He has bathed the world entire in flame, that new growth might rise from the ashes. DelitaxOvelia.
Might I have done better to let them spill my falsely-royal blood, and so avoid this war that has swallowed the realm?
We are seated at opposite ends of the long table, with all the Council arrayed between us. They shuffle parchments and provide their reports, yet it is to him they speak, and not to me. They know not, or care not, that the crown upon his head is falsely gained. They see in him the saviour of Ivalice.
So too did I, once.
He has forced his changes through the Council, and they have swept the land like a fire in the slums. When it comes to the final tally, I know that these changes he makes will be for the weal of the people, yet the price is high; violence continues to wash the streets in blood as the people struggle to find their niche in this new world he has crafted. The light he casts is brilliant, and its shadow the darker for it.
I have not been attending with proper care to Minister Hardin's report on the status of the Glabados Church and its properties. I see it in the warning look the King gives me as he addresses the Minister's questions. With so much of its leadership slain, the Church is in shambles. The King has elected to allow it the chance to restore itself, for the rites of the faith comfort the people.
In that, they and I are not so different.
The Ministers have completed their reports. The King rises, and I with him. He escorts me from the hall, his skin frighteningly warm beneath my hand.
"Are you well?" he asks. "You seem distracted."
I was not raised to this sort of life; my time behind monastery walls was spent in instruction in the faith. I know how to read and to cipher, but Elder Simon did not teach me how to navigate the treacherous morass of court politics, where no word carries but a single meaning.
"Yes, I am well," I say aloud. It is a lie, as my crown is a lie, as my marriage is a lie.
Once, I believed that he would truly make me Queen, that we would work together to build a better future for Ivalice. He promised that a new kingdom should rise from the ashes of the old, that Ivalice could rise like the phoenix from the purifying flames. Yet the brighter the flame of his brilliance rises, the more I see the enveloping shadow that taints all that he touches.
I pause outside the chapel. "I would pray," I tell him. He nods, and signals to two of the Lionsguard to ensure that no harm comes to me. It would look ill, after all, if the King who brought peace to Ivalice were to lose his Queen within our own palace.
There is a strange comfort in the hard, cold stones beneath my knees, the dim light of candles and the bitterness of incense in the air. Father, forgive me my uncharitable thoughts; this man has saved my life many times, has even taken wounds upon himself that I might be spared. If he seeks to use me, surely it is a small price to pay, that Ivalice might prosper. Let me then be the coin of sacrifice, offered freely to stem this tide of suffering.
When at last I rise from the floor before the altar, the sun has sunk low in the sky. My knights—no, his knights, let me be truthful—escort me back to my chambers. He awaits me there, resplendent in his garb of a Knight Devout. Still he eschews the robes of a King, choosing instead to show that which he has made of himself.
"We shall sit in judgment on the morrow," he informs me. The firelight glints off his armour, sun-bright and dazzling; I turn my eyes from the brilliance and see only the deepest shadows.
"For what crime?"
"A group of men, formerly soldiers in Larg's army, are charged with slaying the members of House Vitrari."
I am cold, so cold, and the roaring fire does naught to avert the chill. I knew a daughter of House Vitrari, a silent shadow at the monastery. She was some five years younger than I, and so she did not study with me and Alma. She had been called home for betrothal ceremonies a month before he stole me away from the monastery. For all her silence, she was a kind girl, and had gone gladly with the nuns to tend to the ill.
"Then we shall judge as the evidence demands," I say, and he nods. "Why do they say they have done this thing?"
"It seems that they thought the new Ivalice a place for vengeance rather than equality, and sought to redress past wrongs."
How does he maintain this distance? Even shut away from the world in Orbonne, I was never able to view suffering with an unaffected spirit.
"You look unwell," he says, too quietly. "You should rest."
He departs, and I move closer to the fire, but its heat does not reach me. He promised to burn Ivalice to the ground and rebuild it as a world without darkness. I sought only to stem the raging tide of blood that threatened to drown Ivalice. This King I see before me is not the Knight who had such grand dreams for this land. I have known always that he would use me, as I have been used all my life, but I thought that he would do it in pursuit of a better world for the people.
I have a small drawer of mementos from my journeys with Agrias and Ramza—loyal Agrias, who would not have let things come to such a pass, but she is dead in the ruins of Mullonde, with Ramza and the others, that the rest of us might live. Their deaths but served Delita's purpose, for it was thus that the Church's leadership was destroyed.
In the drawer is a dagger. I am not overly skilled in its use, but surely it cannot be so hard—a sharp point plunged into his chest, and Ivalice rescued from this shadow-master.
Father, forgive me my sins; I seek only to prevent a greater.