Author's Note: And I'm back in action! This is an idea I had while RPing with some friends on a forum – I was inspecting the RP and thought 'wow, that'd work with Golden Sun. . . wait a minute!' So here you go. Firstly, a warning – I don't know if I'll include romance in this story. I may later, but I'm not sure. So don't send me emails/reviews demanding that you want a certain pairing. Don't read ahead if you just want romance. Because that's NOT what I'm writing. Secondly, another warning – this is an AU. If you don't like this kind of fic, then please don't read on. Thirdly – I write so that people can enjoy my work. Thus, I hope that you enjoy this!
Somewhere south of the Lemurian Empire, a medium-sized metal ship moved through the icy waters of the South. The ship was of the standard, sleek design of the Lemurian navy, painted with a black and red crest on the prow. It was a ship specifically designed for reconnaissance and research missions, and as such it was unarmed. Along the starboard side were two men, conversing into the morning wind.
"I honestly don't see the reason why we're coming down here," Alex said coldly to the historian of the expedition – a Tolbi-born man named Kraden. "I don't like leading expeditions when there's no visible purpose to them. Tundaria has been dead for a couple of centuries now – do they honestly think we're going to find anything interesting that we haven't already grown sick of for decades now?"
"Patience, my young friend," the older man said, adjusting the glasses that were resting on the end of his nose. "There is always a wealth of information available from ancient civilizations. . . even ones like Tundaria. And you forget, we're not looking for any technology – there isn't much that compares to the Net these days."
The Net was a giant link between all the computer systems in the world. It basically allowed everyone in Weyard to connect to all places in the world, rapidly speeding up worldwide communications in a way which no-one had ever dreamed possible. It was now an integral part of life in Weyardâ but it was also the cause of the most devastating war in the world. The Proxian War.
"We're here," Kraden continued, "to see if we can find any archaeological remains and determine what wiped out the Tundarians. That's all. You know very well that they just disappeared in the giant blizzard more than a century ago. Not a trace was left of them, except for the occasional rumor of a tower appearing in clear days or some such story. So we're going to find that trace."
Alex sighed and leant against the boat's railing. He involuntarily shivered – it had grown steadily colder as they had gone further south. Even though his whole body was wrapped in heavy blue garments, he could still feel the morning chill in the air. "I know that. But really, what's the point?"
"I personally find it fascinating," Kraden said, looking out over the water and straightening his gray robes. "It's always a joy to be learning something new."
"This coming from the words of a bookworm who is always holed up in the Lemurian library," Alex commented with a sly smirk on his face. "Constantly reading up about this artifact or that ancient culture."
"Very funny," Kraden replied. "But. . . to tell the truth, I don't know why the government is placing such high priority on this expedition. I'm sure there'd be something more worthy of our time, and yet this was what we were assigned to do. Tasks of no intrinsic value are not normally given such importance."
Alex gestured with a flick of his head to the stern of the boat. "Would it have anything to do with him, just quietly?"
'Him' was a man that stood quietly at the rear of the metal ship, watching the engines churn the water up and leave a wide wake for a long distance. He was not one of the regular people assigned to Alex's exploration group, and he had only been brought along at the request of the Lemurian Senators. His long blue hair - the trait of all Lemurians - was mostly covered by a cloak that was fastened to a headband – a very unusual item of clothing. Standard Lemurian garb in shades of blue clothed his muscular form.
He hadn't explained himself, nor had he spoken too often to the other members of the expedition. But they knew that his name was Piers.
"I don't know," Kraden replied to his comrade in a low voice. "I haven't been able to glean much from him. Don't get me wrong – he's a friendly person when he chooses to speak. But he refuses to say anything about why the Senators demanded his presence. According to him, he's just a mercenary.
Alex snorted. "Mercenary, my foot. If that was true, then I really doubt the Senators would order us to take him so forcefully, especially on a mission of this nature."
"Chief!" a voice said from above them. Alex turned and glanced towards the centre of the boat. Another man – this one from Madra – was waving to him.
"What is it?" Alex called.
"We can see something on the other side of the boat. It's a little too foggy to make out any details, but we think its Tundaria."
"Or it's a glacier," Kraden muttered under his breath.
Alex chuckled slightly at the historian's comment. "I hear that." He cleared his throat and replied in a louder voice. "Understood – I'll be around in a moment." The other man nodded and spun on his heel, heading into the deck again. Alex sighed. He hoped it was actually something worthwhile this time – the last two sightings had merely been ice and rock formations in the middle of the ocean. He glanced towards the stern again, where Piers continued to watch, oblivious to the comments that had just been passed.
"Hey you!" Alex called out. "Piers!" The 'mercenary' turned around and looked questioningly at the expedition leader. "We just had another sighting, so you might want to come along. Just in case it's for real this time."
Piers nodded. "I understand." He stretched momentarily before casually walking around the stern to the port side of the boat. Alex beckoned for Kraden to follow before moving off. The older man trailed behind at a distance.
The two higher-ranking members of the expedition followed Piers' path and pressed up against the port-side railing. Two other crew members were there, peering into the foggy morning air with telescopes.
"Ah, Alex," one of them said, taking his eye from the telescope rim. "About 300 degrees from the prow of the boat, you can see some darker coloration in the air. It's bigger than the last sightings – we think it might be Tundaria."
"Keep looking then," Alex ordered. "We shouldn't be too far away – if that isn't it, we'll probably see it in the distance anyway when the fog dissipates."
"Yes sir," the man replied before returning his attention to the instrument in his hand.
"I hope this is it," Kraden said with a shiver. "I'm getting old – I won't be able to take these deep-sea expeditions for too much longer."
Alex smiled and placed a hand on his companion's shoulder. "Don't worry – I'm sure you have plenty of years ahead of you yet, my friend."
Minutes passed, but no more details presented themselves. Piers continued to watch silently, almost unmoving. Alex was almost tempted to poke his arm and see if he reacted somehow – he barely seemed alive. Kraden yawned.
Then the Lemurian mercenary gripped the rail tightly and leaned forward. His eyes narrowed.
"I see land!" he declared. "Look at the sea and slowly raise your eyes. You'll see something solid just below the level of fog – looks like a beachhead of some form."
Alex was of a mind not to pay attention to this extra baggage – he had been annoyed ever since the Senate had commanded the man's presence. But he decided to humor him and followed his instructions. A moment later, his eyes locked onto a sandy white shore, almost iced over.
"He's right!" Alex declared. "I see it too!" He yanked a telescope from the grasp of another crew member and trained it carefully on the spot. "It's definitely a beach. I think we can bring the ship close enough to land there." Immediately he turned and walked into the depths of the ship. "Helmsman! Turn 60 degrees to port and decrease speed to two-thirds! We've seen land, and I don't want to run into it, understood?"
"Yes sir!" the helmsman replied. With deft movements he rotated the tiller and pointed the ship in the right direction.
"Let's hope it's what we were looking for," Alex said. "I don't want to land on the wrong island."
"There aren't many other islands of reasonable size around here," said Piers, who had followed him inside the ship. "Tundaria is the only one."
Alex kept his gaze on the man for a few moments, taking him in as if only having seen him for the first time. "And how would you know that?"
The mercenary shrugged. "I keep myself in the know."
"Sure you do," Alex muttered under his breath. "All crew members are to prepare for the landing. We have a job to do, remember? Get moving!"
Nearly an hour later, a dozen men of the expedition had gone ashore and prepared the necessary supplies. Kraden had identified it as Tundaria once they had gotten close enough to clear the fog. For some reason, this made Alex skeptical of the 'mercenary' Piers. . . he was very curious suddenly as to why he acted completely different from other sell-swords that he had met.
But for now it didn't matter. What did matter was finding a relic or something to keep Kraden happy on the way home. At least, that was how Alex saw it. In all honesty, he was beginning to consider the expedition a joke. Seriously, what was the point of it? Who cared if the Tundarians had disappeared – it might have been worthwhile once, but now technology had advanced beyond the point of what the Southern Empire had attained. Was it really necessary?
Pulling himself from these thoughts, Alex ordered the group to start moving. With any luck, it wouldn't take them more than a day or so. Especially considering that there had been rumours of a 'Tundaria Tower' that appeared on clear days – if it really did exist, then it would speed up this expedition tenfold.
"I really am too old for this," Kraden said after about fifteen minutes of walking.
"Maybe you're due for retirement," Alex suggested. "After all, you've been working for Tolbi and then Lemuria for pretty much your whole life. Maybe it's about time you took a break."
"I don't know Alex, I really don't," the old man replied. "There's so much more to learn. . . I don't know if I'd be content being bundled up in some small estate in the heart of Lemuria."
"Suit yourself," Alex answered.
The march across the cold tundra continued for the next few hours. It was already beginning to grow dark – daylight didn't last long this far south. Alex wanted to be under cover and prepared when the night set in – even a small-sized blizzard under the cover of darkness would be enough to freeze them all to death.
Just when Alex was preparing to stop the group for a short break, Piers tapped his shoulder and pointed to the northwest. Alex followed his finger and gasped in surprise.
"So the rumors were true then" he murmured.
Piers nodded. "That's the famous Tundaria Tower we've been hearing about. That's probably the best place to start."
Alex took in the sight for a few moments. It was peculiarly pretty – the tower was a dark brown-red colour that for some reason reminded him of dawn. Set on a good-sized incline above the sea and portrayed against the slowly darkening blue sky, it created a quiet and peaceful scene.
Then he pulled himself out of the trance and addressed the expedition members, pointing out the sight to them before spurring them on, urging them to reach it before the sun went down.
"Interesting architecture" Kraden murmured as they began the approach towards it. "It shows a few similarities to places on the Indra and Osenia continents, and yet there's an element in it which I cannot say I've seen before. . ."
"You can study it better once we get there," Alex suggested. "Right now, I'm more worried about being caught by a storm in the dark."
"Perhaps you're right," Kraden said reluctantly.
It took them nearly two hours to climb the slope up to the tower, and the daylight slowly dwindled down to nothing. During that time, the tower slowly grew in their vision until it was reaching high into the sky. It was bigger than Alex had anticipated – he counted at least fifteen levels, and there were probably more. The colour was a richer red and brown than it had seemed in the distance. A wide, door-less entryway faced out onto the hill which they had just climbed, almost as if greeting the newcomers into its halls.
The expedition moved inside the tower and slumped against the walls. Alex let them have their rest – they had been moving more or less consistently for the whole day, and they were all beginning to tire. Instead of joining them, he remained by the entrance and looked outside in time to see the sun creep behind the horizon. Darkness engulfed the Tower, and lanterns were lit.
Kraden was already hard at work, analyzing everything he could, be it the composition of the pillars, the size and shape of the rooms, or the markings on the walls. It brought a slight smile to Alex's face – the older man was supposed to be a historian and not an investigator, but he was probably more inquisitive and knowledgeable than the rest of the group combined.
Then he stopped smiling. Something was wrong. . .
"Where's Piers?" Alex demanded suddenly, glancing around. No-one answered him. The mercenary was nowhere to be found. "Kraden, where is Piers?"
The historian stopped and looked up at the blue-haired man. "I haven't seen him for a while, actually. I think he was looking around over there." He gestured absently at a pathway that seemed to lead further into the tower.
Alex cursed. "I didn't trust that man from the beginning, and I trust him even less now. . . stay here – I'm going to look for him." With that, the leader turned and moved into the Tower.
Piers crouched down in front of the large apparatus in front of him. It was made of a coppery substance, and was about his size. It was also buried into the floor, and no effort of his could move it. Instead, he was searching the rest of the room, trying to find what he had been sent here for.
There was a table covered with various mechanical parts scattered across its surface. Beneath the mismatched metal objects were several scattered sheets of paper. Piers gently picked up the metal items and moved them aside, retrieving as much paper as he could. Then he flicked through them quickly. He wasn't too sure just how relevant they were – the script was faded and very hard to make out. But he imagined that they were important – according to common knowledge, the Tundarians didn't write much down, except their plans and their scientific records.
The Lemurian mercenary had to get them out of here before 'he' came. If he found them, then they'd all be in trouble. The Senators may not have known much about his real purpose, but King Hydros most certainly did. And so Piers had been dispatched to stop him.
He searched the room for more papers, but found none. Instead of continuing his search, Piers stuffed the bundle of documents that he'd already found into a carefully prepared pocket in his garments, then made one last check to make sure he found everything.
That was his mistake.
Silently, the other man crept into the room and gripped a copper item tightly. He moved up beside Piers and slammed the object into the base of his skull.
Piers cried out and fell forward onto the cold stone floor. Pain filled his head, and he gasped for breath. He could taste blood - the blow had been incredible. Before he could get up or scurry away, the newcomer's booted foot slammed into his ribs, knocking the air from his lungs. The pain was almost agonizing – Piers felt that at least one rib had snapped. The boot then placed itself on his back.
Alex shook his head and sighed. "Why Piers, what brings you here? You know how I don't like people in my office without permission."
Piers struggled to form words, but he was too winded to speak. Finally, they slipped out. "Traitor. . . giving information. . . Prox. . ."
Alex scowled. "I should have guessed as much. You're not a common mercenary – you're working for King Hydros himself, aren't you?" He hissed. "No matter. You may try to stop me, or hide things from me, but you won't be able to. Nor will you be able to stop the Proxians. Never think that you can for a moment, because I know too well that we will get away with it." He stepped down harder, eliciting a cry from Piers.
"I won't. . . let you. . ."
"Too late," Alex muttered before he brought his foot back and slammed it forward. The toes connected with Piers' temple, and everything went dark.
Author's Note: So much for a Prologueâ that was ridiculously long. But hey, I thought it was alright. Nonetheless, I'm still calling it that, since it's really a buildup to what will follow. I'm already enjoying this story. . . I hope you are too! Please drop a review if you feel up to it. And if you're interested, add me to MSN – I'm always eager to talk to new writer friends. Until the next chapter!