Cuttingmoon57 here, and back with chapter twenty-three of The Tainted Grimoire. This arc should start to be wrapped up in maybe two to three chapters, maybe four, so I hope you look forward to it.

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"= Yelling

(Blah)= scene change

"Let's go! Move! The Heretics have struck!" A Hume guard leader roared, directing his index finger down one of the many gorgeous hallways of the St. Galleria Cathedral. Soldiers of all races and all physical based jobs rushed down the somewhat cramped corridor in single file, each drawing his respective weapon. The last guard had reached the end of the hall, and the leader followed suit.

A moment of silence passed before a door connected to the hallway creaked open. A Bangaa Warrior dressed in his occupation's regular attire and carrying a brown, woven sack on his back quietly placed a scaly foot onto the hallway's tile floor. His eyes darted back and forth, scanning for any other life, before he stepped from the room and stepped purposefully down the passage.

His pace was swift and precise as he navigated the Cathedral's hallways, making quick decisions as far as directions were concerned. None of the guards that passed him bothered to give him a second look.

Eventually, he located a small stairwell hidden behind a door, and without hesitation entered, the door closing with a soft click behind him. Light became increasingly sparse the further he went; the dim flames of the torches mounted onto the irregular stone walls providing little to no assistance. He rather kept a rough hand on the wall as he traveled down, using it as a reference point.

The last step led to another wooden door similar to the stair's entrance, though with reinforced by iron. Vertical metal bars guarded the door's only window, and a single, large padlock prevented any easy entry. The Warrior drew his sword with his opposite hand, and succeeded in snapping it off with his third slash attempt. The door scraped open, its hinges horribly rusty from age. Even with the door open, the room's innards were covered in a pitch black veil. Grabbing a nearby torch after sheathing his weapon, the Bangaa entered warily, keeping his eyes peeled and his sword arm on the handle, ready for any unexpected surprises.

A grunt alerted him to the presence of another individual. He held out his torch in front of him, and made a gradual sweep of the room starting from the left, taking a single step every few moments. The light of the dancing flames rested on a figure at the far wall, and the Bangaa's face brightened as he recognized the familiar form.

"W-Who are…you?" A Seeq said groggily as the Warrior sliced the chains of his wrist shackles, squinting from the torch's light as his eyes began to gradually adjust. The Bangaa reasoned that the Lanista's slurred speech and unsteady demeanor were byproducts of the loss of blood he had taken, especially from the gash across his stomach. The bipedal lizard decided to humor his question nonetheless.

"Just someone who's blended in for long enough." He reached a scaly hand into his backpack and retrieved a small first aid kit. He removed a roll of bandages, and after pouring a potion down the Seeq's throat and spreading a cream like substance over the wound, he wrapped the bandages around the Lanista's torso. Loin found some of his energy returning, albeit slowly, and was able to lift to his right leg. The Warrior took to his side, placing the wounded male's arm over his own shoulder and hoisting him up.

"The name's Cama Leonte."

The Heretics' inside man to Loin's rescue!

Sothe Fragin de Pervenche

Fly free, young sparrow, into the wild blue yonder

Chapter Twenty Three: The Cagebreakers

(Cathedral Courtyard)

I want to fly freely in the sky…

"Hold on just one second…"

Time seemed to stop as the voice of a teenage boy rang out over the expanse of the area. Maria lifted up her eyes to see a brown haired adolescent male atop the wall of the courtyard gate, sporting two blades that hung from his yellow overalls. A coffee brown cloak fluttered behind him in a breeze similar to a cape. Next to him, a silver haired girl knelt with same cloak around her neck, twirling around a red hat on her index finger.

This setup continued around the wall, a pair of Heretic or temporary Heretic members standing on top of a major part of the stony barricade, all looking down on the wedding scene taking place.

Vaticus's eyes traveled to the two men just to the right of Luso. Forest green locks and pitch black hair ruffled in a small draft that passed by, also giving life to their respective cloaks.

Ensei Rou gave an almost malicious yet confident smirk as he drew Saishuu Kirihana from its scabbard. Sothe's eyes drove into the crimson haired priest with violent intensity. Luso continued to speak as he stared Vaticus Finch down. The bluish white glow he had gained previously returned once again as the boy recalled all of the horrible things that the man had done.


Gasps erupted all throughout the crowd as heads turned in their direction. Armed guards began to file around the perimeter of the wall, gathering themselves at its base and drawing a variety of weapons.

"What do you think you're doing!?"

All eyes shifted from the party of wedding crashers to the bride to be, who sported an almost defiant look on her face, tears staining her cheeks and her hands clutched into fists after releasing herself from Vaticus's grasp. The whispers of guests, the clanking of guard's armor, and even the rustling of wind ceased as the area fell completely silent.

"Have you not learned anything, Sothe!? What will it take for you to understand? This is the only way to ensure the safety of our city. This is my fate, and I accept it fully!" New tears began to form on her face, her stare directed at solely her brother. "I told you I don't want to be saved, you idiot! I…"

"Be quiet."

Luso's stern words broke her chain of thought, and she turned to him in surprise at the seemingly harsh tone of her voice. She watched him draw the Atmos Blade from its sheath, holding it up so that eclipsed the beaming sun from her viewpoint.

"You don't want to be saved? What a joke." His grip on the blade tightened. "Stop telling us to leave you here." Smiles formed on every Clan Gully member, before Clan Falzen joined in, following with the Heretics. "All of us have been through too much to turn back now. There's nothing you can say that will stop us."

He slung his blade over his right shoulder, and flashed a confident grin. The girl's eyes widened, and her heart almost skipped a beat.

"We're going to break that cage of yours…and come save you, Maria Savoy de Pervenche."

"Save her, you say? From what?"

Eyes shifted from the brown haired adolescent to none other than Vaticus Finch, who had a calm yet serious demeanor, odd considering the situation unfolding before him.

"The way it looks now…the only criminals here…are all of you." He turned behind him, his eyes falling on Judgemaster Cid. "Judgemaster, I trust you to do the job entitled to you…and arrest them."

The brown haired Judge seemed torn, his blue orbs darting from the Heretics atop the wall, and the Archbishop's intent gaze. He took a few steps forward, and then sighed, drawing the Knightsword at his side. His three Templar each drew his own respective elemental spear. He looked up to each of the Heretics, his face sorrowful, as if silently apologizing.

"The members of Clan Gully, Clan Falzen, and those of the Heretics are hereby under…."

Cid heard a small clanking of armor behind him before silence fell. He turned to see none other than his three bodyguards stopped. No movement, no sound, not even the rising of their chests from breathing. All three were completely frozen in time.

And behind them, Professor Augustus stood, his free hand outstretched and his Staff of the Magi still glowing from the spell he had just cast.

"Sorry, I can't let you do that, Judgemaster. These people have someone to save." His staff began to glow a deep shade of purple once more, and the aged Nu Mou whispered in a soft voice.


A thankful smile crossed the Judgemaster's face as a group of ethereal floating roman numerals surrounded him. He didn't even so much as attempt to retaliate, rather sheathing his sword just as the spell took effect.

"It's going to take everything I have just to hold these four down." The Sage stated, a drop of sweat already beginning to form on his brow. He glanced over to Ensei, then shifted to Luso. "The rest is up to you." Both smiled, Vaticus clenched his hand…

And all bolted into action.

(Inside the Cathedral)

"It seems as though something is interrupting the wedding."

Crow's yellow eyes wandered from his book over to the Hume Paladin, who was currently leaning back in a window seal, overlooking the courtyard through the clear glass. The Black Mage looked on as his partner lifted himself before reaching a hand out to grab the Knightsword that leaned against the wall nearest him.

The Hume trekked over to the spellcaster's table, looking down at him with a calm yet serious face.

"Scour the building. It's here somewhere."

(Cathedral Courtyard)

"Seize them!!! Seize them all!!!" Vaticus Finch roared, his voice resonating over the expanse of the courtyard. The guards, heeding his call, released a unified shout of their own.

Sothe was the first to leap into inevitable free for all that was about to take place, Micaiah following closely behind her husband. The rest of the original Heretic members left soon after that, unleashing their respective weapons and diving into the fray. A sharp whistle from Andie Kelt signaled Clan Falzen's entrance into the battle.

Guards formed a semicircle around the landing point of each enemy, warily drawing their weapons as they stalked closer, step by step. Sothe drew a pair of knives.

"Let's go! Clear a path for Clan Gully. Refrain from killing if you can!"

Every member of the Heretic militia exploded into movement at his command.

The first to draw first blood was a Viera Fencer. She lunged forward, coming in low while maintaining her center of gravity. The Bangaa Warrior she had chosen as her first casualty hadn't even had time to react as she appeared under him, before thrusting her rapier in an upward diagonal angle and piercing through his armor covered shoulder with ease. Blood poured forth, and he released his sword in a cry of pain.

The second was the Heretic's Hume Archer, who had remained on courtyard wall. A guard charged at his Viera comrade from behind, though with a well placed arrow in his arm, he silenced the threat.

The Fencer and Archer worked in tandem with each other. She moved with the grace of a professional dancer, darting in and out of attempted slashes by surrounding guards while simultaneously weaving her way around the volley of arrows that were being launched from the bowman's position.

The remainder of the two or so dozen Heretics was all wrapped up within the fighting within minutes, laying waste to the sorely untrained yet numerous guardsmen that advanced on their respective positions. Wedding attendee's had begun to file out of the courtyard, fleeing through any exit they could find.

On the other side of the courtyard, Clan Falzen reeked havoc. Andie Kelt led the charge, singlehandedly downing a few guards with well placed knife slashes and dodges. Gertie performed a sweeping spin with her sledgehammer, blowing back the guards surrounding her and knocking them to the ground. Belinda decimated foes with skillful use of her staff as a blunt melee weapon. Claire dodged a piercing stab by a Hume Soldier, sidestepping to the side as she brought her new Claymore over her head and leaving a deep gash in the man's chest. He collapsed to the ground with a thud, and she trampled over his body while swinging at the next opponent.


"What shall we do, Archbishop?" Ignatius Loyola queried, staring at his superior's back.

Vaticus Finch and Maria Savoy de Pervenche looked out at the scene unfolding before them, the former with quiet ferocity and the latter with an ever growing sense of hope. The priest slowly turned his head towards the brown haired girl and gritted his teeth. She let out a scream of protest as he grabbed her by the wrist and dragged her towards the balcony door.

"Tetzel, Riccio. Both of you are with me." He walked past Professor Augustus, who continued to sweat from the strain of keeping up the spell on the Judgemaster. Their eyes locked, the red haired man sending him a glare while the Nu Mou retaliated with a smirk. "Ignatius…kill the Nu Mou. His death should free the spell binding the Judgemaster."

The Defender bowed in reverence, and the Archbishop continued through the balcony door into his room, the Gladiator and Moogle Thief following a few feet behind him.


The clashing of weapons and the shuffling of feet had managed to kick up a decent amount of dust from the ground. The waist high dust obscured much from view, and only the shadows of the combatants' bodies could still be made out from the balcony.

And it was this factor that prevented Ignatius Loyola from seeing the eight shadowy figures darting throughout the battlefield, taking winding paths before converging on his location. They stopped just under the balcony to meet up with one another. After a pause, seven figures began to dash around the building, and the one remaining knelt down, still hidden behind the dust cover.


Professor Augustus eyed Ignatius Loyola warily as he approached him from the side, placing a careful palm on his sword handle. Drops of sweat plummeted to the ground from his chin. The strain of maintaining a spell on a man so powerful was beginning to take its toll in his old bones, and if the slight twitching of the Judgemaster's fingers were any indication, said spell wouldn't last much longer.

The Bangaa drew his sword from his sheath ever so slowly; allowing it grind against the weapon's metal as if taunting the Nu Mou of his impending death. The weapon gleamed in the sunlight as it was raised well above his lizard-like snout. Auggie, noticing him out of the corner of his eye, simply sent him a polite smile.

The Defender scowled, then brought the blade down.

A dreadful screech sounded at that moment, and a minuscule amount of sparks exploded as metal clashed against metal. The Bangaa's eyes adjusted a moment later to focus on a slim katana holding back the force of his sword, then to the face of the man controlling the weapon.

Black hair waved about in a small draft, and a wide, sinister grin formed on the face of Ensei Rou.

"Now, now…that's my Nu Mou you're pointing your blade at there."

(Cathedral, Hallway)

Maria's body hung limp over Vaticus Finch's shoulder, having been knocked cold after struggling to escape the man's captivity. His subordinates walked purposefully behind him, keeping an eye out for any surprise attacks. The priest stopped in his tracks, causing the two to come to a halt as well.

"Riccio, stay here and take care of any stragglers." The red haired man whispered, and the Bangaa gave a hearty salute, throwing his iron ball and chain over his shoulder. He turned to the Moogle at his right. "Tetzel, head up to my quarters. Burn every single document you can." The thief paused unsurely, before eventually nodding his head and dashing down a separate hallway.

Vaticus continued to move, locating a flight of stairs at the end of the corridor. He hurried as best he could, the weight of the girl on his shoulder slowing, yet not hindering him.

"They must not learn of Duelhorn."


"Don't worry; I know this place pretty well now." Adelle explained over her shoulder before spotting an old wooden door embedded into a stone wall across the small expanse of a plaza hidden in the inner portion of the cathedral courtyard. Luso, Cid, Hurdy, Sole, Cheney, and Kanin followed her every movement with the utmost haste. "We should be able to find our way through once we're-"

An arrow whizzed by her head at that point, embedding itself only a few centimeters away in the cobblestone beneath her feet. With split second reflexes, she snapped her head around, simultaneously directing an index finger to a second story window to her right. Cheney picked up on the hint, bringing his bow level as the rest of the squad brought their respective weapons to the ready.

The Hunter urged for his comrades to keep moving, firing off a few warning shots into the enemy's area. His ploy apparently worked, as he noticed the straw hat of a Hume Archer duck under the window. He continued to fire every few moments, making sure not to waste all his arrows with repeated distraction fire while providing time for his teammates to enter into the door.

The burly Revgaji was the last to squeeze through the opening, and Cheney spun around, following in his footsteps at that moment. There was no time to incapacitate every enemy they encountered as it was.

The group formed a single file line as they entered the narrow, sunlit hallway, keeping up a solid pace with quiet footsteps for a minute. Eventually they reached a four-way intersection in the floor plan, and Adelle halted, unsure of which direction to take.

"Which way, Adelle?" Luso queried, his voice rushed.

"I'm not sure. They could have taken any direction-"

She trailed off, staring down the hallway at the two figures gradually approaching their position. The first was a Bangaa, and by the way he was dressed, she assumed a Warrior. The second limped along, supported by the first. Drops of blood dripped from the huge gash on his chest, and his eyes were dull. Adelle's eyes widened.


She made a bee line towards the Seeq's form, stopping right as she reached him. The Warrior set him down onto the floor gently, and the girl sent him a curious look.

"My name is Cama Leonte. I work undercover for the Heretics." His eyes wandered down to the Seeq's form, just as Kanin skidded to a halt and whispered a cure spell, directing his hand towards the most prominent wound. Everyone began to gather around as he explained. "Found him in one of the lower rooms. I did what I could with the medical kit, but he's pretty banged up."

Luso's eyes shifted from the Seeq to the silver haired girl, who knelt on one knee while holding onto her parent's stubby hand. The longing look contained in her eyes gradually shifted to one of anger. She stood to her feet, redrawing her dual combat knives, and dashed forth without warning.

"What? Where is she going?" Luso asked, surprised by her sudden movement.

"Luso! Go after her!" Cid's voice rang throughout the hallway. The boy nodded, and sprinted in her direction, focusing only with catching up with her high-speed pace. Cid turned to the remainder of the group, and began to bark out orders. "Vaticus could have gone through any of these halls. We'll need to split up. Hurdy, you and Sole will team up together. I trust you to avoid danger whenever possible." The boy and Moogle nodded. "Kanin, find a hiding place and see if you can get Loin into a more stable condition. Cama, you stay with her." The White Mage and Warrior nodded simultaneously, and hoisted the Seeq between them. "Cheney, you'll be with me. We're going to make as much destruction as possible to draw any guards left in the building."

The Revgaji stood to his feet as the Hunter preformed the final nod of the group. He put on a stern face, sizing up everyone still present.

"Everyone comes back alive." A grin crossed his face. "Now get moving."

(Cathedral Courtyard, Balcony)

"Now, now…that's my Nu Mou you're pointing your blade at there."

Ensei mustered his strength and forced the Bangaa's sword back, throwing his opponent's balance off, though only for a moment. The lizard managed to recover, before willing leaping back himself this time, creating a healthy distance between the two combatants.

"Ensei Rou…even after all these years, still you haunt us." The Defender brought his sword up vertically, switching to a two handed grip. Auggie could see the mist sweltering around him. "Do you still work for them?"

"No, I'm quite done with that life. I have my own clan to worry about..." His voice was serious with a hint of sadness contained within. A devilish smirk then crossed the Parivir's face, and he brought his katana to the ready, pointing its end at the Bangaa's head.

"Though I do like to finish what I start."

The samurai darted forward, his katana leading as he sped closer to his opponent. Ignatius steeled his stance, and brought the sword high above his head. The two weapons clashed, the sound of reverberating metal filling the battlefield.

Clash! The two face off!

(End Chapter Twenty Three)

Character Corner

(Cama Leonte)

Job: Warrior

Race: Bangaa

Hair Color: None

Eye Color: Green

Skin/Fur Color: Orange


A member of the Heretics; Cama is a double agent, maintaining surveillance on the activities of the Cathedral and Archbishop Finch while posing as a member of the Archbishop guard.

"Well I did have to play the part, little one. Somebody has to suck up to that bastard Finch all day to keep him off our trail."

Cama, responding to Crockett's complaining after freeing him from prison.

(Likes and Dislikes)

Likes: Blending in, warm climates.

Favorite Food and Drink: Potatoes, Water

Hates: Cold climates

Dreams: To visit one of the more tropical Jylland areas.

Favorite Color: Green


-Cama Leonte is a Romanized version of the Italian word camaleonte, which means chameleon. His success at blending into the Archbishop guard reflects the animal's ability to blend into its surroundings. He is also loosely based of said animal.

(Author's Notes)

And there was twenty three. There should be a few more chapters before the arc is over. I'm guessing three, but we'll see. Also updates should start becoming sparse now that school has resumed. Until next time!