Chapter 1

By: Zosocrowe

Disclaimer: I do not own Star Ocean: Till the End of Time
I have merely borrowed a couple characters to create a silly fan story.
I have no money either.

(Revised 4/10/05)

So, this is my first videogame fan fiction piece. I only have four other stories archived here on I have been out of the writing loop for quite sometime, so I apologize for the rusty work. Something about Star Ocean 3 just struck me. I love characters like Albel. There are so many possibilities for them. This is not a "Mary Sue" fic, for those worried about that kind of thing (I don't care for them either). You won't find characters fighting over each other, no one is too perfect, no outrageous jealousy...and practically no romance (no mushy mushy stuff here), though, the pairing is listed in the summary.

Constructive criticism is always welcome, but I loathe flamers, so play nice or don't play at all. :-)

A young girl stood beneath a gnarled ash, its twisted branches heavy with brilliant orange berries and thick, dense foliage. The wind rustled about them, scurrying up eddies of dust in playful spirals and teasing the ivory silk of the girl's dress. She quietly stared out over a barren plain, a delicate hand resting gently against the weathered bark of the tree. The sun was setting, a bright half circle on the horizon beyond the mountain peaks. Before them lay the field, a variation of browns and grays, spotted with rush grasses and bunch weeds. An uninteresting sight, commonly bland, except that on this occasion the ground was dashed with crimson; as if a mad painter flicked his brush across the landscape.

Amidst the carnage of battle, Albel Nox used his boot to pull his blade from the breast of some faceless solider. Blood arced over him and a few drops coloring his face; however, he didn't notice. His eyes were fixed upon the ghostly figure standing peacefully on the little knoll above the battle field. The great ash tree shook and trembled as he took a step closer, and a flock of screaming crows burst from its branches in an explosion of ebony.

"...the hell?" Albel muttered to himself, watching the crows disappear into the sky.

He sheathed his sword, the Crimson Scourge, and turned his attention back to the figure in white. What was a woman doing in a place like this? Curious, he stepped onto the sandy path, stepping over the arm of some foolish sap. As he maneuvered his way around the stands of rabbit bush and sage, an eerie calm settled over war torn field. His footsteps pounded amidst the silence like a blacksmiths hammer in his head. Unsettled, he kept his sharp eyes trained on the figure despite wanting to look about himself.

He wasn't sure what compelled him to investigate the woman's presence. It wasn't uncommon for foolish peasants to get caught up in a battle and it certainly wasn't his duty to look out for their safety. Yet somehow, something told him this stranger wasn't a commoner. Perhaps it was the regal way her dress flowed about her legs, or the way the light danced off the sheer shawl she held at her breast. No peasant would wear such courtly clothing. Had she been kidnapped by the enemy? Would he know her, being a noble himself?

A voice in his head echoed, "No". It was so strong his feet faltered. A place low in his gut churned a warning. Something wasn't right. In fact, something was very, very wrong. Albel shook his head, confused. He would almost say he was afraid,; if he didn't know any better. Cautious he was; fearful he wasn't. He continued forward, a thumb nervously caressing the hilt of his sword.

At the base of the knoll, he scowled upward into the glare of the setting sunlight. The woman still stood quietly, her back to him, as she gazed out to the horizon. Annoyed she hadn't heard him approach and even more irritated at his silly apprehensions, he barked a terse "hey" at her. He expected her to scream and jump about but, when she didn't, that unsettling feeling welled in his gut and he reached for his sword. "Hey," he said again, his eyes narrowing, "I'm talking to you."

The girl twitched slightly, as if she'd been bitten by something. Slowly she turned her face over her shoulder and smiled. "Albel," she said, her voice but a whisper grabbed by the wind.

Albel staggered backwards, stumbling over a boulder, nearly falling. His eyes widened into an unbelieving stare. He gazed in horror at the smiling face, his mind trying to wrap its steely claws around the racing emotions streaming through his body.

Puzzled, the girl turned to him, her head cocked curiously to one side and her lips still smiling at him gently. Her pale gold hair fell over one shoulder as she gazed down at him with a strange sort of wonderment on her brow. In her hands, she held a loose bundle of brazen royal blue blankets to her bosom. The rich blue was so brilliant the color was like a large blot of wet ink against her pale robes.

Albel couldn't help but tear his eyes away from her face and glance at the woolen cloth she held to her breast. The swath shifted slightly and a cold chill ran up his spine and spread throughout his body.

He forced himself to look once again at the pleasant face of the young woman. He shook his head slightly, as if trying to clear his vision. This wasn't possible. They were dead. Long dead and buried with the worms. He'd watched them die, murdered before his very eyes nearly three years ago. A spark of anger curled like a newborn flame gasping for air. He let it burn, consuming his fear and pain with a comforting familiarity. He curled a trembling hand around his sword and gazed angrily at the subject of his torn feelings.

"What sort of sick trickery is this," he growled.

The petite girl's smile deepened and she hugged her blankets closer. "You've been gone so long, my lord, I grew worried," she replied, oblivious to his question.

"Worried?" Albel repeated, frowning at her. Hearing her voice caused his heart of constrict and an uncomfortable tightness settled in his chest.

She laughed and did a slight semi twirl, making her skirts swirl about her ankles. "Yes! It's been so long, I was afraid Kaine would forget what you looked like," she said.

Albel stiffened, the hairs on his neck standing upright. "Kaiā€¦Kaine," he whispered, glancing at the blue bundle she held. Confusion gave birth to another surge of anger and he stepped away. "He was but a mere pup. He'd barely seen my face to begin with, so how could he possibly forget it, stupid woman," he said, baring his teeth at her.

The girl laughed again and moved closer. She started to unswath the blankets with a sick cheerfulness that made Albel ill. "Don't be silly, my lord," she said. "He's not a dog."

Albel shivered. Part of his boggled mind screamed at him to strike the mad wench down, but his hand trembled carelessly. He knew what stood before him was a monstrous hoax, but a thread of uncertainly had coiled itself around his feelings like a thorny bramble.

"Kasia," he heard himself say in warning, though the girl seemed not to notice.

Her name was painful upon his lips. Images of desperation and feelings of remorse threatened to eat away the iron fibers that held him together and for one of the few times in his life, Albel felt afraid. He desperately searched within himself for that place he found comfort, but it wasn't to be found. His anger, his hatred, his pride was smothered by things far larger than he could fathom.


Her voice caused Albel to jump. Her smile was twisted, almost crazed as she let the blankets fall to the ground and about her dainty feet. She thrust a tiny shape forward expectantly, holding it under what appeared to be small arms.

Albel felt his heart stop beating. A strange, wounded noise gurgled from the back of his throat as he gazed upon the eyeless sockets of what appeared to be his son. The tiny head lolled to one side and patches of brittle, dark hair clung to leathery pieces of the remaining scalp. Maggots writhed about the empty eyes and from the corners of a lipless mouth.

Kasia frowned when Albel balked. "What's the matter, my lord," she asked, "Does your son not please you?" She gave the corpse a slight shake and the rotting head rolled about, spilling maggots onto her dress and to the ground. "Do we not please you," she asked again, but this time with anger in her voice.

"Stop," Albel whispered, closing his eyes. Her reminded himself it wasn't real. Over and over he repeated the mantra like a cultish chant. He used it as a medium to wade though his wretched emotions, to clear his clouded brain from whatever black magic was being worked. Somewhere was his safe spot. That place familiar to him. The place where he could gain control. Without it, he would drown in his weaknesses; in his sin.

Kasia continued, her crazed rage growing. "Oh, that's right," she sneered. "Albel the Wicked is too mighty to be bothered with nucenses such as we. We're nothing but worms! Less than maggots! That's why you let us die." Gone was the amicable young woman who stood so serenely under the great ash tree. Her pretty face contorted into wild, deranged mask of hatred and loathing.

"Shut up," Albel whispered.

"You watched while we were murdered. You did nothing to stop our pain. Did you enjoy it? Did you like seeing our blood stain the floor red? Did our screams excite you, Lord Albel?" An ugly smirk smeared her pretty face and she cackled like hag. "Us dying was the best thing that ever happened to you, wasn't it? You hated us. Hated being tied to us. You hated everything about us, except our deaths."

"Silence." Albel's voice trembled.

Kasia dropped the decaying corpse into the dirt and stepped over it. "No?" she asked, peering at him with insane eyes. "Then do you admit you were too weak to save us from that fate? Is that what you're trying to tell me? It was your fault we died the way we did. Your quest for power. Your arrogance. Your stupidity. If you couldn't save us, then you at least owe us an apology. Am I right, my lord?"

"SHUT UP," Albel snarled, unleashing the rage inside him that had built up and festered like a boil. Her words let him tap into his anger, forcing it to explode around him. His trembling ceased and with a sure hand, he drew his blade in one swift motion. It sang as it left the scabbard, crying for blood and found it when cold steel pierced Kasia's startled body. She had no time to move, no time to run or even scream. Blood flew as she was cleaved neatly in two, covering Albel in a warm wetness and staining the ground a brilliant shade of red.

Albel watched with a hollow expression as the two halves of Kasia's body fell to the ground. He wasn't sure how he felt about what he'd just done, but something inside him died, he was sure of it. A fallacious peace settled over him, and he sheathed the Crimson Scourge, not noticing how badly his hand quaked. He glanced at the prone body of the child, his brow creasing into a frown, then turned to leave.

"You always were a heartless murderer."

The ghostly chuckle stopped Albel's retreat. He looked over his shoulder at the smirking face of Kasia, laying in a heap of sparkling bone and gore. "To think, Albel the Wicked would try his hand at happiness," she went on, her voice deepening until it wasn't her own. "What a farce that turned out to be. You reek of death, Albel. Your selfishness caused our demise and for that, your life is utterly honorless. You'll burn in despair and sin for what you've done."

Albel lingered a moment, then shrugged before moving down the path. "Maybe," he replied, "But who ever said I was happy with you, Kasia?"

Albel lurched forward, throwing his heavy woolen blankets and linen sheets about his naked waist. His steel gauntlet flailed wildly, catching a small wooden night stand and sending it crashing to the floor. A grimy layer of sweat oozed from his pores and beaded about his temples as he gasped for breath. With wild eyes, his gaze darted about the room, checking the deepest recesses of the shadows for imaginary bogeymen and hidden enemies.

Finding nothing, he took a deep breath and willed the adrenaline coursing through his blood to recede. Once calm, he sat in his bed, hands fisted in the blankets pooled in his lap, and gazed out the frosty window at the first hint of dawn.

"Another dream," he thought to himself out loud, then shook his head. No, dreams weren't like that. They were nothing so tame. It was a nightmare, one of many that had plagued him for almost three years. It irked him that he still awoke, shaken like a child. He assumed that he would grow accustomed to the horrors that haunted him at night, but the peace he longed for never surfaced. Over and over again he relived the death and rebirth of his wife in son. His nightmares had so many shapes, he couldn't even begin to remember them all anymore.

Three years in the grave they were. That was more than enough time for a man such as he to forget, but forget he couldn't. Why, he didn't know, though that wasn't to say he hadn't pondered the very question since the day they died. It wasn't as if his falsetto family meant much to him. He hardly knew his wife and his son was barely out of the womb before his life was ended. There were no attachments other than the legalities of an arranged marriage and that of an heir. He did his duty to his family by fulfilling the betrothal of his father's wishes and by securing an offspring capable of continuing the Nox line. Other than providing the basic necessities for his family, his job had been completed, as far as he was concerned.

But why...

Why did the thought of their deaths weigh so heavy on his mind?

Albel leaned forward on his bed and placed his good hand over his face. Why was it he couldn't forget these two infuriating creatures? Why did their memory hurt so badly? Albel closed his eyes against the knot in his chest. Outside, the sun broke over the walls of Kirlsa, beckoning forth a welcome to another brilliant fall day.

I've actually edited this chapter, toning down the writing style. It's been awhile since I've sat down and written such a story, I'd lost the feel for what was comfortable. I also took a chance with a minor original character, plagued with worries of "Mary Sue" coming to rain on my parade. ha ha. I have no intention of making Kasia perfect, or Albel being so in love with her (gag) he can't see straight (she's not even a main character...). It might appear that way at first, but trust me, not everything is as it seems (evil smile).

Chapter 2: Woltar has a visitor and receives some disturbing news...