Trials of the Valiant Chapter 12

By The RPGenius

Syldreth was busy sharpening her knives when Duegran entered her chambers.  Without looking up, she asked, "Well?"

Duegran happily informed her of the news.  "Our men managed to attack Alma, which will make Ramza uncomfortable.  In addition, his friends, Rafa and Malak, got attacked as well.  None of Ramza's group was killed."

Syldreth allowed herself a small, evil smile.  "Excellent.  Everything is working perfectly."  Hastily, she put Cancer into Worker 9, providing the robot with a power source.  "Then it is time to move the troops.  You know what to do."

Duegran bowed and left.  Syldreth sat and reflected on how well things were going.  Soon, Ramza would get his just rewards for defying Lucavi.  Syldreth's original ambitions to do the task of slaying Ramza and receive praise from Lucavi were small ambitions now.  Before, she had wanted nothing more than the honor of becoming an Ultima Demon, as Celia and Lede had received for such faithful assistance to Elmdore.  Now, though, Syldreth had the honor of being a Zodiac Monster, one of the strongest of all Lucavi's minions!  All she had to do was to kill Ramza, and then nothing could stop Lucavi's forces from taking this world someday!

*   *   *

Ramza had woken up early.  He wanted to find out about the men who had attacked Rafa, Malak, and Alma, but he knew that to do so, he couldn't go around in a large crowd.  Thus the necessity to go before anyone else woke up.

As Ramza got ready to leave, a voice behind him startled Ramza.  "Finally!  I thought you'd never get up.  Come on."

Ramza turned to see Malak.  "Malak!  Don't do that!  And why are you awake?"

"The same reason as you.  You planned to get up before everyone else and go down to the bar to see if anyone there knows something about these recent attacks, right?"

"How'd you know?" Ramza asked.

"Easy, I was planning the same thing.  Now come on.  We'd better go before anyone else gets up."

*   *   *

The usual bartender had come down with a nasty illness, so his assistant was left to oversee the bar while he was out.  The assistant was delighted to be in charge.

It was pretty early in the morning, but there were already quite a few citizens of Goug hanging about the tavern.

As the assistant wiped the tables, two men walked in.  The assistant recognized one as the milk drinker: the dangerous-looking man who always ordered milk.  The other man was a colored man.  The assistant went over to serve the milk guy.

"Milk, right?" the assistant asked, sliding a glass of milk to the man.  The colored man said, "I'd like some ale, please."

The assistant sneered.  "You want something to drink, you'll need to go out to a chocobo trough, boy!"

Suddenly, he found himself staring at the tip of the milk guy's sword.  Calmly but angrily, he spoke.  "I believe my friend just asked for a drink, bigot.  I suggest you give it to him.  Now."

Gulping, the assistant quickly did as he was told, then rushed over to wipe some tables at the other end of the bar.

*  *  *

Malak watched the racist scurry over to some tables.  Malak sat and drank his ale with a disgusted look on his face.  Bigots.  The world was infested with them.  He and Rafa had been fired by one, leading them to come back to Goug, and here was another one.

Malak turned to Ramza angrily.  "I could have defended myself, Ramza.  There was no reason for you to intervene."

Ramza calmly took a drink as he examined propositions posted on the wall.  "I know you could have, Malak, but I wanted to.  I thought it might be good for him to see a white person defending your rights.  Don't worry, next time he's yours."

Malak's anger faded.  "Thanks."

"Don't mention it."

Malak finished his ale, and was about to go ask people about the gang of cons that had attacked he and his sister when Ramza stopped him.  "Look up there, at that proposition."

Malak followed his gaze and read:

    Gangs of killers have been wandering the streets, killing nobles and commoners alike.  This must stop.  We are organizing a group to storm a hideout of one of these gangs.  Please join.

"Think they're talking about the same guys who ambushed you, Rafa, and Alma?" Ramza asked.

"Probably.  You and Vantan already took one gang of thieves out, how many others can there be?  Come on, let's go back and tell everyone," Malak answered.

They got up, paid for their drinks, and left.

*  *  *

Mustadio, for once, had gotten a good night's sleep.  Although he had been woken much earlier than planned (thanks to Boco's strict breakfast schedule), he was pretty pleased.  Soon, Ramza would come back, and Mustadio could show off his best invention to date.

He began to make breakfast for everyone.  They'd soon be up, if they weren't already, and would want food.  His dad still wasn't going to be back for a while, so someone had to feed everyone.

As Mustadio had predicted, everyone was soon up and at the table.  Agrias was the last to enter.

"Where's Ramza?" she asked.

Mustadio shrugged.  "I suppose he went to find some information, like he said he would last night."

"And he went alone?" Agrias asked angrily.

"Well, I think Malak went with him.  Why does it matter?" Mustadio asked.

Agrias scowled.  "He should know better than to go out alone.  He attracts trouble like a magnet!  He should have taken us with him."

Vantan frowned.  "I am sure that he is quite capable of defending himself, from the fact that he has eluded the attempts of royalty, outlaws, the church, and even monsters to kill him."

"Don't worry so much," Meliadoul added.

Still scowling, Agrias sat down.  "I'm not worried!  I'm just being realistic.  With the price on his head, he shouldn't be gallivanting around town alone."

Mustadio finished making breakfast and brought everyone their food.

They all stared at it for a minute.  Meliadoul spoke up.  "Uh, Mustadio, what exactly is this?"

Mustadio looked at her, puzzled.  "Toast and fried eggs.  Why?"

Vantan prodded his portion while addressing the engineer.  "Forgive me, sir, but are you quite sure that this concoction is edible?  It fails to resemble any toast or eggs I have yet seen."

Mustadio was annoyed.  "Oh, come on, it's not that bad!  Look, Byblos likes it!"

Indeed, the demon was hastily devouring his portion.

Agrias pointed out the flaw in his logic.  "Yes, Mustadio, but Byblos enjoys devouring pretty much anything, from Morbols to Mindflares.  If you're so confident, why don't you try it?"

"Fine!  I will!"  With that, Mustadio took a bite, chewed, and swallowed.  And turned slightly greenish.  He quickly got up, gathered all the plates, and set them down in front of Byblos.  He then hastily excused himself.

*   *   *

Ramza and Malak entered Mustadio's house.  It looked like everyone besides Byblos was done with breakfast, so Ramza wasted no time in telling them what to do.

"Everyone, at noon we will be assembling at Zigolis Swamp to join a band to defeat our new enemies.  Everyone but Rafa will be going.  I've made arrangements with the doctor so that he will come by every now and then to check on her.  So, I want you all ready to move out in half an hour!"

As everyone went to get their weapons, armor, and other traveling gear, Mustadio approached Ramza.  "Hey, Ramza, glad you're back.  Come on."

Mustadio led Ramza over to Worker 8.  Opening a small compartment in the robot's chest, Mustadio attached a small device to a wire inside.

He stepped away and said, "There!  After countless hours of research on ancient devices and the Worker-series anatomy, I've created a device to allow Worker 8 to make his own decisions!  He'll actually act like a person.  Watch!"

Ramza watched.  And watched.  After several silent minutes, Mustadio kicked the robot.

"Darn it, why doesn't it work!?  My calculations were perfect!" Mustadio whined.

"Well, maybe it needs a little time," suggested Ramza, attempting to cheer his friend up.

"Yeah.  Maybe," Mustadio said dejectedly.


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