Road to Peace: Chapter Five

Children of War


evin sat rigidly atop his saddle, his gaze flickering about the large, stone courtyard spread out before him. Tall, white marble columns, intricately laced with soft curves and lines, toward above the huge mass of people milling about atop the tiled floor-space, casting long shadows in the setting sun. An occasional cry of a merchant selling his goods floated above the low hum of civilization, as men and womyn, some towing small children in their wake, scrambled about, each appearing as different as the lands they had come from.

"I specifically said no children." Devin turned his gaze away, ice blue eyes resting apon a man just appearing above the crest of the flat-topped hill where Devin himself sat. His eyes narrowed as the darkened figure, silhouetted by the setting sun, came into view. "And what is he doing here?"

"I was not informed of Regien's coming, sir. Do you wish him removed?" Devin's second in command Pynr¾, a bear of a man despite his age, was always to be found at his captain's side. Wings of grey streaked his pitch black hair, hanging in a tight braid past the nape of his neck. His face, hard as rock, showed few creases of age, yet his eyes held the wisdom of many years. In some ways, Devin felt foolish knowing he was in command of a man twice his age, yet Pynr¾ possessed far less battle knowledge and leadership skills then Devin, and, like their former leader had conveyed before his unfortunate demise, Devin was simply the better choice as captain.

Devin shook his head. "Let him say his peace."

Slowing, Regien reined up beside Devin, giving Pynr¾ a cold stare which he met just as icily before turning to Devin. "Sir, I must speak with you." He seemed breathless.

Devin nodded.

"Alone, sir." Regien said, casting another cold gaze toward Pynr¾. The two had both been given an equal chance at the rank of second. Regien, still scorned by his loss, held a foolish grudge.

Puffing up his chest as if insulted, Pynr¾ shot a frigid glare at the man, who shifted uneasily, before turning to Devin. "Sir, I must protest. This man is a…"

Devin waved it past, sighing. Foolish children. "He has not been convicted of anything, commander." He stressed Pynr¾'s rank, as if he might very easily loose it. Foolish, immature children. "Please leave us."

Breathing deeply, Pynr¾ looked about ready to chew through rocks, yet he turned his Chocobo obediently and stared off down the packed dirt road, away from the mass of people. "Oh, and Pynr¾," Devin almost grinned at the rejected look on his second's face as he looked back. "Do something about the children. This isn't a preschool."

"Yes, sir. Will that be all?" At Devin's nod, Pynr¾ healed his mount down the hill.

Devin watched as he disappeared behind the crest, helmet tucked beneath one thick arm. Foolish, but loyal.

"Sir?" Devin whipped his head around, finding Regien, his eyebrow raised inquisitively.

"Yes?" Devin smoothed his voice so that there was no trace that he had completely forgotten Regien was beside him.

"Sir, Lord Kefka…" staring at his silver lined boots that seemed fit for any palace—Devin hated how the man always dressed as if he were royalty—Regien closed his eyes. "Lord Kefka, he is… alive, sir. I feel him."

Devin's breath caught. Regien was, among other things, known as The Link. A man who had been bonded to Kefka before his death, so that he was able to sense whether he lived or not, and approximately where in the world he could be found. Everyone had given up on the idea of bondage after the end of magic, and a few had even left believing Kefka would never be reborn. Yet here was The Link, a man who's ability had raised him in the Cult of Kefka so quickly it was hard to remember what his rank was at the time, talking nonsense to the only persun who could order him beside Lord Kefka himself. And it was nonsense. Without magic, their simply was no link.

Scanning the mass of people, yet seeing nothing as his mind raced, Devin gave Regien a critical, piercing stare before responding. "Magic is gone. This is absolute, with no exceptions. No exceptions." The second no was ment for Regien. He had been found attempting to cure his second after mortally wounding him in what Regien called an "experiment." Regien was mad, as were most every other member of the Cult of Kefka. Yet that just made them easier to use. "How can it be you can sense our Lord?"

Regien's grin held no joy. "How can it be every soul in those ruins," he nodded toward the mob below, "will answer yes when asked if Kefka is to be reborn, without hesitation, even though they know perfectly well magic was to be used in his rebirth?"

"Because they know we anticipated this. They know there's a backdoor."

Eyes seemingly globes of black flames, Regien's response was heated, nearing insanity. "How do you know there was no 'backdoor' for our bondage?" he hissed.

The thought that Devin had just let a lion out of it's cage nagged at the back of his mind. He ignored it. "If there were, I'd have been informed. Anyway, it is far to early. The army is far from ready."

"With all do respect, sir, this link is my field of expertise, not yours." Regien's breath came in short, angry rasps. "He is alive. I feel him! I know…"

"Commander Regien!" Devin shouted over the man's enraged chants. He's a mad bloody fool!

Gripping his reins until blood began to drip down the backs of his hands, Regien steadied himself with obvious effort. The snarl across his face became a angry grin as he stared into Devin's eyes, cold blue meeting fiery black. It was an struggle for Devin not to blink. The lion was leashed, but poorly. "Sir?" Regien replied through clenched teeth.

"We will talk later of your… outburst. For now, I want more detail to your feeling. Where do you feel our Lord Kefka is, at the moment?" Devin was far from convinced of anything Regien had told him, yet he humored the man.

"North."

"Half the world is north!" Devin snapped. Taking a deep breath—Regien always made him angry—he gave the man a level look. "Can you be more specific."

"Not unless I'm closer." By Regien's voice, one would never guess he had just been acting completely irrational, yet the look in his eye held nothing sane. "But almost strait north."

"Tzen?"

"Further."

"Alright. I will send a team into Tzen to find a ship, then North to… wherever." Seeing the protest in Regien's eyes, he added "You will join them, of course."

The commander nodded, reining about. As he began up the road in the direction Pynr¾ had gone, Devin called out his name.

He turned abruptly. "Sir?"

Grimacing at the mocking way the man always said "sir"—at least, it seemed mocking—Devin said roughly "I never dismissed you, commander."

"Yes, sir. Sorry, sir." A long silence followed, Regien watching him expectantly. "Am I… dismissed?" He asked, quirking an eyebrow.

Eyeing him wearily, Devin nodded. Fool child.


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Prologue || Chapter One || Chapter Two || Chapter Three || Chapter Four || Chapter Five || Chapter Six || Chapter Seven || Chapter Eight || Chapter Nine || Chapter Ten || Chapter Eleven || Chapter Twelve || Chapter Thirteen