What Makes A Hero Chapter 6
Those Who Seek The Holy Stone
"What in the bottomless pit of your stupidity do you want now?!" Delita ranted, extremely annoyed at the moment. Ramza had not been sighted in many days now, and he was edgy. The scout bowed his head low.
"Sir. You've had the scouts out for a long time without much rest. We need a break." He said nervously.
"Ramza's not going to be taking a break!" He shouted.
"You don't need to concern yourself with Ramza." Delita turned, then abruptly gave the new arrival his full attention. The female mage refused to reveal her identity, and covered herself with the garb of a divine knight, as well as a dark blue cloth across her face. Only her striking eyes were visible. "Ramza is all over the map. I could tell you where he is, but it wouldn't do you any good. He's been moving so sporadically I can't tell what his intentions are. What I can tell you is that T.G. Cid is only a day away from here, as well as Meliadoul Tingel and Agrias Oaks.
"Agrias is going to be trouble." He grimaced. "I believe I'll take a short trip to Lesalia, to remind all the bureaucrats who's in charge. They seem to think that because I choose to stay in Zeltennia, I'm not the king." He turned back to his mysterious ally. He wanted to do everything in his power to make sure she stayed an ally, because if she turned against him, the result would be disastrous. The only thing he knew for sure about her was that she wanted Ramza's head on a platter, but he didn't have a clue why. "Will it be possible to have Velius here in my absence?"
"That's up to him." She shook her head. "But I could probably persuade Rofel to lure Ramza here."
"Rofel?!" His eyes widened in surprise.
"Don't worry, he hasn't realized exactly how much you screwed him over yet." She reassured him. "Be glad Vormav didn't survive the conflict, because I'm sure he did realize."
Delita shook his head to clear his thoughts. "Worrying about that won't do me any good. I'm going to Lesalia with 1,000 men." He turned and left the room, his cape billowing behind him.
"So much for you, Cyran." She smiled. "I think I'll pay a visit to Miss Tingel..."
Cyran awoke slowly. He hadn't wanted to get closer to Zeltennia than this until Ramza sent word. As he rubbed the sleep from his eyes, he was immensely surprised to see that Zeltennia had come to him. "Well, well. The man who thought he could evade my authority shows himself at last." Delita had a sword pointed at his neck.
"I don't see how a commoner who marries a queen and then kills her just to get the throne has any authority." Cyran stated calmly. Delita's jaw dropped, and all of his men close enough to hear gasped, and quickly spread the word.
"Liar!!!" Delita roared, but the momentary pause had given Cyran the time to get to his feet. Cyran concentrated on the attack he knew was coming.
"Hamedo!" Delita managed to block Cyran's preemptive stroke, but he ceased his attack. "You try to massacre us, and we'll make sure all of your men know the truth before we die. See how far that gets you."
"All right." Delita grimaced. "We'll pass you by on two conditions. One, none of your men attack us. Any of my guys wind up dead, and I'll make sure they have plenty of company. Two," and now he whispered, "how in hell did you find out the truth?"
"We won't attack you." Cyran stated boldy, then he quietly said, "Ramza has the testimony of an eyewitness to the crime."
"There were no eyewitnesses." Delita had a hard time keeping it to a whisper. "I made damn sure of that."
"Uh huh. You just think about that for a while." Cyran grinned broadly.
Delita clenched his fist, but then went back to a neutral expression. He turned back to his men. "We're going to ignore this worthless rabble. Anyone who attacks won't get any help, all right? Let's move on now!" Delita turned and gestured to move forward. The Hokuten and Nanten glared at each other as they filed past, but no one broke ranks to attack.
"Why didn't you yell out the truth sir?" One of his men asked when they had passed.
"For one thing, we're not absolutely certain it is the truth... And also, letting him go gives us a chance to take Zeltennia."
"You think we can take Zeltennia with just 300 men?!" The knight was incredulous.
"Yes. Because we have three secret weapons named Orlandu, Medliadoul, and Agrias. Let's move out!" Cyran quickly packed up his gear, and then led the troops toward Zeltennia at a brisk pace.
Zarghidas Trade City
Orlandu continued to look out the window, keeping a silent night watch over Agrias and Meliadoul, as he had done for many days now. There was no moon tonight, which made him edgy, because it was very hard to see. On the other hand, it was very hard for anyone else to see him. He briefly wondered what Olan was doing, provided he was still alive. His thoughts quickly turned from that as he sensed another presence in the room. It hadn't been there a few seconds ago, he was sure of it. But someone was there now. He slowly moved his hand down to the hilt of Ragnarok.
"Don't bother old man. It's already too late." Orlandu hurried to perform a Holy Explosion in the direction of the voice, but he just couldn't gather the energy fast enough. A huge blast of dragonfire roared through the ceiling, smashing him through the wall to the outside. Agrias and Meliadoul jumped up, grabbing their swords. But they weren't wearing any armor, which made them very cautious. In the light of the blazing fire now raging around them, they saw a woman who looked like a Divine Knight, except for a dark cloth across her face. "It's also too late for you, Miss Oaks." Agrias immediately responded by gathering energy into her sword. Lightning stabbed down into the stranger, but she seemed to emerge unscathed. She whispered a few words, and Agrias suddenly turned into stone. Meliadoul began to circle warily. "And you Miss Tingel. You have one last chance to redeem yourself."
"What are you talking about?" Meliadoul demanded.
"Velius is going to need help if he is to summon Lucavi back to this plane. As a daughter of Vormav, you're a natural choice, now that he's gone himself."
Meliadoul gasped, then a look of hatred appeared on her face. "We finished your kind! I helped Ramza kill Hashmalum myself! If I wouldn't help my own father, why on earth would I help you?"
"Because, humans tend to do things they normally wouldn't do, if it's a choice between that or death." Her right hand began to glow.
"Then, like Izlude, I choose death!" Meliadoul shouted in response. Her sword began to glow as well. "Icewolf Bite!" The jagged point of energy that always signified the spell immediately appeared, but seemed to have no effect on the mage.
"Very well. Your help would be nice, but it's not a necessity." She raised her glowing hand above her head. Then, suddenly, Orlandu stood behind her, Ragnarok glowing with the energy of Night Sword. The spell threw her into a still burning wall, besides greatly draining her energy. Orlandu followed that with a simple sword stroke that also seemed to do a lot of damage.
"It appears I've underestimated you, T.G. Cid." She breathed heavily. "I won't do that again." With that, she raised her arms and teleported away.
Northeastern Fuse Plains, just south of Zeltennia
It was very cold out on the plains. As Ramza turned away from the small fire in front of him to look out across the land, he realized it wasn't flat, but already starting to slope up into the mountains that divided this area from Zeltennia. He inched closer to the fire he had just restarted. It was the dead of night, but his dreams were disturbed, as usual. He heard rustling in the grass behind him. He reached for the Masamune, but stopped as the light of the fire revealed Zalbag standing there. "Can't sleep?" He asked the obvious.
"No. But why are you up?" Ramza replied.
"I can't sleep either, and that's unusual for me." Zalbag sat down next to the fire, a few feet away from Ramza. "I have a gut feeling that something is wrong."
"That Delita tried to kill Ovelia, or that Velius seems to be back in action?" Ramza flicked a pebble in the dirt, and watched it land in the fire, sending up a few sparks.
"Something else..." Zalbag got a distant look in his eyes. "Something connected with Balbanes, I think. I was looking for him even when transformed by the Leo stone. I think for another reason besides that he's my son. Or maybe that's it, but there's an aspect I'm not seeing."
"I can't help you there." Ramza sighed. "I'm not good at this sort of thing. I remember when Mustadio, Agrias, and I were taking Ovelia to Lionel. On the way there, we stopped for a routine break. I went to talk to Ovelia and Agrias, but somehow I stopped before I quite got to them. I heard Ovelia talking about how sad she was that people were dying because of her, and that she had thought her loneliness was worth it if it kept the peace, but now she wondered what it was all for. I didn't have any idea of what I could say that would make her feel better. Then, she dropped all that talk, and remembered that Alma had shown her how to make a reed flute. She tried to make one, but couldn't get it right. Immediately, I knew the solution. And now I realize that's how I operate all the time. There's a lot of stuff that's just beyond my ability to solve. If the whole mess with Ajora hadn't just boiled down to me killing everyone in sight, I wouldn't have been able to stop it. In fact, if it wasn't for Alma, I still wouldn't have been able to."
Zalbag shrugged. "So you're a simple man. That's nothing to be ashamed of, as long as you realize it. Are you worried that the problem with Delita is beyond your ability to solve?"
"Yes." He didn't even stop to think about it. "I was really mad at first, but I've been thinking, and I realize I only know one side of the story. Deep down, Ovelia still loves him and is supportive of him, and I figure there has to be some reason for that. If there's any trace of the Delita I once knew in there, I know he wouldn't have just killed her in cold blood."
Zalbag sighed. "You know him a lot better than I do, so it's your call. Although it might be Ovelia's in the end."
Ramza felt tired from the slightly abstract thoughts, but he didn't want to go back to sleep. The dreams would just be waiting for him again. He tried thinking about something more concrete. "I'm glad Delita didn't move to Lesalia immediately when he took over. It would be hell getting in there. Zeltennia should be relatively easy, tactically."
Zalbag nodded. He stared at the fire for a minute, before turning to Ramza again. "Say, I have to apologize to you for what I said at Lesalia way back when. You were totally right about Dycedarg, but I refused to believe it simply because he was my full brother, and you only my half. What I said about bad blood is totally wrong. If anything, your blood is better than mine is."
Ramza was pleased with the compliment, but didn't understand where it was coming from. "Thanks, but how do you figure that? Your mother was a noblewoman. Mine was just a common girl."
"I've become increasingly aware that the status of a person isn't important. Father and my mother got married when they were both very young. It was an arranged, political marriage. I don't think they even knew much about each other before the wedding. I think that my mother wasn't ready to be a mother that soon in her life." He remained silent for a moment. "But after my mother died, father's political obligations were over. No one pressured him to get married again. Your mother was a commoner, yes, and if anything, she was even younger when she got married than my mother had been. But that didn't seem to matter to anyone. Father married your mother because he really loved her, and that was his only motivation. Also, by that time, he really seemed to know his place in the world, and what his purpose was, so your mother had a much easier time with him. He made sure she was always happy. All in all, I'm sure she'd still be around today if the plague hadn't taken her."
"I never even bothered to think about it like that." Ramza frowned.
"Yeah, well. I had a lot of time to reflect before I worked up the courage to face Hashmalum and get control of the Leo stone." They sat for a minute, and Zalbag noticed Ramza's head begin to nod, then jerk roughly back up. "You're really tired, aren't you? Why are you trying to stay awake?"
"The dreams always end up waking me in the end." He said, then yawned. "Why bother to even try sleeping peacefully?"
"So do something to get rid of them." Zalbag told him.
"Like what?" Ramza yawned again.
"Don't isolate yourself. Sleep next to Rafa." Ramza almost turned to glare at him, until he realized Zalbag had said "next to."
"How would that help?"
Zalbag shrugged. "I don't know, but I've found from experience that nothing calms your fears like close proximity to a woman. Doesn't calm other things, but I'm sure you have enough self control to handle it."
Ramza laid down in the dirt. "I'll keep that in mind, but not tonight."
"Then when? We could all be dead tomorrow, and then you'd have missed out." Ramza simply ignored that one.
"I wish Ovelia was awake. She almost seems to understand what I'm feeling."
Zalbag stood up. "Well don't disturb her." He doubted he needed to warn him. Ramza already has his eyes closed. "She actually seems to be sleeping peacefully tonight."
The knife. Everything in Ovelia's world revolved around the knife. "I'll make your life shine." Sure, that shine was the glint of a dagger. "I'll make you into a real monarch." Only he you could be too. Only so he could kill who he wanted, whenever he wanted. "I'll never turn on you." Well sure, that was technically true, when he said it in the future tense, because he already had, even way back then.
The embrace at the church yard. The subsequent further embraces, even the ones that had ended with them pressing their naked bodies together, away from prying eyes, had those meant nothing, to either of them? It seemed not.
Ramza was alive. What had she attacked him for? Was he really just using her? Then, it hit her, surprisngly hard for dream reflections: What had SHE attacked HIM for? She could still picture the knife, glinting in the sunlight, then the sudden pain as it stabbed deep into her. But it was not the knife of cold murder. It was the knife she had given him, because she had been unable to kill him. Why had she been so weak, both mentally and physically? He should be dead. But why should he be? Was he really using her? She watched the knife piercing her skin again, watched it a thousand times. Ramza was alive. Delita was alive. She was alive. What was it all for?
"You find that strange?"
"No..." - Delita Hyral and Ramza Beoulve
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