Author's Note: For those who submitted reviews for this story, an error occurred on FFN and I was forced to remove the story in order to upload my newest chapters. Though the reviews won't show up now, I read them all and you were all so encouraging, I know you will continue reading this because you love it so much. (Did that sound stuck up? Sorry!) Anyway, please, enjoy my newest chapter.
"Dwarven Vow #11: Lying is the first step to the path of thievery."Derris-Kharlan
Lloyd fell to one knee and tried to catch his breath. His final battle against Mithos, formally Lord Yggdrasill, had been the toughest he and his companions had ever faced. Colette was just gathering herself and getting to her feet thanks to Professor Raine's healing magic. Genis, Lloyd's best friend since before the young warrior could remember, stood warily on his feet but appeared more or less unharmed. Thankfully, he had kept his distance and stuck to his magic, which Lloyd had to admit, had grown quite strong over the time of their adventure.
Regal and Presea received a few cuts and burns but nothing serious and both stood ready for whatever awaited them next. Sheena, her summoning powers being very helpful in battle, drained her mana almost to its limit, leaving her on the brink of collapse. Zelos, always nearby when a woman was involved, supported the Mizuho ninja under her arm. If the summoner had been fully conscious right then, she would've protested the close proximity the…cocky Chosen had with her. By the slight red tint that adorned her cheeks, Lloyd suspected she already knew.
The duel wielding sword master himself strongly felt the after effects of the battle against the Cruxis angel-lord. His head swam from being thrown around by Mithos' angelic attacks and blood dripped down from a gash on his arm. But he ignored his wounds and focused his attention on the transparent figure before him.
Part of him felt pity for the ill-treated half-elf turned angel. All the former proclaimed hero wanted was to be treated equally amongst others – human and elven alike. Unfortunately in the age Mithos grew up in, equality was but a far dream. So he had been driven to split the world and pit each new world, Sylvarant and Tethe'alla, against one another for mana; all the while only being concerned with finding a suitable match for the revival of his sister, Martel.
As much as Lloyd and the others tried to convince him otherwise, Mithos believe he was alone in his struggle and without any goddess to draw strength from. He would not change his mind nor his ideals. Which left the group with only one choice.
Why must it always come down to this? Lloyd hated the idea of ending anyone's existence. So many people had already perished: victims from the exspheres, Renegades, and the villagers from Iselia. When would it end?
Genis' plea from besides him brought his hand to the hilt of his sword. It just so happened to be the aqua-tinted blade that his adopted father had bestowed upon him. Now he would use it to finally put an end to everything.
"Farewell my shadow…" The presence of Mithos said. "You, who stand at the end of the path I chose not to follow. I wanted my own world, so I don't regret my choice. I would make the same choice all over again. I will continue to choose this path."
Raising the sword above his head, Lloyd brought it down on the floating red Cruxis Crystal, shattering it to pieces. The remnants seemed to flow into Lloyd's exsphere. Afterwards, his arms fell to his sides, slowly replacing the sword back in its sheath. "Mithos…you could have lived with us…in our world. Damn it!" He said this quietly and mostly to himself, for he knew the soul who needed to hear it most would not be able to hear him at all.
As soon as the crystal disappeared, a red and blue light rose up in front of him and formed into the Eternal Sword. Slowly, Lloyd grasped it in both hands.
"The old master of the pact is no more. What does the new master of the pact ask of this sword?" Origin's voice asked from within the Eternal Sword.
Lloyd answered without hesitation. "Restore the true form of our two worlds!" Mithos' castle on Derris-Kharlan shook all around them when the Eternal Sword lit up on Lloyd's command. The youth held onto it for dear life as he felt the mana from his own body drain into the ancient weapon. His legs lost their strength and threatened to go out from beneath him, but he willed them to stand.
There was a bright flash and when Lloyd opened his eyes, he was once again on the planet's surface. The previous damage from the resurrection of the Great Kharlan Tree, as well as the collapse of the Tower of Salvation, was still evident across the land, but he could tell the battle for mana and subsequent inequality between the two worlds was no more. They were one in the same.
"Are we back?" Lloyd wondered. Just then a huge earthquake shook everyone and they struggled to stay on their feet. "What's going on!?"
One by one the physical manifestations of all nine summon spirits revealed themselves around the heroes: Celsius – Disciple of Everlasting Ice, Efreet – The Red Giant and Ruler of Hellfire, Sylph – Mistresses of Mighty Whirlwinds, Gnome – Servant of Mother Earth, Shadow – Envoy from the Dark Abyss, Volt – Hammer of Godly Thunder, Undine – Maiden of the Mist, Luna – Light of the Heavens, and Aska – the mighty protector of all.
Sheena frowned upon seeing them and stood up straight. "What are you all doing?"
Origin's voice answered her. "Your wish is granted…but there is no link. Without a link, the land will die."
Colette frowned. "What do you mean?"
"The world was originally separated into two worlds to prevent its destruction. If it returns to its true form, the world lacks the mana to support itself. The land…is dying."
Lloyd raised a fist defiantly. "I don't need to know why it's dying. What do we need to do to stop it!?" He demanded.
"Support the two worlds by linking them with the Giant Tree. That is the only way to stop the destruction of the land." The King of Summon Spirits answered.
"I get it." The youth nodded his head.
Colette was near frantic besides him with worry. "Lloyd, hurry! You have to shine the mana of Derris-Kharlan on the Great Seed before Derris-Kharlan is too far away!"
Lloyd Irving tightened his hold on the Eternal Sword and grit his teeth in determination. "All right! I'm counting on you, Eternal Sword!"
"Derris-Kharlan is already at the edge of the gravitational field. Not even Yggdrasill…Mithos could stop this from happening. Do you still intend to try?" Origin asked.
Lloyd nodded. "Yeah."
The final summon spirit seemed to hesitate. "Even strengthened by your exsphere, it is likely that your body will not withstand the forces. Are you certain of your decision?"
"I said I'm doing it, so I'm doing it! It's not like I have a choice!" He felt wrong saying it like that because this whole time he was preaching to everyone that from the moment they were born, people have the right to live and no one should have to be sacrificed. But he also knew that if he didn't take this chance, all those who stood behind him now, those who had traveled with him and struggled through the same hardships he had, would not have a world to see after this.
Origin felt the determination of the boy and nodded. "Very well."
The Eternal Sword disappeared, but Lloyd could feel the failure in the attempt. "It's not working! The mana's being rejected!"
Colette looked up at the Great Seed with fear. "The Great Seed is…already dead!?"
Lloyd couldn't believe it! After everything they'd been through, after all the people who told them that they couldn't make a difference…now they were going to be proved right? I won't give up! Not when we're this close! His words and passion seemed to reach the soul of his mother, buried deep within the exsphere on his left hand.
Lloyd…the Goddess Martel, who lies asleep within the Great Seed, cannot hear you. You must awaken her or all is lost.
Lloyd looked at the Great Seed and shouted, "Wait! Don't go! Please wake up!" From underneath him, immense mana began to flow and he could feel his mother's strength joining his own. The blue sphere began to glow and Lloyd could hear a feint voice emanating from the crystal. Fly my son. Accept your birthright and take to the skies!
The warmth that pulsated in a rhythmic dance with the shine of the exsphere grew across Lloyd's body in waves. Strength returned to his limbs and he felt an unnatural heat rise to his back. Unnatural yes…but strangely soothing.
He closed his eyes and accepted the metamorphosis. Fear and anxiety held no weight on his heart. Slowly, large transparent wings grew on either side of him, their blue-violet hue giving them a slight opacity. For some reason, why or how did not enter his mind; only that his goal was within reach and he would claim it.
Opening his eyes, the newborn angel took to the air. He ignored the startled gasps below him and kept his eyes locked on the Great Seed itself. He didn't know how he knew what to do… he just did it. Already pouring as much mana has he had into reuniting Tethe'alla and Sylvarant, Lloyd doubted he would be able to keep his promise to Colette and gather the rest of the exspheres, but if he didn't do this, she wouldn't have a world to live in at all. Colette…I'm sorry…
He met the Great Seed as it continued its ascent into the sky when the Chosen One named Colette flew up to his side. No words were spoken but Lloyd knew why she was there. He should've expected such actions from her. She was never one to leave a friend to face peril alone. "It looks like Derris-Kharlan stopped moving away."
Lloyd nodded, having noticed that too. "Yeah, but why? The Eternal Sword is gone." Where it had gone, Lloyd didn't know. Suddenly, the mentioned sword appeared again in front of its master. He gasped in shock. "The Eternal Sword!"
"Thank goodness!" Colette breathed a sigh of relief.
Both grabbed a hold of the grand sword and Lloyd made his prayer. "This is my final wish, Eternal Sword…"
"Please awaken the Great Seed!" Colette finished with earnest.
"I beg you! Please wake up!" Lloyd called out to the sleeping goddess.
Raising the sword up, then striking down, the two aimed the powerful blade forged by the summon spirit Origin himself at the Great Seed, ignoring the afternoon winds twirling against them.
"Rise Great Kharlan Tree!" Lloyd commanded. Looking at the flower-shaped crystal and hoping it wasn't too late, Lloyd channeled as much free mana from around him as he could through the blade and towards the Great Seed.
Far away from them, at the base of where the Great Kharlan tree once stood, the seemingly soulless doll Tabatha, saw the Great Seed germinate and glow bright – its rays of hope reaching even the darkest edges of the new world, and knew the time had come. I am awakened. Closing her eyes, she raised her hands and caught the descending seed. Dissolving into nothing more than energy, the power blew around Tabatha and she was swept into the air. Dancing on the very currents she seemed to fuse with the Great Seed itself.
The many spirits the Goddess Martel possessed swirled around with the wind and enveloped Tabatha, going inside of her. Then Martel herself materialized and regarded Tabatha pensively. Would she once again have faith in the people of the land to love each other and help the Great Tree grow? Would she take the risk and reincarnate in this new body being offered to her? Smiling, she glided up to Tabatha and caressed her cheek. Yes. She agreed. I will believe in the hopes and dreams of man once more. Crossing her phantom arms around the praying girl in a hug, she entered the body and was reborn.
She slowly floated down to the ruins of the Tower of Salvation. Walking through it, she could feel the presence of the seedling before she even saw it. Kneeling down, she felt hope rise in her once again for a prosperous new world as her fingers caressed the gentle leaves, though few in number. Her heart wished to soar at that moment, but she feared for the fledgling plant as well. Its existence was so fragile; it would most likely whither away to nothing once more.
Turning she saw the Chosen descend with the warrior whom Origin had formed a pact and watched as his large angelic wings disappeared as mysteriously as they had come. Both appeared elated yet apprehensive. "I am Martel." The goddess introduced herself. "I am also the incarnation of the Great Tree itself. Lloyd, your hope, as well as those of many others, resurrected me."
The boy youth blinked and asked, "Are you Mithos' sister?"
The goddess shook her head. "No, Mithos' sister Martel is only one of the many souls that I possess. I am mana and I am the Great Tree. I am the symbol of the many lives sacrificed to the Great Tree. I am the new spirit born to accompany the Great Tree and now the seed has awakened anew along with me."
From the ground a huge tree grew and seemed to reach up to the heavens. Large healthy branches flew up towards the sky and from them, hundreds of bright green leaves appeared. The ground beneath it flourished and grass rose up to greet the mana-producing tree.
Lloyd couldn't believe his eyes. "This is…the Great Kharlan Tree?"
"It's so beautiful and so grand." Colette said in awe.
"This is the future form of the Great Tree, but right now it is only a small seedling." She explained. "In its current state, the tree will whither and die."
"Well then how do we protect it!?" Lloyd demanded, forgetting the fact that he was talking to a goddess.
"You must provide the tree with love and adoration. As long as those conditions are met, I shall always protect this seedling." Martel promised.
Lloyd nodded and held a fist over his heart. "I promise, if the tree ever starts to wither, I'll make sure… we won't let it die!" He swore.
"Then Lloyd, on behalf of all living things, I want you to give this tree a new name as a proof of the pact." Martel instructed.
"Wha?" Lloyd was at a loss.
"The Great Kharlan Tree was planted here by the elves when they first came as a guardian to watch over and protect them. This newly reborn tree protects elves, humans, and the lives of all those who are caught in between. Therefore this tree requires a new name." Martel explained.
The Chosen turned to her companion and smiled. "Lloyd, pick a name for us. A name for everyone's tree!"
"So this tree is the link that connects the world. Okay! I got it!" He agreed and as he turned to it, he couldn't help but feel pride and hope swell within him. "Its new name will be…Viscus!"
Colette smiled and nodded with enthusiasm. "The Great Viscus Tree!"
Martel mirrored her smile and accepted the answer. "So it shall be named." Then her form faded and disappeared. Only the Great Viscus Tree remained to guard its children.
Lloyd's throat constricted and he fought back his tears as his eyes took in the unbelievable sight before them. After all the pain and suffering, after all the sacrifices and victims, for Marble, Chocolat, Anna, Clara, and all those wronged by Mithos – they had succeeded. Thank you Dad, Mom and…Kratos. The last thought of his biological father made him smile even more.
Colette turned just in time to see Lloyd close his eyes and fall forward like a rag doll. Catching him before he could hit the ground, the blond haired girl looked intently at his face for any sign of life. "Lloyd! What's wrong!?" But she already knew the answer.
"Yo Colette!" That was Zelos' voice but…
Looking up, the angel-girl saw her six companions come down on the rheairds to the base of the tree. Seeing Lloyd in such bad condition, they immediately rushed to her side.
Raine regarded her former student for a moment before coming to a diagnosis. "The Eternal Sword must have drained him of all his mana." The half elf concluded.
Colette held her friend close and looked deep within his soul, her angelic senses becoming a great help in the task. Shaking her head, she contradicted her teacher. "That's not it." This brought everyone to turn to the girl. "It's part of it, but I can tell there's more. Something more dangerous."
Exchanging looks, the group was unsure what to do next.
Colette narrowed her sapphire eyes and placing Lloyd softly down on the grass, stood up and met everyone's concerned glances. "Regal, I'm going to need you and Presea to go to Altessa's house and explain to him what's happened. Gather any information he has and if need be, bring him to Heimdall."
"Why there?" Genis asked, finally taking his eyes off his unconscious friend.
"Because that's where I'm gonna take Lloyd. I think at this point only the elves can save him." The angel-girl replied. "Genis, I would like you and Professor Sage to come with me."
The half elf boy nodded while his older sister answered for both of them. "Of course."
"What about us?" Sheena asked, stepping forward.
"You and Zelos take the last rheaird and head to Dirk's house. I'm sure both he and Kratos will want to be with Lloyd to make sure he's alright."
Sheena accepted the assignment with a "You got it", but Zelos merely stood there blinking. Then his hand reached behind his head and he scratched nervously. "You sure it's Lloyd that's unconscious?"
The summoner at his side elbowed him making the Chosen One double over. "What's that supposed to mean!?" She demanded.
Zelos half laughed while trying to catch his breath and rubbed the bruise before it could darken. "Only that it seems to me some of our fearless leader has rubbed off on my sweet little angel."
Presea nodded in agreement, despite the erotic references. "She has obtained the ability to delegate responsibility."
Mounting a rheaird and securing Lloyd in front of her, Colette shouted, "Hurry up! The longer we wait, the less time Lloyd has! Come on!" Without waiting for a response, Colette took to the air.
Genis and Raine were quick to follow. Sheena and Zelos boarded another rheaird, though the summoner insisted on taking the controls, leaving the lady's man to ride shotgun, but he didn't seem to mind.
"Kinda cozy back here." Zelos whispered into Sheena's ear.
Rolling her eyes, Sheena scoffed. "Yeah you better hold on cause if you fall off, I ain't flying down to get you." Then she blasted towards the East without giving any warning to her passenger.
Regal quietly mounted the last available magitechno device and looked to Presea. "Are you coming?"
Pausing a moment, Presea kept her eyes on the sky where her friends had just disappeared in the horizon. "Do you believe what's effecting Lloyd is life threatening?"
"Hmm, I'm not sure, but I do believe we owe it to the savior of the new world to look into it." The former criminal replied.
"Yes. We do owe Lloyd a lot." Presea turned and got on behind Regal and the two headed to Altessa's.Heimdall
Bypassing Ymir Forest altogether, Colette landed in one of the clearings in Heimdall, Raine landed her and Genis besides it. The village itself was still partially in ruins, the collapse of the Tower of Salvation dealing a heavy blow to the quiet hometown.
The Heimdall elder came towards them with his walking staff and didn't appear too happy. All around them, various members of the hidden village gathered around the commotion. "How dare you bring them into our village!" The elven leader hissed with deep-seeded hatred. "I allowed them within our boundaries only until the pact with Origin could be made. It was a personal favor I did for Kratos. You dare take advantage of this?"
Where this instant anger came from was bewildering. From what Lloyd had said, the elder was beginning to come around, but Raine concluded that it was because of the severity of the village's destruction that made the leader want nothing more to do with half-elves or Lloyd's group entirely. Swallowing hard, Raine took a step back towards the village's entrance, her little brother doing the same.
Colette, leaving Lloyd on the rheaird with Raine and Genis to guard him, glared uncharacteristically at the village leader. The sudden change in behavior from the usually cheerful Chosen made the elves step back and breathe in shock. "Now you listen to me! If it weren't for Lloyd risking his life to reunite both Sylvarant and Tethe'alla and germinate the Great Seed, you wouldn't even have a village to call home!" She berated. "It's your hatred for all those non pure bloods that caused the tree to whither and die in the first place! If we have any chance of surviving, it's only if we erase our negative emotions and fill the world with love, because only love will feed the Great Viscus Tree and allow it to flourish!"
Raine stepped forward and held a hand over her heart. "Hold any hatred you have for us, but please, if you can save this boy's life while we still have time, do not stand idly by and do nothing! We'll leave as soon as he's well."
Genis crossed his arms and muttered under his breath. "Something tells me we should lock him and Iselia's mayor together and let them duke it out." Thankfully, no one heard him.
Out of the crowd came a mother and daughter. Colette immediately recognized the child as the elf who'd blocked their way into the village the first time. After receiving Ymir Fruit to save her mother, they never saw her again until now. "That's them!" The girl elf pulled on her mother's sleeve and pointed towards the chosen group. "They were the ones that helped me!" She said with a smile.
The older elven woman, her long blond hair being pulled back into a neat ponytail, smiled at Colette. Bowing in thanks, she said, "Thank you for everything you've done for us. Please, bring the boy to our house. You are all very welcomed."
Although she was putting up a brave front, Colette breathed a sigh of relief. Her heart, which up until now had been beating somewhere close to her throat, finally lowered to her chest but beat just as quickly. She feared for Lloyd's life and if these elves were going to pull snobby, she wasn't going to stand for it. Smiling gratefully at the woman, Colette clasped her hands in front of her. "Thank you very much!" Hang in there, Lloyd!Just outside Ozette
Regal and Presea touched down right outside Altessa's small house. Strangely enough, the dwarf stood there waiting for them. "With the presence of the mana tree, you can only be here for one reason." The doctor from Flanoir ended up costing them a pretty penny, but the results were worth it. The dwarf was up and back to normal.
"Lloyd has fallen ill and Colette believes your expertise may be required." Regal began, skipping the pleasantries.
"Do you know what's happening to him?" Presea asked.
Sighing, the dwarf's eyes fell to the sandy dirt at his feet. "Unfortunately I do." Looking back up he nodded. "Take me to him."Iselia Forest
Kratos sat quietly in Dirk's living room, the crackling of the fire the dwarven craftsman built was the only sound present to the angel's ears. Kratos, his red brown hair falling loosely over one eye, always reveled in silence. But now it only gave birth to new worries and concerns…mostly about his son Lloyd.
Many centuries ago, Kratos had lost faith in the future of mankind when they decided to turn against each other rather than build for a better tomorrow. He'd sided with Mithos Yggdrasill and supported his vision of a world where everyone would be treated equally, including Mithos' sister Martel and their friend Yuan, also half elves.
It took him nearly 1,000 more years to understand the wrong in Mithos' system, but by then it was too late. He was an Angel of Cruxis and so bound by his loyalty to an old friend. The future Mithos now strived for was far different than what Kratos, or even the late Martel, ever wanted. As strong and as wise as Kratos appeared to be, he did not see any alternative. And so he aided Mithos in controlling citizens of both worlds through the subordinate Desian faction, gathering new subjects for his experiments, and all the while watching as the humans of both Sylvarant and Tethe'alla grew to believe in the myth started by Mithos and could not help but feel sad as they laid their prayers on a goddess who no longer, if ever, existed.
Now his son, Lloyd, fought for that perfect world, that future of equality amongst humans, elves, and half-elves alike. It was foolish of the boy, but he was strong, stronger than Kratos, and was one step away from reaching his goal. The angel of cruxis only prayed he was successful.
As the mana levels, usually depleting by the second into the other world of Tethe'alla, returned to normal and even started to grow, Kratos felt pride for his son. He had done the one thing Kratos never could. The earthquake following that thought at first made the angel worry. Had Mithos succeeded in destroying Lloyd and his friends after all? Was the power of Origin not enough?
Dirk, his dwarven senses telling him something was about with Mother Earth, froze in his seat, a small short log still in his hands. Setting the wood on the table next to him, he stood and walked to the door.
"Trouble?" Kratos asked. His body had been severally weakened after releasing Origin's seal, not to mention his fight with Lloyd, and he probably would've died had Yuan not lent him some of his mana. Now though, after several hours, the angel felt his strength returning and stood as the dwarf walked by.
"I don't know." Dirk replied honestly. Opening the door and walking out onto the porch, both men looked around and to the sky for any signs as to the reason of the sudden earthquake.
Kratos called forth his wings and took to the air, not bothering to warn the shorter man next to him. As he rose above the canopy of Iselia Forest, his heart skipped a beat at the sight. In the middle of the horizon, stood the huge tree of legend, the mana tree. "Lloyd…you did it." Kratos almost didn't believe his own eyes, but his angelic sight showed him the gentle blue hue around the foliage of the mana-producing tree, and he knew what the boy had truly done.
"What is it Kratos? What do you see?" Dirk called out from down below, barely being able to see the angel's form from the ground.
"He's done it." Kratos said loudly, taking a moment more to look at the tree before returning to the ground. After landing besides the dwarf, Kratos couldn't help but smile. After so many years… "I saw…the mana tree."
Dirk's eyes first went wide, then began to mist up as he felt the pride only a father could feel. "Then…in doing so he has saved us all."
Kratos turned in the direction of the tree, even though he couldn't see it anymore from the ground. "Indeed." With the birth of the ancient tree, Kratos began to feel a sudden sense of anxiety and fear. What would become of him now? When word got out that the legend and myth that everyone so clung to was a lie started by Mithos and the angels of Cruxis himself, Kratos knew he would be less than welcomed anywhere he went within the new world.
But that strangely wasn't what caused the fear nor the anxiety. When Lloyd returned here…would he in fact want Kratos to remain in his life? And even if he did, how would Dirk take it?
For the last fourteen years, Dirk had been the father Kratos himself could not be. He raised Lloyd to be a fine swordsman and taught him the values the angel wasn't even sure he himself possessed. Lloyd had been devastated upon discovering that it was Kratos, the very man who'd lied and deceived them, that was his long lost father. Of course, had Kratos been given the choice, he would've searched high and low for his son, but on that fateful day when Anna had…well, Kratos thought he'd lost both of the people he cared for most…Desian Base: Iselia, fourteen years earlier…
Kratos stood within the walls of the Iselia Ranch. Before him was a woman who deserved better than he had given her. Forced to work day after day towards only an inevitable death, it was amazing that even through this she kept a positive outlook on life; praying to the goddess Martel and her angels to bear the Chosen One and save all those within the desian human ranches.
Kratos knew the jewel growing within her would one day kill her, but try as he might he had been unable to find a cure for her. The woman who'd broken down all his defenses had been able to see into the soul he never thought he still possessed.
Though covered in nothing but mere rags, Anna still appeared as beautiful as ever. She had long black hair, reaching just above her waist and sparkling green eyes. She appeared so exotic in an artificial society where everyone was meant to be the same. Kratos would never forgive himself for being responsible for Anna being here, but he couldn't make a move without Lord Yggdrasill finding out one way or another.
But Kratos swore the day Anna was taken away, that he would find a way to escape with her, so that they could live out the life that up until now had been denied to them. Even though their son remained safely in Kratos' care, the angel still believed the boy deserved to have his mother in his life as well. Anna felt content with the fact that Lloyd was hidden away somewhere and that she would be reunited with him…someday.
Blinking out of his reverie, the angel once again looked down at the frail yet beautiful form of his endearing love. "Hmm? I'm sorry I must've been lost in thought for a moment."
Smiling, Anna looked into his eyes and Kratos immediately felt her gaze analyzing his inner being, determining if he was telling the truth. "You seem tired. Have you slept well lately?"
Scoffing, Kratos turned away, no longer being able to meet her inquisitive orbs. "I am an Angel of Cruxis." He said slightly dark. "I need little sleep or food for that matter."
Eyes being cast down sadly, Anna replied. "Oh, of course Lord Kratos."
Wincing, Kratos turned to her again. "You know I hate it when you say that."
Smiling, Anna looked up again, happy her plan worked to get the man to turn towards her once more. "I know, but these visits seem to get shorter and shorter. How am I supposed to remember what my love looks like if I can't see his face?"
Half smiling, Kratos walked forward and pulled her close. She seemed to relax in his embrace and held an ear to his heart. Even though the armor he wore prevented her from actually hearing it, she smiled nonetheless. The guards outside the room they were in would not dare disturb them, for fear of upsetting the angel within as well, so Kratos knew they were safe for the moment, but he didn't want to take the chance of being found out. Anna would most certainly be killed and Kratos' actions would be seen as traitorous to Lord Yggdrasill back at Derris-Kharlan. "I know, but just wait a little longer. I will find a way to save you."
"You say that as if I'm going to perish at any moment." Anna replied pulling back from the embrace.
Kratos hadn't the heart to tell the woman standing before him what it truly meant to be a part of the Angelus Project. She simply lived her life in the human ranch believing she was a mere slave. That probably explained her upbeat attitude all the time.
"Kratos…I…" Stopping, it was Anna's turn to move away.
The sudden change in behavior alerted Kratos and he stepped forward. "Anna…what is it? Have they been ill-treating you?"
Twirling back around, Anna looked up at the angel. "No, no, it's not that. Nothing more than usual. But what has me worried is that I've been loosing certain… feelings lately."
Looking down, Anna played with her pinky the way she always did when she was nervous. She picked up the habit when Kratos first started visiting the ranch not as Kratos, her love and father to their son, but as Lord Kratos, the Angel of Cruxis. "I…can't really taste the food they give me anymore. And I sleep maybe an hour and nothing more. Then just yesterday…" She paused again.
"Anna?" Kratos gently took the woman's small wrists in his larger hands and pulled them up, attempting to get her to look at him, but to no avail. "Anna, answer me." His tone was more commanding this time, the same way he spoke to her desian captors.
Without turning to him, Anna closed her eyes. "I touched one of the machines yesterday by accident and it burned my hand…"
"What?" Kratos turned her wrist so he could see her palm and just as she said, there was a slight burn mark where the skin wrinkled up because of the heat. "Are you alright?"
Yanking her hands away Anna replied, "Yes I'm fine and that's what scares me!" She held her injured hand close to her heart. "I didn't feel anything when it happened. No heat, no pain…nothing." She finally turned to look at him as her eyes began to water. "What's happening to me?"
Kratos pulled her into a hug and stroked her hair in an attempt to comfort her. "You'll be fine. I promise." But he knew on the inside, the transformation of the exsphere had already begun. What worried him more was that the symptoms she was experiencing was similar to what the Chosen felt during their transformation into an angel.
First it was the need for food, then sleep, and then all forms of feeling disappeared. Their voice was the next to vanish. Lastly, their very heart and memory of who they were would be erased. This process was one Mithos had created in order to make human shells worthy of harboring Martel's soul. But Anna was not the Chosen and Kratos was led to believe it was because she was specifically entered into the Angelus Project that caused these effects. It would also explain why the exsphere was implanted directly inside her rather than on her hand. The crystal probably extracted the necessary mana more quickly but also created a symbolic relationship with Anna, resulting in her not getting sick like all the other slaves.
Kvar and Mithos had begun the Angelus Project in order to grow cruxis crystals, not exspheres, capable of turning the host into a shell far more quickly than the Chosen's journey of regeneration. Should they be successful, Mithos could eliminate the story and myth behind the regeneration of the world and turn his attention to finding suitable hosts with Martel's unique mana signature in order to revive her.
After calming down a bit, Anna said just above a whisper, "How…how is Lloyd doing?"
Kratos smiled in admiration. Even though she was going through all this, Anna still feared for their son and wanted to know what happened with him every time the angel visited. "He's fine. He's eating more than usual, but that's to be expected with a growing boy."
"You make sure he's eating his vegetables. Even the carrots he despises so much. Otherwise he might go blind before he's your age." Anna reminded.
"If he lives to be my age, I don't think we'll have much to fear." The angel quipped just as quietly. That same day Anna had been taken away, Kratos had hidden their son away from Forcystus and Kvar, ultimately saving his life. The desians would have surely killed the boy had they found out and Kratos would be locked away, the chance of saving Anna from her fate disappearing as well.
"I miss him so much." Anna's eyes watered up again. "I don't want to stay here anymore." Kratos remembered Anna's happiness during the time he was supposed to bring her to Kvar and didn't. Her ideals and outlooks on life were what changed Kratos' view and made him want to oppose Mithos. But as of yet he had been unable to find a way for him to wield the Eternal Sword and thus save the two worlds.
The details of Anna's evasion had been sketchy and thankfully no one connected Kratos to the future host's escape, but Kvar always suspected Kratos and wished to see him punished. Of course, Mithos would never do anything to threaten the angel's life seeing as Kratos' life was bound to Origin's seal. It would be too risky if the sword that split the world was left…unprotected.
Kratos' back straightened as he held her close, his mind attempting to somehow think of a way to get her out of there without putting her into danger. His thoughts were interrupted when the door suddenly opened and two desians walked in. Kratos slipped Anna behind him smoothly and looked sternly at the intruders. "What is the meaning of this?"
Looking as intimidating as he was, the desian soldiers tried their best to stand straight before the angel of cruxis. "L-Lord Kvar requests your presence in the Extraction Room. He says to bring the prisoner."
Kratos narrowed his eyes and glared at the soldiers thinking, Why would Kvar want to see Anna all of a sudden? The crystal is not even near its harvesting time yet, so then why? "Very well. I will come shortly."
Nodding, both soldiers made a hasty exit, leaving the angel alone with the prisoner.
Grabbing a hold of his sleeve, Anna peered up worriedly, "W-what do you think this is all about?" She never cared for Kvar not for the fact that he was her captor and overseer, but his very soul seemed to be tainted and evil, unlike what she felt in Kratos. He possessed a gentle soul within the rough exterior he had created for himself.
Turning to face the younger woman, Kratos held her hands in both of his and looked down at her. Her emerald eyes were full of fear and Kratos promised himself after this was all over, he would never let her fear anything again. I will protect you Anna. "I'm not sure, but let us not assume the worst. It is unlikely Kvar has caught on, but in the event that he has, be prepared to make a hasty retreat."
"You mean…?" She breathed.
Kratos nodded. "Yes, though it will be difficult, I will fly us away from here, we'll pick up Lloyd and go into hiding. If Lord Yggdrasill comes after us, I will deal with him then."
Nodding, Anna tried to calm her nerves. She was not worried about her safety so much as that of her lover and son. Whoever was above Kratos, Anna knew was not to be trifled with. "I understand."
"Good." Taking her hand, he exited the cell and walked down the passageways. He kept a stern face on the outside, but on the inside he was panicking. If Kvar has found out, he will no doubt be ready to battle me. I will need to make sure Anna is safely out of the way, then I will finally kill him for the pain he's brought upon my family. Since the six months past when Kvar and his desian underlings had stormed into Kratos' home and taken Anna away, the angel had burned with the need for revenge. That self deluded fool would die by Kratos' hand. Over the ages, Kratos knew anger and revenge to be meager feelings, but that did not stop him from planning the fall of the desian grand cardinal. He would make the bastard pay.
When the two entered the Extraction Room, Kratos kept Anna behind him and regarded Kvar suspiciously. The overseer held a wide sneer on his face when he saw the angel, but it turned into a wider smile when he saw Anna in tow. "You wished to see me, Kvar?" Kratos asked in an authoritive voice, seeing the devious man's eyes flick back to him.
Clasping his hands behind him at the small of his back, Kvar nodded and began pacing back and forth. The man had short gray hair slicked back and wide golden shoulder guards. The red gloves he wore reminded Kratos of all the innocent blood this man was responsible for, as if it had stained his hands, never to fade away. "According to the data we gathered last time, Anna's development is progressing more quickly than we expected."
Kratos' brow raised fractionally. "Do you intend to hastily harvest it then?" He replied in hopes of deterring Kvar from harming Anna before he had a chance to free her from this intolerable nightmare. Then angel's gaze flashed to the woman behind him, but he kept his concern under control. Up until now, Kratos had neither revealed his true identity to her, nor told her about the exsphere. When he had decided to settle down with Anna and look away from the corruption that had grown from Mithos' selfish desires, he thought he could start over. Now he feared Kvar would tell her instead.
"I don't see why not. If we fail, we can always try again…with her son. Oh Lord Forcystus?" Just then a side door opened and at least a dozen desian soldiers came storming in to surround the couple. Kratos cursed for not being more careful and for walking into an obvious trap. Getting out would now be ten times harder.
Last to enter was Lord Forcystus, another grand cardinal Kratos disliked. Though he had once been a hero to his own kind, Kratos knew him now to be nothing more than a self serving idiot, who disregarded all those under him in order to advance himself in Lord Yggdrasill's favor. Something he and Kvar had in common. "I should have assumed you'd be involved." Kratos said in a dangerously low tone. Obviously after one of his pasts visits, Forcystus had found a way to track him into the labyrinth of Ymir Forest and find the hideout that held his son. The angel had hoped the location would keep him hidden and the nearby village of the elves would make getting supplies easier. Unfortunately, it had not remained hidden long enough and now the desian grand cardinal no doubt had his son captive.
Forcystus himself smirked. "I believed you were against Lord Yggdrasill, Kratos, but never would I have been swayed to believe you would lower yourself to romancing with humans." One of his eyes narrowed, for the right one remained hidden behind a black eye patch as his short blue hair stood slightly on end with agitation for the human turned angel before him. Holding onto his hand from behind was a small little boy with short brown hair and tears streaming down his face. "I believe this is yours, am I correct?"
A three-year-old Lloyd tried to break free of his captor and run to his parents. "Mommy! Daddy!" Noishe, their pet dog, barked and growled as other desian soldiers restrained him.
Forcystus and Kvar both grinned, taking personal pleasure in witnessing the distress from both Anna and the angel. "I guess that answers my question." Forcystus laughed.
"Lloyd!" Anna exclaimed from behind Kratos.
Drawing his sword, Kratos took a menacing step forward. "Let him go. I will destroy you both if he is harmed."
Kvar scoffed un-intimidated and grabbed Lloyd by the ankle, yanking him into the air, and holding the frightened child upside down. "Do you believe him to be your guardian angel Anna?" He asked mockingly to the slave. "Do you believe he will save you from your deserving fate?"
Coming out from behind Kratos, Anna glared defiantly at the overseer. "Those who attempt to bring joy and hope to others left without deserve the light of Martel and the gratitude of those they save!"
Kratos felt a twinge of guilt from her words. Dear Anna…you know not of what you speak. But he kept his outer face emotionless. "I am leaving and I am taking her and the boy with me." He said with more confidence than he felt. He could easily kill off every one of the desians before him now, including Kvar. Only Forcystus gave him reason to worry, for the more he killed the more likely Lord Yggdrasill would find out about his defection… if he hadn't already.
"Oh, I think not." Forcystus said, taking the boy back into his arms.
Kvar chuckled and rubbed his chin as he raised an eyebrow at his rival. "Set her into the extraction device." He commanded.
As two guards went around Kratos and attempted to take back Anna, Kratos slashed with his blade and gutted them before they could even cry out.
Anna gasped upon seeing the bloodshed and clenched her eyes shut. She had grown used to seeing such violence around the human ranch, but it shocked her to see it come from a man she had once seemed so gentle.
"I warned you." Kratos ground, glaring at the remaining soldiers each in turn. "Should any more of you come one step closer, you will befall the same fate."
Forcystus threw the boy to soldiers behind him and brought up his gun arm. "So disorderly Lord Kratos. I think I'll enjoy bringing your dead corpse to Lord Yggdrasill." He fired the weapon straight at the angel of cruxis.
Kratos raised his sword to deflect the attack, but the force of the blow knocked him clear off his feet and he was thrown back into the solid bulkhead behind him. The angel's sword fell with a clatter and as he tried to get back to his feet, four soldiers aimed their weapons at him from all sides. Noishe barked repeatedly until one of the guards hit him, making him yelp.
"Kratos!" Anna struggled against Kvar's hold as he dragged her into the chair that was used to restrain slaves when their exspheres were extracted.
Strapping her in, Kvar smirked as his anticipation rose. "You know on second thought, this might be a premature experiment…do you know what that means Lord Kratos?"
"No…" The angel breathed.
Looking at the frightened girl, Kvar tilted his head mockingly. "Do you know what exspheres are Anna? Exspheres are what we cultivated from you worthless humans."
"Exspheres?" She echoed. Looking up at the angel before her, Anna whimpered. "W-what is he talking about?"
Now openly laughing, Kvar answered for him. "You haven't told her, Kratos? A pity…" He began pacing back and forth in front of the small army, reveling in the suffering he knew Kratos was going through. "You have, growing within you, a powerful gem. It was planted there the day you came here, but of course you wouldn't remember that. That's why Kratos was sent to capture you, though I'm sure he's the reason you got away in the first place. You were a perfect match for our Angelus Project and I simply had to have you back."
"That's enough Kvar!" Kratos threw his arms outward, smacking all the guards near him, but saw Forcystus take back his son and shake his head. The surge of emotion brought out his wings and he trembled with rage.
"This boy means little to me. I will just as surely kill him if you resist any longer, Kratos." Forcystus smirked, yanking the boy over by the hair.
Lloyd cried out and fought to break free, help his parents in anyway possible, but the man was too strong. "Let me go! Daddy!" He called out.
"I…It's not true. That's a lie!" Anna exclaimed, pulling up on the straps in order to break free. "I don't believe you!"
"Oh, but it's true!" Kvar looked over at the fuming Kratos. "Working for Cruxis you must've suspected it. Over time, the once dormant crystal grows and matures from using the host body's mana. We've discovered that pain and suffering hurry this process along. When that happens it activates within its host, we cultivate it, adapting it with a key crest and use it to make us superior half elves stronger. When the extraction process fails because the host body was too weak or resistant, it can cause…undesirable effects. If the crystal has grown within you like we hoped, it will be a cruxis crystal, not an exsphere. A cruxis crystal is an evolved form of the exsphere. Something our Lord Yggdrasill wants more than anything. But don't worry dear Anna, when we extract it you probably won't feel a thing. And we will still be able to harvest the jewel from your cold, dead body if it indeed fails." He continued to laugh as Anna looked over and met Kratos' guilty expression. Tears that should've been running down her cheeks were now absent.
"Kratos…" Kvar activated a sort of beam that was created to pull the exsphere from Anna's body and she screamed in pain, fighting against the straps. Anna tried to resist as she felt incredible pain roll over her body in waves. Her last human thought was as she looked at her first love. It's not true…
Slowly a blue tinted orb was pulled free from her body and floated over to Kvar's awaiting hand.
"Anna!" Kratos called out, worried for her safety. Lloyd was crying abundantly now, the pain his mother was going through tormenting him.
Kvar smirked as he held the cultivated gem that had been within Anna since her capture almost six months earlier. "No, it should have worked! I was to become one of the four seraphim!" He boasted. "This is still merely an exsphere!"
A moan from the operating table brought the angel's eyes over and Kratos watched as slowly Anna's skin warped from a light peach to a dark forest green. Large white stripes appeared over her entire body and she grew to a high of eight feet at least. The metal straps groaned with the pressure and snapped free as she stood up. Dangerously sharp red spikes protruded from her elbows and shoulders and only added to her ferocious look.
Her transformation was enough to spook the guards around him and the angel looked down at his salvation still lying where he'd dropped it. "Anna!" He quickly rolled and grabbed his sword, flying at Forcystus before the grand cardinal could react. Lowering one shoulder, Kratos rammed him back into his remaining army, making him drop his son. Another slash and the soldier holding back Noishe fell down dead.
Kratos held Lloyd with one hand, while he held his sword in front of him with the other. The monster that stood before him now was a far cry from the beauty that he loved so dearly. Red glowing eyes bore down upon Kratos and tightening his grip on his sword, he knew what he would be forced to do. This is all my fault. Anna…I'm sorry.
"Oops. Sorry Kratos…were you expecting to woo her with more lies?" Kvar taunted, buying time until Forcystus could recover.
"Mommy!" Lloyd yanked free from his father and dashed to his mother's aide.
"Lloyd, no!" Kratos rushed forward and grabbed the child into his arms before the creature could swat him away. He rolled, keeping the child safely against his chest, and flew to the door. "Come and get us!" He taunted the monster before dashing out of the room.
"No cease her!" Kvar ordered the soldiers.
Throwing her arms out, the monster batted them all away against the far end of the room, grabbed the glowing orb from Kvar's greedy hand, and drudged out of the steel plated room after the fleeing duo.
"Damn her!" Kvar cursed.
Kratos grit his teeth as he tried to come up with a plan. Lloyd continued to cry out for his mother, but the angel refused to let him go. Behind them, Noishe ran to keep up with the angel's speed. He couldn't leave Anna here like this. The desians would no doubt try and put her to some evil purpose or worse…kill her off completely.
Desian soldiers appeared from different corners as Kratos made his way outside, the alarm being sounded shortly after their escape. He dispatched any and all that got in his way, leaving only bloodshed behind him. Every now and then he would turn around to make sure Anna was indeed still following them, before taking off again.
Kicking down the last door, Kratos winced as the sunlight poured through and frantically flicked his eyes back and forth trying to find somewhere to hide his son. Discovering a nearby bush, Kratos set the crying child down. The angel knelt before the boy and looked sternly into his eyes. "Stay here." He commanded firmly.
"Daddy…" Lloyd continued to cry but nodded nonetheless.
Standing up, the angel regarded his son for an extra moment, before turning towards his approaching lover. Kratos, his eyes locked on Anna's transformed figure, set his jaw with determination. I swore I would protect you and I will keep my promise… "Anna…" The gurgling sounds coming from the monster's throat only caused Kratos to hate himself more for what he had to do next.
Seeing the child as the weaker of the two opponents, the monster turned and raised an arm over Lloyd.
"Anna no!" Kratos tried to get her attention back on him.
The child looked up with tears, but could say nothing. At the last moment as she brought her arm down, Noise came out of the open door and bit onto her arm, making her wail.
Throwing the dog aside, the pet lost his grip and landed hard on the grass floor. The creature growled and its eyes glowed red. But upon seeing her son again, Anna fought to control herself. "L-Loyd…K-Kratos…" She turned and faced her love.
Gasping, Kratos looked up expecting to see the green fields of joy but instead saw the hellish burning orbs of what Kvar had made her become. Wait…had he just heard right?
"I believe in you…Kratos." The monster said again. Anna's voice was hidden beneath the wheezing and gurgling, but he knew it was her. "You know what…you must do."
"Anna!" Kratos exclaimed, still having yet to deliver the final blow. How could he? This was the woman he loved! The mother of his child! Damn Kvar! Damn Forcystus! Damn all of Cruxis! "I can't!" How could he? Knowing his son would witness the atrocious murdering of his mother…at his father's hand?
Forcystus, Kvar, and more desian soldiers exited out of the facility from another door and gathered near the couple as they faced each other in a stand off.
"Please!" She took a swing at him, unable to stop her body from reacting to the now out of control mana and fought with no thoughts of her own. "You're the only one that can!" Turning away from him, she turned towards the troops of desians and swatted Kvar first, sending him reeling end over end into the stonewall of the ranch.
"Get her and retrieve the boy!" Forcystus commanded.
At once, all of the desians ran at the monster with whips in hand.
"No!" Kratos intercepted them and swung his blade. As the first soldier fell, Kratos' untold anguish and emotion caused his mystical wings to glow bright and they flared out on either side of him. With each flash of metal another desian fell dead at the angel's feet.
Ignoring the battling angel, Anna drudged over towards Forcystus and dared him to openly attack her. Even though she could barely comprehend what was going on or control what she was doing, she forced her legs towards the man whom she truly blamed for not only her pain and suffering, but that of all the slaves in the ranch.
Part of it must've been her parental instincts, because inside she knew she couldn't let these demons take her child. He had to survive. He was the proof of her and Kratos' never-ending love. She saw past what he was and looked deep within. She saw no boundaries between them, unlike so many in the world who deemed those that were difference a menace to society and unworthy of their respect.
"What do you think you're doing?" The armored man brought up his gun arm, but Anna angrily swatted him away. Thrown back by the sheer force of the blow, Forcystus hit the bulkhead of the front gate and slumped to the floor, dazed.
Kratos dispatched of the last desian and turned just in time to see Anna beat down the front gate and make her way outside. "Anna!"
Kvar moaned and tried to sit up just as Kratos ran past him. All around, the carnage left by the angel was unbelievable. The boy he had hoped would be his ticket to Lord Yggdrasill's side ran out from behind the bush and after his father. Leaning forward, he caught the boy by the ankle and sneered as he fell hard against the floor. "You're not going anywhere!"
Trying to pull his leg away, Lloyd grunted and called out to his father. "Dad! Help me!"
Not hearing his son's plea for help, Kratos exited the ranch and looked back and forth for his love. His wings twitched nervously as his heart continued to beat rapidly. Finally spotting her near the cliff, Kratos called out, "Anna no!"
Turning around, the monster formally known as Anna regarded Kratos. "I don't blame you, Kratos."
"Anna…" Kratos didn't know what to say because as much as he hated it, everything Kvar revealed was true. He had kept the truth from her for so long. This was all his fault.
"Now, please as my last request…kill me. If you don't, I'll jump. I can't live on like this, knowing they will simply use the crystal to hurt others. Take Lloyd and get out of here!" She pleaded.
Her voice was pained and Kratos shook his head defiantly. "I can't! I'll find a way to save you!"
"There is no way. I'll never be who I was. I trust you to finish what it was you set out to do, Kratos…for both of us." She said fondly.
"I'm just sorry I never got to gaze into the eyes of my son again…Kratos please…" Her discouraged words were so unlike her; it made the angel realize how much she had changed in just a few mere moments.
Kratos grit his teeth and stared down at the ground sadly. "Anna…" Slowly, his sword arm raised to his side and taking a step forward, he slashed at an angle. The cut was quick and probably didn't cause her any more pain than she was already going through, but Kratos was sure he felt just as much pain if not more inside. "Goodbye…"
At that moment, Lloyd broke free from Kvar, kicking him in the head with his other booted foot and made a run for the open gate. He turned just in time to see Kratos give the fatal blow. "Mommy!? Daddy no!"
Gasping, Kratos turned and saw his son run past him towards his mother. He grabbed a hold of her waist and held on as tightly as possible. "Mommy! No don't leave me!"
"Lloyd!" Kratos called out in worry, reaching forward.
Loosing control once more from the pain of the wounds, the monster batted Lloyd off her and he went flying off to the side. Barking, Noishe came again and tried helping the boy but was hit instead and both boy and dog fell down, teetering near the edge of the cliff.
Shaking with anger, Kratos swung his sword behind him, cutting through the monster one last time, knowing without a doubt his Anna was truly dead.
Slowly Anna began to fall backwards. She was too weak for fight back as all around her darkness began to invade her vision and sleep… a welcomed thought. Much to his amazement, Kratos could see her form shrink back into what he always loved. "Kratos, Lloyd…" She said, her voice her own once more. "Goodbye…" Then she closed her eyes and also fell over the side of the cliff.
Lloyd's eyes went wide as he watched her fall down the rocky terrain. Why? Why would his father do something like this? Even being a monster, his mom was still his mom. That would never change! Didn't he see that?
"Anna!" Jumping up, Kratos made ready to dive over after her, maybe save her, when he was once again hit from behind and slammed back down on the ground painfully. He looked up just in time to see her pained face drop below the level of the ground.
"Well I suppose we'll have to go down and retrieve the exsphere anyway." Kvar said without feeling. Sighing, he turned to go down the cliff's side, leaving Kratos in Forcystus' care.
"Kvar, I will make you pain for this." The angel said in a low tone, barely getting to his knees.
The desian scientist stopped. "What was that, Kratos? Planning the last moments of your tortured life before Lord Yggdrasill sees it fit to destroy you?" He laughed. "And don't worry about your son…we'll take good care of him.
"Kvar!!!" Kratos flew into the air, dodging the other grand cardinal's attack, and rammed into the scientist, throwing him down into the ground. One of the stray hits struck the ground next to the Lloyd and wounded Noishe. The angel called out for them, but the ground beneath them gave way and both forms disappeared over the side.
Kvar winced and tried to get up again, but Kratos was on top of him before he knew it. Slashing two, three times, the angel of cruxis released a fury on the man like the world had never seen.
When the body stopped twitching and Kratos believed him dead, he once again ignored Forcystus and flew down the side of the cliff. The grand cardinal cursed and attempted to follow shouting towards the few guards remaining near the ranch's entrance, "Call all soldiers to the base of the cliff!"
Little did Kratos know that moments later, Dirk, who had seen the woman fall over the side, came to help. Kneeling by her side, the dwarf was shocked at the injuries the woman received, though she had somehow survived the fall over the cliff. What was more shocking was that a small boy lay on top of her, though he remained unconscious. "Hang on, I'll take care of you."
"No…it's too late…" She whispered. Blood trickled down the corner of her mouth and Dirk suspected she had injuries inside as well. "They…wanted to kill me and my son, Lloyd, in order to get this." She held up the glowing blue orb that she managed to take back from Kvar. "You mustn't let them…the desians…" Then she closed her eyes and her entire form was engulfed in a blue light.
Dirk had to cover his eyes from the brightness, but he could see her form slowly fade away and when he looked once more, all that was left was a small glowing blue exsphere. It lay mere inches from her son's unmoving hand.
Back at the dwarf's house, a grave would be made though no body would dwell in it. The unknown woman, who'd given her life so that her son could live would not disappear from history. The gravestone would be the evidence of her existence…that and the life of her son.
By the time Kratos got down there, there was nothing left but bloodstains and monster corpses. Caught up in the anguish of loosing both Anna and Lloyd, Kratos didn't sense Forcystus behind him and was thrown forward when the grand cardinal fired off his gun arm at the angel's back at point blank range.
Forcystus walked up and fired another shot at the already downed Kratos, just in case. "I'm sure Lord Yggdrasill will love to see you after hearing what I have to tell him."
Kratos' vision blurred as he fell into unconsciousness. Anna…Lloyd…
Jolted from the past, the angel turned and looked down at the one who'd called him. "What is it, Dirk?" Kratos tried to keep the strain in his voice from being noticed and cleared his throat. Such memories had always been painful for him. Though Forcystus had indeed captured Kratos and brought him to Mithos along with Kvar, he and the other Desian Grand Cardinals, minus Pronyma, had been told that Kratos had been taken care of. It's the only explanation the angel could conceive that would explain why fifteen years later when he and Lloyd had run into Forcystus once more, that the desian hero didn't recognize him.
The dwarf pretended not to hear the slight waver in the man's voice and returned to speaking his original thought, "I guess I wanted to let ya know that I want ya to feel welcomed in my home. I don't blame ya for anything and I know Lloyd doesn't either." The small man began. "We both know ya would've come to find him had ya been able."
Kratos nodded, knowing deep within his heart he would've done all that and more. "Thank you, Dirk. You've taken care of him since Anna passed away and I'm not sure I will be the type of father Lloyd wants me to be, but he's had you."
Dirk smiled and laughed shortly. "Ha! If a wee little man like me can raise a firecracker like Lloyd, you're sure to do fine."
Kratos felt the corners of his mouth curve into a smile, but the low droning of a rheaird brought his eyes to the sky.
Sheena and Zelos descended in the small clearing just South of Dirk's house and the red-haired Chosen leapt the last few feet while Sheena shut the flyer down. "We've got problems." He said quickly.
Both men tensed up. "What has happened?" Kratos asked first.
At this point, Sheena joined Zelos' side. "Lloyd's out cold after regenerating the mana tree and Colette thinks it's something serious."
"Where is he now?" Dirk asked.
Zelos threw a thumb over his shoulder and replied, "They're over at Heimdall, Colette – hey!" The Chosen was cut off when Kratos suddenly took to the air and quickly disappeared.
Sheena cursed and ran back to the rheaird. "We'd better hurry. If he arrives without us, the others are gonna worry."
Dirk nodded and mounted in front of her, his short legs barely straddling the rheaird. Zelos mounted behind her and grabbed a hold of her waist.
Sheena withheld a gasp when the strong arms behind her interlocked, holding her securely in place. She felt the blood rush to her face and shook her head to relieve herself of such thoughts before starting up the rheaird and shooting off towards Heimdall.
-Viscus in Latin means heart.