The Battle of Fuse Plainsby Shotgunnova
Chapter 2The Aegis Knights valiant effort saved the country from being overrun but the countryside had vastly changed during that night. Rolling down the sides of Mt. Zeara, a deep fog had transversed the river and flooded the field like a sticky swarm of locusts, ready to hinder the troops. Night blindness and the dense humidity encouraged the fighters on, but only until they were javelined by the other side attacking out of the night like the Reaper himself. Bloodcurdling yells of amputees and the dying were almost as loud as the sound of men crashing to the ground.
The first hint of sunlight show a battlefield tattooed in red, no blade of grass without bloody blemishes. The bodies of soldiers lay in all positions as if they had simply fallen asleep or were looking at clouds in open-eyed silence. A few staggering survivors walked slowly amongst their friends, then dropped to their knees at sight of their bled corpses, hiding their faces in their hands, refusing to believe that they had been stolen from them. Members of the Hokuten and Aegis walked where there was room, some past each other, stepping over every corpse as if the night had somehow made the ground sacred.
By the time the sun had risen to the noonday position, medical carts filled with sobbing nurses and seniors who had volunteered their time were arriving in slowly-drawn pony carts. Coming over the hill to such a scourge was vomit-inducing, and many did; the stench of death was high and could only become higher.
Within three hours, incoming and outgoing carts were in abundance. Without a word of collaboration, the cartdrivers had began moving bodies out on top of hills to drop them off for volunteers to bury them. The Fuse Plains had become a cemetery. The graves of Hokuten were unmarked, but the peasant workers showed reverence by tracing the shape of the Glabados cross on their shirt with every body picked up and every body buried.
"This is horrible...horrible. Why would anyone want to go to war when you lose your people?" asked a nurse of nineteen or twenty, riding with an older man, her father. "Such violence and disregard for human life. Even the grass is dying." She fell quiet at her own words, letting the sound of her own thoughts still for a moment. At the bottom of the hill, her father clicked the pony's reigns, signaling it to stop. Father and daughter jumped out.
"May, might your heart never grow cold. I have seen many battles and I cannot cry as I use to in my youth, but your words at true. War is like broken glass; the pieces fall everywhere. There are many tear-stained faces in the huts and manors of Limberry right now."
With a combined effort, the two lifted the body of a Hokuten soldier into the back of the cart, propping him up in the back to conserve space. The carcass had lost a hand and hat three arrows stuck into his chest. May gently pulled them out, waving the cross with her eyes closed.
May's father, Richard walked among the dead, his mud boots caked with blood and dirt with no effort at all. He peered over the bodies, hoping for survivors, but at the graphic nature of the mutilation, the search was abandoned. "Believing violence can ensure happiness is a one-sided event; you must make someone else unhappy first," he said to May, who was walking behind him in his footsteps, which could still be seen in the coagulating blood.
"There's no doubt about the impact of this. This is an incredible amount of bodies, all loyal subjects, and they're to be dead and buried. You may have already come to that realization, father, but I have to keep telling myself it over and over," May said in a worry-soaked voice. "Volunteers see as much of the bloodshed as soldiers."
Richard did not reply, instead walking over to a man in black armor , lying on his haunches if he were a statue who had tipped over. May squinted, her mind searching for the name to which the face belonged, but the sight of hundreds of gaping and bloody faces clouded her memory. "Hmm...," she wondered, watching a cart driven by a bald, moping man. With the rings around his eyes, he looked as dead as the passengers in the cart, all staring up at the sky in unblinking unison.
May shuddered and walked to her father, stooping beside him. Richard's expression was the same as hers, and they both stared at him. Neither one of them brushed the horseflies off of them, which walking along the woven burlap of their clothing looking for a place to bite.
Richard looked over at his daughter. "What is it?"
"It's...It's...." She was in such a state of shock that she could only stammer her answer. "It's..."
Richard cocked his head and looked back at the corpse of the black-armored man. Almost at once he knew who it was. The black armor...the once-silver hair, now stained with blood and soil...the red-tinted weapon...
"It's the Marquis!" said Richard, jumping up suddenly, splashing himself and his daughter with the contents of the blood puddle they were standing in. "Quick, send for a stretcher...a cart...anything!" May nodded, the excitement and dismay cracking at her legs like a whip, and she was off.
Richard openly wept, crouching beside the Marquis. He had never been this close to the man before and even in death, the air of refinement shrouded him. "Oh, Marquis Elmdor..." he sobbed, sitting the ruler of Limberry up onto the log. There Richard broke the arrowhead and slowly pulled the rest of the stick out, as if the marquis would yell in pain.
"Father, father," exclaimed May; she had commandeered an empty cart, convincing the peasant driver to run along side it. With the utmost care, the three lifted the Marquis' body into the back of the cart. May and the peasant held his body in place as Richard drove the pony as fast as he could. Up the side of hill and into the mouth of the forest, the road to Limberry opened. Onlookers and volunteers burying the bodies alongside the road (for the hills had been filled by this time) burst into tears or fainted at the sight of their dead ruler, and Richard quietly wished to be away from there.
By the time the cart had vanished into the forest's shadow, the news of Elmdor's death had set the battlefield ablaze with tears. Stifling their sorrow back down into their throats, the workers began to dig their holes and man their carts once more.
At the nearest town, a small village, the three were given two chocobos to pull their cart, and were wished godspeed by the tearful villagers. "If only he knew how much he was loved," wailed one old mother, sobbing uncontrollably. "I watched him grow up from a boy myself!" The cart quickly sped away, but the voice of the woman lingered and rang inside their minds until they reached Limberry. Two day's worth of silence ended as the town's marble chapel and old-era-style mansions rose into view. "I don't believe they know of the news, sir," said the peasant. "We should cover his body lest they see it in this state. Lord knows I didn't want to see it in this state, myself." May agreed and the body was covered in a stained cloth that the driver had kept under the seat.
At the Castle of Chalk, Elmdor's body was laid to rest in his bed, as there was no time to bury him. It was custom to bury the body after a new ruler was elected, and at this time of mourning, it was difficult to say when that would be. The men from the village and vicinity had been wounded or killed, and the women were not allowed to do their manual labor for them.
It was finally decided that Sorbach would lay the marquis to rest in the imperial catacombs since he was the senior member of the staff and had been Elmdor's aide for years. "If only I died before he," said the old man, a tear streaming down his pockmarked face. "He was naught but thirty-nine."
The next day, Sorbach was led down the stairs and entrance was given to enter the catacombs. The castle's remaining housekeepers and servants silently gazed at the old man carrying the body of their master slowly, one step at a time. The doors were opened for Sorbach and the overwhelming stench of moss, rainwater and rotting mortar swept out into the stairway. It did not smell putrid, but more like a subterranean cave that had been untouched and forgotten for years upon years. In that way, the catacombs were one in the same, as they had not been opened since the passing of Parvado, a duke who had drowned in the Finath forty-three years earlier and whose memorial service took place in the rank, cobblestone cemetery.
Sorbach took one step inside, looked back at the glassy eyes of his peers, and slowly walked ahead. The house members left the doorway and crept back up the stairs, quiet as dust. Sorbach looked at the face of the marquis in his arms, who was dressed in ceremonial burial clothes, and looked ahead again. "If only it were me instead of him," whispered the aide, not able to look at his master any longer. He walked over the bridge and to a sarcophagus. Gently, ever so gently, the body of the Marquis was laid on top of it, to lie untouched until the new leader had been elected.
"Goodbye, my liege."
Sorbach laid a silver cross on the chest of Elmdor, almost expecting the master to breathe suddenly as if in a deep sleep. "Goodbye," he said, ready to get out of the tomb before he the moss and mildew made him grow ill. "Having lived through three rulers is never the way it should go..."
"Indeed it isn't."
Sorbach wheeled around to the voice. The Marquis was standing silently in the armor he had fallen in and had his Muramasa in his hands. His face was sunken in, corpse-like but not decayed. The aide fell on his buttocks, scuttling away like a crab. "M-M-Marquis...you're alive!.." He was deathly scared. Never had the marquis' voice been so unearthly and hellish. "Y-you're safe!"
Elmdor walked closer, his sword arm raising higher, as if on a puppet string. He glided along the wet stone until he was hovering over Sorbach. "You've served me well. Now let me repay you."
The elderly man opened his mouth to scream, but his larynx was closed by some invisible, choking fist. The Marquis held his palm to the door, closing it in impossibly silent fashion. "May Ajora have mercy on my soul." Sorbach his eyes shut, it was but a moment before he could feel the two puncture marks...
Above ground, the castle staff was huddling in the main corridor, having just walked up the stairwell. There was a unspoken agreement among them not to cry, but to carry on their duties. None of them moved an inch. "The poor man," said the teenage dishwasher. "He was taken too soon."
They slowly nodded, staring down at their black leather shoes. "He was much like his father," said an old butler with a kindly face. "In his younger days, the marquis would run up to me and ask me to give him piggy-back rides." The memory sparked up the conversation and soon they were all reminiscing, recalling the happiest times they had shared with Elmdor. "I found his lost sheath one time," said a smiling boy, and they all had to smile in return. "For six straight years, he complimented me on my cooking," said a black cook, choking back tears. "I truly loved the man." It was true that they all did.
The lone footsteps coming up the stairs reminded them that Sorbach hadn't come up yet. It had been almost ten minutes. "I'll bet he just wanted to pay his respects, the poor man. He was heartbroken," said one. They each looked to the door, waiting to be greeted by the friend's benevolent smile.
The door pushed open and Sorbach walked out, blinked twice and fell on his face. Blood immediately pooled under his head. They all rushed to him at once, and turned him on his side, but there was no question he had just died in front of them. "What happened!" screamed the dishwasher, falling backwards at the sight of the body.
A chill came up the stairs' bowels, and no more words were spoken, but like magnetism, the sense of foreboding had turned their heads to the doorway. The lantern-light in the passage extinguished all at once, making the stairway nothing but a dark, depthless hole in the castle. Everyone peered at it, and jumped back as a monstrous, animalistic cry pierced up and and through the doorway, like hot breath.
Each member present was stricken with immediate catatonia, petrified with a horror-stricken countenance. Each person's mind was focusing, looking at the red light advancing up the stairs. No footsteps were heard, but something was definitely coming. A neon glow erupted through the doorway, each person closing their eyes in its brightness. When it died, they didn't dare opened their eyes.
Elmdor quietly, with quick and quiet movements, thrust his blade into the first butler's neck, then slid along the wall, slitting the throats of the qualing staff, one by one. Sheathing his sword, the tormented Elmdor glided on unseen wings to the throne room, not hearing the bleeding bodies of his trusted assistants sprawl against the wall.
"Urgh...I didn't want this," said the shivering body of Elmdor, being pushed along to the throne room. He sat down, letting his limp limbs fall down into seat. The mind of Elmdor had not left by any means, but it was certainly being requisitioned by some force beyond his control. Piece by piece, it was being splintered off.
The controlling hand of Lucavi was stiff and asphyxiating, and Elmdor knew it would keep up until he had given up the struggle. The once noble and loving marquis was being hijacked by the help he had willingly taken. "The...stone...," he whispered, as quiet as an ill man.
"Yes, Elmdor, the stone. It is your's and mine to use. Take it."
Elmdor looked around the room, seeing nothing but oil-burning lamps and stained glass. His hands were being gripped by seizures. It wouldn't be long now. The Gemini stone's glittering gold light attacted the eyes of Elmdor like a compass, drawing them up to the ceiling. Robotically, his hands extended, turned palms up and the rock descended into them.
The voice replied. "Yes, it is. It is. Use it, Elmdor, use it. Use it."
Elmdor's body convulsed as he resisted, but within moments he was drawn back into the confines of his chair, as if by suction. Marquis Elmdor, lord of Limberry, was no more. Taking the stone in his right hand, stepping out from his chair, he held the stone up like the sword he had once wielded in battle.
"With the power of the stone, I, Zalera, request help suitable for my needs. Come!"
The light spit out static electricity, jumping to the floor and side-winding around like snakes. Zalera held it proudly, letting the walls crawl with the yellow light that he had released. The fragility that had once belonged to Elmdor's being was now his, but had been repaired, fortified, built-up. "Come to me, servants, come!"
The sparks flew to the ceiling, swirling and spiraling around the half-timbered roof, the only sound being the pealing of demonic laughter. Zalera's basked in the sound, closing his eyes, watching the portals form In the roof. Sickeningly, the portals coughed out two shapes, bulky and nauseating to the eye.
"We have come as servants," said the two in gruff, prickly voices. Soon the voices were matched with bodies of the demons they were, bulgy-veined and grotesque. "We have come."
"This will not do," spoke Zalera in a condescending tone, "you must first be fitting for my eyes." Although he was a demon, he had absorbed Elmdor's eye for beauty and nature, making it his own, molding it with the demon body he had.
The twin Ultima Demons looked at each other not expecting such an order, but bowed to their master's wishes. Throwing their arms up in the air, they fell transparent, the perimeter of their body changing like gelatinous beings. Effulgent, they arrived at a suitable conclusion and showed their new forms to their master.
Zalera looked at the two demons, highly approving of their new forms. Before him stood two beautiful women, scantily dressed and nearly identical in shape and beauty. "Yes, I am pleased."
The two demons introduced themselves at once as Celia and Lede, speaking through telekinesis rather than human words. The knowledge and wisdom of ages flooded through Zalera and understand them, but was not surprised at this.
"Celia, Lede, go to the castle gates. The Beoulve child will be coming for me."
Obediently, the two demons disappeared in yellow columns of light, gone instantly. Zalera, still in the form of Elmdor's body, walked clumsily down the stairs and to the window. He could smell the summertime breeze and it was rancid to his nostrils. He shut the window and went back to his throne, waiting for word of Ramza Beoulve's death. Out of wonder and fear, his thoughts traveled to Riovanes and Lionel Castle, where the traces of his fellow beasts still lingered, though long gone. "If this boy can breach my castle, then the tales of his workings must be true."
Although Zalera did not know, the Lucavi in him was a confidence builder, overzealous, and a bit reckless. All Zodiac Beasts were, but in different amounts. The Angel of Death, as he was, had self-conscious thoughts filtered out. The trapdoor to Elmdor's original persona was to remain closed as long as time allowed it, and keeping it closed was as easy as being Zalera.
Sitting on the throne, he convulsed again, gripping the chair handles to keep him upright until it stopped. "No!"
Celia and Lede flashed into view, crouched on one knee, their fine skin bruised and discolored by the fight with Ramza. Zalera did not inquire for he already knew of its happening. "My lord, the Beoulve is stronger than you would have imagined." Celia's words dribbled onto the floor. Zalera at once arose, walked over in the long strides he had gotten from the stone, and slapped her. "I am beyond his power," said Zalera, boasting. "I am failsafe, I am to be a god. His blood will be spilled on the carpet before night falls."
Ramza Beoulve, accompanied by many familiar faces that Zalera knew of thanks to Elmdor's memories, burst in the throne room, pointing his steel at Elmdor. Zalera didn't listen, instead running the body's eyes over the faces of his company. Count Orlandu stood beside him, his stern face hiding a swordmaster's eagerness to take the initiative; A woman on the other side of Ramza, her pretty face now showing traces of bitterness; a man in the white uniform of a Glabados soldier, his hand on the hilt of his sword. Zalera looked back to Ramza, not being able to identify anyone else in Elmdor's memory.
"It's payback time for the disgrace at Riovanes!" said Zalera, walking to the top of the stairs.
Ramza lunged at him, but was caught with a parry of the sword. "I'll show you," said Orlandu, stabbing Lede with his broad-sided sword. She crumpled to a heap. Zalera chuckled as the body was sucked up into the yellow light and Lede descended again, in the mucid form she had arrived in.
Agrias, the swordswoman, took the chance to attack Elmdor. "Stasis Sword," she yelled, following her shouting with a downward stroke. Forming atop the half-timbered ceiling, a crystalline icicle formed and fell. Zalera looked up but could not evade, sitting still as the ice formed around him. Agrias swung again, summoning two more icicles to flank the marquis. Zalera closed his eyes as the wall of ice exploded around him.
Huffing and watching his flesh decay, Zalera disappeared, reappearing behind Agrias. Astonished at the rapid speed, she was still looking ahead when Zalera sank his fangs into her neck, sucking the blood right out of her. She grew rigid as he held her by the shoulders, then sank to the floor as he withdrew.
"Agrias," screamed Ramza, finally catching on that the count was not himself. He rushed over to her, and cradled her in his arms. Orlandu silently crept behind Elmdor as he watched Ramza almost burst into tears.
"It will all be over soon," Zalera assured, pouncing on Ramza and sinking his teeth into the Ramza's nape. The boy fell to the floor, struggling momentarily and then lying still.
Zalera turned around just in time to be see Orlandu swing the Excalibur in his direction. Above him the ceiling disappeared and a horrible hieroglyphic eye opened in the dark space. A sickly red light sprang up beneath Zalera's feet, circled around him until his body was completely incased, and then speared him from beneath with a bone-breaking crunch.
Orlandu stood to watch as the body of Elmdor was frozen in the air, then fell to the ground. Agrias and Ramza stood up to look at him, having come to during the last few minutes. They all peered at the body of Elmdor, not knowing that three other people had gaped at his body almost four days previous.
The body of Elmdor sat up from where he had fallen, rotting flesh falling to the red carpet in drying chunks. "Ugh, I didn't think you'd be this strong." Ramza ran at him to deal the deathblow, but hit an invisible wall before he could draw his sword; the body of Elmdor disappeared into the floor.
"Underground...come down...your sister is here..."
In the main corridor, the stairwell ignited in a red light, taking all the adventurers aback. "The castle is collapsing," said Beowulf, the Glabados knight in a hurry. "We have to escape!"
Ramza looked to the ceiling, then to the floor. "That can't be...the foundation isn't moving. Wait...look!"
The carpet became sunken in, and depressed spaces grew into footsteps. "They're glowing like phosphorous," said Agrias flatly, astonished a bit but not enough to shout. She ran up the steps to the throne, where the trail of footsteps started. "These are demon footprints, I'm sure of it." The carpet sizzled with the smell of sulfur.
"Come, we'll follow the footsteps," shouted Ramza, running out the throne door.
The footsteps led from the throne room to the outer corridor, to the stairwell. As they passed the bodies, Agrias flashed a cross on her chest, and ran after the others down the stairs.
"I don't like this one bit," said Ramza, guiding the way down the stairs. The trail of footsteps had ended at the top, but the walls glowed with an unearthly shade of red that faded in and out so that none dared to touch them. Beowulf, who was behind Orlandu, voiced his opinion on the oncoming battle to get their mind off the walls.
"Chances are that this Elmdor fellow has a Zodiac stone, as you call it, and will use it on us. Judging from what you've told me about these monsters, our determination will have to be bound together in battle. We did not look out for each other before and were almost goners. I suggest we either attack all at once or go in twos."
They whispered their consent to go in to the battle with synergy. "Elmdor must not gain the upper hand," said Agrias in a voice that suggested she had calmed down. "You saw that he can suck your blood'--she fingered her neck, but found no wounds--"so protect each other's back!"
At the bottom of the stairs, they found the door spattered in dried blood, not yet soaked into the stone. Ramza took one look at it and pushed the door open--nothing was going to stop the progress into the room.
When first opened, the smell of a cave had stimulated the senses of the castle staff; as it was opened now it had a radically different effect. The cave smelled as if it had been burned to the ground and rebuilt. The smell of sulfur and ash was almost overpowering, and the gravestones on either side of the walkway were smoldering a bit.
Agrias and Beowulf took up the rear, breathing into their mouths. Ahead, Orlandu and Ramza's determined faces advanced in rank file to the body of Elmdor, who was standing on the sarcophagus that was to serve as his resting place.
"Elmdor, give up! You don't have a chance! Let Alma go!"
Elmdor shook his head and laughed in the sophisticated way he had once done before when he was himself. "Fool! She's not in this castle," was the reply. "The only thing here are the spirits of the dead!"
The demon laughter that had elated Zalera before came again, sounding like mind-breaking reverberation to the humans, and two rotting knights appeared and stepped forward on the sides of Elmdor.
"Your life shall also end in this graveyard," he barked, looking at Ramza. The holy Gemini stone was taken in Elmdor's hand, and grasping it as if to squeeze water from rock, he closed his eyes. The rock reacted and at once the yellow rock crackled and fizzed, expanded as it filled with unfettered power, and shrank again, channeling the power into Elmdor's open-armed body. The entirety of the room was devoured by the light, lapping at each person's armor and skin to the point of pain.
"Oh my god! The marquis!"
Agrias looked at the misshapen form of the Marquis Elmdor, completely redone by the Zodiac stone. "Oh lord," she shouted, reluctantly drawing her sword.
Zalera's true form had emerged from inside the human flesh, and he opened his wings as if to suggest he had been unnecessarily cooped up for some time. Agrias was not mistaken when she saw the body; it was entirely composed of ugly, jutting pieces and limbs, as if they had been incorrectly sown together.
Zalera floated in the air, supported by two small velvet wings, each beating in time with the other to create a humming sound, not unlike an insect's. The demon's backbone curved up and around, like an arc, and there appeared to be a collar of sorts around the beast's neck. The creature's arms were weak-looking, mere arm bones of a human. Agrias shuddered.
"What--The Marquis? A monster!?"
A woman's voice appeared from the graveyard's entrance. Agrias turned to see a green-armored woman take a step back, obvious never having seen the display like this. "Meliadoul!"
Zalera chortled at the woman. "Ha, ha, ha... So, you're Vormav's daughter? Just like Izlude, your "body" isn't suitable for us... But your father's was..."
Meliadoul ran forward. "Then...father was...!"
"Yes, he's no longer your father. He's now a blood member of Darkness. But, no matter... For now you, and Ramza will die here!"
Zalera's words rang in the room, and before they could die, he had his hand in the air, summoning a spell. "Hurry," said Meliadoul "You get the marquis! I'll take care of these monsters!" No one had even noticed the skeletons that had appeared on the gravestones.
Leaving Meliadoul, Orlandu and Ramza ran forward to Zalera, but could not get in time to stop his spell. "Blind2," he snarled, moving to the corner of the room. The two undead knights leapt forward to do battle with the two, just as they were blinded by Zalera's magic. Orlandu easily did away with his, but Ramza was pushed off the bridge into the water by a misplaced sword stroke.
"Beowulf, help me!"
Beowulf stabbed the nearest Living Bone and sprinted to the bridge, looking for Ramza in the culvert. Finally he spotted Ramza making his way under the bridge, to where Zalera was. Picking some eye drops out of his side satchel, Beowulf wound up and threw the vial at Ramza's head. "Yes! Thank you, Beowulf," was the reply, the contents of the tube dripping all over Ramza's face.
Zalera crept back into the corner, the hints of ending up like Velius and Queklain frightening him a bit. As Ramza emerged from the water, he began summoning another spell, ready to take out the boy in one fell swoop.
Back at the entrance, Meliadoul and Agrias were fighting back-to-back, each attacking the remaining skeleton monsters. Both women's skills matched the others, as each enemy crumpled into a skeletal heap of dust. Seeing Orlandu run towards Ramza, both sprinted to join him, not able to see what was happening from their current position.
Orlandu sprung at the vile beast, cutting off one of his bony arms, but the creature did not scream or yell as if injured; instead, winding up, he spun the other arm to punch Orlandu in the left side of the face. Orlandu flew against the remaining undead knight, and they both crumpled in a pile against the coffin.
"I refuse to die here." Zalera's hand glowed like an ember, and his remaining arm began to smoke and melt. Ramza jumped onto the stone railing before Zalera. "I won't let you take anymore life, you fiend." The noble words rolled out of his mouth, and he thrust his sword into the neck of Angel of Death.
Like a human wound, the creature toppled over, blood spilling in thin rivulets to the floor. Orlandu arose, and walked over to the creature, as did Meliadoul and Agrias. The creature first began to tremble, and then the creature began to melt into the floor, skin to bone. Later on, Ramza could have sworn he saw the eyes of the marquis he had saved looking back at him. Inexplicably, the body of Zalera rose to the air, his pale skin growing yellow until the color enveloped him, and he disappeared into thin air. "Hashmalum...sorry...I'm leaving the rest to you..."
The Gemini stone fell to the ground and shone no more. Ramza looked at his colleagues and put the stone in behind his armor; he knew it would do no harm anymore.
"Let's go," said Beowulf, walking back across the bridge. Agrias nodded, and Orlandu followed; Meliadoul and Ramza brought up the back. "Ramza, I'd like to speak with you for a moment," said Meliadoul letting the others walk out of the room. "The secrets hidden in this Stone... I never dreamed! It may be "divine", but I thought it was just a strange rock. I never thought collecting them would make a miracle."
Ramza put his hand on Meliadoul's shoulder, to console her. "Neither you nor Izlude were informed... Even Wiegraf didn't know until he turned into Lucavi. So even the High Priest's plot's being used by Vormav."
"What're they after?"
"That, I don't know. If they want to, they could destroy an entire brigade. Just like at Riovanes. But they don't use that power outright. There must be a reason why."
"Maybe they can't use their power outright? The Lucavi of legend was an unbeatable, ferocious monster." Ramza felt for the stones
"That's right. They don't seem to be the "immortal evils" like the legends say."
"Legends do tend to over-exaggerate. Maybe Lucavi was just another monster, after all."
"I hope so..."
"Here," said Meliadoul, reaching inside of her robe. Taking Ramza's hand, she plopped a green stone in it, closing his hand on it. "I'm going to give you this Zodiac Stone. In return, let me go along. I want to know why my father... Besides..."
"I want to know why he gave away the "Capricorn" Stone. Why it was given to Lord Dycedarg... I need to know."
"To my brother? Why?"
Meliadoul shrugged and, nodding to Ramza, walked out the door to join the others. Ramza's thoughts went to Alma, still a captive somewhere. "Where haven't I searched," he pondered, walking out the door. Stopping for a moment, he could have sworn he smelled lilacs and wheat, but the feeling didn't return again.