Duty That Binds Chapter 12

All is Calm

By Seravy

Firstly, a quick thank you to Lord Jareth and Animeanie who beta-read this chapter. Your help is highly appreciated.

        They were going to die. She had been expecting this moment all her life and yet, now that it was before her, it seemed unreal.

        Uncountable shadows of various weapons drifted toward the princess's unsuspecting neck, soon to reach her own. Unable to close her eyes, Agrias only prayed for God's mercy on her family's honour. And the sad thing was, she didn't even believe in God.


        All movements were abruptly withheld with absolute obedience, perfectly captured like a painting. The mob of soldiers parted down the middle and a man on a black chocobo rode out from where he'd been hidden in the shadows.

        Agrias lifted her head, led by the foreign voice that saved her once again. He appeared to be just another soldier until he pushed up the visor of his helmet. Then there was no mistaking that this was the man from the bar, though he was virtually transformed by the heavy armor that protected his body. Beside him,the one who was glaring at her with utmost contempt, was no doubt his subordinate whom she fought against last night.

        "We meet again."

        His voice was low and steady, confidence vibrating from his very core. She stood up to greet her enemy and saviour and with her sword proudly erect, she kept the princess defiantly behind her.

        "I guess there's more than meets the eyes."

        Agrias remained silent, not trusting her body to perform any sort of movement.Her lungs complained for air and she heaved with awkward fatigue.

        "To have lasted this long all by yourself. Impressive."

        A bit of sarcasm and perhaps amusement touched his voice, causing Agrias to tighten her stance.

        "Not just myself." she replied.

        "Still. a brave feat, I must say."

        "Get to the point," said Agrias, her words loudly echoing from the chasm below and the silence that surrounded her.

        "Give us the girl and you may go free."

        Duga opened his mouth but a hand immediately silenced him. The rocks shifted as the princess took a risky step behind, as everyone waited for the obvious answer.


        Weapons chimed and the ground rumbled with soft astonishment.

        "I understand that trust is an issue here but rest assured as you are a much needed messenger," he reasoned, patiently.

        "That and a matter of principals."

        The man got off his chocobo, taking several steps forward. His hand rested comfortably on the hilt of his sword.

        "I suggest you take my offer before I change my mind."


        "You don't have a choice, unless you choose death over this opportunity."

        "I wouldn't call this an opportunity."

        His hand left his sword and folded over his chest as curiosity stroked his


        "And why not?"

        "Because I'd never betray my country."


        Thin lips perched open and sardonic laughter immediately followed suite. Impassively, Agrias watched him as his head swung back for the skies to hear him as well. The laughter was then abruptly ended, eyes grinding with wild anger into Agrias's patient and waiting ones.

        "What country is Ivalice when her people are starving and living in constant fear? What country is Ivalice with nobles as her rulers? Power left within those fools shall only destroy this kingdom. You betray no one but justice and yourself by siding with those bloody curs."

        "Your actions make you no different by taking the princess's life."

        "Her end will not be necessary if she cooperates. In fact, it would be ideal if she lived."

        "So you could use her."

        "The princess is a small sacrifice for Ivalice's rejuvenation."

        "So you're going to take the princess hostage until they give into your


        "I'm not obligated to answer unlike you."

        "You do realize that if you take the princess now, you'll only start a


        "And a war it shall be to lead us to freedom and much deserved equality."

        His voice, slow and methodic, attacked her own determination but this was a question that she asked herself many times, each attempt successfully answered by her own reason. Honour.

        "Two wrongs don't make a right. A war would only bring more suffering and pain."

        "It couldn't be worse than now. We farm the land and the nobles take it. Do you know how many people starve to death everyday? Those of us who were drafted into the war were immediately abandoned once it was over. Some had to desert their pride and became mercenaries. Others rot in the middle of nowhere with nothing after giving their life to protect Ivalice. Of course,a noble like you could never understand our pain."

        Agrias shook her head.

        "Then I don't see a point in this conversation."

        His armour clamoured as he shrugged his shoulders, a ghostly smile matched with sharp angry eyes drifting across his hard features.

        "Don't be so hasty, after all, it is the princess who has to make the decision. Our young, vibrant little princess who has her whole future ahead of her."

        His eyes zoomed to the girl hiding behind Agrias, raising his voice so that

she may clearly hear him.

        "A waste if you have to lose everything here, ain't that right, your highness? You have 100 counts."

        The swarm of soldiers all took several steps back, just as their leader had done, reluctantly giving Agrias and her charge minimal privacy.

        One. Two. Three.


        The soft shaking voice of the princess snuck into the air, begging for guidance. Regretfully, a stale report of their current situation was all Agrias could offer her. If only there was a more poetic way to put this.

        "You have two choices, your highness. The path behind you, or the one in front. Choose."

        Agrias could clearly see the drastic heaving of the princess's chest, evident panic reflecting in her shifting eyes that darted everywhere except reality.

        Ten. Eleven. Twelve.

        "But-I-I-I can't. I don't know."

        "You must. Quickly."

        Fifteen. Sixteen. Seventeen. The numbers, each loudly announced was like a countdown of her sanity. Ovelia looked to her feet, her heart beating vibrantly within her chest. Everything had always been decided for her and now that she had a

chance to make a choice, fear was all that ran through her mind. She glanced timidly behind Agrias then down the chasm. A wave of wind swept up, weaving through her hair as vertigo flashed into her. How she wished Alma was here, she would have known what to do and everything would be fine. Twenty-five. Twenty-six. Twenty-seven.

        "I can't do this! Why is this happening?"

        Agrias grabbed her shoulders and steadied her flailing movements.

        "Because it is, so we must deal. Asking why won't solve anything."

        The calm within her bodyguard's eyes gathered her worries and restrained them. Ovelia clung onto the thick blue leather to retain the little bit of judgment that lingered.

        "What about you?"

        "I've already chosen."

        "What is it?"

        "It's irrelevant. But I can tell you this. The man before you needs you alive, the path behind couldn't care less."

        "What do you--"

        "It's your choice, not mine."

        Forty-eight. Forty-nine. Fifty. Agrias was firm, entrusting her with confidence, without judgment or expectations. But it still solved nothing. They all tried to present it as black and white, life and death, but she knew it was more

than that. If she chose to live, it would be under their will, the same life as she had before. And once they were done with her, it would be the same as choosing death. In the end, it was the same.

        'My choice'


        Ovelia looked to Agrias once again. Her hair was a mess, a bruise faintly visible on the corner of her mouth and left eye but she still shone with pride and dignity. That was because Agrias chose to stay, as proven when she rejected that man's offer, guarding her even now at this hopeless moment. If she had the choice, she would choose her freedom but, that option had never existed.

        Ovelia's shaking hands gradually steadied as she looked at the world through her own eyes, life and death presenting the last moment of truth to her. She'll never get what she want but she'll settle for second best.

        "I don't want to be used."

        It was softly spoken so that only Agrias could hear her. There was a short moment of surprise reflected on Agrias's face, indicated by the slight opening of her mouth which gradually turned into a small smile.

        "That's very brave of you," she whispered.

        The praise was returned with a bright smile of her own.

        "Not at all. Just a matter of comparison."

        Agrias released her charge and turned to face the overwhelming crowd with a clear verdict at 87 counts.

        "The princess has chosen."

        Agrias dug the end of her sword into the ground and dragged, breaking the surface loudly. A deep wound within the rocks now clearly separated the two parties.

        "I see."

        The man raised this sword and all the bows were strung in place for the final order. It looked like a whole forest of them, and they were nothing but targets that were impossible to miss. It was almost amusing to think how their corpses would look with all those arrows in place.

        "Wait," called Agrias.

        "Changed your mind?" mocked Duga but his leader immediately shot him a

look, which silenced him effectively.

        "We'll do this ourselves."

        As if granting their final request, the arrows were taken down leaving them with a sword and the chasm close by their feet. From the angle of Agrias's gaze, Ovelia knew which her bodyguard chose.

        "Agrias, since we're going to."

        "No, you're not going to."


        A stiff, strong arm pulled her close by the waist. The heavy rising of Agrias's chest pushed against her cheek, although nothing was shown on her bodyguard's face.

        "Whatever you do, don't let go of me."

        Ovelia obeyed and wrapped her arms around the cold armour that Agrias wore, squeezing her eyes shut. They took a step back, and another until their heels hit the very edge of groundlessness.

        "Name's Vermeer Goiya. Yours?"

        A soft smirk touched a corner of Agrias's mouth. Despite his methods, this was a good man with admirable intentions.

        "Agrias Oaks Chateaubriad."

        And together, they jumped, the army of archers, monks, squires and Vermeer Goiya disappearing immediately, down, down into endless darkness. A strange giddiness captured their hearts as they plummeted.

        Agrias struggled to open her eyes, as she felt her braid being tugged by passing winds. The chasm was deep as even not a speck of light could reach the bottom and indicate their height. Nevertheless, Agrias tightened her grip on her sword and concentrated, a dim glow slowly illuminating from her blade. And it hurt. A deep agonizing throb attacked her as her body recalled yesterday's fight and her previous usage of a Stasis sword but the moment the princess chose this path, she knew she had to succeed, no matter how slim their chances were.

        Patiently, ignoring the need to close her eyes, Agrias sucked every bit of power she had into her sword, waiting for the perfect moment. It was an obscure concept as perfect was undefined, only played within her head and it had to be perfect or all would be over.

        Finally, the ground was visible and within a fury of thoughts, Agrias released an arc of raw holy energy. The rocks promptly exploded upon impact but most importantly, a strong gust of reaction force rushed towards their plunging bodies, capturing their falling speed.

        But something was wrong, instead of being pushed backwards, they were being catapulted to a side. She had released her attack too soon and at the wrong angle and now, both of them would have to pay.

        At first, it was as if they were gliding until Agrias's left shoulder touched the ground. A piece of armour flew into the open as their bodies dragged heavily over the rugged terrain. They rolled and tumbled in a mess of debris until their traveling speed was eroded into nothing,leaving the two bodies in a still mess, together.

To be continued...

        I learned a new word today. Malarkey (n). Very interesting word which means utter nonsense. Personally, I like it very much. Sample sentence: What I have just said is pure malarkey, therefore it is highly recommended that you discard it all from your minds. Thank you for reading.

Chapter 13

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