I’ve done a weird range of Building Character articles so far, ranging from brain-addled madmen to busty ninja to fearsome warriors. But the one thing I haven’t really covered is the story of a good man turned bad by events out of his control. Such a complex character is Delita Heiral from Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions. Thanks to this beautiful, definitive version of the classic game, Delita was given new life in the form of beautiful cutscenes which only made his plight that more heart-breaking. But, before I get off track, let’s start back at the beginning of his tale.
As the story of War of the Lions begins, the spotlight is firmly focused on another character, that of Ramza Beoulve. Childhood friends from different worlds, Delita is seen as little more than a commoner by most people. This is due to the fact that Delita’s parents, poor farmers on Beoulve land, succumbed to the Black Death, after which Delita and his sister, Tietra, were taken as wards by Ramza’s kind-hearted father. Under his care, Delita learned military training and became unflinchingly loyal to the man who saved him. In turn, the liberally-minded Ramza came to truly consider Delita a friend despite the disparity of their nobility, unlike his manipulative and arrogant step brothers, Zalbaag and Dycedarg. Delita fights at Ramza’s side as they quest through Ivalice, trying to put down the Corpse Brigade and bring peace to the kingdom. If only the story had stayed that simple. Unfortunately, things take a dire turn for young Delita when the Corpse Brigade takes Tietra captive.
Ramza and Delita frantically pursue her abductors, unaware that more is at play behind the scenes. As it turns out, Zalbaag and Dycedarg are manipulating events to suit their own needs, and, in fact, both care very little for the safe return of Tietra. When Ramza and Delita finally come upon Tietra at Ziekden Fortress, the remains of the Corpse Brigade try and use Tietra as a human shield to buy time. In a shocking turn of events, the Order of the Northern Sky, the unit commanded by Ramza’s step brothers, murders Tietra in cold blood in order to put down the Corpse Brigade. They treat her as nothing more than a roadblock in their pursuit of power, and Delita loses his mind at this betrayal.
Though not to blame for his brothers’ treachery, Delita nevertheless lashes out at Ramza, threatening to murder his friend if he ever sees him again. After the forces at Ziekden Fortress are put down for their treachery, Delita seemingly is consumed by a raging fire, never to be seen again. For better or worse, his story does not end there. Surviving the inferno, Delita’s whole worldview is altered, and he vows never to be a pawn again. When next Ramza finds him, Delita has captured the Princess Ovelia to use her as a tool to gain one of the thrones of Ivalice. The once kind-hearted Delita is seemingly gone from this point, and his actions, from this point on, are calculating and, sometimes, beyond cruel. His allegiance seems as mercurial as his moods, but none of that changes his unwavering determination to come out on top.
Though he seemingly succeeds in his quest, after marrying his former captive princess and becoming a king, that’s not what I found compelling about Delita. In a story that is seemingly about his best friend, I always found Delita’s plight the more interesting. Though the case could be made that Delita is little more than a bitter villain, he does manage to thread the balance between pure hero and pure villain with deft skill. Though I am sad that he becomes so jaded and cynical, I can’t blame him for such a transformation. The murder of sweet and gentle Tietra by brothers of his best friend is enough to drive any man to madness. What I respect about Delita most of all is that he survives this crucible, and only uses it to make himself stronger. If only he could have retained more of his humanity at the end, perhaps he could have been a hero instead of a king.