Legacy of Honor Chapter 6

The Unforgiven

By Silveran

Fort Zeakden.

A fort built during the Fifty Year War to protect against Romanda, a military state separated from Ivalice by Larner Channel.

During the War, Romandans had marched on Ivalice under the orders of King Valowa of Ordallia, a blood relative of Romanda’s ruler. But they were forced to retreat in two years due to an outbreak of bubonic plague in their country.

After their withdrawal from the War, King Denamunda of Ivalice ordered a fort to be built somewhere along the shores of Larner Channel where it could stand guard against the Romandan Army should they return.

The draftsmen in charge of the project decided to build the fort in an area northeast of Igros Castle, where cliffs stood high above the channel, a perfect place to keep watch for impending trouble.

But a difficult place to build such a bastion.

It constantly snowed there, its frigid temperatures freezing building equipment. Hands became too numb to hold hammers properly and mortar would solidify before it was applied to the stones. But those were minor problems.

The biggest problem was trying to keep the builders alive through the chilly weather. The snow claimed as many men as one of the many battles fought in the Fifty Year War. But their sacrifice was not in vain.

Over a year since the project began, construction was complete. And just in time too. A few weeks after, those standing watch sighted an armada of Romandan ships approaching. They were successful in keeping them at bay while a rider rode to nearby Igros Castle to warn them of the incoming threat.

Igros replied by sending reinforcements to help fend off the invading army. With both their efforts—Zeakden and Igros troops—the Romandans didn’t get the chance to set foot on Ivalice. They retreated back to their country and were never seen again.

After the Fifty Year War had ended, Fort Zeakden was abandoned, the snow burying the mighty stone and wooden bastion...

...until the Death Corps decided to make it their base six years ago.

The Death Corps, led by Wiegraf Folles, was an anti-aristocratic group. Comprised of former members of the Knights of Death, a volunteer group who fought at the end of the Fifty Year War, they performed terrorist acts against the aristocracy as revenge for not being compensated for their services. At first, they were successful until they made the mistake of attempting to assassinate Prince Larg’s assistant and taking a young woman hostage. Determined to end their acts once and for all, the Hokuten were mobilized to attack Fort Zeakden. Trapped within the fort’s walls, the Death Corps decided to make their stand against the knights.

For a fortress that was built to guard against invasion from another country, how ironic it was for it to be used against the country it was built to protect. Little did they know, it was also to be their grave.

Gunpowder that was stored deep within the fortress for use with the cannons that repel enemy ships was ignited. The fortress shook as it collapsed into rubble and Fort Zeakden was no more.

But the threat of invasion was still a possibility.

Since the prisons all over Ivalice were becoming overcrowded with convicts, Jaren decided to make use of those criminals. They were to make repairs to all damages from both wars starting with the fort. And so, many prisoners were transported to Fort Zeakden to start rebuilding it.

The key rattled in the lock. The cell door swung open.

“Time for work detail, heretic,” the jailer said.

Agrias rubbed the sleep from her eyes as she slowly stood up from her bunk. Chains clanking, she limped out of the cell to be lined up with the other prisoners, marched off to the quarries.

More than a week ago, she had arrived at the fort and was put immediately to work despite her weariness from the journey. Her ankles were chained, her wrists manacled before they placed her among the prisoners: stone-cutting in the mountain quarries, hauling the huge blocks back to the fort, struggling to fit them into place. All the work was done in the freezing snow.

She joined a group of prisoners; criminals that she had arrested or helped capture during her service in Lesalia’s knights. Most of them knew her for who she had been, knew her for her deeds.

Especially for her deeds.

Some had thought of seeking revenge against her after they had served their sentence of rebuilding, repairing, refortifying Fort Zeakden. But now they laughed seeing her among them for it was the ultimate revenge one could wish for.

However, that wasn’t enough for them. Knowing that she was a heretic—the worst kind of criminal known in Ivalice, far below murderers and thieves—they made life harder on her.

The foreman, Edward Martel, was not harsh to his prisoners, but he was not kind to them either. He saw to it that they were adequately watered and fed for a weak, sick prisoner was not fit for hard labor especially in this kind of weather. He worked them mercilessly, not sparing the lash when he needed them to work faster. He had a schedule to keep and would do anything to adhere to it.

None of the prisoners like being lashed. Yes, the cold climate help numb the pain somewhat but the sting of it flaying the skin was more than enough to bear. So, they devised a way of escaping the whip. For a fault they did, they would blame the heretic.

Agrias would find herself lashed mercilessly by a taskmaster for a fault she did not commit.

If someone tripped or fell, she would be whipped.

If someone dropped a stone, in turn breaking it, she would be whipped.

If someone lagged behind, she would be whipped.

It’s the heretic’s fault! was becoming a common saying among the prisoners.

Their abuse, however, did not end there.

When night came, they were placed back in their holding cell—a huge storage room of the former fort that had somehow escaped the explosion that had destroyed the bastion—and were given dinner. It was during this time that trouble for Agrias would begin.

As she ate her share of the meal at her little corner away from the rest of the prisoners, she would hear their soft taunts and feel their stares. After their meal, some of the prisoners deemed it time for some ‘entertainment’ before retiring for the night.

That ‘entertainment’ being Agrias.

She would stand as two men approached her wearing sneers on their grimy faces, intending on dragging her to the middle of the room where her nightly tortures took place. She would always fight them off, to leave her be so she could mourn her fate, mourn the daughter she will never see.

But she would always lose, her strength waning from the numerous lashes she received during the day. They would drag her then beat her, spit on her, releasing their stress as they took pleasure in their game. When all were satisfied, they would leave her there, lying bruised and bleeding, broken.

It was then, through the pain, that Agrias prayed for death to claim her, to take her away from this place of misery.

But her prayers went unanswered and the routine continued...

...until one night, a week after her arrival to Fort Zeakden.

During the past week, Edward had noted the heretic’s condition as she worked. The morning after her first night at the fort, he had seen the bruised eye, the cut on her lip. As the days passed by, he became aware of more and more bruises and cuts appearing. But she was still able to work and did not question about them. It was when he saw her limping one day that he became concerned and decided to investigate on the matter.

It was this night that he decided to pay the cell a visit. He slammed open the door to the holding cell, a cold draft entering the room forcing the prisoners to bring their ‘entertainment’ to a halt. Edward slowly climbed down the stairs to the floor of the cell followed by two taskmasters holding their coiled whips.

When he reached the bottom, he scanned the room; the prisoners shrinking back into the darkness as his gaze fell upon them. His gaze then finally fell on the crumpled figure in the middle of the room finally understanding how she came to those bruises and cuts. He approached her slowly, his footsteps echoing around the room.

Silently, the prisoners watched as the foreman nudged the figure with the toe of his boot. The gesture elicited a groan from the prone figure and nothing more.

“Who did this?” the foreman asked the prisoners. When no one replied, he repeated the question, this time more harshly, his raging voice booming loudly in the room. He looked around angrily and when no one still replied, he snapped his fingers and the two taskmasters uncoiled their whips.

“I’ll not say it again,” the foreman said in a dangerous tone. “Answer now or all of you shall face the whip!”

He looked around again and still no one answered. “Very well,” spoke the foreman as he motioned to the two men behind him to conduct their scourging.

The prisoners scurried in fear as they approached, huddling close to the corners. Then suddenly:

“Wait!” a man screamed and the foreman turned to regard the scraggly prisoner. “I know who did it!” the prisoner exclaimed desperately.

The foreman gestured for his taskmasters to halt. “Who?” he asked afterwards.

“Them!” The prisoner pointed to ten men at the opposite end of the room. “It was their idea! I took no part in it!”

“Traitor!” one of the accused men spat. “If I’m not mistaken, you agreed to it. Didn’t she place you here too like the rest of us? Didn’t you enjoy seeing her suffer?” He then looked at the rest of the prisoners. “Didn’t you all?” he challenged them before looking at the foreman himself. “And why do you care who did this?” he questioned him, his eyes glaring. “Even though I’m not a devout believer of the Church, I know that heretics are supposed to die! I’m just helping her along the way.”

“Is that the real reason why you do this act?” Edward asked coolly. “Or is it because she placed you here?” He studied the prisoner’s expression through the pale moonlight that filtered through the open door. “I see,” he said when he saw the prisoner scowl as he clenched his fists.

“And I gather that all of you feel the same way,” Edward continued as he gazed at the group. “There is a saying: ‘Revenge is a dish best served cold.’ How ironic that you exact your revenge in this place of neverending snow. And now it’s time that I exact my revenge as well.”

“Revenge?” another prisoner questioned. “For what?”

“For yours,” the foreman stated calmly. “Crippling a fellow prisoner, thereby reducing her labor efficiency, is a crime in my book. I cannot have weak and sick prisoners working the quarries especially in this God forsaken weather! So as punishment, all of you shall work tonight where the temperatures are well below the norm.”

“What?!” a ragged bearded man exclaimed. “You can’t do this to us!”

“I just had,” Edward said calmly. “Father Jaren wants this fort built within the month and he shall have it. I will not be delayed by your acts of revenge.” He then motioned for the taskmasters to escort the prisoners to the quarries.

As they left, Edward looked down at the prone figure. “A pity,” he murmured before finally leaving the cell.

The days following that small mishap, Agrias worked apart from the rest of the prisoners so her presence would not detract them from their task. No longer could they blame her for their errors but still she felt their spite as she worked, felt their glaring eyes, felt their hated thoughts. But she couldn’t care less of such things. She just wished to be left alone.

The prisoners were marched off to the quarries as usual. When they reached the mines, Agrias was taken further into the tunnel until she was not in sight of the prisoners but still close enough to hear their voices. Her only task now was to cut stone blocks from the rock walls since her injured leg cannot carry the weight of a block across the fields of snow to the fort.

She took the pick into her hands and began chipping away at the rocks...

...until it was time to return back to their cells.

As the rest of the prisoners were ushered to the huge holding cell, she was taken back to her lone cell. Edward thought it would be wise to separate her from the others so they wouldn’t ‘damage’ her any further. She was mightily glad of the gesture even though it wasn‘t really an act of kindness but more of an act of convenience. No matter for she would no longer hear the insults, no longer feel the pain of their torture. The bruises and cuts she had received during their nightly ‘entertainment’ had begun to heal.

But the scars would forever remain...

Chapter 7

Final Fantasy Tactics Fanfic