I never thought it was possible to love a game's battle system as much as I loathed its plotline before I bought myself FFTA. I mean, seriously, the complexity of the job system, the ever-changing battle laws, and the sheer variety of weapons, attack types, and abilities is, in my humble opinion, far, far too advanced for the nine and ten year olds that the game's plotline seems to be geared towards.(I mean, I don't think I could have handled it at that age. If you can/did, good for you. Pat yourself on the back for being smarter than me, not that that's very hard) I also thought the theme of 'you can't escape your problems, you have to deal with them and reality' was rather comical in a video game that was created for the purpose of facilitating escapism. (To quote Babus: "What? Nothing? You would make the prince suffer over… nothing?")
So. Here is my take on the game. The most major change is, naturally, that Ivalice is real. Others will become obvious along the way... (HINT: Look at the title. And the summary.)
Other miscellaneous, general story warnings: Bloodshed, language, death, mild sexual humor (I don't write what I don't know, so it probably won't get too graphic), politics, OC's, possible OOCness, and speculation on the reproductive system of the Viera. Yes, this is going to be a much darker story than the original FFTA. I do not write for small children... keep that in mind as you read.
Chapter-specific warnings: Death. (GASP!)
Disclaimer: If I owned SquareEnix, I wouldn't need to write fanfiction now, would I? But go ahead, sue me if you feel so inclined. I'm a college student, all you'll get is an IOU note, and you'll still have to pay your lawyer anyway. Doesn't that make you sad?
Editing note: Some wordings were bothering me, so I tidied them up a bit. Nothing changes in the flow of the story, they were just little things that were annoying me.
-Laws: A History-
For as long as there has been an Ivalice, the laws have existed. The king in those nearly forgotten days at the dawn of the kingdom used powerful magic to create the first laws. This ancient ruler, whose very name has been lost to the sands of time, used magic of great and terrible power to make these laws a tangible reality. He then established the judicial system to enforce these laws and hence, Ivalice as we know it came into being. Knowledge of the means to control these laws is the most jealously guarded secret of the royal family.
To Rise from the Lethe
Prologue: The view from the gallows
The woman was graceful as she calmly walked up the steps to the scaffold that had been erected in the city square of the town that had sprung up around Bervenia Palace, most commonly referred to as the Castle Town, despite the fact that it was much too large to be called a mere town anymore. Her features were absolutely blank, not a hint of the panic or fear that normally haunted the faces of those condemned to die. No, in the white robes that marked a capital offender, coupled with her soft blond hair and pure blue eyes, she looked almost angelic, an appearance that seemed to defiantly mock the shackles around her wrist riddled with so many anti-magic runes that she had to have a rash underneath the chafing metal and the cruel yellow symbol that had been tattooed to her forehead, permanently sealing every technique that she could ever learn, a mark that would summon the Judges to her like bees to honey even in the unlikely event that she should escape her captivity. Not that that had even a whimsical chance of happening now, not in sight of the palace and ringed by countless spectators, here to see the last gasp of the revolution be snuffed out by the law. Still, the woman took these signs of utter helplessness and humiliation with a dignity so bone-deep that not even her impending death could strip it from her. Somehow, the way she walked and held her head made the hooded executioners flanking her on either side seem to be honor guards on her ascent to martyrdom instead of agents assigned to make sure that she did not make one last desperate dash to life and freedom. Her innate… purity, almost, was enough to make the figure that came riding on Chocobo from the palace gates, bedecked in the formal armor of a Judge to the point where not a single bit of flesh was visible but wearing a black cloak in honor of the event seem almost demonic in comparison. Some of the braver people in the crowd glared at the armored man as he too ascended the wooden stares, unrolling an official scroll as he climbed, but once the vision slits of the visor were turned on them all faces were expressionless once more.
"Bela Vargane, leader of the infamous Phoenix Clan, Formerly of Cadoan–"
"Dorsa," the woman corrected. Her voice was soft and melodic, though surprisingly low-pitched for a woman. In the dead hush of the square, her voice carried everywhere, even to those perched on the roofs of buildings a good block away, straining for a glimpse of this legendary outlaw who had so angered the royalty that she was being executed in a public ceremony, something that had not happened for several hundred years.
"The Queen's Justice does not recognize a village by the name of Dorsa…"
"The Queen's Justice does not recognize a good many things, apparently, including the fact that I was married to Yenke Radiuju for nearly twenty years." This set many of the crowd to tittering and the executioners to shifting around in agitation. "Furthermore, I have no doubt that my father is spinning in his grave at the very thought of his precious surname being attached to me, seeing as he went to all the trouble of disowning myself and my mother and then throwing us out on the street so that he could marry his mistress," the woman corrected, her tone dripping sarcasm. Many people in the crowd were impressed. Few had the courage to speak in such a manner to one of the Queen's Judges, especially not with a hempen rope twined around their necks. Something about the way the Judge's shoulders changed position seemed to say that he sensed this and was highly annoyed.
"Be silent, traitor. The crimes this woman has been found guilty of before the Queen's Justice are as follows: Treason, unlawful insurrection, arson, acts of extreme violence against the Queen's Guards, repeated and willful violation of the combat laws, theft of state secrets, multiple acts of sabotage, the spreading of duplicitous and malignant rumors crafted to incite insurrection, and grand larceny, in the form of theft from the Royal Treasury. As punishment, this woman is to be hung from the neck until dead. However, the Queen is merciful and offers the Gift of Last Words to Bela Vargane." There was a slight emphasis on the surname, but this time the woman did not react. In fact, she ignored it so painfully that it was quite clearly an insult. "Provided, of course, that the convicted does not spew more of her treasonous lies or attempt to forestall her execution with needless rambling."
A smile, of all things, appeared on the doomed woman's face, ignoring the second barb that the Judge had thrown at her. "Actually, I have a question for you Lord Judge."
"Really?" the armored man asked, amusement creeping into his voice.
"Why yes. I was merely wondering if you had ever considered… just what an abhorrent and confining thing the power to grant wishes can be?" she asked, her smile turning ironic to the confusion of most of the crowd, most of whom had no comprehension or understanding of what, exactly, her words had really meant. Those rare few who did understand gasped, or stared with wide eyes at the woman for her utter gall in the face of death.
One of those men who understood was the Judge who had been asked the question. Although his helm made it impossible to glimpse his facial expression, the way he forcibly threw one of the executioners aside so that he might throw the lever himself spoke volumes. In his rage and haste he wrenched down the wooden release lever so hard that he broke the wooden handle in half. The mechanism's job had been completed, however, and the trapdoor beneath the woman's feet dropped open, taking her unprotesting body with it.
Bela Vargane, or rather, Bela Raidiuju of the once proud hidden village called Dorsa, died gracefully and immediately, her neck breaking at the bottom of her fall and sparing her a lingering and painful death. Those who glimpsed her corpse later on claimed to be unnerved by the victorious smile that remained stamped upon her features even after the life had been snuffed out of her. Some even claimed that her eyes still sparked with the glimmering ghost of vengeance right up until the point when one of the executioners closed them.
There was one thing that everyone was in agreement on, however. Despite the fact that the Royalty had her head mounted on the castle battlements, the woman known reverently as the Gray Phoenix had indeed gotten the last laugh.