How Many?

By The RPGenius

A gentle breeze swept over a grassy meadow. The grass parted in waves, the wild flowers swayed, and the many insects performing their essential life duties on these flowers scrambled to gain better footing. Secluded from the world of humanity and its chaos, nature gently carried out its own spring activities in peace.

But secluded as this grassy field was from humans, it was still not totally isolated. A man sat upon the soft earth there and watched all that occurred.

He was an elderly man, past his prime in life but with still many years to come. He wore a suit of armor, and by his side lay an old, but rust-less blade. His hair had only begun to fall out, and a few strands of it still retained their original blonde coloring. He had a wrinkle and scar-ridden face, the telling results of many hard battles. His eyes were still bright, but no longer held the spirit and enthusiasm they once had. Now these bright eyes were haunted. They watched the beautiful day, but did not seem to pay attention to it at all.


The man’s eyes came back into focus and he turned his head to see who had hailed him. A woman around his age was approaching him from behind. Her hair was long and gray, ending around the midsection of her armor, where a beautiful sword hung without a sheathe. Her eyes probed the man with a cool fire in them.

Ramza smiled briefly as he greeted her. “Agrias.”

“You’re wearing armor. And why do you have your sword?” she questioned.

He smiled wryly. “What about you?”

Agrias strode over and sat down while replying, “I don’t feel right without my armor and sword when I leave home, even for a short time. You know that. But it’s not usual for you to go about in battle gear.”

Ramza turned his gaze once more to the horizon. “It helps me to remember.”

There was silence for a few minutes until Ramza asked, “Do you ever see them?”

“Who?” his aged companion asked.

“The faces. I see them sometimes when I sleep, or when I think deeply. Dozens of nameless faces. They’ve all been long forgotten by the world…because I removed them from it.”

He turned his head and looked directly at her. “Do you ever see the faces of those that you’ve killed in battle?”

Agrias nodded after a moment. “Sometimes. Sometimes I have nightmares about them, too.”

Ramza returned his gaze to the plains before him. “All the people whose blood I have shed…I see them all. Miluda…Zalmo…my own brother, Zalbag. And so many…so, so many more men and women whom the world never got to know because of me. What chould they have become? Who did I kill? I never got to know. Did I murder doctors, carpenters, grocers each time I struck down a soldier pressed into service?”

Ramza’s voice was shaky as he continued. “Did Zalmo deserve to die for following a religion that he truly believed in? Did the soldiers who deserted the Nanten, the people whom I slaughtered on Grog Hill, deserve to die? They didn’t want to fight any longer. They only wished to live their lives in peace, away from war. And I destroyed them.”

“They attacked you, Ramza,” Agrias stated softly. “They were willing to kill to save their own necks. You had no choice.”

“How many?” Ramza continued as if he had not heard her. “How many widows did I make? How many loves did I end? How many sons and daughters did I steal from mothers? How many people did I rob the world of?”

Agrias’s reply was cut off as Ramza continued brokenly. “You killed, but it was on someone else’s orders. My orders. It was I that lead us into battle. It was my decisions that killed.”

A tear ran down the old man’s worn cheek. “How many died at the hand of my decisions? It was my decisions that led you to fight and kill. Every death caused by you, by Mustadio, by Rafa, by Orlandu…by everyone…is my fault.”

“We followed you through our own choice, Ramza,” Agrias told him.

Again, her words did not seem to reach Ramza. “So many died because of me,” he went on in a choked voice. “When I killed Miluda, I didn’t just kill her. I set Wiegraf up to join the church from the moment my blade penetrated her armor. Because of me, he joined the church and later became Velius. If I hadn’t killed Miluda…if I hadn’t made the decision…would Simon still live? How many soldiers died at Riovanes because I gave Wiegraf the opportunity to become Velius?”

Agrias tried to reason with him. “Wiegraf freely and voluntarily traded his beliefs and soul to Lucavi, Ramza. You never forced him to do that.”

“And what about the ones that I should have killed?” Ramza went on, nearly unable to continue. “I saved Algus. Thanks to my foolish pity for him, Teta died from his arrow. Teta died, and Delita turned into the manipulative monster that assumed the throne. And he killed hundreds to get there. All that death because of one wrong decision that I made.”

Tears were now steadily streaming down Ramza’s face. “You were with me when we passed through Yuguo Woods. You saw…the tortured ghosts there. The poor, tormented, restless souls of those who died…who died in the war…”

Ramza buried his head in his hands and sobbed.

“How many? How many souls did I add there?”

“Ramza, you saved countless lives! You prevented a horrible battle and saved the entire world from Altima!” Agrias burst out, trying to console the scarred veteran of countless battles.

But she knew it was of no use. The only consolation she could offer was her embrace. As she held his weeping form in her arms, she reflected sadly upon one fact…

A true leader cannot see his achievements…only his failures.

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