Summary: Genis (apparently) runs away after a huge fight with Raine. Raine goes after him, hoping that Sheena's Mizuho Information Network can tell her where she is. Sheena reveals something startling, Mizuho is attacked by a half-elf named Kloitz who appears to have connections to Raine and Genis.
WARNING! There are major, and I mean MAJOR, spoilers inside of this fiction.
DOUBLE warning: All the chapters up to chaptereight ARE REALLY FREAKING SHORT. Just consider them one big chapter...
PAIRINGS (so far): Lloyd X Colette; One-sided Zelos X Lloyd; Sheena X Raine; Hints of Presea X Regal ; and Presea X Genis; Hints of Raine X Kate ; Sheena X Unknown Girl ; If you squint, you can almost say Zelos is paired with practically everyone in the story…Ah, yeah. So Read if you like unrealistic pairings, and review if you think it was OK. If it sucked, there are plenty of other stories you could be reading instead of flaming- but I have tough skin.
"Oh that- that fool!"
Raine Sage slammed her hand down on the desk, trembling with anger and misery. She clenched her teeth together and slowly began sinking down until her forehead was resting against the desk. Her eyes burned with rage at her brother, but mostly at herself. "That utter, utter fool," she muttered after a while, her temper reigned for the moment. Raine stood up straight and put her hands to her head, like someone trying to remember some lost tidbit of information. She stood like that for five minutes before turning away and to her kitchen, packing foodstuffs suitable for a journey. Shaking her head, she continued to talk to herself. Admonitions, half-conceived apologies, and all sorts of things she said in the darkness of the Inn room.
"He's such a smart boy," she said, wrapping up bread and cheese at a feverish pace. "Such a smart boy. Why would he do this? It's not like him."
She smoothed her hair and took a last look at the note left on the desk. After a moments thought, she snatched the hastily scrawled note up and jammed it into her pocket, tossing on her orange traveling garment as she rushed out the door, thinking of who she could ask to help her find a runaway half-elven boy.
Raine hovered just outside of Luin, where they had been staying for the past week or so, wondering just how she could get to one of the two places she needed to be. Triet had the fortune-teller woman, obviously. Raine had been skeptical of her at first but repeated accurate visions were leading her to believe that either the old woman was indeed a psychic or had some sort of agency working for her to relay information back and forth. But the way was long and dangerous across the desert. True, Raine was able to defend herself, but if she were to be ambushed by many enemies all at once when she was alone...
There was also Mizuho. Sheena, being the Chief's granddaughter, could certainly pull a few strings to help find Genis. Plus, Sheena was a friend and had proved herself a thousand-fold. She was one of those few who held the Professor's respect. But, of course, there was the Gaoracchia Forest to consider. Being a half-elf, Raine was at home in most forest settings but the Gaoracchia Forest was an exception. The place reeked, so to speak. Evil was there.
Honestly, Raine only wanted to go from town to town, teaching Genis along the way, spreading the word of half-elves. Maybe then she would travel again for pure study and leisure, but where to? The question often haunted her waking hours. She had done more than most humans did in their short life spans, and she was still barely a child in elven standards. She wondered if maybe the others felt the same way. Perhaps it was a form of withdrawals? What could top the feelings she had, the things she experienced on the journey to regenerate the world? ...It was mildly depressing.
Making up her mind, she set off at an even pace, her head held high as she headed for Mizuho. Just before Lloyd had left on his own personal journey about a year before, the journey to reclaim all ex-spheres, he had entrusted Noishe to Genis's care. Well, Genis had Noishe now and Raine had left her Rheiard to whichever of the seven other heroes wanted it. So she was left to walk the distance, glad that Mizuho had wound up close to Luin when the worlds had joined.
Raine walked with her staff out at the ready, her face grim as she kept her ears and eyes open for any remaining monsters. Hunting parties were often sent out to deal with them in troublesome areas, but certain places such at the Gaoracchia Forest and the area around the destroyed Toize Valley Mine were still rife with the bothersome creatures. And monsters bred like rabbits. One could try and wipe out an area and return the next day to find it in the same condition as before.
Raine heard a noise. Spinning around, she shot off a blast of light- "Photon!"- Right into the gnashing mandibles of a lunging giant spider. The monster fair exploded and Raine took a hurried step back, her noise wrinkling at the bubbling purple mess at her feet. "A shame I didn't have Lloyd to kill it cleanly so I could dissect it..." she found herself saying out loud, and then chuckled. She wondered where he was, then, and if she should have asked him if she could have come along. But it was obvious- Lloyd wanted to be with Colette on his journey, and even though he would have said yes if she had asked... She clicked her tongue, irritated at herself for getting lost in her thoughts in such a place. Raine looked around her and then turned again, trotting away from the mess before scavengers arrived. When she was a good distance away she slowed, wiping off beads of sweat from her forehead and looking around her again. She knew this place- she could see the port where Lloyd's Sorcerer's Ring could be changed into a flashlight. She had used her own light magic to work for her, but the sight of the strange device had a cheering effect. Maybe a day's more walking and she would be at Mizuho, and there she could take her real first step towards finding Genis.
Grinning and trotting once more to the crossroads, she tripped and fell flat on her face. Cursing her stupidity, she reached out to grab her staff but found she couldn't move. "What in the-" she started, jerking her arms and legs. Suddenly her entire body was lifted up and spun round and round and round. When it was done Raine looked up into the eight eyes of the largest, hairiest, hungriest spider she had ever seen, her arms and legs pinned with gooey webbing. She bit her lip to keep from screaming and stared back at the monster with large, frightened eyes. "Holy Lan-!" she started, but it was muffled by a well-aimed shot of webbing that slapped her in the face, blinding her, shutting her mouth, and covering her nose. But not her ears. She could hear the clicking mandibles get closer and hoped she would die of suffocation before the pain would get too bad, and then she heard the voice of an angel. An angel of Salvation.
"I call upon the servant of Mother Earth! Come, Gnome!"
There was a terrible ripping sound as the very earth reached up and swallowed the spider whole, dumping Raine onto the floor at Sheena Fujibayashi's feet. Sheena skillfully slashed the webbing from Raine's face with her enchanted cards, careful not to get her own fingers stuck. "Are you OK, Raine?" she asked as Raine gasped and gave sputtering coughs.
"Y-yes," Raine said when she had gotten over her initial delirious joy of being alive and being with a friend. "Yes- yes I'm fine. Thank you, Sheena."
"Don't mention it!" Sheena said with a bright smile, getting Raine free of the sticky mess with a few even slashes of her Gates of Hell cards. "You're lucky I got restless and decided to smash some monsters up in the Forest."
Raine started to nod and stretch her arms when she suddenly sat up straight and grabbed Sheena by the shoulders, remembering why she was here in the first place. "Sheena!" she said, "It's Genis. We were- never mind. The point is, he ran away and I need your help."
"Genis ran away?" Sheena asked, incredulous. "Why? He gets a little hot-headed sometimes but he's usually pretty reasonable. That doesn't sound like him."
"I know," Raine said miserably, letting Sheena go. She glared at the weed-entangled floor of the forest.
"Do you think," Raine said, "That the people of Mizuho could find where he is right now? Or if..." she trailed off, not sure how to say what was on her mind. She rubbed her temple. "Perhaps... he was taken somewhere?"
"Um, sure," Sheena said. "We find people all the time. Hold up; let's get out of this place first. It's still dangerous here, even for us. C'mon Raine." Sheena tossed Raine her staff and Raine caught it, getting up and trying to dust all of the dirt and remaining, dried-up webbing. She nodded to Sheena, putting a hand and sighing, thanking her lucky stars that she had gotten out alive. Then, glancing over their shoulders the whole way, they walked out of the Forest of Death and were on their way to Mizuho.
:A/N: Soon to come... the REAL reason you're reading this fic... A Bikini Party at Zelos's Mansion! And our two (as of now) unknowing victims were not invited. Nyah.