((A/N: Meowzy: Welcome to a fanfic collab by Meowzy...
Spiritua Masquerade: And Spiritua Masquerade!
Meowzy: Of course, we must begin with the disclaimers!
Spiritua: Of course, of course. Though they do get boring after a while... Heh, oh well. Meowzy and Spiritua Masquerade don't own Kratos, Yuan, Tales of Symphonia, or Yuan's hot cape.
Meowzy: And you must beware the YuanxKratos, that will appear in later chapters. If you don't like guyxguy, don't read it.
Spiritua: Exactly. And this being my first fic, I may not make as large and well-written chapters as Meowzy, but I can try. Bear with me, peoples.
Meowzy: Oh, I'm sure you'll be fine! And as long as I get my implied lemons, I'll be happy.
Spiritua: Don't worry, you'll have plenty, but you might have to be a bit patient for it. Anyways, on to the fic? My chapter's first, so... here goes nothing!))


Chapter One (Kratos's PoV)
The Note

The leaves made a crunch underfoot with each step I took down the well-worn path. I cringed slightly at a particularly loud one; I never have liked noise. Of course, I never have liked silence either. Not complete silence. Not like Derris-Kharlan. It's so silent there, it seems almost a sin to breathe. Especially since Mithos's demise. I could tolerate it before, when he was there, because I knew I wasn't the only life on the mana planet. But now… I'd choose the noises of Symphonia over the silence any day.

Symphonia… The two worlds combined. Though it was unofficial at the time, Symphonia was the name generally spoken to refer to what once was Sylvarant and Tethe'alla, now that they had merged to one dimension. At first, there was much strife over the social hierarchy of the new world; Tethe'alla assumed their king would continue to rule, while Sylvarant wanted nothing of the sort. At last a wealthy Palmacostan woman was chosen to wed the King, dissipating most of the strife caused. I, however, chose not to involve myself in such things as politics and the acts of the nobles. There were lots of things I chose not to involve myself in… A family being one of them. I'd made that mistake once before, twenty years before. Sure, the boy who saved the world came from it, so I guess it's slightly selfish of me to call it a mistake. But a mistake it was. Anna…

I remember the day I first met her. She always was the rebellious sort; though she was under the heaviest guard likely in all of Sylvarant, she still managed to break out on numerous occasions. She was beaten for it each time, though she hid the scars beneath her shirt. They would never kill her, however; no, she was far too precious to kill, her and the Cruxis Crystal she was harboring inside her. The Angelus Project they called it, and no higher priority was there than ensuring it's success. She knew this, and knew she wouldn't be killed no matter what she did. That's why she kept breaking free.

The Crystal had nearly finished it's growth within her, and she knew it's completion would mean her downfall, so she made one last attempt at freedom. This was when I met her. I was stopping into Iselia for supplies, for I knew not how long it would be before I could show my face in public once more, after leaving Mithos and descending to Sylvarant. Suddenly, a woman with long, chestnut hair slid into the item shop, casting a worried glance behind her. 'I wasn't here.' She told me, before crouching behind a cluster of barrels. At first I watched her, confused, but everything was cleared up moments later. A group of three or four Desians barged into the room, hastily taking in the contents. I knew they were after her. And I knew that, for some reason, I couldn't let them find her. 'We're looking for a woman, slim with brown hair and blue eyes. She's a fugitive of very high importance, and we have orders to retrieve her by Lord Forcystus.' I managed to look confused, though acting never was my strong point. The leader of the group eyed me suspiciously. 'Any who harbor this escapee can be sentenced to death.' He said slowly, his eyes never leaving mine, as if waiting for my act to falter. It didn't. After a moment, he cursed under his breath and turned, leading the others from the store. A moment of silence followed, before the woman stepped cautiously from her hiding place. She glanced nervously to the door, watching it a minute, before sighing in relief and turning to me. 'Thank you…' She said, smiling. 'My name is Anna, I'm nearly sure.' I tilted my head slightly. Does she not know her own name? This seemed odd. Nonetheless, I smiled slightly back. 'Kratos Aurion.' I offered in return. And that was the beginning of the biggest mistake of my life.

Anna died, five years later. A death by my hands. I couldn't love another. I wouldn't make that mistake again. Lloyd, my son, her son… He still thought I'd left with Derris-Kharlan two years before. I'd seen him since then, sure. I followed him a good portion of his exsphere-removal journey, just to see how he was getting on. He never saw me, of course. I don't know why, but… I felt I couldn't let him see me. Heh. Even with four thousand years and an angel transformation under my belt, the human mind is still too complex for me to understand. And, in a sense, I'm glad of it. For life is a journey in which one is constantly learning. If I could understand everything, what would there be left to live for?

The trees that surrounded me slowly started to thin, until at last they opened up and revealed a large stretch of prairie. I paused, surveying the land ahead, before spotting a wooden building, half hidden in the trees to my left. A House of Salvation. Glancing at the sun, which was slowly sinking to the horizon, I decided that there would be as good a stop as any. I averted my course and headed for the double-doors.

Upon entrance, I decided that this must be one of the better Houses of Salvation. It was well-kept, and ornately decorated, whereas most were dusty and plain.

"Excuse me?" A voice to my right attempted to get my attention. I turned, to come face to face with a young woman, eighteen at the very oldest, with navy-blue hair and a nervous smile. I gazed at her expectantly. "Are you a Mister-…" She pulled a letter in a crimson envelope from behind the desk, glancing at it a moment. "Mister Kratos Aurion?" My eyes widened slightly in surprise, and I nodded, accepting the envelope and looking at the front. 'Kratos Aurion' was written in the center in rough cursive, but that was all. There was no return address.

"Do you know who this is from?" I questioned, but the girl shook her head, disappointed to be of little use.

"It was on the front step when I arrived this morning." She shrugged apologetically. I turned my attention back on the envelope, at last turning it over and slitting it open with a fingernail. Inside was a note, folded into quarters. It read:

Kratos Aurion. I believe we have a score to settle. I need to pound you into the ground, once and for all. Meet me in three days' time at the island in the center of the largest sea. Yuan.

Once again my eyes widened. A challenge? From… Yuan? That was unlike him. Very unlike him. Though how well did I know Yuan anymore, anyway? I hadn't spoken to him on peaceful grounds since… Since Mithos declared his idea for the Age of Lifeless Beings. So I guess I had no place to decide if it was like him or not. I knew then and there that I'd accept his challenge. I hadn't had a good spar in Martel only knows how long. Besides, Yuan was due for a reality check. His ego was swelling too big for his skull. It was gonna get him killed someday… Though at that point, I wouldn't have minded. Much.

I slipped the note back into the envelope, ignoring the clerk-woman's curious gaze, and reached into my bag for my gald. I slapped four-hundred onto the counter, turning wordlessly and heading for the stairs up to the room.

"Excuse me? What are you doing? I'm sorry, but we're booked for the night." She called after me.

I paused where I was, half contemplating continuing on up and staying there anyways. It had been so long since I'd felt a nice bed, I wasn't keen on just giving it up. After a moment, I sighed inaudibly, turning and collecting my gald from the counter and pushing back out through the door. The daylight was starting to dim; night would be upon me soon, and I had to find some place to camp before then. I wandered back into the woods, grabbing up a few fallen branches and taking them back out onto the field. I made a fair-sized ring of stones, placing the branches in the center, and muttered a brief incantation under my breath. After a moment, the branches burst into a fair-sized flame. I took off my dragon-leather bag, placing it on the grass, and sat down beside the fire. Drawing Flamberge and a waterstone, I began rhythmically drawing the stone over the edge of my sword. It was likely sharp enough already, but a bit of extra sharpening never hurt a blade. After a few minutes of this, I replaced both the sword in it's sheath and the stone in my bag. Left with nothing really to do, I gazed idly into the blaze.

'In three days time, I can strike Yuan down, once and for all. But… is that truly what I want?'


((Spiritua: Urgh, I think it sucked. But oh well. Things will get better, bear with me. Meowzy's is next, so you know THAT'll be good.
Meowzy: ... That was WAY too well-written! My chapter will never compete with this...))