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Carus Perussi

by Damien Valar

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With one final kick, Golagros propelled himself through the door. He slid across the floor, turning himself enough to grasp the heavy wooden door. He slammed it, and used the solid surface as a makeshift cane. Gripping the door's handle, Golagros slowly forced himself to a standing position, biting down on the wave of pain that took over his left side. As soon as he was up he clutched a hand to the source of that pain, gripping the shaft of the arrow tightly. Golagros tugged slightly, and was rewarded with an intense burst of pain. The arrow was barbed, designed to easily puncture flesh, and not to be removed.

"What else should I expect from a Noble?" The knight said dryly, leaning against the wall for support.

Glancing around, Golagros quickly located a torch, and snatched it from the iron cone in which it rested. He held the light above his head, as he made his way quickly across the raised vestibule that would lead him to the fort's main chamber. Golagros laughed aloud, with the sick realization that he sounded exactly like Wiegraf. Stumbling across the stone platform, Golagros thought back onto his first excursion into the Zeakdon Fort.

It hadn't always been like this. Back then, I was part of what I now despise. Of course, that was before I was betrayed...

Staring into the jumping flames of the torch, the once proud knight could feel the heat on his face, as his vision went white.

***

"You've nowhere to run Death Knight."

The cold wind whipped against Golagros' face, chilling his flesh. He stood fully erect on the walkway, his Defender blade pointed at the packed snow. The white cape he donned flared out behind him, blending well with the falling powder. His armor matched the cape, as the man was lined in white and gold, from his breastplate to his boots. He stared coldly at the leader of the Knights of Death, steady wind whipping his blonde hair across his forehead. Wiegraf smiled grimly back, his grip visibly tightening on the hilt of his longsword.

"Who said I was running?" The knight replied.

"Suit yourself." Golagros said, hefting his sword with both hands. "You die like a dog."

The two knights charged each other, blades clashing with sharp twang. Golagros advanced, thrusting toward the Death Knight's stomach. Wiegraf leapt back, slapping the point of the sword aside with his own weapon. Stepping inside of Wiegraf's guard, Golagros slammed an armored shoulder into the man's chest, knocking him roughly against the door to the fort. With a crack the heavy wooden door flew inward, the knight with it. Wiegraf recovered quickly, darting out of sight. Golagros was but a second behind, bounding into the entryway, and almost into the point of his enemy's blade. He twisted at the last moment, evading the attack by a hair. Wiegraf leapt back, holding his weapon at the ready.

"I have to say you're one of the finest swordsmen I've come across." He said with a smile, taking a few deep breaths.

Golagros simply held his sword, glaring at the traitor.

"What else should I expect from Balbanes' famous White Knight. The highest rank attainable by third class Aristocracy, correct?"

"Flattery will not save your life today, knave." Golagros said sternly, moving toward his opponent.

"I'm not afraid for my life White Knight. The nobles took most of it already." Wiegraf replied, moving into a defensive stance.

"Do not blame the more fortunate for your transgressions. You brought this about all by yourself."

"Don't be a fool. You've seen how it works. You're the prime example of it right now, in fact. You follow orders with little regard to the reason behind them."

"It is not my place to question my Lord." Golagros stated, preparing a charge.

"That is why it is my place to question you!" The Death Knight said, rotating his body ahead to strike.

Golagros parried the attack above his head, thrusting ahead with a smooth lunge. The Death Knight, to his credit, compensated quickly and sidestepped the killing strike. The lunge brought Golagros close to Wiegraf, who brought his weapon up high to attack. At this range, the White Knight knew better than to try and use his sword, and instead resorted to a more rudimentary tactic. He slammed his knee into the other man's stomach. Wiegraf had no time to defend himself, and barely enough to move his body with the blow. Even then, he lost his footing, and tumbled down the stairs of the vestibule. Golagros watched the Death Knight lose his sword, landing on his side and sliding across the stone floor.

Wiegraf struggled to stand, but it was obvious that in his current condition, he could not. So Golagros was in no hurry to descend the stairs. He took them one at a time, his armor clanging together as he made his way toward his foe, blade at the ready. By the time he had reached the bottom, the Death Knight had risen to his knees. He was put to his back with one relatively gentle kick from Golagros.

"Don't do this White Knight. You know what I'm doing has purpose. You of all people should appreciate what I'm doing!"

"Appreciate the slaughter of innocents?"

"The nobles are far from innocent! You know this!"

"Hold your tongue!" Golagros said, though his mind silently told him that the man was right.

Wiegraf reached for his blade, only to have a knee dropped firmly onto his arm, as Golagros bore down on him. The Death Knight didn't cry out, merely looked up at his opponent and bit down on the pain. Golagros raised his sword, aiming the point of the blade down at the man's throat. One thrust, and the Death Corps would be through. He would have finally completed the mission he had undertaken at the conclusion of the fifty—year war.

"Have you anything to say in your defense, Knight of Death?"

Wiegraf was expressionless. His eyes stared directly into Golagros', as he issued a small nod.

"Then out with it!"

"I know who took your love."

***

"My Lord, is there nothing you can do?"

"At this time, no. Our current resources being what they are, we simply don't have the men to send out a search party."

Dycedarg stood with his back to the Knight, staring up at a painting to keep from making eye contact. Golagros let his head drop, turning slightly away. The man's fists kept clenching of their own volition, testing every ounce of his patience. It had been two days already, and as of yet nobody had even bothered to look for her. As it was, it took all of the White Knight's control not to scream at Lord Beoulve. He would have to simply try to talk him into it, and if he failed, all would be lost.

"But Sir, it's only been two days. There is still a considerable chance we can retrieve her unharmed."

"My decision stands, White Knight. There hasn't even been a ransom issued. I'm sorry to tell you this, but she is most likely already dead."

"We don't know that!" Golagros shouted, turning on the slightly taller man. Dycedarg simply turned to him, a stern look on his chiseled features.

"Do not shout at me, Knight. You think I know nothing of the pain you feel? My own father is sick, possibly dying, in his bedchambers at this moment."

"Your father wouldn't let Aimee go without at least trying to get her back!"

"You forget your place!"

"You try to take your father's!"

"Get out of here Levine. Before I have you arrested."

Golagros turned and briskly exited the room.

***

"Tell me." Golagros demanded to the knight, hot tears threatening to spill from his eyes.

Wiegraf sat up, cradling his injured arm. He looked up at his enemy, and took a deep breath.

"Dycedarg ordered it." He stated bluntly.

"Preposterous! A Beoulve would never authorize such a thing!"

"Balbanes Beoulve, no. But his children hardly have the same code of conduct as he."

"You're a liar!"

Wiegraf slowly stood, wincing in pain.

"Don't be a fool. Look at the circumstance. You're a noble, if even third class aristocracy. Aimee was a squire from a common family."

"What's your point, knave?"

"Your marriage would have mixed the two. Occasionally this happens, yes, but not so close to the Royal Family. You work directly for the Beoulves, who work directly for Prince Larg. Such a union is something Dycedarg would not allow, especially with the movement my knights are spearheading."

"..."

"Perhaps Zalbag would have allowed it, for he is more of his father's son, but not his brother."

"But Dycedarg would have hired someone else to do it."

"He did. Fencer Margueriff."

"I've never heard that name before."

"He's a Lieutenant of mine."

"Yours! The Death Corps was involved in her kidnapping!"

"No, I had nothing to do with it. It was Fencer and his brother. They were paid and co-opted by Dycedarg's promises."

"Where can I find this Fencer?" Golagros asked, his voice seething with anger.

"I've had men watching him for weeks now..." Wiegraf said, trailing off.

"And? Out with it!"

"Do you understand now what I'm trying to achieve? I'm not trying to make the innocents suffer. I'm merely trying to play the nobles game. I'm trying to fight back."

Golagros was silent, staring coldly at the stone mortar of the fort's wall.

"I have a plan White Knight. You can have your Fencer, and the one who hired him to kill your only love."

Golagros stared at the flames of a lit torch, his face hot from tears more than fire.

***

His vision swam back, taking in the torch that was in the present, not the past.

Golagros found himself slumped against a wall, near the spot where he could have killed the Death Knight. He sighed, wincing in pain, and stood to full. He must have passed out, but he had no idea for how long. Perhaps all of the soldiers had gone. Perhaps the youngest Beoulve male had been killed. Perhaps he had killed the bastard that had shot Golagros.

And Teta... poor, innocent Teta. What have I done? What would Aimee say about me now? Knowing what I've unintentionally done...

"Why are you—" Golagros faintly heard through the thick walls. "Algus, why?"

"The Beoulve..." The White Knight said quietly, stumbling deeper into the large chamber in which he stood.

"You're such a spoiled child!" Golagros heard again, another voice this time.

Golagros simply trudged on, his mind fuzzy. The powder stores were close, he knew it, but for some reason the blood loss was affecting his mind.

The arrow probably was poisoned.

Golagros laughed darkly, and was terrified to discover that it hardly sounded like him at all. He raised the torch higher, finding that the darkness of the room was affecting him. After a few seconds, Golagros realized that it wasn't the room that was dark, it was his eyes. The torch burned bright, but he could not see it, only feel it on his arms.

***

Dycedarg Beoulve sat at the head of the table, gloved hand wrapped firmly around a goblet of wine. He took a chaste sip, blonde hair falling over his ear. The forest green clad knight across the table from himpreferred to pace nervously, afraid for his safety even in the presence of his employer.

"Your payment is already at the location you specified. Did you take care of it?"

"Yes. She's gone." Fencer said, running fingers through his hair.

"Relax. You're my guest, and no one suspects either of our involvement in her disappearance."

"Except Wiegraf, of course."

"Folles is no longer a threat."

"How do you know?" Fencer replied sharply, taking a deep breath.

"One of my men took care of it. He's one of our best."

"That's a relief. I've done what you asked, so what about the other part of the terms?"

"You will be given amnesty for your crimes, and shelter here, as agreed. I'm terribly sorry about your brother."

"It was his own fault. A common girl is one thing, the Marquis or Limberry is another."

"Agreed. I have yet to find who funded the kidnapping of Elmdor. We still look now."

"I'm not sure anymore that he was even—"

The door to the chambers opened, and Fencer jumped, turning quickly and resting his hand on his sword. Dycedarg raised a hand, motioning the knight to stand at ease. Fencer did so, as a knight dressed in all white walked in. He wore a large sword, and walked with a poise that made it obvious he was of noble blood.

"Ah, White Knight Levine, we were just speaking of your victory against Folles." Dycedarg said, motioning to the other man in the room.

"This is Fencer, he's a Aegis Knight from Limberry. This man helped with the capture of the Marquis." Dycedarg put on his best smile, proud of himself for his complete deception. Though in truth, Fencer had in his own way ledDycedarg's younger, na´ve brother to the Marquis.

"I know who Fencer is." Golagros said, locking eyes with the still shifty knight.

"I was wondering on the condition of Lord Zalbag. I would like to speak with him." Golagros said, walking casually toward the table, and taking a position near Fencer.

"I'm afraid he's asleep, and cannot be disturbed. What is it you need to discuss with him?"

"I just wanted to apologize for murdering his brother."

"What?" Dycedargasked in shock, beginning to rise from his seat.

As he started to stand, Golagros spun toward him, throwing the knife he had previously kept hidden at the Beoulve. Dycedarg moved to the right, and the blade sunk into his left side instead of the man's stomach, as Golagros had intended it too. Even so, the attack would weaken him, and make the assassination much easier.

Golagros spun again, drawing his sword in the same instant Fencer did. The White Knight brought his blade quickly around, finding it to be parried by the other man's. He drove forward against the knight, a choked shout of rage and pain tearing from his throat without him even realizing it. Golagros used his sword like a hammer, beating the other man's sword down further and further with each blow. After several strikes, the other man's hands finally gave out, and his weapon clanged to the stone floor. Golagros kicked him in the stomach, stunning him, and pointed the sword at his stomach.

"For Aimee." He said quietly, plunging the blade through the man's chest, and yanking it back out.

He turned toward the Beoulve, and found that the man had already moved toward a door that would lead him further into Igros castle, and into the safe hands of many Hokuten knights. Golagros gave chase, bounding over the massive oak table and raising his sword to cut the Lune Knight down.

"Guards!" Dycedarg shouted roughly, and the door was almost immediately shoved open.

Two Hokuten solders rushed in, coming straight at Golagros. The White Knight stopped, and leapt back so as to better receive his opponents. Men he had once called brothers. Menhe had once fought beside. Men he would now have to kill.

Golagros lunged at the first one, knocking his sword into the air and slamming the pommel of his weapon into his jaw. The man stumbled back, and Golagros leaned ahead, bringing the sword that was already in motion in the other knight's stomach. He jerked it free, and swung the blade around to slash the first Hokuten's stomach. The knight fell to the ground, blood pouring out onto the floor.

Before Golagros could pursue the Beoulve further, however, two more knights rushed into the room.

"Damn... too many." Golagros said, making his way back to the other door. The other knights ran after him, as Golagros leapt onto the table. He spun, preparing to square off with the knights. The door behind him flew open, and Golagros shot a look to see the thief that Wiegraf had on the inside run into the room. In his hand he held a crossbow, which he immediatelyfired at one of the knights. The bolt caught the man in the throat, taking him down before he could reach the White Knight. Golagros swung his sword low, blocking an attack at his legs by the second knight, and smashed the flat side of his blade against the man's head. He raised the weapon quickly, and brought it down on the knight's shoulder. It sliced easily into his neck and collarbone, surely killing the man.

"Let's go!" The thief shouted, turning to run into the corridor.

Golagros followed suit, with the sounds of shouting knights on his feet. He sprinted down the passageway, placing his sword in its scabbard. If he was attacked now, there would be little point in fighting back, as the entire garrison of soldiers were surely alerted by now. It was also a ruse, for he was known throughout Igros as Balbanes personal knight, and with his weapon sheathed no knights would stop him. It was a small amount of security, but it was all he had at the moment. Trailing the Death Corps soldier, Golagros heard a door open to his left, and turned to see two girls walk out. Alma Beoulve, and Teta Hyral.

"Don't move!" He shouted, coming to ahalt near them.

"Hostages?" The other man asked, from his position just farther ahead. He held a long sword in his hand, which froze both girls in their tracks.

"You take this one." Golagros said, pointing to Alma. "I'm terribly sorry lady Beoulve. I promise, on your father's name, all will be explained to you both. But for now, I must kidnap you."

Golagros grabbed Teta's wrist tightly, and began to drag her across the hall. She didn't fight, only planted her feet, a look of terror in her eyes. The smaller man made his way to the Beoulve girl, taking her arm as well.

"Stop! Release me! Golagros, why are you doing this?" She pleaded as the man struggled to follow the White Knight. Alma put up much more of a fight, pulling back as the thief made his way toward the exit where their chocobos waited.

Golagros crossed the threshold, looking back as the man followed.

"Hurry up!" He shouted, practically yanking Teta off of her feet in his rush.

He was out in the air then, the hot sun burning brightly on his face.

***

Golagros woke staring into the torch, though now it was much dimmer. It was still warm, however, it's dancing flames touching his face as tenderly as his lover once had. Giving him heat even in the dead of winter. A feeling he would never again have. The touch of her hands. The feeling of her lips on his. Her warmth next to him at night. All gone...

Golagros found that he was laying on the floor now, the torch as well. He rose slowly to his knees, picking up the flaming stick and slowly dragging himself forward. The powder was close, he knew it.

Are they even out there still? I could have been gone for days this time...

Golagros shrugged his inner voice off, grasping a powder keg, and attempting to tip it over.

It didn't budge.

"Curse it all!" He shouted, though it came out as nothing more than a pathetic whimper.

He tossed the torch aside, wrapping both arms around the keg and falling sideways. It tipped over, lid falling off and spilling the contents onto the ground. Golagros was on his side again, and had to struggle to a sitting position. He reached over, once again picking up the torch. He held it tightly in his gloved hand, staring into the slowly dimming flames. A few moments and the torch would fizzle out, making it useless for the destruction of the fort.

Should I really do it? Why not just die off? I've caused so much pain already...

The flame continued to dwindle, bringing the blackness closer and closer to the once proud knight.

Perhaps it will kill that little rat that killed the girl. I could only hope. Perhaps they aren't even there now. I hope the Beoulve boy escapes...

Staring into the now barely smoldering torch, Golagros made up his mind.

"I'll not be smothered as this torch in the darkness. I'll burn brighter than the sun, even if it's only for a moment. God, condemn me; Aimee, forgive me..."

He dropped the torch into the powder.

For one split second, as the flames consumed his body, he felt the heat of her kiss on his lips.

Caves of Narshe: Final Fantasy Tactics
Version 6
©1997–2017 Josh Alvies (Rangers51)

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