Swords for Hire: Ringing of the Bell

Hey all. Doc Shinryuu here. *sigh* It's been a while since my last installment of Swords for Hire. I'm making a few changes, plus, some cameos. You'll see...

"Geez, what's taking Melissa so long?" Stanley muttered.

Stanley and Silphy were sitting at the bar in the Igros town. Stanley was sipping his beer rather angrily, while Silphy sat to his left, almost too cheerful. "Don't worry, Stan. She should be back soon." She said, putting an arm around Stanley's shoulder.

As if on cue, Melissa walked in, carrying a bag over her shoulder, and sat down on Stanley's other side. "Hello Stanley." She said, smiling.

Silphy took another swig of beer. "Hey!" she slurred, "Don'choo furget abowt me!"

"Hello Silphy." Melissa said, leaning away from her. "Drunk as ever, I see."

"Yah, whutev'r." Silphy slurred further. "Bartend'r! 'Nother beer!"

Melissa turned away from Silphy, right toward a seedy looking drunk. He was wearing a tanned leather vest with a belt hanging down off of his neck, a few shotgun canisters attached to it. He wore a tanned leather poncho in his belt, hanging down below his knees. He wore blue denim jeans with worn, black boots. His long, brown hair was in two braids with a tanned lea- I mean, cloth headband. He was quite obviously drunk. "Hey there, pretty lady." He said. "What's your name?"

Melissa was appalled by two things: his behavior, and his breath, which stank of cheap whiskey. "Umm... I'm Melissa."

"That's a pretty name. Whaddya say we... Y'know..." The drunk said, leaning in close to Melissa.

Too close.

Melissa's hand shot like lightning to the bag she brought in. She pulled something large out -seen only as a blur for now- and smashed the drunk in the side, just below the ribs. He froze, a look of complete pain on his face. The something Melissa pulled out was revealed to be a large iron mallet. He fell over on his side, still frozen.

A green-haired man wearing glasses and a red cloak looked at him and shook his head. Then, he looked up at Melissa. "Hello, Melissa, my name is Clive Winslett." He said. "I apologize for my freind, Gallows Caradine's behavior. He gets like this when he's had too much." With that, Clive picked Gallows up, put him in a nearby chair, and returned to his beer.

When Melissa turned back to the rest of the trio, Stanley had moved to Silphy's other side, so as to avoid Melissa's rage. Seeing that Melissa was done, Stanley moved back to his seat. "So, that's what was in that bag." He said.

"Oh! Yes, that reminds me. I got something for you and Silphy as well." Melissa reached into her bag and pulled out a knife and a ribbon.

"That ribbon better not be for me." Stanley said.

"No! It's for Silphy... Who is unconscious..."

"Oh. Then, the knife!" Stanley picked the knife up. "Any enchantments?"

"It's a +2 Knife of Severe Pain."


"Something... else... caught my eye, but I didn't have enough money."

"Well then, we'll have to get some. Bartender!"

The bartender walked up, trying to avoid being noticed by Silphy. "What can I do for you?"

"Any jobs open?" Stanley asked.

"Well, the Lakam Trade Company needs a cart guarded. It seems to be attacked often and they need it protected. They're willing to pay a lot of money for a full success."

"Any fees?" Stanley asked.

"Just 2000 Gil."

"...I guess that's reasonable." Stanley muttered.

"As opposed to our other jobs." Melissa added.

Stanley tossed the money onto the bar, and the Bartender told them all he needed to know.


The covered cart trundled along the mountain road. Our heroes were sitting on the sides of it, watching for monsters. "Hey... Umm... Sorry, what was your name again?" Silphy asked the driver.

The driver was a well-built young man wearing red armor, red boots, and red gauntlets, with, yes, blazing RED hair. "Fighter's the name." He said.

"Okay, then. Fighter, how much longer do you think this'll take? Ramza wants us back by nightfall, and the sun's starting to set."

"Well," Fighter said, "I reccomended that we take a shortcut, but Stanley here didn't like the look of it, so we're taking the long way."

"Hey, don't blame this on me." Stanley said, "There was an aura of mana down that path. That means the monsters there use magic!"

"Mana? Oh, that was probably the manalights. The canopy gets pretty thick in there. Besides, I've walked through that path millions of times, and I haven't been attacked once."

"Yeah, but YOU walked. We're taking the attract-o-cart. We've already stopped 15 monsters."

"What IS in this cart, anyway?" Melissa asked.

"Dunno. I wasn't told, exactly. The President said something about documents-"

"The President?" Silphy asked.

"Yeah. The President of Lakam Trading, Jose Narman."

A shower of pebbles came down on the cart briefly.

"That can't be right." Stanley muttered. "A company President wouldn't come down just to tell someone there's documents in the cart..."

A larger shower of pebbles came down, accompanied this time by a low rumbling.

"Did you guys hear that?" Silphy asked.

The cart rounded a bend to reveal the source of the rumbling.


Within seconds, Stanley, Silphy, and Melissa were ready for battle.

"What's a Behemoth doing here!?" Melissa yelled.

"That's no ordinary Behemoth!" Silphy shouted, "That's a King Behemoth!"

The King Behemoth seemed to notice something about the cart and inhaled deeply.

"Oh, MAN!!" Stanley shouted frantically, "Get down!!!"

Stanley and the rest dove behind a boulder on the side of the road as the King Behemoth released it's trademark Hurricane attack. It blasted forward and away from the mountain. Then, the King Behemoth looked around for the trio. When the King Behemoth had turned around, Melissa hopped up on the boulder. "Pure light, shine on bloody impurity! HOLY!"

A flash of white light pierced the King Behemoth, only causing it to get angrier.

Melissa's eyes widened as she stepped back and fell off the boulder. Stanley jumped up to replace her, orbs of mystic flame rotating around him. "Summon! Cyclops!"

A magic pentagram materialized on the ground, and the giant creature known only as Cyclops rose from it.


A plane of burning ice crashed across the ground, piercing the King Behemoth through various vital organs. It fell to the ground, as dead as... Well, a King Behemoth corpse.

"MAHAHAHAHAAA!!! Yes! The power of the Summoner claims victory over another pitiful creature!" Stanley shouted.

However, he was the only one listening. Silphy and Melissa were investigating the tilted cart. A white powder was strewn about on the ground, the most piled within the cart.

"What is this stuff?" Melissa asked.

Silphy took a close look at it and responded, "It looks like finely ground Cocaine."

"You should know." Stanley said, walking up, "Remember the 'College Phys. Ed. Incident'?"

"I'll have you know that that was the only time. What YOU heard was all rumors and suspiscion." Silphy said indignantly.

"Okay, I'm just kidding."

Fighter was just coming to now. "Oog. What happe- WHAT THE!?"

From Fighter's point of view, the cart was destroyed, the unusually powdered cargo was everywhere, and the chocobo was grazing a short distance away. "What's going on? Last I remember I was watching you three fight a King Behemoth when-"

"Hurricane attack." Melissa said, getting up.

"A-and the cargo?"

"Drugs, not Documents." Silphy said, getting up as well.

"Well? What're we gonna do?"

"I'll ride the chocobo to the Lakam building to... ask around. Silphy, Stanley, Fighter. You stay here and keep any other monsters away." Melissa said.

"Sounds fine to me." Silphy said, glancing deviously at the King Behemoth's body, which was successfully remaining dead.

"Whatever you have planned, I want no part in it." Stanley said, taking a step back from Silphy.

Melissa walked over to the chocobo, got on it, and rode off down the path.

About an hour later, Melissa returned. The King Behemoth was skinned, and the pelt was expertly folded next to the cart.

"Hey, Melissa. How'd gathering info go?" Silphy asked.

"The President is gone. he left about when the cart tipped over. I..." Melissa shifted her hammer from her belt to within her mage robe. "Persuaded the rest to look for him. I also... liberated... this sword." Melissa said, taking a beautifully crafted sword from her robe.

"Ooo. A sword. I like swords." Fighter said.

The trio could only stare at him. "What?" he said, "I do."

"...Anyway," Melissa said, "it's a replica of the Excalibur."

"Hey! Maybe we could-" Stanley began, but stopped. "Nah. Too many flaws to be passed as the real thing."

"C'mon. The pelt should be enough to get what Melissa had seen back in Igros." Silphy said "Say, what was it, anyway?"

Melissa thought for a moment. "Now, you have to promise not to laugh." She said.

"We promise." Stanley and Silphy chorused.

"It was called 'The +42 Paper Folding Fan of Grievous Bodily Harm'. The shopkeep tested it on a dummy, which exploded."

Silphy, Stanley, and Fighter couldn't help laughing. Even the chocobo seemed to chuckle. Eventually, Melissa gave in and began laughing as well.


The next day, back at the bar...

Melissa walked in holding a bag. She sat down next to Stanley, heard Silphy's drunken blather, and turned away.

There was Gallows again. Drunk.

As he began talking, Melissa's hand shot to the bag, pulled something out, and hit Gallows with it, again in the kidney. This time, however, he went flying over the bar, through the wall, and out the back door. Melissa rested the something on her shoulder. Stanley could only stare at it.

It was a large paper folding fan, with strange runes inscribed on it...


Gallows Caradine, Clive Winslett, and all related characters Copyright of Sony Computer Entertainment America.

Fighter, Igros, Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy Tactics, And all related characters/locations Copyright of Squaresoft... Or SquareEnix now...

Stanley, Silphy, Melissa, and The +42 Paper Folding Fan of Grievous Bodily Harm Intellectual Property of Will Kusleika(don't bother pronouncing that). Any use without permission will invoke Prosecution and/or Flaming.

Special Thanks to Weiila for her support and Kenji Kotaro for his Proposition List. ^^;

Next episode: Who knows...