You knew this was coming in due time--the sequel to "Breeze" and the continuation of my oh so notorious Romance Saga. This one will likely be the last installment unless divine inspiration hits me again. But don't worry; finishing this series does not mark the end of my fanfiction career by any means!
***WARNING***This story will contain extreme spoilers for the ending of the Lost Age! I don't want a bunch of nasty flames complaining that I ruined the ending of GS for you because I gave you plenty of fair warning! Read at your own risk!
I also took some dramatic license with some of TLA stuff. Keep in mind that this isn't a retelling of the game's ending so much as it's the conclusion to my series! ^_^
Shade: And Golden Sun and all related characters are the property of Nintendo and Camelot Software. This fanfiction is not owned or affiliated in any way with the aforementioned parties.
Déjà vu. That was the first thing that popped to Ivan's mind when the group reached the new village. It sat next to a huge crater, one so massive that it seemed to stretch for miles. He'd never seen such a place in all his life, yet something about it felt eerily familiar. An unsettled feeling gathered in the pit of his stomach. Why did this sort of thing always happen when he least expected it?
"'Welcome to Contigo,'" Felix read from the sign by the gates. "I hope this isn't another dead end."
"Cheer up, Felix," said Jenna. "We know that one way or another we're going to find the Mars Lighthouse."
Garet sighed. "Except that at the rate we're going, we'll all be as old as Kraden when we finally get there."
"I heard that!" the scholar exclaimed indignantly.
"Come on," Isaac said, hoping to avoid more bickering. "Let's keep moving."
The group headed into the village proper but Ivan lingered at the gates a moment. What was this feeling he had? Why would a village he'd never seen before feel so familiar?
"Ivan?" Sheba questioned. "What's the matter?"
"Nothing," he replied vacantly. "There's just something about this place..."
The group wound its way through the nearly deserted streets, trying hard not to look like tourists. Garet took the time to buy a snack from one of the vendors and munched noisily as he walked. Jenna frowned and discretely tripped him with the end of her staff and he and his food crashed into the dirt.
"Aw man!" he complained when he realized his snack was ruined.
"Face it, Garet," Jenna teased. "You're not coordinated enough to walk and eat at the same time!"
Everyone else chuckled except for Ivan. He was too preoccupied with the village and his strong sense of déjà vu. Strange, indecipherable images kept flashing through his mind--wisps of memories he didn't know he had. One small house upon the hill caught his attention and he strayed from the group to take a closer look at it. When he touched the wall, he felt warmth and power flowing into him.
"You finally made it," a voice quietly said. Ivan whirled and came face to face with someone he hadn't expected to ever see again.
"Master Hama?" he asked. "What are you doing here?"
"Hello, Ivan," she said. A faint smile spread across her face. "I've been waiting for you."
"That's what you said at Lama Temple. But what are you doing so far from home?"
"I'm not as far as you think. Contigo is my home, Ivan. I was born and raised here until I set out and founded Lama Temple."
"Really?" Ivan smiled, rather happy to see her again. Since their meeting long ago, she had always been on his mind. There was something about her that, like this village, felt familiar and comforting. "I'm glad to see you."
"As am I. Where are your companions? I would like to speak to them."
Ivan called down the hill to the others and everyone was soon gathered around the house. Hama ushered them inside after exchanging greetings and introducing herself to the ones she hadn't met. Ivan kept looking around, expecting some sort of revelation to come to him and wondering what Hama had to do with his senses, if anything.
"I knew you would come," Hama said. "I'm happy to see that your formerly split factions have united. You will need each other if you hope to complete your quest." Her eyes glowed purple a moment. "You're still looking for the Mars Lighthouse, aren't you?"
"Yes," said Picard. "We've been to every place on the map and still we haven't found it. I'm beginning to wonder if it even exists."
"Oh, it exists," Hama assured him. "But you haven't found it simply because it isn't on the map."
"What?!" everyone else exclaimed.
"What do you mean it isn't on the map?" Mia asked.
"There are parts of Weyard that remain uncharted," Hama explained. "The Mars Lighthouse lies far to the north--right next to the edge of the world itself. You will have to sail your ship deep into the Northern Reaches of Weyard to a village called Prox. Beyond that village is the Lighthouse."
"Fascinating," said Kraden. "To think that there is a village so far north that it is completely isolated from the rest of the world. And that a place as significant as the Mars Lighthouse sits right next to the Gaia Falls!" He fumbled with a copy of their world map for a moment, circling landmarks and drawing lines. "If the Mars Lighthouse is up here, then the four towers form a quadrangle, and their intersecting point is none other than..." He drew more lines. "Mt. Aleph! Fascinating...!"
Ignoring the scholar, the Adepts conferred excitedly, except for Felix. He remained stony silent, eyes focused on the floor, and bit his lower lip in deep thought.
"We should get going!" Garet suddenly exclaimed. "Karst and Agatio might already be making their way there to ambush us!"
"Assuming they know where the Lighthouse is as well," Sheba said.
"They do," said Hama. "And they are already there waiting for you. Agatio has...inside information about the Mars Lighthouse."
"What do you mean by that, Master Hama?" Isaac questioned.
She glanced at Felix. "It is not my place to explain. You will learn for yourselves soon enough." Despite the confused looks she got, she didn't waver. "There is another reason I wanted to see you again. Ivan..."
"Yes?" he inquired, trying not to sound as anxious as he was.
Hama bowed her head. "This is difficult for me to say. I have something very important to tell you. Are you sure you want your friends to hear?"
"We don't keep secrets," Ivan said. "Whatever it is, you can say it right here, right now."
"Very well." She paused a moment, trying to remember the speech she had been mentally writing for months now. "No doubt you feel a familiarity about Contigo. Your powers have increased dramatically since we last met, and I expect you've been sensing all sorts of vibrations since you passed through the gates."
"Yes. I can't explain it, but it's like I've been here before. I was sort of hoping you would have an answer."
"Contigo was founded by the ancient tribe of Anemos," said Hama. "The Anemos were the great and powerful masters of Jupiter Psynergy and they could foresee and predict nearly everything. Their great city stood where that giant crater is now. The legend says that when Alchemy was sealed away, Anemos rose into the sky and became what is now our moon."
"Is that even possible?" Garet asked. "How can a whole city rise into the sky?"
Jenna elbowed him. "Shut up and let her finish!"
"Since then, the power of Jupiter has dwindled," Hama continued. "Some of the residents of Contigo are descended from the Anemos, but there are few of us left. In fact, most would say there are only two real descendants of the Anemos left here in Weyard to this day."
"Two?" Ivan lifted an eyebrow suspiciously. "That's all?"
"I'm afraid so. Without Alchemy's power, Adepts die off and civilization ceases to progress. But I have a feeling you already know that."
"That's why we need to get to the Mars Lighthouse," Sheba said. "We have to light the final beacon or else our world will perish."
Hama nodded. "I'm glad that you understand the necessity of your quest." She looked back at Ivan. "You have wondered about your origins and why you were given to Master Hammet all those years ago. And I can tell you that it was done for both your benefit as well as for the entire world."
"What do you mean?" Ivan asked.
"You were a child of destiny, Ivan. Surely Hammet told you that your meeting with Isaac was no mere coincidence. It was foretold that three years after a storm on Mt. Aleph that you would have to leave on a quest with warriors from Vale. That is why you were given to Hammet--so that you would meet Isaac and Garet and help them accomplish their task."
"You know about all of that?" This was getting more peculiar by the second. Ivan knew Hama was a powerful Adept, but how could she know so much about him?
"Yes. You see, I remember that day vividly even though I was quite young--the day Hammet came here to Contigo and the day our mother entrusted you to his care."
Silence fell over the whole room. Everyone stared at Ivan and Hama in surprise and slight disbelief. Ivan gaped at the purple-haired woman before him as he tried to absorb what she'd just said. "Our...? Then you're my...?"
Hama nodded. "That's right. I'm your sister, Ivan, and you and I are the descendants of Anemos I spoke of. That is why you've had that sense of déjà vu--this is where you were born."
To say Ivan looked shocked would be the understatement of the century. But in a way, this clarified the million questions that had been circulating through his head for so long. Silence continued to hang over the room, the other Adepts and Kraden instinctively knowing that the two siblings were off in their own world at the moment. Sheba stared at Ivan, perhaps just as shocked as he was. Not long ago, the two of them had decided that their unknown origins didn't matter, and yet, his had been thrown right into his face. Sheba wasn't sure if she was happy for him or sorry for herself. Her mind was numb as she watched him, but he was locked in a gaze with Hama.
"I realize this must come as quite a shock to you," Hama finally said. "But you just had to know."
"No..." Ivan whispered, trying to collect himself. "I...think I knew this all along in my heart. When I saw you at Lama Temple, I knew you weren't a stranger, but..."
Hama nodded in understanding, the faint smile returning to her face. "I am proud to see that you've grown so strong. Mother and father would be too."
"Are they here too? I'd like to meet them."
She sighed. "No, I'm sorry. They've been dead for years. Father was killed during a pilgrimage to Jupiter Lighthouse, and mother..." Hama paused a moment as if looking for the right way to phrase her words. "...She died shortly after she gave you up. I think it was from a broken heart. She loved you so much--that's why she gave you to Hammet. He could provide a better life for you in Angara, and he could guide you on the path towards your destiny as a hero."
Ivan swallowed hard, willing himself not to cry. He'd always wondered what it would be like to have a real mother, and now he would never find out. The parents he'd wondered about all his life, the parents he'd fantasized about and longed to meet, were both dead. He'd never get to know them. He'd never even be able to remember them.
"I left and founded Lama Temple not long after that," said Hama. "Mother said that I had a duty to fulfill too, and that was to wait for our paths to cross. My role in your destiny was small, but I hope that Reveal has proved useful to you."
"That's one way of putting it," Garet muttered, prompting Jenna to elbow him again.
Ivan paced a bit, oblivious to all of his friends, and touched the wall again. "Part of me feels like I never left here. It feels like home." After a pause, he turned back to his sister. "But I don't understand. Why did you wait so long to tell me? Why didn't you explain all of this when we met at Lama Temple?"
Hama narrowed her eyes, her expression hardening and the smile vanishing. "You're too sentimental, Ivan. If I had told you this sooner, you would've wasted valuable time and energy. You are on a quest of the utmost importance, and you cannot afford to be distracted. Even now, I'm not sure if this was a good idea. Perhaps I should've waited until after you'd returned from the Mars Lighthouse."
Her brother was shocked at her tone. She'd just dropped this bombshell on him and already she sounded as patronizing and overbearing as any older sibling! A small part of him found this amusing, but more than that, he was angry. What right had she had to hide this information from him? And what right did she have to accuse him of being too sentimental? What nerve! He narrowed his own eyes and crossed his arms, refusing to let her get the better of him. She gladly returned the stare, but her voice spoke briefly to his mind.
Forgive me, Ivan. My heart has always been with you, and it will continue to be with you. I await the day when you and I can be a family again.
But Ivan did not make a reply. He was far too confused and upset to acknowledge her attempt at compassion. After a moment, Hama turned back to the others.
"You should hurry to the Lighthouse," she said. "The winds grow colder by the minute and Gaia Falls will continue to erode until the final beacon is lit." There was something in her expression that the others couldn't quite read. A look of knowing, but it also seemed like pity when she looked at Isaac, Felix and Jenna. "Good luck to all of you."
"Thank you, Master Hama," said Isaac. He turned to his companions. "You heard her, guys. Looks like we're setting off again."
They said their good byes and filed out, Ivan being the first to leave. Sheba lit a hand on his shoulder but he immediately shrugged her off and kept walking. She sighed to herself and lingered behind the rest of her friends.
Please take good care of him, Sheba, Hama said to her mind. I know he is important to you too.
Sheba kept her eyes downcast. Everything was perfect...now it's all been turned upside down. He could've lived a perfectly happy life without knowing the truth.
With new hope, the Lemurian ship sailed onward from Contigo towards the northern parts of the Great Western Sea, not knowing what lie in store for them once they got to this village called Prox. Kraden spent hours pouring over the map and writing endless notes in his field journal, making hypotheses about Alchemy and the significance of the locations of the Lighthouse towers. The Adepts were grateful that he seemed unwilling to disclose his new theories just yet and they were free to formulate their own ideas about the Mars Lighthouse and the end of their journey. They were almost there. Soon it would all be over.
Ivan chose to shut himself in his cabin to mill over what he'd learned in Contigo. Many times Sheba attempted to reach him, but he never answered to her, so she eventually gave up. She sat about the galley with Mia, Garet and Picard and made plans with them, though her heart was not in it.
As the sun began its decent over the west horizon, Felix paced about the main deck. On his face was the same stony expression he's been wearing since they'd departed Contigo, for he knew that he could no longer hide the secrets he'd been keeping for so long. He had to reveal what he knew before they reached Prox. So it was then that he summoned his sister and Isaac to join him.
"You called for us, Felix?" Jenna asked.
Felix was looking out over the water. He'd known that this day would come eventually but he still wasn't ready for it. Keeping secrets was easy, but explaining them was much harder. "Isaac, Jenna--there's something we need to discuss."
Isaac and Jenna went to stand on either side of the Venus Adept and joined him in looking at the sea. The air temperature was dropping rapidly as they approached the Northern Reaches. "What's this about?" Isaac questioned.
"What I have to say is...complicated. And I want you both to know that I've been meaning to tell you this for awhile but the timing never seemed right."
"Felix?" Jenna exchanged a confused glance with Isaac. "What on Weyard are you talking about?"
"It's true that I didn't know where the Mars Lighthouse was," Felix began. "And I feel foolish for that since it seems I was at one point less than a few miles away from it. You see, I have been to Prox before."
"You have?" Jenna was shocked. "But how? When?"
"After the storm. Prox is the village of the Fire Clan, and it is where I spent a small portion of my time while I was away."
"But what about Tartarus?" Isaac asked. "You can't tell me that village wasn't the home of the Fire Clan!"
"Tartarus is different from Prox," Felix continued. "The two are linked in that they are inhabited by members of the same race, but Tartarus is the warrior village. That's where the Fire Clan molds their strongest citizens into fearsome combatants like Saturos and Agatio. That's where I spent most of my three years and that's where the most dangerous members of the Fire Clan reside." He paused briefly to let those facts sink in. "Prox, on the other hand, is where the governing body of their clan lives and where most of the non-warrior class lives. Some family members of the warriors live in Tartarus too, but it is mostly reserved for the fighters."
"I see..." said Jenna. "So the warriors like Agatio are separate from Prox yet still the same."
"Right. They make many of their own rules in Tartarus, hence why they're quite belligerent. Most of the people in Prox are good-natured. Agatio's one goal was to create an army capable of defending Prox and controlling Alchemy. And while the governing leaders of the Fire Clan support the warriors, they've done so without knowing most of Agatio's plans."
Isaac considered this a moment. "So in other words, the people in Tartarus are genuinely to be viewed as our enemies, but that's not necessarily true for the people in Prox."
Felix nodded. "I'm glad you understand. But Isaac, be very careful of whom you talk to in Prox. If they find out you were the one who killed Saturos, Menardi and Valerdo, as well as nearly leveled Tartarus, you can imagine what kind of friction that could cause."
That was a pleasant thought. A situation like that had to be avoided at all costs. "Thanks for the advanced notice," said Isaac. "Maybe it would be better if I used a fake name while we're there."
"That's not a bad idea," Felix agreed.
Jenna laughed. "I have the perfect name for you too. We'll call you Robin Redbreast!" Felix snorted as he tried to suppress his own chuckles, and Isaac made a face.
"Very funny, Jenna."
"I thought so too."
Felix smiled one of his rare smiles as he looked at his sister and his fellow Venus Adept. He still didn't know how to break the other information he'd been hiding to them. Would it upset them, excite them, or anger them?
"There's something else, isn't there?" she questioned. "I can tell by your expression."
"Yes, and this is even more difficult to explain." Felix ran a hand through his disorganized mass of hair. "I don't know how to break this to both of you."
"Well you won't know until you try," Isaac said. "We won't bite, Felix. Well, I know I won't. I can't speak for Jenna."
Her brother stifled another laugh. "Yes, yes. Well..." He exhaled deeply, trying to gather courage. "I don't need to remind the two of you about that night when the Mt. Aleph boulder fell. I'm sure it's still very fresh in your memories even after almost four years."
"It's not something one can easily forget," said Jenna. "You have no idea how happy it makes me to have you back in my life, Felix. I thought I was going to be alone for the rest of my days."
"Jenna..." He smiled again. "The whole time I was gone, you were practically all I could think about. We all awaited the day when we could return to you in Vale and be a family again."
"We?" Jenna tipped her head slightly. "What do you mean 'we?'"
"Jenna, you thought it was a miracle that I survived that night, correct? Well, I wasn't the only one who survived."
This was even more confusing. "What are you trying to tell me, Felix?" she asked. "What are you getting at?"
"Initially, I was coerced into helping Saturos and Menardi raid Sol Sanctum and light the beacons. It was only later that I learned about the true nature of Alchemy and its ties to Adepts and this world and wanted to see the beacons lit myself. But plotting my escape from Saturos wasn't easy. For a long time, I was too afraid to try anything for fear that he'd harm Mom and Dad."
Jenna's jaw dropped slightly. "...Mom and..." It took a moment for these words to sink in. "Felix, you mean they're alive? Both of them?!"
He nodded. "Yes. Saturos and Agatio used them as leverage to get me to cooperate. But much later on, Puelle, the chief of the Fire Clan, came and took Mom and Dad from Tartarus and brought them back to Prox, which meant they'd be safe. Puelle even wanted to let them go but Agatio convinced him otherwise. That's how I gathered the courage to formulate a way to leave Saturos. For your sake, I stayed with him longer than I needed too, but I had nearly all the details worked out when Isaac conveniently stepped in."
"I can't believe it..." Jenna trailed as she sat down on the rail. "They're alive...and we're heading right to them!" She threw her arms around her brother and laughed. "Felix! This is so wonderful! We're going to all be together again!"
Felix hugged her back and looked over at Isaac, who wasn't quite sure what to make of this news. He was happy for them of course, but he wanted to know if there was any possibility if someone dear to him had survived that night as well.
"I know what you're thinking, Isaac," Felix said. "You're wondering if perhaps your father is still alive."
"Is he?" Isaac asked a bit timidly. "Please, tell me the truth!"
"The truth is, I don't know," Felix sighed. "I wish I could tell you for sure, Isaac, but I never saw Kyle during the trip or while I was in Prox or Tartarus. It's entirely possible that he did live and they're holding him as an extra hostage, but..."
"...But there wouldn't be much point to that since all of his relatives were back in Vale, right?" Isaac finished.
"Right. And the Fire Clan leaders are very pragmatic. I don't think they'd keep a hostage they didn't need. If they did retrieve Kyle from the river with the rest of us, they would've let him go once they realized he was of no use to them."
"I see," said Isaac flatly. "Is that all you wanted to tell us?"
"Yes. I'm sorry I waited so long, but I suppose late is better than never."
"Yeah. Thanks, Felix." He turned and walked away towards the stern. Jenna started to follow, but her brother stopped her.
"Don't, Jenna. Leave him be."
"Don't. He's fine."
Jenna wasn't so sure, but she forgot the matter as she thought about the happy reunion waiting for her when they got to Prox. Everything would be perfect--once the beacon was lit, she could return to Vale and live happily ever after with her whole family and all her friends. Who could ask for anything better than that? She hugged Felix again, smiling.
"I'm so happy, Felix. To think that after all our trials it looks like things are finally going to work out for us."
"I know. We've earned it, Jenna."
"We should tell the others now. I can't wait to see the look on Garet's face! Come on!" And she dragged him back inside.
Isaac was atop the crow's nest watching the stars come out. One, two, three...amazing how they seemed brighter on a cold night. What lay beyond those heavens? Were there more places out there other than Weyard, or was it all just an endless abyss of empty space, devoid of life or light? Maybe one of those stars was really populated with humans or Adepts, and maybe one of them was looking at Weyard from afar and wondering about the same things.
I'm happy for Felix and Jenna, he told himself. She's been through a lot living without her family for so long. So has Felix. They both fought long and hard and endured Saturos and Menardi first hand. And who knows what Felix went through during his three years with them? They've earned the chance to be truly happy.
What could other worlds be like? Did they have rolling hills, glimmering oceans and grassy plains or were they flat and barren deserts? Perhaps some of them were really cold and the people there had fur to keep warm. Maybe the sun shone in a color other than gold, or the moon in a color other than silver. What would purple sunlight look like?
I'm grownup now, Isaac thought. I'm not a wimpy kid who needs people to watch out for him. I'm strong and independent and I've experienced more things in a year than most people do in a lifetime. I don't need anyone! I could walk away from everyone and everything I know and be just fine by myself.
Did any of those other worlds communicate with each other? Or were all of them isolated from one another, looking to the sky for answers to all the big questions in life? How sad to think that every place in the universe might be separate from every other place. That every world out there was in the end... alone.
So what if Jenna's parents are alive and Dad isn't? It doesn't matter to me one bit. I still have my mother, I still have my friends, and I still have Mia. It's been almost four years--it's in the past, it can't be changed, and I've accepted that. I've moved on with my life and I'm over it. All of it. I hardly even remember that night. I'm fine. I'm just fine! I don't miss him!
The lump that had been forming in his throat was now cutting off his air supply. How could a wound so old still burn so painfully in his heart? It didn't make any sense. He'd tried so hard to forget about all of it and still the hurt stubbornly refused to let go of him. Why? Why had he been so quick to pounce on the slim chance that his father was alive? And why was the snapping of that thin ray of hope so devastating?
"I'm such a fool," Isaac muttered as he huddled into a corner of the crow's nest. Hot tears ran down his face. "A simple-minded, weak little fool." He scrubbed at his eyes and looked at the starry sky. "I'm over it, you hear me?" he called out. "I'm over it and I'm fine! I don't miss him anymore!"
The sobs he'd been trying to suppress overtook him at last. The old wound bled freely in his soul despite all his efforts to stop it. He unwittingly recollected visions from years ago in Vale; memories of happier days before everything had shattered. Those peaceful times from long ago, times that should've brought him solace amid this despair, instead cut into him like a sharp knife. Every memory he had of his father was tainted by the huge void he felt in the here and now. A void that nothing would ever be able to fill.
"I don't miss him," Isaac whispered. "I don't...I don't...I don't..."
Crystal + Mist: T_T
Shade: You two are so sensitive!
Crystal + Mist: But it's sad!
Yeah, that's not the most cheerful of beginnings, is it? Then again, I've only scratched the surface of this story, so never fear! Although, that's a rather scary thought considering the ridiculous length of this first chapter...
Anyway, please let me know what you think. Am I off to a good start or is this flat and boring and I should stop here before I waste any more space at FF.net? I can handle the truth!