By: Melissa "Dei" McClendon
The home of Leon Shore; Quist, Verdite
A young David Silviera stood at a silent vigil in one corner of the darkened room, his cool green eyes absorbing everything that was now surrounding him, trying to forget what had happened only hours ago. Even in the fragile safety of Leon's home, the soldier kept a firm hand on the hilt of his sword in fear of the unknown. While his hand may have been firm and ready for battle, the rest of his mind and body were ready to fall apart. It had all happened to quickly... And it had been completely unexpected. How could this have happened?...
Leon Shore, the wise and respected half-elf from Melanat Island, turned from his crouching position in front of the bed in time to see Silviera fall to his feet in tears, clasping his head between his hands. "...How could this have happened ?!"He shouted, more to himself than to Leon.
The craftsman sighed, resting a cool washcloth over the woman's eyes that lay in a state in Leon's bed. She murmered something incoherently before more silent tears made their way down her soot-stained cheeks. " Shouting will not change what has transpired this evening, David ." Leon mildly rebuked the soldier as he stood up and straightened out his trousers.
" This can't be happening... Leon, how can you remain calm in a time like this ?1" Silviera demanded, looking up at the half-elf in disbelief.
" Because by getting upset, my mind will be clouded and I will be unable to think clearly . " There was no edge to his voice, the kind-hearted, middle-aged elf was practically incapable of losing his temper. If nothing else, spending years in Necron's Underworld Prison had taught him patience, a virtue they would all need in the impending events. " Besides, we must think of Queen Noel ." He signaled towards the woman laying in the bed. " Her husband, the Holy King Jean Alfred Forrestor has just transformed into something none of us would have expected and he has attacked his own people. His own family... And now she is here thanks to your skills and quick thinking while her son and husband are still trapped in the castle ."
Leon's lecture seemed to have taken the exact opposite effect on Silviera, who promptly broke down again. " I tried to save him... Prince Lyle... He was with the Lady Gigi--"
" Lady Gigi ?!" Leon chimed, his tone betraying the surprise of hearing her name. What is Gigi doing in Verdite?...
" Princess Gigi Budwell Regginis of Granatyki..." Silviera formerly announced as if Leon did not know who Gigi was. " She had protected Queen Noel and Prince Lyle with her magic from the demons... She held them off as we escaped... But the King came... With more of his monsters... The Queen and I were cut off... Princess Gigi ordered us to seek your aid and that she and Prince Lyle would find another escape route... If Queen Noel had not been wounded--" Silviera paused as he choked up on more tears. Leon knew how much Silviera had respected King Alfred and could sympathize with the fact that the shock of the king's transformation was too much for the young soldier.
Alexander would never have allowed Gigi to travel to Verdite alone. I have to get her and Lyle out of the castle before something happens. Alexander may not arrive in time to save them... No, I remain calm... Not only is Gigi an oracle, she is an ArchMage trained by Meryl.. She will be able to protect herself and the prince... But that is no excuse to just leave them there! Damnation...
" Alexander will surely have my head when he finds out I left his wife and Prince Lyle in the castle... I deserve no less ."
Leon momentarily left his train of thought and looked at Silviera in bemusement. Prince Alexander Thornton Regginis was not a cruel man by far and Silviera knew this. The half-elf simply had to assume Silviera was not thinking rationally, the betrayal of King Alfred and the guilt of having to leave Gigi and Lyle behind was too much for him. " Queen Noel was wounded and you could not reach Princess Gigi and Prince Lyle. Alexander will understand that you had no other choice. You yourself have witnessed--"
" Gigi..." Queen Noel suddenly coughed out, weakly struggling to sit up.
" Your highness !" Silviera rose up and knelt before the Queen of Verdite.
Leon bowed absent-mindedly, the Queen's condition was the only thing he was concerned with at the moment. " Please, your highness, you must rest and allow for your wounds to heal ." With gentle hands, Leon eased Queen Noel back against the pillows, careful not to agitate her wounds with the movement.
" Gigi... And my son... Where ?" Her pale blue eyes looked over to Silviera.
" Your majesty... The Princess Gigi and Prince Lyle are still inside Verdite Castle..." Silviera quietly replied, his feeling of defeat greater now more than ever.
" By the gods..." Queen Noel whispered, closing her eyes as tears began to form. " He's killed them..."
" Princess Gigi and Prince Lyle aren't dead , your highness ." Yet... Leon thought ruefully. " The Princess is a highly skilled mage, she will be able to protect herself and your son until help arrives . "
" Her... Her condition... Alex... Child..."
" Child, your highness? Do you mean the Prince Lyle ?" Leon's eyes suddenly grew alarmed. The Queen struggling had reopened all of her wounds and fresh blood was seeping through the bandages. He moved with skill and urgency, now fearing for the Queen's life as he tried to save her.
With a quiet serenity, she gently lay her hand over Leon's to stop him. The half-elf's eyes looked up to meet the Queen's, who were quietly letting him know it was too late. " The Princess... of Granatyki... is with child... Only a matter of time..."
Gigi is pregnant? Does Alexander know? By Seath, this complicates things! Damnation... Queen Noel's grip on Leon's hand suddenly went limber, causing him to kneel beside her in respect.
" Leon... Please care for my son..." And with that, the Queen of Verdite closed her eyes and succumbed to her eternal sleep.
**The Queen of Verdite**
A deep sadness filled Leon Shore as he gazed upon the tomb of the recently buried Queen of Verdite, a sadness caused by the knowledge that this precious woman had died at the hands of her own husband whom she loved dearly and that her last thoughts were a maternal fear of her son's life. The Queen's death also brought on a sense of dread by the realization that the horrors of the past month were indeed real and that there was no escaping the once Holy King of Verdite.
Silviera had been lost in his own train of thought, all leading to his feelings of failure towards the royal family, when Ed Edmund brushed past him towards the exit of Quist Cemetary and mumbled, "These are dark times we live in..."
" I will not forget this day... Nor will I forget the king's betrayal... He will live to regret what he has done..." Having said that, Silviera bowed towards Queen Noel's grave left Quist Cemetary in silence.
I'm sure nobody will ever truly forget this day... I can only hope we live past it.
It was raining in a steady down pour when Leon finally reached his home along the outskirts of Quist, buried deep in his own thoughts, the half-elf didn't notice the horse grazing near his flower bed in complete defiance of mother nature's tears. As he reached his door, he paused before opening it when he heard voices from within the small home. I wasn't expecting Silviera to return so quickly...
" Your highness."
The only image Leon could see was that of a drinched Silviera bowing, to whom however could not be seen. Hesitant, he stepped into the house, hoping that Princess Gigi had escaped with Prince Lyle but something told him that was not the case.
" Leon !" Prince Alexander Thornton Regginis of Granatyki greeted, all too cheerfully for Leon's taste, which led him to suspect that perhaps the intuitive knight was not fully aware of recent events. Not waiting for his friend's reply, Alexander quickly turned back around to warm his hands by the hearth.
" Alexander... This is an unexpected visit. What brings you here to my humble home ?" Leon found that he couldn't move, his legs seemed to be permanently cemented to the floor. Unsure of what to do, he remained where he stood in the doorway. How can I tell him about Gigi?... And what of his best friend, Alfred?...
Alexander chuckled in amusement, turning to face Leon and warm his backside. " Is it such a crime to visit a friend? What has Alfred's rule done to you, Leon ?" The humor was unintentionally ill-timed and it made Leon dread telling the prince what had happened even more. " So... Forgive my inquisitiveness, but where had you just returned from on such a fine day as this? On the pain of sounding unfriendly, I fear the only thing that kept me from riding straight on into Verdite Castle to see my Gigi was this damnable weather. Has she been to see you since she arrived from Granatyki ?"
Leon hesitated, but decided on the old saying that 'honesty is the best policy'. " I'm afraid not, Alexander. The news of her arrival in Verdite just reached me a few days ago ."
It was then that Silviera lost what control he had managed in the presence of the Prince of Granatyki and quickly found himself at the feet of Alexander, begging for forgiveness. " Your Highness, I have failed... I failed you and the Royal Family of Verdite..."
" What is the meaning of this ?" Alexander whispered, more curious at the moment than alarmed. But as Silviera continued to ramble on about his failure, the prince looked to Leon for an explaination.
" You asked me where I returned from, Alex..." He began nervously. " I just finished laying Queen Noel Forester of Verdite to rest in Quist Cemetary. She died a few days ago..."
" By the gods..." Alexander was shocked more than anything, but once the initial reaction had passed over him, his thoughts went to his best friend. " How is Alfred taking all this? Is Gigi with him and Lyle ?"
This was the part Leon had dreaded the most. Telling Alexander that Alfred was the one responsible for the Queen's death and that his wife and Prince Lyle were still trapped with him inside the castle was worse than facing the Black Dragon himself. " Alfred was the one responsible for the Queen's death. And yes, Gigi and Prince Lyle are still with him..."
" I... I don't understand... Was it an accident ?..." The prince slumped down in a chair, his mind racing.
" I don't think so, Alexander. Something has happened to him... Some sort of transformation... The demons are returning... Monsters have overwhelmed the towns... And most of all, the castle. "
"... Gigi and Lyle are still inside the castle ?"
Silviera finally quit mumbling about his failure and spoke up. " Princess Gigi was with Queen Noel and Prince Lyle when the castle was openly attacked. King Alfred did nothing to stop it, but seemed to openly welcome the invasion. Even when the Queen was attacked, he did nothing... It was Princess Gigi who protected Queen Noel and Prince Lyle... When I arrived to see them safely out of the castle, she had already killed all of their attackers. During our escape, we were overwhelmed by more demons led by King Alfred himself. Queen Noel was mortally wounded... We managed to find an escape route... but I was cut off from Princess Gigi... She ordered me to leave to seek out Leon and that she and Prince Lyle would find another way out. Forgive me, Prince Alexander... Queen Noel was hurt... I shouldn't have left Princess Gigi and Prince Lyle..."
Alexander was silent for what seemed like an eternity to Leon and Silviera. The prince was most likely trying to calm his first reaction, which was to explode at Silviera. Finally, with great deliberation, he whispered, " You did the right thing to follow her orders... Your first duty was to Queen Noel and you fulfilled that duty. Princess Gigi was raised on Melanat Island, she'll be able to protect herself and Prince Lyle until I rescue her... " And ring her slender neck for doing such a damn-fooled thing! Alexander added on a minor note to himself. " Once Gigi and Lyle are safe, I'll deal with Alfred... I can't focus knowing she is in danger..." Damn her! Why did I fall in love with a suicidal archmage?...
Soft violet eyes watched with a quiet intensity from beneath the shadows of an ebony hood at the scurying about occuring in the adjacent room via a minute crack in the stone wall. The demons had succeeded in killing off the room's inhabitants and were now busy disposing of the evidence, unintentionally that is; as long as there weren't any loud noises or sudden movements, the monsters wouldn't notice the two humans dwelling in the next room, one of them watching as they devoured fallen Verdite soldiers.
This is deplorable... She thought with a grimace, finally lowering her eyes away from the sights of the next room. There's been more carnage and senseless bloodshed in a few short hours here than Necron ever accomplished in one of his Underworld Prisons. Thank the gods Alex got Leon out of there before he fell victim to Necron's cruelty... I wonder if word has reached Alex yet of Verdite's current situation here?... He'll be angry with me, undoubtedly. But it couldn't be helped. This was all out of my hands.
"...Gigi...?" Prince Austin Lyle Forester slowly stirred from the makeshift pallet she had arranged for him on the bare floor, his pale blue eyes searching the dim room for the slender form of Princess Gigi Budwell Regginis. " Where are you, Gigi ?"
" Hush, Lyle..." She soothed, almost seeming to float across the room to kneel down beside him. " I'm right here..." Gigi whispered, smoothing down his tousled blond hair.
" Why is it so dark in here ?" He inquired, a slight hint of fear in his voice.
Gigi instantly detected the fear and smiled softly. She had almost forgotten a child's fear of the dark. She had spent most of her life in the darkness of Melanat, so that was most likely another experience stolen from childhood. " The darkness is necessary, young one. For our protection, we must remain hidden ."
Lyle sighed, burying his face in her shoulder. " We're still in the castle, aren't we ?"
The boy is inciteful, perhaps Alex was correct about him. Its still too soon to tell though. Gigi gently patted his back. " Yes, unfortunately ."
" Will Alexander rescue us ?"
Even in the darkness, Gigi could feel the young prince's eyes upon her. " If we have not already escaped by the time he arrives, I'm sure he will ." And then proceed to blister my backside... The princess thought with a cringe. He will think I requested to come to Verdite with full knowledge of these events in the making... And if he discovers that I now carry his child in my womb... Gigi was now the one to sigh. Things were not going to be pleasant for her once her husband ascertained her safety. I would never knowingly risk the life of our child. That is why I lay here in hiding instead of fighting my way free.
" Are you alright, Gigi ?"
" Yes, Lyle... I was just thinking ." Suddenly feeling tired, the princess eased back against the bare stone wall and relaxed for the first time in days.
"...Is it the baby ?" Lyle asked curiously.
Gigi laughed quietly. " Who told you about that ?"
" My Mom told me you were going to have a baby and that I will have to protect it just as you and Alexander would protect me ."
She flashed the boy a warm smile, even if he couldn't see it in the dark chamber. " I would appreciate that ."
"What are you going to name it ?"
" I'm not sure... I thought of the name Teo, after my father. I think it will all depend on Alex, however ."
Lyle nodded and grew silent again, his thoughts trailing from the news of Gigi carrying a child to his own mother, Queen Noel Forester. " Gigi... Do you think my Mom and David got away ?"
David Silviera... He too has an inescapable destiny, and like the others, he will embrace it. He will live for awhile yet... But Queen Noel... Gigi closed her eyes as she reached out to touch Noel's spirit with her own. I knew it... The light that was her life had already extinguished. How can I tell Lyle?... " They got away ."
" Do you think she is safe now ?"
" I believe she is. No harm shall ever befall her again..."
Gigi bit her lower lip, feeling Lyle's gaze turn away. " My Mother... She's dead, isn't she ?" He choked out, covering his face to hide his tears.
" She... passed away... I felt her spirit move on. I'm so sorry, Lyle. I know exactly how you feel. I was around your age when I lost my father ."
" Atleast... She won't have to worry anymore..." Lyle whispered, more to himself than to Gigi as he drew away from her.
Fighting her maternal instincts, Gigi allowed for Lyle to keep to himself. Instead, she tried to focus on their current situation as the prince coped with his mother's death. Feeling somewhat rested, she pushed herself up into a standing position and walked back to the wall with the crack in it. Peering through the minute hole, her violet eyes beheld an empty room. Where did they go?... Oh dear... This can't be good, I should have paid closer attention to them. I hope they didn't detect us...
Sudden fear being added to her already whirlwind of emotions, Gigi was quick to return to Lyle's side as she kneeled beside him in a barely audible whisper. " Young one. You have to pay very close attention to me and do exactly what I say from now on, do you understand Lyle ?"
The prince slowly nodded. " Yes, Gigi..."
" Alright... I need you to stay in here and hide. I'm going to leave and lock the door behind me. You are not to open it for anyone. Not me, not one of the soldiers, not even your father. Especially your father ."
The clashing of swords suddenly echoed throughout the halls and could easily be heard inside the small chamber. Lyle's eyes grew wide in alarm, and in fear. " No, Gigi! You can't go out there! You'll be hurt--"
Gigi quickly covered his mouth to silence him when he grew hysterical. " Lyle, you must remain calm. I will be fine. Just wait here for me, everything will be work out ." The princess hesitantly removed her hand, and sighed with relief when Lyle didn't begin screaming again.
" What about your baby?... Please wait until Alexander comes to rescue us ." He clung to her, not wanting to let go.
" What if Sylviera is out there, Lyle? Whoever they are, I have to help them or they will be killed like all the others ."
Lyle grew silent again. Gigi realized he was thinking about his mother again, so she slowly got up and made her way to the door. " Lock the door behind me, young one ."
As Gigi opened the door and began to leave, Lyle jumped up and ran to her, catching her tiny hand. " Promise me I'll see you again, Gigi. Please don't leave me alone..."
She smiled sadly, bending down to lightly kiss his forehead. " I'll be back. We're leaving this castle together, I promise ."
Lord Olivier Veyrac side-stepped the last skeleton and in one fluid motion, twirled back around and cut the enemy down with his sword. Sweat had already began to collect on his brow, which somewhat worried the middle-aged swordsman in the fact that he hadn't found Prince Lyle or Queen Noel yet. " Damn..." He muttered, wiping the blood off his sword. " Where can they be ?"
A cry rang out and Veyrac barely turned around in time to ward off the swipe of his newest attacker's claws with the blade of his sword. Even though he had reacted in time to block the blow, he was still knocked to the ground by the shear force of the attack. Cursing the constraints of his heavy armor combined with aging, he managed to get back up to face his towering opponent, who was already charging at him again.
As this was taking place, Gigi emerged at the other side of the hall, her slender body and face hidden beneath the folds of her royal blue cloak. Pausing as she witnessed Veyrac get knocked to his feet again, she was quick to react in order to save the knight's life. In the blink of an eye, she whispered a silent incantation, bringing her arms up as a wall of pillaring flames gushed at the demon. It shrieked in agony when the flames scorched and burnt its tough exterior.
Remaining perfectly still, she watched with piercing violet eyes as she waited for the demon to get back up. Veyrac, feeling the danger had passed, started to get back up.
" Don't move ." Gigi commanded, her gaze never leaving the demon. As if rejuvenated by her soft voice, the demon began to stir. Taking in its surroundings, it sluggishly prepared to attack. " Oh no you don't..." The princess whispered under her breath before closing her eyes and summoning the next spell. Before the demon could charge at her, droplets of water began emerging from the ground and landing on Veyrac's attacker. Suddenly, water gushed forth from the ground as if it were a huge geyser, enveloping the monster and disappearing without a trace of its existence.
Veyrac had watched in disbelief, even in the days of his adventures with Houser Forester, he had never witnessed the simulataneous use of such powerful magic, he could only pray the mysterious sorceror was on his side. Standing up, he sheathed his sword and bowed humbly. " I owe you my life ." He began without preamble.
Gigi nodded slightly, acknowledging his gratitude. " Think nothing of it, sir ." She stated quietly, scanning the area for any more potential threats.
" I am a knight, my lady. You have saved my life and I will repay my debt to you. I am Lord Olivier Veyrac, the former teacher of King Alfred and Prince Alexander Regginis of Granatyki ."
" Lord Veyrac ." Gigi acknowledged her husband's former teacher with a curt nod. Now is not the time for protocal and etiquette. I remember Alex mentioning him before though... He's obviously here to rescue Lyle . She removed her hood, exposing her angelic face and rich chesnut brown hair to Veyrac's inspection. " My name is Gigi Reginnis ."
Alexander's wife?... What is she doing in Verdite?... Veyrac quietly mused. " It is an honor to meet you, your highness ." He kneeled.
" I assume you are here to rescue Prince Lyle ." She cut to the point.
" And the Queen Noel. Please tell me they're alright, your majesty ." The knight pleaded.
It is better for the time being that I don't tell him of the queen's death. It may cause him to seek revenge when I must think of Lyle. Gigi smiled reassuringly. " Queen Noel escaped with David Silviera a few days ago. Prince Lyle has been under my protection since then, he is fine ."
" Thank the gods... " Veyrac sighed in relief. " I must get you and Prince Lyle out of here, please take me to him ."
Gigi nodded. " Very well. Follow me ."
Main Hall of Verdite Castle
"We're almost out of here, your majesties ." Veyrac announced, carrying Lyle in his arms as he and Gigi approached the huge double-doors leading to the outside courtyard .
" Gigi, where will we go ?" Lyle whispered quietly, shifting around in order for Veyrac to open the doors.
" To my Uncle Leon's house. That is where I told Silviera to take your mother. He lives in Quist ." Gigi replied as she placed her hood back over her head and walked out into the courtyard with Veyrac. An explosion erupted not far behind them, causing Gigi to turn around and face the billowing flames. This can't be good... Her piercing violet gaze watched the fire die down long enough for a lone figure, tall and masculine to walk through the magically induced element. " Alfred..." She whispered in disbelief.
" Your highness, we must leave !" Veyrac shouted, pausing to wait for her.
" Gigi..." Lyle pleaded weakly, peering out at her from where Veyrac had a hold of him.
The princess remained perfectly still, her breathing becoming shallow as she continued to observe the King of Verdite's approach. He knows the danger that his son will present if he escapes in this manner... He has already killed Queen Noel... He will not hesitate to kill Lyle... Alfred was getting closer with each step, the fires seeming to bow before him and quickly rise up again, seeming to strike at the heavens.
" Princess !!" Veyrac growled in fear, seeing the king within mere yards of Gigi.
She was about to follow the warrior until she suddenly detected a slight change in the atmosphere surrounding them. What is it?... Gigi ignored the protests of Lord Veyrac and the screams of Lyle, all of her attention remained soundly on Jean Alfred Forester.
" Gigi !!!" Lyle cried out, reaching for her only to be pulled back by Veyrac's strong arm.
Time had seemed to have dissipated to a stop for the Princess of Granatyki, all conscious thought focused to penetrate the soul of the approaching man with her own. Speak to me, Vallad... What evil has made its way into the land of Verdite and its Holy King?... In what could quite possibly mean her death, Gigi closed her eyes, everything falling into place like one of Orladan's puzzles. It is not Alfred anymore... The demon within killed Noel... And intends... to kill Lyle... and Alex... Leon... Her spirit was suddenly torn from his, causing her to open her eyes. " I will not allow you to destroy all I hold dear..." She whispered in a low voice, allowing only Alfred to hear her.
" You forgot one, little mage ." Alfred hissed back at her, stopping within mere steps of her. " I will kill you first ."
Gigi managed to flash him a wicked smile, lowering her hood in preparation. " It won't be the first time I've heard that ."
" We shall see ." He stated flatly and without warning, the flames which had receeded behind him rushed forth.
" Princess !!"
" G-I-G-I !!!" Lyle screamed at the top of his lungs as he witnessed the princess collapse to the ground, enveloped by the flames.
Veyrac covered the prince's eyes, himself glancing away. " Foolish girl..."
" Olivier ! " A powerful voice boomed from the castle gates.
The middle-aged knight hesitantly looked back to see Alexander making his way into the courtyard at a breakneck speed. **Get away from here... Now...** A soft voice echoed in his mind. And, with one last glance towards the growing flames where Princess Gigi once stood, he ran with Lyle in tow towards Alexander. Meeting the knight and Prince of Verdite half-way , Alexander quickly turned around and ran with them to the exit.
Once they were past the gates and at the edge of the Quist forest, Alexander stopped and looked back toward the castle. Realizing they weren't followed, he turned to face Veyrac. " Olivier, I'm so glad that you're alive. And Lyle, safe and sound. " A pleased expression crossed his face.
Veyrac sighed, looking from the now unconscious Lyle to Alexander. " It was all thanks to your wife..." He replied sadly.
" Where is Gigi ?" A sickening fear suddenly developed in the pit of his stomach when Alexander realized his wife wasn't with them nor had he seen her when he arrived at Verdite Castle. Veyrac was deafeningly silent, almost dreading to tell his young friend of the tragedy only moments ago. " Olivier, where is my wife ?" The prince demanded, his silver eyes portraying his fear.
" I... I believe she is dead... Only moments ago..."
" W-what ?! How ?!" Alexander choked out.
" Alfred was pursuing our escape. She stopped and just stared at him, even though he meant to kill us all... I do not understand why she did that... Damn it... I should have saved her... I should have protected her... But the flames engulfed her so fast--"
Alexander's mind had been racing with memories of his precious wife, the girl who's father he had saved in the Big Mine on Melanat that had turned into a strikingly beautiful Archmage only a few short years later. Their's was a match foretold by destiny. The first time he looked into those mysterious violet eyes , even though she was just a girl then, it was as if Vallad himself had ordained that Gigi Budwell would be his future bride. It was Fate that brought me back to Melanat, and to her... And now Fate has taken her away from me... The prince was about to break down into broken sobs when Veyrac had mentioned flames, he paused. " Flames ?" The word brought to mind the battle between Gigi and the spirit of the Archmage Thedek, who had challenged her to see if she was truly worthy to control all of the elements, a feat only achieved by Ichrius and Orladan. He too thought Gigi had died that day when he watched her body become enveloped by Thedek's magic-induced flames, only to see her emerge victoriously.
" They were a magic summoned by Alfred--"
That was all Alexander needed to hear before he was running like a madman back towards the castle. " Gigi !!"
I must maintain perfect concentration... Wait for the moment of weakness... Strike... Strike...
Gigi was growing weaker by the second, the strain of concentrating all of her powers in one massive counter-attack while being shrouded in Alfred's dark flames were taking its toll on her fragile form. She wasn't going to last at this rate. He... assumes I am just a girl... an apprentice that got in his way... I must use this to my advantage... Give me strength, Vallad... Please...
The knight and the boy had gotten away, but that was of little consequence to Alfred. Atleast he killed that foolish girl who had been helping them. Veyrac and Lyle would fall into his hands soon enough, as would Alexander and everyone else. The day's events were just a minor setback, the once Holy King would still emerge victorious.
To cleanse the soul with holy fire... Purchased with blood.. Use magic against the one who casts... Almost time..
Pleased with his work, Alfred let his guard down and turned around to return to the main hall.
Now... Gigi closed her eyes, clinching her fists in agonizing pain as tears seeped down her face. Alfred noticed that the flames had suddenly began to die down and quickly turned around. A figure running towards him from the gates suddenly caught his eye.
" Alexander..." He hissed, a feral grin crossing his lips.
...Alex... No... I can't... Gigi lost her concentration then, realizing that her husband's life would now be endangered. Her hunkered form appeared as the flames seemed to have been absorbed into her clinched fists. Alfred paused, looking at her in disbelief. Blood began to drip from her hands where she had dug her nails into the palm in pain. " Val...lad..." She choked out, slowly opening her hands. Gigi screamed as the flames burst forth from her body, hitting Alfred and slamming through the huge double-doors to the main hall. He was finally stopped by a stone pillar.
Struggling into a standing position, Gigi opened her eyes in a haze of tears, her entire body shaking. "...To... seal with blood..." Ignoring Alexander's pleas, she brought her hands up, blood driping from the torn flesh, and waved them in front of the entrance. A slight gush of wind forced the doors shut and a flash of light placed a magical seal on them. Using her last ounce of strength with that spell, Gigi collapsed.
Alexander as already by her side then, catching his wife before she could hit the ground. Taking her into his arms, he brushed the hair out of her face and tried to wake her up. " Gigi... Please answer me. Tell me everything is alright... Gigi..."
Several days later, the house of Leon Shore
Austin Lyle Forester,
In the manuscript enclosed, I have set forth with great effort to provide you with any resource that may be of importance to your impending quest. I know not what may come about after I have gone, and I am sorrowful that I will be unable to speak with you again in the human form. Unfortunately, since you have now taken up this letter and set your eyes upon it, the prophecy has called into necessity that you go forth into the land of Verdite to reclaim your birthright as Prince... the situation has deteriorated as I have foreseen.
By this time in your life, my most trusted friend Leon must have unfolded the woeful tale of what had happened to the man who was once your father... Leon swore on his soul that he would watch over you should anything ever happen to your father or to me.
I do not envy you for the quest you must embark upon, Lyle, but I will be watching over your progress, and, by my halidom, I will be there for you when the hour is at hand.
Be of strong mind and courageous heart, young Prince, for you carry the last blood of the Houser line... it is up to you to bring about peace. I was a companion to your father in the years of his training as a knight. I know of the hidden well of power inherent in your bloodline. When the time of your destiny approaches, you must find the strength to persevere.
In death as in life--
Prince Alexander Thornton Regginis of Granatyki*~*
Alexander afixed his symbol to the letter before raising his silver gaze up to look at Leon. " My friend, this letter and manuscript are for Lyle when he is of age. Will you make sure he receives it ?"
Leon took the documents from Alexander's grasp. " Of course I will ." He replied sadly.
" Also... If you find time in the near future, enclose a written history of Valicia ."
" I understand..." Leon stated, placing the documents safely inside a wooden chest and locking it.
Alexander sighed, noticing the way his friend was acting. " What is it you're thinking, Leon ?"
" I know what you are planning... And why I know I cannot stop you, but please.... Think of Gigi..." The half-elf pleaded, concern for his adopted niece and best friend swelling in his throat.
Alexander glanced away, he had seen to everything in preparation for his trip to save Alfred, everything except his wife. " Gigi will be fine... I'm going to ask Olivier to escort her back to Granatyki where she'll be safe--"
" Damnit, Alex! Stop trying to be the hero for once! I know she won't tell you because she wouldn't want to worry you... But damnit Alexander, somebody has to make you come to your senses! Verdite is not your responsibility. You are not the one who will cleanse this land..."
" I know that, but I must protect its people until Lyle--"
" The people of Verdite are more resilient than you think ." Leon stated flatly.
Alexander didn't understand what Leon was trying to tell him about Gigi, whatever it was... She was hiding something from him. " What is it she isn't telling me about ?" He whispered.
I'm doing this for Gigi... And I'm doing this for him.. I can't let him throw his life away... Leon took a deep breathe, pacing himself. " Gigi is with child, Alexander. I know that when you leave, she will not tell you because she will not want to burden you and your god-forsaken quest ."
" Gigi..." How could she have not told me all this time?... She must have known before she left Granatyki or how else would Leon have known?... How could she have so carelessly risked her life like that?!! She nearly died fighting Alfred!! Damn her... Alexander ran a shaky hand through his light brown hair, feeling an emptiness develop in the pit of his stomach knowing that not only had he come within a breathe of losing his wife, but his child as well. This changes everything now... I didn't want to leave her to begin with. If I had a choice at all, it would be to spend out the rest of my days in her loving embrace... But I can't... I can't abandon my destiny...
" Now do you understand, Alex? You cannot make her a widow just as soon as you had made her a bride. You can't throw your life away, not like this ."
Alexander was silent, everything seeming to delapidate around him. " I understand, Leon... I understand that now its even more important that I do this, so my child will grow up in a peaceful land, without having to worry and fight like I did, like Gigi... I must pave the way for Lyle and the reign of the Golden Kings. This is the fate that Vallad has dealed me. I must fulfil it..."
Leon sighed and shook his head. " I pity you, my friend... May Seath have mercy on your soul..."
Her mother's eyes... Her smile... My daughter will be the most beautiful princess to ever grace the halls of Granatyki Palace since her mother... A faint smile crossed Alexander's lips in the darkened room, but the smile soon faded. I'll never see my daughter... Never hold her in my arms... Watch her as she takes her first steps, or hear her call me... I'll never see her mother again...
" Are you going to leave without saying good bye ?" Gigi quietly whispered, finally breaking the silence that had locked the bedroom for so long.
Alexander glanced over to the bed where his wife's small form rest, still recovering from the past few days. " I was just thinking...How long have you been awake ?" He got up and walked over to the bed to kneel beside her.
" Long enough..." Gigi replied, her sleepy violet gaze looking up at him.
" I didn't want to wake you. You look so peaceful when you sleep..." He smiled at her, taking her bandaged hand in his.
Gigi sighed, looking away from Alexander. She wasn't in the mood for charades. " I don't want you to leave, Alex, but I know you can't stay..."
" Gigi, my love..." He gently caressed her face. " I would want for nothing more than to stay with you forever, but... I must face Alfred and try to save him. I must find the reason behind all of this..."
" I understand, Alex. Let me go with you ."
" W-what ?" Alexander looked at her in disbelief, hardly believing she would suggest such a notion in her condition, especially since she just came from there.
" I know that together, nothing can stop us. Together, we can stop the demon controlling Alfred and bring the true King of Verdite back. Please Alexander... I don't want to lose you ." Gigi was near tears, but only because she knew what was going to happen if she didn't go with him.
" If it were just you and I, I might have considered it, but there is more than just you and I that we must worry about now, Gigi. It is for the honor and duty of my friend that I must do this. It is my destiny to go forth to Verdite Castle and face Alfred. Your fate lies down another path..."
" But it is not your destiny ." Gigi choked out, the tears flowing freely now.
Alexander took her in his arms then, holding her closely to him, perhaps for the last time. " That is for Vallad to decide..."
Gigi stopped crying then, realizing nothing she could say or do would dissuade him. He was enslaved by fate and went to embrace his destiny, which was not the one he imagined. " Then... Promise me something."
" What is it ?"
" Promise me that I'll see you again ." Gigi looked up at him, awaiting his reply.
Alexander smiled and gently kissed her. " I promise, my love. You will see me again ."
The shores of what was now called Lake Noel in honor of the late Queen of Verdite were not nearly as restless as the woman whose soft violet eyes gazed upon them. Her back pressed against the vigilant stone cliffs, she seemed to be staring beyond the lake, beyond the distant horizon where Verdite prayed for the soul of a hero and the soul of a king; those beautiful lavender orbs were entranced by the past, a past in which only her heart would remember.
Memories of her distant home of Melanat raced through her mind as she tuned reality out, caring only for the past and not for the future. Cursed with the gift of sight, she prematurely witnessed the deaths of all she held dear, all save herself for it seemed that while Vallad saw to it that all her loved ones died, she should remain cast in the forged chains of mortality, damned in knowing that Verdite would fall but she could not prevent the will of gods.
Her thoughts went back to her father, and of a childhood where she wanted for nothing save his safety. A sad smile crossed her lips, memories of Leon's stories and his gifts of fresh flowers from his mother's garden and finally, the Seath's Tear. Both were lost to her, but only briefly. To her rescue and to theirs came the handsome and gallant Prince of Granatyki under the vow of retrieving the Moonlight Sword and liberating the residents of Melanat. Little had either realized, but even as a child she had fallen in love with him that day. And she would still love him when she died....
" Damn you, Alexander... We make our own destiny, we do not go to embrace it, that is the difference... You say for honor and duty, but it was not your duty... It was not your destiny... It was the boy's..." She closed her eyes, tears making their way down her alabaster cheeks. " What good is knowing the future if you cannot not change it?.. I want to die with you...."
Suddenly, she opened her eyes and between a haze of tears, looked down at her still flat stomach. " No... I still have a duty... And a destiny... As to what it is... The future has yet to unfold..." With a serene resilience, she turned around and looked at the stone cliff. Bringing her hand up, she waved it across the facing with a silent incantation. Satisfied with the message, she found it soothed her troubled soul and gave her hope.
I am taking my son and going to Granatyki.
Her hand falling back to her side, Princess Gigi Budwell Regginis of Granatyki began her sojourn home, her thoughts not on the past, but on the future, on her future and that of her son's, Prince Alexander Leon Regginis. She would never let him forget his father, the hero of Melanat, Verdite, and Granatyki nor would he ever forget his uncle , the half-elf Leon Shore, a gentle man who would sacrifice his life for the sake of a legend.
"I cannot assume he is dead... He promised me I would see him again..."
Author's Notes: I'm sure most of you realize that this fanfic was based off of a popular RPG dating back to the dark ages of the PSX, a popular game that never received much blitz in the fanfiction world to my knowledge. Anywho, I've wanted to write a fanfic about it for years now, since the first time I played it, but never could put a decent story together. But one day I was just running around killing monsters in the Lake Noel region in King's Field II when I suddenly noticed writing on a cliff near the exit. I read it and discovered it was a note to Alexander, the hero of King's Field, from another character, Gigi, also of King's Field. For some strange reason, this one line note inspired me to write a story about Gigi and Alexander before the events that take place in this story. That idea, however, is entirely on its own and I may not ever post it on the net. As for "Sacrifices", this is the first fanfic of a series of four or five stories I would like to write, depending on how well this one is received. I hope everyone who reads this enjoys it so I'll be inspired to finish working on the next two fanfics featuring Commander Silviera and Leon Shore. As always, I appreciate comments and critiques on this or any of my fanfics, feel free to e-mail me. Thanks and take care!!
~Melissa "Dei" McClendon