To my readers,
I lost my copy of Kratos' song in Angelic… yes Kratos does sing don't look at me like that! Anyways this is the end, and it explains the one thing that really rankled me in the Falnoir scene. Kratos tells one story, Dirk another, and they both have a glaring inconsistency. In Kratos' story Anna is in her "other" form and falls from a cliff. In Dirk's he find's Lloyd and Anna and talks to Anna. Now short of her doing a StarWars like message with her ex-sphere (Help us Obi-wan-Kenobi!) Anna was in her monstrous form but Dirk implies rather heavily that she was human. So, either Anna did a star wars impersonation with her ex-sphere, or turned back to her old form. And well her turning back just seems so… well "Bad Form" is the nicest criticism I can give the scenario. It opens up a can of questions that would add another twenty chapters to this fic… Like why didn't Dirk use an apple jell on her and if he did would she turn into a monster again once healed. The mechanics alone would be a pain in the tail to explain without doing an information dump, and since I hate info dumps, I have made a new explanation which you will have to live with. This is more or less a bitter sweet chapter. Concerning the epilogue, if anyone is interested in wanting just a little bit more when I'm done here then I will put it up, but I'd like someone to express some interest. After all 45 chapters is one heck of a long read and I don't want to over do it you know?
ArkNavy: Congrad, to reward you I have put my response to your review first. I'll fix the paragraph when I can
MoonCannon: check your PM's at the TOS forum… I sent you a response there. I hope you like this chapter as well.
GameCubeirl1: Yeah it was kind of intense, I think this one is too, only more so. Check out my author's note above.
The keeping of an oath, the breaking of a soul
He was little more then a ghost of himself. Once a thin man he looked like a corpse, his grey hair with it's rare streaks of brown was now little more then a memory. He was now sported a silver mane with white streaks running through it. Once sharp edged with slits for eyes and a mouth his face was a mess of angles and cave-ins. His checks were carved pits that made his jaw and facial bones look like sharp ridges. His face once regally pale was the same hue of a bloodless corpse, and his steel grey eyes once mere slits were wide, wild. Once there had been a hint of rationality, even in the face of obsession or dark lust there had been a shred of reason, and now there was nothing. Nothing but the mad want, the intense need, and being the target of both Lloyd was more then a little scared.
"Come here my boy." Kvar hissed, his voice too was changed, a dry rasp like dead leaves being blown across stone. "Come here my son."
Too scared to shriek the defiance that was in his heart the boy scrambled back. He did not have the courage to find his feet and run, the shaking was too much for that. So on his rump he scrambled kicked with his small feet and shoved off the earth with his hands and in doing so was slowly sliding back on the mud away from the man who was claiming to be his father. He made a wide track, a drag mark, much like a snake's, but the churned up mud on both sides of the mark proved it to be human. He was shaking, looking into those eyes and still scrambling back, though his rump was all cold and he could feel the roots of a tree gouging him.
"You don't recognize me; I know I am different…" Kvar rasped his eyes as wide as they could be. Starlight shone across them, made them glitter in a way that was even scarier. They did not look like a normal person's eyes now, not with the wideness and the surreal glint in them. "It's all the fault of the bad man I told you about, but I kept my promise, I came back for you. Don't you remember? I promised I'd keep you safe my boy, and I've come to do just that."
"No." Lloyd whispered, trying with all his might to go through the tree in his need to get away. "No!" Somewhere he found it in him to scream. "No! No! Leave me alone! Daddy! Help! Desian!"
"Silence!" Kvar roared, rising out of his stooped over posture and with drawing the hand he had used to beckon Lloyd over to his side. "I will hear nothing of this usurper, this charlatan that you claim is your father is little more then a monster a murderer!" Kvar's eyes slid shut. "That's why I am here, to take you away, to make you safe. He's hurt you my boy, turned you against me, but you will remember what you are…" Kvar shivered, his eyes opened again and reflected Lloyd's terror filled face, and he dropped his voice to the barest of whispers. "I know you Lloyd, of you, your very name screams to me. Your very self calls out and because of what I am I have ways of hearing it. That's how I found you, and even though I am very sick because that monster hurt me I've come for you."
Kvar was ignorant of how his bodyguard adverted there eyes, he was unaware of the pitying looks that they shot to Lloyd. Though these same guards had held children in their arms and killed them in front of their parents there was something so vile about this, about Kvar's plan that it disgusted them. They knew everything of course, since awakening in a crater with smoldering bits of his men about him he had been speaking in his delirium of one thing and one thing alone. A name had been falling from his lips, a name the healers had first though of some sib, a father, time had proven that healer wrong. It was a child's name, his child if you believed him, and now looking at this obviously human youth it was as clear as the clouds were many that this was not Kvar's flesh and blood.
One man had dared question, one man had protested, and now his remains smoldered in a puddle. That puddle was steaming, tuning into vapor as the roasted body made it evaporate. After that pointed example the men remained silent, and watched the exchange between this other man's child and Kvar. At first it was embarrassment, they served a mad man and it was obvious to all to see that Kvar was indeed now totally obsessed. A few of the braver ones were toying with the idea of killing the old man later on, taking the power that Kvar had no right to because of what state he was in. That had faded, all ambition faded from the braver men's hearts as this exchange went on and on.
And it never seemed to end.
Pity, disgust, horror flitted across those normally expressionless faces, filled the souls of those soulless men. The boy was shivering in terror, in cold, his lips were fast turning blue, and still he had his hands gouged into the tree's harsh bark, refusing to go near the infuriated Kvar. He knew what was coming if the Desian Lord managed to get him in hand, he recalled the headaches, the ice, and the sick twisting that was only in his head. Though Daddy had tried and tried to make him forget over and over again Lloyd could not forget.
Noshy had run off, sniffed the air and had bolted, howling in fear. Lloyd had been scared; left alone he had cried and held himself by the fire. It was then that the men in black with shiny heads came to the camp. Lloyd had tried to run, had tripped in the mud and owwed his knees. That had made him cry harder and a familiar voice had spoken, had move to heal his hurts. Lloyd had looked up, recognized the bad man, and had tried to run despite his hurts. Fear had made him crawl; made him crawl-run, and now he was alone with no Daddy, no Noshy, and only Kvar and the other bad men.
"He's turned you against me." Kvar was no longer going to wait his patience was spent in full, he walked towards Lloyd, his hand clenching into fists. "He's made you bad my boy and so I'm going to fix that right…"
"Kvar! Leave him alone!" Lloyd whimpered, seemed to sag in relief. "Leave my son alone!" Wings still drawn the seraphim, the angel of death, stormed into the clearing. The seraphim all but ripped his sword from its sheath; his eyes were insane as well. It was the breed of insanity that made you start looking for places to hide. One of Kvar's guards moved with that very thought in mind, a blast of lightning mana made him drop that idea and all others. Two corpses smoldered, set the air to smoking and the water to the skies.
"All acts of cowardice are punishable by death." The Desian Cardinal hissed. "Attack, kill him!"
A cornered rat is the most desperate of animals. A rat lacking a corner who feels cornered is the most desperate of all. Death before them death behind the Desian's charged intent on saving their own lives by facing the lesser of the two evils. They should have ran in the other direction.
The fastest met him first, and therefore met death first. With one pass of his sword the seraphim cut the man in half. Two more swordsmen came at him while a crossbow man with a little more sense then his fellows dropped his dagger and lifted his bow. Kratos' wings trembled with pent up power, he smashed his shield into the face of his foe to the left, did a quick spin on his heal and blade leading his cut off the head of the Desian to his right. Slamming his sword into the ground the warrior grabbed his stunned opponent and used him to catch the arrows from the achers attack. The man who served as shield gasped, shuddered, then breathed his last in Kratos' bloody handed grasp. Letting the carrion fall to the earth Kratos flicked his wings, three silver blue feathers arched across the clearing with a hiss. The crossbowman fell, a feather in his throat, one piercing his heart, and another sticking out of his head. A cry, mechanical, frantic, Kratos whirled on one of the Desian's, a scout by his garb, who was frantically calling for back up on a piece of magi technology. Kratos pulled a dagger from his boot, threw, and the cries stopped, but as the small hand sized box hit the ground and a button on its top flashed red. The call had gone through, the Desian forces would come in this direction. He leveled his hand at the box, an orb of fire streaked across the clearing, consumed it, and with a hiss it became little more then a pile of ashes in a heart beat.
"They know Kratos, you can't run forever, they will catch you, and when they do I will take what is mine!" Kvar teleported out of the clearing, and just in time too, another orb of fire smashed into the ground where he had been standing, and had he been there. Well the world would have been a much better place.
Lloyd looked around the clearing, at the blood and bodies, and with a soft whimper he broke down and cried.
Xxx xxx xxx xxx
…your very name screams to me. Your very self calls out and because of what I am I have ways of hearing it.
Kratos shivered as those words ran through his head and stole what little peace he had managed to garner them for the night. Lloyd lay in his lap, had been so hesitant to even be touched by his father for the longest time. The wings, the blood, it was ripping them apart. What he was was destroying what he had with his son. Anna had understood, been uneasy about it all, but she had understood and accepted. Yet she was an adult, Lloyd a child, a child who had seen far too much already.
His greatest fear was coming to pass, his love for his son, his staying with his boy, was destroying him.
"I have made a mistake, somewhere I have made a mistake."
His only awake companion lifted a huge jagged looking ear and gave it a flick. Yawning, the protozoan found his paws, arched his back, and smacked his teeth together in a manner that a man might smack his lips together on awakening. One bite of those jaws could kill Lloyd, one bite of those jaws could take Kratos' arm from him, and yet the owner of those jaws spent a lot of his time running from everything now.
Noishe turned to him, and with a gaze more suited to a rabbit met his eyes.
"I am killing him Noishe, my presence only draws monsters like Kvar to him. It might have been better perhaps if he had died under Anna's claws, or was just… dead…." Kratos closed his eyes, cursed his weak heart. "At least he would not be hurt, but I can not, I can no hurt him and yet allowing him to live like this is hurting him. What can I do?"
Noishe only stared at him; a similar hopelessness on the protozoan's face.
"If… if I were to… If I were to do what Kvar did to him… but perhaps in a different way?" Kratos closed his eyes as breath of a twisted though formed in his mind. But in desperation it was beginning to look like a shard of hope. "I could keep him safe if I did and the only one I would hurt would be myself, no one else would feel pain from my actions and I could give him what I promised. A safe… normal… life…."
Noishe met his gaze, a look of deep concern in his eyes.
Kratos could not meet that gaze, could not tell the protozoan anything for he might intervene.
"Go back to bed Noishe." Kratos stared at the banked fire he had made, his voice and eyes equally dead. "Leave me to my thoughts, leave me alone, for my thoughts are best dwelled on alone."
Noishe whined, shook his head, and started to stand. It was Noishe's plan go to him, to persuade him without words that he was skirting on the edge of madness with these thoughts. If that was the case however wasn't that his decision? Kratos ignored the heavy weight that settled on the knee that Lloyd was not perched upon. Even an insistent whine did not make his break his intent staring that the grotto's walls. Noishe closed his eyes, whimpered again, then yalped when he was smacked.
"You will wake Lloyd, go back to where you were and leave us be."
Ears slicked back in pain and shame the protozoan went to his paws and padded over to the fire.
Forgive me Kratos thought to the limping protozoan, but with no power behind the words they remained in his mind alone and echoed in the emptiness that was fast in growing their. That same emptiness was also growing in his soul, an emptiness that would define him for the rest of eternity. If there is anyway for you and Lloyd to forgive me then I beg that you do so when I am once again worthy of that forgiveness. A log snapped, at that breaking a length of sparks rose to the top of the miniature cavern's ceiling and turned the cave into a crimson nightmare.
Fitting, all in all it was very fitting.
Xxx xxx xxx xxx
"Daddy we goin' to Iselia, isn' it thata way?"
"No," Kratos smiled, though there were sad wet star sparklies in his eyes. "No I have another destination in mind."
"But Daddy this ways the dwarfes house!"
"I know Lloyd, we need more supplies and since Iselia is too dangerous I plan on talking to Dirk and seeing if there isn't a smaller village nearby that will be able to get supplies at."
Lloyd frowned, though it over. It didn't make much sense, it seemed awful silly to go back and forth and back, but then Daddy was silly sometimes. But Daddy was really really smart, maybe Lloyd was just bein' a little dumb and not knowin' about this adult stuff. Lloyd decided two things then; trust Daddy no matter what, and to try to learn adult stuff as fast as he could so he could help too. Lloyd was having a hard time keeping up with Daddy, Daddy was walking really fast, but with all the bad people around maybe they had to. Lloyd didn't say nothing though, just kind of ran-walked and kept Daddy's funny cloak in sight. Suddenly he smiled, and for no reason gave the sharp looking ends a tug.
Daddy coughed, made some funny noises, and Lloyd tugged on the pointy looking fabric then flapped it like he'd seen a person in the snow place flap a rope at a horsie to make it run really fast.
"Multch!" Lloyd chirped; making the cloak flap again with that weird tug he'd seen the carriage driver give the horsies leash.
"Multch?" Daddy laughed softly. "The term is mush Lloyd, and you say it to a dog you want to run fast, not a person."
"Multch! Mush!" Lloyd said to Noishe, Noishe rolled his eyes just like Daddy did sometimes and whined.
"Lloyd, Noishe doesn't feel up to running, his paw is hurt."
"Aww a ride?"
Noishe shook his head, but Lloyd wasn't looking at his doggie, he was looking to Daddy. Daddy looked away, the wet things still in his eyes. Lloyd gave a very firm tug on Daddy's cape and Daddy turned to him. Daddy was being so silly, why didn't he see what Lloyd wanted? Maybe his heart sick was being bad today, well Lloyd knew how to fix that!
"Not now Lloyd."
Daddy was being really silly today Lloyd decided, and then he chose to use a trick Mommy always used. He widened his eyes as big as he could get then, scuffed a small foot on the wet ground and looked up into Daddy's face.
"Later, I promise." Daddy blinked a few times, swallowed once.
"But my feet are really really cold!"
"Lloyd." Daddy's voice was funny, all tight and strange… and it scared Lloyd just a little bit. "I am feeling very sick right now, I can not carry you, do not ask again."
"Yes Daddy…" Lloyd bowed his head, and looked up surprised to feel Daddy run a hand through his hair.
"You aren't being bad Lloyd; I just… hurt right now. I promise before tonight's done I'll be fine."
"Yes Daddy." Lloyd let go of Daddy's cape and went back to following Daddy.
Xxx xxx xxx xxx
Dirk opened the door after the second knock. He stared in shock at his old guests, and like the time before moved out of the way as Kratos swept in. He watched as Lloyd scampered behind his father and watch in shock as the huge dog creature limped in.
"We met some trouble on the road." Was all the seraphim said in a terse tone. "I am afraid I will have to abuse your hospitality again one last time. If I may prepare a fire and a meal for… Lloyd and my traveling companion?"
He didn't say 'my son' he called the boy by his name. Dirk suppressed a chill at the tall human's icy tone.
"No you don't! I'll be doing the cookin' lad, Dwarven Vow number two; always help someone in need."
"Humph," the seraphim was staring at him with an intensity that made Dirk's skin crawl. "Passable, yes, to think that this is my last recourse if it weren't... But I have no choice now, none…"
"If you're feeling that touchy about the food, don't, I'm a decent huntsman and farmer and my trade brings in enough money to pay for the feed of a bloody army."
Kratos' raised an eyebrow, appearing regal and majestic despite the fact his clothes were covered in filth and slashed to by sword and singed by fire. The gesture and expression said without words that Dirk was missing something, something huge… The dwarf shivered, excused himself, and set about to the kitchen to prepare a meal. And every second of that time since the man stepped into his house he could feel those eyes measuring him, to what or for what he had no clue.
Lunch was gone, a fond memory to both Lloyd and Dirk. Kratos only toyed with his spoon, took one bite, then with a grimace set the stew aside.
He had spent the meal saying nothing, encouraging Lloyd to talk to the dwarf, and watching, always watching. Dirk decided then and there enough was enough.
"Excuse me lad but I be needing some help upstairs, doing some touch up in the guest bedroom I'm building there, I was hopping seeing as you're a bit taller then me you could lend a hand."
"Of course, Lloyd why don't you and Noishe take a nap, we will be leaving again at night."
"Like Hell you are!" Dirk flared; slamming a spoon into the table with such force I flew from his hand and clattered against the wooden floor. "Last time you went something happened else you wouldn't be here…" Dirk strangled, coughed, and the seraphim stood and with a show of totally false concern led the dwarf out of the room. On the stair way the coughing stopped, Dirk glared daggers at his guest.
"Magicing the host is not the proper way to be what-ever your name is."
"A necessary evil, come, we have much to discuss." Kratos went up the stairs and opened the attic's door. Kratos climbed up the latter that slid down from the trap door, scrambled up each step with great care for his cape, than stood. A whistle came from the seraphim, and Dirk who was struggling along behind the man grinned.
"Impressed are you lad?" He puffed as he fought his way into the room. "Why'd think I had all that odd and end nails and stuff out?"
Kratos stood besides a complete human sized bed and was openly admiring the wood work. The man drifted around the room, eyed the rocking chair, at the stool he frowned.
"The support is weak." Kratos gave the stool a sharp shake and it wobbled.
"A cast off, I'm planning to fix it when I can."
"Ah, very good, then his might not be as hard as I thought it would be." Kratos went to the chair and sank down wearily. "You might be wondering why I am back all of a sudden, especially since we left on such vile terms."
"I might be." Dirk hopped up onto the bed, his legs hung over the floor no few inches.
"And I though I didn't mince words." Kratos lips curled into a dark and twisted smile. That smile set the dwarf's blood to ice. "We were attacked, I have one of the most powerful Desian Cardinal's on my tail wanting to take my son from me, and the leader of Cruxis sent the reanimated corpse of my wife after us." Kratos closed his eyes and shuddered in remembered pain, and when he opened them and stared at Dirk the dwarf shivered. There was a look to him, the same look a wounded bird wore when its wounds were so great it could no longer fly. He'd tried to save one of them, watched it die, he had watched it throw itself against a cage until it broke its own neck. Kratos and that bird, there was no difference between them, none at all.
"I am sorry about your wife sir but I don't see-"
"No, you don't do you?" Kratos leaned back, closed his eyes. "Tell me, do you love my son?"
There was a silence that stretched between both men; it felt important to Dirk, that what he filled it with would change everything.
"Your son is a good lad, I like him."
"That is not what I asked." A frown touched those fierce features, made the man look something like a hunting animal. "Do you love him, and know if you say no I will go down stairs and slash his throat."
"Like Hell you will!" Dirk hopped off the bed, fists clenched, ready to take this self proclaimed angel to his death bed if need be to save the boy's life. He might die but it didn't mater so long as the boy was safe.
"At ease Dirk, it was a test, and your thoughts have revealed all I need to know." The frown deepened, became pained. "Yes, this will work; I know you will keep him safe though I can not."
"What in Hell are you talking about?"
"I am keeping my oath… though it may destroy me I am keeping my oath to my son and wife. Tell me what you need done to his room, in detail and it will be done when you wake up. Oh and make some sort of accommodations for a animal to be kept in this room, they are loath to be separated from one another and they will need each other all the more after this is all over."
"What in Hell are you talking about!"
"I tried to do this in a gentle manner." Kratos stood with a grace of a predatory and stalked towards him with the measured walk of a wolf feeling out it's pray. "As you will." The wings slipped out of the seraphim's back and a sense of power slammed into him, scrambled his wits. He groped for his sword, to defend himself, and felt the blade knocked from his hands. There was a kind of touch inside his skull, a gentle touch, and from the other side of that touch he felt grief, desperation, pain, and a loss so profound that he tried to cringe back. But he couldn't and that touched deepened, he had the feeling it was looking for something.
And then whatever it was looking for was found and then came a pain, a searing burning pain and with a soft cry he collapsed on the floor, limbs twitching as that silver blue light went into his brain and slashed at it. Then came the dark, the merciful dark that made the light go away.
Xxx xxx xxx xxx
"Wake up." Kratos shook Lloyd's shoulder gently, and his boy's eyes opened. Like all the other times before Lloyd reached up, hugged him, and the seraphim managed a smile despite the tears. The room was dark, no fire had been made, and the sun had set some time ago. "Come on," Kratos poked his son's side, and grinned as his boy giggled. "Shh we need to be quiet, Noishe needs his sleep."
"Noshy's not commin'?"
"No, Mr. Irving is allowing us to stay the night, but I wanted to go out and star gaze tonight. It is safe enough for that around here. Do you want to come?"
"Please!" Lloyd chirped, it was overkill tonight considering how much Kratos actually wanted to go himself.
Kratos bent, hooked Lloyd under one arm then made a show of scratching Noishe's head. His motions disguised the silver blue light that made the protozoan fall into a deeper sleep. He worked Lloyd onto his shoulders and they slipped out of the dwarf's house. Lloyd squeaked in joy, asked his father to run, and the seraphim gladly complied. They stayed along the river, wandered into the forest but always kept the river to their left hand side. He had taken a few moments earlier to scout out the area before waking Lloyd, and seeing that massive granite rock by the river that jutted out above the trees the seraphim had decided that this would be where they would go. In the dark shadows of the boulder and the few trees that hung around the place it was a perfect spot to star gaze. When the got their Lloyd gapped at the rock, looked to him, to the rock, and seemed to have some trouble swallowing that there indeed was something not a tree that was taller then his father.
"Do not let it bother you Lloyd." Kratos chuckled, ruffled his son's hair. "It is not that important."
"Wow, the stars are bright!" Lloyd gasped, looking up, and snatching a handful of his father's hair in his excitement."
"Yes, -pain! - Lloyd you have to let go of Daddy's hair before he losses it all!"
"Sorry Daddy!" Lloyd let go, patted his father's head, and squirmed, indicating he wanted down. Kratos knelt and Lloyd scrambled off of his Father's shoulders. Lloyd smiled, sat by his father, and absently tugged on of the halves of his sire's cloak around him like a blanket. He was blissfully ignorant of the tears in his father's eyes, and perhaps only noted that his father's hand seemed to have permanently attached itself to his shoulder. Yet if he did or if he didn't he made no comment, only snuggled a little closer and they watched the heavens and their slowly moving lights.
"Daddy look your star is out!"
"It is isn't it?" Kratos smiled at the red star, could not get himself to look down at Lloyd just yet. He then launched into one of Lloyd's favorite stories, and Lloyd smiled and laughed as Kratos described himself trying to catch a fish with his hands in his younger days with Yuan. Both of them had been determined to win Martel's favor and they never knew that they had been set up by Mithos who had sat in some concealing bushes and laughed at them. It was Martel who got the last laugh however, for she was watching it all from another secret place, she watched as both men fought over the one fish the had managed to catch and therefore lost it, it was she who tended Mtihos when he came to realize that those bushes that had been so very easy to hide in were poison ivy.
Lloyd giggled and laughed just as he was supposed to, and after that story was done Kratos told something under the lines of a more serious tale: the tale of Aska and Luna and their eternal chase in the sky. How Origin, infuriated by Aska's steeling of the stars and therefore dishonoring the man he had entrusted them to had bound the summon spirit of light to the sky and chained his lover to the moon. It was then that every few centuries they could see each other, only when sun and moon, in their wildly different paths overlapped, would they see each other, and how it was only for a fleeting instant.
"But that's not fair Aska was tryin' to help Luna and everyone else!" Lloyd flared and Kratos chuckled, blinked a few times and shoved his tears into the farthest part of him that he could.
"I know, sometimes though that's how things turn out."
"Still not fair!" Lloyd huffed, and Kratos smiled gently.
"I know." Kratos drew Lloyd close. "It is not fair, sometimes life is not fair." He put a digit under his son's chin and Lloyd looked up, they met each others gaze and he knew he had Lloyd's full attention. "Even though it is not fair do not ever let life take you down. Do not let fate bring you low. It is alright to cry, you know that I have nothing against tears and that tears are a form of strength, but never let fate get its knife in you so deep that you give up. No matter what happens."
Lloyd nodded, suddenly as somber as an owl; he knew that tone even at the age of four. He knew when his Daddy talked like that that he'd never forget.
"Do you remember," Kratos closed his eyes, the time was drawing close and he knew he was dithering, but could not help it. He had to tell Lloyd, he had to know that Lloyd knew this. "When you were still in your mother's belly?"
"I was?" Lloyd looked at himself, thought it over and blinked. "Momma must have been huge!"
Kratos choked on that one, he had made a similar comment once and had found himself eating a feather stuffed pillow against his will. Anna had looked positively vicious as she had tried valiantly to shove that pillow down his throat.
"She was…" Kratos laughed softly. "She was rather big; though do not ever say that to a woman unless you want to die a painful death. They are very sensitive about their appearance for some reason."
"Never mind," Kratos smiled, the damn tears were starting up, and he couldn't stop them. "You were quite a bit smaller then you are now so I am not too surprised you do not remember. Anyways…" the seraphim fought down the giggles, now was not the time to stat laughing, if he did it would turn into crying. "I made you a promise, that no mater what would happen I would protect you. No matter the cost I would love you and protect you… and when you grow up... I want you to tell me if I did that all right?"
"But you are, now!" Lloyd said, sounding so confused.
"Promise me Lloyd, please, this is the most important thing to me, you can not understand how much it means."
"Alright… I promise!" Lloyd smiled, and somehow Kratos managed to smile back.
"Good, then I know everything's going to be alright." Kratos kissed his son's head and set him on his lap. "There's a song my mother used to sing to me when I was your age…." Kratos snapped his eyes shut, and could feel the tears coming despite his efforts. Lloyd though did not notice.
"You were my age, and small, like me?"
"Yes," Kratos smiled. "I was even smaller then you at your age, I was a very short person for a very long time until I decided I needed to grow up. I think I over-did it."
"Nope, just right!" Lloyd hugged him and Kratos forced his sobs down. That made him shake just a little bit, and Lloyd noticed. "Daddy are you hurt?"
"I am fine, just trying to remember that song; it's been a long time…"
"A long long time?"
"Yes, over four thousand years, now settle down Lloyd." Kratos closed his eyes, and though his voice was harsh with tears Lloyd made no complaint.
flees the heavens,
The night then comes to life,
A multitude of human hope then light the darkened sky,
Hope caught in silver,
Bound by eternal flame,
When darkness fall I look up and see you once again,
No mater where you are,
We all see the same dark sky,
And from same sky we see same stars and come together you and I,
No matter where you are,
Forsaken or alone,
Together you and I will come no matter what dangers show,
I'll be by your side before the edge of fiery wing,
Comes over edge of world,
You must only call my name,
The name on night winds carried,
Is the surest messenger of all,
And I shall hear and I shall come no matter what.
Kratos smiled, stroked his son's hair, and Lloyd looked up to him, just happy to be held and talked to. He needed so little, so very little. And it was tempting in that moment to turn away from this path, to walk away from this course and continue the gamble. He only had to look at his hands, to imagine Anna's blood on them, and he steeled himself for this course. It was only ten minuets later before Lloyd was yawning, and after being told that they would not be going back just yet Lloyd sleepily snuggled to him and began to drift off.
I want to wake him, to stay here until he awakens, to be with him for all of his life, to see it all. He thought to himself as he placed the rabbit and ex-sphere in his son's hands. It's not fair, damn it why must I give this up!
You know why, A voice whispered in his head. You know that this is best for him; you protect him by doing this, by sacrificing yourself as Anna did herself you give him all he needs and guarantee his safety until your paths cross again.
"Will they though, and if they do… then what?" He muttered bitterly, kissing his son's head, taking in his scent and everything about him with senses that were never fooled, storing it in a mind that would never forget.
What will be will be in the hands of fate and destiny. You best let me take a hand in this, your technique is clumsy and it would be best if steadier hands then your own handled this.
"I thought," Kratos whispered, careful no to wake his son as he gently disengaged Lloyd's arms from around his waist. "You didn't take sides in mortal affairs Origin."
You have been the seal and the soul bonded to me for over four thousand years, I think that warrants some cheating on my end of things. Origin chuckled in his mind. If not I can always fast talk MaxWell around to my end of things, I after all have been in your rather decrepit and deceitful mind for no shot span of time, I think I've learned how to gloss over certain facts and put…'productive emphasis' on others .
Kratos strangled on the images, in his mind Origin was a God and imagining God fast talking another God was hard to take. There was a kind of wrench in his mind, a moment of dizziness and when he came too he had his wings drawn and had glided to the cliff where Anna had... His mind shuddered in pain and that pain became physical when he withdrew his wings.
Dirk is a good ways down the river… he will find your son before the storms hit. It will rain for another two days then this span of flooding will be over unless you toss another mass of water and lightning mana into the atmosphere. You will sleep for a day then awaken, your memories will be twisted a bit, events that you endured will occur out of order, be scrambled… Much in the same manner as a man who has been through sever trauma.
Kratos nodded, in doing this he would destroy himself utterly. He knew that without Lloyd he would lose a massive part of himself, maybe even destroy his soul. And he would not know that this sacrifice had lead to Lloyd being able to lead a normal whole life.
"Will he know me, when we see each other again?"
No he will not.
Practical, wise, but Gods it hurt to know that, it was only then he realized that in a way he had also sacrificed Lloyd as well as himself.
"His sacrifice will not be as bad though, he will merely not know, and that will not destroy him. It is the knowing that is the most damning thing." Kratos looked to the stars and sighed. "Alright, let us get this over with."
And down came light, a blazing light with daggers in it that cut and dug and twisted into him until he thought death was preferable. He hurt, it hurt that blinding eternity of light and power, and his screams echoed on nothing and nothing till the bless-ed darkness took him away.
Xxx xxx xxx xxx
"What in Gnomes name?" Dirk squinted in the star filled night, and stared at the massive green and silver dog shaped creature; it had somehow gotten into his house, and started to raise a ruckus. Annoyed he had chased after it, and was surprised when it promptly got behind him and carried him by the scruff of his tunic to this old rock. Now he was facing a small little creature, it was a sobbing hic-upping little bundle of blanket and by its cries didn't have a friend in the worlds. He walked up to the blanket, gently pulled it aside, and a mess of brown hair popped out. It looked at him, the small creature, and by his very inexperienced eyes it was a human. Dirk looked at it, it looked at him, and a new batch of tears started. He didn't think about it, he took the small human in his arms and held him close.
"There there now… shhh . You're safe now little fella." Dirk scanned the area while he held the child that was nearly his height, a small rock of silver and blue caught his attention. He bent down and took it up with much more confidence then he'd taken the child in his embrace. Stones were something he had a great deal of experience with, and this one… He whistled in awe, moved to pocket it…
A flash of silver blue light snapped behind his eyes lids a woman's voice a woman's form…
All of the details of her blurred all he could tell was she was in agony. He ran to her, pulled out an apple jell he kept for emergencies. Her hands grasped his, left a mark of blood on his wrist, a shackle of blood, so much blood…
"His name is Lloyd, he's my son, Desian's attacked us… please keep him safe I can no longer."
Whispered the woman in a soft musical voice, her eyes were filled with gentle regret as she breathed the last in his arms.
Another flash of silver-blue and the child's sobs brought him back to reality.
A man's voice carried over the night winds was carried by the night's winds, familiar yet not familiar.
"I can no longer protect him you must do what I can not."
"Daddy…. Where's Daddy?" The boy, Lloyd, gulped, rubbed his eyes. "Mommy! Daddy!"
"Gods of Earth," Dirk whispered blinking back a second of disorientation. "You're Lloyd aren't you?"
The boy nodded, looked at him in fear.
He's never seen a dwarf by the looks of him, never seen anyone but a human in his life. Dirk's heart tightened painfully, he could no look into those brown-black eyes squarely.
"Your Ma, she died lad… to.. took a nasty fall…" His stammer gave his lie away, but the boy did not hear it, he cried, hugged his knees and cried like the most lost thing in the worlds.
"Daddy, where's Daddy?"
"I don't know, I imagine if he can he'll come for you, and if he does he'd rightly put me to task for not getting a roof over your head and warming you up. Do you have a last name little one?"
"Last name?" Lloyd rubbed at his nose with a hand, his face an ugly red with silver tracks running down the sides. The boy cried silver looking tears, a trick of the star light he imagined. "Momma called me Lloyd, Daddy called me Lloyd, oh and son…"
"That's what all parent call their little boys." Dirk said huskily.
The boy looked at the rock that Dirk had yet to pocket and his eyes widened.
"Momma's special shiny rock!" He took the stone in his hands and held onto it like a life line. "Mommy wears this on her arm." The boy sniffled. Even more tears were gathering in his eyes as he grasped a reality that most children his age could not comprehend. "Momma's not coming back is she?"
"I think…" Dirk felt tears coming to his eyes at the little ones predicament. "I think that's what they mean by dead, that you never come back…"
The tears started again, heart broken sobs that ripped the dwarf to shreds. Gently he held the boy till he cried himself out, then when he seemed alright enough to move gently steered the boy to his house. A few nights, he thought to himself, and the boy's father will come or him, just a few nights and this little one will be back home where he belongs. A few nights passed, a few weeks, and he came into the boy's upstairs room to find the little one curled around the dog crying bitterly.
"Lad, are you alright?"
"Daddy promised!" The boy sobbed, "He promised he'd come no matter what!"
Noishe whimpered, licked the boys head and had hooked a paw around the child in an attempt to... hug? Was a dog that smart! Impossible, completely impossible and insane to boot!
"Lad, your Pa, he might be dead too."
"No! He's not! He's not dead!" Lloyd gripped the green mane of his pet so hard his knuckles were turning white. "No… Daddy can't die… Mommy said so!"
"Lad, the only people don't die are elves." Dirk swallowed, walked across the room slowly. "We all go, even a dwarf like me." He reached out, turned the boy around and made Lloyd look him squarely in the eyes. "Lloyd, my lad, we all go and take that long walk in the end. All of us, even those stuck up pointy ears, though they take a mighty long time in doing it."
"I'm not your son." Lloyd gulped; his gaze was like a spear in the heart, those words acid on a mortal wound.
"No… I guess not." Dirk closed his eyes. "I'm sorry I shouldn't have said that."
"You're a nice person, not nasty like the other person who said he was Daddy but wasn't. But Daddy is Daddy." Lloyd stared at him, even through closed eyes he could feel the gaze it was that intense.
"I understand lad." Dirk smiled, forced himself to meet the boys gaze head on. "I've no problems with just being a "nice person"." Dirk stroked his beard, made a very firm decision that would sculpt his whole life. "You don't need to be crying here alone with your dog, you can come to me any time day or night if you need a shoulder. No shame in tears lad, only shame is when they fall and you're alone."
Noishe gave him a long look that almost seemed to say he was not a "no-one".
Dirk ignored the dog stupid beast wasn't smart, though it acted smart a time or two. It wasn't healthy for the boy to be so attached to the dog; he needed someone to talk to who could talk back at the very least.
At Lloyd's nod Dirk smiled, ruffled that wild brown hair.
"Why don't you try to get some sleep lad, nights got a long way before it's done, and when you wake up I'll make you a treat."
"A treat?" Lloyd's eyes lost some of their gloom. "What type?"
"A dwarvish surprise if you want to call it that!" He winked and the boy giggled.
He tromped from the boy's room, fought his way down the stairs and went to his work desk. He'd been working on a top for the boy, a little toy that'd spin around with help from a string. He figured the boy would like it, it wasn't half way finished, another good two nights to go on it, but he'd made a promise and he'd be damned if he wasn't going to keep it.
"I'll just put some speed into it." He mumbled to himself, picking up a carving knife. "Won't take all that long to finish." And if it made the lad smile, well it was worth a little loss of sleep. He found a smile on his lips at that thought and he set to his task humming a tune that would echo in the mines he had been raised like the clang of a hammer. As the sun peaked over the horizon and Dirk brushed aside the last carving bits and he realized something, something that came as a bit of a surprise. Though the boy didn't think of him as his father, though I hurt as nothing else ever had to hear those words it didn't change a thing. He still was thinking of the boy as his son.
His own Pa though, aye he'd get his head bit off for this "little stunt". Taking a non-dwarf past the three day guest period was unheard of, almost a sin in the eyes of his people. Which was why he left, and he was feeling a little bit of that. A little bit of satisfaction at proving that he wasn't like them and that he had a care past the end of his own nose. That was part of it; not a nice part but still a part but the biggest part was hope. Hope that someday when he'd call Lloyd 'son' he'd get the answer he wanted back. And despite how I hurt every time the boy called him 'Dirk' there was that hope, that prayer that the next time Lloyd would say 'father' instead. And he was willing to wait; he was a hot head amongst dwarves, impatient, not content to let a project sit a decade and a day. But for that one word he'd wait, he'd wait for a century if need be.