The Seeq was mentally disturbed. Vossler should not have punched her.
Vossler punched her, not once but seventeen times, with his right hand because Balthier was holding his left.
The Sandsea's other patrons watched. Previously, Vossler watched them being menaced by the crazy Seeq, increasingly nervous as she approached without anyone bold enough to stop her insults. Vossler knew the submissive slope of Ashelia's shoulders made her a target for the aggressively unstable; the mad Seeq identified this as readily as Vossler did. As though Ashelia were a vessel for an unjust vitriol, the Seeq vomited her insanity, targeting Ashelia's femininity, her flat, childless belly, her Humeness, and her right to be in Dalmasca. Ashelia's attempt to turn away did not avail, for the Seeq followed into the centre of their circle. There, Ashelia's downcast eyes and deflective comment engaged the Seeq's delusions further, for she lunged into a brawler’s range and shouted: 'Do I have to apologise for being in my own country, Archadian?'
The Seeq took Ashelia's noble pallor for an Archadian's coloration. Balthier's presence did not help with that assumption, nor with Vossler's impulse control, for the presence of an Archadian in their party had been engaging Vossler's nerves for some time now. His pain came not simply from the Archadian presence, but the irony that it was a lawless Archadian pirate who seemed to be offering Ashelia a route to her throne that Vossler could not, and in Balthier’s presence Vossler could not help but feel his own impotence. It was also painfully ironic that the Seeq should have targeted Ashelia’s right to even stand in Dalmasca; as it was, Vossler still felt uncertain of assisting Ashelia to claim a throne that she, a ninth-born child, should never have had a right to claim.
The Seeq was mentally disturbed, and Vossler should not have punched her, but the Seeq could not have said a single comment that would have enraged him more.
'Back off,' Vossler said.
The Seeq had mist-crazed eyes. She put her weight into Vossler’s space, an insult far beyond the boundary of politeness or sanity. She howled, 'What’s it to you, you're probably her husband--'
Seventeen bloody blows later, and Balthier had, by the grasp of Vossler's left hand, channeled Vossler's forward motion into a circle that drew him away from the Seeq, much as Fran's light touch on the Seeq's shoulder's drew her battered, howling insistence away from Vossler.
'Just words,' the Seeq shrieked, her face a ruin, 'just words, you have no right to hit me when all I said was words!'
'Vossler,' Balthier said, his eyes wide, 'you need to relax.'
With disgust, or by chance all recipients of the same bitter brew, the Sandsea’s other patrons still watched.
Vossler could wield his sword against a random beast’s threat to his flesh without fear, or excess effort, but now, seventeen misdisrected blows had him panting and shaking, open-mouthed with the outrage, shame and insulted sense of justice that had motivated his aggression. Vossler mouthed formless words about injustice, the right of a woman to drink without another’s verbal threat in her space, his right to defend against aggression preemptively, even his anger at seeing Ashelia, who struggled so hard to stand straight against the weight of the Empire, hunched and bowed by a loon’s purposeless assault.
The threat had passed. Balthier released Vossler’s hand.
Vossler saw himself through the eyes of the Sandsea's patrons. He saw an insanity matching the potential violence of the mutterer’s threats. His fist was bloody. His response had been disproportionate to the threat: why could he never be the better man?
If only the Seeq had obeyed him!
'Don't tell Basch what I did,' Vossler said.
Only Ashelia appeared grateful for his intercession. Her thank you was whispered in passing, her upcast eyes gleaming.