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A Betrayal of Interests

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"When we return to Dalmasca, we can announce that you are alive and well. I will then continue on negotiations with the Empire. I believe Larsa is the key. He'll listen to us - we should trust him."

Her Majesty swiveled to face Vossler, incensed. "Who are you, Vossler, to talk of trust?" she spat.

Vossler dropped his eyes, unable to meet his Lady's gaze. The perversity of the scene did not escape the knight – him free, telling Her Majesty what to do; Lady Ashe, dictated to by her sworn guardian, manacled and betrayed.

Feeling betrayed, Vossler corrected. Events had transpired to cast his efforts in a harsh light, but he was no traitor. The knight had always fought, and would always fight, by the Lady Ashe's side.

But Her Majesty must see reason! The resistance's last, best hope of success – the attempt on Vayne Solidor's life – had been an abject failure, betrayed from within and crushed from without. Balzac and his followers had spirit, but they weren't soldiers. They would die quicker than those they were meant to replace. The resistance was devolving into nothing more than an ill-maintained street gang.

And time marched on. Vayne Solidor, the eldest surviving son of the Archadian Emperor himself, was Consul-Governor of occupied Dalmasca. Every day, the citizens of Rabanastre grew more and more accommodating of the Empire's policing. Dalmasca was on the cusp of becoming just another province of the Archadian Empire. If her independence was to be preserved – even if in spirit alone – then a new tack must be pursued.

They had valiantly struggled for two years against the Arcadian Empire, and to what end? For two years, the resistance had bled. For two years, Vossler had led good men, irreplaceable men, to worthless deaths. And for two years, the knight had seen his Lady swallow her pride and live a life she did not deserve.

More than any wound he had taken in Her Majesty's service, it pained him to see the Lady Ashe question his loyalty. But he knew who he was, and who he would be until the day he died. "A son of Dalmasca."

But the Lady Ashe had already turned her back on him, falling in line with the sky pirate.

The sky pirate. Vossler's anger flared. Duplicitous, deceiving, disloyal – all of those described the sky pirate Balthier. Her Majesty believed him to be trustworthy, but her thirst for revenge blinded her to the pirate's true loyalties: to his skin first and his gil second.

Ahead, Balthier's viera fell to her knees, convulsing. From where he stood in the rear, it was clear to Vossler it was some sort of ruse. Sure enough, the Archadian guard that went to pull her upright was thrown across the chamber, struck by a magick attack.

"Hold her down!" Vossler shouted – only to witness the viera snap her chains and vault from soldier to soldier, felling one after another.

Vossler stumbled back, struck by a glancing blow. So things had come to a head. The sky pirate intended to steal away the Lady Ashe – and with it, any hope for the peaceful restoration of Her Majesty. Vossler would not allow that to happen.

It was men like Balthier, not Vossler, who had betrayed Dalmasca. And it was men like Vossler, and not Balthier, who would see her restored.

But she would see that. She would come to understand, in time. The true threat to Her Majesty's kingdom stood before him. Vossler stood and put his sword at the ready.

"No farther! The future of Dalmasca will not be stolen!"