Vagrant Story
 
 
 

Duke Bardorba’s Manor
Greylands 2:32 AM

[Inside, Guildenstern has just finished stabbing someone. There are two bodies are slumped on the floor in the room. He calmly sheathes his sword as a Knight comes in. A raging fire can be seen burning outside the window, and a light rain is falling.]

GUILDENSTERN: Have you found Sydney?

KNIGHT: Not yet, Sir.

[Guildenstern walks to the window]

GUILDENSTERN: Put out the fires, or we’ll lost the manor and all will be for naught!
Split the knights into two groups, one to douse the blaze, the other to exterminate the traitors!

KNIGHT: Right away, Sir.

[The Knight exits. Guildenstern continues to stare out the window. We get an inside view, and we can see a man he killed slumped against the wall.]

GUILDENSTERN: ...where are you, Sydney?

 

*****

 

[Outside the Duke’s manor, Ashley is running through the rain to get in. There are sounds of pursuit behind him. He calmly walks through the gate, draws his sword, and cuts the block holding it open. The gate drops, sealing his pursuers outside.]

 

*****

 

[Shots of the manor’s courtyard. There are several people gathered, pacing restlessly. A bearded man, Hardin, is standing on the stairs, arms crossed and apparently giving orders.]

HARDIN: ...show them who they’re dealing with!
Torch the chambers and kill the hostages!

CULTIST #1: Aye!

[Hardin turns and enters the manor. Ashley is hiding in the corner of the courtyard behind some crates. A small box wobbles in a very precarious position on the edge of the covered crates.]

CULTIST #2: ...we’ve no time!
Let’s finish this ‘fore the Blades arrive!

CULTIST #1: Right, let’s do it quick and get out of here!

[Ashley stands. His movement causes the wobbling box to fall. The cultists immediately look over to his hiding place.]

CULTIST #1 and #2: Who goes there?!

[Ashley slowly draws his sword.]

ASHLEY: Here we go...

[The cultists close in. A battle ensues that Ashley easily wins. Ashley heads for the same door Hardin left through.]

 

*****

 

[Inside the manor, Ashley is walking down a long hallway. He stops in front of a door that is slightly ajar and listens to the conversation within.]

SYDNEY: ...well? Have you found it?

CULTIST: It’s no use.
There’s nothing like that here-- Anywhere.

SYDNEY: Keep looking, damn you!

CULTIST: I’m telling you, Sydney!
The Knights are nearly upon us!

SYDNEY: Stop your whimpering!
You’d come this far only to leave empty-handed?
Now, search!

[Ashley moves to the side to hide as more cultists exit the room. Within the room, Sydney and Hardin are left arguing.]

SYDNEY: Curse the duke! Where’s he hidden it?!

HARDIN: You sure the Duke really has it?
Does the damned thing even exist?

[Sydney turns sharply and marches up to Hardin.]

SYDNEY: You doubt me, Hardin?
You doubt my power?!

[Hardin backs away nervously.]

HARDIN: F-forgive me! I did not intend....
But Sydney, any longer, and there will be no escape for us!

[Sydney turns.]

SYDNEY: Fine, then! Bring the boy and come with me!!

[Hardin nods and leaves. Through the door, we see Sydney walking to a table. A sword rests on the tabletop.]

ASHLEY: Don’t move, Sydney!
I’ve a bowgun aimed at your heart!

[Sydney raises his hands, a faint smirk on his face. Ashley walks forward with the bowgun held out.]

ASHLEY: Now, turn ‘round slowly!

[Sydney turns around, arms still raised.]

SYDNEY: ...you’re no Knight, are you?

[Ashley throws a rope in front of Sydney.]

ASHLEY: Bind your legs with that rope.

SYDNEY: Ah, a Riskbreaker... A royal guard dog!

ASHLEY: Did you not hear me? Bind yourself, now!

SYDNEY: This is an unfortunate turn of events....

[Sydney grabs his sword.]

ASHLEY: Hold it!!

[Ashley shoots him. Sydney lies on the floor with a bowgun bolt through his heart. Ashley walks over slowly and leans down to investigate the body. Hardin comes, holding a child under his arm.]

HARDIN: Sydney!!

[Ashley looks up sharply, and is immediately knocked down by a blow from behind. Sydney is standing again, sword in hand, the bolt still in his heart.]

SYDNEY: I... I’m the one you want.
Hardin...go quickly... Go...to Leá Monde...

[Hardin nods and leaves with the child.]

ASHLEY: You! Stop!

[Sydney attacks again. Ashley jumps back. They face each other again. Ashley draws his sword.]

ASHLEY: What’s going on? You were most certainly dead!
Leave the back-from-the-grave stuff to the faerie tales.

[Sydney drops his sword. He slowly closes one of his claws around the protruding bolt and yanks it out. Blood runs from his mouth and sprays on his chest as he drops to his knees.]

SYDNEY: You’ve...given me...quite...a scratch...
Show...a little more respect...for faerie tales, Riskbreaker.
D’TOK!!

[A wyvern crashes through the stained glass dome on the ceiling. It lands between Sydney and Ashley and roars, many shards of glass impaling its body.]

SYDNEY: My...apologies... I’ve no time...to toy...with you.

[Sydney throws himself through the window. The dragon attacks, and Ashley easily defeats the wounded creature. Ashley walks up to the window Sydney escaped through and looks out over the manor. There is no trace of Sydney below. A flock of birds flies by. The rising sun shines through the broken window as he stands there.]

ASHLEY: Leá Monde...?

 

*****

 

The body is but a vessel for the soul,
A puppet which bends to the soul’s tyranny.
And lo, the body is not eternal,
For it must feed on the flesh of others,
Lest it return to the dust whence it came.
Therefore must the soul
Deceive, despise, and murder men.
-- A. J. Durai

 

*****

 

Duke Bardorba’s secondary residence
Greylands 5:38 A.M.

[Inside another manor. An older man sits in a bed, another is knelt before him, and two others stand by his bedside.]

DUKE: ...so, the knights who came were not the King’s men, but the Cardinal’s?

ROSENCRANTZ: Knights of the Cross led by Guildenstern, my Lord.

MAN #1: ‘The Crimson Blades’-- in direct service to the Cardinal.

ROSENCRANTZ: Guildenstern led his men toward Leá Monde in pursuit of Sydney.

DUKE: ...I see.
...send one of your men in the armor if these “Holy Knights”... Set fire to the manor.

MAN #2: Fire...my Leige?

DUKE: The fool Sydney used his wyvern.
We can’t have witnesses telling the world, now can we?

MAN #2: But the hostages... Your family!

DUKE: Irrelevant! Burn it. Burn it to the ground!!

[Lightning crashes outside. The men leave, the kneeling man remains.]

DUKE: ...what of Parliament?

ROSENCRANTZ: The VKP (Valendia Knights of the Peace) have formed a squad to deal with the felons.

DUKE: The Riskbreakers... Those meddling fools!

ROSENCRANTZ: Your will, my lord?

DUKE: ...Leá Monde is yours. Let no one out of the town!
You can deal with Sydney and the Blades there.

ROSENCRANTZ: And Parliament?

DUKE: I’ll deal with those watchdogs... They won’t trouble you further.

ROSENCRANTZ: And the young Lord Joshua?

[Lightning.]

DUKE: ...he is my light...my soul. If aught should befall him...

ROSENCRANTZ: As you wish. My Lord.

[Rosencrantz stands. We see a portrait of the Duke and his family, and a close-up of the small child Hardin was carrying.]

DUKE: Am I fated to rot and wither...even as I breathe?

 

*****

 

11:42 AM

[A room with several people lying dead. Merlose, a VKP agent, is standing over them.]

 

*****

 

Leá Monde is an old town
with a history of over 2000 years.
Its walls have seen many battles--
they are stronger than the mightiest
forts of Valendia, and as the sun wheels
through the sky, the beauty of their
shifting colors surpasses that of any palace.

The grand cathedral that towers over the town center
is a symbol of Leá Monde’s
indomitable spirit, and is the holy ground of
the devout Iocus Priesthood.
At its height, Leá Monde was a thriving
community, 5000 people strong.
25 years ago, a great earthquake brought
that chapter in Leá Monde’s history to a close.

 

*****

 

Leá Monde

[Outside Leá Monde. Ashley comes up from a passage that leads underground.]

ASHLEY: ...well?

MERLOSE: The two sentinels are dead...murdered.

ASHLEY: Hmm...

[Ashley comes up and looks down the passage with Merlose.]

ASHLEY: This the only way in?

MERLOSE: There’s a great crevasse preventing entry above ground.

ASHLEY: And from the sea?

MERLOSE: Nay, sunken reefs that rose during the earthquake form a gauntlet of whirlpools... Too dangerous.
You do know we sent agents in, thinking those ruins were the Müllenkamp base.
Not one returned.

ASHLEY: Not on account of the whirlpools, I’d wager...

MERLOSE: Surely, it was men who killed them.

[Merlose looks down into the passage.]

MERLOSE: How was it down there?

ASHLEY: Come down and see for yourself...

[They descend.]

 

*****

 

...according to the survivors,
our comrade Agent Riot headed
out for Leá Monde before noon.
Of course, the reports are vague and we
cannot deny the possibility of inaccuracies,
yet given that there is only one path to
infiltrate Leá Monde, this office believes
the reports to be valid.

 

*****

 

[Ashley and Merlose are in a cave-like room. There are two bodies lying on the floor, and a doorway sealed with an iron grate.]

MERLOSE: ...what’s this?

ASHLEY: That’s what I’m here to find out.
It does seem well fortified for a wine cellar...

[Merlose is kneeling near a shelf full of wine crates, looking at one of the bodies.]

MERLOSE: Oh? Leá Monde’s wineries once vied the best of Valendia.

[She stands.]

MERLOSE: Since they went out of production, the remaining vintages sell for a premium.

[Ashley opens the grate.]

ASHLEY: ...if I find any, consider them yours.

MERLOSE: You plan to go alone?

ASHLEY: An agent with no combat experience would just be a liability.

MERLOSE: ......

ASHLEY: Tell me what you know about Müllenkamp and this Sydney fellow.

MERLOSE: ...Sydney Losstarot. Leader of the religious cult Müllenkamp.
His real name and age are unknown. One of many self-styled prophets of the apocalypse.

ASHLEY: So why would a cult missionary commit such a crime?

MERLOSE: I do not know what the Cardinal thinks, but the VKP believes he is no prophet--
Indeed, he is in dark alliance with Duke Bardorba, who controls Parliament from behind the scenes.
That the cult is but a front.
Perhaps this incident is a sign of some falling-out between the two?

ASHLEY: ...or merely another of the Cardinal’s witch-hunts?

MERLOSE: There are many would-be prophets in the land these days, but Sydney is....different.
His prophecies ring true, and those enraptured by the way he hums revelations--as thought they were simple ballads!--
All say the same: “He is a miracle.”

ASHLEY: ........

MERLOSE: ...in any case, he has a strange power.
He can guess the past of those he meets. He can even read hearts...
They say his charisma is such that his followers offer both body and soul to him...

ASHLEY: ...sounds like you’re quite taken with him yourself.

[Ashley heads through the doorway.]

MERLOSE: Agent Riot!!

ASHLEY: If I do not return by the morrow’s eve, inform HQ, won’t you?

[The grate closes behind him.]

MERLOSE: Godspeed....

[Merlose heads for the passage leading above ground. She looks up the passage. Sydney stands at the top, looking down at her.]

 

*****

 

...we sent men to monitor the abandoned
mineshaft that leads to Leá Monde.
All were found dead.
At the entrance, other bodies were found:
two knights of the Cardinal’s Crimson Blades.

Our men were murdered with swords,
but the Knights’ wounds show they died
by their own hands.
At present, we have taken the bodies
into our custody, and our specialists
are continuing the examination.
-- Excerpt from Graylands
Incident Investigation Board (section 3.14)

 

Part 2