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Final Fantasy XII: Zodiac Kristal

By Luna Sapphire

Fantasy / Adventure

A Tale of Lost Kingdoms

Many thousand years ago, all-powerful beings looked down upon the land, and their rule was absolute. They commanded all things on the earth. All was done according to their will. Then one day they withdrew behind the walls of a great city of their own making, disappearing from history's stage. In the vacuum left behind, Ivalice fell into chaos, until the march towards a new age finally began.

Many were the countries and kingdoms dotting Ivalice, and many were the wars waged in this time. Legend says that Raithwall, a noble from a small country in Valendia, was granted a sword and magicite from the gods, and with these artifacts, a mission: to unify the land. His strategic genius and deep empathy with his people were evident in his rule of Valendia, and from there he went on to take control of the remaining two continents. Soon all Ivalice belonged to the Galtean Alliance, and a Golden Age had begun. Now king of all he surveyed, Raithwall's was a benevolent and just reign, guiding the Alliance for near half a century. After his death, the Alliance held firm and knew peace and prosperity for four hundred years until its dissolution with the passing of the last of Raithwall's direct descendants.

The three magicite shards were given to the three Houses born from House Galtea's dissolution. To House Dalmasca, whose bloodline begun by the second prince of Dalmasca to take up the mantle of rule after King Raithwall's passing was given the Dusk Shard; to House Nabradia, the Midlight Shard and to House Kristelia was offered the Dawn Shard, but the gift was refused by the actual kristelian king and so it was hidden inside Raithwall's tomb upon his death.

Kristelia grew on the shadows of the seemingly richer kingdoms for around three hundred years, until its alliance with the growing empire of Rozarria through the marriage of Kristelia's crown prince, Candiel von Schweetz and the third princess of House Margrace, the actual ruling family in Rozarria, Adlyn Carlin Margrace.

Archadia, fearing an invasion by their sworn rival, sent troops against Kristelia, encountering only the Royal army and family still in the capital, Schweetz. King Candiel was deadly injuries in battle and soon it was over, before any reinforcement from Rozarria could aid them. Nothing left to Archadia but a ghost kingdom, nothing known of its people, who actually ran to the small republic of Lumminy, in the depths of the swamp, hidden and protected by a thick layer of Mist. But with the queen deadly ill and nothing known of the four little princesses, the new kingdom settled down in its hidden life during the fifteen years to follow and becoming no more than a legend through the rest of Ivalice.

Two years prior to the Great War, Nabradia, fearing the military might of the Archadian Empire, made treaty with Rozarria to place troops from that land near her borders. Once again fearing an invasion of the Valendian continent, Archadia immediately exerted political pressure on the small kingdom. Yet Nabradia did not accede to their demands, and Emperor Gramis of Archadia was compelled to use force. Several days after the Archadian invasion, a terrible explosion reduced the once proud city of Nabudis to naught but rubble. Though the city fell in the space of a night, the Mist that now swirls where it once stood has transformed the land into a barren waste for eternity. Even then, Archadia continued its move towards the neighbor kingdom, dalmascans, attacking the city of Nalbina, on the border of both kingdoms.

Little before, an alliance was made between the kingdoms of Dalmasca and Nabradia, through the marriage of Dalmasca's heir, princess Ashelia B'Nargin Dalmasca and Prince Rasler Heios Nabradia. After the loss of his homeland, Prince Rasler was the one to lead the Dalmasca army in defense of the fortress, but he was shoot card and the city lost to the Archadia forces.

The deaths of lord Rasler Heios Nabradia was but one of many tragedies to befall the kingdom of Dalmasca. The air of hope that had surrounded her royal highness, princess Ashe's wedding was now quite lost: Dalmasca had been set adrift, at the mercy of history's restless tides. At this time, the great empires struggled for dominions over Ivalice: Archadia in the east, and Rozarria, the west. The invasion of the kingdom of Nabradia was Archadia's first step in its westward march. With lord Rasler's beloved homeland consumed by the hell-fires of war, it seemed clear that Archadia would soon mete out a like fate to Dalmasca. The fall of the fortress at Nalbina tolled the destruction of the greater part of Dalmasca's forces.

A counter-attack was mounted by the order of the knights of Dalmasca, ever brave and faithful, but against the martial might of the Archadian armies, they stood little chance of victory. Indeed, their defeat was to be absolute.

Soon thereafter, Archadia came forward offering terms of peace. Or, as one might rather put it, terms of Dalmasca's surrender. Lord Raminas, king of Dalmasca, had no choice but to accept these terms. It was, thus, only with reluctance that he set out for Nalbina fortress - now under Archadian occupation - to affix his seal to the Emperor's treaty of peace.

The king had scarce departed his royal city of Rabanastre when the remnants of the order made their return. And not a moment too soon, for a terrible revelation awaited them.

The treaty would be signed with steel and writ in royal blood.

The knight knelt down, checking up his enemies and making sure they were dead, then he sat on the steps behind him with a sigh.

"Not again." He whispered. "Not again." His hand that wasn't holding the sword went to his neck, looking for a way of comfort that wasn't there anymore.

"c'mon!" His companion called up "We have to save the king." But he noticed his friend shock and asked "Are you okay, Niltly?"

"Go ahead, Reks. I'm not going to die while you're out. I'm out of this madness."

But Reks didn't move. Staying behind to stop the soldiers was his idea, was his friend hurt?

"Too many died in a fruitless battle. I see the stars and they aren't to our favor." Niltly added.

"That's why we fight, isn't it? It doesn't mean all our efforts are fruitless. We fight to protect our homeland and our family out there, isn't it worth?"

Niltly sighed again, holding back the tears insisting to come out as flashes of memories filled his mind. The shine of a jewel, a piercing scream, the bloodied sand… he could feel his own weakness and fears from three years ago.

"That's it then. You all have a reason to fight, but I don't. It's not my land, it is long gone now, I have no friends or family to worry about, and I'm too used to traveling from place to place by now to care. I just won't die for something I don't even believe in! I was here just to prove myself, and I already did enough. Now go on and be one of the heroes."

Reks just hesitated for a second before resuming his way to the throne room, expecting there to be a battle or something going on but, when he finally arrived, it was already over.

The young soldier entered the silent room with caution, but there was no living soul inside, people were slain and killed, both Imperials and Dalmascans. He walked further, towards the throne, just to find out the king had been killed as well. He was late.

"Your Majesty..." He muttered to himself, without knowing what to do now.

How could Captain Basch let such a thing happen? The boy hadn't seen him among the corpses in the room. And where was Captain Azaleas as well? He hadn't been seen for a while now... He had to get back to Niltly and tell him!

But when Reks turned around, he was striken right into his stomach and, before him stood no other than Basch himself. The boy was almost crying, in both shock and pain.

"Captain, why? Our king... What have you done?" He asked weakly.

"The king intended all along to sell Dalmasca to the empire. His Majesty was a traitor." The Captain replied. His voice sounded wrong, somehow, but Reks was too weak and confuse to give it much though

"Captain, I..." He began to say, but was too weak to sustain himself when Basch let him go and fell to the ground.

"Seize the insurgent!" Someone ordered at the back of the room.

"M'lord!" Someone else replied.

Reks was losing consciousness, vaguely capturing pieces of a discussion and the people before him.

Niltly finally got tired of waiting after fighting a new wave of soldiers. He wasn't there to be a hero, just to fortify himself and everything was probably over by now. Still it was getting boring now that he felt a little better. Maybe he should see what actually happened up there. It had been just a few minutes, but everything was too quiet...

Feeling something wrong in the air, the young knight made his way to the throne room, slowly and with caution, dagger tightly secure in his hand.

It brought back bad memories, of an attack in the desert. Niltly expected an ambush at any moment, but there was no living soul in the hallway. When he was about to enter through the open doors, voices came from inside.

"Well, so much for peaceful negotiations." Niltly froze and did his best to keep himself out of view.

"We'll never surrender to you! We are not cattle to be sold to a traitor-king!" A second voice bravely defied. The boy didn't dare to approach more to see what was going on, afraid his full metallic armor would betray him. But of course he couldn't be wearing more traditional dalmascan armor as it would betray him in a total different manner.

"But the war is over, my dear captain. You have lost. Dalmasca is the property of the empire, now. And to think, we intended to let you keep some of your sovereignty, out of respect. But now you've gone and ruined that, haven't you captain?"

Captain? What had Basch done? Should he enter? And where was Reks?

"We will never bow to you!" Niltly supposed this was Basch. Apparently had been captured by the Archadian army. Had they lost?

"And the people of Dalmasca will hate you for it." The man said. "Take the captain away." He ordered.

Niltly waited for a moment then cautiously approached the door. The room seemed empty once again and everyone inside was dead, including the King and...

He ran to Reks and checked him up. Still alive, but barely. Niltly tried to gather enough Mist to cure his friend, but he was tired and afraid, he'd overused magic already in the last battle, when the enemies proved too much for him, so his spell was weak, not even enough to completely heal the outside.

It didn't do him any good as well, his breathing got heavy and a strange sweet scent filled his lungs, temporally substituting the bloody air and he almost passed out. The boy let out a loud, slight girlish cry when he felt a sharp pain in his head. It was loud enough to draw undesired attention.

"There is someone there, sir!" A voice warned drawing near through a lateral passageway.

Ignoring the pain and dizziness, Niltly jumped to his feet and ran, too weak to mind his own armored footsteps betraying his position.

He was still too weak to fight and loosing yet another home, he would have to begin again, somewhere else as someone else...

The boy stopped by the front yard of the fortress, hearing new armored footsteps approaching from his escape way. What would he do now?

As he looked around for another way, he found his own mind failing to work straight and it was even harder to breath. So he knew it, he was poisoned. It was probably he would never find out how but it had to be a poisoned weapon, one slight cut would be enough, like the one on his left cheek.

He couldn't fight that way... There was just two other options: give up or hide and pray the poison wouldn't take long to kill him.

But then a third idea hit him. If he would die, maybe there was no argument on that, but he would at least try to get out of that mess.

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