Legacy of Honor Chapter 5
Bervenia Free City.
A town under the divine guidance and protection of the Church. They claimed dominance of this small city because of its significance. It is said that St. Ajora was born in this very town.
According to historical texts, it was an uneventful night. His birth was treated like any ordinary birth with a midwife to help the mother in the birthing. The child was not considered significant. All the family hoped for was that He would survive the first few years of His life since there was a high mortality rate for young children during that age.
The Church, however, tell a different tale.
Religious texts claim that during the night of His birth, a choir of angels had appeared to hunters outside of the city singing their praises to God proclaiming the birth of His Son. Shocked at what they saw, the hunters decided to pay the Son of God a visit.
Somewhere far to the east, three men saw a star that shone brighter than the rest. They say that it was a sign from God announcing the birth of a Miracle Child. Like the hunters before them, they went to search for this child, following the star that they believed would lead them. After months of travel, they finally reached Bervenia, the star they had saw in the east shining brightly directly above. They went to see the child in His home, bringing him gifts from the East, before returning home to bring news of this child.
Of course these were just stories fabricated by the Church to explain Ajoras divine origins, to explain how He, as a child, was able to prophesy about a calamity that would befall on Bervenia.
Everyone in Ivalice know about the tale of St. Ajora when He was a child, how He had walked up to the well in the middle of Bervenia and foretold that disaster will come from it and that the people of the city must not drink from it.
Several days later, plague swept through the city killing those who drank the tainted well water. The families who had listened to the boy survived and had not fallen to the disease. This was how St. Ajora had earned the title of Son of God.
And why the Church claimed Bervenia under its jurisdiction.
It was home to many knights of the Church, ranking from lowly Shrine Knight to prestigious Divine Knight. It was also home to many Church officials who alternately conduct services at the lavish temple built around the well where Ajora had prophesied. But most importantly, it was home to one distinguished family of the Church.
The city knew the Tingels, knew Vormav Tingel to be the Head of the Temple Knights of the Murond Glabados Church and in charge of the High Priests safety. Knew Izlude Tingel to be loyal to the Church and to his family. And also knew Meliadoul Tingel to be headstrong and obedient when it came to serving the Church with her blade.
But whatever happened to the family?, people had wondered as they passed by their house which stood a block away from the temple.
During the past five years, it had stood there empty. No one dared enter it as if it would defy God Himself. But unbeknownst to the citizens of Bervenia, a Tingel once again roamed in their midst.
Meliadoul stood in the shadow of the temple, staring at the house she had once called home, clothed in a dark brown cloak with a hood that covered her stern features.
Her home had begun to decay with the windows dusty and cobwebs hanging in the corners. Though made mostly of stone and mortar, it was beginning to crack and the wood that helped support it was beginning to rot from lack of maintenance. Give it a few more years and the house would literally crumble to dust.
However, that did not matter to her as she walked away from the shadows and into the sunlit streets, heading towards a shady building near the entrance of town. The former Divine Knight, now turned mercenary, entered the shabby establishment and stopped immediately at the sight of a Shrine Knight speaking with the administrator of the soldier office.
The Shrine Knight turned towards her at her entry then turned back towards the owner to finish up their conversation. After a few minutes, the owner nodded and the Shrine Knight left.
Meliadoul watched the knight go before approaching the owner. What was that about, Rudo? she asked the overseer.
Rudo looked out of place sitting behind his desk all cluttered with papers for he did not look like one to handle paperwork. Hands that looked to grip the hilt of a sword or the stock of a crossbow held a quill pen in fingers that seemed strong enough to squeeze someones neck. He wrote something on a piece of parchment while motioning to Meliadoul to take a seat.
The cloaked woman obliged pulling a chair up to the desk and waiting patiently for the man to finish. While looking at the overseer, she wondered how he had received the job. His stature was one made for a warrior with his broad chest and wide shoulders. The man hardly smiled much, always composed and cautious. Despite that, she knew that a warm heart hid beneath that rough exterior.
After a few minutes, Rudo was finished with his task replacing the quill back into its inkpot. He then looked up at Meliadoul with a faint smile across his harsh features. Just the person I wanted to see! he exclaimed in greeting to the woman. The Shrine Knight you just saw offered an interesting proposition. Care to listen?
Meliadoul leaned back in her chair. If it has something to do with the Heretical Hunt thats been going on, then you have my ears, she replied casually but in truth, she was curious and a bit anxious.
You are as keen as your sword, Rudo complimented. Yes, its about the hunt. It seems that they have trapped two heretics at nearby Doguola Pass. The Shrine Knights are enlisting the help of my soldiers. Im organizing a company. Care to join or would you rather work alone as usual?
Meliadoul shifted in her seat as she absorbed the news. For the past five years, she did not worry about her friends but ever since Father Jaren had gained power within the government, she had begun to worry. Her anxiety did not go unwarranted for news of a capture had reached her ears. Now two more are about to be caught but she could not let that happen.
You know me too well, Rudo, Meliadoul replied as she sat up. Itll be the usual. Just tell me the names of those heretics and theyre as good as caught!
Lets see. Rudo rummaged through some papers. Here it is, he said pulling out two parchments and handing them to the mercenary. These are the two: Lavian Wayte and Alicia Lavitz, personal knights of the already caught heretic, Agrias Oaks.
Meliadoul knew them, of course. She briefly looked at the papers then handed them back to Rudo. This will be the hardest job Ill have so far, she commented as she stood to leave.
But it will also be the most rewarding once its done, Rudo returned. With the kind of money on their heads, you could quit your job and settle down somewhere.
Maybe, Meliadoul allowed before leaving the building.
Rudo shook his head. What a strange woman, he muttered to himself before resuming his plentiful paperwork.
Meliadoul walked briskly to her home at the slums of Bervenia located towards the eastern end of town. In truth, it wasnt really her home. She knew of a family that had been good friends of hers for quite some time. They had owed her a debt, not in monetary value, but a favor. The family took her in as repayment for that debt despite her being hunted by the Church. She had warned them of the consequences if they were caught but that did not deter them from helping a friend.
The slums was an unkindly place filled with beggars and thieves. However, they strayed away from the cloaked figure that passed by. Meliadoul couldnt care less of such vagabonds as she navigated the alleyways towards a humble wooden edifice that stood at the southern most point of the slums.
When she reached the home, she was glad to find no one. Every time she had gone on a job, someone would try to stop her saying that it wasnt safe. But how could she support them if she were to do nothing?
She entered the building and grabbed her gear, which consisted only a bag of potions. She already has her sword equipped and she wore a leather shirt for slight protection. She had to abandon heavy armor for the light protection of clothing ever since she started being a mercenary for possessing such heavy armor was a sign of wealth. A mercenary was not wealthy nor was the family she was staying with so to avoid unwanted attention, she had to abandon it.
Seeing that she had everything she needed, Meliadoul strapped the bag of potions unto her belt and left the house to do her job...
That was three days ago.
Now the former Divine Knight was on the road to Lesalia to have an audience with Father Jaren. Four Shrine Knights surrounded her, the one in front of her riding the only chocobo in the group. She had been stripped of her equipment but she was given the liberty to walk without being bound.
The day was near its end when the small group reached Grog Hill, the largest granary in Lesalia. Large fields of grain swayed in the evening breeze as three of the four knights set up camp.
Meliadoul watched as they put up a tent and started a fire. The chocobo was picketed and rations were passed among the knights. The knight watching her then motioned her near the fire where one of the knights handed her a dried piece of meat. She accepted it as she sat down by the fire.
The group sat quietly by the campfire eating their sparse meal. Meliadoul felt their eyes upon her, watching her as she continued to eat. She saw that their hands were kept near the hilt of their swords at all times.
Even without my sword, they think Im dangerous, she thought as she finished her food. She then saw two knights stand and approach her.
You, in there, one of them ordered pointing to the only tent.
Meliadoul stood and obeyed without question. She entered the canvas and watched as the knights closed it behind her. She sighed as she sat down. Then, seeing no harm in it, she laid back down with her hands folded behind her head.
Curse my luck, she thought miserably. I just hope Lavian and Alicia were able to escape the search party.
Meliadoul thought back on how she got captured. She had minded her own business while at Doguola Pass, keeping to herself as she searched the rocks. The mercenary company from Bervenia knew of her methods and stayed clear away from her. But they did not know exactly the method of her success.
Suffice to say, they got the first glimpse of it.
The company had successfully located the knight maidens in one of the many caves in the Pass. Being at a nearby cave, she had heard the shouting and immediately went to investigate. What she saw had rushed her into action.
She hurriedly climbed the rocks to their location, noticing three chocobos running from the company. What she failed to see, however, was the archer taking quick aim and firing his weapon. The bolt had successfully hit one of the riders, who swayed in her saddle.
Acting on the impulse to save her friends, she executed one of her Mighty Sword skillsskills that were reserved for Divine Knights. She had seen the archer reloading his weapon, and being too far to counter, she did the only option that was open to her.
She had executed Hellcry Punch.
The archer screamed in pain, the string of his crossbow snapping in twain, as the sensation of being sliced in half filled his mind. The company was surprised to have witnessed the attack for they have not heard any Divine Knight joining in the search. They quickly became aware of her presence and began questioning her about the attack. She tried to evade their questions but they came too quickly.
Suddenly, she heard one of them mutter to another: She looks very familiar. I know Ive seen her somewhere before...
From that point on, she knew it was time to escape. Backing away from the crowd, as they were dumbfounded, she started running, running away from the company. At her back chased the company, coming to the realization that she was Meliadoul Tingel, the heretical Divine Knight. She nearly escaped but her sword skill had attracted the attention of nearby search parties.
She had displayed her secret at the cost of her friends escape.
Unable to outrun her enemies, she decided to fight only to be overpowered by the overwhelming crowd...
Meliadoul sighed once again as her mind returned to the present. It was only a matter of time before she would join Agrias at the chains...
Morning warranted an early departure from the fields of grain, the somber group breaking camp as soon as the sun peaked over the horizon. They resumed the last leg of their journey to the Imperial Capital of Ivalice.
Once they reached the splendid palace in the middle of the capital, Meliadoul was immediately escorted to the audience chamber where Father Jaren sat behind a long ornate table, skimming through some papers stacked to the side.
Divine Knight Meliadoul Tingel, he began in his blank voice as he read a parchment from the stack, daughter of Vormav Tingel, Head of the Temple Knights of the Murond Glabados Church and sister to Izlude Tingel, a respected Knight Blade of the Church. He then looked up at her.
You have quite a legacy, Lady Tingel, he continued in a grave tone. I was saddened to have read about your betrayal to the Church you have sworn to serve in this report, he gestured towards the stack of papers, that the heretic, Olan Durai, had written. Do you have anything to say for yourself?
I have betrayed no one, Meliadoul refuted, least of all, the Church. It is the Church that has betrayed the people with lies!
Blasphemy! Jaren gasped. I see first-hand that the heretic, Ramza Beoulve, has tainted your soul. But we can remedy that.
Why? the former Divine Knight questioned defiantly. Ramza has not tainted my soul but has opened my eyes! He has shown me the truth!
Jaren sighed as he pushed his chair back and stood up. The truth, the truth, he muttered as he walked around the table to face Meliadoul. Olan spoke about this truth in his report and so did Agrias when she was tried. He then shook his head as he walked back to his seat.
Im dismayed to hear from you your belief in this lie, he murmured as he resumed his seat behind the table. What should I do with you?
Meliadoul stood silent puzzled by the priests question. Wasnt he going to send her off to help rebuild some ruin just as he had with Agrias? Or did he have another plan in mind?
You dont know how hard it is for me to sentence a Divine Knight of a very distinguished family, Jaren continued. A family once thought dead. But you can restore your familys name by relinquishing your belief in this lie. Youll then be reinstated back into the Temple Knights of the Murond Glabados Church serving the Church once more and helping us in this Heretical Hunt. What say you, Lady Tingel?
Youre asking me to betray my friends, Meliadoul replied harshly. Five years ago, I have vowed that I would never do the deeds of the Church ever again. I bear that vow even now. So do with me as you wish for youll never receive my cooperation.
I see, Jaren sighed regretfully as he rubbed his temples. Then this trial is adjourned. I will decide your sentence within the week. He motioned to the two knights flanking her to take her away.
As they left the audience chamber, another Shrine Knight entered. Milord, he called.
What is it now? Jaren muttered darkly.
The mercenaries that have caught the heretic have arrived and they demand payment for her capture, the Shrine Knight informed the priest.
Jaren scowled. I dont have time to take care of such matters, he growled. Tell them to wait in the city until they are summoned. I have more important business to attend to.
As you will, Your Eminence, the Shrine Knight uttered as he bowed. He then turned to leave.
No, wait! Jaren halted the knight as a thought occurred to him. The Shrine Knight turned back to regard the priest.
I have a better idea, the priest continued folding his hands in front of him, his eyes shining brightly. Bring those mercenaries to me. They shall be paid well.
As you wish, Milord, the Shrine Knight nodded and left the room to do the Cardinals bidding.
Ben Cayton, company leader of the mercenaries from Bervenia, looked around his lavish surroundings as his company of eleven men was escorted into the audience chamber. They were awed to see such finery within the Imperial Palace. It did not disappoint them for a moment.
Welcome! Jaren greeted the ragged group as they entered. I must thank you for aiding us in this hunt.
Ben shifted his gaze from an elaborate round shield hanging on the wall to the priest. Well, ycan show us yer thanks by givin us our payment, he replied in a rough voice.
Jaren nodded. In due time, in due time. But first, I would like to discuss with you about this heretic. For your cooperation, youd be paid double the reward.
The company immediately murmured in agreement, their eyes twinkling at the mention of being paid double. All right, Ben agreed, yhave our cooperation. What do ylike tknow?
Jaren smirked as he began the discussion...
...which lasted for a few hours. Satisfied with the information he just received, Jaren stood from his chair and ordered for a chest to be brought out.
A few moments later, Ben watched as two knights carried a huge worn chest to the audience chamber from a side door. The company gathered around the chest as it was opened and gasped at the sight.
That has tbe over a million gil! someone breathed in astonishment.
The chest was closed and latched and the two knights returned to their posts. Five hundred million gil to be exact, Jaren corrected as he approached them. All yours for your help. You have my sincere thanks.
An you have ours, Ben returned. He then ordered two of his men to carry the massive chest. His company then began filing out of the room. Nice doin business with you, Mlord, Ben said as he bowed, waving his hat in a sweeping motion before following his fellows through the doors.
Jaren watched the last of them leave before turning to another knight. Well, you heard them, he told him. Take a few men with you and arrest this family in Bervenia. I want them to be brought here unharmed, understand?
Perfectly, Your Grace, the knight said. We shall leave at once. With that said, the knight left.
Jaren walked back to his seat and sat, his mood thoughtful. I shall have your cooperation yet, Lady Tingel...
Meliadoul wondered what was delaying her sentencing. The week was almost over and still she heard no word from the priest. She paced her chambers restlessly, pondering on his tardiness.
And pondering on why she had been moved from the dungeons to a chamber in the palace three days ago.
After her trial, she had been escorted to the dungeons, located below the first level of the palace, and placed in a cell. During the next two days, she laid down quietly on the straw pallet, staring at the grimy ceiling as she listened to the screams of the other prisoners.
On the third day, she heard the key rattle in the lock, the cell door swinging open afterwards. Thinking it was time for her sentencing, Meliadoul rose slowly from her straw pallet. She wondered if it was day or night; she had no way of knowing for there were no windows in the dungeons. She blinked in the torchlight as she slowly walked out of her cell.
The two guards did not say anything as she was ushered out of the dungeons and into the sunlit hallways of the palace. The route they took through the corridors was the same as before but when they came to an intersection, instead of turning right towards the audience chamber, they turned left towards the guestrooms of the palace. Curious, she questioned the guards on where they had planned on taking her. They did not reply but soon received her answer when they stopped at a door and motioned her to enter.
Meliadoul entered cautiously, thinking this to be some sort of trap. What she hadnt expected was a well-furnished room complete with a bed, a table with a pitcher of wine and a goblet, and a hearth. She walked around the room, gazing at her rich surroundings. She then turned towards the door as the soldiers closed it and locked it. She realized then that this was to be her new prison...
Meliadoul sighed as she poured herself another cup of the rich wine. That priest is up to something, she thought as she sipped the draft. I know it.
From the first time she laid eyes on him, she loathed him. There was something about him that struck her the wrong way. Perhaps it was his clothing for which priest would wear black? Or perhaps it was his voice for it lacked that inspiring quality that other priests possessed. But she knew one thing, whatever it was, she didnt like it.
A knock on the door interrupted her thoughts and she bid the knocker entry. A Shrine Knightthey were beginning to be an eyesore to herentered. You have been summoned to the audience chamber, he announced.
Finally, Meliadoul muttered as she was escorted out of the room. She was then ushered to the audience chamber by two Shrine Knights.
Upon entering the chamber, she caught sight of the family that had hid her. What is the meaning of this? she demanded Jaren who sat in his usual chair at the ornate table, smiling smugly.
This is your sentencing, Jaren replied calmly. Or should I say, their sentencing. He gestured towards the family before standing up and approaching Meliadoul. Im sure you know what happens to those who harbor heretics, he stated with a smirk.
Meliadouls eyes widened. No! she shouted. Theyre innocent! They dont know anything! Leave them out of this!
Im afraid your request fall on deaf ears, Lady Tingel, the priest said, his tone full of conceit as he walked away from Meliadoul and towards the family. Tomorrow they shall hang from the gallows in the city square for their crime, he continued as he looked at the familys only child.
The boy gazed at the priest fearfully as he hid behind his mothers skirts. His father stood protectively in front of them, staring defiantly at the priest. At least spare my son, he pleaded. He doesnt understand whats happening.
Jaren gazed at the father then at the boy. Im afraid your request, too, fall on deaf ears, he stated nonchalantly. He then smirked as he added, Why separate a child from his parents? Hell have no place to go when youre dead. Its a shame really. He shook his head. He wont even get to experience the rest of his childhood, only the hardships of living day to day. Its best that he joins you at the gallows. As they say, live together, die together.
No, you cant! Meliadoul screamed echoed by the father. She would have charged at the priest but she was held back by the two Shrine Knights that guarded her. I said theyre innocent!
Deaf ears, Lady Tingel, deaf ears, the priest repeated haughtily as he walked back to the table.
On the table was a white cloth covering something beneath it. There is, of course, a way to save them, he commented, his back towards them as he stroked the cloth.
What? the former Divine Knight asked skeptically.
Yes, Lady Tingel, Jaren nodded. He then pulled the cloth revealing the items hidden beneath: a sword, a shield, and a green cloak befitting of a Divine Knight. This, the priest gestured at the equipment as he turned towards them, is their salvation. Become a Divine Knight of the Church once again, help me capture the rest of the heretics, and this poor family shall go free. Help me not and they shall hang from the gallows. What say you, Lady Tingel?
Meliadoul was at a loss for words as she stared at the equipment.
If I were you, I would choose your words wisely, Jaren warned, for they have the power of life...or death.
Meliadoul gritted her teeth as she shifted her gaze from the equipment to glare at the priest. She then looked to her friends then again to her equipment lying on the table. Her assumption about the priest being up to something was proven correct. The Church was corrupt, she knew that already, but to go as far as to take a family hostage was going to the extremes.
She clenched her fists knowing which decision she has to make. She looked again at the family that had hid her specifically to the boy that held onto his mothers skirts in fear. Looking at him gave her the resolve that the decision she was about to make is the right one.
Composing herself to look dignified, Meliadoul confidently took a step towards the table and was about to take another when one of the knights grabbed her arm. She turned her head slowly to glare at the knight as if to challenge him. Taken aback by the stare, the knight reluctantly let go of her arm.
Jaren watched, pleased as Meliadoul stepped towards the table and looked at the equipment. She then reached both hands forward towards the sword and unsheathed it, staring at the blade afterwards.
As you command... she uttered as she turned towards the priest and looked at him in the eyes, ...Your Excellency.
Forgive me, Ramza...
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