H O M E C O M I N G
Written on February 9, 2020 ( ♒)
Author's Notes: I am very stubborn in my belief that Balbanes is a completely terrible dad.
Delita had not run to meet the returning Knight Gallant when his chocobo appeared at the crest of the hill. He had run after Ramza, who had cut off their conversation abruptly and gone barreling across the sunlit swell of grass to meet his father.
When he caught up, Ramza was walking alongside Balbanes’ dull gold bird, chirping the same questions he always asked of him when he returned to Igros: “Did you win, papa?” “Did you bring me anything?” “Did you kill a lot of Ordallians?” “How many?” “What about my brothers?” “How long will you stay?”
It was with a last question that Balbanes paused, dismounted, and knelt to where his son stood, looking a moment at where the boy’s arms were scratched with an afternoon’s tree-climbing and muddy from a nearby stream. Delita, who had stood some distance away, noticed that he shook a little, as with a palsy.
“I am going to be staying for a long while it seems, Ramza,” he said very gently. “I might be getting too old to be on the field.”
Ramza threw his arms around his father gleefully, and Delita walked a few paces forward before stopping again. He sat down a moment and twisted a stalk of timothy grass between his fingers.
“Maybe, I can go off to battle soon in your place, then!” Ramza said when he drew back a little. “They sometimes let boys into Gariland early, and--”
“Maybe...” Balbanes interrupted. “Maybe it would be nice if the war ended and you never had to go to battle, don’t you think?” He smiled as he started walking his bird towards the bare dirt path back to Igros.
Ramza did not look enthused.
“Wars wear some men down, Ramza,” he said, looking out towards the western sky. “I think it would be nice if one of my sons could be a knight without one.”
Ramza, walking alongside him made a few pleading remarks and promised that if he could help save everyone from Ordallia, it would never wear him down. Balbanes tousled his hair. Once it became clear that Delita was supposed to follow on his own, he sat up and did so.
He did not think much of the fact that the general did not greet him until they were back within city walls. It only struck him later when he had grown into a more cynical adulthood.
Even then, he decided it was best blamed on the sickness.