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Down in Lowtown

part 11 of Threshold


Basch used to say things that made Vossler aware how strange the man's thoughts were. A foreigner, from a country which never had a king, could never understand the importance of a chain of command. If one link breaks the whole can still hold, of knowing that even with that lost link, there is still the chain. Even now, crumbling, Dalmascans hold their pride intact - for Ashelia who lives? he wonders. Perhaps it is: their link to greatness, unbroken.

Vossler tried to explain to Ashelia what it meant to be foreign, how that might explain how Basch did what he did. But it was difficult. Vossler was not in the habit of making justifications for anyone, and in honesty, Vossler did not want to explain. He did not want to know.

To be great, Basch would say, is not to stand above another. Such fury he must have hid behind his peaceful words - Dalmasca will never surrender, a truer rage? - that Basch could see fit to destroy his king for the sake of the people's pride.

Buried in the stinking guts of Lowtown, Vossler can't explain to Ashelia that he thinks now he understands. Pride is so much more than a king; more than a queen. Perhaps a crown or a country, but certainly more than a little girl's pride, more than Vossler's pride even, that he willingly wades through stinking sewers with waste all across him, Ashe in his arms that she avoids the clinging filth.

Down in Lowtown, with the starving and the near-starving, watching the people try, still spitting defiance - Basch's final defiance, no surrender - Vossler thinks he understands. What right does a single person have to dictate what happens to this country, these people? What right does a pale-skinned girl have to tell these sun-gold citizens that they should suffer in her stead, for her pride, for her birthright, a grace they will never experience?

It's in Lowtown that Vossler first gets cornered by Imperials on a purge. For Ashelia, he should have fought, died there.

For Dalmasca, Vossler asks to be taken to the Consul.


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