The Last Night

[01.08.00] » by Ryan Mitchell

The cool winds of winter caressed Ivalice, sweeping over Goug, where every day ancient treasures were being rediscovered, over Igros, once the home of the great Balbanes, now empty. Over Lesalia, where politicians plotted and orated to reach for the throne, over Murond, where Glabados had finally fallen, and over the ruins of a tiny church in Zeltennia, where two bodies lay embraced in frozen death.

Or so it seemed, before one of the forms rose to his knees, and stared down at the other with eyes full of sacrifice, and pain, and guilt, but mostly of love. Delita staggered away from the Princess' cold grave and shed true tears for her, tears which turned to ice as they fell, just as his heart had on the day Teta died. He wept for Teta as well, and soon found himself thinking of Balmafula, then of Minister Gelwan, even of poor, confused Ramza, all the people he had used, all dead now. Deep within him, he wished he had died with Teta, died innocent of what had really happened in the weeks before Zeakden.

Golagros had not merely abducted Teta, he had conspired with her. He alone among the Knights of Death had knowledge of the return of the Holy Stones, though he had no idea of their true power. He had heard only rumors, and only what he had gleaned from torturing captured nobles connected to Glabados Church. He believed that the nobles were planning to use the Stones' power to eliminate all possibility of a commoner's revolt by ending the need for peasant knights in future wars. The abduction of Elmdor had been the first step, but Wiegraf, in his bumbling way, had intervened, and the Marquis had escaped with his damned Stone.

Delita laughed and cried at the recollection of information he had learned in painstaking investigation, covering every possibility. "With the Marquis heading to Igros, what to do but make another attempt to get the Stone? And who better to turn to than a poor, mistreated, misguided peasant, raised with nobles who could learn to tolerate her, but never to let her be one of them? No wonder she did what she did, scheming with that lying bastard Golagros, stealing the Stone and pretending to be captured."

The pain from his wound was not alleviating, rather, it was steadily worsening until Delita felt as though the dagger that had pierced him had been imbued with the passion of all those he had destroyed on his way to short-lived power, starting with Teta. The pattern of use and betrayal repeating so fervently that his life could be accurately described as raging fire, consuming every soul in its wake and expanding to inflame all of Ivalice with the madness of his ambition. He turned away from this reflection and delved once again into a reverie of those final days with his sister.

Golagros promised her a better Ivalice, one where nobles and commoners would be united under a just government, seducing her with the same lies his comrades Miluda and Wiegraf had come to believe. His plans fell through, however, Algus and Dycedarg tracked him down and killed both of them, but Teta was still clinging to life when Delita went to her, still clutching the Holy Stone. And a wondrous thing happened, the Stone began to speak to him, recognizing the powerful soul he harbored, as well as the powerful emotions twisting within him. It offered anything he could dream of, visions of great rewards and greater power, and in his heart he knew he could save Teta with that power. Yet he did not, his ambition won out and cried out louder than his sorrow or his love for her, and rather than using the Stone's power to save her, he used it to become King. The first betrayal, one that would shake Ivalician society to its very core.

It's still shaking, Delita thought and smiled a King's smile, a predator's smile, masking the sorrow he felt deep in the icy void with which the Stone had replaced his heart. He lumbered still through the cold, praying to a God he had forsaken to find some sign of life, some savior before the night claimed him. Are those the shadows of men I see up ahead? Or just some beast smelling the blood of my wound, coming to finish the job?

There were men up ahead! Knights of Ivalice, wearing the Royal Crest no less! His men, they would certainly heal him, and then he would be back on the road to the top, back to power. There would be those who would question the disappearance of Ovelia, but they could be dealt with, all problems could be dealt with if he could just struggle his way over to the Knights ahead.

"You- You there! I command you in the name of Ivalice! Take me to a priest!"

Delita called, and the Knights, in surprise, ran towards him, there was a moment of shock as the Knights realized who this newcomer was. But rather than rushing to help him, the men drew their swords, and he heard one exclaim

"Our luck is changing! The King's got a reward out for this has-been bigger than a thousand years of our wages!"

So they had done it, Delita briefly wondered which of the many ambitious Dukes and Lords had managed to seize the throne. He shook off the thought as he tried to raise himself and draw his own sword, or at least move aside, but his strength and his will, seemingly invulnerable, finally failed him. They cracked just as the ice of his soul cracked, at last revealing his true humanity, and so as the steel blade of an entire Kingdom's retribution fell on him, he wept, for Ramza, for Ovelia, andů for Teta.

 
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