Everywhere the snow fell, landing where it pleased. I had lain here nigh on three hours, unmoving, watching. Each snowflake different from the rest, and yet all together were the same.
My right hand lifted of its own volition, letting a lone crystalline flake make a home atop its calloused tip. Fascinated, my attention was rapt on the quickly transforming sliver of frozen rain. Time seemed to slow as I watched it melt away from its fragile existence, turning instead into the life giver.
"What is right?" I murmured to the quiet, lifeless land that surrounded me. Though I had lived long and experienced much, I still did not know many of the answers I sought. The listless snow covering the ground offered no answers; it never had.
Crunch. The Flamberge had slid from its sheath and into my hand before a full thought had formed to react against whatever intruder had come so near. It was dangerously close, and I must have been far removed from myself to not have heard it before.
Reason replacing instinct, I stood silently, readying my blade of fire for battle. The air around it sizzled and its fiery aura conquered and eliminated any trace of cold or snow. Its orange glow spilled on the ground all around me, staining the flawless, white snow.
Clutching the familiar weapon, I took silent steps toward the trespasser, using the snow drifts to conceal myself from the would-be invader. The only marks that proved my existence were the quickly fading serrations of the area I had once laid and the footprints surrounding it. I was too much in a hurry and had become careless. The drifting flakes of snow that circled me had fogged my mind much more than I cared to realize.
I could now feel the presence of the intruder, as well as hear the crunching of the land. It did not seem to be the presence of a monster, but I would not be fooled, the invader was definitely heading toward my prior location, intent on a surprise attack.
Not even a minute passed before I heard the footsteps pass in front of the snow drift behind which I was hidden. Now was my chance to overcome the trespasser before it ever found its prey. Rounding the snow drift, taking more care to erase the evidence of my being there as I went, I set to charge my opponent.
Finally catching a glance of the intruder, I froze. Only years of training kept the blade from falling to the still earth. "Lloyd...?" I recoiled from the sound of my own voice; it was laced with the shame of the grave error I had committed. I only hoped Lloyd would not hear it.
He turned at the sound of my voice. "What are you doing?"
I sheathed the sword of eternal flame before answering, "I heard your footsteps earlier and thought it to be an enemy."
"But... we are enemies, right?"
The shame returned and I found myself unable to look at him as I turned back to gaze back at the snow that would never stop falling. "Yes, you and I are enemies. There may again come a time when we will have to face one another in battle, but now is not that time."
He looked unsure. "Then why have you been helping us? I saw what you did in Gaoracchia Forest."
My breath came out in a white mist, and my vision glimpsed a few small flakes evaporate into nothing. "If the Chosen had been caught by the Pope's men, it would have been detrimental to Cruxis." The hollow and impassive sound of the words I had spoken echoed in my ears, as if to remind me of something I could never forget.
The young man beside me clenched his hands into fists and did his best to glare me down. "I won't believe that! I..." his anger drained out of him all at once, as quickly as it had come, "don't want to believe it."
"Lloyd..." The name escaped my mouth and my body had taken a step toward him before I could stop myself. The depression the step made in the snow was deep, and that overwhelming shame settled in my thoughts, not to leave me.
That turn, that step made me look into his eyes. They held both an anguish and confusion within that had not dulled in the weeks since I had seen the very same eyes looking up at me when I told Lloyd what I was and took his dearest friend away from him in the Tower of Salvation.
I was an angel of Cruxis, an evil, hated being that lived only to revive Martel. I could not soothe his pain. I could be nothing except his enemy. Despite that belief, my gaze fell to the frigid ground. "You must believe it. Such hesitation will cost you your life."
"Why do you care whether I die or not?"
The sound of the falling snow answered him. I could feel Lloyd's gaze as it bore into me, searching for something. It was something he would not find, a thing I had long ago buried beneath the ice.
He tried to unravel all my secrets merely with his eyes a moment longer, before taking a step toward me. Then another. And another. I kept my gaze locked on the barren, white land at my feet. Looking away from it was something I could not do. Each step he came closer left another deep imprint behind in the earth, giving life to this listless land.
He continued leaving prints in the once flawless land until he came within a foot of me, and looked straight into my soul, again forcing me to look into his. It still held the hurt and confusion, but there was something else there, something I had not seen before: absolute trust.
I felt the shame threaten to completely engulf me. There was no reason for him to trust me. There was no reason for him to talk to me. There was no reason for him to even be this close to me, yet he was. Even with my breadth of knowledge, I did not understand Lloyd. His choice to trust me made no sense; not after the many horrible things I had done.
Lloyd broke the silence. "Kratos, what are you trying to tell me?"
"Lloyd..." There were many things I wanted to tell him, but could not. I looked into his eyes for an escape, anything I could say to keep from saying those things that I could not. They, like the snow raining around me, offered no answers.
"Yes?" he prompted quietly.
I did the only thing I could. I responded by lifting my right hand and guiding a flake to one of its extended fingers, letting the unique crystal melt into its source. Taking his hand in my remaining one, I let the drop slide off my finger to land in the hand I held.
I followed his gaze as it followed the drop to his hand. He scrutinized it a moment, trying to understand my wordless answer. Not finding the answer in his hand, he looked back up to me in confusion, pleading for answers.
I could not give him those answers. I let go of his hand, freeing it. It was alright if he did not understand now, or even if he never understood. Perhaps it was best that way.
I took a step back, away from him. "I must go."
Ignoring his protest, I unfolded my wings and made a small leap from the ground.
"Do not die, Lloyd."
Disclaimer: I do not own Tales. If I did, I would not write this nor would I need to spend money to obtain the game itself.
Author's Note: A lot of symbolism is used here.