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The Battle of Fuse Plains

by Shotgunnova

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Chapter 1

The white castle at Limberry was the pride of the country, and though the country had been severely marred during the Fifty Year's War, the "Silver Noble", Mesdoram Elmdor, had kept the country away from relative harm. Peasants revered him for his lenient taxation during the war and the aristocrats admired his courageous accomplishments in the heat of wartime skirmishes. His duty to his country enraptured his people and they rallied behind him, despite his harsh passion for order.

Unbeknownst to his devout followers, the pride and joy of the country would soon be swept away.

Deep within labyrinthine corridors of the castle interior, Elmdor was sitting alone at one of the library's lengthy, banquet-style tables. "I despise euphemisms," remarked the marquis in a near-silent voice, brushing aside a copy of Western Ivalician Philosophy. A self-taught scholar and philosopher himself, Elmdor came to the library to be at peace. During the summer the windows were often left open and the scents of lilacs and wheat fields would blend into a sample of countryside aroma; during the winter the crisp smell of distant coal being burnt and dust would mix with the wind, giving the room the bookish smell it deserved. Any season was sufficient for Elmdor who had been known to take his lunches and meetings with officers in there. "The smell is invigorating," spoke Elmdor, inhaling deeply. "Especially in the morning. " His talk ran to a whisper, and though conscious of it, he let it continue, knowing that saying things aloud helped him remember easier.

Elmdor had just selected a book regarding patron saints of Glabados when an elderly aide knocked on the door. This man's name was Sorbach. "Marquis, there is a man from the church here to see you. Would you like me to send him in?" the aide queried, not at all intimidated by the man he had seen grow up before his very eyes. Elmdor slid the book back onto the second shelf, nodding his approval. The man disappeared from view.

Anticipating some governmental business, the marquis straightened his silver strands in the nearest window. His regal reflection stared back at him, and he smiled a bit as he smoothed his outfit over.

"Excuse me."

The voice sounded familiar. Elmdor gently closed the window then turned to his guest. "Ahh, Mr. Wodring, I haven't had the pleasure of talking to you since I was in Lionel. Nice to see you again."

Rofel Wodring stepped through the doorway and strode into the room, gallant and confident. He was a temple knight who had accomplished much in his lifetime and sealed deals with convincing words and a handshake. Political agendas often called for the diplomatic expertise that Rofel possessed and, thus, he was occasionally sent as a "messenger boy" of sorts. He was a lover of travel and dialogue, so he had no quarrel with doing his part for the church. Though his hair was graying, he never thought for a moment of relinquishing his title or position, and he rode into battle with his yellow-and-purple gear along with every other private and commandant. His likeability only slightly masked a demeanor that could be assertive and honeyed.

Flashing a gleaming smile, the armored knight extended and met Elmdor's hand. "Sit down, friend," beckoned Elmdor, pulling a cushioned chair back to accommodate his guest. Rofel plopped down as the marquis walked across to the other side of the table, as to look his guest in the eye; it was the only way to hold discourse with nobles.

Rofel cleared his throat. "I have come neither as a bearer of news or a bearer of pacts, but more of a reactionary of sorts. Have you ever heard the Zodiac Brave story?"

Elmdor began to wonder the purpose of this visit. "Of course I have. I've been brought up in the ways of Glabados as much as you have. I hope you haven't come to recreate a child's story for me."

Rofel fidgeted in his seat a bit, but his face remained placid. "Of course not, friend. I have come to bestow upon you a gift of gifts, fit for no king and fit for no one but a select few. Can you see where I'm going with this?" Rofel stared at Elmdor wide-eyed as if the man sitting across from him were a child struggling with arithmetic.

Elmdor quickly glanced at the door expecting to see Sorbach with a tray of refreshments, but he was mistaken. "Rofel," he said, slowly turning back to look at his guest, as a host showing his authority, "I do not appreciate your tone, friend. I am not a peasant woman washing the laundry; I am this castle's life's blood! Pick your words carefully."

Picking words was something Rofel had learned to do years prior, and the marquis' forewarning of trouble didn't reach the temple knight's ears by the process of selective hearing. "My friend, of course I respect your position and that is one of the reasons I have come to you today," said he in a placative tone, "As wished of me, I am to give you this. Take it."

Elmdor's eyes followed Rofel's hand as it reached deep within the breastplate on his chest, groped for something, and slowly drew out a velvet bag. Rofel slid it across the table to where it plopped into Elmdor's lap.

"What is it, may I ask?" Elmdor asked as he fumbled with the drawstring. "Is this a rock?" said he, setting the crystalline on the table. Must be quartz or agate, thought Elmdor, gazing into the interior of the object. There was something odd about it...

Rofel lay his hands, closed around each other, on the table, as if expecting Elmdor to ask him more questions. When none came, he cleared his throat again. "This, Elmdor, is one of the famed Zodiac Stones"--Elmdor noticed that he had quit calling him 'friend'--"and is given only to those who have been deemed worthy enough to lead Ivalice into a new era, a new age, a new period of properity!"

Elmdor looked to Rofel, the stone, then back. "So, if I were to believe this, which I don't exactly, I would assume that you have all twelve stones? Or didn't you have enough time to mine for them yourself?"

Quitting wasn't a word known to Rofel. "I can assure you that this is no child's play or a joke. Look on the bottom of that 'rock', Elmdor." He flicked his index finger to the rock. Elmdor turned it over, visibly nonplussed at the engraving. "That's the mark of Sagittarius..."

"That's absolutely correct! You may also wonder how the marking for the symbol got on there. There is no tool we have that could have done such work, so that could very well be proof to you that it is the real artifact."

Elmdor fell quiet, half-focused on the stone, half-focused on breathing the bookish smell. He wanted to voice his opinions out loud without Rofel hearing, but it would be disrespectful to ask him to leave on a whim. "Yes, it may very well be the real thing, as you say, but of what use is it to me? I would be the laughing stock of the masses if they knew I was searching for the Zodiac Stones, and they certainly think I had brain fever or some other ailment."

"Don't worry about that. You'll find that stones have power in themselves, but that will reveal itself to you in time."

"I have no reason to place trust in any stone, legendary or no. Having a conversation of such things is ridiculous to me."

"The stones have powers I tell you. You might want to keep it as close to you as you keep your secrets, friend," Rofel cajoled. "But I have said too much. I have a carriage waiting for me at the palace gates, and it is a long trip back to Lionel! I urge you to keep that lowly rock safe, friend. If the legends are reoccurring in this day and age, it is of great value to you."

Dismissing the rock, Elmdor nodded out of bored compliance and followed Rofel out the door and to his carriage. From that time on, Elmdor did not visit the library and the rock gathered dust among the philosophers' novels and bookends.

In the coming months, Elmdor readily forgot about the stone and concentrated on more important affairs at hand, like monetary aid to the Zeltennia to quell the farmers' riots and work on his annual speech, which would be given on March 21st at the Limberry summit that would have continental-wide effects.

On one evening, in late February, Sorbach sprinted down the castle's main corridor to the throne room. Elmdor had been spending most of his time here lately and, forgetting his courtesy, he ran straight into the room without first knocking.

Elmdor stood up knowing that something must be wrong; Sorbach hadn't erred in his duty for years. The marquis ran down the steps to meet him, greeted with cries of "Marquis!" from the aide.

"What is it, Sorbach? You look flustered." Holding his composure, Elmdor stood erect, waiting for the old man to catch his breath. After a short while, the man spoke, "My liege, the Hokuten have attacked the upper province at the northern border."

Elmdor closed his eyes a moment, biting his lip as he thought. "That is near the Fuse Plains, a four day's ride; we'll be there in three. Prepare the troops stationed in this castle and send word for mobilization of the provincial militia within a twenty-mile radius of the expected meeting point. Haste, haste!"

Elmdor followed Sorbach out. "This could go bad for us if we don't reinforce the upper brigade", vocalized Elmdor; he almost ran into a chambermaid as she was cleaning out one of the hallway's adjacent guestrooms. "The Library!"

The library housed a huge map of Zeltennia and Limberry and it sprawled along the length of an entire wall, extremely intricate and detailed. Elmdor quickly ran to it and located the Fuse Plains and the surroundings. "A forest twenty miles east...cliffs to the north-northeast...riverbed as a western border..."

Finding the sufficient information for a strategic attack, Elmdor turned on his heel and ran towards the door. As a glint out of the corner of his eye, he spied the sun-colored rock, pattered with dust and neglect. The words of Rofel came floating back to him, and though he took Rofel for a glib talker sometimes, he didn't take him for a lier. "I suppose if he had made such a fuss about it, it might be of some importance."

He took the stone and wedged it between his chain mail and his breastplate. In two days, the Limberry Aegis Knights had been assembled and had pushed the central battle point back to the Fuse Plains, where there was a feeling of being walled in. "The Hokuten scum will fall by sundown," said the Marquis, in full battle gear, as his cart rode toward the showdown.

On dawn of the third day, the wavering grass was covered in dew and globules of blood. It was as if a thundercloud had simply dropped the blood and bodies out of the sky. Limberrian knights and archers' bodies were fallen on their side and the Hokuten's league of oracles and knights had done well to bleed on their own side of the field.

Marquis Elmdor, at the front of the 20th Battalion, rode along the cavalry who were standing side-by-side in phalanx formation. Giving an encouraging word here and there to troops who had been wounded or disheartened took up the better part of an hour, but before the sun could exercise itself in the noon sky, the Hokuten troops sounded their battle horns.

The oracles and knights were to be the melee units it appeared as scores ran down the opposite hill in disorganized strides, the heavy weaponry of the oracles weighing them down, it seemed.

Marquis Elmdor unsheathed his Muramasa and raised it over his head, turning his chocobo in a circle to spur on his troops. "Charge! Charge! Charge!" he repeated, each time answered by a deafening roar of support. The phalanx squares ran to meet the opposing enemies, then slowed down to stay in position.

The black chocobo that served as Elmdor's steed flew toward the enemy then up above sword range. From the point, the enemy could be decimated by the chocobo's choco ball attacks. The chocobo reared itself in mid-flight, threw its head back and unleashed a demonic ball that locked-on to the first group of soldiers it saw. It zoomed down and embedded itself in the enemies faces with a brutal impact, sending a flock of bodies into the air.

No sooner had the chocobo began getting into its own attack rhythm than an oracle's thrown rod impaled it through its neck and it fell to the earth, knocking the marquis off into a pool of blood. Mesdoram quickly arose and dove for the nearest oracle, slicing him in half at the midriff with the ease of a knife through butter. The roar of yelling was deafening at the epicenter, and Elmdor realized this was where he was.

The twang and whistle of arrows was tuned into Elmdor's ears and he saw his own troops and enemies cut down by the archers' indiscriminate attack. They were over the hilltop, Elmdor figured, and he quickly set out towards that location.

"Ugh!" yelled Elmdor as a shaft pierced through his neck and he fell face first over a rotten log. Blood fell in a torrent on his own armor, and he grasped at his neck to stop the bleeding but he knew it was futile. He was finished, never to lead his country to greatness.

As he gazed parallel with the ground, quickly dying, he heard a voice. The rest of the battle's noise and squawking was gone; just the calm voice of help. "I'm...coming..." said Elmdor, ready to depart his earthly flesh. "Elmdor....."

"I'm....co...mingg..."

"Do you want me to...help you?" The voice cooed in an angelic voice.

".....Yes..."

"Say it..."

"Help......me..."

The yellow rock had dislodged itself and had fallen a few feet from Elmdor's face, now lifeless and hollow. With a flash of yellow that was lost amongst the glinting steel and wall of noise, the light of Lucavi poured into the body of Mesdoram Elmdor.
Caves of Narshe: Final Fantasy Tactics
Version 6
©1997–2017 Josh Alvies (Rangers51)

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