By Page Sherman
A dying sun painted the skies pink and orange over Ivalice. The clouds were a milky gold and were spread above Ramza evenly...beautifully. In admiration, he gave one last look beyond the grassy hills, where the last view of Limberry loomed. The Marquis was put to eternal rest and Lucavi suffered another hard hit. But best of all, another Zodiac Stone was in his possession.
Or perhaps, he was being ungrateful. Best of all was their new teammate, Meliadoul.
"We're not traveling too far before we set up camp. Anybody tired?" Ramza stopped and asked his party. Everybody nodded, still sore from the battle with the assassins and, of course, Lucavi. "Alright, any volunteers for first watch?"
Agrias and Mustadio willingly took the position, leaving the party behind to set up the tents. As soon as the first one was pitched, Meliadoul forced herself in, shoving Rad flat on his butt in the process, and wouldn't let anybody visit her. Ramza scratched his head.
"She's probably...um...upset." He noted to himself, then shooed everybody away before they could try and pull her out.
Rad moaned, rubbing his tush, "I think I just hit a rock...I'll show her...". He sat up quickly, sitting back down after coming face to face with a Knight. "Ugh...?"
"Listen to Ramza! Don't bother the poor girl!" the Knight scolded, turning around briskly and helping with another tent.
Ramza nodded at the Knight, who did the same in response, and pulled Rad to his feet. He shoved a sword in his hand and sent him into the woods to collect firewood. "These kids are tired. I remember I used to be like that." After an abrupt, unfeeling laugh, he directed his eyes to the flap of Meliadoul's tent. The urge to talk to her slapped his heart and brain around, but he knew better. His inward battle ended when a tent fell on Malak and he rushed over to lend a hand.
The sun gave a last dying cry with the wolf as darkness invaded the skies. Blue clouds turned the heavens into oceans while the moon reflected its victory over Ivalice. As the nightlife began, Ramza's party retired. But Ramza himself sat wide awake, staring at the weakening fire. A Knight, the same that disciplined Rad, wandered out of his tent and joined Ramza.
"Can't sleep, sir?" asked the Knight, sitting on a log.
"Not without waking up. Why are you up, Roald?" Ramza responded, his gaze still fixed on the fire.
The Knight, Roald, sighed, ending it with a laugh. "At my age it's amazing I can't sleep whenever I want to. But when you drag your children to the battlefield with you, they still depend on you. I thought it would teach my daughter to be independent."
"...you must come from a respected military family, too...right?"
"Ivalice knows the name of Belouve all too well. My family is slowly making history."
"Meliadoul is another one who comes from such a background, it seems. Although, the name of Tingel is new to me."
"I've not heard it in my entire life....and that's a long time."
"You'll both make history after all this, though. ...sorry. I'm sure you weren't expecting to be chased by the Church for helping a 'heretic'."
"The Church doesn't bother me at all. It never has. It's this whole Lucavi thing that freaks me out. But it's not your fault. I, like you, just do what's naturally right."
"What about your daughter?"
"She follows me everywhere and vice versa. What can I do about it?"
"Well, I'm not one to comment. I'm a little young, don't you think?"
Roald raised a single eyebrow, reinforcing Ramza's response, "Yes."
"Hey, don't patronize me like that! I know right from wrong."
Roald smirked and backed off, laughing a little. "Of course you do...I mean that. You've proven it a dozen times already."
Both men stared at the fire, now only an immature little flame. Roald poked a stick at it, then threw one of the Ninja's fireballs into the pit. It flared, sending Ramza backwards, and calmed into a peaceful campfire again.
"Whoever owned that is going to eat you for lunch." Ramza warned with a laugh.
"I steal these all the time."
A girl's whine came from one of the tents. Ramza perked up, looking all around. "What was that?"
"My daughter." Roald, groaned, coming to his feet and turning toward the tent.
"She sounds hurt. Did she get hit hard in the last battle?"
"Oh sure. A minor sprain and she's hysterical. I'll whip her into shape one of these days."
"Don't say that. She's a hell of a mage."
"Nice of you to say, but I know she's capable of much more."
"More family history to preach to her about, I guess?"
"I'm sure you got sick of hearing about how great the Belouve name is and what kind of heritage you have. You don' t have to hear about all the wonderful stuff some dead people did to be a good person. Just know what you learned from those you ever loved. Like your father..."
Ramza fell silent and watched Roald slip away into the tent. He was one of the only people that had been through everything with Ramza, starting with meeting Algus in Mandalia Plains. Roald had known Balbanes and was even there for Ramza's birth. He was probably the only reflection of Balbanes Ramza had now, besides himself.
He was alone for a while. The new fire burned strong and warmed the entire length of his body. Hour long minutes passed until another whimper startled Ramza.
It didn't come from Roald's tent. It seemed to come from the more remote sections of the camp. It seemed to come from...Meliadoul's tent. This time, curiosity stepped up before common sense and Ramza made his way to her flap. Peering inside, he saw her hanging over a candlelight and a small trinket.
At this point, Ramza's throat went dry. Again, he knew better then to say something, but he also knew he'd regret it if he didn't. "M...Me...Meliadoul?"
Her shoulders jerked at the sound of another human voice. She didn't look at him, only replied with an icy "leave me alone".
Ramza, feeling ever bold and stubborn, stood his ground, hoping she wouldn't slit his throat for intruding. "I know you're upset, but what good does it do you to keep it all pent up inside you? Talk to me, please."
"NO!" She screamed, throwing her shoe at him. Ramza instinctively ducked behind the flap. The shoe flew out of the tent and straight into the dirt. Meliadoul threw herself onto her blankets and sobbed uncontrollably.
Ramza stared at her with pity, then walked over to retrieve the projectile shoe. Using this as a good excuse to welcome himself into the tent, he knelt beside her and handed her the shoe. She wouldn't look up, so he set it aside and looked at her trinket. A tiny golden locket lay in the middle of it's curled chain.
"It's a magic locket from Gariland Magic City. When you open it....it...plays music."
Ramza pinched it with his thumb and forefinger, lifting it up and flicking it open. Golden dust floated out from the inside as it played a soothing tune.
"...my father gave it to me for my 11th birthday."
Ramza's heart caved in immediately and he gulped hard. "It's lo..lovely."
"...I remember I dropped it in a creek and Izlude spent an entire hour looking for it. He got really sick but...he said he didn't care."
At this point, Ramza began to sweat profusely. Saying anything now would mean certain doom for him.
"If my father dies from this...I'll have nobody left."
"Don't lose hope..." Ramza jerked a little. Where'd that come from? He didn't mean to say anything. But of all the things he had to say, why did he say something as empty as that? What hope did she have? She had a point after all. As far as Ramza knew, once Lucavi inhabits a person, there's no exorcizing it.
"What good is knowing the truth if nothing ever gets any better from it?"
"What...are you saying?"
Meliadoul laid silent, then raised her head a little to glower at Ramza. "I'm saying I hate you!"
"Hate me!? What for?"
"Why did you have to come to Limberry!? At least I could have lived with my father until I died, never knowing he was ultimately doomed! Ignorance is bliss, you know!"
Ramza set up his defense immediately. "I came to Limberry to find my sister! Don't be so selfish!"
"NO! YOU stop being selfish! Your whole crusade to save the world is stupid! You are what makes the people suffer! You make me suffer! I hate you!"
"I only want to stop all the injustice that's making you suffer!"
"Then die! If you want to help me so much, take your own life!"
"Hah! I'll never let myself die until I've done what I know I have to! There's only one of 'em left now! Taking care of him will be easy! I'll save my sister and kill Lucavi!"
"NEVER! I'LL NEVER LET YOU COME NEAR MY FATHER!" Meliadoul's eyes sparked with rage like wildfire as she hurled a fist at Ramza's face. He grabbed her wrist twisted her into an arm lock. Struggling, Meliadoul tried everything to escape, including biting. She shouted random curses deliriously and screamed for Vormav. Eventually, her efforts wore her out and she went back to crying pathetically. Ramza slowly lowered her back onto the blankets. The locket played its tune in the background, filling the tent with golden dust.
Ramza finally spoke after minutes passed. "I'm sorry, Meliadoul. I want nothing more than to stop all killing. If I ever find a way...I'll save your father." More empty promises. There was nothing he could do for Vormav. Vormav was now Lucavi, as Lucavi was now Vormav.
"....I'm sorry, too. Saving your sister is important."
"We're not so different. We have many of the same afflictions. I lost my father, and I know you don't want to lose yours. You lost your brother, and you know I don't want to lose Alma. So...we'll cooperate?"
"If you ever need to talk-"
"I'm a Temple Knight like my father. Don't take me for a fool. I can...take care of myself!" Meliadoul interrupted threateningly. Ramza only smiled in response.
"Exactly. I'm sorry."
"You really...make me so mad..."
"I'm sorry." He still smiled.
Meliadoul gave him a low glare. "Get out!"
"Yes ma'am." Ramza widened his smile and briskly stepped out of her tent.
The morning sun made it's triumphant return, overpowering the dark army and sending it sailing away. White, puffy clouds were happy to return home, and Roald was happy to begin everybody's day ten minutes early. Confused soldiers poured out of their tents, looking for a cold washcloth and a hard biscuit. Meliadoul came out and joined the other girls for breakfast, who always piled into one side of the camp, picking out cute soldiers.
Ramza sat between Rad and Roald, not realizing what emotions were running between them. Rad would cower every time Roald even nudged his foot in his direction, which Ramza quickly noticed and immediately began poking fun at him.
Meliadoul watched Ramza from afar, hating and admiring everything about him. Agrias sat beside her and poked her shoulder. "He's cute, huh?"
"WHAT!?" Meliadoul went bright red and the other girls howled. Roald gave them all a look from the distance and they ducked their heads quietly.
"Knights are scary."
"That's my dad!"
"Rad's so cute in that silly green thief costume."
"I think that Delita guy we see every now and then is so amazing."
"Ugh, what a jerk!"
Eventually, the girlish babble faded into nothing but noise as Meliadoul numbly munched her biscuit. Her mind swept back to the night before. Ramza Belouve.....she didn't believe she'd ever get used to the name. Whatever she felt for him was nothing but obscure and clouded.
The sound of two pots hitting each other sent her back to the real world. There was Roald, ordering all the units to pack everything up and get a move on. Rad had an expression of complete terror on his face. He obviously thought Roald was going to hit him with the pots. Ramza went hysterical and began to tease Rad again.
"He's such a...boy!" Meliadoul commented out loud. The other girls looked at her blankly, then rushed to work so as to avoid Roald's wrath.
Within minutes, they were on the road again. The chocobo cart, carrying all their equipment, broke twice, and already three goblins had jumped out of nowhere. Roald quickly disposed of them and they kept going. Then the chocobo broke its restraints and fled, and Rad ran after it, finally catching it after hours. When he came back at last, they were on their way again. An enemy Knight charged through them, breaking all of Roald's equipment, after which he pummeled the hell out of the poor bandit and sent him running away to the woods. Everybody else seemed completely unfazed by all this, but Meliadoul considered it all extremely juvenile and plain unlucky.
"That's what traveling the road is like. You're used to carriages aren't you?" Ramza said.
"I'm used to civilized people. What's wrong with your party?" Meliadoul remarked cynically.
"Nothing. Actually, their temper comes in handy during battle."
"I find it a miracle that your Knight has been in your party for years."
"Hey, he's been a Knight for as long as you've been alive. I'd show some respect if I were you."
"Just kidding. If you talk to him outside all this stress, though, he's pretty normal. I think you find that out about a lot of people."
"Hah, yeah right. Remember me last night?"
"Perfectly natural response to everything that's happened. I'd be worried if you didn't go into a state."
Ramza kept walking ahead as Meliadoul stopped to stare at him. He turned back to face her after a few paces and smiled. "Come on, we're not stopping yet."
Meliadoul shook her head and ran to catch up again. She walked alongside him for a few moments, watching their feet move back in forth completely in sync with each other. "Ramza?"
"I probably would have completely lost my mind last night. You give me hope...not agony. I'm sorry...and thank you."
"I'm glad to hear that. Your welcome. And thank you."
"Thank you for just being human."
Meliadoul stopped again, watching Ramza continue on with nothing but admiration. Again, he turned, and only smiled at her as his eyes glittered with ambition and pure will.
Ramza Belouve...you are truly heaven sent.
Final Fantasy Tactics Fanfic
Page Sherman's Fanfiction