Power of the Stones Part 2
By Sid Palmer
Rothmorlion: Capital Of Ordalia (35 miles east of the Ivalicestinian border)
Olan pushed his way through the last throng of people before leaving the marketplace and entering the slum where the group had rented a room. He had heard that the marketplace was the largest in Ordalia and there were enough people present to make him believe it. The marketplace system was so ineffecient, Olan thought, better to concentrate everything in trade cities, like Dorter and Warjilis, and recieve orders by courier. What need was there to ship everything, everywhere?
The rotting creaking stairs made no sound as Olan climbed them as he had learned exactly where to step, over the week he'd been living here. Olan stood at the door, holding the fresly roasted chicken and potatoes bought from the market, listening to an arguement within.
"You dont know what you're talking about, Kel," came Salen in her melow voice.
"No," Kel protested, " what I'm saying is why go in through the entrance. Wouldn't be easier to just climb over the walls."
"They are eleven feet high, Kel, and the guards in the watchtowers would certainly see us," reasoned Ramza.
"Well, I don't know, why not have Tulkas, here, punch through the walls?" Kel offered in jest. Salen sat and continued staring with amusment at the squable.
Tulkas, a giant of a man whined, "I'd be happy to do that if I had some food."
At that moment Olan burst through the door causing Tulkas to grin and almost giving Kel a heart attack.
"What's this about punching through walls?" Olan said and everyone ate as soon as the food hit the table. Even Ramza attacked his with unusual ferocity.
Warjilis Trade City (Two weeks ago)
Orinas Atkascha, once prince of Ivalice and heir to the throne, was was not a happy person. His life of respect and ease in the palace had ended around the time he was fifteen years old. Delita would likely had killed him then if the ever loyal knight Agrias had not rescued him. Orinas often relived nightmares of that struggle. He wouldn't soon forget the guards Agrias had to slash through and the nerve-racking searches to find someone still loyal to the royal family that would take them in. From that point on his life of fancy clothes and fine meals came to an abrupt halt. Danger surounded him until they had found a city large enough and far enough from Lesalia to lose themselves in. Agrias had become his closest friend and protector and with her help put together the Knights of Justice, an underground faction commited to restoring power to its rightful place. Right now, however, Orinas was busy trying to keep a secret meeting in order.
"We must take action!" Concluded one of the many voices angrily.
"Our meager army would shatter in front of their's," fired back another.
Orinas raised his voice, "I agree that something must be done, but direct action would be suicidal, we need to do something internal, something that will sabotoge Delita. But we don't have the inside connections for such a thing."
From the middle of the crowd a woman stood wearing a black tunic and cape with no markings on them and with an authoritative half yell said, "You have me."
"Who are you, I haven't seen you here before," demanded Agrias standing a few yards from Orinas.
"That doesn't matter. What does is that I have a plan that will change everything and I know how to get it done."
Orinas answered carefully, "I would be willing to listen."
After the light meal had dissapeared, the room became sober and Ramza began going over the plans they had made for the night's activities, "We were able to buy this map from a servant in the castle." The map displayed the city, which was comprised of three concentric circles, each divided by walls and gates flanked by watch towers. The outer circle contained the marketplace, river docks, a small millitary garrison, and the city's slums, where they were now.
Ramza continued, "It should be simple to reach the middle circle by dressing in rags. There is only one entrance into the inner circle. Our chance to slip through will be when the tower guard is changed. Once we are in the castle we will form two teams and Olan and I will lead. The Zodiac Stones are kept on the third floor."
Kel asked, concerned, "Won't the Ordalians be a little angry after we steal their national tresure?"
"Escape will be difficult," Salen put in.
"That's why nobody is going to know that we are stealing from them," Olan resolved.
Tulkas burst out laughing, "That's the funniest damn thing I ever heard. You think you can sneak into the heart of a castle, steal it's biggest tresure, and head right back out?"
Lesalia Imperial Capital
Lesalia sat in the lonely mess hall staring at her emptied plate after swallowing her last bite. She didn't notice when Delita sat in a spot diagonal to her. "Oh, my lord, I'm....,"
"Not used to seeing me here," Delita interupted, "Everything is ready for tonight, then, yes?"
"Of course," she assured him, "my men will make sure that the utmost security is maintained at the status of the kingdom speech and the ceremony of goodwill with the Church previous to it."
"I'll have some Royal Knights there also to help," Delita mentioned.
Lesalia frowned, "Are you sure that's needed?"
"It's no problem," Delita finnished and strode off. Lesalia went back to staring. This time at her glass, which was half empty.
The setting sun blazed with a red ferocity giving the dusty streets the color of blood crimson. To the peasants returning home from work or shopping it seemed like the end to an uneventful day. The team had separated and diffused into the crowd trickling through the gate leading to the middle circle of the city. Each was dressed in sackcloth material almost entirely covering their bodies, except for Tulkas who was too large to wear such a thing without looking completely ridiculous. The task of holding his gear and sword, while he was dressed like a cross between a farmer and a homicidal madman, had falen to Kel. Kel lumbered around looking like a cripled old man while the bundle helped to make him look like his back was hunched. He continuously mutered about the reasons Olan had given him as to why this job belonged to him.
Two watchtowers each with a sentinel standing watch formed the sides of the gate, which was several yards wide, and three soldiers were on the ground checking for any suspicious looking people.
Tulkas approached the gate first. One of the guards spotted him and began walking toward him, but as soon as his vision became filled with Tulkas' bare chest he decided it might be best to leave things alone. Kel walked through with nothing more than a confused look from a guard. Olan and Ramza easily passed by without being noticed.
As Salen went by a guard with a look of utter bordom, her hood was ripped off and she was dragged back by the shoulder.
"Its not everyday we see such a pretty guttersnipe, huh guys?" spoke the guard in a slightly gruff but interested voice. As the other two guards gathered around a look of contempt flashed across Salen's face just before smashing a fist between the guard's adam's apple and collarbone. He let go of her shoulder and fell into a puddle of fine dust. The dust made a mist around the violently coughing man. One of his comrades gave him a hand. Just as he stopped coughing his friend let him fall right back into the dust coughing again. The two standing looked at each other and started laughing uncontrolably. Fortunately, Salen scuried off before the tower sentinels could hear the laughing.
Once everyone was out of sight of the gate and were properly attired they prepaired for the next phase. "So now what?" Asked Salen.
"How did you do that?" Kel inquired in wonder.
"You certainly could never do that," Tulkas grunted.
"Are you trying to say something?" Kel shot back.
"That's enough for now," Olan broke in. Kel looked away.
Ramza began to explain the next part of the plan, "Now we have to wait for a while. Salen, do you see the torches being lit in the other guard towers nearby?"
"Yes, sir," came her reply.
"Keep a watch on them, when they disapear let us know. We'll have a few minutes to get past the grand entryway that divides the city from the castle grounds."
Lesalia Imperial Capital
Lesalia walked to a small door, unlocked, and opened it. She gazed at the setting sun which looked like a golden half sphere. For a moment she almost thought she saw Brevenia Volcano off in the distance. She then closed the door without a second thought.
People were beginning to amass in the theater on the castle's ground floor. Lesalia passed two royal guards and entered a room containing Delita.
"Everything is secure," Lesalia confirmed, "Sir, why do we have this ceremony with The Church? It seems meaningless to me."
"We have to show the people that what they believe doesn't conflict with how and by whom they are ruled, Lesalia. You might call it positive reinforcement. To be truthful I don't really fear The Church anymore. Ever since I exposed the High Priest's plan The Church lost a good deal of their clout. They were smart to scrap the the high priest position and replace it with a council of elders though, it brought a lot of people back to the faith. It also made it nearly imposible to focus its power," explained Delita.
"Why wasn't Ramza ever cleared of being a heretic?" Lesalia wondered.
"If I revealed that much of the story I would end up getting burned," Delita said in a modest tone.
"Why, what happened?" She questioned. Delita just shook his head.
"Well, I still have things to do," Lesalia exited.
She didn't have much time, it was dark and the ceremony was about to begin. Spotting the last shadow remaining in the castle, she strode up to him.
"I need you to go to the city's east entrance, I've received reports of someone trying to sneak in from there," she said huriedly.
"But, shouldn't we,"
"There's no time, go, now!" She ordered. As he left Lesalia wondered if that would keep him busy long enough.
"Sir, the torchlight is gone," Salen said almost excitedly to Ramza.
"We must go now, with luck we can slip through while the guard is changing," Ramza ordered. The group ran past the gate with vacant watchtowers above and into the short avenue with trees and grass along the sides. It was pitch black except for the dim moonlight filtering down from above. As they ran down the corridor they noticed watchtowers on the far side of the lane with torches at the top. Luckily, the torches had disapeared by the time they reached the far gate.
Olan motioned for everyone to be still and quiet once they paused under the gate. Ramza carefuly peered around the sides and pulled his head back in sharply. The new guards were entering the towers. The group made their way to the front doors and, opening them as little as possible slipped inside.
Lesalia Imperial Capital
Delita stood just off of the stage waiting for the time when the ceremony called for him. Somehow, the procedings invigorated him. He knew that now was his time and no other's. His fists clenched at the thought that The Church was his dog now, a change from when they tryed to make him their's.
Delita walked proudly to center stage and knelt before the church councilmember with the most senority. Each member dipped their hand in a bowl of holy water held by the senior member and anointed the king. Delita smiled to himself before rising. As the council walked offstage Delita climbed up to a podium to address an audience of mostly upper class people and representatives.
Orinas entered the castle easily through the unlocked door with Agrias following behind. There to meet them was the mysterious woman that had proposed this plan two weeks ago.
"I still don't trust you," Agrias blurted out to the woman.
"We're all in this together now," she replied.
"She's right, besides there's no time for this now," concluded Orinas.
"I see no reason why you need to be here right now," Agrias badgered Orinas.
"I will be here to see that regicidal bastard die and my birthright reclaimed," Orinas exclaimed with a sudden passion.
Eerie quiet permeated the main hall of the castle. Ramza proceeded to inform the group of the next phase of the plan.
"Now we will split into two groups. This will give us a better chance of getting the stones. Kel and Tulkas will go with Olan. Salen will go with me. Under no circumstances is anyone to make a noise unless Olan or I do so first, understand?" Everyone nodded.
Ramza's group took the right stairs and Olan's the left. Each stair opened onto the banquet hall so that Olan and Ramza saw each other. Ramza peaked to the left and was rewarded with the sight of no guards. However, he couldn't put his head around the right corner without the risk of being seen. Ramza signaled to Olan that his right was clear and what about the left. Olan peered around the corner and promptly put up two fingers. That made things more difficult, the king's personal stairway was blocked by the two guards. So, they would have to take the long way to the stones.
Ramza and Salen went down on all fours and rushed under the banquet table. They crawled away from the guards and into a door farther down. Olan and his group did the same entering a door on the opposite side.
Lesalia Imperial Capital
"Citizens of Ivalice," Delita began, "there is one thing that this nation hungers for the most. It desires security. This generation has suffered in a sea of constant war and strife. I say no more. Our children will will live a life of peace and joy." The crowd applauded at this. "I propose to change our destiny. I will give this nation an everlasting strength the likes of which have never been seen before.
The three assassins raced to reach the empty balcony before their chance was lost. The mysterious woman had a crossbow prepared to carry out the task of ending Delita's life.
The east gate of the city was cold and dark and became more so as fog began rolling in. Talking amongst themselfs, the shadows that Lesalia had sent in such haste had come to the decision that the castle was more important to watch than the gate. The reports of people trying to sneak in were probably false alarms. After reaching that conclusion they began to return to the castle.
Now on the third floor the group had decided to remain together as one of the directions they could take was occupied by far too many people. A long room filled with a large table having several chairs was the route they took.
Ramza spoke with a low whisper, "The stones should be in the next room, I have no idea how many guards will be in here, but we'll have to dispatch them."
"I'll go first," Olan volunteered. Everyone went to the door on the other side of the room. Muscles tensed as Olan slowly entered. Olan's body suddenly slackened and he took slow steps into the room, dumfounded.
"What the hell are you doing?" Kel rasped loudly. The others entered the room and stared, their mouths agape.
This room was square, and was the largest they had seen yet. Along the sides lie the bodies of several dead men, the guardians of the stones.
Lesalia Imperial Capital
"The time for war has ended," stated Delita nearing the end of his speech, "We have attained a unity that none dare oppose. I, your king, pledge that that this unity shall soon be strengthened even futher. The power of God himself will be on our side!"
"What are you waiting for, do it, we're almost out of time," Agrias demanded.
"Haste will bring only failure," came the assassin's reply.
The shadows returned to the castle and began to go to their positions, except the shadow that Lesalia spoke to last. After looking to no avail, he decided to climb to the balcony in order to get a better view.
The assassin was looking at Delita's rapidly contorting mouth through the sight of her crossbow. Now, she thought and went to pull the trigger.
"Help," yelled a voice. All eyes turned to the balcony. They had been found! The crossbow snapped sending its death past Delita's ear as he flung himself from the podium.
Orinas ripped his blade out of its sheath and smacked the shadow with the flat of the blade sending him off the balcony. Royal Knights streamed through the only exit. Agrias plunged her sword through the body of the first, pulled it out and spun slitting the next one's throat, continued sliceing the next's belly, and continued wounding the next's groin. She blocked a powerful sword swipe that pushed her back. Orinas pierced the side of one before being smashed back by a shield.
With no other choice Agrias flew off the balcony. It probably would of ended for her then, but she had the good fortune to land on a very fat man who owned a mine in Goland Coal City.
"Agrias," Orinas screamed as he was subdued. The assassin simply sat and watched as the same happened to her. Agrias looked on in sorrow and bolted for the way she had entered.
Agrias was dashing through a narrow hall when she realized two guards were blocking the way. The one on her right thrusted while the left swiped. Agrias sidesteped the thrust and redirected it into the side of the other, causeing the swipe to fall short and lop off the sword hand of the first. Both men howeled in pain as Agrias ran on.
She burst through the small door with Knights on her tail. Agrias mounted her chocobo and rode out of the city.
Out of the fog behind her the shadow that discovered them came. "Stop in the name of the king," he shouted, trying, unsecesfuly, to sound authoritative. He pulled aside her, trying to pull out his sword. Agrias slashed his mount's tailfeathers causing the large bird to lose all sense of orientation. Bird and rider colapsed and fell into the distance. Agrias galloped off into the deep fog.
Ramza was the first to come to his senses. He decided to use the opportunity to grab the stones. Ramza approached the pedistle in the center of the room to find absolutely nothing. The others joined him.
"It looks like someone has beaten us," commented Ramza in utter dismay.
"Whoever did this must be nearby," assumed Olan.
"Good evening, Ramza," came a voice from the other end of the room. Kel, Salen, and Tulkas were shocked at realizing their "Sir" was Ramza Beoulve the heretic himself.
"That's the leader of the Deidic Sect," blurted Olan. The man was covered by a grey hooded coat that fell to his ankles. The hood obscured his face in a darkness that remained that way even if a bright light was shined into it.
"Don't you remember me, Ramza? No? That's a shame. You may call me Asuglav. I'm sorry, but I have no time for you now. A flood of soldiers is about to come through the door behind you. Perhaps I shall see you again. Otherwise, we shall meet in hell." With that Asuglav passed through the door behind him followed by his escort.
Footsteps resounded from the door they had come through. "Didn't I say it would be imposible to do this," Tulkas glared.
"You're not going to hurt us are you?" A trembling Kel asked Ramza.
"If I had wanted to kill you I would have siezed the opportunity long ago," concluded Ramza, "I have no intention of allowing this "Asuglav" to escape. At that moment a host of soldiers began crowding the room. Very angry looks dotted their faces.
"Go," grunted Tulkas.
"What?" Asked Olan.
"I'll give you as much time as I can," Tulkas responded. All but Olan left.
"Tulkas." Tulkas gave him a dangerous look and Olan, knowing better, went to join the others. He heard the sounds of battle below him.
"Is it ready?" Asked Asuglav.
"Yes, lord," Replied one of his minions. "It" was a large metal crossbow that was bolted onto the top of the castle wall. The trigger was pulled sending out a metal arrow connected to a long wire.
"Get back!" Asuglav yelled at one of his men. Too late, the arrow struck its target snapping the wire taunt and taking the fool's head off. Asuglav gave a chuckle to himself.
"Did you think I'd actually let you leave with the stones," rang Ramza's voice through the cold night air.
Asuglav turned around, "Looking for these?" He held up the pilfered jewels as they began glowing piercing the darkness covering his face. Ramza thought it was familar but, he was too far to see it well. "You've been blinded by your misguided quest for justice. Things are different now. And besides, the stones are mine!"
"No!" Shouted Ramza, unsheathing his sword.
"Attack," Asuglav ordered. Both sides rushed each other while Asuglav stood back to observe. Kel slashed at an arm and looked down in time to see a sword explode out of his chest. Olan smashed a man with the flat of his blade then plunged it through another. Salen sidesteped a slash and dispatched her opponent with an incision along the throat. Ramza jumped out of the way of an axe moments before it collided into the stone floor sending chips flying. Its owner let go of his weapon to dodge Ramza's thrust and hit him in the ribs in passing. Ramza turned unphased and slashed the enemy's raised underarm causing him to drop the axe on himself.
Salen wasted no time in going after Asuglav. He stood still as Salen sized him up and then rushed him. Asuglav lifted a hand causing an invisible force to throw her back. Ramza began his attack. Asuglav's long sword came out of nowhere knocking Ramza's weapon from his hand. Ramza was lifted off of his feet.
"Funny, I don't remember you being so weak," Asuglav mocked gazing up at Ramza through the darkness of his hood. At that moment Salen jamed her sword into Asuglav's side. He fell to the ground limp. Olan joined them and began to inspect the body. Then, without warning, all three were knocked back buy an invisible force and Asuglav was on his feet again.
"You're not human!" Ramza yelled in surprise.
"I'm more than human!" Asuglav yelled back. Salen charged again, but this time Asuglav was prepared and slapped her sword away. Then he grabbed Salen by the collar and with a burst of force sent her flying off the top of the castle. Olan, enraged by the loss of so many in one night, came at Asuglav next. Again he slapped Olan's sword, but instead of lossing it, Olan spun around to lock swords with him. After making a few moves at each other, Asuglav pushed Olan back spinning and made a neat slice in the light armor on his back before Olan tumbled away.
"Send Delita my regards, if he's still alive when you see him," said Asuglav.
"Who are you?" Demanded Ramza. Asuglav put on two chainlink gloves from a pile sitting next to the crossbow and slid down the wire with a trail of sparks behind him.
"He escaped!" Proclaimed Olan in anger.
"Asuglav is different from many of the other Lucavi I've fought. He posseses a dangerous combination of skill as well as power like Vormav and Wiegraf did. Perhaps even more so," Ramza admitted.
"It looks like this rope leads down to the river docks. I should be able get our chocobos. Then we can exit the city by the river on our cohcobos," Olan proposed. Then, remembering what happened to Tulkas, each took a pair of chain link gloves off of the pile, threw the rest off of the side and used the wire.
"I'll meet you at the docks," said Olan before dashing off. Ramza walked out of shack he had fallen into and regained his bearings. From what he sensed soldiers were making a complete search of the city. He was going to have a hard time moving around. Ramza decided to move quickly instead of silently. If he stayed in any one place for too long he'd be overtaken.
Running down an alleyway Ramza noticed two knights about to accost him. Ramza continued running at them full speed looking for an opening. One swung high , the other low with swords. Ramza jumped between them with his sword to his left putting that person out of commission. After landing, rolling, comming up, and twirling about he dispatched the other. Unfortunately, he was spotted. Large numbers of soldiers began pouring after him with shouts of "Surrender!" and "Die!". Both were unpaletteable options so Ramza sheathed his sword and ran like hell.
Every so often a soldier ahead of Ramza attacked forcing Ramza to run with his sword out and slash past them causing him to tire. Arrows began to fly as Ramza reached the docks. A light layer of fog rolled over the water. One thing Ramza could see clearly was that the gates of the thirty foot high river defense walls were closed.
After climbing to a raised path that led to a gatehouse between the two river gates, Ramza pushed the ladder away. The resultant shouts gave him hope that he would have a little more time. Running from arrows, Ramza looked down to see two chocobos sitting like ducks on the water, one with Olan on top. As he neared the gate house a man came out with a gun and shot, missing.
"You're a poor aim," commented Ramza and taking hold of the man, threw him over and into the water, screaming. Ramza burst into the room with arrows sinking into the door behind him and slamed into the release lever causing the massive gates to creak open. Ramza went back out and, nearly hysterical from all of the arrows coming at him dove thirty feet into the water below.
"Someone get up there and close those damn gates," came a shout. Mounting his chocobo in the water Ramza and Olan gave all the help they could to their rides. The gates began to close just after they left the city.
Well, I think we're finaly safe," Olan exhaled. At that moment the cannons of Rothmorlion's river defenses opened up. Beautiful explotions lit up the sky and disturbed the air. Iron rained on the two and hit the water all around them sending spray everywere. If Olan and Ramza had been paddling with their feet fast before, they were doing so much more now. With an iron avalanche behind them, Ramza and Olan floated downriver, away from the city.
Lesalia Imperial Capital
Delita sat on his throne, bantering with a couple of his hysterical advisors about his near death this long night, when the would be assassin and Prince Orinas were brought in. To Delita's surprise and dismay the assassin was none other than Lesalia herself.
"Why?" Asked Delita, slightly hurt by this realisation.
"I'll tell you why," Lesalia spoke defiantly, "Does my last name, "Gelwan", remind you of anyone?" Delita shook his head. "It was the name of my father, one of Lord Goltana's ministers. You murdered him in cold blood you son of a bitch! But that wasn't the end of it. Before you killed him you falsely accused him of being a spy. You didn't even do it because he was your enemy, he just happened to be the person standing there, you just needed someone to blame. For the rest of my life I was known as the daughter of a trator. The only place that would take me was the shadows, they don't care about name or rank. When I joined I knew I could get close to you and I promised to kill you," Lesalia finished. While Delita was thinking about this Lesalia remembered something.
Though she would die soon she might be able to take Delita with her, there was still the small sword that Delita had in his throne. At the right moment Lesalia reached forward popped the catch on Delita's handrest, whipped out the sword, and swung it at him. Delita's dagger rolled the sword out of Lesalia's grip. Like lightening Delita sprung up, put his arm around her neck, twisted her back to him, and pressed up against her.
"I'm sorry I must do this," Delita whispered into her ear, "you made an unwise decision." Then Lesalia made gasping noises as Delita slowly pressed the knife as far as it could go into her side. Delita let go and shoved her to the floor. After glancing at Orinas he ordered, "I have nothing to say to Orinas, take them away." One of his advisors asked him what was to be done with the prisoner. "He'll be executed for his crimes," answered Delita.
"A good idea," was the advisor's reply.
"Leave me now," Delita commanded. Once he was alone, Delita wondered how Orinas and Agrias, for he distinctly remembered seeing her, were still alive after all this time. At least now he could finaly correct the problem of Orinas.
Asuglav had returned to his sect in record time and the first thing he did was to send more men to slow down Ramza, (and Olan if he had managed to survive his attack). Ramza's sudden reappearance had shocked Asuglav, though he did not let it show, and now time was no longer on his side. Forced to speed up his plans he called in one of his followers.
"I am at your command, my savior," the man said, kneeling.
"Get up. Do you remember what I was talking to you about earlier?" Asked Asuglav.
"You mean about that heretic and what happened at the church. Should I leave immeadiately?" the man inquired.
Asuglav gave the order, "Yes, you are a man of high standing in the Glabados Church, so you should be able to pass the information to the highest levels of its leadership. Then things will begin to change."
With luck I was able to get this in before the next update so that part 1 and 2 came at the same time. Part 3 is on the way. Things will start to get better from here on. See the end of part 1 for my policy on people useing my work.
Go To Part 3
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