A loud and preemptive no to anyone who asks if this is a sign I've already sorted out all my personal issues. I have not. In fact this chapter was 90% complete a week after I posted the first one, but things got so damn bad that I just haven't touched it until now. So for those of you who know what I'm talking about, no I'm not back to writing on a remotely consistent basis yet. For those of you who have no clue what this means, I'm sure it's not all that hard to piece together. Long story short, I'm not in a good place right now, I'm trying to get there, and I finished the last few paragraphs of this chapter during a spare afternoon. Now that that's settled, let's move on, shall we?

This chapter isn't as... clean as the last one. Then again, Livia sas Junius is possibly one of the least sympathetic people we get to kill in this MMO. Not the least, but she ranks pretty damn high up there. Seriously, when I got back to the Waking Sands and saw what that bitch had done in my absence (which would have been a lot quicker if the Company of Champions had let me do my bloody job!)… well frankly there were no words. I wanted Livia's blood, plain and simple.

At first I thought I'd be storming the nearest castle, but nooooo. Turns out I'm not getting payback until the damned endgame of the 2.0 main scenario. Being 16 levels and some two shitloads of filler quests away at the time, it goes without saying that I was pissed. That's why I rated not-Guillaime in the previous chapter as a revenge-worthy NPC; he wasted very precious time, both in-game and in real life, that I'd have preferred to spend kicking Garlean ass.

And to top it all off, when we finally, finally rescue the Scions from Castrum Centri, I'm treated to a "lovely" cutscene of Livia going full Jack Bauer style interrogation on Minfilia. I'm looking at the screen thinking "this is it, there's no way that goes unpunished right?" Wrong, because I'm still not allowed to fight her! I got to see Yda trade one blow (they didn't even go a full round) but it just wasn't the same.

Which is why, in addition to the actual fight with her at Castrum Meridianum, I've deviated slightly from the canon events that took place at Castrum Centri. Hope you all enjoy. Also, if brutality towards a physically inferior human being (or hyuran being in this case) makes anyone squeamish… you've been warned.

Summary: Their first mistake was attacking the Waking Sands in the first place. Their second mistake was thinking that "the Eikon slayer" wouldn't pay them back. With interest.

Spoilers: ARR 2.0 albeit with a few liberties.

Disclaimer: I claim naught on this page. (And the fact that the Elizabethan prose is getting easier makes it clear I've been playing this game too long.)

Livia sas Junius

Three Moons Ago
Mor Dhona: Castrum Centri

Malcolm could hear Minfilia's agonized screams echoing from deeper within the castrum. She was being tortured, godsdammit! Worse still, this wasn't even first time it had happened, just the first time he could hear his friend scream in pain. The torture had almost certainly been a regular occurrence since their capture during the raid on the Waking Sands.

There was no other way about it. Every day Malcolm had wasted in search of airships or corrupted crystals, his Scion friends had spent that selfsame time at the "mercy" of their Garlean captors. As if the wrathful warrior needed any more reasons to be pissed off, those days truly had been wasted. In the end, the Black Wolf himself arrived with some damned Allagan monstrosity in tow. And just to twist the knife, the weapon he called "Ultima" had effortlessly killed not just one, but three Primals – Ifrit, Titan, and Garuda – and it had done so in mere seconds.

Gaius' folly was to prioritize Cid's life above Malcolm's death, especially when he had the element of surprise on top of an Allagan weapon empowered by three consumed Primals. He squandered his golden opportunity to kill Malcolm at the Howling Eye, and he would not get a second one.

It was a mistake Malcolm had no intention of making as he marched purposefully through the castrum in his Imperial disguise. He smirked a bit at the thought of his current attire. It was hardly the same uniform anymore. Hyur he may be, Malcolm's imposing height demanded significant tailoring, to say nothing of removing all the bloodstains. Just to be on the safe side, there were several intricately woven glamours in place to mask the presence of his axe, chain, and anything else he carried that wasn't standard issue for Garlean personnel.

Speaking of Garlean personnel, Malcolm took advantage of a blind spot in the patrol patterns to regroup with Biggs and Wedge. They were an odd duo to be sure, but their support thus far had been invaluable. Not only were they both godsdamned geniuses, but they were also defectors from the Garlean Empire along with Cid. They could operate these machines and terminals in Castrum Centri, things Malcolm was much more adept at breaking.

And break them he would. Stealth would only last so long, and it was just a matter of time before someone took inventory and realized that an entire suit of Reaper-class Magitek battle armor had "mysteriously" vanished. Ideally they would locate and rescue the Scions before that happened, but either way, once the alarms began sounding, all pretense of stealth would be thrown out.

Malcolm would not let his own thirst for vengeance consume him, however. This was, after all, a rescue operation. He would not jeopardize the lives of the few remaining Scions merely to satisfy his own bloodlust. Malcolm had been waiting for this day since Livia sas Junius had carried out her brutal raid on the Waking Sands. After all the insane shite he'd been through just to reach this day, the Midlander warrior was confident he could wait a bell or two longer if necessary.

Though the screams of his friends coming from deeper inside the facility were making patience a very difficult virtue. Rather than ignore them though, Malcolm forced himself to listen ever more intently. He let their cries of pain, fear, and outrage fan the flames of his rage to a billowing inferno that he would soon unleash upon all of Castrum Centri. All of them, every last Garlean soldier, was going to die. Hells, they were already dead, as far as Malcolm was concerned. They just didn't know it yet.

And then he saw them. It had been a long, indescribably arduous, and often downright pathetic journey, but the very instant Malcolm laid eyes on his Scion comrades, he could say without hesitation that it had been worth it. They were bloodied and bruised, some more than others, but they were alive. Alive and barely twenty yalms away. He dared not blink for fear that to do so would cause them to disappear in yet another cruel twist of fate.

From cover, Malcolm assessed his friends' physical conditions, noting with disgust that Minfilia's was by far the worst. She'd been beaten repeatedly… and recently, he realized with a barely-contained snarl.

Malcolm was a warrior, a berserker to be precise. Injury was as natural a concept to him as sand in Ul'Dah, and through the endless cycle of taking and giving out punishment he had learned a great deal about physical trauma. How to best inflict it, and what it looked like when inflicted by others. The latter was a concern because, contrary to popular belief, healers don't just happen. They don't appear out of thin air, conveniently showing up in the nick of time casting restorative magicks on adventurers for every cut or bruise. They could work wonders, but at the end of the day, healers should be considered powerful allies, not a crutch obligated to keep reckless and ungrateful fools alive.

As a result, Malcolm elected to perform his own first aid whenever possible. It couldn't raise him from the brink of death, but it could prevent him from nearly dying in the first place, and given how often the Midlander mongrel was staring down Primals all by himself, that was an invaluable skill.

And it was due to this skill that Malcolm recognized each injury that his Scion brethren had been forced to endure at Garlean hands. He recognized how Urianger favored his left leg every time he was forced to stand, and how Papalymo's shoulder was likely dislocated, and finally, how Minfilia had been struck across the face by someone wearing heavy gauntlets, and that she also had at least five broken ribs.

That did it for him. The time for waiting was over. It should have been over when Malcolm had had to bring a dead Sylph back to Little Solace and hear their cries of anger and loss.

"Imperial Ones must pay! Imperial Ones must suffer!"

The words of Komuxio rang in his head like an angry mantra, and Malcolm knew he'd reached his limit. This was finally the point of no return.

"Imperial Ones must pay! Imperial Ones must suffer!"

They will pay. They will suffer.

As Biggs and Wedge were debating whether to alert the castrum to their presence by breaking stealth, Malcolm simply up and walked into the storage tower. At that precise moment, an Imperial Signifer standing between the warrior and his comrades just happened to receive some very bad news.

"This is the third squadron," the Signifer droned. His eyes practically shot out of their sockets at what he heard next. "…A reaper? Seized when? And this came to light only NOW?!"

From their position, Biggs and Wedge could only watch in mixed amusement and pity as the Signifer's day went from bad to complete shite in a matter of seconds.

"The culprits have left a trail!" he shouted. "Take as many men as you need and scour the area! I want that reaper found!"

"Looking for this?!" a deep voice behind the Signifer growled.

He had just enough time to see the missing Magitek reaper sitting outside the storage tower before a righteously pissed-off Midlander mongrel crushed his windpipe and tossed his choking body to the side. The commotion attracted the attention of the Imperial soldiers holding the Scions captive, who quickly sounded the alarums before attacking the intruder.

Not that it did them any good. Even their Magitek armor support was useless against this single man. Biggs and Wedge hardly got the opportunity to assist, visibly cringing as they witnessed the adventurer unleash weeks of pent-up fury on every bastard with the poor luck to be in his way.

Malcolm, better known to Garleans as "The Eikon Slayer" had arrived. And now they would all feel his wrath!

Present Day: Northern Thanalan
Castrum Meridianum: Parade Ground

Tribunus Livia sas Junius was equal parts astounded and disgusted as she observed the Eikon slayer from above. The savage just wouldn't die! Legionaries, Vanguards, Reapers, Colossi, it made no difference. Damn it all, the XIV Legion was throwing everything they had at this barbarian, yet still he kept coming! This "Malcolm" acted less like a mortal and more like some implacable force of nature.

Or like one of the very Primals he had gained a reputation for slaying…

The description wasn't far off, if Livia were honest. He and his party of fellow ragtag adventurers had all but redecorated half the castrum with blood and the other half with entrails, leaving machina parts scattered wherever gore wasn't. Nothing survived their onslaught, and anything in their way was snapped like dry twigs in a tornado.

Malcolm and his "merry band" would come for Gaius and the Ultima Weapon.

The thought alone was unacceptable, and behind her mask Livia bit back a sneer. No! She would not lose everything! Not again! Ordering one final wave to engage the savages, she readied herself for battle.

Down below, Malcolm was listening to Cid on the linkpearl when he heard yet another wave of Garlean forces approaching, including a Magitek Vanguard and two more Colossi. Hanging up on his friend, the Midlander mongrel and his small party of Echo-blessed allies all eagerly prepared to meet their newest adversaries – nay, their newest victims – when a flash of white caught Malcolm's eye.

Snapping his focus to the left, the warrior saw her. There standing before the gates to the Praetorium, clad in white armor and piloting a matching white Magitek reaper, was Livia sas Junius. Number fucking one on Malcolm's (current) list of people to kill.

It was past time to cross her name off that list.

"You handle the cleanup!" Malcolm yelled to his band of adventurers. "The bitch is mine!" His four companions replied with loud and enthusiastic cheers and shouts of encouragement. They knew Malcolm well enough. He never fought for causes. He fought for people, and if those people were taken away, he fought even harder for their memory. Their values lived on in his words, and more often in his deeds. If salvation was no longer an option, then as far as the Midlander mongrel was concerned, vengeance was just as good.

So if Malcolm needed the four of them to handle a few soldiers and a couple of Colossi while he got long-overdue payback against the Tribunus Angusticlavius alone, they would happily oblige.

"Fools!" Livia shouted as Malcolm's companions destroyed her forces, including the airship, with hijacked Garlean mortar cannons. "If you are resolved to die here, you might at least have done so without first making a mess of the place!"

Malcolm said nothing. He just stood there, allowing Livia sas Junius to dig herself a deeper grave, every word from her mouth serving as fuel for his prodigious fury. Looking at him with contempt from behind her mask, Livia continued, unaware and overconfident. "I see that Garlond is not with you. More's the pity, I had hoped to slay him myself. But never mind the traitor for now." At last she looked directly into his eyes, and somehow she knew he was looking at hers. "I have so looked forward to this meeting… Malcolm." This earned her a raised eyebrow from the warrior, as Malcolm sincerely doubted she was looking forward to this for the same reasons he was. "Yes, I know much and more about you. About your strength… and your hidden talents. I would sample them firsthand – and you will indulge me."

Challenge issued, Livia piloted her Magitek reaper to rear its "head" and give the mechanical equivalent of a roar. Malcolm, however, remained completely unfazed by the adversary before him. Instead he effortlessly shifted his stance, lowering the head of his axe to the ground with a loud clang as he tightened his grip on the haft. In response to her request to sample his talents firsthand, he offered but one word in reply:


And before the Tribunus could even attempt a target lock, the warrior was on the move, dragging the head of his axe along the ground, sending sparks flying as he charged forward like an enraged boar. By the time Livia knew what was happening, Malcolm was practically on top of her.

Or more accurately, beneath her, as in he was directly underneath her Magitek armor. Positioned just where her guns couldn't reach him but he could sure as Hells reach her.

Letting loose an almost feral roar, Malcolm struck, widening his stance and gripping the haft with both hands as he flung the axe head off the ground in an underhand before putting his full weight into a devastating horizontal swipe. Head axe cleaved through the white Garlean plate like wet paper, shattering both legs, but the Midlander mongrel wasn't done yet. He allowed momentum to carry him around full-circle, striking the Magitek armor a second time, then a third, each spin more destructive than the last.

When he came to a stop Livia's reaper was halfway to critical failure, and by the time Malcolm rested his axe on his shoulder, it had begun to explode. Of course the bitch jumped out, flipping and spinning the whole way before landing on the ground in front of him, giving off that same air of superiority as she folded her arms in front of her.

Malcolm allowed her to keep it too. Let the Tribunus delude herself into thinking she was the better fighter. It would only sweeten the taste of revenge when he proved her wrong one broken bone at a time.

"My lord was quite taken with you and the power you possess – the 'Echo.'" The way she spat out the word like it left a bad taste was almost amusing to Malcolm. "Naturally, I could not help but wonder whom this prince among men might be…" Livia shrugged in what could only be described as disappointment. "Only to discover that you are but another adventurer. No better than the multitude. Yet in spite of this, the masses hold you their champion, and shower honors upon your head." She was getting worked up now, truly upset that some common nobody had accomplished all that Malcolm had in such a short time. "It defies all reason. How is it that you could be such a thorn in our side? Wherever you appear, you leave havoc in your wake. You even slew Rhitahtyn, one of our very finest."

"If you say so," the warrior grunted. That Roegadyn had possessed more honor than most traitors, but he was still a traitor in the warrior's eyes. And if he was one of their "finest," then it was a miracle Garlemalde seated an empire at all.

Livia seemed not to have heard the jab, and if she had she chose to ignore it. "Well…I will not speculate. Truth be told, I couldn't care less how you have done these things. What matters to me is the fact that you have done them." Her arrogance remained, but she finally adopted a more ready stance. If you are allowed to continue, you will eventually deprive me of all that I have toiled for – all that is mine by right! My minions, my comrades…even my lord Gaius!"

Malcolm raised an eyebrow as the Garlean bitch flew completely off the chain, ranting and raving and possibly foaming at the mouth behind her mask. Oh, he was going to enjoy the rebuttal when she finally shut up.

Still going strong, Livia screeched, "Well, you cannot have him! His dreams and ambitions, his body and soul – they are mine, do you hear me!? All mine! I lost everything once before! I will not suffer it to happen again!" Then she finally, finally took a proper battle stance before making one final – and empty – proclamation:

"I will kill you, adventurer! Only your death can bring me peace!"

Malcolm's gold-yellow eyes flashed with murderous rage, and he slammed the head of his axe into the ground with enough force that it remained in place even after he let go. Then he strode forward, away from the weapon but still outside of Livia's reach.

"No, Livia sas Junius," he rumbled. "Your death will bring me peace."

The Tribunus paused, faltering as he parroted her words back with twice the conviction. "W-what?"

"Do you truly believe you are the only one to suffer? That I simply took up arms and fought for the Alliance as some kind of noble 'champion' of Eorzea?" Malcolm laughed at the very notion, confusing Livia even more. "Not a chance! I am here for you, Livia! You, who raided the Waking Sands and killed my friends! You, who executed my fellow Scions in their home, just as I butcher your fellow Garleans in yours! You, who murdered Noraxia of Little Solace without a second thought! YOU, who kidnapped and tortured Archons Urianger and Papalymo, Mistress Tataru, and Antecedent Minfilia! You speak of what I have taken from you, Livia sas Junius. Of how you will not suffer to lose everything."

Malcolm's anger was literally glowing by now, a palpable aura of unbridled rage. "But you drew first blood. It was you who took everything from me, with no time to mourn those who were lost before I was forced to run the length and breadth of Eorzea for those I could yet save! Now I return the favor a hundredfold! Everything you know! Everything you love! I will rip it from you cold! Dead! Hands!"

He took a stance of his own, unarmed and ready, not for battle but for murder. "Revenge will be the closest I shall ever know to peace."

Of course not a word of his logic sank in. Livia could not – would not – acknowledge the hypocrisy of her actions. The fact that she was to blame for the path of destruction he had carved, and would continue to carve, through Castrum Meridianum and the Praetorium, past her and straight on to Gaius was unacceptable. It was just so much easier to simply hate the adventurer and want him dead for threatening all she loved, even as he claimed to possess the exact same motivation. Crying in fury, the Tribunus launched forward at near blinding speed and struck at Malcolm with a solid right cross.

It connected, that much was clear as she saw, heard, and even felt the satisfying impact as her armored gauntlet smashed directly into his face. A lesser man would be dead on impact, and yet Malcolm took the hit like it was nothing. He didn't even roll with the punch, as if the attack was no more threatening to him than a gentle breeze. Worse still, the Midlander mongrel was grinning at her, as if Livia's efforts to harm him were amusing more than anything else. The insane display of resilience had so shocked the Tribunus that she never even thought to follow through with a shot from one of her gunbaghnakhs.

"Tch," Malcolm sounded almost disappointed as he cocked back his right arm, bloodthirsty grin still in place. "You even hit like a Garlean!" he roared, emphasizing the word "hit" with one of his own, driving his mailed fist straight into Livia's white-clad center mass. The force of the blow was enough to send her flying over a dozen yalms back. As she crashed, Malcolm laughed darkly, a blood-red aura surrounding him, feeding him to Livia's horror. He was drawing on anger and pain, both his and her own, to enhance the already-monstrous strength he naturally possessed. Bloodlust served as an literal fuel for this barbarian!

Livia had barely come to this conclusion, let alone risen to her feet when Malcolm delivered a spinning kick to the side of her head, knocking her right back on the floor again. Through the pain, she was vaguely aware of two things. First, he'd managed to shatter almost the entire left half of her ornate helmet with a single blow. Second, the savage's horrifyingly effective kick seemed… familiar somehow. But that made no sense! All of Nero's combat data showed him wielding an axe and a chain against the Eikons, so why would she recognize-

"Aagh!" Livia's musings were ruthlessly interrupted as Malcolm's heavy boot came down on her midsection, breaking several ribs and likely cracking the rest. When he raised his boot as if to stomp on her a second time, the Tribunus forced aside the sheer agony in her head and chest, rolled out of the way just before his foot came down, and rolled up into a standing position. Her ribcage cried out in protest at the act, but she ignored the pain and focused entirely on the warrior that had caused it and clearly intended to cause more given the slightest opportunity.

"Broken ribs and a kick to the head." It was a statement, but Malcolm's tone made it sound more like a vow. "You know these injuries," he growled, golden eyes burning with unimaginable fury. "You inflicted these injuries upon others."

Now she knew why the kick was familiar. "The Antecedent," Livia said quietly as understanding dawned on her. "I may have broken a number of her ribs while questioning her – without success I might add."

"Torturing her," Malcolm corrected. "You beat Minfilia, mercilessly and repeatedly, and yet you dare to stand there and call us the savages?!" Livia truly didn't care what he was saying, but every moment he spent talking was a moment she had to recover and catch her breath. She'd be a fool not to use that to her advantage. But to keep him talking, she now had to remember exactly who she kicked…

Ah, it was not who, she recalled suddenly, but what.

"You cannot seriously hold the beastman at the Waking Sands against me?" An odd sense of pride and superiority filled Livia at the knowledge that this "hero" would consort with the animals whose very gods he'd slain. "That is why we call you savages, and rightly so it would seem."

"The Sylph's name was Noraxia!" he shouted, daring Livia to suggest the beastman was anything less than a cherished friend. "And you killed her! You killed her, and while you were busy torturing Minfilia, I was handing her dead body over to her people in Little Solace, trying to explain how she died for getting in your way! They told me 'Imperial Ones must pay! Imperial Ones must suffer!'" His aura of bloodthirsty rage practically exploded, billowing like a vengeful flame, bathing the night sky in red with his incomprehensible fury. "I will make the 'Imperial Ones' pay. I will certainly make them suffer. And I will start right here, right now, with you!" His voice dropped to a whisper, never losing an onze of that near-tangible malice. "You will die knowing you failed, utterly and completely, to stop me from ripping your whole world apart!"

That pride Livia had felt moments ago? It vanished immediately. Because all talk of philosophy aside, Malcolm was a savage, and he had slain gods, and oh damn how did none of this sink in before now? She was fighting a man accomplished on his own what entire Imperial Legions could only ever manage with heavy casualties and countless souls lost to tempering. And he had done it thrice. Yes, even Garuda was a victory for this warrior, as far as Gaius was concerned. Her lord had confessed to her privately that, had he waited much longer to deploy the Ultima Weapon, the adventurer Malcolm would have inevitably bested the Lady of the Vortex on his own.

No. Livia would not allow him to reach Gaius. Not now, not ever. She would die before letting it happen, and she would definitely kill before letting it happen. It was time to end this. "You have made me wroth!" The Tribunus exclaimed, taking aim with her gunbaghnakhs and unloading with everything she had. Malcolm dodged the initial salvo, along every subsequent barrage too, always keeping just outside her line of fire. Her frustration rose until Livia found herself making the same mistake as before. Ignoring the pain and dangerously fresh injuries from her last attempt, the white-clad Garlean propelled herself forward, closing the gap and taking a swing at the warrior's head. He backpedaled just in time to keep his head attached to his shoulders, and while this time she did remember to follow through with a shot from her gunbaghnakhs, it made no difference. Malcolm anticipated the guns and right before Livia opened fire, the Midlander mongrel would counter with an inside block to whichever forearm she was about to shoot with, forcing the shot to go wide at the last possible moment.

She didn't know which was more infuriating: the fact that she couldn't hit Malcolm, or the fact that even when she did hit him, Livia still didn't hurt him. "Just die!" she screamed as the warrior backpedaled yet again.

"You first."

Those words, along with a soft clink of metal, were Livia's only warning before a shockwave of raw, overpowering force practically blasted her into the next Umbral Era. The Tribunus slammed into the back wall of the Parade Ground, hard, before dropping face-first onto the ground. Through sheer force of will and dedication to her lord Gaius, however, she managed to get up again. The sight that greeted her was not a pleasant one.

Malcolm hadn't been "backpedaling" at all. He'd been baiting her to press the attack while he moved ever further backwards, closer to the axe he'd left buried in the ground behind him. The axe now held firmly in his hand. The axe he'd used to overpower her with one blow. Not even a blow, she realized in pure horror, but merely the force generated by one blow.

She cried in despair and punched the ground hard enough to crack it. This couldn't be happening! How could metal and stone break more easily than this one, simple savage? This mere… adventurer!?

"Fractured ribs? Minfilia. Kick to the head? Noraxia. That one? That was for every fallen Scion at the Waking Sands. As scared and defenseless against your onslaught as you are now against mine." He let the axe fall so the haft was resting across his shoulder with the weapon's head behind his own. "It is for the fallen Scions whose corpses I personally dragged onto a wagon, only to watch as they were buried in shared graves because there was 'not enough room' to grant each of these noble men and women a plot of their own." He spat at the ground in disgust. "I could not properly bury them." He lifted the giant axe off his shoulder and growled. "But I can avenge them!"

Livia's eyes widened. "NO!"

She took a defensive stance but at this point it was irrelevant. Catching her with a long length of chain, Malcolm dragged her back in and lifted her off the ground one-handed by the throat. Rearing back, the warrior brought his forehead in to smash apart what was left of her mask in a vicious headbutt that nearly blinded her third eye.

"That was for Urianger!"

She took a desperate swing at where his voice came from, only for a grip of pure steel to catch her forearm. She swung with the other fist, same result. Then Malcolm crumpled both gunbaghnakhs like they were made of paper before flinging her over his shoulder and onto her back again. Then he drove the pommel of his axe into the same spot where he'd stomped earlier to break her ribs.

"For Papalymo!"

She tried to roll over, to get up and fight, but Malcom brought the flat of his axe's head across her back and sent her right back down.

"For Tataru!"

After this, there were several blessed moments of nothing. Not a single sound or strike fell on her. It did not last. Livia felt the cold blade of his axe pressed against her neck and she knew it was soon to be over. The thought alone was too terrifying to acknowledge, even now. "No…" She whimpered pitifully, unable to keep the sobs from wracking her body, even when each one brought with it a fresh wave of excruciating pain. "It's happening… all over again…" her words came out in between the hiccups and gasps of agony and despair. "Please…" she begged him, begged him now without an onze of her former arrogance. "I cannot bear it… Don't take him…away from me…" She feebly raised a single trembling hand up, stretching it heavensward. "My lord Gaius!"

The axe lifted away, and for a single, delusional instant Livia dared hope that Malcolm would show mercy. This hope was crushed to fine powder when next he spoke.

"And that is why I will take him away from you," Malcolm declared. "Because you cannot bear it." He knelt down in front of Livia and looked her in the eyes. "This is what my vengeance looks like, Tribunus. My enemies die knowing I am responsible for destroying that which is most precious to them. It is only fitting, I believe, as they would not be my enemies had they not attempted to destroy what is most precious to me."

He stood back up and hefted his axe, ready to deliver the final strike. "Allow me to simplify it, Livia sas Junius." Placing a foot on her back and raising his axe for an execution stroke, he couldn't help but smile as he claimed his long, long overdue revenge.

"Like you, payback is a bitch."

A single overhead blow removed Livia's head from her shoulders, ending her life at last. For a long, glorious moment, Malcolm laughed. He laughed like a man possessed, riding high on an almost intoxicating euphoria, born from nothing more than the simple fact that he had finally, finally killed Livia sas Junius. He laughed not from any sense of humor, but from a joy only those who knew true loss could understand. At last, Malcolm had come face to face with the one who nearly took everything from him, and in retaliation, he took absolutely everything from her.

Well, not quite everything. Not yet at least. Turning to see his party of fellow adventurers, as well as Malcolm gave a small half-smile and nodded towards the Praetorium.

"Shall we end this?"

Their cheers, echoing through the burning remains of Castrum Meridianum, were his answer. The Black Wolf had issued an ultimatum. Time to offer a proper rebuttal.

And we are done for now. Yes, that's about how I'd get my payback against Livia. Probably more stabbing in my personal though since my main is actually a DRG.

Okay, vague spoilers here, but for all those who have played far enough (or beaten) Heavensward, imagine a certain other axe-wielding warrior introduced way after the events of this chapter. After the events of the main Heavensward story, even. In your first encounter with him, he does the same "axe-drag-and-spin" thing that I had Malcolm do to Livia's Magitek Reaper. Yes the parallel is intentional.

Like I said at the beginning, I updated this on a total whim, and because it was mostly completed already when my life went to complete and total hell. I'm probably not making another chapter here, or anywhere, for a while. However, if I did make another chapter for this… who do you guys want to see as the next target of revenge? Minor spoilers, but I'm thinking Nabriales is next. Before that though, I may describe some of the encounters between Malcolm, Lord Commander Aymeric, Second Commander Lucia. Oh, and Estinien. That guy thinks he's an expert on vengeance, only to discover the Warrior of Light could teach Nidhogg a few things on the subject.

So yeah, assuming my toxic personal life allows for more of this fic anytime soon, it's gonna be a lot of fun. Until then, however…

Read, Review, and Enjoy!