In Luke's own personal opinion, Lorelei made a much better alarm than Jade ever could. At least Lorelei didn't give him nightmares...? Daymares? Whatever, that didn't matter, he had to get going. Very quickly, the redhead joined his three companions outside.
"Good morning Luke!" Colette greeted happily, she was standing in between Raine and Kratos who both said nothing. "Did you sleep well?" She continued still rather cheery.
"Yeah no worries." he quickly answered, feeling both Kratos and Raine staring at him, "Now everyone's here should we get going?"
"The whole village is waiting at the gate to send us off. It won't take long, but we should leave now in order to remain on schedule." Raine explained. The ever eternal teacher that she was. Luke didn't think that the liked schedules that much.
"Are you prepared?" The mercenary asked, staring the redhead down.
Luke stared back as he replied "Of course."
Kratos said nothing more as he made his way towards the southern gate. The other three following behind. Colette was a little confused as she looked between Kratos and Luke. Didn't they like each other? If they were going to be travelling together they would have to get along. The Chosen made herself a small promise, Kratos and Luke would be friends by the end of this journey!
The entire village minus Dirk Lloyd and Genis were waiting for the party to see off the Chosen. In all truth the entire village wasn't actually that many people, and what with the wounded priests from the temple still recovering... Actually it wasn't the entire village. In normal fashion the Mayor stood at the head of the parade, blocking off the exit so he could say his speech.
'Oh for Lorelei's sake is this necessary' Luke thought as he listened. The Mayor rambled on:
"Chosen. We, the people of Iselia wish you a safe passage while of The Journey Of Regeneration. All of our prayers go to you and your guardians, wishing for you to succed in regenerating the world."
Why for my sake?
'It's just and expression. Didn't you know people prayed to you? Even made "The Order Of Lorelei" and everything.'
Really? People prayed to me? Why?
'I don't know, wait, I have to walk.'
The Chosen of Regeneration and her chosen guardians walked up to the gate now that the Mayor was out of the way. Colette turned towards the villagers to address them one final goodbye.
"People of Iselia, thank you. You have all helped me prepare for this journey that I must partake in, showing me kindness all throughout my life, and now I must repay you. And I shall repay not only everyone in this village, but all of the people in the world of Sylvarant by regenerating the world." She finished her speech with a bow. The crowd bowed back in respect, and that was it. No other words exchanged, no cries of joy, gifts, wishes, no anything. Nothing.
The crowd watched the four leave with bated breath. Hopefully this Chosen would succeed.
"According to the map, we need to follow this pathway to reach the Triet Desert." The Professor explained yet again, just like that morning, and the night before. Even Colette and her infinite patience was being tried. Though she didn't actually mind that much, she knew that the Professor just loved explaining things.
To the side, Kratos made a grunting noise showing he had heard, and continued to scan the horizon. Luke said something about it being easy. It was a surprise to the young Chosen just how relaxed Luke was about this whole journey. Then again he had mentioned he had been travelling before for a year already. Maybe he had already been to Triet. He must have to think it was easy.
The more Colette thought, the more she realised how little she actually knew about Luke, and by extension Kratos. Even Kratos' emotions were mysterious.
"We should travel in a formation, to cover blind spots and protect the Chosen." Kratos said abruptly.
Colette internally winced, not that she minded being the Chosen, but people tended to forget that she was Colette as well. The way Luke scowled to the side, he seemed to think so too. Was that why the two didn't like each other?
"A good idea Kratos" the Professor agreed, before turning to the blonde "if that is okay with you Colette?"
Raine was always nice, asking what she wanted to do. "Yep" Colette smiled. And Raine smiled a little smile. She would be pretty if ever she smiled fully the young Chosen thought.
Kratos then talked about formation, and explained to Luke what Unison Attacks were. Colette already knew, so she didn't listen. But if Luke didn't know what team attacks were,it probably meant he travelled on his own.
Of course, they couldn't help but fight monsters since the world wasn't regenerated yet. Maybe when she became and angel, they would all vanish, then Lloyd could continue his craft work instead of using his swords all the time. That was a nice thought. She shook her head, thoughts like that were nice, but a distraction from her mission. That's why she left Lloyd and Genis behind. If anything happened to them... Well at least now they were safe.
The heat. It made Luke remember why he hated deserts. The sand made movement harder, it got everywhere, and the heat dulled everything with exhaustion! It was not fun! When he got back to Aulderant, Luke promised himself to spend a week in Keterburg to just lie in the snow and forget about deserts.
No one talked much for the duration of the trip to Triet, going over their own thoughts or ignoring the desert heat, that mostly bothered Luke, but was swiftly forgotten when shade and water were finally available.
"We're here so what should we do now?" The redhead asked, hoping to stop. Unfortunately his wish would not be granted, as Kratos quickly pulled him and the others behind a wall.
"Be quiet and look over there!" The mercenary ordered. Where he pointed, Desians roamed around the streets, checking every nook and cranny for something. Probably Colette.
"We need to be careful around here." Raine said, "Triet doesn't have a non-aggression pact with the Desians like Iselia does. For now let's see if we can find some information about the Triet Ruins. We can check into an inn and shop for items later once the Desians have left."
Kratos and Raine ignored Luke's grumbles of complaint.
The four ended up walking around the town dodging any Desians that came too close. Any that thought they were suspicious were guided to Raine who would passionately about the ruins, their history, their architecture, and anything really that came to mind would suddenly find that they had other things to do and proceed to walk away educated and slightly creeped out.
All in all they managed to keep a low profile until Colette defied Gnome's laws of gravity and tripped, causing a merchant to stumble, but more importantly leaving a human shaped imprint on the sidewalk. How that was even possible was anyone's guess, even Lorelei was speechless, maybe it was her gift as Chosen, or maybe it was just dumb luck? Of course the merchant who stumbled was not happy and started shouting in an annoyed merchant fashion, forcing Raine to step forward and try to defuse the situation. Really she was the only one who probably could, Kratos was just plain threatening, Luke would get embarrassed, and Colette would just buy all his wares as an apology. Very quickly the elven professor calmed down the situation, her words pacifying him until; "You're the Chosen?!"
All eyes turned at the mention of the Chosen, whispering began in the streets, which one was the Chosen? Where were they? Had the Journey already begun? The merchant on the other hand immediately walked forward almost bowing to Colette. "I am so terribly sorry, I did not realise you were the Chosen. Please forgive me! And allow me to be included in the Regeneration!" he apologised over and over almost grovelling at her feet.
"It's alright! It was my fault for tripping." The young Chosen said very flustered, her hands waving in front of her as she tried to distance herself from the terrified man.
Kratos at this point had had enough this whole affair was getting beyond ridiculous in his opinion. "The Chosen has apologised and offered you compensation. What more could you want? Stop acting like she will kill you."
"But I have occurred her wrath!" the merchant wailed "My shop is cursed! No one shall buy anything once they find out I was rude to the Chosen!"
Raine and Kratos sighed. That is when Luke decided to step in against his better judgment. "How about we buy something, to show it's not cursed?"
The merchant jumped on the idea "Yes. Yes! I could sell you them at a discount! Then everyone would come to buy my wares. The Chosen has blessed them, it is the best advertisement!"
"Um... Yeah?" Luke was suddenly confused again. Colette was also confused, so she smiled and thanked the man. Maybe he was just a little crazy is all? And Raine and Kratos were thankful that they could finally get out of the situation, but not before asking about the Temple of Fire. The merchant directed them to the Fortune-Teller before he scuttled off, muttering about new business plans.
The Fortune-Teller's tent was cooler on the inside, which was a bonus in everyone's book. It was filled with boxes, pots and mirrors, but what really drew attention was the crystal ball on the small table in the middle of the room. Seated at the table was a middle-aged woman with a clever glint in her eyes.
"Welcome to the House of Fortune. What would you like me to divine for you?" The lady greeted as she eyed each of the three people in the room. Kratos was standing guard outside. Before any of them could ask, she spoke again "Colette Brunel. The Chosen of Regeneration, am I correct?" she asked tilting her head with a coy smile. Colette gasped, Luke's eyes widened and Raine put her hand to her chin in thought.
"Do not worry" the lady continued "I foresaw your exact arrival in my crystal ball, and your Cruxis Crystal. Now I assume you would like to know where the Temple of Fire is located?"
"Yes. Are you going to help us?" The professor questioned, not wanting a Desian trap or another merchant-like person.
The Fortune-Teller nodded before asking for the groups map, she marked of a spot to the east which appeared to be a small oasis "The Temple of Fire lies at the oasis that was destroyed when Efreet lost control."
"That's a long trip, at least a day or more." Raine noted
The lady moved her fingers across the map, "I can guide you to the shortest path that leads to the temple. But once you are inside I may no longer assist, nor can I tell you anything about it outside. I am forbidden from aiding in the trials."
"Yes I am aware of that." Colette spoke up, some unspoken agreement passing between her and the lady. "So when should we leave for the temple?"
"Tomorrow would be best. We shouldn't stay in a Desian occupied town more than a day." Raine proposed, to which the lady agreed.
"Early tomorrow morning we shall depart. Is that alright with you Chosen?"
Colette nodded, "Yes." To which the Fortune-Teller gave a smile satisfied before turning to Raine to finish preparations.
Colette and Luke stepped outside and explained everything to Kratos. He listened and gave a curt nod. With the next day planned, all that was left to do was stock up on supplies. At first the group snuck around, wary of Desians but quickly noted that their 'enemy' was absent, which was a very good thing considering earlier commotion. It seemed like Colette's luck was shining through.
In the inn, Luke had nothing better to do, what with Kratos and Colette talking in the other room and Raine reading a book her face telling him that it wasn't a good idea to bother her. Especially with those glasses, the elf was scarier in glasses. Why were people with glasses scary? It made no sense!
Luke, do you have a fear of people in glasses?
The question was so unexpected to Luke that he almost dropped his sharpening tools. If Raine noticed then she didn't say anything.
'What are you talking about!'
You seem to have an aversion to people who wear glasses, even though you highly respect them. Like Jade.
'Nope. Not doing this.' He did not want to start that conversation. Ever. 'Anyway, I had other questions I wanted to ask.'
Lorelei seemed upset at the sudden change of subject, but complied anyway. What do you need to know?
'Well, how come this world has an Efreet and a sorceress' ring as well? I thought Yulia made the one Mieu carried.'
I can't explain about Efreet, I am just as surprised as you. But back during the time of Mithos, a meteorite impacted the planet. The meteorite was found by Mithos and his companions, and they soon discovered it radiated powerful mana. They carved it into a magical ring that could be used by anyone; elf, human and dwarf; it didn't matter. It has since been used by every Chosen. The name must be a complete coincidence.
'Alright, I think I understand... So what about Colette? Why is she the Chosen specifically? She doesn't seem like the kind of person you'd trust in saving the world.'
Neither did you Luke, yet here you are. Though I am inclined to agree, she does seem woefully underprepared. As for why she was exactly chosen, I do not know. He sounded almost regretful.
'More stuff not in the planet's memory huh?'
Precisely my scion.
Luke and Lorelei continued to talk a little while longer, until Luke got bored of his sharoening his sword, and the sentience got tired. How he got tired Luke would never know. But it left the redhead with nothing better to do that to check up on his comrades.
Raine didn't even lift her head up as he left. She did lift it however, with an unbridled amount of rage as she heard the very familiar voice of her younger brother.
"Luke! Oh thank Martel! We have a serious problem, Lloyd..."
The elven professor slammed her book and opened the door, glaring at her younger brother, "Is this problem more serious than disobeying me when I specifically told you and Lloyd to stay in Iselia? And how did you even get here? I should just..." she stopped as she properly looked at Genis. He looked panicked which was understandable, but also like he hadn't had a proper nights rest in a while.
Genis looked to his older sister, he looked so scared "Raine! Lloyd was taken by the Desians! It's all my fault. I should have asked him. Raine, I'm sorry!" he was shouting at this point, making both Colette and Kratos to come see the commotion.
"Genis! What are you doing here? Where's Lloyd?" Colette was shocked at seeing Genis. He was supposed to stay safe in Iselia.
"Colette! It's Lloyd he's-" Genis was cut off by his sister pulling him into a hug.
"Genis calm down, then tell us everything from the beginning." She instructed gently, she was furious and seeing Genis' guilt she knew that he felt he was partially to blame, but shouting at someone who already felt bad was pointless.
Genis let go at his sister and began to talk as he stared at the ground "On the day of the Oracle, Lloyd and I went to the Human Ranch. I had been going there for a few days before to visit one of the prisoners there, but it was the first time Lloyd went with me."
"So you violated the non-aggression treaty between the Ranch an Iselia?"
"W-well, Marble, she was punished for goofing off while talking to us. She was just an old lady. Lloyd got angry with how the Desians were treating her and wanted to save her, so we devised a plan to distract the Desians from Marble.
"I guess Lloyd got spotted, because the next day the Desians attacked Iselia, demanding for Lloyd. They set the village on fire! And brought a monster to attack us. A-and then... the monster, it was Marble! They put and exsphere on here and removed it turning her into that monster. We killed her! The Mayor banished us from the village! We had nowhere else to go." He finished sadly, his head hung low in shame. It was all his fault. Everything was Genis' fault. He was supposed to be the smart one, now look at where that got him.
Raine, Colette and Luke were shocked. Not just by Genis' actions, but by the cruelty of the Mayor and the Desians. The Desians were bad, but now they were turning people into monsters. Surprisingly it was not Luke that spoke up as Raine expected, but Colette. The young Chosen put her hands on her friends shoulders forcing him to look at her.
"Genis, it's okay now. We are going to save Lloyd." There was no room for any argument. She wanted this even more than she knew. Colette refused to turn to any of the adults to ask for permission. She was going to save Lloyd.
"Are you sure about this Chosen?" Kratos asked even though he probably knew the answer anyway.
"Kratos, Professor. C'mon we are going to save Lloyd."
The professor could hardly say no. Even if he was a troublemaker she still had a soft spot for Lloyd, Kratos ended up grumbling "If we don't save Lloyd, the Chosen might not put her full effort into her duties."
And Luke readily agreed. Raine noted that he had a certain thing about saving people. "So you're coming with us?"
"It would appear so." Raine sighed. Hopefully one day Genis and Lloyd would stay out of trouble. One day.
"Thank you Mr Kratos! Thanks Professor!" Colette smiled brightly. At least she wouldn't be going alone.
Genis was smiling too, it was a small, sad smile but a smile non the less! "Noishe is with us. He can lead us to the Desian's base."
Leaving the Temple of Fire for another day, the group left the inn and followed Noishe across the desert to save Lloyd.
"Ow." Lloyd groaned as he woke up on a hard floor. Everything hurt as he slowly got up, looking at his unfamiliar surroundings, the brunette couldn't help but notice that the room resembled a jail cell. As he tried to remember how he got into this situation, two Desian soldiers were talking just outside his cell.
"...if so, I feel sorry for that poor Lloyd kid." one said, his voice clearly contradicting his words.
"Yeah. He can't possibly escape execution." the other snickered.
Execution. The word branded itself to Lloyd's mind. He couldn't die here! Survival instinct kicked in, forcing him to look for a way out, examining the cell from top to bottom, seeing if he had his equipment on him. Unfortunately the guards and cell had done a good job. The room was sealed tight save for the bars, and he only had his clothes on him. Well, at least he wasn't naked. That would have been embarrassing.
"Hey! You two!" An angry, but somehow familiar voice shouted at the two lazy Desians "Get Irving and bring him to Lord Botta! The execution will have to wait, seems there is still something he needs from this kid."
The two Desians seemed to shrink as they listened to their apparent commanding officer. Lloyd turned his back to the Desians. Maybe he could surprise attack one of them, and he would have to acknowledge their presence.
"You're coming with us. Don't even try to escape, someone like you couldn't even comprehend a faculty like this." Desian #1 said
"You can make this easier or harder on yourself kid. Choose wisely." Desian #2 added
The Desian in charge sighed loudly, sounding very fed up "Just get him to Botta."
The familiarity in the voice was staring to bug Lloyd. He only turned around when the heard the door opening. Desian #1 and #2 were dressed in generic Desian armour, even with the customary whip. Figuring no pain was better than pain for being stubborn, Lloyd followed them out, though he didn't bother to hide his annoyance.
"Hey dreck" the commanding Desian spoke "Just be thankful you're not dead yet. Our leader could easily change his mind about your worth."
Lloyd was about to retort something he probably thought was witty, but all words failed him when he looked at the Desian commander fully. The red hair was the first give away, as were the green eyes, but there was no mistaking it.
"Luke?!" he shouted in shock. He could not believe it. Standing in front of him was Luke, dressed in red and black like a Desian. His hair was slicked back, but was still just as long. The only thing that truly looked different were his eyes. They were glaring at Lloyd in full annoyance. So much hatred was suddenly there.
Luke seemed surprised for a second, before he glared at Luke and turned away, waving for the other two Desians "Take him to Botta, I have something to take care of. You know where he is right?"
"Yes Lord Asch!" They saluted, dragging Lloyd to wherever this 'Lord Botta' was, leaving Luke- no Asch behind, who seemed deep in thought.
Lloyd had given up fighting. Luke was really a Desian this whole time. But if he was here, where were Colette, the Professor and Kratos?
Author's Note: Hello! First of all, I am so sorry for not updating. I am sure you've heard this before, and will probably hear it again from me. I have no planned schedule for this story, but at the least I shall get one chapter out a month. Secondly, I have four reviews! Thank you so much to everyone who like the story, read it, favorite it (I have 7 people who did that!) followed it (11!), everything really. Now to answer the reviews since last chapter I was too lazy:
Love Psycho: I seem to see you everywhere there is a Tales Of story. Thank you for always reading the stories and reviewing, it truly means a lot. Anyway, thank you for the tips, and do not worry, I have something planned for Raine and Luke.
Guest: I don't know who you are but thank you!
Vetrenar: Thank you for reviewing! And do not fear, the only time I shall abandon this story is when I have written and published the final chapter! As for the cost of the JOR line, that was most likely an error on my part when rewriting the first nine chapters, but who knows, I could work with it too. And do not worry about your English, it is very good, I study English at uni and have seen worse. Much worse.
Wolf Moon Light: Thank you for enjoying this, and as I said before, I shall only give up once the final chapter is published!
Anyway, a big thanks to everyone once again, as now we have finished the rewrite of the original story. Chapter 6 shall be only new content! I hope you are looking forward to it as much as I am. Toodles!