S C R A P S
Updated on September 7, 2019 (♍)
Author's Notes: Here's a collection of pieces that are more or less whole episode that didn't develop into a longer work, that I felt a little iffy about publishing and/or that contain headcanons and characterizations that I decided to toss.
F O O T N O T E
Written on June 14, 2019 ()
Author's Notes: A weird attempt at imagining a Ramza/Delita Unwitting Incest AU wherein the Hyrals are also Balbanes' bastards. I made things somehow both more and less scandalous by filtering events through poor Alazlam and his footnotes.
Despite rumors that witchcraft was among the sins twining about Alazlam's family tree, he had no power to divine the unrecorded past. When he stood amidst the brambled and overgrown orchards that spread from the ruins of Igros keep down towards the distant sea, he could certainly imagine their appearance in days past, how they might have looked when Gallione was flush with wealth and people. There were accounts enough of the city's former glory to give fire to his imagination. He had no ability, however, to see the sticky summer afternoon when two young squires ran down along the hard packed earth, laughing at private jokes and talking through daydreams before stripping in the dappled sunlight. He could not discern or measure those secret hours spent in exploration of their bodies against the carpet of apple blossoms. He could not penetrate the veil of history and catch that moment when old Balbanes Beoulve, looking for his errant son, caught a glimpse of the boys' tawny limbs tangled in the grass and turned as colorless as the lime-washed chapel in which he was to spend that evening given to a penitent's tremulous prayers.
He did, however, in Appendix D of "The Enigmatic War of the Lions," make an observation that might have shed light on the resultant rupture in family harmony that followed in the weeks to come: a strange turn that no players at the time--save one--had any means to explain. Footnote 47 on The Early Life of Delita I reads:
"While Hyral's age at the onset of the war has typically been given as seventeen, the year given for his birth varies between records. Church registries regarding his receipt of various Glabadosian sacraments seem to suggest that he may, in fact, have been as old at eighteen or even nineteen at the time he became involved with Goltanna's faction. Placing him at this older age not only lends slightly more credence to contemporary accounts of his talent for political strategy, but it also creates a unique opportunity to theorize about the circumstances of his strange adoption. While there are no firsthand accounts remaining of the early life of either Delita or his sister, there was a writ of divorce (grounds: infidelity) obtained by one farmer with the surname Hyral A.A. 1248; this same man was later recorded as having died of plague at A.A. 1253, which was when the earliest records of the Hyrals' presence at Igros. While we are rapidly delving into the realm of fiction, I think it is worth considering that placing Hyral at an older age would make it possible that the adulteress cited in the writ could have been the same enigmatic and unnamed woman mentioned as the mother of Balbanes' two illegitimate issue. Both women were mentioned as being of Lugria lineage.
That young Beoulve and Hyral might have been brothers is wholly unsubstantiated at this point, but even the possibility casts a decidedly different light on several elements of their relationship."
E X C H A N G E
Written on June 22, 2019 ()
Author's Notes: Another episode where I was establishing some ideas about the older Beoulve brothers' relationship; I decided not to archive it after writing "Let Your Curse Be On Me," which developed the characters' much more thoroughly in relation to a captivity narrative.
Time had taken on new shapes and structures during his three months at Vaseria. Even as Zalbag saw the glare of the promised signal fire, it seemed as though the term of his hostageship was both unbegun and already ended--that he was simultaneously cold and bloody on the Zelmonian plains and already rushing ventre a terre back toward Lesalia. As they escorted him through still dark streets towards the docks, he took a keen and morbid interest in the city to which he hoped never to return. His eyes traced over and over the red lines of the hexagonal flagstones beneath him and the black figure of the great Ydoran basilica that towered over them like a dead giant. From time to time he glanced at the men surrounding him, wondering how many he could drop if he managed to wrest away one of their bronze-pommeled swords.
Mostly though, when his thoughts did not wander elsewhere, he prayed.
When they finally parleyed with the Ivalican envoy, he did not register any surprise at seeing Dycedarg there. He had not picked up enough Ordallian to make out each detail of the agreement, but it became apparent that a fairly sizable contingent of men had seen safe passage out of Warjilis in exchange for his return. Despite being at the center of negotiations, he remained very much detached from the proceedings until his brother turned to him and spoke two words in terse Ivalician:
He nodded his head with what felt like honesty. The Ordallians untethered his wrists, and he was free to leave.
He did not speak to Dycedarg again until they were several hours onto the Limberian sea, having not had anything else asked of him by an member of the mission. They stood on deck, watching the grey rolling of the waves that seemed to stretch towards a clouded nowhere.
"I do not know it was a sound decision: one soldier for that many."
Dycedarg looked slightly irate. "It wasn't your decision."
"My decisions haven't been particularly sound as of late, I suppose."
"If you're talking about the ambush, you can blame an informant." Dycedarg spat. "He's feeding crows outside the capital now."
He paused, watching a look of mild shock spread over Zalbag's features.
"Also, you aren't 'one soldier.' You're a Beoulve."
There was much unsaid as both men let the conversation lapse into the unrelenting sweep of the water surrounding them.
"How soon until I can return to the front?" Zalbag asked after what seemed a long span of silence.
"We're in the midst of a momentary truce. Viura initiated talks this time."
His voice softened.
"You are unhurt, right?"
As Dycedarg laid a gloved hand upon his shoulder, his mind came unbidden to the prickling sting of a healer's magic--of the cold burn of light that re-knit sinew and bone no matter how many times it had been broken. He closed his eyes and did not flinch.
They spent the next several months in the capital, subject to all manner of enthused interest and hushed speculation. The truce broke and Zalbag was back on the field before word began to spread of singular outbreak of plague: that a whole Ordallian company fleeing out of Lionel had taken ill at sea and made it to port with barely a man alive, raving of poison and curses in the midst of their fever.
Written on September 1, 2019 ()
"I've decided it would be better for you to go to Lesalia for a while," Dycedarg said gravely, pouring out a glass of claret. "It's become clear I am not the brother you wish to winter with."
Alma, rigid as a statue, looked at him with a quiet intensity, as if she knew he would not meet her gaze.
"I think it's very clear which brother's company I would keep, given the choice."
He didn't rise to the bait. He drank instead, thinking ruefully as to how much easier it would have been for all concerned if he could have sent her back to Orbonne. They had always really been strangers, even before the events of the past year had estranged them further, and it would have been better if she had remained immured behind monastery walls all this time instead of ever setting foot in Igros.
"Good," he said after a long time. "I suppose it's settled."
"I suppose it is." She bowed slightly but did not turn to leave.
"Alma..." He still did not look at her. "Don't think I do not care for you."
"I never gave any indication that I thought otherwise," she replied calmly. "When should I anticipate leaving?"
He told her he could arrange something by noon and silently thought that he should bid whoever accompanied her to take a route that avoided Zeakden. When she finally left him, he finished his drink, wondering why in the face of all he had done and all he was about to do, his understandably sullen sister should become such a source of discomfort. He touched his chest briefly, fingers running over the half-moon scar that the assassin's blade had left him. Even when she had been a sympathetic child laughing within the halls of the ivy-covered manse, even before they had all but executed her friend, even when it had been her hand on that wound pressing desperately to keep the blood in him, she had always unsettled him.
The most obvious explanation was that she was more intelligent than anyone ever gave a woman credit for, and there was something strange in having an unasked for sister appear so suddenly and perceive him with more acuity than anyone around him. There was more than that, though, and he paced the long hall trying to think on it, wondering if and when he would receive word from Lionel as to developments with other maidens better kept in convents. The past year had left him feeling the full brunt of her disdain, and he had begun to wonder if some aspect of the cold imperiousness she showed him had always been present--if there had forever been something lurking beneath her sunny demeanor that others did not see.
When he retired, it was to dreams he did not wish to recall: visions in which she and he were not themselves. In that phantasy she stood empowered over him, a cruel monarch toppling all the kingdoms of the world and their glory, and he, like some dumb beast bowed before an augur's knife, stood ready to throw himself before her and be trampled in supplication. There was a terrible ecstasy in looking to her: at lingering on the perfect geometry of her face, of longing to kiss those red-stained lips that he knew would fain devour him.
Such shadows clung to him when he awoke, and he was ashamed of them in due measure. When they finally met to say their goodbyes, he did his best to refrain from flinching as she embraced him, feeling as though some dark thing in the negative space between their bodies waited to overthrow them: as if some portion of the two of them had been carved out and fitted back together wrongly. He tried not to think of that parting in the days to come, and he did not feel the weight of such unease again until word reached him she had been declared a heretic.
D A M S E L S
Written on November 16, 2019 ()
Author's Notes: If you read all my depressing AUs, you'll notice that I'm really hung up on Wiegraf's pact at Orbonne. This was a short piece hammering home the parallels between Tietra's kidnapping and Alma's kidnapping and Wiegraf's degree of complicity in them both. The basic ideas from it eventually wormed their way into "Fetters."
The talonfalls of Izlude’s steed faded into the unrelenting rush of rain, and as the corners of his vision bled to black, Wiegraf felt them melt into the whirring of windmill gears rattling overhead. He lay there—teeth clenched, fingers dug into his belly as he tried to hold it together—and realized that the waning cry of the girl galloping away from him was one he’d heard before.
Had the first one even spoken to him? Had she spoken to anyone? It was such an awful thing to try to recall. The sun was dimmed. The earth smelled of spring. Golagros had been as pale as his hostage, both of them looking at him with dark, desperate eyes as the air turned chill. She couldn't have spoken. He would have remembered something spoken to him at that instant—particularly by anybody else’s sister. Somehow, though, she must have—she must have, unless he had fallen to some place where maidens were interchangeable. It could not be that that voice should pierce him through with a memory so sharp he might die upon it.
He either closed his eyes or lost his vision as another voice and another memory threatened to intrude upon him—a maiden he couldn’t rescue and who would never have pleaded for aid. It was at that instant that the world burnt suddenly with a nimbus of blue flame, and he heard a sound that finally promised to drown out all others.
“Stone bearer, with me now do treat.”
L A P W I N G S
Written on September 7, 2019 (♍)
Author's Notes: This is a snippet of a Final Fantasy Tactics/Wuthering Heights fusion, wherein it's sort of the eighteenth-century, and Ramza unintentionally casts aside his childhood bond with Delita to marry for reasons of social/financial security.
"Why did you despise me? Why did you betray your own heart, Ramza?"
What answer could he make that had not been made before? Delita had known the same roof and the same brothers; Ramza could not justify himself by claiming the necessity of escape. Delita had been less than a bastard and suffered in due measure for it. If he could cross back over all the paths his life had taken, he would come always to that compact made on Eagrose Heath, where he had lied and lied and told himself a good match would give him means to save them both.
The sickness had carried him back there more than once. Sometimes he awoke in starts, dissolving into the same abject weeping that had once mingled with the fury of a storm. His head swam to think on it even now, and Delita caught him as he swooned.
"If I have done wrong, Delita," he moaned, "I am dying for it."
They said nothing for a while, weeping into the cupped flesh of one another's shoulders, clutching one another as though they meant to press themselves into some chimera of their mingled flesh and bone. Outside, Ramza could hear one of his wife's dogs baying, and he gave a choking cough that he knew would bring up blood. It did not deter Delita in as he wrenched him into another savage kiss.
It was not forgiveness, but in that suffocating embrace, Ramza could somehow imagine the two of them back on the heathen expanse of the moors. They had not been sundered once. They had not been enemies. He had been untamed and unbroken, caring not a whit for family names or their attendant obligations. It had been a grievous betrayal to part them.
As he folded into the darkness of his own body, Ramza saw them as they had been: mud-spattered and laughing, trying to charm the nesting lapwings with the shrill cry of a reed flute.