Ravages of Glory
by Joe Sephus
[Warning: Spoilers may be present. Proceed to CHAPTER ONE to begin the story]
Iím not sure what compelled me to write to this story, but Iíve had a lot of fun doing it. Final Fantasy 6 is unquestionably my favorite RPG, and the only game Iíve ever come across that Iíve seriously considered writing fan fiction for. Maybe itís the rich background and dynamic plotline that first brought my attention to writing about it, or maybe itís the feeling of nostalgia I get every time I play through (Iíve done it at least a dozen times by now) the last of the ďoldeĒ Final Fantasy games, or maybe I just wanted a medium of practice so that I can hone my writing skills for more practical literary works in the future. In any case, Iím hooked.
I chose the setting of the War of Magi for the basis of this Fic because itís probably the most intriguing backstory element of the game. Heck, the first line of FF6ís intro is ďLong ago, the War of the Magi reduced the world to a scorched wasteland and magic simply ceased to exist.Ē I mean, wow. Thereís a kicker for yeh. This ancient war is also allegoriously referred to throughout the game as a focal point for the Esper-Human relationship that develops. Very little in the way of specifics is given about it, but itís got enough of a premise that I felt the story just had to be told. Oh, and I wanted my interpretation of events out there too. ;-)
Thereís a lot of FF6 fan fiction out there and in all honesty, I donít particularly care for most of it. Thatís probably because most RPG fan fics Iíve come across are just long, drawn-out streams of dialogue or poorly conceived sequels to games that werenít meant to have any. But there are quite a number of gems out there, almost all of which focus on events which take place before or during the game in question. I made a personal oath to myself that I would only write fics in a pre-game setting, for the above-mentioned reasons, and I plan to stick to that.
What I find truly distressing however, is that the War of the Magi, the most important pre-game historical event of the FF6 world, is almost never the subject of FF-fic. Iíve seen only a handful of attempts at retelling the story that was never really told, and theyíre all a pleasure to read. Maybe itís because thereís such a scarcity in WotM fics that I decided to tackle the project, that my version would receive more attention than say, writing a story about Locke and Celesí wedding.
But donít get me wrong; I donít see myself in competition with other War of the Magi chroniclers. On the contrary, because the game offers so little information on the events of that millennium ago, every version of the story is different, with each author offering his or her unique viewpoint on whatís really a gripping tale, and tragedy.
Granted, there is a certain degree of license taken when writing RPG history. Youíve got a lot of breathing room to work with, but youíve still a few key objectives to end the story with. The cast of characters is likely to be almost entirely new, but that doesnít mean you canít make some reference to the Ďpresentí RPG world; say, the ancestor(s) of Edgar Figaro, or the founding of a certain mining city on the northern continentÖ et al.
So that brings us to my interpretation of the story, then. (I know, the fic probably wonít be finished when you read this, but I did outline the entire plot before hand.) I felt I tried to be fair and true to the premise the game gave us. I didnít want to make any radical alterations and then somehow swing it back into the loop of things (the War of the Magi was actually fought with PUPPETS!) or try to somehow connect the plotline to a previous Final Fantasy game (you wonít be seeing the kingdoms of Baron and Damcyan, for example).
I have taken one rather unconventional move in forming the story, however, which Iíll discuss:
In the mountains north of Thamasa [in the game] you come across three statues built by the Espers in tribute of the Goddesses, one of which states:
ďThe birth of magic... three goddesses were banished here. In time they began quarreling, which led to all-out war. Those unlucky humans who got in the way were transformed to Espers, and used as living war machines...Ē
Many RPG scholars and other FF6 fans believe this line to have been referring to the War of the Magi. I disagree.
I contend that the War of the Magi was a separate conflict which occurred after this incident. Nowhere in the game where is it explicitly stated that the above-mentioned occurrence was in fact, the War of the Magi. Also, weíve heard numerous references to a time when Espers and humans lived in peace together, which would be impossible if Espers only came into existence during the war. (Well okay, I suppose you could argue that there were other Espers around beforehand, but the game does nothing to suggest this.)
And lastly, I donít really like the idea of the War of the Magi being a conflict between Espers and other Espers, Goddess a Goddess. The whole point of mentioning the war in the game was to serve as an example of the consequences of thirsting for power at the expense of another (a la magicite). General Leo even says, ďHow close we came to reenacting that ancient tragedyĒ or something to that affect. Plus, it complicates the role humans would play in the war (what side are we on againÖ?) and I just frankly donít like the idea of the Espers having no free will. Thatís not good for character development.
So in my version of things, the Goddesses have already sealed themselves into stone, Espers and humans coexist peacefully, and only because of deepening fear, mistrust, hatred, ambition and greed on both sides does the War of the Magi erupt, as I believed the game intended it to be.
I wanted to tell the story from both angles, but focused mainly from that of humankind. I also rejected any notion of a Ďgoodí and Ďevilí side to the war. Iíve seen at least a few accounts of Goddess and the humans teaming up against the dark and evil Espers of Poltergeist and Doom. Uh-uh. Thatís too easy. This isnít an RPG; there arenít any good guys, no heroes per se. This was a war where everyone loses. (Scorched wasteland, remember?)
[But donít worry; the storyís not too dark.]
Iíve tried to make more than a few ties to the time period of the game, if for nothing else a sense of familiarity. By the end of the story, I wanted a world which set the stage for the seeds of the modern FF6 setting to grow from. Youíll see chocobos and similar magic spells, towns, places, and maybe even a character named ĎCidí. ;-)
The only actual characters youíll recognize from the game will be among the Espers. I can go along with the pretty much accepted notion that Espers neither age nor reproduce (despite the promiscuity of at least one love-struck Esper individual). So most if not all of the Espers from the game will be seen somewhere in the story. In turn, if you notice an Esper whom you donít recognize, theyíre likely my own fabrication and will almost certainly perish during the strife.
I tried to be as objective as possible when coming up with Esper names (no assistance from fantasy name-generators here). Since a good number of the FF6 Espers are named after terms and individuals in Norse mythology (Odin, Fenrir, RagnarokÖ to name a few) I took at least a couple thence. Others are named after simple mythological figures and beings; Iíve tried to honor that as well.
Maybe thatís the most alluring part about this; having the ability to create an entirely new world and characters to inhabit it, but having an already phenomenal base on which to sculpt it.
So, I hope you enjoy reading this fic as much as I enjoy writing it (as I said, Iím more than sure the story wonít be finished when you read this - but hey - if Iím still writing it, it means Iím still enjoying it :-D).
And if youíre still reading this it probably means you have at least a vague interest in the subject matter, so what are you waiting for? Ravages of Glory, the chronicles of the War of the Magi, awaits thee!
Click here to begin Chapter 1