Final Fantasy XII: The Sword of House Solidor
By Kei

ONE
THE TWO DEAD BROTHERS

Bloodied, his hands were.

Done, the deed is.

Crimson flowed from the hilt of the blade, traveling slowly across cold metal made warm by the life of flesh, trailing a pattern of red across silver before reaching its end at the pinnacle of its trip, the apex which was only followed by the drop from the tip of the blade to the ground below.

And, yet, what have I done?

And thus it happened, drip, drip, drip, crimson mingling with crimson, adding yet another drop to the rivers of one's lifeline spilled and flowing across the floor, a new carpet of blood painting a royal red across pearly white.

It was to be done. They were to be judged as ordered.

He breathed, breathed heavily as he sucked in the air that he needed to clear his head, to purge his minds of the runaway thoughts going through his mind, tearing it into two even as he stood there, sword in hand, breathing. Alive, before two dead bodies that lay before him.

They were my brothers!

It had been so easy, so easy, for the sixteen-year-old youth, dressed in his imperial splendor, to walk up to his brothers, stay below their alarm even as he did so, before drawing his sword and impaling the first. No one could've expected their brother, who loved and was loved so much, to suddenly draw a dagger out of nowhere with no sign of danger. The brother never saw it coming, and he never had a chance to defend; the youth had slipped the blade in surgically, right through the liver, then up as he surgically cut through major blood vessels before moving the blade to the heart with ferocious strength. Years of practice had taught the youth exactly where to insert his sword, and where to cut. His brother's flesh was severed neatly like paper before scizzors.

The second brother had moved faster, seeing the death of their own flesh and blood, and was quick on the uptake even as the youth had moved on him, even before the first body had hit the ground, joining his fluids on the cold floor. Swords clashed, and the youth slashed, sparks flying as blade met shield. The brother pushed; the youth had fallen back, but regained balance just as he landed in a feline manner. Circling, the youth used his shield to block the brother's own impending strike, forced it aside, and thrust the sword true, even as the brother also parried the blow aside with his own aegis. But youth was favored with agility, and the youth found his own advantage as the distance closed. Finding an opening between the two, the youth knew what to do as training kicked in through countless close-quarters exercises; dropping the shield, the youth slammed his left elbow into the brother's throat, crushing his windpipe. As the brother attempted to breath, gasp in a world gone airless, the youth was already upon him, and the tip went through the chest, drawing blood once more.

But even as the life began to drain out of the second brother, even with his windpipe in a state of ruin, his gasp, a hoarse, rasping sound, still managed to make out the words, "You...you would do this? To your...brother? You...lapdog...of the Senate?"

And the second body dropped as the youth pulled his sword from his brother's chest.

And then the youth breathed. Gasped for breath. Trying to overcome his fatigue and his panic.

This is the fruit of my work, my actions. The death of my brothers forever taints my soul, the blood of our father forever taints my hands. Because I was ordered to.

Already, the sound of metal on marble drew near, the sound of Archadian soldiers closing in, their footsteps echoing across the halls as they converged on the disturbance. Undoubtedly, the fight had caused a ruckus, and attention had been drawn to the room. The soldiers knew to keep tight security where their lords retired, yet knew to stay far enough to give them their privacy. The youth did not pay the footsteps much heed, although he could already imagine the shock of the soldiers who would soon arrive, to discover that his face was splattered with the same blood that ran through his veins, and the bodies of his two brothers on the floor.

No. No, I don't want this.

His heart thumped wildly against his chest, threatening to tear his rib cage asunder. He felt dizzy and nauseous; the bloody seemed to be caking onto his skin, becoming part of his flesh. The eyes of his dead brothers, distant and vacant, somehow still seemed to stare right into his soul. The world around him seemed to bulge with his head as blood pounded in his ears, throwing off his orientation. He fought tooth and nail for every inch of his consciousness and sanity.

It had to be done.

With effort, the youth began to put into practice a move he had trained himself since days of childhood unmemorable. Slowing the wildfire beating in his heart, he gathered himself together, taking deep breaths to slow them, make him seem normal. He closed his eyes, inhaled, clearing his mind, forcing all of his thoughts out violently. Almost on his toes, he tilted his head back, eyes closed, searching for complete release...until he was back on the balls of his feet, calm, practiced. His eyes opened, and the sphere behind those eyelids were cold, a mirror barrier between himself and the outside world, revealing absolutely nothing, reflecting only those who looked into them.

The youth was just in time. He turned around, turning those twin mirror surfaces to those who burst in, three Archadian soldiers, fully armed. The three of them stopped there, trying to take the situation in, then settled their eyes on the only man standing in the room, the dominant figure of the youth.

"My Lord!" one of the soldiers, seemingly a Lieutenant, gasped, alarmed at both the presence of him and the blood on him, "We didn't...I mean, are you fine, my..." then he paused, saw the two bodies of two Princes behind the youth. Blood all over the floor. Sword dyed crimson in the youth's hands. For a moment, the Lieutenant was robbed of his capability to speak. There was only one logical answer to the question that plagued his mind, an answer built up by signs before him, but even now, he could not imagine it.

"My...my Lord," the Lieutenant was stuttering when he finally regained the ability of speech, "I don't...what has happened here?"

The youth continued to look at the Lieutenant with cold, emotionless eyes, eyes that were mirrors, reflections that showed not the warring emotions beneath the surface. "Fret not, Lieutenant," the youth spoke, clenching his throat tight as to prevent any sign of his distress from coming out of his mouth, "On behalf of his Imperial Excellency, Emperor Gramis Gana Solidor, I have come to the lands of Landis to judge my brothers, the First and Second Princes."

Yes, the youth thought, it is coming back to me. Logic. Cold, calm, rational logic. There is nothing to fear. Only the present matters. I must deal with it first before all else. These men, they will follow my orders. I must make them do so.

"A cordon is to be placed surrounding this room," the youth continued before the Lieutenant could put in a word edgewise, his voice projecting the full magnitude of imperial command, "Nary a man shall see this tragedy, and nary a word of this shall leave this room. The three of your now bear the burden of a secret that shall not know the light of day."

The three soldiers there continued to stand there, speechless. The youth decided not to wait for them to respond; his orders were to be given with deliberate rapidness, given from one suited to command. There was no luxury present to afford him to wait for them to He turned to one of the other soldiers.

"To Judge Zargabaath a summons shall be dispatched," the youth ordered, "Make haste with the message to Archades."

The soldier seemed to snap awake with this order, and immediately raised his arm to his chest, an Archadian salute. "At once, my Lord," the soldiers complied, and immediately ran out the door, eager to leave the presence of a bloody man and an even bloodier room. The other two soldiers seem to have regained their wits as well, and, after a salute, began to coordinate efforts to place a cordon on the room. Already, voices were heard ordering others away, that none was to walk into the rooms of the two Princes, nor was any permitted to speak of them. But that mattered not to the youth.

Turning around, he faced the bodies of his two dead brothers, dead and sprawled akimbo across the floor on their own blood. Looking upon them, the mirror of the youth's eyes splintered just a bit, just for a moment, showing the emotions inside, emotions that the youth would've paid very dearly not for anyone to see. But with his back turned onto the soldiers, only his brothers could've seen that crack across its mirror surface, and they certainly weren't in a position to see that crack.

There is regret and sadness, and yet...

A single tear leaked out of the corner of the youth's eye, but no one saw it; the tear quickly mingled with the blood before becoming part of the blood, part of life and death. Emotion was but a game between the two, and, now, no one knew it better than the youth. Steeling himself, bracing himself, tightening his vocal cords as to not show the souls of his brothers in the Netherworld even the slightest sign of weaknesses, shunting away all of the emotions that ran awry like mice in a flooding room, he spoke his set piece.

...The deed is, indeed, done. And I cannot afford to show weakness. Not here.

"I, Vayne Carudas Solidor, judge and condemn you both to oblivious."


Author's Note: Aside from Balthier Bunansa and Basch fon Ronsenburg, Vayne Solidor is one of my favorite Final Fantasy XII characters, and possibly my favorite Final Fantasy villain. His presence commanded another type of character that I immensely enjoyed, and the greatly political man driven to become the next Dynast-King to return history into the hands of man made the story truly turn. After finishing Final Fantasy XII, there was always a desire for me to write a story on Vayne's dark past. And thus, here it is.

Although the spelling and terms are used in accordance to the North American version of the game, the concepts of the game itself were taken from the Japanese version of the game. There were three main classes in the Archadian Empire, which I have dubbed the "aristocrats", the "citizens", and the "denizens" (although "denizens" haven't been used yet). At the same time, I often consulted with the Chinese version of "A War History of Ivalice", a book released by Square-Enix containing the development information of Final Fantasy XII released by the development team. Thus, I knew the inner workings of all of the nations, aspects that were not directly introduced in the game.

The chapters for this story will be very short compared to my other works (if you do not believe me, please check out the prologue for "Final Fantasy VI: Children of the Magi"; it is long). The shortening of the chapters is intentional. I had intended this to be a complete one-shot fic, but I decided to separate the chapters as I discovered that this may span on longer than I had initially anticipated. Because of this, the second chapter will be uploaded along with the first chapter to not keep you hanging.

This fic also explores the minds of each character much more than I had ventured before. Therefore, the use of italics in this story may be heavier than what people are used to from me.

There will be some dates, specifically years, in chapter two. These dates are taken from "A War History of Ivalice", and should be considered official.

Disclaimer: Final Fantasy XII is the trademark of Square-Enix. Most of everything belongs to them...except some parts of the story idea. We all know what they are.