Trials of the Valiant Chapter 3

By The RPGenius

Once she had arrived, Syldreth quickly made her way down the shaft that led to her quarters. Once she was inside, she was not surprised to see Duegran, her advisor. Duegran was, however, only advisor in name. He rarely gave very good advice, and Syldreth rarely listened to anyone's advice beyond her own. Duegran was more of an aide, really. He took care of minor matters and kept the troops together. Syldreth simply called him an advisor because she told him many plans, and he told her what he thought of them.

Duegran voiced his thoughts. "How goes it? Has the situation with those loud-mouthed buffoons changed at all?"

Syldreth gave a mirthless laugh. "Those fools are still in chaos over there. But that's good--it fits in with my plans perfectly."

Duegran was looking extremely nervous now. Obviously, he was about to ask a question.

Syldreth cut him off. "You're going to ask what, exactly, my plans are. Am I correct?"

Duegran looked a bit relieved that she hadn't thought the question rude. "It's just that you often refer to your plans, but you don't go into them. I was just curious."

"To be quite honest, I have a few plans in the works. Right now, the men I told you about are digging on Nelveska Isle, correct?"

"Yes, I put them on the project as soon as you told me to."

"Good. I hope to find something useful there. Getting back to my other plans, at the moment, I have a few objectives. Number one is to get a Zodiac Stone, preferably one that has not already transformed someone."

"But I thought all the Zodiac monsters were gone, now that Altima's gone?" Duegran asked, obviously confused.

"Not all are dead. Just the ones that Ramza killed. Even if one cannot be summoned, getting the stone is still important. Perhaps all twelve are in our possesion, we can again summon Altima. And even if we can't, we could still get those foolish followers out there to unquestioningly obey us. That is the second objective, getting them to do as I say. I believe a Zodiac Stone would frighten them into submission, or at least most of them."

"How will we get a stone? Ramza will surely hide some in safe places, and give the rest to people he deems trustworthy. Surely we cannot go after them...?"

"Don't worry about that. The Lord of Darkness always provides opportunity. Those stones have a habit of finding their way to the suitable bodies for them. I am sure someone here is suitable for a stone. Once a Zodiac monster has made it to this world, he will pull this rabble back together. We shall serve him as we served the others."

"It is not my place to ask, but is that the full extent of our operations? Just to do those two things?" Duegran asked.

"No. There is one more objective," Syldreth went on. "We must kill Ramza Beoulve. He is a descendant of the one to defeat Altima the first time, and he has defeated Altima recently himself. He must die for this, but he must die quickly. We must not allow him time to begin another line of descendants to cause trouble for us. His friends should die, too, for helping him, especially that traitorous demon, Byblos."

Duegran cleared his throat and dared to ask one more question. "Should we not also kill Alma Beoulve immediately? They are both of the same family tree--her descendants might also cause trouble."

Syldreth looked over at him, mildly surprised. She would not have expected him to have thought of that. Obviously, his hearing her tald must have been stimulating to his feeble strategic mind.

"We shall capture Alma after Ramza is dealt with. She was a suitable body for Altima before, she might still have her uses. However, it is imperative that we kill all of Ramza's allies. They might--no, will--try to rescue her if they live. Now, unless you have urgent news, I suggest you leave. Make sure all operations are in order."

As Duegran left, Syldreth set about sharpening her blades and throwing knives. So far, things were going well for her.

* * *

Dawn was breaking, and a beautiful sunrise was casting warmth upon the night-chilled world.

The beauty of the sunrise was totally lost upon Jacco Crun, who was busy feeding his many chocobos. Jacco Crun was known for his good farm and large supply of chocobos, which he sold to travellers. Somehow, his supply of chocobos never seemed to diminish.

This was mainly because all his chocobos had been trained to up and run back to the farm as soon as they got the chance. They were then given a treat, and waited to do it again. Jacco made most of his money 'selling' chocobos to people, and had never lost a chocobo yet.

Jacco Crun, instead of staring at the sunrise, was staring at the two small chocobo figures approaching. Good, Booc and Opena were back. He'd give them a Grysahl green each, and sell them again as soon as another traveller came around.

Once the chocobos had arrived, Jacco noticed that Booc had something in it's beak. Another trick Jacco had taught his chocobos was to secretly take something valuable, or at least useful, from the people riding them.

The chocobo dropped a small, purple stone into Jacco's palm. Jacco was pleased. This, certainly, was quite valuable. Jacco rewarded Booc with a Sylkis green, a rare treat for chocobos, and went into his home. After thinking a little while, Jacco decided to put the small stone in a locked chest. He wouldn't sell it, not until he'd asked a jeweler its actual cost.

Jacco chuckled, pleased with himself.

* * *

Boco was having a terrific dream. He was busy eating a pile of greens bigger than a house. Unfortunately, since it was a dream, he couldn't actually taste them. But at least he could smell them. Wait a minute...

Boco's eyes snapped open. Grysahl greens--Mimett greens--Reagen greens--he could smell them all--where?!--over there--no wait--over a little more--Yes! He saw a large pot with them all in!

"Oh, so you're finally up, Boco?" asked Master Ramza. "You were right, Agrias, as soon as he smelled those greens cooking, he woke up."

Master Ramza looked over at Mistress Alma, who had been cooking the delicious greens. "You know, Alma, usually I just feed him some raw greens for breakfast, and he likes them well enough then. You didn't have to create a stew of them."

Mistress Alma looked up from stirring the stew. "Well, I imagine he'll like a change of taste. After all, everything can get boring after a while. You're just unhappy because I'm making his breakfast before ours."

Mistress Alma called her creation Choco stew. If there had been anything about Mistress Alma that he hadn't liked, all was forgotten the instant Boco tried the stew. It was delicious.

Though he knew she couldn't understand him, Boco gave several warks of grattitude to Mistress Alma, who looked pleased.

"See, Ramza, he likes it. You can tell."

Boco was astounded. Perhaps humans were smarter than they seemed. Obviously, while she didn't understand the language, Mistress Alma could understand the basic emotional meaning of his talk.

Once Boco had finished his meal, he looked around for a source of entertainment while the others were eating. He decided to go look at those nice, shiny things Master Ramza kept. What were they called? Oh, yeah, 'Zodiac Stones'. He walked over to the bag containing them.

Upon examining the bag's contents, Boco was surprised to see that one was missing. That nice purple one, 'Cancer', wasn't there. Master Ramza seemed to think that these rocks were really important. Boco considered letting him know that one was missing, but decided against it. Master Ramza took careful care of those things, so he probably already knew.

Boco checked back on his human friends. Good, they were finally ready to go. After Mistress Alma had safely gotten on his back, the four set out for Goug Machine City to see their friends again.


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