Legacy of Honor Chapter 9
Curse those heretics! Jaren shouted as he slammed his goblet of wine against his wooden desk, the dark liquid spilling over his thin fingers. Tomas, who had recently returned from his excursion, flinched at his superiors outburst.
I had them within my grasp! the priest continued his tirade as he angrily began pacing around the study, enraged by the report he had heard from the Shrine Knight that had survived the assault at Orbonne.
According to the report, they had followed his instructions fully, killing the heretical Divine Knight as they tried to capture her friends. But they had failed and now all of them were dead except for the lone survivor who was near death himself when he had arrived to deliver the report.
Now theyre gone who-knows-where and my only link to them is dead! he finished slapping both hands on top of his desk, the motion settling the objects on top to rattling and his goblet to tipping over spilling the rest of the wine across the wooden surface.
Tomas watched silently as Jaren breathed in hard, angry gasps clutching the table until his knuckles turned white. After a few moments, his gasps softened as he calmed down. He then turned towards Tomas, who was standing by the glowing hearth, the fire illuminating the study in a dull light. What should I do now, Tomas? he asked the Divine Knight. Now that all of my efforts in this hunt have failed?
I wouldnt exactly say that it has failed, Milord, Tomas reassured his superior. Youre just experiencing a minor setback.
Minor?! Minor?! Jaren exclaimed furiously. How can you call it a minor setback?! Only one heretic has been captured during my long stay here in Lesalia! Even with the huge rewards and the new laws, they still manage to elude arrest!
Perhaps youve been going about it the wrong way, the Divine Knight suggested.
The priest seemed attentive at that one remark. He slowly resumed his seat behind his desk, uncaring for the puddle of spilled liquid on the surface, as he propped his elbows atop, folding his hands beneath his chin. Explain, he prompted the Divine Knight.
Tomas walked towards the desk to face the priest. What I mean, Milord, he began, is that youve been hoping that the search parties you send out and the people of Ivalice would find these heretics for you. You search, they hide. It is as simple as that. I dont mean to say that its wrong, but it hasnt yielded much of a result.
So what do you suggest I do? Jaren inquired eager to hear his aides opinion.
Instead of going to them, why dont you make them come to us? Tomas proposed. It will save us a lot of our resources.
Jaren nodded in agreement but he was still a bit skeptical. How would you suggest we do this? he asked.
We already have the bait, Tomas replied. All we need is to set the trap.
Jaren tapped his chin in thought. Go on, he prompted with a wave of his hand.
The Divine Knight nodded. The bait I was referring to, he began as he slowly walked around the room, is the family that harbored Lady Tingel. He paused briefly in reflection of that name. Though he didnt personally know Meliadoul Tingel, her family was respected in Murondstill is despite the fact that the daughter of their leader had betrayed them. Its a shame that she was dead. He would like to have known her better.
Yes, Jaren muttered, his voice dripping with contempt. Lady Tingel... A pity that I decided to kill her. A mistake I tend to overlook. Now, as you were saying, Tomas...?
The Divine Knight stood at a window overlooking the courtyard where two huge braziers blazed on either side, illuminating the quad as soldiers from Lesalias garrison gathered to hone their skills. Im certain that the heretics will come to rescue this family, he continued as he watched two knights spar in the middle of the square.
Are you sure? Jaren asked doubtfully as he stared at the back of his aide. How would they know about them?
Tomas chuckled then, light as the wind. He then turned to face Jaren once more wearing a cocky grin. We knights do not die so easily, Cardinal, he stated proudly, as you should have seen when that Shrine Knight came to report. Near death himself, he still managed to travel here and recount what had happened in Orbonne. Fortunately, he lived unlike our ace.
The priest nodded in understanding, knowing that he referred to Lady Tingel. So, they will come and rescue the family... He then smirked as he inquired, How shall we greet them?
Orlandu and the others came back to the valley in slow procession, a ragged bunch, their faces full of unbearable sorrow, testament of the remorse they felt when they found the fort empty. Their journey back home was a thing of funerals, of walking in solemn silence with heads bowed low as tears were quietly shed until familiar shouts rang loud all about and familiar faces came to greet them. There was Rafa followed by Beowulf with Rad helping Besrodio behind; then Reis carrying Draco.
Who said, You have not brought her.
Orlandu said, Yes. There is much to tell.
And Reis nodded as if she understood it all, and said, But first, rest. All of you must be weary from the journey.
The old knight was about to object but saw that the Dragoner was right when he looked at his companions especially at the two knight maidens. Both women looked detach from their surroundings, their eyes blank. They were shattered, he knew, drained emotionally by the loss. They had hoped that they would return with Agrias, but their hopes fell like a bird shot in flight.
Lavian and Alicia quietly excused themselves from the group, heading straight for the lodge they share.
Orlandu nodded wearily in agreement to Reis suggestion. We could all use the rest. God knows, its been a difficult journey especially for those two. He motioned towards the knight maidens who had disappeared into their lodge. Malak and Mustadio agreed and all went to their respective lodges. Orlandu would decide when they would meet to discuss plans of liberating Meliadouls family.
For now, it was a time of healing for not long ago they had suffered the pain of Meliadouls death. The loss of Agrias was a new wound upon the old that had not yet fully healed, festering the pain in their hearts.
How much more must they suffer before those wounds would heal?
Beowulf yawned and stretched as he exited his lodge, ready to begin a new day. Its been three days since Orlandu and the others had returned from that failed journey. Lavian and Alicia had not spoken much since then, concealed within their lodge most of the time. The others let them be, recognizing their wish to be alone and wondering if they would ever recover from the experience of the journey.
The former Temple Knight sighed as he bent down to pick up a wooden spear leaning against the side of his lodge. As he was about to wrap his fingers around the shaft, he stopped upon hearing a most curious noise. It sounded like someone was having an argument.
He looked up in curiosity just in time to see Alicia riding off on her chocobo in full battle harness with Lavian futilely chasing her on foot, screaming, Wait, Alicia! Somebody stop her!
Knowing to act now and ask questions later, Beowulf grabbed his spear and began chasing Alicia, hoping to intercept her path. Being a little taller than Lavian, he managed to shorten the gap between himself and the chocobo but he was not fast enough to close the distance. He was aware of that simple fact and so had another plan in mind.
Maintaining a steady pace, he held his spear high in one hand. Keeping his course in parallel with Alicia, he made a few quick calculations before throwing his weapon, his aim true, catching between the chocobos feet.
The chocobo warked as it went down on its knees, pitching Alicia over its head so that she cried out as she struck the soft earth. She stumbled to her feet and began to run in a desperate pace as if she was again being chased by the mercenaries and knights that had hunted her back in Doguola Pass.
Alicia, stop! Beowulf continued to run after her but he began to lag behind, his initial chase having drained him. Breathless, he fell to his knees gasping as Alicia continued to run away. It seemed that she would successfully escape the valley unhindered but she was soon stopped by one of the villagers.
Curious men and wondering women gathered when they had heard the disturbance. As Beowulf tried to catch his breath, he watched in amazement as one of the villagersthe one that he had seen talking to Agrias chocobogalloped past on the same chocobo. He rode without saddle nor did he guide the chocobo with reins but with his knees alone, swinging some sort of rope with weights attached to the ends above his head as he closed on the fleeing knight maiden.
Despite running in heavy armor, Alicia did not seem to tire, maintaining the same desperate pace as if some vast and undeniable energy fueled her and drove her on like a chip of metal drawn to a lodestone. Regardless of her speed, the chocobo and its rider quickly closed the distance between them. Seeing that he was close enough, the rider let loose the rope that he had been swinging at Alicia, the coil entangling the knight maidens legs, so that she fell over.
The villager sprang from the chocobo as it still ran, landing loose with a small pouch in his hand, that he opened and poured its contentsa powderover the struggling Alicia, who fell silent as the powder took effect.
After catching his breath, Beowulf joined the man followed close by Lavian, Orlandu and Malak not far behind. What did you do to her? he asked.
Sleeping powder, the man replied holding up the pouch, to calm her madness.
I knew she was crazy to go off alone to Lesalia but to say that she lost her mind... Lavian shook her head at the absurd thought. Thats nonsense! she firmly denied. She couldnt possibly!
Malak shook his head. Its no use arguing with Wolfen, Lavian. He knows what hes talking about. If he says that Alicia is mad, then she is mad.
Youre mad for saying that shes mad! she exclaimed angrily, pointing an accusing finger at Malak. How could you say such a thing about your friend? And you! she added as she whirled about to face Wolfen. How dare you claim such a thing without providing as much as an explanation!
The tall young man whose black hair was unbound, his features aquiline and somewhat stern until he smiled, stroked the chocobo he rode as he began to explain in a patient tone: Chocobos possess an uncanny ability to sense the feelings of others. I did not know your friend was mad but this chocobo told me and asked me to help her.
Told you? reiterated Beowulf curiously. You can understand what they are saying?
Yes, Wolfen nodded as he continued to stroke the chocobos neck.
Wolfen is one of the few that possess the gift of animal tongue, Malak explained, one of the gifts thought lost to our people. It is one of the skills our people possess such as my Hell skill and Rafas Heaven skill. There are also those who are dreamers, people who possess the ability to dream possible futures and danger though Im afraid that talent is lost to us.
Wolfen nodded then said, Now if youll excuse me, this chocobo is tired from the run and wishes to rest. He led the chocobo away but then stopped. Your friend will be fine once she wakes up, he told them over his shoulder before fully taking his leave of the group, still stroking the chocobos neck.
The group watched him go before turning to each other. He means well, Malak said, trying to ease the anxiety that came from the incident.
I know he does, Orlandu agreed, and I thank him for it though Im not sure Lavian appreciates it. He turned to see the knight maiden glaring heatedly at the departing mans back. Lavian, he called her and she turned her head to look at him. I need to speak with you.
But...Alicia... Lavian began softly.
Will be taken care of, Orlandu finished reassuringly. He then ordered Beowulf to carry Alicia back to her lodge and Malak to inform the others of what has happened. Then with a smile, he beckoned Lavian to walk with him for now it was imperative that he knew what agency had possessed Alicia to attempt riding off to Lesalia alone. Lavian matched her stride to the old knights as they trod the grassy terrain of the valley.
The crowd that had gathered in curiosity began to disperse returning to their previous tasks, seeing that the commotion has resolved. Lavian felt a little uneasy as she walked with Orlandu, the old knight remaining strangely quiet, nearly crying out in surprise when he spoke.
Lavian, he began in a grave tone, tell me, how did you feel when we returned from Fort Zeakden three days ago?
The brunette was stunned by the question and needed some time to gather her thoughts before replying. Well... she began softly after a few seconds of reflective silence, sad, I suppose, and angry.
Orlandu nodded. Did Alicia feel the same?
Lavian shrugged and said, I would assume so. It wasnt the first time we tried rescuing Lady Agrias.
The old knight nodded again, remembering the story of their failed attempt at Yardow. Anger is such a powerful emotion, he said somberly. It fuels ones strength yet blinds them to danger.
Orlandu? inquired the knight maiden, unsure of what the old knight was saying.
Orlandu stopped and turned to look at Lavian gravely like a father about to impart some words of wisdom to his daughter. Listen, Lavian, he began. Its hard to deal with failure, I know. Ive had my share of shortcomings as well, but the key to overcoming them is to not lose hope, to keep a clear mind in the face of adversity.
He then smiled. You must not lose faith, Lavian. Keep your spirits high and exercise patience. One day we will see Agrias again. Understand?
Yes, the brunette nodded then smiled as well, the weight she had felt in her heart for the past three days suddenly lifted. Thank you. I wish Alicia could have heard your words of wisdom.
She shall hear it soon enough, said the old knight, though not from me. When she awakes, tell her what Ive said and once she understands, both of you come see me. I have some important things to discuss with you. I think its time for at least one rescue attempt to be successful.
You mean? Lavian asked expectantly, her gray eyes shining with anticipation.
Yes, Orlandu nodded. Its time we paid the Imperial Capital a visit.
Ive never seen such riding, Beowulf remarked to Malak as he fletched an arrow he had recently fashioned from a branch. And what was that weapon he used to entangle Alicias legs? It could be quite effective in a battle.
Malak shrugged. I honestly dont know. Thats the first time Ive ever seen it. I wish I knew about it though. It would make hunting a lot easier.
And not as challenging, Rad added with a grin.
True, Malak nodded.
Aside from the little incident in the morning, the day was like any other. The sun illumined the grass and the lodges, light streaming radiant over the camp; the sky a pure blue striped with windblown ribbons of high white cloud. All around, the great camp went about its daily business; women gathered berries as they gossiped while men waxed bowstrings and sharpened knives; children called to one another, their laughter filling the air, carried by the current of the wind that rustled the surrounding grass. One could easily forget their troubles in such a soothing atmosphere.
And the men nearly did until Reis chided, How could you talk so casually about such things when one of your friends may be sick in the mind?
Shell be fine, Malak reassured the Dragoner. Wolfen is true to his word when he said that shell be fine when she wakes up. Right, Rafa? He looked to his sister, in turn, earning a nod from her.
But I wonder what compelled her to go to Lesalia alone, Beowulf voiced thoughtfully. The way she was running seemed that her mission was urgent.
Anger, Orlandu, who had been sitting with them and listening in on their conversation, replied simply. Alicia let her anger take control of her, thus becoming mad.
She should have told us that she wanted to go to Lesalia, Mustadio said.
Sometimes pride gets in the way of our better judgment, Orlandu responded sagely before waving a dismissive hand. But what does it matter? What matters now is that she has calmed down and now we can concentrate on actually going to Lesalia. Its time we fulfilled Meliadouls last wish.
Yes, Rad agreed solemnly, his answer echoed by the others.
Very well, Orlandu nodded. As soon as I speak with Lavian and Alicia, well depart for the Imperial Capital.
Alicia sat on her chocobo uncomfortably, the constant stares she received from her companions unnerving her as they traveled the same path they used to reach Malaks village. She did her best to ignore their looks, fixing her face in what she hoped to be a solemn expression, trying to hide the doubts and fears that floated around her mind.
Her companions surrounded her as if they were afraid that she would run away. They moved in a moderate pace set by Orlandu who walked at the head of the group. Rad walked along her right constantly fingering the hilt of his sword nervously as Mustadio walked along her left gazing at the trees with fascination as if it was the first time he saw them. Malak and Beowulf kept Orlandu company while Lavian rode behind the rest of the group on her chocobo. Rafa and Reis remained at the village at the request of Malak and Beowulf.
None of them wore the trappings of their former lives, only the leather jerkins and breeches characteristic of the people of the valley. If it werent for the weapons they carried, one would think that they were a hunting party. But Alicia knew better much to her chagrin.
Lavian and Orlandu had spoken at length to her once she had awaken from what she thought was a dream. She soon learned, however, that it wasnt a dream, feeling guilty afterwards for acting such a fool. She sighed at the thought, which brought Rads head around, the knights eyes filled with concern.
Are you... Rad hesitated. Ever since the incident, he could not be sure of the knight maiden who had fiercely defeated her enemies with the ferocity of a red dragon.
Alicia turned and smiled. Im fine, she said. Dont worry.
Rad shrugged as he turned again to the fore. After a few days, well reach Lesalia.
Yes. Alicia ducked her head in response. I know, she added melancholy.
Lesalia. The place where past kings and queens ruled Ivalice, where knights such as herself served the throne. The place where she and Lavian had witnessed the rift of mother and child and the beginning of their woes. She knew that one day they would return to that land but not like this.
It was sad knowing that they come like thieves in the night upon their own home, which they had entered so casually before. Alicia felt her fears and doubts creeping behind her like a shadow, filling her with uncertainty for what awaited her in Lesalia. She no longer felt confident of herself, afraid that she would go mad again once they reached the Imperial Capital. Such feelings were unbecoming of her but, in light of that incident, she could not help but wonder...
Tomas walked along the city walls of Lesalia inspecting its physical defenses and the guards that he had doubled on Jarens command. He stared out into the surrounding countryside, lit softly by the waning moon that hung among the stars. He could hear the grass rustle as a chill wind blew, gusting about the crenellations of the wall, strong enough to set the torches and braziers mounted along the ramparts of Lesalia to flickering. It was cold enough to prompt him to draw the cowl of his cloak tighter about his head.
He never felt such a wind especially during this time of the year when the days are long and the weather dry. It felt like a precursor of things to come, a warning to be on guard. Tomas pushed such notions aside ascribing them to be nothing more than superstitions, as he walked to the nearest watch station.
Two sentries stood patiently beside a brazier, their armor glowing softly in the light of the flames. They came to attention as he approached, saluting, and he greeted them with a smile asking, How goes the watch?
Nothing unusual to report, Sir Tomas, the one he remembered called Damien responded. All is well.
As it has been for the past week and a half, ventured the other, whose name Tomas thought was Garr. Are you sure that they will come?
Tomas nodded and said, My life on it.
Yours or Father Jarens? Damien asked.
What do you mean? Tomas demanded, hearing the note of sarcasm in the mans voice.
Folk have been talking... Damien shrugged, his red cape rustling as his shoulders moved, ...about you and Father Jaren.
Tomas stared at him, studying his face in the glow of the brazier, seeing hard-etched surfaces, a beard in which gray showed, knowing him now for an experienced warrior long-used to night watches. He was not, the Divine Knight knew, a man given to questioning orders, yet now he could see something close to that in the knights eyes.
What do they say? he questioned. And thought to add, This shall go no farther.
The people, Damien gestured at the buildings below them, the motion of his hand continuing to encompass the palace and the surrounding countryside, fear us. They claim Father Jaren a tyrant and you... He broke off, shaking his head.
Tomas said, Go on.
Damien stared at the Divine Knight, then licked his lips before he said, The priests dog.
Tomas stifled the sigh that threatened to escape his guard. He had been afraid of this, the mood of discontent and resentment of Jaren and his regime, of which he was considered a part, felt as he had traversed the continent.
What else could he do? Murond, the Church, vested command in Jaren and gave Tomas orders to obey. And was he not a faithful knight of the Church? Save... He pushed such thoughts aside. Now was not the time to consider them for it was imperative that he continued his watch.
With a nod, he said, Thank you for your honesty. I must continue my own watch. Be vigilant.
Yes, promised Damien, echoed by Garr. That we will, Sir Tomas.
Tomas gave them a curt salute before proceeding along the wall toward the glow that marked the position of the next watch station, mulling over the conversation he had with his knights. He could not help but wonder if they were doing the right thing in this search...
After four days of traveling, the troupe finally reached the land surrounding the Imperial Capital. They moved cautiously through the tall grass, lying flat on the ground whenever they sight someone approaching. It was difficult to hide for the sun still shone, slowly making its way down towards the western horizon.
Fortunately, their perseverance was rewarded when they found a stand of hickory as they crested a hill. They welcomed the shelter of the tall, shag-barked trees, glad to be able to rest without being seen.
Seeing that Lesalia was in plain sight, Orlandu ordered Mustadio to climb one of the trees and survey the city with his spyglass. The Engineer nodded, clambering up a tree as easily as a squirrel. He settled himself on a sturdy branch, leaning against the trunk for support, as he took out his tool and peered into it.
What do you see? Lavian yelled up to him, curious to know what changes may have occurred during her self-imposed exile.
I think theyre expecting us, Mustadio replied as he scanned the city before jumping down to make a full report. Knights patrol the walls and the streets and the gates are watched closely. The only way I can see of passing undetected is to be invisible.
Then well be invisible, Alicia said as she joined their conversation.
How? the Engineer asked doubtfully, the knight maiden claiming the impossible, wondering if she become mad once more.
Alicia saw the dubious looks on their faces, in turn, feeling her own confidence wane. But she went on unperturbed, determined to not let that one incident come in between their mission. Listen and you shall understand...
The moon rose thin above the trees, a slender crescent, its light not as bright as those braziers and torches burning along the walls of Lesalia. Nor could its light penetrate beneath Lesalias streets.
Mustadio nearly cried out when he felt something scurry across his feet. He had regretted asking how they would be invisible to the guards patrolling the streets above as theyminus Malak, who had stayed behind at the hickory grove to watch the knight maidens mountstraveled through Lesalias sewers with Lavian leading them through the murk, Orlandu walking behind with a torch held in his hand revealing their surroundings.
The underground mines in Goug seemed a paradise compared to the muck of the underground sewers in Lesalia. Grime covered the stone walls and who-knows-what floated in the water that flowed between the causeways. The stench was tolerable but the creatures that Mustadio heard scurrying about grated on his nerves. Are we almost there? he whispered anxiously, afraid that if he spoke any louder the guards would hear him.
The city is huge and we just entered the sewers, Lavian elaborated. Were not even halfway there yet.
The Engineer sighed as he continued to trudge along the murky path. It seemed they walk in circles, their surroundings never changing, the walls all looking exactly the same. They turned at corners and hopped across causeways. They even plodded through the soiled water when no path presented itself. Disgusted by their current route, Mustadio wondered if there had been a better way across the city. Little did he know, their path was about to get worse.
Just beyond this wall are the dungeons, Lavian declared when they had reached what seemed to be a dead end. Water flows there through a channel beneath this wall, which we can use to reach it.
Mustadio couldnt believe what he was hearing. Are you suggesting we swim in this muck?!
Im afraid so, said the knight maiden. Its the most direct route...and the most unpleasant.
Nevertheless, its the only choice we have, Orlandu added reluctantly.
Lavian nodded and before Mustadio had a chance to protest, she took a deep breath and disappeared into the murky depths. He then watched as Beowulf, Alicia, and Rad followed her example, disappearing into the water after her.
The Engineer suppressed another sigh, taking a deep breath, plunging into the water afterwards with his eyes closed. He then groped his way around blindly until he felt someone pull him out of the water.
Now that wasnt so bad, was it? Rad asked with a grin as Mustadio gasped lungfuls of air. Orlandu soon emerged after and the group dried themselves as best they could before moving deeper into the dungeons with Lavian leading them once more.
The dungeons was a gloomy place full of criminals that may never see the light of day. Fortunately, the troupe did not encounter any such prisoners, as they traversed the poorly lit corridors, the light throwing eerie shadows among the walls. Cells that were normally filled were now empty and the knight maidens believe it to be the work of Jaren. Nonetheless, there were still a few prisoners that remained and fortunately, all were asleep. They didnt have to worry about them raising an alarm and dealing with the guards would be no problem since they tend to neglect their duties but finding the family soon proved to be difficult.
None knew them; knew what they looked like or what their names are. The only way of identifying them was to hope to see a child among the prisoners. The labyrinthine corridors of the prison were numerous and their time limited. However, they were saved the trouble of searching when they arrived at a heavily guarded corridor.
The passage was filled with an assortment of knights, most lounging around as flasks ofwhat Lavian assumed was alewere passed among them, their laughter echoing loudly in the halls. Only two stood by the cell at the end of the passageway and they too were as lax in their duties as their howling comrades.
Lavian grinned at their laziness. Easy enough, she claimed softly to the group. All I need do is put them to sleep and that wont be hard to do seeing how drunk they are. She then began whispering the words to the spell:
Lose conscious, wash away into the silent sea... Sleep!
A soft mist appeared above the group of knights, slowly descending until it enveloped them in its quiet grasp. Their hooting slowly ceased replaced by the roar of their snores as the spell worked its magic, their bodies slumping against the walls in slumber.
Nice work, Lavian, Beowulf applauded as he patted the knight maidens shoulder. Now lets see who they were guarding.
As the group made their way carefully among the sleeping knights since a slight nudge could awaken them from the spell, one of the prisoners in the guarded cell became aware of their approach and went up to the bars demanding in a voice filled with renewed hope, Who are you? Did Meliadoul sent you?
Yes, the oldest member of the group replied when he reached the cell and began examining the lock. He then called over his shoulder, Rad! The prisoner watched as a young man with disheveled brown hair came forward in answer to the old ones summoning. Can you pick this lock? the old one asked him.
The keys are over there, the prisoner said before the one called Rad could reply, as he pointed to a ring of keys that were hanging from a rusty nail to the side of the cell door. Both men turned to see that the prisoner spoke the truth. Rad went to fetch the keys, soon returning fitting each key on the ring to the lock.
As he continued with his task, the prisoner questioned the old one. Wheres Meliadoul? How is she?
Theres time enough to answer those questions after we get you out of here and into a safe place, the old one replied. He then saw a woman and a boy emerge from the darkness of the cell to join the man at the bars. There are only three of you? he asked.
Yes, the prisoner nodded. Then: How will we escape?
Just leave that to us, answered the old one and the prisoner accepted such a response though he was a bit doubtful of such a claim.
Soon Rad shouted in triumph when he found the right key, the cell door swinging out afterwards. Our thanks, the prisoner said gratefully as he and his family emerged from the cell.
You can thank us later after were far from Lesalias walls, the old one said. Now come! The night grows old and I would want to find myself far from Lesalia come morning.
That statement stilled any more conversation as they hurried back to the pool. When they reached it, Rad dove in first followed by Beowulf. You must be joking! the man exclaimed when he saw them disappear into the dirty water. Were to escape through that?!
Its the only way unless you want to fight through knight-infested halls! Lavian argued. Now hurry!
Yes, hurry! his wife echoed and he stifled a frustrating sigh as he took a deep breath and dove into the water. He was soon followed by his wife and son, they being not too thrilled about the idea either but if it was the only way to escape unnoticed...
In their rush to escape, the group hasnt noticed the absence of one of their number until Mustadio pointed out, Wheres Alicia?
For a split second, the Shrine Knight saw a beautiful face contorted into an expression of rage. He lifted his sword, seeking to parry the cut that slashed at his face, and saw bright sparks flash as steel met with steel. Then pain exploded through his head and he saw no more.
Alicia stepped over the dead knights body impassively, spittle flecking lips curled into a snarl, her eyes staring blankly ahead as she marched along the hall, oblivious of her surroundings, aware of only the desire to hunt and kill the one responsible for their suffering.
Someone send for Sir Tomas! one of the knights that were gathered in the hall commanded urgently. The rest of you, stop her!
As one knight went to fetch the Divine Knight, the rest of the knights were a bit hesitant to approach the enemy for they have witnessed first-hand what the berserk rage that gripped the knight maiden had done to those who went against her. Dead knights littered the hall behind her, killed by the incredible strength she now possesses. But they had a sworn duty to protect the castle and so charged her, knowing that to die in battle was an honorable death.
If Alicia was aware of the wave of knights that approached her, she didnt show it. Only when the first knight to reach her swung his sword did she show her fury. She forged ahead, chopping down her foes with powerful swings, ignoring those blows that managed to pass her guard for she felt no pain, her anger dulling it so that she continued relentlessly until no obstacles stood in her path.
Lavian led Orlandu, Beowulf, and Mustadio through the carnage filled halls of Lesalia Castle, following the trail of littered bodies as they searched for Alicia who seemed to have gone mad once again.
Orlandu had ordered Rad to take the family through the sewers and to wait with Malak at the stand of hickory trees. If they did not return by sunrise, they were to leave without them. He prayed that they would be able to escape in time, avoiding any more bloodshed as there was now.
Here! Lavian suddenly exclaimed as the group turned to another hallway just like the others, filled with slain knights.
How is she doing this? Beowulf wondered as he ran along the others, gazing briefly at the vicious cuts that had killed the surrounding knights. It seems...inhuman.
It seems we were wrong in assuming that she is cured of her madness, Orlandu replied. Or perhaps coming here has triggered it.
Maybe thats it, Mustadio agreed to the latter choice. When she was possessed by madness, she was going to Lesalia.
Then perhaps it was Lavian began but was suddenly interrupted by a shout and a scream further down the hall. That sounds like Alicia! Shes in trouble! she exclaimed, urging the others to hurry as she sped towards the disturbance. When they reached the end of the hall, they saw Alicia fighting a Divine Knight with her broken sword and shield.
Alicia howled, swinging the shattered remains of her sword towards the Divine Knights hooded head, which was easily blocked. The momentum of her swing, however, brought her full circle, bringing the edge of her shield to the side of the knights head knocking him over. She was upon him in an instant, snarling as she raised her broken sword, roaring as she moved to thrust it into the unprotected neck of her adversary...
Only to be stopped by Lavians blade.
Tomas stared in wonderment as he watched his rescuer place a hand on the head of the wild knight maiden muttering arcane words, puzzled on why she would help him. As the thought passed, he saw the madness leave his enemys face as she fell into a deep slumber.
Beowulf came to take Alicia, slinging her over his shoulder, before walking back in the direction they had come from. The others looked at the Divine Knight briefly before taking their leave as well, unafraid of the retaliation they may receive.
But Tomas just stared as they left, making no move to arrest them as was his duty, confused on why they had stopped their friend from killing him for he was certainly their enemy.
Or was he?
Sir Tomas! someone shouted to him, cutting into his thoughts, and he turned to see a contingent of Shrine Knights coming towards him. Are you all right? a knightthe same one that had greeted himasked in concern. I heard
He stopped when he caught sight of the escaping heretics down the hall. There they are men! he yelled as he pointed towards them. After them! He, along with the rest of the knights, ran after them, quickly disregarding Tomas, the arrest of the heretics taking priority over the well-being of their superior officer.
For some unknown reason, Divine Knight Tomas Varyn did not follow.
What are we going to do? Mustadio asked desperately as he looked around the room they had barricaded themselves in to escape the contingent of knights that were a moment ago at their heels. Were trapped!
No, youre not, a strange voice disagreed.
The group quickly went on the defensive, unsheathing swords and loading guns. Whos there? Orlandu demanded as he scanned the room, eyes roving over sparse furnishings, his gaze piercing through the shadows.
A shape detached itself from the shadows, appearing just before the group. Orlandu studied the cloaked figure, whose face he could not see for it was well hidden beneath the cowl. The stranger was slightly built and the old knight had no doubt that some sort of weapon was hidden beneath the brown robe.
A guide, the stranger answered Orlandus question, out of Lesalia Castle and even Lesalia itself. If you care to follow me... Without waiting for an answer, the stranger went to the far wall and pushed a certain brick, a section of the wall sliding out and to the side revealing a hidden passage.
Come, the stranger beckoned them from the mouth of the passage. This will lead you to the outer walls of Lesalia.
Lavian was a bit suspicious. How do we know that youre not leading us into a trap? she questioned warily.
Always the cautious one, the stranger chuckled which elicited puzzled looks from the others. I now know why Agrias trusted you with her life.
How did you... Lavian asked haltingly, puzzled on how this stranger knew her so well.
Know? the stranger finished. Lets just say that a mutual friend told me. Now shall you come or would you wait until the knights break down that door? To prove his point, they heard a harsh pounding against the portal as if something heavy was crashing against it. You have my word, Lavian, the stranger reassured her, that I shall lead you and your friends out of Lesalia...if you wish it.
The door cracked slightly from the onslaught of whatever the knights were using as a battering ram.
Lavian saw that the others waited on her decision, even Orlandu who was their appointed leader in these matters. She then looked back at the door that was beginning to bend, the knights soon upon them. It seems we have no choice, she sighed.
The cloaked figure appeared to beam in approval of the knight maidens decision. Good! Now follow me before they succeed in breaking down that door. The stranger entered the passage followed by the others, the wall closing after all were through.
The secret passage was dark and musty, proof that it had not been used in years. After what seemed to be hours, the group reached what seemed to be a dead end. Looks could be deceiving as they found out when the dead end opened to reveal the plains surrounding the city.
They emerged from the secret passage, each filled with elation, glad to be out in the cool air, feeling the soft grass beneath their feet.
I must apologize, Lavian said to the stranger afterwards, for not having more faith in you.
The stranger shook his head. No. It is I who must apologize for not having faith in you. Lavian became confused and was about to question why but stopped when the stranger turned to leave. Be well, Lavian, he said in farewell. Im counting on you to continue carrying out your duties.
Before the wall closed behind the stranger, Lavian caught a glimpse of a blonde lock beneath the hood. She smiled as she whispered beneath her breath, I will.
So, shes dead, Ryan, one of the prisoners that Orlandu and the others had rescued, whispered sadly.
After their narrow escape from the Imperial Capital, the group decided to rest in the shelter of young redwood trees that Malak had sighted during their run from Lesalia. Here Lavian and Mustadio tended the numerous wounds that Alicia had received during her rage while Malak and Rad took care of their meal leaving Orlandu and Beowulf to inform the family they had rescued of Meliadouls death.
Im sorry, Orlandu said remorsefully and Ryan nodded.
Beowulf then took out the package that Meliadoul had given him. Here, he said as he extended the package towards Ryan. Mel wanted me to deliver this to you.
Ryan took the package reverently, wondering what last gift his family now receives. He turned to look at them who sat with the group and his wife said, Open it.
Ryan obeyed, carefully tearing the covering to reveal a small mahogany box, an ornate cross etched unto its dark surface. He undid the small golden latch, lifting the cover to reveal a sheathed dagger, a key, and a letter. He took the parchment and began reading it silently, eyes growing wider as he read.
What does it say? his wife asked curiously.
Her husband smiled when he was finished. Even in death, she still takes care of us, he declared softly, tears brimming his eyes as he handed the letter to her.
I cant believe it! she gasped after reading the letter, covering her mouth in shock. The letter claimed that the key in the box was the key to a chest filled with a generous amount of gil that they could live on for the rest of their days. She hugged her husband fiercely in joy.
What is it? their son pouted, angry that they would not share their happiness.
After their brief embrace, Ryan looked at his son, pulling out the sheathed dagger from the box. The letter said that this is for you, he said as he handed the dagger to him. Meliadoul is sorry that she will not be able to teach you how to wield it.
The boy did not hear the last sentence as he gazed at the weapon, wide-eyed, taking it into his hands tenderly. He unsheathed the blade, admiring the finely honed metal that seemed to pulsate softly, glinting ever so slightly in the soft light of the morning sun that managed to shine through the branches of the hurst. Ryan knew that his son would treasure the blade, watching him return it to its leather sheath.
What will you do now? Orlandu questioned him as they all stood up.
We will claim Meliadouls gift then after... He shrugged, smiling. We shall see. He then held out a hand and said, I thank you for rescuing us. Meliadoul must be proud to have such loyal friends as you.
As are you, Orlandu said as he took Ryans hand and shook it. Take care on your journey.
Ryan nodded before leading his family away from the wood and into sunlit plains. Orlandu and Beowulf watched them go, glad to have finally honored their last vow to their departed friend.
What are we to do now that we have fulfilled our promise to Mel? Beowulf asked the old knight.
Theres only one thing we can do, Orlandu sighed as he turned to look at his friend gravely.
Final Fantasy Tactics Fanfic