Baelfael: I am ashamed of myself. This is taking me forever to complete. However, and this is no excuse for my poor progress or speed of said progress, it always takes me forever to finish Sylvarant on the game itself. It shouldn't surprise me in the least that it's taking me this long. Anyway, things will definitely pick up at the Tower of Salvation, so please put up with me until then.

Oh, and no one probably cares, but my surgery is finally done. 21 months of recovery, when it only should have took 3. Never get a Pilonidal cyst. Ever.

Oh, and uh, I don't own anything except the two games.


Chapter 12 : The Beast : Aeolus


Light pierced easily through the wrecked building and shined over Lloyd's eyes. Wincing, he slowly peeked through his eyelids directly into the light. He screwed his eyes shut again and turned over into the shade, opening his eyes easier this time. He listened to the wildlife as he gained his bearings.

Ah, yeah, that's right. It was raining, and Leon took us here for shelter.

Lloyd sat up and looked around. Raine and Genis were propped up against the wall, in what Lloyd believed was supposed to be the kitchen. Leon was laying on his back in the middle of the floor, a blanket over him. Kratos was nowhere to be found, most likely scouting the area.

And Colette...

Lloyd stood up from the doorway and stretched. He walked over to the stairs at the far right of the wreckage and climbed up them. Stopping at the door on the immediate left, he breathed in, and relaxed as he exhaled. He brought his hand up and knocked on the door twice.

KNOCK, KNOCK.

"Ah, yes! Be right there!"

Lloyd heard a squeak from the bed and footsteps coming toward the door. Then he heard a creak.

"Wah!"

And then the predicted THUMP as she landed on the wooden floor.

"Colette!" Lloyd, in a panic, opened the door and rushed inside, only to stop in his tracks a few steps after.

Colette, being the klutz she is, got mixed around in the bed sheets and ended up unconsciously dragging them with her as she was walking toward the door. She stepped on the sheets at her feet, stumbled, and fell down. Now she was flat down on the ground, her feet sticking up behind her and covered with the sheets. She looked up at Lloyd from the floor.

Both of them stared at each other for a little while, unsure of what to say. Then, the ridiculous scene finally got to Lloyd and forced him to hold his hand over his mouth and snort back a giggle, then again, and then he wasn't able to hold back. "Ha ha ha ha!" Lloyd laughed out behind his palms at his best friend, silently hoping she wouldn't be offended.

He was rewarded with some giggling from below, Colette wearing a smile as she did so. Both of them laughed for a while. Lloyd, wiping some tears away from his eyes, walked over and held his hand out for Colette. She took it thankfully, being helped up by Lloyd. "Thanks, Lloyd."

"No problem." He answered. "Let's get everyone up. It shouldn't take long to get to Hakonesia Peak."

"Yeah." Colette answered, not really paying attention. "Um... Lloyd?"

"What is it?"

He noticed her odd colored face as she continued. "Can I have my hand back now?"

Lloyd had a blank look for a moment before he looked down and saw that Colette's hand was still wrapped in his own gloved ones.

His eyes widened and he felt his face heating up like hers. He immediately jerked his hand away and quietly apologized. "Uh... sorry about that."

Colette, despite her embarrassment, shook her head and smiled at the boy. "No, it's ok. Your hand is very warm; I like it." Then she seemed to realize what she just said and reddened further.

Lloyd, who was slightly confused by what she just said, shook his head to rid himself of his red cheeks. "Uh, I'll go wake everyone up. See ya!" Lloyd bolted out of the room and down the stairs, leaving Colette with her hand frozen in the air.

Colette let her gaze drop down to her hand. She slowly smiled and brought it towards her chest, holding it in her other hand and savoring the warmth.


All of the Chosen's Group gathered outside the ruined house. Kratos returned, saying that there were no monsters present in the forest, signaling an easy and relaxing stroll for once. They exited the forest without any trouble and immediately set out for Koton's house.

Leon stopped in front of the house and turned around to face everybody. "Let me handle this."

Genis cocked his head. "Leon? Are you sure?"

Leon shrugged. "Well, I do have to apologize for taking the wagon without asking. And I do know him longer than any of you." He walked towards the house. "I'll be out in a couple." Leon opened the door and closed it behind him.

Everyone looked on as silence loomed over the house.

Colette looked back to everybody. "I think Leon's really sorry for what he did."

Lloyd looked at the door questionably. "You think?"

"Maybe..." Raine muttered, still looking at the house.

"YOU OLD FART!"

Everyone was alarmed at the sudden shout, realising it was Leon's voice.

"WHO ARE YOU CALLING OLD, CYCLOPS?!"

Everyone sweat-dropped.

"I HAVE A BETTER EYE THAN YOU DO, YOU PERV!"

"PERV!? AT LEAST I HAVE AN INTEREST IN WOMAN, PREPUBESCENT!"

"...They're fighting." Lloyd pointed out, quite aware he didn't have to.

Colette was panicking. "O-Oh no! We should stop them!"

Genis shook his head. "No... this isn't something we should interfere in..."

"..." Kratos remained silent.

"TIGHT WAD!"

"BRAT!"

"ANCIENT!"

"WHIPPER-SNAPPER!"

Amazingly, this continued on for quite a while. The curses even escalated from there.

Suddenly, the front door burst open, and Leon stalked out with a grumpy expression. Noticing the attention from his teammates, Leon stared back and replied simply with "we're on speaking terms now."

Everyone sweat-dropped and silently walked into the house. Lloyd produced the Spiritua statue from the bag on his back and held it up for Koton to inspect.

Koton, who was just as grumpy as Leon earlier, was now ecstatic from the figurine. "Oh! This is indeed the Spiritua Statue! Give it to me!"

Lloyd held it up a bit, preventing Kotons hand from reaching it. "In exchange for the Book of Regeneration."

Koton rolled his eyes. "I know, I know. Just be sure you remember, I'm only letting you look at it."

"Told you so." Leon grumbled from behind the group.

Lloyd sighed and handed the statue over to Koton. The old man grinned from his new acquirement. "Ah, wonderful!" He turned around and placed it on a podium behind him. He turned around and had a... almost friendly look on his face. "Now, you may look at the Book of Regeneration as much as you like."

Genis cheered. "All right!"

Raine's eyes gleamed. "Let's start reading it right away."

Both Colette and Raine walked over and stood in front of the book. They flipped it open and several characters came off the pages and floated around it.

Raine studied the spectacle for a while, reading over the characters. "Hmm. It's written in a very old style."

"What does it say?" Lloyd asked from the back.

"There's quite a lot of text." Raine said, fully engrossed in the book. She turned her head. "Colette, please read aloud just the parts that concern the seals."

She nodded. "Okay. I'll skip over the torn parts." Colette looked at the words on the pages carefully, taking in every detail. Leon hadn't seen her with such a composed look before. She closed her eyes for a moment before opening them again and reading on. "Raging flames in an ancient city deep within clouds of sand overlook the city, lighting the darkness. Pure, flowing water floating, overflowing, in an isolated land becomes a pillar and rains down from the sky."

So, those are the first to seals we've broken. Fire and Water. Leon thought. Now we should concentrate on the next ones.

"Sublime wind, ancient city, the world's..." Colette's voice died down as she flipped the page. "Enshrined in the center of a giant stone seal lurks evil, impersonating a holy force. Shining... gazing up at the summit of the gods, giving praise to the pillar of the world ...from the top of the tower of ancient gods." She paused for breath and tried to continue. "Two giant..." but she stopped suddenly and shook her head. "...The rest is too damaged. I can't read it..."

Raine and Colette turned around and faced the rest of the group. They all were thinking deeply. "Then we don't even know how many seals are left." Genis pointed out.

Kratos sighed. "Indeed..."

"The 'raging flames' part at the beginning must be the Seal of Fire, right?" Lloyd said. "What do the other parts mean?"

"Well, we already know the Thoda Geyser was the Seal of Water." Leon spoke, sitting on the bed. "It matches up with 'a pillar and rains down from the sky'."

"The Seal of Wind must be... the Asgard ruin." Raine concluded. "If we travel to Asgard, we should be able to find some clues."

"What about 'gazing up at the summit of the gods'?" Genis asked.

"I think that's probably the Tower of Mana." Colette suggested. "From there, you can see the mountains around the Tower of Salvation, so that's probably the summit of the gods."

"But what seal is that?" Lloyd asked.

"...Uh...hmm... I don't know." Colette answered simply.

Lloyd shrugged. "...Oh, well." Lloyd looked around at everyone. "At any rate, we know where the seals are now. Let's get going." Everyone nodded and walked to the door. Lloyd turned to Koton. "Thanks, gramps."

Colette bowed to him. "Thank you so much."

Koton smiled and nodded. "Come back whenever you like if you want to look at it again."

Leon shrugged and sent the man a cocky grin. "See ya, Old Timer."

Koton scoffed at him. "You, I could care less about." But there was a hint of a smile on his face as Leon turned around and left the house.


(Z-Skit : Never-ending Tower)

"Hey, Leon!" Genis called over Leon to the edge of the hill next to Koton's house.

"Yeah, what is it?" Leon muttered offhandedly.

"Can you see the end of the Tower of Salvation?" Genis asked. Leon shrugged and looked closely at it. He squinted his eye for a good long minute before he closed it and sighed.

"Nope. I can't from here, nor anywhere." Leon looked down at the elf. "Why'd you call me over to do this? In case you haven't noticed, I'm a little lacking in viewing perspective."

"Well, I've always read that anyone who loses a sense gets their other ones boosted, for compensation." Genis explained. Raine walked up to the two of them. "I thought that since you were missing an eye, you'd be able to see further than us. Isn't that right, Sis?"

"Yes, it is. Although I doubt it would be enough to see the end of the Tower of Salvation."

"But Genis, I'm only half-blind. I don't think the same rules apply." Leon replied. "And even if that's true, wouldn't that mean I'd have to lose a different sense to boost my sight?"

Genis' eyes widened. "Oh... yeah. I guess I didn't think of it that way."

"Genis." Raine sternly looked at her younger brother. "I think you've spent enough time around Lloyd. Once we're in Asgard, it's off to studying, young man."


"Umm... guys? Why aren't we moving?" Leon asked the group, who was simply standing in front of Koton's house again, not making any movement.

"Well, we're trying to figure out how we can get to the rest of the continent." Raine replied, with a finger on her forehead in thought.

"So, why don't we just walk through there?" Leon pointed at the road leading over the small mountain, guarded by two Palmacostain soldiers.

"Because we don't have a pass, Leon." Lloyd pointed out.

"Oh, that's what you're worried about?" Leon searched his pocket and brought out a small piece of paper. "Tada!"

Everyone looked at it. It was a pass, stamped from Koton and was signed with Leon's name, albeit messily. "Leon, you have a pass?" Genis asked.

Leon scoffed at the question. "Of course I do. I wouldn't have been able to travel the world if I didn't."

"But these things are crazy expensive!" Lloyd exclaimed. "How could you afford it!?"

"Oh, that's easy." Leon laughed as he recalled how he received it. "I brought another relic to trade with Koton. Only, he didn't have any money on him at the time. With some bargaining, I ended up trading the relic for the pass."

The looks he received were not of praise. "...So in other words, you've always been like this." Genis muttered.

"In any case, this means we can move on." Kratos spoke as he walked toward the gate. Everyone followed him through as Leon flashed the pass to the guards. As they exited Hakonesia Peak, it was only a short walk before they arrived in Asgard.


"Welcome to Asgard, the only city where you'll find untouched ruins, buildings made out of ruins, and three inns all in the same city!" Leon introduced the town dramatically. Everyone looked around the town, some more excited than others. Asgard was, in essence, a bunch of ruins next to a cliff where people lived. There were several wooden houses, but most of the residents lived in the ruins at the far side of the city.

"Leon!" Raine suddenly boomed.

"Y-yes Ma'm?" was his weak reply.

"You've been to this city, have you not?" Leon lightly nodded, feeling very frightened all of a sudden. "Good. Take us to the Stage Ruins immediately!"

"...Uh, sure."


Leon brought the group to the stairs and let Raine fly up them, not even pausing for breath.

"Oh! It's the Asgard Ruins!" Raine exclaimed as she looked upon it. It was a large, rectangular stage made of rock, with a large circular symbol in the middle and several cracks along the edges. Four statues stood at the corners of the stage, each made to resemble a fairy, or something along those lines. Raine turned around and faced her pupils. "Lloyd, state the historical background of this ruin."

Lloyd, caught off guard, stammered. "Ah, um, well, let's see..." But he didn't get any further than that.

Genis decided to do it. "It's the temple where Cleo III held a ritual to offer a sacrifice to the Summon Spirit of Wind in order to quell a storm that had raged for a week."

Lloyd wagged his index finger forward. "...That's it."

Raine outright groaned at him. "Have you learned anything at all the past five years?!"

Lloyd, who took the question seriously, started counting fingers. "P.E. and Art and--"

"Never mind!" Raine sighed quickly and turned back around to the stage. Her eyes lit up as she started to feel the surface of the ruin. "What perfect form! This delicate curve is said to express the flight of the Summon Spirit of Wind through the sky. In addition, it is said that this stone is infused with a large volume of mana, and at night..."

Leon and Lloyd looked on as Raine gave her sermon to Genis and Colette, both of who were paying close attention. Kratos walked off to the side and looked at the vast plains beyond. Leon turned to Lloyd. "This sounds like it's going to take a while."

"It will, trust me."

...

...

...

"You wanna go behind the ruins and punch ourselves silly?"

"Anything would be better than listening to this. Let's do it."

Both of the boys thus walked around. None of the others noticed the two creeping alongside the stage. But, when they were about to turn the other corner...

"Listen, Linar! This is my invention, the 'breaker.'"

Both of them instantly ducked behind the corner and peeked out. Leon, because he was used to doing it. Lloyd, because Leon dragged him back with him.

They saw two men, only a little older than they are. One had red hair under a bandana and short open type clothes. He also had pointy ears. The other had short, midnight blue hair and was wearing glasses. The bandana man continued talking. "If we use this bomb, we can easily destroy this confounded dais."

Linar, the nerdy-looking man, squirmed. "B...but Harley... This is a rare and valuable remnant of the Balacruf Dynasty," he reasoned. "We can't destroy it..."

Harley growled, barring his teeth. "What are you talking about? As things stand now, Aisha may be killed!"

"What are you two doing?" Lloyd finally spoke out, walking from behind the wall. Leon shrugged and followed him.

Both men were surprised at the sudden intrusion. "Wha... Who are you two?" Harley demanded.

Leon looked between them. A wooden crate sat there with a mechanical gadget on top of it. "Hey, Red. What's this thing?" he asked as he pointed at it.

Lloyd lowered himself and inspected it. "It's a bomb..." He looked at Harley, who simply scoffed, and then at Linar.

"It's not what you think!" Who, apparently, wasn't very good at the guilt game. His voice came out louder than he intended. "We weren't trying to destroy the ruin at all!"

Which, unfortunately for them, alerted Raine, lover of all ruins. She jumped on to the stage and bolted across, stopping at the other side. "...What did you just say?!"

Linar and Harley looked up behind them and stood shocked. Lloyd looked up too, although not as surprised. "Professor, these guys said they're planning to destroy this stage."

Raine twitched and jumped down. "And you call yourselves human beings?!" Instantly, she delivered her boot to Harley's stomach, sending him down backwards. Then, without missing a beat, turns around and does the same to Linar, although he topples over forward instead.

"Ouch." Leon and Lloyd winced.

Harley got up, holding his stomach as he did. "I am a half-elf." he tried to correct her.

But she didn't care. "...What has that got to do with anything?"

Then, she produced her staff from behind her back for whatever reason and waved it toward the ruin. "You have no idea of the importance of this ruin!"

However, she unknowingly hit the switch for the bomb, something the other four noticed immediately. "Uh-oh." they all managed to squeak out.

"You say you're going to destroy this fabulous ruin? Now listen. During the final era of the Balacruf Dynasty, this ruin was--"

"...Professor..." Lloyd interrupted.

"What?" Raine wasn't really paying attention to them. "If you have any questions, I'll take them after the lecture."

"The bomb turned on." he finished.

"I said if you have questions, I'll take them la--" Then her mind processed what her pupil just said. She looked down at it and finally started to hear the ticking. "...What?"

"Woman!" Harley started. "You flipped the switch!"

Raine, out of reflex, turned around and kicked him again. "Don't try to put the blame on someone else!"

"That doesn't matter now! Where's the disarm switch?!" Lloyd demanded, pointing at it.

"There isn't one! It's on a timer!" Harley explained, standing up again.

"A count-down timer!?" Leon asked, nearly hysterical.

"No, a count-up timer. It goes from one, to explode!" Harley answered sarcastically. "Of course a count-down timer, you idiot!"

Once again, he was kicked to the ground. "Don't talk to my pupils that way!" Raine hollered.

Lloyd groaned and looked at the bomb. "I guess I'll just have to disarm it myself." Lloyd brought out a toolbox from his pocket and produced some tweezers and scissors.

A short while afterward...

"Hey, you're pretty good to be able to stop the uncontrollable 'breaker'." Harley said, impressed by the boys skills.

Lloyd simply grumbled. "Don't go around building stuff you can't control!"

Raine looked at the stage. "...The ruin seems to be unharmed."

"Yeah, Martel forbid the stage gets blown up." Leon mutters sarcastically. "It can be repaired. But not us. That's what we should be worried about. The repairable stage."

All of them suddenly heard a voice from the other side of the stage. "You there! Trespassing in this area is forbidden!"

Linar and Harley instantly started to sweat. "Oh no, it's the mayor!" Linar whispered.

"Uh-oh. Run!" Harley grabbed onto Linar's hand and practically dragged him away with him.

"Professor! This looks like trouble!" Lloyd grabbed Raine by the shoulders, who was still absorbed by the ruin. "Let's just get out of here!"

Raine finally turned to her pupil. "But I haven't had time to study the structure of the--"

"No time! Let's get out of here!" Leon whispered, and made a vanishing act. Raine finally submitted and let Lloyd drag her away. She sighed. "I wanted to study it more...."


Lloyd, Raine and Leon huffed near the stairs as they caught up to the rest of the group. "Who were those two?" Lloyd wondered.

Leon shook his head. "No idea..."

"I wonder why they wanted to destroy the ruin?" Colette asked innocently.

"Yes, the ruin!" Raine surged with power once again. "We have to stop them from engaging in such foolish acts like trying to destroy a ruin." This time, she grabbed Lloyd's wrist. "Let's go, Lloyd."

He could do nothing but sputter as he was dragged along.

It didn't take long for them to find their house. They asked around and everyone said the same thing. 'The house with a lot of fans on the roof.' Barging in, Raine finally dropped Lloyd. He rubbed his wrist and stood up.

Inside were Harley and Linar, but there was also a woman there as well. She had the same hair color as Linar, only hers was longer. She also had the same posture as him, and was just as relaxed.

Harley scowled. "You're those tourists from earlier!"

"I am a scholar." Raine corrected him.

But he didn't really care. "Whatever. Get out!"

Didn't the opposite thing just happen a few minutes ago? Leon wondered.

"Harley, stop it. This is my house." The woman's voice was soft, but firm. She turned to the group. "I understand that you were the ones that stopped Harley and my brother. Thank you."

"I'm not sure 'stopped' is the best way to put it." Kratos said, looking at the two boys.

"They got in our way," Harley grumbled.

The woman turned to him again. "It doesn't matter what you call it! The point is, the people of this city are the ones that would suffer if that ruin was destroyed."

Harley turned around to argue, although he wasn't as stern. "But as things are now, you're going to be sacrificed!"

"Sacrificed?" Lloyd repeated.

Linar piped up. "It's a ritual in honor of the Summon Spirit of Wind. Aisha was chosen for it. Originally, the ritual consisted of just dancing on the stone platform, but--&"

He was interupted by Harley. "This idiot," he motioned towards Linar, "started meddling with the stone dais as part of his research and opened the seal." He glared at his friend as he continued. "Because of that, that Summon Spirit of Wind-thing awoke and is demanding sacrifices."

Everyone looked at him after he spoke 'seal'. "The seal? Do you mean..." Raine pondered.

"What?! The seal?" Colette looked between the two scholars.

"Yes!" Linar nodded excitedly. "If you, too, are researching the Balacruf ruins, then you must be aware of the altar erected in praise of the Summon Spirit of Wind. The seal really existed, just as the legend said!"

Raines eyes glittered as much as Linar's. "Are you saying that the Balacruf Pillar hieroglyphics are not just a myth?!"

Everyone looked between the two and was obviously confused, even Genis. Leon spoke. "Um, I don't really follow these two, but it sounds like the stage is only a tribute."

Lloyd nodded. "It sounds like this isn't the seal we're looking for."

Genis looked at his sister. "Raine... Aren't you forgetting why we're on this journey?"

"Well, it's all right..." Kratos spoke from the other end of the room. "It's not as if it's completely out of our way."

Huh? Leon looked at Kratos with a raised eyebrow. That's strange coming out of you. I thought you were a sticker for the journey.

Raine and Linar continued to discuss the ruins, ignoring everyone else. They went on about the altar, the statues, and the mausoleum, until a certain half-elf couldn't take it any more. "That's enough! Aisha's about to be sacrificed to the Summon Spirit tonight! Now get out of here!"

Despite Aisha's protests, the group was forced out of the house. "So, what now?" Lloyd wondered.

"I'll tell you what now, Red." Leon answered. "We meddle. Because that's how we roll."

"I agree." Raine spoke, already heading down the steps near the house. "Let's start by heading to the stage again."


They were stopped halfway by the mayor and his entourage. His eyes widened. "You're the ones that went up on the dais."

Raine came forward. "I am a scholar. May I please have your permission to study this ruin?"

The old man simply huffed. "There's an idiot just like you in this city already. Thanks to him, the city's tourism industry is on the verge of collapse. I refuse."

"If you're talking about the sacrifice, we've already heard about it." Raine crossed her arms.

"Then you should understand." The Mayor didn't back down. "We can't allow anyone to disturb the dais any further and risk bringing down the wrath of the Summon Spirit of Wind."

Sylph.... not.... .. that.....

The voice that was haunting Leon appeared again. What the hell? Why do I keep hearing it?

"The only one who may step up upon this stage," he motioned with his rod toward the altar, "is the Summon Spirit dancer."

"Then I shall become the dancer." Her wild claim caught everyone off guard. "Then it would be fine for me to go up onto the stage, yes?"

"Professor!" Lloyd shouted.

Raine turned to him. "According to the Book ot Regeneration, this should be the next seal. If we meet the Summon Spirit, we should be able to tell." She paused as she looked over Lloyd's shoulder at Colette. "The sacrifice that the Summon Spirit seeks might even be the Chosen of Mana."

Colette's eyes lit up. "...I see! That's our Professor!"

Lloyd wasn't convinced. "...You just want to study the ruin firsthand." He instantly regretted his choice of words as he felt a painful slap across his forehead.

"You should learn to keep your mouth shut, Lloyd." Genis tutored from behind her.

"Yeah. It's saved us from a bunch of pain." Leon added.

Raine turned back to the Mayor. "Please, Mayor."

He sighed. "...Do as you wish. I won't be held responsible if it costs you your life, though."

"Let's go tell Aisha." Leon suggested. Everyone nodded and walked back.


It was now night time, and Raine was preparing for the dance. Aisha wasn't very pleased with the announcement. "It's not right for you to have to take my place..."

But Raine assured her. "There's nothing to worry about."

Genis was also worried. "Raine, are you sure you're going to be okay?"

"Yes." She assured him, ruffling his hair. "And if things do get out of hand, you all will just have to save me, won't you?"

"Count on it!" Leon gave a thumbs up sign.

Raine nodded. "Well then, I should change clothes now. Would you mind?"

Everyone exited the room and headed for the dais. Raine arrived, wearing the ceremonial clothes. She got onto the stage and started the dance. She moved from each of the circles in the symbol and lit them up with her staff one by one. When she was finished, she kneeled and placed her staff in the middle.

Suddenly, the symbol lit up and became colored. The lights on the circles spilled forth and shined around in the air before reforming in the air and taking form in front of her. In front of her, a creature with arms, fins, and horns appeared. It had purple skin, three eyes,and no feet, with nothing but a blade for a bottom side.

The monster opened it's mouth. "I have come for the girl."

"It's not..." Colette looked at it closely, but winced. "No, Professor! That is an evil creature. It's not the guardian of the seal!"

"Then that's our cue!" Leon shouted as he jumped onto the stage. Everyone followed suit quickly.

Lloyd and Kratos immediately took front and started a barrage of attacks on the monster. Leon got ready to throw daggers if the monster broke their line. And the rest of the group prepared spells behind him.

The Windmaster, angered by the sudden assault, started clawing at the two. However, they blocked the claws with their swords and shield, respectively. Furious, it started to crouch.

Kratos noticed the stance. "Back!" he ordered. Lloyd nodded and both of them jumped back just as the Windmaster tried to slice them with his lower half.

Leon took his chance and a dagger at it. "Shade Dagger!" he yelled, and the dagger turned into three shaded ones, each piercing the monster.

"Now!" Genis yelled and waved his kendama. "Spread!" Water formed under the Windmaster and surged upwards, blasting it with it's force.

"Light!" Raine shouted, waving her staff. "Photon!" And as the motion ended, pointing toward the Windmaster, a cage of light engulfed the monster and rapidly shrunk until it's breaking point, exploding into countless sparks of light.

The Windmaster roared skywards and dropped backwards, crashing onto the stage, and started to glow emerald green. The green light intensified and eventually scattered into several smaller ones, flying and playing in the air. They eventually flew toward the monster and converged, changing the shape of the monster.

Once the light faded, the only thing that remained was a tablet. Everyone off of the stage immediately roared and cheered for the group. Raine walked over and picked up the tablet. Then, she walked briskly over to the edge and climbed off the edge of the stage.

Linar rushed over and was practically gushing from the sides. "Fantastic! You're fantastic, Raine!"

Raine raised her head smugly and Leon swore he saw her nose grow a bit. "Hah. It was hardly a challenging opponent." She held out the tablet she picked up and held it up between the two of them. "Now, more importantly, about this stone tablet we acquired. It has ancient Balacruf writing inscribed on it."

"I have the necessary materials assembled in my house," Linar pointed out, catching on to Raine quickly. "Let's get it translated right away!"

She nodded vigorously. "Yes! Let's go!" Raine grabbed his hand and dragged him away from the stage. Everyone watched the two scholars run off and locked their gaze for a moment.

Aisha nervously coughed. "Um... thank you very much." She bowed.

Harley, who was standing next to her, glanced at the stage. "That thing wasn't the Summon Spirit of Wind after all, was it?"

Genis shook his head. "But I bet Raine and Linar will investigate what it really was."

Harley grinned. "Yeah, that Raine is a half-elf after all. You can count on her wisdom."

Suddenly, everyone in the crowd grew silent. Genis' eyes widened and he shook his head. "N... no, you're wrong! Raine is... an elf. I'm an elf, too!"

"What? Surely you don't think I'd mistake my own..." Harley's voice died down as he saw the people a few feet away behind Genis. Leon saw them, too. Dislike, scorn and disgust were evident among those visible. Harley grinned wryly. "Ah, actually, I guess I was wrong. It seems you two are pureblooded elves. I must not have been paying careful attention."

Lloyd walked up to Genis and placed his right hand on his shoulder. "...We should get some rest, too. I'm exhausted."

Genis looked up, suprised, and simply shook his head. Colette smiled and walked over as well, walking alongside the other two towards a hotel. Leon and Kratos soon followed, but Leon looked back at the stage for a second...


"Your room is prepared. It is on the left as you reach the top of the stairs." The woman behind the counter held out the room key.

"..." Kratos wordlessly took the key and took everyone up into the rooms. All of the children immediatly claimed a bed for their own. Kratos sighed and walked over to Lloyd, who looked back through one open eye. "Get up. It's time for our training."

Lloyd's eyes widened and immediately sat up. "All right! Meet you there!" He nimbly jumped off of the bed and raced downstairs, earning laughs from everyone but Kratos. Ever since the Palmacosta Ranch, Lloyd had asked Kratos for sword training, saying how "cool" and "composed" he looked during fights.

Although Kratos never seemed to go easy on him, as Lloyd returned every time with scratches and bruises and the occasional cut. Raine was getting tired of healing her student and demanded that both of them tune down the ferocity. Now, however, the Professor was no where in sight.

Kratos sighed as he realised he'd be doing the healing tonight. He turned to the other three. "Don't go out unless necessary. And Leon, I'm leaving you in charge. If you do have to go out, go as a group. And if anything happens..."

"I know, I know. Leave it to me." Leon waved off. "Have fun."

"Hmph." Kratos walked down the stairs and out of view. Then presumably out of the town with Lloyd.

Leon looked around. Genis still seemed shook up about what happened up at the stage, having his feet drawn up against his small chest. Leon looked at the bed on the far right. Colette didn't seem sleepy at all, understandably. It just seemed pointless to try to fall asleep with these two in this kind of mood.

Also...

"Hey guys, how about a midnight walk?" Leon suggested. Colette looked up and thought about it for a second before nodding and standing up. Genis didn't even bother.

"I'll pass. You two go on ahead."

"Nah-uh. Sorry, kid." Leon walked over and stood next to Genis. "I'm in charge of you two and if one of us goes out, all of us goes out. Besides, I wanna see that uh, mana glowing thingee with the stage and all. Don't tell me you're not curious?"

Genis looked at the two for a moment and sighed, hanging his head. "Alright, fine." Genis hopped off of the bed and looked at them. "We're not going to get in trouble, are we?"

"If we do, feel free to point at me." Leon stuck his thumb out. "Now let's get going."


"It's so quiet..." Colette whispered, looking around the city as they walked. The only sounds heard were the gravel squishing beneath them and the local wildlife.

Leon nodded. "It's such a difference from daytime."

"Yeah, I guess so." Genis mused. "Almost feels like nothing would disturb the peace here."

"Yeah." Everyone nodded.

......

"MWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!"

The three looked past the stairs to the other half of town and sweatdropped.

"...Though there is always the chance for unnatural disturbances." Genis finished.

"She's not gonna work herself silly, is she?" Leon asked. "The last thing we need is our only medic collapsing." They all started to walk up the stairs.

Genis turned towards Leon as he walked up the stairs. "You don't have to worry about that. Raine can take care of herself, and she knows where to set limits." He looked forward again. "Also, Raine's more of a doctor than a medic."

"What's the difference?" Colette asked.

"Well, a doctor cures people. A medic makes them more comfortable... as they die."

Leon shivered. "Note to self; Don't ever get stabbed."

They eventually reached the top of the stairs and looked at the stage. Leon slumped a bit. "Aw, you gotta be kidding me. What about the glowing stage stuff?"

"Weren't you paying attention earlier today?" Genis asked, walking towards the relic while the other two followed him. "That only happens when mana evaporates from the stage. It won't happen with the lack of mana it has right now, not to mention what little we have in the world right now."

"That won't be a problem if we regenerate the world, right?" Leon brought up, looking back at Colette. "Once our little Chosen here regenerates the world, the Desians will be history, and the mana will come back."

"Yes." Colette nodded.

"Colette, aren't you scared?" Genis asked. "We've unlocked two seals, but we don't know how many are left, and things are probably going to get tougher..."

Colette looked at the earth beneath her in thought. "I should be. The Journey of Regeneration isn't something to be taken lightly."

Leon nodded. "Yeah, considering how many times it's been done."

Colette looked up and turned to the two boys. "But that's all the more reason for me to finish what they started." Colette walked over to the cliff and looked at the vast lands past it. "Regenerating the world will bring mana back to it, and will banish the Desians. But more than that, I'll be fulfilling countless wishes as well."

Genis cocked his head sideways. "What do you mean?"

She turned around to the two again as they walked up to her. "All of the Chosens that came before me were doing the same thing as I am right now. And I believe that they all wanted to save their world just as much as I do right now. When I think that way... I get the will to continue on and complete the World Regeneration."

Leon jumped on top of the stage and leaned against the southeast pillar. "I guess that's true. It's not just the world we're saving. We're doing this so the deceased can rest in peace."

"...Marble..." Genis mumbled, looking down at his exsphere. He blinked, then looked up and nodded. "Yeah. We'll do it, definitely."

"Of course!" Leon stuck his thumb up. "And don't worry Colette; you have us to protect you. You couldn't pray for better bodyguards!"

Colette closed her eyes and smiled as she nodded. Then, after thinking for a bit, she looked up at Leon. "Hey, Leon? Do you mind if I ask you a question?"

"It depends on what you're asking. What is it?," he replied looking down from the stage.

"What was your real reason for deciding to come on this journey?"

Leon rested his head against the column for a moment in silence before sighing. "Can't pull one over you, can I?" He pushed away from the column and faced the same scenery the other two were. "...It's something my old man taught me. 'Everything has a reason for happening, and if it's something good, then give it your all.'"

Colette giggled. "He sounds like a wonderful man."

Leon shrugged. "Well, he was an idiot among idiots. I always wondered what he meant by that. Nothing in my life was out of the ordinary, and none of it was good. I was a thief, making my living by stealing from people just to support myself. I've even gotten scars from... my less extravagent attempts."

Although most of them were from Desians... he thought to himself.

"So, when I happened to come across the Chosen herself, I started to wonder if this is what he meant." Leon sighs. "Well, even though I thought that, nothing about this trip has been 'good', considering our track record..."

"We do seem to have a knack for getting into trouble..." Genis pointed out, sitting against the stage.

"Still, this is the most interesting thing that's happened to me. Unlocking the seals, fighting some large monster on my own, winning, and getting some weird power, not to mention defeating a Grand Cardinal. It's been a whirlwind, that I'm sure of."

Colette looked down for a few moments. Without moving her head, she spoke. "Do you... regret coming along?"

Leon looked down at Colette for a second, before looking up at the moon. He thought for a good long moment before he replied.

"No, I don't." He breathed in before he continued. "I decided to believe in what my dad preached, so I'm going to see this through to the end. And I guess I am sort of having fun."

"I don't know if this journey can be considered 'fun'..." Genis muttered.

"Well, it's funner than what I've been doing." Leon scratched his head with his right hand.

"What do you mean?" Colette asked, tilting her head.

"Ah... nothing." Leon jumped down from the stage and faced the smaller member of the group. "So, now that I've gone and blabbed a secret, I think it's only fair we hear one, too."

Genis furrowed his brows in confusion. "A secret? Like what?"

"Like why you're pretending to be elves."

Genis gasped, and stood up backed against the wall. He was clearly distraught. "N-n-no! It's true, we're really elves!"

"Calm down, kid. There's no one here but us. No one's gonna find out. And," Leon looked past him to Colette, who was looking down sadly at Genis, "it seems like I'm not the only one who knows."

Genis' eyes widened and he turned around. "Colette... you too?"

Colette bowed slowly, predictably apologetically. "I'm sorry... The Professor told me some time ago..."

Genis looked down at the ground. Everybody was silent for a good few minutes. Genis slowly walked over to the edge of the hill that the stage sat upon and stood there. Suddenly, he spoke. "Leon... you don't like me, do you?"

"Yeah, I don't." he replied bluntly.

"Leon!" Colette gasped in a half shout.

"Why?" Genis' voice was barely heard.

"There are plently of reasons."

"Is one of them because I'm a Half-elf?"

"That's a poor reason not to like someone."

"But I-- huh?" Genis turned around. Leon shrugged.

"Look, I find you loud, annoying, condescending, immature, and an outright know-it-all. Those, however childish, are reasons not to like you." Leon sighed, scratching his head again. "But for being a Half-elf? I was never taught so lousily."

"Plenty of people do it.&" Genis countered. "They hate and scorn us, just because we have the blood of two races."

BA-BUMP!

"Then they're in the wrong." Leon replied, yawning. "It's fine if they hate you, but not for what you are. That's another thing my Dad taught me. 'It's not what, but who you are that is important.'"

Genis looked at his own shoes. "It's not what, but who..."

Leon nodded and squatted down to Genis' level. "Yeah. It's the same with the Desians. I don't hate them because they're Desians or because they're half-elves. I hate them because of what they do, what they've done, and what they could do."

BA-BUMP! BA-BUMP! BA-BUMP!

Colette walked up to them. "I feel the same way."

Lord.... of... nds ........ Aeolus....... approa...s....

Genis looked up, eyes close to tears. "You guys..."

SHE'S HERE!

BA-BUMP!

"AAAAGGHHH!"

Leon clutched his head as he screamed, pain assailing his temples.

"Leon!?" "Leon!" The two cried out. Colette reached out her hand, but Leon knocked it away and stumbled across to the stage. Despite his agony, he quickly jumped on to the stage. However, running across, he tripped and landed on his stomach in the middle of the stage.

"Seed of Destruction, I welcome you to the city that withstood time."

Leon felt a fierce breeze blowing past his face, and felt another. He looked up and saw a creature with flapping wings suspended in the air. The body was covered in fine sand brown fur and a white mane near the head. Things seemed off after that. The head was shaped like a proud bird and had grown ears along the side. Talons on its front legs, with claws and overgrown fur on its hind legs, and a smooth tail with hair at the tip. (1)

"Guh." Leon noticed his head stop hurting immediatly and finally stood up. "I take it you're like that sea serpent. Is that how you guys greet guests; by calling them names?"

"I call you what you are, scorn or not withstanding."

Genis and Colette gasped from off the stage. "That monster can talk?!" Genis stated, eyes widening.

Colette held her hands together. "He's not even moving his mouth..."

"You know, you're a lot easier to understand than the last one." Leon spoke out, looking up at the creature with one foot in front of the other.

"Behemoth is unique in his speech, as all of us are. Behemoth is of Water, and is vast and numerous in his presence. Thus he refers to himself in plural."

"And you?"

"I am Aeolus of Wind. You are familiar with your new power?" When Leon nodded, Aeolus continued. "The conditions are the same as before. We will do battle, and if you indeed are successful, I shall bestow my power upon you, and answer a single question of yours."

"Great. There's been something bothering me for a while, and now I'll be getting some answers." Leon drew his dagger out and formed his stance.

"Do not claim victory yet, Seed of Destruction. It will require more than smarts this time around!" As if that claim was the signal, the battle started. Aeolus rose a bit into the air before tilting downwards and accelerating towards Leon.

"Crud!" Leon leaned his body to the right, rolling out of the way. He just managed to move out of the way, but the wind from Aeolus' dive bomb was so intense he was sent flying across the stage. His feet skidded across the smooth surface and slowly came to a stop, dropping to his knees.

"Leon!" Colette watched as the thief skidded to a halt on the stone relic. She ran towards the stage, reaching for the ledge... "Kya!" But her hand was repelled by an invisible force.

"There shall be no interference," she heard Aeolus state. The Beast stared down at Leon from across the stage. Colette was about to protest, but stopped when she noticed Leon getting up.

"Fine by me!" Leon grunted and formed his stance again. Breaking into a sprint, Leon lowered his dagger to his side and jumped forward as soon as he was within reach. He motioned a thrusting move, aiming at Aeolus' midsection.

She, however, simply jumped to her right. Landing on her two front feet, Aeolus kicked with her hind legs at Leon.

Who twisted his body at the last second to the left. Flicking the blade out from underneath his wrist, Leon twirled in midair, spiraling towards the ground. With blade outstretched, he slashed at Aeolus' underbelly, promptly shouldering the concrete.

The Beast writhed in pain before jumping away, creating more force than Leon predicted, shaking him off of the earth for the briefest of moments before crashing on his arm. ARGH! Leon silently cursed. Damn, for someone so fast she sure is heavy.

When he didn't feel a second shockwave nearby he scanned the arena quickly before looking up. Aeolus, though freshly scarred, was hovering a yard above the stage.

You win the battle on the ground, she said, stretching her wings mid-flap. Now let's see you conquer the air!

Leon winced, grabing his arm with his other and slowly stood up. He glowered up at his opponent, starting to feel the fatigue settle in. I got lucky in that last move, but how in Sylvarant am I supposed to attack an airborne enemy? I left my throwing knives back at the Inn! He felt the wind blowing past his face, brushing past his bruises and cuts, stinging him. Aeolus continued to fly in place, almost as if taunting him.

Leon clenched his only eye shut. How can I win!?


With my help.


Chapter End.

Baelfael: Yes, I'm horrible. Bad cliffhanger, but I felt that the chapter was long enough already, and I felt particularily evil today. New character comes in next chapter, but you'll probably be able to tell their background, as long as you've played the game. Review if you feel like it, and it will be much appreciated. Later!