Chapter One: Clash of Time
With a shout that seemed to shake the very darkness surrounding him, Ramza leapt high. He hurled through the air as though shot from a cannon, closing the gap to the abomination as it bore down on his only sister, who scrabbled backward to avoid those murderous claws.
He was only distantly aware of the cries of his allies as they rushed the Lucavi monstrosity as well, each and every one prepared to die in defense of their world. Time crawled as he reached Altima, the recently resurrected demon buffeted by holy sword skills in three directions as Meliadoul, Cid, and Agrias unleashed their righteous fury only a moment before he struck.
Ramza drove his heavy blade into the creature's back, piercing bone and sinew as though it were parchment, and doubling the massive Lucavi that had plagued Ivalice over. Altima's claws dug into the rotting wood of the airship, floating in the darkness of the abyss in which they drifted, and let loose one last ululating wail of rage and pain.
Using the demon's back as a foothold, Ramza dove clear, rolling lithely to a crouch and shielding Alma's body with his own. A wave of arcane force rolled over them, driving both siblings hard to the deck of the decrepit airship. Altima's scream continued as it was consumed, blinding white and blue light surrounding Ramza, forcing him to squeeze his eyes shut.
"It won't end like this!" Altima's voice rang above the explosion, ripe with anger. "The Dark will aid me!"
Ramza felt as though he were falling in every direction as the airship and Alma were stripped away from his grasp. He tumbled through the brilliant light, his mind reeling as he struggled to discern which way was down. Nausea sought to overcome him, and he bit down on his cheek, honing in on the pain to prevent himself from being ill.
So focused was he that Ramza wasn't initially aware that he had stopped moving, until the scent of grass and the sound of the sea broke into his awareness. The young heretic opened his eyes slowly to see the familiar light of the afternoon sun, and discovered that he was lying in tall grass, the blades tickling his face as a gentle breeze washed over him.
Gasping, he thought perhaps it had all been a dream; the battle, the explosion, all a figment of his imagination. When he rose to his feet, however, the aches of his body brought to reality all he had just endured. His left arm, gushing freely where Hasmal had managed to get his claws in, was still practically useless. Tearing a piece of his stained tunic, the Beoulve quickly wrapped the wound to stem the flow of his life's blood.
A glance around revealed that none of his companions had been moved with him, and he panicked immediately. Alma had been right there, in his arms, and she was once more lost to him. Ramza turned in place, his gaze flitting across the deceptive cover of the grass for any sign of movement. He caught a glimpse of such motion, and quickly darted toward it.
The man who rose to stand was not someone Ramza knew, and his appearance instantly set the Beoulve on edge. The man was clearly a warrior, and he was in no better shape than Ramza. Blood and sweat coated his skin, and he seemed to be favoring one leg as he quickly scanned the grass, his sword already drawn. He wore light armor, with a damaged buckler strapped to his left arm. A calm, focused gaze slid over to Ramza, and the man narrowed his eyes.
"What sorcery is this?" The warrior asked, his voice even and dangerous.
"I know not." Ramza replied evenly, letting his hand fall to the second sword on his hip.
"I demand to know where he is." The man ordered, aiming the tip of his blade at Ramza. "You will tell me."
"Lower your sword." The Beoulve warned. "I do not know who you are talking about."
"You lie!" The man replied, his gaze darting skyward. "Guildenstern! This illusion will not save you!"
Before Ramza could discern what manner of madness had taken this warrior, the man charged him.
Callo awoke with the sun on her face, the sound of surf breaking near her soothing the pulse of pain in her head. The woman sat up slowly, the sand beneath her managing to find its way into her clothes and hair. The ache in her skull was slowly bleeding away, but she was confused for a moment. Callo couldn't remember what she had been doing before coming to on the beach, and it took a beat for her memory to return.
She had gotten Joshua safely out of the city, leaving him in the care of the injured Hardin. Concern for her partner had crept into her mind, and she decided to return to see if she could aid him. Yes, she had gone back into Leá Monde, and was approaching the cathedral when the entire world seemed to fall out from under her.
Standing, the woman quickly took stock of her surroundings. She had definitely not been transported outside of the city again, as there were no such beaches lining the mainland near Leá Monde. That left her to wonder just where she was, and more importantly, how she had gotten there.
Striding up the sandy slope, Callo quickly left the beach behind and made her way up a grass covered bluff, gently massaging the remaining pain out of her temples. She kept her gaze locked onto the sea, seeking any landmark she might recognize in the hopes of discovering where she had been washed up. Perhaps this was all just an illusion, some memory or thought amplified by the arcane energy of Leá Monde.
Callo jumped at the sound of a woman's voice, her attention so directed at the coastline that she hadn't noticed another's presence. Spinning, she saw a pair of women striding quickly toward her. Aside from both being blonde, they couldn't have been more different. One was certainly a knight, dressed in pocked armor and carrying a heavy sword, a stern look on her face. The other was barely more than a girl, open faced and in a flowing, if a little worn, dress that marked her as well born.
"Who are you?" The knight demanded, closing the distance between them quickly.
"Be calm, I'm unarmed and mean you no harm." Callo said, holding both hands up. "My name is Callo Merlose, I'm an Inquisitor of the VKP."
"The VKP?" The noble woman asked, her voice light as she glanced at the female knight.
"Yes," Callo replied, letting her hands fall to her side. "Who might you be?"
"I am-" The knight began, only to be cut off by the sound of ringing steel not far off.
The hardy woman turned on her heel, quickly tracing the source of the sounds of combat, and indicating for Callo to follow. The Inquisitor fell into step behind the mysterious women, as the three of them jogged further up the bluff. Breathing heavily, the women reached the top, a strong breeze drifting the scent of blood and earth over them. What Callo saw brought her to a stuttered halt, a short gasp escaping her lips.
Ashley Riot stood in a defensive stance, gripping his sword tightly, as he circled a knight in dark armor. She hadn't believed any of this was real, and she certainly hadn't expected to see Ashley engaged in a duel. His presence threw her theory into question, and made her wonder if perhaps Leá Monde itself had cast them far from it. What of Guildenstern then?
"Brother!" Cried the girl, jogging toward the two men.
"Stand fast." The dark clad knight ordered, holding his hand up to keep them out of the fight.
The knight had a peculiar expression on his face, one that Callo couldn't initially place. His gaze never left Ashley, and he gave no indication he found their clash to be a joke, yet a small smirk touched his lips. It was a strange thing to see, considering few warriors would find amusement from a serious duel.
That smile remained as Ashley rushed at him, and Callo found a small gasp escaping her lips. Two swords met in a brilliant display of sparks, as the knight deftly parried the Riskbreaker's slash. The two men circled away from each other, creating a gap that lasted barely an instant. They met again, a high pitched whine announcing the tips of their blades striking each other. Ashley pressed on, and it was clear immediately that both men were already injured.
The knight kept his left arm clutched close, and even from this distance Callo could see the blood that stained his tunic. Ashley suffered as well, a slight hitch in his step indicating that one of his legs was already quite damaged. Even with these disabilities, the men fought with a speed and skill that left Callo in awe.
She knew Ashley to be one of the most skilled Riskbreakers in Valendia, and his abilities had only been compounded by his time in Leá Monde. Few warriors could stand against him in a group, let alone single combat, and yet this man matched his speed and strength, even encumbered as he was by his armor.
Deftly avoiding a vicious slash to the midsection, Ashley knocked the knight's sword away with the buckler on his arm, dashing in to thrust. His foe sidestepped the killing blow swiftly, ramming his knee into the Riskbreaker's injured leg with enough force to ground the man. Ashley rolled as he fell, narrowly avoiding the edge of the heavy knight's blade that trailed down after him, and came up with an attack of his own.
The knight's armor took most of the cut, though a small splash of scarlet was a testament to the keen blade the Valendian warrior carried. Ignoring the wound, the man drove his shoulder into Ashley's chest, forcing the man back and giving him another chance to press the attack. The Riskbreaker was ready for the slash, expertly deflecting it and grasping the man's armor. Ashley rolled back, hurling the knight over him by planting his good leg against his foe's midsection and kicking up.
Landing in a heap, the knight quickly recovered, bringing his blade up even as Ashley slashed toward his exposed throat. Remaining on one knee, the man snared the VKP Agent's weapon against his handguard, twisting the sword to the side and jamming the elbow of his wounded left arm against Ashley's wrist.
As the Riskbreaker's weapon was flung from his grasp he kicked out, using his advantage in position to disarm the knight as well. Rolling forward beneath that extended leg, the knight swiftly rose to his feet, chanting quickly as he turned toward Ashley.
The two men rattled off the incantations in the same instant, arcane power leaping across the space between them in tandem. As a bolt of lightning shot in an arc from Ashley's hand, striking the knight square in the chest, the Riskbreaker was overcome by a blue pillar of untapped energy, blasting him off of his feet.
Earth and grass was flung in every direction as the two spells did their work, hurling the two warriors through the air and roughly to the scorched earth beneath them. Neither of the men immediately moved, their inner reserves depleted by the speed and intensity of the duel. They simply lay a short distance apart, eyes closed and breathing strained.
Callo found she was unable to move as the noble girl sprinted toward the fallen knight, dropping to his side to ensure he was still breathing. The Inquisitor needed no physical evidence, as she could distantly hear the subtle wanderings of both men's minds in her own. She had never seen such a battle before, and could only compare it to a well choreographed dance. The men had moved with such fluidity and raw energy, each movement instinctual and instant, that even trying to recall the duel Callo realized she couldn't follow it completely.
"I've never seen someone fight like that against Ramza…" The female knight said from beside her, clearly as awestruck as Callo.
That name rang in her mind, and she couldn't seem to place it. She knew that name from somewhere, from something she had read during her training as an Inquisitor. It took her a moment to recall the writings in which she had seen the knight's name, and when she finally realized where it had been written, Callo cast a wide eyed gaze at the woman next to her.
Agrias stood over the dark haired woman, Callo, as she tended to the fallen warrior. There had been little time for a proper introduction with the small war the two men had waged, and the Holy Knight had yet to even give the woman her name. Callo was too busy wrapping the wounds on the man Ramza had fought to ask it, and Agrias had no intention of distracting her.
Instead she focused on the man who rested in the seared grass, his eyes closed and face blank. He'd fought with such intensity and focus, matching Ramza blow for blow, and Agrias had never thought she would see such a man. The only person she had ever met who could best Ramza was Cid, and the weathered swordsman could only do so using the arcane swordskills he'd honed over decades.
She was strangely fascinated by his skill, and somewhat afraid of it. There'd been no fear in his face as he had fought, and no anger. Only cold analysis was visible in him as he clashed swords with Ramza, and a man like that was not one to take lightly.
Hearing movement behind her, Agrias turned to see Ramza walking gingerly toward her, his sister's arm around his waist to keep him balanced. Agrias took a step back and nodded to the Beoulve siblings, relieved that he had walked away from the duel in better shape than his opponent.
"How is he?" Ramza asked as he reached them, his gaze locked onto the dark haired Inquisitor.
"Well enough, considering." The woman replied, glancing at him warily leaning back onto her heels. "He'll need rest."
"Good." Ramza began with a nod. "He was more injured than I was before our blades ever met, and I did not wish to cause him real harm, only to defend myself."
He was already in worse shape? Agrias felt her gaze dart to the man once more, a fresh wave of awe and wariness reaching deep into her. Both men had been quite injured before the fought, but she hadn't realized that this man had been through more than Ramza. How was it possible he could even stand, let alone raise a sword?
"You know him?" Alma asked, worry etching itself into her features.
"I do." Callo replied. "His name is Ashley Riot, a Riskbreaker, and my partner."
"Riskbreaker?" Agrias interjected. "I've never heard of such a title."
"That doesn't surprise me." Callo shot back with a small laugh, her deep gaze travelling up to Ramza. "You're Ramza Beoulve, aren't you?"
The man glanced at Agrias in confusion, to which Agrias shrugged. She hadn't told the woman who he was, so it was anyone's guess as to how Callo knew of him. It was unlikely she was of the Glabados Church, given her attire and attitude, and apparently this Riot hadn't known who Ramza was.
"I read of you," Callo continued, checking one of the bandages on Ashley's side. "While I was training for the VKP."
"The VKP?" Ramza asked, frowning.
"Valendian Knights of Peace." Callo supplied, smiling slightly.
"You hail from Valendia?" Alma asked. "What text from there would have Ramza's name?"
"An account of the Lion Wars." Callo said quietly, glancing at Ramza once more. "Written four-hundred years before I was born…"
Ramza had found it hard to believe the woman at first, but when she was able to describe details of his exploits which none save their troupe could know, he quickly began to take her claim seriously. Callo knew a great deal about the Lion War, as the tome detailing the Lucavi he had fought and the true war had been discovered while she was a student and had fascinated her. She claimed it had been written by Olan Durai, after the man had retraced Ramza's steps and unearthed the truth behind the war.
It was surreal, hearing of his journey from a woman who knew him only as a historical hero, and Ramza was nervous every time she glanced at him. Callo looked at him strangely, but not for very long. It was as though she was afraid to let her gaze linger.
The four of them had built a small fire on the bluff, deciding to rest for the night before they set out to find the others that had been with Ramza, assuming they had made it out unscathed as they had. Ashley needed some time to recouperate, and Ramza was in no better shape. Alma had fashioned a sling for his wounded arm, but every time he moved it still ached.
"I don't understand." Agrias said, absently stroking her braided hair. "How could you both end up here with us?"
"Is that what happened? How do you know you weren't brought to our time?"
"Because I know where we are." Agrias explained calmly, pointing at the stars above them. "This is the northern coast of Lionel, perhaps a day's journey north of the Fort City of Zaland."
"Oh," Callo replied, smiling shyly. "I honestly cannot say. It must be connected to Leá Monde, since Ashley and I were both in the city before we were sent here. If so then perhaps Guildenstern…"
"Wait," Ramza interrupted, his gaze fixated on her. "I know that name. Your friend spoke it before he attacked me. I believe he thought I was an illusion created to combat him."
"Ashley and I were on a mission for the VKP, and it turned out Guildenstern was at the heart of it. He's… evil, and if Ashley said that then there's a chance he's still alive, and here as well."
"I suppose we'll know when he wakes." Agrias said, shrugging absently.
"I'm sure we will." Ramza agreed, wincing as he adjusted his arm. "We'll set out at daybreak to find the others, and hopefully your friend will be on his feet by then."
"What is Cid like?" Callo asked quickly, a small amount of excitement slipping into her voice.
"Huh?" Ramza replied, raising his eyebrows.
"Is he as powerful as the Durai Report claims? Did he really fight off fifty Hokuten Knights alone?"
"Leave it to Olan to make him seem invincible." Ramza said with a chuckle. "I don't know, but you're welcome to ask him if you would like."
"Yes, perhaps I will." Callo replied with a smile. "I can't believe I'm spending the evening with the hero of the Lion War."
Ramza smiled slightly, though he was uncomfortable with her awe. He never considered himself a hero, and wasn't sure how he felt about others seeing him as such. He was just a man who did what he knew was right, and if that made one a hero then he could name half a dozen such men and women who had made this journey with him. Ramza felt he was no better than any of them.
"We should rest," Ramza said nervously, clearing his throat. "Tomorrow we'll depart for Zaland. If the others were dragged here as well it's likely they'll head there to regroup."
Author's Note: This was an idea I've had for awhile, and I wanted to get the first chapter up before I finished The Lion of Ivalice just to have it ready. I may go back and make a few changes before continuing with it, we'll see. It won't be the long Epic that I tried to make TLoI into, but I intend it to have some depth and characterization. It also doesn't follow that Fanonverse at all, so the pairings, if there are any, will be different.
I haven't played Vagrant Story in quite some time, and I don't know nearly as much about it as I do FFT, so if I make a mistake at some point I apologize. I hope anyone reading it enjoys it though, and I always wanted to pit Ashley against Ramza, if only for a moment.
I decided to upload this only to the FFT section instead of crossovers, as the crossover section is pretty much empty and doesn't seem to like posting them to the actual sections they make up, just the crossover part. It's primarily based in the TacticsVerse anyway.
Gaming Ikari: Ha, I actually decided to write it! Hope it lives up to your expectations.