Author's Note/Disclaimer: This is my first fanfic and it took me far too long to write (I actually started it back in November; it's been a hectic year. Anyway, I would appreciate any and all criticism and/or insults.
This is not a retelling of the poem "Beowulf" though much in this is borrowed from there. I borrowed Unferth and Wiglaf was already in the game (Wiegraf is simply a bad translation of Wiglaf). I also borrowed characters (or their names at least) from other Square games just for fun, nothing more. Also, my Japanese is very bad and most of the words and terms I used in here are probably out of context, especially since I really don't know what any of them mean. ^__^ I just took them out of a dictionary and hoped for the best. Please don't make fun of me. It will make me sad, I will cry, and then I will come to your house and kick your ass.
"I Owe 'Them' Something"
by Christopher K. Winn
He was asleep in the other room. This hunt had been overwhelming and two his allies, Frinik Faendos and Yerne Lamkin, had perished. When Beowulf came through the door, he had two behemoth skins and three broken ribs. One of his favorite spears had also been broken and lost. After meeting with the two young menus parents, the worn hunter came straight through the cottage and went to bed.
Reis finished a poultice she had been preparing and took it out to the dragon stables. The nine-month old blue Faris had gotten lost in the upper forest two days before and was attacked by a goblin. It had managed to kill the demi-human, but by the time its mother and Reis found him he had a deep wound on his left hind leg. The gash had already healed some, but the poor animal still limped. It was better than Reis had thought, however; she had originally worried that the leg would have to come off.
She called out softly for the child, and Faris stumbled from his mother's side to her. She felt his cold breath on her cheek as she scratched her way down to the leg. Unwinding the old bandage, she massaged his side as he winced from the feel of the herbs on the scarring wound. After tying the new bandage, she scratched his neck as he purred. She rose smiled at the sleeping mother, and left the stall. As she left the stable, she saw Beowulf leaning against the doorway.
Gmorning, lady," he said, staring at her intensely, standing straight. He wore little more than trousers and a light shirt, and his hair was a bird's nest. That man, Reis sighed.
Gmorning, milord, she smiled and picked up a water carrier. Now that you're up, fetch me some water while I prepare breakfast. The dragons are thirsty and you need a bath.
How's Faris? he said, taking the buckets.
Well. She had a run-in with a goblin the other day, but he's growing very strong.
Nine months He must be about the size of a chocobo.
Reis glanced at him. Rarely did he talk about the dragons. He must be trying to avoid the obvious conversation topic, Reis thought.
Since you don't want to talk about it, she started, how was the hunt?
Beowulf glared at her coldly. I'll get the water.
He marched out of the cottage and onto the road. The sun was halfway to zenith and the townspeople were out and about their business. Beowulf grunted. The house was on the edge of the village of Recada, and the well was in the middle. He slung the carrier over his shoulders so he could walk with his head down and face hidden. By now all the people had heard about the hunt, and the last thing he wanted was to face their stares. He passed the houses of his dead allies and concentrated even more on his chore.
When he had finished drawing the water, that church bells were tolling ten. He looked up to where the steeple rose from the middle of the town like a dagger. Priest Bulemonda would be finishing his Saturday mass, and the few townspeople who chose to attend it rather than the usual Sunday mass would be letting out of the huge, old oak doors. The stone of the temple was dark and cold even on the warm summer morning. As he watched, a templar passed a window in on of the towers and saw the hunter.
Sir Kadmus! the young knight called out. He waved his hand and ran down the steps of the church.
Blast, Beowulf thought. Unferth Folles was a Holy Knight, though he was too young to hold any real rank in the church. He was also too devout to follow his brother into the war. Wiegraf had left two years ago to serve under the Hokuten, but his brother and his sister Miluda had stayed in Recada. Unferth had joined the ranks of the church's knights a month after his brother left, though he had been petitioning for a year, since he was sixteen and old enough to do so. Miluda kept the family's estate in upper Romanda; she was the only one to accept their noble background. Rumors, however, stated that she had been cast down because of her refusal to be married, and that other relatives had taken over the estate. Some even said that she had gone to Gallione seeking Wiegraf.
The youngest Folles presently came creeping out of the living quarters of the church; Beowulf smiled as he realized that he must have been scolded for his improper behavior. He walked over to the well and embraced hands with the hunter.
Milord, I heard you were back in town, Unferth smiled.
Yes, we came in around five in the evening yesterday. The hunt was not well, Beowulf tried to brighten up. They haven't been well since your brother left. He was my best man, better than me at times.
Impossible. Wiegraf was good, but he was no Beowulf Kadmus.
Please, walk with me, Beowulf bent over to take the water carrier, but Unferth got it before he could. The boy is polite to the point of annoyance, the hunter laughed.
A messenger from Wiegraf came a month ago. He is doing well, but unfortunately, he says nothing of Miluda.
Beowulf's eyebrows rose. Then the rumors are true! It is sad.
Alas, yes. Of course, we warned her; it was because of the blasted nobles that my brother and I forsook the family inheritance in the first place, the young templar faltered. That, and of course, God.
Of course, Beowulf smiled. He was not a religious man, but he also held no grudges against the Glabados church. At least, not the church itself. Though I somehow doubt Saint Ajora was the reason behind his defection.
Well, Wiegraf may not have devoted himself to the church, but he is still a White Knight. While he uses the power of God, he is servant, Unferth glanced at the hunter. The same goes for you, actually.
Beowulf frowned. My debt to God ended when I left the Knights and stopped using the Magic Sword. The only person I'm a servant for now is my love.
To whom you are not married and with whom you are living, the acolyte snorted. If it weren't for your name and what you and Madame Dular bring to the town, you would have been run out long ago.
The people know how I feel about the church and their form of sacrament and you would be displeased to know that many of them feel the same, Beowulf looked up at the young knight. The only power Glabados has over these people is fear; the only power the church has anymore is fear.
Unferth darkened. I know, and that's why I joined the order. The holy water stagnates and draws parasites. Somebody must cleanse it.
I'm surprised you haven't been canonized already.
They reached Beowulf's house, and Unferth handed Beowulf the water carrier. He frowned. Look, just think things over. You've been gone for five months, and don't think that Lord Bulemonda hasn't taken advantage of your absence. It's almost mandatory for people to attend Sunday Mass. And missing communion is heresy. I'm surprised he hasn't confronted you yet.
I've only been back for a day, he'll get around by this afternoon, Beowulf snorted. Bulemonda's the biggest bastard of them all. He doesn't care anything about the church; he just wants to see me hung. He'll probably try to stop the men from going on hunts soon too. And he'll succeed after this last one. I'll have start hiring random adventurers from the tavern.
Unferth was growing uneasy. No matter how he felt about the members of the clergy, he would be made a heretic if anyone overheard the conversation. Ahem. While I'm so enjoying this conversation, I must be leaving. I have duties left unattended at the church.
Of course. I too must work. Reis won't feed me until I bathe.
Unferth wrinkled his nose. I can't say I blame her. Go with God, friend.
You too, Beowulf said.
The two grasped wrists and parted. Unferth walked down the road and back to the church. The youth was a perfect acolyte, Beowulf thought. Even in the middle of the summer, he was completely decked out. Even a bloody mantle. Bloody straight posture too. Beowulf sighed. That boy's going to get in trouble.
He looked around the town. Beowulf figured it was about ten o'clock; everyone was going about their usual business. He looked behind Theodre the blacksmith's house; there was smoke coming from the forge, so he must be working. The hunter would have to bring his armor and weapons to get tempered. The Beast had torn his breastplate apart and the hunter had dulled his weapons on its flesh.
He glanced away. Two women had been looking at him and talking. They now continued their journey to marketplace. He recognized one of them: Freina Groudha, the sister of Jamus Lamkin. Beowulf looked down at his feet. I'm sorry, he said silently. There was nothing anybody could do. He touched the purse at his side and thought, but I won't let it happen again.
Beowulf carried the water into the cottage.
* * *
He had had a difficult time explaining things to Theodre. The hunter felt it best to throw his shredded armor away than to try to talk about it. The weapons he could at least blame on the behemoths.
Beowulf walked down the road from the forge to his house. The outfit Reis forced him in after his wash was comfortable, even if it was warm. The hunter never liked to wear many colors, but she loved them. The shirt was dark and brought all the heat to him, and he couldn't wait to shed it.
Beowulf opened the door of his house and stopped. In the parlor sat Reis, Priest Bulemonda and Vormav Tingel. Beowulf sighed. You knew this was coming, fool, he thought.
Good afternoon, the hunter said, and walked through the room. He dropped his new breastplate in the bedroom and proceeded to remove his boots. Damned uncomfortable, he thought. With his back to the door, he heard Reis enter.
You know they're here to see you. They arrived shortly after you left for the blacksmith's, she said.
He sighed. Fine, I'll see them.
They were standing when he entered. Bulemonda held his hand out to be kissed, so Beowulf shook it. He thought he could hear the priest growl. He Vormav's hand and the two drew each other close and embraced. They had served together in the knights and the two were still friends. They were no longer allies, however; Vormav was now the leader of the Holy Knights in Romanda. He arrived in Receda a month before Beowulf left for the hunt, and he would most likely make his pilgrimage to Murond in a month or two.
The reason we're here should be rather obvious, so I'll not mince words, the priest started. The people of the town are concerned with your activities, Sir Kadmus.
I renounced the knighthood when I left the front, Bulemonda, Beowulf's eyes narrowed, and he and the other two took their seats. His statement was obvious: Neither you nor Unferth can get me to admit any kind of obligation towards your God, you hypocritical dog.
Regardless, we think you should change your ways. First, I think everyone is in agreement that these suicidal hunts of yours must stop.
This didn't surprise Beowulf in the slightest. Oh, well, he thought. I was good while it lasted.
Also, we think it would be best if you'd join the knights.
Reis came from the hall where she eavesdropped on this note, though no one seemed to notice. Beowulf jumped to his feet, and everyone saw him instinctively reach for the sword that wasn't there. Vormav also rose and stared coldly at Beowulf.
Hear him out, Kadmus, he said. We all know how you feel towards the church, but we have our reasons for this.
Beowulf glared at Vormav. You're in on it too, knight? I'll hear nothing of this!
Sir Kadmus, Bulemonda said. These are bad times. The people need something to believe in, and the church is the best thing. The townspeople look up to you and if you would join the church, it would greatly benefit everyone.
Beowulf looked off to the side of the room for a moment, then looked back at the two. His anger was almost palpable. I appreciate your position. And I hope you appreciate mine. Please leave my house.
Beowulf thought he could see Bulemonda smile. Very well, Sir Kadmus. But know that refusing this you have upset our order. There will be repercussions.
The priest and the knight both rose. They shook hand with Beowulf again and left the house. After they were gone, Beowulf turned and struck the wall.
Blast! he cried. They have whatever they need now.
Reis was confused. What was that all about? Why would they ask you to join the order? They know how you feel about the church.
Exactly. They needed me to say that though. This damn town has become so pious now because of the war, they'll believe anything the bastards tell them. Now that I have actually said that I refuse to work with the church, they can do anything to me. I could even be a heretic now.
What? There is no way the people would believe such a thing. They love you too much. You're more of a man of this town than Bulemonda is.
Not anymore, Beowulf headed to the back of the house. This war has changed them all. Haven't you noticed? I've only been back a day and I've already seen it. The way people look at me, its like I'm Lucavi himself.
Reis followed him out of the house as he headed towards his armory. That cannot be! You have lived your whole life in this town. Your hunts have become a rite of passage for all the men in the Receda, in Romanda himself.
The hunter turned on her in fury. And now two people have died on those damned hunts! Don't you realize that that's exactly what Bulemonda needs? Gods, Are you really so blind? You never understand people, only your dragons. Don't you hear people? Don't you speak their language? Your body is covered with flesh, not scales!
Reis thrust her face against his. Don't you dare say that! At least I live in the Receda. You think yourself a god, who can rule over and destroy those around you. You think you can go off for months at a time and still be a member of this community. You skip through here for weeks at a time, thinking you can see them only once in a while and know them throughout. They love you, Beowulf, more than they can ever love a dead God.
Beowulf turned and sighed. I need to get out of here. I have some business to take care of in Gallione. I'll leave tomorrow.
Dammit, don't you listen at all? Are you so holy that you can't even listen to the woman you love?
What are you saying? That I should give up my lifestyle? Settle down and become old and died, surrounded by people who claim to love me but really just don't want to be disliked? Or should I join the Holy Knights, castrate myself and live with the disillusioned and the hopeless?
Reis took his hand in hers and held it up to her cheek. Never, my love. You know me better. Look into my eyes and tell me you actually believe I would take away the things you hold dear.
Then what, what the hell should I do? he let his head drop so that their foreheads met. He remembered when he would stare at her eyes, taking both the color and shape of emeralds, for hours on end. Now they looked foreign.
Stay, she said, kissing him lightly on the cheek. Not forever, just for a couple months. You can help me with the dragons. Tycoon is pregnant again. I was thinking of the name Lenna.
Beowulf took her in his arms and drew her close. He put his face in her hair and breathed deeply. She always washed her hair with ground flowers and it smelled beautiful. All right. I didn't want to see Balbanes in his condition anyway. They say he's fallen desperately ill. I admire him too much to see that. But he is strong, he will pull out of it.
Beowulf stayed in Receda for two months. In all that time, Bulemonda tried nothing and it infuriated the hunter. He started going to the Sunday Mass after the town pleaded with him. After a time he couldn't stand the monotony of the town and planned a hunt. He had heard of haunted areas and was not surprised. Many spirits wandered the lands during wartime searching for retribution. Beowulf didn't like dealing with the undead, but it was better than spending days doing nothing.
He told Reis of his plans she didn't raise and objection. He had stayed as long as she had asked and it had been great. At least, for the first month. Now he was just getting under her skin.
Yes, yes, go now, she said. She was tending to Lenna, the newborn red dragon. It was only a week old but it was already venturing to the gates of the stable.
I won't be gone too long. I'm only going to the forests around Yardow, where they say the dead walk freely.
Reis smiled. If he were to be dealing with ghosts, then he must be terribly desperate to leave. You might want to borrow Tonos' Holy Lance then. It would do you well.
Beowulf laughed. You are better at this than I. I had not even thought of that.
She rose and looked at him darkly. Do not ask any of the townsmen to accompany you. Go to the taverns and look for soldiers.
You're right, he looked away in sorrow. Bulemonda has turned their hearts from me. Blast, I despise mercenaries.
He left to prepare his supplies. He did not think he would need much; with ghosts it is always a matter of lasting longer than them, not being more powerful. He dreaded going to the tavern in the after noon. People who were willing to go on unknown propositions were usually half-wits and only rarely could one find a person who actually knew how to wield a sword.
He was done packing within the hour. Now he needed to talk to Tonos.
* * *
The message came only Two weeks into the hunt. Beowulf and his team were stopped at a pub in Yeria, a hamlet west of Riovanes Castle. The hunter was trying to get to know his new allies: Masa and Mune, two archer brothers from Limberry, and a strange, one-eyed ninja who called himself Sasuke. The archers were an obvious choice for a hunt, but the ninja was different. Beowulf found himself fond of the man. He seemed familiar.
Beowulf was having a drink with the three when the messenger arrived. The hunter recognized his badge as the crest of the Romanda Postal Guild. He had told Unferth of his itinerary and to alert him on any important happenings in Receda, so Beowulf assumed it was from him.
Sir Kadmus? the boy, who couldn't have been over twenty years old, started. I have an urgent message for you regarding the Lady Reis Dular.
Beowulf rose. Reis would never interrupt his hunts and for something to be sent pertaining to her was unheard of. He feared the worst.
Go on, he said.
I'm afraid Madam Dular has fallen ill, milord. She wishes you home immediately.
From the last sentence, Beowulf knew Reis had not sent the message. Who sent you?
The boy handed Beowulf the scroll from which he read. Sir Unferth Folles of the Romanda Holy Knights.
Beowulf looked at the bound skin. She had become sick shortly after he left. The town chemists were confounded as to her illness.
Beowulf reached into his purse and handed the boy some gil. Thank you for your services.
Thank you very much sir. And our sincerest condolences, the boy looked at the money. He smiled; tips were the only benefit of delivering bad news. He then bowed and took his leave.
Beowulf looked at his comrades, two of whom looked back with sympathy. Condolences are for the dead, the hunter thought. He reached into his bag and produced three purses.
I must return to Romanda, he said. If you wish to join me, the company would be appreciated. Regardless, you are hereby dismissed with gratitude for services rendered.
Beowulf handed each a purse and gathered his things. Sasuke rose; the gesture was obvious: I will go with you. The other two sat and tried not to look greedy as they eyed their money. Take it, Beowulf thought. What the hell do I care if you're selfish bastards? You've served your purpose to me.
Beowulf slung one bag over his back, carried another at his side and left Yeria.
* * *
It was raining hard when Beowulf and Sasuke arrived in Receda a week later. They had taken chocobos from Yeria to the ferry in Hoaune Port City and rode the two-day journey from Janek Trade City to Receda in half a day. The chocobos, World and Darkwind, were almost run to death. Beowulf went immediately to his house and neglected to notice that Sasuke had disappeared.
Unferth was in the parlor when the hunter arrived. He was talking to someone who was out of view, but Beowulf assumed it was a chemist. The Holy Knight rose and looked remorsefully at him, and the other person came into view. Bulemonda, Beowulf thought. Probably what's making her sick.
Beowulf, I, I Unferth would not look him in the eyes.
How is she? Beowulf asked.
Unferth stuttered. I I I'm sorry, friend. She's, Reis is She's gone.
Beowulf dropped his possessions.
Sir Kadmus, Unferth is distraught and he says not what he means, the priest said. Lady Dular has left.
What do you mean?
Three nights ago, she disappeared in the darkness. We don't know what happened.
What the hell are you talking about? Beowulf screamed, taking two large steps toward the priest.
Beowulf threw his arms out towards Bulemonda and the priest backed away. Unferth jumped in front of the mad hunter to protect his lord and tried to subdue Beowulf. He was thrown away as if he was nothing and destroyed the chair he landed on. Beowulf grabbed Bulemonda's robe and pulled him close. Bulemonda could feel his hot breath, but more feared the hot look in his eyes. Beowulf was no taller then the priest, but he was a great deal larger. His hands were so strong that they nearly tore the thick wool of his robe.
You son of a fucking bitch, Beowulf growled. Don't think that I don't know you have something to do with this. If I get proof I will-
At this point Unferth had risen and grabbed Beowulf by the waist, pulled him from the priest and threw him to the ground. He drew his sword and held it in a defensive stance in front of Bulemonda. He and Beowulf met eyes and held the look fro several seconds. Beowulf slowly rose from the ground.
Do you want to fight me, Unferth?
Unferth didn't waver. I am a Holy Knight. As a Holy Knight, it is my duty to die before I let any hostile force near him. I should kill you where you stand.
Beowulf straightened his body.
However, I am also your friend, maybe the only one you still have, he continued. As so, I will try to help you in any way I can. But if you ever try to force me to compromise my duty, I will no longer be your friend. I will be your executioner.
The two held their gaze for a few moments more. Bulemonda regained his composure and looked on the scene with anger. His thoughts were not befitting of a priest.
Beowulf dropped his eyes and turned from the knight opposite of him. Unferth relaxed and sheathed his blade. He turned to Bulemonda to see if he was hurt. The priest reassured him that he was fine, so he turned back to the hunter. Beowulf was crouched with his back to them, weeping.
Unferth did not know what to do. He started to go to him, but stopped when he realized he knew not what to do from there. He looked back on Bulemonda; the priest had taken to a seat and was looking off into nowhere. He looked back at Beowulf and then dropped his head to stare at his feet. This was something he was not used to dealing with.
Beowulf stood up, but still did not face the other two.
What what was wrong with her? his voice cracked.
Unferth looked up. No one really knows. She was at the market two days after you left, speaking with Maure about buying cows for her dragons to slaughter. Then she collapsed. Maure said she had mentioned that she was feeling a bit dizzy, but just attributed it to stress over what was wrong with the dragon Tycoon. Apparently she wasn't moving around much. There was a chemist nearby who tried to help her immediately, but to no avail. She was brought here where members of the Chemist Guild and Brothers of the Church tended to her. Her condition did not change in the next three days and no one could understand what was wrong. So we sent for you.
Bulemonda interrupted. She was not overly ill, mostly tired, aching and cold. But her condition did not change. At all. For neither better nor worse. That is what perplexed everyone the most. Any know illness would change in some way, either the body destroying the disease or succumbing to it and becoming more ill. But there were no changes for a week.
Then she disappeared. Five mornings ago her attendant woke up to find that she was not in her bed. She went out to check the outhouse and the stables, but she was not there either. She was not at all in the house. The attendant alerted everyone she could find, but no one had seen anything of Reis. We have alerted every town around, of course, and all of the knights are searching.
Unferth walked over to Beowulf and placed his hand on his shoulder. I'm sorry, brother. We won't stop looking for her. Everyone in town loves her too. She is a part of all our families.
Beowulf turned and embraced him. The two wept together.
* * *
Three weeks went by and nothing happened. There were false reports, of course, but none turned to fruition. There were rumors too. Some said Beowulf killed her. Others thought she ran away because he was abusing and cheating on her. The most common rumor was that the church killed her. Many weren't even sure this was a rumor.
It was Saturday night, and Beowulf was in his parlor sharpening a sword. He had been out for a week scouring Romanda. None of the towns had had any female visitors in the last three weeks and the ferries had taken on anyone fitting her description. Beowulf was beginning to get desperate.
The rain was beating against the thatch of his roof. Even though it was summer, the roof was kept thick and in good condition, since summer storms weren't uncommon on the island of Romanda. A three day storm was, however, its why he was forced to return to Receda. The rhythm of the downfall was hypnotizing and Beowulf set the sword aside and let his body relax.
Beowulf had just about fallen asleep when there was a loud banging on the door. He opened one eye and looked at the door. At any other time he would have cursed the visitor and told them to leave. However, it was dark and very wet outside, so he assumed it was someone with important news or some poor idiot from the church. Probably Unferth. He cursed the visitor silently as he rose and walked to the door.
If this isn't dire, then your life will be, guest, he said as he unlatched and opened the softly creaking door.
Sasuke stood below the lentil, holding Unferth. The rain had washed most of the blood off of the knight's face, but it was still covered with deep wounds. He was obviously unconscious and, because of Unferth's large frame, Sasuke was having a hard time holding him.
Good lord! Beowulf exclaimed and grabbed Unferth as he began to dive for the floor.
The hunter and the ninja walked him over to a couch and set him down. They stripped him of his clothes; the rain had soaked through his many layers of clothing, except for the areas that were covered with mud. Beowulf took a cloth and the water he had warming for tea and started washing his wounds as Sasuke stripped off his own wet layers and set them by the fire to dry. Beowulf surveyed the fallen knight; he had several cuts on his face, some very deep. His left eye was destroyed and his hair was matted thick with blood. Almost all of his ribs were broken, some had even found their way out through his side. Beowulf hoped his lungs were not pierced. Several other bones were broken and his arm looked as if it would be completely useless, and probably would come off.
Beowulf looked at Sasuke. What the hell happened?
I found him outside the church, crawling through the mud and whimpering your name, he replied. I figured he wanted to see you, but then he passed out. So I helped him over. Don't be too grateful.
What were you doing at the church?
Sasuke smiled and winked with his one eye. It was an awful sight. Reconnascience.
Beowulf rose and narrowed his eyes. Don't play games with me, mercenary. If you had anything to do with this-
Are you accusing me, karyuudo? Sasuke stared hard, but his hand did not go to his weapon.
What am I doing? Beowulf thought. If Sasuke had done this, he would not have brought Unferth to me. And with Unferth out of the picture, this sellsword could be my only ally against whoever did do this.
No, I sorry, he said.
Beowulf whirled. Unferth was grasping at the air with his left hand. Beowulf fell to his knees beside him and pulled his hand down gently.
Silence, friend. You need to rest, he said.
No Bule Reis
Beowulf felt a thrill of fear. Bulemonda and Reis? Did he have something to do with her disappearance?
Poison, magick .
Oh, gods. I should have known. Quiet brother. Rest now, it will be alright.
Unferth's face twisted his face in pain. No, too .late
Silence. No. Nothing. No. Beowulf put his ear to Unferth's chest. Gods, no. He felt his throat. Nothing. No!
Unferth, no! Beowulf screamed.
Sasuke seized the hunter and held him. It's of no use. He was dead all along.
Beowulf raged against his restrainer. He plunged his elbow into Sasuke's stomach until he let up, and then threw the ninja to the floor.
No! He can't die. I made a promise to his brother. Miluda, too! They went to fight, and I said I'd protect him. I have betrayed them! Just as I betrayed Reis! I betrayed- he fell to the floor and wept.
Sasuke got up. Shimatta, he thought, what do I do now? Pat him on the head and say its okay? This is why I work alone. Miluda? Is this the Folles boy? I heard he lived here. His brother and sister formed the Death Corps recently. Death Corps? It'll be their own deaths. Did Beowulf know this? If he didn't, now wasn't the time to tell him.
Beowulf rose from the ground and left the room. Well, that's that, I guess, Sasuke thought. I might as well leave too. He put his clothes back on; they hadn't dried at all, but most of them weren't very wet in the first place. Just the cloak. Sasuke was used to a wet cloak.
As he was about to leave, Beowulf returned. He was now wearing a large white cape and hood, but Sasuke was sure that there was armor underneath. Probably a sword too.
Where are you going? Sasuke asked, thought he already knew the answer.
Beowulf was despondent. Retribution.
Sasuke sighed. Damn, I wanted to sleep. I'm coming with you.
Let's just say that I owe them something, he smiled.
Beowulf nodded. I'll go in the front. After the guards are taken out, the knights will be alerted and come after us.
I can handle the knights. They will not leave their barracks.
Are you sure? These are trained Holy Knights.
Sasuke fastened on his wet cloak. Trust me. I don't charge enough nearly enough for what I can really do.
Beowulf decided that even if it was a suicide mission, it was the best plan at this point. Besides, it was Sasuke's idea, and his death.
Agreed, Beowulf extended his hand.
Sasuke walked past it and out the door into the rain.
* * *
The nave was empty when Beowulf slipped in through the massive double doors of the church. Usually there would be a pair of guards posted just inside the narthex, even during the day, but tonight it was empty. Candles burned bright on the main and sub altars in the chancels, but the pews and podiums were without life. Beowulf knew this was not a good thing. They expected him.
He drew his sword silently from the sheath and it gleamed brightly, almost as if it sucked all the light from the dark room and let it flow out of its core. It was a fantastic weapon, given to Beowulf by Sir Balbanes himself. The hilt and pommel were encrusted with rare and holy gems and the seal of the Temple Knights was set in the cross with pure gold. The blade flowed so strongly with holy magic that it was warm to the touch even in the dark nights of winter. It felt heavy and foreign in Beowulf's hand; he had not touched the thing in years.
Beowulf walked down the aisle of the nave looking every way for hidden knights. Well, he thought, if they're going for the surprise, they're doing a damned good job. He found himself at the front of the sanctuary and still there was no one. No guards, no knights, no priests, no acolytes, not even an overly pious parishioner. Something was definitely amiss.
He heard a sound from his left and saw on of the rectory doors had opened. He brought his sword up to attack, but was surprised to see Bulemonda come from the room.
Ah, Beowulf, how good of you to join us on so pleasant of a night, the priest smiled. I guess my little messenger got to you all right, hmm?
Messenger? Unferth? Bastard! You did that to him?
Bulemonda was appalled. Me? Goodness, no. I would never raise my hand in violence. I have others to do that for me.
At cue, two Templars came out of doors on the left and right. Beowulf recognized them immediately: Grissom, leader of the Receda Holy Knights, and Duane, his second in command. They were the ones who attacked Unferth? Beowulf fumed. They'd not see the dawn.
He looked back at Bulemonda, who had made his way to the main altar.
Why? Beowulf asked. He was your own knight.
He was also nosy. The poor boy came upon information that he did not need to know. He did not know his place, the priest said darkly.
Bulemonda reached inside his robes and withdrew something. He threw it on the altar before Beowulf. It was Reis ribbon.
You fucking bastard. I'll kill you right now; if you try anyth-
Silence! Bulemonda boomed. I am so sick of hearing your voice. Hearing you speak out against the church. Hearing you talk the young boys of my town into going on your suicidal hunts. Hearing you consort with the pious people of this town while you live in debauchery with your little dragon-loving whore. If you wish to see her alive, you will shut your damned mouth, put your weapon away and pay attention.
Beowulf was seething, but he obeyed. If he made any move the knights would be on him and, most likely, kill him while Bulemonda healed every wound Beowulf scored on them. And, more importantly, they had Reis. He sheathed his sword and stared hard at Bulemonda.
Excellent, the priest smiled. It was going exactly as he had planned. Now, you have something I need. Ah! you even have it on you. In that pouch at your side! Give it to me and you shall have your little Reis.
Beowulf was shocked. He touched the pouch on his belt with a thrill of fear. How could Bulemonda know what was in here? And what did he know about the thing that killed Faendos and Lamkin?
He reached inside the sack and pulled out a clear blue crystal. It was shaped like a jar and had the sign of the water bearer inside.
Yes! That! The Aquarius, give it to me, Bulemonda was almost hopping with excitement.
Beowulf looked up at him with curiosity. What what is it? I took it from the demon that killed Feandos and Lamkin on the hunt. It . reeked of evil power.
Bulemonda sneered. Fool. Do you not even know the Zodiac Brave Story? Are you that much of a heathen?
This is one of the Zodiac Stones? Then its not just a legend? It looked like an ordinary crystal, but Beowulf knew better. And he did sense magic within it. Perhaps that monster had drained its power.
Bulemonda was getting impatient. It matters not to you. Your job is only to give it to me. If you do not
Beowulf knew what would happen if he didn't give the stone to Bulemonda. I don't have a choice, then, he thought. He knew he shouldn't give it to Bulemonda, but Reis life was at stake. Without anther moment's hesitation, he threw the stone to the priest.
Blessed St. Ajora, I finally have it, Bulemonda was almost drooling over the crystal. You truly are a fool, knight. You do not know the power this rock contains. The power of God Himself! When Vormav told me of it I did not believe him, but now that I hold it in my own hand . it is beyond all of my fantasies!
I don't care, Beowulf's hand was back on the pommel of his blade. Tell me where Reis is. I kept my bargain, and as a man of the church, you best keep yours.
Shut up, soulless wretch. I do not have your little dragon slut; she is most likely out kidnapping maidens and flaming knights. I have no use for her, nor do I have use for you now. Accept as a test, Bulemonda looked to his knights. The Lord of the Stone needs your power. The bastards who stole it for the last millennia have drained it, and it needs us to give it back life.
The two knights turned towards Bulemonda, closed their eyes and lifted their heads. Beowulf assumed they were performing some kind of ritual, but beyond that he couldn't figure it out. He didn't have time to. A matter of seconds later, Grissom, then Duane, shuddered and fell to the floor. Beowulf looked back at Bulemonda, whose hand was shining intensely. His eyes also glowed with unholy light.
That is it. The Stone is ready. Your lives have been served through me to the Holy Ajora, he grinned at Beowulf. And now you will see the power God has!
The room shook suddenly as if the Titans themselves had arrived. Darkness so bright that it burned Beowulf's eyes came from from the priest as Beowulf fell to the ground in pain. The holy gems on the hilt of his sword seemed to catch on fire and Beowulf dropped the weapon in panic. He tried to look about the room, but all he could see was the unearthly blackness the shone from Bulemonda. Suddenly he grabbed his head in pain as the cries of the damned reverberated through his skull. Every muscle in his body constricted and expanded at the same time and his skin froze on his body. He felt his bones shatter all at once. His breath went solid within his lungs and blood stopped flowing, then moved backwards.
And all at once it stopped. His body was once again normal, and felt like nothing had ever happened. Light had returned to the sanctuary and Beowulf saw his sword lying on the ground next to him. He grabbed it and rose quickly. Before he could look for Bulemonda he nearly dropped his newfound blade again. It was frozen.
At first Beowulf could not see the priest; there was nobody other than him in the church. Then he saw it moving behind the altar. First it was two massive shoulder blades that seemed to grow from the ground itself. A four-horned head rose next. When the full beast appeared it stood at ten feet tall, four feet wide. It was a humanoid shape, though its face protruded like a snout and his lips parted to reveal two rows of massive teeth. The beast lifted his head and let out a huge boom of a laugh. He then threw one hand out and destroyed the altar while glaring at Beowulf with four soulless eyes.
"Bulemonda's soul opened up the gate for the Zodiac Braves. He has sacrificed himself for the sake of God. Do you oppose God's plan for Ivalice?" The beast spoke in a voice like that of millions. The sound burned Beowulf's ears.
"Who are you? What are you?"
It smiled. "I am one who will unite the world in God. I am the knight of Ajora. I am Grendel, the Aquarius. Your soul is not capable of understanding or of serving God. Bulemonda knew this, which is why he summoned me."
Grendel roared and shot his arm forward. Beowulf was caught in in the chest and flew backwards. He rebounded quickly, rushing the beast. Beowulf dodged it's next shot at him and managed to strike Grendel in the leg. Swinging himself to avoid the demon's hands, Beowulf positioned himself in front of Grendel. Mustering up all he could into his blade, he shoved the glowing sword into the monster's chest.
And Grendel stopped. For several seconds they stood there: the demon frozen before the destroyed altar, the knight holding his sword in Grendel's chest. Green liquid poured from the wound onto the blade and the holy metal hissed at meeting the blood. Beowulf could not tell if he hurt Grendel or not; the creature made no move. Beowulf tried to pull the weapon from Grendel's chest and it came towards him freely.
The blade was in two, one half in Beowulf's hand, the other in Grendel's chest. The monster's blood had eaten through the metal and now the weapon hissed and burned in Grendel's chest. Beowulf could not understand it. The sword was made from the most consecrated materials in Murond.
Beowulf did not have time to think it over; the beast was moving again. It reared up and held it's chest with one hand and roared. He then threw himself at Beowulf and the knight found himself trapped underneath the massive creature, unable to move. Al he could do is look into it's abysmal eyes and smell it's rotting breath. Grendel simply smiled at Beowulf.
"Bitch," it said. "You actually hurt me. I may not be as immortal as I thought, but neither are you."
Grendel readied himself for the kill. It brought it's left hand back to take off Beowulf's head. The knight could do nothing.
Suddenly, the room filled with a white light. Beowulf could neither see nor hear anything. He felt a cool mist flow over the top of his body and it stung his body. When it ended, however, the weight of Grendel was gone. The light disappeared less than a second later and Beowulf's eyes took a second to adjust. When he could see again, Grendel was no longer in the room. The Aquarius was lying on his chest, but Bulemonda was not there anymore either. The only other creature in the room was a purple and green dragon which stood before a hole in the stone wall, the rain falling hard outside.
The dragon and Beowulf held a gaze for several seconds. Beowulf knew it's eyes. It's eyes held love for him. It's eyes held understanding. It's eyes held his own secrets. It's eyes were far too familiar for him to deny what he believed..
Before he could say or do anything, however, the dragon disappeared out it's out door and into the wet, dark night. Tears found their way into Beowulf's eyes for the second time that night. Beowulf drew himself up and pressed his knees to his chest. It was not long before his clothes were soaked from weeping.
* * *
Beowulf found Sasuke waiting for him outside of the church. The ninja was leaning against the wall, ignoring the rain. His clothes showed no sign of battle and he was completely wounded.
"What happened with the knights?" Beowulf asked.
"Kaimu," Sasuke brought himself up to speak with the knight. "There was nobody there. The barracks were empty. They've all left. Jitema."
Left for where? Beowulf wondered. Murond? To do what? Probably something with these stones. There must be eleven more.
"You look like you went through hell," Sasuke laughed. "I tried to come to help you, but I couldn't get in. Some kind of magic shield I guess. Nothing like I've ever seen."
The dragon got in, Beowulf thought. Nothing like I've ever seen either.
The two of them began walking down the main towards Beowulf's cottage. Neither seemed to care about the rain anymore, nor notice that it was getting lighter. It was almost dawn and the sun was already visible on the low horizon. The town was still asleep, though they would be up at any moment. The village was unaware of the night's happenings.
"So what now, doumeikoku?" Beowulf asked the one-eyed ninja.
"I leave now. My enemies are on the move," Sasuke looked at Beowulf. "I suppose you'll be leaving too. I was not with you, but I can assume what happened. You'll be an itansha like the rest of us now."
"Itansha? Heretic? Probably. So where exactly are you going. It sounds as if we now have the same enemies."
Beowulf did not even see Sasuke leave. He now walked alone. He would for a while.
When Beowulf reached his cottage he gathered up all that he needed to travel with. He saddled his chocobo and took one last look on Receda. The town would soon meet at the church and make assumptions about what happened, all of them centering around the blasphemer Beowulf killing Bulemonda. The hunter touched the pouch at his side. Without a last thought he closed his eyes, cast a fire spell on his house, and left Receda forever.
* * *
Beowulf was in a pub in a small hamlet in Limberry. It had been two years since he left Receda and he had made no progress in finding Reis. He nursed a beer while eavesdropping on the conversations of the bar patrons. None of them spoke of anything worthwhile. Failed jobs, haunted lakes, worthless treasures. He got up and went to the wall that held posters wanted men. Bounty hunting was a regular career these days. The world was now filled with bandits, heretics and soldiers that fled from battle. He found his own easily. There had been many times that people tried to collect his bounty, which was of a flattering sum, but Beowulf took pride that no one had succeeded yet. He couldn't be caught until he found Reis.
Beowulf spotted a new poster. One of a person who had been caught and executed. This person had a lot of aliases, Beowulf thought. But there was one of the names that he recognized. The poster read:
"Sasuke the one-eyed ninja. Wanted on eight counts of heresy, twelve counts of murder and four counts of grand treason. Extremely dangerous. Execute on site.
"Update: found and killed at Nelveska temple."
Beowulf said a silent good-bye to his one-time ally. I will fight them for you also, friend.
The hunter noticed another strange poster. This one read:
"Ramza Beouvles, aka Ramza Ruglia. Wanted on one count of heresy, one count of grand murder and two counts of grand treason. Very dangerous. Execute on site."
Ramza Beouvles? The youngest of Balbanes' sons is a heretic? Beowulf thought. I'll have to check up on this.
Beowulf drained the rest of his beer and set the empty glass on the bar. He looked at the bartender and smiled.
"So... Have you heard anything about dragons lately?"