Conflictions of the Mind
-Chapter One-
The Haunted

Where are you going?
With the long face pulling down
don't hide away like the ocean
that you can't see but you can smell
And the sound of waves crash down

The day had faded into an overwhelming gray. It seemed to have no beginning and no end, time that would be eternally stretched across the skies as the tides slowly swept away it's last remnants, the winds capturing it's faint whispers as the souls who were living and the souls of the forgotten would soon be swept into one. Yet even the clouds would be borne away by the wind.

'They are so foolish.' The watcher thought, a mad cackle filling the inside of his mind, though his facial expression was a thoughtful, curious look. After all, he only appeared to be in his mid teens to these people. They'd never suspect the truth. The time they learned it would be the time to break them.

'I wonder what words you will cry out when you feel the knives in your backs.' He thought, scathingly. He was a pretender. These people were foolish; they thought that they could counteract all of the ideals that he had spent the past four thousand years putting into place. The idiots! Both of his Chosens had failed him: Zelos for in the end being too incompetent to carry out his role, Colette for not being suitable enough to take the role meant for her since birth: the new vessel for Martel. 'But you will be. I will bring Martel back. I swear it.'

It was his world. They shouldn't have interfered. And they would all pay the price. 'Damn you, Lloyd.' Even those who shared his half-elven blood. 'I wish it were different, Genis. There may be time yet to save you from the corruption of these foul humans.' He took a sip of his water, then smiled to himself as he watched the group interact at dinner. If his plan succeeded, he would be able to pry Genis away from these humans. Genis, in turn, would pry his sister away.. and then things would fall into place.

He noticed that Raine seemed strangely quiet now, after her brief flow of chatter just moments before. Granted, she did have a lot of questions about that certain gate.. a small smirk crossed his features. Perhaps controlling Raine would be even easier than Genis.. he studied her from the corner of his eye, not wanting to make his staring too obvious. 'You're so secretive, Raine. What is it going to take for me to figure out what you're hiding?'

Lloyd was looking at him now, those brown eyes concerned. "Are you all right, Mithos?"

Mithos blinked, putting on his best startled expression. "Me? Of.. of course. I'm surprised that you would ask.."

Genis heard them and smiled. "He's your friend too, Mithos. Of course he cares. It's because of him that you were saved from the fire in Ozette." Presea flinched and he quickly turned to face her. "I'm sorry, Presea... if you need something.. um.."

"I.. don't need.." Presea shook her head. "Or maybe I do. I still need to get used to the fact that I'm not alone anymore. Forgive me, Genis."

Genis smiled. "It's okay, Presea. We all want to find a way to help you feel happy again." He glanced around the table, waiting for the others to nod their approval. Regal nodded most enthusiastically, it seemed, though Mithos was quick to notice the hopelessness in his own gaze.

'You must be punished. All of you. Always trying to please that soulless failure.' He thought, but instead smiled weakly back. "You're right. I'm sorry, Lloyd. I just.. remember a human that looked like you. He.. he said he was my friend, and then turned his back on me when I needed him most."

Genis's eyes widened. "Really? You never said anything like that before.."

Mithos shrugged offhandedly. "Well.. I suppose its nothing to dwell upon. I'm still getting used to this being-liked-by-everyone thing."

Colette grinned. "Don't worry. Pretty soon it'll feel like normal!"

The group all laughed at that, except for Raine who wasn't paying any attention, though inwardly Mithos was seething. Seeing that Colette, the girl who was supposed to become the host body for his sister.. and everyone else, seeming so happy, seeming just like a group..

First, he'd have to gain their trust. Then he'd destroy them all.


It was as if a key had been turned in a lock that had long been rusted shut.

Otherworldly Gate.


The lock loosened its iron grip on the past, and the memories came rushing back all at once. To those looking at her, the woman's blue eyes seemed to go further and further away, to some unreachable place as the images flashed through her mind. The washtub. The rocks. Their lost cries fading away in the night. A small girl, washed up on the shores of a beach, clinging tightly to an infant-

Otherworldly Gate.

Now that the key had been turned, there was no way out. No way to stop the flood of thought. No escape from the rush of truth from the past that collided with the fears of the present.


No. She wouldn't think of it anymore. There was too much to do already. Too much. And yet..

"Raine!" For the first time she was aware of Mithos sitting next to her, giving her a concerned look. "Are you.. all right?"

"Otherworldly gate." Raine answered absently. This turned several pairs of eyes towards her. Perhaps the one that startled her most was the concern in those brown eyes of Lloyd's. She shook her head. "Sorry.. I'm just a bit preoccupied."

"You didn't eat much." Mithos remarked. "I worry about you. Being a fellow half-elf and all." Lloyd shot the blond boy a glance.

"Really, I don't think it matters." Raine remarked, rising out of her seat and folding her arms. "Please stop basing things so much on our blood. It doesn't bother me, and you've got to not let it bother yourself."

"Raine!" Genis hissed. Raine resisted the urge to slap her brother around for interfering. Would these fool children ever grow up?

Mithos' expression turned slightly hurt. "I.. I'm sorry, Raine." He murmured. "I.. I guess I'll go to bed now."

"Don't do so on my account. Why don't you boys take some time to talk to one another before you rest? We do have a long journey ahead of us, after all." Raine glanced towards the others. "I'll be in the other room. Lots of things to piece together, you know."

"We're all worried, Professor.. All you talk about is that gate thing." Lloyd pointed out.

An eyebrow raised. He could be perceptive when he wanted to. "Don't worry about it Lloyd. Please." There was a dulling pain at her temples. She rubbed her head absently. "Don't stay up too late. We have things to attend to in the morning."

"We won't." Sheena said brightly. "Rest well, Raine."

"Need me to tuck you in, my glamorous beauty?" Zelos remarked from his perch on the couch, earning him a pillow in the face and some laughs from the boys. Raine just rolled her eyes before she turned and headed into the bedroom, her head still whirring, unable to keep the thoughts from pouring in. 'Otherworldly gate. The village of the Elves. Here. All here. But.. how could it be?'

Sitting down at the desk, she scribbled down a note, before going to lie down in the bed. This was a bit of research that she could not tell the others. Something that would have to wait until everyone went to bed. 'Not as if I'll be missed,' she thought to herself with a smirk.

There was a knock at the door. Startled a bit, she smoothed down her robes. "..Yes?"

Mithos pushed the door open and stepped inside. "Sorry to bother you, Raine. You just seemed.. really preoccupied today. Perhaps you'd feel better if you talked about it?"

Seeing the blond made her raise an eyebrow. "That's.. a nice thought, Mithos. Though I don't think I'm quite in the mood for conversation at the moment."

Mithos lowered his blue eyes, sadly. "I see.. well.. please let me know, then. Oh and.. I wanted you to have this.." he handed her a small blue crystal. "It was my sisters pendant. She never wore it openly, but always close to her heart. You.. remind me of her, a little. So I want you to have it."

Raine smiled a little. "I doubt you sister was quite an archeological fanatic like I am.. Mithos, this is a wonderful gift, but I'm afraid I cant.." Her head suddenly felt very light, and she winced as a flash of bright light seared across her vision. "What..?"

"Is something wrong?" Mithos' voice was concerned. "Raine..?" She could feel him place the stone into her hand as he tried to steady her, and the light and the pain vanished. "Are you..?"

Raine shook her head. "It's passed.. I'm all right. Please don't.. mention it to the others." Internally, she shivered. Whatever that had been, it had not been pleasant. A crazy migraine headache come out of nowhere. And that stone.. "I can't accept this, Mithos."

"You look like you just had a headache. My sister used to get those a lot too." Mithos was speaking. He had the sort of voice that made you want to believe every word he said, though she tried not to let what he said get to her. She felt too sorry for this boy, but like Genis, he needed to learn how to sort out his prejudices. "She always kept that stone with her. She said it helped her focus. Please, if it helps, I want you to have it."

She could feel the headache, still there, brimming under the surface. If she let go of the pendant now, it would.. "I'd.. like to study it, if you insist on giving it to me. Though I'll return it, of course."

Mithos smiled. "I knew you'd understand."

"Understand what?" Raine blinked, but Mithos shook his head. "I should probably let you rest, and the others will probably come in here also to sleep." Before she could say another word, he was out of the door.

Blinking, she stared down at the crystal in her hand. It was like a teardrop shaped shard, likely part of a bigger piece.. she felt the headache, wanting to come forwards. How long had she been having these headaches? Probably for a long time, she reasoned. And she was too stubborn to do anything about it. And out of the blue, Mithos had..

She closed her eyes and laid back down on the bed. Too many things to process. First she must attempt to rest before searching for the gate.

Otherworldly Gate. Rough waters, Genis crying, landing roughly on the shores. Body cold and numb, crying out at the top of her lungs before realizing that she must grow up now. She promised Mama that she'd watch over Genis, always, because she was his big sister, and now they would be truly on their own..


Night soon came, and Raine laid awake in her bed, waiting until she was sure that everyone else had went to sleep. As she began to sit up, Presea turned over in one of the cots with a murmured something, but still was asleep; the professor held her breath until she had managed to make it completely out of the room without waking any of the girls.

Now it was just getting out of the front door. A glance towards the room that the boys were sleeping in, and a shake of her head; Raine quickly moved down the three steps and towards the front door. The sky was black, clouds drifting over a starless sky. Yet she knew that she wouldn't have much time.

Next was the Rheaird. It took her a few more moments to unlock the one she needed, but finally, she managed it. "I can use this by myself," she tried to reassure herself. "This is.. only research. Nothing the others need concern themselves with. Genis is better off not knowing.."

A glance went back towards the house, only briefly. It was still silent. Taking a deep breath, she boarded the purple Rheaird, closing her eyes for a moment as she soared up into the sky. "It was west of here.. I think. South of Flanoir." Her hands tightened on the handlebars, the wind blowing her silvery hair back. "Otherworldly gate.. I must know the truth. Damn you, Mother!"

The phrase pounded through her mind, her veins throbbing with the words. Otherworldly gate. Otherworldly gate. The legendary land of Sylvarant.

The trip across the lands didn't take terribly long. She tried to keep her gaze focused on the sky ahead until she knew that she had to look down to look for that formation. She tried to keep the queasy feeling from entering her stomach as her eyes scanned the seas. And then..

Raine nearly slipped from her Rheaird when the familiar rock formation came into view. She had glimpsed it once before, yet now that she knew what it was; now it was as if she was drawn there like a magnet. "This is.."

Closing her eyes for a moment, she took a deep breath, trying to calm herself. "Go down. Only for a moment. Just to get the truth."

Her blue eyes opened. Steeling herself for the worse, she gripped the handlebars of the Rheaird, her slender hands suddenly sweaty as she steered the aircraft to land on a soft patch of grass. Once her feet were on solid ground, she swayed slightly, suddenly unsure of herself.

The color drained completely from her face once she saw the rocks. The ruin. The formation. It was.. but it couldn't be..

Her stomach churned and felt distorted inside as she stared at the ruin, almost unable to move. Normally when she saw a ruin for the first time, or even the next hundred times after, she would feel a rush of excitement. Yet today.. it was anxiousness. "It.. it can't be.."

Her hand reached out, shakily, to trace the lines engraved onto the stone. "..It just can't be.."

The rock formation.. was the one she had been searching for twelve years. There was no running from the truth now, as the bare fact lay in front of her: the reason why she never found it before was because it was on the other side. Was her research so meaningless? Yet she had to see it for herself to believe it. The ray of hope that was the moon, shining down and freeing them from that cursed place. Yet the memory filled her, like the waves crashing on the shores. Mother. Cargo. Washtub. Water. Drowning. Not again, please!

Unmoving, her eyes on the rock, yet not actually seeing it, she remembered that they had to wait many nights for that hope. As a small girl, she had no idea of its meaning. Mother had left them there.. to die. Because they were half elves, unfit for such a world.

As the wind again blew back her silvery hair, and the cold water sprayed her face, Raine suddenly found herself caught up in a long buried memory mixed with a blinding headache.

They had left Father behind in one of the small villages. Mother had said that they were going on a little trip, and there wasn't enough room for all of them. That and Father was ill, almost too weak to continue on these constant journeys. Raine had learned part of that situation while hiding behind doors instead of sleeping-when they weren't moving somewhere else.

"Do we have to go by boat, mother?" She had asked, repeatedly, the question often earning her a smack in the back of the head. But she had to ask. They all knew how much she hated boats.

"Don't complain. There is no other way. You're intelligent, child, you should know this by now." Even though she had just hit her daughter for asking a question, her tone wasn't angry, if merely a bit sharp. "I will promise you this. This will be the last time we'll have to travel like this."

"What do you mean?"

But Virginia didn't answer her. Her blue eyes had a faraway expression to them, and Raine stopped asking her questions. The trip was to begin, and that was that.

Their trip by boat had lasted five days. Each of those days had gone smoothly, until the fifth night. Not that Raine was comfortable on the boat. She had been a pretty young girl, with long silvery hair falling down her back, those clear blue eyes soon to become a mask for hiding her tragedy. She stayed in the cabin for most of the trip, half of the time spent throwing up into a bucket. She wasn't seasick, though: it was her fears that brought upon the nauseous feelings.

On the fifth night, a storm had started up, forcing them all to remain inside the cabins. Raine had caught a glimpse of the dark sky; black and purple, clouds fit to burst with rain. The thought made her insides churn. "I hate the ocean." She whimpered softly, to herself. Mother had stopped talking to them, seeming to talk more to herself and the walls. Once Genis was rocked to sleep, she had placed him to rest in his makeshift bed.

Time passed, the rocking of the boat grew more evident. Things that weren't bolted down began to shift. It almost would have been comical had she not been terrified for her life. Yet no one else seemed to notice these things. The captain had informed them of the storm and to stay indoors while he tried to navigate around it. Then he had stuck his head into their quarters.

"The otherworldly gate you seek, Mrs. Sage, is just through this storm."

Mother brightened considerably, jumping up and heading towards the door to speak with the captain quietly. Raine lost her supper to the bucket. After they spoke, Mother returned to the room, standing near where Genis was sleeping.

"I've finally found it, Kloitz.." Virginia was speaking to herself again, her melodic voice a bare whisper as she leaned against the cabin wall.. "The otherworldly gate. The journey ends here."

The storm had upset Raine so much that she could barely pay attention to her mother's words. Her face was white, as were her knuckles, trying to keep herself balanced by gripping onto the sides of a crate that was firmly bolted to the floor.

"If you wish to go along with your plan, Mrs. Sage," The captain spoke gruffly to Virginia as he returned to the room a few moments later, giving a sideways glance to the two children. "I must inform you that we cannot get any closer to the island of your choice. If you still wish to do this." The island had no dock, it seemed, and why should it? Very few knew of its existence, after all, or believed the truth behind it.

"It must be done. As it is, I am too weak myself to continue.. in this place. The cargo must be safely delivered." The elf stepped away from her children now, to look the captain in the eye. He was a tall man, with grizzled brown hair, though his brown eyes bore a tough of gentleness within them, despite his overall gruff appearance.

The girl looked up now, blinking at the conversation. "Mother..?" She asked quietly, her blue eyes wide. "Where are we? Are we.." Raine's face was pale, her hands holding on to the sides of the crate that she sat upon for dear life. "Are we near land yet?"

Virginia didn't answer her, or seem to notice that she had spoken, her gaze intent on the captain. "There must be a way, Captain Marcus! There must! My husband and I paid you more than enough to fulfill this task.."

Captain Marcus shook his head. "Mrs. Sage.. it is not my place to think of ideas or to tell you what to do in this situation.. but in weather like this.. we'd be all dashed upon those rocks. I certainly don't want to go any further in if it means risking my crew. Not to mention all of your lives.."

Virginia nodded. "Of course. I'll think of something.." Her gaze traveled the room, still apparently ignoring the voice of her daughter. "Perhaps if we had something that would take them over to the island, without us having to go any closer?"

The captain shook his head. "Nay, Ma'am, we don't have anything of the sort. This is a small boat, you know. This is the ship that gets laughed at for continuing to rely on steam instead of those confounded exspheres."

Yet Virginia's eyes widened. "How about.. something simple. A washtub, perhaps? There are certainly a few on board that could serve well enough to hold them."

Raine shivered and looked down into the basket where baby Genis was sleeping obliviously. She wished that she could sleep. Her mother's words weren't making any sense.

A gruff laugh answered her. "A washtub? I suppose that may be good enough, aye, but in this weather? Even precious cargo's likely to be lost with that."

Virginia lowered her eyes. "I know.. but it's all we have to go on. Please, captain. This is important that we send them off now. /Now/ Do you think you have something that could suffice?"

"I'll have the mate find one for you, but lady, this is a bit extreme. Aren't you worried that.." His voice trailed off. Raine shivered involuntarily, still not understanding. She had only heard Mother speak of a delivery of sorts, though she did wonder at what this cargo could be.

"Of course I am." Virginia snapped, causing Raine to jump a little. "But I have no choice. Do you understand? It must be done, one way or another."

"Even if it means.." Even the captain's eyes had widened.

"I know full well what it means. But it must happen. This is the last chance, the last hope. If you cannot get to the island, this is the only choice I have to make." Her voice was cold. "You understand, don't you captain?"

"You wish to relieve yourself of this burden. I understand." Another glance over to the children, a shake of his head. "Very well. I'll do as you ask."

"If something goes wrong.. I'll not hold you responsible." Virginia's voice was calm now. "It would have been a move by fate. Right now it's the only choice. I will double the money to you and your crew for your aid."

Captain Marcus bowed his head. "Nay lady, you don't have to do that. I'll see what I can do." When the sound of his heavy boots retreated, Raine forced herself to look up again.

Virginia let out a long sigh, pushing her silver hair out of her face with her hand. "This is the only decision I have left to make." She said to herself, her eyes looking upwards. "Please let it be the right one. Kloitz, we decided this together, and I will return to you."

"Mama?" Raine whimpered, looking as if she were going to be sick again. "Mama, what are we going to do?"

Virginia turned, and smiled weakly at her daughter. "You're going for a little ride, dear. It'll be fun, you'll see. Just hold tight to your brother and that bag I gave you-you'll be needing it. And you're needed on deck, so you'd best gather him and head out there."

Raine's eyes widened. "On deck? ..Mama, it's raining hard out there! And.. and.." she struggled to speak. Virginia gave her a hard look. "I know. Face your fear already. Now go up to the deck! Now!"

"..Yes, mother.." Raine whispered, her blue eyes wide at the change in tone in her mother's voice, and wincing at the slap. Slowly she lifted the sleeping Genis into her arms, making sure the cape she wore was drawn close about him. She pulled her own white hood over her head, and grasped the cloth bag in her free hand before shifting both arms so that she could keep a good hold on her brother. Her legs were still wobbly.

The captain's voice came from above. "Its all ready, ma'am! Best hurry now, before the winds pick up again!"

Virginia looked away from her children. "You heard him. Go!"

"But.. Mama.."

"I said, go!" The elf raised her voice, and trembling, but not just from the cold or her fear now, Raine now turned and walked out of the door. The wind hit her full in the face, blowing her hood back. Almost unable to stand because of her wobbly legs, she remained in place for a moment, until the captain saw her.

"You there! Get over here, now!" He called out. Swallowing, Raine forced herself to move, her insides churning. She knew that she was going to fall again.. that she was going to die again, that maybe this time it would be forever.. when they saw she wasn't moving fast enough, one of the deckhands grabbed her roughly and practically dragged her to where they had prepared the tub. The only thing she could do was make sure that she still had a hold on her brother.

"..What.." She managed to say, her eyes falling on the washtub, confused. Before she had much time to contemplate, she was placed into it-not exactly gently, either. "I.. mama!" she cried out when cold sprays of saltwater flew into her face, stinging her eyes.

"Sit down girl. Ready men? We need to push it towards the island which holds the otherworldly gate. Or so says the elf woman." The crewmen nodded, and the tub was sent sliding off of a makeshift plank placed at a fourty-five degree angle, Raine's pleads and cries being ignored..

The young girl held onto the side for dear life with one hand, the other still clutching Genis, who now awoke and began screaming at the top of his lungs. With a final push, they were floating in the tub on top of the water, floating towards that tiny island, the wind pushing them roughly in that direction. "Mother.. why.."

The glow from the ship vanished into the darkness as the washtub was swept away.

Raine opened her eyes; she had crumpled to her knees in front of the gate. "Please.. no more.." she whispered. "I don't want to go through that again. It was only supposed to be research.."

Day had not yet come, and once again a wave of memories came crashing down on her. This time she wouldn't be able to come out from under.