Legacy of Honor Prologue

By Silveran

The Lesalian Imperial Capital.

The capital stood at the heart of Ivalice for it IS the heart of Ivalice. Many merchants come daily to sell their wares at the huge city square that was located at the center of the capital where nobles and commoners alike could browse through the items. The taverns were full of drunken fools and rumors that spread rapidly like wildfire.

The sound of dogs barking and children playing in the streets were mixed with the sound of bartering merchants and warking chocobos, the normal din of the bustling capital.

But on this particular day, the capital remained strangely quiet. A lonely wind blew through the empty streets, scattering leaves in its wake.

The city square was transformed from a bustling marketplace into a court of law. Knights surrounded the square in order to quell any riot that may occur. In front of the square were two platforms; one facing the crowd and the other facing the other platform.

A lanky man with long black hair that framed a sallow face stood on the platform facing the crowd. He wore a black frock coat and black breeches. He stared at the big crowd that had gathered to hear the proceedings with his black eyes.

On the other platform stood two knights that flanked the accused. The prisoner looked at the judge and the thought of carrion crows was brought to mind. The captive then took a quick glimpse at a little girl that stood in front of the crowd, looking confused and frightened.

The little girl wondered why everyone was here. She was confused by all of this, she only being at the tender age of four. “What’s going on, grandpa?” she asked in a soft voice to the man holding her hand.

“I don’t know, Ramia,” he replied in a gentle voice.

The man was as confused as the child was. The night before, Shrine Knights had barged into his keep asking for his daughter and arresting her. He demanded to know on what charges she was being arrested for and they said that he’d receive his answers at the public hearing tomorrow.

And so here he was with his granddaughter, waiting for the proceedings to begin. He frowned as he heard some nearby conversations.

“A Holy Knight you say?” an old woman asked incredulously.

“Yes,” a baritone voice replied gravely. “It’s sad really. She was one of the best, or so I heard.”

“What did she do to deserve this?” an old man asked curiously.

“Don’t know,” a middle-aged man answered. “Rumor has it, though, that she defected with a heretic.”

“You don’t say!” someone gasped.

Ramia’s grandfather couldn’t believe what he was hearing. It couldn’t be true. His daughter defected with a heretic! It was an insane thought! If he ever found who spread those rumors, they would pay dearly! He knew his daughter would never defect with a heretic. She had served the royal family and church loyally ever since she became a knight. To betray them was against her code of honor.

This is ludicrous!, he thought angrily. They’ll see that they had made a mistake and everything will return to normal. He nodded to reassure himself and waited patiently for the proceedings to begin.

After a few moments, the lanky man raised his thin arms signaling for the proceedings to begin. The crowd became silent and attentive as they listened to the man’s words.

“People of Lesalia,” he began in his deadpan voice, “I am Jaren Kazut, a Holy Priest of the Glabados Church.”

Ramia heard her grandfather gasp and looked up to see him staring at Jaren with wide eyes and slightly gaping mouth. “Grandpa, what’s wrong?” she asked in a small voice.

Her grandfather didn’t listen as he continued to stare in shock at the priest. A priest?!, he thought. Then that means... No, I refuse to believe it! This has got to be a mistake!

“You,” the priest refused to acknowledge the prisoner‘s name, “have been charged with heresy!”

There came a collective gasp from the crowd. “Then the rumor was true!” someone exclaimed.

“But where’s the proof?” someone else demanded, echoed by the rest of the crowd. The accused was popular among commoners and nobles alike. Jaren’s declaration angered them. Even the knights surrounding the square seemed a bit uneasy.

The priest raised his arms again, silencing the crowd once more. “The proof,” he began once he got the crowd’s attention, “is right here!” He pulled out a bunch of papers from his coat and waved it at the crowd.

“Now tell me, good people of Lesalia, who ended the Lion War five years ago?” Jaren asked.

“Our benevolent King Delita,” a man replied deep in the crowd.

“That is correct,” Jaren nodded in agreement. “But,” he held up the papers, “according to this, our king wasn’t the one that ended the war. These papers claim that a blasphemer, a heretic, ended the war. It also tells that our king was born a commoner! Can you believe that? Our king, nothing but a commoner?!”

Shouts of No! rang throughout the square.

“These papers speak ill of our king,” the priest continued his tirade. “Claiming that he wasn’t the one that ended the war and claiming that he isn’t of noble birth! The person that wrote this has already been burned at the stake for conjuring these lies!”

“And I suppose I will be too for knowing those so-called lies,” the prisoner spoke for the first time. “More like the truth actually.”

“So!” Jaren exclaimed as he pointed at the accused. “You admit that you have joined the heretic, Ramza Beoulve, on his crusade!”

“I only admit to knowing the truth behind the war,” the prisoner replied strongly.

“What truth is there?” the priest demanded. “Prince Larg and Prince Goltana waged war over the throne! Everyone could see that! Am I right, people of Lesalia?”

Shouts of affirmation came from the crowd.

Jaren smirked. “You see? Everyone knows the truth and, therefore, your ‘truth’ must be a lie; one of the lies that Olan Durai wrote in these papers.”

The prisoner gritted her teeth. So Olan was brave enough to confront the church with the truth, she thought sadly. At least he tried. Rest well, my friend. You earned it. The priest’s impassive voice then brought her back from her thoughts.

“Then there’s the death of Queen Ovelia,” Jaren carried on. “Some believe it to be suicide while others claim that it was murder. King Delita believes it to be the former and so did no further investigation. However, the church has investigated into this matter and has come to the conclusion that Queen Ovelia was murdered!”

“By whom?” someone shouted.

“I was hoping someone would ask that question,” the priest smiled, reminding the prisoner of cats that have cornered their prey. “Isn’t it obvious?”

The prisoner heard the crowd murmur in speculation. “Now you’re going to add murder to my charges?” she disputed.

“Why not?” the priest returned. “If I’m not mistaken, you used to be Queen Ovelia’s bodyguard while she was staying at Orbonne Monastery. And you still remained her bodyguard when she became Queen.”

“Nonsense!” the prisoner objected. “I wasn’t even present at her coronation!”

“Perhaps,” Jaren allowed, “but you still remained loyal to her. You deny returning to her after the war?”

“I do not deny that,” the prisoner stated. “But I have no reason to kill her! It was my duty to protect her! Why would I want to kill her?”

“Because she found out that you were a heretic and tried to do the justice of killing you herself, but ended up getting killed,” Jaren replied.

“What?!” the accused exclaimed unbelievingly.

Jaren nodded. “There were signs of a struggle within that church ruin. And,” he motioned for a knight, who held a small dagger across his palms, to step forward. Jaren then took the proffered dagger and flashed it to his gathered audience.

“This,” he resumed, “was found at the scene of the crime! A dagger that is commonly carried by Holy Knights! The guilty, besides the King, is the only person close enough that could commit such a grisly act!”

The prisoner opened her mouth to protest then quickly shut it. If I point out that Delita was also a Holy Knight before becoming king and that he could have committed the crime, then the priest will add treason to my list of charges for speaking against the king, she thought then chuckled to herself. I’m already dead anyway. It would make no difference.

She then glared defiantly at the priest as she shouted, “King Delita also carried such a dagger. Perhaps he killed her for I have no reason to.”

“Treason!” the priest gasped. “You speak against your king! You’re already deep in hot water, Agrias Oaks.” He spat the name as if it left a bitter taste in his mouth. “Do you want me to add treason to your charges?”

Agrias shrugged. “It does not matter,” she said. “I’m already dead.”

Jaren smiled shrewdly at Agrias before looking at the crowd. “People of Lesalia,” he began, “I have nothing further to discuss. You have heard her case and I believe her to be guilty on all three charges: guilty of heresy for aiding a heretic, guilty of murder for the death of Queen Ovelia, and guilty of treason for suggesting that the king had killed his own wife! Does any have anything to say in her defense?”

The crowd seemed uneasy and some knights looked defeated. They all wanted to say something in her defense but they were afraid that they would be branded a heretic for helping a heretic.

Ramia noticed that her grandfather suddenly seemed cold and distant. “Grandpa?” she asked tentatively but her grandfather ignored her deliberately.

“Does anyone want to add anything to these proceedings?” Jaren inquired after a moment of silence.

“Yes, I do,” Ramia heard her grandfather reply as he stepped forward.

Jaren looked at the slightly built man, who sported a long mustache and shoulder-length blonde hair. “Name and occupation?” the priest queried.

“Lord Agnes Oaks,” the man replied loudly, “retired commander of Lesalia’s St. Konoe Knights.”

Jaren’s brow raised a fraction in speculation when he heard the man’s name. “I assume that you are Agrias’ father...?” Agnes nodded. “And have you come to defend your daughter, Lord Oaks?” Jaren continued.

This time Agnes shook his head. “No,” he replied.

“A wise decision, Lord Oaks,” the priest smiled. “Now, what is it that you wish to add?”

“This,” Agnes stated as he roughly grabbed Ramia by the hand and shoved her in front of him. The little girl let out a small whimper at her grandfather’s rough behavior. Jaren looked curiously at the girl then at Lord Oaks, prompting him to explain.

“She is her child,” Agnes informed the priest. “What shall be done to her?”

Jaren rubbed his chin as he gazed at the young girl. “I wasn’t informed that she had a child,” he said. “Who is the father?”

“I don’t know,” Agnes shrugged. “She never really spoke about the father and so I assumed that he might have been killed during the war.”

Jaren remained silent for a while, pondering on what to do with a heretic’s child. Then: “How old is she?” he asked.

“Four,” Agnes stated.

Jaren nodded and smiled. “You don’t have to worry, Lord Oaks. She is still at the age of innocence and, therefore, is not tainted by her mother’s blood. But I do question about the father.” He then turned his gaze to Agrias.

“I’ll take that secret with me to my grave,” Agrias stated defiantly.

“A pity,” the priest said regretfully. “Then perhaps a little persuasion will help loosen your tongue.”

Jaren motioned to the two knights standing on either side of Agrias. The knights began shoving the prisoner towards the other platform. “I had not plan on turning this public hearing to a public scourging,” the priest informed the crowd. “But the issue of this child’s heritage rests in her hands. She determines the future of her daughter, whether she goes free or work along with her mother because of her unclean blood if I deem the father is unclean as well.”

Jaren then turned to Agrias, who was being tied up to a post by the two knights. Her armor was removed and her long braided hair cut, leaving her back exposed. “I ask you one last time who the father is and I will end this public display of your humiliation,” Jaren offered.

Agrias remained silent.

“Very well,” the priest said then nodded to one of the knights.

The knight, his cape and breastplate removed, let fall the coils of a heavy whip. He snapped it a few times, the cracks deafening to those close by. Ramia wondered what the knight planned to do with the weapon. She then gasped when the knight landed his first lash against her mother’s back. The lash cut through her blue tunic and left a long, angry stripe of red against her flesh.

“Grandpa! What’s happening???” Ramia asked frantically as she tugged on Agnes’ pant leg. “Why are they hurting Mama??? Why???”

“Be quiet!” Agnes whispered harshly, slapping the child’s hand away from his leg. Ramia whimpered as she cradled her injured hand. “And stay quiet!” her grandfather added angrily.

Ramia looked up fearfully at her grandfather. His behavior had quickly changed from a loving grandfather to a monster. What’s going on???, she thought desperately.

After ten lashes, Jaren motioned the knight to stop. He then turned to Agrias, who was slightly breathing heavily. “Unpleasant, yes?” He smiled one of his feral smiles. “But you can stop the pain just by telling me who the father is. Well?”

Agrias remained adamantly silent.

“Very well,” Jaren sighed before motioning the knight to continue.

The knight only managed to deliver two blows before a child’s cry broke through his concentration.

“Mama!” Ramia shouted as she ran to the platform.

“Come back here!” Agnes demanded as he ran after the child.

Ramia continued to run and soon she was on the platform, tugging at the priest’s robes. “Stop, please!” she cried, tears running down her slightly chubby cheeks. “I’ll tell, I’ll tell!”

Soon, Agnes came muttering apologies as he was about to take Ramia but Jaren motioned him to halt. He then looked at the child and smiled as he knelt down to her size. “Do you know who your father is?” he asked her gently. Ramia nodded meekly. “Can you tell me who he is? What’s his name?”

“Ramia, no!” Agrias protested, her voice heavy with pain.

“Go on, child,” Jaren encouraged with a smile. “Tell me who he is and your mother will feel no more pain.”

“You promise?” the girl asked.

“I swear it on St. Ajora,” the priest nodded.

“Ok,” Ramia said. She then began to tell everything she knew about her father. “Mama said that Papa was a noble man who fought in the war,” she said. “She said that Papa was a great swordsman and that I should be proud of him.”

“Can you tell me his name?” Jaren asked, biding his patience.

“No,” Ramia shook her head. “Mama never told me his name, only stories.”

“Clever, Agrias,” the priest smirked as he turned to look at her. “Not even telling your own child the name of her father. Clever indeed. I would flog you some more but I gave your child my word,” he said this while patting Ramia’s head. “I find no fault with the child. She is free to grow up normally.”

He then stood up and faced the crowd. “The time for questioning has passed,” he shouted over the din. “Now it’s time for the sentencing.”

As the priest addressed the crowd, Agrias felt her bonds removed from the post. She forced herself to stand upright, for she would not show weakness. But—by St. Ajora!—her back felt like it was on fire!

“Agrias Oaks,” Jaren began as he faced her, “you have been found guilty on all three charges of heresy, murder, and treason. You are hereby stripped of your rank and are sentenced to help rebuild Fort Zeakden and other ruins from the war along with other convicts such as yourself for as long as you have breath in your body.”

“What?!” Agrias exclaimed as she took a threatening step towards the priest. That small movement, however, sent her vision whirling, her back afire. She suddenly felt very weak and would have fallen if one of the knights hadn’t caught her.

“You thought you were going to be sentenced to death,” Jaren stated, “but that is not the case. Because of your excellent service as a Holy Knight, your sentence is moderate at best. But I don’t like the idea of heretics, like yourself, being left alive and being able to spread ‘lies’ around, so here’s what I’ll do. Your tongue shall be cut so no one can hear your blasphemies.”

“I’d rather prefer death than lifelong servitude!” Agrias shouted defiantly.

“I see death as an act of mercy,” the priest countered, “a luxury that one seeks to escape this world. Well,” he smiled cruelly, “you won’t find that luxury anytime soon. I’ll make sure of it.” He waved an arm and shouted, “Take the prisoner away!”

Seeing that the hearing was at an end, the crowd began to disperse. Some shook their heads while others whispered disappointment. Several knights were regretful that they couldn’t help the one who may have one day been Commander of Lesalia’s knights.

Wondering where they were taking her mother, Ramia ran after them, shouting, “Mama!”

“No, Ramia,” Agnes said gently as he grabbed the child by the shoulder. His demeanor had softened when the priest had announced that she was innocent.

The little girl looked up tearfully at her grandfather. “Where are they taking her?” she asked innocently. “Where?”

Agnes knelt down and looked at her sadly. “I’m sorry, Ramia, but you must forget about your mother,” he said. “Forget that she WAS even your mother. It’s for your own good.”

“Why?” Ramia sniffed as she rubbed an arm across her teary eyes. “Why do I have to forget? What did she do? Did she do something bad?”

Lord Oaks sighed. Though the priest said that Ramia is innocent, I cannot help but feel burdened by her, he thought miserably. He then saw Jaren walk away to follow the guilty. “Milord!” he called out to him.

Jaren looked back and asked a bit impatiently, “What is it, Lord Oaks? I am a very busy priest.”

Agnes took Ramia by the hand and went up to the lanky priest. “It’s Ramia,” he replied. “I know she is innocent,” he quickly added when Jaren was about to retort, “but I cannot raise her. Her presence will always remind me of this day and my presence will always remind her of her mother, who she must certainly forget.”

Jaren stroked his pointed chin as he pondered on Agnes’ argument. “Yes, Lord Oaks,” he nodded after a moment’s pause, “your reasoning is sound. Very well. I will take the child until I can find a noble family that will adopt her.”

Agnes nodded then knelt down besides the little girl. “I’m sorry, Ramia, but I must leave you,” he said to her. “You’ll be safer with Father Jaren than with me. Please understand.” He then hugged her tightly. “Know that I love you and you’ll always be close to my heart.” His voice started to crack with emotion and he had to pull away lest he lose control of them. He looked one last time at his granddaughter, imprinting her face into his mind for all eternity, then walked away only to disappear into the crowd.

“Grandpa!” Ramia shouted after him but only watched as he walked away from her life, maybe forever.

“Ramia,” the priest called softly and the little girl turned to see his hand extended. “Come, child. I have many tasks to do and you are one of them.”

Ramia looked back, hoping to get a glimpse of her grandfather one last time but she never manage to find him. She then reluctantly took the priest’s hand and followed automatically to their destination. She was confused and frightened. She lost the only family she knew in one day. Her future seemed as uncertain as to what life has to bring on the morrow.

Ramia looked back at the two platforms, at the city square, at the place where her life had changed before it was swallowed from her vision by Lesalia’s walls as both she and the priest turned a corner. That was the last time she would set eyes on that city square...

The trial of Agrias Oaks was the first to mark the beginning of what was later known as “The Purge”, the hunting down of heretics who were written in Olan’s papers.

As to the fate of Ramia Oaks, she was adopted into the Birch family, who was stationed in Limberry. Lord Andrew Birch was a good friend to Lord Agnes Oaks and had welcomed the child with open arms.

And so, Ramia Oaks became Ramia Birch.

Chapter 1

Final Fantasy Tactics Fanfic