Duty That Binds Chapter 12
All is Calm
Firstly, a quick thank you to Lord Jareth and Animeanie who beta-read this
chapter. Your help is highly appreciated.
They were going to die. She
had been expecting this moment all her life and yet, now that it was before
her, it seemed unreal.
Uncountable shadows of various
weapons drifted toward the princess's unsuspecting neck, soon to reach her
own. Unable to close her eyes, Agrias only prayed for God's mercy on her
family's honour. And the sad thing was, she didn't even believe in God.
All movements were abruptly
withheld with absolute obedience, perfectly captured like a painting. The
mob of soldiers parted down the middle and a man on a black chocobo rode
out from where he'd been hidden in the shadows.
Agrias lifted her head, led
by the foreign voice that saved her once again. He appeared to be just another
soldier until he pushed up the visor of his helmet. Then there was no mistaking
that this was the man from the bar, though he was virtually transformed by
the heavy armor that protected his body. Beside him,the one who was glaring
at her with utmost contempt, was no doubt his subordinate whom she fought
against last night.
"We meet again."
His voice was low and steady,
confidence vibrating from his very core. She stood up to greet her enemy
and saviour and with her sword proudly erect, she kept the princess defiantly
"I guess there's more than
meets the eyes."
Agrias remained silent, not
trusting her body to perform any sort of movement.Her lungs complained for
air and she heaved with awkward fatigue.
"To have lasted this long
all by yourself. Impressive."
A bit of sarcasm and perhaps
amusement touched his voice, causing Agrias to tighten her stance.
"Not just myself." she
"Still. a brave feat, I must
"Get to the point," said
Agrias, her words loudly echoing from the chasm below and the silence that
"Give us the girl and you
may go free."
Duga opened his mouth but
a hand immediately silenced him. The rocks shifted as the princess took a
risky step behind, as everyone waited for the obvious answer.
Weapons chimed and the ground
rumbled with soft astonishment.
"I understand that trust
is an issue here but rest assured as you are a much needed messenger," he
"That and a matter of
The man got off his chocobo,
taking several steps forward. His hand rested comfortably on the hilt of
"I suggest you take my offer
before I change my mind."
"You don't have a choice,
unless you choose death over this opportunity."
"I wouldn't call this an
His hand left his sword and
folded over his chest as curiosity stroked his
"And why not?"
"Because I'd never betray
Thin lips perched open and
sardonic laughter immediately followed suite. Impassively, Agrias watched
him as his head swung back for the skies to hear him as well. The laughter
was then abruptly ended, eyes grinding with wild anger into Agrias's patient
and waiting ones.
"What country is Ivalice
when her people are starving and living in constant fear? What country is
Ivalice with nobles as her rulers? Power left within those fools shall only
destroy this kingdom. You betray no one but justice and yourself by siding
with those bloody curs."
"Your actions make you no
different by taking the princess's life."
"Her end will not be necessary
if she cooperates. In fact, it would be ideal if she lived."
"So you could use her."
"The princess is a small
sacrifice for Ivalice's rejuvenation."
"So you're going to take
the princess hostage until they give into your
"I'm not obligated to answer
"You do realize that if you
take the princess now, you'll only start a
"And a war it shall be to
lead us to freedom and much deserved equality."
His voice, slow and methodic,
attacked her own determination but this was a question that she asked herself
many times, each attempt successfully answered by her own reason. Honour.
"Two wrongs don't make a
right. A war would only bring more suffering and pain."
"It couldn't be worse than
now. We farm the land and the nobles take it. Do you know how many people
starve to death everyday? Those of us who were drafted into the war were
immediately abandoned once it was over. Some had to desert their pride and
became mercenaries. Others rot in the middle of nowhere with nothing after
giving their life to protect Ivalice. Of course,a noble like you could never
understand our pain."
Agrias shook her head.
"Then I don't see a point
in this conversation."
His armour clamoured as he
shrugged his shoulders, a ghostly smile matched with sharp angry eyes drifting
across his hard features.
"Don't be so hasty, after
all, it is the princess who has to make the decision. Our young, vibrant
little princess who has her whole future ahead of her."
His eyes zoomed to the girl
hiding behind Agrias, raising his voice so that
she may clearly hear him.
"A waste if you have to lose
everything here, ain't that right, your highness? You have 100 counts."
The swarm of soldiers all
took several steps back, just as their leader had done, reluctantly giving
Agrias and her charge minimal privacy.
One. Two. Three.
The soft shaking voice of
the princess snuck into the air, begging for guidance. Regretfully, a stale
report of their current situation was all Agrias could offer her. If only
there was a more poetic way to put this.
"You have two choices, your
highness. The path behind you, or the one in front. Choose."
Agrias could clearly see
the drastic heaving of the princess's chest, evident panic reflecting in
her shifting eyes that darted everywhere except reality.
Ten. Eleven. Twelve.
"But-I-I-I can't. I don't
"You must. Quickly."
Fifteen. Sixteen. Seventeen.
The numbers, each loudly announced was like a countdown of her sanity. Ovelia
looked to her feet, her heart beating vibrantly within her chest. Everything
had always been decided for her and now that she had a
chance to make a choice, fear was all that ran through her mind. She glanced
timidly behind Agrias then down the chasm. A wave of wind swept up, weaving
through her hair as vertigo flashed into her. How she wished Alma was here,
she would have known what to do and everything would be fine. Twenty-five.
"I can't do this! Why is
Agrias grabbed her shoulders
and steadied her flailing movements.
"Because it is, so we must
deal. Asking why won't solve anything."
The calm within her bodyguard's
eyes gathered her worries and restrained them. Ovelia clung onto the thick
blue leather to retain the little bit of judgment that lingered.
"What about you?"
"I've already chosen."
"What is it?"
"It's irrelevant. But I can
tell you this. The man before you needs you alive, the path behind couldn't
"What do you--"
"It's your choice, not
Fifty. Agrias was firm, entrusting her with confidence, without judgment
or expectations. But it still solved nothing. They all tried to present it
as black and white, life and death, but she knew it was more
than that. If she chose to live, it would be under their will, the same life
as she had before. And once they were done with her, it would be the same
as choosing death. In the end, it was the same.
Ovelia looked to Agrias once
again. Her hair was a mess, a bruise faintly visible on the corner of her
mouth and left eye but she still shone with pride and dignity. That was because
Agrias chose to stay, as proven when she rejected that man's offer, guarding
her even now at this hopeless moment. If she had the choice, she would choose
her freedom but, that option had never existed.
Ovelia's shaking hands gradually
steadied as she looked at the world through her own eyes, life and death
presenting the last moment of truth to her. She'll never get what she want
but she'll settle for second best.
"I don't want to be used."
It was softly spoken so that
only Agrias could hear her. There was a short moment of surprise reflected
on Agrias's face, indicated by the slight opening of her mouth which gradually
turned into a small smile.
"That's very brave of you,"
The praise was returned with
a bright smile of her own.
"Not at all. Just a matter
Agrias released her charge
and turned to face the overwhelming crowd with a clear verdict at 87
"The princess has chosen."
Agrias dug the end of her
sword into the ground and dragged, breaking the surface loudly. A deep wound
within the rocks now clearly separated the two parties.
The man raised this sword
and all the bows were strung in place for the final order. It looked like
a whole forest of them, and they were nothing but targets that were impossible
to miss. It was almost amusing to think how their corpses would look with
all those arrows in place.
"Wait," called Agrias.
"Changed your mind?" mocked
Duga but his leader immediately shot him a
look, which silenced him effectively.
"We'll do this ourselves."
As if granting their final
request, the arrows were taken down leaving them with a sword and the chasm
close by their feet. From the angle of Agrias's gaze, Ovelia knew which her
"Agrias, since we're going
"No, you're not going to."
A stiff, strong arm pulled
her close by the waist. The heavy rising of Agrias's chest pushed against
her cheek, although nothing was shown on her bodyguard's face.
"Whatever you do, don't let
go of me."
Ovelia obeyed and wrapped
her arms around the cold armour that Agrias wore, squeezing her eyes shut.
They took a step back, and another until their heels hit the very edge of
"Name's Vermeer Goiya.
A soft smirk touched a corner
of Agrias's mouth. Despite his methods, this was a good man with admirable
"Agrias Oaks Chateaubriad."
And together, they jumped,
the army of archers, monks, squires and Vermeer Goiya disappearing immediately,
down, down into endless darkness. A strange giddiness captured their hearts
as they plummeted.
Agrias struggled to open
her eyes, as she felt her braid being tugged by passing winds. The chasm
was deep as even not a speck of light could reach the bottom and indicate
their height. Nevertheless, Agrias tightened her grip on her sword and
concentrated, a dim glow slowly illuminating from her blade. And it hurt.
A deep agonizing throb attacked her as her body recalled yesterday's fight
and her previous usage of a Stasis sword but the moment the princess chose
this path, she knew she had to succeed, no matter how slim their chances
Patiently, ignoring the need
to close her eyes, Agrias sucked every bit of power she had into her sword,
waiting for the perfect moment. It was an obscure concept as perfect was
undefined, only played within her head and it had to be perfect or all would
Finally, the ground was visible
and within a fury of thoughts, Agrias released an arc of raw holy energy.
The rocks promptly exploded upon impact but most importantly, a strong gust
of reaction force rushed towards their plunging bodies, capturing their falling
But something was wrong,
instead of being pushed backwards, they were being catapulted to a side.
She had released her attack too soon and at the wrong angle and now, both
of them would have to pay.
At first, it was as if they
were gliding until Agrias's left shoulder touched the ground. A piece of
armour flew into the open as their bodies dragged heavily over the rugged
terrain. They rolled and tumbled in a mess of debris until their traveling
speed was eroded into nothing,leaving the two bodies in a still mess,
To be continued...
I learned a new word today.
Malarkey (n). Very interesting word which means utter nonsense. Personally,
I like it very much. Sample sentence: What I have just said is pure malarkey,
therefore it is highly recommended that you discard it all from your minds.
Thank you for reading.