Argath sat on the rock walkway, absent-mindedly tossing rocks into the water. Eagrose Castle was more than another fortress - it contained a town bustling with activity - but charged with guard duty meant that boredom was a constant friend. There was no need to stand at attention all the time, for it was highly unlikely the Corpse Brigade, with their strength at an all-time low, would see fit to attack the stronghold of the pillars of the Northern Sky.
Ramza's squadron had turned back to Gariland, and it would take two days for them to get back. They had to submit a report to the Akademy and, while they were at it, equip themselves with weapons and armour more fitting to storm enemy bases. Argath had a feeling that Dycedarg's stern lecture had hastened the young Beoulve's departure, as they had left not soon after they had arrived. Argath had remained at Eagrose at the bequest of the marquis Elmdore, who had felt that Limberry owed Gallione a great debt.
With no sparring partners, there was little in the way of improvement. It had only been half a day since the company had left, and he was without anything to do whatsoever. He had taken to the library to see if he could find a few manuals on knightly techniques, but all he could discover were skills far beyond his scope. Deathknights, Fell Knights, Ark Knights, Rune Knights, Knights Templar, Onion Knights, Divine Knights, Holy Knights, and even the common Dark Knights...
Huh. There were a lot more varieties of knights than he knew about, each with their own techniques and philosophies. Well, that was to be expected - Ivalice, of all the countries on the continent, relied on its forces of knights the most. Ordalia was a nations of spellweavers primarily, and Romanda the titan of long-ranged weaponry. Ordalia had overwhelmed Ivalice during the Fifty Years' War with range, and had it not been for Barbaneth's presence, the war might not have ended with a treaty after all.
He did find several books on tactics and the usage of certain kinds of weaponry, and he took them with him as he had stood on the castle ramparts. There was a book on crystal theory - which detailed the ultimate end known as crystallization as well as explained the phenomenon of inherited techniques, something that mages still did not understand.
The most interesting, however, was a book on bows and crossbows. Argath had never fancied himself an archer, but the idea of using rending techniques at range intrigued him. Certainly he could put a sword on his belt and be able to fight at ranges both close and far. Most high knights did not bother to learn ranged weaponry, but he didn't have special sword skills to back him up in fights, so he figured all was fair.
It was perhaps a little strange, but Argath had always been an avid reader. It had set him apart from the rest of the Limberry cadets, but it was also the reason he had been one of the best and likeliest candidates for knighthood. Of course, his burning desire to prove himself was partially at fault also.
He had to restore the honour to the Thadalfus name, which his grandfather had brought to ruin.
Tainted with the stigma of traitor, his father had been treated little better than a commoner in the courts of Limberry - perhaps even worse. Commoners were expected to be unprincipled ruffians - foolish herds of cattle, but nobles were raised to be better. Sagus Thadalfus had been marked since birth, but he, too, wanted to restore the honour of the family name, and so he pulled as many strings as he could to get Argath into the Limberry Military Akademy.
His death a year later due to suicide spurred Argath on ever further to distance himself from his sire and grandsire. His grandfather was a traitor, and his father was weak. He would be neither of those things - a brave and loyal knight to the very end.
Bravery and loyalty.
He would never give them up.
Argath was startled at the voice, almost drawing his sword. The girl in front of him wore a hood that covered her hair and much of her face - he had seen her before with Ramza and Delita. There was a schoolbag in her arms, filled with books.
She looked at his face, certainly not missing his startled expression, and giggled. There was something calming about that, Argath decided. It reminded him of his mother's voice.
"Whoa there! I didn't mean to startle you," said the girl. "You're with my brother's company, right? I don't think I caught your name."
"Argath Thadalfus," said Argath. He recalled that Ramza had told him about a sister. This must be the one then, he decided. "Yes. I'm a part of their squadron for now, at least until the marquis decides to recall me."
"Charmed," said the girl, sitting down beside him. Argath looked at her warily - she hadn't even asked whether or not he appreciated her presence. "Would you mind telling me what sorts of things the company does? My brother hardly ever tells me anything he thinks I do not need to know."
Argath shrugged. He didn't see the harm in it, and having somebody to talk to would be infinitely better than sitting around with nothing to do.
"Well, I haven't been with them for long, but..."
He described a variety of things. The training sessions that they go through, the kinds of styles that they all had, and other miscellaneous tidbits. Ramza's almighty presence in the battlefield, the times they go to sleep and wake up, and simple little things that came to his mind.
The girl listened closely and was an avid listener, nodding and smiling as he went on. She would occasionally pause him for a bit to ask for clarification, but these moments were far and few in-between. At last Argath exhausted his topics, and he turned to her, unsure of what to do. He had little experience with girls - all the ones he knew came from old families and knew what the name Thadalfus meant.
"...Wow, you guys really go through a lot, don't you."
"No more than any other squire," said Argath, looking into the sky. "Becoming a knight is no easy matter, only the best of the best make it. Others just become footsoldiers in the army and whatnot. But I'll make it. I'll make it for sure."
"That's really inspiring," said the girl, standing up. "You work really hard, it sounds like, and my brother's working hard too. That means I've got to work hard as well!"
Argath didn't smile much, but her sunny disposition managed to turn the sides of his lips up slightly. Now that he was looking at her from below, the hood covered much less of her face, and what a face it was. Not the most beautiful Argath had ever seen, but so full of life and smiles despite hints of sorrow that he could not help but be touched slightly by her radiance.
"Oh yes, Argath."
"Are you busy tomorrow?"
"No, I'm off-duty then," said Argath. Dycedarg didn't seem to completely trust him yet, although Ramza had vouched for his abilities. It seemed that they were only willing to entrust him with a day's worth of guard duty, and then it was off to join Ramza's company for the extermination of the Corpse Brigade. "How come?"
The girl pulled out two parchment tickets from her bag. Argath looked at it, but the text was too small and too far away for him to read the words.
"I was originally planning on seeing this play with my brother, but he's not here now," she said softly. "The play's tomorrow, and I don't want to waste the tickets... If you don't mind, would you like to go with me?"
Argath had to fight down a blush. Was he being asked to accompany her with no one else around? Was... was this a date?
"Great! It's decided then!" said the girl as she clasped her hands together. She put out her hand, giving the young squire one of the little pieces of parchment. Argath took it slowly. "I'll meet you at the theatre in the middle of town tomorrow at noon, I hope you don't mind. It's going to be so much fun!"
"Thanks for inviting me," said Argath, looking at the ticket. "Legend of the Zodiac Braves?"
"It's a historical retelling of St. Ajora's campaign against the Lucavi," said the girl, starry-eyed. "I heard the part of Germonique is being played by Satchel Werent. I have to go now, but I hope to see you tomorrow!"
She turned around, but before she had a chance to disappear into the garden Argath cried out after her.
"Wait! I-I do not know your name!"
She turned around, pulling her hood down. Argath had to take a deep breath as brown locks spilled from her head rather than the expected blonde - it was striking, of course, and no less beautiful, but that meant that-
"It's Tietra Heiral!" said Delita's sister. "It was nice meeting you, Ser Argath Thadalfus!"
"What in Ivalice are you doing, Delita?"
The brown-haired boy had stood up, and was looking about as though getting ready for a fight. There was a feral expression on his face, something that was quite out-of-place for a boy usually so calm and collected.
"Somebody's hitting on my baby sister!"
"Oh for the love of Ajora..." said Kurtz as he watched Kennard try desperately to calm their vice-leader down. "If you weren't so overprotective all the time maybe she'd have a boyfriend by now!"