"In the landscape of extinction, precision is next to godliness." ― Samuel Beckett
Standing on one of the many hills in the area she looks over the once so green forest. The beautiful flowers that used to bloom and the lotus plants are now lying broken and withered on the ground. Destroyed and flooded villages are lying beneath her, and while the buildings suggest an atmosphere of opulence, there is also a feeling of atrophy and ruin. The once vibrant streets now lay on the path of one of the many rushing waterfalls. A constant giant hole consists in the weirdly coloured sky, and the whole area is permanently bathed in a golden evening glow. The moment she turns her head away with a sigh, a deep voice sounds from behind her and she turns around to see her Shifter colleague walking up the hill as well.
"What's wrong, Relm?" A man with large gauntlets asks the girl, as he appears next to her.
"Nothing, Aiden. It's just… this landscape," she answers.
"What is it? The forest?"
"Yes, or rather, the forest and villages that used to be here. It was all so beautiful and now it's all gone."
"You're right about that." He says, while gazing into the distance with her. Sadly, their thoughts are quickly interrupted when they see a new group of shadows appear.
"Ready to finish them, kid?" Aiden asks.
"Yes. And stop calling me kid!" Relm answers as she takes her chain and sickle from her back and gives him an annoyed look, which in turn triggers a loud laugh from Aiden.
"Then let's do this!" He exclaims, jumping down the hill and into battle.
After the fight they begin to walk towards one of the Rift holes, their only ways home. On their way, they pass through some bamboo forests and decide to clean their weapons in a large river that stretches through multiple areas. Passing through one of the many gates in this world they soon enter another area, one with less forest and instead more ancient ruins, temples and a few little bridges.
Walking through this dangerous world, one can never shake off the unsettling feeling of always being followed or watched. Even after you've defeated the enemy, new ones will appear. Sometimes rapidly after one another and sometimes you will be able to walk through a few more areas before getting attacked.
"Not much of a challenge. Those were just some low level shadows." Aiden says, noticeably disappointed. "Then again, you can't handle too much of these, can you now?" He continues teasing the younger Shifter.
"Haha, very funny but I can handle larger shadows just fine." Relm replies, rolling her eyes.
"Sure you can… But why are you in such a hurry, kid?" Aiden asks with a raised brow when he sees Relm is beginning to walk in a faster pace.
"One; because you're really annoying and two; I am curious about who the new recruit will be."
"Aha, I completely forgot about that…" He mumbles to himself.
"Guess, we won't be calling you 'the new kid' anymore, huh?" He then asks with a mocking grin.
"You know, for a grown man, you can be so childish sometimes."
"Not true. Anyway, I heard that this new kid is coming from the Midgar base."
"The Floating City huh? Interesting."
"Well I wouldn't be too sure about that. The Captain doesn't like me saying this, but if you ask me I think the cities' Shifter bases usually consist of a bunch of spoiled rich kids who think they look cool when fighting a few 'scary monsters'. Unlike us in the villages, who actually have to fight to survive, they would not last a day on the front lines. I don't think they would even last an hour outside the magic barriers."
"You can't judge people like that, Aiden. I'm sure every Shifter takes their work very serious. Plus, we haven't even met this new recruit yet."
"Fine with me, but don't tell me I didn't warn you when the new recruit suddenly leaves you on your own while on a mission."
"He wouldn't do that. Nobody does that."
"Yeah maybe you're right… Hey, are you alright?" Aiden stops his pondering after seeing the younger Shifter fidgeting with her left arm.
"Yes, yes I'm fine."
"Your arm doesn't look so good, it's full of scratches and gashes. Can't you heal it?"
"I can't exactly heal it the normal way, remember?"
"Oh that's right… Well, come on then, let's hurry." Aiden says, starting to fasten his pace. But, while passing through the last area, another group of shadows suddenly appears behind them.
"What is with these things today?" Relm asks, clearly frustrated.
"Weird, they seem to appear more than usual." Aiden notes with a confused look.
"Whatever let's just finish them off." Relm mutters.
"Will you be okay with your arm like that?"
"Of course! So stop worrying." Relm says, rushing into the horde.