Alaia Skyhawk: The end has finally come, this will be the final chapter...

I don't own Tales of Symphonia so please don't sue me. I do however own Krishka, Dallinius (Dalli), Aluran, the Alurannai and any OCs, except Sanaro and Annule, who belong to Mr.Who2123, so please don't steal them...

Enjoy

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Chapter 96: Farewell...

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Clouds covered the sky, but there was no rain... Rain brought life wherever it fell, but here there was none... No amount of rain could bring back the life that had been lost. Eight companions stood where once there were nine... Eight companions watched numbly as the ninth was placed upon the pyre...

Martel, swathed in white so pure it seemed to shine, looked as if she could merely be sleeping. As if she could open her eyes and smile at them, before telling them off for letting her oversleep, as they had done on so many occasions over the centuries.

The gathered Alurannai began to sing, a lament to the one who had given her life to protect the future of the world. As their voices fell to barely above a whisper, Narim Breuntas bowed his head where he stood at the end of the pyre.

"We have suffered a terrible loss... Martel, Lady of Light and Hope, has passed from this land. Yet she died as she lived, giving everything she had for the sake of creating a better world for all, regardless of race. Those who would speak of her, step forward now so that all may hear your words of this remarkable woman."

Kratos stepped forward, draped in black as were all those who were assembled here.

"When I met Martel she was only fifteen years old, caring for her two year old brother, and yet still striving to make a difference all on her own. She had been chased away from her home, but she never lost her faith in people then, and she never did in all the time I knew her."

He stepped back as Vayla moved forward, her eyes filled with tears.

"Martel was like a sister to me, the only two women in our group, we were always talking about things the men would have groaned at and tried to escape. She was the best of friends, the kindest and most caring person I have ever known."

Yuan came forward, wearing the pendant he had given Martel all those years before, her wedding ring looped onto the chain alongside it. His voice was choked with pain as he spoke.

"Martel was my heart, I loved her from the very moment I met her. Over nine hundred years have we been married, nine hundred years of holding to the vow of cherishing each other to the end of our days. That vow I uphold still, for nothing will ever replace her in my heart... Nothing..."

Sanaro stepped forward now, biting his lip to stop it from trembling.

"When I met Martel I was on the run, pursued by Tethe'alla as a traitor to the King. I was an unknown, a stranger who had stood by and watched as innocents were killed, and yet she gave me the chance to redeem myself and above all, to forgive myself. I will never forget her compassion, her ability to forgive all people, even those who did not ask to be forgiven."

Dalli was sat beside Noishe and Annule, both of whom were too upset to speak mind-to-mind, instead he spoke for all three of them.

"I remember the day I met her, I was pretending to be a puppy and Mithos had brought me back to the camp to show her. The look on her face when Kratos exposed me as a summon spirit is one that I'll remember forever. She was the mother of the group, always looking after those around her with her endless kindness. Giving support when it was wanted, and discipline when it was needed. No one could ever match her for spirit or determination, she was far too stubborn for that."

Mithos hesitated, as if still not willing to accept that she was gone. Finally, he moved forward, his eyes never leaving his sister.

"Martel was the only mother I have ever known, she raised me with the help of our friends, friends that became more than that, they became family. We went through so much together, faced so much together, and when it ended she died with all of us there beside her." He bit back a sob, struggling for several moments before he was able to continue. "With her last breath she told me not to give up on our dream, our dream of a world free from discrimination. With her last breath she asked me to see that world, for the both of us... I promise her now, I will never give up until that dream comes true."

He stepped back to stand alongside his remaining companions once more, his hand reaching into a pocket beneath his black cloak to grasp something.

The words said, Narim Breuntas stepped forward and place a hand upon the pyre, a pyre build from the fallen branches of the Giant Tree... The greatest honour the Alurannai could give her.

"Then it is now we bid our final farewell to this woman and commit her to the flames... Martel, may your journey in the afterlife be peaceful."

Fire drifted through the pyre from where his hand touched it, and when he moved back the entire structure was aflame. The gathering fell silent, watching as she was consumed by the fire before slipping away one by one until only Mithos and the others remained. Eventually, even they moved away one by one, until at last only Mithos and Dalli stood in vigil.

It was well after sunset that the fire died down to a pile of glowing embers. It was then that the little summon spirit turned to his partner.

"Mithos... we should go back to the others now. It's getting late and they might begin to worry."

Mithos stared blankly ahead, never taking his eyes from that which had consumed his sister's remains.

"Leave me alone... I'll stay here for as long as I like, now just leave me alone..."

Dalli inched towards him, to comfort him.

"Alright, we'll stay. I'm here with you always, don't forget, if you want to talk."

Mithos' face hardened, his eyes still not moving from the fire.

"I said I want to be alone, now go. Leave me alone..."

Dalli looked confused, why didn't his partner want him there beside him?

"But..."

Mithos spun to face him, a blast of raw mana thrown from his hand at the spirit.

"I SAID GO!"

Dalli yelped as the blast flung him away from his partner. In bewilderment he looked up from where he had fallen at the anger in Mithos' eyes... and fled...

The string around Mithos' neck snapped, the stone upon it falling to the floor where it shattered...

Mithos reached into his pocket and pulled out a red stone that glowed in the darkness with more than just the light of the embers. Clutching Martel's cruxis crystal, his gaze slowly turned to look up at where the Great Seed shone azure against the night sky...

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The wind was blowing softly, stirring his auburn hair and that of his grandfather. The sky in front of them was pale with the first sign of the approaching sunrise, a new day... A day where a difficult choice must to be made.

Breuntas placed a hand upon his grandson's shoulder as he too watched the changing sky.

"I've just spoken to Mithos. He's still willing to carry on with the plan, for Martel's sake. It's what she would have wanted."

Kratos took a deep breath, shuddering slightly as he made his decision.

"Inata... I... will Seal Origin... I guided Mithos during the war, and I will continue to guide him for as long as it takes. I am willing to pay that price. Long ago I promised Martel that if anything happened to her I would watch over him, and I'm going to keep that promise." He took another shuddering breath. "Inata, I would face this fear alone. If I am to conquer it then it must be by my own will."

Breuntas said nothing, accepting Kratos' need to do this. The burden of becoming the seal would be Kratos' duty to carry. He walked away, not looking back as the sky continued to brighten.

Kratos closed his eyes as the rim of the sun crested the horizon, turning the sky gold. He reached out, reached out deep within himself, feeling the flow of inevitably decay that occurs within all living things... He reached out again, grasping that flow, and as the dawn sun rose into the sky... the flow... stopped...

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Alaia Skyhawk: And thus ends Book 1 of the Restoration Series. I again thank all of you who have supported me and above all enjoyed this story. For the continuation, check out Book 2, 'Hope of Restoration'. Happy reading...