"Several years have now elapsed since I first became aware that I had accepted, even from my youth, many false opinions for true, and that consequently what I afterward based on such principles was highly doubtful…"

Quote from….

Meditation

From "Of the things of which we may doubt"

By Rene Descartes

What I found by the river,

Prologue

A/N: For now this is a one shot, I'll add/finish it when I get done with either DES or my Cupid fic, I just need to get this off my computer...

Cold, so cold, every breath motion sent shards of ice running through him. He would have shivered had he the strength, but such strength had long failed him. It was seeped away, as was his very life by the damning cold. He didn't know why he struggled against death, against the darkness behind his eyes, but he did. He stubbornly kept his eyes opened, watched the sky drift by him… or was he drifting by the sky? In his numb state he really didn't care, light shinned on him as the sun, blinded him and turned the whole world a molten silver blue. He opened his mouth, drew a breath that steamed the air.

The breath of his life was fighting the chill of Winter's death, and as that accursed numbness seeped into his lungs he knew he was losing.

Had he some how been able to float above his own body he would have spent his last energy cursing what his foes had done while quietly admiring their thoroughness. He had been searched, any item of worth stripped from him, even his hidden throwing daggers. His clothes had been slashed to bits under the lash of a whip, wounds laced his back, an arrow shot, and a dagger's thrust would have set his side to agony had he not been so cold.

They were very thorough; they weren't just leaving the cold to kill him, they had not bound his limbs together to some great stone and tossed him into the river. They had mauled him, left him a bloody mess, and perhaps not trusting the depth of the water decided the winter's chill would be sufficient.

It was sufficient, he mused as he drifted by the world, gently pushed along by rapids a good league off, it was doing the job and that was enough wasn't it?

He sighed out another breath, so cold and numb he felt himself hit something and snag. Something tugged at his wound in his back, caught it, dug in, and in any other situation he would have been screaming in pain. All he managed was a sketchy grunt and to note what was happening to him.

He wondered for an instant, to distract himself from the implications of that internal tugging, if that girl had managed to get away. In all probability no, no she was dead. Grief did not touch him, in his icy prison of his flesh that he soon would be shedding he imagined all of his passions were a fire and the cold around them had dampened it.

It was ironic really, no one had considered him passionate about anything and in his last mortal moments he was contemplating on his passions being smothered in the rivers waters. In his state of near delusion he also imagined his very life being strangled out of him at winter's cruel hands, or perhaps it was rather the Ice Queen was merely reaching into his chest through his mouth and for each breath he took of her air she plucked a breath in trade.

Raped, her body exhausted beyond all capability of recovery from its ultimate violation, or rather violations; Kratos imagined that if he lay here long enough he would see her mangled corpse drift by.

Something drifted by his face, something black and long that bobbed above him. Yet it cast no shadow, it was a dark shape that cut across the trees, fell over him and mercifully dampened the suns light with its' small form, then drifted out of his limited range of site. It cut across the air above him several times, and it was then he realized it was some type of bird.

The first raven to fest on me has just arrived, nice.

He waited in detached curiosity for the wings to fold, to feel the claws tug at his tattered bits of tunic and walk across him and begin its feast. Considering his state he wouldn't feel anything s he was morbidly looking forward to the event, just to see, before he died, what a person being eaten live looked like. And if it was a sight he couldn't bare well he had one way out, he'd close his eyes, and be granted solace for a time.

"There it is! Hey! Where'd it go?"

A voice, a child, far away, punctured by a surge of water that tried to submerge his ears.

"I see it Yuan, right there, use my sling and knock it from the tree!"

"Hmm I'll need to get closer, I don't think the blasted thing will spook if I go out of the foliage, it's been awful fearless so far."

"Brave… Maybe if we catch it it'll rub off!"

"Mihos, that's an old wives tale. Now at least we'll have some…" Another wave whipped at his ears, threw his red-brown hair to the side and slicked it to his face. "Bloody Hell what is that?"

"Yuan?"

"Mithos, stay back… Get Martel, quick!"

"Wha- Why should… Sweet Powers is it alive?" The child's voice sounded sick.

"I don't know, bring her, now!"

A blade sunk into the earth, a rattle of a small stone striking ice coated ground, a whisper of a leather sling being dropped to the earth. Yuan snarled an oath, unbuttoned his coat and ripped off his heavy tunic, ripped his sheath from his belt and ran to the water's ice touched edge. He gasped in pain as the cold surrounded him, drained him. He cut through the water to the man's side; his blue hair fanned out behind him and was lost in the like colored water. With chattering teeth he tried to get the man to move, but his words could do nothing to motivate the brown haired youth. He was beyond that, beyond his mortal strength, and what other strength that might have been housed in his veins was fast drifting downstream. With a shaking hand Yuan grabbed the man, tried to pull him back to shore, meeting resistance Yuan cursed, pulled with all of his might and felt something give way. He was rewarded with a snap that he more felt then heard that and… and a rush of new blood, but the man came along.

Shivering he dragged the man to shore, and then did something he should have done in the water. He gently pushed the muscular person's hair aside, considered the ear for a long moment. Not pointed, not even with the slightest edge, he had risked life and limb and manhood to save a human.

Disgusted he let his burden drop to the earth.

It managed a pathetic moan, and Yuan managed to feel just a little bad for it- er him.

Shivering he cursed Mithos, cursed the fact he'd send the boy off well knowing that the lad was holding their store of fire wood in his packs.

Ah well, with his shaking hands he was no in the mood to even try the natural way.

Making a quick gesture he pointed to a near by rock and watch in satisfaction as if caught a flame.

"And that," the half elf gloated to the comatose human. "Is what makes me better than you."

He breathed off a plume of smoke from is index finger and considered the mess of blood and rags then because his conscious was nagging him, or more honestly the idea of Martel mad at him made him squirm, he picked up the human by the shoulders and dragged him closer to the flames. Grimacing at the sight of all the blood that covered him, Yuan left the human alone so he could wash up, and dress. He drifted back to the fire while buttoning up his fur coat and heard Martel's horrified gasp. She ran past him and knelt by the human, her eyes wide in shock. Seeing the familiar tell tale glow around her hands Yuan cleared his throat and she snapped her gaze onto him. Normally he would have felt like he was drowning in those spring green eyes, but not today. Not with such a serious problem on their hands.

"He's human Martel."

Mithos gasped at that, having come back with his sister despite orders to the contrary. Thoughts drifted in and out of that golden head with astonishing speed, especially thoughts that he didn't want to remember, if Mithos had a flaw that was it. Silver blue eyes met Yuan's and he could clearly read the fear in them.

"Don't worry Mithos, we are safe, so long as he doesn't go back to his kind and report us."

"A…a… human…" Mithos gulped, then crept up to the powerfully built man and prodded him with a finger. "Eww he's bleeding red every where!" Mithos ran his bloody hand on the snow.

"Mithos, we all bleed red." Yuan corrected him gently

"Oh," the youngest member of the Yggdrasil family grinned. "I guess that makes sense, still it's human blood."

"I can't believe you!" Martel flared. "Both of you are being savages."

"Matel, Fa merth Derisa we can't let him go back. What are you going to do if he returns to where he came from? If he does that then what hope do we have?"

"I'm not going to leave him here to die, I will save him!" Martel snapped, and had the mater been anything else Yuan would have folded, but this was too damned dangerous, too damned risky. He moved to step between her and the human, to gently pull her away. And he, froze as those brown eyes fell onto him. Regarded him with curiosity, then calmly flicked to Mithos and Martel. Even though the man was half dead, even though there was no way he should have understood them he was looking at them as if he knew…

Alright this guy has officially freaked me out.

"Think," Martel snapped at him. "He's a human, human's attacked our village, may be he can give us some answers."

"Damn it Martel, you're playing with fire here!" Yuan snapped, ignoring the human, ignoring those all too knowing eyes.

"And I'm ready to be burned, if that's how my luck falls."

"Damn it… fine." Yuan growled, "That's how you want it that's how it is. I'll go back to hunting, the bastard's got to eat after you heal him."

"Yuan!"

"I'll go with you Yuan." Mithos offered, looking at the form sprawled in the snow with obvious disgust.

Martel only looked at them both with a sad pitying look that could have melted hearts of tone. Hatred though was not stone, but sterner stuff.

"They don't understand." Martel whispered to the still man who was struggling for breath. "But don't worry I do." Closing her eyes Martel placed a slender hand over his chest and warm golden light fell from her fingers like rain drops. Each drop gathered over a wound flashed a pink streaked gold, then vanished with a blazing flash of light to reveal fully healed flesh. She did this till all the wounds were healed, even the wound with a bit of tree still stuck in it. That of course she worked out before applying her power to it. Tired Martel closed her eyes, rubbed her hands across her white robes leaving streaks of red. Between the days travel and the healing she was so tired, and Yuan's fire was so warm looking and the ground so comfortable. With a tired yawn Martel closed her eyes, absently moved a little closer to the human and the fire, then rested her eyes for just a moment.

In less then a minute she was sound asleep.