AUTHOR'S NOTE: I am currently playing Vagrant Story through, and while doing so I've taken it upon myself to write out the script. This fic will contain scenes from the game (as this chapter is) as well as scenes I have added myself. Be advised that all dialogue in this chapter is taken directly from the script.
Disclaimer: I do not own anything affiliated with Vagrant Story. This applies to the story in it's entirety.
Even if Sydney can see the past and clasp the truth, how are we to know if he speaks it? - Callo Merlose
Callo Merlose was cold.
She shivered as a breeze brushed over her, carrying a chill out of place in this season. Clad only in the light plate armor of her Inquisitor's rank, she was overly susceptible to the changes in temperature. She was standing at the foot of a worn stone staircase which descended down into the earth, quickly lost to shadow. She shuddered then as she remembered what was rumored to roam down there, and took several steps away. The breeze faded, as if it followed the stairs up from the bowels of the earth, and the warmth of the late autumn sun washed over her once more. She wrapped her arms around herself and turned her gaze to the north, where in the distance the ruins of Leá Monde rose to cast their shadow; a haunting reminder of what had once been. There was a sound behind her, and she whirled, startled.
It was Ashley Riot, fellow agent of the VKP and a Riskbreaker, climbing out of the ground from the stone stairwell. He was a tall man, sturdy, clad in the armor of his rank. There was a small curved blade at his waist, and another long blade strapped across his back. He carried himself with self assured grace; the movement of a warrior. Ashley was a handsome man, chestnut haired and muscular; he carried a reputation within the VKP as being somewhat detached and distant. As he reached solid ground he looked at Callo expectantly. "... well?"
"The two sentinels are dead ... murdered." She replied.
"Hmm ..." He moved then to stand beside Callo, and together they stared into the dark passage he had just left. "This the only way in?"
She gestured then to Leá Monde, were it sat impenetrable and untouched for centuries. "There's a great crevasse preventing entry above ground."
"And from the sea?"
Callo shook her head. "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."
"Not on account of the whirlpools, I'd wager ..." Ashley muttered, his own gaze on the distant city.
"Surely, it was men that killed them." Callo said. She looked again to the passage looming before them, a cavernous mouth waiting to swallow them both. "How was it down there?"
Ashley smiled without mirth. "Come down and see for yourself ..." And without further comment, he moved to the stairs and descended again. She stared after him a moment, feeling an overwhelming sense of trepidation wash over her; she shook her head and quickly followed him.
It was not a long descent, and soon she found herself in a large, cavern-like room. Upon further inspection she realized it was the remnant of a wine cellar; there were large casks a lined up along one wall, and broken bottles in one corner. What caught and held her attention, however, where the bodies of two men lying on the floor. She took a hesitant step forward, close enough to see the blood, already congealing, beneath both forms. "... what's this?"
Ashley was opposite where she stood, on the other side of the bodies, examining a door sealed by a large iron grate. "That's what I'm here to find out. It does seem well fortified for a wine cellar ..."
Merlose walked to the nearest body lying next to the a shelf full of wine crates. She knelt, examining the face of the dead man and attempting to keep her voice steady. "Oh? Leá Monde's wineries were once vied the best of Valendia." She quickly rose, putting distance between herself and the corpse. "Since they went out of production, the remaining vintages sell for a premium."
There was a harsh screech as Ashley pulled the iron grate open. He glanced back at her. "... if I find any, consider them yours."
"You plan to go alone?"
There was no mistaking the gentle condescension in his tone. "An agent with no combat experience would just be a liability."
Callo said nothing, and a faint tinge of color arose in her cheeks. Noticing this, Ashley went on, "Tell me what you know about Múllenkamp and this Sydney."
She stepped back and leaned against the shelf. "... Sydney Losstarot. Leader of the religious cult Müllenkamp. His real name and age are unknown. One of the many self-styled prophets of the apocalypse."
"So why," Ashley wondered aloud, staring at the corpses with a thoughtful frown, "would a cult missionary commit such a crime?"
Callo was silent a moment before replying. Said crime was the entire reason the both of them were here; Sydney and his Müllenkamp followers had kidnapped the grandson of Duke Bardorba before setting fire to the ducal manor. The VKP had discerned that Sydney was headed for the ruined city of Leá Monde, but beyond that had no idea what his purpose was."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 just a front. Perhaps this incident is a sign of falling out between the two?"
"... or merely another of the Cardinal's witch hunts?" Ashley mused.
"There are many would be prophets in the land these days, but Sydney is ... different." Callo said. "His prophecies ring true, and those enraptured by the way he hums revelations - as though they were simple ballads! All say the same: he is a miracle."
"In any case," she continued when Ashley said nothing, "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 ..."
Movement caught her eye; Ashley had turned and was now standing before the open door. He cast her an unreadable glance. "Sounds like you're quite taken with him yourself." He stepped through the doorway.
Ashley paused, and turned slightly to give her a small smile. "If I do not return by the morrow's eve, inform HQ, won't you?" Without waiting for an answer, he swiveled and walked through, quickly lost to the shadows. The iron grate closed behind him.
Callo stared after him, one hand fisted and held to her chest. "Godspeed ... " she murmurred. She shook her head after a moment, and turned away. Stepping over the bodies with distaste she walked to the stairwell, casting once last glance to the door where Ashley had vanished before turning her attention to the passage leading above ground.
She gasped. There, standing at the top and watching her with an amused smile, was none other than Sydney Losstarot.