Cuttingmoon57 here, and back chapter twenty of The Tainted Grimoire. More than half of this chapter is a flashback, so that's why a lot will be in italics.
Credit for making sure this gaggle of words is somewhat coherent goes to Supreme Distraction. Every writer who wants to be taking seriously should have a beta, and now I have mine. Hope you enjoy.
Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy or anything related to it. If I did, FF12 would already be getting a direct PS2 or PS3 sequel. I also don't own any other anime, manga, or game that I take elements or characters from.
Suggestion: Head to Final Fantasy Wikia for information or images of the main cast if you'd like to see pictures of their appearance. They remain virtually unchanged in my story. (Other non-canon characters will be described.)
"Blah" = talking
"Blah"= thoughts, writing, sound effects, or flashbacks
(Blah)= scene change
"I'm curious, Sothe…" Andie stated, her voice absent of some of the spite that used to be contained there when referring to him. "…your father seems to have given into the Bishop, yet you remain unyielding. Why is that?"
Sothe's mood instantly turned grave, and he lowered his head in despair. He glanced over at Micaiah, who gave him a nod, before rising once more.
"We 'Heretics' all have our own various reasons for defying that man's tyranny in the church. Conflicting views, unwillingness to submit…but mine is more serious than that." The brigand sighed, and adopted a downtrodden visage.
"You see…Vaticus Finch is the man who murdered my only child."
Micaiah Souer de Pervenche
I reach out to grab your hand, even though I know you're not there.
I feel a little heartbeat, the steady rhythm of your breathing inside me
Even though I know, you've already vanished from my embrace.
Chapter Twenty: Prelude to the Setting Sun
Two people sat idly in a pair of conjoined, wooden chairs in the lobby of the city's most established hospital. The female, a silver haired beauty with a slightly ballooning stomach, quietly flipped a page of her book while the male stood erect and proper in his chair, twitting his thumbs nervously as he thought on different matters. Twenty minutes had passed since the pair had taken said seats, and the male was growing more nervous by the second.
Luckily, the grueling wait was ended as a White Mage strutted briskly through the doorway and paused in front of the couple. Both shifted in their chairs as the Hume healer gave a strained cough to clear his throat before presenting the information.
"You're doing very well, Mrs. Micaiah." Both she and her husband released a breath that neither was aware they were holding. "It's been a few months now and from what I can tell; the embryo has just started to form."
The physician, most likely the head of the hospital from the looks of his altered White Mage uniform and the professional air that he carried himself with, began to relay more information to them in greater detail. Micaiah's ears were hooked on every word that escaped his mouth, while Sothe still reveled in the ecstatic feeling of knowing he had a healthy child, tuning out all other distractions in the room.
The practitioner scribbled down a few notes onto a fresh piece of paper with the quill pen he carried, before tearing it from his bindings and placing it in Micaiah's delicate palms.
"So if you follow these directions and take the prescribed pills at the proper time, everything should proceed smoothly until your next checkup." He placed a firm yet comforting hand on the shoulders of each soon-to-be parent. The silver haired woman raised her head, her eyes on the verge of tearing up as she clasped her husband's hand.
"Doctor Vito…nothing will…happen to this one…right?" She attempted to make it more of a statement than a question in an effort to boost her confidence, though it was to no avail. The White Mage averted his gaze from her, unable to assure her properly. "I do not believe I could handle losing a second child."
"I cannot say for certain, unfortunately. We have prescribed you the medicine, completed the surgery, and studied countless hours on what went wrong the last time…" His eyes darted down, sighing heavily. The mood grew somber between the pair of potential parents, both gripping the others hand more firmly than before. He gave them a reassuring smile.
"We have done all that we can. Only time will tell."
Both Sothe and Micaiah managed a small smile.
"Thank you, doctor."
"We have an announcement to make."
The sharp ringing of a metal utensil tapping the side of fine glass filled the banquet room of the governor's mansion, alerting the esteemed guests to focus their attention at the center of the room. The Pervenche family, clothed in the finest linens and served the most exquisite food, sat at the head table there, with Archbishop Finch and Ignatius Loyola seated at the same table.
Sothe and Micaiah, their hands linked, stood from their seats and greeted the audience as claps resounded from all around. The green haired man cleared his throat; Aquila and Maria stared at them curiously.
"We have been keeping this silent for quite a while, but it is time for everyone to know. Micaiah and I are having a child."
Pleasantly surprised gasps preceded another long wave of applause, and even a few cat calls were heard, causing the couple to glance at each other before blushing. Maria was the most ecstatic, glomping onto her sister-in-law with a thrilled smile while Aquila simply gave his son a firmed handshake.
The celebration soon ended half an hour later, with the Pervenche family giving final goodbyes to their guests as they made their way towards the door. Vaticus and Ignatius were the last to exit.
"Thank you for taking time to come, Archbishop." Sothe exclaimed, fervently shaking the man's hand.
"It was no trouble, Sothe. I only hope that Elianto will show his grace to you and your offspring." The red haired priest performed a respectful bow, before descending the building's marble steps as the family waved them off. He and his Bangaa partner headed for the moonlit cathedral, the stars twinkling in an otherwise black sky.
"A child is on the way. That's quite…unfortunate…" Bishop spoke. "Wouldn't you agree, Ignatius?"
"Quite." The reptilian responded roughly. "But what should we do?"
Vaticus smirked in a sinister fashion.
"It was that night that Vaticus learned of our new child." Sothe explained to Gully and Falzen, who listened quietly and intently. "Of course, back then I had no idea of his true nature…"
"And neither did I…"
Everyone directed their attention to the voice emanating from the open doorway behind Sothe, where a single White Mage, followed by a Moogle Animist, began to walk towards them with a Healing Staff clutched firmly in his hands. His face was downtrodden and his eyes slightly bloodshot, as if he had been working for quite a while.
Former Head Physician of the St. Galleria Hospital and current Heretic healer: Vito Ricerca
"Who are you?" Cheney asked curiously. The man paused, before giving him an answer.
"I was the doctor from that time…and unfortunately, I was the one who unintentionally aided in his despicable plot."
"Excuse me, doctor." A Moogle Animist stated as he respectfully and quietly entered the doctor's office at the hospital. To say Vito was surprised at having a servant of one of the most esteemed men in the entire region visit his office unannounced would be an understatement. He quickly shooed away a nurse, handing her a jar of unknown medicine as she exited.
"Crockett, what a pleasant surprise it is to see you." He performed a respectful bow, with the priest mirroring his action. "What brings you here? On business for the Archbishop?"
"Yes, well…you wouldn't have any medicine that can dispose of parasites, would you doctor? Archbishop's private physicians tell me that somewhere along the line, he encountered a parasitic animal that has lodged itself in my digestive system, though they lack the correct medicine to treat it. If there is anyway that you could help, we would greatly appreciate it."
"Hmm…" The doctor stood from his desk and began to pace around the room. "…before I can just hand you a medication, he would have to undergo examinations. Is there a certain time that I could schedule him for…"
"Oh, no need …" Crockett reached into his pocket and pulled out a folded piece of paper, handing it to the physician. "…his doctors have outlined the type of parasite." He quickly scanned the paper, searching for the more general information.
"Ah, this is quite common." He proceeded to his shelf, using a step stool to retrieve a jar of small leaves before handing them and a slip of paper to the priest. "Just simply follow the directions on this paper and he should be healed in no time at all. Be careful, as too much can cause serious damage."
The Moogle smiled and exited with a bounce in his step.
"Will do, doctor. Will do."
"A week had passed after that." Sothe remarked, picking up where the White Mage left off. Everyone was fully engrossed by the story at this point. "It was early one evening at a gathering at the Archbishop's estate, as the sun was about to fully set…"
"Thank you very much for inviting us, Archbishop." Sothe greeted, shaking the crimson haired priest's hand firmly. Micaiah stood next to him, her eyes scanning the room. No matter how many times she had seen the room, albeit very few, its grandeur always astonished her.
"The pleasure is all mine, Sothe." Vaticus remarked with a smile. A Moogle approached them carrying a tray of drinks in his paws. "Perhaps a few drinks for you and the lady?"
"Oh, no Archbishop, I couldn't think to with the baby on the way." Micaiah placed a soft hand on her barely protruding abdomen.
"Oh it is all non-alcoholic; I assure you." He responded with a light-hearted laugh, retrieving two of the three pristine glasses from the silver tray and swishing around the liquid in the left hand one. "It would certainly not place my position in higher esteem if it were. Thank you Crockett." He handed that same glass to her, and after a small amount of coaxing, she accepted. Sothe took the remaining glass before the Moogle waiter bowed and walked away.
"A toast, dear friends…" A genuine smile crossed his face. "…to a better tomorrow."
Three glasses collided softly, the sharp ringing sound reverberating through the area as they downed the liquid in a civilized manner. And unbeknown to the expecting couple, Vaticus grinned evilly.
"A few days passed after that gathering, and the time came for a pregnancy check up." Doctor Vito began to speak, taking Sothe's place. He gestured over to Micaiah. "She had been coughing up blood for the past few days, so I decided to run some additional tests."
One person sat idly in a pair of conjoined, wooden chairs in the lobby of the city's most established hospital, a nervous and grim look shadowing his facial features. He had remained motionless for the past hour and a half, too wrapped up in his thoughts and fears to even think of settling his hunger or thirst.
Vito strolled into the room nervously, not daring to make eye contact with Sothe, something which tipped off the emerald haired man to the situation.
"How is she doctor?" The White Mage only sighed, gesturing for him to stand.
"Come, perhaps it is best if both of you hear this at once."
It was a silent, gloomy trek, neither man uttering a word. The double doors swung open, the cold air of the operating room chilling the skin of both males. Micaiah lay on her back across a padded table, smiling as he entered. He took a seat next to her as she lifted up, grabbing his hand.
"I'll not waste your time by beating around the bush." The physician took a deep breath, mentally preparing himself.
This was always the worst part of his job.
"Your child…is dead."
Mouth's parted open, all breathing stopped, and for a moment, Micaiah's eyes lost all the exuberant life they held.
"Doctor, what's going on?" Sothe questioned, his voice shaky.
"You said that you've been feeling uneasy for the past few days. That is because there are traces of ground Malboro Flower in your system." He paused, allowing Sothe to calm his wife down a bit. "Such a plant in such high concentration is already devastating to consume for an adult, but for a child…"
Sothe gripped Micaiah tightly around her waist as she laid her head upon his shoulder. A single tear continued to flow down her right cheek, before sadness over came her body and she burst into tears. Sothe held her steadily, promising himself inwardly that he would not break down in front of her.
"This flower has an unfortunate side effect as well…this flower, in a controlled situation, is used to cause infertility in patients." The doctor paused once more.
"She will never have children again."
"This is an outrage, father!" Two, creaky wooden doors swung open as Sothe stormed into the governor's office. His eyes narrowed at his father's figure, sitting in the desk at the other side of the room. "What is this I hear!?"
"Calm yourself, Sothe Fragin de Pervenche." Aquila ordered, steeling his eyes and subsequently stunning his son into silence. The yellow eyed young man now calmly approached the governor's desk. "Now…tell me what is on your mind."
"What is the meaning of this, father?" He held up a shoddy scrap of paper. Upon it, a rough drawing of the Archbishop and Maria was sketched over details of a marriage ceremony. The governor urged him to sit down, and he did so unwillingly.
"Are you aware of the governor's wife's protocol?" Sothe shook his head after a few moments of contemplating. "One of the main duties that she possesses is that she must be able to bare a child, and now that Micaiah is unable to fill this duty…" He folded his hands and gave his son an apologetic look. "…your claim to this seat is now null and void." Aquila allowed his words to sink in, before continuing. "Archbishop Finch, as a favor to our family, has agreed to wed Maria and take our name in order to keep the family in office. If you were to forsake Micaiah and remarry, then your position will be instantly regained."
Sothe stood perfectly still, his mouth slightly agape, before he curled his hand into a hard fist, stood from his seat, and brought down said hand with a massive amount of force. The result left a hole in Aquila's desk. Nothing but fury was located in the young man's eyes.
And with that, he quietly left the room.
Sothe descended a flight of rugged stone steps, before coming to a stop in front of two rusty cells. Micaiah followed closely behind him, gripping the back of his shirt as to keep from falling, and behind her, Vito walked briskly.
In the only occupied cell, an Animist leaned against the wall, his eyes forming bags from sleep deprivation. He turned his heads to the source of the footsteps, and stared blankly at the husband-and-wife pair and the doctor before him.
"How could you?" The green haired man whispered, his eyes darting to the Moogle as Micaiah began to tear up. "What has she ever done to you that could even possibly warrant you killing our child!?" His whispers by now had evolved into steely yells.
"Because of you…" Vito began to explain. "Not only has my license as a doctor been revoked for handing out the prescription to you, but now this woman, who has wanted a child more than anything else, is now unable to do so." He narrowed his eyes at the Animist. "And the only thing yet unanswered…is why."
The Animist, his voice weak and straining, simply chuckled, which caused Sothe's anger to flare up, until he said his next words.
"You think this was my idea?"
The trio's eyes shot open as he directed his attention to Sothe.
"Picking up the medicine from your doctor right there, and serving three drinks to a few highly esteemed people; I was simply doing my job as the Archbishop's attendant. I had no idea the flower was in any of the drinks, much less hers. And on top of all that, I'm accused of treason!"
The Animist paused, bringing his eyes up darkly.
"Think about it, Sothe. Who's the only man that could stand to gain from knocking you out of the running for governor? After you're gone, all it would take is marrying your sister." Everyone stood silent as the Moogle continued on, turning his attention to Vito. "And of course he'd have to dispose of all possible evidence, doctor."
The White Mage's eyes widened as Sothe spoke.
"You don't mean…"
"That's right. Your wife's unfortunate accident, framing me for a crime I had no knowledge of, and now… taking your sister's hand in marriage to rule this city as governor. Everything was all planned out by one man…"
And then, as realization struck in Sothe's mind, a fury like no other buried itself in the depths of his soul.
"It was on that day that the four of us in that room broke Crockett out of prison, became wanted criminals by the church, and formed the Heretics. This is why we fight." Sothe finished, standing from his seat. "And over time, we have realized that we alone cannot defeat this man…"
The thief took a knee in front of Clan Falzen and Gully, as everyone looked on curiously. Micaiah followed his actions almost instantly, before Crockett and Vito joined in.
"…I will not ask you to help me with revenge, but at the least…help me rescue my sister and my city."
The entire room sat stunned, almost unsure of how to respond, before Luso stood to his feet and approached the kneeling man, answering his plea with a bright and confident smile.
"I don't know what my clan will say…but as for me, I will help you."
"As will I." Ensei remarked, placing a hand on his pupil's shoulder and grinning.
"Aye, you can count me in as well." Cid stood to Luso's other side, mirroring Ensei's action.
"And don't you leave me out." Cheney added.
It continued like that for the next few minutes until all the members of both clans had agreed. Sothe stood in both amazement and gratitude, giving off a genuine smile that he hadn't been able to create in ages. Crockett simply stared in wonder, pondering how those who were his opponents in battle only days before would so eagerly help their cause.
"Your situation has stirred a fire in this old body, Sothe." Professor Auggie stated, coming to the forefront of the group after the fervor had calmed down a bit. "You see, I had hired Clan Gully to escort me from Camoa to St. Galleria, though this was only part of the journey I had to travel…" Everyone looked on at the Nu Mou with curious eyes as he spoke.
"There is a man coming to escort me from this very town…and I believe that with enough convincing, he might be able to greatly assist us with this endeavor."
"But who could help us, Professor Auggie?" Luso asked with an inquisitive tone.
The Nu Mou turned to his direction, a grin plastered across his face.
"Why…the strongest man in Jylland, of course."
(Gates of St. Galleria)
In front of three scaly Bangaa Templar, a simple white chocobo trotted along merrily. Riding this ivory colored, pristine beast was a Hume dressed in full armor. At his belt, a sheathed Excalibur dangled with each step the flightless bird took. A blue cape with gold embroidering poured down his armor covered back and swayed with the appropriate wind. A two horned helmet shielded his facial features.
The armored man dismounted his beast of burden as a walled city came into their view, choosing rather to walk along side it.
The man and trio of Templar drew closer to the gate casually, meeting the odd plethora of guards at its forefront. The captain of said guards held out a hand and called out to the approaching group.
"Halt! Who goes there!?"
The group did as they were told. The armored man removed the helmet from his head before wiping the beads of sweat from his brow. Messy brown hair that ended in a small ponytail at the base of his neck covered his head, and a goatee shielded his chin. His eyes were two bright pools of blue.
"This is Judgemaster Cid Randell requesting entrance into St. Galleria."
He's here! The Strongest Man in Jylland! Things are finally looking up!
(End Chapter Twenty)
Hair Color: None
Eye Color: Brown
Skin/Fur Color: Gray
Former assistant to Archbishop Finch and one of the founding members of the Heretics, he is framed and falsely convicted of trying to kill Micaiah after unknowingly serving her ground Malboro flower. He currently works for the Heretics, trying to take down Vaticus and stop his rise to power.
"Unfortunately…I don't believe in luck."
Crockett, responding to Adelle
(Likes and Dislikes)
Likes: Music, Goblins
Favorite Food and Drink: Tea
Hates: Finches, Mooglebanes
Dreams: To get back at Vaticus Finch
Favorite Color: Green
Crockett's name is derived from the crook of a shepherd's cane. His ability to control and herd Baknamy are reminiscent to that of a shepherd controlling a flock of sheep.
Alright, sorry for the long wait. Hope you guys liked the end there, and I won't reveal anything else until later. Until next time!