All is Fair in Love and War Chapter 1
Beginning of Conflict
Life is a factor of war, or at least, so it has been in Ivalice for the past 45 years. It was becoming something that people were dreadfully accepting, mostly because there was not an alternative. Boys would be born, grow, be enlisted, serve, and die. Those who were discharged would go back to their wives and help provide the world with more soldiers who could also serve and die in the name of two countries who shouldn't have been fighting each other in the first place.
Ordalia and Ivalice had been at war for 45 years; that was undeniable. People didn't know who was to blame anymore. It was most probably that both forces were at fault, as it normally is with wars of this nature in an area where borders are as frailly defined as who would be next in line to rule. It was still hypocritical to blame the Kings of the respective nations, though; they were just as clueless as their advisors. None of the ruling class could see this as a fruitless struggle.
People could, as usual, blame God. This was, without a doubt, the most popular of all beings to blame, as according to the Glabados Church, God controls everything and Ajora would come again to save the world anyway. God's wrath was something that had become accepted from the dawn of time, so this was nothing new. When people blame the church, people lose trust in the church, as it was. Glabados was becoming further and further distraught at the lost of support in their worshipers.
Of all of the Kingdoms in Ivalice, the one most entrenched within religion was Lionel. For the past sixty years, it was a Kingdom that had been run by holy men. Lionel had a good reputation of having good, strong leaders, who were always willing to lead their own troops into battle, and Cardinal Draclau was never an exception. Granted, he was not a Cardinal at this point in time (his elevation was to be within the week), but his people adored him.
The Bishop (as he currently ranked) was a funny man like that. He certainly knew how to lead a crowd. A rabble-rouser since youth, his silken tongue was compared only to that of Dycedarg Beoulve, Troop Leader of Gallione under Prince Goltana, and even then, it was only behind his back. Still, that was only by his criticizers. Lionel was certainly under his grasp, as it was when he was original granted control of it by High Priest Funeral ten years ago. Glabados needed all the motivational leaders they could find with their declining power base caused by the dragging out of the war.
Behind the scenes of it all, though, was another man. The Cardinal, while an influential speaker and statesman, was no general. At the heart of the Lionel Holy Knights was Beowulf Kadmus. Beowulf, a mere twenty five years old when he became leader of the Knights, had already established himself as a skilled tactician, making up where his Troop Leader, Draclau, somewhat lacked.
The young knight had graduated from Gariland at the top of his class at the age of eighteen, returning to Lionel to join his fellow Knights. Unlike most of the officers that graduated from there, who typically entered into service within the Hokuten, lead by Balbanes Beoulve at the time of his graduation, he rejected offerings of a high position within the Hokuten to return to the Lionel Holy Knights. Naturally, a war is a good a time as any to exhibit one's skills, and Beowulf's allowed him to rise through the ranks quickly, nabbing him his leading position at such a young age.
It was because of this position that he went to Lesalia that day. It was because of this position that he met her
The towering, whitewashed walls of Lesalia would be intimidating to anyone, but no one expected that to stop Ordalia from attacking them. Granted, it was quite a beautiful city, with an even more spectacular palace, but to save something for its shear elegance was not a common practice during wartime. Even Lesalia, the Imperial Capital, was a city ready for war now.
Within the walls of the palace, a conference of dire importance was being held. It would almost be considered a security risk to have so many important leaders in one room, but the risk was being ignored the moment. Surrounding the table of the War Room was a list of names that already practically made up the history books. There was Balbanes and Zalbag, the father and son duo of the Hoketen who were responsible for the most combined victories in the war. Across from them sat the one man who rivaled their victory count, Cidolfas Orlandu, commander of the Nanten Knights. Aside "Thunder God Cid" sat the political leaders of Gallione and Zeltennia, Prince Larg and Prince Goltana, resepectively.
The leader of Fovoham, the Grand Duke Gelkanis Barinten, sat further down the table, accompanied by a representative of his own elite mercenary force. Just a bit more down the table was the Marquis Elmdor, who had just recently been granted leadership over Limberry as a reward for heroic actions in recent battles. The Silver Noble was seated closely to the head of the table, near Bishop Draclau on his right, the King of Ivalice, Denamunda, on his left, heading the table.
And then there was Beowulf. A lesser man would be intimidated, surrounded by T.G. Cid on one side and Prince Larg on the other. Beowulf was not. Indeed, if anything, it was an honor to be among such great names.
There was also, of course, the delegation from Murond, made up of High Priest Funeral, and two other priests, Zalmo and Buremonda. How much say they had would be questionable, however, as the country seemed to demand less action from the Church, and Murond was being stingy with the deployment of the Temple Knights, which angered most of the political leaders. Temple Knights were supposedly for 'guarding the faith' rather than guarding the country. Next to Buremonda, though, was Vormav Tingel, leader of the Temple Knights. Whether or not he would participate in the meeting was unknown.
The minor chatter from around the table ended as King Denamunda cleared his throat. The room came to an awkward hush.
"We will begin this meeting of wartime strategy," the King said, his baritone speaking voice filling the room. "Now, I believe Sir Balbanes has the floor." He looked to his side at Balbanes, who slowly nodded and rose from his chair.
"As you all know, our current problem is the recent invasion into Limberry, where Ordalia caught us somewhat off-guard. Marquis Elmdor knows worst of all that this lack of planning cost us dearly. While they had appeared to let up on their assault for the time being, we estimate our casualties thus far as 20,000 after only two battles." A grim nod came from the Marquis.
"However, the current flak in their assault is cannot be long lived by any stretch of the imagination," Balbanes continued. "Marquis Elmdor, will you proceed with your information?" Elmdor nodded again as he rose.
"You all know that Limberry has been suffering the brunt of the war over the last few years. I cannot even fathom how long it will take to repair our economy with all of the crop destruction that we have suffered, but that is not important at the moment. What is important, however, is our standing troop numbers in the area, and where we are going to deploy.
"Our inherent problem is that our spies cannot currently locate any Ordalia forces within 300 dora of our supposed boundaries, leaving us with the only logical explanation: they are camped in some hidden location. This kind of problem is only enhanced by the fact that our naval power along the southern sea is dipping, and we can't patrol that area as effectively as we could ten years ago. No longer will Lionel and Gallione be as safe, due to the added advantage that Ordalia has at sea now. Troop transport is highly probably via sea.
"Therefore, our deployment procedures are what needs to be addressed first and foremost. I believe Cidolfas will brief the group as to our number situation." He looked at Cid as he sat down. Slowly and deliberately, Orlandu rose, his figure still intimidating even at fifty years of age.
"Our reserves are not doing very well," he began. According to the numbers that I've received, the Nanten are at 50%, the Hokuten at 45%. Even worse, the Knights of Limberry are at a mere 14% or their original standing force. Mounted Calvary has not suffered so badly, and each standing army still retains most of their chocobo-mounted units. Our problem now is infantry. This problem, as you may assume, could be worse. Naturally, knights are harder to replace than foot soldiers, but we can't begin to degrade the value of human life. We need to begin to cut our losses before worrying about increasing theirs.
"We've been feeling the burden of largely greater numbers in recent battles, especially over the last month. Some of our general's tactics of simply running at the opposing force have been failing, clearly, in the face of larger numbers." Orlandu was met by some sneering looks from some of those whom still practiced the style of combat he spoke of.
"Then what do you suggest we do, Cidolfas?" a voice spoke up. Everyone looked to find that it belonged to Duke Barinten. "Are we to suddenly produce magical victories in the face of an enemy who outnumbers us?"
"I'm saying we have to stop them from outnumbering us," Orlandu said.
"And how?" Barinten shot back. "What would bring that about?"
"Hurt their transportation lines," a new voice came. People looked down the table to see that young Beowulf had spoken up.
"Excuse me?" Barinten asked. "And how might we do that?"
"Their supply lines and troop transport methods," Beowulf said, putting his hands to his chin. "We hurt them there. If we're facing greater numbers, we need to cut back those numbers before we begin to battle against them. Let us try to injure their transportation abilities. You all have forgotten that at the moment we have the home territory. We know our lands. We simply need to assault their supply lines."
"He's right," the voice of Zalbag agreed. "But that brings us to a new problem: where?" General nods filled the table. "Obviously, we're faced with the choice of either water or land, but Ordalia has been using both, to a degree. The Battle of Zigolas Swamp occurred as a result of them sneaking transport ships outside of our lines in the Southern Sea. We all remember how costly that was."
"But how large can their navy be?" Goltana asked. "It is widely known that their resources as far as lumber goes is limited. They simply don't have enough resources to maintain a large navy."
"Unless they're importing," Orlandu pointed out. "We know not all of the surrounding Kingdoms have taken our side, and even more have remained neutral. Haven't any of you heard the phrase, 'a good war is the best thing for business?' That would easily explain their access to resources to build up a navy. Even though they have not brought much sea power to bare recently, they could just be in the construction stages."
"Do we abandon the Northern Seas to guard the South, though?" Prince Larg questioned. "That's not a viable option either. They'll give up on Lionel and begin to attack Fovoham and Zeltennia. On top of that, our navy is already failing, as was stated earlier."
"How are we doing financially? Beowulf again asked. "We could buy ships from abroad. Possibly, we could even man them with hired help from the selling country."
"Not well," Marquis Elmdor said. "Limberry isn't the only place that's suffered major crop damage due to wars. The drought isn't helping either. As for other resources for sale, the coal trade is what's keeping us afloat. It's an iffy idea that we could simply hire help from afar."
"It's too bad that Orlandu's economic theory doesn't work here," some sarcastic voice pointed out, bringing about a stare from Orlandu.
"Regardless, we're not the ones that will profit economically from this war. We're in debt as it is," Elmdor continued.
"Then let us work with what we have," Zalbag said. "We must hit their pressure points; the area where we can apply as little pressure as possible to deliver the most damage. I believe that " he paused, thinking of the name. "Er...Beowulf was right in suggesting to start attacking their supply lines as opposed to outright fighting them."
"But to know where the supply lines are, we need to know where their army is," Balbanes said.
"We've searched all of the border territories. Anything past that would mean that their supply lines were actually located in their own territory, and we'll have problems damaging those," Elmdor said. There was a brief silence. Beowulf then suddenly broke it, jumping out of his chair in epiphany.
"But maybe they're right under our noses," Beowulf interjected.
"You think they're actually within our boundaries?" Goltana asked
"Maybe somewhere past Limberry, even." Elmdor suggested.
"Or in Limberry," Beowulf said. "Think of the Poeskas Crossing."
"X marks the spot " Balbanes muttered.
The Poeskas crossing was an X shaped, natural land bridge across what was left of Lake Poeskas. But, due to the salt water make up of the old lake, some of the dried up remained created a large series of interconnecting tunnels that dug though the entire area around and under the lake. It was right next to where they were attacking, and it was the perfect place to both hide an army, and due to the extent of the tunnels, it would be excellent to use for hidden transport of supplies and men.
There was a climbing murmur through the room in light of the new idea. "That has to be it," Cid agreed finally, silencing the chatter. He grinned softly, looking to the King. "I shall dispatch a reconnaissance mission immediately," he said. The King nodded.
"This conference is over," the King finally said. "For now, take your leaves, gentlemen. At least now we know where we're going, and where Ordalia may be going, as well. We will reconvene in two hours after the orders have been issued. You may all take your leaves."
General acceptance washed around the table, as people slowly began to rise and usher out of the room, either off to give orders or off to consult maps. While the meeting was over, the problem was still not, and they all knew it. They would be worrying again within two hours
Walking out of the room, Beowulf was next to Draclau as they passed through the halls of the Imperial Palace. They wandered into a main hall, speaking.
"That was quite a little idea," Draclau told him. "You make me look good." Beowulf chuckled.
"I made myself look good, too. I'm not sure some of the older statesmen and generals think I should be there, given my age."
"They all knew of your exceptional displays as Gariland. The Hokuten wasn't the only army who offered you a position, after all."
"They offered my the best position of the others. But, just because they were looking to gain my services, doesn't mean that they believe I should be amongst them. They were offering my positions as a lieutenant or captain, at the highest. Whether or not they think I should be among them, the generals and Troop Leaders, is something else."
"You showed them today," Draclau repeated.
"But what of you?" Beowulf asked.
"What of me?"
"I'm not the one being elevated to Cardinal."
"Nor should I be," Draclau said, laughing briefly.
"I don't understand."
"It's more of a publicity stunt than anything else," he admitted. "I mean, I have the qualifications, but the Church is trying to show its faith."
"Lionel is still strong in belief, though, Bishop," Beowulf said. "Why would they need to reinforce that they are doing well in Lionel?"
"They feel it will spread. It looks good when someone is elevated. It's simply something that will be covered. It makes people around notice, and it will call some attention to the Church. That's what they want. Faith has been waning, Beowulf. A good war will do that, too."
"I see " Beowulf muttered. Draclau laughed again.
"Come this way," he said, motioning to his left. "There are a few men I'd like you to meet."
Draclau walked over to the left up to a group of men standing and conversing. Three of them wore white robes with Glabados markings. The other wore golden armor with a white tunic cast over the glistening armor.
"Beowulf, this is High Priest Funeral, Temple Knight Vormav Tingel, and two of Glabados's Pagan Examiners: Brother Zalmo and Brother Buremonda." He motioned to the men, who stopped their conversation to meet the young knight.
"A pleasure," Beowulf said, extending his arm to shake the hands of his new acquaintances.
"I've heard of you," Zalmo said, taking his hand. "You graduated from Gariland, correct?" Beowulf nodded, knowing that the Temple Knights had tried to gain his services as well.
"Yes," Beowulf said.
"It shows," Vormav grunted. "That was some tactical thinking that one would expect from a battle scarred veteran. You hardly look like you've been shaving for more than a year." Beowulf blinked.
"Some of our battle scarred veterans, as you put it are too entrenched in their ways to think of something like that," Beowulf said, drooling with sarcasm. "I've heard of you," he told Vormav. "You won the Battle of Goland while being outnumbered close to two to one. Then you became a Temple Knight," he said, adding the last part almost as an afterthought.
"No better place than to serve one's faith," Vormav said, detecting Beowulf's cynicism. Beowulf nodded curtly.
"Regardless," Zalmo cut in, "perhaps our new Cardinal is having a good effect on you," he said, eyeing Draclau.
"Only what God sends to him through I," Draclau said. "Beowulf will grow to be a champion of the faith someday."
"I should hope so," Buremonda said. "We certainly want him on our side," he said. Beowulf glanced the Priest Buremonda. He seemed relatively young for an Examiner, only half of his hair having turned gray at this point. He was well fed, though didn't appear fat, or at least he didn't appear fat underneath his generous robes. He was a stereotypical Glabados Priest, from his face to his jewelry to his clothes. He reeked of the wealth that Glabados still possessed, even in times of crisis. They were greedy. It was no wonder they were losing the support of the public.
"If you continue thinking like that, we'll end this war in no time," the High Priest said.
"Or we'll all burn in hell," Vormav shot, almost out of the blue. "There's still no proof that the Ordalia army is hiding there. We're working on guesswork."
"We're working on process of elimination, Vormav," Beowulf said, defending himself. "That's the best thing to do when intelligence fails. Haven't you ever taken a multiple-choice test? Or did you even go to school?"
"Gentlemen, please," Draclau said as Vormav was about to speak and his hand inched towards the blade that hung at his waist. "We're on the same side, remember?"
"The Church is a side separate from Ivalice," Vormav spat turning his back. "I've heard enough. I'll be in my quarters " he paced quickly around and up the stairs that were to the left of them, leaving the rest in silence.
"Well, there's no doubt about that, anyway," Draclau said, moving a hand as to silence Beowulf, who shot a glance that no one noticed. As he began to say something, a figure appeared around the stairs to their left, casually wandering down the steps.
"Oh, excellent!" Buremonda exclaimed, breaking an awkward silence. "Gentlemen," he said. "There is someone whom I think you all should meet," he said, pointing to what was very clearly a woman dressed in white clothes, more casual than any of the 'holy' men in the vicinity. Her long blonde hair stretched down her back in delicate waves which only enhanced the image of her already generous figure.
Her walk was the first thing that would bring the attention of any man. She didn't sway so much as noble women tended too, but there was something especially graceful about her. It almost seemed that there was something soldier-like in her, as well. Somehow she had melded a military gait with the true walk of a woman who wanted to be noticed. She didn't walk down the stairs; she flowed down them. It was almost captivating to see her walk and watch that hair of hers wave back and forth
"This is my fiancé," Buremonda said as the woman walked up to him and he took her hand in his. "Her name is Reis."
This Page © Copyright 1997, Brian Work. All rights reserved. Thanks to Sax for his help with the layout. Do not take anything from this page without my consent. If you wish to contact an author, artist, reviewer, or any other contributor to the site, their email address can be found on their index page. This site is link-free, meaning you don't need to ask me if you'd like to link to it. Best viewed in 1024x768.