Duty is a one-shot, canon story in the Clouded Horizons series' Eighth Realm. It takes place during the most recent war in the Ethereal Plane, and shows the last minutes of the battle that claimed the life of Chieko Murakami.
Reiatsu flared, and the air around Chieko burned as the Cero blast dug into her from behind, pressing her down into the ground at incredible velocities. She knew she was screaming, but all she could hear was the sound of her own rushing blood in her ears and the sound of her own heartbeat. Her mouth felt dry, and her vision wavered as she lay on her stomach in the crater, the icy wings of her Bankai crumbling and shattering like glass on the ground around her. She had been able to take down one of the strange Daiesthai – no, that wasn’t right, she knew, but she had no other word to describe it – with her Quintet of Iron Pillars kidou spell, but she’d not been able to stop the other in time. Her third seat and Vice-Captain were already dead, victims of the overwhelming attack by the strange Malakh-Daiesthai hybrids, and they had outnumbered them nearly five to one at the outset of the confrontation. Eight of the creatures had taken down nearly two-thirds of Chieko’s group of just over fifty Malakh in a short period of time, and there were still three of the creatures left while less than fifteen of Chieko’s division members remained.
Hyorinmaru lay just out of her reach, once again sealed and lying uselessly on the ground beside arms that would not move. She was dimly aware through the haze of pain that gripped her of Kari Inihara’s Kazewana slicing through the air, biting into the creature’s neck and sending a fountain of blood spurting from the point of impact as the remaining, battered members of 5th Division redoubled their attack in an attempt to save their Captain. Somewhere in the back of her mind, though, she knew that she was going to die here, that their efforts would be in vain...and it pained her to know not that she was going to die, but that she had failed the ones under her command.
Chieko weakly moved her head to see Kari beside her, looking over her with wide eyes full of worry and fear. She knew that the girl could see the numerous sword wounds she’d received from the hybrids’ Diviners, not to mention the large and painful burn wound from the Cero that had struck her back, burning away her white and dark green haori and the black kimono underneath.
“Inihara...yonseki...” she gasped, feeling blood run down her chin as she spoke.
“Don’t move, taichou...we’ll get you out of here, back to 4th Division –”
“No...run...you can’t stay here…” Chieko said, coughing painfully and sending droplets of blood onto the ground in front of her.
“We won’t leave you here, Chieko-taichou!” Kari exclaimed, carefully beginning to try and lift her severely-wounded Captain up in order to move her. It wasn’t easy; Chieko could barely move at all under her own influence, and Kari was already tired and wounded herself from the battle.
“Just...go, Inihara...I won’t make it back…” she said, painfully slumping back to the ground as Kari’s grip failed. “...Get everyone...out...” Her words broke again under another blood-spattered fit of coughing, and Kari’s blood ran cold as she tried to make the agonizing choice between the life of her Captain and the lives of the division.
“Taichou...I can’t! I can’t just leave you!” Kari screamed, tears filling her eyes as she looked at her dying Captain helplessly.
“You...have to...” she replied, trying to fight past the pain and reach her Diviner. “Take...take Hyorinmaru and...r-run...you’re Captain now...yonseki. D-Don’t let the...division die here...”
Chieko’s words struck Kari like a knife, and the magnitude of what she said came crashing down on her head like a great force – Chieko was entrusting the division to her...giving up her life so that the people she led into battle might have a chance to live one more day.
The weight of duty, she realized, was heavier than life.
“I swear, Chieko-taichou...I’ll protect them with my life,” Kari said, picking up the light-blue and silver blade from the ground and trying not to cry. Faintly, Chieko smiled, her vision blurring again as her head slumped to the dirt once more.
“Thank...you,” she whispered, a feeling of peace slowly washing over her as she heard Kari call for the rest of 5th Division to retreat. The division would carry on, she knew, which was all that she could hope for. The war had cost so much already, all over so little...and that knowledge pained her more than any of her physical wounds could ever hope to. Even as the last of her life left her, beckoning her into the afterlife of Soul Plane...she smiled.
She hadn’t failed after all.
|1st Realm - 2nd Realm - 3rd Realm - 4th Realm - 5th Realm - 6th Realm - 7th Realm - 8th Realm - 9th Realm - 10th Realm|
|Final Fantasy X: Destiny's Call - Final Fantasy X-2: Eternal Requiem - Final Fantasy VIII: Dimensional Legend - Final Fantasy IX: Runic Legacy - Clouded Horizons: Halcyon - A Question of Honor - Affinity - Breakfast at Powell's - Casualties - Duty - Family Rites - Foreshadow of Memory - Guardian - The Heiress - Judgment - Memoirs - Nature - Negotiations - Of Thieves and Emissaries - Origins - Ought - Sanctuary - Shades - Subtleties of Honor - Trial by Fire|
|The Balance - Crystal Path - Diviner - Planeswalker|
|Character Themes - Jazz Café - Lore - Soundtracks - Tropes|
|Project Creators / Administrators|
|Darius DeValle - Benji Powell - Daniel Rydell|