What Makes A Hero Chapter 10
Those Who Squirm in the Darkness
Lesalia, Imperial Capitol of Ivalice
Delita sat stone faced on the huge imperial throne, despite the fact that this messenger was bringing great news. "My Lord, your Nanten have captured at least 300 Hokuten Knights near Zeltennia, including the current leader of the Hokuten, Cyran Bolivar."
Delita scratched his beardless chin. "I don't recall giving the Nanten any such orders."
The messenger gulped nervously. "They said that the Hokuten had been causing trouble in the vicinity."
"So why would they bring them here?" Delita glared at him.
"That, I don't know." The messenger shrugged. Delita quickly got off the throne and walked out to the large parapet on the top of the central keep. He viewed the city around the castle.
"We're completely surrounded by them." He stared intently at the assembled knights, then emitted a quiet exclamation. "Ah ha! Orlandu, you shouldn't have come. You gave them away." He turned to the messenger, grinning. "Spread word to the Lesalian Army inside the castle. We're going to strike first. I'm willing to bet that as soon as we're seen charging, Cyran will suddenly be free as a bird." The messenger looked very bewildered, but ran to follow orders.
"Delita doesn't seem to be in any hurry to let us in." Cyran complained, pretending to struggle against his unlocked shackles.
"He's probably suspicious." The Nanten captain next to him replied. "It doesn't really matter. Actually getting inside the Palace would have been nice, but it's certainly not necessary for our victory."
"That's true." Cyran nodded. "As long as we have the element of surprise..." He trailed off as trumpets blared, and mounted Lesalian troops began pouring out the gate, charging at them.
"Everyone!" The Nanten captain shouted. "We thought they might do this! Don't fight back! Dodge them and stay calm!"
"Sir, they appear geniunely surprised." The Captain of the Black Sheep Knights observed from the parapet, where he and Delita were observing the soon to be battle. "Perhaps their appearances were not meant to be deceiving."
"Orlandu is with them." Delita said forcefully. "It would be impossible to capture Orlandu alive. This must be a trick."
"They're not even fighting back, just defending themselves. Sir, you must do something to change this situation." He implored.
"I intend to." Delita grinned, then whistled loudly. On the outer walls of the castle, dozens of catapults were wheeled into place. "If they are truly innocent, they will flee when they see this. Now captain, tell me what you see them doing."
"They're... they're drawing their weapons sir." Delita just smiled.
"What did we tell you fools?!" Cyran roared, but it was too late. At the sight of the catapults, the Nanten had whipped out their weapons and charged the castle. Cyran cursed and threw away his shackles. His commanding officer ran up.
"Sir, what do you want us to do?" He breathed excitedly.
"Well..." Cyran paused, then reached behind his back and drew out a Defender sword and an Attacker sword. He twirled one in each hand. "It looks like we get to show these Zeltennians how to fight, Hokuten style! Eeaaaggghhhh!!!" Cyran pointed both swords forward, and ran toward the castle.
The catapults quickly launched their projectiles, and several men were wiped out by each one. However, the catapult operators had failed to notice Orlandu make his way to the corner of the castle. Gripping the ancient stone tightly, he scrambled up the side, and up to the parapet. On top, he quickly summoned the energy into his Ragnarok for a large Holy Explosion, and most of the war machines crumbled to splinters.
In the meantime, the Nanten and Hokuten had almost forced the Lesalian troops back inside the palace itself. Cyran had to admire the great tactical abilities of the Nanten leaders, and he was grateful for their presence. If it was not for them, he would have had to do most of this work himself. He hadn't even seen any action yet, they were doing such a good job at containing the enemy. "Hey, I think this is going to turn out just fine!" He remarked to the knights next to him.
At those words, a woman looking like a divine knight appeared, a blue cloth covering her face, hovering twenty five feet in the air. Cyran slapped himself on the head. She raised her arms, and lightning crackled from her fingertips. The battle stopped, and everyone turned to look at her. "Bring me Ramza and Zalbag, or all of you will die now." She said calmly.
"They're not with us at the moment." Cyran scowled up at her. "And don't think you can intimidate us."
"Such attitude." She scoffed. "Perhaps you will serve as a sufficient warm up."
"Bring it on witch." Cyran started to grin, eager for some action. Red flames ran up his Attacker sword. "You have no idea what my skills are like. Bring it on!!"
From the top of a hill just outside the walled city, Zalbag observed with cold eyes. He saw tremendous energies crashing, and figured that she must be involved. "Ramza, I can't go into the palace with you." He said absently.
"What?" Ramza was surprised. "But didn't you..." He trailed off as he too noticed the intense battle being waged next to the castle. "All right Zalbag. Are you sure you won't tell me who she is?"
Zalbag shook his head slowly. "Trust me, you'll be much happier not knowing."
"Well then, good luck brother." Ramza turned away slightly, and Zalbag ran down the hill. No one really noticed Balbanes steal away through the bushes after him.
Wiegraf stepped out from the pack also. "You know, I think I'll shadow him, in case Rofel shows up again." He ran on down the hill as well. Ramza turned to address the crew.
"You all know this is going to be tough. I have to get inside to face Delita, no matter what happens. But the rest of you, if it looks like you're going to be overwhelmed, flee or surrender. I'll get you out when this mess is over with." They all remained silent for a moment. "I know that you're all wondering what will happen if I don't make it in to confront him." Then, Ramza raised his fist into the air. "Well don't wonder, because I won't fail! I'm going to smash my way in there and give Delita what he deserves! Eeaaaggghhhh!!!" Ramza quickly jumped to Boco's back, and the bird charged toward the castle.
"Eeaaaggghhhh!!!" Everyone else charged after him, now confident that what he said was true. Ramza wouldn't fail. He had had difficult times, but Ramza had never completely failed in his life.
"Feel like begging for surrender yet?" The blue mage asked as one of her lightning bolts slammed Cyran hard into the palace wall.
"Yours, perhaps..." Cyran breathed hard as he dodged another bolt to bend down and pick up his Attacker sword from where he had dropped it. "But I'm still far from mine!" He thrust the Attacker into thin air, and a large antipodal beam of energy erupted from it, impacting into the mage, and pushing her back several feet. She stopped hovering and dropped to the ground.
"Your troops shouldn't have stopped fighting when we started." She laughed. "Now you're too late. You'll all pay the price for defying Delita!!" She simply stood there. Cyran wondered what was going on, until he saw countless soldiers pouring out of every house in Lesalia.
"This whole thing was a trap?!" Cyran demanded. "But, how did he know?"
"I know everything!" She shouted from beneath the mask. "The dark powers of Hades have granted me power beyond your puny comprehension!" With that, she threw a beam of fire at Cyran, faster than he could possibly dodge. He barely got his Defender up to block it, and the sword shattered. He backed up, waving his Attacker warily.
"Perhaps." A low voice growled. "But not beyond my comprehension." Zalbag stood not far away, gripping a Rune Blade tightly in his right hand. No one moved. "For crying out loud Cyran, go storm that castle!" He shouted.
"Are you sure you'll be all right sir?" Cyran was already backing away.
"All of you go, before the Lesalians surround you!!" Zalbag shouted out to the Hokuten and Nanten. "No one else get involved in this fight, even if it looks like I'm getting killed!"
"Hold it." She held up her hand. "I've got one last present for you, Cyran!" She stretched her hand out, and a huge beam of red light impacted into Cyran. He looked surprised when nothing seemed to happen to him. "This one is so much more fun than killing you right away. That's a veritable overload of fire energy. The only way for you to get rid of enough so that it won't kill you in three years or less is to transfer at least part of it to a child of yours. Good luck having one that'll survive the process..." She tilted her head back and laughed. Cyran started toward her again.
"Go Cyran!" Zalbag shouted. "I'll get her for that one, don't worry!!" The other knights turned and redoubled their efforts to smash their way into the castle. The Lesalians were streaming up from the city, but all kept a repectful distance from Zalbag. He turned to the woman in blue. "Now, the time has come to finish this." He held the Rune Blade straight out to the side.
"Why do you insist on settling this?" She asked him sincerely. "It's Ramza I have my real problem with."
"Ramza has more pressing things to worry about than your delusions of grandeur." He said scornfully. "Prepare yourself! Heaven Flash!!"
"Demonic Explosion!!" She whipped her own sword out, and the two opposite forces of energy met in between them, throwing them both back. "I don't suffer from delusions of grandeur!" She shouted at him. "I know I'm not well known! I simply wanted to be a hero, and Ramza denied me that!!"
"Being able to kill well doesn't make you a hero!" He charged at her, using both hands to slice down wickedly with the Rune Blade. She half parried, but also jumped to the side. She spun around, slicing her sword into his back, rending a large tear in his armor. "You were a hero to me until you came back this way! Your "death" was very honorable. Why have you let these dark forces corrupt you?"
"Because, I've accepted the fact that I'll never be regarded as a hero, but at least now I'll be well known!" She lunged forward in a powerful thrust that he just barely deflected.
"You're willing to kill indiscriminately just to satisfy your own petty wish? You would have been well known once Balbanes-"
"Who?" She cut him off. Zalbag's eyes widened, and he stared at her.
"You actually don't remember?!" He stood stock still in surprise.
"No." She shrugged, then backed away. Zalbag began to advance, but then felt something behind him, and turned around. He was just in time to see Bahamut's blast of dragon fire smash into him, rolling him end over end at least three hundred feet along the ground, before he came to rest in the dirt, his armor and sword half melted. The huge dragon disappeared, and she swaggered arrogantly up to him. "You should not have challenged me. There will be no return for you this time!" Zalbag just groaned faintly in response. She raised her sword high, poised to strike.
"No!!" She felt a tugging on her leg, and looked down to see a toddler pulling on her. "No!" He shouted imperiously. "Don't hurt my father!!"
"Try again in about 14 years, you little squirt." She said calmly, then whacked the kid in the shoulder with the flat of her sword.
Balbanes went flying through the air, and landed hard on his rear end. On top of that, his shoulder had a ragged tear in it, and was starting to bleed. In spite of those factors, he did not cry. He just stared at the mage with a disbelieving look on his face. "How could you?!" He demanded angrily. "Don't you remember me?!"
"From where?!" She demanded. She caught something out of the corner of her eye, and jumped back just as Zalbag thrust up his sword, getting to his feet.
"Don't you remember anything after Ramza let you go?!!!" He roared in her face. He charged at her with blinding speed, deliberately aiming high. "Here, let's take this God damn mask off-!" His blade passed through the cloth covering her head, but not her flesh, and the mask tore off. "-and maybe you will!!!" Her long hair spilled down her back, revealing a beautiful face with a very unfriendly expression. "Damn it Alicia, that's our son!!" He kicked her to the ground.
"He's... ..my son?" She asked in a whisper. She looked over at Balbanes, who now seemed to be in some distress over his loss of blood. "Yes, I suppose he is, isn't he?" She stared at the ground for a second, but then glared up at Balbanes. "He doesn't matter to me! He was your son! I was just your little sex toy! I wanted to be known for my own deeds, not just because I was the mother of a Beoulve! In fact, you didn't even allow the public to know that small honor!"
"We were at war! Spies and assassins were everywhere! I was a bit concerned for his safety!"
"If you considered me to be a hero, then you should have trusted me enough to protect him!"
"How many times do I have to tell you, battle ability isn't what makes a hero!!!" With that, he charged at her again. She brought up her sword to parry, but his two handed slash actually broke through her sword, cutting deep into her side. Alicia screamed and sank to her knees. "Surrender now if you want to live."
"Never." She gasped through gritted teeth. "I'll never give in to you again!" Then, she stretched out her arms to the sky, but looked down at the earth. "Great Lucavi, grant me the power to return to you the one who has caused you so much grief!!" Alicia's eyes began to glow red. A dark shadow raced out of the ground behind her, obscuring her. Flashes began to come from the shadow, and bolts of lightning danced at Zalbag's feet.
"I can see you've lost all traces of your humanity." Zalbag said sadly. "Then so will I." He pulled the Leo stone out of his pocket. It flashed brightly, and the unearthly spirits again surrounded him. Soon, Gablazar stood where Zalbag had been. The shadow had become a dark, whirling vortex, with red lightining bolts spilling out the sides. It looked like the end of the world. "I will end this for good." He growled softly, then charged into the lightning filled shadow.
Balbanes had finally figured out that holding his hand on his shoulder helped staunch the blood flow when a gigantic explosion took place. Ribbons of black and white energy danced across the field, temporarily blinding him. When he could see again, two people were weakly holding their swords up. Zalbag limped forward, absolutely no caution in his stride. Alicia swung her sword in a wide chop, taking no defensive precautions. Zalbag's skull was split in two, and his brains splattered in the dirt. The momentum of his charge carried his sword all the way through Alicia, effectively impaling her. She collapsed to the ground.
Some morbid curiosity forced Balbanes to get up and go have a look. He ignored his father's broken body. Instead, he warily walked over to the shallowly breathing form of the woman that had been his mother. She stared into space for a moment, before looking up at him. "I failed... miserably." Her breath came in ragged gasps. "I guess this has been a pretty bad day for you too though, huh?" Balbanes continued to give her a puzzled expression. "There is only one thing left for me to do... You are my son. You can become a hero." Balbanes took one step back as a blue glow came to her hand. "I will give you my power! Become a great hero Balbanes! The most powerful warrior in Ivalice!!" With that, a large, blue beam of light erupted from her hand, impacting into Balbanes, then covering him entirely. Alicia felt her heart stop beating as she expended this effort. But she was gratified that the last thing she saw before her vision faded was her son's eyes lighting up with a blue glow. He would be a hero.
"Become a fine knight..." - Balbanes Beoulve
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