A saga, in short segments, of what could have been. Ffamran/Ashe, Rasler/Ashe, Penelo/Vaan. Please suggest titles!
Perhaps a Rubicon
Judicial Order Headquarters, Upper Archades
“They'll offer you a position as Magister,” Prime Judge Drace said, sipping her wine, “now that Zecht's gone.”
Ffamran grimaced. “It should be you.”
“No. It shouldn't. There aren't too many Nabradias left. We'll be taking on Rozarria soon, and brute strength will no longer do. We're going to need thinkers, and you, young man, are a consummate thinker.”
“You've been in the service longer.”
“I've been a nursemaid as much as a judge for ten years now. I'm out of practice, Ffamran.”
“None the less, you would have gotten the job if I hadn't been promoted to Prime.” Ffamran had risen through the four ranks of lesser judges in record time, starting as a Quartrinary when he was sixteen, fresh from his year early graduation from the Akademy, despite his lack of formal training. Judgeships handed out to the family of any noble who happens to be in favor at court. Just one of the myriad things, he though, that are wrong with this system. A thought flashed across his mind, almost to fast for him to catch, and it made him set his own wineglass down and take a deep breath: Just one of the things I could fix.
“So, will you accept the position?” asked Jalin Rakans, the third of the Primes who had been under Zecht's command.
No one would turn down Magistership, but Ffamran Bunansa had proven time and time again that what seemed to apply to everyone did not necessarily apply to Ffamran.
Judge Bunansa looked into his colleague's eyes, looked beyond, into his own future, his country's future, even.
The Fall of Dalmasca
Royal Palace, Rabanaster
The first thing Rasler saw on opening his eyes was the rather large nose of Doctor Fellicks, the Royal Physician. He let out a loud groan that was not entirely caused by physical pain.
“Go fetch Her Highness!” yelled the Doctor to someone out of Rasler's field of vision. “He's awake.”
“Wish I wasn't,” he muttered, finding his voice surprisingly hoarse. He coughed.
“Whatever you may wish, My Lord,” said Fellicks, who, Rasler now recalled, had annoyingly fine hearing. “You gave us quite a scare.”
Rasler blinked, trying to keep the doctor's face, now at a more reasonable distance, in focus. “How long was I out?” he asked, but he wasn't awake to hear the answer.
His wife was at his side him the next time he woke, holding his hand, sobbing quitely.
“Ashe,” he said, more roughly than he had intended, “what's wrong?”
“My father is dead, Rasler. We've lost the war.” Another woman would have tried to spare him the shock. He would not have loved another woman as he did her.
He wonders, as the servants help him to walk for the first time in nearly a month, if he will ever be as strong as he once was.
By decree of His Excellency Emperor Gramis Solidor, by the power vested in him by the Senate and the People of Archadia, and by right of conquest, the Kingdom of Dalmasca is hereby abolished from this time forth, and its former lands are annexed and placed under the protection of the Archadian Empire, and shall henceforth be known as Dalmasca Territory...
A few days later he was able to walk with the aid of a cane, and it was in this way that he came upon Ashe, sitting at her father's desk, eyes blank and with a document baring the seal of the Archadian Emperor before her. She was twirling a letter opener in the shape of the sword of a Dalmascan knight in her left hand and her right griped the arm of her father's chair so tightly her knuckles were white. He hobbled over and gently took the dull blade from her hands.
“I thought it wrong,” she said, “to hold a formal coronation so soon.”
... monarchy shall be allowed to continue, in recognition of the spiritual and ceremonial importance of ...
By law, she has been the head of state of Dalmasca since the moment of her father's death, but she cannot be a queen without a coronation. Archadian troops march into Rabanaster on the fifth day of the fifth month of the year seven hundred and two of the Valendian Calender. A week later, Queen Ashelia B'nargin Dalmasca I and King Rasler Heios Dalmasca-Nabradia I are crowned, in what is far from the final insult, by the newest of the Empire's Judges Magister.
Vaan does not see the coronation, because he is in the Covent Hospital, on the third floor, second room from the stairs, watching his brother die.
Three healers hovered over Reks, buzzing quietly in medical and magickal terms that Vaan did't understand. He was banished to the hard backed chair in the corner, next to a vase of those flowers his brother liked – Galbana lillies, he thinks they're called – with Penelo gripping his hand tighter and tighter as Reks's skin grew whiter and whiter.
Penelo stared at Reks as though she could see the life seeping out of him. Vaan stared at the flowers, already wilted.
Closed and Opened Doors
The Empire, Penelo learned quickly, liked to talk about rights, and about representing the people. Though an Archadian now ruled Dalmasca, the woman – Drace was her name – was officially only the head of the judicial system. A Council of Fice was created and five prominent, politically neutral citizens of the once-kingdom (all human, Penelo noticed) selected to sit as interim members. The people of Dalmasca Province were told that in five years a new Council would be selected, this time by popular vote: this was just a transitional phase everyone must pitch in to make it go as smoothly as possible, the Empire is no monster, the people of Dalmasca will be represented in government as they never were while the monarchy held power. Vaan called the Council of Five the Council of Traitors, and had half the city copying him within a month of the coronation.
Across the border in what had been Nabradia, there were mass executions.
In the sewers (there had been talk of rerouting the sewage system and opening up the old warrens to habitation. The Council had disapproved and the talk had slowed down. Prime Judge Drace had disapproved and it had stopped cold.) there lived Filo's Rebels. Penelo checked on them from time to time to make sure they were niether starving or building bombs. About six months after the Archadian troops marched in to Rabanaster, the Rebels asked Penelo to take them to central square, because the Imps were letting people get tested for high magickal aptitude for free. Penelo agreed. There were a lot of good apprenticeships for kids the Rebels' ages with the gift.
“You should try too, Penelo!” Kytes laughed, flush with the victory of his newfound talent. Filo rolled her eyes, a little jealous.
There was the feeling of a carnival in the air. Most of the people there were children or parents, and consequently the street vendors and their wares were out in force, with sweet meats, sparkling trinkets, and simple toys being especially prominent.
Penelo shrugged, grinning. “Why not?”
“I'm not asking you Vaan, I'm telling you!” Her voice was hoarse, tears were gathering at the corners of her eyes. “This is my chance Vaan,” she calls after him, still trying to persuade him, wanting her friend's blessing.
He slamed the door behind him and hadn't come back when Penelo and Kytes left for the Akademy three days later, a pair of letters granting them gratis entrance by virtue of extraordinary magickal talent tucked into the bottom of her bag.