What Makes A Hero Chapter 4

Someone To Love

By Nanaki

Fovoham Plains

Ramza allowed Boco to slow down slightly as the ground flattened out. The bird loved to run, but never seemed to realize when he got tired. Off to one side, he saw the large windmill shed where he had fought Wiegraf for the first time. 'Why did you have to become Velius, Wiegraf?' He wondered to himself. 'By the end, we would have been on the same side. I really could have used your help. I could use it now too.' He sighed audibly. 'I didn't realize how much we'd come to rely on T.G. Cid.'

"What are you sighing about now?" Roberto asked, riding up beside him.

"You wouldn't understand." Ramza frowned.

"Why not?" He frowned in return.

"Order a ten minute rest." He said, ignoring him. "The birds could stand to graze a little." Roberto scowled at him and hurried to follow orders. Ramza let Boco charge up to the windmill shed, then tied the bird up and went inside. He walked blindly in the relative darkness, then stopped. He could still see Delita, furious that Wiegraf had lied to them. Although it had long been Ramza's theory that Wiegraf had been double crossed. 'How many places am I going to see you Delita?' He wondered to himself. 'How many places does Ovelia see you? Orbonne? Lionel? Where else did you go?' Suddenly, he sensed another presence in the room.

"It's just me." Ovelia called as he tensed. "Another place where you and Delita had a rough time?"

"How can you tell?" His face was expressionless.

"He leaves a sort of mark on the flavor of a place. You do too."

"You're quite articulate, Ovelia."

"I'm surprised a soldier like you knows a word like "articulate." Although I suppose you're hardly a common soldier."

"I don't know what I am. That's why we were going to leave."

"Are you still going to?"

"Yes. Perhaps you'd like to come with us?"

"I can't..."

"Why not? There's nothing left for you here. Even less for you than for me."

"Still, I feel like I can't go."

"But, there's no reason... Oh my god..."

"What?" She asked, apprehensive now.

"You still love him, don't you?" He remained expressionless.

She couldn't speak for a long time. "Yes." Then she said in a rush, "I don't know why. Please don't ask me to explain it. There are a million reasons why I shouldn't, but..."

"I'm not going to criticize you Ovelia. I've never been in any situation like this. I'm in no position to lecture you."

"You've never been in love with anyone, have you?" She asked frankly.

"No. Being a heretic mercenary didn't leave much time for a relationship."

"But, you're 22."

"Ah yes." Then, to her amazement, Ramza tilted his head back and laughed. "Oh, we are so screwed up. I wonder if there's any hope for either of us."

"Ramza, the ten minutes are up!" Rafa's shadow appeared in the door.

"Oops. Well, let's get going." Ramza jumped off the crate he had been sitting on and hurried out the door.

"Maybe there's hope for you." Ovelia said dejectedly. She remained silent and motionless for a long time, even when she heard the chocobos being saddled up. "So, how're you doing... Delita?"


Riovanes Castle

"This place still gives me the creeps." Ramza grimaced as the chocobos charged toward the castle gates, and hopefully right past. "It looks like it's deserted, even though it's not." The group nodded in general consent. When Boco neared the gate, he suddenly veered in and charged right toward it. "Damn it! I just knew something like this would happen!" He cursed as the gates flew open. The other chocobos charged after Boco, not obeying any commands from the humans. The gates slammed shut behind them.

Boco came to a sudden stop right in the hall where Ramza had killed Velius. "Oh, this really can't be good." Rad groaned. Velius had really knocked the stuffing out of him.

"Relax Rad." Ramza sighed heavily. "It won't be Velius, it'll be Gablazar." Then, he had a sudden idea. "Rad, I need your abilities as a priest. Let Whitman take over the lancing duties."

"Okay..." Rad grimaced, unbuckling his armor and handing it to Whitman.

"What makes you so sure he'll show up?" Mustadio piped up.

"He'll be here." Ramza and Alma said simultaneously. Balbanes nodded from his perch on the chocobo's back.

"Oh crud. Here we go." Vincent frowned, a headache coming on. The Leo stone came crashing through the ceiling like a meteor, impacting into the floor, then lighting up brightly. A large, thin explosion rocked the room, and Gablazar stood there in all his Lucavi glory.

"You think the third time is the charm, huh Gablazar?"

"As many times as it takes." The demon growled angrily. "Give me the boy!"

"Never!" Ramza and Whitman lowered their Oberisks and charged forward. They were immediately met by an Ultima blast, but they both appeared to shrug it off, even though it hurt pretty bad. The two attacked from opposite sides, trying to skewer the monster between them. "Rad, use Holy!" Ramza called.

"If you say so." Rad grimaced. Personally, he didn't think using Holy on something powered by a holy stone was such a hot idea, but he didn't say so. While Rad was warming up, Gablazar grabbed Whitman, and threw him into Ramza. They both crashed into the opposite wall, temporarily dazed. Vincent quickly summoned an Ifrit that set the devil's fur on fire, but didn't do too much else. He scowled and quickly concentrated on getting through to Bahamut.

Mustadio emptied a couple of rounds into the monster, but he knew that his guns couldn't do enough damage at once.

Gablazar picked Whitman up again, and threw him into the ceiling. He fell to the ground, unconcious. He fastened his clawed hands around Ramza's neck, and refused to let go even when Ramza stabbed his Oberisk into him just underneath his arm. Just when Ramza's vision began to fade, a he saw a bright gold flash, and the hand abruptly let him go. As he backed away, he saw more gold flashes surrounding the monster. Looking to the side, he saw it was Rafa that had saved his hide. It also appeared that her Heaven skill was doing significant damage to the monster. 'Will it be enough?' He wondered. Once the spell finally finished, Gablazar definitely looked the worse for wear, but he was still on his feet. 'Crud. No.'

And then Gablazar vanished again as the incredible power of Holy ripped through him. The ultimate white magic pushed him up into the ceiling, then led him fall, where he lay unmoving. The Leo stone began pulsating, and started to lift up. "Quick Rad, again!" Ramza jumped on the stone. It took all his strength to keep it from flying away.

"I'll hit you too." He protested.

"Big deal! I think we can stop this monster once and for all!"

"Okay." Rad sighed, then began charging up Holy again. The stone struggled violently in Ramza's hands, and Gablazar's form began to ripple.

Vincent, who hadn't been paying attention, suddenly shouted, "Oh crud! Ramza, get out of there!" Ramza heard a roaring outside, and he threw the stone down by Gablazar and jumped out of the way. A huge blast of dragon flame fried the downed demon and the stone, and created a very unpleasant burning smell. Even after that bombardment, the stone still tried to struggle away. Ramza quickly jumped forward and subdued it. It surged forward and hit him in the head. He almost let go as he temporarily lost his vision, but he managed to retain a grip on it. Ramza's arms were just about out of strength, when Holy launched up from the floor.

He felt the spell carry him up to the ceiling, eroding his armor on the way. As he hit the floor again, he faintly heard the stone clatter away from his fingers, but didn't have the strength to grab for it. After a few seconds, he managed to rise to his knees, and wearily opened his eyes. The Leo stone was no longer glowing, and was sitting quietly on the stone floor. Not far away was another form, lying on the ground, and it was not Gablazar. Ramza's men hurried forward to help them. As Ramza was helped to his feet by Rad and Vincent, he saw that Rafa had been right. Zalbag slowly began to stir, groaning slightly. He looked up as Mustadio lifted him, rubbing his eyes. "Ramza?"

"Yeah." Ramza coughed.

"I never thought I'd see you again."

"The feeling was mutual." They just looked at each other for a few moments. Then Ramza lowered his eyes and said, "I know we both have a lot of questions. But I have to ask you one thing that's been on my mind before we get into everything. Why did you give the order to kill Teta?"

Zalbag lowered his eyes too. "I didn't. To be fair, I really didn't care that much whether Teta survived or not, although I always try to avoid innocent casualties. I basically left it up to Algus' discretion. He was probably good enough to hit Golagros without hitting her, but I guess he wanted to be sure. I was upset with him after that, which is why I left him there to duke it out with you. But why do you ask, after all this time?"

"You warped Delita's mind pretty bad."

Zalbag quickly looked around, then asked, "What are we doing at Riovanes? Why are you on the move?"

"Think about what I just said."

"That's right. Delita was with the Nanten. But what's going on, exactly?"

"I'll explain after we both get some rest." Zalbag began to protest, before he realized how tired he was.

"All right. I assume that people still live here."

"In other parts of the castle. I believe this "Velius Hall" has been abandoned for good."

"Fine." Zalbag was asleep almost before they left the hall. Ramza and Alma threw him on Boco's back, and they left the hall where two Zodiac Stone Monsters had been defeated.


Ramza was dozing on a bed, and Rad, Roberto, and Whitman were cleaning their weapons. Vincent walked in, and the others looked up briefly. "Hey man, where's everyone else?" Whitman asked.

"Most of 'em are asleep, although Rafa's up on the roof. Reminiscing, I guess." They barely had time to blink before Ramza was out the door and heading up the stairs.

"What was that?" Roberto asked, an odd look in his eyes.

Vincent shrugged. "He likes Rafa, I guess."

"What? Why would he...?"

"There a problem 'Berto?" Rad asked boredly.

"That's just... wrong!"

"How so?" Whitman looked up, frowning slightly.

"Well, she's... black."

"Roberto, I'm surprised at you!" Vincent exclaimed. "None of us should have any prejudices!"

"What? I'm surprised at you guys too! What reason is there-"

"Let's use you as an example. When we hired you, you were desperate enough to take a job that five soldiers had died doing. But did we judge you on that? No, and it's a good thing we didn't. You proved your worth countless times. Now you're a master knight and ninja, and a lot better than most of the nobles I know."

"This is a totally different thing."

"No, this is no different." Rad and Whitman nodded in agreement.

"I don't believe this!" Roberto shouted. "I'm out of here!" He picked up his flails and stormed out the door.

"I never knew he was a bigot." Whitman shook his head.

"Ramza never let Rafa or Malak in battle very much. We never had a chance to find out." Vincent sighed.

"You're pretty quiet Rad. What do you think?" Whitman asked, polishing his Kiyomori.

"What do I think?" He scratched his head. "Well, truth be told, I think it would be better if he married a noble girl, politically. But, if he really loves her, then it doesn't matter to me."

"So we all agree?"

"Guys," Vincent broke in, "you know as well as I do, Ramza doesn't need our agreement."


Ramza found Rafa sitting on the very top of the roof, looking out at the sunset. "I thought you were resting." She said, not looking up.

He shrugged. "I'm not as tired as I thought." He squinted against the red glare coming from the west. "Why would you come up here, of all places?"

"I don't like to run from the past, I suppose. I did enough of that when Barinten was around."

"What sticks out most in your mind, out of everything?"

"When he shot Malak. I had been so happy that he finally saw the truth, and then, well, bang!" She looked down at the roof for a second. "What about you?"

"I remember being really worried about you." She turned and gave him a skeptical look. "No really! I remember you were almost surrounded by Celia, Lede, and Elmdor. Since I was wearing that bulky Lancer armor, I was afraid I wouldn't be able to get to you before they killed you. It's a good thing 'Berto saved the day."

She laughed a little. "Yeah, all your men are really something. But I don't think any of them would have turned out so well if they didn't have you for a leader."

"Hmm... I remember that you seemed a little nervous at first, traveling with a bunch of guys like us."

"I did wonder why you didn't have any female troops, except Agrias."

He shrugged again. "I'm not really sure either. It just seems like none of them were as good as my crew." He had come to refer to Whitman, Vincent, Roberto, and Rad as his "crew." "And I'm not just being sexist. They couldn't do the most damage when it counted, but my crew could, especially Roberto and Rad." They both remained silent, and he thought back to what Alma had said.

"I wish I'd been born a man, then I'd be able to help you..." He had thought that sounded crazy at the time, but Ramza could really have used another person like himself. Beating Velius when he was already wounded from Wiegraf had been one of the harder things he had done. Another man like himself would have made the struggle much easier. That had been Delita, until he took off. Well, that was all almost arbitrary. But as he looked at Rafa, he was very glad she was a female. No question about it.


When Ramza woke up the next morning, he couldn't help feeling that something was amiss. He saw Rad was keeping watch by the door, and Vincent and Whitman were still in their beds. Roberto was missing, but he had probably gone to get some early breakfast. He got up quietly and walked over to Rad. "What happened to Roberto?" He whispered.

"Uh, he left last night over... ..political differences. He probably went to let off some steam. He should be back any time."

Ramza looked around the room again. "He took his Morning Stars with him. That's kind of odd." Ramza began a more detailed inspection of the supplies. "There's a Muramasa missing too. What did you guys say to him?"

Whitman and Vincent were stirring by now, and Vincent answered. "I really don't think you want to hear it."

"I may need to, if there's more..." Ramza thought for a moment. "His birthday is April 12th..." Then he reached for the heavy duty strongbox they kept the Zodiac stones in.

"What reason would he have to take one of those?" Whitman was curious.

"I'm not sure he would have had a choice in the matter."

"Why would that be?" Vincent shrugged in a wide gesture. "I mean, we finished Lucavi. I'm not sure how Zalbag turned into Gablazar, but he was not a Lucavi monster. Besides, don't the stones have to choose someone?"

"Maybe we're powerful enough to be chosen..." Rad hazarded to guess.

"No. If there's any Lucavi left, it'd go after T.G. Cid first of all." Ramza shook his head. "If there is still any of it left, I don't think it would go back to its original plans, not after we destroyed Altima."

"Then what would the point be?" Vincent had to ask.

"One of the ones we beat wants to even the score, most likely."

"We only fought five out of twelve. Who corresponds to April 12th?" Ramza's voice was very dry as he answered, and some of the color drained from his face.



"...Don't be ridiculous! All our equal in his eyes!"

"Animals have no God!!!" - Miluda Folles and Algus


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