Hello, all! I'm back with something a little different. Here, we have a story from Suikoden II, featuring one of my favorite side quests: Clive & Elza with special guest (and another personal favorite) Shin. Now, in more than one play through, I never completed Clive's quest (too much time leveling up characters and recruiting). What I have here is a "What If" scenario where Clive misses Elza on the initial attempts but gets help in tracking her down. And, for further context, I named my castle "Victory" in one of my play throughs and some dialogue comes directly from Suikoden II.
Fate of the Gunslingers
With Jowy Blight defeated and Highland overthrown, the war for the newly reformed Dunan Republic was over. The soldiers who fought in the war could now go in peace and live their lives.
But nothing was over for Clive. There was no peace for him. While the rest of the army was deciding what to do next, Clive was already in Victory Castle, packing his bags to depart.
Shin happened past his quarters, looking in when he saw Clive packing.
"Clive," Shin said.
Clive looked over his shoulder at him, "Shin." He went back to packing.
Shin stepped into the room, "Preparing to depart?"
"Yes. I have to continue on my hunt. You?"
"I'll be leaving soon as well," Shin said. "I believe that Genshu has already departed."
"Yet another quiet swordsman," Clive said. "I'll leave a note for Lord Riou. He's earned that much. What about you?"
"No note needed. Lady Teresa will be safe from now on. That's all that matters."
Shin was about to leave but stopped. "Clive. This hunt. Who are you chasing?"
"Her name is Elza," Clive answered. "A woman who killed a friend of mine."
"Elza," Shin whispered. "What day she look like?"
Clive gave him a full-detailed description of Elza's physical appearance, right down to her clothes.
"I saw her," Shin declared.
Clive looked up, surprised. "What?!"
"I saw her." Shin thought back, "In L'Renouille."
"What was she doing?"
"Observing us. She was… scouting you, I believe."
"And you know where she is now," Clive said, suspiciously.
"She, somehow, saw me monitoring her," Shin declared. "I ran into her while searching the city. She left me a note to give you. She said… 'if you speak to the gunslinger, give him this'." He produced the note and Clive snatched it away.
Clive read it for few seconds then exhaled.
"Clive?" Shin asked.
"Would you please accompany me?" Clive asked.
Shin looked at him, curiously, but nodded.
Without a word to their comrades but with notes left to those who mattered, Clive and Shin departed from Victory Castle and, hours later, arrived in Sajah Village, looking around in all directions.
"This may be the tiniest village I've ever seen and I'm from Low Field," Shin said.
"Where?" Clive asked.
They walked further into town, just passing the general store when they heard a voice call out.
"I figured that was a longshot," the voice said.
Clive's blood boiled, immediately. He and Shin looked over and saw Elza step out of the shadows from the side of the store.
Elza smiled. "Getting a note to your friend, here, wasn't a sure thing to work. But, then again, longshots are my specialty."
"Elza," Clive gritted.
"How did you know I'd get the letter to him?" Shin asked.
"Like I said, I didn't," Elza explained. "But you seem to have the same quiet personality as Clive. I thought you two might be closer than most in your army. Thanks, by the way."
For reasons he wasn't sure of, Shin gave her a slight nod of respect.
Elza looked back at Clive, "Ya know… I almost left this whole area and let you keep chasing me. But… no. I think this is far enough."
"Why here?" Clive asked.
Elza became solemn and looked around, "I was born in this village. This is my home. My father, my mother, our house… they're all gone. Nobody who even remembers them. But even so, this is the place where my heart always returns."
"Why should I care?"
Elza smiled and looked back at Clive. "Because this is where our journey ends. It stops here, Clive. All of it."
Clive drew Storm and aimed it at her. "You're right. It does."
"Storm," Elza whispered. "The only gun in the world with a soul inside it." She looked at Clive. "It won't fire on me."
Clive was going to pull the trigger, but he realized that she was right. He could sense it. He lowered Storm, "Fine. Then what do you want?"
"Like I said, to end this. To stop it. I've decided I'm not cut out for this life. Time for it end." Elza pulled a box from behind her back. "Star and Moon."
Clive narrowed his eyes.
"I want you to ask yourself a question, Clive, and answer honestly. Do you think I would shoot Kelley? That I would kill him?"
"You did!" Clive shouted.
"Did I? Or did Kelley save my life?"
Clive glared at her for a few seconds. "What do you mean?"
"Storm won't fire on me, Clive," Elza reminded. "Why do you think that is?"
Clive's eyes slowly widened as a realization came over him. "Because… it chose you…" he looked down at the gun, "like… it chose me."
"And the Elders of the Guild picked Kelley to be Guild Master. But Storm would not fire for him… like it would for me."
Clive felt all of the air catch in his chest. He stared at the ground before slamming his eyes shut at the revelation.
"But only one worthy of Storm can be a Guild Master, I assume," Shin said.
"Yes," Clive whispered.
"The Elders wouldn't have that," Elza said. "Having someone like me lead the Guild. They wanted Kelley."
"Who they could control."
"We both saw it, Clive. What they were turning him into. But they knew that we could pull him back from them. So, they needed us out of the way. Me, a traitor. You, their gun. But that was there secondary plan. Their original plan was to remove Storm's chosen gunslinger. They created a scenario for me to die. Kelley knew. On the day of our duel, he knew Moon wasn't loaded. He took it. I took Star." Her eyes lowered. "We both fired. He died and I didn't. And I was branded a traitor."
Clive was shaking. The truth seemed so clear now as everything made sense. "And they knew I'd want revenge." He growled, "Those… fools. Those… traitors!"
Elza looked back at her pursuer, "Yes, Clive. That's the truth. But now… what you choose to do with it is all that matters."
Clive looked up at her, "What do you mean?"
Elza motioned to a hill just outside of town. "There's a body over that way. A woman who looks identical to me. She was a murderer, killed dozens of innocent people. I dispensed a little bit of justice. And some theatrical make-up. So, here's the deal." She approached Clive and set the box down on the ground. She opened the box, revealing the guns, Star and Moon, inside of it. "Your mission is to kill me. The body has a bullet wound from Star. After all, Storm would never harm me. But, if you want to do this, finish your mission your way, I'll allow it." She motioned toward the guns in the box, "Star is loaded, Moon is not."
Clive looked at her with apprehension while Shin looked at them both with great curiosity.
Elza stood up straight, "You can either accept this gift and walk away," she slowly backed away from the box then stopped and spread her arms out, "or you can take your shot. You can kill me, right here. You know the truth now, Clive. Make your decision."
Clive thought about it. "How is this any different from the other outcome?"
"Because you didn't catch me," Elza said with a sly smile. "You couldn't. That's gonna be enough for me. Will it be enough for you?"
Clive set Storm on the ground. He walked up to the box and picked up Star. He examined it, "What would you do, Shin?"
Shin was surprised by the question but looked at Elza, who still had a smile on her face. He looked back at Clive, "I… cannot say. She seems to speak the truth and people do whatever they can to stay in power. Therefore, I believe her innocence is genuine. But… hatred and betrayal, whether warranted or not, are not easy to overcome."
"I couldn't agree more!" Clive aimed Star at Elza. "No matter what happened, you still shot and killed Kelley, Elza! You still pulled the trigger!"
Elza's smile dropped away immediately. She fought back tears and admitted, "And I'll live with that for the rest of my life. That pain is mine to the grave. How much longer I have until I get there, Clive, is up to you."
Clive kept Star aimed, directly at Elza's heart. But he noticed his hand was shaking, yet he came closer and closer to pulling the trigger. But, the truth kept flashing in his mind. Elza was actually innocent. She didn't kill Kelley, intentionally. She was tricked into it by the Elders. All because they wanted to retain their own power. And they used Clive as a puppet to carry out their will after Kelley refused to do so. Clive couldn't ignore that. His mind went to Storm. The legendary gun didn't make a mistake or lie to him. Elza was truly innocent.
Clive grunted. But slowly lowered Star.
Elza was actually surprised. She looked at Star then at Clive. "This is your choice, then?"
Clive took a deep breath. "It is."
"I knew it." Elza smiled. "You just weren't good enough to catch me. Gunslinger."
"Good-bye, Elza," Clive put Star back in the box with Moon, picked up the box, collected Storm, and turned his back to her. He wanted to leave and say nothing more, but something wouldn't let him. He looked over his shoulder, "What will you do now?"
Elza chuckled a bit. "Well! Now that I'm dead… I can live. Maybe I'll join a revolution like you did. I wonder what it feels like to be a hero. After all… we'll never see each other again."
"No. We won't."
"And really… that's for the best."
"Yes, it is," Clive said, harshly. "Never come back to the Guild."
"That's a promise," Elza agreed.
"So be it," Clive started to walk off but stopped again. He looked over his shoulder again and said, in a calmer voice, "Take… take care of yourself."
Elza smiled. "Farewell, Clive." She turned and walked away.
Clive began walking out of town with Shin right next to him.
"Are you sure that will be enough?" Shin asked.
"It doesn't matter," Clive answered.
"And the Guild?"
"Elza is dead. That's all that matters to them. I'll handle those responsible for Kelley's death in time. However, as of now… the mission and pursuit are done."
"Not the most satisfying of conclusions, I'd imagine," Shin mused.
"The truth of this whole matter?" Clive asked.
Shin looked at him, inquisitively.
"It was never going to end with satisfaction. It was just going to end. And that's all I could truly hope for."
Shin contemplated that then nodded, "Understood."
"Shin," Clive said. "Thank you."
"Will you be returning to Muse?"
"I'm not sure," Shin replied. "My skills must increase. The war made that clear. I must achieve that goal."
They stopped when they came to a fork in the road. They looked at the directions of the roads.
"Will you be returning to these lands?" Shin asked.
Clive thought about the question. "I cannot say for sure. But I must admit… I owe Lord Riou and Lord Tir a great deal. They gave me more purpose and chance to sharpen my skills. And more that I will take with me back to the Guild."
"Very well. Then…" Shin stuck his hand out, "may we meet again at better points in our lives."
"Indeed." Clive shook his ally's hand, "Shin."
"Clive," Shin replied.
They broke the handshake and walked away in different directions. From the shadows of one of the houses in Sajah Village, Elza stared at Clive as he departed.
Elza smiled, "Good-bye, Clive." She removed her white cloak. "Do well, gunslinger." She took off her cloak and her gun holsters. She walked over to a fire pit she had built and dropped the items in the flames. "The Guild is in your hands now. I know you can handle it from here."
After watching the cloak and holster turn to ash, Elza turned and disappeared into the shadows.
A/N: And there we have it! I hope you all enjoyed! Leave me some reviews! Hit that Fav/Follow button!
I have a few more Suikoden stories planned. But that's along with a LOT of other stuff coming down the pipe, so those could be a bit of ways off. For now, thanks for sticking with me.
Also, if you want to keep up with everything I'm doing, check my profile page for my Twitter, Facebook, website, and even AO3 page. Thank you all and take care! See you soon!