round to use the toaster, Pikachu inched closer to him. Towards the knife. This was a troubling moment for Adam, for he loved his Pikachu dearly and did not want him anywhere near a knife.
Adam picked up his Pikachu but was shocked to find his eyes had turned into balls of lightning in protestation over being handled. Adam gasped and dropped the electric rodent to the ground.
“I have a defective Pikachu,” complained Adam, “so I should probably take it to a charity shop!”
As Adam returned to the room with a suitable bag, Pikachu attacked once again. It jumped on Adam’s face and electrocuted his nose. Then it leapt to the ceiling and crawled about upside down, shooting sparks about the room. All of the electrical equipment turned itself on and Pikachu started laughing at him.
But then Adam smacked Pikachu with an empty glass bottle and shoved him into his bag. Pikachu stopped immediately and appeared to be a normal plush again. Adam zipped up the bag.
“You’ve pi’d your last ka!” gloated Adam.
On the bus on the way to the charity shop Adam thought he might have heard the faint whispers of pika pika yet again, but maybe it was just the noise of the wheels. They have weird wheels sometimes in these parts. There were a few smelly passengers but otherwise the rest of the journey was quite pleasant.
At the charity shop, Adam removed Pikachu from the bag and plonked him on the counter to show him to the charity shop worker. The Pikachu was smiling, as he normally smiled.
“The empire state of this Pikachu!” sighed Adam while the curious worker nodded with curious interest.
Hopefully the Pikachu would behave well enough so that the shop would accept him.
Unfortunately the story continued and Pikachu’s smile turned sinister and he span around and bit into Adam’s finger.
“AAAH!” he said, alongside other phrases which cannot be transliterated.
Adam smacked the Pikachu off the counter, and Pikachu scurried away followed by a trail of blood. Adam’s finger was gone. He felt faint. The shop worker had already fainted.
Pikachu gulped down the finger and then licked his bloody lips.
“Pika pika!” he teased.
Pikachu then laughed maniacally as his tail stiffened and sparks began to shoot from his cheeks and tail. Pikachu was fully-charged and ready for his finisher. While Adam screamed like a castrated goat, Pikachu bolted straight into Adam’s chest, diving through his body and engulfing him in electrical energy. The blinding display ceased, only Adam and the charity worker remained.
Adam awoke in hospital. He felt surprisingly energetic. He was a new man. He had such an electric enthusiasm for life that he felt he could become the next Haley Joel Osment and soar through life with ease. Feeling good, Adam looked in the mirror at his bedside at the hospital. He examined his reflection.
It was Joseph Brown's face.
The transition was complete. He smiled sinisterly and called for the doctor.
“I'd like to discharge myself! I feel fine!”
Joseph Brown lived a long and happy life within the body of Adam. Nobody knows what happened to Adam....
Maybe we’ll wake up and find that this was all a dream… Or maybe this incident is yet to happen!