What Makes A Hero Chapter 9
A Man With the Holy Stone
Ramza had been about to doze off. After all, he had been maintaining a constant watch for over forty hours now, and everyone else was asleep this late at night. He had been about to doze off, when Rafa began to stir. He was instantly alert, and she began to open her eyes. "W-what happened?" She asked weakly.
"Velius happened." Ramza responded calmly.
"What about Rofel?" She questioned him.
"He'll be rotting in the prison for a good while now."
"My head hurts." She complained.
"I'm not surprised." He nodded slightly. "Alma thinks you have a concussion."
"Great. I suppose this lets me out of all future battles, huh?" She looked expectantly at him, although her eyes were a little blurry.
Ramza clenched his fist, and his leather gauntlet creaked. "I was really worried about you. But, if you want to be in, then you're in. I feel better when you're around anyway."
"How long have I been out?" She lay back down in the bed again.
"Over a day and a half." Ramza replied, then yawned heavily.
She sat back up. "Have you been keeping watch this entire time?"
"Of course." He nodded. "But now that you're awake, I think I'll get up to bed."
She put a hand up to her forehead. "I'm still feeling weak. Don't leave me yet."
Ramza stretched. "Okay, but I'm going to fall asleep in the chair here."
She lay back down. "Then come share the bed with me over here."
Ramza's eyes would have widened, had he not been so tired. "Are you sure?"
"I know you can handle it." She said, already dozing off.
"Well..." Ramza stood up. "I'll give it a shot." He kicked off his boots, but left the rest of his clothes on, and climbed under the covers.
Roberto juggled three Spell Edges expertly while twirling his two Morning Stars. "I think I'm getting my touch back." He smiled, then turned back to Ramza. "Do you really think it was wise to separate from the main force?"
"Hey, you know how good the crew is." Ramza smiled. "Besides, we can have a ruse going this way. When the Nanten come marching into Lesalia with a mere 300 Hokuten in the middle, Delita will obviously think that they've been captured. He won't notice T.G. Cid until it's too late."
"Are you sure about that?" Zalbag walked up to him. "Delita is quite the manipulator, from what I've heard. He did manage to frame Orlandu for treachery."
"It doesn't really matter." Ramza shrugged. "The main point is for them to distract the Lesalian Army long enough for us to get inside."
"If you're sure..." Zalbag trailed off as they rounded a bend and reached the narrowest point in the pass. The crew stopped in their tracks. Standing in the middle of the stone path was the same blue mage that had shown up in Zarghidas Trade City.
"Careful Ramza..." Agrias warned. "This lady is tough."
"Oh, so this is the infamous Zarghidas Wizard?" He asked.
"That's hardly my name Ramza." The mage responded. "But you won't live long enough to care!"
"Oh ho! I wouldn't bet on that!" Ramza whipped out his Oberisk. Zalbag put a hand on his shoulder. Ramza glanced up, but he had a distant look in his eyes. Balbanes squirmed off the chocobo he was seated on, and ran up to Zalbag's side. Zalbag looked down at him.
"You feel it too Balbanes?" His eyebrows rose up in surprise. The boy nodded. "You stay with Ramza this time. I can't be sure yet." He looked back up at Ramza. "Let me handle her." He moved slowly out onto the stone isthmus, drawing his Rune Blade as he did so.
"Well, well, well." She seemed to laugh. "You're actually challenging me? Pretty brave for a dead guy."
"I'm still not sure it's you." He waved his sword warily. "But if it is, what are you doing?"
"I want to kill Ramza, of course!"
"You'll have to get in line." Zalbag almost grinned. "What's your reason?"
"It's his fault I'm not a hero! He abandoned me!" She shrieked.
"Do any of you know who she is?" Ramza whispered.
"I don't have a clue." Rad shrugged.
"You sure seemed dead for a while too." Zalbag continued to step from side to side. "You really want Ramza dead that badly?"
"I have the power to take all of them down, so I'm going to do it!" Her right hand began to glow.
"With great power comes great responsibility." Zalbag shook his head sadly. "Eeaaagghhh!!" He ran forward, bringing his sword up to strike. In a flash of light, the mage drew a sword as well, and parried his slash. She took a step back, then began to gather energy into the sword.
"Hell's wish to corrupt all souls... Demonic Explosion!!" A huge black beam of energy erupted underneath Zalbag, throwing him into the air. He landed on his feet, and continued his charge.
"In case you've forgotten, I'm a Heavenly Knight! Cast light into the bowels of Hell... Heaven Flash!!" His sword glowed with a bliding light, and a bright beam of energy shot from it, into the mage. She was thrown back, and landed hard. "You were a fool to come back."
"You're the fool around here." She said in a venomous voice. Then they both looked up as they heard galloping. A chocobo appeared at the far end of the pass, and charged toward them. It reigned in a few feet behind the mage, and Rofel stepped off.
"Oh, great." Ramza groaned.
"Sorry I'm late." Rofel grinned. "But there were a few things that needed taking care of." Ramza began to step forward. Zalbag turned and held up a hand.
"No! I can handle them myself!"
"Are you sure?" He called.
"You have no idea." Zalbag grinned, and then gripped his blade tightly. "So, do you two have the courage to take me on in a strictly sword fight?"
"You're going to try both of us by yourself?" Rofel raised an eyebrow. "You're a bit braver than I thought."
"Shut up." Zalbag said quietly, then charged forward. He brought a massive swing down on the mage, throwing her back about three feet even though she blocked, then immediately turned and swung up, rending a tear in Rofel's armor. He backed up and then quickly went in with fast, fencing strokes. Both adversaries shifted their grip to a single hand, and began fencing as well. Suddenly, Zalbag gripped his hilt tightly with both hands and swung mightily. The mage's sword was knocked back into Rofel's armor, and they fell to the ground.
"Hellcry Punch!!" Rofel shouted. The red blast descended on Zalbag, and his sword shattered. He let his arms hang loosely at his sides.
"I should have known you wouldn't fight honorably." He grimaced.
"Do I ever?" Rofel smiled, twirling his own blade.
"Uh, Zalbag, would you like a little help?" Ramza called to him.
"Don't bother." The mage shouted back. "Take two steps and he'll be dead."
"Oh, I doubt that." Zalbag tilted his head back, and, amazingly, began to laugh. "Yes, I think I can finally control it... Now that you're here..." He placed his hand to his chest, and something underneath his armor glowed brightly.
"The Leo stone!!" Rofel shouted. "Quick, stop him before he..."
But already, ghostlike spirits were erupting around Zalbag, and a a burst of energy raced across the isthmus. In Zalbag's place stood a white, humanoid lion. He clenched and unclenched his claws, then emitted a sound that was a mix between a laugh and a roar. "You have underestimated your opponent, and now will pay the price! So swears Gablazar, the Holy Lion!!" He charged forward blindingly fast, grabbing both enemies in the midsection with his claws, then violently slamming them together. The mage managed to cast Flare on Gablazar, but he seemed to shrug it off. "Holy Fist!" He shouted. His furry fist began to glow brightly, then beams of white energy shot out, carrying Rofel and the mage with them.
Gablazar ran after them, raising his claws and tearing into them again. When he was finished with that mauling, he impaled them on his claws, lifted them up, then threw them over the edge of the isthmus. They fell for a ways, before disappearing. Gablazar slowly turned and walked back toward Ramza, blood staining his fur a bright red. Ramza stood silently, watching. When Gablazar was about five feet from him, he began to glow brightly, and the form of Zalbag reappeared. "Um, would you mind telling me what's going on here?" Ramza finally spoke.
"Yes." Zalbag frowned. "Suffice to say, I've finally acquired the knowledge necessary to control my zodiac powers, but at a heavy price. The rest is none of your business."
"She did attack my men. I'd like to know who she is." Ramza protested.
"You already know, if you'd just think about it." Zalbag turned away from him. "This is no one's business by Balbanes' and I."
"Okay then." Ramza frowned. "But then you'll be the one in charge of defeating her."
"Oh, I will." Zalbag clenched his fist. "Believe me, I will."
"That's a problem." - Dycedarg Beoulve
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