Kain vs. Golbez. Kain refuses to yield his honour. Spoilers up through the events in Fabul, language.
Kain strode into the Tower of Zot, the sound of his rapid footsteps echoing from the floor tiles. Red, yellow, and purple jellies retreated with haste, hiding beneath lizards and elemental dogs. Blood was pounding in his ears, the sound echoing the force of his rage. Forced servitude was one thing. Being required to betray everyone and everything he held dear was quite another. He might not survive this confrontation, but he damn well intended to put an end to this absurdity. He stormed up to the uppermost floor and threw open the doors to Golbez's throne room.
Golbez, masked and cloaked in black, gazed at him over Valvalicia's bent head. "You have returned."
"I won't kill my brother, you son of a bitch!"
Valvalicia rose gracefully, brushing her voluptuous body against Golbez's as she did so. "I'll be in my quarters, my lord, when you are finished here," she murmured.
"Go," Golbez said without inflection.
As Valvalicia exited, she made sure to brush her hand across Kain's body, smiling up at him in open invitation. Kain seethed in silence until the door closed behind her. The moment the door clicked, he strode forward and paused a few feet in front of the dais upon which Golbez stood. "You sent me to Mt. Hobs to slaughter young monks in training. Now you tell me to kill my brother. What the hell is wrong with you?"
He felt the magic take hold, as it had that moment when he regained consciousness in the ruins of Mist, and a shock of pain jolted through his body as Golbez forced him to his knees.
"You have failed me, Kain." The implicit menace in Golbez's quiet, deep voice made Kain's stomach churn.
Head bowed, Kain struggled to rise, even to lift his head, and found himself pinned in place by Golbez's control. His muscles trembled with the effort, but his defiance amounted to nothing in the face of Golbez's magic.
"I wish an apology from you." Golbez stepped down from the dais and stalked in a circle around him, feet silent as a cat's on the floor. When he paused in front of Kain again, the dragoon found his head drawn back, a puppet dancing on strings.
"I won't apologize." He was still able to choose his own words, for now, at least. "You ask me to cast aside my honour. I will not do it."
"Honour?" Golbez laughed. Kain snarled up at him, struggling uselessly against the iron grip of magic.
"You'd destroy me if you could, wouldn't you, Kain of Baron?" Golbez took a step closer, looming over Kain and forcing his head further back to maintain eye contact. "Your puling disgusts me, Dragon Knight. You speak to me of honour? You say I drive you to evil deeds with my orders. You say that I ask you to betray who you are. You flaunt your so-called honour, disdaining me when I ask you to 'betray' your 'brother.'" Golbez's scornful tone made the word 'brother' sound filthy, and Kain added it to his list of reasons to destroy this man.
Golbez simply stood for a moment, staring down at him. Kain was painfully aware of how small he suddenly felt in comparison. He had never liked kneeling in fealty, even to King Odin. Being forced to the gesture made him nauseous. And unlike King Odin, Golbez sneered and made it crystal-clear that he considered Kain beneath him.
When Golbez spoke again, the malevolent sweetness in his tone made Kain break into a cold sweat. "Tell me, Kain," he crooned, "do you consider it loyalty to your brother when you watch Rosa and fantasize of having her for yourself? Is it loyalty to your brother that makes you fight so fiercely when you spar with him, half-hoping and half-fearing your spear will slip and strike a killing blow?"
"No--I--" Curse it, why couldn't he find the words to fight back?
"Are you such a shining paragon when you close your eyes and pretend that pretty little blonde shopkeeper's daughter is Rosa, and call her by endearments so you need not remember her name? Are you so noble in your slavish devotion to the commands of a man who sends you forth to kill his enemies, without ever questioning his intent?" Golbez stepped closer, his body only a few inches from Kain's, contempt in every word, his voice rising in volume as he spoke. "Was slaughtering the village of Mist an honourable thing to do, Kain of Baron?"
Put that way, Golbez's litany of his actions might have described the blackest of dark knights. Kain squeezed his eyes shut, wishing he could raise his hands to cover his ears. For several moments, Kain's harsh breathing was the only sound, as his rage and despair welled up and he struggled fruitlessly against the magic that paralyzed him. He hadn't slaughtered Mist, he'd only helped Cecil carry the package...they hadn't known what was inside...
"Your precious brother has stolen Rosa from you," Golbez murmured, brushing cool gloved fingertips against Kain's cheek in a parody of a lover's caress. "Your brother plays on your loyalty, your honour, to keep you dancing attendance upon him, to keep you away from Rosa. He only keeps her so you can't have her."
"That's not true." His feeble protest sounded like the whine of a petulant child, and he no longer had the strength to fight against Golbez's magic.
"You have the blood of generations of Baron's Dragon Knights in your veins, Kain. Why do you serve the dark knight? Why do you let him turn you from the path of true glory? You could rule Baron, Kain, all of it, if you only tried. Your brother only holds you back with his pitiful notions of chivalry. He keeps you from being what you are. You speak of honour, but you dishonour yourself when you hold yourself back in favour of that sniveling coward."
This wasn't right. Cecil was a good man; he was loyal to their liege, and he defended the weak. He had always guarded Kain's back. To betray him now....
"You have no honour, Kain, because you have no self. You chase after shadows of being anyone other than yourself. You want to be your father, and restore the glory of the Dragon Knights. You want to be your brother, so you can have his woman. You want to be King of Baron when Odin is dead. You are like a child always begging for a new toy, but unwilling to work to get it. You are a pitiful excuse for a Dragon Knight, sighing over Rosa instead of courting her."
"She loves Cecil," Kain whispered.
"You love her," Golbez answered. "I know what you dream of, when you fancy yourself alone. Strange, isn't it, this brother you profess to love so much never figures in your dreams. You grovel to him, Kain. You prostitute your honour to buy his happiness at the cost of your own, fighting his battles for him, dirtying your hands that he need not stoop to such things. You hold your strength in check lest you harm him. You wish honour, Kain? Then you must earn it."
The strands of magic tightened, drawing Kain to his feet, finally eye to eye with Golbez.
"Think of the glory we can achieve together, Kain. Prove your loyalty, and I will see that the world heaps honours beyond your imagination upon you. The Kingship of Baron. Any woman you want." Golbez caressed his cheek again. "Rosa, if you wish."
Sweet Rosa, with her shining pale hair and beautiful smile, curves he ached to touch, that innate goodness that radiated from her every word and gesture.
Golbez stepped back. The icy grip of magic vanished abruptly, and Kain sagged like a marionette whose strings had been cut. He could still feel Golbez's presence in the back of his mind, but his body was his own again. He could kill Golbez. His spear lay within his reach. One blow. One chance. He could take it now.
"Serve me, Kain," Golbez said, and the soft thunder of command rumbled in his voice.
He looked at his spear, lying on the floor next to him. His fingers flexed within his gauntlets. He could destroy this man who tempted him with dreams of power and glory.
Some part of him, the part that longed to follow in his father's footsteps as a heroic Dragon Knight, withered and died as Kain knelt and bowed his head. "Yes, Master."
Author's Note: The title was inspired by a line from a Dashboard Confessional song, which goes "Does it comfort you to know you fought the good fight?" It seemed to fit the circumstances. Many thanks to Debrell for beta-reading and helping me edit. I always appreciate constructive criticism, so please, tell me what I did wrong (and maybe what I did right).