Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn
A Genso Suikoden Fanfic
By: Aaron Nowack

Part 1: Memory

"Thus is our treaty written; thus is agreement made.
Thought is the arrow of time; memory never fades.
What was asked is given. The price is paid."
- _The Shadow Rising_ by Robert Jordan

Disclaimer: The Genso Suikoden game series is made and owned by Konami.
As I am neither a corporation nor Japanese, that would not be me. The
title of this fic is stolen from the title of a fantasy novel series by
Tad Williams, who is also not me. This fic brought to you by the GOLDEN

The Rune of Life and Death, also called the Cursed Rune, but
best known as Souleater. One of the Twenty-Seven True Runes, formed
from the primordial void at the dawn of creation, one of the jewels that
adorned the twin brothers Sword and Shield, from whose conflict the
world was born. Like its brethren, part of the foundation of the world,
the bedrock on which all of reality rested.

It allowed Life to exist, and caused it to end at Death.
Without its power, neither would exist, and the world would be
unrecognizable. That power was awesome, and there were many who sought
to wield it. However, like all awesome power, it came with a terrible
price. It was that price which gave the Rune its more common name.

Unlike the more common Runes, the Souleater allowed access to
its power only as it saw fit. It would twist fate so that its bearers'
loved ones would fall one by one, their souls trapped forever within the
Rune. As each was consumed, the Souleater would grant new power to its
'master'. Over time the bearer could control this process, or even stop
it, but it was a feat that took centuries to master. The wielder would
have all the time he needed, for like all the True Runes, it granted the
painful gift of immortality to any it allowed to carry it.

Because of the curse it bore, few could stand to keep Souleater
long enough to accomplish this, instead choosing to end their own lives
or pass the burden to another. And so, Souleater had had many masters
through the centuries.

In the year In Solis 455, it had fallen to a young man named Tir
McDohl to wield the Cursed Rune, as destiny chose him as its agent to
change the course of history. Over three long years of war and
suffering, Tir gathered the 108 Stars of Destiny to his banner. Through
their combined efforts, they brought an end to the corrupt Scarlet Moon
Empire. The evil sorceress Windy was vanquished, her plans to control
the Cursed Rune come to naught. A new power was rising under the banner
of the Toran Republic, and young McDohl was chosen as its leader.

All this had passed as the mysterious sage Leknaat, keeper of
the Rune of the Gate, had foreseen, bringing her plans to fruition. Her
blind eyes now turned northward to the lands of the Jowston Alliance,
where she could feel the strands of destiny already beginning to ensnare
a new hero.

But just because the Gate Rune Wars have ended does not mean
that the story is over. Even without the force of destiny pushing him
to greatness, the wielder of a True Rune is never allowed to merely
float passively along the river of history. To him is given the
ability, and with it the responsibility, to guide and shape the flow.

For him, the story never ends.


Fall had come to the Golden City of Gregminster with surprising
suddenness. Tir found it hard to believe that it was only a month ago
that he had lead the Liberation Army in triumph to the walls of the
capital, sending the demon Yuber's army scattering to the four winds, or
that it was a month ago that he had defeated the Sovereign Rune's
monstrous incarnation. Most of all he found it difficult to believe that
only a month ago Barbarossa Rugner, the last Emperor of the Scarlet Moon
Empire, had leapt to his death from the Floating Gardens.

Those gardens were gone forever now, destroyed in the magical
backlash of the cataclysmic final conflict. The lower palace had
weathered the destruction surprisingly well, and it was nearly restored
to its former splendor already.

The same could not be said for the city of Gregminster. The
scars of war ran deep, and it would be years before they were healed.
Thousands of refugees lived in the rubble-strewn streets, having fled
the devastation that was all that remained of the once-rich province of
Arlus. As the rest of the Empire had been liberated, the people of the
capital province had borne more and more of the burden of keeping the
Imperial Army in the field, eventually driving even the richest to
poverty. And now, the remnants of that army had turned to banditry to
survive, and had stolen most of the little that remained. Rockland,
the town where Tir had committed his first open act of rebellion, was
little more than a ghost town, and most of the region's other cities
were similarly deserted.

Tir rubbed his head, trying to fight off a rapidly approaching
headache. He looked around the throne room, where the provisional
leadership of the Toran Republic had taken to meeting each day. At
Tir's right hand sat Lepant, recently chosen as Tir's Vice President,
while Warren, who had assumed the position of Chairman of the
Provisional Senate, sat on his left. Further down the table sat those
military leaders who were presently in the city- Admiral Sonya Schulen
and Generals Valeria Haia and Kwanda Rossman. At the foot of the table
sat Hanzo, chief of the Rokkaku ninja. Joshua Levenheit, commander of
the Dragon Knights, would normally be seated next to the ninja, but he
had returned to the Knighthood of the Dragon's Den to handle his own
affairs. This was the Provisional Council, and it was the extent of the
Republic's government for now.

"Is there any word on grain shipments?" Tir asked. Food would
have to be found and sent to Gregminster soon, or starvation would be
added to the list of the occupants' woes.

Warren shook his head. "We have some coming up from Kouan,
thanks to Lepant, but the other cities in Gouran don't have any surplus
grain to send."

"And we don't have enough ships to bring grain from anywhere
else fast enough, even if we could afford to buy it," added Sonya.

"That's very well, Admiral," Lepant said, "but not very

Sonya glared at Lepant for a moment. She had been one of the
Five Great Imperial Generals, loyal almost to the end, and she despised
those who had abandoned the Empire before her. "I have no help to
offer. Only a handful of ships survived the destruction of Shasarazade,
and it will be years before my navy can be rebuilt."

"What about Kun To?" Tir asked.

"That old scoundrel?" Lepant said, but after a moment he nodded.
"He loaned his fleet to the Liberation Army once, perhaps he will see
fit to loan it again. Hopefully he won't ask for too high a price."
The Vice President jotted a note to himself on the paper that lay before
him. "The next matter is... the situation with Jowston."

Valeria broke her silence. "The situation is not good. General
Hazil has taken command of the northern checkpoint, but Jowston still
controls the fortress of Moravia."

"My scouts tell me that the enemy has occupied the entire Banner
Pass," Hanzo said. "If we do not push them out soon, they could
threaten Gregminster itself."

Lepant shook his head. "I've told you a thousand times, Hanzo,
we don't have the men to retake Rokkaku and still maintain the
northwestern front. There's little chance of them coming out of the
pass, anyway, as after the first snow they'd be cut off from Jowston."

Hanzo might have frowned behind his mask. "We must do
something," he said. No one answered him.

After a moment's uncomfortable silence, Valeria spoke again.
"The only good news is that the only cities we seem to be facing are
Tinto and South Window. The other cities seem to be more concerned
about the border skirmishes with Highland."

Kwanda nodded. "If Muse or Two River were to join the
offensive, we would be in dire straits. We just don't have the soldiers
to hold off the full might of the Jowston Alliance."

Tir sighed. "There's really nothing we can do about that now,
General Rossman. What is next on the agenda?"

Lepant shuffled the papers that were strewn about him. "The
Stonecrafter's Guild is requesting a twenty-year tax exemption in return
for their help in rebuilding Gregminster..."

Tir closed his eyes as Lepant continued. He had thought that
once Barbarossa was dead things would be simple, but fate seemed intent
on proving him wrong.


Kasumi heard an almost silent footstep behind her, and reacted
instantly, dropping to a crouch and rolling away. A shuriken hit in a
nearby tree, the force of the impact causing a few leaves to flutter to
the ground. Kasumi quickly spun about, throwing a shuriken of her own
at her opponent, but was not surprised when he dodged the missile

Kasumi, using the other ninja's distraction to close the
distance between them, lashed out with a series of lightning-fast
punches and kicks. Most of the attacks were blocked or dodged, but
enough got through to send Kasumi's opponent stumbling to the ground.

Holding back a sigh, Kasumi offered the fallen ninja a hand,
which he accepted. "You still have a lot to learn, Fuma. I heard you
trying to sneak up on me." Chief Hanzo had given her the task of
training the new recruit, a responsibility which irked her to some
extent- she would rather be helping to evict the Jowston forces from
Banner Pass and reclaim Rokkaku.

"I don't think it's possible for anyone to sneak up on you,"
Fuma complained.

"I can," Hanzo said.

Kasumi nearly jumped. Fuma actually did. Muttering a curse
under her breath, Kasumi turned to her chief. "Don't scare me like

Hanzo probably smiled behind his mask. "I will continue to
'scare' you until you can hear me coming as easily as you can hear
Fuma." The older ninja paused a moment, then continued, "And watch your
mouth with your chief."

Kasumi restrained the urge to utter a second curse, instead
nodding. "I will try, Chief Hanzo," she replied.

Hanzo nodded back at her, then turned to Fuma. "You are getting
better. Perhaps it is time I started training you myself."

"What would you have me do, then?" Kasumi asked.

"I am leaving Gregminster," Hanzo said. "Regardless of what
Lepant thinks, it is time to for Rokkaku to be ours once again." If
Hanzo was smiling underneath the black cloth that shrouded his face, the
smile no doubt turned mirthless. "With the winter, death will come to
the Jowston army. However, it would not do to allow our... alliance
with the Toran Republic to lapse. Hence, you will take my place as
Rokkaku's representative on the Provisional Council."

Kasumi bowed. "Thank you, Chief Hanzo." After a moment's wait
she asked, "How was... President McDohl today?"

Hanzo's cold blue eyes stared at her and he was silent for a
while before he responded. "That boy bears a terrible burden, Kasumi.
I would advise you to forget your attraction to him, for your own sake."

Kasumi grimaced, and lowered her eyes.

Hanzo sighed. "It is, however, your decision to make. I wish
you happiness in your choice, whatever it might be." With that, Hanzo
turned away. "Come with me, Fuma."

Kasumi watched the other two ninja leave and shivered, though
not because of the cold wind.


Tir McDohl, provisional President of the Toran Republic, entered
the Gregminster Palace graveyard with a trembling step. It seemed his
daily walks always ended in this morbid place. The setting sun cast
long shadows over the quiet landscape. Tir let out a breath he hadn't
realized he had been holding, and began to walk down the earthen path
that lead into the heart of the graveyard.

The palace graveyard was huge, containing centuries worth of
dead, going back to before Kranach Rugner had founded the Scarlet Moon
Empire. The oldest graves were positioned closest to the entrance, and
it was almost dark before Tir reached the graves he sought.

The first was that of an old friend. Pahn. He had been a
mentor, a guardian, and sometimes almost a father to Tir. Despite that,
Tir had never known much about Pahn's past. All he knew was that Pahn
had fought against Tir's father during the Succession War, switching
sides after Teo spared his life. Tir laughed bitterly at the irony of
his guardian's death, slain by the same man who had spared him so many
years ago.

Tir absently scratched his right palm, then turned to the grave
that lay next to Pahn's. Tir knelt before the tombstone, wishing he
could find tears to shed. He had made sure that this body had been
delivered to Gregminster, even though it was at the height of the war.
He knew that his father had wanted to be buried here.

It should have pained him more. Here lay his father, and he was
the one who had killed him. He knew that the histories would always
mention that the "Victor of a Hundred Battles" had finally known defeat
at the hands of his own son. It had the feeling of a legend already,
and the story would no doubt live on long after the war was forgotten.

Tir bowed his head a moment. "Father..." he said, searching for
words he could not find, as he did each night. He could not say how
long he knelt before his father's grave, as darkness fell around him.
The first night he had done this, he had caused a panic, as none had
known where to find him.

Tir's right hand suddenly pulsed, and he rose, unthinkingly
summoning a ball of cold, bright light. He glanced about, his eyes
finally falling on Barbarossa's empty tomb. "Who's there?" he called
out harshly.

After a moment, a lithe form leapt from the tomb's roof,
gracefully landing just inside the range of the light. Tir nodded
curtly, and relaxed somewhat. "Kasumi. What do you want?" The
question came out a bit harder than he intended, and he saw the ninja
wince slightly.

"I... I just want to talk to you, Tir," she said softly. "It's
not healthy for you to do this every night."

Tir laughed. "Is that all? I assure you, I'm perfectly
healthy. My Rune sees to that."

Kasumi shivered. "I don't mean it like that, Tir. You can't do
anything for the dead. It's the living that need you now."

Tir smiled, but the smile did not touch his eyes. "They died
for me. Father and Pahn. Gremio and Ted. Mathiu. They all died
because of me. This seems the least I can do."

Kasumi shivered a second time, and changed the subject. "How
can you stand the cold? It's freezing out here."

"Is it cold?" Tir asked, frowning. "I didn't notice."

"That's scary," Kasumi said.

Tir felt another pulse in his right palm, and with a sick
feeling in his gut he realized that he could feel Kasumi standing before
him, feel her warmth, her life. His stomach twisted again as he felt
the Souleater reaching out, pulling at her. "You should be scared," Tir
said as he wrestled with the Rune.

Tir fell to his knees, the Rune burning on his hand. "No..." he
muttered. "Don't..."

Kasumi raced forward as Tir fell. "What happened?"

Tir looked up at her. "Get away!" he screamed.

Kasumi came to a halt. "What..." she began.

"Leave! Please," Tir begged, and after a moment Kasumi complied.
As she left, Tir relaxed his mental struggle. Pure destruction emerged
from his palm, streaming hungrily in the direction the ninja girl had

After the rune's power was spent, Tir rose, staring at the rune
on his palm, now quiet, showing no sign of the life it had just
displayed. After some time, he stared up at the full moon, estimating
the time of night.

After another moment, he nodded, and set off for his chambers.
If he was lucky, he could be in Lenankamp by dawn, and past the Fortress
of Kwaba before it could be alerted.


The next morning, Kasumi rose early to attend her first meeting
of the Provisional Council as Chief Hanzo's representative. When she
arrived, only Valeria was there. "What's wrong?"

Valeria sighed. "President McDohl's gone missing. One of the
maids found his bed empty when she brought him breakfast this morning."

"All right," Kasumi said quietly. "Take me to his room."

Valeria nodded, and shortly the two women arrived there, finding
the rest of the Provisional Council interrogating the maid who had
discovered that Tir was missing.

Kasumi ignored the conversation, instead stepping through the
open door and examining the room. It had been Barbarossa's, though Tir
had removed many of the more ostentatious decorations, most of which
were then sold to finance the staggering cost of running the Republic.

"Has anyone touched anything in here?" Kasumi asked.

After a moment of too harsh questioning, the maid managed to
convey that she had run to tell someone as soon as she had seen that
room was empty, and that she certainly hadn't destroyed any evidence.

Kasumi nodded. "There's no sign of a struggle. I don't think
anyone could kidnap him without some sort of fight, so we can rule that
out." The other members of the Provisional Council muttered their
agreement. Kasumi ignored them, instead concentrating on searching the

After a moment, she announced, "He took his staff and his
backpack, and most of his traveling clothes. It's safe to say he's not
planning on coming back in the near future."

"What do we do?" Lepant asked.

"If the people find out that President McDohl is gone, they
might lose their faith in the new government. The whole Republic could
collapse," Warren said, stroking his beard.

General Kwanda frowned. "If that happens, then you can count on
South Window's flag flying over Gregminster by the end of next summer."

Valeria grimaced, but after a moment she nodded. "Rossman's
right. Our situation just isn't stable enough to take a shock like

"I'll have to temporarily assume the duties of President,"
Lepant said. "If necessary, we'll announce that President McDohl has
gone into seclusion to consider how to solve the problems we face.
Someone send a fast messenger to Kwaba, and alert the commander there of
the situation."

"I'll see to it myself," Kwanda said. "I'll make sure he
understands the matter is to be kept secret."

"And I'll alert the forces guarding the Banner Pass, in case he
heads that way," Valeria said.

Kasumi nodded. "I will track him down. I have the best chance
of finding him quickly, before word of this gets out."

"All right," Kwanda said. "I'll get a squad of men to accompany

Kasumi smiled softly and shook her head. "They couldn't keep up
me," she said, seeming to vanish into thin air.

Kwanda cursed. "How, by all Twenty-Seven True Runes, do those
ninja do that?"


Author's Random Ramblings

1) All comments are, of course, greatly appreciated.

2) Thanks goes to Ryan Hupp for his incredibly thorough prereading,
without which this fic would be far poorer. Now, if only he'd get
around to finishing Shades of Gray...

3) The name Tir is used for the main character in this fic, as that is
the name used in the official Japanese novels.

4) As you may have noticed, this fic is not based off the optimal ending
to Suikoden. The sequence of events assumed for this fic is that all
108 Stars of Destiny get recruited, but Pahn dies in his duel against
Teo, and so Gremio is not resurrected at the end.

5) Rabid Suikoden fans may protest that the last name I gave Valeria
(Haia), is in fact the name of her swordsmaster, who is no relation to
her. I have an explanation for this! In the continuity of this fic,
Roundier Haia's students took his name as a sign of respect. So
therefore, Anita would be Anita Haia, were she to appear in this story
(which she won't).