A Hero’s Soul

Final Fantasy Tactics

By Andy Simpson

Chapter 1 — The Fallen City

"More Power…" bellowed Altima as she set off a series of explosions that would tear apart the airship. While Ramza and his companions scrambled for cover, an engineer among his number found a raft or pod, and motioned his friends to join him. As the airship began to break apart, the escape vessel was launched from Altima’s ship. It was this magical raft that allowed them to escape the horror of Murond’s Death City. They would make it back to Ivalice. They would not simply die here, after all of their heroic exploits.

I was awakened by the fall of Altima, freed from an evil bondage that Lucavi had placed over me. I did not know who I was. All that I knew was that I should have been a good being, a hero, even, but that somehow I was given over to evil. I saw Ramza and his friends make their desperate escape. Any ill wishes that I had for Ramza were erased in that moment. Somehow, I had been made to hate him. I did not remember why. Had Lucavi made its servants hate their nemesis even though they could be controlled even through their minds?

Of course, I was not the only one who was freed from this horror. The spirits of many other men and women were released as well from the demons’ clutches. Most, however, they did not show any desire to move. They sat in despair, most of them, and they mulled around the streets of the Death City in darkness and hatred. I questioned many of them. Some were brought by the human leader of the servants of Darkness, Vormav, and they ignored me. It seemed that I could not be seen by them. Others were held by the demons themselves, and could not leave unless freed from the demonic clutches. Such was I. These I could speak to, and all had in their lives done some heinous deed that had brought them here. There were scoundrels and villains of all sorts, from those with true evil in their hearts and those who had been tricked and taken by the Darkness. The scoundrels and villains knew themselves. Then there were a few, like me, who remembered nothing, not even their names.

The demons themselves, their leaders gone, scurried about without direction. That is how it seemed at first. But as I watched them, it became evident that they were actually preparing for something. They were trying to rebuild the wreckage of their empire, what Ramza left of it. I knew that I could never stop them, and what was more, it would take centuries for them to be able to restore their powers, and their leaders. Well, all but for one small group, that seemed active even now in the affairs of Ivalice. I followed them.

I felt that somehow I did not belong here. I felt that somehow I had been cheated and brought to this Hell. So I followed these hideous monsters, planning to learn what I could by spying on them. If they had plans to do anything in Ivalice, then they knew a way to leave. If so, I could escape, too.

I slipped behind the building-like mockeries of the city of death to avoid the three Archaic Demons that were heading for the conference place of their fellows. It was not difficult to evade them, being insubstantial. They could not see me when I phased into the knobs of stone that characterized their "city," and never did they know that I was following them. Of course, they probably did not expect to be tracked by one of the spirits. The spirits were sinners, and were required to be here. In a way, they were even content to be here, and their presence seemed to help source the demons’ power, so they were let to stay.

The three Archaic Demons gathered around in a semi-orderly conference, joined by other demons of theirs and other kinds.

"That boy, Ramza, and his friends have beaten us. What can we do but rebuild?" snarled one of the Ultima Demons, of whom I was not sure whether he (she?) was a leader or merely an advisor, or what.

"We can’t just hunt down Ramza. Besides, we’ve also beaten him. He’s branded a Heretic, and he’ll leave no descendents," another rasped.

"Unless he marries one of the women in his party, of which there were several. He even has a priest in his party who can perform the ceremonies!" roared the first Ultima Demon. What followed was a roaring, tearing match, as the two arguing Ultima Demons fought. Eventually one squealed, and the other relented. "We can’t have disagreement within our ranks," said the first demon.

"But how did those heroes get out of this city? I thought that Hashmalum had the gates closed?" one of the Archaic Demons said. Gates? I wondered what those were, and then the victorious Ultima Demon hissed a reply.

"Escape boats on the airship, you idiot. You’re here so that you can cast magic, not ask questions."

Gates? I remembered the direction that Ramza came from toward the Graveyard of Airships. I wondered if I should go that way. My thoughts were interrupted by another of the demons’ hideous voices: "We still have some action. Ramza didn’t hunt us ALL down and butcher us."

"Yeah, but we wouldn’t have gotten beaten as we were but for your incompetence in covering Zaleria’s tracks!" roared the leader. There was more tearing and thrashing, and I sensed that the meeting was over. I headed in the direction of the "gates" that Ramza supposedly came from. I had very little patience for those monsters.

Chapter 2 — Doors of the Time God

The walls of the edge of Murond greeted me with their drab, lifeless, gray, coloration. If one looked in any direction not near the walls, one saw the nearby structures, but not these walls. As I approached, the walls rose up above me like sheer cliffs, indicating that the entire city was shrouded in some sort of cloud or mist that obscures distant objects. It occurred to me that Murond might be situated on a ledge, sandwiched between an infinitely tall cliff and an endless abyss.

These were the only "buildings" that I ever found within Murond. All of the other building-like structures were solid, except for those that were clearly open and had no walls, supported by pillars. The carved enclosures into the cliffs were spacious, and their floors intricately decorated, and bridges between their walls of stone. I was amazed. In these chambers could be found the most intense source of light that could be found in Murond, save for the flares of evil light ignited occasionally as the demons vented their disputes with spells of the fires of Hell.

It is no wonder that the demons and the spirits of the sinners did not come into these chambers. The light they did not like, I do not know if it burned them, but it was not the pure, elemental Darkness that covered most of Murond. For some reason, I was either brave, foolhardy, or simply destined not to be affected by the light. Instead, I perceived the form that I had, however insubstantial it may have been.

I was a man, neither young nor old, and apparently a warrior. I was dressed in armor as ethereal as my body, and an equally ghostly sword hung at my belt, inscribed in runes that I could not recognize. I grew ever more curious. Who was I? Had I fallen in the war and ended up here? Had I been cheated of the fruits of valor and tricked by the demons? Was I somehow… a member of Ramza’s party that never made it?

I climbed the bridges and looked at the intricately carved designs in the floor, and felt despair. The gates were broken. There was no way that I could activate them, even were I substantial. I longed for the escape boat that Ramza fled in. I cursed Hashmalum and all his ilk, and uttered an oath thatLucavi be defeated by Ramza’s descendants forever more.

Suddenly, I felt as though there were some rending sensation, even though I could not physically sense anything. Lightning, ever so faint, crackled in the air around me. Had I said something to enrage the demons? I had it seemed, as many a foul beast entered the chamber in which I was standing. Somehow, the torture that I expected to follow did not come.

A cloud of light enveloped me, and when it cleared, I saw a scene that was completely different. Had I somehow passed through the gate? The scene before me was once again drab and gray, but it was metal, not stone. Furthermore, the metal walls were illuminated from some external source — here, the light was real. A voice said something behind me. "What did we call in this time?" it said. The voice was young, charming, innocent yet wise, and… human.

I slowly turned around. A young man was operating a fantastic piece of machinery that I never would be able to understand. Intricate in the extreme, it was made of brass and steel, and filled with intricate cables, hooked to a strange crystal, a crystal that somehow I felt that I knew before. Standing aside the machine was another young man, the owner of the voice that greeted me. Then, suddenly, I realized that it was Ramza.

"Ramza? We drew something again? I thought that we just sent Cloud back?" said the other boy.

"Mustadio, uh, come see this!" said Ramza, scarcely in control of himself. The other boy, whom I surmised must be this ‘Mustadio,’ looked around his contraption.

"You… can see me?" I asked.

"Uh yeah," replied Ramza. "How… did you… do you… why did you…" Ramza stuttered.

"Is it… him?" asked Mustadio.

"Who?" I enquired. "I don’t remember who I was. All I know is that I was some wayward spirit in Murond, awakened when you defeated Altima, who felt that he somehow didn’t belong in that Hell."

Ramza and Mustadio looked at one-another. Finally Ramza asked "Would you hurt us if you knew?" I was taken aback.

"No. You saved me from Lucavi. There is nothing that you could have done to make that deed not important, and that deed overshadows anything you may have done prior to its doing."

Ramza gained his composure. "Alright then. Your name is…"

As Ramza told me what my name was, I suddenly remembered everything. My whole life. I understood my situation. I did not want to harm Ramza or his fellows, regardless. I wanted to thank him for saving me. I understood that he did what he had to do. He was indeed the hero.

"Your name," said Ramza, "is Wiegraf Folles."

Chapter 3 — The Traitor

"Wiegraf…" I muttered. "So that’s who I am. Suddenly I remember everything."

"I never imagined that you would be free from Lucavi’s grasp, once they had you," said Ramza.

"Ramza, just what happened that caused him to…" asked Mustadio.

"Ramza — he, or his party, killed my sister." I tried to look Mustadio in the eye, even though I had no eyes to actually look at him with. "I wanted my revenge. But there are so many things that I did not realize. That Lucavi used me, just as Larg and Dycedarg did. And that nobody who could even conceive of defeating Altima would never slay a young heroine like Miluda except in desperation."

"I’m still sorry that happened, Wiegraf," said Ramza, "but as you say, I had no choice. Do not worry. Dydedarg was himself Adramelk, and your sister has been avenged."

"Ramza, tell me what happened!" I cried. Ramza was taken aback, and Mustadio leaned up against a wall and listened. Slowly, Ramza began.

"We first met Miluda — that’s Algus, Delita, me, and some of the others — at the broken fortress. We wounded her, and Algus called he r an animal, even went so far as to say that animals, a term he applied to all commoners, did not even have a God. It is ironic how close he was to being right; the religion that nobles and peasants alike were brought up to was centered around the seed of evil.

"I threw Algus from our group when we returned to Igros, but then Golgaros kidnapped Delita’s sister, Teta." Ramza paused, the pain difficult for him to bear. "We went to chase down Golgaros, but we encountered Miluda again in Lenalia. Even though Algus was not with us, she still associated me with the worst possible evil. Even so, I could not bring myself to kill her. Delita, a commoner himself, and remembering what Algus had said, could not either. It was one of the other cadets that inflicted the final blow. She died very bravely. You should be proud of her."

"We encountered Algus again at Fort Zeakden. He deliberately shot Teta while Golgaros was holding her hostage. Delita went mad. He hacked off Algus’ limbs, one by one, while Algus screamed in agony and rage. That was the last time I saw Delita until…" Ramza grimaced.

"Now Delita has risen to become king by treachery and assassination. He rules Ivalice as an iron-fisted tyrant. All thanks to Algus!" Ramza snarled.

"So even after this war, there are still the exploiters and the exploited. Only the roles have switched. Pitiful," I remarked. "Somehow, I feel that I need to redeem myself. Can you think of any way I can rectify the situation?"

"If we knew of any, we would have done it," said Mustadio.

"I suppose that I could go to Lesalia and meet with Delita…" I said.

"And since you’re already dead, he can’t hurt you. Good idea," said Ramza. "If only we could—"

"Ramza, I thank you. But somehow, I feel that I must do this myself. I gave myself to Lucavi, and now I have to atone for it," I told them. Ramza and Mustadio stood silently for a moment.

"Good luck, Wiegraf," Ramza said at last. "I respect your quest, and glad that you have returned, able to undertake it."

"We learned in Orbonne that we will see each other again," said Mustadio.

I found myself beginning to fade from view, as if to prepare me for the journey to Lesalia. It would not do to have everybody who passed me by to see me. It would cause chaos.

Chapter 4 — The Common King

The road to Lesalia was busy with traffic and soldiers — soldiers who had survived the ordeal of the Lion War, now called into duty searching for traitors to the king. Confident that none could see or hear me, I approached them, to look upon their ensignias. These were soldiers of the common populous, some of them; their leaders were nobility. Some were Hokuten, others were Nanten, a few were Shrine Knights, and many were just men, called out to conduct the rule of a tyrant.

I recalled the orders that were not here. The Limberry Aegis Knights had been destroyed in the Lion War, and Castle Limberry ruined. Of course, Ramza fought Zaleria there. A curse upon the soul of Algus, who left Delita in this state! But those knights were not the only ones missing. The Lesalia St. Kanoe Knights, or the Order of the Holy Sword, had also been cast out of the church. Branded as heretics, they flee the inquisitors being slaughtered or burned whenever caught. A blessing upon Lady Agrias, who helped Ramza in many a dire occasion, be she alive or dead today.

Silently, invisibly, I pressed onward. I did not know what I would encounter in Delita. Would he be an ogre, driven insane by the loss of his sister, and unable to understand that he had become what he hated? Would he be a heartless bastard… Sorry, Ramza. I remembered who Ramza’s mother was, and he is hardly heartless. Would Delita be a heartless monster, to whom the loss of his sister simply showed him to be ruthless and evil? Would he be a man, trying to do the best for Ivalice, but thinking in a cold, long-term fashion? Never did I guess the truth, even though it was laid out before me.

Wanted for the Crime of Heresy: Ramza Beoulve, 186 cm, blonde, blue-eyed, last seen at Orbonne Monastery. Any information regarding Ramza’s status or whereabouts will fetch you 20,000 gil. 30,000 gil for Ramza himself, dead. 50,000 gil for Ramza, alive. By order of the new High Priest.

These posters made me seethe with anger. To think that I, too, once hated Ramza! Delita and I had much in common, I realized. We both lost our sisters in the prelude to this horrible war. To the imperial palace I went. No door barred by guards could hold me, no fifty knights could see me. The first man who would see me would be the king himself.

Delita stood with his robe and crown, staring into the mirror in his chamber. Not in vanity; a distraut, pained look was in his face. I quietly watched him, and he talked to himself. "Why did it have to turn out this way?" he said, quietly. "I am king of Ivalice, and yet, I feel as though I have nothing. Nothing!" he cried as he struck the desk. "My sister was murdered by that wretch, my best friend is branded a heretic and probably dead, my best friend’s sister is also dead, my older "siblings" turned evil, my kingdom is in no condition to receive peace and justice even were I to order it, and…"

Delita paused from his seething. Then he started again. "Why cannot I gain the power to make Ivalice a better place? There just seem an to be an endless stream of traitors and people that want to keep me from being able to do what is right for this country. Can’t they just realize that if they cut me some slack, it’ll get better?" Delita stood there, shaking his head. "On the day I was crowned, the peasants cheered, because they knew what I wanted for them. Now, even they have lost sight of it."

I continued to listen, invisibly and silently. Delita struck me for what I had hoped, a tyrant who wanted to do right instead of one that wanted to do wrong. From what I gathered as he cried in front of the mirror, the high churchmen were almost all dead, so were "all" of the major families; Ruvelia was still alive, as was her son Orinas, but everybody else was dead in the royal family. The Boulves, Oakses, Orlandus, Tingels, the lot of them, were also "gone," either presumed dead, wanted by the church for various crimes, or both. Then Delita said something that put me into a shock.

"Ovelia, why did you have to attack me? Why did I have to counterattack you?" Delita, shedding tears like a sieve, walked over to his bed, sat down on it, and buried his head in his hands. "You were the only person that I could have ever loved, well apart from Teta, Ramza, and Alma. I can’t justify killing you; not for politics. Why did you attack me? Why did you force me to end our marriage so sorrowfully?"

I felt as though I had to speak to him. This was the face of a tyrant, yes, but not one of ineffable evil. He was a tortured individual, as though he were looking for a way to salvage his life. "We have both lost our families, and far more than that, Delita. But you cannot keep killing people and expect anything to improve. I tried that, and look what happened to me." As I said this, I willed myself visible. Delita dropped his hands and looked at me, noticeably paler, but more wide-eyed and bewildered than afraid.

"Wiegraf?" he asked. He blinked. "Am I dreaming?"

"Try to remember what led up to this point. You have far too much memory, and it makes far more sense than a dream." I looked over at the mirror, then back at Delita. "I heard your entire soliloquy, and have many things to say to you. Not all is as dreary as you believe."

Delita shook his head. "I was afraid that you had come to claim some sort of revenge on me. For betraying you as a Shrine Knight, for killing your sister, or whatever. That’s not… what you’re here for… is it?"

"I have not come for revenge. I have come to end this tyranny, and from the sound of it, you would like it, too." I paused. "I mean you no threat. I’m not even sure that I could be a threat if I wanted to. You notice that I’m ethereal, and so is my sword, and even then I think that it would be difficult for a spirit that escaped from the Death City to use any Holy Sword powers."

"Holy Sword…" muttered Delita. "I learned those, too, but I can no longer do them either. You need to genuinely be holy to use them, or have the direct backing of something greater than the Holy Knight/Dark Knight distinction, like Lucavi, to use them. Vormav could, in a way, but he was…"

"Hashmalum," I interrupted Delita. "Vormav had been taken over by Hashmalum. Rofel was Hashmalum’s lieutenant, so he got those powers, too."

"So the rumor that Lucavi was among us again was true… and Ramza must have gone to Orbonne to defeat them. He’s a brave man, even if that legend is all a fantasy," said Delita.

"And Ramza did defeat them," I said.

"Delita, there is one thing that I would like to suggest," I then went on. "You are the king of Ivalice. You are a tyrant. You don’t want to be a tyrant; you want to make Ivalice a more prosperous place for the people.

Delita hung his head. "What about my advisor, Marcus?" he said. "He still thinks that the power in Ivalice is not consolidated enough, yet, and honestly, I still have to kill suspicious barons fairly frequently…" said Delita.

"You must lead the people of Ivalice, and they will follow you. You cannot oppress them, or they will defy you. The king of Ivalice is a commoner, yet he has risen through the nobles. He had to befriend some of both." I paused. Delita sat there, considering it.

"But what about the people who are trying to keep me from getting the power to change Ivalice?"asked Delita.

"They think that you will just use it to be an even worse tyrant, Delita. They think that you will be even worse with more power, not better. So they try to defy and impede you." I took a step closer to him. "And so you kill them. Just like Ovelia."

An expression that combined frustration, rage, sadness, and guilt crossed Delita’s face. Delita looked at me, then at the mirror, looked at the sword on the wall with a murderous look, looked back at me, looked at the mirror again, and then crumpled up into a pitiful ball on the floor, whimpering, with his face buried in his hands. "How, then? Can I never make Ivalice a better place? Will I just kill would-be heroes with the same goals until I leave this country in the hands of somebody who genuinely does want to make the people slaves?"

There was a very long pause. Then Delita cried some more. "Ramza got nowhere. Everybody betrayed him. But have I gotten any farther than he? Even as the king of Ivalice, I can't seem to make anything better," he whimpered.

"Ramza got farther than you. Ramza has his friends, at least Mustadio. For all I know, he may be happily married, too. And, I might add, he saved the world from Lucavi. But for him, Ivalice would by now be much worse than it is," I said. "And he did by being a hero. If you want any hope, Delita, you must be more of a hero, too."

Delita got up, went over to his bed, pulled out a small box, and looked inside. Out he pulled a piece of grass, bent into a tube. He looked at it. "Sorry, Ramza. Sorry, Teta." Delita paused again. "I’ll do it," he said at last, the reed flute in his hands.

Chapter 5 — A King Indeed

Delita sat at his desk, with his advisors in the room with him, as he prepared to draw up plans. I was there, watching, but invisible. I’m not sure that Delita knew it. "I’ve been looking up some of our old laws," said Delita, "and I have found some things that are… disagreeable." He paused, then began to read some examples: ‘"A common man belongs to the land that he works.’ This is elsewhere modified by ‘A noble owns the land that his taxes come from.’ This implies that commoners belong to the nobles, since the nobles own the land that owns them."

"That the nobles should rule over the commoners is the will of St. Ajora," said one of the churchmen who had become an advisor to the crown. Delita hadn’t picked him — he was left over from the former king’s rule. I winced at the name of that Devil, the leader of Lucavi.

"Should the nobles own the peasants? As though they were property? Can nobles slaughter peasants as a herder can his sheep or a rancher his cattle?" Delita asked.

"Well, no. Have they not souls?" the churchman asked. The words "Animals have no god!" ran through my mind. Surely, they ran through Delita’s as well. Delita gripped his desk, his face clearly showing pain.

"What does your majesty intend?" asked Lord Marcus.

"I plan to make it so that the nobles don’t actually own the peasants as beasts of burden capable of reason. They are to be treated as human beings." Delita said plainly.

"Your majesty, I fear that this intention will not change anything in Ivalice. All that you will do is to make enemies of hotshot lords. How will it change the actions of the owners of the land?" Marcus said sadly.

"It will never do to have one man able to legally kill another without good cause," said Delita. "Even then, there are some things that lords simply should not be able to do. They should not be able to raid their serfs’ houses, or rape their wives and daughters."

"Sire, if such a law is issued, there will be chaos." Marcus said flatly. "Many lords will be outraged, and there will be great unrest. You are familiar with Dycedarg Beoulve, your majesty, and many barons are like that."

Delita sighed. "Marcus, can you see any way to make Ivalice a better place, or do you think that changing the status quo will always cause trouble?"

Marcus looked around the room for a moment. "Yes. There is much that can be done. The army could be rebuilt, the link between church and state re-instated, and your majesty’s power strengthened. Much rebuilding of Ivalice must be done following this dreadful war. What is good for the nation is good for the people."

"Was the war good for the people?" Delita asked.

"In principle, no. The war weakened this nation. But it also brought your Majesty to power, so it cannot be all bad." Marcus said quietly, and Delita leaned back. "I know you want to make your sister proud by changing Ivalice, sire, but until now, you have been patient. The time is still not upon us."

The high churchman then chimed in: "Your majesty’s sister will also not know until the Second Coming. She will be more proud of your majesty’s spiritual salvation than your achievement as a good ruler."

Slowly, I sensed something… indescribable. Marcus was more charismatic than he ordinarily would seem. I watched Delita lean back at his desk. "We will leave your majesty to decide now," Marcus said, as he rose. "I know that you are wise, and that you will make the best decision." He left. The churchman also left.

Delita pulled out a book of laws from his desk, and set it on his desk. "Wiegraf, are you listening?" he asked at last. I faded in to view. "This is what Marcus does. He says these things, and is concerned about maintaining the status quo, and increasing the power of the crown. He shares no love for the church either — he wants me to control it. I don’t understand him.

"He is far more compelling than his demeanor or appearance would indicate," I said. "I will say this, however. From what I have seen, that what the churchman said about your sister is not true. She can listen."

"He was lying?" asked Delita.

"He could have been. He could have been told that by his superior. I cannot read a living man’s soul as I can that of another dead man," I replied.

"I see. But Marcus…" said Delita. "His advice always seems to be correct; there are more people of whom to be suspicious of, and to remove. These people just keep cropping up, complaining and trying to keep all power to themselves."

"And since you supress these ‘threats’ thousands of brave men and women of common and noble birth die. Remember my plight," I said. "I, too, eventually joined my enemy. Only after I reawoke from Velius’ evil did I see my folly."

"How did you escape Velius?" Delita asked.

"Ramza rescued me. Ramza, who I have tried to slay three times. Ramza, who always stayed true to his ideals, and who never joined his foe to use his enemy’s tactics to his own cause," I said.

"And what did Ramza get? I got treachery, but Ramza got condemned a heretic," said Delita.

"And yet, Ramza is a man more happy than yourself," I said. "Ramza has friends, and somebody to love. You have neither."

"I will do as Ramza, then," said Delita. "And Marcus’ words be damned!"

Chapter 6 — A Premonition

And so it was done. Delita commanded that taxes be lowered, and that commoners could not be executed or mistreated without cause. Throughout most of Ivalice, there was no grumbling among the barons, save here in Lesalia itself. Marcus firmly advised Delita to stop his efforts, and after each new decree, the unrest in Lesalia grew greater.

Delita moved the council temporarily to Riovanes. I hated Riovanes. It was there that I had been prisoner of Velius, and it was in that great hall that Ramza and his brave party defeated my captor, so that I would be imprisoned in Murond instead. In Riovanes, the council of the new king met to discuss Lesalia’s situation.

"I do not understand your statements of woe, Marcus," said Delita at the council. "You said that all of the nobility in Ivalice would rise up against me, and only that of Lesalia has. Furthermore, the peasant unrest throughout the kingdom has all but disappeared. I know that it cannot be that I only see the unrest in Lesalia having resided there, for now that I am here in Riovanes, I do not find it here also. What is your explanation?"

Marcus looked flustered. "The lords will become resentful wherever you carry out your commands. They will soon be restless here, as well, if you keep this up."

"Interesting. Wouldn’t they be resentful anywhere my orders were given and carried out though, and not only in some radius around me? Gallione and Zeltennia have not caused any problems at all, yet all of my emissaries say that my orders have been put into full effect," responded Delita.

"Your emissaries are lying to you, Your Majesty," said Marcus.

"All of them? There are too many of them for them all to be disloyal," said Delita. "I strongly suspect that somebody has pulled a few strings in Lesalia and is trying to use me, and is using the unrest in Lesalia to scare me. Marcus, who are you really working for? You have nothing to gain if one of the barons overthrows me."

Marcus’ face began to grow pale, and showed a slight anger at the same time. "Y-y-your Majesty, I am not working for any lord but yourself. I simply fear that others are not so loyal."

While this conversation was going on, I was moving closer and closer to Marcus, walking through the table. As I did so, I felt something. Marcus started suddenly, as if something in his robe moved, and Delita watched him intently. He then calmed down, and I moved closer. He had… something that was reacting to me. "I call a short recess. Return in one hour," Delita said. Murmurs surrounded the rest of the table, as advisors got up. Marcus walked unsteadily out the door. As the room became empty, I willed myself visible again.

"He has something in his robe that reacted to me," I said.

"Do me a favor, and follow him. If he has some sort of magical device, I want to know about it. I also want to know if he has any contacts," said Delita. "I know that if this man truly is treacherous, then he is most definitely not working alone. I understand that being suspicious of the would-be heroes will just make me more tyrranical, but not an elitist like Marcus."

"I want to know myself," I said, then became invisible again before walking through the door. I did not know what I would find. I was not prepared for what I would learn.

Chapter 7 — The Rock

I trailed Marcus silently and invisibly, remaining five meters behind him so that I would not trigger whatever it was that he had in his robe. Eventually, he went into some bedchamber of his, and walked around the side of the door so that nobody could spy on him through the keyhole. Sensing that he was already well inside the room, and well to the side, I phased through the door, and went over to one side of the room and began to watch him.

Marcus sat at a desk, and pulled out a large book on the esoteric. He opened it to some page that I could not read for I was too far away. Slowly he began to read. I heard him muttering something as he read the ancient tome, and began to move closer to listen. It was something about spiritual things, or something of that nature. I wondered if he had found out about me. Then, he did something that I found surprising and very frightening.

The man reached into his coat, and pulled forth something. I moved to a different side of him, to get a look at what it was. Now I understood why he had started in the conference when I got too close to him. He set on the desk a small crystalline rock, barely large enough to fit in his hand. I knew instantly what it was, however: the Leo Zodiac Stone.

I was shocked to realize that there was another Zodiac Stone out there. I remembered how Velius managed to snag me using the Ares stone, and knew now that the stones were evil. Of course, Ramza had defeated all seven of the Zodiac Demons, but still, I felt its evil presence. I listened carefully to Marcus’ words, as he muttered.

"So, this stone reacted to something. The charisma that it gives me is enough to stir up unrest in Lesalia, but it seems that Delita is immune to it." Marcus paused, then. "And something else about Delita has changed. Why is he more loathe to kill anybody who poses a potential threat? Did he come to the conclusion that he killed somebody that he shouldn’t have?" So this is why there is unrest in Lesalia but nowhere else. But one question remained: if Ramza had defeated all of the Lucavi, what power did the stone still have to be able to influence the people? I then remembered overhearing the ‘discussion’ between the Ultima Demons in Murond. I realized that whether or not Lucavi was at the heart of this, there were still Demons loose in Murond that were doing things, and had some influence in the world of humans. I continued to listen as Marcus continued to mutter.

"How could Delita give the entire kingdom away to the commoners? Sure, he’s a commoner by birth, but he has struggled so hard for so long to get where he is. Did he come this far just to throw it all away?" Somehow, I felt as though Marcus was unawareof what it was that he was dealing with. I’m not sure that he realized that the stones were evil, just as I hadn’t. But clearly, he had lost his sense of morality.

I then watched as Marcus calmly put the stone back into his robe, and then began to get up. I phased back through the door, and went to the king’s chambers to tell him what I had seen. Delita was a wreck of a man himself, but here was a villain that somehow, Delita would have to stop.

Chapter 8 — The Hero Within

"Marcus has a Zodiac Stone?" hissed Delita in amazement. "What do you say that the unrest in Lesalia was simply him inciting the other lords to look angry to scare me?" suggested Delita.

"Yes, that is exactly what he muttered to himself that he had done. But let me also tell you this: I have not been a ghost since Ramza defeated me here in Castle Riovanes. He did not defeat me here in Castle Riovanes at all, but at Orbonne Monastery a few weeks before he came to Riovanes.

"I wanted to exact revenge on Ramza for killing Miluda and upon the noble classes of Ivalice for killing all of my friends in the Death Corps. So, I joined Vormav’s group, and as such I was given the Ares Zodiac Stone.

"Izlude and I were attacked by Ramza as we ourselves attacked Orbonne Monastery looking for Germinias’ book. Izlude took Alma prisoner, and I stayed to face Ramza. But he defeated me, and mortally wounded me. I could teleport away back to the steps of the monastery, and in my despair for not being able to avenge my sister, the Zodiac stone rolled out of my armor and began to hover in the air, its ghostly voice telling me that I should accept its help, and I could defeat Ramza.

"Ramza bid me not to use the stone for my own salvation, but I called upon it anyway, and it turned me into Velius, the Lucavi, using my body as his shell! In Riovanes, Ramza defeated first Velius in my body, then he, Agrias, Mustadio, and two others defeated Velius in his true form. I was meanwhile condemned to Hell until I was recently called back inadvertently by one of Mustadio’s Father’s machines! Only then did I wander Ivalice in search of a way to redeem myself, but before I escaped, I saw that some of the demons are still trying to do something in Ivalice. I now suspect that whatever it is that they are doing has something to do with Marcus."

I watched as Delita grew wide-eyed with amazement and fear. Finally, he regained his composure. "Then… somehow, we have to get that Zodiac Stone away from Marcus. The question is… how do we prevent him from using the stone against us? And how are we to control it once we have it away from him?"

"I don’t know. All that I know is that I cannot physically help you, not having a material body in this material world," I said. "I believe that Ramza and his party managed to defeat all seven of the Lucavi, but if there are lesser demons on the loose, too, then they might themselves be truly terrible if they somehow manage to control the crown of Ivalice."

"Ramza defeated Lucavi… Somehow, I had always suspected that he might have, supposing that those rumors were true which they were," said Delita. Delita walked over to bed and pulled out his reed flute. "Ramza, we stood together once before. Back then, we were used by Dycedarg for his evil plots, but remember, we defeated Algus together. I could never have fought off his goons to vanquish that monster without you. I will honor you, Ramza, my brother."

Chapter 9 — So there are Eight

Marcus did not come back to the conference, and Delita began to suspect that Marcus had come to the conclusion that he could not simply "advise" the king anymore and was taking other steps. Actually, Marcus did come, but late. Delita asked him, but he said that he was feeling slightly ill. He did a very good job, if he was faking. I wondered if he were actually using the stone to make himself ill, intending to heal himself with it later.

The return journey to Lesalia was uneventful, but when we got there, it was not. A lord had been given stewardship of the city, and there was infighting and assassination over who would get to rule the kingdom. Delita called on Marcus to meet him in a guardhouse north of the city, and then kept his guards there, in case Marcus tried anything.

Marcus arrived with a notable escort. He could claim that they were for self-protection, but Delita was not going to be that trustful of them. An intense conversation ensued. Marcus began "Your majesty, you now see how actions have caused consternation here in Lesalia. If we hurry, we can stop them."

Delita answered quietly "The reason that they are so worked up here is because of one man, who has an inhuman persuasiveness, is using his charisma to spread unrest, for he dislikes my plans."

Marcus tried not to look flustered, but wasn’t very successful. "Who, then, your Majesty? Who lives in Lesalia who possesses more power to influence than he who wears the crown?"

"He uses magic." That was the simple answer, but Delita was still not trying to sound too accusative either. Marcus looked even more flustered, and Delita clearly noticed. Too clear, it seemed, as Marcus noticed that Delita noticed.

"I thought that it would be possible —" said Marcus.

"To play on my fears so that more innocents died?" said Delita. "Guards, arrest the traitor."

Marcus’ escort drew their swords, and a time mage stepped out the back. They advanced on Delita, who blew his little reed flute. Delita’s own guards appeared around them all. "I prepared for an ambush should something like this happen…" he said.

A battle ensued. Delita’s tactics reminded me of the tactics that he and Ramza had used on that day at the windmill shed. Delita’s own time mage went straight for the knights, while the knights hit the enemy time mage. They came in a combination of frontal assault and flank attack, putting their best-armored fighters in the front attack, and mages to the side. Marcus’ troops fell back, but were soon under attack from front and behind. Marcus himself drew his sword and entered the fray, charging toward Delita. Delita met him in melee, making a series of arcs with his sword that struck with great strength and skill. Marcus fought back, clumsily, but even stronger.

Delita’s time mage struck Marcus with Flare, which he knew from previous study as a wizard (these, clearly, were elite guards), and Marcus fell to his knees, then rose to stand again. "Drop your sword, and hand over the stone," said Delita. "You used it to become incredibly strong, too, but that did not help you. Give it up!"

"What would you do with it?" asked Marcus.

"I would give it to a man who would keep them from the hands of scoundrels like you," said Delita. "You usurped my throne for causing pain to the people of Ivalice, and for what? You aren’t even the king! You don’t get the wealth from those insane taxes!"

"I serve… a higher authority."

I appeared in front of him. "You serve Lucavi, yes, just as those few demons in the Death City. But all of the great demons are, shall we say, out of service." I then looked intensely at him. "Unless you want to join me, give up the stone!"

Marcus coughed. "Yes, I believe I shall!" Marcus pulled it out. A brilliant, violet lacy light enveloped him. Everybody, including even me, took a few steps back. A creature appeared in Marcus’ place. Not an Archaic Demon, nor an Ultima Demon. It was a dragon, its scales as black as charcoal, and its eyes with a deep, hollow crimson glow.

"Seven demons, Wiegraf?" it said. "You have a thing to learn. The Zodiac Brave story spoke ofthirteen braves, not of twelve. There were twelve, plus a leader. The Brave story spoke also of seven Lucavi. Could the leader not have been counted in that number? And, have you forgotten about Caragon, the Unholy Dragon?"

"Ramza defeated that leader," I said firmly.

"But you’re not Ramza. You, Wiegraf, fell to us, remember, and so nearly did Delita. Come, Delita, and join us for immortality!"

"I will not allow you to destroy the peace of Ivalice. Thousands of brave men and women, heroes, indeed, died to bring peace to this kingdom. Not the least among them was my own sister, and it was because of what happened to her that I made this climb to the throne. Now, Ramza, our hero, is not present to destroy this final threat. Perhaps this is the one time that I can be the hero that he was. Whatever happens, you will have to fight me first!"

Delita’s guards, determined as their leader to be heroes. The dragon spread its great wings, and prepared for battle. For an interminable moment, everybody began moving, and it was unclear how the fight would even begin. Then there was an explosion of the sounds of battle.

Chapter 10 — Retribution

The dragon, the name of which I still do not know, slashed at one of the guards that came too close with its wing. I came forward and swung with my sword, knowing that since the dragon was Lucavi, it existed in the spirit world as well. It’s other wing threw me hard against the wall. It hurt, but I did not seem injured. It was not like striking the classic "ghost"-type monster or a skeleton would have been — I guess that technically I wasn’t undead, but just an escaped spirit.

Delita slashed the dragon’s wing from behind, so that it could no longer belt people with it. The monster let loose a fiery breath attack that Delita managed to block with an aegis. The wizard among the guards rained fire out of the sky, but missed the dragon, the creature then took flight and landed on a window high above the rest of us. It glared at us before loosing another gout of flame, this time burning the ninja to a crisp.

"See, Delita? You’re only going to have your own guards die, now. And, let us not forget, that you even killed your wife when she tried to end your tyrrany. You’re one of us already. Join us!" bellowed the dragon, and Delita hissed. "It’s not like you have a choice-or a chance."

The time mage began casting another spell at it landed on the poor man and chewed him with it’s beak-like mouth. I charged it again, frantically slashing at it. This time, I hit it, but caused no damage. I could only imagine what this meant — the physical world was the more important one, and those that existed in both worlds could affect both, but could only be attacked by the physical one. That explained why heroes of the past hadn’t fought Lucavi earlier. The dragon used this moment in the combat to gloat at Delita.

"You see, young king, that you need better than these knights to face me." The creature roared. Apparently it wasn’t going to just breathe fire again, but cast a spell this time instead. "Inscript the dark god into a rotting body — Flare!" The knight that had been pestering it earlier, and who had just revived the ninja, was enveloped in a star-like radiation of flames, screamed in agony, and turned to ashes. Delita, enflamed, ran after the dragon, and buried his sword into its body. The monster clutched at its chest as Delita pulled the rune blade out. He was then backswiped by a claw and went flying into some nearby bushes.

The monster stamped the dead wizard into the ground, and then began chanting a spell at the other two. "Brush off vanity and show reality — Ultima!" There was an ionizing pulse of heat, and there was a hole in the ground where the others had stood. Delita stood up. Caragon flew up onto the ledge again, more of a jump than a flight. "And if I just sit up here, I can breathe fire and cast spells at you all day. This is an exercize in futility on your part."

I climbed the tower, hoping to scare Caragon off of the ledge. Sure, I was harmless, and he (she?) knew it, but if I appeared behind the creature, would it realize that in time. I got up, and then made a screaming cry and slashed at it. No response, other than more taunts of Delita.

"What do you think you can do, fallen holy knight?" said the monster, laughing. It kept laughing, and did not realize what Delita was doing until too late.

"Heaven’s wish to destroy all minds — Holy Explosion!" cried Delita. BLAM! The dragon roared.

"How… you’re a fallen knight…" it bellowed.

"I was a fallen knight!" said Delita.

The monster now knew that Delita was a threat. Of course, he was not much of a match for the monster. It took Ramza, Agrias, and Mustadio, plus two others to defeat Velius. And Caragon seemed more powerful than Velius. Caragon flew down, and tried to bite at Delita. I leapt off the precipice, screaming, and pretending to call a Holy Sword skill of my own. Caragon had learned from Delita to be a little less cocky, and anticipated the attack which did not come. He flung me about twenty meters, only to be hit by a real Holy Explosion from Delita. Cragon turned on Delita, and began casting another Ultima.

Delita did the only thing that he could. He quaffed a potion, healing his would from being flung into the bushes. Then he charged Caragon, sword in hand, He did not have time for a sword swipe before the spell cast, but if he got close enough to the dragon, it would be hit by its own Ultima.

The blast was shattering, and Delita was thrown yet again, with multiple broken ribs, and major burns all over his body. He could only thank Heaven that his potions were not damaged, and that he could still reach them.

But Caragon, already wounded from two holy explosions and a strong sword slash in his wing, was not in such good shape. The monster exploded as Delita quaffed the potions so that he could stand up again. It was too late for his guards — the phoenix downs would not work.

Surveying the destruction, Delita shook his head. He looked at his sword, and with it he reswore the oath that he took before getting his first training as a Holy Knight. Finally, Delita turned to me. "Wiegraf, you saved the peace of the kingdom. Thank you."

Somehow, I felt a flare of joy within me. I had completed what the Death Corps set out to do — to install a benevolent government for Ivalice. "Thank you for allowing me to help you… your Majesty."

"Just call me Delita," said the king. But I was no longer there to answer.

Chapter 11 — The Circle of the Stars

I found myself on a rocky promentory, which dropped off in a cliff to… I do not know where. There was a narrow, steep ridge, leading from the promentory up to a larger plateau, with a spire sticking up from one side of it. I walked over and peered over the edge of the cliff. As I looked over, I saw Delita, burying the bodies of the guards that had perished without ever scoring a hit on Caragon. I was glad that Delita had redeemed himself; his regaining the ability to use his Holy Sword powers completed his salvation. Somehow, I felt as though my task with him was behind me.

As I began to become more curious, I realized that I felt different. I bent over and felt the ground. Actually felt it, not simply sensed that it was there. I reached for and picked up a stone. Then it hit me: I was a physical object, no longer an incorporeal spirit. I had a body, as though I were alive again. I set the rock down, and then began to make my way up the ridge to the higher plateau.

The ridge was a long one, and I wondered if I would tire by trying to walk up it. Somehow, I did not feel tired. I simply kept going, and slowly, the plateau became nearer.

Finally, the ridge widened out in both directions, as I reached the grassy plateau. It was still a steep walk as I went toward the skyline, which I could now discern as a line of trees. I made my way toward this grove, and finally reached the edge. I went but a few meters inward, and came upon a great marble disk, set flat in the ground. It must have been several hundred meters across, and was lined along the ring with statues, each facing the center of the disk.

Still curious, I approached nearer. The first statue was of a man, tall, bearded, and dressed in the armor of a knight, with a cape flowing off his back. I then recognized him as Zalbag Beoulve. I wondered what the meaning of this was. I then continued walking around the disk. The next statue was of Izlude’s sister Melilodoul. This made me even more curious. What was this?

As I continued around the ring, I found the statues of more of the heroic figures of the Lion War. Mustadio was next, and I recognized him. The next person I did not easily recognize. She was a young woman or girl, who was dressed in a robe underneath an outer mantle, and carried an ornate sword at her waist. At that moment I then realized that it was supposed to be Agrias, wearing a robe instead of armor.

I continued, more puzzled than ever, until a few steps later, it hit me. It all went back to when I first heard the Zodiac Brave story in church. I remember Vormav christening "the new Zodiac Braves," which was his little organization that I met my evil doom in. Of course, everything the church had told us was lies; Saint Ajora was Altima. These people had fought against Vormav. Were they the real heroes, of legendary or mythic significance? They almost had to have been. So the Brave story was true, if only you reversed the church’s dogma about who was on who’s side. This must have been what Mustadio meant when he said that "we would be seeing each-other again."

At last, I came to the next statue. At last, I understood the feeling of being cheated by Lucavi back in the Death City. The statue was of me. I then continued around, feeling that Ramza must be next. I know for a fact that if there is any reincarnated crew of heroes, then he must be among them. But it wasn’t Ramza that was next (Ramza was perched in the center of the disk, I later found). As I continued around the disk, instead of finding the statue of the next person, that next person found me.

I felt somebody grab me from behind and wrap their arms around me. I waited a moment, and was let go, so that I could turn and face this person.

It was Miluda.