Duke Bardorba’s Manor
[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!
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?
HARDIN: ...show them who they’re dealing with!
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!
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.]
SYDNEY: ...well? Have you found it?
CULTIST: It’s no use.
SYDNEY: Keep looking, damn you!
CULTIST: I’m telling you, Sydney!
SYDNEY: Stop your whimpering!
[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?
[Sydney turns sharply and marches up to Hardin.]
SYDNEY: You doubt me, Hardin?
[Hardin backs away nervously.]
HARDIN: F-forgive me! I did not intend....
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!
[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.]
[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 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!
[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...
[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...?
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.
MAN #2: Fire...my Leige?
DUKE: The fool Sydney used his wyvern.
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!
ROSENCRANTZ: And Parliament?
DUKE: I’ll deal with those watchdogs... They won’t trouble you further.
ROSENCRANTZ: And the young Lord Joshua?
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?
[A room with several people lying dead. Merlose, a VKP agent, is standing over them.]
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
[Outside Leá Monde. Ashley comes up from a passage that leads underground.]
MERLOSE: The two sentinels are dead...murdered.
[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.
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...
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.
MERLOSE: ...what’s this?
ASHLEY: That’s what I’m here to find out.
[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.
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.
ASHLEY: Tell me what you know about Müllenkamp and this Sydney fellow.
MERLOSE: ...Sydney Losstarot. Leader of the religious cult Müllenkamp.
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--
ASHLEY: ...or merely another of the Cardinal’s witch-hunts?
MERLOSE: There are many would-be prophets in the land these days, but
MERLOSE: ...in any case, he has a strange power.
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 heads for the passage leading above ground. She looks up the passage. Sydney stands at the top, looking down at her.]
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,