Children of the War Chapter 2

A Hero in Action

By Nanaki

Just north of Igros, on the Zeakden trade route

Greedy eyes watched from the shadows as two ancient old merchants snapped whips the chocobos pulling their supply carts. The old men were wrapped in heavy cloaks, their heads sagging. The gang of thieves readied their weapons. The boss whipped out two Sasuke Knives he had stolen from a very well to do weaponsmith, and held them up into the air. That was the signal to attack.

The thieves jumped out of the trees and onto the road, yelling and waving their arms to scare the chocobos. Instead, the birds stared at them with bored expressions. The ninja in charge shrugged this unexpected reaction off and walked arrogantly up to the nearer merchant, who was shifting nervously in his seat. "You there! Get out of the cart! We're taking all of this stuff!"

"You don't even know what's in these crates." The old merchant muttered.

"Who cares? The rebellion needs any supplies it can get!" The ninja waved his knives at the man.

"Rebellion eh? Sounds serious." The merchant muttered.

"More than you can imagine, old man! Now get out of the cart!" He gestured wildly.

"As you wish." The man bowed his head. Then, he was suddenly flying through the air, doing a full forward flip, before landing with the clank of heavy armor hitting the ground. The ninja's eyes widened in surprise as he threw back the hood of his cloak, revealing a very young man. No, more like a kid. "So you're the ones who've been pillaging the trade route lately." He smiled a little. "Before you meet an untimely demise, why don't you fill me in a little more on this rebellion?"

"Who the hell do you think you are?!" The ninja asked in a spittle inducing rage. The kid's unwavering confidence made him nervous.

The kid threw the rest of his cloak back, revealing cold blue armor, and an Ice Brand to go with it. "I am Balbanes Beoulve."

The ninja looked at him for a moment, then burst out laughing. "Sure you are. Didn't you die about 19 years ago though? And weren't you an old man then?" Balbanes gritted his teeth. He had to put up with this an awful lot at the officer's academy.

"Your days of thievery are over. Surrender, or die in obscurity!" He drew his Ice Brand.

"What do you think you can do to us?" Two other ninjas and a whole horde of thieves closed in around him. "Just give us the stuff and we'll get out of here."

"You really want what's in these crates?" Balbanes raised an eyebrow.

"How dense are you? Hell yes!" The lead ninja yelled.

"My pleasure." Balbanes pulled a rope on the side of the wagon, and the three main crates popped open. The three guys who made up Balbanes' "crew" jumped out. Slade was decked out in full armor, and he carried a diamond sword. Jacen hoped to someday become a ninja, but he had settled on a monk for now, and Vic showed great promise as a black mage. The thieves took a nervous step back. The other merchant, who really was an old man, scrambled behind his wagon for safety. Balbanes broke into a grin. "Be careful what you wish for." He maintained his smile, although he was a bit nervous. Really, he should have enlisted a fourth man for his crew, but he was saving that spot for Tara, who would be ready to join him in a fairly short amount of time.

The lead ninja grimaced under his mask, but then looked down at the two Sasuke knives in his hands and shouted. "Kill them all! Just the armor on 'em has to be worth something!!"

"I'll take the leader!!" Balbanes shouted as the thieves charged forward. "You guys clean house behind me until I'm through with him!!" Balbanes quickly swung his Ice Brand forward in a wide arc. The ninja ducked, and Balbanes felt the two knives clang on his armor. He cursed, then whirled around and tried to swing his sword into the leader's back. The ninja whirled around and blocked the thrust. Balbanes stepped back, then seemed to swing his sword in the empty air. "Life is short! Bury! Steady Sword!!"

"Oh, sh-" The ninja was cut off as jagged pieces of ice rained down on him. He felt the extreme cold threaten to freeze him in place, but then the blocks disintegrated and he warmed up again, if only partially. The leader dashed at Balbanes with both knives, aiming for his face. He got his Ice Brand up in time to block, but the leader's skillful swing knocked it from his hands. The ninja pressed his knives against Balbanes' throat. "What do you have to say now, punk?"

Balbanes grinned. "I say... Aqua Soul!" The concentrated blast of water energy threw the leader back, and Balbanes quickly reached down and retrieved his Ice Brand. He charged toward the leader, and felt the satisfaction of his blade impaling his enemy. At least, until he felt one of the Sasuke knives stabbing very deeply into his right shoulder. He gasped in pain as the leader slid off his blade, falling to the ground. He pulled the blade out and shoved his cloak into the gaping wound. He then transferred his Ice Brand to his left hand, now very thankful that he had practiced his fencing even harder with his left hand than with his dominant one. He had simply thought it was foolish not to be able to use both arms, and now he was very glad he thought that way.

He turned around to see that his crew had dispatched the other two ninjas, but were simply being overrun by the sheer number of thieves. He charged into the fray, swinging his Ice Brand wildly. The thieves fell back before this renewed attack, and more than one received a heavy wound from his sword. Eventually though, they surrounded him as well. Balbanes felt the knives clanging off his armor from all directions, and felt a few getting through. He gasped with pain as a long knife finally stabbed deep into his side, and he sank to his knees. The thieves virtually dogpiled onto him, trying to finish him off.

Suddenly, Shiva appeared from out of nowhere, scattering jagged blades of ice everywhere. Balbanes burst from the pile as the thieves fell back. His hand quickly began to glow with the energy of the Ice spell, and he nailed two more thieves with it. Just as suddenly, Fire engulfed Balbanes, and he screamed in pain, sinking down against the wagon. Four more thieves and a summoner emerged from the brush. Looking to his right, Balbanes saw that his crew had just about had it. They wouldn't be able to take the new onslaught. Sighing heavily, he slowly drew a small, black amulet out from inside his armor. "I need... more power..." The darkness of the amulet appeared to radiate outward.

Balbanes slowly stood up, the blackness creeping up his arm. A white spot appeared in the middle of his chest, glowing brightly. The blackness met the white glow at his shoulder, and both became blue. Balbanes opened his mouth, and simply yelled as loud as he could. The thieves all turned toward him, startled. Then, over the tops of the trees, a giant wall of water rushed into view. There was no apparent source, as they were standing on very dry land. Nevertheless, the tidal wave roared over the land until it even eclipsed Balbanes' yell. It crashed over the roadway, and when it dwindled into the distance, only the carts, the crew, and the old merchant remained. All the thieves were gone.

"Wow!!" Slade, Jacen, and Vic exclaimed together. Slade ran over to where Balbanes was breathing heavily, a wild look in his eyes. "Man, we were damn lucky to get you for a leader. No one else could have gotten us out of that mess!"

The wild look disappeared from Balbanes' eyes, and he whipped the black amulet back into his armor. "It was nothing. I was just doing my job." Balbanes smiled a little. Then he glanced at the stream of blood running from his shoulder into the dirt, and collapsed.


"Doth thou desire the power?" - Grahf


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