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Chapter 17 - Vol 5: Curtains Up

Within the halls of Dissidia Academy, life as a student is an adventure! Follow the Heroes of Final Fantasy as they fulfill the variety of challenges that lie before them, setting the path towards their future! However, underneath the depths of this highly established Academy ... lies a darkness that may throw the entire world into chaos.
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Chapter 17 - Vol 5: Curtains Up

Chapter 17 - Vol 5: Curtains Up
Two days ago …
 
“YOU’RE A WITNESS!?” Both Onion Knight and Terra Branford bellowed out in shock, almost leaping up from their seats.
Celes Chere had her fingers in her ears, having expected such a reaction from the two. The three were sitting on the circular bench situated around Crescent Lake; the surrounding atmosphere was close to quiet at this point in the day, only the natural sound of the local animal residence could be heard. The majority of visitors had either left for home or preoccupied themselves with where the sycamore tree had fallen over earlier in the day.
… At least this was the case before Celes announced to the two about her involvement in the court case.
“Could you two be any louder…?” Celes murmured with a sigh as she cautiously removed her fingers, relieved that her ears weren’t ringing. “Yes … I am officially a witness to Rydia’s Assault case.”
The two both gazed in surprise, mouths gaped and eyes wide open. Celes felt a shiver run up her spine, feeling as though she committed some sort of offence based on the reactions given.
“H-how is that possible?” Onion Knight questioned hesitantly, struggling to comprehend this sudden turn of events. “You were at the council meeting when the incident occurred, it wouldn’t have been possible for you to see it happen.”
Celes shook her head in dismissal, “I assure you, what I saw is eligible to the case.”
“And, what was it that you saw, Celes …?” Terra asked somewhat cautiously, showing some rare aggression in her tone.
Celes paused, biting the inside of her lip as though she was beating herself up over the matter. It was like invisible metallic chains were wrapped around her body, holding her down and preventing her from speaking her mind. Onion Knight noticed her inner restraint, his gaze sharpening and his body tensing up. Terra’s breath began to draw heavily, channelling Celes’ frustrations.
“I … I’m sorry. I-I can’t say.” Celes shook her head as she grounded her teeth, disappointed in herself. “Warrior of Light found me before I could get to you, and so placed me under a contractual agreement. I cannot reveal my testimony to anyone until I stand in court, and any potential evidence I had in relation to the case is now under his custody.”
Just like that, Onion Knight’s life drained away, his disheartened body slumping against the table like a lifeless corpse. Both Celes and Terra watched him lower in his grief, glancing towards one other with uncertain expression.
Clenching his fists, Onion Knight began to grumble, “I can’t believe this … so he’s now a few step ahead of us … this is EXACTLY what we need right now.”
There was a moment of silence during Onion Knight’s grovelling, no one able to break through this unsightly tone set upon them. With Onion Knight’s depressed aura, Terra was desperate to lighten the tone, yet struggled to find a satisfying solution. This was the case, until …
“… What if I were to tell you there’s a small loophole with Warrior of Light’s ‘agreement’?” Celes muttered with an abrupt yet cunning smirk, acting as though she was a bright light that swept away the looming darkness.
Onion Knight’s head darted up from his initial gloom to an alerted attention, hope springing back inside him in an instant. Terra watched curiously, wondering what Celes had to say.
“You see, my agreement with Warrior of Light was to specifically not speak a word about the detail of my testimony nor the evidence I submitted into Warrior of Light’s custody.” Celes reiterated to them, however worded it as though this was now some sort of riddle. “… However, the agreement never specified the evidence I ‘have yet’ to submit.”
A light gasp escaped Onion Knight’s breath in anticipation, the realisation of this ‘loophole’ clicking in. Terra was also swift to realise this ‘loophole’, however was unsure about this revelation.
“Celes … does this mean you purposefully concealed evidence from Warrior of Light?” Terra cautiously questioned, her eyes sharpening as she spoke her mind.
Celes paused before answering, considering the approach to her answer. She knew how aware Terra could be based on the amount of time they have known each other, and so was careful not to hide anything from her.
“I wouldn’t word it in such a way, but … yes.” Celes admitted, swaying her answer.
In that instant, before either Onion Knight or – especially – Terra could object to such a reckless decision, Celes placed a hand up to halt them in their tracks. She was fully aware of the legality and morality of temporarily withholding evidence from the prosecution and the court, and so didn’t need the unnecessary lecture. Onion Knight and Terra stayed firm on their seats, holding back their urge to speak for the time being.
“Please understand my reasoning, you two.” Celes requested, before continuing on. “I handed over some of the evidence in my possession to Warrior of Light, as he had requested under his agreement. They were small, but they were suitable enough. However, I couldn’t allow Warrior of Light to see the remainder of the evidence as it would have swayed the case far too much in his favour. I’m not going to take sides … but I’d prefer for a fair trial, as I’m sure we can all agree on.”
Onion Knight fell silent as he took her words in for consideration, he understood her reasoning and was certainly grateful, yet part of him was uncertain due to the legality and morality of the situation. Terra seemed to sway more towards the morally correct answer; however he couldn’t let such an opportunity pass him by.
“… and besides, I never said that I ‘wouldn’t’ submit the remaining evidence to Warrior of Light.” Celes then decided to add, just to round out any holes in her explanation.
“That’s all fine; you’ve made your point clear.” Onion Knight responded immediately, his eyes lit up with anticipation. “If possible, could you show us the evidence?”
Celes nodded without another word, reaching underneath the table. There, leant against one of the bench legs, was a designer pouch bag. What emerged after were several photographs, some were of identical images yet focused in on various angles. In addition was a singular silver earing, slightly marked and scratched.
Celes displayed the evidence across the circular table, laid clearly in front of both Onion Knight and Terra. The two glanced over the new evidence with gradual inspection, eyes wide as they scanned each image. Celes sat back and watched them unravel their minds, giving off the sense that new pathways were opening.
From what the two gathered, the photos consisted of 3 core areas: the first was an open window, seeming skewed and yanked apart; the second was a damaged blazer stuffed in one of the Academy cupboards, small holes and opening breaking through the fabric as if punctured or forcefully ripped; the third and final were spots of blood and small strands of brown and green hair scattered among the floor of the room. Moving onto the silver earing, as what was initially seen, the small markings and scratches were certainly evident. Onion Knight began to peer closer, analysing the bead-like jewellery from all angles. Nothing else could be seen standing out from this position, however there were indications that seemed to prove this earing was certainly worn recently.
“Where were these taken?” Terra was first to speak up, still concentrating on the photos.
“I took them in Laboratory Room 1, 5th floor of the Academy.” Celes answered with honesty, her arms crossed.
Onion Knight’s focus shifted in an instant, his expression lighting up with sudden surprise.
“That’s only along the hall from the Food Tech room and the Art Studios!” He exclaimed, the new information in his mind bouncing everywhere.
“That’s right.” Celes nodded, although that wasn’t what she had in mind. “However, more importantly … it’s almost directly above the 4th floor’s Math’s Room 3.”
“How were you able to find these, Celes?” Onion Knight questioned intensely, unable to grasp the possibility of just stumbling on these.
There was another pause, Celes calming her mind before she began her answer.
“After Friday’s Court Trial, when everyone left for home, I decided to do some of my own digging.” She admitted, somewhat hesitant of her answer. “I cannot say much, but I can admit that it was in relation to my testimony on how I was able to find these.”
Onion Knight felt his teeth clench, frustrated on the whole ‘agreement’ ordeal Warrior of Light seemed to have implemented. However, brushing past such nuisance, he switched back to the evidence at hand. His fingers tapping against the bench table as he continued analysing. However, a question of concern formed just as he oversaw the photos.
“Are original evidence in the photos still in the room?” He wondered to Celes, glancing up at her curiously.
“I left them just the way they were when I took the photos.” Celes answered instantly, giving a light shrug. “I didn’t want to tamper with the evidence, so the original blazer and the strands of hair should still be in the room.”
A combination of alarm and uncertainty suddenly crossed Onion Knight’s mind at the moment. Terra noticed his uncertainty in an instant, glancing up from the photos.
“How likely do you reckon they would still be there now…?” Onion Knight lowly murmured, indicating that he already assumed the worst possible outcome. “In fact, why leave it there in the first place?”
“That would depend on the person – or people – that you’re dealing with here.” Celes answered for him. “You would assume they wouldn’t be foolish enough to forget something so vital. That being said, they could have left it there on purpose as a means of a controlled or false trail.”
“That wouldn’t make much sense.” Terra decided to speak her mind at that point, “Surely the culprit would want to hide such crucial evidence.”
Onion Knight shook his head, “Not necessarily, there is a strong possibility that this culprit is toying with us; otherwise they would have disposed of the blazer by now and hidden those traces of evidence. To them, this is a simple crude game.”
Terra and Celes kept silent at that point, thinking about this entire ordeal.
Onion Knight switched topic slightly, a thought appearing just as he spoke, “There are no signs of Rydia’s Hair Ornament in the photos. Celes, were you able to spot anything regarding the missing ornament?”
Celes shook her head glumly, “No luck there, I’m afraid. I checked everywhere in that Lab thoroughly, but this was all I could gather.”
Onion Knight sighed, figuring as much. However, Terra wasn’t convinced. Something had caught her eye among the various photos yet she couldn’t quite place her figure on it. She glanced back to the photos, her eyes focused as she drowned out the world around her. Onion Knight followed her gaze, wondering what caught her attention.
“These hairs …” Terra murmured, pinpointing the specific photos that caught here attention. “Something seems off with them.”
Onion Knight and Celes both peered over the photos of the hairs and spots of blood, analysing where Terra was indicating. The two couldn’t see the issue, glancing both at the photos and at Terra with confused expressions. However, it was then when a question came to Onion Knight’s mind: Why were these hairs on the 5th Floor of the Academy when the actual incident had occurred on the 4th floor?
Just at that moment, Terra perked up in sudden alert, finally finding the abnormality of the photos.
“Zidane’s hair and tail fur are missing in these photos.” Terra confided with the two, tapping her finger. “We found his tail fur amongst the other hairs in the room where the incident occurred, yet it’s missing here.”
A sudden gasp escaped Onion Knight’s breath, noticing what Terra was referring towards. Peering over the photos as to what felt like the thousandth time, Onion Knight was able to reflect upon what they had found during their investigation at the crime scene. This new revelation, along with his previous question on the positioning of the hairs, caused Onion Knight’s mind to open with new questions and possibilities.
“This is the evidence we need.” Onion Knight declared with revived confidence, “As long as we can distinguish that these photos were shot on the 5th Floor, it will be a compelling enough argument against Zidane’s guilty verdict and is guaranteed to throw Warrior of Light off his game.”
“How will we be able to do that?” Terra wondered somewhat warily, knowing the photos alone would be too vague to prove as legitimate evidence.
“All you would need is a source to link the photos with the scene, something that I can do fairly easily.” Celes answered with pride, a grin forming as she spoke.
Terra couldn’t help but smile back, knowing her long-time friend all too well. One of Celes’ many charms was her resourcefulness and the pride that embodied her. If a certain situation was to arise, her first priority would always be to cover every related aspect possible before finding the solution. In the past, Terra had been saved by Celes’ prideful initiative on various occurrences.
With that, Celes rose from her seat, feeling that their small meeting was reaching its climax. Onion Knight and Terra gathered up the new evidence, compiling the photos together in a bundle and placing the marked earing in a clear pouch.
“You two can keep the photos and the earing in preparation for the court trial.” She then ushered to the two, “I’ll print updated copies with marked citations for validation.”
Terra was the first to respond, shifting from the table to embrace her friend with absolute gratitude, “Thank you, Celes. Your help means so much to us; I don’t think we’ll be able to repay you enough.”
“Well, I’m just happy to serve my part in this whole fiasco.” Celes sighed with a light grin, returning the embrace.
She then turned to Onion Knight, who approached her with a confident expression that she could relate to.
“So, it seems that the next time we’ll meet will be on the court stand, if not before.” He coolly shrugged, making light of the situation.
Celes nodded back. However, just as she did, her expression dropped in an instant. It seemed as though a thought crossed her mind, one crucial enough to change the environment within a drop of a hat. Onion Knight caught this shift in atmosphere, his gaze sharpening to a cautious glare.
“Just a few words of warning before I take my leave …” Celes began to caution him, deciding to speak her mind. “When you take the Defence stand, Warrior of Light will use every trick and strategy up his sleeve to overpower you. He’s become even more ruthless than ever in order to prove Zidane’s guilt.”
Onion Knight tensed up, his teeth grounded and his hands clenched. He knew Warrior of Light’s inhumane determination was sending the fool over the edge of his own ego, however to hear this from Celes made Onion Knight process the challenge that was set waiting to confront him.
However, what Celes was about at say next would haunt Onion Knight for the remaining days leading up towards the definitive court trial.
“In addition to that … Squall Leonhart will be testifying against Zidane.” She muttered, the serious aura completely engulfing her. “Keep your wits about you, Onion Knight; Squall is hiding many truths under that lone wolf guise of his. Come court day, he’ll be your most dangerous opponent.”
 
Present day – Monday 17th September (8:10am) …
 
Onion Knight stood amongst the crowd of chattering students at the centre of Dissidia Academy’s grounds, gazing off into the far abyss. His mind in a complete trance, Onion Knight was completely oblivious of his surroundings. His thoughts were engulfed with recapping the progression of the court case and mentally preparing what he was soon to face.
Some of the students around him were occasionally glancing towards his direction, wondering why he was standing so idle. A few were even whispering to one another about him dazed appearance, wondering if the upcoming trial was triggering his nerves. In general, there were mixed emotions generating within the groups of students: some were exhilarated for the trial, raring to see how the intense drama would continue to unfold; others were more critical, either picking sides in relation to who would win between Onion Knight or Warrior of Light or finding this whole state of affairs ridiculous to say the least. Even the weather surrounding the Academy was mixed; dark, rain-bearing clouds passing overhead with small breakages of sunlight.
Just then, a whispering voice chanted Onion Knight’s name from the depths of his mind, gradually growing louder as each second passed.
“… Onion Knight … Onion Knight.” The low voice whispered on, the origin of the voice somewhat familiar.
Onion Knight stayed frozen in his vacant trance, sighing away.
“O-Knight … O-Knight …!” The voice called out in a louder tone, trying desperately to get his attention.
Yet there was still no answer, Onion Knight completely oblivious to the voice that called for him.
There was then a small pause, the world around Onion Knight falling into blissful silence.
… And yet, this moment of peace could never be realty.
“OI, LUNETH! WAKE UP ALREADY!” The voice bellowed out in frustration, finally losing patience.
Onion Knight snapped back to reality, his eyes wide and alert. With the surrounding world back in his sights, his eyes were met with the first image of this familiar world.
“Wha…? – WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!” Onion Knight screamed at the top of his lungs, his entire body leaping back in fright.
Due to the sheer momentum of his leap, Onion Knight stumbled and collided against the stubbly concrete ground below him. No pain was felt as he hit the ground, his eyes frozen in place as he stared at the cause of his abrupt horror. The surrounding academy students had turned and watched his melodramatic reaction with completely bewildered expressions, unable to grasp the reason behind the sudden outburst.
That was the case, until they too saw it …
There, standing directly in front where Onion Knight once stood, was the face of absolute nightmares: A face widely stretched to its limits; the entirety of its teeth bare as one enormous grin; bloodshot eyes blank and completely dead inside; its body standing idle with arms and legs solidified like a statue; and finally, an engulfing aura that sucked the soul out of its victims. The fact that this was directly, almost nose-to-nose, in front of Onion Knight made the whole situation worse.
This grotesque ‘thing’ would have been completely unrecognisable … if not for the swishing blonde-furred tail.
“W-What in the name of … Z-Zidane!?” Onion Knight blurted out, struggling to speak with his heart racing at such a ferocious pace.
Zidane stood motionless, his forced back grotesque face evidently being held by a pair of hands either side of his head. Many of the surrounding students had jumped back in fright, almost in similar fashion to Onion Knight’s own reaction. Others, having noticed these reactions occur, held the terrified students in place so they would keep their balance and even consciousness.
However, it was then when Onion Knight caught sight of the ‘true’ culprit of this disturbing display, having realised that Zidane was only being used as a tragic object.
“Wow … that wasn’t the reaction I was expecting at all.” Bartz admitted in honesty, appearing from behind Zidane with a somewhat concerned yet disappointed expression. “I thought you would get a kick out of Zidane’s ‘Happy-Face’.”
The entire school grounds fell dead silent, even the sounds breezing winds and the chirping birds had disappeared …
“… Bartz …” Onion Knight murmured with an eerie tone, his head lowered and eyes out of view.
Bartz’s expression dropped, his senses suddenly warning him of trouble brewing in the air. He stood frozen in place, droplets of sweat sliding down his skin as he continued to hold Zidane’s face in position.
“Y-yes, Lune – Ah! I mean … err … Onion Knight?” Bartz stuttered in fear, finally realising the consequences of his actions.
Abruptly, Bartz felt his entire body get thrown off of his feet, his body crashing against the ground with a large Thump! He was able to release his hold on Zidane’s face just before he was lifted from the ground, causing Zidane’s warped appearance to reverse back to normal. Zidane was in a world of his own, just as Onion Knight had been not long previous, and was completely oblivious to what was occurring just behind him.
Onion Knight had rugby-tackled Bartz to the ground, towering over him with a solid grasp on his collar. His eyes were wild with uncontrollable fury; pupils lit up like a fiery flame as though a raging animal from within had escaped from its leash. Students began to surround them, watching this peculiar display unfold in the centre of the Academy Grounds.
“NOT ONLY DO YOU SPOUT MY REAL NAME IN PUPLIC WITHOUT MY PERMISSION, YOU ALSO DECIDE TO SCARE ME AND SEVERAL OTHERS HALF-TO-DEATH!” Onion Knight roared out, his grip around Bartz’s collar tightening. “IT’S TIME FOR YOU TO PERISH, BARTZ KLAUSER!”
“Eek!” Bartz whimpered, closing his eyes shut and bracing for impact. “I’m sorry-I’m sorry-I’m sorry-I’m sorry-I’m sorry-I’m sorry-I’m sorry-I’M SORRY, ONION KNIGHT!”
However, just as Onion Knight was about to lay down his wrath upon the whimpering Bartz, a hand had grasped his wrist. He was pulled away against his will, distancing himself from Bartz.
“Onion Knight, stop!” Terra called to him, hoping to put some sense back into his mind, “You can’t just go and start lashing out on Bartz! We don’t need both you and him in trouble with the teachers, especially as we already have enough on our plates with the court case right now!”
Terra Branford had seen the commotion – and, on a side-note, heard Onion Knight’s scream of horror – centring the grounds of the Academy. After struggling to break though the choking crowd, she caught Onion Knight kneeling over Bartz as he was about to land a blow. Without even needing to think, she intervened just before the situation grew worse.
Onion Knight brushed her grasp away from his wrist, glancing away in scorn as he fixed his uniform. After what seemed like a large number of inaudible mumbles, he decided to argue his reasoning in a prideful manner.
“I don’t see the issue.” Onion Knight grumbled back to her, giving a pouting shrug. “Was there not a new rule embedded by the Academy recently stating that: ‘It is allowed for students and staff to punish Blartz Klauser whenever he was to commit to something moronic’?”
“I’VE NEVER HEARD OF THIS!” Bartz abruptly protested to the two, finding such a ruling ludicrous and contrived.
… He was ignored.
Terra sighed, finding this entire situation ridiculous. With crossed arms, she attempted to rationalise the situation.
“So … why did you ‘lay down your wrath’ on Bartz?” Terra questioned him, curious to the reason why there was a scream not too long ago.
Onion Knight froze up, muscles tensing up abruptly. It was then, when Terra made her mistake.
“Ah, you want to know, Terra?” Bartz suddenly popped up from behind her, causing her to squeak with a jump of fright. “Why don’t I show you instead? I bet you’ll love it!”
Onion Knight switched towards Bartz with desperation, “WAIT, BARTZ, DON’T SHOW HER!”
… However, it was too late.
Bartz had swivelled the absentminded Zidane around towards Terra, his expression lit up like a beaming candle. Without a second hesitation, he showed her Zidane’s ‘happy-face’.
Terra froze in position, her eyes wide and blank as her thoughts struggled to process was she had just now witnessed. Onion Knight turned away bitterly, sorrowful that he wasn’t able to prevent the travesty from occurring one again.
Silence once again roamed the heavy air, spits of rain beginning to fall from the shadowing clouds above. Dissidia Academy stood its ground, sitting patiently under the eerily quiet atmosphere. However, this silence had only lasted for a few seconds longer, as what followed was a very uncanny event.
“EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEKKKKKKK!!!!!” A high-pitched horrified scream echoed across the grounds, alerting everything from a mile radius.
What then followed was a sudden radiant light, engulfing the entirety of the Academy in an instant flash. The light was blinding, preventing any creature the gift of sight for several looming seconds. However, I loud voice was then heard, shouting out at the top of his lungs in frustration.
“OH, COME ON ALREADY!!!”
Bartz was the first to experience the unpredictable wrath of Terra Branford.
 
Dissidia Academy’s 2nd Floor Corridor – 9:00am …
 
“You could have warned me she would erupt like that, Onion Knight.” Bartz moaned towards his classmate, his entire body feeling as though it was slowly breaking apart in the most painful way on every step he took. “Man … why do things like this always happen to me? What have I done to deserve such treatment!?”
“For the thousandth time, Bartz; if you had only taken a small moment to think of your actions before pursuing them, you wouldn’t keep ending up in these situations of yours.” Onion Knight sighed back in frustration, his mind finally cooled down back to normal.
Class 13A had just finished their first morning Homeroom of the new week, now wondering over towards their first lesson of the day: Music. As the Academy had set their class schedules on a two week rotation, Class 13A had yet to begin their Music subject for the year, among others. No one, not even the Class/Council President himself, knew who their teacher was going to be for this year, seemingly shrouded in secrecy without any hint or clue.
“I wonder … what will our teacher be like?” Tidus, striding towards the front of the group eagerly, chuckled away as he allowed his imagination run wild. “It would be SO awesome if he was into Rock and Metal! He could even make Class 13A become the band ‘Rock 13A’ … or something along on those lines.”
Next to him was Cloud, acting in his usual groggy morning mood. With a yawn and a shrug, he brushed Tidus’ speculations away like it was a bug.
“I just hope he isn’t boring.” Cloud then added, “The last thing I need is learning about music that would send me off to sleep … although, now that I think about it–”
“Dude, you need to be more energized!” Tidus interrupted, refusing to let Cloud finish his sentence. “Sleeping is such a waste of time! I mean, come on, how are you meant to get anything done if you sleep constantly the day away? Such an overrated concept, I say!”
Cloud groaned lowly, not even bothering to correct Tidus on his severely flawed statement. Another yawn escaping him, Cloud gazed off into the distance as he followed alongside his eccentric friend.
Not far behind Cloud Strife and Tidus was Warrior of Light, keeping up his usual tough stride and posture as he stepped on towards the Class 13A’s destination. That being said, his mind seemed to be elsewhere, not speaking a word to anyone else as he seemed to be focused on the ‘crucial’ event that has yet to come. Directly behind were Firion and Cecil Harvey, discussing casually about the weekend passed and the drama revolving around the upcoming court trial. Onion Knight and Bartz Klauser followed on from behind, as also did the currently zoned-out Zidane Tribal and a hidden away Terra Branford. Finally, straggling at the very back of the group was Squall Leonhart, his hands deep in his pockets and his constant uncaring tone as clear as day.
“Actually, why DID you force Zidane to make that grotesque ‘happy-face’?” Onion Knight began to wonder, realising he had not found the reason behind Bartz’s odd idea.
Bartz hesitated, finding his words. Onion Knight raised an eyebrow in curiosity, noticing the hesitant pause.
“W-well, you see, with everyone in such a serious and dull mood because of the ‘assault incident’ – especially you and Zidane – I thought it would be nice to add some positive touches into the mix.” Bartz admitted to him, nervously biting the inside of his lip as he spoke. “With Zidane in such a daze this morning, I was rather desperate and wanted to see his crafty smile once again.”
“Really … THAT is your reason?” Onion Knight murmured, eyeing Bartz with a critical glare.
“Come on, man, give me a break.” Bartz then lightly pleaded, tired of being given such scornful looks from people. “I didn’t mean to screw up like that; seriously, I did it with good intentions.”
“Is that so … with ‘good intentions’ you say.” Onion Knight lowly teased back, a half-baked grin forming his lips. “Well, if it was part of your oh-so ‘good nature’ or not, the one you should apologise to right now is walking directly behind us.”
Bartz felt his heart melt with guilt, knowing exactly what Onion Knight was referring to. Ever since the earlier morning’s sudden ‘light explosion’, Terra had kept her distance far from the rest of Class 13A. The sheer amount of embarrassment caused her mind to cave in on itself and forced her into a timid shell of her usual self. Hiding behind her group of classmates, she was barely able to cope with the overwhelming humiliation that was drilled deep within her mind.
Onion Knight felt sorry for her predicament, knowing it would be a while until she would be able to return to her former self. Bartz, on the other hand, didn’t know what to do; he was constantly racking his brain in order to find a solution to Terra’s timid condition. Yet, no matter what came to mind, he felt far too aware of the negative implications any of his wild ideas could have to the rest of the class, let alone Terra herself. He was burnt out completely, hoping for a miracle.
However, as they fell silent approaching their classroom, Music Room 1, an unexpected voice suddenly perked up.
“Man, why are my cheeks throbbing so much?” Zidane wondered to himself, soothing his aching cheeks as he walked.
Bartz was the first to whip his head around, his eyes lighting up with sudden glee. Onion Knight turned not long behind, surprise hitting him. Zidane glanced back with confusion, wondering why they were giving him such odd expressions.
“Back from the world of dreams, I see.” Onion Knight chucked out, amused by his abrupt return to reality
“Hmm, yeah, I guess you could say that.” Zidane pondered the thought, lightly scratching his chin.
Beaming with an enthusiastic grin that could rival Tidus, Bartz strode beside his ‘partner in crime’ with renewed confidence.
“Ah-hahaa! See, Onion Knight, I knew my plan would work!” Bartz chuckled away, becoming all sure of himself.
“What plan …?” Zidane questioned his friend, struck completely confused.
Onion Knight gave a low, exhausted sigh, “If that was a part of your plan, Bartz, then it was certainly delayed.”
However, Onion Knight then switched to Zidane, deciding to shift topic.
“So, why were you in such a daze, Zidane?” Onion Knight queried his classmate, curious to see what was going on lately in that mind of his. “Was the upcoming court trial getting to you?”
Zidane tilted his head side to side as he answered back, “Sort of, it’s a bit of a combination between that and …”
“And what?” Onion Knight echoed, wary of the pause.
Taking a deep breath, Zidane finished his answer, “… And what is just about to start.”
Onion Knight’s gaze sharpened cautiously as he heard Zidane’s answer, wondering what he would mean by such a phrase. As he turned his sights back towards the front, he realised the class had reached their destination.
In front of them was a singular door, just like any other door in the Academy. Situated at the centre was a nameplate, read as ‘Music Theatre 1’. It seemed to be modified version of the usual nameplates situated around the Academy, this change based on the shift from the simple ‘Room’ to a supposed ‘Theatre’. The Class was sceptical at first, thinking it was some sort of ruse to make the lesson sound ‘unique’.
Oh, how they were wrong.
Warrior of Light took lead, reaching out towards the handle of the room. However, just before he could make contact, the door clicked open on its own. The students glanced amongst one another with confusion, having no clue what to expect when they were to walk passed this door.
All except Zidane, his body tensed and ready.
“Guys … cover your ears.” He warned the group.
His fellow classmates returned with a combined ‘Huh?’, yet they didn’t have to wait for a reason. Just then, as the door creaked fully open, an orchestrated sound of a church organ began to rise. What followed were more of the same instrument, in unison with the same note, only at different pitches. It was an odd sensation, feeling as though these combined instruments were ready for the class to make their next move
Warrior of Light stepped through, deciding not to hold off any longer. The rest followed in his footsteps, wary of this omniscient feeling that grew inside each of them. Zidane held back from the rest slightly, placing his fingers in the ears before taking the one step further.
The entire class was struck with sudden awe, observing their new surroundings with inspiration and wonder in their eyes. It truly looked like a music theatre! Directly in front were enclosed red and gold velvet curtains, surrounded by curving polished desks. The walls and ceiling were all decorated with a uniquely themed background, giving off the impression of the clear night sky with the hundreds of numerous glinting star shards and dark blue sky. In addition to this, there were surround sound speakers engulfing the top corners of the walls, linked up ready to deliver a world of sounds. And finally, situated behind the desks, was an enormous pipe organ, towering over the class with its rising rows of metallic pipes.
The class took their designated seats, eyes darting everywhere as they found name tags on their desks. Taking in the wondrous view, they all perched on their seats, placing bags down ready to set up for the lesson.
It was then when the shock of their lives struck them, as the organ began to play a more elevated, fast-paced track. The engulfing sounds set the stage, as a singular being descended from the heavens above. The man, hovering without a single string attached, smoothly landed on the stage without a sound whatsoever from his rather distinct, buckled black boots. He had an effeminate, sleek appearance, his long silver hair flowing with such grace and attention to presentation. Unlike the usual yet simple styled suits of the other teachers in the Academy, this teacher took on a form of his own design, perfectly complete with a light robe and long sleeves lengthened over his arms like a pair of white, angelic wings.
As his head rose up, his pale complexion and light blue eyes glistened against the lights of the stars dangling from above. One could consider such care of appearance as overbearing, however the teacher preferred to use the term as ‘dedication to the art of Music’.
The teacher chuckled out loud with a prideful tone, bowing to his subjects as though he was a conductor of an orchestra. Gazing towards his new students, the teacher began to clap his hands together in time with the organ. He held his arms outwards, showing off the full extent of his appearance and his adoration for music.
“Class 13A, I welcome thee to the beautiful World of Music.” The teacher began his much-prepared introduction, small chuckles escaping as he spoke out. “I, your ever so invincible Conductor Kuja, shall direct you through the magnificent utopia of sounds, symphonies and melodies.”
Just then, the velvet curtain rose from behind Kuja, revealing a wall of blinding light. He pointed towards his audience, a cunning grin displaying as he directed his next line.
“Now then … It’s time to begin our show!” 

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