lassarina: (DelitaxOvelia Suffered Enough)
[personal profile] lassarina posting in [community profile] rose_in_winter
Characters: Delita
Rating: G
Contains: Spoilers for Fort Ziekden
Wordcount: 1275
Notes: Written for [community profile] genprompt_bingo, for the prompt "Corpses/Skeletons/Remains"
Betas: None
Summary: This, then, was the worth of the vaunted Beoulve name to those beneath its protection: naught.

This, then, was the worth of the vaunted Beoulve name to those beneath its protection: naught.

The explosion of the fort sent him sprawling on his face in the blood and the mud and the snow, Tietra flung from his arms like a rag doll. He called her name, hoarse and frantic, before he recalled that she would not answer.

Delita dragged himself to his knees and spit out the muck that had filled his mouth. Tietra lay on her back before him, Argath's traitorous bolt protruding from her heart, loosed by Beoulve orders.

He would not leave her here, amid those whose highborn blood tainted her death. He rose, and picked her up, groaning at the searing pain in his shoulder. He had taken a wound in the fighting, and the white mages had not come near enough to heal it; his blood soaked his tunic and her dress.

They lied, to him and Tietra, calling them siblings out of one side of their mouths while plotting ways to use them out of the other; they had been sheltered only so far as suited the House, to be killed like lambs at slaughter when they turned inconvenient. At the end of the day, a commoner merited not even the blessing of disinterest, but rather violence. He would have rescued Tietra on his own, but they had not allowed him even that, instead murdering her in cold blood lest they be thought indulgent. Even a bastard-born Beoulve, given name only by his father's indulgence, was worth more to them than a trueborn commoner.

These were the men who would claim the right to rule.

He carried her to the edge of the Lenalian plateau, and found a spot in the afternoon sun that she would have liked; Tietra had ever loved the warmth and light of summer. He had no shovel, and little coin, for Ramza—ever true to his house—had held the greater part of the war funds in his own keeping. In any event, he could not leave her to scavengers while he trudged to Eagrose and back, assuming he would not be cut down on the highway if he tried. He found a sturdy branch from a fallen tree, and a flat rock, and with these he dug his sister's grave, one painstaking scoop of earth at a time. His hands, toughened by sword-work, were unused to this labor, and they blistered and bled. He spread a potion on them, cursing his paltry stocks, and resumed digging.

The afternoon waned, and he heard the scratch of chocobo talons. He braced himself, turning to face the road, and saw a priest riding his way.

"My son, are you injured?" The priest drew rein, and hurried to tie his chocobo to a branch. His eyes widened when he saw Tietra. "What has happened here?"

Bitterness surged to his tongue, and he swallowed it back. He could ill afford to turn away any aid. "My sister," he said, and had to pause, to breathe.

The priest's gaze scanned Tietra, and then Delita, and he frowned.

"Not far from here," he turned and pointed at the column of smoke that rose from Ziekden's remains, "there was a battle. My sister was caught up in it." It was the truth, so far as it went.

The priest's expression grew sorrowful. "Ever it is with us, when the highborn play games of war," he murmured. "I am Father Edouard. Will you allow me to help?"

"My thanks," Delita said, and the priest nodded. Together they dug the grave, and laid Tietra in it; Father Edouard spoke the rites over her, and Delita watched with dry eyes.

"What would you have done, had I not chanced by?" Father Edouard asked him, when the rites were done. "'Tis plain you care for your sister."

"Walked to Eagrose, and paid for the rites there, I suppose," Delita said. "I had not thought so far ahead, only that she must be buried." He had not thought ahead at all, save the consuming need for vengeance against Beoulve.

Father Edouard nodded. "I am bound for Eagrose myself; if you wish it, I will travel with you."

"Thank you." Delita leaned against a rock, weary beyond words. He had healed his wounds with potions, but a dull nagging ache sat deep in his muscles, and the unaccustomed work of digging a grave brought still more pains. He looked at Tietra's grave, and a curse unsuited to his current companion rose to his lips. He swallowed it back.

"I have some bread and cheese, if you are hungry," the priest offered, going to his chocobo.

Delita accepted, and they ate in silence, facing away from the newly-dug grave.

"How came your sister to be on that battlefield?" Father Edouard asked at last, when the food was gone and the sun sank behind the height of the plateau.

"She was a pawn in the games of the highborn," Delita said. "House Beoulve raised us after our parents were lost to the Black Death, but when Tietra was taken captive by the Corpse Brigade after they failed to assassinate Lord Dycedarg - and rather than save her, he ordered his lackey to murder her, as she had no worth." He spoke too much, too honestly, but his fury would no longer be quenched; the rest and the food had loosed his tongue.

Father Edouard shook his head sadly. "A tale too common, these days," he murmured. "Have you nowhere to go, then?"

Delita snorted. "A sellsword's life, I suppose. What else can a commoner do, abandoned by liege and family alike?" As a sellsword, he might earn a place in an army, one that would bring him close enough to the Beoulve lords to avenge Tietra; if not on a battlefield, then with an assassin's blade. Many there were who would take such a contract, had he but the coin to guarantee it.

"There may be another option," the priest said. "Have you considered the path of a holy knight? St. Ajora cares not for birth or wealth, but only the strength of your faith."

Delita turned to face the priest, whose expression was oddly zealous, something burning behind his eyes that Delita could not identify. "You would have me trade one crumbled shield for another?" He shook his head. "I am not so foolish as all that."

Father Edouard shook his head. "Think not of taking shelter, but rather, honing your blade," he urged. "You have been wronged, and faith can give you the power to see those who have done so punished."

Delita recognized the passion now for what it was, and considered the offer. It was true that the holy knights were closer to meritorious than most other organizations; his low birth would not hobble him there. It was true also that the church was likely a good place to gather allies.

"I would vouchsafe you," Father Edouard offered.

"Why?" Delita demanded. "You have no knowledge of me; why stake your reputation?"

Father Edouard smiled sadly. "The nobles' abuses have gone unchecked too long," he said. "Your sister is not the first to fall prey to this sort of situation. I had a brother, once." He left the rest unsaid, but Delita could guess.

"I accept your kind offer," he said. "Thank you."

The priest's teeth flashed white in the sunset as he smiled back.

Delita turned to look at Tietra's grave. Too long, indeed, had the likes of House Beoulve gone unchecked. He would see it fall if it was his last act on this earth.


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