A/N: This fic will deal with the suspicious circumstances around Balthier's past, and how he evanesce from judge to pirate. It includes politics, romance and one infatuated, confused eighteen year-old Ffamran Bunansa.
If that sounds good then read on, and I hope you enjoy my very first ff-fic.
Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy XII. It is the property of Square Enix.
The armour was heavy. Too heavy. How did they all do it, trotting around in them all day long, never loosing appearances?
Ffamran lifted his gaze and turned around to admire his dashing reflection. There was no denying that he looked striking as always. The black cloak with the read ornaments, the intricate patterns engraved in the metal and the death bringing weapons made him look like a man of consequence, in addition to being uncommonly handsome. He shook of one of the heavy gloves and caught a strand of his sand brown hair on stray. Too bad he would have to wear that helmet. No way to show off his face and it would make him look a tad impersonal, but at least no less consequential. Besides, no one cold tell his age that way.
A judge at eighteen. No one had lost out on the opportunity of telling him what a tremendous accomplishment that was, but of course that was empty words. Every one as well as himself knew that the only reason he was wearing this armour was because of his father. All his life he had lived on the fringe benefits of having such a father, and that did not seem like it was about to change, even now, when he was an adult. Well, that certainly took away some of the pressure.
When he had gawked his fill, there was nothing to do but wait, and as he began pacing back and forth, while a sudden nervousness began to grip. He stopped by the large windows that filled the better half of the south facing wall. The grandeur and beauty of Archades was never more striking than from above. But, though his eyes where fixed on the town below, he saw nothing. Through the pulsing nervousness he felt a stab of irritation at himself. When there where no expectations, there was no way he could fail.
A muffled knock sounded through the thick oak door. Balthier grabbed his gloves and took a deep breath. First day at work.
To become a judge was for many Archadens their life ambition. And with the pay and status the job offered, who could blame them? But with all the requirements it demanded very few made the cut. In addition to having the right social status, a thorough knowledge of the law and military, it also had physical requirements. Embarrassing as it was, it was the latter that had proven to be Ffamran's biggest challenge. He was of slight build, and though he's agility had always been remarkable, he was unfit to wield a sword. As it turned out, he was also unfit to wear armour. He had come no longer than down the steps and out in the colossal foyer, before he got weary. The scolding sunlight outside did nothing to lessen his suffering. In the residential area, where he lived with his father (or rather; where he lived in his fathers house) there where not permitted traffic, so he had to walk. The heavy cloak did not flutter stylishly behind him in the breeze like he'd imagined, because there where no such thing on this hot summer day. The helmet did give some shade, but not enough to compensate for the heat inside it. He soon worked up an admirable amount of perspiration, gluing his hair to his forehead. Luckily the walk was mercifully short, because the judge's courtroom was placed the same exclusive area.
The courtroom was not actually the court, but a nickname for the judge's headquarters. It was also placed within short distance of the palace, which Ffamran could see towering up behind the grand building in front of him. Like the other buildings in this district, it where older than most of the archadian buildings. It was the oldest part of town, built even before Old Archades, and in a rather different style. After a brief glance at the palace above, he hurried into the shade, certain that a few more seconds in the sun would be enough to dehydrate him completely.
The nervousness, that had evaporated due to the heat, struck once again with full force the moment he was out of the sun and under the colonnade that covered the front of the building. The grand metal doors were guarded by two soldiers. With as much dignity he could muster he squared his shoulders and attempted to enter. The solider scurried aside making way, and the feeling of power that flowed trough him at that moment was immense. Glad no one could see his satisfactory grin he entered the courtroom.
"Right, right, the doctor's son," the stout man behind the desk said distantly without looking up from the large pile of papers in front of him. Ffamran was ever so provoked by the lowly clerk's frivolous attitude and lack of respect.
"Actually, it's Judge Bunansa," he replied in his most arrogant tone, which was perfected from many years of practice.
Thought Ffamran was struck by the fellows lacking vocabulary and was tempted to comment on it, he kept silent and waited for further instructions. But the clerk took his good time.
"Special accent you have there," he babbled on. But Ffamrans impatience must have been visible, even with the helmet, so he continued. "Just go right in the door behind me. There you'll be assigned a mentor of sorts, to show you the ropes."
Ffamrans gaze followed the direction of the clerks waving hand, and followed the implied direction towards the double doors in the far end of the hall. He began to make his way across the room, but no more than two noisy steps later he was stopped by a light touch on his arm.
"The doctor's son," a female voice sounded through her mask, an enormous metal construction that made him quite thankful for the design of his own. He sighed for himself. Was that to be his brand?
"Judge Bunansa," he answered and respectfully offered his hand.
"Judge Drace. Nice to make you're acquaintance. I believe you are to follow me."
He was immediately repulsed by her short (and in his opinion) offensive way of addressing him. But once again he held his tongue and followed the woman, Drace.
"So, I hear they're making you my new protégée," she said without slowing her pace.
"Protégée?" was Ffamrans rather obtuse answer.
"Yes, protégée. Did you not know; all assigned to Executive have a mentor."
The judges were all divided into three branches. Military, Legislative and Executive. He was apparently included in the latter.
"I do now."
They entered her office, where she removed her helmet after closing the door. Ffamran copied her, and drew a large gulp of refreshing air. Afterwards he placed it on the large mahogany desk and looked up to find that behind the mask, this woman was not much of a beauty, but with a strict face and cold eyes. They were currently fixed at him in an assessive way.
"Sit," she finally ordered. He immediately obliged (so much for the feeling of power).
"Now, there is really not much to do here at the moment, and I think you should start with a simple job," she paused as she pulled out a drawer and fetched something from inside.
"So here is some paperwork," she handed him the folder.
The dread when you realize that you've got something completely wrong, when a sudden realization crushes all your former ideas, now consumed Ffamran as he stretched out his arm for the paper. Paperwork! After all those months of training, and then he would do paperwork. But once again, the cold eyes were impossible to defy. As he cursed his father for arranging the job, a knock on the door interrupted his attempt to fetch the paper. A young man strode into the room without waiting for a reply. Not even greeting he stormed up to Drace and whispered out of breath:
"It has happened. Vayne; he took them both."
Drace rose in alarm, her face betraying emotion for the first time.
"And Larsa? Is he safe?"
"I- I believe so," the man stuttered.
Drace sunk back into her seat and breathed a sigh of relief, while Ffamran tried to make out the meaning of their words.
"What was the excuse?" Drace inquired.
"I'm not certain. The news just reached me."
"What's going on?" Ffamran asked, endeavouring not to reveal the burning curiosity behind his nonchalance. Drace ignored him.
"Who else knows?"
"I have no idea. I reported here immediately after the occurrence. But I know judge Bergan was in the palace at the time.
"What's going on?" Ffamran asked again, this time not even attempting to hide his curiosity and growing frustration.
"Who's he?" the messenger asked and tilted his head towards him.
"Just the doctor's son. Bergan, really?"
"Yes, I think he had a report from Draklor laboratory. Dr. Bunansa's son?"
"Yes. Judge Bunansa," Ffamran interrupted. "Now please, what's going on? I'm as much a judge as anyone in this room, and more than some (with a reproachful glance at the young man) and I demand you tell me what's going on!"
"Oh, I'll tell you what's going on. I'll tell you before someone comes and tell you differently," Drace spitted in fury. "Vayne Solidor just murdered his brothers."