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Atonement

Chapter 4.

Basch attends these meetings for Larsa.

The geniuses, the educated, and the daring still find employment in Draklor, harried as they never were when Mist flowed free as air. Chasms punctuate the agenda as Draklor divides itself: turning to new science to determine how to best harvest what Mist remains, and to old sciences, of oils and the laws of flight, not fancies of Mistcraft like the Strahl and Siren were. Engineers for the bridges, designers to activate old sewers, to write new manuals for old pumps and counterweights. The plagues come and go without palings for prevention, and Draklor divides again, studying a medicine more like war than healing.

Draklor's Chief of Development counts his heads thrice over, recruits his young staff ruthlessly, educates then re-educates then uses them to gibbering breakdown, beyond; more expertise in less skulls for less salary.

Basch is no scientist. He holds his hand to the scar cleaving his chest vertically. He too wishes Draklor had more to offer Ivalice in compensation for what they shattered so blithely. Beneath his too-thin skin Basch can still feel the wire holding his breastbone closed, as though his heart were winged, his chest just another iron cage.


Basch cannot think of Draklor without thinking of Balthier. With Bahamut shattered, House Bunansa butchered, Ivalician peace gone where the cursed Mist went, Draklor and Balthier proved Cidolphus' only surviving children. Legacy and responsibility hand in hand, Basch cared for the one, and hoped blindly for the other.

There were the similarities between man and institution, neither afraid to get their hands dirty, both entrenched in their systematic denial.
But Basch remembers more than the mistakes. He remembers Balthier's long, clever fingers scarred with Mist-scorch, gunpowder, darker than any other part of him with oil, grease, the sun's harsh kiss.

Continue to Chapter 5


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