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Chapter 24 - Vol 6: The Final Witness

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 24 - Vol 6: The Final Witness

Chapter 24 - Vol 6: The Final Witness
Volume 6: The Innocent Thief – Finale
 
The late afternoon breeze was blissful, gently brushing passed the nearby trees and bushes as it made its way through the grounds of Dissidia Academy. Students of plenty were scattered across various areas of the grounds, either chilling or chatting with their friendship groups.
There was one hot topic running rampant through everyone’s minds: The court case.
The events that transpired during the current court trial had put everyone on edge, excitedly anticipating what would soon be the climax of the dramatic battle between Onion Knight and Warrior of Light. Many conversations highlighted the betrayal of Celes Chere, the mystery of the second culprit, and – to add insult to injury – Onion Knight's spiral towards failure.
Whilst there were a considerable number of students placing their faith on Onion Knight to win the case, many others had either jumped ship to join the Warrior of Light faction or took a neutral position as a precautionary measure. Some members of opposing factions would even begin arguments about who was in the right, leading to headed disputes that were ending friendships left and right.
With the abundance of negative emotions coursing through the Academy, it was a difficult time to find some much needed peace.
Observing from a safe distance, Warrior of Light was sitting on a lone bench – deep in thought. Considering his sharp rise in recognition amongst the Academy students, the last thing he needed was to be bothered by them before the trial’s grand climax. As he needed this time to think everything over, any distraction could cost him dearly.
Thankfully, it seemed the gods were swayed in his favour for now.
As he watched the numerous conversations continue to thrive, a sense of conflict grew within his mind. Ever since Onion Knight had sprinted off the moment the court trial reached recess, he couldn’t help but wonder whether it was worth chasing after his rival. Considering his desperation as he ‘fled’ the scene, it would make sense to pursue the situation.
And yet, here he sat, lost in his thoughts with no desire of face his opponent.
So, why was he feeling like this?
In his eyes, everything was set in stone. He was on his way to win the court trial, set the Guilty verdict on Zidane, and expel him from the Academy once-and-for-all. Additionally, he had exposed Celes for the tampering of court evidence and overall incompetence, completely turning the tables on Onion Knight.
Justice will be served, and the thought alone satisfied him greatly.
...at least, that was what he initially thought.
Within the depths of his sub-consciousness, Warrior of Light came to realise that an aspect of the trial was bothering him. It was as though there was an anomaly; an occurrence during the trial that seemed unfinished.
At first, he considered the ‘vortex incident’ to be the issue, still clueless as to why it appeared before them from out of nowhere. Headmistress Cosmos’ ignorance on its existence had not helped the situation either, causing him to question how the vortex came into existence in the first place.
However, Warrior of Light ultimately decided to discard its relevance to the court trial for the time being, believing that the Headmistress had a justifiable reason to dispel it from the court and ignore its existence.
So, discarding that event … what else was there that could be considered an ‘anomaly’?
Warrior of Light recollected the events of the trial, starting off from the moment it commenced and proceeding up until the end of Cecil’s Witness Testimony. Considering there was already an ungodly amount of information he had to take in during the case, it was unbearably difficult to micro-navigate through his memories just to find the reason for his uncertainty.
His brows began to furrow and body fidgeting on the spot, Warrior of Light felt as though he was spiralling into psychological chaos. And yet, he refused to throw the doubt aside, believing that any cracks in his mind-set was guaranteed to be used against him during the final leg of the court trail.
Just the thought of seeing Onion Knight’s smug grin sent him into overdrive, adamant that the anomaly existed.
And then, within the deepest, darkest pits of his thoughts … was a voice.
…Is Zidane truly the culprit?
Warrior of Light shook his head immediately, swiftly glancing around to see if the question originated from any of the nearby students – assuming it emerged in one of their many conversations.
However, as he checked all directions, not one person was nearby or calling out to him.
“Fantastic … I’m now hearing things.” He quietly murmured with a tired sigh.
Returning to his thoughts, he decided to reflect on the specific events revolving around Cecil Harvey’s testimony. When compared to the other testimonies given throughout both trials, Cecil’s was certainly the shortest.
Granted, the reason it was cut so short was due to Warrior of Light’s own impatience – that he would undeniably admit. However, if the testimony had continued as to Onion Knight’s insistence, it would end up becoming a never-ending loop of bluffing and reaching for a hint of contradiction.
Such a thought irritated Warrior of Light beyond the edge of his sanity, so much so that veins began to pop out of his forehead without him even realising it.
Focus … Focus…!
Slapping his own cheeks, Warrior of Light was conscious not to let his thoughts drift from the main topic.
He reflected on the testimony Cecil had described to the court, analysing each sentence running through his head just as Onion Knight had done during the trial. Of course, just as Onion Knight had found during his cross-examination, the only aspect of the testimony that was questionable was the lack of the possible ‘third entity’.
And yet, all the evidence shown by Onion Knight’s hand was barely enough to back such a ridiculous conspiracy.
Heh … Onion Knight was certainly in over his head. Warrior of Light smirked in hidden amusement, finding it surprising he lasted so long in convincing the court that there was a ‘second culprit’ from the beginning. I swear, that whole ‘child prodigy’ aspect to him I just a façade.
At this point, Warrior of Light was close to brushing the thought of an ‘anomaly’ aside by concluding that it was just anxiety playing on his mind.
…And yet, there was no evidence to confirm the dismissal of the ‘second culprit’.
“There is plenty…” Warrior of Light murmured underneath his breath, arguing with the mysterious voice that loomed. “Any possibly of a third entity died when Celes was found tampering with evidence. There’s no doubt … Zidane is all but confirmed Guilty at this point.”
If Cecil continued his second testimony, would you continue to claim such a-?
The looming voice was suddenly cut off.
“You wished to speak to me?” A monotoned, bored-like abruptly voice murmured as a silhouette of a male student stood over the pondering Warrior of Light.
Warrior of Light immediately straightened up, “Ah! I was wondering when you would show.”
He swiftly took to his feet, facing the person before him with a confident grin. He completely blanked the looming voice that questioned his stance, purposely acting oblivious.
Even so … he could never fully extinguish the voice of his growing doubts.
“Is there a problem?” The silhouette then muttered in question, crossing his arms.
Taking his usual formal posture and firm expression, Warrior of Light met eyes with the student before him.
“Nothing for you to be concerned about.” He then grinned, “We just need to go over your upcoming Witness Testimonies one more time … that’s all.”
 
Meanwhile…
Far up on the 5th Floor of the Academy, Onion Knight sat on the floor of Lab Room 1 with his back against wall. Beside him was the corner cupboard where he had initially found the Damaged Blazer, the cupboard door loosely hanging open by its hinges. Directly above his head was a pulled-out window, allowing him to just about hear the various gossips and debates being made by the students.
Outside, it was as lively as ever.
However, inside this room, everything felt like it was frozen in time.
Onion Knight’s eyes were lifeless, barely focusing on anything that was in view. His body refused to move from his place, knowing whatever he did now would be pointless. He feared the thought of leaving the room entirely, hoping the inevitability of losing the court case would never arrive. If he could, he would just stay frozen in place and wait for the entire situation to blow over.
The despair of failure hung over his head, sucking away any hope of turning the tables in his favour during the last leg of the court trial.
He had failed Zidane.
He had failed Terra.
He had failed Headmistress Cosmos.
And … he had failed himself.
Creak…!
Hearing the Lab’s door gradually open in the distance, Onion Knight peered up with a half-hearted gaze. He watched as the person who entered the room silently stepped over to him, wondering how this person was able to find him up here. Regardless, he kept his mouth sealed, believing he had no right to ask.
The person approached Onion Knight from the side, placing their back against the wall and carefully slid down to his level.
Now sitting side-by-side, the two stared blankly off into the distance in momentary silence.
Finally deciding to break the awkward tension, the person – Zidane – turned to Onion Knight with a grave expression.
“No luck?” He asked with a dry smile, no hope in his tone whatsoever.
“Heh…! How could you tell?” Onion Knight motionlessly chuckled as a response, attempting to show some amusement in his own anguish.
“Just a hunch.” Zidane muttered with a light shrug, showing off a brief grin.
There was another pause, both struggling to find the right words in this situation. They took a moment to listen to the student conversations that were in earshot of the window – although, based on what they heard, it wasn’t exactly help heal their struggling mental states.
Finally, Onion Knight let out a depressed sigh.
“You probably would have had a better outcome … if someone more qualified was representing you in the court trial.” He solemnly murmured in honestly, deciding it best to express what was going through his mind.
Zidane glanced at Onion Knight, before letting out a sigh of his own, “If you’re trying to read my mind, you’re doing a very poor job.”
Onion Knight abruptly twitched upon hearing such an unexpected rebuttal, glancing back at Zidane with a confused expression.
“I’ve always been marked as a thief, as a mischief-maker, as a scumbag, you name it.” Zidane continued, reflecting on his past actions. “Regardless of who would want to defend me, most would likely give up before the first day ended. I mean, who would want to defend someone as notorious as me? Just give me the guilty verdict and be done with it already!”
As he spoke, Onion Knight immediately thought of Warrior of Light’s antagonistic approach to the case.
“And then, there’s you.” Zidane then stated firmly, showing pride in what he had to say. “You knew about my notoriety way before you were tasked to Defend me, but you accepted anyway. When I heard about it, I thought, ‘You must’ve lost your mind’! When it came to the trials, there were so many times where I expected you to give up … but, somehow, you were able to overcome the obstacles no matter the difficulty.”
Onion Knight’s shoulders relaxed, staring wide-eyed at Zidane as he was left completely speechless by the defendant’s kind words.
“You know: maybe there are people out there who’s better suited for this.” Zidane than concluded with an honest, upbeat grin, “But, I know for certain … they would’ve never gotten as far as you, Onion Knight.”
“Zidane, I…” Onion Knight attempted to retort, only for the words to not come out of his mouth.
However, before Onion Knight could find the words, Zidane leapt back to his feet in one fluid motion. Onion Knight hastily did the same, his knees almost giving out as he rose due to how long he had spent on the floor.
“Welp, I’ve said my piece.” Zidane shrugged nonchalantly, placing his hands behind his head as his golden monkey-tail freely swished back-and-forth. “We’re still not finished yet, dude. So, don’t go giving up on me just yet … please.”
“R-right…!” Onion Knight stuttered with a nod, before finally expressing the words he had struggled to express. “Zidane, thank you.”
“Heh-heh-heh! Don’t mention it.” Zidane then chuckled in his usual, playful manner. “Besides, after all of this is over, I’ll be the one thanking you.”
With that, he made his way out of the door without another word, leaving Onion Knight alone on the Lab Room. Onion Knight watched on with renewed determination, his posture strong and his eyes now focused on his role as Defence.
As Zidane left the room, Onion Knight turned to the open cupboard on his right, deep in thought.
Question is: how am I going to convince the court of Zidane’s innocence without the Damaged Blazer?
Even with the words of encouragement, Onion Knight still could not shake off the dilemma that haunted him. If the Blazer had not gone missing in the first place, he would already be planning his next moves for the final part of the trail.
He knew the exact identity of the Final Witness. However, without the Blazer in his procession, the likelihood of Onion Knight in winning the trial would be next-to-nil. With time running out, he was a standstill.
What do I do…?
“Onion Knight, there you are!” A voice abruptly called out to him, causing him to leap out of his skin in fright. “I’ve been looking everywhere!”
His heart racing, Onion Knight snapped towards the direction of the unexpected – yet familiar – voice.
“Terra!?” He blurted out in surprise, taken aback by her unexpected – and somewhat well-timed – entrance.
Her breaths heavy and body slouched against the door of the Lab Room in exhaustion, it was clear as day that she had meant what she said. Seeing her is such dire shape, Onion Knight quickly approached her so that he could support her.
And then, as she came more into view, he froze on the spot.
“Huh? Onion Knight, is something the matter?” Terra worriedly asked, noticing his odd reaction.
Onion Knight’s eyes widened, his body tense and mouth agape. He staggered forward, wondering if he was being deceived by his own gaze. In response, Terra cautiously shuffled back, oblivious as to why he was acting weirdly out-of-character.
“You…” He murmured in a low voice, his glare piercing into Terra.
“Onion Knight, your freaking me out.” Terra responded in terror, beginning to believe he was being possessed.
Placing his hands on her shoulders, Onion Knight’s eyes lit like a reignited flame … and erupted with rage.
“YOU HAD IT ALL ALONG!?”
She let out a light, confused squeak, “…Eh?”
“THE BLAZER!” He yelled out at the top of his lungs, indicating to what she was carrying with her. “THE BLAZER IN YOUR ARMS!”
Terra let out a sudden gasp of realisation.
“Do you realise the troubles I went through believing I had lost it!?” He continued on maniacally. “I could have lost the entire case!”
“Ah! I – I'm ... I'm so sorry, Onion Knight!” She wholeheartedly expressed in stutter, her entire body trembling. “I realised you left this back here when I found Celes. I wanted to get it back to you before it was to late, but...!”
She couldn’t finish her explanation, feeling as though she had no right to make excuses. Falling silent, she hesitantly hugged the Damaged Blazer in her arms, waiting to be lectured by Onion Knight on her incompetence.
However, the subject wasn’t on Onion Knight's mind whatsoever, instead...
“Thank you.” He quietly muttered as he lowered his head, letting out a sigh of relief. “Thank you for remembering it, Terra.”
The unexpected sentiment of gratitude left Terra speechless, her mouth left open as she struggled to form the words for a response.
Onion Knight glanced up as he noticed her frozen reaction, “Huh? What’s with the troubled look?”
“Ah! N-Nothing! … It’s nothing.” Terra hastily answered, only to fall into hesitation.
Completely oblivious to her uncharacteristic reaction, Onion Knight returned to focus on the Blazer now back in his possession, his emotions becoming ecstatic at the thought that there could still be a chance to turn the case back in his favour. All he needed now was to plan his next moves.
Without a moment to lose, he swiftly took the Blazer from Terra’s arms and placed it on the Lab table nearest to them. With its sleeves and fabric spread out across the table surface, the two took no time to thoroughly begin analysis the damaged piece of uniform.
“Onion Knight, I thought you’d already analysed the Blazer.” Terra briefly reflected, wondering if it was necessary to go over the evidence for a second time.
“To an extent.” Onion Knight admitted in a low voice, as though he regretted not fulfilling the initial investigation. “Before I was rudely interrupted by our prosecutor in shining armour, I was only able to search its pockets.”
As he explained, he picked out an object from the depths of his pocket, observing it from the pinch of his finger and thumb. Terra’s eyes widened at the sight of the object as it dangled into view, recognising it in an instant.
“Isn’t that a-!?”
“Lion’s Head Keychain.” Onion Knight finished her sentence, holding it up high in the air. “I don’t think I even need to inform you as to who this belongs to.”
“Yeah, but … why do you have it?” Terra then questioned, acting somewhat confused to the entire ordeal.
“It’s evidence to the case.” Onion Knight answered in truth, turning to her to show his honesty. “At first, I thought it would work as a separate piece of evidence during the court trial. However, I soon realised it wouldn’t make as much of an impact unless it is paired with its original companion.”
Without further ado, he slipped the Keychain back into the lower left pocket.
“Onion Knight!?” Terra gasped out in horror, bewildered by such a reckless decision. “You can’t do that!”
“Hm? What do you mean?” Onion Knight glanced back with an oblivious gaze, taken back by the unexpected overreaction.
“You’re doing exactly what got Celes into trouble in the first place! You know … ‘tampering with the evidence’!?” She continued to express, her face taken with fear and anxiety. “Warrior of Light won’t hesitate to chew you out in court!”
She expected Onion Knight to regret his choice, only to be met with an unsuspecting subtle grin.
“I know that … and that’s why I’m doing it.” Onion Knight exclaimed with a nod, showing confidence in his decision. “If Warrior of Light catches wind that I initially removed the Keychain from the Blazer, we’ll lose the remaining amount of influence we have on the case.”
Terra held her tongue, struggling to hold back her complaints yet could see that Onion Knight was well prepared for the possible consequences. She was cautious as to how he would resolve the issue, however assumed it best to trust him.
The two proceeded with the examination, looking over the extent of the damaged uniform whilst there was still time on their side. They rechecked the remaining pockets – even though Onion Knight was fully aware of their contents. They then checked over the inside material, including the name tag that Onion Knight initially found as blank.
“Nothing.” Onion Knight groaned out in conclusion, almost ripping out the tag in growing anger. “No matter how I look at it … it’s always blank.”
Terra continued to stare over the Blazer’s tag, feeling somewhat unsure by Onion Knight’s conclusion. She was left deep in thought, wondering if her eyes were playing tricks on her as she scanned the small extension of blank-white material.
“Terra, there’s no point in searching for something that isn’t there.” Onion Knight then suggested to her, noticing her silent gaze. “And besides, we best finish up here before the break ends.”
“But … there is something.” Terra firmly denied, shaking her head. “It’s almost impossible to see from the naked eye, but if you look at it closely … it’s there.”
Complying to her suggesting, Onion Knight took one last look at the tag, his eyes squinting hard as he was desperate to find a hint of ink or tampering on the blank piece of material.
In his mind, he had a cast of doubt in the legitimacy of Terra’s statement. He wanted to believe her words, and yet he struggled to find any signs of proof that helped her claim.
He was about to give up … when he finally noticed a faint line creased into the material.
A beaming grin broke through Onion Knight, gradually regaining faith in his intuitions.
“Well, Terra. It seems you were right on the money.” He lightly chuckled, holding up the tag closer to his gaze. “Now, to figure out the name…”
“It looks like the first letter is a ‘C’.” Terra deduced in an instant, confident in her sights.
“Maybe…” Onion Knight murmured in thought, considering the possibility. “Or, it could be part of a letter. I reckon it’s an ‘S’.”
“You ‘reckon’…?” Terra echoed in uncertainty. “Do you see the ‘S’ with your own eyes? Or, is that the letter you wish was displayed on the tag?”
“What are you suggesting, Terra?” Onion Knight questioned back defensively, as though hurt by such concerns. “You should know me enough by now. I’m not one to throw around baseless opinions and undisputed facts. I only state the absolute truth, for that’s the code of a genius.”
Falling back due to hesitancy, Terra chose not to pursue her looming concerns in belief that Onion Knight would make the right choice.
“Fine, I’ll say no more on the matter.” She mumbled quietly, showing her obedience in his statement. “Just … promise me one thing: Please, don’t let your personal biases drive your resolve.”
Onion Knight stared back at her with a visibly confused expression, unsure as to what she was implying.
However, after a moment of thought, he nodded in acceptance.
“Don’t worry, I have no intention of falling for the same mistakes as Warrior of Light.” He waved off with playful amusement, hoping to dispel any of Terra’s worries. “All that matters to me is finding the truth … and securing Zidane with the innocent verdict.”
Letting her shoulders soften, Terra gave out a single not in response.
And then, her body jolted at a sudden realisation, immediately searching through her pockets as she remembered the ‘other’ item she had found.
“What are you doing?” Onion Knight questioned curiously, wondering why she suddenly started acting strangely.
“I … I mean, Celes and I … found something earlier…!” She hastily attempted to explain as she continued to fiddle her pockets. “AH! Here it is!”
Without a moment’s hesitation, she held out a small clear pouch.
“Where did you find it?” Onion Knight requested, his expression switching to serious as he took the pouch from Terra’s palm. “And … what is it?”
“It was found in the cupboard where the Blazer was stashed.” Terra answered in a rush, fully aware of its importance to the case. “It’s a-!”
Drring-Drring-Drring…!
Students of Dissidia Academy!” A quirky female voice abruptly called out through the Lab Room’s intercom. “Please return to the Theatre Hall ASAP! The Final leg of the Trial will soon commence!
Glancing up at the intercom, Onion Knight muttered out underneath his breath.
“…Time’s up.”
The intercom announcement continued.
{Oh Crap! That means me too!} Err – Will see you all there! Heh-heh…!” The voice concluded in haste, before leaving the mic on as she raced out of the room. “{Crap! Crap! Crap…!}
Step-step-step-step…!
…CRASH!
GAAAH! I STUBBED MY TOE!!!
BEEP!
The transmission ended.
“Eh-heh-heh…! Prishe sure is the life of the party, isn’t she?” Terra commented as she awkwardly giggled, unsure as to whether she found Prishe’s quirky display amusing or embarrassing.
“Let’s just say that there’s a unique ‘charm’ to her character.” Onion Knight murmured back with crossed arms, before switching back to serious mode. “Come, Terra! We best make haste!”
“Wha-!? Wait! Onion Knight!” Terra yelled out as she noticed him sprint off without warning.
However, it was too late.
He had already sped through the door.
“Oh great…” Terra muttered as she let out a bothersome sigh, snatching up the Damaged Blazer and racing off to catch up to him. “Onion Knight! Wait up! You forgot the Blazer AGAIN!”
 
Theatre Hall, Behind the Stage Curtain…
Zidane sat on hidden away on a single chair, his hands and legs fidgeting on the spot as he restlessly awaited Onion Knight and Terra to show up. His breaths were hasty, his eyes darting from one direction to the other, and his mind running frantic with thoughts of dread and despair.
He was an erratic mess.
The tough front Zidane presented as he reassured Onion Knight was just an act. On the outside, he was his usual confident, fun self with the drive to enjoy life to its fullest. However, on the inside, he was a cowering child with no idea on how his future will turn out after this trial finally concludes.
Will he be found Innocent? Or Guilty?
It had been a long journey of hardship for him.
His future rests on the hands of his Defence and fellow classmate, and no matter the conclusion … will always be grateful to the boy.
Speaking of whom … WHERE IS HE!?
Zidane was driven close to insanity waiting for Onion Knight to make an appearance, feeling the hostile aura of Warrior of Light gradually closing on him. He felt nauseous, desperately holding back the temptation to throw up and faint. He could hear the time ticking on, counting down the time to his impending doom.
This was it … it was over for him.
“Phwah! Made it in time!” Onion Knight blurted out as he burst through the curtains. “I swear, this Academy needs elevators!”
Noticing Onion Knight enter the scene, Zidane instantly rose to his feet and stepped towards him. His face hidden within the bangs of his hair and his breaths fallen silent.
“Ah-hah! Zidane, there you are!” Onion Knight called to him, beaming with heightened confidence. “Are you ready for-!”
Just then, as Onion Knight was finishing his question, Zidane grabbed hold of his collar.
“WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN, ONION KNIGHT!?” He roared manically, shaking the off-guard Onion Knight back and forth. “Seriously, dude! I’ve been waiting forever hoping you would turn up! I don’t think I could have lasted another minute with Warrior of Light’s death stare!”
The two briefly switched sights in a snap, noticing a silent Warrior of Light as he stood far off in the distance. His gaze was horrifying, glaring back at them with the intent of humiliating the two once the final leg of the trial commences.
He was like a carved statue, awaiting the inevitable to finally arrive and dispose of the accused.
“SEE WHAT I MEAN!?” Zidane then expressed wildly, his panicking reaching overdrive.
“O-ok. I get it. Just please. Let go. Zidane!” Onion Knight hastily plead, dizziness gradually kicking in as he was thrown back and forth on the spot.
Finally, Zidane released Onion Knight from his erratic clutches, his breaths irregular and loss of rationality. Quickly fixing his ruffled uniform, Onion Knight held his composure in front of his defendant.
During this time, Terra slipped through the break in the curtains, the damaged Blazer in hand.
*Phew…!* Could we bring up the fact that this Academy is in desperate need of elevators?” She pointed out as she desperately tried to regain her breath.
“After this all ends … I’ll be giving Headmistress Cosmos a piece of my mind.” Onion Knight declared, feeling a mandatory meeting will be required regarding the ‘Elevator crisis’.
Placing the subject of elevators in the back of his mind, he swiftly returned to the main topic.
“Rest assured, Zidane.” He stated in confidence, turning to his defendant with a renewed sense of resolve. “I’ll secure that ‘Innocent’ verdict, no matter the cost.”
Zidane met eyes with Onion Knight as he continued, gradually forcing his mind to settle as he listened to the boy’s words.
“You gave me the strength to see this trial through when we spoke in the Lab Room, and for that: I am most grateful.” Onion Knight nodded with certainty, his confidence at an all-time high. “I promise you, your faith in me will not be in vain.”
Hearing this, Zidane’s eyes lightened, the panic and anxiety in his mind finally subdued. The sense of warmed and certainty was drowning out the fear and doubt, convincing him that his future was in safe hands.
However, a looming shadow stepped up behind the trio, towering over them with a condescending glare.
“Convince me.”
Onion Knight, Terra, and Zidane all switched to face the approaching presence, their bodies tensioned and gaze holding strong as they faced the student before them.
“Do you mind repeating that, Warrior of Light?” Onion Knight requested as he held a cautious stance, his expression tensioned at the sight of his opponent.
“I want you … to convince me of Zidane’s innocence.” He repeated with a low, formal tone, showing no emotion in his words. “That is all.”
With that, he turned and stepped through the break of the stage curtains, heading over to the Prosecution Stand with a powerful stride.
The three watched on, completely frozen in position as they took a moment to process what had just occurred. At first, they thought their minds were playing tricks on them, finding Warrior of Light’s words completely out of left field.
And then, as the cogs in the minds gradually began to turn once more, they began to wonder why Warrior of Light would state such an uncharacteristic notion to his opponents.
Was it to do with conflicting emotions? Or, was he deliberately throwing them off their A-game?
“What are you up to?” Onion Knight murmured underneath his breath, wishing he could see what was going through Warrior of Light’s head.
There was a moment of silence, the time to take the stage dawning upon the three. Drawing a deep breath, Onion Knight stepped forward towards the curtain break. He was very much aware of what he would soon face and knew that what may transpire could break the bonds between friends and classmates.
He had no choice, whatever seconds thoughts that may still loom within him had soon dissipated.
His mind set, his resolve firm, and his confidence strong: it was time to face the Final Witness.
“Good Luck, Onion Knight.” Zidane called to him with a firm expression.
Just as Onion Knight reached the curtain, he halted. Terra, who was close behind him, abruptly stopped herself in realisation that she would topple over him.
“Zidane, just be aware…” Onion Knight warned as he peered over, his eyes focused solely on the on the matter at hand. “You may be required to take the stand.”
Zidane froze upon hearing his warning, realising the possibility had not occurred to him.
Leaving it at that, Onion Knight left Zidane in his own thoughts as he stepped through the curtain break and onto the stage.
 
Theatre Hall, Court Stage…
“The Prosecution is ready, Your Honour!” Warrior of Light announced in his formal tone, his posture as tall and proud as ever.
“The Defence is also ready, Your Honour!” Onion Knight proudly announced in response, eyes focused solely on the trial set before him.
“So be it.” The High Judge Gabranth nodded, his booming voice echoing throughout the Hall.
“Ooh, ooh! The Bailiff is ready, Your Honour!” Prishe then jumped in, her fist clenched and eyes emulating flames as her excitement consumed her.
The entire court was silent, all eyes on her with confusion and curiosity.
“Bailiff…” Gabranth lowly murmured, glaring down on Prishe with disapproval.
“Oh, come on, Judge! I’ve been dying to say it at least ONCE through this damn trail!” She complained back, throwing her arms up in protest. “At least let me have this!”
Donk!
Onion Knight, Warrior of Light, and the rest of the court winced as they witnessed the gavel whack Prishe on the centre of her head.
“You shall not speak unless I deem it necessary.” Gabranth informed mercilessly, showing no sympathy for the quirky Elvaan Girl.
“Tsk…! Killjoy.” Prishe quietly muttered back in a pout, rubbing her head and pained tears seeped from her eyes.
“What was that?” Gabranth glared with his dagger-like glare, preparing the gavel for another round.
“Urk-! N-nothing, Your Honour!” She hastily responded, straightening herself up as she awaited instructions. “I apologise for my … outburst.”
“Well then, without further ado…” The High Judge then sighed, switching over to face Warrior of Light’s position. “Prosecution, you may proceed.”
Upon hearing Gabranth call upon him, Warrior of Light nodded back with a subtle smirk.
“Yes, Your Honour.” He answered formally, eager to battle. “I call upon my Final Witness to take the stand!”
As he announced to the court at the top of his voice, the entire room was suddenly filled with a cloud of dread. Amongst the crowd of students sitting in the audience, a lone figure rose from his chair.
The students – including the student’s classmates – watched on in gasps of shock, completely unaware that this student was a witness to the case. They could not believe they would witness such a betrayal, anticipating what events could unfold throughout the climax of the trial.
The student stepped out from the seating area and towards the Witness Stand, the atmosphere engulfed in the dread and severity of the situation.
Onion Knight watched the student take to the stand, his expression tensioned as he anticipated this development. He had awaited this very moment, refusing to falter even if it was his fellow classmate.
His goal was to defend Zidane at all costs … even if it meant breaking apart a years-long friendship between two classmates.
Zidane felt his spine shiver as he saw his long-time friend face the court as his opposition, sadness and dread suffocating him. He never wished for this to happen, desperately hoping there was any other way.
Finally, sitting amongst his fellow classmates, was the horrified Bartz. He refused to believe his eyes, knowing the was no way his friend would turn against Zidane. In his mind, he wondered if he was witnessing a nightmare, pinching his arm in hope that he would soon wake up.
However, he realised that this was reality.
And so, for the first time in his life, Bartz felt broken and betrayed.
“Witness, please that your name and Academy status to the court.” Warrior of Light requested, showing off a dark smile as he watched the chaos of the audience unfold.
Here we go…
Onion Knight placed both hands on the surface of the Defence Stand, prepared to everything that was about to be thrown at him.
The student, with his uncaring eyes directed to the court, introduced himself.
“My name … is Squall Leonhart.”





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