Thanks to tyrerk for the inspiration!
Currently replaying FFVI and it came to me that maybe Sabin drowned in the Lethe and Cyan got poisoned with the rest of Doma, that’s the reason they end up in the phantom train, which would be invisible for the living. They escape death through sheer muscle!
Dunno where shadow fits in this, or why Kefka is able to see them in the camp, but oh well..
Kefka is able to see them because they haven’t died yet. Kefka plans to dump poison into Doma’s river to kill all of the inhabitants. Shadow and Sabin try to stop him, but they fail and citizens, including the Imperial soldiers held at Doma, die.
So everyone in Doma drank the water supply at the same time? That’s absurd. But maybe Kefka’s poison was less analogy to liquid, and more so cyanide?
Sewer gas is
“a complex mixture of toxic and nontoxic gases produced and collected in sewage systems by the decomposition of organic household or industrial wastes, typical components of sewage”
This type of gas is usually non-lethal, and even non-toxic.
“Sewer gases may include hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, methane, esters, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides.”
The concentrate found in homes and sewers aren’t high enough to kill humans.
But what if Kefka created a compound that, along with cyanide, would kill humans upon inhalation? We think Kefka was running away from our fight because he was weak. But considering he had an extremely toxic mixture in his hands to dump. He didn’t want to die from inhaling it.
After he dumps the poison, he scatters. He knows what will happen to all of the people there, including Sabin, Cyan, and Shadow. Their constitution seems relatively strong. But when they get to the Phantom Forest, this is when I believe they start to feel weak. They trek through the Phantom Forest symbolizes their journey to death.
The trio boards the Phantom Train and learns they must shut off the engines to escape. They enlist the help of a ghost and stop the train.
This is the same train that Cyan will later witness:
Elayne’s and Owain’s spirits, along with the spirits of the victims of Doma Castle, board the train, and Cyan grieves the loss of his family.
The fact that they’re able to board the Phantom Train to the underworld, the “train that carries the dead to the “other side”“ tells us they’re in a near-death state. This is the only place in the game where we interact with ghosts.
Shadow may leave, but only before his time is up, in which he comes back to life. If he doesn’t, he helps you figure out how to stop the Phantom Train. Fighting the Phantom Train only illustrates their need to survive. Sabin suplexing the Phantom Train is one of Final Fantasy’s most iconic moment in conquering death.