Disclaimer- The usual, I don't own Skies of Arcadia or Sega. But I do own some of the character in this story, including Maiev, Morgan, and their crews. Read and Review please.

Skies of Arcadia: The Ruins of Tal'Kalen

Prologue: Restless Souls

"Are you sure this is worth the risk, Cap'n? I mean, this is some pretty stuff that's about to go down. I don't think we even have enough manpower to do it."

"Don't worry about it. No, we don't have enough men on the crew to do this by ourselves. But I don't plan on doing this by ourselves."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, we're going to let someone else do all the 'heavy lifting' you might say. "

"How will we get someone to do that?"

"Don't worry about that, just leave it all to me. We have just have to pull on the strings of exploration in a man's mind. But not just any man, mind you. I have someone special lined up for this."

"Well...all right then Cap'n. I can't say that I agree with you on this, but you've never led me astray before. I'll go along with you."

"Good, very good. We'll begin preparations in the morning."

*** Two Nights Later ***

Domingo sighed as he took the last swig of loqua from his bottle. He continued to stare at the table as he lifted his cigar back to his mouth. He looked deep in thought as he slowly puffed on the cigar. Hell. That trade route was bound to die. I thought it would last longer than these measly few months, but you have to take what you can get. At least I only lost it, and not The Discovery. The only way anyone could ever take her from me is if they killed me.

Domingo's thoughts kept him from noticing that the other patrons of Gordo's Bistro had already left. Only him and Gordo were left in the restaurant. Gordo walked to the other end of the bar and took a seat across from Domingo. In between bites of a Sardis Sandwich he said, "Domingo, you have been quiet during your stay. It is not like you to be so reserved. Is there something troubling your mind?"

Domingo looked up slightly shaken, snapped back into reality. He blinked his eyes a few times and peered about the bar, seeing only himself and Gordo were left. Domingo cleared his throat. "Er..ahem. Sorry, What id you say Gordo? I was drifting."

Gordo smiled as polished off the sandwich. "I asked you if there was anything wrong. You've been very quiet during your stay, and that's not like you," Gordo said again as he rubbed the sandwich crumbs off of his hands.

Domingo gave a slight shrug. "I dunno, Gordo. My mind may be a little clouded right now. Between Drachma dying and losing my trade route, I'm not exactly in the best state right now." Gordo nodded. "But I do feel in an inner urge. I feel like it is time for me to go back out into Arcadia and set my title of World's Greatest Explorer in stone."

Gordo gave a slight laugh. "Hah, Domingo my friend, I knew you were going to say that. I knew it was only a matter of time before you swept up your ashes and got back on with your voyages. I might be losing my best costumer for awhile, but maybe you'll find something good and will actually be able to pay me off."

Domingo gave a wry smile. "Yeah, sure Gordo. I'll try and bring you some new exotic foods from my adventures."

Gordo laughed. "That's why I always enjoyed having you here. You're always good for a laugh. So, were exactly do you plan on going?"

Domingo gave another shrug. "Not sure to tell you the truth. I could really start anywhere and just be on my way."

Gordo smiled. "Well, Domingo, I have come across some information regarding the ruins of an Old World city."

Domingo slightly raised an eyebrow. "I'm listening."

"Apparently the ruins are located out in the deserts of Nasr. While it may be a long and difficult journey, the ruins of Tal'Kalen are said to be perfectly preserved in the sand of the desert. I'm sure if you could find it, the Sailor's Guild would pay you very handsomely. Besides, who knows what vast amounts of treasure you may find piled high in the city?"

Domingo rubbed his chin thoughtfully before looking back up to Gordo with a smirk. "Well, it sounds like I'm going looking for ancient ruins then, doesn't it? So...what do I owe you for this information?"

Gordo chuckled. "Think nothing of it. Call it a gift from an old friend. Though if you can find any exotic animals to bring back for me to cook, I would greatly appreciate it."

Domingo smiled and stood up. "All right then. I'm off early tomorrow morning; I want to get there as fast as possible. If I don't see you before then, so long until I return a rich man," Domingo boasted while heartily shaking Gordo's hand. He then walked out of the bar, and headed for his room.

Gordo sighed as he looked down at the table. "He forgot to pay me again. For an adventurer, he sure has a bad memory."

Vyse looked up towards the bright red moon that hovered over Crescent Island. He was sitting down on the cape with his back shoved up against the flagpole bearing his symbol: a skull with an eye patch and a cutlass clenched in its teeth.

Vyse sighed and thoughtfully chewed on his bottom lip as stared into the moon. It was the six-month anniversary of Soltis tomorrow. It was also the two-month anniversary of Drachma's death. The Captain's death had struck Vyse hard, but not as hard as it seemed to hit Aika. He was going to miss Drachma. He'd died in his sleep, and that's how Vyse thought Drachma had wanted to go.

Vyse took a deep breath of the fresh night air. He hadn't been able to fall asleep, and had decided to come out here and try to clear his mind. He was left with the lingering feelings of victory, loss, and love. He also felt like he needed something more. He was tired of just raiding Black Pirate ships, and was ready to start on a new journey.

Aika sighed deeply as she stared up at the ceiling. She laid upon her bed in her usual night clothes, nothing but a pair of black shorts and a pink tank top that left her midriff exposed. She gave a tug at her shorts and sighed again. These dark and lonely nights were what she lived for when she wasn't off with Vyse and Fina adventuring. She felt a certain peace and serenity when she was by herself.

As it usually happened during these nights, her thoughts began to drift to Vyse. Aika loved Vyse. She had known that he was the only one in the world for her seven years ago when they first met The Angel of Death and he'd sacrificed himself for her safety. She could never thank Vyse enough for that, and she could never do enough to fully pay him back in her mind. She loved Vyse as a brother. She loved him as a friend. But most importantly, she loved him as more than a friend. But therein lied the problem, as she wasn't so sure if Vyse loved her in the same account.

Fina sat up on her bed and rubbed her eyes. She couldn't seem to fall asleep tonight, which was a rarity for her. She was usually capable of drifting right off when she wanted to. Fina tilted her head back and stared up at the ceiling. Her thoughts darted back and forth: from Ramirez to the Elder's sacrifice to Vyse. She laid back as her thoughts stopped upon Vyse. Vyse was the person that Fina trusted and loved more than anyone else. Her mouth turned upwards into a dream-like smile when she thought about Vyse. He was the one who had shown her the truth of this world, that not everyone was a low life backstabber like the Elder's had first told her. He showed her everything there was about life.

Fina stood up and went to the door. She had to go and see Vyse, if just to say hello. Granted, just saying hello at this time of night would seem very out of place and odd, she felt she had to do it anyways. She opened her door, walked out, and crept past Aika's room. Before sneaking over to Vyse's room she looked out to the cape and saw him sitting there. Fina smiled as she walked along the stone path up to the cape, a breeze softly blowing the fringes of her white, figure hugging night gown.

Aika had the same thoughts as Fina. A few minutes after Fina had decided to take a walk to the cape, Aika decided to as well. But upon looking out over the balcony, she spotted Vyse and Fina sitting together. She nibbled upon her lip and sighed dejectedly. Fina was the only thing stopping her and Vyse from being together. And even though it felt so right, sometimes she wondered if it was meant for them to be at all. She turned her head and looked up towards the meeting room, and saw Kirala peering out at the couple. Good old Kirala, only her and Pow had stayed on the island after Soltis. Aika was grateful for that; they had came to be pretty close friends. Well, she wasn't getting to sleep anytime soon, and Kirala wasn't exactly who she wanted to talk to, but anything would help ease her insomnia.

The elevator finally stopped at the meeting room level. Aika walked towards Kirala and leaned forward upon the railing beside her. Kirala was still wearing her standard daytime affair.

"Hey Kirala."

"Hey Aika."

They stood there staring out into the sky for a few moments before Kirala spoke up. "Is there something bothering you, Aika? Something you wanna get off of your chest?"

Aika sighed. "I dunno Kirala. There's a lot I need to get off of my chest, but I keep thinking the burden is better kept on my shoulders."

Kirala looked at her and frowned slightly. "Hun, that's no way to go about. True, sometimes things need to be bottled up. But some are too important for that. They need to be expressed freely."

Aika went back to nibbling on her bottom lip again. After a few more moments of silence, Aika nodded her head. "You're right. Thanks Kirala. Sometimes I think you're a visionary."

Kirala smiled. "Hey, it's just my Yafutoman heritage. We're known for giving this sage like advice."

Both the girls laughed. Aika started for the elevator again. Before she could get there, Kirala spoke up. "Hey, wait a minute." Aika stopped and turned back around. "I don't know what you have planned, but I know who you have it planned for. Just be careful about what you say."

Aika nodded. "I will."

"Oh, and one more thing. I heard about something from a traveler in Nasrad today before I came back. Apparently there are rumors popping up about ancient ruins from an Old Civilization that dwelt under the Red Moon. I guess they lie somewhere in the deserts of Nasr. A handsome Blue Rogue was the one who told me about it. Maybe if you told Vyse about this, it would spark an old fire in him."

Aika put on a grin from ear to ear. "You're right, Kirala. Besides, who knows what kind of treasure we might find in a place like that? Thank you for your help." Kirala just gave a knowing smile as Aika took the elevator back down. Kirala sighed. The kid had all the heart in the world, a sense of humor, and a body other women would kill for. But all of that might not be enough to win over the heart of the man she loved.

At the same time Aika and Kirala were talking, Fina had made her way up to the cape. She had pretended not to see Vyse. He spoke up in surprise when he saw her. "Fina, what are you doing up so late?"

She looked back in a moment of faked surprise. "Oh, Vyse! You scared me."

"Sorry about that."

"It's quite alright. I'm just a little jumpy this late is all. I...I couldn't sleep and I thought that this would be a nice place to relax until I could."

Vyse smiled. "Then come and sit by me, I can't sleep either." Fina smiled and gladly took a seat beside him. They enjoyed a few minutes in peace before Vyse spoke up again. "So...what's on your mind?"

"I'm not really sure. I've just had thoughts of all of our journeys flashing through my mind lately. I feel like it's time to start a new one."

Vyse smiled. "Now you're talking my language. I've been thinking the same thing. How about tomorrow we pack up and just set sail. We don't need a flight plan or any specific objective, let's just go."

Fina smiled. "That's my Vyse. Always ready for an adventure." Fina gave a slight giggle. Then her facial features changed, and she cleared her throat. "Um...something else that I've been thinking about lately is..." Vyse looked up, his interest again sparked. "Well, lately, I've been thinking a lot of you. Thinking of how we first met, when you and Aika saved me from Alfonso's ship. Then how we started off looking for the moon crystals, and how you showed me the whole world and what it was like to have someone honestly care for you. And...thank you. I can never repay you enough for everything you've done for me, Vyse." With that she leaned against Vyse, and he wrapped his arm around her, not saying a word. They both looked up at the Red Moon with smiles.

But this still weighed heavy on Vyse's mind. He loved Fina so much...but there was also Aika. each girl had successfully taken half of his heart, and neither side was likely to give theirs away. This will only cause pain and heartbreak Vyse thought morosely. But he showed no signs of inner battle as he continued looking up at the sky.

Dear Journal,

It looks like we are in line for quite a bit of intrigue and excitement. A handsome man walked past me today and saw the Blue Rogues patch on my jacket. Upon seeing this, he stopped and introduced himself as Morgan, a fellow Blue Rogue. He said that he'd come across some information on an ancient temple in Nasr. He decided that he would share this information with me. He'd told me that no one else had yet heard of this temple besides him. Needless to say, his stories really struck a chord with me. Tales of the ancient city and what treasures it might hold certainly have peaked my interest. In the morning my crew and I will be heading from Maramba to the Nasr desert in hopes of finding these ruins. I mean, who am I to pass up on such a challenge? The need for seeing the world has always ran thick in the blood of my family. Besides, who am I to pass up treasure? Jewels are a woman's best friend after all.