"Blah"- Normal speech
'Blah' - Thoughts
Star Ocean Till the end of time
Return to me
Night had fallen on Castle Aquaria. The halls of the royal palace were quiet, with the exception of the guards stationed as part of the night shift the majority of its inhabitants had long since retired to their rooms for the evening and was now sleeping soundly as they waited for the light of the new day.
That was except for one notable exception: Nel Zelpher.
Much like every night for the past six months the red haired member of the Crimson Blades she was outside in the castle gardens, seated on one of the many benches staring up at the stars above, much like every night her mind drifting to thoughts of him.
The young man who had shaken her world to its core and, for the shortest of times, had given her a true vision of happiness. Allowed herself to experience feelings she'd not felt since the death of her father.
'Has it really been six months already?' She mused. 'Six months since I last saw him after we defeated Luther. Six long months since we parted ways. Six months since we ...since I...'
She shook her head trying to dispel the memory. 'Would you stop, he made his decision to leave and he's not coming back.' She berated herself. 'But still, I'd hoped...'
Tired of star gazing Nel got to her feet and walked briskly towards the castle, headed back to her quarters making as little noise as possible. Slipping inside she lay upon her bed staring out the window fighting the urge to sleep because of what/of who awaited for her there.
Ever since her return home to Elicoor alongside both Adray and Roger her dreams were almost always the same, more often than not they had been filled with nothing but...him.
Unable to fight against the need for sleep any longer Nel's eyelids began to close, sleep overcoming her and transporting her far from her bed. Far from the castle. Far from her world taking her once more to the halls of the Diplo. The celestial ship glided its way effortlessly through the great expanse of space towards its destination.
A week had passed since Fayt had ventured into 4D space alongside his companions, on a mission to save their universe by from the forces of Luther, a being that they referred to as the Creator.
Inside the ship all was quite everyone had turned for the night with the exception of a handful of crew that had all drawn the short straw and had been assigned to work the graveyard shift.
Inside the room was dark, so dark Nel couldn't even see the hand she held barely a meter away from her face before slipping it back behind her head. Hour after hour she'd been trying to fall asleep but to no success, no matter how long she lay there sleep elude her.
Tired and frustrated all Nel could do was lie there, staring up at the ceiling of her room. Not that she could see it.
'It's over, it's actually over. More astonishing is that I'm alive.'
That's what surprised her the most about this, part of her strongly expected not to come out of this alive. As the war on her home planet raged on she'd come to accept that she might not survive to see it to its end.
Since leaving it to follow Fayt and the others into space she's seen so many things, most of which she could not have imagined even in her wildest dreams, but she had not expected to survive, with the forces they were up against her survival had seemed all but unlikely.
But she had, she'd survived the war and now her adventures in space were coming to an end. Soon she'd be returning home to along with the others from Elicoor that had also chosen to fight alongside Fayt and his other friends, Adray, the father of her best friend Clair and Roger, the young Menodix from Surferio.
The only one who would not be going home with them Albel, much to everyone's surprise the katana wielding warrior of Airyglph had chosen to sign on with Maria, Cliff and Mirage as a member of Quark.
"The war between Airyglph and Aquaria is over, there's nothing for me back on Elicoor." He'd told them upon revealing that he'd not be returning home. He then asked her to deliver a message to the king of Airiglyph informing him of this along with that he was not going to be able to return the Crimson Scourge.
As she sat there Nel was snapped out of her thoughts when she suddenly felt something wet on her cheek.
She recalled one of the crew explaining to her that each of the rooms of the Diplo were fitted with various systems that ensured the safety of the crew, she hasn't exactly understood the finer details but she understood well enough that one that would react in case of fire, a sprinklers system she believed it was called.
Could something be wrong with it? As far as she could tell it was working fine,
She felt another droplet of water run down her face, quickly followed by another and another, they refused to stop. Were these her tears?
"Stop you idiot. Why are you crying, soldiers like you don't get to cry. You don't get to look weak damnit." She berated herself, despite this her tears kept rolling down her face even harder and her body shook as they did.
"Nel," A voice cut through the darkness, so unexpected that it caught her by surprise. She'd been so focused on crying that she hadn't heard the door open.
Looking up she saw him, his visage just about visible in the rooms dim light, the one who had been in her thoughts many times since they first met (not that she'd let anyone know that) Fayt Leingod.
"F…Fayt…" She said, sniffing slightly as she tried to compose herself. "What…what are you doing here?"
Fayt didn't answer, his attention was fixed on the tears that rolled down her face. "You're crying. Did something happen?" He then sat next to her, placing his hands on her shoulders. "Nel…"
'Please don't do this, don't make it more painful.' "I'm alright, just leave me alone." Nel told him, using all her will power to focus her attention on the wall, not wanting him to see her in her current state.
She did not want to look weak in front of anyone, especially not him
Just then she felt his hands leave her shoulders and wrap themselves around her chest, she nearly let out a yelp when felt him press himself against her, she barely managed to restrain herself and keep herself from looking at him.
"Nel its ok, you can talk to me." Fayt told her, his tone warm and comforting.
Nel said nothing, instead choosing to lean into him resting back against his chest, finding a comfort within his embrace.
The two of them stayed like that for quite some time, how long she wasn't exactly sure, neither of them making a sound, simply finding content being in the others company.
She wasn't sure when it was but she knew at some point must have dozed off, more than likely falling asleep in his arms, because the next thing she knew she was waking up what she assumed was in the early hours of the morning, tucked up beneath the blanket, no sign of her visitor from the previous night. As if it had been nothing but a dream.
Finding herself alone Nel was left with a heavy feeling of disappointment in her heart but was she was unsure why.
'No. I knew why, I just didn't want to admit it. Not to anyone, not even to myself.'
Before she knew it the ship had arrived at its destination, orbiting high above the surface of Elicoor II. She'd just gotten off one of the ships elevators and found herself standing in front of her destination: the transporter room where the group, no doubt her companions were gathered come to see her and the other Elicoorians off.
Yet she couldn't bring herself to enter, she'd been standing there in front of the door for nearly ten minutes now, as if some invisible force was holding her back. But why? Could it be because the moment she entered that room that was it, her adventure would be finally be finished.
"Hey Nel." Looking over her shoulder she saw Fayt heading towards her.
"Good morning." She replied as he approached. The two of them then stared at the other in silence for a few minutes, either one of them seemingly knowing what to say.
"So…it's been quite the ride huh." Fayt said, finally breaking the silence. "You must be looking forward to going home?"
"Y…yeah, it will be nice to see Clair and the others again." Nel replied brushing a stray strand of hair behind her ear. "Although I must confess I'm dreading what kind of the crisis that's might have occurred during my absence."
"I think the Queen and the others can handle you being gone for a little while." Fayt chuckled. "I mean Clair's a big girl and I'm sure Farleen is more than capable of tying her own boot laces. As long as she's got Tynave there to help her anyway."
Nel couldn't help but smile at this. "Hey, it's not very nice to make fun of people." She told him, trying to sound serious but at the same time not trying very hard.
Both of them then chuckled at this. "All joking aside you worry too much Nel, I'm sure everything is fine." Fayt assured her. "Besides you'll know soon enough right."
The two of them then slipped into another silence, the pair simply enjoying the others presence.
"I gotta admit I'm feeling kinda jealous of you Nel." Fayt said breaking the silence. "Soon…soon you'll be going home where you've got waiting for you and a place to return to. You're pretty lucky."
The smile on Nel's lips vanished, despite Fayt's attempt to be reassuring she could hear the sadness and grief tainting his voice. Looking at him she could see the distant look on his face, she could tell that he was thinking about everything he'd lost.
"So…what are you going to do now?" She asked him.
"I…I don't know, I really hadn't given it much thought." He replied. "I guess the plan is to head to some of the Federation out posts, try and find my mom. I hope she's doing OK…"
Nel's gaze shifted away from him, a sad look in her eyes. His words reminding her of the day she lost her mother.
She had only been three years old when it happened. Her mother was still in the prime of her life, she had been in the peak of health and there had been hostilities between Aquaria and Airyglyph at the time. No instead her death had been a freak accident, brought about by a wet cloth haphazardly left behind by a servants, resulting in her slipping and falling down the stairs of the family manor and breaking her neck. She was dead before she'd reached the bottom.
Losing her mother had been an almost crippling blow to the young Nel, she did not wish for Fayt to experience the same pain, not so soon after already losing his father.
"I'm sure you'll find her." She said to him, returning her gaze to him and offering a reassuring squeeze of his hand. "I know you will."
"Thanks Nel." He said, he then wrapped his arms around her shoulders and embraced her, something that took Nel a little by surprise. Not that she was disturbed or put off by it, quite the opposite in fact.
The two of them stood there in silence, simply enjoying being in the others presence. As they stood there, wrapped in his embrace an idea popped into Nel's head, one that she would never have ever imagined doing before meeting him.
She'd never do it under normal circumstances, however right there in that moments she decided to go for it, she had to before she had a change of heart and let this opportunity pass her by forever.
Taking a deep breath summoned up all her nerve and looked directly into Fayt's eyes, raising her arms she wrapped them around his waist, returning him embrace pressing her chest against his. She then leaned in and pressed her soft lips against his cheek, and act that Fayt clearly had not been expecting.
"Huh." Fayt gasped, his arms falling away from her body and brought his hand up to touch the spot she had kissed him. "Nel why'd…"
However Nel said nothing, releasing her arms from around him she turned away from him, not wanting him to see the pink tinge that now decorated her cheeks. "Well I guess it's time for me to go." She said.
"Y…yeah." He replied, still taken aback by her action. "I…I guess so…"
Taking a moment to compose themselves the two of them entered the transporter room where the others were waiting for them.
What happened next was an emotional experience, despite the front that she presented Nel has not someone who liked the idea of parting ways with people. It was one of the reasons why she always took on the most dangerous missions herself, because she couldn't stand the idea of losing those that she cared about. She'd rather face the danger herself then chance never seeing a friend or subordinate again.
Saying her goodbyes to Cliff, Mirage, Maria, Peppita and Sophia. Even exchanging words with Albel, something she'd never imagined ever doing a few short months ago.
With them out of the way Nel turned to Fayt, saving him for last. "Well guess this is it." She said.
"Yeah," He replied. "Even if it wasn't under the most idea of circumstances, I'm glad I got to meet you Nel Zelpher."
Hearing this brought a smile to her lips. "I'm glad to have met you too Fayt Leingod." She told him. "Good luck trying to find your mother."
"Thanks Nel." He said. "I hope the peace between Aquaria and Airyglyph lasts for a good long time, you and your people deserves it."
With that said Nel then stepped onto the transporter, taking her last look at the people whom she'd travelled from her home to the other side of the universe and even to another plane of existence with.
The people with whom she had come to depend upon in the heat of battle and, most importantly, who she could genuinely called her friends.
Light crept in through the windows of the castle, signalling the start of a new day to all the people of the land below. One such widow's was the one that led to Ne's room, shining through the glass and onto her face causing her to groan in frustration as she was rudely roused from her slumber.
Letting out a moan Nel threw the blankets off of her and sat up, rubbing her face with her hands as she willed her brain to shake off its sleep addled state and back to full functionality. Something that required a great deal of effort, even for someone was as much of a workaholic as she was.
After a few minutes she felt together enough to face the challenges that her day might bring, but first a trip to the royal baths were in order. She might be a workaholic but even Nel couldn't face the mountain of paperwork that awaited her with soaking in the warm water first.
Little did Nel know her current state had not gone unnoticed, nor did she feel the pair of amber colored eyes that observed her as she went about her duties for the day.
Clair was worried, not that was an unusual thing for her to do. She was famous throughout the kingdom for being a notorious worrywart. Nor was the subject of her worry all that out of the ordinary.
Clair was worried about Nel, she was often the subject of the silver haired Runeologist's worry. Be it her tendency to take on any and all dangerous mission herself instead of trusting her underlings or burying herself in the under paperwork if for no other reason than to give herself something to do, no matter how much she claimed to hate doing so.
However the reason for her concern regarding the red haired Crimson Blade and leader of the Secret Legion were quite different time.
She'd watched over her old friend ever since she'd return from following Master Fayt on his adventure. Whilst someone less familiar with the red head might have noticed anything different anyone who knew Nel well, someone such as herself, could tell that something about Nel had changed.
She was just as dedicated to her position as she had been, just as much of a taskmaster to her subordinates and just as much as a workaholic. Now she didn't seen as…focus as she had been the blue haired swordsman had fallen out of the sky and into their lives, if was as if she simply going through the motions.
She wanted to help Nel she really did, seeing her old friend reduced to seemingly nothing more than a machine not unlike the mechanized soldiers that inhabited Greeton was too much for her to bear.
But how? That was not an easy answer, not for her. The truth was Nel had not been the same since Fayt Liengod came into their lives, whether he knew it or not he'd had a major impact on her red haired friend, had an impact on everyone who he came into contact with.
Clair shook her head, a humorless chuckle passing her lips as she shook her head. Figures, it took a man falling from the heavens to get Nel Zelpher to change.
She suspected that the blue haired swordsman was perhaps the one person that knew the answer to this question. However that that was not possible, for he had had returned to the stars from whence he came along with the cast of colorful characters that had accompanied him, perhaps on a new adventure on some distant world.
Not unlike the hero from out of a story that an adult might tell their children or perhaps a child's imagination.
And now he was gone, exiting their lives just as sudden as he had appeared. He was gone and because of it Nel had been reduced to a shell of her former shelf.
Another day had come and gone. In her chambers Nel was seated at her desk, the red haired woman rubbed her face and blinked a few times and sighed before looking down at the various documents spread out before her.
It seemed that no matter the state the world found itself in, be it in a time of war or peace or even on the edge of annihilation, it seemed that bureaucracy that existed for seemingly its own sake would persist no matter what.
As part of the Secret Legion information gathering was ranked high among her duties, routing out possible enemies that could pose a threat to the kingdom, be it from without and within.
At present she was going what information her informants could scrape together regarding Greeton, trying to separate fact for hearsay. Many in the court had become suspicious of the isolated nation as of late and believing that they could become a threat as they'd escaped the horrors of war by staying out of the conflict that had ravaged both Aquaria and Airyglyph.
Then there was Airyglyph itself, despite the conflict between the two kingdoms having ended there were many who were still suspicious of their neighbor and many more that still bore a grudge for their actions during the war. The peace had done little to quell this.
Peace, Nel almost scoffed. She wasn't optimistic enough to believe it could last. Sooner or later either Airyglyph or Greeton would become bold enough and conflict would certainly break out again. Perhaps not in her lifetime but eventually.
The truth was that had it not been for the Vendeeni's sudden arrival and their superior weaponry having brought the forces of Airyglyph to heel, decimating a good proportion of its forces in the process and leaving them with neither side having the resources or manpower to continue, it was only by this act had they been left with no choice but to make peace with Aquaria ended the war.
Had it not been for this, had the war continued, even with the efforts of Fayt and Cliff and any other allies of theirs that might have shown up, be it on the battlefield or help to complete the Thunder Arrow, the truth was that Aquaria would have lost the war.
Just then a knocking at her door was heard, snapping Nel out of her less then pleasant thoughts. "Enter." She announced, rubbing her tired eyes.
Moments the door opened and one of the palace servants, which one Nel couldn't recall the name of right now, entered her chamber. "Lady Nel." She servant, a rather mousey looking girl, said, sounding rather nervous being in her presence. "I…I'm not disturbing you, am I?"
Nel momentarily glanced at the stacks of paper, a frown spread across her face. "No." she replied. "What do you need?"
"I…I have a message for you from Lady Clair." The servant girl told her as she produced a sheet of paper and held it out towards her. "She said that it was urgent."
Taking the paper Nel wondered what her friend could want from her. "Thank you. You may go now."
Bowing her head respectively the girl backed out of the room, closing the door behind her. Once she was gone Nel turned her attention to the piece of paper, finding a brief message telling her to come to the training ground immediately.
Before she knew it Nel was entering the palaces training yard, a space she was more than familiar with from all the time spent here during her training. Standing in the center was her long-time friend and fellow member of the Crimson Blades Clair Lasbard, a staff in hand rather than any sort of bladed weapon.
Despite having gone through the same training Clair was not one for physical combat, lacking fortitude for it to make her dangerous on the battlefield. However Clair more than made up for this when it came to the use of Runeology, whilst she'd never say it out loud Clair far surpassed Nel in its use.
"Good evening Nel." The silver haired maiden said, as if sensing her friend's arrival. "I hope this evening finds you well."
Nel shook her head, she really wasn't in the mood to play whatever game Clair had cooked up for her. "What is this about Clair?" The red head said, sounding rather stern. "I have a stack of papers that require my attention."
"What's the matter Nel, are you so busy that you can't make time for your old friend." Clair replied, a note of mock hurt in her voice. "When was the last time we had a friendly sparring match? Wouldn't want to get rusty would we?"
Nel's frown deepened, Clair might be her friend but right now she really wasn't in the mood for whatever this was. "This is a waste of time." She then turned on her heel and began walking away.
"What's this? Is this the same Nel Zelpher who travelled to the stars the too good for us small people, are we no longer worthy of your attention? " Clair mocked. "Or maybe you're no longer confident in your skills?"
This made Nel stop in her tracks, whilst she'd never call herself a prideful woman someone, anyone, questioning her abilities was a line that she would allow to go unchallenged. Turning back around she approached Clair and took her place a few feet away from the silver haired Runeologiest, drawing her daggers from their sheaths as she did.
"Why are you doing this Clair?" Nel asked, taking up her combat stance.
"I'm doing this because I'm tired of seeing you like this, day after day." Clair said firmly as she twirled her staff in her hands. "And this…this is the only way I can think of to get you to deal with your problem."
Nel raised an eye brow, just what problem was she referring to? Well whatever, she'd get this over quickly and get back to the work that was waiting for her.
Both Crimson Blades locked eyes with one another, knowing the other as well as they did both of them were trying to figure out what the others first move might be.
Taking the initiative the Runes emblazoned on Clair's body began to glow as she channelled Runeology and an intricate circle containing dozens of small runes manifested in the palm of her hand.
"Firebolt…" She announced, a gout of flames erupted from the runic circle and launched itself at Nel.
In response Nel began channelling her own Runeology, her own runes give off a glow as her own runic circle appeared before her. "Ice Needles…" From the rune circle dozens of ice needles launched themselves at Clair's fireball, the two techniques cancelling the other out.
Knowing that she couldn't allow Clair to dominate her with her superior Runeology Nel dashed towards Clair, her greater speed allowing her to cover the distance between them quickly.
Knowing that she had to do something Clair raised her staff, another runic circle appearing fired a bolt of lightning from it at Nel who responded by leaping into the air, narrowly avoiding the lightning bolt.
Nel hung in the air for several seconds before she rushed toward Clair, energy radiating off of her giving her a comet like appearance. Clair in turn used her power to create a barrier of Runeology, just in time to repel Nel.
Her feet once more on the ground Nel lashed out with one of her daggers at Clair who in turn used her staff to block her.
"Give up Clair." Nel said, her tone stern. "You've never beaten me when we've sparred in the past."
"That might be true." Clair replied, her tone just as stern. "But when it comes to a battle of Runeology you've never beaten me either."
She then pulled back, swiping at Nel's feet with her staff. Nel however would not be caught out by this, her instincts honed by years on the battlefield recognized her friends intentions and put some distance between the two of them.
"You know I could do this all night Clair, but you know what I really don't have the patience right now." Nel told her friend. "You say I have a problem, so why don't you enlighten me. What exactly is this problem I supposedly have?"
"I'd think it would be obvious. Ever since you came back you've changed Nel, heck even before you left you began to change." Clair retorted. "You began to change ever since he came into your life."
Nel was stunned, her breath caught in her throat. "I…I don't know what you mean?" She said, doing her best to not let her mask slip.
"Don't I? You can deny it all you want but you can't fool me." Clair pressed. "I know you pretty well Nel, maybe better then you know yourself, and I something I've come to learn about you prefer to keep your emotions bottled up rather than talk about them with anyone."
"Y…you don't know what you're talking about Clair." Nel replied, gripping the handle of her daggers tighter.
"You're my friend Nel, my best friend and I love you." Clair pressed. "I love you too much to watch you try to destroy yourself. And if this is the only way to get you to open up then so be it."
The two women fell silent, once more focusing on trying to eke out an advantage over the other only being unable to gain one. Nel's speed and skill with her chosen weapon were no match for Clair's Runeology, however the red heads greater combat awareness and agility made her a difficult target to hit.
"Ready to quit Clair?" Nel said, panting heavily.
"I'll quit when you start being honest with yourself for once in your life." Clair retorted, her breath also heavy.
"I…I have no idea what you're talking about…" Nel protested, yet she couldn't find the words to do so. Clair's words had struck a chord within her, one that was enough to shake her to her core.
"Admit it Nel, Fayt became important to you. You liked him, why else would you have dropped everything to follow him on his adventures." Clair pressed further. "No, I think it's more than that. You didn't just like him, I think you fell in love with him."
Nel was left stunned, all she could do was stare at Clair with a stupefied look on her face. A look alone was enough to tell Clair all she needed to know.
"I'm right aren't I? You love Fayt, and that's what's got you like this. You've never felt like this about anyone before and it scares you." Clair continued, not letting up for a second. "You're not used to feeling this way so you're trying to deal with it in same way you deal with everything else. Only it's not working, you had the chance to be with him but instead you let it slip away."
Nel glared at Clair, her heart pounding like a bass drum, feelings of frustration, confusion as well as embarrassment boiling away inside of her. Whether she wanted to admit it or not her friend's words had had a profound effect on her.
She wanted this to stop. The constant never ending tirade leveled at her and the only way to do that was by beating Clair.
But how, fighting her head on was clearly getting her nowhere. Had Nel not been so flustered she might have come up with a different strategy, as it was she could only think of one way to win.
Channeling every last ounce of her Runeology Nel's body began to radiate with an arcane glow, several magic circles appearing around her as the blades of her daggers began to glow with pink energy.
Seeing this Clair frowned, she knew what Nel was to do. It seemed that in her effort to help her friend deal with her issues she may have pushed her too far. Raising her staff she too began to channel her Runeology, a large arcane circle appeared on the ground that emanated with a dark power.
Both women glared at one another as they prepared to unleash their most powerful Runeology.
"That's enough…" A voice called out, its tone stern sounding.
Hearing this both Clair and Nel both looked round, their Runeology fizzling out as they did, and were met by the sight of Romeria Zin Emurille, Queen Aquaria XXVII, ruler of the Sacred Kingdom of Aquaria, and Holy Mother of the Church of Apris.
As ever Magistrate Lasselle was at her side, the serious man fixing both of them with a stern glare.
"Y…your Majesty…" Nel exclaimed as she and Clair fell to their knees, their conflict quickly forgotten.
"Lady Nel, Lady Clair, I hope you can explain the reason for causing such a racket." Lasselle addressed the pair. "The noise you were making could have roused half the kingdom."
"That will be all Lasselle." Romeria spoke up, the magistrate looking as if he had more to say to the pair but complied with the queen's order. She then fixed both members of the Crimson Blades with a hard stare, one that both Nel and Clair did their best not to meet the gaze of.
For all their training and combat experience both women possessed the look that their ruler was giving them made them feel like a pair of small children about to be scolded by a disappointed parent.
"Now is there a reason that both of you are out here?" She asked both her female subordinates. "I don't mind having you both sparring with each other, that's to be expected, however I don't expect you both to use such high level and deadly Runeology on one another."
Neither Nel nor Clair said anything in response, both of them embarrassed of just how out of hand their actions had gotten.
"I see, very well then. You know that you will both reprimanded for his?" Romeria said, her tone never shifting.
"Yes your majesty." Nel and Clair replied.
"Nel Zelpher, Clair Lasbard, as this moment you both are relieved of your duties until further noticed." The queen told them. "I will not tolerate such behaviour such as you've demonstrated. This kingdom has already suffered enough because of the war with Airyglyph, I do not need my subordinates fighting amongst themselves."
Nel looked up the the leader of her people, her "Y…your majesty I must protest. I acknowledge what I did was wrong and I will accept any punishment you deem fit but I assure you that this course not necessary."
"Do not treat me as a fool Lady Nel, you think the quality of your work has gone unnoticed by me." Romeria said, her tone calm but firm. "Your body might be with us however it is quite clear that your head and your heart are elsewhere. I suggest you use your time off to get your affairs in order, until you are able to you are of no use to us."
Clair glanced over at her friend, giving her an apologetic look. She'd never intended for things to get so far out offhand.
Nel stared up her queen. She wanted to argue, get her to reconsider. However judging by the look of the grey haired woman's face such an action would be futile and would only make things worse for her. "Yes…your majesty…"
Rain fell in an unending barrage from the cloudy sky upon the town of Arias. From the warmth of the study located with the Lords Mansion Nel gazed out the window as the rain lashed against the glance as below a small number of the townsfolk, most likely members of the Chain Legion stationed here, had chosen to brave the weather and were going about their daily lives.
"Your body might be with us however it is quite clear that your head and your heart are elsewhere. I suggest you use your time off to get your affairs in order, until you are able to you are of no use to us."
Several days had passed since the incident at the palace and the look on her majesty's and the tone of her voice still left Nel with feeling of shame. Her lapse in judgment had resulted in being relieved of her duties.
She'd had had to get away, get as far away from the palace as possible, to get away from the eyes of the royal court and the whispers that were no doubt circling there. Gathering together enough supplies she'd left, slipping away unnoticed and without any fanfare.
She had to get away and such had chosen to come here, it was as far away from the palace and the royal court as one could get without leaving borders of the Kingdom.
Being so close to the border with Airglyph, Arias had been subject to much of their neighbors fury during the war, and yet it had not been granted the same level of protection that Perterny and Aquios had resulting in of the towns inheritance having their homes and homes destroyed.
Since the end of the war some efforts had been made to repair the damage that had been done, even though little could be done to repair the lives of the people that had lost everything in the conflict, and the work was slow going, it would be a long time before the scars of war could begin to heal and the ghosts of those who died could perhaps find peace. All because of bureaucracy for the sake of the bureaucracy.
That wasn't all for the town also held other ghosts for her, ones she could not escape no matter where or how far she traveled. Because of him.
This town reminded her of Fayt, it being his first taste of Aquaria after she'd freed him and Cliff after she'd aided them in their escape from Airglyph. Then again it was hard to find a place within Aquaria that did not remind her in some way of Fayt, after all just about every location within the boundaries of the Kingdom he'd seen he'd seen with her.
"I'm right aren't I? You love Fayt, and that's what's got you like this. You've never felt like this about anyone before and it scares you. You're not used to feeling this way so you're trying to deal with it in same way you deal with everything else. Only it's not working."
Clair had been right, as much as she hated to admit it. She missed him. There, she admitted it. She missed his presence. She missed the look of excitement on his face and how his eyes lit up whenever she'd introducing him to some new facet of her world no matter how trivial or mundane.
Most of all she missed the sound of his voice, more than that she missed the sound of his real voice. The one she'd heard once but would never forget, not even when she was old and grey his voice would stay with her.
After leaving Elicoor Fayt had tried to explain to her how his translation device worked, how it allowed him to understand anything he heard or written and in turn allowed anyone around him to understand him. However doing so also distorted the sound of his voice.
Curiosity gripped her, the idea that she'd never actually heard speak to her in his real voice. So she asked him, asked him if she could use his real voice, despite her cool demeanor she was eager to hear what actually sounded like.
Fayt had been hesitant at first, but eventually he'd relented.
Switching the devise off he spoke to her, it had only been a few words and what he'd said she didn't know, it could have just been a string of random gibberish for all she knew, but that didn't matter to her.
His accent was unlike she'd ever heard before, it sounded so rich and pleasant to her ears, in particular how he pronounced his L's.
She loved it. She loved him.
"You had the chance to be with him but instead you let it slip away."
But what did it matter, what good was accepting her feelings? There was no way of admitting them to the blue haired man that had come into her life and showed her that there was more to her life then just work and duty.
And she'd foolishly let it slip away, despite everything they'd been through she chosen duty over her own happiness. All because she'd been too afraid to accept it until it was gone.
Among the cobbled streets of the town a cloaked figure navigated his way through the various puddles that were pooling together, the rain pelting against his hood as he made his way towards his destination.
How long had been since he last found himself in this town, six months? It felt like only yesterday he'd entered this town for the first time, his first real experience of Aquaria after trekking through Kirlsa Caverns to escape Airglyph.
Arias had been on the front lines during the war and as such had had to endure much of the brunt of the fighting. Some work to restore the settlement had clearly been made however it still had a long way to go before the area would be back to how it had been and many generations for the scars of war to heal.
Before long the hooded figure found himself standing before his destination, one of the more impressive looking houses, reflecting the nobility of the family that it belonged to Would she react when she saw him? Would she be happy? He hoped so. Not a day had gone by where she hadn't been on his mind.
He wouldn't know if the kept standing there in the pouring room. Taking a deep breath he steeled himself, raised one of his balled fists from the dryness of his travel cloak and knocked on the door.
Still in the study Nel had been so lost in thought barely registered the other presence that had just appeared in room, one of the maids would no doubt see to whoever was calling and would hopefully be sent on their way, she was in no real mood to receive visitors of any kind.
"Lady Nel...Lady Nel…" The voice of one her maids, Maria she believed was speaking to her (the irony was not lost on her) penetrating the apathetic haze that enveloped her. "There's a gentlemen at the front door to see you. He says it's important." The rather plain looking woman told her red haired employer.
"Tell him to go away." Nel replied, sounding rather bored. "I don't wish to see anyone right now."
"He seemed rather insistent Lady Nel, he claims to have come a long way to see you." The maid replied.
Nel sighed. "Very well then, tell him to wait in the hall." She told her servant. "I'll be down shortly."
The girl bowed her head and exited the room. Nel however did not move, instead she waited a few minutes more before she exited the room herself, slowly making her way towards the staircase the led to the ground floor of the Mansion.
Part of her wondered who would be bold/foolish enough to brave the elements to come and see her particularly since she'd not informed anyone of her current location. Regardless given her current mood she wished to be around as few people as possible.
She'd give whoever it was the curtesy who it was a chance to explain themselves before sending them on their way, heartless perhaps but she was no mood to deal with anyone right now.
Descending the stairs she was met by the sight of a figure clad in a travelling cloak, the material dripping water on the floor and further adding to her irritation.
Alerted to her presence by the sound of her footsteps the cloaked figure turned to look his her direction. "Nel…"
Nel stopped in her tracks, the annoyed look on her face quickly vanishing and was replaced by one of stunned shock. That voice, it couldn't be…
Taking a hold of his hood the figure pulled it down to reveal his face, a face that Nel knew all too well, along with his blue hair and green eyes.
Nel couldn't believe it, it had to be a dream. There was no way that this could be real. Standing there before her was someone that she believed that she would never see again; that of a young man with blue hair and green eyes. The same young man that her heart yearned for months ever since his departure. "F…Fayt…"
"Hi there Nel." Fayt said, a smile on his face as he rubbed the back of his head. "It's, ha, it's certainly been a while."
Nel however was speechless, so overwhelmed by emotion that she wouldn't find the words. Instead she practically jumped down the remaining stairs and dashed over to him, wrapping her arms around him and pulled him in close. An action that Fayt had been no way expecting,
Fayt stood there, doing a rather impressive impression of a gasping fish as he tried to process what was going on. "N…Nel…" He managed to get out.
"You're here, you're really here…" She whispered into his ear. "I…I missed you."
"I…missed you to." He whispered back, slowly placing a hand on one of her shoulder blades and pulled her in closer. "That why I came back, I came back because I wanted to see you again."
Hearing this made Nel's heart flutter, the blue haired swordsmen words warmed her to her very soul.
In that moment she was not Nel Zelper, member of the House of Zelpher, part of the Crimson Blades and servant of Romeria Zin Emurille, Queen of Aquaria. She was Nel Zelpher, a girl embracing the boy that she cared for very deeply. Did he feel the same way about her, that she did not know. But now that he was here, back in her world, she was certain that she would find out.
'He's here. He's actually here.' She thought to herself, tightening her grip on Fayt's shoulders, a blissful look on her face. 'He's returned to me…'
AN And like that this little tale is done. So for those who don't know me, unless you've read my other work of course, hi there and thanks for checking this one. I actually wrote a couple of fics based on SO3 stories a looong time ago but haven't really done anything with it in ages.
So funny story I actually got the idea for this story and even wrote part of it back in 2005 but never finished it for some reason so its been sitting on a hard drive of mine unfinished for the last 15 years. Then recently I kinda randomly decided to check out SO section on this site kinda on a whim. Glad I did cos I ended up reading Finding Home, Expectations and Do no Harm by Wander 101, his/her work inspired quite a few things in this story, the line 'a man falling from the heavens to get Nel Zelpher to change' was a line used in one of their stories and I liked so much I had to use it myself, all of which I enjoyed despite their flaws. It actually inspired me to write some Star Ocean related stuff. One of them being to go back and finish this story.
I mentioned I've written some other Star Ocean stories in the past, one of those being a FatexMirage story Not so Innocent, which might be the only one on this site, its also pretty much nothing but pure smut so yeah, just a heads up if that kind thing offends you (BTW I'm working on new update for that story) which I've gone and overhauled. Also when I was writing this story I also got the the idea for a FaytxClair one shot called Silver Strand that I also posted (so check that out if you wish).
I was so happy to work on this story again, FaytxNel is my OTP for SO3, they just seemed to me that they compliment each really well, more so then Sophia and Maria did anyway.
The small fight I had between Nel and Clair was something that was sorta challenging to write since I don't think I'm the best at writing them, but still I think it turned out OK. For this I didn't want Clair a straight up clone of Nel, something she most have likely been has she been if you could recruit her character in game (I was always kinda disappointed that she join your party), so I made her a more Runeology based character giving her Sophia's move set as well as giving her a staff rather then daggers for her weapon. So yeah, instead of being a Nel clone I made her into a Sophia clone.
Anyway I'm done, thanks to everyone who dropped by to check this little story of mine out. I hope you enjoyed this, please feel free to leave some feedback cos I'd love to know what you all thought of this.
I've also got some ideas for a couple of more new Star Ocean stories so maybe I'll write some more in the future.
Till next time, peace out yo.
PS for those who are curious the thumbnail image used for this story is art from a mobile game called Star Ocean: Anamnesis which unfortunately did do very well outside of Japan but did have a bunch of characters from across the Star Ocean franchise.