Balderon Agrippa

"The Parcines is no place for dreamers, son.  You'd do well to keep that in mind." 

These are the words that the young man of eighteen had heard more often in his life than any others.  Life in the mountains was hard, and it was generally accepted that it was best to keep your mind on the matters at hand, and your loyalties to your clan. But, the young man, knew that there was more to life than fighting for survival, even attacking and raiding other clans for food in the winter.  In Balderon's heart, there was a glamorous life, the life of a warrior hero, who used his skills to defend the weak, and to help those in need.  He could not let go of his dream. Dreams can often be costly. While scouting one day, he came across a Republic Patrol.  Inexperienced as he was, it was not difficult for them to catch him.  When he was taken to the Captain of the Patrol.  Balderon was surprised to find that they had come on a mission of peace.   The captain explained to him, that because of the war, with the Cinerans, Calsuan had decided to seek an alliance with the people of the Parcines.  It was this patrol's duty to go into the mountains and seek the clans and make the offer of alliance. Balderon's heart soared!  He knew that this was just the thing that would allow him to live the life he had always dreamt of.  He eagerly accepted the captain's proposal to lead the patrol to his clan's hidden home.  As he turned to leave, he never saw the satisfied smirk that came across the captain's face. He led ten men of the patrol through the winding mountain passes, unaware that they were leaving a trail for the hundred or so others to follow.  As he they came to his clan village, he told the captain, "I had better go on ahead, to tell them you are here, and why."   The captain smiled and sent him on his way. It was only moments after the clansmen had gathered together to hear what he was so excited about, that a hundred and fifty Iridine soldiers began swarming into the village.  Balderon was so frozen with shock, that he never moved during the entire slaughter, just staring dumbfounded as his people fell around him. When the carnage ended, he was taken again before the captain.   "What should we do with him, sir?", one of the soldiers asked.  The captain looked at Balderon.  "We Iridines are a fair people," he said, with a smirk.  "We always give fair value, for services rendered."  With a sneer he threw a handful of coins on the ground at Balderon's feet. "Let him go," he said to his men, laughing.  The laughter of the soldiers, echoed in his ears as he fled from the ruins of his home. To this day Balderon could not tell you how long he wandered, slowly northward, or even if he ate during that time.  Grief and shame consumed him. Then one morning, as he looked toward the horizon, he saw it. Iridine, the eternal city.  His thoughts were now only of finding some shelter and food, and then perhaps living a meager life, forgetting what had happened, and most of all forgetting about dreaming and battles. Wandering aimlessly through the city, wondering who he could ask for some food, he spotted an elderly man, sitting on a bench, outside an inn.   As he was about to pass by, their eyes met briefly, and something told Balderon that this was a kind soul, who might help him out. Entering the yard of the Inn, the old man looked up at him.  With a kind smile he said,' "Hello there, youngster.   My name is Phaedro." The burden on Balderon's heart was great, and as he began to talk with Phaedro, He felt that he could tell him of his past, and what he had done.   By the time he finished his story, he was weeping openly. Phaedro smiled warmly at him.  "Lemme tell ya somethin', lad. Now, I been around plenty o' years, and though these old eyes don't see too well anymore, they seen a lot in their day. "Seems to me that you don't realize that that battle is still goin' on..." Balderon eyed the old man incredulously. "What do you mean?" Phaedro nodded knowingly. The real battle in life isn't with a sword, and isn't against flesh 'n' blood.   It's with yerself, and it takes place here...."   With a bony finger, he reached and tapped Balderon over his heart. "If ya give up that dream o' yours, if ya refuse to help people, or fight for what ya know is right, then ya lost the battle." Balderon stared blankly at Phaedro, watching a knowing smile come across his face.  He knew that Phaedro was right. "Some other youngster showed up here a while ago, and fer some reason, he tried to attack me.  Connie's made short work of 'im though. In the scuffle he dropped this."  Phaedro reached behind his bench, and pulled out a tin gladius. "Why don't you take it 'n' see if maybe some good can come of it?"  He smiled as he offered the sword to Balderon. Balderon slowly reached forward and took the sword by it's hilt. "That's right. Somehow I can tell, it's in good hands."  Phaedro said. "Y'know, if ya ever need to know anything about the town, ya can always ask me.  Why don't ya head on inside and meet a few folks? You'll find a lot like yerself, and some...well, some who aren't." "Thank you. I think maybe I'll just do that." "Balderon waved to Phaedro as he walked through the door, to continue the battle...

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