Chapter 1: Concept of Right and Wrong
The blast knocked me over. Delita was just standing there, next to Teta. I couldn't even see his face. It was hidden by his hair, drooping down, crusted with debris from the explosion.
"Delita!" The second blast was too much. The debris was raining down so thickly I couldn't even see him anymore. I looked around wildly one more time, but I couldn't see anything except dust and rocks. I ran.
In the distance, four figures, illuminated by the slowly dipping sun behind them, waited as I ran.
"Delita?" Glenda enquired. I shook my head.
"He wouldn't move. I called his name, but... the blast was too much..." I sank down and my hand pressed against my forehead. "He's dead, I know it..."
"Ramza..." Sara shook me. Her white robes brushed against my head. "He could still be alive."
"No—" Zion began. "The blast—it was a huge explosion, and no way to cover yourself—he's dead. I... I'm sorry, Ramza." For hired mercenaries, they were sympathetic.
"God...DAMN! He's dead... he's dead..." I knew we had to get out of here, there were practical things to be done... I don't care. "Delita..." I didn't even hear Goodman's slow chanting. I looked up to the sky and all I saw was Delita... and Teta. And ALGUS, damn him. Then I saw nothing.
"This will keep him asleep for a while. It's better this way." Then I heard nothing.
"Lord Beoulve." The boy bowed his head, and the girl copied him, silent. "My Lord. I was told you wanted to see me and Teta—my sister?"
"Father, who are they? It's a peasant..." I frowned.
"Shh, Ramza. That's Delita Hyral and Teta Hyral." Zalbag hushes me in a whisper.
"Yes, Delita. Your parents—Ruglia Hyral and Isabelle Hyral were taken by the black plague three months ago, correct?"
"Yes." His voice trembled slightly.
"They were of a fief on my land?"
"Yes, my lord."
"How old are you and your sister?"
"I'm seven. And she's six." My father's face grew troubled. I squirmed with impatience. The boy, the commoner—Delita Hyral stood motionless.
"You are far too young to live alone. From this day forth, you will live with us, the Beoulves, as part of the family." He smiled kindly and extended his hand. "I will introduce you and your sister to my family." He gestured towards us. Still Delita did not smile.
He was so thin and small—before father took him in, he and Teta were starving on the streets of Igros. Even eight months after we had taken him in, his eating habits hadn't changed much and he was still small for his age. A laugh. I turned.
"Look, it's Delita. He's living with the Beoulves. He thinks now that he gets to be a servant for a noble, he is a noble." The children closed around him, many of them older. He backed away.
"S—stop! Go away! I didn't do anything—!"
"Yes you did. You acted like a noble. You'll never be like us."
"Listen to him, commoner."
"You'll never rise higher than milking the cows!"
"And shining my shoes." He kicked Delita, and stooped down to inspect his shoe. "Dirty with commoner dirt. Clean it!"
"Go away! I didn't do anything to you!"
"Didn't we tell you already? Stop acting like a noble." He kicked him. Delita fell down. "First lesson: never order a noble to do anything."
"Second: never contradict a noble." Were they right? I watched. He was a commoner. He did things differently and his parents were farmers. When I first saw him, he was dressed in ragged clothes. He was different. Very different. Maybe he was dirt? Not as good as us? That's what all the others said. The others looked over.
"Come on, Ramza! Let's beat the shit out of him!"
"Ramza! It'll be fun!"
"Ramza! Help!" Delita screamed. I stared. I didn't want to hurt him, like the others... but he was a commoner. They could do what they liked. The all ran close and grabbed him. There were so many children, I couldn't see him. But I could hear.
"Damn you! Just because I'm a commoner—"
"Shut up!" Several children started kicking him, stomping on his hands, punching him in the face—and he was screaming—
"Stop!" Father rushed into the scene. "What are you doing? Let go of him, now! Leave, all of you!" He scattered all of the children. Delita lay there limply. Blood spilled down the road. "Are you all right, Delita?" He asked. Delita didn't answer. He seemed to be unconscious. Balbanes picked him up, putting one arm under his knees and the other under his shoulders, and carried him into the house.
I followed him in slowly. Hadn't the other children said that he was a commoner, and lower than us, not as good? So why did father stop them? Wasn't he an animal? Father carried him into our room and placed him gently on the bed. He checked him over for injuries. Delita seemed to be conscious now and lay quietly. But he screamed when father felt his wrist.
"Broken," he muttered with a worried frown. "Wait here, Delita. I'm getting a doctor." He brushed past me. While he was gone, I edged closer to Delita. Blood dripped down his head, and soaked into his dirtied brown hair. Wearily he looked toward the ceiling.
"Ramza... why didn't you help me...?" His voice sounded like a tear should be sliding down his cheek. But his eyes were empty.
"You're a...commoner." The words left my mouth mechanically.
"Is that all? Is that what makes me an 'animal'? No, I don't believe it..."
"I don't care about them! They're all nobles... they don't know what it's like..."
"Delita!" Teta rushed in.
"It was the other children, wasn't it?"
"Father... where's father?"
"He went to get a doctor." At my voice, she turned and saw me for the first time.
"Go one, leave." She glared. "This is a touching moment between two 'animals'. It's not worth watching." Just then father came in with another man. He set down his briefcase and inspected Delita. Teta waited, sitting on my bed.
"Ramza, come with me." What had I done wrong? Father never used that brusque voice unless he was upset. I followed him into his study.
"Ramza, I understand you were there when this happened."
"Why didn't you help Delita?" I paused, unsure, and gave the obvious answer.
"He's a commoner..."
"Ramza." His voice took and cold, stern tone. "Listen to me. There is no, NO difference between commoner and nobles. We are both people, and we are the same. Always remember that. And Delita is now family, as well as Teta."
"But the other children..." He slammed his fist on the desk. Ramza jolted back, frightened.
"I don't CARE about the other children. Don't listen to them. They're nothing but stuck-up pigs who cannot see the similarities of a human and a human!" He stopped. "Ramza, there's something I need to tell you, something important. I've told this to your brothers... Dycedarg, Zalbag..." He sighed and continued. "I'll even tell Alma, someday."
"Ramza, you are a Beoulve. We have been warriors for generations, warriors of justice. Never tolerate injustice. Never do something you would be ashamed of. Remember your name—you are a Beoulve. And human or not, commoner or noble, if there is injustice being done to these people you must correct it, fight for what is right. Even if they are inferior, which in this case he was not. Even if you are outnumbered badly. That is the Beoulve way. Do you understand?"
"Yes, father." I replied solemnly.
"Good." He paused. "Remember what I have said. And apologize to Delita after the doctor leaves." Justice... I'll try, father.
A pool of sunshine struck my face. My eyes flickered. I was in a bed... at an inn?
"Where am I?" Sara came in.
"At an inn in Gariland. Goodman made you fall asleep with his magic." Goodman, who had been studying oracle magic, referred to as "Yin Yang magic".
"Why...? Delita..." Fort Zeakden came back. And the dreams. Dreams of the past. I'd almost forgotten those times. How foolish I had been, how arrogant. And now Delita was dead.
"Ramza, I'm sorry..." she came over and sat on the bed. "I know you two were best friends..." I wrapped my arms around my knees, pulling them to my chest. How I wished the tears would come. But they didn't. Cruel.
"Delita... he's... dead." The words, forced from my mouth. She tilted her head.
"Do you want me to leave you alone?" I shook my head slowly.
"It doesn't matter. I just need to... think." She stayed anyway. I huddled against the wall like a small child, afraid. Delita... why didn't you move? When I called your name? When the building exploded? And when... you could have saved yourself... but you didn't... I took a shuddering breath. Now you're dead. Are you dead? I just can't believe it... Frustration took over. Damn, Delita, you could have lived... but you stayed there with Teta, when the building was blowing up... DAMN, Delita! You shithead! Why didn't you try to save yourself? My fingers found my arms, clawed at them. I wanted to rip the pain out, rip the damn pain out and replace it with physical pain... My nails dug into the skin. It felt good.
"Ramza, stop." Glenda's hands firmly pried my hands off my arms. I fought against it, but she'd been a knight for years, using heavy swords and whatnot. I hadn't noticed, but Goodman, Zion, and Glenda had come in. I shook my head.
"I don't want to fight. For justice... honor... pride... it's all shit. It just causes pain. It doesn't do any good."
"Ramza... don't say that." I shook my head, but said nothing.
Chapter 2: Thoughtless
Life went back to normal... a bit. I never went back to Igros. Not even to see Alma. I lost weight but was desperate to fight more than ever. Eventually I dismissed my hired mercenaries. Zion was the least affected. He returned to his family in Igros. Glenda was reluctant but returned to Dorter. Goodman at first refused to leave but he saw that I no longer cared about any of them. Sara was the most difficult. She begged to stay with me. I refused her coldly. She offered to stay without pay, to learn new summons, to do anything for me. I sent her back to Gariland.
Fighting monsters on the road was desperately difficult. There was never a time when I wasn't outnumbered. Sometimes I ran. In fact, I ran often. But not without my share of the blood. I didn't regret letting my mercenaries go. Being solitary gave me time to think, to feel.
I looked for jobs in bars, but they seldom went well and did not pay very highly. Besides, they were all temporary. It seemed as though I was always looking for a job, always fighting, always tired, always losing. Sometimes I stopped working and simply ate the monsters I killed. Not the nasty ones like goblins and morbols—but chocobos and panthers were good meat.
I wanted a job, a solid one with good pay and would never let me go. I was a noble, and didn't know any crafts except fighting—I would have done a commoner job terrible if I had taken one. But I got an idea when watching the Hokuten one rainy day.
There were the Hokuten knights—male and female—who all served Dycedarg, over Larg. But there were also the lower Hokuten—not knights, but someone had to fill in the archer, squire or mage ranks. And then, these were not quite "lower" but there were certain fighters—knights, squires, mages, anyone—which served the Hokuten with contracts. Mercenaries, hired by the Hokuten. There were the kind of mercenaries at soldier offices, which I had hired—Glenda, Zion, Sara, and Goodman. There were also mercenary groups. These worked together, were hired by certain forces and signed a contract, but fought on their own, not working with the Hokuten.
I saw one of these groups—with Gafgarion, their leader. I heard about him before, and I saw him sometimes when I was still living at Igros—he was working for the Hokuten, after all. It never occurred to me what kind of fighting these mercenaries did. He had several squires and mages working with him. Some were trained as knights, but no longer knights officially. I watched the beautiful efficiency of this group.
"Squires, after the goblins! Knights, form around chocobos and attack! Mages and archers, work together to finish the panthers!" He yelled as he slashed at his sword into a stray archer fighting with the monsters. He slashed at nothing, then, and I wondered what he was doing... when I saw a red eye form in the sky. I had heard of these—Dark Knights, although no one taught this grotesque way of fighting anymore. Gafgarion looked old—I guess he was taught at the times they still allowed knights to learn this skill. The eye dripped bright red liquid—blood? It poured into the archer. He screamed as blood drained from his body. It dripped into Gafgarion, and through some unknown means his body absorbed it. I remember learning that this skill, Night Sword, took the blood and energy of one person and allowed the Dark Knight to absorb it, healing any wounds he had. Amazing.
Quickly the fight ended. One knight seemed to be dead. No one paid him any attention. They left quickly. I watched, dripping with rain. No emotional difficulties. Fighting with strangers, as mercenaries. The idea excited me. No more grieving, no more worrying, no more pain. Just mechanical fighting, good money, good job. With this thought in mind I returned to the bar in Dorter.
"Beer. One small." I said carelessly. I didn't really care about what I did anymore. I'd tried beer, and it was all right. Once I tried to get drunk but somehow found it immensely difficult after I had two glasses of it. The barkeeper handed me a mug, the puny size. I sipped it cautiously.
"So...what have you heard about mercenaries? Anything about Gafgarion?"
"The one hired by the Hokuten? I heard he's headed for Igros."
"No one knows." He said with a shrug. "Secret business, I suppose. Probably Larg has plans for the throne."
"Mmm." I lulled it over, sipping the beer. "Are they taking any new mercenaries?"
"They're always taking new mercenaries. Recently they ran so short of knights they had to use cadets. You thinking of becoming a mercenary, young man?"
"Maybe. How's the pay?"
"Very good, I heard. Usually 5000 gil per month or so. I wouldn't risk it, though. Fighting with the Hokuten is dangerous work. No wonder they pay so high." I drank the rest of my beer in one go, and paid the man in a copper coin—30 gil.
When I reached my camp near Dorter, in Sweegy Woods, I immediately packed everything up. The job sounded perfect. I rolled up my tent and sleeping bag and loaded it onto a chocobo I had found in the plains, who I'd named Ogappon. My extra sword caught my attention just as I was about to shove it in the bag. Gafgarion might have seen me before... I am a Beoulve. And besides...my original sword has the Beoulve crest on it.
Hurriedly I took the sword and chopped off my long hair. It fell onto the wet ground like a dead animal. I threw the sword I was wearing into my bags, and the sheath, and replaced it with the common mythril sword. Ignoring the rain, I unbuckled the light Hokuten cadet armor and replaced it with a spare heavy black armor I'd picked up off a corpse killed by monsters. There was nothing else to change and I was eager to get on my way. I mounted the chocobo and headed for Igros.
Chapter 3: The Meaning of Honor
I took a short break on Mandalia Plains. Traveling with a chocobo was much faster but it was dark by the time we got to Mandalia. I swung down from Ogappon and unhooked the sleeping bag and compact tent. He shifted from foot to foot impatiently. It didn't take me long to realize what he wanted. I stopped briefly to rummage in my bag for some gyshal greens, and dropped a clump on the ground. He dipped his head elegantly to swallow the mangled plants.
Setting up a tent was something I'd grown accustomed to doing and it was done in a matter of seconds. I'd used my remaining money to buy supplies at Gariland and I now took the dry bread and fruit and lay it down on the ground. At least it had stopped raining now. It was wonderful to get off panther or chocobo meat for a while. It was all right, but I hungered for variation.
When I was finished I unsaddled Ogappon and tied him to a tent post. I doubted it would do much good if he did try to run away, but it would pull on the post, alarming me inside the tent. Crawling into the sleeping bag was a relief. I'd always wondered, when I was a young child, how sitting on an animal all day could make you tired. Now I understood. But life is cruel. Fatigue did not stop the dreams.
"How's your wrist, Delita?"
"I'm... sorry." No reply. "I should have helped you... because I'm a Beoulve, and I shouldn't tolerate injustice... and commoners and nobles are both people."
"Father made you say that, didn't he."
"Yes... and no. He told me to... but he also taught me that commoners and nobles are the same, and I shouldn't let people do things like that... so I would have apologized anyway."
"All right. I forgive you..." He muttered reluctantly.
"Thank you, Delita." I turned to leave. "I really am sorry... brother."
"Hey, Delita. I can't believe you'd come outside and show your commoner face here again."
"Ooh, that cast must be from the last time we beat you up. I bet it hurt like hell."
"And this time Ramza will help us beat the hell out of you."
"No," he said steadily. "Ramza's my brother."
"Who says? Your animal friends? Forget it, farmer boy. No noble will be friends with a commoner."
"Delita!" I stopped. "What the hell are you doing to him?"
"Ramza! Come on! Don't be such a wimp this time! He's a commoner! Let's have some fun!" Delita's eyes, gazing at me steadily... with trust. There were 12 kids surrounding him. We were ridiculously outnumbered, 6 of them for each of us. And they were older than us. A Beoulve... must fight for justice...
"No. Delita's my brother. Keep your hands off him." His eyes became relieved.
"Ramza... what are you talking about? He's an animal."
"No he's not. He's a human, but you're... you're some stuck-up pigs who can't see that he's the same as you... no, better than you!"
"Shut up!" The ringleader ran at me and punched me in the face. I flew back and crashed into the wall. Salty warm liquid ran down my face. Hazily I saw Delita jump on him. It was hard to think straight but I saw the others running for me so I got up and flew into one, tackling him onto the ground. We fought there for a second, and I was able to punch him in the stomach, hard enough to make him gag and roll over onto his hands and knees. I grabbed the nearest rock and smashed it into his face, then quickly kicked him in the gut.
Immediately after, all of the others grabbed me and threw me to the ground. I wasn't able to react before they were all pinned me down. I kicked one in the face, one in the stomach, and tripped one by kicking him hard in the shins. Eventually they had a firm hold and did what they liked with me, just like they had with Delita.
I heard Delita screaming. I felt someone kick my chest. I couldn't breathe. Then someone hit me in the gut. I wanted to throw up but I couldn't. A foot slammed into my head, stomped on my arms... I started screaming...I thought I heard my father's voice, loud, accusing and angry, but I wasn't sure...
"Ramza..." Father? No, it sounds like Delita, but I'm not sure...I open my eyes. "Ramza... Thank you." He's sitting next to me... on my bed. I try to sit up, but realize my right arm is in a cast. Instead I use my left arm and sit up unsteadily.
"They beat the shit out of us. Father got rid of them, but..." he shrugged. "They already knocked you out. Father's trying to find out who they are but they run away fast, so..." I smiled weakly.
"How'd you do?" He laughed.
"No breaks. No fractures. I didn't even pass out. I was lucky."
"How about me?"
"You've got a broken arm... and you had a pretty bad cut on your head, and a really big scrape on your back. You were out while the doctor took care of stuff. You've got a lot of... minor injuries too." Wincing, I felt the many bruises and cuts scattered over my body.
"Ramza... you should sleep now. You had a concussion."
"All right." I lay back down.
"...Thank you, brother."
"Ramza, I'm proud of you. You acted like a Beoulve. I think you knew what was going to happen. You were appallingly outnumbered. But you still fought for justice. You were a true brother to Delita... Lord Beoulve."
"Thank you, father."
"I think you understand now what I was trying to say to you. Never forget, Ramza... Justice. Honor."
Chapter 4: What we do for Money
"Halt. State your name and business."
"I'm a mercenary looking for a job. My name means nothing to you."
"Open the gate." The knight pushed down a switch. The chains reeled in, opening the gate. I followed the knight in.
"Gafgarion, another mercenary. Do you want him to join your group?" Gafgarion shrugged.
"Let me have a look." The knight left. He eyed me over and asked me questions. I prepared to think fast.
"How long have you been involved in military work?"
"Bar prepositions, mercenary, and... I used to be a knight." I added lamely.
"What's your name?"
"Ramza..." Stupid. "Ramza... Ruglia." I recalled the name of Delita's father. He laughed softly to himself
"I'll keep it a secret if you work for me. Deal?" I swallowed.
"I recognized you anyway. Cutting your hair, changing your armor and sword... that's just not enough. All right, from now on let's go with Ramza Ruglia. I like that." He shrugged. "It doesn't matter if you change your name or not. Your brothers have far more important things to do than chase after their younger half-brother."
"I was aware of that." I said dryly. "That's not the point. I'm not a Beoulve anymore. Just a mercenary like you."
"Hmm... I see. Only cadet training...now that's little experience, but you're a Beoulve so I'll make an exception." I remained silent. He could say what he liked. "All right, you've got the job. Sign the contract." He tossed a piece of paper at me.
During the time I take this job as a mercenary for the Hokuten, I swear to serve the Hokuten, remain loyal to prince Larg, and follow all order of the Hokuten, no matter the circumstance unless directed by a higher officer not to do so... I skipped to the bottom. ...If I am to receive the money that is due with this job. A line followed beneath. I signed my new name, Ramza Ruglia, there.
"Good." He picked up the contract. "All of my mercenaries are due in Orbonne in a week. Royalty business. Most of them help the border guards, then get to leave after that. I need two people to stay with me for a while. Secret business, I can't tell you the circumstances. I've already got one volunteer. You want to be another? We throw in an extra 7000 gil for this job."
"Sure." I muttered. I didn't care. I didn't have any other job to do.
"Good. Most of these mercenaries are awful fighters anyway. I hope you'll do better."
"Hah... I may be a cadet but I've got the royal academy training."
We traveled to Orbonne at a leisurely pace. One week was a lot of time, and it was a large group so few monsters dared attack us. One night I felt myself drifting. Thoughts filled my mind, thoughts about Fort Zeakden... Delita... the usual.
"Ramza, what are you doing awake? Go to sleep."
"I just wanted to ask... why did you become a mercenary?"
"That's none of your business."
"But, I want to know because... I wanted to be a mercenary too." Now he sat up.
"You mean, because of the emotions?"
"Yes! Yes, that's exactly what I mean." He was silent, probably thinking. It was hard to see his face in the darkness. Rad snored next to me.
"It was all that pain... I couldn't stand it... there was a girl, a holy knight, I was in love with. She was a lot like Agrias, actually. I've worked with Agrias a couple times and she reminds me of her—Anna. Anna was a lot like that, aloof, honorable, proud... I don't let such emotions weaken me anymore. But she died in a fight, a battle at Bethla during the Fifty-Year War. After that... I gave up honor and pride. If this was what honor pride, fighting for a cause, did to me, why should I? ...I became a mercenary and fought for money... and power."
"Delita... it was Delita for me."
"That kid that lived with the Beoulve family with his sister? I heard he died... and so did his sister."
"Algus... the Hokuten ordered Algus to shoot her. She was a hostage. And Delita... Delita killed Algus... and when Fort Zeakden blew up, he just stayed there, with Teta... I didn't want to feel after that. The pain, it was too much... I told my mercenaries to leave after that. Some of them were attached to me and didn’t want to. But I didn't want any friends. No one could touch me then... they could kill no one but myself... and that wouldn't hurt much."
"Kid, I'd suggest that you keep what you have. Balbanes... Balbanes Beoulve, I heard he was honorable and fought for justice. I was like that once... but decades have passed. I've lost it all. You can still have it, Ramza... I think you should keep it..."
"What good will it do me?"
"I'm not sure... but I think it does some good. Look at Balbanes... he may be dead, but he's lead a better life than me... more fulfilling."
"I'll think about it."
"And Ramza... call back your mercenaries. It's always good to have friends by your side when fighting.
I was disappointed to see that he was back to normal in the morning, and I didn't mention last night. But I was glad it happened. I sent messages to Glenda, Zion, Goodman, and Sara. They came quickly. Sara and Goodman had met each other on the road, and the oracle and summoner rode together on a bright yellow chocobo. Glenda and Zion came shortly after. Glenda's heavy armor contrasted the light clothing Zion wore as a monk.
Sara came up and hugged me as soon as she saw me. I was slightly embarrassed but grudgingly hugged her back. I knew typical Sara behavior.
"I'm so glad you're taking us back!" she cried. Goodman hung out behind, but after she had untangled herself he came near.
"Thanks for hiring us again. Last time... I thought..."
"I know. I'm sorry. It was Fort Zeakden. It screwed me up."
"You've lost weight, Ramza." Sara fussed. "And you cut your hair. What happened to all of your Beoulve armor and sword? Oh, I suppose you don't feel as though you want to be..."
"Ramza!" Glenda hopped off her chocobo. "How have you been doing? Oh, your hair..."
"Hey Ramza. It's great to see you again. Thanks for taking us back." Zion was with her.
Since they were extra people to the two volunteers Rad and I were, I expected to have to beg Gafgarion to let me have them join us. But he gave me consent without me even asking. They mingled in with the rest of the group.
When we arrived all of the mercenaries except for Gafgarion, me, Rad, and my troop, were escorted to work with the border guards. We were led to Orbonne monastery, the school the princess attended, and greeted by a stiff knight, Agrias. Her politeness seemed very aloof. My troop waited behind us.
"Ramza Ruglia. Rad Myaldie. Gaff Gafgarion." There was a certain contempt in her voice, although she kept it nicely disguised. "I am Agrias Oaks of the Lesalia St. Konoe Knights. Welcome to Orbonne monastery. I will show you to your quarters for tonight. You will be the princess' guards, along with me, her personal bodyguard, and two Hokuten knights, Alicia and Lavian. We are relocating the princess to Igros castle tomorrow." She led us into the monastery, where princess Ovelia was praying. Taking us up the stairs, she showed us three simple rooms. "Your quarters." She left in a moment. It was decided that Glenda and Sara would share one room, Zion, Goodman and I would share another, and Rad and Gafgarion the last one.
"Under ordinary circumstances I would have gotten a room to myself," he grumbled.
Chapter 5: When the Dead are Alive
That night I climbed into the bed opposite from the bed with Goodman and Zion, shoving each other and mumbling that the other had more room. I felt slightly guilty that I'd taken the other bed for myself, but the two insisted, afraid that I would dismiss them again. The black and white world, the world I didn't want to go to, pulled me in.
"Ramza... how do you feel?" I grinned sheepishly.
"My arm hurts like hell and my head is killing me, but otherwise, fine."
"Father caught the kids who did it to us, by the way. He reported them to the Hokuten. They'll deal with them."
"Good." I leaned back on the wall. "Can I get up?"
"Sure." He shrugged. "If you feel like it." Tentatively I got up. My head made it difficult to maintain balance.
"What have I missed?"
"Nothing really. Teta and Alma have been getting along. I saw them together yesterday." I followed Delita into the kitchen.
"God, I'm hungry," I said, picking up a large piece of bread from the counter. "Why don't you take some food?" I urged. "You should gain weight. You were in really bad shape when you first came. You know, starving and everything." He shrugged and took an apple. He stuffed it in his pocket and I ripped a piece of the bread of, stuffing it in my mouth.
"Ramza... I'm glad we've become friends."
"I know. I was a total idiot. I'm sorry." I pondered this. Delita seemed to be the same as me... and I shuddered at the memory of the other children. I'd allowed them to do it to Delita, and thought it was all right—
"Ramza... thanks a lot for saving me. I knew you would... after apologizing. You changed."
"Yeah..." we walked some more and talked like two ordinary kids taking a stroll. Like two brothers, two friends. We never mentioned that time again... the time I had called him 'commoner'.
And now he was dead. The cold thought jolted me awake.
Because of Algus? Teta? Fate? Only God knows. But Delita, Delita, my brother... my best friend... I'm glad you died with us as friends.
Delita... thank you for making me Ramza. Not Algus. Ramza.
I peeked in the window at the praying princess that night.
"Princess Ovelia, let's go." Agrias pleaded urgently.
"Just a moment, Agrias..."
"The guards have already arrived."
"Princess, don't give Agrias trouble." Simon, the priest, edged near her. Gafgarion dragged us in.
"This is ridiculous. I'm getting them out." He opened the door. "What's going on? It's been nearly an hour!" Rad and I knelt immediately at the sight of the princess. Gafgarion had the guts to be rude to her, to stand in her presence...
"Don't be rude to the princess, Gafgarion." Agrias narrowed her eyes.
"Is this going to be all right, Agrias? This is an urgent issue for us."
"So there are rude knaves even among the Hokuten?" Now Agrias' voice is dangerously sharp.
"I'm being more than kind to the guard captains here. Besides, we're mercenaries hired by the Hokuten. I'm not obliged to show respect to you." Agrias gasped.
"What? How dare you!" The princess stood and cut in.
"Enough. Let's go." Rad and I rose.
"Go with God." Simon tells her warmly.
"You too, Simon." Suddenly the doors burst open. A female knight stumbles in, grasping a wound.
"Lady Agrias! ...The enemy!"
"Prince Goltana's men!?" Agrias rushes out.
"What one must do to make money." He turns to me. "What, Ramza? You have a problem, too?" I paused.
"I'm no longer a knight. Just a mercenary like you."
"...That's right. Well then. Let's go!" we followed Agrias out into the pouring rain.
"Oh God..." I heard Ovelia murmur.
"The crest of the Black Lion!?" Agrias is taken aback. "What's wrong with Prince Goltana!? He's such an idiot! Does he want to start a war!?"
"Knave!" yelled the Nanten knight. "There's no point in resisting! Just give us the Princess, or that beautiful face of yours will be scarred forever!"
"Fool!" Gafgarion's scorn shows clearly in his voice. "Only idiots attack head on!"
"Leave this to us!" Agrias snaps at him.
"We can't make money that way! Rad, Ramza! Follow me!! Kill them all! Don't leave any survivors!" We obediently ready our swords, lining up behind him.
"Nonsense! There's no need to kill them! That's just what Goltana wants us to do! Just let them go!" Agrias argues as she slashes at the air. I recognize her movements. They look just like Gafgarion's when he's using his Dark Knight skills. Pillars of ice fall and close around the Nanten archer she approached.
"That's impossible!" Gafgarion does the same movement with his sword, with different results. I run up to the knight and slash at his chest. He dodges narrowly, but his heavy armor doesn't give the speed he needs to dodge my next stab—the kill. I turn to see that the Hokuten knights, Alicia and Lavian, as well as Rad have finished off the rest. A shrill scream jolts us from our temporary moment of relief.
"Let go of me!"
"Damn!" Agrias rushed into the monastery just as I watched a Nanten knight drag the princess outside through a backdoor.
"Come here! Be quiet!" He hissed. Something stirs inside me. I know that voice...
"Why should I listen to you!?" She cried.
"What an annoying princess." He punched her in the stomach. She slumped over. As he threw her over the chocobo, I see his face. That face... That FACE!
It's Delita's face.
"Tough... Don't blame us. Blame yourself or God." I stare at his figure, on the chocobo, dashing away. I barely notice Agrias running out, after him.
"Wait!" I never thought I'd hear her sound so desperate. His chocobo leapt into the water. She fell on her knees.
"...Delita? You're alive, Delita...? But, why are you in Goltana's troops? Why...?"
My brother, my best friend is alive.
I will fight for justice, father.
Because I have lost nothing.
~ What did you think? I intended this to be more concentrated on Gafgarion but somehow this just grabbed me by the arm and dragged me along. Oh well... I suppose it's still all right. And I was gonna write up till the battle on the bridge at that waterfall place but this was just getting too damn long. Another thing, if anyone comes up with a good title, tell me, because this one sucks. I mean, mercenary soul? WTF?