Disclaimer: I don't own Magna Carta – the wonderful Softmax does. Finally someone other than Square owns something…xD
Author's Note: I feel like conquering something I wish they'd shown more of in the game. Magna Carta: Tears of Blood was by no means as well composed as its predecessor, and I would have appreciated more details on what age Azel was when Calintz found him, and why the game and the guide say two different things about how Calintz found Azel. The game says Azel was found starved in the middle of winter. The guide says he was saved from a Yason attack, and Azel says in the game the Yason destroyed his village. So I'm combining it all, because it'll work out that way.
Warnings: I'd say Azel x Calintz is a bit of a warning, but it's more about Azel looking up to Calintz and having some infatuation develop that way.
Scarcely any life form bothered to brave the cold slopes on the Road to Amabat, so when the swordsman saw three visible figures, he naturally lifted his head in alert. Although he could barely move his freezing face, he scowled when he saw that two figures, both standing up and towering over a third, were Yason. The rough manner they were treating the third was more than enough reason for Calintz to approach them and slit their backs open with his long sword. They noticed him when he was already too close, turning just in time for Calintz to cut their bellies mercilessly. A whimper came from the person half-buried in the thick snow.
Calintz finally focused his attention on the third figure after he studied the two dead Yason in the snow and realized he recognized neither – or rather, that he didn't recognize their vindis. The third person was just a young boy, he realized, and definitely human.
"Thank you for saving me!"
"Can you stand up?" Calintz asked coldly, but not unkindly.
The boy only nodded before getting to his feet. He stumbled a bit in the snow and Calintz instinctively grabbed him by the arm before he fell, face first. The boy was wearing a coat over basic attire – not nearly enough to keep him warm in the bitter climates this region experienced during winter. Calintz could feel the weak, bony arm even through the coat and felt sympathy, but did not express it.
"Do you have a name? Where is your home?" Calintz asked the normal questions, but there was no doubt in his mind that this boy was an orphan. A boy did not simply run into Yason atop a mountain in the middle of winter, or feel that thin, when he had a home.
"Azel," the boy panted. "And the Yason…destroyed the village I'm from. So…I have no home."
The more the Azel talked, the more out of breath he became, and Calintz realized the altitude and lack of oxygen must be getting to him. Without food, without being able to breath, without proper clothing, this boy did not have a high chance of survival.
"I see," Calintz said. "Are you the only one left?"
The question was harsh, but Calintz had not braved the punishing cold because he felt like training his body and disciplining his mind. There had been rumors of Yason activity, so he had come to investigate. If Azel was the only survivor, he had come too late, but there would be no use in continuing to travel. If that was the case, they could quickly head to the nearest dwelling for shelter and find medical help for the boy.
"I'm the only one…" Azel said, his voice cracking, but his dry eyes did not form tears.
"We need to leave this area, then." Calintz pulled off his pack and opened it, digging around in the contents until he found a bundle of dried meat. He handed it over to Azel. "Eat as we walk and have as much as you like. You'll never make it alive if you don't eat. Let me know if you need a rest. There isn't any use in rushing if it ends up killing you from exhaustion."
Azel simply nodded gratefully, tearing into the meat ravenously. After he had chewed a few bites, he wrapped his fingers around the cloth at Calintz's elbow and followed behind as Calintz lead the way. Fortunately, the snow was not coming down at that time so the visibility was clear. Calintz refrained from asking any questions, knowing that any little energy Azel could spend on talking or going over what must have been a painful ordeal would be better put to use on getting to Amabat, which Calintz surmised was the closed, safest place for Azel right now.
The trip was exhausting, but they arrived at the temples soon enough. Calintz had never met the Great Priestess Ladrinne, but had heard much about her. Her son had recently entered the Alliance, and talk was that his ambition and background would get him far, and Ladrinne had taken a side against the Yason despite Amabat's neutral stance when it came to other Efferian nations. As soon as Calintz entered the temple with Azel clinging to his arm, both were shown hospitality by the clerics and priestesses.
For the first time, Calintz was able to meet the Great Priestess, who upon hearing the temple had guests at an unusual time of year, went to visit them. The other priestesses had prepared a bed for Azel and brought him food. Calintz sat on the bed across from Azel's and watched as the boy ate before falling asleep. There was no telling how old Azel was at this point, in his condition, but he had to be in his early teens. He looked even thinner and younger now that he slept, wrapped under the blankets and tossing feverishly. At that point, Calintz decided to eat what the priestesses had brought him, which was now cold stew. As he ate, Ladrinne entered the room, accompanied by the same two priestesses that had fussed over Azel earlier. Calintz set his bowl aside and jumped to his feet, bowing his head respectfully.
"There's no need for that," Ladrinne said warmly, approaching Calintz and reaching a hand to brush a white strand of hair out of his face. Calintz looked up, saying nothing.
"I heard you brought a child here," Ladrinne said, glancing over to the bed where Azel slept. "I was told you found him on the Road to Amabat, half starved after his village was attacked."
"Yes, the Yason appeared to have been following him as well," Calintz said, almost as if he were reporting details to a superior officer. After all, this was the Great Priestess. He usually didn't show so much respect, even to authority, but she was a kind woman who had shown them hospitality and was giving Azel the chance to recover.
"You're quite young," Ladrinne said softly. "How old are you?"
"Nineteen," Calintz replied.
Ladrinne said nothing after that, but Calintz saw pain in her eyes. He had seen enough eyes filled with pain after Fuget had been attacked and many times afterward to recognize the look by now. Ladrinne walked past him and to Azel's bedside, placing a hand on the boy's forehead. The trouble in her eyes increased as she saw him begin to toss and turn again, moaning.
"He was through quite an ordeal," Ladrinne finally said, looking up at Calintz. "Please stay here as long as you need. We will provide for you both." She smiled warmly, but the sad look in her eyes lingered. After that, she left, the priestesses escorting her out.
Calintz turned back to look at Azel, feeling troubled. There is a long road ahead of you, yet. Please, get through this and live. Don't let the Yason win by dying…you can fight this.
Calintz and Azel did not overstay their welcome at the temples. Once Azel had a few meals behind him and was walking around stably, Calintz wanted to leave as soon as possible, traveling through Selton, then the Orbonne Woods, to Remie. The task was not an easy one, but Remie was near the desert and therefore far warmer than the temples of Amabat. Winter refused to leave easily and soon blizzards would sweep over the area. Travel would be difficult, if not nearly impossible, in those conditions, but waiting for the weather to improve was a time loss Calintz could not afford.
Originally, Calintz had intended to leave Azel at the temple, feeling it would be a safer place for him. However, Azel had made a quick recovery and had followed Calintz around like a small, grateful puppy. In the end, Calintz knew that even without a quick recovery, he probably could never have left the boy at the temple. It quickly became evident, too, that Azel wanted to accompany Calintz. Sheer will made him recover all the more quickly.
During the night before they left, Azel and Calintz talked and Calintz discovered Azel's age. The boy was only fourteen – barely older than Calintz had been when he had been taken in by Zekart.
The trip to Remie was difficult but manageable. Azel had been fitted with proper attire and was able to maintain his warmth far better, and he was on his way to filling out properly again. He had been on his own for just over two weeks – Calintz had been more than late with his investigation of Yason activity. Azel had barely managed water, much less food, and he reported that he had always been rather small, but Calintz could tell that two weeks without food had also taken its toll. In a month, Calintz was sure he would see improvement in Azel both physically and mentally. The boy already seemed happier.
Once in Remie, Azel spent most of his time at the inn sleeping out the exhaustion, decidedly appreciating a comfortable bed over a tent and blanket. Calintz could barely afford the Sid to keep up with Azel's recovery eating, too. He spent a lot of time while Azel slept honing his swordsmanship and doing small favors to rid of the monsters bothering Remie – it was easy money for him. With monsters always wandering around the main roads, the supply was unfortunately endless. Calintz managed to kill off all the monsters in the surrounding area of Orbonne Woods and Remie paid good money for it. For a few days, there were no sightings, and Calintz was able to focus some attention on gathering information about the Yason.
It came to him after wiping out monsters again once they started reappearing that he wanted to start a mercenary group and start backing the Alliance and human nations in the war against the Yason. Azel was enough proof that he could find capable members and lead them, and with paying jobs like hunting monsters, he could finally take care of himself. Such an action would probably displease his master, Zekart, who felt that Calintz's hatred for the Yason was far too deep and possessed him far too greatly. Azel was even more confirmation that the Yason deserved loathing and should be wiped off the continent of Efferia. It was Calintz's calling.