"Dwarven Vow #7: Justice and love will always win."
Great Viscus Tree
"Lloyd, can you hear me? This is Yuan."
Lloyd went to his belt and pulled up the walkie talkie that hung there. Pressing the button on the side he said, "Yeah I'm here. Is everything okay over there?"
"Yes, I found the elves at the lowest level of Zaichar's castle. Whatever spell he used to transform them wore off when he died. They're all fine for the most part. Even those injured during the battle are able to be saved."
Lloyd smiled as well as those close to him who heard. "That's great news. Omega's been dealt with as well. We're all over here at the Great Viscus Tree. As soon as you're able, why don't you come and join us?"
On his end, Yuan also smiled. "That's sounds like a good idea. I'll be there."
From behind him Kratos approached and placed a hand on his son's shoulder. Part of him couldn't help but believe he didn't belong there, that he should have died back there just like his other son predicted. But he was here wasn't he? Could the future that Lloyd foresaw be wrong? Still…Kratos did feel blessed to be present for such a prestigious moment in his son's life and he knew that within the cruxis crystal, Anna was thankful as well.
As tension in the plains surrounding the Great Viscus Tree disappeared, more and more people began showing up to celebrate the much needed peace. Even kamai and Kokoro decided to bring the children of the orphanage for a day of fun and festivities. It was true that Kamai had been worried for his beloved when she had disappeared, but he trusted her enough to know it was for a good cause.
While music played and everyone danced, one of the children wondered over closer to the Great Tree – its trunk now surrounded by flowers and offerings. It was the same child who'd spoken with Genis on the roof of the orphanage all those months ago. Instead of having fun with the rest of the kids, he was entertaining himself with an acorn. Not just any acorn, but a magical acorn.
You see, no matter how many times he threw it up, it would always float back down right in front of his face until he grabbed it again. Giggling with delight, he threw it back into the leaves and branches and waited eagerly for it to return.
"Jeremy! What are you doing all the way over here? You should be with the rest of the group." Kokoro scolded in a gentle-yet worried voice.
"I was playing with my magic acorn!" The boy replied truthfully.
Picking up the kid in his arms, Kokoro smiled at the innocent response and touched the child's nose with his index finger. "Well, how about you come over with Sister Luccia and try some of her cookies? Brother Kami brought them as a surprise from home."
"Okay!" The boy happily agreed.
In the tree, the one responsible for the trick balanced the acorn on a small cushion of wind within his hand. As the child was taken away, a smile crossed his face. "Those children, though they've been through so much, seem happy living together with Luccia and Kamai."
"Children are easy to forget the past if the future seems bright." The child form of Kratos replied from another branch.
Lloyd nodded. "Yes…now that everything has been settled, their future will be bright." Though the comment meant to hold hope, the boy from the future sighed in despair.
"One thing bothers us." Little Martel spoke up.
"Why did you lie to Kratos? Why have us participate in a foretelling that isn't true?" Luccia asked.
"If you knew my father like I do, you would know the answer to that question." Lloyd answered with a smile. "I just hope he realizes how lucky he us to be alive. Lloyd's really gonna need him…I'm gonna need him."
The small boy next to him crossed his arms. "You act as though you failed in your mission."
"Well, I guess since Zaichar was taken care of everything will be alright, but you never know for sure. I guess I just want some kind of reassurance." Lloyd sighed.
"Then go and find out." The manifestation of the past answered simply. "Stop denying yourself happiness and live it."
"I'm not denying myself anything. I merely traded it when I decided to fix my mistakes of the past. The accusation made the wielder of time frown and he turned to look at Past. "But you knew that already. Why bring it up?"
"Well, don't you think everyone will miss you?" Present asked, her green eyes sparkling.
"We decide who comes and who goes." Future giggled. "And it's your time to go!"
Lloyd blinked, not sure he'd heard right. "You're…sending me back?"
Past nodded with a barely noticeable smile. "Go home, Lloyd. Live your own life and live it without regret."
"Thank you…I will." He promised. His body began to disappear and though there was some doubt that he'd done all he could to save his future, he did feel something he hadn't felt in a long time: hope.
Down below, Lloyd felt a flash of power and turned to look at the great tree. Nothing looked out of the ordinary, but he'd long learned to trust his instincts so he left his friends as they talked amongst themselves, and proceeded to jump up into its branches. "Hello?" He called out. "Is anyone here? Martel?"
"Do not fear, young Lloyd." A female voice told him, though no one was near by.
"All is well within the land and balance has been restored." This voice was male and sounded vaguely familiar.
"So keep your friends close and protect them with everything you've got." A third female voice said. "Do that and there isn't anyone who can defeat you."
"I will but…who are you?" The sword wielder couldn't help but ask.
"Live to protect, Lloyd – Wielder of Time." The voices said before their presence disappeared completely.
"W-wait!" He called out, but it was too late.
"Lloyd! Lloyd, where'd ya go?" Colette called out from the ground.
"I'm right here!" He replied after a moment. "Hang on, I'll come down to you!"
Colette looked up into the Great Viscus Tree just as Lloyd jumped down in front of her. "You worry me when you disappear like that." She punched him lightly in the arm. "What's the matter? Aren't you having fun?"
"Of course I am." He smiled. "Why wouldn't I be?"
"I guess so." Colette moved a piece of hair out of her eyes and tucked it behind her ear as she looked away nervously. "Lloyd…after everything that's happened, I know I shouldn't be thinking about this but…did you really mean what you said back at Asgard? About us?"
"Is that what's been bothering you?" Lloyd laughed as he pulled Colette into a hug that made the young girl blush. "I meant every word and when we get back to Iselia, I'm gonna use everyday of our lives together to prove it to you."
"Oh Lloyd…" She snuggled closer to him, the whole moment still not feeling real to her. No matter what the future sent their way, she would never loose faith, because she knew together they could do anything.
As Genis sat in the grass petting Carbuncle, Zelos and Sheena sat opposite of them, arguing who had done the most in the battle against Saitou. Even as a couple it seemed impossible to have the two together peacefully for more than a few minutes. Once fighting skills entered the "discussion", Carbuncle jumped from the young man's lap and began to defend her mistress.
Smiling with a roll of his eyes, Genis got up and stretched out his legs. Out of the corner of his eye he spotted two half elf children disappearing in the nearby forest. Frowning he hurried over to see if they were from Luccia's group. As soon as he entered the shaded tree line, he heard one of the children speaking to the other.
"Are you sure we have to leave without saying goodbye? Sister Luccia might get worried." The voice sounded like a little girl.
"Don't call her that! She's not our sister! And besides, don't you want to see mom and dad again?" This one was most likely a young boy.
"Of course I do, but maybe Br- I mean Kamai could help us find them!" The other argued.
Genis recognized the two children from the story Kamai had told him about the orphans they'd found unconscious and malnourished. Supposedly they refused to tell either adult who they were or where they came from. Still not trusting them, it seemed obvious they were now intending on running away.
"We can find them on our own just fine! Despite how they act, they're still human! We can't trust them!"
"Please don't go." Genis stepped out from the tree he'd been hiding behind.
Gasping the boy shoved his sister with the baby in her arms behind him. "W-who are you?"
"I'm Genis. Can't you tell? I'm a half elf too." He walked up slowly. "I know who you are and running away won't help find your parents any sooner."
"How would you know? They might be looking for us right now!" The boy countered.
"That's true, but what will you do about shelter and food until they find you?" Genis asked. To this the boy didn't have an answer. "When I was little my sister told me our parents had passed away and that when things got tough the only ones we'd have to depend on were each other. At first, I didn't believe her. I tried running away to find them and ended up running into a group of humans. They offered to help me find my mom and dad, but then my sister came and showed me that they were slave traders. When they tried to attack, she was able to protect me. She saved me that day and when I was older I learned my parents hadn't just passed away, but they'd abandoned us. My sister raised me and protected me and now that she's gone, I truly understand the role she played in my life."
When the boy seemed like he was gonna run off again, Genis shook his head. "There are a lot of bad humans out there, but Kamai and Luccia are really nice and if you just talk to them, they can help you find your parents. What do you say?"
Brother and sister exchanged looks and after a moment the boy sighed. Turning back to Genis he asked, "If you're wrong and they can't find our parents…will they still let us leave?"
"Well, they'll probably try and talk you out of it out of fear for your safety, but they won't keep you prisoner. That I can promise you."
"Let's do it, Johnny." The girl said, still holding protectively onto the baby in her arms.
Johnny turned to his sister. "I'm sorry Teri, I just really miss mom and dad."
"We'll find them soon. I'm sure they're all right."
Genis smiled and nodded, leading the two back out into the clearing. As soon as they rejoined Luccia and Kamai, the adults thanked Genis for bringing them back and promised they would do everything that could to find Johnny and Teri's parents.
It just so happens that when they made that promise, the parents in question spotted their children and called out to them from far off on the other side of the celebrating crowd. Tears were shed and blessings were counted as the family was reunited once more. It seems that the village where the family lived had come under attack by Zaichar's dark angels and in fear for their children, the parents sent them to hide while they attempted to protect their home.
In all the confusion, the children got lost and ended up passing out from hunger when Kamai found them. The parents thanked both Luccia and Kamai for their kindness and promised to help find good parents who would want to adopt some of the orphans. Sheena and Zelos even joined in and offered to spread the word throughout Mizuho and the other villages in order to find homes for all the children.
Genis watched all this from the sidelines and smiled. Even with small changes such as this, he knew his sister was smiling down on him and it made carrying on a little easier. He would always think of her and miss her terribly, but her spirit would always be there to guide him down the path of light.
Garden of the Goddess
Lloyd slowly walked through the garden of the goddess located next to Meltokio Castle. No longer kept daily, the plants had all died and flowers withered away into brown unrecognizable shrubbery. The castle that once served as his personal base and throne room, but now that he'd defied the darkness and returned to the light, it was only a broken down ruin of reminders. At the end of the path he walked, two gravestones were erected in silent memory. Kneeling before them, he read them names off in his head, instantly remembering the good times he'd shared and the tragic moment each faced at his hands.
"Kratos Aurion – caring father and protector"
"Colette Brunel – dear friend and companion"
So I guess I didn't change anything after all…
When Lloyd sighed and closed his eyes to block out the sorrowful scene, he clenched his hand in despair. Maybe his future couldn't be saved after all. Opening his eyes, he noticed with a frown a small wilted flower attempting to grow next to Colette's grave. Watching it closely, he saw the color start to change from brown to yellow and the wrinkled petals smoothed out and became lively once more.
"What the…?" In front of him the headstones of his friend and father slowly faded from view, giving him a shock and he rose to his feet in confusion. "What's going on?" All around him the dead plants and flowers began to rejuvenate and regain their color. Reds, blues, yellows and plenty of green sprouted up all around him and it seemed life itself had breathed upon the dying land. The transformation flowed out like a wave in all directions, the castle itself becoming a pristine white once more and fallen rubble faded only to be replaced by newly built walls.
Lloyd couldn't believe it and was at a loss for words. If this wasn't enough, certain presences entered his senses and he didn't dare turn around to see if his mind was playing tricks on him.
So instead, the people in question walked up to him and stopped a few feet back. "Any particular reason for this quiet contemplation?" A low voice asked.
"Yeah, too much think from you can never be a good thing." A female voice giggled.
His heart beating somewhere near his throat, Lloyd turned around and almost fell over in shock as Kratos and Colette – fully alive and well – smiled before him. "Y-you…you guys…"
"What's wrong Lloyd? You look like you've seen a ghost." Colette coked her head to the side.
In a sudden burst of emotion, Lloyd rushed forward and wrapped his arms around her in a crushing hug. "It…it's just been so long since I've seen you."
"Well, yeah you went on that diplomatic mission to Luin all those weeks ago and didn't bother to tell us that you were back! I should be mad at you!"
"That makes two of us!" A new voice entered the conversation.
Looking up as he released his hold on Colette, Lloyd was once again surprised to see a grown version of Sheena and Zelos approach, a small bundle in the ninja's arms. Next to her, Zelos smiled proudly. "You missed the birth of our first little one."
As they joined the group, Sheena passed Lloyd the new born baby. "Her name is Lucy, after her grandmother."
Lloyd looked up from the baby and asked, "You mean…you know?"
"Of course I know. You told me before you left. What you already forgot? I spent the first week you were gone hunting them down in Gauracchia forest."
So much is different. I don't know how I'll be able to adjust. It doesn't seem like anyone else remembers the change except me. Sheena had actually been the one responsible for part of his success. When he'd decided to go back in time and fix everything, Sheena had attempted to stop him – being one of the few survivors of his friends. She thought he was going on a mission for Zaichar, but when he'd told her the truth, it took some time but…she ended up trusted him. And it was Sheena who'd told him the phrase in order to convince the past her of his validity. Thankfully it'd worked and the Sheena of the past trusted him enough to go to the shrine of Origin and stop Megami – ultimately saving Zelos.
Now the two of them were married and had themselves a little baby girl. The infant cooed in Lloyd's arms and seemed completely relaxed. The child, who was not able to come into their world previously, was now able to grow and mature with loving parents and a regenerated world that would not judge her for her blood or her race, but for her heart.
"Hey, where's Genis?" Lloyd wondered.
"What, missing me already?" A more mature voice replied.
From behind Zelos stepped up a tall, long haired mage dressed in blue and white robes that reached down to the floor. He carried with him the recognizable mother of pearl rod that once belonged to Professor Raine. "G-Genis? Is that you?"
Laughing, Genis came up to Lloyd's side and placed a hand on his shoulder. Suddenly in his mind, Lloyd heard his best friend's voice. Don't worry. All is well in this world's time. You did well.
Eyes going wide, Lloyd met the mage's blue gaze and instantly understood he knew. Somehow he knew. He sure has gotten powerful.
"As have you, my friend. As have you." Genis replied with a wink.
So now two timelines exist where one individual has learned that the strength of the heart is powerful enough to overcome any darkness and with that knowledge both will move forward to what they know will be a very bright future indeed.