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Judgment is a one-shot, canon story in the Clouded Horizons series' Eighth Realm. The story takes place at an undetermined time after the completion of Ben's training with Etchel Beoulve, and features Ben musing on his Transcendence and reasons for achieving it.


"Your training with me is complete."

The power.

Such power.

At first, I didn’t even know how to handle it all. Such a strange feeling, one moment being just powerful enough to hold your own against most people on a battlefield...and then the next, believing yourself capable of feats beyond nearly any other mortal in the world.

Transcendence. The ultimate power for mortal beings...the height of ability…the pinnacle of achievement...


The sole word plays through my mind over and over again, imprinting itself into my thoughts both conscious and unconscious. This is what I desired, why I trained, why I strove to fight and improve. Or...is it? Is this really the reason I’ve continued to fight? The reason why I’ve persevered against all odds?

There’s a nagging feeling in my mind. A feeling that Manes constantly brings to the forefront of my consciousness, and a thought that I keep repressing, pushing it back into the deepest recesses of my mind as I attempt to justify it to myself.

"I fight because I enjoy it, and I live for the next battle."

It’s a thought that scares me – perhaps because I fear what it entails, what has already happened to me once before. Manes once used my darkest thoughts and desires against me to control my mind and body, using me and all that I am against my closest friends. Could this thought let that happen again? And then I realize...no, it couldn’t. I have too much control over both my emotions and Manes now to ever let them control me again. Still, why does this thought scare me so much?

I’ve wondered this many times before, countless times both in and out of battle, in relative safety and absolute danger. And yet, I’ve come to only one conclusion, a statement that is only partially a solution to the question in my mind. There is some part of me that enjoys battle, certainly. But there is also a strange feeling, a sort of morbid curiosity lurking in the back of my mind...

"Just how much can I withstand before someone manages to finally defeat me?"

Not just defeat...kill. What level of power...skill...mastery...can I manage to hold my own against before my end finally comes for me? I can almost see the smirk on Hyne’s face even as my mind processes the thought. Manes once said that he’s curious to see what fate awaits me when I pass to the great beyond...and I, in some strangely twisted sense, agree with him. After all, my life since entering the world of Spira for the first time is far from a perfect record or clean slate.

Sure, I’ve helped defeat countless enemies capable of destroying cities, countries, even entire planets and dimensions if they wanted, but the flip side of the figurative moral coin is just as bad. I’ve killed three of my friends in cold blood of no accord of my own. I’ve tortured someone simply to find out information, information that I wanted not just for the sake of justice, but for the sake of revenge. I’m hardly perfect, but no mortal is. It seems that lately, I’ve been weighing my thoughts against each other, trying to find the strongest reason to justify my actions. Like my soul is on trial for some unspoken crime, you might say. All the physical trials are no big deal in the grand scheme of things…but can I survive a trial of the mind, spirit, and soul? Can I live with myself, knowing that I’m fighting not for the sake of some greater good, but simply because I can?

Will I be the enemy that finally delivers me to my fate?


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Clouded Horizons
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Canon Stories
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
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