Author's Notes –
This is a work in progress.
Stale, humid air blanketed the dark cave, a clear sign that nothing alive had ventured into the remote grotto in a long time. Only the light violet glow of the holy stone illuminated the darkness, though the light grew weaker as he piled on more and more dirt.
'You seek to seal us.' The statement echoed off of the dark walls causing the entire cavern to tremble, loosening the accumulated dirt on the amethyst stone. 'You only delay our return for another generation.'
"Perhaps," the dirty squire replied as he knocked a rock over so that it landed on the stone. "But others will take up the fight, just as we did."
'NO!' the Aries stone proclaimed. 'You may have scattered us to the winds, but you will not seal us away!'
A violet flash filled the subterranean chamber, blinding the young warrior as a wave of magic passed through him. Instinctively he blinked as his eyes tried to recover from the momentary impairment.
Even before his vision returned he knew that he was no longer deep underground. Gone was the stagnant air replaced with a cool breeze and the gentle rustling of leaves. His eyes recovered, he gazed up at the evening sky through the lush, lively canopy above. Two moons looked down on him, a clear sign that he was no longer in Ivalice. "Is this the world the Lucavi hail from?"
It was a world far less sinister than he'd imagined, looking not too different from any other forest in Ivalice. Only the duel moons indicated that this was a different world than his. Then again, his world had a significant number of threats. Judging from the heavy footsteps and breaking branches it was clear that this world had its share of dangerous creatures as well.
Distant cries further reinforced that idea. Though the dialect was different, the tone definitely conveyed panic and distress.
As he ran he assessed his inventory and equipment. Having traveled far to seal away the auracite Ramza had packed light. Pulling out Gungnir, he rushed into the clearing.
Strange beasts with elongated heads and lean, powerful bodies ran amok as their owners and caretakers dealt with the consequences of the attack. Equally mysterious creatures with the head of an eagle and the body of a behemoth the powerful creatures baring mounted magi reigned down destruction and death.
A blue dragon and several underequipped magi fought back as best as they could despite being outnumbered.
'I should have brought out the blast gun,' Ramza lamented as he took in the battlefield. A mighty leap propelled him into the air and onto one of the raiders. Batting the mage's staff out of his hand, the squire also rammed his knee into the spell caster's mouth, eliminating him of his two primary focuses. Using the mage to step off of, Ramza launched himself into a tree.
Reaching into his pouch as he landed on the springy branch, he deftly hurled a mythril knife at another airborne mage. His aim wasn't true, but it was close as it imbedded itself in the side of one of the odd beasts. Fortunately luck was with him as the blade cut into the harness, causing the mounted mage to fall as the beast flinched at the pain of the injury.
Using the recoil of the branch to propel him into the air once again he found his flight interrupted as the thunderous roar of several firearms filled the clearing. One of the bullets hit him in the leg, proving that his luck had turned though it hadn't run out. Fighting through the pain he drove Gungnir through the wing of one of the beasts. A painful cry drowned out all other sounds as gravity pulled the spear through the creature's wing.
Ramza managed to land on his feet, avoiding the crashing plight of the wounded beast and its rider. With their attention now drawn to him, Ramza was forced on the defensive as a winged behemoth and its rider swooped down upon him. Powerful claws gripped his shoulder, digging into his blue Brave Suit. A swift counter brought the butt of the spear against the offending leg, forcing the creature to release the squire.
'Romandian?' he thought as he heard the mage chanting. Reaching into his pack he pulled out a ball. Not sure what color it was he jammed it into the creature's beaked mouth before slamming it closed with an uppercut. The flash of lightning suggested a yellow ball as the creature convulsed uncontrollably before flipping onto its back and crushing the hapless rider.
The cooling touch of healing magic rushed through his body, closing the flesh wounds he's recently suffered. But his Brave Suit was not the only magic unleashed as a powerful wind buffeted the volley of arrows that the defenders launched at their attackers. 'Even a powerful shield spell would not be able to do that,' Ramza surmised as he witnessed the foreign magic. Out of the corner of his eye he saw another mage conjure several golems.
Letting out another battle cry, Ramza launched himself at another raider. Crashing down on the mage he cut the man's wand hand off before kicking him squarely in the mouth. Though injured, he was largely out of the fight. Leaping off of the beast he tackled another in mid-air, startling the mount and dislodging the rider. Powerful and deadly clawed feet lashed out at him as the beast reacted instinctively even in its death throes.
Again he crashed into the ground, much less elegant than before. Pulling his spear out of the dying creature he let out another battle cry. He could feel his heart pounding as it spread the increased adrenaline throughout his body. Moving with seemingly unnatural speed he headed for the next closest enemy.
Icicles rained down on him, several stabbing him through his armor though most missing their mark. He responded with a quick jab, sending his spear through the mage's shoulder and knocking him off of his mount. The bone jarring landing did little to improve the mage's condition. Planting his foot on the man's chest Ramza forcefully extracted his weapon and looked for the next target.
It was clear that the tide of the battle had changed. No longer were the raiders simply picking off the merchants. Though they had been caught off guard, the caravan's guards had quickly recovered and put up far stiffer a defense then their attackers had anticipated. Only a handful of the other strange beasts remained, unfortunately those were mostly carcasses now. Dozens of bodies littered the clearing, a good majority of those belonging to the merchants and their crew.
"You fight like a demon," a woman with a gun trained on him stated.
Ramza shrugged, "So I've been told."
"Lower your gun Amelia," another guardsman ordered as he approached the pair.
"I'm not aiming it at him," the woman known as Amelia replied as she lowered the muzzle. "The noble's still alive."
Immediately Ramza moved to intervene. "I'll not tolerate murder," he stated as he stood between the woman and the mage. "The fighting's over and he's defeated."
"He's about to die and we don't have any healers," the guardsman stated.
"A caravan without chemists or healers?" Ramza scoffed. While it was unusual for a caravan to travel without any wizards, it was doubly true for one to not have any one trained in chemistry or healing.
"Chemist?" Amelia replied. "What's a chemist?"
"Any healing items?" he asked quickly.
"We don't have any potion makers and the few healing items we do have are going to be used on our men not them," the guardsman answered. "And we're not going to give anyone of them their wands back."
With the battle over, Ramza considered his options. Though he had yet to master the higher level healing spells he had managed to learn Cure and Regen. Then again, Chakra was easier to perform, and it would heal him of his own injuries. Ripping the wizard's robe, he bound the man's wrists. With the man properly secured, he built up his spiritual energy, converting it into Chakra. Immediately he felt his own wounds heal. Beneath him the captured mage gasped as his own pain was eased and his wounds began to close.
"What did you do?" Amelia exclaimed as she now pointed her gun at him. "You're a noble… You're one of them."
"It's a skill I learned," Ramza explained. "Bring all of the wounded over here, I should be able to heal everyone sufficiently with this skill."
"Do it," the guardsman stated.
"Orson?" Amelia exclaimed.
"You can heal them, right?" the man named Orson asked.
"Get them as close to me as you can," Ramza stated as he wiped away the blood from his now healed injuries. "The most seriously injured first."
In the time that it took to heal everyone sufficiently to the point where no one was in imminent danger of passing, Ramza had gathered much about this world that he now resided in. He'd imagined that the world worked much like his own, yet nothing could be further from the truth. Magic existed in this world, but the principles behind it were very different. In Ivalice everyone could use it, though it took proper training. Here, in Tristan (and all the surrounding lands) only a select few were born with the ability, though most of those belonged to families with a long history of wizards. A handful of others developed the ability but without the financial backing of a noble or merchant family it was hard for them to receive proper training.
Even with his own training in black, white and time magic Ramza found himself unable to cast any spells. Though he knew the various incantations for a multitude of spells he could not grasp his mana reserves. As unsettling as that was, Ramza knew that he was far from helpless. As the head of his little troupe he'd always felt responsible for the wellbeing of the others. That combined with the fact that most of their enemies focused on him meant that he was needed on the frontlines, as such he rarely ever played a support role in their battles. The only real problem was that his skills as a dark knight did rely on his ability to use magic. Still, he had plenty of other skill sets that he could use.
What did concern him though was how the wizards fought in this world. Though they were apparently limited by their elemental affinity (water, fire, wind, earth, and void) they were relatively quick with their spells. His second concern was that they could do much more with their magic. In the brief fight he'd witnessed one of the wizards had managed to rebuff a hail of arrows and another had conjured invisible blades that had cut through steel armor.
The magi they'd fought were all wind magi and all educated. The half-hawk, half-behemoth creatures known as griffins were native creatures to this realm, but the ones that the magi rode were familiars and not just domesticated or befriended monsters. The familiar was a reflection of the magi's affinity, though usually only those who attended a school of magic acquired a familiar.
Yes, when fighting a wizard in this world there was much that had to be taken into account.
"We should kill them," Orson stated as he eyed the handful of captives and their familiars. The other guardsmen nodded in agreement behind the captain of the guard.
"It's not necessary," Ramza stated. This world might not be the same as his, but he refused to let his morals be compromised.
Amelia eyed the bound wizards, her eyes hard and unforgiving. "They'll remain a threat unless we eliminate them."
"They're bound and weaponless," the squire countered.
"We've lost nearly half our men, we can't spare any more to watch them while we push on," the captain replied.
"I'll stay with them," Ramza stated firmly. "I'm not one of your men."
The tense standoff lasted only seconds yet seemed to last minutes as blue eyes locked with brown ones.
"Fine," Orson finally relented. "Our debt to you is paid with their lives."
"That's not fair!" Amelia shouted. "We lost nearly half our men because of them! Are their lives worth two dozen of ours?!"
"Amelia," Orson hissed as he turned to face his second in command. "The best way to honor those who have passed is to ensure that they did not die in vain."
The captain's soothing words lessened the vitriol in his passionate second, but it was clear that Amelia was still seething as Orson led her away.
Ramza watched as the mercenaries and the merchants left. With the wizards and their familiars carefully bound he waited for the caravan to put some distance between them before he turned his attention back to the men before him. He waited until nearly dawn before undoing the blinds and standing before them. "I will lead you out of here, but I expect you to cooperate. I'm pretty sure I'll know when you begin casting a spell, and while I may not know what you're casting, I do know how to stop you from completing your spell."
The wizards reluctantly nodded. They already understood that they owed their lives their lives to him, though their eyes still burned with resentment. The class/caste issues involved clearly stung their pride. But the worth of a life, or at least a noble life, was supposed to be worth a lot more than the life of a commoner.
Unfortunately Ramza did not subscribe to that philosophy. He'd seen too much death in his time and every life had been valuable, even that of the monsters that his troupe had slain.
"You won't get away with this," one of the wizards said, disrupting his thoughts. "Don't you know who we are?"
Ramza glanced over the men once again.
Now under the light of the dawning sun Ramza caught a better look at the uniformed men.
Uniforms? They each wore the same outfit, though some had distinct markings that separated them from the others. "You're soldiers."
"Not just soldiers," the ranking soldier replied. "We're the Griffin Knights."
The name held no meaning for Ramza.
"The stupid commoner doesn't even know about us," another knight scoffed.
"Idiot," the ranking knight snapped, "he's not from around here. Look at his clothes - no one wears that in Tristain.
"Because all of you ride griffins," the squire surmised. "Why were you attacking the merchants?"
"Merchants?" the knight scoffed. "They're no merchants! They're arms dealers! They're arming the Albion rebels!"
"But you're part of the Tristain army," Ramza pointed out.
"He's got you there commander," the second knight snickered. "Guess he's not the typical stupid commoner."
"Of course he's not," the commander shot back. "He… what was your name?"
"Ramza defeated six of us and our mounts," the commander finished. "He's obviously received training somewhere."
Ramza shrugged. "We'll head this way," he directed them away from where the merchants/arms dealers.
They walked a good distance before the commander once again spoke, "Where were you trained?"
"An academy," the squire shrugged.
Again he shrugged, "Not here."
"That much is obvious."
"I gave you my name, what of yours?" Ramza countered.
"I apologize," the knight averted his eyes, "where are my manners. I am Marquess Kurt Vonnegut."
"Beoulve," the knight repeated. "I've never heard of your family name, and your accent…"
"Romandian isn't my primary language."
"Romandian? We're speaking common Romalian," the second knight grumbled.
"You're from the far south," the commander added. "From beyond the sea?"
Ramza left the question unanswered as he continued to lead the men down the road. In short order they reached the edge of the forest. "This is far enough," he stated as turned to face the wizards. Pulling out the Mage Masher he took a step towards the ranking knight. "Hold up your hands."
Cautiously the Marquess did so.
With expert skill Ramza deftly cut the bonds that held him. "Take your men and go."
"You're just going to let us go?" Kurt asked.
"I've done all I will do to help them or hinder you," the blond stated. "I have no idea how far you can travel on your griffins or how far they can go with their horses, and if you're really going after them then I doubt you will have the time or resources to go after me."
The long road proved to be filled with as many dangers as any road in Ivalice. Morbols, panthers, and woodsmen gave way to bulls, birds, and other creatures that he'd never seen before. Fortunately for the young squire most of the creatures had given up after he'd sniped a few of them with the Blast Gun. Though he was far from being the sniper that Mustado was, Ramza was quick to pick up almost any weapon that he took up.
Unsure how far he'd traveled; Ramza finally gave in after finding what he believed was a secure spot. Though unfamiliar with most of what he'd killed, he hoped that the birds he'd kept would at least make a passable meal.
Exhaustion seemed to catch up with him as he gathered wood for a fire. Once again he attempted to cast a spell, this time a weak fire spell to ignite the wood. And yet again he failed to grasp his mana reserves.
Wiry, he threw the fowl onto the wood before pulling out the Glacier Gun. The powerful weapon served to remind him all the more of his companions and his home. The long hours arguing with the engineer about what to call the weapon that spouted fire until finally the ponytailed youth had somehow convinced the rest of their troupe that Glacier Gun was appropriate for the fire oriented weapon and that its counterpart should be named the Blaze Gun.
"I will return," he vowed as he pulled back the hammer of the firearm. Discharging it into the pile of wood topped with the fowl, he felt the corner of his mouth curl with the beginnings of a smile.
Suddenly he felt a prickling sensation running up his spine – the telltale sign that magic was being worked about him. Unsure of what was going on, Ramza quickly reloaded the gun as he surveyed the area. He could see no one that might be casting a spell upon him.
Focusing on the feeling, he tried to categorize it. Having been the target of virtually all types of magic, he felt that he knew more than a fair bit about being targeted by magic. What he felt wasn't curing magic, or attack magic… no, it almost felt like summoning magic, though it wasn't…
Magical energy crackled to life before him. First a bright, tiny sphere, but it quickly grew. Illegible runes appeared around the orb as it grew.
"A portal," he exclaimed. He'd see it once before, though that instance was very different than this one. It had been when they'd finally discovered how to send Cloud home. "Is this my way home?"
"I wonder if she'll manage."
"I curious to see what she'll summon.
"She'll probably just screw up again."
"Pentagon of the five Elements," she recited as calmly as her pounding heart would allow her. "Heed my call and bring forth my familiar!"
All eyes turned watched expectantly, waiting for something, anything, to happen.
"Ha! Louise the Zero summoned nothing!"
"Her success rate is still zero!"
The glowing portal flickered for a moment before it began to lose its luster. Without further hesitation Ramza leapt into the illuminated gateway.
The sudden explosion caught everyone by surprise, though it really shouldn't have considering the girl's penchant for blowing things up. Reflexively everyone covered their eyes to shield themselves from the flying debris.
"Success rate still zero!"
Scorched dirt and grass flew about him, clouding his vision. Pristine white stone walls to his left and before him suggested that he was within a castle's yard.
"Success rate still zero!"
'Romandian?!' the blond boy looked about, making out several forms through the haze. All appeared to be fairly young, perhaps only as old as Alma, each wearing a dark cloak bound by a pentagram, over clean white shirts and dark pants or skirts depending on the wearer's gender. 'Wizards.' "Where am I?"
"Who are you?" a familiar voice asked.
'Alma?!' Spinning around, Ramza was able to make out a familiar face. But it was not his sister that greeted him. True, she was a spitting image of his younger sibling, minus the pink hair that replaced his sister's dirty blond. Though the youngest Beoulve had spent much of her years at the convent, Ramza was sure that she'd never learned Romandian.
"I ask you who you were," the girl demanded.
'She may look like Alma but she lacks her temperament,' Ramza surmised. Standing tall he looked down at the young girl. "I am Ramza Beoulve."
"I'm not asking your name," the girl huffed. "Why did a commoner… No… don't tell me… this can't be right!"
"What's this? You summoned a common human?"
"Hah! As expected of 'Louise the Zero!'"
Her face turned an unpleasant shade of red marking her clear displeasure.
"You summoned me," Ramza stated aloud. That tingling in his spine remained despite jumping through the portal.
"No!" She turned away. "This thing can't possibly be my familiar! This is a mistake! I just messed up a little! I'll just redo the summoning!"
"Everyone, please be quiet!" a commanding voice boomed, silencing the laughter of the other wizards and the indignant outcries of the girl before him. "Miss Villiere! This is a holy ritual of summoning! And there will be no such thing as 'Fixing it' allowed."
The girl bowed her head reluctantly.
The man, a balding wizard in a dark blue robe looked nothing like any mage that the squire had ever seen. Then again, if he were still in the other world then it explained everything. Their magic was nothing like the magic of his world.
"You have called him to service therefore he shall be your familiar."
Taking a second to piece together the Romandian, Ramza understood the words, but he didn't comprehend the significance of what was said.
"Please," the man said as he sternly eyed the girl, "just continue with the ritual."
"Yes, sir," she replied.
'Summoning… familiar…' the words stuck in his mind. He'd heard of some accomplished magi who were able to bind magical creatures to them, creating a bond said creature that was akin to telepathy… Wait… was he to be her familiar?
Turning to face him, the girl held up her wand, "Pentagon of the five elemental powers"
Instinctively he batted her wand way.
"He's got a gun!" someone shouted.
"Someone, immobilize him!"
"He's going to shoot her!"
"Louise is about to be killed by the familiar she summoned!"
The tingling spread up his neck, to his shoulders and arms, compelling him to not resist as she again raised her wand, "Grand your blessings upon this creature"
Warmth passed through his head as she tapped her wand on his head. His body seemed to lock up as she grasped his face with her free hand.
"and bind it as my familiar."
At the last second his free hand broke free, inserting it between his lips and hers, though her lips felt relatively soft in his palm. A burning sensation ran through his hand then arm, "What the hell did you do to me?"
The compulsion gone, he pushed her away, knocking her off her feet. Bringing his other arm about, he raised the gun.
"He broke the compulsion?"
"He's really going to kill her!"
"Shouldn't someone stop him?"
"I apologize," Ramza said as he holstered the gun with one hand and offered the girl his other.
Knocking his hand away the fiery tempered girl that looked like Alma stood up. "What the hell do you think you're doing?! Do you know what the punishment is for a commoner who dares raise his hand against a noble?!"
'Alma's face but Argath's tongue,' the squire thought bitterly as he looked down at the girl. "I thought nobles were taught manners."
The girl flinched as though struck at his words.
"I gave you mine name, should you not give me yours?"
Silence filled the courtyard as the young magi in training eyed the mysterious warrior.
"I, I am Louise Francoise de Blanc de la Valliere," the pinkette replied as she took his hand.
The strange burning sensation vanished in an instant as the girl accepted his hand.
"Interesting," the bald wizard exclaimed as he stepped between the two. Reaching out he took Ramza's left hand from Louise.
The burning sensation had started in his hand, the very hand that the girl had kissed, and the very hand the bald wizard was now holding was glowing in an unnatural red light. The man turned his hand over, revealing the palm and the source of the mystical light. "I've never seen such runes before."
'Runes?' Ramza thought as he looked down at the mysterious magical energy that branded him.
"Well, I guess the ritual is now complete," the bald man stated as he released Ramza's hand. "You may have the rest of the day to get to know your familiars."
"Yes Master Colbert," the gathered wizards chorused.
Many of the students turned their attention to their own familiars now as their teacher departed.
"Congratulations Louise." Both master and familiar turned to the speaker. A dark skinned girl with dark red hair smiled at the pair. Behind her a giant red lizard with a flame on the end of its tail followed closely. "You've summoned a marvelous familiar."
In his short life Ramza had been given many looks. Though she appeared to be appraising him her eyes did much more than that. As a warrior he'd often mentally stripped his opponents of their armor so as to get a better estimate of his enemy's actual abilities and not those granted by his or her armor, but the look she gave him was slightly different. Yes, she was mentally stripping him of his armor and clothes, but she seemed to be doing more than that.
Standing firmly between him and the new girl, Louise shielded her familiar. "Kirche… don't you"
"Ara – I don't intend to do anything," the taller girl interjected as she turned away. "Yet."
Flashing a devilish grin, she turned around, lifting the hem of her short skirt scandalously high.
Like a true gentleman, Ramza quickly averted his eyes, focusing them on his "master" as she fumed.
Many of the other students departed as well, slowly following the elder mage. Those that could and dared to mounted their familiars, though most of the summoned creatures were significantly smaller than their masters. Several others took to the air, literally flying up to the upper battlements or windows of the nearby buildings.
No stranger to magic, he did find it unusual that they would use their magic so superficially. True, some of his troupe had taken to teleporting and levitating over obstacles in their path, especially after one of them had mastered said abilities. Like kids with new toys, the young wizards were probably just enjoying their ability to fly.
Of all the students only Louise remained grounded. "We should go," she urged him as she turned to follow the others.
Resigned to his current fate, Ramza followed.
The pair walked in relative silence, losing sight of the other students as they moved at a significantly slower pace. The squire couldn't help but steal glances at the younger girl.
"I didn't give you permission to look at me!" Louise finally shouted as she came to a stop.
"My apologies," the blond boy said with a polite bow.
"Why are you looking at me like that?" she demanded.
Standing straight he looked down at her. "You resemble my younger sister."
The pinkette blinked. "Oh." After a few seconds she resumed walking. "I had no idea. I'm sorry; I didn't mean to take you from your family."
Ramza shrugged. "You're not the one who banished me here."
"Banished?" again Louise stopped in her tracks.
"This is not my world," he explained. "My world has but one moon. We do not have griffins or some of the other beasts that your classmates summoned. Though my world is filled with other creatures I have not seen here."
"Banished, from another world?" the pinkette replied skeptically.
"Yes, banished," he reiterated. He desperately wanted to tell her his story. In the past it had felt good to be able to confide in someone. Each time his troupe had expanded by adding more fighters he'd felt relieved. Though he hated to burden them with their impossible task, the fact that each addition believed him and stayed by his side through all of the fighting meant a great deal to him.
But could he tell Louise about his journeys? The fact that he wasn't from this world was fantastic enough, but the tale behind his banishment to this world was beyond even that. 'At least Cloud was a simple accident.'
"What happened? Did you anger some great magical being?"
Ramza smirked. "Of course I did."
I hope you like this. As is typical with my fics I'm not going to stick to the plot of Familiar of Zero, though I will have elements of it in this fic.