The Art of War Chapter 1

By Wiegraf Folles

*Note: Everytime you see a pound sign (#), look on the bottom of the page for a footnote.

It was almost noon in Gariland Magic City, though it was rather bleak, and pouring rain. Two figures sauntered down the street. The first was tall; a couple inches short of six feet, his brown mantle ending at his ankles. The other was nigh two inches shorter than the first, but was more solid, and well built. He wore a teal-green mantle, dragging behind his feet on the hard stone road. The street they walked down was paved with stone and concrete, houses and shops on either side. They said nothing, as the rain pattered about them, on their hoods and on their mantles. They stopped, and opened a door, and entered. A sign towering above the door, held by two chains, one on either side. The sign itself read "The Green Dragon Bar and Inn". The heavy wooden door slammed shut behind them.

The two figures walked inside the bar, and hung their hooded mantles on a nearby rack. Their faces were now visible, the taller man was blonde, with a lock of hair pinned to the rest of his head. The lock of hair itself was no longer than two inches. He carried a heavy looking sword at his side, and wore a suit of dark blue armour. The second man was shorter, but had broader shoulders, and was slightly heavier than the first man. He was dressed in the typical garb of the Squire, save for the hat, which was missing. At his side, he carried a katana with a blue hilt. They sat at the counter.

After nearly a minute, a bartender approached them. His expression was nearly as bleak as the weather that plagued the otherwise beautiful town.

"What can I get you?" He asked, with a sigh as he finished the sentence.

"I'll have some milk please." The man in the blue armour said. The Squire made a face of disgust.

"What did I tell you about drinking milk, Ramza?" The Squire asked.

"Ramza?" The bartender asked. "Ramza Beoulve?" His face was filled with shock.

His hand darted under the counter, unseen, withdrawing a Romanda Gun from an unseen holster. He didn't point it at either of them, but slid it into his apron, in case this truly was Ramza Beoulve.

"No." The blue armoured man replied, shaking his head. "My name is Ramza Ruglia."

The Squire leaned on the counter. "We'll have ales."

The bartender said nothing, and before Ramza could protest to Rad ordering his drink, the bartender was off pouring them from an old pitcher from another counter situated nigh eight feet in front of where Rad and Ramza were sitting.

"Why do you always do that, Rad?" Ramza said. He said it harshly, but it was half whispered. Rad didn't reply. Soon, the bartender returned with their drinks. "That's 200 gil." He said, not laying down their drinks on the counter.

"Okay." Rad said, digging in his pockets for money. He pulled out nearly a dozen coins, and counted them one by one. After he counted 200, he pulled out nearly half the coins, and gave it to the bartender.

"Thanks for your patronage." The bartender counted the coins, and slipped them into his pocket, and walked over to another customer.

Rad drank a good portion of his drink on the first sip, but Ramza took a small sip and made a bitter face. "How do you drink this stuff, Rad?"

"You're hopeless." He quickly returned to his drink. Ramza sniffed the drink, and placed it back on the counter. He stood up, and read some proposition posters on a wall nearby the counter, next to the rack which they hung their mantles on.

"Sturdy men needed to guard merchant caravan bound for Zeltennia." Ramza read aloud. "Three square meals a day, and three thousand gil to each of the men who make it to Zeltennia." He continued. Ramza turned to Rad. "How does this one sound?"

Before Rad could answer, four men entered the room. Rad's eyes darted to the bar entrance. Shrine Knights. He inspected them closer. One of them was a Knight, another was a Samurai, and the other two were Squires. They stood near the entrance, not ten feet from Ramza.

"Shrine Knights!" Rad cried, unsheathing his sword, which was the Masamune.

"Heretic Ramza!" The knight exclaimed. "Drop your weapon, and I shall spare you!"

Ramza turned, and dashed back like lightning. He unsheathed his Ragnarok.

"He wishes for us to carry out his execution now." The knight answered, reaching for his sword. "Then, we shall!"

The two Squires unsheathed their blades and dashed at Ramza. The first Squire swung wide, at neck level, hoping to hew the heretic's neck. Ramza ducked under the swing, and pointed his blade at the Squire's stomach. He punched up the Ragnarok, cleaving the Squire's mouth in two. Right up the middle. Blood spurted from his mouth, staining his own mail. After the first Squire was felled, Ramza turned, and found the blade of the second Squire falling unto him. It cut his sword-arm, causing him to drop his sword. Smiling, he held up his sword again, hoping to finish the heretic, by order of his master. The Squire struck down. Ramza closed his eyes, and heard a clanging sound. There Rad was, defending Ramza from that fatal blow.

"Strike then, so I can kill you." Rad said again, his face became stern, and his eyes became that of a killer's. For that was his swordstyle, the Teleris. (#1)

The Squire was shocked. "You'll never kill me!", He said to his adversary. He dashed at Rad, attempting a downward slash. Rad read his attack, and sidestepped to the left, slashing up the Squire's chest. The Squire screamed, and was felled as well.

"Who are you?" The knight demanded. "This is not your affair! Stand down, or you will be charged with defending Ramza Beoulve, heretic!"

"Do what you will; but I will hinder it, if I may." Rad said.

"You defy us?" The samurai asked.

"Hinder me?" The knight asked. "Thou fool! No brigand can slay me!"

"He is Rad." The samurai said. "Gafgarion's former right hand. I met him once in Goug."

"Then you are a heretic as well!" The knight said. "How fortuitous! Slay them, Devonian!"

The samurai stepped up. He unsheathed his katana, and unlike other samurai, held a shield in his other hand. "To the death." He said.

Ramza was standing now, clutching his arm. With his left hand, he held the Ragnarok. The bartender slowly reached into his apron, revealing a weapon from a northern land. It had cost quite a lot of gil, but was worth it in times like these.

"Freeze!" The bartender cried. "None of you move!"

The knight smiled. "Thank you." He said, "You have aided in the capture of two of Ivalice's, nay, Arda's (#2) most dangerous criminals.

"No!" The bartender cried again. "I don't want you moving either, unless you want a bullet in your head!!"

The knight sighed. "Slay him as well, Devonian."

The samurai nodded. We trotted over to the bartender's position.

"D-Don't move!" He cried. "I'll fire!" His grip on the pistol was shaky, and his palms were sweaty. He slowly squinted his right eye, using his left to aim. The bartender slowly squeezed the trigger. A .52 bullet twirled out of the gun's barrel and at the samurai. There was a loud sound of two swords clanging, and the samurai grunting, and fell to the ground.

With reassured confidence, the bartender pointed the gun at the knight. "Put down your sword!" He screamed. "Get the hell out!"

"Enough of this," shouted the samurai, his face now compressed and angry. He stood up, and showed the bartender his blade. The divider of the blade and the hilt was cracked and crumbled. But there was a bullet inside. The bullet that the bartender had just fired. Slowly, the divider crumbled apart. The bartender shocked, took aim again. But before he could fire...

"Muramasa!" The samurai tossed up his red sword and caught it with both hands, shaking a bit as he tried to restrain the force within the katana. A bright red light exploded the vicinity with a shower of images of blood and death.

"Don't look at it!" said Ramza, dashing up the bar to help Rad. Rad shielded her eyes with his arm and knelt down. It was common knowledge that looking at ghost-spirits would condemn you to gradual death.

The bartender fazed into the images of blood and death. Horrified, his jaw dropped. Wraiths, forming all around him, dove into him, extracting a blue body. It was an exact copy of the bartender. A soul. The soul desperatley tried to fight it's way back into it's body, but to no avail. The wraiths consumed the spirit. Slowly, the body of the bartender staggered, and grew blue. His vision began to daze. He fell to the floor, dead.

The samurai closed the gateway in his sword and was thrown back from the recoil into the knight. They were thrown out of the heavy doors, which was no more than eight feet away. They then slid along the muddy road. The knight stood up and was scanning his two enemies for weakpoints. The samurai clambored out of the mud.

"Get them, you dolt!" The knight exclaimed with acute vehemency, half out of being mocked and half out of being pushed into the mud. He reached for his sword, which was also caked with mud, and dove at Ramza in a half-blind attack He smiled. The foolish heretic would never see his bane.

The knight tackled Ramza to the floor, but both rose to their feet in a second. Their blades met, and they both delivered all of their weight into their blade, in an attemt to push the other back. Ramza's right arm was wounded, allowing the knight to easily push him back As Ramza staggered back, he dropped his sword. The knight attempted to clove of Ramza's head with a neck level vertical slash. Ramza ducked unter the slash and punched the knight in the stomach. The knight grabbed Ramza's wrist, and flung him to the ground. The knight stoof over him, and thrusted his sword at Ramza, attempting to end it quickly. Ramza rolled on his side, dodging the strike, though the strike injured his right arm even more. He then rolled on his back and kicked the knight in the leg. When the knight's leg instinctively went to his leg, Ramza unsheathed his dagger and plunged it into the thy of the knight. He shrieked in pain, and Ramza quickly siezed the moment and rose to his feet, picking up his sword. He tried to attack the back of the knight's knee, which would immobilize him. But th eknight parried the attack, luring he and Ramza into a flurry of lightning quick slashes. This seemed to drag on forever, until finally, Ramza lunged the Ragnarok into the knight's chest.

The knight looked down at his wound, and looked back up at Ramza, his lips quivering in pain. "Touche, Beoulve. But you are too late. Your friends a the abandoned shelter are dead."

Ramza's eyes widened in disbelief. "What?!" He quickly withdrew his sword, letting the knight fall to the ground, dead. He glanced over at Rad, who had just performed a fatal blow down the Samurai's back. Ramza knelt down, and unsheathed his knife out of the knight's leg, and tore off a piece of his cape, and used it to bandage his wound. "Rad! We have to hurry! They've attacked the shelter!"

Rad's jaw dropped. He reached into a pouch at his belt, and withdrew a towel, and used it to wipe his blade before sheathing his sword. They dashed for the exit, grabbing their mantles before dashing down the muddy road. At the outskirts of town, the found the shelter. Oftentimes used for war, it closely resembled the Thieve's Fort, but was slightly more grand, since it wasn't too far from the Gariland Magic Academy.

Rad dashed up the ramp, and glanced into the mountain door. Three dead bodies. Comet, Ponapalt, and Zack. Comet and Zack were killed by swords, which was obvious, and Ponapalt was riddeled with arrows.

Ramza stood behind Rad, and placed his hand on his's shoulder. "Are they ... ?" Ramza began.

"Yes." Rad said, cutting Ramza off. "They are. But Alma is..."

"Is ... Alma ...? Ramza asked, wide eyed and extremely worried

"Missing." Rad finished, much to Ramza's relief. "She might be off in town, somewhere.

"Well, she's probably not dead," Ramza said. "But, where is she, then?"

They heard someone guffaw. "I'll tell you..."

Ramza turned about face in less than a second. "Who are you?" Ramza demanded "And where is Alma?"

"I am Dante Reinhart (#3), mercenary for the Church, and your bane." He answered. "As for your sister ..." He paused for a second. "I think that it would be better for you to see rather than me telling you." He whistled, and three knights walked forward, so Rad and Ramza could see them. A monk was holding Alma.

"Brother!" She shrieked in terror.

"Damn ..... more Shrine Knights" Rad thought. He began to panic.

"Take her away." Reinhart said with a smile. The monk punched Alma in the stomach, knocking her out. Then, he picked her up, and began to ride off.

"Ramza." He continued, "You will fight me."

"He must be pretty good." Rad whispered to Ramza. "He managed to finish off the others."

"And you shall be joining them soon." There was a weak hint of an accent, possibly Romandan in Reinhart's voice. "You have a large bounty on your head." He continued. "And I've come to collect!" He signaled for his men to attack. The knights drew their blades, and carefully approached Ramza and Rad. A female archer standing a few yards behind them readied her bow.

"Return Alma, or I'll show no mercy!" Ramza shouted.

"Yes, become angry, Beoulve!" Dante remarked. "For that is all you can do!"

Two knights attacked Ramza simultaneously. The first, Fordham, swung wide, at Ramza's chest. Ramza was taken off guard by the astonishing speed of the knight, and was struck across the chest. Only the finely forged armour from Riovanes Castle saved him. The second knight, Edward, attempted a thrusting attack, which Ramza sidestepped. Fordham then struck downwards, hit Ramza in the shoulder, shattering the shoulderguard of the armour. Siezing the one critical second after the attack, Ramza spun full circle, gaining more momentum, then, with his right hand, swung the Ragnarok wide. Fordham was disoriented for a split second, but quickly regained his senses. Edward raised his sword above his head, and went for Ramza's head, hoping to crack his skull with one correctly placed attack. Ramza, seeing an opening, gripped his Ragnarok with both hands. He then swiped his sword across the right side of Edwards stomach, fatally wounding him. Edward slumped to the ground, where his sword was picked up by Ramza. Fordham, angerd by his comrade's murder, attacked his advesary recklessly. Ramza easily parried the attack with the Ragnarok, spun half circe, so his back faced Fordham's front. He jabbed Edward's sword into the left ride of Fordham's stomach, and then stabbed him on the right side of the stomach with both Edward's sword and the Ragnarok. Fordham slumped unto Ramza's back, blood seeping out of his wounds and unto Ramza's armour. And arrow twanged. Shaking Fordham off, he barely managed to dodge it.

"Don't move!" The archer, named Tanya cried. "Or the next one will kill you!"

"The next shot?" Ramza replied. "But you were planing on killing me with that shot, weren't you? Your skill with a bow is not enough to kill me."

Tanya's eyes widened with disbelief. Many beads of sweat rolled down her face. She stretched the bowstring past her ear, and twanged it.

"Ignore vanity, and face reality...Ultima!" Ramza chanted methodically, focusing his energy unto the archer, she was soon engulfed by pure energy. She tried to shield her face with her hands, but it didn't matter. When the blast subsided, al that was left of her was a scorching corpse.

One of the Knights lunged at Rad, striking upwards. Rad ducked under the attack, and pointed the sharp side of the Masamune upwards, at the knight's chin. He punched the sword up, cleaving the knight's chin in two. He staggered back, and finally recovering, dashed back at Rad again, this time slashing like a madman.

"Don't be foolish!" Rad cried, dodging his strikes. "I could've killed you nine times by now!"

The knight grunted. "How could this be?" He thought. "I can't even hit him!" Finally, the knight focused all of his force into a vicious downward slash. Rad stretched his arms out as a futile attempt to avoid the attack, and dashed back. The knight's attack missed, and he was still recovering from the blow. Rad struck his sword down the neck of the knight, and he fell dead.

"Well, that was pretty easy." Rad said, sheathing the Masamune. "How you holding up, Ramza?" He asked just as Ramza cast the Ultima spell, which slew Tanya.

"I've been better..." Looking at his broken armour.

"It's not over yet!!" Dante said, drawing a Defender, and clutched it with both hands. He dashed forward, and swung at Rad. It was obvious that he was skilled with a sword. Rad drew the Masamune and at the last possible second, he executed a skillful parry. He slashed at Rad again. This time, Rad dodged the attack, and thrust his katana up, towards Reinhart's chest. Reinhart twirled full circle, dodging the attack, and adding force to his attack, which was about to strike Rad in the neck. Ramza dashed foward, and parried the attack for Rad.

Dante made a face of disgust. He took several steps back. "A stitch in time binds your soul to the hells! Shadow Stitch!" A black cloud floated about Ramza for a short moment, and blew away like mist. Ramza stood frozen. Rad carefully examined Ramza's face, and even waved his hand inches away from Ramza's face. Ramza was somehow frozen. Rad, suddenly Dante's status as a realizing his peril, slowly turned and faced Dante. He would have to fight this enemy on his own.

"You dare challenge Dante, Royal Knight (#4)?" Dante taunted. "Do you honestly think that you can beat me, boy?"

Rad didn't answer. He quickly unsheathed his sword, and held it in a thrusting position, using where his left hand's thumb and pointer finger meet to aim. He aimed the tip of his sword of Dante's chest.

"Ha!" Dante laughed. "I will kill you in less than one cigarette's time."

"I'm going to regret this..." Rad told himself. He dashed foward, nimble and quick. Dante didn't move until Rad was within four feet of him. Rad thrusted, which Dante easily sidestepped.

"Demi!" Dante cried, and finally swung his sword, aiming it at Rad, who was still recovering from the missed thrust.

Rad's surroundings began to turn black, and compressed itself. The gravity around him increased, double, three times, tenfold. It began to crush his body. Rad screamed in agony as his body was being smashed under the increased gravity of Dante's spell. After what seemed like hours, the spell finally wore off.

Rad dropped to the ground, inhaling and exhaling deeply. He slowly attempted to stand up, but Dante's boot slammed on Rad's neck. He tried to lift the boot up, but soon Dante pointed the tip of his blade at Rad's face.

"Cuio i Pherian Annen." Dante said in the tongue of some archaic language, long forgotten. The spell on Ramza was broken. He fell to the ground, gasping.

"Ha! You can't even fall down fast enough!" Dante laughed out loud."Your sister is being held at Bervania." He laughed haughtily. Then he vanished in a flash of light.

Ramza looked up, many beads of sweat rolling down his face. "What happened?" He asked himself. "I couldn't breathe..."

"Some kind of enchantment." Rad said, barely able to stand.

"We have to warn the others." Ramza said standing up. "We'll meet at Orbonne in a week."


End of Chapter 1




1. Telaris: Rad's swordstyle. Means "Delayed Kill" in Tolkein's Sindarian Elvish. It basically involves dodging attacks, then using the small window of time they use to recover, and deliver a fatal blow. Useless against more poweruful enemies, though, as they will use wide attacks that cannot be dodged, and if they are dodged or blocked, they would be wise enough to use attacks that leave the smallest window of time open to counter.


2: Arda: Well, in the Lord of the Rings, Middle Earth is only one continent, I think that the panet is called Arda. So I just decided to call the planet that Final Fantasy Tactics takes place on Arda. There's Romanda, north of Ivalice, across the Sundering Seas, Ordallia, east of Ivalice, across the harrowing Germinas Mountains, Beleraind, west of Ivalice, across the Endless Ocean, and Avalon, inbetween both Beleraind and Ordalia, though nigh 500 miles from either of them. *forced laughter* I'm such a geek...


3. Dante Reinhart's Profile:
Age: 33 // Zodiac Sign: Taurus // Height: 6' 2" // Lbs: 226

A soldier from Romanda. During the 50 Year War, all of his siblings were killed in the Siege of Ft. Zeakden. Feeling that the Romandan goverment had betrayed him, he became an anarchist. When his group was exterminated, he managed to escape to Ivalice. His group's slaughter made him hate the goverment even more. His anti-goverment sentiments matched that of the church, and he is now one of the Church's top Shrine Knights. However, he doesn't always fully follow all of his orders, so though he has attained the rank of knighthood in Ivalice, he is considered more of a mercenary than anything else.


4. Royal Knight: Dante's job class. A class similar to Beowulf's class, except that they control Time Magic.

Wiegraf Folles' Fanfiction