|Barret: There's no gettin' off this train we on 'till we reach the end of the line.|
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The Final Fantasy XII manga is a series of five volumes based on the game. The plot is the same but various flashbacks show new details about the characters and some minor details seen in-game are altered.
The party is traversing the Nam-Yensa Sandsea to find the Tomb of Raithwall and the Dawn Shard. Ashe is attacked by a Garuda, and is saved by Basch and Vossler while Vaan, Balthier and Fran kill the Garuda. The group enters the tomb and finds their way to Belias's chamber. Basch, Vossler, Fran and Balthier battle Belias while Ashe, Vaan and Penelo try to enter the door the Esper was guarding to get the Dawn Shard.
Vaan wishes to assist in fighting Belias when the four do poorly, but Ashe tells him their mission to retrieve the Dawn Shard takes priority, and Basch and Vossler would die to see Dalmasca restored. Vaan, displeased with Ashe's attitude towards power and her friends, leaves her to retrieve the shard herself. Ashe returns to protect Vaan before Belias can strike him down, and the group defeats it.
Belias's glyph marks itself on the back of Ashe's hand as a sign of its servitude to her, and the group moves on to the treasure chamber. Finding it empty and realizing the Esper's allegiance was itself the tomb's treasure, Ashe and Vaan see an apparition of Rasler, and Ashe thinks back to their marriage.
In a flashback, Ashe prepares to meet Rasler with her attendant Argas but, upon seeing Ashe, Rasler declares he cannot marry her. Feeling insulted, Ashe flees the room. Later, Ashe overhears Rasler speaking to a knight of Nabradia about King Raminas, and she follows the knight into a restricted area where she witnesses a meeting between Nabradian officers and Archadian immigrants. The group plans to assassinate Raminas to shatter any hope of alliance between Dalmasca and Nabradia, and force Dalmasca to ally with the stronger Rozarrian Empire. Ashe is detected but Rasler helps her hide, and the two fall through a weak spot in the floor into the Garamsythe Waterway.
Rasler tells Ashe Nabradia is divided on what to do regarding the power struggle between Rozarria and Archadia, and he rejected her to avoid making her a target when he heard plots of something sinister to happen in Dalmasca. The waterway floods, and Ashe perceives this as a sign dinner has ended and the assassination will occur soon. The two race to Raminas's bedroom to find the leader of the plot, Argas, about to stab him.
Argas tells Ashe that with Raminas dead Ashe will be queen and can ally with Rozarria, but Ashe refuses to betray Nabradia. The two fight Argas's men, and as Argas attacks Raminas Basch leaps from the bed and slices off her arm, Vossler and Dalmascan guards storm the room. Basch tells Ashe the knight she followed was an informant of his, and Raminas is safe and the other members of the insurgent faction are being arrested.
Realizing the other's true character Ashe and Rasler fall in love and wed. Archadia takes the news of the insurgent faction's failure as a sign of civil war in Nabradia, and the Archadian politician Vayne Solidor orders an army to march on Nabradia to "keep the peace" in Ivalice. Nabradia is invaded and its capital city Nabudis is destroyed. The Archadians then turning their sights to Dalmasca.
Rasler is appointed the head of the Dalmascan military as Archadia prepares to attack Nalbina Fortress. Despite being outnumbered, the Dalmascan forces achieve an advantage by crashing unmanned airships into the Archadian forces, dousing them in flammable oil. The two armies enter battle, and the Archadians discuss retreating, but are threatened into fighting by Judge Bergan.
Bergan and Judge Drace lead a charge to push the Dalmascans back, and though Rasler begins to order a retreat Bergan goads him into fighting him, while Basch fights Drace. While they fight Judge Zargabaath infiltrates Nalbina with a teleportation stone, and the Archadians work to bring down the fortress's paling so their airships may move in to attack.
Rasler and Basch retreat to the fortress, but the paling falls, and in the chaos Rasler is struck by an Archadian arrow. Rasler and Basch escape to Rabanastre, but Rasler dies from his wounds. With Nalbina fallen, the Archadians plan to force Dalmasca into an unfair peace treaty.
Judge Gabranth arrives at Nalbina as Vayne's guard during the peace treaty signing. Vayne is sent on behalf of Emperor Gramis and must represent his wishes, but personally wishes to see Dalmasca fall entirely. Vayne hatches a plot with Gabranth to arrange for Raminas to be assassinated, thus allowing Archadia to continue its invasion since there can be no treaty.
Rumors spread of an assassination plot, and Basch and Vossler storm the fortress to rescue the king, among their soldiers a new recruit named Reks. Reks tells Basch he fights to protect Dalmasca and his brother Vaan, reminding Basch of his homeland of Landis, which he left to fall to Archadia while he sought a way to fight the Empire. Regretting leaving his home and his brother Noah, Basch tells Reks to not have any regrets as he does.
Meanwhile, an imposter Basch finds Raminas and slays the nobles with him, and Raminas flees and is met with the real Basch. The two Baschs fight, and Basch realizes the imposter is his twin brother Noah, now known as Judge Gabranth for the Archadians. Gabranth defeats Basch and kills Raminas and Reks as "Basch". With Raminas dead and Basch known as a traitor, the peace talks collapse and Dalmasca falls to Archadian invasion, Ashe vanishing from public view by faking her death.
Two years after Dalmasca's fall, Vayne is appointed consul to Rabanastre. Vaan almost gets arrested when he steals from an Imperial soldier, and Penelo asks him to accept work from Migelo to stay out of trouble. When Vaan continues to complain about Imperial oppression, he decides to sneak into the palace to steal from the treasury and take back some of Dalmasca's money.
Vaan poses as one of Migelo's workers and helps unload food to get into the palace, but is caught by the soldiers and flees into a hidden passage when he sees a specter of Reks walk through a wall. Meanwhile Vossler and a band of Dalmascan insurgents attack, having snuck weapons and troops into the castle the same way Vaan had gotten in. Vaan finds the passage leads to a treasure room and discovers piece of magicite concealed in a statue's mouth, but as he takes it is confronted by Balthier and Fran.
Vaan attempts to fight his way past Balthier and Fran, when an explosion distracts them and allows Vaan to escape. Outside an airship is bombarding the palace, and as Vaan evades the soldiers he finds Vayne talking to Gabranth. Vayne reveals that through a spy in the insurgents he knew of the attack and kept security lax to bait them into an attack, allowing the airship Ifrit and the Archadian forces to trap and destroy them.
An explosion knocks Vaan off-balance and causes him to be discovered, and when he is brought before Vayne, Vaan attempts to attack him but is blocked by Gabranth. Vayne orders Vaan executed, but Vaan is saved by Balthier. Cornered by soldiers, Balthier throws Vaan over a balcony and leaps after him.
Fran catches the two on her hoverbike, and the three escape, Vayne watching them fly and Vaan vowing to one day be strong enough to successfully strike him. The bike loses power and crashes in the Garamsythe Waterway, and the three form a temporary alliance while they get out. Meanwhile, Vossler realizes the insurgence was lead into a trap and orders a retreat, but Ashe, accompanying him under the alias "Amalia", refuses to admit defeat.
Vossler orders Ashe taken to safety through the Waterway, but the troops he sends with her are the imperial informants and aware of her true identity. Ashe fights them off but is trapped on a ledge. Vaan sees her and calls for her to jump down, catching her as she falls.
Vaan, Balthier, Ashe and Fran are met with a force of imperial soldiers with the insurgent traitors, but a Firemane attacks them. A second Firemane attacks the party, and they attempt to fight it off. Judge Ghis, appointed by Vayne to oversee the imperial counterattack, saves the insurgent traitors and defeats the first Firemane, ordering the insurgents to take him to Ashe.
Balthier blinds the second Firemane in one eye, and Ashe tricks it into pursuing her into a tight passage, allowing Fran to attack from its blinded eye with a Quickening "Sesshouku Hatsudo", freezing it. Ashe introduces herself as "Amalia" to them, when Ghis finds them. Vaan attacks him and is thrown aside, and Balthier tells him Ghis is a Judge Magister, the right-hands of House Solidor.
With Vaan knocked out and Ashe held captive by imperials soldiers, Balthier and Fran fight Ghis, but are outmatched. Vaan then latches onto Ghis's leg, having regained consciousness, and this distracts Ghis long enough for Fran to overpower him. However, before she can deliver the killing blow, Balthier is surrounded by imperials and Fran is defeated. Vaan, Fran and Balthier are sent to the Nalbina Dungeons, while Ghis has Ashe taken away to somewhere else.
Vossler arrives and attacks Ghis when he realizes he is too late to save Ashe. As the three are lead through the streets, Penelo sees Vaan, and when she approaches in tears is calmed by Balthier. The bounty hunter Ba'Gamnan sees this and resolves to capture her to lure Balthier.
Vaan awakens in the Nalbina Dungeons, and Balthier warns the dungeon is lawless and only the bloodthirsty thrive here. Vaan intervenes on a seeq prisoner attacking a former Dalmascan soldier, and as he is tossed aside the seeq notices the Goddess's Magicite fall from Vaan's pocket, and seizes it instead of killing him. Balthier tells him to let it go and tells Vaan he will teach him why he lost.
Balthier challenges Vaan to a game where he will throw a coin into the air, catch it, and Vaan must decide which hand it is in. If Vaan fails he will turn over his chestpiece from Reks as a prize, but Vaan demands Balthier wager his airship, the Strahl. Balthier accepts and tosses the coin, lecturing Vaan he is overconfident and thus he cannot understand when he is outmatched. Vaan fails, and Fran returns and reveals she has the coin and Balthier's hands are empty, Balthier taunting his confusion.
Meanwhile, Gabranth authorizes Ba'Gamnan to search the prisoners for Balthier, and walks off. Fran reveals she has found the prison exit and used her magic to forge a duplicate key to the bindings that guard it, but they've no way to fight their way out if Gabranth arrives. Balthier decides to make their move in two hours after investigating the resistance, and Vaan declares to have recovered the stone when he returns. He finds the seeq who stole it but is ambushed from behind by two more.
Vaan is thrown into a cell until the seeq, Daguza, is ready to face him in the dungeon's arena. Ba'Gamnan offers to free him, but Daguza intervenes and the two fight, and Vaan escapes and charges Daguza. In a flashback, Balthier explains to Vaan he won the coin flip using the magic spells Decoy and Vanish to distract Vaan, toss a fake coin while throwing the invisible real coin to Fran, and Vaan lost because he was too naive to think of sneakier tactics and didn't watch his surroundings.
Vaan ignores Balthier's lesson and surprises Daguza with a frontal attack instead of feinting, seizing the Goddess Magicite, and flees to meet up with Balthier while another prisoner and Ba'Gamnan deal with Daguza and the other enraged seeq. Gijuk and Bwagi follow Vaan, but Balthier uses the Mist in the air to perform a Quickening, Fires of War. He and Vaan escape into the magic-sealed door with Fran, leaving the two bangaa to return to Ba'Gamnan, still occupied fighting off the seeq.
In the deepest layers of the prison, Gabranth speaks to Basch, asking how he is kept alive if Ondore announced his execution, and if he knows anything about the prisoner "Amalia" Emperor Gramis and Vayne are secretly transporting, suspecting information is being kept from him. When Gabranth leaves Balthier, Vaan and Fran investigate the pit below for an escape route, and when Vaan is enraged at Basch and causes a clamor, the trio is forced to drop Basch's cage into the pit to escape.
In the Barheim Passage out of the fortress, Vaan tells Basch Reks was interrogated as a co-conspirator on Raminas's murder, and died from the painful methods used to force a confession. The four flee down the passage from a Mimic Queen, Basch grabbing the sword of a fallen adventurer to fight. Vaan attempts to help and distracts the Mimic Queen while Basch cleaves it in two, but they disturb a nest of smaller Mimics. Basch fights them off to protect Vaan, the two speaking of Reks's belief in Basch and the true events of Raminas's death during the battle.
With the Mimics dead the group escapes into the Dalmasca Estersand, and Basch heads to Rabanastre, telling Vaan he will accept atonement at his hands after he is finished what he needs to do. Balthier and Fran also return, Balthier returning Vaan's chestpiece before they leave. Meanwhile Vossler awakens in a bed with bandaged wounds, wondering how he survived his fight with Ghis, when a shadowed figure approaches him.
A cloaked Basch goes to the resistance hideout to find Vossler, and Vaan reunites with Kytes and Old Dalan, but is told Penelo hasn't been seen. Vaan shows Dalan the Goddess's Magicite, and Dalan tells Vaan he has a task for him, since he apparently has experience fighting alongside resistance soldiers. Vaan evades imperial patrols, carrying a Dalmascan knight's sword meant to Vossler, and is taken to him by resistance members.
Vossler and the resistance leaders discuss Basch's return, some considering their chances of success increased with two of Dalmasca's famous captains leading them, but others are suspicious. Vossler refuses to assist Basch when he says he wants to rescue Ashe, but Vossler refuses to help, merely giving him Dalan's delivered sword and warning him the resistance will be watching him. Vossler confides in his aide that Ghis warned him of spies in the resistance, and worries no one can be trusted.
Basch asks Vaan to take him to see Balthier, wishing to fly to Bhujerba, and Vaan accepts as repayment for Basch protecting him from the Mimics. Kytes runs up to them and tells Vaan that Penelo has been kidnapped.
While Vaan was imprisoned, Penelo was captured by Ba'Gamnan and taken to Bhujerba to lure Balthier to him. When Basch requests passage to Bhujerba, Balthier reluctantly agrees and the four set off to the sky city. There a boy named Lamont is spying on Judge Ghis speaking to the ruler of Bhujerba Marquis Ondore, and goes to Vaan's group to request accompaniment into the mines. As they speak Vaan lets Basch's identity slip, while Balthier immediately grows suspicious of Lamont due to his clothing and Archadian accent.
When Lamont tells the group that the magicite mines in Bhujerba are where Draklor Laboratory is getting their samples to create special magicite called nethicite, Balthier demands to know who he is and how he knows of such subjects. They are interrupted by Ba'Gamnan and his allies, and Balthier, Fran and Basch fend them off. Larsa is stunned by their power, rivaling the Judges, and thinks they may be strong enough to correct the disruptions in the Empire.
As the heroes leave the mines they find Penelo, found by Archadian soldiers in the mines and taken to Ghis. Ghis orders her executed, suspicious of her being in the mines alone, but Lamont steps from the shadows and intervenes, confirming Balthier's suspicions about his true identity - Larsa Ferrinas Solidor, Vayne's younger brother. The Archadians leave as Larsa speaks to Penelo, Fran and Balthier assuring Vaan he'll take care of her.
Shortly after, Marquis Halim Ondore confronts the party, Basch explaining he came to Bhujerba to meet with him. Meanwhile, Vossler leaves the resistance alone to rescue Amalia from the Dreadnought Leviathan, paranoid about spies and wondering if Basch or his lieutenants are secretly working for Vayne.
Vaan, Balthier, Fran and Basch are imprisoned and taken before Ondore, Vaan telling him about Penelo and Basch explaining there is an important prisoner aboard the Leviathan he wants to rescue. Ondore confesses that the prisoner is important to him as well, then explains to Vaan that Larsa has met up with the Imperial fleet. Understanding his words, Basch feigns an attack on Ondore, giving pretense for Ondore to call his guards and have the group taken to the Archadians.
As Ondore watches them be taken away, Vossler arrives to speak to Ondore, Vossler telling Ondore he does not trust him after his announcements that favored the Empire two years ago. Ondore explains he allowed Basch to be captured so he will be taken to the Leviathan as the group desires, and encourages Vossler to trust them both as allies. Aboard the Leviathan, the four meet with Ghis and Ashe, and Ghis reveals Ashe's true identity to the party, declaring her the heir of the Dalmascan royal family.
Ghis tells the party that the cooperation of a royal family member would be valuable to Vayne, but Ashe has no proof of her lineage and to aggravate the people's hearts with a false declaration of royal blood would be cause for execution. Basch tells Ghis that there is such proof, the Dusk Shard of the Dynast King Raithwall, and he was instructed to deliver by Raminas to it to Ashe if it were needed. Enraged at Basch's cooperation with Ghis's demands, the Dusk Shard in the group's belongings reacts to Ashe's anger and reveals itself. Ghis seizes it and orders the group imprisoned, Ashe quartered separately.
As the imperial soldiers escort the group away, Basch reminisces of a war in Landis against the Urutan-Yensa, when he fought full of youthful pride and was nearly killed for it due to his inexperience and ignorance. Vossler intervenes to save the group, disguised as an Archadian soldier, and he and Basch agree to ally their strength to protect Ashe. The group flees to the airship deck to escape the Leviathan, Basch, Vossler and Vaan going to fight the Archadians to buy time while Balthier takes control of an airship. Penelo and Larsa arrive, Larsa surprised to learn that both Ashe and Basch are alive. Larsa tells them he wishes to protect the empire from a 'distortion' within that the news of their survival has aggravated, and gives Penelo a piece of manufacted Nethicite to protect her.
Ghis arrives, and Vossler takes Larsa prisoner to stay the judge's hand. Laughing at the ploy, Ghis attacks the group with a spell, declaring that Larsa is prepared to die as a member of the Empire, but the spell is absorbed by the nethicite Larsa gave Penelo. Basch attacks Ghis while he is stunned, wounding him, and Balthier gets the airship activated. The group escapes the Leviathan, Larsa ordering Ghis to note report the incident, since the escaped prisoners have no proof of their identities, also commenting that there need not be a report of Larsa's capture and Ghis's reaction to such. On the fleeing airship, Vossler tells Basch he remembers the Urutan-Yensa war ten years ago, and that he understands the need for friendship and trust, agreeing to accept Basch's.
Ashe prepares to meet with Ondore, and Vossler leaves the group, trusting Ashe's protection to Basch. Vossler meets with the resistance leaders, Vossler's failed attack on the palace and growing paranoia about who he can and cannot trust causing them to doubt his leadership. One of the resistance leaders, Amadeo, has been imprisoned for suspicion of treason, but Vossler has faith in him, telling him that in the Urutan-Yensa war ten years prior, Amadeo's father served for Dalmasca and tutored him and Basch. Vossler releases Amadeo, and the other leaders confess that they wish to surrender to Vayne, feeling that Vayne is a more politically competent leader than his predecessor and will listen to their desire for peace.
Refusing to yield, Vossler is stabbed by one of the leaders, and attacks them. During the battle Vossler uses the Time Magick Balance to return his own wounds on his enemies, creating confusion and allowing him to effortlessly dispatch them. Amadeo reveals he is indeed a traitor and a spy for Ghis, and flees the room to the rest of the resistance. He declares Vossler has gone mad and is betraying them, and Vossler is held at swordpoint by his own men.
Ashe and the party speak to Ondore, who offers them his protection but refuses aid otherwise, as without the Dusk Shard, they cannot prove Ashe's royal lineage and the Gran Kiltias Anastasis of Mt. Bur-Omisace will not recognize her claim. Frustrated, Ashe leaves and heads to the Strahl, intending to steal it to pursue the Dawn Shard. Balthier tells Ashe he is prepared to leave her with Ondore, but Ashe tells Balthier the Dawn Shard is in Tomb of Raithwall, which is bound to be full of other treasures. Balthier agrees, and the group takes flight.
Meanwhile, Vossler tends to his wounds as he flees his pursuers. Ghis traps Vossler with a force of Archadian soldiers and offers him a deal; deliver the Dawn Shard to him, and he will give Vossler his aid in restoring Dalmasca's monarchy. As the resistance soldiers seek Vossler, Amadeo is overheard discussing what to do about Vossler and Ghis, and the resistance turns on him, a bangaa officer finding Vossler as he leaves Ghis. Vossler has silently accepted Ghis's proposal and strikes down the bangaa to depart alone.
In the Nam-Yensa Sandsea, Vossler meets up with Ashe and Basch, offering them his aid in retrieving the Dawn Shard and telling them the resistance will aid them once they have the shard.