The Heat of War
As I stared straight ahead on Chocobo-back on the road from Gallione to Lesalia, through nature’s workmanship, all I could see beyond was the Lion War; our war against Prince Druksmald Goltana and the war to determine whether now-infant Prince Orinas or young Princess Ovelia shall take the reigns of Ivalice into the next millennium. Though we fight for Orinas, our enemy fights just as gallantly for Ovelia and not one of us will give up easily. That’s precisely why I’m headed to our stronghold in Lesalia, what the royal family once called home, presided over by my younger brother, General Zalbag; our father’s successor as the undefeated leader of the Hokuten Knights.
There isn’t a soul in Ivalice who could hold that position better, stronger, or any nobler than my younger brother of 9 years. No one else can lead our great Hokuten Knights better than he, not even me. Our father knew that, hence why he insisted Zalbag take leadership after he no longer could. Before I go any further on the subject of my noble father, all I will say is that what had already happened had to be done.
I dare not leave Igros Castle alone in this age of war! I accompany myself with a small band of aged, skilled, and battle-literate noblemen. Five heavily-armored Knights donning the finest equipment money can buy, as the senior Knight is a warrior I have known for the better part of a decade and I know he has gathered the best of the best to fight to the death with him. With the 5 greatest knights in the land, I also am accompanied by a well-schooled White Mage. She’s younger than the rest at 25, but she has a great knowledge of Black Magic, much like yours truly. With this party I am perfectly safe in the open, but my personal thoughts now are interrupted by a roadblock…
Dycedarg Beoulve halted his small Hokuten party of 5 Knights and a Priest, well-schooled in Black Magic along with her trade, in the middle of Sweegy Woods at the sight of a green-clad Squire at a small campfire with a very attractive Dancer. “Stay here, I’ll be right back.” Dycedarg said as he dismounted his Chocobo and walked towards the couple. As the magic fencer approached the two, the squire stood up and took a bow. “L…Lord Dycedarg! W-wha-what…why? No…what brings you here?”
Dycedarg cockily smirked at the confused man and replied, “Relax!” A sarcastic tone appeared in his voice as he said, “You don’t have to get nervous around little old me-e!”
Squire: “I-I’m sorry sir. It’s just I…I”
Dycedarg: “Talk to me like you talk to your best friend, stranger.”
Squire: “Thank you, Lord.” *clears throat* “What brings you and your party in this part of the land?”
Dycedarg felt it was time to have some fun. “Shut up you worthless commoner!!” As he said this, the Squire was visibly shaken and confused to the point of paralysis. “If you say another word or make one slight move, your head will decorate my mantle!” The Squire remained in his state as Dycedarg approached the frightened woman. “Come here,” this time, speaking softly “I won’t hurt you…” Dycedarg turned to the Squire, “HEY! Turn around!” As the shaken Squire turned to see him with his arms around his fiancée, Dycedarg imposed his dominance and fed his ego as he planted a big wet tongue-in kiss on her while she ooooooood helplessly.
The Squire answered with, “You bastard!” as anger and rage overruled formality and social standards. The Lune Knight smiled as he did it again, this time with the Squire charging. His experience helped him see the Squire charging at him out of the corner of his eye, and Dycedarg quickly threw the Dancer in front of the tackling Squire and she went down hard to the floor. The Beoulve elder then looked at the guilt-stricken man in shock. “How could you do this to a woman?! She’s small compared to you. You’re nothing but an overzealous bully!” The Squire was irritated that a powerful nobleman would be this dastardly, but he expected it out of the noble class. The Squire drew his sword and challenged Dycedarg to a battle. “Please…” was his cocky answer to the challenge. Then, Dycedarg walked towards his Chocobo.
The Squire couldn’t bring himself to strike him from behind. “Turn around you Hokuten bastard! All you nobles are alike! Turn around!!” He ignored the commoner until he mounted his Chocobo and the party moved closer. Dycedarg: “Stand aside while we pass!”
Squire: “Get off your Chocobo and fight me!”
Dycedarg: “I’ll give you two options, hothead. Challenge me to a fight, thus challenging all 7 of us, or you can step to the side of the road and nothing would have happened between us.”
Squire: “….” The Squire thought better of the situation he was in and chose the second option.
Tears filled his eyes as he headed towards his wounded, yet still living fiancée. As the Hokuten passed through, Dycedarg’s Priest threw a Hi-Potion at the couple as she felt sorry for them and grew un-spoken disdain for her commander.
Upon leaving Sweegy Woods, the Hokuten party stopped at Dorter Trade City. Hearing about the Zodiac Brave Story and the legendary Zodiac Stones at the Dorter bar perked Duke Dycedarg’s interest. Of course he had heard the stories, but he wasn’t a firm believer in Glabados teachings as Zalbag is, but the story of the Zodiac Stones interested him. “So no one has any concrete proof that the Zodiac stones exist today?” he asked the bar owner.
“Nope. Anybody that claims to have any idea as to where to find one or claims to have one is crazy anyway.” They both laughed as he drank his expensive beer. “But lately…” the bar owner continued, “There have been a lot of stories about them since the rumored appearance of a monster in Lionel Castle came about after the Cardinal’s death. It’s been said he had a Zodiac stone and turned into a vicious monster with its power.”
“Who would make up such a ludicrous story?” Dycedarg asked.
“Actually, your brother Ramza told a heresy examiner sent by the church just a few days ago.”
Dycedarg immediately corrected him, “Half-brother!”
“You do know that Ramza is wanted by the church for the Cardinal’s murder, right?”
“Of course I do!”
Indeed, Dycedarg knew about Ramza’s charge for Cardinal Draclau’s murder. He was none to happy either and he made an official statement concerning the matter when he was first asked his thoughts and his statement protected his status with his brother. “It’s like I told the people back at Igros, he left the Hokuten Knights after the destruction of Fort Zeakdan and hasn’t made any contact since. He left the family and our relation is the only thing that we have in common. He will be brought to the church for judgment shall I ever see him again…”
After his conversation with the bar owner, the Duke of the White Lion flag finished his high-priced beer and left. They bought water and rations for their desert journey. His five Knights and Priest and he mounted their yellow Chocobos and headed north.
After long hours of traveling is when we usually agree to rest and this night at 'Death Desert' was no different. We made camp within the wilderness where we stopped and stayed at town inns so we’ll be well-rested for the long trip ahead. As per military custom, one soldier stayed on watch every two hours. However, when we made camp at Zeklaus Desert…
While journeying through the vast desert, fatigue weighed down upon the group. They saved what remains of their rations and water for the rest of the journey, but for now, they all agreed to make a campsite. One of the five Knights had first watch.
As they rested in the night, the Priest whispered to her commanding officer. “Milord. Duke, may I ask you a question?”
Duke Beoulve started to stir and replied, “What? What do you want?”
“Was it really necessary to bully those two like you did?”
“That couple back at Sweegy Woods. Why did you have to do that?”
“I’m just curious. I thought we were supposed to uphold justice and be righteous like your father was.”
“First off, I don’t have to explain a thing to you. Second of all, I’m not like Zalbag. We deserve the freedom to treat the lower class however we want. If they don’t like it, they’ll fight back and die anyway or be tried for assaulting a high-ranking official. It’s that simple. If you don’t like your service to me, feel free to go back home, but I assure you that you will be alone. Any more questions?”
“Just one. Do you actually enjoy being heartless towards innocent people?”
“Yes I do. Like I said before, if you choose to leave my service, we won’t help you back to Igros.”
Dycedarg had trouble sleeping, but definitely not because of what she said. He had a disturbing dream. The Capricorn Stone and a vision of a oooo-demon with a demonic voice haunted his mind. Ramza with madness in eyes, a sword in his right hand, and fury in his voice didn’t help him sleep any better, either.
Thus, Dycedarg agreed to take next watch.
During the watch, a clan of skeletons could be seen in the distance with two juravis in the night sky. With his group sleeping soundly and a need to ease his mind, he prepared for solo combat. He donned his Carabini Mail, Circlet, Power Wrist, and Platinum Sword. A Fire 3 spell obliterated the closely-tight pack of undead warriors and a Lightning Stab did away with one juravis while a Flare spell eliminated the other. When a Knight took watch, the Lune Knight slept like a baby until dawn hit.
It was strange. Dreams mean nothing to me, but if they do have a meaning, then this one did. It won’t really get to me until it starts to become a recurring dream. I know dream talks are not something Hokuten usually do, but I felt that I must share. The part of it that really got to me was seeing Ramza. He was furious and had a previously unseen rage in every sword strike. He doesn’t scare me one bit, but I don’t see why I’d see him like that in a dream. I think it would be best to ignore and forget it, especially now that we’re getting closer and closer to Lesalia.
Their trip through Goland Coal City was rather unfruitful as they were under attack by a band of thieves just when the Hokuten passed a tall building. They declared their hatred for the nobility as they threw everything they had against what they perceived as intruders. The surprise attack caught the Hokuten off-guard with the Chocobos that survived the onslaught fleeing for safety.
Chemists’ bullets, magic attacks, and an Archer’s arrows bombarded the trailing Hokuten party as they fell off their saddles and stood to fight just as the thieves’ raid stopped. Dycedarg walked in front of his party as his five Knights and Priest spread out in attack formation just as their 6 attackers emerged: two gun-equipped Chemists, one Archer, and 3 physically powerful Monks.
The three Monks headed the front while the Chemists and Archer stood on high ground. The Duke of the White Lion stood ground with a stern look on his face as his subordinates came from behind. The Priest cast a Protect spell on her commander, the apparent target of the ranged attackers. The three Knights subdued the 3 Monks while the other 2 came from opposite sides of the rangers.
The Priest was occupied by keeping her partners alive with Cure 3 spells whereas the Chemist threw Hi-Potions at their teammates in-between gun shots to the commanding Beoulve and the on-coming Knights, but the Knights were much more durable than they had anticipated.
After pure physical brawling, effective healing and maneuvering, the 3 Knights, with the Priest’s help, defeated the three Monks as the other 2 Knights successfully mounted the building archways. One Knight remained at the Archer’s blind spot underneath a ledge.
Dycedarg kept the 2 Chemists distracted as he moved in close to attack range. The three Knights healed themselves with Hi-Potions and the Priest’s aid before joining their commander.
When Dycedarg moved in close enough, he cast a Hell Cry Punch to obliterate one Chemist’s gun. Around this time, one Knight on one side of the building destroyed the other Chemist’s gun with a successful Weapon Break sword swing while the other Knight inhumanly leaped to the ledge to join the archer (Ignore Height) and struck serious blows, easily subduing the Archer leaving the two Chemists alone. The distraction provided by the Knights was enough for the Lune Knight and the Priest to deliver a powerful Flare and Holy spell to seriously injure the two Chemists. Two Knights came in for the kill, earning a clean-sweep victory for Dycedarg’s Hokuten party.
Their next stop is the capital of Ivalice, Lesalia Imperial Castle at the very heart of the land of Lesalia. It is here, that Dycedarg’s long journey reached its climax as he prepares to meet with brother Zalbag