Chapter 10 -- Finale
Penelo anxiously twirled a finger through her dyed black hair. The speech was scheduled to be made in two hours, and she only had a few ideas scribbled down. Ashe was sipping tea, hoping that the caffiene would keep her awake for a little longer. She and Penelo had stayed up most of the night working on the speech, with little success.
"How's it going?" came Vaan's sleepy voice as he walked into the room. Vaan had given up long ago and enjoyed a fairly good night of sleep.
"Not much," Ashe replied. "I suppose we will just have to improvise most of it."
"Easy for you to say!" Penelo squeaked. "I've never given a big speech in front of an empire before!"
"Penelo, why don't you just say some stuff that sounds really smart and promising?" Vaan suggested. "It doesn't have to make sense. Half of the stuff Queen Ashe says doesn't make any sen..." His voice trailed off as he saw Ashe's annoyed glare.
"Anyway," Penelo continued, "the nobles probably wouldn't be that stupid to fall for that trick."
A knock was heard at the door. "My lord, the people are beginning to gather in front of the palace."
"Ugh, this is going to turn out so bad..." Penelo buried her face in her hands.
Ashe patted her on the back. "There, there, Penelo. I'll try to do most of the talking so you have time to think of something to say."
Another hour passed. Penelo was dressed in Larsa's finest clothes. From a distance one would not be able to tell her apart from the little emperor. She had enough scribbled down on paper to make a twenty-minute speech, but Ashe informed her that most royal speeches were several hours.
"Yeah, remember that one Vayne gave back in Rabanastre? It just ran on and on," Vaan commented.
"You should pay attention to some of mine," Ashe replied. "Then maybe you'd realize how difficult this process is." She was more annoyed with Vaan than even Penelo was at this point.
A half hour left. Penelo glanced over her speech several times.
"Well, it's not the greatest speech, but it should satify everyone..."
Suddenly, a loud engine could be heard in the distance. Ashe looked out the window and saw a small airship coming toward the palace.
"Hey, isn't that the Strahl?"
Vaan and Penelo ran to the window. Sure enough, the Strahl was flying right towards them.
"It's coming for the window!" Penelo exclaimed.
They all backed away as the ship docked by the window. The door opened up to the balcony, and out came...
Larsa, still wearing the pink dress, ran into the room and almost fainted at the sight of Penelo.
"Why are you dressed like that?" he exclaimed.
"I should ask you the same question!" Penelo laughed. "But you guys made it just in time! Larsa's speech is supposed to be in a half hour!"
"Oh goodness, that's right!" Larsa gasped. "What will I say? I've been gone for so long, it seems!"
"Well, Ashe and I came up with a little something last night," Penelo explained. "I was going to dress up like you and pretend to give your speech, since we had no idea where you two were."
"Yes, about that failed autopilot..." Basch muttered, turning to Vaan. "We ended up in the Mosphorian Highwaste with nothing but a couple dresses and my sword!"
Vaan grinned. "Well, did you two have a good time? When Balthier's telegram reached me I figured that you must have gotten lost somewhere..."
"'Balthier's telegram'?" Ashe looked suspiciously at Vaan.
Balthier then spoke up. "Oh, he didn't tell you? I sent a message to him yesterday saying that Fran and I had found Basch and Larsa and singlehandedly rescued the emperor from some Bangaa headhunters, and --"
"YOU MEAN YOU KNEW THEY WERE COMING BACK TODAY?!" Penelo and Ashe glared at Vaan.
"Yeah, well, you two seemed like you were having so much fun writing that speech, I didn't want to disturb you or anything!" Vaan said with a guilty smile.
Fran spoke before anyone could yell at Vaan for being stupid. "Isn't it about time to give the speech?"
"Right!" Larsa took Penelo's speech and said, "I'll need to change into proper clothes first, of course!" Then he darted off toward his room.
"Well, it seems like you didn't completely ruin Archades in Larsa's absence," Balthier noted. "Just what did you do while he was gone?"
"I think we can explain later, after this whole speech is over," Ashe said, interrupting Vaan before he could say anything stupid.
Penelo looked reluctantly at her hair. "All that time spent on hair dye for nothing... I hope I can get this stuff out."
"At least you did a fair job impersonating Lord Larsa," Basch said as he eyed Vaan's crooked armor.
"It will come out," Fran assured her. "I have known friends who used this type of dye."
Larsa gave his speech before the citizens of Archades. It was indeed quite a grand speech about how the empire was growing in various ways, and it encouraged further improvements until it could once again prosper.
"That was excellent, Penelo!" Larsa exclaimed after he was finished and they were all once again gathered in his study. "You should write my speeches more often!"
Then Larsa and Basch explained their adventures in the wilderness, fighting monsters and escaping from Bangaa bounty hunters. Larsa had put his captors in jail upon his arrival, and Ba'Gamnan in particular was greatly distressed when he learned that the "princess" he had kidnapped was actually the emperor of Archadia.
"So, Penelo, how did everything go here in Archades while we were gone?"
Penelo gulped. "Nothing too drastic happened..."
"We spent so much money!" Vaan interrupted. "Wow, Larsa, I never realized you were so rich! Oh, and Basch, sorry but I broke your vase that was in your room."
Basch put his head in his hands and sighed. "That was an antique..."
"H-how much money did you spend?" Larsa sqeaked.
"A little over a million gil," Penelo answered softly. "That was mostly because of Vaan, which shouldn't suprise you."
"Well, then it's a good thing that the reward on Ba'Gamnan's head was over a million gil," Balthier said suddenly. "I just happened to hear from one of the soldiers. Larsa can just collect his reward and not suffer from that bit of Vaan's idiocy."
Basch and Larsa sighed in relief.
"So, now that everything is back to normal, how about we have a big celebration!" Vaan shouted. "We can all go to Balfonheim and take a vacation!"
"NO!" was everyone's reply. "ENOUGH OF YOUR IDEAS!"
So that's the end. I hope you all enjoyed it! I sure enjoyed writing it. If you liked this, check out some of my other stuff. I want to write another Final Fantasy XII story sometime, when I get another good idea.
Crazygunbladergirl signing off!