Cuttingmoon57 here, and back with chapter forty one of The Tainted Grimoire. Any beliefs expressed throughout my story are not my own. They are simply unique to the characters and their personalities. Just wish to clarify that.

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


His heavy footsteps resounded through the hallway as he made his way down its length, echoing off the high, elaborate ceiling, ornate ivory walls, and polished black tile. Small decorations, such as vases, busts on pedestals, and rich paintings, were placed here and there along the corridor. Windows spaced evenly every ten feet along the right wall provided excellent illumination and allowed the morning sun's beams to filter in, much to his dismay.

Judgemaster Cid Randell was never a morning person.

Neverless, he decided to put on his best façade, despite how fatigued he was, smiling heartily and returning the waves of those he passed along his way. It would be almost a full minute of this behavior before he reached his destination: a single wooden door, its color an exact copy of the walls around it and carved just as intricately. He brought his hand up, knocked three times, then waited. Another half minute passed, and he decided it best to take action, reaching for the door's golden handle and stepping into the room.

The chamber itself was just as the hallway that led to it: white walls, black tiled floor, and awash with all sorts of ornamentation. At the far wall lay an elaborate canopy bed, with a white frame and a lush crimson bed spread with matching pillows. The Judgemaster made his way over the bed, standing to its left side, and nudging the shoulder of its sole occupant.

"Hey, wake up. We have a meeting this morning."

Professor Alberio Augustus stirred slowly, his ashen, sightless eyes creeping open. His head turned to the Judgemaster's position, and he let out a lengthy yawn before responding.

"Could we not just skip it?"

"Already thought of that. No."

The Nu Mou grunted, then pushed the covers from his body.

"Very well, I'll be ready soon."

Judgemaster Cid and Augustus resurface! Where did their journey lead them?


Judgemaster Cid Randell

We, as humans, hold in our hands

The power to shape our own life

We, as leaders, hold in our fists

The power to stomp out life

Chapter Forty One: Trigger for the Concerto


"Where are we going again, Cid?"

The blonde Revgaji turned his head towards the chocolate haired Hume boy that walked alongside him on his right, noticing the sleepy tone in which the boy had asked the question.

The group—this time consisting of just Cid, Luso, Adelle, Hurdy, Cheney, and Vili—grudgingly pressed on forward with fatigued steps behind their clan leader. The sun rose slowly above the horizon, encompassing all of Vieg Town in its morning warmth. At this extremely early hour, the town was still just beginning to fill with people either preparing for travel or heading off for work around the city. Stallholders and shop owners mostly comprised the present time's population, performing the necessary rituals for opening up shop. Luso, having spent so long in the town, wasn't surprised that many were already vying for their attention, loudly inviting the party to look at their respective wares.

"I'll explain when we arrive." The Rev responded, perhaps the only one not visibly tired from awakening at such an early time. "We should be coming upon it soon."

Luso stared at his back curiously, though eventually shrugged his shoulders and increased the speed of his walk. The group continued on from there, easily navigating the cobblestone streets that had become all too familiar to them over the past two weeks. In truth, he had in a sense become fond of the highroad town, despite how crowded it always was, and the revelation the night before that they would be leaving the next morning had saddened both him and Vili somewhat, the latter realizing that today might be the last time she would see her sibling for a quite a while.

The boy himself had encountered the elder Veis a few days earlier while traveling through the market, and after talking a bit, she had informed him of Vili's visits with her every day since she joined Clan Gully. He could tell, just by hearing Veis recount her sister's stories with them, that Vili herself felt she had definitely made the right decision.

Finally, after walking for another five minutes, Cid rounded a corner, moved forward for a few steps, then stopped. Those behind him mirrored his actions, and all looked up at the building that lay before them at the end of the street.

The structure stood out so far in comparison to the design of the town's other buildings that one would think it was from another land altogether. It was more of a rectangular building, with its white washed walls rising three stories into the air and its width almost double its height. The entrance, comprised of a number of two-way, glass doors, was framed by the long banners hanging down from the roof. Each was colored a vibrant red, with three gold initials running down their length

"JDP?" Adelle read the initials aloud, before turning her head towards Cid. "Why did we come here?"

"Well, you see…" Cid began, awkwardly rubbing the back of his head. "None of you are actually apart of Clan Gully…"

Even the apologetic grin that he gave them wasn't enough to prevent the confused, slightly annoyed silence that followed.

…..

The interior of the Jylland Defenders of the Peace Vieg Town Branch was of the same scheme as the outside. Various waiting areas lay dotted parallel to the wall on the entrance side, while a number of desks lay along the opposite wall. Much like the outside, every wall was white, and black tile floor lay underneath their chairs. The high ceiling seemed to rise the three stories that it showed on the exterior, and a large, golden chandelier hung down from the middle. In all, it reminded Luso of some ritzy bank.

"Oh, okay I get it now." The boy remarked, leaning back in his armchair and propping his feet upon the wooden table in front of him. The rest of the group sat around the table as well, each in their own armchairs and looking in Cid's direction. The Revgaji himself sat forward, his elbows propped on the table's surface and a number of neatly stacked documents lying to his north. "So you mean you just hadn't turned in the paperwork yet."

"Aye." Cid replied. "Something Cheney said last night reminded me that I hadn't done it yet." Just then, a young, spectacled Moogle approached their table, holding some sort of clipboard type item in his right paw. He looked at the Rev with a smile, then nodded, which Cid took as a sign to follow him. "Alright, my turn I suppose. I'll finish up as quickly as possible. We've got some packing to do today." The Clan Gully members all gave parting waves as the White Monk followed the Moogle to other side of the large room.

Knowing that their presence could be required at any time and with nothing else to do, the remainder of the group merely waited, continuing to sit around the table, just talking. Vili used this time as the perfect opportunity to obtain a better grasp of her teammates, asking them various questions along with said teammates sending her inquiries of their own. Even Luso, who was more an action oriented person, found this time of conversation rather pleasant, enjoying the different perspectives on their adventures as the group recounted the stories to their newest member.

"So what exactly is this place?" Luso queried, leaning back in his armchair and looking around, taking note of the increasing number of what he assumed were clansmen.

"It's just one of the sub-branches of the JDP." Adelle began to explain, though she raised a perplexed eyebrow as the teenager gave her a confused face. "The JDP, Luso. You've never heard of the JDP?" The annoyed tone of her voice died down as he gave her a 'think about it' look. "Oh, right…another world. My bad."

"I've got it, Adelle." Cheney remarked, leaning forward, capturing everyone's attention and turning to Luso. "I don't know how much you're aware of, so I'll start at the beginning. Three hundred years ago, Archduke Alistair Sythellast Beaudonis united all of Jylland under one rule following a time of discord and chaos. He requested that his court magician, in order to maintain peace, lay down the foundations for a national peace-keeping system. Since then, both the monarchy and that system, the Jylland Defenders of the Peace, have remained in control."

"So they're like the police?" Luso asked. Cheney looked up, a pondering look upon his face, then responded.

"I suppose that's a good term for it. They also monitor over the clans of Jylland. Much like Cid is doing now, every clan is required to register new members along with pay fees and keep logs of missions and accomplishments. Even things like rerouting clan mail, so that you can access it no matter what city you're in. In turn, they place bounties on marks and give a variety of other quests for clan's to take up."

"Ok, I think I'm starting to understand it now, kupo." Hurdy commented, who they all realized would be just as unfamiliar having come from Rabanastre.

"Me too." Luso added. "This world seems to get more complicated every day, though."

As Clan Gully make preparations for their trip to Grazton

"Alright, that should be about everything." Cid said, as his dark-skinned muscular frame approached the table, all the members turning towards him before standing from their chairs. "All of you are now completely registered, and clan points for our missions have been distributed. Now go help Kanin and Ensei with packing. I'm making a quick run to the post office, then I'll meet you there."

A few days earlier, the gears of change slowly began spinning in the capital

(Sant D'alsa Bluff, Bervenia, Grand Palace of Bervenia)

"Greetings, Judgemaster." Two Hume maids greeted in unison with a respectful bow as the man in question passed them. In response, he gave them a simple nod coupled with a reserved smile, not stopping in his stride down the broad hallway.

Just as with guest rooms that the Judgemaster had traversed earlier, the main complex's layout was extremely similar, albeit on a much grander scale. An elongated, lavish crimson rug ran down the length of the hallway, lying over polished white tile. Large banners were hung along the walls, spaced out evenly enough, each bearing a different rich color and symbol. Some were easily recognizable, such as the Grazton and Moorabella symbols, while others he wasn't quite familiar with.

"Quite popular with the ladies, aren't you Cid?" Professor Augustus commented in a joking fashion, just catching the giggling the maids performed as they grew out of earshot. He gave no response, merely averting his eyes from his companion. The two males walked side by side, the Hume keeping his pace slow enough so the Nu Mou didn't overexert himself.

It was not long before a single figure came into their view as they rounded a corner: A girl, presumably in her late teens, with eyes the color of sunflowers and cascading white hair that would put snow to shame. Her elaborate purple dress came down to her ankles, with masterful black and gold designs placed carefully along its fabric. The manner in which she stood held both a certain grace and nervousness to it.

Ambassador of the city-state of St. Galleria: Micaiah Souer de Pervenche

The two continued along heading towards her, somehow unable to shake the feeling that they had encountered the woman somewhere before. It was as they passed her that the woman then noticed them, and immediately made her way towards them, causing the two to cease in their steps.

"Good day, Judgemaster. You as well, Professor Augustus." She said with a respectful bow, which they both returned.

"Who is she, Cid?" The Nu Mou asked, unable to distinguish her Mist signature, though garnering from her soft voice that it was a woman.

"Micaiah." Cid stated in mild surprise, holding out his hand for a handshake, which she accepted. "It has only been a few weeks since we've seen you last."

"Micaiah, is it?" The professor also took the time to shake her hand. "What, pray tell, might you be doing here? And how is the city faring? Come, let us walk."

With a nod, she followed the two males, and the trio conversed lightly as they made progress through the hallway. The woman told them of the recent changes that her father-in-law Aquila and sister-in-law Maria had been enacting, including finally deciding to abandon their status as an independent city-state, for purposes of trade and her appointment to ambassador.

The small group finally reached the end of the corridor, and angled their heads upward, taking in the full majesty of the carved oak door that lay before them, stretching the distance from the tiled floor to the high ceiling. Precious stones ran down its length in patterns, gold covered its elaborate handles, and just right of the door along the wall, the word Assembly was etched into a golden, rectangular plaque. With ease, Cid pushed the door open, and Micaiah had to hold in a gasp of awe.

The room was massive, to say the least. In contrast to the white walls of the hallways, the room's walls held a deep crimson all the way through. At least fifty rows comprised the interior's stadium seating, each higher than the last and all encircling a single raised platform in the center. The girl noted that the shape was as if looking down into the eye of an extremely wide tornado. Three prominent staircases led from this bottom platform all the way to their corresponding entrance, all situated at three of the four cardinal directions: east, south, and west. Where Micaiah surmised the north staircase would be located, she found only more seating, though at the very top spotted a platform all its own, awash with a number of luxuries such as exquisite cushioned chairs. In the middle of this platform sat one chair to dominate them all, colored the same as the walls and ordained with a plethora of gold embroidering.

The assembly hall was already ablaze with chatter and yelling, and as they entered, none of the occupants took any time out of their conversations to notice them.

"I have to stay up here for now." The Judgemaster told them before suggesting that they find a seat. Micaiah, with a graceful nod, grabbed the Professor's hand and led him around a dozen rows down, before finding an empty spot towards the middle of the row. They moved past the occupants as best they could, issuing apologies as necessary, then sat down.

"Order! Order I say!"

Micaiah's attention was grabbed by the powerful, yet somewhat childlike voice emanating from the center of the room. Their on the raised platform, standing behind a carved podium, was a Nu Mou, his skin the color of the palest white. Loose fitting, cerulean robes covered his frame, and his tail dragged gently behind him. He held a thin staff in his hands that rose higher than his own height, capped at the top by three-horned orb.

Current Royal Court Magician of the Republic of Loar: Babus Swain

As the room quieted down, those not already seated finding their way to their respective rows; the Nu Mou straightened the stack of papers on the podium then cleared his throat before continuing.

"All rise for the presentation of the queen."

Immediately the assembly room filled with the sound of shuffling bodies, and all, both young and old, rose to their feet. Augustus and Micaiah joined them, noting that all eyes were locked on the platform to the north. The room was completely silent as the double doors on the platform's back wall opened, and four armed guards, all Hume Paladin dressed in the purest of silk, emerged in a uniform line. They split off, two to either side, then turned so that all were facing the middle. Finally, as each drew his Knightsword and held it at a raised diagonal, a single feminine form emerged from the doorway.

Judgemaster Cid Randell stared from his position as his eyes caught sight of her flowing, auburn hair. Her form-fitting onyx dress, adorned with patterns of maroon and various trinkets of gold, contrasted well with her porcelain white skin and icy blue eyes. She gripped her golden scepter at its center, holding it down at her waist, parallel to the floor.

Twenty Fourth Monarch of the Line of Alistair Sythellast Beaudonis: Queen Remedi Grandine Thetalin de Vesperania

She stepped lightly towards her throne, with the practiced grace common of nobility, though the aura she exuded contained a mixture of a staunch monarch along with a mother's compassion. As she stopped, just in front of the largest throne on the platform, the entire assembly erupted in thunderous applause, to which she merely bowed humbly before sitting down. The clapping died down gradually, until once again silence pervaded and all had been seated.

"Greetings to one and all." Her voice overflowed with the properness of aristocracy. She looked down towards Babus Swain, and performed a slight nod. "Please, Babus. Begin today's business." The Nu Mou returned her nod, then began to speak aloud, projecting his voice over the room.

"As many of you are already aware of, an incident occurred a few weeks ago in St. Galleria, a settlement situated in the Galleria Deep, involving an Archbishop's attempt to seize power. Judgemaster Cid Randell, who was present in the town at that time, took measures to arrest him."

"Yes. I remember reading of it in a newspaper a few days ago." She spoke, pondering aloud. Suddenly a figure in the audience to her left stood to his feet, a Hume male who she noticed from the corner of her eye. "You have been acknowledged. You may speak." All attention turned to him at that moment, and he cleared his throat before following through.

"As for the Archbishop's imprisonment, your majesty. To my knowledge St. Galleria is an independent city-state. This incident seems to me like an internal affair. By law we hold no right to take action against him." Numerous whisperings sprung up at that moment, continuing on for a few moments, before an authoritative voice from one of the entrances spoke up.

"That may be true." Judgemaster Cid agreed. "Though the actions that the Archbishop took could easily have evolved into a larger problem, possibly even violating national security. And regardless of city status, he must be tried in a Jylland court."

"Could and did are two different words, Judgemaster." Another man, this time a Bangaa, rasped out.

The arguing continued to slowly though surely escalate, the Judgemaster retaining his cool head, though gradually losing ground on his position. Professor Augustus turned to Micaiah, who sat quietly. The Nu Mou watched her breathe in deeply, exhale, then stand to her feet.

"Order! Order!" Babus Swain roared, banging his free hand against the podium. The noise died down once more, and his eyes scanned the crowd, noticing the white haired girl standing. He pointed his finger to her, and spoke. "Yes, you. What do you have to say?"

"My name is Micaiah Soeur de Pervenche, and I am the official ambassador of St. Galleria." Eyes from all around shifted towards her position, and the room instantly quieted down. "If her majesty would allow it, I would like to present a possible solution for the current predicament." She looked up to the queen, making sure that her gaze did not falter under the scrutiny of such a high ranking person. Remedi herself remained still for a few moments, then nodded her head.

"Very well, Ambassador Pervenche. You may present your idea."

The girl smiled, thankful for the queen's kindness, then continued.

"The blow dealt to our people by the Archbishop's betrayal was a critical one. At this present time, our city is still just in the beginning phases of its reorganization. Our current governor is suffering from a grave illness, and his successor, while promising is nonetheless young. There are still small pockets of resistance in the city; those who still hold strong to the Archbishop. We fear that this resistance may succeed in freeing him from the city's prison. This brings me to the reason I attended this meeting." She bowed her head respectfully. "After much debate and consideration, the governor has decided it is in his people's best interest to be annexed under your reign."

The entire auditorium was again swept with whispers and quiet conversations over her last few words.

"She's on to something here." Judgemaster Cid thought, before speaking aloud. "If St. Galleria was to be annexed before the trial date, the issue of the Archbishop would no longer be an internal affair."

"Yes." Micaiah added. "In addition, we believe the Loar Republic's resources would help in our reorganization. However, we do wish to retain some of our freedoms and customs, along with certain other conditions, your majesty."

The entire auditorium fell deathly silent at the girl's proposal, all eyes now focused on the queen, who stared the girl down without even the slightest movement. Micaiah, determined not to back down on these conditions, merely returned her stare. This silent exchange continued for a few more seconds, before the queen let out a small laugh.

"Most would check the audacity of such a request, ambassador…though even I must applaud your effort in retaining your people's safety. Very well, details and negotiations will be handled by selected officials. For now, consider your request approved."

The girl released a breath she wasn't aware that she was holding, and she performed numerous bows in gratitude before taking her seat once again. She looked over at Augustus, who gave her an approving nod, before facing forward again as Babus continued onto the next topic.

…..

"Is there any way they could make these meetings shorter?" Professor Augustus queried aloud as he, Micaiah, and Judgemaster Cid exited the assembly room doors, making their way through the masses of other officials as the meeting concluded.

"I'm afraid not, Professor. Though how I wish they were." Cid replied, keeping pace with the two dignitaries.

The large group of assembly attendee's spread out amongst the wide expanse of the main foyer, just outside the auditorium's doors, splitting into a number of small groups before conversing amongst themselves. It held the same color and design scheme as the assembly hall, with its crimson walls and white marble floors. A gargantuan crystalline chandelier hanging from the ceiling's center provided light where the rooms towering windows did not.

"Why are they all staring at me?" Micaiah whispered to Augustus, making sure of her subtly and referring to the numerous glances of other dignitaries sent her way. The Nu Mou merely shrugged, though Cid offered to answer for him.

"You did make quite the move today, making such a demand of the queen." He said with a chuckle, before his demeanor became slightly more serious. "I would be on your guard from now on, though. There are many who have an eye on the resources in the Galleria Deep."

"There are indeed, young lady."

Cid stopped immediately, and all three turned to the deep voice that had sounded behind them. There, approaching them, was a Nu Mou, outfitted in the finest of purple robes with patterns of silver running through its fibers. Micaiah noticed how serious his disposition seemed. A thin scar traversed the right side of his face vertically through his eye, ending just under his chin. The manner in which he spoke was devoid of any humor.

Grand Duke of Moorabella: Basil von Reighlard

"My, it's been a long time, hasn't it, Basil?" Professor Augustus responded with a hesitant chuckle.

"Quite." The Duke replied curtly, shifting his eyes to the lady at the professor's side before following suit with his head. "And might I ask the name of the lady accompanying you? My memory fails me occasionally in my age."

"Micaiah Souer de Pervenche. Pleased to meet your acquaintance." The white haired girl answered for him, performing a respectful bow.

"Ah yes; the young ambassador who made quite the show of today's meeting. I haven't seen that kind of courage in many years." The lack of emotion in his voice seemed to counteract the compliments he spoke. "I'm a busy man, Ambassador Pervenche, so I'll delve straight into the point. It seems that presently your city is reorganizing, and I would find it a wise decision on your part if you would allow me to take part in it."

"What are you playing at, Reighlard?" The Judgemaster queried in a skeptical tone.

"There are many young sheep that wander into this court, Ambassador." The Duke continued with a sullen demeanor, ignoring Cid's question though sending him a less than peaceful glance. "Full of hope, full of promise…unaware of the wolves around them, salivating at the mere thought of their next victim. Few make it out in one piece, and odds are slimmer still of a redeveloping city like yours. However, these dogs dare not challenge this lion and those under his care. My resources can assure you and your city proper protection."

Micaiah stood still for a good while after the duke had finished voicing his proposal, her eyes turned slightly down, a visage of deep thought across her face. Cid subtly sent Auggie a look of hesitance, which the Nu Mou returned, before moving his gaze to the still silent Micaiah. At length, the white haired girl decided to respond.

"That is a very generous offer, Duke Reighlard. I will be sure to consult with the governor on this matter."

The scarred Nu Mou eyed her for a few moments, his face devoid of any and all semblance of emotion, just as his tone of voice was. Eventually though, he spoke, simultaneously walking away from the group.

"Very well; I had best be off. Be sure to give Aquila my condolences for his illness."

Judgemaster Cid watched his retreating form as he made his way through the crowd, escaping from their field of view by the masses of dignitaries. Even amongst the reserved chatter of the space, he could still clearly hear his footsteps; not by any loudness they gave off, but that his presence seemed so dominant that it captured his attention, and Micaiah and Professor Auggie could surely agree. After a few more moments of silence between them, the Hume kept his eyes focused on the area the duke had once occupied, though it was apparent that he spoke to the young female ambassador.

"Reighlard has set his sights on St. Galleria, it seems."

"Indeed so." Auggie agreed, turning his sightless, ashen eyes in the direction of Micaiah, who only looked back at him in nervous hesitance. "But the question remains…for what purpose?"

(Sant D'alsa Bluff, Bervenia, Ajora)

Professor Augustus pushed open the solid glass door, finally arriving at his destination after what seemed had seemed an eternity. While being able to see Mist did have its advantages, it nevertheless could not fully substitute for actual eyesight and he was eventually forced to ask one of the city's civilians for assistance. Fortunately at the least, it allowed him to bring his pet Dreamhare wherever he went, on the guise of being a 'seeing eye animal'.

Upon entering, he was immediately greeted by the sound of pleasant dining and light conversations all throughout. A Hume girl approached him soon after, who from her words he could tell was a waitress.

"Ah, you must be Professor Augustus. One of our guests has been expecting you. Please, follow me." She recited with a reserved perkiness, before spinning on her heel, grabbing an extra menu from a space underneath the counter, and walking deeper into the establishment. The Professor and his pet followed without protest.

It was not long before he spotted a single Mist signature, sitting at what he presumed was a dining table, and it was not long after that he recognized him, a smile coming to his face that he had finally found him. The waitress pulled out a chair next to him, and Augustus thanked her before she gave him a curt bow, returning to the front after setting down his menu.

"Late as usual, huh Alberio?" The Hume said with a lighthearted sarcasm, causing the targeted Nu Mou to chuckle aloud. His jet black hair cascaded down his back, stopping midway, and was fastened into a pony tail. His eyes, a deep shade of chocolate, seemed to glisten with wisdom beyond his years, despite the youthful quality of his tan skin, voice, and appearance. His silky, ankle-length white coat with golden embroidering matched well with his royal blue shirt and pants tucked into a pair of boots.

Baron of Grazton and Head of House Beltorey: Belmont Orleandou Beltorey

"Well you know me. These eyes aren't what they used to be. I'm considering purchasing spectacles."

The Hume returned with a laugh, always one to appreciate someone who was comfortable enough to make light of their own affliction, then picked up his menu and began reading off certain items for Augustus, who only wished the place provided a braille menu.

The establishment was quite upscale. The roof covered only small pockets of the room, allowing for strategically placed waterfalls to outlet into small, crystal clear pools dotted around the room. This open air idea permitted the light of the moon and the stars to fall upon the interior, giving the polished glass tables and all metallic objects a soft shine.

"So what exactly is this place?" Augustus queried, making conversation. His Dreamhare sat comfortably in his lap.

"It's named Ajora, a brand new pub that just opened a few weeks ago."

"Seems I've been longer removed from the noble life than I recall. To think that this was a pub of all things…"

"Quite. Nothing like the pubs of my beloved Grazton. Beautiful, though I prefer the warm dingy atmosphere of my hometown's taverns any day." The Baron laughed once more, before letting a sigh escape his throat. "It just shows how far a cry the nobility are from the rest of the nation."

"Yes…unfortunately." The Nu Mou decided to change the subject. "While I'm content to reminisce with friends, surely there must be some reason you asked me to join you."

"Not one to mince words for too long? I see." The Baron joked before sighing again, propping his elbows upon the table and beginning his explanation. "Reighlard and I met with the Queen just a few hours ago. Due to the Galleria Deep's position between his territory and mine, we have been charged with the formation of the charter."

"I see…" Augustus said, feeling around for his glass of water, and taking a sip before resuming. "What seems to be the problem?"

"I have a mind to divide the territory evenly…however my trust in his cooperation wanes thin." Beltorey also took a sip of his glass, a rich red wine acquired from the vineyards of the Bisga Greenlands. "I fear his greed may in turn overcome the ever precarious balance of power we have worked so hard to maintain."

"True. Acquiring all of the Galleria Deep's resources may give him the edge he needs to obtain dominance." The tone of the two men's conversation grew more serious. "He's already made a move to lure in the St. Galleria ambassador."

"He has, has he?" The raven haired Hume quirked an eyebrow, though somehow unsurprised at the swiftness of the duke's actions. Then, he smirked, speaking aloud, though to himself. "Alright then…if it's a fight you want, Basil von Reighlard, then it is a fight you will have."

"I would think long on this, Belmont." Augustus warned. "You of all people should realize the ramifications of a conflict between two members of the Coronet."

"Ah, but I refer not to direct conflict, Alberio." Augustus raised an eyebrow this time, and Beltorey continued to elaborate. "I hear you have acquaintance with her. I would have you do me a favor."

(Bisga Greenlands, Vieg Town, Crossroads Inn)

"Alright Luso. Now help me get these things into the wagon."

Heading Ensei Rou's command with a curt nod, Luso wiped the sweat amassing on his brow before bending over and lifting a stack of three medium sized crates. He carried them with ease and dexterity, setting them on the cart's surface before sliding them to the back.

He and the Parivir alternated positions like this, one placing something in the wagon while the other walked back to retrieve another item. Luso noticed how much larger the cart seemed to be from their previous one, before remembering that Ensei had said he would purchase a larger one in order to accommodate the group's growing member base. It was of the same design, though notably more spacious than their last.

"Ah, there you are, Cid." Ensei commented, looking up as he noticed his Revgaji companion walking towards them. "Everything set?"

"Aye, that it is." The Rev replied, taking off the burlap sack slung over his right shoulder. He placed it on the wagon bed, unraveling the thin rope strands tying it closed. "By the way, where is everyone?"

"Adelle, Kanin, Hurdy, and Vili went to go buy some essentials that we forgot. Cheney's resting in the room. He offered to be a part of the wagon driver rotation tonight." The Parivir answered, his eyes moving toward Cid's bag as Luso gathered around as well. "What's in the bag?"

"Just some of the mail. I haven't checked it yet." He rummaged through the bag, gripping a few envelops between his fingers. Then, one by one he began flipping through them. "Bill, bill, bill, a fashion catalog for Adelle, bill, bill….hmm what's this?"

The last item in the stack, another envelope, stuck out to him, and he took note of the fancy embellishment along it. Fastening its top fold was an ornate seal, and he read the name that graced the top right corner.

"Hmm…this one seems to be for you, Luso." The boy in question only stared with a confuse look as he reached for the envelope. "It says it's from Professor Augustus." The boy peeled back the seal as Cid talked, pulled out the folded sheet of paper inside, and lastly began reading the words inscribed.

Dear Luso,

I hope you are doing well, child. I have hoped for your safety ever since we parted ways in the Aldanna Range. I also hope that you are maintaining your Mist channeling exercises, as they are key in your growth. As you progress, Ensei should be able to help you.

Regardless, the actual purpose of this letter is to inform you of good news. A certain source told me in the past that you had a smith crafting a katana for you, and that you needed to gather certain materials. As thanks for escorting me to the Galleria Deep, I managed to pull a few strings for you. By the time you receive this letter, an escort should already be delivering every one of the supplies on your list.

Think nothing of repaying me, child. It was all my pleasure.

Sincerely, Alberio Augustus

Luso stared dumbfounded at the letter, his mouth slightly agape after reading its contents. Ensei, who had been reading over his shoulder the entire time, merely smirked, and the boy turned to him with an exuberance much more profound than any before.

(Grazton, Wharf, Warehouse Thirteen)

The bright, clear light of the moon poured through the large rectangular windows running horizontally across the upper section of the room, spaced evenly apart and casting a soft glow over the room. Wooden crates, ranging in various sizes, lined the sides of the wall just under the windows and old machines and tables filled the open spaces in the center.

A lone Hume stood at the center of the warehouse, perfectly still and without sound. His garments, containing a hue of the darkest cobalt, blended in well with the shadows and tucked into black boots. Tuffs of his dirty blonde hair flared out from underneath his hat.

"Ewen."

His trained eyes made not even a twitch as the dark, feminine voice called his name from behind. He could feel her presence behind him, though he dared not turn around. His silence was enough confirmation for her to continue.

"Dread Raven continues his search for the Whitesilver Magicite. There are some minor hitches that I must attend to." Her voice was as cold and calculating as he remembered it.

"I have a task for you."

And so the triggers have been pulled…


(End Chapter Forty One)

Alright sorry about the wait for this one. I had to check it multiple times to make sure everything matched up correctly. Also, there was a lot of set up and information in this chapter, and most of it was necessary, hence the length.

And for you FFTA buffs, yes even more cameos. You read it correctly: Babus Swain and Queen Remedi. Hopefully I'll be able to do their characters justice.

Also no character corner this time. See you next chapter!