Power of the Stones Part 1
By Sid Palmer
After hours of work the chains and locks blocking the only entrance into the old, tomblike temple were broken. The rays of the setting sun reflected off of the seven gemstones the King was searching for. As the four White Shadows entered all but one grinned. Lesalia examined two of the stones she picked up from the ornate, solid stone table and couldn't help but, make a slight smirk. This did mean a secsessful mission and no futher need to walk about the countryside without a clue.
She spoke, "Don't relax now, it's quite likely Ramza is near.."
"You requested my presence?" a voice to her right and above interupted. As she began to turn around it spoke again, "Replace the stones and leave or I'm afraid I'll have to shoot you."
"Ramza, Delita has told me a lot about you," Lesalia said in a half interested maner as she began taking baby steps back toward the door, stones at her sides.
"You know, Delita?" Ramza asked.
"It is he that sent me to get the stones," she replied.
"The stones bring only death and darkness to those that posess them as well as their victims. I can't believe the Church is foolish enough to continue searching for the stones," warned Ramza,"Tell me your name."
"If you must know it's Lesalia, after the city and, Delita has nothing to do with the Church, he is the King," she said, puzzled.
"What?" Said Ramza destracted and confused. Lesalia chose that moment, halfway to the door, to brake into a run. Ramza shot but, instead hit a Shadow right behind her, smashing him into the floor as he gave out a loud, low grunt.
"I have no luck with guns," fretted Ramza. Lesalia and one Shadow had already exited and as the other went to follow an arrow streaked through her neck allowing only a short, shrill scream to leave her mouth before choking on blood. Then it was over, after five years, suddenly, two people had died and two stones were gone.
"I'm going with you," asserted Alma while Ramza was repairing the locks and chains on the door, "I can take care of myself now. You saw what my arrow did to that thief." Alma had grown quickly, she was already nearly as tall as Ramza and was excelent with the bow and arrow but, she still had the same nobel look and the eyes that spoke of wisdom beyond her years.
"You shouldn't talk of death in such a way, Alma," Ramza warned.
"I've seen my fair share of bloodshed, brother," she mentioned.
"I'm just afraid of you being kidnaped again or worse," he said, finishing the repairs on the door, "besides, if we both go we'll have to take the stones with us and we can't take that risk. Please, Alma, do this for me, it's very important."
Alma looked at the ground, "Ok, brother."
"Good," said Ramza, relieved, " Here's the key to the locks, keep a lookout from the roof, if anyone comes take the stones and leave until they're gone, and remember to keep any fires small. I'm not sure how long it will be, it might be a long time before I return, and.. Alma.. I love you."
Ramza began to leave when Alma asked, "But how will you find them?"
He pointed at the ground, "Their chocobo tracks will be easy to follow, but I don't even need them, if Delita is king it's most likely they're going to the imperial capital, Lesalia." With that he turned away and began walking the path the tracks had made.
Lesalia Imperial Capital
Lesalia and the surviving Shadow entered the King's main chamber after making sure he was not in meeting with anyone. The walk across the chamber was a long one. They stepped on red carpet with gold fringes. Countless lit candlelabras were at their sides as they finaly reached the King's throne, a work of art, with red hangings above and to the sides of it. Vaulted windows at either side of the great hall allowed light to stream in, nonetheless, other than the candles the room was quite dark. Lesalia's hip pouch, with the stones secure inside, jostled slightly as she came to a stop in front of the seated Delita.
"How goes your task?" Spoke Delita, ever calmly.
"My lord," began Lesalia with grim formality, "we have found what you seek."
"The stones, where are they?" Delita's eyebrows raised in suprise and want. Lesalia gave him the hip pouch. Delita peered inside, closed his eyes a moment, then looked up at her again as calm as before. "There are two here, there should be seven."
The other Shadow began to sputter, "We're lucky we got out with two, that Ramza and someone else killed two of..." Before he was able to finish, Delita popped a catch in his right handrest which opened a chamber containing a sword. He deftly grabed it and thurusted it in the Shadow's gut and out the back of his ribcage. As the fatally struck man fell Delita pulled his sword out, wiped it on the victim's pantleg, and snapped the alcove shut with sword inside before reseating himself. All the time making sure not to spill a drop on the carpet.
While Lesalia dropped to the deadman's side, Delita continued as if nothing happened, "Nobody else must know of the stones whereabouts but, I've always trusted you, Lesalia."
She stood again, "Damn you! How can you just kill someone like that!"
With no change in manner he said, "I want you to take some more men and retreve the other stones as quickly as possible." Lesalia almost cried. She wanted to hate him and yell, so you can kill them?
"They're probably gone by now," she swallowed, "it would be a waste of time."
"Your right," agreed Delita, "besides, two stones are more than enough for my plans."
"Is there anything else you need me for?" Lesalia asked regaining herself.
"Of course," Delita answered in a way Lesalia interpreted to mean, why would you be alive otherwise? "I will send for you when I am ready," he finished. As she started leaving she looked at the body on the floor. "Don't worry, Lesalia," Delita said in a louder voice, "I can handle my own dirty work."
An inhospitapal place once home to gruesome monsters, the temple had become quite the opposite. Now well furnished, the temple's main hall was a place of festivity. Feasting and dancing and more was going on in every corner of the room but, everyone grew silent as a man dressed a little better than most of the people present steped up to the raised center of the room.
"Brothers and sisters, I come bearing tidings from our lord who's rebirth as a god we celebrate this day," began the man who was obviouly filled with pride at his position as the master's representative. "Our father has said that once today's celebration is over we shall set in motion the events that will create a glorious new world where our masters shall protect us from the folly of great power by welding it themselfs as only they will be worthy of doing," the man stopped himself before going into a rant, "The time has come to gather the stones so we may bestow them to those that will use them properly. The person who wants the stone for himself is unfit." "The fated time has come to bring together the stones before the greed of those who would see us destroyed allows them to missuse this power," the man began to ramble, "So has spoken the master. Now rejoice, for the future is bright." At that the room cheered and the party broke out again.
Lesalia Imperial Capital
Nobody knew what the dark and majestic structure on the outskirts of town that was nearly fourty feet high was used for. Children grew afraid of it when their mothers told them stories of what supposedly happened within. Everyone was impressed in some way when seeing the black, stone animal heads with mouths open, fangs quivering for blood. Nor did anyone guess who the man covered in a shall was. Both seemed to have the same anguish and it magnified as man and building came closer together. Up the man went, climbing the tall stairs until entering a room with a circle of dim moonlight in the center and a tomb on the other side. After closing the dusty, gold door, Delita flung the shall aside and opened a bag he was carrying on his back. First, he took out gold pieces that he put together to make a small, gold table. Then he took out a Zodiac Stone and placed it on a depression in the table made specificly for the stone. Standing at the table he looked at the tomb for a moment and then at the stone. As Delita let his emotions flow the stone began to glow softly, then everything faded to blackness but, him and the table.
"Why do you wish such a thing?" Came a deep voice. Delita had no idea if it was God or Lucavi or somthing else but, surprisingly, it gave him no fear. He wondered if that was good or bad.
Delita slowly found the words, "She is the only thing that ever truly mattered to me, nothing else, my crown, my power, it's meaningless next to her." The tomb reappered and tears began to spill down Delita's cheeks.
"Think," comanded the voice.
Delita knew what it meant and said through gritted teeth, "I have killed many but, each time it was for Teta, everytime my sword went in someone, everytime I gained more power it was a blow against those who would do what he did to my sister. They didn't even care and now, niether do I but, I would give it all for Teta."
"Join yourself with Lucavi and we, as one, will have the power to do whatever you wish. You need simply ask for the help," came the balanced words.
"I do not wish for this," Delita mumbled with trembling hands and a horified look on his face, "it is something those too weak to do things for themselves do. They are no longer even human.
"All humans are weak, only those that transcend their limitations are able to grasp true power. Ask for help and it shall be granted," promised the voice.
Delita exploded, "I will never be used by you! I will have power but, I will take it by myself! I am not a common weakling that will sell himself to you! With that the stone stopped glowing and the room reappeared. Delita put his face to the table, sending the stone flying and wept.
Later, as the king sat in his hall pondering what the next move would be, Olan, the leader of the Royal Ivalice Knights, approached him.
"My lord, it may seem unbelievable, but Ramza Beoulve has returned from self exile to speak with you," he announced.
"By all means," Delita whispered, eyes burning. Despite the length of the hall it seemed only a moment before the two forms diverged from the darkness. With a steady gate of conviction Ramza walked, it was plain that his time in the wilderness had strengthened him, but somehow his skin had remained the patrician white of high nobility. Soft blond hair fell above hard coal eyes. Ramza struck him as a walking mass of paradoxes.
Presently, Olan and Ramza halted in front of the throne. Olan tried to hide his discomfort from striding such a distance so quickly.
"Ramza, you return at last. How long has it been?" Began Delita.
"About five years, Delita, but I must ask you, how did you of all people come to rule Ivalice?" Asked Ramza, puzzled.
"Ramza, I know this will be grieveous news to you, but the royal family was completely annialated in the Lion War, I became very close to the royalty during its wane and everyone saw me as fit to rule in their stead," Delita explaned.
"That's nonsense!" Ramza exclaimed, "In the unlikely event that, somehow, the royal family was lost, then the noble next in line would have been perfectly happy to take its place."
"But the nobility was wiped out during the Lion War," replied Delita, "you should know that. At the end all that was left were your brother Dycedarg and Prince Goltana, and you killed Dycedarg."
"That monster killed father, and don't tell me you didn't care for Balbanes, he was the only father you ever knew," Ramza countered.
"Your brother was a dangerous man, if he hadn't died when he did, he could have changed the result of the war, but he did die and I killed the pompous fool Goltana. I became the people's hero for saving them from his tyrany. I don't think you have any idea just how close Ivalice came to shattering into complete anarchy and chaos. The one choice the people could agree on was me. I gave them what they needed: control, leadership, security. That is why they will always believe in me. I saved them from having to wake up and control their own destiny, from having an uncertain future, and they trust that I will continue," explained Delita, "But enough living in the past, as you can see it's a new day." Olan stared at Delita in malice at the total lie. The look Delita flashed back quickly put an end to the protest.
Ramza squinted his eyes, "Where are the stones Lesalia stole from me, Delita ?"
"Ha, ha, ha," laughed Delita, "do you accually believe me fool enough to willingly join myself with Lucavi. Those Shrine Knights were weaklings with clouded minds and illusions of grandure." "Ramza," he continued, "there is a new group of that kind. They call themselfs the Deidic Sect of the Glabados Church. I'm just glad we found you before them."
"You still barged in and stole the stones by force," accused Ramza.
"Did we?" presented Delita, "I heard that they didn't draw a single weapon yet, you killed two of my men. Am I right?" As Ramza thought about that Delita went on, "I want the stones so that all of Ivalice may benefit. The engineers have found only one thing that can power the almost forgotten machines under Goug, the Zodiac Stones. The people must be reasured that that their nation will remain strong. They have been made fearful of the future by the recient strife of the Fifty Years and Lion Wars. A powerful nation will remain secure and with stones this country will continue to be and grow more powerful. Isn't that what what you fought for, Ramza, that this kingdom would remain secure in it's traditions?"
"It is good to see you are not as corrupt as I thought," said Ramza skepticly, "Still there was no reason to simply take them from me."
"All I can say is they didn't know anyone was home, other than that it was their fault," Delita raised his eyebrows.
I'll believe you for now, Delita," Ramza slightly relaxed, "Are you sure that you should be dabbling in things that you have no knowledge of, it is not like you?"
Delita replied, "I assure you I have complete knowledge of what will happen. But, Ramza, I need more stones."
A stone has more power than any man should be allowed to have, not to mention two," he replied, "I will never give you more stones."
"That's about what I expected from you," mumbled Delita, "Then I only ask that you help me safeguard them."
"How so?" Ramza inquired.
Delita began, "In the Germonik Scriptures, if you remember, it is recounted that Saint Ajora was not the son of God as the Galabados Church says but, was actually a spy. His supposedly holy power may even have been from the stones. It is the truth and you are charged as a heretic because you posesed it. Perhaps you also remember that one of his deciples, Germonik, gave some of the stones to the Yudora Empire to prove Ajora was a spy. Afraid of a religious uprising the Empire executed Ajora. While the exact number of stones was never written I have reson to believe that those stones still exist as national treasures of the Yudora Empire which is known today as Ordalia."
"Our enemies in the Fifty Years War. I don't think they'll just give it to us," Ramza said.
"Yes," Delita replied with an odd smile, "that is why I want you to go with Olan and his knights."
Olan spoke up, "You don't have much time to decide, Ramza, I am leaving tomorrow but, I will have a room prepared for you tonight."
"Ramza, if you could wait outside the chamber a moment, I have some matters to discuss with Olan," Delita expressed politely. Ramza nodded and left the hall without a sound.
"You can't just lie to him like that about how you became king," Olan said with a frown.
"Why not, its what most of the common people believe already," Delita answered unamused.
"Why do you want him to come along?" Olan questioned.
"Do you have any idea how strong in battle he is?" "He defeated Wiegraf in a duel and after Wiegraf used a stone to become Lucavi, Ramza destroyed the demon Velius with only a little help. Trust me, Ramza will prove instrumental in completing your mission and, he'll do almost anything to stop others from using the stones for their own selfish desires. You know I'm doing this for Ivalice, Olan, I have looked at the past and I know how to handle the stones without neglecting them. The next time we meet I expect you to have stones for me. Goodbye, Olan," Delita dismissed him.
"He doesn't stand to gain anything personaly from this," Olan explained to Ramza over a glass of wine in Ramza's temporary quarters.
"Delita has changed so much from how I remember him," Ramza frowned.
"Being king can do that to a person.... Its not that he is a bad king, he does what is best for Ivalice. It is just that he will do anything to stay king but, I admit, he is good at what he does,"Olan finished the glass and stood. Ramza did the same and stood at the window as the last rays of light faded from the view of the capital city.
"I will come with you, Olan, mainly because I am afraid of what will happen to the stones if I don't," Ramza explained.
"Can't trust us without the help of the mighty Ramza Beoulve, huh?" Olan chuckled.
"Yes, something like that," Ramza smiled faintly.
"I wouldn't show my face around here too much but, just be sure to be ready tomorrow. Delita is having us meet at an old church on the outskirts of town. He said you would know were it was," advised Olan. Ramza thought for a moment.
"I remember, I'll meet you their tomorrow, Olan, goodnight," replied Ramza. Olan nodded and left.
As Ramza was leaving the castle the next morning he noticed Lesalia entering the king's chamber. Careful to not wake the sleeping guards flanking the doors, Ramza opened them a crack. Delita and Lasalia's voices echoed clearly through the chamber to his eager ears.
"So I hear you have sent Olan to Ordalia," inquired Lesalia.
"Yes, and Ramza with him," Delita replied.
"What Ramza's here! Why?" Lesalia whispered loudly
"He was here. I sent him because he will help in retrieving the stones and he won't be around to pester me with questions," Delita explained, tired.
"I thought you didn't need more stones," Lesalia looked at him, disdainful.
"The principle is that others don't have them so that they cannot use them against us," Delita talked down to her.
"Why did you send for me then?" Asked Lesalia.
"I want you to take this Zodiac Stone to Goug. Give it to my chief engineer, Mustadio, he'll know what to do," Delita informed her.
Ramza took large strides away from the door as Lesalia's footsteps grew larger. He heard Lesalia's voice chastising the guards.
As Ramza reached the church he found Olan and his men behind it.
Olan said in good spirits, "Good morning, come and let me introduce you. This is Tulkas, Kel, and Salen."
Ramza looked them over to form an impression of each. Tulkas could almost be called a brute from the look of him. He towered over everyone else and had light brown hair and eyes and dark skin. Other than that he seemed friendly enough. Kel was of normal size and also had brown hair but, with blue eyes. He had the look of always being suspicious or cautious. Salen, the only female of the group had blond hair down to her shoulders, and grey eyes. She usually maintained a passive attitude, much to the disapointment of the male knights.
"And you are?" Asked Kel of Ramza.
"He is nobody," Olan cut in.
"Sir?" Kel was puzzled.
"You will call him what you call me, Sir, that is good enough," commanded Olan.
"Yes Sir," Salen affirmed in her usual emotionless voice. Kel glanced at her while Tulkas stared at Ramza.
"Well then," asserted Ramza in an athoritative voice, "on to Ordalia." And the party mounted their chocobos.
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Part 2 is in the works.
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