Prisoner of War
Summary: (AU) For centuries, Mizuho and Iselia lived peacefully together, hidden away from the warring states. However, when Sheena fails to make a pact with Volt, many are killed and the location of their villages is exposed. Meltokio, the current powerhouse of the world, seizes the villages and takes the survivors as slaves. Except for Sheena, who Zelos must take as his bride.
Spoilers: Very small spoilers, if any.
A/N: There are changes to the setting I need to make clear before the story starts:
Ages: Lloyd 17, Sheena 18, Genis 13, Raine 23, Zelos 21.
Location: Where Mizuho is currently; Iselia and Mizuho are adjacent to each other, connected by a forest separate from Gaorrachia forest.
The world is one.
"Lloyd? Lloyd! Lloyd Irving, wake up!" Raine commanded as she proceeded to chuck a chalk eraser at him, hitting him square in the face.
He woke with a jolt, spilling the bucket of water he held in each hand. He made a startled effort to catch the buckets, but failed, slipped and ultimately fell face first into the puddle beneath him.
While the rest of the class got a good laugh at his misfortune, Professor Raine could only sigh with exasperation. "Honestly, I don't know how you manage to sleep standing up... Well, whatever. Go outside and dry yourself off. Genis, go get the mop and clean up would you? Just grab it through the hole in the wall..."
The excess was just distant classroom chatter as he exited the schoolhouse. Taking a few steps out into the bright sunlight, he squinted and held his hand over his eyes. With the warm afternoon sun, he would surely be dry in no time. Within the same timeframe though, school would be over. So what was the point of hanging around here?
Just to be safe however, he glanced back through the classroom window; Raine was turned to the board writing something he'd probably never comprehend. Genis was coming to the back, mop in hand, grumbling. Lloyd laughed teasingly at his friend but fled like the wind when the half-elf caught whiff of him.
As the boundaries of his village came into view, he slowed to a casual stroll. Quicker than the borders came a bounding white and green mass of protozoan. He turned to run. But it was too late. Within no time, Noishe had him pinned on his back at the mercy of the dog's slavering tongue.
"Noishe—agh, get offa me!" Lloyd commanded fruitlessly between the slobbery harassments. "Nooishe!—"
But Noishe was relentless. In advancing though he became careless, and Lloyd managed to free one feeble arm, all he needed to overthrow his hulking opponent. He placed his hand on a spot adjacent to a misplaced green speckle on the protozoan's side and began to scratch expertly.
A wave of unexpected pleasure swept over Noishe. He ceased his licking to instead express his contentment. Matching his brush, his right back leg suffered from sheer bliss caused spasms.
Another limb freed, he used it to successfully coax the dazed protozoan onto the ground where he rubbed his belly, laughing manically. "Haha, not so high and mighty now are ya?" His laughter was promptly cut short as a flying pebble struck him in the head. It was Sheena.
"Raine let your guys out early?" she questioned as she hopped down from her perch on the fence.
He grinned, rubbing the back of his head. "Uh, yeah. You could say that..."
"So 'no', huh?"
"No, yes. No, no—I mean yes, err—" he groaned in frustration. He smiled and shook the thought away, "Oh, nevermind. So, what'd you come here for? I was actually just on the way to visit you..."
Something uncharacteristic briefly flickered in her chocolate eyes—nervousness? Embarassment? Fear?—but was gone the instant she spoke. "Oh, I wanted to show you something; it couldn't wait."
He raised his eyebrows in slight surprise. "Really? Well, if it can't wait, then let's go." He said, standing up assertively. Noishe rolled onto his stomach and growled in disappointment. Halfheartedly, he pulled himself up onto his paws and followed the two out of the village.
They uneventfully trekked halfway through the forest that connected their villages, but it wasn't fit to last. Veering left from the wagon path, she pushed a sapling aside to reveal a smaller, more natural pathway. The bushes lining the dirt trail seemed to shiver artificially. Just as they approached the shrubbery, rabid rabbits lunged out, aiming at the ninja with a blind blood lust.
Aberrantly, Sheena shrieked and jumped aside from the blood thirsty, pearly furballs. Though moderately disturbed by her sudden eccentric outburst, he managed to take out said creatures in good time. After scuffling through their dismantled remains, Lloyd looked perplexed at her. "...What was that?"
Sheena just crossed her arms and turned away. "I got startled. Is there a sin in that?" she snapped.
"C'mon," she mumbled, "It's only a bit further from here..." He just shrugged and tailed her vigilantly.
A few minutes passed before Sheena stopped at an outsized clearing located on a large hill overlooking both of their villages. "...Is this it...?" Lloyd asked quietly and in a cautious tone. She bit her lower lip and surveyed the area with an invisible trace of apprehension. "I lied..." she finally admitted, turning back to him with an almost sad smile.
He blinked, "Huh? About what?"
She shifted about uneasily. ""I... I know this isn't like me, but—"
"You haven't been 'like you' since—"
"—I brought you up here because—"
"—they assigned you to—"
"—I'm scared of tomorrow."
He ceased his end of the conversation and softly repeated, "Of tomorrow?"
"Yeah," she walked a few paces ahead and sat down in the plush grass, then motioned for him to join her. He complied, lightly leaning on Noishe who had lain down behind them. "The pact with Volt—something's bound to happen, I know it."
"Of course something's going to happen," he said, experimentally wrapping his arm around her; she took it as a comforting gesture and let it happen. "You're gonna succeed in making the pact with Volt and everything's going to be fine."
"You don't know that, Lloyd." she whispered fearfully. He just drew her closer. "Okay, so I don't know that everything will be fine," his voice became firm with sincerity as he went on, "But I do know this: The more you dwell upon something that might happen, the more real it becomes. Once you've accepted it as what will happen, then it will, regardless of what you say or do."
There was a long pause between them before Lloyd spoke again. "...Remember the incident three years ago?"
Sheena internally flinched; she hated it when he brought this up. "When Meltokio almost found us out?"
He nodded solemnly, "Yeah. It just happened to be my family's turn to live in the decoy village just in case of an attack. Of course, nobody really thought anything of it because the last attack was over a hundred years ago. So naturally we went without suspicion.
"It was the third day we were there that Meltokio launched their attack. Mom had shaken me awake and told me that there were foreign soldiers at the gate and that Dad, as well as many other of the militiamen for the village, were already entangled in battle. As soon as I had gotten my stuff together, the whole house shook as their army tried to bust through the door. I wanted to take them on, but instead we fled through the back window.
"It was then we realized the sky wasn't illuminated by the sun, but by a huge comet of mana hurtling towards us. It was unlike anything any of us had ever seen before. While we still had time, we ran to the teleportation dock. She urged me to go, telling me I had to so that no one else would be sent to their deaths, but I was stupid and refused to leave without her. The comet was only a few meters from the earth when she pushed me onto the teleporter.
"As soon as I arrived back here, Mom's dagger appeared and the teleporter shattered. Everyone around was in awe at the huge explosion to the northeast of us; they didn't know what had happened..."
"Lloyd," Sheena cut in gently, "You don't have to bring this up. Nobody could've predicted that would've happened, and even if they could, they wouldn't have been able to change the outcome..."
He looked up; the sky over them was slowly fading into wondrous hues of pink and orange as the stars meekly twinkled aside the rising moon's grace. "I know," he sighed, "But the day before, I kept thinking about what would happen if we were to be attacked and the only ending I could think of was that we'd all die one way or another."
Skepticism was the only thing she could fell at the moment, but kept that to herself. "So you think that if you had been thinking differently that day, that things wouldn't have turned out the way they did?"
"...No, but it would certainly make it a bit easier to deal with..." he murmured, absently fiddling with Noishe's fur in his free hand.
She looked at him queerly. "Um, sorry, but that doesn't exactly go with what you were telling me earlier."
He frowned in thought, but quickly ceased and grinned idiotically. There was only so long he could maintain an intelligible façade before it blew up in his face. "Maybe not, but I've got your mind off of tomorrow though, haven't I?"
There was a momentary silence, before Lloyd interjected again, "Oh come on, tomorrow's just another day, and no matter how dreadful it may turn out to be, there'll always be an end somewhere along the road."
She rolled her eyes at his hardcore optimism; it was catchy. "You really think so? Even if—"
"Yup," he answered confidently. "That's what I told myself three years ago: that sooner or later I wouldn't be pained by it. It works for me."
Overhead, the stars began to peek out and glimmer as a rich navy blue replaced the melting colors of the sunset. The moon seemed to be made of the purest silver as it single-handedly illuminated the sky, leaving it dark enough only to grace the entourage of stars. Everything so calm and tranquil, so in nature there was no way she couldn't believe him.
...And even if she could, she would believe him regardless. She trusted him, and his word. "It will all be over sometime, won't it?"
He didn't answer; that was okay. She didn't need a reply to know the truth.
"Good Morning, Miss Summoner."
"Shut it, Kuchinawa." Growled Sheena as she buried her head between her legs. She sat tucked against the side of the creaky wooden boat, though in reality, it was hardly even passable as a canoe. It was the only thing they had that wouldn't sink like a rock.
He just laughed, "Looks like somebody isn't a morning per... son..." As if on cue, he paled and covered his mouth, blurting something around the lines of, "Oh Goddess...!" before tearing across the boat and over to a side. Everyone on board cried out in a startled panic, grabbing onto something—or in a few cases, someone—as the small craft threatened to over turn.
"Looks like somebody hasn't gotten their sea bearings." She grumbled mockingly.
"If he ever had them, "Orochi commented, "I think he just lost them in that round of—Aeew, I can't look!"
All aboard made some sort of disgusted sound, while the oarsmen at the front just rolled his eyes and muttered something foul—so much so, it was punishable by jail time, even—and cursed the naivety of the younger generation.
Sheena sighed and tried to listen to the sound of the waves over Kuchinawa's retching. He was right though, she really was not a morning person—contrary to her entire village. Just another reason she considered herself an outcast...
She jumped when she felt a pounding from inside the box full of medicinal remedies next to her. Intrigued more than frightened, she cautiously opened the lid and looked inside: crammed full of gels, panacea bottles, anti-magic bottles, holy bottles, flare bottles, verbena—just about everything under the sun. She was about to close the lid when suddenly a hand reached out of the pile and grabbed her wrist.
She held back a scream, instead pulling with all her might on the arm. Supplies went flying as she managed to unearth a very dazed Lloyd from the box, who landed with a relatively soft thud next to her. Despite the disturbances on the boat, the other pushed it aside as Kuchinawa and continued with their duties.
"Lloyd!" she hissed, half distressed, half relieved. "What the hell are you doing here?"
He sat up and rubbed his aching temple, "Man, for a girl, you've got one hell of an arm!"
With almost unnatural speed and stillness, she smacked a hand over his mouth. "Quiet! Do you know what they'll do if they find you here?"
Even behind her hand, he managed a stupid grin. "Fuhat'llf they do, fro me oferboard?" He looked into her eyes, and his smile instantly faded. They were filled with fear and genuine concern. "Fuhat's wiff zoze eyes?"
"How can you say that!" So stupid! She was about ready to slap him. "Now that you're here, you're at risk too!"
He placed his hand on hers, "Cfould I not schpeak zroo your hfand, please?" Hand removed, he spoke clearly and definitively. "Sheena, I've been at risk ever since I was born; we all have! I fully realize the situation at hand and I know that we could all perish from this, but that's why I'm here. I'm here to make sure that doesn't happen—to you, anyway."
She considerably softened, "Lloyd..."
"Look, dead ahead! There it is, the Temple of Lightning!" the oarsmen called out, pointing to a large structure on a moderately small island. It was tall and covered thickly in moss and other plant life, giving a fascia of serenity. Nearing it though, explosions of thunder could be heard raging within.
Sheena turned back to him, "Okay, as soon as we dock, you're staying on the boat."
"You can't make me stay!" he retaliated. "I respect you and all, but I want to be there when you make the pact with Volt."
"And what if I don't!" You want to be there when we're all fried to a crisp!"
"No, I want to be there to protect you!"
By this time their shouting match had grown quite a bit in volume and they found the entire crew—except for Kuchinawa, he was still sick—almost leaning over their shoulders to listen in on their squabble. She stopped to glare at them, "Don't you have jobs to be doing?" They straightened and resumed their work.
"Not to get on your bad side or anything, Sheena," one of the crew said while sorting out emergency supplies. "But I think it would be better if you brought him with us. I mean, the waves are angry today; who knows where they might sweep this little dinghy. If he were to stay on land, the beasts are also just as dangerous. I wouldn't like the odds of a one versus all, myself..."
"Yeah, Sheena!" another chirped, "Take a helping hand for once!"
She didn't even need to look over at Lloyd to know he was wearing a triumphant grin. "Fine, fine. You don't have to gang up on me, geez..."
Seeing as I now have two, technically four, multi-chaptered stories begging to be updated, I've got to make priorities. Sealed Fates comes first; I started it first, thus I will end it first. That, and these chapters will be longer (at least 2,500 words, more than double my usual minimum).
Now that this is off my chest, expect an update for Sealed Fates within the next couples days... hopefully.