The Magi

[01.09.02] » by Graham Johnson

Two richly dressed men stood waiting outside an ornate door. The door was gilded in gold and gems, and smelled of exotic perfumes. Two guards stood outside the door, dressed with polished silver armor and scabbards that held steel swords. The guards saw all manner of guests coming to see the governor, but they had not seen guests such as these before: dressed in iridescent robes that made no sound when they moved, hoods that did not show their owner's faces, and staves that seemed to writhe and twist when the eye turned away. And wreathed about the men like an aura was the unmistakable scent of incense from the southeastern desert, near the waste. It was rumored that such incense contained some of the poisons of the waste, and either killed or granted immortality to those imbued too deeply with it. It was a holy scent.

The door opened with a groan, and a nervous-looking messenger came out. "The Governor of Zeltennia will see you now," he said, bowing lowly. The two men stood impassively as the guards stepped aside, and walked through the door without a glance at the finery surrounding them.

"We should not have come here," muttered one of the men as they walked.

"We have no choice. We must greet the local ruler or risk attack as we travel. You know Yudoran policy regarding its airspace," replied the other.

"I still feel it was too much of a risk coming openly like this. This too important a matter to take such risks."

"Risks cannot be avoided. We have discussed this before, and this is the safest path."

The two men came before a man sitting in an ornate chair. He was in the process of examining a stack of papers and talking to an attendant when he noticed the two men. He bade his attendants to leave, and watched with interest as the two men knelt before him.

"You may rise," he said, "Such demonstrations are not required of non-citizens."

"We but desire to show to you respect, Governor," said one of the men as they rose. He spoke the language well, but slowly and with a strong inflection. "As visitors are we, should we not pay homage to the ruler of the traveled land? This was our intention, and I hope we not have offended you."

"You have not," said the Governor with a smile, "Indeed, it is a pleasure to receive guests such as yourselves. A pleasure that is all too rare these days. May I take it from your clothing and airship that you are from Kildea?"

"You may, Governor."

"Wonderful!" said the Governor, "It has been many years since Zeltennia has had the chance to welcome a Kildean, much less two of such obvious high standing as yourselves! We shall, should it please you, hold a feast in your honor tonight!"

"It would please us," said one of the men. He raised a finger and continued, "however, we cannot stay here so long. I fear we have business to which must we attend."

"I see," said the Governor, "So I may take it then you do not come to Zeltennia solely for pleasure?"

"Pleasure we have at coming here," said the man, "but business we also have. About such business we wish to speak."

"Well, although I am loath to speak of business without a show of hospitality, your wish is my pleasure. What is this business you wish to talk about?"

The two men looked at each other. They nodded and one stepped forward. "One and one-half years ago, a girl from our capitol disappeared. We believe she left our kingdom. Normally, such things cause no concern to us. This girl causes us concern. A slave-girl was she, but also very trusted by our royal family. One of their private servants was she. We can think of one reason only she would leave: with child was she."

"A royal bastard, I see," said the Governor, nodding as he spoke. "But what cause would that be for the girl to leave? Certainly such things cannot be too uncommon."

"In Kildea, very uncommon are they," said the man, "I know not your laws regarding children of royal blood, but in Kildea we have many rules regarding royal blood. The rules say such birth is not bad always, but uncertain. Upon nature of the child it is depending. We believe the girl sneaked out of Kildea and into the Yudora Empire. We believe she is in the city of Bervenia."

"And you wish to take the girl and her child back to Kildea?" asked the Governor.

"No," said the man, "The child was not born of Kildea, so it is not ours to take. We are not certain the child remains alive even. We wish to find the child and inspect it. If it has noble blood, then certain rites perform we must. The child is not Kildean, but if it has enough noble blood then it is not not Kildean either."

"Are you saying it may still be accounted as royalty of Kildea?" asked the Governor with interest.

The two men looked at each other. "Kildean blood-rules say many things. We must look at the child to determine its status."

"I see, I see. But there is a possibility?"

"Possibility, yes. The child could never serve on the Council of Twelve, but high-ranking could still be it," said the man uncomfortably.

"Fascinating," said the Governor, "I have not had the opportunity to learn much of the royal family of Kildea, but I can immediately see its laws of succession and inheritance are quite different from ours. I don't suppose you'd mind telling me a little about the royal hierarchy--is this Council of Twelve important?"

"Any other time, we would be very pleased to explain our government, but I am very afraid we have not the time. Imperative we find the girl quickly is it."

"That is a pity. Am I to take it that you desire to continue your journey as soon as possible then?"

"That is our desire, yes," said one of the men.

"Then I grant you free passage throughout Zeltennia, and wish you much luck on your search," said the smiling Governor, " However, I must make one request of you gentlemen."

The two men glanced at each other. "If within our power and authority is it, we shall grant it," said one of the men.

"I ask that you bring the child to me, so that I might know it and honor it," said the Governor, "and by extension honor Kildea as well."

"We will gladly do this," they said.


* * * *


The two men walked along the paved path to the airfield. As they walked, a carriage pulled by twin steeds came up behind them, ringing its bell as it came. The two men walked off the path and stood still as the cart raced by. As it passed, both the animals pulling it swerved off the other side of the path, going so far that one wheel ran in the grass. The coachman cursed loudly as he yanked at the reins, trying to keep the cart and the animals under control.

"We should not stand so near the path," one of the men said as they resumed walking on the path.

"It doesn't matter anymore," said the other, "we shall not ever return here in any case."

"Do you think he believed us?" asked the first man.

"He believed us enough to leave us be for a few days," said the other, "but I did not like his interest in the child. Was it really necessary to go into that much detail? I fear you've awakened his greed."

"'The best lies do not stray far from the truth.' You know I have no great skill in deception and require strategies to succeed."

"But now he will certainly keep his eyes on the child, and what if he notices what he should not? We should not have spoken with him to begin with."

"That cannot be helped now. Our fears might be premature in any case; we don't know if this child is the one or not."

"No, we don't. But I doubt that woman would have fled if she hadn't thought it was the one, damn her. She might have even altered it--I put nothing past her."

"It will not avail her. If we find the child, all will be well. If we do not, then we simply start again."

The two men heard another bell approach along with the rhythmic thump-click of clawed feet running on stone. They turned off the path and walked a short distance before stopping. Squinting as the wind blew into their faces, they watched another carriage go past. It ran by quickly, without hesitating or faltering.

"See?" said one of the men.

"It has nothing to do with that. The wind was in our favor this time, that's all," said the other.

"Perhaps," said the first as they walked towards the path.

"What of the governor and his interest in the child? We must do something."

"I think I have an idea. But first we must see if the child generates a response or not. We cannot get ahead of ourselves."

"If this child isn't the one, or if that woman has broken it or sealed it, I will find her and visit the torments of the Third Hell upon her myself."

"I wish you luck, though I doubt very much that she still walks on this world."

"Then I will wait for her to surface and consume her when she does. She cannot escape us forever."


* * * *


The two men walked along a dirty street on the outskirts of Bervenia. The locals did not bother to conceal their stares as the two walked and spoke in a foreign tongue. More than once a poor man begged them for alms, more than once a religious man begged them for salvation, and more than once an enterprising man asked them where he could obtain clothes such as theirs, that shimmered in the light and remained clean though they walked in the dust. The two men gave a few coins to the beggars and ignored the others.

"This is far too risky a plan," said one.

"It will work," said the other, "and it solves very neatly the problem of our curious Governor."

"But what guarantee do we have that they will use the protective agents we gave them?" asked the first.

"The look in their eyes as they knelt before use was guarantee enough for me."

"I still don't like it. The others will hear of this when we return. just let him go, after you saw the response! There can be no doubt it is he."

"There is no doubt. That is why I left him. He must be hidden, and the best way to hide something is to lose it. And he will be lost, both to us and any who would find him through us. But he will not be lost forever. We'll know when he makes contact, and then we will find him and join under him."

The other man remained silent as they walked. They came to an open square and stopped. "There," said one as he pointed, "let us be done with this and leave here."

"Eager to get back to the airship, are you?" asked the other as they walked towards the well.

"Eager to be rid of your foolish plans, I am. This smells of disaster, I tell you."

"That is a risk we took in the beginning. But it is a risk we must take if we wish to bring about our Kingdom of God."

"Hrmmph. You take your little role too seriously."

One of the men threw a bucket down into the well and let it fill with water. Once it was full he began to pull it back up.

"There is nothing wrong with that. Relax, brother. I know what I am as well as you do. Don't believe my pretensions go more than skin deep."

The bucket nearly at the top of the well, the man bent over and reached into the well to grab the bucket. As he did, he emptied a small vial into the bottom of the well. He pulled the bucket up and set it on the stone lip of the well. Producing a small cup, he took a drink of the water.

"Was that all of it?" asked one of the men as he accepted the cup from the other.

"Yes," said the other, "It should reach maximum activity in about four days--long enough for our gift to impart them a resistance."

"And how far will it spread?" asked the first.

"That depends on how the ground-water flows. I expect it to affect no more than a one league radius. The city should survive."

The man holding the cup gave a long look at the other. "I hope you know what you are doing, for your sake," he said.

"For all of our sakes," replied the other somberly.


Inside a small house a few blocks away, a young man and woman watched their child sleep. A single dish containing incense smoked, filling the room with a scent that was at once both suffocating and refreshing. Large clumps of incense lay scattered on the table along with a pile of gold and a blue gem.

"So much!" exclaimed the woman, "I do not think that even the town cathedral has so much incense! And smell it! Is it not different from the cathedral's? It must be very holy."

"...aye, it must," said the young man slowly, "Holy enough for a Child of God."

"The Magi told us we must keep the incense burning until it runs out, did they not?" asked the young woman.

"...a Child of God." repeated the young man.

"Arjos, are you listening to me?" asked the woman.

The young man blinked. "I am sorry, Maki. I was not. I was just thinking about what the Magi said. I cannot believe our Ajora is truly a Child of God."

"But he is," said Maki, "and you must believe it. We found him in our own barn wrapped in a strange cloth, and he has not the features of any person I have ever seen--his are much more noble. Do you not remember? We joked even then that an angel had dropped him. And then two Magi come and tell us he is destined to bring the Kingdom of God to our earth, give us gifts honoring his birth. This child was born in Heaven, there can be no other explanation!" She walked over to the sleeping child and knelt by his bed. "I knew you were special the moment I saw you," she murmured as she touched his cheek with her finger.

Arjos walked up behind his wife. "Yes, he truly is a Child of God," he said as he watched the child sleep peacefully. He stood there, his hand on Maki's shoulder, and watched the child for a few minutes. Then he walked back to the table and looked again at the gifts the Magi had brought: incense, a stone, and gold. The incense was to celebrate this holy occasion, and they were to keep it burning until it was completely gone. The stone they had only described as the child's birthright, and said that Maki and Arjos were not to touch it unless absolutely necessary. And they had also brought gold, more gold than Arjos had expected to see in his entire life. But with the gold came a prophecy: they would have to leave Bervenia soon. There would be a sign--the Magi did not say what--and upon that sign Maki and Arjos would take young Ajora and leave Bervenia, leave Zeltennia. The Magi said that they should go far away, and remain hidden until the boy was gr! own. The gold was for that journey.

Arjos fingered the gold. He did not want to leave Bervenia, but he would sooner die than disobey the word of God. He only hoped that the sign would be a long time coming.

He looked again at the stone. It was a brilliant blue color, tear-shaped, and though small it gave an impression of size and depth. And the way it shone in the light! Arjos knew it was a worthy birthright of a Child of God. As he looked at it, it flashed refulgently in the light. Arjos looked closer. It seemed as though the light came from within the stone. But perhaps not; Arjos knew little of gems and their properties. Still, the closer he looked the more he seemed to think the stone shimmered and shone with its own light. There! There was no mistaking that, that could not have been a simple reflecti-

"Arjos," called Maki, "Ajora is awake again, and I think he is hungry."

Arjos looked up and had to blink twice before the room would come into focus. He shook his head and concentrated on what his wife had just said.

"Shall I begin fixing his food?" he asked.

"No, do not trouble yourself with that; I will attend to it. But could you go to the market for us? With the Magi's gold, I'm sure we can provide better food for little Ajora."

"Of course," said Arjos. He looked at the pile of gold on the table and took a piece. And then, grabbing his sack and walking stick, he walked out of the door and towards the market. He hadn't gone a block when a shadow passed over him. He looked up and saw an airship heading east. As he watched it disappear on the horizon, he realized it was probably the Magi returning to their far-away home.


With thanks to the regulars and newbies of the GameFAQs FFT board. Especially AnimeMaster411, Sword Seraph, and the numerous others who share my interest in FFT's story.


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