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Chapter 21 - Arc 3 (3): Broken Emotions

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.

Chapter 21 - Arc 3 (3): Broken Emotions

Chapter 21 - Arc 3 (3): Broken Emotions
Friday 14th September – Dissidia Academy’s 5th Floor Corridor … 16:00pm.

The halls of the Academy were completely silent, not even a sound of student voices or footsteps could be heard echoing in the distance. The atmosphere was full of ambience and tranquillity, as though resting from the chaos of a typical academic day. It was an undeniably odd sensation – rather eerie to imagine, in some respect – yet it was certainly warranted.
Far down the spacious 5th Floor corridor, one would eventually reach Laboratory Room 1, its door standing firm amongst its place in a row of various roomed doors. There were faint signs of rustling and movement that could be heard through its very slight opening, giving off the vibe that someone was rushing around on the other side of the door.
After some time, the door finally burst open.
Celes Chere exited the room with haste, immediately closing the door behind her as she was adamant to contain the important substances within. She stood there momentarily, hand grasped firm on the door handle as her hesitant eyes peering through the small window. She was beginning to contemplate if her recent actions were the right decision, aware of the consequences if the truth was ever found out.
*Sigh…*
She shook her head, deciding there was no point in having second thoughts at this point. The deed was done, all that mattered now was how it would ultimately impact the court case. With a reassured glance, she nodded to herself and walked off down the corridor towards the staircase.
There was a sense of urgency rushing through her mind, wishing to leave the Academy as soon as possible. Yet, her patient steps down the spiralling staircase indicated otherwise, showing her awareness of raising suspicion to herself if she were to give in to her haste and insecurity. It was tough, however Celes knew she had to follow this through.
And then, just as she passed the entrance to the 4th Floor Corridor, she halted her steps in surprise. A figure stood in her way, seemingly heading up to the top floor. Her heart was racing, cursing herself as she had to re-evaluate her situation.
“Celes? Why are you still here?” The voice of the figure questioned curiously, equally surprise of her sudden appearance.
“I could ask you the same thing, Warrior of Light.” Celes expressed in return, firmly holding her ground.
Warrior of Light, who had been on various small errands since the final ring of the bell for the day – both as the Council President and the Prosecutor for the current court case – was now on his way to the top floor in order to retrieve his belongings from the Council Room. The day had finally ended for him, so it was to his complete surprise that there was another student – a fellow Council Member, for that matter – still inside the building.
For as long as Celes could remember him, Warrior of Light was usually the last of the students to leave the Academy, always finding some sort of excuse or reason to stay behind. His inhumane devotion to the Academy was the one aspect to his character that no one would dare question or criticize, regardless of if it was truly a benefit to anyone.
In a way, Celes previously couldn’t help but feel inspired whenever he was around, even though there were plenty of occasions when she had an alternate clashing outlook to his own. However, right now was a different situation entirely. He was a formidable rival in this battle for the truth, and his recent actions and mindset throughout this case confirmed that he could be a potential threat to Celes if she were to slip up this very moment.
Warrior of Light narrowed his brow, noticing Celes’ expression waver as she had spoken, “You seem rather fidgety, Celes. Would you tell me what’s on your mind?”
Celes felt her entire body abruptly clench up, wishing she had kept focus on her own body language. At first, she had the desire to reactively state: ‘Nothing. I’m Fine.’ Yet, she just couldn’t bring herself to say it, knowing that there was a better solution to resolve this unexpected encounter. Warrior of Light continued to glare at her, increasingly suspicious of her odd behaviour.
Much to her bitter disdain, there was one solution she could think of.
With a sigh, she finally answered him, “I have something I need to show to you…”
As time shifted forward, Celes had directed Warrior of Light to Lab Room 1, feeling the sense of dread as each step brought her closer to the room she had left not long ago. Admittedly, Warrior of Light was the last person she wanted to stumble across, the thought of his unwavering strive to find Zidane Tribal the guilty verdict still embedded deep within her consciousness.
She would have much rather bumped into Onion Knight and Terra.
The two were now situated within the very room, Celes standing over Warrior of Light in observation as he lowered himself to thoroughly inspected the new pieces of evidence. He first analysed the forced open window, being the first thing out of place he could see as he entered the room. He then shifted over to the various hairs scattered across the floor, daring not to pick up or touch a single hair in fear of accidentally tampering with the scene.
Finally, as if saving the best for last, he moved onto the damaged blazer stuffed within the cupboard. As he opened up the cupboard, he stood silent for a brief moment, frozen in place as his piercing eyes stared over the crumpled heap of a blazer. It was at this moment that Celes felt the surrounding atmosphere tension, as if attempting to choke her out.
Is he getting suspicious? Her mind wondered cautiously, sweat beginning to appear from her forehead. Will he want to question me?
And then, after what seemed like an eternity, Celes noticed Warrior of Light beginning to shake his head. She froze up, her sanity almost on edge at this point. She didn’t know how long she could take this unbearable feeling of guilt, contemplating whether it was worth giving away her secret at this point.
“Disgusting!” Warrior of Light growled underneath his breath, “To think that someone would have the nerve of leaving their valuable blazer in such an unsightly state. It’s barbaric, to say the least.”
Oh… Celes then murmured in realisation, now feeling both rather disappointed and embarrassed of her inner emotions getting the better of her.
Warrior of Light turned back to her, having carefully closed up the cupboard as if in respect for the blazer’s wellbeing. Celes could tell immediately that through his displeasure, Warrior of Light was certainly enlightened by this new revelation. However, a question had surfaced: how would he utilise this new information?
“Does any other soul know of this?” He then asked her in his serious tone, expressing the severity of the situation.
‘Soul’…? Celes’ mind echoed as she glanced at him oddly, wandering if this use of the term was one of Warrior of Light’s typical phrasing.
In response, she shook her head truthfully, “No, not that I know of…”
Warrior of Light nodded back to her, accepting her answer before going deep into thought. This constant pausing and sense of uneasiness was beginning to truly take an effect on Celes, agitating her beyond belief. At this point, all she wanted to do was be done with this and leave.
At that very moment, to Celes’ astonishment, she caught a glance of an image that would threw her off entirely. Warrior of Light gave off an analytic aura that was different than usual … one that sent a shiver down her spine.
“Be honest with me, Celes.” Warrior of Light then muttered, his stern expression as unbreakable as can be. “What other evidence have you found?”
*GASP!?*” Celes let out in shock, her eyes widened in shock upon hearing his question.
She was speechless, wondering how in the world Warrior of Light would have assumed such a thing. In addition to this, the fact that he was correct in his assumption that she still had secrets yet to surface was, to her, both astounding … and frightening at the same time.
Biting the inside of her lip, Celes had no choice but to answer him.
“I found … Rydia’s Hair Ornament.”
 
Present Day…
 
Celes now stood frozen in place on the Witness Stand, completely silent as her expression was hidden within the depths of her lengthy blond hair.
The entire audience of the court were lost for words on what they had just witnessed, acting as though time itself had frozen over entirely. The footage seen was now on repeated playback, as if trying to clarify itself that this was reality and not just a nightmare. On the Court Stage, not a word could be spoken, for all eyes were set analysing every detail of the repeating footage.
Only two people in the entire hall seemed amused by the whole ordeal: Warrior of Light … and Kefka.
“BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA-HAAAAAA…!!!” Kefka bellowed out in fits of manic laughter, unable to control himself as if he was sat watching the greatest comedy of all time. “*Wheeze … Wheeze … Wheeze!* OOH-HOO-HOO…! Hah … Hah … Ahah … Ahaha…! …AAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA!!!”
Thud!
He had fallen of his chair entirely, his eyes streaming as he hugged his abdomen painfully.
And yet, despite this…
*Snicker!* …Ehehehehee…”
…He continued to laugh away.
Seated on either side of where Kefka was once perched, Ultimecia and Kuja glanced down towards the clown of a teacher with pitiful eyes. There were times when they both wondered why they would associate themselves with such a freak of nature … and this moment was a key example. However, the two teachers then realised that all eyes of the surrounding students were bearing on them, curious as to why the infamous Art teacher was acting in hysteria.
Both Kuja and Ultimecia hastily avoided eye contact, their straight expressions struggling to hold as they felt unbearably cornered.
“Conductor Kuja … w-who is this obnoxiously insane clown man, and why is he rolling around on the floor below us?” Ultimecia then anxiously questioned in forced ignorance, her eyes continuing to actively avoid any gaze set on them.
“O-oh, I … err … have no idea, Miss Ultemicia.” Kuja stuttered in response, sweat streaming from his brow.
Awkward silence then followed, mentally suffocating the two teachers as the eyes of students continued to stare at them blankly.
And then, they snapped.
““WE DON’T KNOW HIM! STOP STARING!!!”” They both roared in unison, bearing their agitated fans at the curious onlookers.
Without delay, every set of student eyes returned to focusing on the stage, fearing the mere thought of what could happen if they were to face such wrath head-on.
Returning to the stage, Warrior of Light stood his ground on the Prosecution Stand, bearing the cunning grin that sent shivers down the spines of those who were unfortunate to meet his gaze. Having drowned out the odd commotion that echoed from the audience, his focus was set primarily on the guilt-ridden witness. Now fully consumed by control, he felt a sense of renewed pleasure in smoking out the guilty.
Onion Knight stood in silence on the Defence Stand, struggling to justify what had occurred from the repeating footage. He was desperately analysing each frame for a sign of abnormality, hoping for some possibility of a miracle. Yet, to his despair, he found nothing.
And finally, Terra was staring directly at the anguished Celes, her expression almost on the verge of tears due to how distraught she became.
“Celes…?” She murmured anxiously, her voice almost soundless.
Just then, the frozen Celes tensed up in reaction, horrified at the sound of her distressed friend. However, she refused to return a glance to Terra, unable to bear of emotional collapse if she were to so much lift her gaze. Instead, using the ounce of motivation left in her heart, she whispered:
“Terra … I’m so sorry.”
Terra drew back in horror, disturbed by the uncharacteristic soulless tone of Celes’ apology. Her strong, unbreakable resolve had seemingly shattered, as if giving up entirely without a need to defend herself.
“Unfortunately, I have to admit, I am as heartbroken as everyone else – if not, more so – when I stumbled upon this footage.” Warrior of Light expressed bitterly as he emerged from his stand, stepping to the centre of the stage as he faced Celes and the audience directly. “Celes Chere is one of the most gifted Student Council members we’ve had in this Academy; she has always been open, honest, and insightful through her contributions during our meetings. Her commitment to her ideas have helped us tremendously during previous events, and there is no doubt in my mind that she has inspired many to strive for their ambitions without so much as waver.
“And so, it truly pains me to ask such a question … Why, Celes? Why commit such a heinous act? I would think that you, of all people, would understand the consequences of ‘tampering with the evidence’. And yet here we stand, questioning your ‘honesty’. In fact, if I can recall, you told the court when you first took to the Witness Stand that you ‘deem yourself neutral to this case and only strive to find out the truth.’ Tell me, Celes, do you still stand by this declaration?”
Celes didn’t answer, her body clenched up entirely along with her hands now drawn to fists. Behind her, various students sitting in the audience began to whisper to one another, the aura of uncertainty growing. If Celes doesn’t answer Warrior of Light soon, the entire court would turn against her.
However, to the surprise of many … she was not the one to speak out.
SLAM!
“HOLD IT!!!” Onion Knight abruptly roared out, his hands planted against the surface of the Witness Stand in fury. “Warrior of Light, the court has the right to know when, how, and why you have access to the security footage! I cannot allow such an important piece of information get ignored so carelessly!”
With an irritated sigh, Warrior of Light switched to his opponent with a bored glare, acting as though his flow of heightened anticipation was momentarily obstructed. He could tell Onion Knight was stalling the inevitable, using whatever desperate means necessary to prevent Warrior of Light’s pursuit. It was a laughable attempt, and solidified that Onion Knight was losing the battle.
“I, too, would like to know how the Prosecution obtained this footage.” High Judge Gabranth then concurred, his eyes still completely engrossed to the screen of his laptop.
Giving a careless tut in response, Warrior of Light shrugged in amusement, “I don’t see the need to enlighten the court with information so obvious; but if that is what’s required of me, then I have no choice but to comply.”
He then focused his haughty gaze on Onion Knight, who, in turn, drew back cautiously. He was clueless as to what was going though Warrior of Light’s mind, and the arrogant expression that had engulfed him only fuelled the concern that embedded Onion Knight’s thoughts.
“It surprises me that you’ve become so oblivious, Onion Knight … considering you had consulted with me not long before I discovered the footage.”
What is he…? Onion Knight wondered silently, becoming increasingly warier to what his opponent was implying.
And then, he gasped.
“Saturday morning!” He blurted in shock, almost losing balance on the box he had been standing on throughout the trial.
“Correct answer.” Warrior of Light nodded coolly. “Soon after we consulted one another, I decided to enter the academy and inspect the security footage. I would have spent hours of blindly searching for scraps of potential evidence if it wasn’t for a generous hint from the one and only Celes here.”
“Tsk…!”
Just then, the silent Celes reacted bitterly, knowing exactly what Warrior of Light was referring to when hearing her name. A flashback of when she stumbled upon Warrior of Light as she left the Laboratory Room sparked into her thoughts momentary, giving her more of a reason to regret ever showing him the evidence she had found. Regardless of this, she wouldn’t speak a word, fearing that she would further dig her own hole.
Warrior of Light then began to enlighten the audience regarding the context of his statement, “For all who may not know, Celes and I had bumped into one another on Friday after academy hours…”
His explanation continued on, detailing his surprise encounter with Celes on the 5th floor corridor and how he came to learn of Lab Room 1’s connection to the incident. During this time, Onion Knight and Terra listened intently, taking in the new information with absolute focus. Onion Knight had only known the basis that Warrior of Light had reached Celes before he and Terra got the chance, so to hear of the extent of their encounter had shed some light on the aspect.
“…and throughout the time that this had occurred, I found Celes’ behaviour rather uncharacteristic.” Warrior of Light expressed upon finishing his explanation on the event, his gaze piercing the unresponsive Celes as he spoke. “I couldn’t help but be suspicious of Celes’ mysterious actions prior to our meeting, so it had become my goal to investigate on the matter … even if it meant I was unsuccessful in retrieving other evidence and witnesses overall.”
The High Judge Gabranth nodded slowly, enlightened by this new information. His sights, however, were not set on the Prosecution whatsoever.
…They were set on the witness.
“Miss Chere, is the Prosecution’s story true?” He questioned in a dark, severe tone, indicating that dire consequences may be imminent.
Her body trembling and eyes fixed to the floor, Celes gave a single, hesitant nod in response. Commotions built up at an increasing rate from behind, many reactions of surprise and intrigue where heard including a few gasps here and there. Gabranth had his gavel at the ready, on the verge of raining hell upon the students if their voices echoed any louder. And yet, he decided to ultimately hold back, saving his voice for a more appropriate occasion.
Instead, he shifted focus to the Defence Stand.
“Defence, are there any thoughts that you would like to express?” He wondered as he glanced to Onion Knight, curious as to what his stance was regarding the information.
Onion Knight paused with caution as anxious sweat began to seep from his skin, his gaze struggling to veer from Celes’ position. His mind thrived with mixed emotions, scaling from wishing he could help the witness escape the exposure to uncertainty on whether he could still trust her. Given the fact that she had yet to defend herself of the new accusation meant to him that she had a guilty conscience that crucially retained her.
Amongst it all, one thought had separated itself from the crowd.
“Y-yes … Your Honour.” He answered eventually, pushing himself to turn his attention towards Warrior of Light. “I do wonder, Warrior of Light: if you had access to the Security Room with the incentive of investigating Miss Chere’s actions, would it not make sense to investigate the footage of the Lab Room during the time frame of when the assault had occurred?”
Hearing the question, Warrior of Light’s prideful grin dropped in an instant. Onion Knight’s brow raised a curiosity struck him, intrigued by the change of expression. A cast of hope sparked in the depths of his mind, anticipating a possible contradiction.
“Unfortunately, I was unable to obtain such footage.” Warrior of Light sorrowfully answered, shaking his head as he expressed his disappointment to the crowd. “It seemed our culprit was smart enough to erase the footage during the time frame of the incident, and I do not mean just for Math’s Room 3 and Lab Room 1 … the footage for every single camera of the Academy had been wiped clean during the time of the assault!”
“““GASP…!!!”””
As the audience reacted in complete shock, Onion Knight’s eyes widened drastically as the horror set in. His hope had shattered, feeling the weight of despair gradually devouring him subconsciousness. Not only had he realised that he couldn’t protect Celes, he regretfully realised that there was no chance of defending Zidane using any remaining footage that could possibly be looming in the system’s data.
Zidane, who had been perched on the edge of his seat with his tail flicking in anticipation throughout the entirety of the trial, was now slumped back against the chair in gloom. Fear had taken hold of his emotions as the sudden weight of surrounding accusations was mercilessly piled on top of him. He could feel Warrior of Light’s resentful glare directed at him the moment the word ‘culprit’ was echoed; he was still adamant on striking Zidane with the guilty verdict, even when attention had shifted.
However, the worst to be affected was Celes herself, almost at the breaking point as her mental stability was farced to a corner. She was shaking violently, stream of sweat breaking through areas of her skin as her eyes became increasingly erratic. There was nothing she could do to escape the fate that awaited her, not matter what excuse she could possibly make.
“Anyway, enough stalling!” Warrior of Light called out sternly, silencing the entire hall before the High Judge had the opportunity to bang his gavel. “It’s time for Miss Celes Chere to confess to her own guilt, and explain to the court as to why she tampered with the evidence!”
Deathly silence engulfed the Academy Hall, not one soul daring to speak a word as all eyes focused on the witness. Onion Knight and Terra stood helplessly as they watched their friend face the suffocating tension, cursing to themselves that they couldn’t do anything to prevent such a devastating dilemma. Warrior of Light situated himself directly opposite Celes as he waited patiently for a response, acting as though he was the reaper of the guilty.
And then … Celes broke.
“I tampered with the evidence, because…” She murmured in a low whisper, her words almost inaudible to those around her.
Warrior of Light gradually leaned closer to her, “Miss Chere, could you please speak up?”
SLAM!
“I TAMPERED WITH THE EVIDENCE BECAUSE I WANTED YOU TO OPEN YOUR DAMN MIND!!!” Celes screamed furiously, a fist struck hard against the surface of the Witness Stand as the held back emotions finally flooded out of her. “Watching you during Friday’s trial along with today’s, I see you solely consumed on your obsession for control. You strive primarily to ensure that Zidane receives the ‘Guilty’ verdict … and that’s made you blind! What happened to you!?
“You were NEVER like this before the incident occurred: you constantly expressed your devotion to the Academy, ensuring that everything was in order and accessible to students; you would always demonstrate commitment and resolve no matter the task or situation, proving to others that it was possible to pursue their ambitions just like you; and, most important of all, you were ALWAYS considerate of others no matter who they were! You were the best of the Student Council: you are our Student Council President, Warrior of Light!!!”
Warrior of Light stepped back abruptly, shock eclipsing his once stern expression as Celes struck his cords with no remorse. Onion Knight couldn’t believe his eyes, never had he thought he would witness someone as level-headed as Celes Clere lose her mind. Such a sight was terrifying to behold, causing him to be somewhat grateful that he was not at the receiving end of her verbal attacks.
“When I discovered the damaged blazer in the Lab’s cupboard, I took it as an opportunity to prove to you that there were other – more likely – culprits to the case besides Zidane. I believed that deep down, you knew that there were more than meets the eye. But your mind was so forged with the certainty that the court case begins and ends with Zidane’s guilt, all because of your personal grudges against him! Because of this, I took some of the strands of hairs from the scene of the crime and scattered them across the Lab floor nearby the corner cupboard in the hope that either you or Onion Knight would stumble upon it. I even forced open the nearby window in case the scene wasn’t convincing enough to relate to the incident.
“I am fully aware that I committed a crime when I tampered with the evidence, however I hold on to my stance for finding the truth to the case no matter the cost … even if it meant sacrificing my dignity in the process!
“I want this case to finally end! I want everything to return to what it once was! And … I want our President back!!!”
Celes ended her onslaught of words, taking in a deep breath to calm her mind and take back the control of her emotions. She was undeniably exhausted at this point – both physically and emotionally. At this very moment, she wouldn’t be surprised if her legs gave way and collapsed under the agony of her once restrained emotions being revealed all at once to the world. She had nothing else to give to the court, and she had nothing else to hide.
Her time as a witness had ended.
Having taken the onslaught of emotions head on, Warrior of Light was frozen to the core. He eyes were blank, devoid of emotion to the point that he would be considered a hollow shell of what he once was. His arms hung limply by his side, not an ounce of strength left in him. Any colour that once flourished on his skin had disappeared entirely, giving a very convincing impression that he had turned into a ghost.
Eerie silence loomed over the entire hall, not one person able to speak after witnessing such an event.
“Your Honour ... I have nothing else to give.” Celes finally admitted in a raspy voice, her eyes dazed and shoulders dropped as her consciousness hung by a thread.
As though time began to move again, the High Judge Gabranth was the first to respond. He gave a single nod, accepting the witness’ confession.
“Bailiff, you may escort the witness out from the courtroom.”
Having on just recovered herself, Prishe reacted with a leap of fright, giving out a light squeak upon hearing the command.
“Y-yeah … got it.” She muttered with a hesitant nod, her body shaking tremendously due to the tension that engulfed the atmosphere of the hall.
She stepped forward awkwardly, her hairs standing on end and her pointed Elvaan ears risen due to being so alert of the situation. Upon reaching the witness, she took Celes lightly by the shoulder and directed her to the entrance of the hall. To her surprise, Celes complied, showing no signs of resistance or tension in her body as she stepped from the Witness Stand.
It didn’t take long for them to exit the hall, passing the rows of seated students in the process. From the corner of her eye, Prishe noticed that the eyes of the students were actively avoiding her gaze, seemingly afraid of accidently meeting eyes with her or Celes. It was as if Celes was being shunned by them, ignoring her existence entirely.
Although it painful to watch, Prishe ultimately that she could only drown out the negative tension, coming to the regretful conclusion that she could do nothing about it. Celes’ reputation was reduced to a pile of ash, unlikely to rise from the devastation.
The two were now standing outside of the Theatre Hall, taking in the towering scenery of the empty Entrance Hall as the suffocating tension had finally lifted. Prishe let out an exaggerated, relieving sigh, placing her hand on her hips as she took in the refreshing air. She turned to Celes, a beaming smile across her face as she attempted to lighten the mood.
“I don’t know about you, but I feel a hell of a lot better now that we’re out of there.” She admitted cheerfully, holding on her optimism as much as she possibly could. “I mean, I almost fainted from the amount of tension, it was like my soul was being-!”
Prishe abruptly halted her words, her gleaming smile disappearing the moment she noticed Celes’ emotional state.
“…”
Heaps of tears were falling from her eyes, unable to contain the distress that had been taking over her the moment she left the Witness Stand. her shoulders and cheeks flushed, it was undeniable that she had tried her best to hide the pain. However, the feeling of failure and worthlessness had overwhelmed her, causing her to lose the sense of composure she had left.
The strength in her legs buckled, causing her to lean against the nearby wall and fall to her knees. With hands covering her face and her body now crumpled into a foetal position, she bawled uncontrollably.
She was a broken mess.
***

Even after Celes and Prishe left the Theatre Hall, silence still loomed the air. The audience waited for someone to break the deathly silence, wondering how the trial was going to play out considering the events that had just taken place. With the new information displayed, would Warrior of Light continue to hold the unpredicted lead, or will Onion Knight make a dramatic comeback?
Even Kefka was unexpectedly quiet from where he sat … although if one were to look closely, Kuja and Ultemicia were the ones forcing him to stay quiet. Both had their hands forced over his mouth, refusing to let him break the tension with his bombastic, manic laughter. The challenge for the two teachers were difficult to say the least, yet they were adamant on keeping the insane clown restrained.
Shifting back to the stage, Warrior of Light still could be seen standing motionless at the centre of the stage, unwilling to break from his stasis. The High Judge Gabranth watched on, his stern piercing gaze waiting patiently for the trial to eventually proceed. On the other hand, Terra’s eyes were directed to the entrance door of the hall, overcome with worry for her close friend. She was desperate to help Celes in her time of need, however she was afraid of leaving Onion Knight’s side after realising that they were losing the battle.
It was during that very moment when she noticed Onion Knight move from the corner of her eye, stepping of his box without a word and leaving the Defence Stand entirely. Her focus completely set on Onion Knight, she watched him stride over towards Warrior of Light’s position.
What is he doing? She wondered cautiously, although being too afraid to ask.
However, the answer she was given was not what she had expected to receive, and it shocked her to the core.
Without hesitation, Onion Knight forcibly latched onto Warrior of Light’s collar, his teeth grinding as her glared at his opponent with unyielding rage.
“She was YOUR WITNESS!!!” He bellowed at the top of his lungs, refusing to release his grip as the anger took hold of his mind. “You betrayed her trust and sent her obliviously into a trap! Don’t you understand, Warrior of Light…? SHE WAS HELPING YOU! And yet, you’re so engrossed in punishing Zidane that you didn’t even consider what she was trying to do for you! I don’t … I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone so heartless and selfish as you!”
As Onion Knight continued to force and shove his way into his head, Warrior of Light merely glanced back at him with blank eyes. He showed no resistance nor returning malice, he just took it just as he did with Celes. No one knew what he was thinking at this moment, he was truly unreadable at this point.
BANG! BANG!
“DEFENCE, I DEMAND YOU TO RELEASE THE PROSECUTION IMMEDIATELY!” High Judge Gabranth roared, his voice shaking the entire hall as he attempted to regain control of his court.
Unfortunately, he was completely ignored.
“What are you thinking!?” Onion Knight spat in demand, prying some sort of answer from his opponent. “SPEAK!!!”
However, a pair of feminine hands held him back from lashing out any further, giving him no choice but to let go of Warrior of Light’s collar. He switched his sights to the person behind him, wondering who would be so foolish enough to stop him.
It was Terra.
“Leave him be, Onion Knight!” She yelled in haste, hoping to snap some sense into her partner. “All you’re doing is making this whole situation worse! Attack him with your wit, not your fists! You have more of a reason to prove Zidane’s innocence to the court! So please … please don’t let Celes’ contribution be in vein!”
Hearing her words, Onion Knight slowed his lashes to a halt, his arms falling limp to his sides as he was finally able to think clearly once again. He lowered his head in bitter frustration, barely able to extinguish the enraged anger that plagued his mind. With that said, he was admittedly thankful for her interference, knowing that the situation could have been considerable more worse if he was left unrestrained.
Terra swiftly ushered him back to the Defence Stand, leaving Warrior of Light to his lonesome.
Still deep in thought, Warrior of Light eventually shifted himself back to the Prosecution Stand, completely unfazed by what had just occurred between him and Onion Knight. Whilst he had yet to say a word to the court since Celes’ explosion of emotions, his vacant gaze faced his opposition as he waited for the continuation of the trial. Only time will tell whether Celes’ – and in some respect, Onion Knight’s – words had an effect on his mindset.
“I hereby issue a second penalty to the Defence for his unwarranted outburst to the Prosecution and, more importantly, ignoring my instruction to cease.” The High Judge Gabranth informed in his harsh tone, showing no remorse for his decision. “If the Defence decides to act out of term or waste the court’s time throughout the rest of the trial, a final penalty will be issued. The Defence will then be dismissed from the court until further notice. You have been warned, Knight of the Onion.”
Now situated back on top of his box, Onion Knight felt his entire body shake in fear, realising the consequences of his actions. With two strikes by his name, he had no choice but to regard his position as ‘walking on thin ice’. With everything that had happened during the recent events, this penalty was truly a bitter pill to swallow. However, he decided to accept the predicament without retaliation, believing there was nothing to be gained if he were to challenge the High-Judge’s judgement.
“I’m sorry, Your Honour.” He apologised in honesty, expressing responsibility for his actions. “I’ll be sure not to disappoint in the future.”
Calming his mind, he took this opportunity to prepare for future confrontations, actively reminding himself that any irrational actions or behaviour would cost him the court case. He was aware that Headmistress Cosmos had personally bestowed this role upon him, and so it would be a disrespect to her goodwill if he continued to act so foolishly during such a crucial event.
Onion Knight straightened his posture, demonstrating his unbreakable resolve. Despite this, a single thought troubled in his mind, urging him to act before he lost the chance.
“Terra, go check on Celes.” He instructed in a firm whisper, noticing his partner’s fidgeting from the corner of his eye.
“Wha-!? A-are you sure?” She wondered hesitantly, unsure whether such an order would be wise.
“Don’t worry about me, I’m sure I can handle it for the time being.” He assured her with a confident nod, “Besides, Celes needs you more than I do right now.”
Terra nodded back in acceptance, placing faith in Onion Knight. She then immediately left the Defence Stand, rushing to the entrance of the Hall without pausing to look back.
“Prosecution, please call upon your next Witness.” Gabranth requested to Warrior of Light, ignorant to Terra’s swift exit. “We’ve wasted far too much time as it is already.”
“Y-yes, Your Honour.” Warrior of Light stuttered as clearly as possible, struggling to hide his inner conflict. “My next Witness-!”
Woosh!!!
“WHA-!?” Warrior of Light gasped in sudden shock.
“HUH-!?” Onion Knight blurted out in unexpected reaction.
“Oh, for goodness sake; WHAT NOW!?” Gabranth groaned irritably, finding the interruption nonsensical.
With all widened eyes directed to the centre of the stage, a large, blackened circular vortex erupted out of nowhere. It had grown to be the size of an adult human, warping and shaping itself into a distinctive form. Whist it was expected for this vortex to be vacuuming the air and the contents of the Theatre Hall, it was instead sending out a gale of wind along with sparks of lightning and miniscule, unidentifiable pieces of debris.
“Mm-hm-hm-hmm…” A dark, muffled voice echoed throughout the hall, its sinister vibe sending chills down the spines of many. “Oh, how long I have waited for this moment…”
Gabranth slowly rose from his seat, his expression twisting to a scowl as he searched for the owner of the mysterious voice.
“Reveal yourself!” He furiously demanded, the muscles of his body tensioning as he grew increasingly wary.
And then, a bulky, intimidatingly muscular arm shot out from the centre of the vortex, clenched up into a devastating fist as it rained terror and anarchy on all who were unfortunate to witness. The skin of the hand itself was of a purple colour scheme, whilst the rest of the arm was engulfed in an unbreakable, metallic gauntlet. It seemed that this mysterious figure was of an ancient warrior, giving an impression that he – based on the darkened tone of his looming voice – desired nothing more than to commit an act of revenge.
Many students cowered in their seat, not knowing what to do. None would dare approach the vortex, fearing their eventual demise.
Aside from one.
Having been engrossed with watching the eventful court trial, the woman rose from her seat and treaded over to the powerful vortex. There was no fear to be seen, no hesitation shown, and no sign of regret: she was ready to face whatever the mysterious figure brought to the table.
“You naïve fools expected a simple human – a student for that matter – to be the culprit of this assault case!?” The mysterious figure chortled menacingly, his arm waving and flexing to express his amusement. “Well, I must inform you all that YOU WERE WRONG! For it was I: GILGA-!”
SNAP!
Poof…!
Before the mysterious figure could finish his prideful statement, the vortex vanished without a trace. With the sinister voice now gone, the hall was filled with awkward silence. Everyone wondered what had just happened, glancing at one another with fear and terror still fresh in their eyes. They then gazed across to the person who had approached and eradicated the vortex with ease.
Stood just before the stage was a rather disinterested Headmistress Cosmos, lowering her right hand after what seemed to be a swift snap of the fingers. With her eyes half open and her expression showing an irritated pout, it was apparent that she wasn’t going to allow any opposing force to ruin the flow of the court trial. She was as graceful and elegant as ever with her execution, yet her surrounding aura was frightening to withstand.
With no sign of the vortex reappearing, the Headmistress switched back to the audience with an innocent smile and overall pleasant expression.
“Please forget this ever happened.” She requested in her goddess-like tone, waving off the anomaly as if it never existed in the first place.
The students stared back anxiously, unsure whether they should comply with the abnormal request. Fear of the mysterious figure was still fresh in their minds, wondering what horrors waited for them if the figure were to return.
And then, Cosmos’ terrifying aura thickened, her pleasant expression narrowing to a more threatening vibe.
“Repeat after me: you will not remember the vortex ever appearing on this stage.” She commanded in a passive-aggressive tone, her pure gaze piercing the souls of the students in the process.
“““We will not remember the vortex ever appearing on the stage.””” The audience the answered in unison, acting as though they suddenly turned into mindless robots.
Onion Knight and Warrior of Light observed the entire scenario play out with baffled eyes, internally questioning what in the world just happened.
With the audience finally settled, the High Judge perched back on his seat with fumes of anger escaping from his body. As a precaution, he vowed that whoever – or whatever – would dare decide to interrupt the progression of the trial would meet their end by his hand. Time was precious, and it was in his interest to use it wisely.
“Prosecution. Next Witness. NOW.” He demanded furiously, shooting the death stare towards the Prosecution Stand.
Warrior of Light hastily nodded, trying his best not to lose his nerve, “Yes, Your Honour. Before we were rudely interrupted by … whatever that was, I was about to explain that my next Witness is one who had gained an outside perspective of the assault incident. I can assure the court that his insight is highly valuable to this case.”
Onion Knight held his breath momentarily, wondering if the next Witness was who he expected it to be. He had mentally prepared himself for when ‘that’ encounter would finally commence, even though he had doubts that it would run smoothly after how Celes’ time on the stand had ended.
He also couldn’t help but wonder: who are the remaining witnesses?
However, it seemed this question would soon be answered … partially.
Strong, sturdy footsteps were heard approaching the Witness Stand, showing no signs of hesitation in his stride. The male student, with his long, silver hair and tall posture, looked to the court with absolute radiance. It was apparent that he was unfazed by what had previously transpired on this very Stand, and was truly confident that what he had to share with the court would turn the case on its head.
Onion Knight watched the man emerge with an expression of astonishment; realising that not only was he wrong with his prediction … he had no idea that this person would even be linked to the case.
“Witness, please state your name and Academy status to the court.” Warrior of Light requested sophisticatedly, a subtle grin casually breaking through his hardened expression.
The Witness cleared his throat, feeling as though this was his grand introduction, and answered with a clear tone:
“My name is Cecil Harvey, a Student from Class 13A … and I believe that Zidane is Guilty.”





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