Oh come on you think after I put up Tales of Sillyness that I didn't have a nice juicy angsty fic up my sleave? As promised here's the second half of the DES epilouge titled. "Broken Sword and Broken Soul" Don't know how long it's gunna be but what I can say is it is not a one shot.
'Room of a broken soul'
The city was silent, as it always was. His heartbeat seemed to loud, that the fragile structures of crystal and ghostly marbl would shatter do the sound. He hated this places, hated it's silence. As did the one he sought, he had not expected to come here in his search, but then he never thought he would have to search for the man for at least another sixty years. Clearing his throat, licking his lip- purely mortal shows of his anxiaty that he had never learned to discard- the blue haired half elf rose his black gloved hand. He rapped on the steel door, cursing how the matereal set a jolt through his arm, thinking for one witsful moment of how cold the steel must feel. Yet he coudl not feel that cold, cold was a vauge memory for him. There was no response to his knock, to his cries, he looked around anxiously, the angels did not seem to care, did not seem to know that he existed, they stared at him with glassy eyes and went on with thier endless paterened flight. It was not them seeing him that made him nervious, rather the wieght of all those empty stares, and the thin feeling of dread that hung in the air. Dread, fear, for an old friend, for the one not answering his door. He pressed his pointed ear against the door, strained hearing, and knew that his informant was right. There was a very faint, very slow pounding of a heartbeat on the other side.
Then there was a new sound, and one that he could not place. Or rather one he could not place in a world where silence reined. A soft sight, and a shattering, the almost muscial breaking of glass against floor.
"Kratos, open the door!" Yuan bellowed, ignoring the mindless angles that stared at him for being so noisy, they promptly looked away and just as promptly forgot. Yuan yelled a few more times, trying to put authority into his voice, yet there was nothing. Only the faint sound of breaking glass and that heart beat. Snarling an oath in elvish Yuan made a gesture, summoned his wings and waisted a few moments flying around the serahpim's house. He pushed on the great planes of glass and silver that revealed the bulk of Kratos' home to any who would fly around, or they would have had not the ex-mercenary pulled all the curtains shut. He contemplated breaking them, but with his wings flapping and his cloak rustling behind him he could not hear that steady heart beat, for all he knew his fellow seraphim could be in range of the blast, be in the room, and while he would not die from such a low powered attack... He could get hurt, and if he was in the same state as Yuan's informant had seen him in. Kratos might find a way to will that hurt to equal death.
Cursing Yuan glided over the roof, weaving past the false watch towers, he landed on the marble that served as the house's pourch. And while he stared at the door preping a spell his mind was seeing his most strange informant. Recalling in the vivid torment that was a seraphim's memory he saw every detail of the meeting and heard every nausence of the conversation.
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Rain tapped against the room with it's wet fingers, seeking some way into the building, and finding none it seemed content to merely scrape it's nails against his patience. Of all the places he wanted to go, in all the weather that existed in any world he hated it when it rained. The rain was wet, it wieghed him down, and since flying was his main mode of transportation it was a damn inconvience. He took the chair nearest to the fire, wrung out his sapphire hued hair, and wiated for the fire to do it's job. He was aware of the patrons of the tavern around him, and also aware of something very strange about the tavern. It was clean, as clean as any Tethe'alla gentleman's mansion, and the clientele seemed to be actually sober. With the way things were going in this world, with the world in it's continuous decay, that was a wonder to behold. And another wonder, no one was in arms, no one was protesting his presence, he made no secret of his pointed ears that marked him of upholding non-human heritage. Most other places his presence might well have started a riot.
Baffled he looked to the other tables, and he saw why no one was giving him problems of yet. Everyone was unarmed. He glanced at the door and flushed, there right in the open was a sign asking all patrons who were going to drink to leave there weapons in the box. Feeling like a prime fool Yuan realized that while it was policy for those be be inbewing intoxicating liquid it was custom for weapons to be left at the door by all the patrons. Men lingering around the bar as well as those supping on fish stew, they were all unarmed and by not doing so he was standing out.
Well what was the point, it would do him some good to draw some attention to himself, at least that's what Botta had said in his report.
"This man knows Kratos, I don't know the dynamic of there relationship nor it's depth, but he might have information. He's a blunt spoken, simple, man about 5'4". He's a blonde human going through the first stages of balding, sporting dark blue eyes and a sorry excuse of a beard. Scrawney, he'll look like a stick, and though he tried to dress like a common man he's got that sailor's walk to him like he's used to being at sea. He has three son's one daughter and the wife is pregnant..." Botta coughed. "My Goddess he's been busy..." Catching his superior's look of anger the Renegade comander flushed. "Sorry my lord, he owns a inn in Luin, it's more prosperous then the Phenoix, and it's located a half mile south east from the main fountain that glorifies Luin's lake. The mans name is Syt, his wife is Issa, and his children's names... are not listed, I guess the spies couldn't get the information Sir. To our knowledge the family's last name is the same as the husband's first but that's uncertain."
"When were they first seen in Kratos' company?"
"Before the incident in Falnoir Sir, after the Seraphim's pet killed a fisherman, they traveled together by boat and on land struck different paths after Kratos escorted the sailor and his family to Luin."
Significant, while Botta had thorugh nothing of it that last bit of information prayed on Yuan's mind. Kratos did not offer his survices as a mercenary freely, he'd even charged Martel, Mithos, and Yuan in the begining of thier journey together and that price had nearly bankrupted them. Yet from Botta's words Kratos had offered to protect the sailor and his family. The Kratos he knew wouldn't have done that, the old Kratos was cold, detatched, calculating, utterly unaprouchable, and only in it for the money or his honor. Yuan's lips curled a bit in disgust, Kratos was weakening himself, becoming attached to those around him, first a wife then a child and then... friends. The seraphim recalled long ago how Kratos had asked Martel's name, but not Mithos' or Yuan's. Infuriated Mithos had demanded to know why the human was snubbing them, Kratos' reply had been blood chilling.
"I owe Ms. Yggdrasil a debt of honor and I will repay it, to you I owe nothing. And really what's the point in learning your names? You'll all be dead in a month or two. If you are not killed by this fools quest you go on, or some random human or elf taken by blood frenzy, or by some starving animal, or by your own lack of wilderness lore, then maybe I'll take the pains to learn your names. Until then why bother? I have no skills as a stone cutter, and wood rots too swiftly to be a good marker for a grave, a pit in the woods is all you will get if you die in my presence. Pits do not need names scralwed upon them, they have no markers, and that's all your names would be to me."
Yet despite the cooling of the blood Kratos' words brought, the dispassion, there was a strength in Kratos. A calm detachment that had cooled the rightous anger of Mithos so that it would not hurt them, had allowed the man to fight on despite a multitude of wounds that Yuan sharing had scumbled to. Kratos was strong, his strength was his ability to distance himself, and he was weakening himself by making attachments. In that Mithos and Yaun shared the same stance. There was no point in reaching out anymore, for all that they loved was long dead, and if they opened themselves to love all they were asking for was more pain.
For those who lived forever all mortals that they came to know would only die.
Yuan grieved enough, greived for his wife, for his fallen blood brothers, that was enough for him, his heart could bear the wieght of no more tears. He lifted a hand, gestured for the human male who fit Botta's report to come and serve him. He made small talk, all the while gaging the man, reading that open face, and comming up with absolutely nothing. The man was either a master at hiding what he knew or the simple minded fool that he was acting.
Yet with everything on the line, with the lives of his family on the line what man could not become a great actor?
He sipped at the tea he ordered, watched the man go to his other patrons. He was surprised to see one of the regulars point to him and make a gesture suited for wringing the neck of a chicken, Yuan was even more surprised when Syt gave the man a hard look and told the man to leave. The seraphim nearly lost his teeth over that one. Coughing into his cup the blue haired half elf wondered if Syt knew what he was, or rather what he had been. He was even more startled when the human decided to sit with him, carrying over a mug more suited to ale then the drink it held. Recognizing the scent of tea, the same tea Yuan had been sipping, the seraphim rose an eyebrow. The human said nothing, took a pull form his mug and then set it down loudly on the table between them.
"You got a problem with m' drink your lordship?" Both of Yuan's eyebrows hopped up and tried to hide in his hair. "I know you, or I heard o' ya at least." The man took another draw, whiped at his face with the back of a sun worn hand. "And I be thinkin' you know o' me."
"I might." Yuan set his drink aside, stared at the human who fearlessly met his gaze. He was impressed, this man was brave to meet his gaze, very brave. Kratos it seemed, was finding brave human's under the ruins of a dying world these days like you'd find fleas on the back of a mongrel dog. "What I know of you is not important however, no one will hear of this unless you let matters slip on your end."
Syt chuckeled, his eyes glinting with a hint of steel, and it was Yuan who tensed, who's hand went to the comforting hilt of his sword and clenched.
"What your sayin' is that demon child ain't on your tail. That's good news, aye good news indeed." Syt dropped his voice so that Yuan had to strain over the crackles of the fireplace to hear every sylible. "Knowin' now what I know you best be tellin' me what you know... or fairy wings or not I'll still be beatin' the hell outta ya."
"You..." Yuan sputtered, it was the first time in over a milenia that any man dared to challenge him. "If I weren't here for Kratos' benifit I'd kill you."
"If ye weren't I'd be knifin' you, not havin' a sip and bite at yer table. What's your business man?"
"I'm looking for Kratos. He's in danger, Kvar did not die and he..." The look of pain in Syt's eyes made the seraphim lose his train of throught.
"You're really a drift aren't you? They know, he knows, and it seems I be havin' no choice. I'll tell you where he is, but only for a price."
Yuan frowned, pulled his bulging pouch with gald and threw it on the table between them, the human though did not look at it twice. The man's lips curled in disgust, then came the pained expression. A searing pained expression that those who have lost shards of thier souls wear. Without being told Yuan put the pouch back on his belt, he suddenly felt normal agian. He felt like the young half elf bravo he'd been when he first met Kratos, there was a measure of the human man Yuan had secretly admired in Syt's pained eyes.
"You don't be lettin' them take him back, don't let them make him into what he was."
Recalling Anna Yuan smiled slightly, trying to shake off the sense of forboding he laughed. It was forced, fell between the two of them and died in the gloom choked air. Amongst the coiled bodies of his laughter and Syt's pain Yuan forced the next words.
"Human from what I've seen of his wife she won't let that happen. She'll help him keep in the right direction."
"Aye, she would... if she could, you see lad." Syt's eyes gleamed, from his shattered facade of strength lay tears. In the cracks that marred those once smooth and impassive eyes lay enough water it seemed to fill all the dried up streams of the dying world. "The dead.. they can't be helpin' the livin' all that much. Aye they don't be helpin' us much at all."
Silence fell, Yuan dropped his facade of good humor and went very pale. Hsi hands clenched the mug, went white knuckled. Form somewhere he found his voice, though it came out so stragnely that it was as if his hands were clenched around his own throat and not a glass.
"Yon squint eyed demon did something to Anna... Turned her into a monster..." Syt drew out a shuddering breath. "To save his son and friend Noishe... Kratos had to kill her."
"Gods!" Yuan trembled, recalling the fierce love he had seen between the two in Falnoir, recalling the woman's pride and strength and that one moment when Mithos had tried to kill her the expression of hatred on Kratos' face. That love turned into an emptyness upon death, an emptyness that he was all too familier with, a knawing all devowering pit that prayed on the soul.
"That's not the worst of it... Lloyd... Noishe... they be dead as well." Syt took a deep breath, his hands shook. After years and years of being an angel, of dealing with others in the most impersonal manner Yuan was surprised by the human's strong emotions, and a little repulsed. "Mithos had a hand in thier deaths or so he be thinkin', he didn't talk too much bout it, I only heard what he said in his delirium and what the Misses managed to get him to talk about."
"Angels don't get ill." Yuan whispered, staring at the human numbly, unable to respond to the news that everything Kratos had loved was now dead. It was inevitable of course, humans died all the time, but still they had been special to Kratos. Kratos had -as much as a seraphim could- loved them, as did the tear eyed Syt if Yuan was any judge. "We... don't get sick, we don't bleed, eat, or do anything remotly conected to mortal life style."
"Really?" Syt whispered, his voice husky with unshead tears. "how little you know of it, how little you know. You'll be keepin' yer word?"
"If I can, I am not... I have little influence."
Syt lowered his head into his hands, stared at nothing in particualr for a long moment.
"If you break your word, iffin' he be what he was when he served that bastard Mithos, and we meet again... You never set a foot in Luin, or I'll kill you, kill you slow." Yuan nodded, taking the human very seriously. "He's in Welgaia, your damn holy city."
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Shivering Yuan gathered his power, he had called out long enough, the lack of response was making him panic. Lighting cracked around his fingers, he summoned orb after orb of crackling power, and the door didn't so much fall in as it shattered under the seraphim's onslaught. Picking his way through the pieces of steel he walked in the empty halls, all was dark, yet he needed no light to see. He found his way, found one door with a bit of light leaking out from under the Sylvarant stylized frame, and turned the handle. Seeing Kratos he stopped breathing. As long as Yuan had known the man Kratos was concious of his appearence, fastidious, and while not vain he had taken pains to look his best. Every lock that fell into his eyes, roused above his head like a porcipine's spike, all was planed and had a look of ordered chaos. Now he saw true chaos, say a rumpled unclean, tormented figure kneeling at an alter the gaze some strange trinket that Yuan could not spy. He saw an arm rise up, something long and metalic gleam red in the candle's light.
"No!" Yuan ran across the room, grabbed Kratos' arm before the knife plunged home. He tried to force the knife down, tried to smash Kratos' arm against the alter, and was thrown aside. He smashed into the floor, and the ground under him bit him. Cursing Yuan stood, silver notes rang out as he picked himself up, and he watched frozen as the knife descended... and shattered like glass cast against the earth. Silvered steel clanged against the alter, spilled down onto the floor.
A floor that was covered in bits of steel, glass, all of them broken, and that sound of bells that he had heard earlyer, he now knew. Tembling Yuan lifted his hands, staed at the blood that pooled from the small knicks and coated his glove in sticky red.
Angels don't bleed, we can't bleed...
They did, he did, in almost four thousand years he was bleeding.
"Kratos, please stop!" Yuan cried out seeing the man pick up another knife, the human's tunic was slashed and the flesh undernieth did not bleed. Yuan moved to tackle the human, beat him unconcious if neccisary, and froze as he stared at the item on the alter. A golden sheathed picture, small enough to sit in the palm of his hand, it lay in a pool of golden links. A woman, a man, and a child. A child, Kratos' son, Kratos' family...
Dead they were all dead.
The knife slid across wrist, a wrist whose fleash would not yeild to the blade, would not give Kratos a crimson solace.
Trembling the blue haired seraphim took one step back, another, fires of mortal fury pounding in his brain.
angels don't die...
Yggdrasil was right about that, they didn't die even when they wanted to it seemed.
Angels can not love...
In that Yggdrasil was wrong for what of grief, of lonelyness!
Look upon this, he wanted to screma at Mithos, tell me we are incapable of love!
"He will pay Kratos I swear it." yuan heard himself swear, as if from far away. "I'll make the bastard pay."
The knife shattered, steel clattered against a growing pile, another knife was taken up.
Unable to watch yet again Yuan turned, ran from that room, form that sight and those sounds. His mind seemed to seeth, writhe, twist in his fury. Mithos would pay for this, for this murder for doing this to Kratos. Anger, pure, and utterly mortal boiled him him. Snarling he shoved on of the lifeless beings out of his way and charged through the city of angels making his way as fast as his feet could cary him to the heart of Yggdrasil'stwisted kingdom.