Hello readers, and thank you for being the slightest bit interested in this!

Those of you who know and have played Dragon Quest IX should be able to follow along rather well. I'll keep this as close to the game as possible!

And before I forget: I don't own anything but Nori so far. All other things belong to Yuji Horii and Square Enix.

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Chapter One: The Beginning...

oooooooooooo

"...Hello? Is there anybody there? If you're there, say something. Show yourself."

...Thus do the voices of mortals plead, ever hopeful of proof of our existence. For how long now have we watched over their realm...?

...For how long have we Celestrians existed...?

oooooooooooo

The Celestrians were angelic creatures created by the Almighty after the mortals, due to some complications with their purity. Although they were all different and unique from one another, each of them were given snow white wings, so they could soar across the sky like the birds, and shining halos which floated above their heads. Unable to be seen by the human eye due to their invisibility because of their halos, their rightful job was to watch over the mortals, keeping their acts of living righteous and just. They had been doing this for quite a while now, but none of them seemed to complain, because they knew that all of their hard work would pay off...soon, they would be joined with their creator, resting and relaxing in peace.

oooooooooooo

"You've come far, Nori," Nori's teacher Aquila complimented, his arms crossed.

He and Nori hovered over the small town of Angel Falls, watching as the citizens carried on with their day.

The teacher looked away from his student and continued, "However, I must confess to having had my doubts about you taking my place..." his voice had become quiet, barely audible over the waterfall, as if he were ashamed, "but the continued peace and safety among the inhabitants' is proof enough of your devotion. When Apus Major told me to take you as my apprentice, I never thought to see you bloom so. You are indeed worthy of your title, Nori, Guardian of Angel Falls," he said, smiling.

"Thank you, Aquila," Nori replied with a meek smile, eyes closed.

"You needn't thank me, my pupil," Aquila faintly smiled, turning to face the guardian, but then he felt something strange happening not too far away, "Hm?"

"...What is it?" Nori asked, sensing Aquila's sudden hostility. Something was awry, and he knew it.

oooooooooooo

Not too far in the distance, a young girl with deep purple hair under an orange bandana named Erinn, walked along the trail, her grandfather right along side her. Well, sort of.

"Don't ever get old, my dear Erinn," Erinn's grandfather huffed and puffed, beginning to lag behind, "you don't ever want to get old."

Erinn giggled and stopped, waiting for the old man to catch up with her, "Oh, Grandpa," she smiled, "it's not much further now. I'm sure you'll make it."

Meanwhile, almost at the same time as this was happening, a cruelcumber and two slimes popped out of a bush before dashing across the road, hiding behind a boulder. They looked back and saw the two oblivious humans approaching ever nearer...

oooooooooooo

"Those wicked creatures mustn't be allowed to ambush innocent members of your flock, Nori," Aquila said quickly and sternly, "Come, Guardian of Angel Falls, it's time to fulfill our duty as Celestrians!"

Nori nodded in agreement, following his airborne teacher, who had gracefully swooped down on the monsters and challenged them to a good old-fashioned duel, drawing his sword and getting into his fighting stance.

The cruelcumber lunged at Aquila, but its attack faltered when the Celestrian evaded the attack, using his sword to split the monster in two, watching as it materialized into some purple dust, leaving some coins behind.

Nori, on the other hand, was having some difficulty with the two slimes. They were a little faster than him, which made it hard for the guardian to try and get a direct hit. His weapon of choice consisted of a beautiful iron staff. Engraved on it were symbols of clouds that spiraled up the pole.

One of the slimes began to attack the guardian from behind, catching him off guard, making him lose his footing. The other slime took this chance to get him twice in the face. He quickly regained his balance and squashed the troublesome slime with his staff, having it vanish as the cruelcumber had done. The battle ended when Aquila took care of the last enemy, which left behind more coins than the cruelcumber. Nori picked up a bit of the leftover reward, putting it inside his bag. Aquila could've cared less about the money.

When they were both certain it was over, they watched as Erinn and her grandfather had made another stop by the huge rock. "Look, Grandpa," she said cheerfully, "There's Angel Falls up ahead!"

"Aaah," the old man sighed, "I never thought that I would set my tired old eyes on this place again, but here we are at last. Home sweet home."

Erinn, the smile still on her face, put her hands on her hips and shook her head, "Oh, don't be so melodramatic, Grandpa! The village guardian will have been watching over us the whole way. Nothing could've ever happened to us!"

Upon hearing that, Nori couldn't help but crack a smile. It was nice to hear that somebody appreciated what he had done thus far.

The young girl then put her hands together, bowed her head and prayed, "Belovent Nori," she began, "thank you for protecting us on our journey," after that, she and her grandfather continued on to their home town.

Erinn's body became engulfed in a greenish blue light, which turned into a beautiful, serene orb, floating into Nori's open hands.

"What is this thing?" Nori questioned with awe, the light illuminating his pale peach skin.

"Behold, Nori," Aquila answered, "Benevolessence. The crystallization of the the mortals' gratitude towards we who watch over them. Our cardinal duty is to offer this sacred object to mighty Yggdrasil, the Great World Tree."

Nori carefully put the benevolessence into his bag, and his teacher continued, "Come, Nori, let us return to the Observatory, that you may make your offering."

Aquila and the guardian readied themselves for flight and flew into the cloudy blue sky to get to their destination. Soon, they came into contact with a strange, floating tower that was covered in vines and leaves. At the top sat Yggdrasil, swaying in the cool breeze. Unable to be seen by mortals, this was the Observatory; the place that Celestrians called home. They entered the Observatory through a mystic portal in the floor.

Aquila turned to his apprentice, "The first task a guardian must perform upon returning from the Protectorate is to report to Apus Major," he explained, "As unchanging as the North Star, you'll find him in the Great Hall." he turned back around and began to walk away.

"Wait, you're not coming with me?" Nori asked, however, he kind of already knew the answer.

Aquila stopped, "I'm afraid not. I have other matters to attend to. You must excuse me." he went on ahead upstairs, to pay a visit to a friend of his.

Nori was actually pretty proud of himself. He had collected some benevolessence, and could now consider himself a credit to the others, but that was to be expected, since Aquila declined taking up an apprentice for so long, or something like that. The guardian went up the stairs to the next floor, the Great Hall, and as his master had said, there, at the end of the hall, sat Apus Major, in all of his ancient glory.

"Um...good day, sir," the guardian said, trying to sound as formal as possible.

"Well met, Nori, apprentice of Aquila," replied the leader of all Celestrians, "Welcome back. I trust your absence hasn't been so lengthy that you forget your old master, Apus Major!"

"Certainly not," Nori shook his head, "Who could forget someone as important as you?" he chose his words carefully.

Letting out a hearty laugh, Apus Major went on, "Indeed. You have my congratulations on successfully completing your first task as a guardian," he complimented.

"Thank you."

"You have performed your duties well thus far, albeit under Aquila's watchful gaze. But, the time has come for you to spread your own wings..."

Nori's multicolored topaz and goldenrod eyes widened upon hearing that. Did he mean...?

"What say you? Are you ready to undertake your duties alone?"

"Absolutely." the guardian answered quickly. He was a very responsible, truthful and trustworthy Celestrian. He was also very independent, so taking care of Angel Falls without supervision would be a piece of cake for him.

The old Celestrian gave another hearty laugh, "Ho ho ho! I see you're an confident apprentice. Very good. The young have confidence where the old have experience. And so we come to the next of your duties. I believe you've acquired a crystal of benevolessence, have you not? The essence of mortal gratitude."

Nori nodded, fixing one of his earrings and listening attentively. Maybe he should've gotten his ear lobes pierced and not the cartilage…

"You must offer it unto the Great World Tree, Yggdrasil, who shelters us with Her nurturing boughs from atop the Observatory. She will soon bear fruit at last. Go now, and do as I've instructed."

Nori bowed respectively before travelling up another set of stairs, now outside of the tower. He looked up and he could feel his sweat drop,That's a lot of fucking stairs, he thought, sighing. Did Yggdrasil really have to be up so high? Had he been up a few times before, maybe he wouldn't mind so much, but since this was his first time, he saw it to be a bit unreasonable.

(Meanwhile in another room...)

oooooooooooo

"I was surprised to hear of Nori's promotion," came the voice of Aquila's friend Columba, "I didn't expect you to permit it so soon."

Nori's teacher shook his head, "You assume too much, Columba. I also believe that it's too soon for him to take on a Guardianship. It was Apus Major's decision."

"Indeed?" Columba chuckled, "How amusing! I might've known."

"It's no laughing matter. Nori is but a fledgling. What if something were to happen in the Protectorate?" Aquila said in a serious tone. He hushed his voice, "...Do you forget the tragedy of Corvus so soon?"

"Hmph," Columba crossed her arms, "No, of course not, but...we've been forbidden to talk of that matter here in the Observatory, have we not?"

"..." Aquila looked down, as Columba was right. The disappearance of Corvus was never to be spoken of under any circumstances.

oooooooooooo

Concluding that he didn't have the right to complain, Nori decided to take the tread up to the top, but he stopped halfway there because there was a beefy Celestrian blocking the next set of stairs.

"What brings you here, strange tail-bearing Celestrian?"

"I need...to...give this...benevolessence...to...Yggdrasil..." Nori panted, showing the guard the crystal, using his unique tail to wipe the cumulating sweat from his forehead.

"Oh, well then, in that case," the beefy one moved out of the way, "you may pass."

Nori whimpered and walked up the time-consuming and leg-wearing steps, taking about another two minutes or so to finally reach the top of the observatory, only to find just one last set of stairs to to walk up.

So many stairs...

When he finally reached the foot of the Great World Tree, he fell to his knees, and held the benevolessence above his head and watched as the essence was absorbed into the trunk of the tree, consuming Her in a warm, welcoming light, making an echoed twinkling sound as it did just.

Just then, Nori heard footsteps behind him.

"Behold, Nori..." came the voice of Aquila, "Is Yggdrasil, unto whom we offer the benevolessence we gather, not truly beautiful?"

"She's breath-taking," the guardian replied, honestly not sure what to say.

Aquila eyed the glorious tree and nodded, "Gathering and offering up benevolessence is the most sacred duty in which we Guardians are charged. I trust you will perform your duties well, Nori, Guardian of Angel Falls."

"I will."

Nori eye twitched as he began to descend the...stairs, those annoying steps, those "never-ending" tiers, those motherfu-

"Oh, and one more thing..."

Nori quickly stopped and turned around, "Yes, Aquila?" he asked.

Aquila sighed, "I've been thinking, Nori, Guardian of Angel Falls," he paused, "to address you as "Guardian of Angel Falls" is both convoluted and inconvenient. You will henceforth allow me to use this form of address only when formality dictates, I take it?"

"Of course," Nori smiled. To be honest, he thought it was kind of ridiculous too.

"Good," the teacher smirked, "It's well that you succumb to my recommendation so quickly, my pupil. As you are aware, the law forbids a Celestrian to oppose a superior...Now, go to Apus Major and tell him of the successful completion of your task." he discontinued with what he was going on about and returned his attention to the Great World Tree.

The guardian went down...the stairs (which to his liking and advantage was definitely much easier than going up the stairs), but he hadn't even made it halfway down before he was yanked off to side and pulled into the part of the observatory that housed the roots of Yggdrasil.

"Nori, where have you been?" a very familiar voice questioned him, a bit angrily and concerned,

"I've been looking for you all day, and the day before that, and the day before that!"

It was his best friend - his only friend - Jayce. He had soft greenish-brown eyes, freckles all over his face, especially on his nose, and he had spiky, yet fluffy snow blonde hair with thin brown streaks running through it.

"Oh, hey, Jayce," Nori smiled, but then he raised an eyebrow in confusion, "What's wrong?"

"You haven't been around for a while, that's what's wrong!" Jayce replied with a look of concern on his freckled face, "Something's going on, yeah?"

"Um, no..." Nori looked away, "Oh, I never told you, did I?"

The thief blinked, "...Told me what?" he looked around delusionally, "You don't have a new secret best friend that I don't know about, do you?!"

"No way, Jayce!" the guardian smirked, "I'd never replace you for anything! But..."

"Yeah, keep going..."

"I did recently become the Guardian of Angel Falls..."

"What?!" Jayce just stood there, "S-So, you mean-"

"Exactly, Aquila stepped down and gave his job to me."

"B-But-" the thief frowned, "Why...? You could've refused, yeah?"

"I kinda couldn't, Jayce. It's against the rules. And," the guardian bit his lip as he looked away again, "I actually wanted to become a Guardian."

Jayce's eyes widened, "You...you...?" he tried to gather his words, "...What about our friendship?"

Nori's heart sank upon hearing that, "Shit..."

"...Yeah, being a Guardian is a super big responsibility and stuff..." Jayce sighed. He looked down, "We won't be able to hang out like we used to anymore..."

Nori didn't talk for a few moments, as he was trying to figure out what to say. When he finally had his words straight, he placed a hand on Jayce's shoulder and nodded, "You're right, man. I might not be able to see you as much as I used to, but the next time I have time, we'll just have to make the most of it. Same goes for every free moment after that."

"You mean it, Nori?"

"Would I ever say something just to say it?" the guardian laughed.

"Oh, thank the Almighty I have you as a friend!" Jayce practically jumped into Nori's arms, hugging him tightly, "I don't know what I do without you!"

"I don't know what I'd do without you, either..." Nori replied, returning the hug.

"...You have time to hang out right now though, yeah...?" the thief questioned eagerly.

"I-" Nori began quickly, but then, he remembered what he was doing before this. He pulled away with a look a uneasiness on his face, "I, uh...no, I actually don't."

"Oh..." the thief looked away again.

"I'm so sorry, Jayce," Nori said out of pity for Jayce and guilt for himself, "please, don't be mad at me."

"...Nah, I'm not mad at you, and it's okay. You have a legit job now, and even though I don't like it, I have to respect that. So, you go on ahead and do what you have to do. I'll be okay," the thief replied honestly after a moment or so.

Nori stared at Jayce silently. He couldn't sense any anger, only emptiness. He quickly embraced his friend yet again, who genuinely hugged him back. If he had known that this was going to be the ultimate sacrifice for becoming what he was now, he would've never said yes. If he had the choice, of course...

They let go of each other.

"I'll try to be back as soon as I can, I promise," Nori said, determined to spend some quality time with the thief in any way possible. On a sad note, he left to finish his previous request.

Jayce went outside to watch the guardian descend the stairs, waiting for his sweet return...

oooooooooooo

Nori hurried to the Great Hall and found himself before Apus Major once more.

"Well done, Nori," Apus Major happily exclaimed, "And how did mighty Yggdrasil appear to you?"

"She gave off this fierce glow..." the guardian said, taking a quick glance at his strange angelic outfit that all Celestrians under apprenticeship were expected to wear to see if he looked presentable.

"She was fiercely aglow?" the ancient Celestrian repeated, so that he could verify what he had just heard.

The guardian nodded.

"Ho ho ho!" came that all-too-familiar laugh, "It seems that the time may soon be upon us. As I'm sure you are aware, it's we Celestrians' duty to tend mighty Yggdrasil until such time as She bears fruit. It's to this end that Guardians watch over mortalkind and gather benevolessence. And now, Nori, Guardian of Angel Falls," he began to stroke his long white beard, "I believe you know what you must do next..."

Nori nodded again, slowly.

"You are to return to the Protectorate and gather benevolescence...this time without Aquila to accompany you. Make ready, and the then speak with the female celestrian that stands guard over the great portal on the floor below. May all the bodies of the heavens guard over you, Nori, Guardian of Angel Falls."

"I'll do my best, sir," Nori made another respective gesture towards his elder before departing for the first floor. He spotted the female celestrian and walked up to her, but before he could say anything, she spoke first.

"Ah, Nori," she started, "you wish to descend to the Protectorate, I take it?" The guardian gave her a nod.

"So," she smiled, "the time has finally come for you to venture the Protectorate alone."

"Yeah, pretty much," he replied, shrugging his shoulders.

"Well, good luck, Nori. May the assistance you bestow upon the mortals of Angel Falls give rise to galaxies of benevolessence!" she added cheerfully.

"Thanks." the guardian jumped in the portal and into the mortals' world; specifically Angel Falls.

oooooooooooo

Nori landed on the ground safely, and he noticed two kids off in the distance, probably about his age, having a conversation about something. Now, he usually wasn't the nosy type, but since he was invisible, and therefore couldn't be seen by mortals, he decided to make an exception...

"...It's really weird..." Ivor, one of the boys said.

"What's weird?" replied the troublemaker's friend Hugo, the other boy, "You mean that name thingy on the Guardian statue, Ivor?"

Ivor looked at the Guardian statue, "Of course I mean that name thingy, Hugo, you dolt!" he yelled, "I'm sure it said "Aqui-" something before, but now it's "Nori"..."

"Really?" Hugo raised an eyebrow, "Well, it's said "Nori" for as long as I can remember."

"And how long is that, exactly?" Ivor questioned, "Do you remember reading it before?"

Hugo scratched the back of his head, "Er...I...that's funny...I, I can't say that I do."

"You see!" the light blonde boy nodded, "Everyone around here's weird. It's only just changed, and everyone thinks it's been like that forever."

"Ah-ha!" the lemon blonde boy's blue eyes widened, "It must be the work of the village Guardian then!"

Ivor shook his head, "Don't be such a wally! There's no such thing as Guardians. They're just made up rubbish. It's only Erinn who believes in all that nonsense. She's such a dumb, er...brunette."

...If only I could tell him he's right about the whole name-change thing, Nori thought as he noticed another boy a few yards away, who looked to be about 7 years old, and he didn't appear to be very happy.

"That Ivor's so full of himself," he heard the little boy mumble, "Huh! Just because he's the Mayor's son, he thinks he owns the place." he looked to the sky, "Please, Guardian Nori," he pleaded sweetly, "can you answer my prayers and teach him a lesson for us?"

That, I can do.

One thing that Nori didn't like were people that were full of themselves, full of pride. Those were the types that he could easily prove wrong with logic and wit (not what, wit). Sure, he himself was talented at a lot of things, but he didn't use those traits to show off and make others feel like they couldn't do something spectacular and were less than what they were really worth. If anything, he would try to hide his gifts from society, unless they actually needed to be used...

All the guardian had to figure out was how to teach the troublemaker a lesson, and since he hadn't been insulted by said troublemaker yet, this was going to acquire a little thinking before he acted...or so he thought. At that exact moment, he thought of something that he would NEVER do to anyone, but he had seen it done a few times before, and it had shown to be effective in those certain situations.

He grinned, showing his elongated fangs. He then walked behind Ivor, who was still going on about Guardians and Erinn.

"Erinn's always going on about how everything is thanks to the Guardian," he snickered,

"Stupid, if you ask me. If this Guardian really exists, then why doesn't she introduce him to me, eh?"

That's what Nori was waiting for!

Erinn this, Erinn that... Hugo thought as he listened to his friend, Ivor's so transparent. He's clearly head over heels in love with the girl. Funnily enough, she still doesn't seem to have realized at all. It could be a hard road ahead for poor Ivor...

Immediately, the Guardian raised his hand and in one swift motion, he slapped Ivor in the back of his head.

"Ow!" Ivor cried, clutching his head, looking around frantically, "Wh-What the-!? Who did that?" he paused, "...The village Guardian, I suppose?" he mumbled. He crossed his arms, "Oi, Guardian!" the light blonde spat distastefully, "If you're really there, shouldn't you be helping people, and not going around hitting them?"

I wonder what's up with Ivor all the sudden... Hugo thought once more, watching as his friend talked to himself as if someone other than the two of them was actually there.

Nori chuckled. Maybe doing that was a bit too extreme for a non-involved first offense. Deciding that it was time to stop fooling around, he wondered off more towards the village shoppe, where next, he came across a bouncy dog which had been hiding behind the place, it's tail (A/N: The dog's tail, not Nori's, just in case you got a little confused there. Probably not, though) wagging from side to side with happiness.

He could never understand why monsters and animals got the privilege to see Celestrians, but the mortals couldn't. Maybe it was for their own good...

"Oh, hello," Nori greeted, giving the dog a good rubdown. He was more of a cat "person", but that didn't mean he didn't like dogs.

"Arf! Ar, ar, arf!" the very happy dog barked, rolling onto its back, exposing its stomach, "Arf, arf!" This went on a little while longer before the canine got back up and walked over to something shiny in the grass.

"What? You see something?" Nori asked, following the four-legged creature. And then there it was; glistening in the grass was a beautiful keepsake ring that somebody had dropped.

"Bow wow wow!" the dog barked again and looked at Nori.

The guardian picked the ring up from off the ground and put it into his pocket. "Good dog," he said, petting the canine one last time before walking away, looking into the light blue sky.

If he wanted to keep his promise to Jayce, he would have to work diligently, and efficiently.

On the other side of the village was a small stable, and pet a brown horse that was eating some grass nearby before he went in.

However, he soon wished he hadn't done so. In a split second, a very pungent and unpleasant smell kicked him in the face, making his nose burn.

To his right was a farmer laying on a pile of plush hay, and appeared to look dazed and tired.

"Haah, well," he murmured, "I suppose I better get the stable cleaned out a bit sharpish," he took a moment to yawn, his eyes slowly closing, "...I'm ever so sleepy though. My body feels like it's made of...lead..." he slowly dozed off, the sound of his loud snoring gradually filling the perimeter.

Nori stared with amazement, pinching his nose to block out the obvious smell of course, thinking about how anybody can take the time to rest in a place that smelled like, well, um...shit.

...Literally.

Scattered around the stable before the usually calm, but now very annoyed guardian, were five giant lumps of feces, or less scientifically speaking, poop, or manure, specifically from a horse, probably from the one outside...

"You have got to be fucking kidding me," Nori mumbled. He sighed and rolled up his sleeves, his tail twitching with frustration as he proceeded to clean up after the lazy farmer and scoop all of the fecal matter with a close by pitchfork into his beloved bag.

His now no longer loved, stinky bag.

(A/N: If you ever have to do something like this, use a shovel, not a pitchfork, people. Don't blame Nori though, he was just being resourceful. This has been a public service announcement from the National Association of Bullshit Scenarios.)

About three and a half hours later, Nori had completely finished. A few seconds after that, the farmer woke up with a startling shock.

"Ach, no..." he frowned, "I can't believe I feel asleep again! And I still haven't gotten rid of all this horse shi-" he stopped himself, noticing something about his surroundings.

"What the-!? How come it's so clean...?" he asked himself as he looked around, "I'd only just started to tidy up when I dozed off," that's when the only possible answer dawned upon him, "Ah, that must be it! The guardian's been helpin' me while I've been asleep!"

Yeah, and I'm NEVER doing it again! a voice screamed in the guardian's head, KESSHITE! You can bet your freakin' horse on that!

"Thank you, Nori! I'll work harder from now on, I promise. I'll have me another horse in no time, you'll see!" from the farmer came a blue-green light, and from that, Nori received a crystal of benevolessence.

"I guess it was worth it then," the guardian faintly smiled and exited the stable, going to the middle of town, and dumping his poor bag into the river, cleaning it of its unfavorable contents.

When he finished that, he ringed it out until it was dry, and then he continued to find someone else in need of his assistance. By now, the sun had almost been completely consumed by the horizon; there was no way he could get back to the Observatory in time for Jayce.

He had broken his promise.

He sighed and gazed around, seeing a pair of middle-aged women by a nearby well, gossiping about...whatever, the dog that he had met earlier had went back into hiding and was therefore nowhere in sight, there was a man who was fishing on a dock behind his house, and there was a nun dressed in blue, black and white, standing outside the village church.

The church! Of course, that should've been the first thing he should've done when he had gotten there...he had always wondered what the inside looked like...He went in and was welcomed by the simple decor. There were two long tables, horizontally placed one in front of the other, each having a set of four round wooden stools. Underneath the furniture was a long red carpet that had zigzag patterns on the border of either side. The church was pretty empty, there were only two people present; the priest and an old lady.

He sensed feelings of distress in the air, his first thought was the old lady, since the priest was staring off into space, intensely thinking about an unknown subject.

"It's terrible! I've lost my husband's ring! Oh, but it's all I have to remember him by..." the old lady said sadly, "Please, Guardian Nori," the old lady cried, "use your guardian powers to reunite my husband's ring and I!"

...A ring...Nori had found a lost ring. Maybe, it belonged to her. Stealthily and quickly, he slipped the keepsake ring into the old lady's coat pocket.

"Hm? That's funny," the old woman said to herself, "my coat suddenly feels a wee bit heavier..." she stuck her hand in her pocket and pulled out what she had been looking for, "Lord Almighty! It's, it's my Bruce's ring!" she said happily, "Well, I just don't understand it," she went on, "I searched high and low for this thing before, and I couldn't find it anywhere," she looked around her, "It must be Nori's doing. Aren't we lucky to have a Guardian who watches over us so well?" she put the ring on her finger, "Thank you! Thank you, Nori!" the old lady thanked the guardian. From her came a very familiar green-blue light, and from that, came (you all know what it is, so let's say it together) benevolessence.

Nori smiled, put the crystal in his bag and left, but only after hearing "Eureka! That's it! I'll make chicken stew for dinner!" being awkwardly exclaimed by the priest.

The guardian walked outside, and was greeted by the full moon and thousands - no - billions of stars that twinkled overhead. Yep, that promise he made was total crap now. If only that farmer hadn't gone and took a nap, maybe, just maybe...

He saw Aquila in the middle of town, who looked to be pretty busy. He came up to his teacher, and quickly tried to get his words right.

"Good evening, Aquila," Nori said, "what brings you here on this lovely night?" he then began to think negatively, which was one thing he did a lot, "You're not here to check up on me, are you...?" he frowned, "...Don't you trust me?"

Aquila honestly didn't know how to respond to that. He knew of Nori's tragic past, his darkest secrets, his sexual orientation...

The guardian had good intentions, but every once in a while, he was tempted to do the wrong things, and very rarely did he carry out with his wrong doings, but, no, the teacher could not fully trust his pupil. And, as he discussed with Columba, Nori was "but a fledgling", or in other words, too young. He was only 16.

However, Aquila began to think about the good that his pupil had done. Despite his apparent frostiness, Nori seemed to diligently tend to his duties, he put others before himself, he carried out various errands for his peers, and he could very caring, respectful and kind at times, and the goodness in him almost always ruled out the bad. That was all that the teacher needed.

"Nonsense," Aquila shook his head, "I trust you with my life. My new duty is to patrol the entire Protectorate, and though you guard it well, sometimes I must revisit my old territory." he paused,

"And as I am here, Nori, there is one last lesson I wish to teach you."

"Okay then," Nori replied, the smile returning to his mysterious features.

"As you already know, as Guardians, it's our duty to tend to our mortal flock, but this means more than merely watching over the living."

"Oh?"

"Yes, sometimes we must help those who have passed away, but whose souls continue to roam the land. You hear it too, do you not? The voice of a wandering soul here in the village in need of your assistance..." he secretly pointed behind himself to give Nori a hint at where the spirit was dwelling, and when the guardian got it, he went to help.

"Um, hi, you wouldn't happen to need any help, would you?" Nori asked the ghost, whom of which was turned away from the Guardian with his arms crossed, mumbling about something along the lines of "being ignored".

"Eh?" the ghostly thug looked at Nori, and his face lit up, "Oh, someone who's prepared to gimme the time o' day at last! Listen 'ere. Can you tell me why everyone's ignorin' me?"

"Hmm, well..." Nori sighed, trying to think of a reasonable answer.

"...'Ang on a minute..." the ghostly thug interrupted, "w-wot's wiv that get-up, eh?"

"What? What's wrong with my clothes?" Nori questioned, straightening his left sleeve, however, he didn't think that soul he was trying to help was listening.

"Y-You ain't a...oh, my days, you are!" the ghost thug smiled, "Yer a Celestrian, ain'tcha?"

"That, I am." Nori verified.

"Do they all 'ave tails like you?"

"...No, they don't." the guardian sighed and looked away for a brief moment.

"Oh. Well, anyways, why is it that people won't talk to me anymore?"

"..." Nori scratched the back of his head.

"Go on, you can tell me. I can take it! That's wot's 'appened innit?"

"...Basically, you're dead." the guardian said bluntly.

The ghostly thug seemed awestruck, and it took him a moment to process what he had just heard, "Cheers for bein' straight with me, Mister, er...Celestrian. It's good fing you told me. When I thought everyone was just ignorin' me, I was about ready to do meself in anyway! But now I know wot's wot, I can just get on wiv it and...well, you know, rest in peace an' all that."

"Dou itashimashite," Nori nodded, "You're welcome."

The phantom thug was raised into the air, and engulfed by that totally expected light, which produced yet another crystal of benevolessence. And with that, the soul was up and gone to the heavens.

There was something weird about this particular crystal. It seemed much brighter than most...he just stuck it in the bag.

Then, he saw Ivor. What was he doing out this late? Didn't mortals need their sleep? Nori decided to be nosy and get closer.

There's no point in going home, the light blonde boy thought, I'll just have to suffer an ear-bending from Dad, he looked around, ...But people are saying that there's a ghost or the like about the place lately, he tensed up, Ugh, I feel like I'm being watched. Brrrr... he shivered.

He was right. He was being watched.

Nori lightly brushed his tail against Ivor's back, causing the latter to jump.

"I'm not s-scared!" Ivor stammered, becoming fearful, I don't even believe in ghosts! he then said in his mind, trying to comfort himself, I do feel a little cold, though...I might just have to go home after all... the troublemaker began to cautiously walk to his place of living, which soon turned into a frantic run followed by some screaming after Nori took off two of his earrings and threw them, hitting Ivor on the shoulder. The guardian deviously smirked, retrieving his accessories from the ground. He loved messing with Ivor. There was no way that he was going to sleep tonight.

Aquila, who was very impressed with how his pupil handled the troubled soul, came up to him and smiled.

"You've done well, Nori," he said, "Thanks to your intervention, a mortal soul has made its peace, and is now at rest. The benevolessence of a departed soul shines more brilliantly than any."

"Thank you, Aquila." Nori replied, picking up the earrings from off the ground.

"You'll be returning to the Observatory with the crystals you have gathered post-haste, no doubt?"

"Hai," the guardian nodded.

"...Then I shall bid you farewell for now, I have much to do here in the Protector-" Aquila stopped himself and looked up towards the midnight blue sky, "Hm?"

"...What?" Nori asked, and looked up as his teacher had done. They saw a golden form of transportation of some sort, lighting up and shooting across the darkened atmosphere at a questionable speed.

"The Starflight Express..." Nori mumbled.

"Indeed," Aquila added, "It's been unusually active of late..." he paused, "...I've changed my mind. I shall accompany you to the Observatory after all, Nori."

Nori and Aquila set off into the night sky, to their home. When they got there, the teacher looked very antsy.

"I have important matters to discuss with Apus Major. Please, excuse me." he abruptly left.

I wonder what's up with him, the guardian thought, his tail swaying side to side. He decided not to think anymore of it and instead, deliver his enviable amount of benevolessence to Yggdrasil.

That also meant that he would have to walk up all those stairs...again. He groaned as he made his way up. As he did this, he noticed that there were lots of Celestrians that were gathering outside the tower for some reason, so he looked for Jayce to see if he was doing the same, however, he was nowhere to be found.

Nori frowned. He felt so guilty for not fulfilling his promise. Jayce probably wanted nothing more to do with him right now, which was understandable...Maybe the thief would start hanging out with someone else...

Maybe not.

When he made it to the very top, he saw that Aquila and Apus Major were already there, and they seemed to be in deep conversation. When the two other Celestrians noticed the guardian's presence, Aquila spoke first.

"Well met, Nori!" he exclaimed, "Truly, you've chosen a fortuitous moment to join us. Behold Yggdrasil. She's ready to burst into bloom with all the benevolessence we've offered unto Her.

"...Really?" Nori questioned, feeling an uplifting sensation from the Great World Tree, seeing

Her soft, warm glow.

"Ho ho ho!" Apus Major laughed, "Yes, She is but a a hair's breadth now from bearing fruit." he continued, "Fyggbloom hails the opening of the Heavenly Gates, and sets the Celestrians on the path to salvation..."

"...And lo," Aquila added, "it shall be in the celestial carriage that we, the chosen custodians, journey unto the Realm of the Almighty." he turned to his apprentice, "It's time, Nori. Offer the benevolessence you've gathered unto mighty Yggdrasil. Do so, and She will surely bear fruit at last."

The guardian hesitated before he walked to and kneeled at the foot of Yggdrasil, giving all three crystals to Her. While doing so, the tree's glow became much brighter than anyone had ever seen, brighter than the Sun even! 7 golden fruits appeared along Her branches. Gasps of amazement filled the air from other celestial spectators around them.

"Behold!" Apus Major said with awe, "The sacred Fyggs bloom!"

Then, a very loud, and very long monotone whistle sounded throughout the Observatory, and out in the the distance, soaring in at lightning-fast speeds, was the one and only Starflight Express, probably using the light from the Great World Tree as a beacon to make its way to the Observatory. It pulled in and came to an abrupt halt.

"...And the celestial chariot appears..." the old Celestrian continued, "...Praise be! All as it was foretold!"

Immediately, Nori sensed something. Something not right. Something strong. Something strange. Something that he had a little bit of. Something evil…

And it was coming for them.

The tower began to violently shake, knocking the guardian off his feet, his tail being of no use to himself for perfect balance. Apus Major fought to stay afoot with his cane, totally speechless. Then, the evil finally came. Purple beams of light penetrated the Observatory from below. One beam had struck the celestial locomotive and broke it into pieces, dismantling it, and making it lose altitude, disappearing from celestial sight.

"What's happening?" Apus Major said, discouraged, "Have we been...decieved?"

Aquila didn't understand, and even though he had never seen such a thing like this, he knew this wasn't supposed to happen, so what trickery was this? Surely, this was not how celestial labor was supposed to cease.

Nori found it difficult to get up, but eventually, he did, slowly coming towards the edge of the tower by the occurring wind. He gripped the ground, looked to the sky, and then at the newly-made cracks in the structure of the Observatory.

Was someone trying to destroy them?

Aquila noticed his apprentice's struggle and tried to help him, but it was too risky. In a split second, Nori was pulled up and thrown over the edge.

"Nori!" the teacher cried, reaching out for the guardian, but he was already too far away.

Nori screamed and watched with much sadness as the Observatory, and the celestial bodies within became nothing but little dots, like the stars in the colorfully loud night sky.

"This is not good!"

All of the Fyggs had gone overboard too, each falling in a different direction, never to be seen again. Ever.

Or so it seemed…

The Celestrians watched in horror as one of their own plummeted to his death, shining brightly, his feathers separating from his wings. From the Protectorate, not only were people from around the world screaming for their lives, but where the magnitude was lower, some people were watching in awe as this "shooting star" fell from the sky, glistening in the dawning surroundings. It was very hard to miss. None of those mortals would forget this never-before-seen phenomenon.

Nori just knew this was the end for him. He prayed that he wouldn't die; he had so much more he wanted to do and see in life.

The guardian came closer to the ground, over a familiar land, and a gigantic splash could be seen and heard, shaking the ground by tenfold. This couldn't end well, for the mortals, for himself, or for any other Celestrian who was experiencing the same fate.

...If he was to survive, this was going to be the start of a long journey.

Oooooooooooo

Well, that's chapter one for you! Dragon Quest IX is one of my all time favorite games. It's also one of the hardest games in the Dragon Quest Series. I beat the game once before, (Thanksgiving day of 2015; According to the game, it took me 72 hours, 2 minutes and 52 seconds, I think. No, it didn't take me only three days, it was actually maybe...5 or 6 months? Maybe even just 4 months. And let me tell you, the very last boss, whose name I won't reveal for those of you who haven't gotten that far, is hard as fuck.) but I erased everything to rewrite this…

Chapter two is coming soon, so be on the lookout for it! (If you actually like this story, that is. Chances are, you don't, but I guess that's okay...)

Tell me what you think! (Go on, pour your heart out and tell how much you hate this, and I'll appreciate your honesty. Sometimes, the truth hurts.)

And if you saw any grammatical mistakes while reading this chapter, any misspelled words or anything like that, please let me know.

Thanks!