Author's Note: I've taken such a long break from writing that I feel I've lost my mojo, but I love this game so much that I just have to write something for it. I don't know where it will go, or if it will go anywhere at all, but I thought that I would share. If I do continue, which I intend to (don't we all?) I want to see Basch and Ashe together - they are by far my favorite pair from the game. I apologize for the lack of html formatting. I never could learn how to do it properly.

This snippet of their lives was intended as a Basch flashback. Please read and review - it would mean so much to me.

Cheers!


Meeting

An unknown soldier is escorted through the halls of a magnificent palace. The native guards are skeptical, but the king is sure after meeting this man - he is the one for the job, yes, they will start him here. His lightness of spirit makes him a perfect companion for Dalmasca's treasure, the king thinks, and his loyalty to his newly adopted homeland makes him the perfect protector.

"I warn you," the escorting knight says, "if any harm should befall her, we shall make your death look like an accident."

The young soldier, barely twenty-two years of age, nods in understanding. He has taken this post with reluctance - truly he wants to be a knight, as he has always been skilled in combat and strategy - but this is what the king offered him, and while it is not a position of authority or immediate importance, it seems to be a good place to start.

The escort, a young Sir Azelas, gestures him into an open room, and the soldier is immediately struck with how tidy the room is. A five year old of any station would have toys strewn across every surface and artwork hung on the walls. Instead he finds books and neat drawings carefully stacked on the table, the colors and pencils neatly lined up in their respective cases.

The girl sits by the window on the ledge, writing on a piece of paper supported by a book. Her sandy hair is long and her skin tanned from the intense summer sun. She wears a flowing white dress, the laces of which flow down to her knees. They sway ever so slightly as she breathes and moves with juvenile energy.

"Ashelia?"Azelas says. The girl looks up and the solider is struck by her unearthly and mature beauty. Her eyes are intelligent but impish, as though she is plotting some benevolent mischief. Perhaps it is a plan that she writes.

She smiles once she realizes who it is and sets her book down with the utmost care before approaching Azelas. He is young and handsome - of course the princess favors him. He is vibrant and strong - only twenty himself, though he has been a part of the armed forces and her life since he was seventeen and she three. Azelas, who wears no armor for this task, crouches down and picks up the young princess, giving her a brief hug.

"Having fun today?"

"No," she says. She is a self-possessed child. "I'm bored. I'm not allowed out into the city."

"Well, perhaps that will change."

Her eyes brighten. "Are you to be my guard again?"

Azelas shakes his head, and the solider thinks he detects a bit of sadness and regret in the man's eyes. "I can't. I told you," he explains, "I have to start training with the other men now. I'm to be a knight."

The girl folds her arms and Azelas does not flinch with the movement. His hold is strong. "But I have brought you your new guard. Your father picked him out specifically for you."

"My father finds dull people. It was mother who found you."

Instantly, the girl's face changes to one of guarded sadness. The solider knows that her mother died a year ago, and tough the girl is young, it is clear that she understands her mother is not returning.

"And I will always be here for you," Azelas assures her. It is clear the two were close. "You will still see me. I simply can't be here all the time now. And I want you to keep drawing me pictures. I do enjoy them."

"Then I'll draw you another one today."

Azelas grins and gives her a squeeze and she hugs him tight about the neck and shoulders. The solider begins to feel doubt - how could he ever replace this guard who cares for her so? What if he and the child don't get along? What will he do if she holds him in contempt for being someone other than Azelas?

"This gentleman is going to be your new companion."

Companion, the soldier thinks. Am I no more than a glorified babysitter?

Azelas is moving upward from this position. I will too, he assures himself.

The girl looks him over, and then wiggles a bit. Azelas obliges and sets her down on the floor. She stands before the solider, her arms crossed and her head high, regarding him as though considering whether or not to give her approval - as if she has the option.

"My name is Ashe. What is yours?"

He'll take that as approval. Carefully, he crouches down, feeling his light leather armor shift against his body. He places himself at her eye level and settles his hand at the hilt of his short sword, feeling that she, like any five year old girl, would like to feel like a princess with a knight at her service.

"I am Basch, my lady, and I am ever at your service."