Of Love and Loss: Chapter One: The Great Awakening

A.N.: Okay, I guess you can say I can't truly be called a fan since the only game of this I've ever played is Sword of Mana, but I still love it, and I think that deserves some credit. Also, since this takes place originally in the final fight scene with Dark Lord, I'm forced to do some editing. In my opinion, it makes absolutely no sense for Isabella to be there, because we've already been told that she's in love with Count Lee, at least, that's the impression I got, so why is she hanging around there (other than the fact her bloodline seeks out strong leaders, and she's a hopeless flirt) when she could be with Lee? If you think up any good reasons, let me know. Actually, don't, because I'll just ignore you, since it's my fic and nobody else's!!! Gr....Also, as for Goremand....Well, I really don't care too much about him. He can go do whatever it is he wants to do. And lastly, to end this hell I have trapped you in, this was originally supposed to be a one-shot fic, but it grew and developed in my brain, and now you must suffer! MUAHAHAH!.....er....Anywho......Oh yeah! And before I forget, in this fic, the heroine's name is Kana, and the hero's name is Rex....That way I don't just have to call them hero and heroine through the entire piece.....Oh yeah, and as a warning, the beginning sucks, so, yeah....... Also, be fore warned, this is some of the fluffiest crap I've ever forced myself to write.

Stroud, or how as we better know him, Dark Lord, quickly shut the door to the bedroom the Mana girl rested in, just barely in time to miss a flying book aimed for his head. He opened the door a tiny crack and quickly shut it again when another book smacked against the door.

"GET OUT DARK LORD! I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU, I HATE YOU, I HATE YOU!" she screamed at the top of her lungs. He opened the door a tad bit once more.

"Now that's not nice to say to the person who's keeping you alive."

Thwack! She was in too much rage to really aim well, and for that, Dark Lord was grateful. He pressed a careful ear to the door, trying to hear if she still posed any threat. Nothing. He opened the door all the way to find her face pressed against a pillow as she sobbed. Well, she seemed harmless anyway. He walked into the room and placed a gentle hand on her shoulder. To his surprise, she did not pull away, but instead, wrapped her arms around him and sobbed.

...

Kana's serious injuries, and subsequently, her capture, were the end result of a very long and now fruitless battle, which was originally against Dark Lord. She, one of the last of Mana, had begun the long journey shortly after sir Bogard had taught her magic and set her loose on her journey. It was to continue when she met Rex, a former gladiator slave, and now her sworn protector. On and on it had gone, until, in the Air Ship, she had learned that Dark Lord might not be her enemy after all, and that his past hurt just as much as hers. It was to end in a frightening conclusion when Kana and Rex were to face Dark Lord for the last time.

A battle to the death.

And to the death it would be. Neither side would relent, until Kana was forced to watch in horrendous agony as Rex was cut down before her eyes. She, tossed to the side with a broken leg, used every spirit she could use in his defense, but it was to prove fruitless. The magic was weakening her from her supreme loss of blood, and she was drifting in a state of bare consciousness. She cried out his name once, before blacking out.

When she awakened, she found herself in a gloriously decorated bedroom where Marely herself attended her, and Dark Lord would occasionally checked up on her, try to reason with her, possibly striking a deal. As fate would have it, Marely was struck down with a small flu, and would be out for two weeks or so, and so it was he alone that cared for her.

"Why bother keeping me alive? Why not just kill me," she'd spit at him angrily. He would get up from his chair, walk around for a moment, and then look her strait in the eye.

"You don't deserve to die. You could be useful to me, and it wouldn't be right to kill you."

And each time she'd ask him the same question: "Where's sir Bogard and Cibba?"

And each time he'd answer truthfully. "I don't know."

Until this day, when she finally snapped from the pressure and sorrow.

"I hate you, I hate you...." she said between sobs.

He curled his arms around her, gently rocking back and forth on his heels, sitting down on the edge of the bed so that she, too, rested on it, and her head was pressed consolingly on his shoulder.

"Hush, hush...I know...I'd hate me too."

The sobs became a few sniffles here and there, until she finally stopped all together, and pulled away slightly, looking up at him through her light, golden brown eyes.

It was one of those moments.

And she knew it.

And he knew it.

They both abruptly pulled away from each other, Stroud standing up, Kana pressing herself against the wall the bed rested next to. And that was that.

"I....apologize," he said quickly before walking out of the room, leaving Kana alone in her misery.

...

A few soldiers scowled darkly as Stroud strode to the Mana girl's room, carrying her dinner and healing herbs that doctors had prescribed her. Why should the heretic girl be treated with such special care? She had defied the Realm. For this, she deserved punishment. But none dared disobey Dark Lord.

SLAM!

....Except Julius....

The slam had come from his own room as he marched purposely toward Stroud, putting an arm in front of the door and barring the way in as he leaned against the door frame.

"You shouldn't make her quite so comfortable," he said darkly. Stroud scowled at him.

"This is my affair. We aren't going to win loyalties by locking her in a dungeon."

"It's one of the more persuasive methods, and I know others," he responded, now leaning his back against the door itself and crossing his arms, pouting.

"Which is precisely why you aren't taking care of her. And until Marely is well, things will continue to go as I direct them. Understood?"

"Yes My Lord," he grumbled.

"Now step aside," he coaxed, as though talking to a child and asking for some sort of sharp object they shouldn't have. Julius clearly didn't appreciate it, but walked off in a huff anyway.

On the other side of the door, Kana quickly backed away and sat down on the bed, so as not to be caught eaves dropping. The door opened and revealed Stroud, who smiled rather pleasantly to see her up and about.

"How's your leg?" he inquired brightly, making Kana slightly wary of him.

"It hurts, but I can move around."

"Better not then," he said wisely, setting the tray down on the table. Kana sighed and groaned.

"But I'm so tired of staying inside all the time! You treat me like guest and then like a prisoner! Which am I?"

"At the moment, both and neither. Once your leg is healed, you can go anyplace you like in Granz Castle, but I can't have you running away. According to healers, your leg should be sturdy enough for some physical activity soon, but until then you are to stay put. And if you're in here, I know where you are, and that you are safe."

"What do you care if I'm safe or not? The only thing you and Julius want is Mana Power," she spat angrily, turning away her head.

He pulled up a chair next to her, and looked at her, even though she would not look at him. "I do not want Mana Power. I've kept myself from relying on Mana Power this long, I'm not starting now. Also, I am half human, you know. I still have a heart. I care if you are safe," he said. It was almost tenderly, and he nearly held up a trembling hand to her cheek, but quickly restrained himself. The action did not go unnoticed by Kana, however, and she turned her head to face him, cocking her head slightly, the golden brown locks waving as she did so.

"What a puzzle you are," she admitted. "You burned my village, and I knew I hated you. Then, on your airship, you weren't horrible at all. But then...you killed Rex, and...well....But here you are now, taking care of me, without any threats or dangers. What am I to think?"

"That I can be your friend and ally," he said hopefully. "In any case, I've brought you your medication. Now don't give me that look," he said as Kana wrinkled her nose distastefully. "I know it tastes bitter, but it will help you get well. Just chew while you eat your dinner," he said, now handing her the tray. She timidly began to eat while he waited patiently for her to finish.

When she was done, he stood and paced about the room. "I don't suppose you would say yes if I were to ask you to join my forces?" he asked hopefully.

"Do I have anything to say to you?" she snapped.

"I thought not," he sighed, dejectedly.

"As long as you rule the world with an iron fist and send out Heretic Hunters, I will never be with you," she added.

"I can stop the Heretic Hunters, if that's what you like!" he said, happy for a small break.

"And?"

"And what?" he snapped.

"Will you show a little mercy to people?" He ran a hand through his green blue hair, sighing angrily. Who was she to boss him around so?

"I'm not exactly great at this sort of thing you know!" he spat.

"I'll help you," she said kindly, barely above a whisper.

"You? You will help me lead a nation? Wouldn't that go against your beloved dead?" he said bitterly.

"I think they'd appreciate it. Fighting had done us little good, peace and acceptance might do a bit better," she encouraged. He turned his head to look at her and took her all in. She was serious.

"Do you really mean that?"

She nodded.

"It's a deal!" he shouted, knocking over the chair to get to her, then stopped himself when he realized he might be about to kiss her. Why, how, did she affect him like no one else? What sort of mysteries lay within the Mana Girl that he had yet to uncover? But Stroud dare not even attempt to uncover such mysteries. It was, at the moment, good enough that the Mana Girl spoke to him. The use of spirit magic and Mana Power might help the fledgling nation yet.

...

Stroud quietly opened the door that night, to peer in at Kana, but was startled to see her lamp on. She looked up from her book.

"Oh, hello. I can't sleep," she admitted, slightly surprised to see him.

"I just wanted to check up on you...." He said, awkwardly rubbing the back of his head.

"Do you always do that?" she probed.

"When I can't sleep, yes."

"So you just come in here and watch me sleep?"

"Basically."

"Well, as you can see, it will do you little good tonight."

He bowed. "I am sorry to have disturbed you. I will go now," he said as he left. But still into the late hours of the night, sleep would not come to Dark Lord, and he paced about his room. He decided to check in on Kana again, for watching her brought him peace, and helped him sleep. He tiptoed quietly into the room, relived to see the light off, and the girl asleep.

But it was a restless sleep that plagued her, and she tossed and turned as inner demons gave chase to her in her nightmares. Stroud quietly drew up a chair and sat down, watching her. He almost touched her to end her nightmare, but refrained from it. He continued to watch her for quite some time when he was startled by her soft cry.

"No! Please! Don't hurt him! Rex, no! You've got to stop! Please!"

He cursed bitterly under his breath. So, she still dreamt of that gladiator slave, did she? He was surprised at how much the knowledge hurt him.

"Stroud, look out!" That caught his attention. She...she was dreaming of him, too? Not in hate or anger, but she was actually worrying for him. This time, he could not resist but to instinctively draw her into his arms and whisper hush, all is well. This, however, woke her up, and her brown eyes, slightly tear rimmed, starred into his gray ones. And for a moment, they were one. She drew back slightly in surprise when her tongue ran over rather large canine teeth.

"I'm half Mavole, remember?" he encouraged to keep her from becoming frightened.

"Oh," she said, pushing away a stray lock of his long hair. "Isn't love between humans and Mavoles forbidden?"

He grinned slyly. "Yes, but I'm also half human."

Only this time, they did not draw away from each other. This time, they shared in one long kiss of understanding. There was no need to relate the dream to him, he would already know it. There was no need to ask what he was doing here at this hour, she had already welcomed him.

He held onto her tightly and the kiss did not end. He gently replaced her on the bed, but this time, he joined her. She cried out in surprise at this, but did not attempt to stop him as his lips found their way to her neck. So perfect, she was. How wonderfully she fit into his arms. How wonderful it was to be with her. Holding her closely, he drew the covers over the pair, and his hands began to fumble with her clothes.

"Stroud, wait! Stop!" He did not listen. This was right, they both knew it. She continued to cry out as he ripped the shirt from off of her head.

"I've never done this before!"

That stopped him. Damn! Damn, damn, damn, damn, damn! She'd probably be one of those girls who always waited until marriage, and whilst he loved her, neither certain what morning would bring. He didn't want a clinging vine. If that's the way she'd be afterwards, then he might as well forget it.

He pulled away from her slightly, just enough so that their eyes met. "Would you like me to stop? I...I don't want to hurt you." After a moment' hesitation, she shook her head no, he smiled, and continued his worshiping of her.

"I love you," he added tenderly.

"And I you," she reassured him. The time flew from them, and they were consciously aware of only each other and the ancient instinct that rules all creation. Good Goddess, how had Rex kept himself away from her? She was so appealing, so wonderful. How he loved her. He would never let her out of his sight again.

Finally it came down to one last thing. Connecting with her. She cried out in pain when it began and he kissed her reassuringly and whimpered how much he loved her and was sorry to have to hurt her.

"It's alright!" she said, petting his hair, for it was he who needed reassuring. "Keep going, and the pain will take care of itself." And so it did, and they were as one person, knowing nothing but each other, and the love they expressed.

...

They agreed, in the wee hours of the morning, that it would be best for the rest of Granz Realm (with the exception of Marely, who was going to be told right away,) did not know about that night, though they hated to hide their love.

So, early in the morning, Stroud stole back to his room, climbing into his own, lonely bed, and tried to sleep, but his mind was preoccupied with thoughts only for Kana. For her, it went much the same way.

And so, the day went much like the same as before. Stroud brought her breakfast, and then left off to attend to the business of the kingdom, returning to share lunch with her in her room, leaving to practice swordsmanship, and coming back with her dinner. Waiting for her to finish eating, he sat upon a chair, and gazed lovingly at her. When she had finished her meal, he smiled and requested that she come sit on his lap. She, somewhat unwillingly, obeyed.

He tenderly placed her head under his chin and chuckled as she wiggled about. She had adored last night, but had no intention of letting Stroud do whatever he liked whenever he liked.

"Stop wiggling so Kana, it will do you no good."

"Don't get so over protective."

"You are mine to protect."

She looked up and glared at him. "And what now, am I to be your private whore?"

He gave her a measuring look, and a soft smile. "Say you'll marry me, and you'll never be anyone's whore."

God, that was fluffy crap..... I apologize for the extreme fluff in that. And more is yet to come!