And here we go with the next chapter. Again, trying to keep myself updating regularly. Hope you enjoy!

Oh and Maurice A. Nigma; wasn't complaining about your long reviews, I appreciate them, just found it funny when I noticed the word count compared to an old story!

The group were shocked as they stared at Yuan, "Why would Lloyd need to kill Dirk?" asked Genis, "Why would he have anything to do with the Eternal Sword?"

"I'm talking about Lloyd's real father." He said coldly.

"Wait, you know who Lloyd's father is?" asked Colette eagerly, "Who is it?" Sheena lowered her face slightly.

"Do you really want to know?" he jeered, a slight smile in his face, "Do you really want to know who Lloyd has to kill?" No-one answered...Yuan may have mislead them at times, or 'encouraged' them to do what he wanted, but one thing he never did was straight out lie to them. They knew he was right; it was hard enough knowing that Lloyd had to kill his father, but none of them wanted to know who this actually was. What if they knew him? What could they tell him? Yuan laughed, "Didn't think so." They all glared at him, he had a way of getting into their heads, pushing them into a decision. "So, if none of you have anything else to ask," he looked to each member of the group in turn, "you can all leave."

"Wh-what?" asked Zelos, stunned. "That's it? After what you just told us, that's all you have to say?"

"Oh don't worry, when I need you all to do something, you'll know."

"Why would we help you?" demanded Sheena, "After what's happened what the hell makes you think we'll do anything you ask us?"

Yuan eyed her carefully, he had noticed Sheena gasping Kratos' name, and look away when the others asked who it was. She knew somehow that Kratos is Lloyd's father...maybe he shouldn't have been so soft as to give them time alone. "You forget Lloyd's current situation. You're not in a position to bargain against me."

Sheena actually smiled, "You're in no position to threaten Lloyd's life. You forget that he already beat you; you can't overpower him. Besides, he's stuck in Cruxis so you'd have to get past Yggdrasil first." She felt proud that she was able to outthink Yuan.

"You forget the reason why Lloyd and I fought each other." He answered calmly, "Lloyd was supposed to kill me. Remember what it means if I am to be discovered. As you know, Yggdrasil does not tolerate betrayal."

Sheena's eyes widened, "Y-You..." she was so angry, so scared that she could not speak. There was one thing she could do to keep him safe...she drew her cards.

"You plan on killing me?" he asked, trying to contain his laughter, "Don't misjudge me, I know you could do so easily. But before you strike, answer me this; do you even know what you'd do without my guidance? How do you challenge Yggdrasil's right of the Eternal Sword? Where would you even start to look?" Sheena could only growl in response; he was right. They need his help in order to stand a chance at defeating Yggdrasil. They needed the Eternal Sword out of the way. She put her cards away and turned away from him. "As I said; you may now leave." He bore his smug smile, "I'll let you continue to find a method of curing the Chosen."

Sheena growled again, 'He'll let us?' she knew that she couldn't argue; she was essentially his pawn in this fight now. She would not risk Lloyd's safety. She turned and began walking away. She had to get away from this base; away from Yuan. "Don't even think of getting in our way. Don't you dare stop us from healing Colette; we won't need your help in that."

She didn't stop when speaking, as the others followed behind her.

Yuan smirked as he watched the group leave, not even trying to stop them, "We'll see how long it takes for you to need my help again." He walked over to his desk, and opened one of his drawers, "Not just anyone can get their hands on a pure fragment of mana." He didn't need another reason to be able to control them, but he had been alive for too long. He knew that in this game, there was no such thing as having too many trump cards.


"Mithos." Started Kratos, as he walked towards the Grand Seraphim...his student. He was sitting on his throne, in a vast void of open space. He had created this as a place for him to be alone, a place where he could watch the trivial lives of the beings he dubbed inferior to himself. It was a place where he sat on his own to think and plan.

"Ah, Kratos." He replied, an almost jeering note in this voice, "By your lack of formalities I assume you are here to lecture me." He didn't look up, but instead focused on the ring he held between his fingers. He had attached a small chain to it, but had not washed away the blood; he had fashioned it into a personal trophy he would wear at all times.

"I am here as your former teacher and your friend, Mithos." He put a slight emphasis in his name, clearly showing he was not going to treat him as his master in this conversation.

"I see," he began, "then maybe this form would be more appropriate." And in a flash of light he transformed into his child like form. "There," he said smiling, "is that better?"

"Do not mock me, Mithos." There was a slight twinge in his voice as he kept his face calm. "You should know the importance of keeping your word."

Mithos laughed, "So, it's about that is it?" he closed his eyes and turned his face away from him, as if bored of the very thought.

"What were you thinking when you went after Sheena?" he stared deeply into the side of the young boy's head, "Why did you deliberately go after her when you promised my son..."

"Who said I went there for her?" he interrupted, still not looking at his former mentor. "I merely went there to claim Kvar's exsphere. It was her and Yuan who attacked me; Lloyd should be grateful that I spared her my full wrath. The real question..." his eyes snapped towards Kratos, a sinister glare lurking within them, "is why do you care?"

Kratos twitched slightly, "It is my son's wellbeing I care for." He answered, "If he were to think that you were after Sheena, he may attack you."

"Is that so..." he stared at him intently. He had noticed how Kratos had begun referring to her by her name. "Well you need not worry about that too much." He smiled again, "Your son will not be able to fight me even if he were to challenge me." Kratos eyes widened in shock and confusion, "Let's just say you made me think of this possibility, and I made certain arrangements so Lloyd cannot fight me."

"And what arrangements might they be?"

He laughed again, "I'm sure you'll see in time. I believe he may think the same as you do in that I deliberately went after the summoner. I doubt he'd let this go without challenge."

Kratos forced himself to remain calm, "What will you do with him if he does try to challenge you?"

"Well, normally the cost of any insubordination is death." He was eyeing Kratos carefully again, looking for any kind of reaction. Kratos was careful to keep calm, though it took a lot to keep his hand away from the hilt of his blade. "However, I believe your son will still be of use. It is his choice whether he will do it on his own will or mine."

"And what do you mean by that?"

"As I said, you will most likely soon see." He turned back into his adult form. "Now if you are done lecturing me I expect you have more important tasks to attend to."

Knowing this was a sign to not press him further, he bowed slightly, "As you wish, My Lord." He turned and began to leave.

"Kratos, no matter what happens you will not interfere."

"I understand."


Sheena awoke, not with a start, but with relief. She had her third nightmare that night, but she was thankful. She never thought she would be thankful for this, but it was a bad memory she had, and not...not a vision of what she feared. She slowly sat up and looked out the window, it was early morning, and the sky was still brightening for the day. She stared intently, not at anything but the light blue that was the sky; it had stopped snowing. "Corrine, I'm sorry." She looked to her most recent dream, hating the last thing she said to the small spirit, "You're too weak." She fought the tears that were forming in her eyes, as she thought of his sacrifice for her. "I wish you were here now." She always relied on him when she needed to talk before. Since then she relied on Lloyd...and she was alone. Colette and the others, they couldn't offer what she really needed, no matter how they tried. She looked over to the next bed to see Colette still peacefully asleep; she did try and she did make her feel better. Maybe she could rely on them.

She brought her legs around the side of the bed, and slowly stood up. She walked over to Colette's bed and looked down at her, and instantly wished she hadn't. A flash in her mind and she saw Lloyd's hand around her throat. She gasped and brought her hand to cover her eyes, as if to block what her mind was showing her. Colette was fine; what she saw last night was a dream. Everyone was fine; no matter what Yggdrasil threatened, Lloyd would not attack his friends let alone...let alone... The images of her friends lying lifeless on the floor flashed through her mind and she took a step back to force her mind clear. "No!" she cried. She had to be strong, she promised Lloyd she would keep everyone together, and she could not do that if she was in this state. She took a deep breath, and the harsh images in her mind faded.

"Sheena?" came the groggy voice of Colette, "Are you okay? Another nightmare?" she looked towards the ninja, a hand rubbing her eye as she slowly adjusted to the light.

"No," she half lied, "I'm okay Colette. Good morning."

"Morning." She yawn stretching her arms up into the air. Sheena noted that as her arms raised, her sleeves fell down, and she could clearly see the crystal engulfing this side of her arm. Colette saw the concerned look on her face and pulled her sleeve embarrassed. "Have we...made plans yet?" She deliberately avoided the subject, still keeping her innocent smile on her face.

"I've not seen the others yet." She replied, "Why don't you give yourself time to get up and I'll check with them, okay?"

"Okay." And with that Sheena left the room.

She closed the door behind her, and sighed. 'Colette is so strong.' She thought, 'She keeps that smile no matter what is happening to her. Look at me,' she looked at her hand, 'I'm still a wreck.' she sighed and began walking back downstairs.

"Ah, good morning Sheena." Came Regal's voice as she reached the bottom step. He was standing in the doorway to the inn's kitchen, obviously looking out to see who had come down.

"Oh, morning Regal." She answered, her eyes widened as she saw who else was in the room. Raine was sat on the same chair as the previous night, reading the same book. Not wanting to make a scene, she tried greeting her in a similar fashion, but when she opened her mouth to speak, nothing came out. She couldn't say anything to her, not after what she learned last night. She gave her a brief nod.

"Well," started Raine, standing up and putting her book down, "I'll go get ready for the day. We have a difficult task ahead." And she walked straight passed her without a single word. It appeared that she was unable to say a word to her either.

She heard Regal sigh, "So that's what was bothering her," he gave her a knowing look, "I assume you two had a talk last night?" Sheena was surprised, but then realised neither of them were exactly subtle just now. She nodded, "Do not judge her so harshly, she did what she felt best." Sheena's eyes widened in shock, "She has been looking into the possibility of an informant ever since Yuan showed just how much he knew about our plans, and made her judgement based on the facts she had. Unfortunately, in her eyes this lead to you, and she believed your kidnapping was a trap in more ways than just you being bait. Raine is usually one to consider all facts being making a decision, realising she was wrong hit her hard and she feels that the responsibility of both yours and Lloyd's current situation relies solely with her." Sheena couldn't find an answer for this, and settled for staring at him in continued shock, "From your position, you may find it hard to forgive her right now; that I accept. What I'm asking you right now is to simply understand."

Sheena lowered her head; she wasn't sure what to think. She was still furious about what Raine did, but she would be lying if she said she wasn't worried over the possibility of a traitor in their group. "I'll...try."

Regal smiled, "That's all I ask." He turned back into the kitchen, "I am about to prepare breakfast in time for the others to wake if you would like to help?"

"Huh, yeah sure." And she followed him into the kitchen.

Breakfast was an awkwardly silent affair, as no one really knew what to say. It was their first morning with Sheena since her abduction, and no one had the nerve to break the silence. This was yet another reason why they all missed Lloyd; he was always good at breaking silences, even if it was in the most inappropriate way.

"So Regal," started Zelos, obviously trying to rid the group of its silence, "Great food as usual!"

"Thank you, Zelos." He replied modestly, "Though Sheena helped prepare this so credit rests with her as well." He gestured towards Sheena with his hand.

"Well, my voluptuous hunny has more skills then I thought!" he was obviously trying to get a rise out of her; trying to get her to act like she used to.

"Thanks." Was all she could muster, and she gave a short nod. The awkward silence returned.

Zelos gave an exasperated sigh, "Okay, fine. I was trying to keep this till later but this silence is driving me crazy!" He looked to everyone around the table, "What are our next moves?"

Raine was the first to answer, "There are three main materials we need to obtain in order to create the Rune Crest. This should be able to hold back Colette's toxicosis and eventually cure it completely."

"So three materials, does that mean we should split up into three groups and look for one each?" asked Genis.

"Is it such a good idea to split up?" argued Colette, "Remember Yggdrasil came after us the last time and I don't want anyone to get hurt because of me."

"I don't think we should split up." Added Raine, "Unfortunately, from my understanding these materials are very rare, and I don't know where we should start looking. It is pointless for us to roam around aimlessly, let alone in two or three groups."

"But once we learn of these objects locations, surely we could then split up." Presea suggested, "The time it would take to find these materials would reduce significantly."

"But our strength would be significantly less as well." Stated Regal, "If we were to be ambushed by Cruxis or otherwise, we would be at a disadvantage."

"We are not splitting up." Came Sheena's defiant voice. "We are strongest as a whole, so we should stick together despite the time it would take." Everyone looked at her; she was speaking like she was to Yuan the day before. They knew they would not be able to argue against her. "I won't give Cruxis any advantage to get the jump on us."

Regal smiled, "In which case, we should start looking for the materials." He looked over to Raine, "What were these materials?"

Raine fumbled for her notes she had taken from the book in Meltokio's library. "We require Zircon, a Mana Leaf Herb, and a Mana Fragment." She sighed, "Whilst the first two are rare as it is I must admit I have never heard of obtaining pure mana in a solid state."

"My company has handled the distribution of Zircon for some time." Said Regal, "It is simple enough to go through previous records to find the last dispatch."

"We've heard about the Mana Leaf Herb in Mizuho." Added Sheena, "Apparently this herb grows in a place only the elves know." She sighed, "This means going to the hidden elf village; Heimdall. Unfortunately our research squad was unable to persuade them to give them a location when they investigated. They are very secretive."

"But at least Hwe know where to look for it now." Genis stated, almost comforting. "So what about the Mana Fragment?"

No-one answered but Colette and Zelos looked at each other, both with worried expressions of understanding. "We've heard about it." She said shyly.

"Well, more like we've read references about it." Added Zelos.

"Huh? Where did you read this?" asked Genis, surprised. "Even Raine hasn't read about it."

"It's part of the scriptures we had to read as Chosen." Explained Colette, "They state that when the Tower of Salvation was first created by Martel, pure fragments of mana rained from the sky."

"So that means Cruxis." Said Raine, as everyone looked towards Sheena. They all knew who their closest source of knowledge regarding Cruxis, and maybe their best chance of obtaining this fragment...Yuan.

"What do want to do about it?" Zelos asked.

"Raine," started Sheena, looking directly at her. There was no hesitation in her eyes or in her voice; right now, she didn't care about her anger of the half-elf, she just wanted to ensure Colette was safe. "Whenever you get the chance, can you research the Mana Fragment? Find out what you can; if it can be made, or found without going to Cruxis."

Raine returned her gaze, and she too did not hesitate in responding, "Of course. I shall do what I can."

Sheena nodded, and then looked to each of the Chosen in turn, "Can you guys help with any translation?"

"Sure." Zelos flashed a confident smile, as Colette nodded.

"I won't lie to any of you," she started, looking the group as a whole, "I don't want to ask for Yuan's help. I won't give him the satisfaction." She hissed the last part. "However, I won't let my feelings get in the way. If we need to, I will."

"Sheena." Raine replied, "I'll do my best to find another way." The look she gave her was of understanding. She did not want to resort to Yuan either; he would ask too much of them.

"Thank you."

"So which one do we start with?" asked Genis, "I'm guessing we leave the Mana Fragment to last."

"If the elves are as stubborn as we believe," reasoned Presea, "then we should start with Zircon as Regal's influence should make it the easiest to obtain."

"To Altamira then?" Stated Regal, as the group all nodded in agreement, "Then let's gather our supplies and head on out."


Lloyd was concentrating as hard as he could; he was forming a sword out of light energy. He had come up with an attack that would be based around this. If he could create one, then he could create two, and then he could create several. As the sword was forming its shape, the edges began to distort themselves, 'Come on!' he thought desperately, 'Don't lose control now.' But it was no use as the sword dispersed violently. Lloyd raised his arms to block the energy that rushed towards him, "Damn it!" he cursed, but then smiled, "I'm getting closer though." Soon his Sword Storm would be born. He had already developed his Demon's Barrage and Demonic Assault techniques, but he needed something close range. If he was successful, this move could be used close to midrange and included the teachings he received from Kratos. He also had an idea for a move that was solely for close range, but he would move onto that after Sword Storm was finished. He began focusing again as light began to grow in front of him, slowly forming the shape of a sword.

"Lloyd." Came a voice, completely destroying his concentration as the sword disappeared.

He turned around to face the person who interrupted his training, "Kratos?" sure enough his angelic father was slowly walking towards him, "I hope you're not spying on me." He joked, but upon seeing the severe look of seriousness on his face, "What's wrong?"

"Lloyd." He began, "Whatever happens, don't rise to Yggdrasil." Lloyd looked on in surprise. "Do what he asks. Do not challenge him until we are ready."

"What do you..."

"Just do it." He interrupted. What shocked Lloyd further was the stress that was hinted in his calm voice. Something had obviously happened that had made Kratos so worried that it showed in his voice.

"Okay." He nodded.

"Good, now keep training." He regained the little composure he had lost, "I have things to do to accelerate our plans." And with that he was gone as suddenly as he had arrived.


"Lloyd." Came another voice.

"What is it, Pronyma?" he asked irritably. He was too concerned over Kratos' actions and too anxious to return to his training to deal with this woman's attitude.

"Lord Yggdrasil requires your presence." She explained, she wore a disturbing smile on her face which he did not like. "I believe he has an important assignment for you."

"Fine." He replied, closing his eyes and concentrating. When he opened his eyes, he was face to face with his lord. A flash behind him indicated Pronyma had teleported right behind him. "You summoned me, My Lord?" he was trying to keep his temper in check. In honesty he was still angry that he had confronted his friends the way he did without even explaining himself. He clenched his fists tightly when he saw the makeshift necklace he now wore. The still bloodstained ring that belonged to Yuan was now a trophy. He had covered it in Yuan's blood before he returned from his last assignment to make it look as if he forced it from him. Kratos' previous words still haunted him however, so he kept his silence.

"I have a new task for you, young Irving." Yggdrasil began, "I believe you are best suited for the job."

"What is your command?" he asked.

"I have discovered that one of the laws I placed on these worlds when I split them in two has been broken completely." He started to explain very slowly, taunting him, "I graciously let this go as I was so near my goal and I deemed the threat to be too small to make any difference. Now I see that was a mistake and the perpetrators should be dealt with." He paused, allowing Lloyd's mind to wander the possibilities of what he was about to order. "Summoning is against my law and anyone born to be a summoner, or those who hide one are to be sentenced to death."

Lloyd's eyes widened in horror, "You..."

"As per our deal I shall choose to forgive your precious summoner. Mizuho, however is not so lucky, and for hiding one from me they must be destroyed." He paused, enjoying the look of fear and uncertainty in Lloyd's eyes, "You shall be the one to do so."

Lloyd gasped in horror once again, "Destroy Mizuho?" he almost whimpered. He couldn't do that. Those people were innocent, despite what he said. But this was Sheena's wellbeing at stake, and he could not risk that.

"Please...don't do anything..."

Sheena would never forgive him if he did this, even if it was to keep her safe. Kratos; words echoed in his mind again. He knew something would happen if he were to refuse this task.

"...If he tells you to do anything you feel isn't right..."

"So Lloyd" Asked Yggdrasil calmly, "Will you do what I ask?"

"...For me; don't do it..."


"What was that?" Yggdrasil smiled, expecting this response.

"I will not!" he yelled defiantly. "You're sick for creating this pathetic rule of summoners."

"So I guess you know longer care for your own summoner?" he asked cruelly, "I guess you won't mind if I go ahead and dispose of her now?"

"You won't touch her!" he drew his swords and charged. Yggdrasil smiled.


'I'm doing it, Lloyd.' Thought Sheena, as the remaining members of the World Regeneration group were heading to Altamira. It was a clear day as they flew through the sky, and Sheena was thankful she had time to think by herself, 'I'm keeping everyone together.' She looked towards the others, each on their individual Rheaird. "I won't let us fall apart."

"You have five more minutes together...use them well."

Both Sheena and Lloyd watched in slight shock as Yuan left them alone. He actually had a soft spot to give them time alone. That ring must have been for someone dear to him. They both looked at each other; they were still so close. "Sheena." Lloyd began, "I want you to do something for me." She looked into his eyes and saw a concerned look within them. "I know I'm asking a lot considering what you were put through, but I want you to keep everyone together."

"Huh?" what did he mean?

"With everything that's happening, with what people have done...I'm worried that the others may fall apart because of it." She gasped in slight shock, "I don't want that to happen, they're...we're stronger as a group than when we split up, whether physically or in terms of our relationship." He blushed slightly at this word.

"Lloyd, I promise." she saw his blush and grew a shade of red on her own face. She could not say how much she wanted to close the remaining distance between them, but still she felt somewhat unworthy to do so. She still felt responsible for what was happening to Lloyd. "Lloyd, I, I need you to do something for me too." She looked away, eyes slightly welling with tears. "Please...don't do anything you'll regret. If he tells you to do anything you feel isn't right. Even if he threatens my life if you refuse." She looked back into his eyes with sheer defiance in her own eyes, "For me; don't do it."


"Please. Promise me."

"I don't want to lose you." He gripped her hands tighter, not wanting to let her go.

"You won't lose me." She gave a warm yet sad smile, "I don't want you doing things that are against your ideals just for me. Besides, I beat him before; with everyone's help we can stop him if he comes after us."

Lloyd stared deep into her eyes, she meant this. She wouldn't accept any other answer from him. "Okay."

"Lloyd..." she couldn't help herself, she moved closer to Lloyd, bringing their bodies together.

"Sheena." He brought his face closer to hers.

The sound of running footsteps interrupted them, "Lloyd? Sheena! You guys are okay!"

Sheena brought a hand to her lips; she was so close to what she had desired for so long. If only they had a few more seconds before the others had shown up.

"We're here!" came Zelos' voice loudly, shaking her away from her thoughts. Sure enough, they had reached the small island that Altamira resided. Knowing they could not land within the resort itself, they aimed for an open area just outside. No sooner had they landed, that a group of bandits instantly came to charge them from the nearest forest, in their attempt at an ambush. This was not a surprise to their group however; the Rheairds had always attracted attention wherever they went as they weren't too inconspicuous when it came to travelling. They had been 'ambushed' several times before, so this wasn't entirely unexpected.

"Those are some fancy tools you have there." Said the only bandit with any decent armour on; this was obviously their leader. "I'd suggest if you don't want to get hurt that you hand them and any other valuables over to us." There were five of them in total, the leader who had a large broadsword, a witch, an archer and two other swordsmen. Despite the leader's impressive armour, the others were only clothed in basic leather outfits; hardly sufficient to block attacks.

"Please stay out of our way." Said Sheena, before anyone else could answer, as she jumped off her Rheaird, and putting it back within her wing pack. "We don't have time to deal with you."

This took the bandit's leader by surprise, not expecting such a demeaning response. "You've got some nerve, girlie." He growled, "I'm giving you a chance to walk away with your lives and I suggest you..." he wasn't given the chance to finish. Sheena had thrown a card at him, which connected with his chest plate. The impact sent him flying back to the forest they jumped out from, colliding with a tree. He slowly slid to the ground, releasing his sword as he lost consciousness.

"Boss!" cried one of the swordsmen as he charged towards the ninja who incapacitated his leader, swinging his sword widely. Without any effort, she dodged the blade and with a single punch to the side of his face he was knocked out cold too. Not giving the others a chance to act she threw two more cards, one slicing through the archers bow, the other wrapping around the witches staff before exploding, shattering the weapon and forcing the witch to the ground. A mere glare was enough to make the last swordsman drop his sword and back away. He rushed to his fallen comrade, and literally dragged him away from the warrior as the archer supported the witch by the shoulder as they retreated towards the forest.

"Wow...Sheena." started Genis. The group were amazed at how the ninja had defeated the bandits so effortlessly, without causing any of them serious harm. "That was amazing!"

"And terrifying!" added Zelos, a slight note of fear in his voice, as he remembered how easily she seem to get angry with him. "Remind me not to get on your bad side."

They watched as Sheena turned around to face them, a satisfied smile on her face. As soon as she saw them however, she was back in her stance, a furious glare etched on her face. She flicked her wrist, ready to launch another card. Expecting to see an enemy sneaking up on them from behind, they all turned around, readying their weapons to see...nothing. There was no-one there. They looking back at Sheena, whose eyes were widened in shock, the card she was about to throw, grasped tightly in her hand. By its crumpled look, she had grabbed it at the last minute. "Sheena?" asked Colette, "Are you okay?"

"Colette." She gasped, before quickly regaining her composure. "Sorry, I thought I saw someone behind you but it was nothing." Everyone still noticed the worried look in her eyes. "Come on! Let's go!" and without letting the others ask any other questions, she headed towards Altamira.


Kratos was staring at Anna's grave, thinking of all the things that happened. He was waiting for Dirk to return to his home so he could see how well he was doing. The lack of materials meant it was important for Dirk to create the Ring of the Pact first go, so he had planned on practicing the technique with materials of a similar nature. Right now he was not home, obviously out collecting materials. He saw no point walking aimlessly in search for him, and decided to wait for him. "Anna, I'm sorry I failed to keep him safe. He should never have been forced in to joining Cruxis."

"You are so predictable, Kratos." Came a voice behind him, "Even after 4000 years."

"Yuan?" Kratos almost gasped. "What are you doing here? You are putting everything at risk."

"Ah," he began, slowly walking towards him, "so you guessed Lloyd had not killed me. Or was Lloyd unable to keep it hidden from you?"

"Don't change the subject, Yuan. You are putting Lloyd at risk revealing yourself like this!" Yuan could not help to notice the temper rising in his voice.

"You are getting sloppy and reckless Kratos. Remember it is not just Lloyd's fate but mine and our whole plan that is at risk if I was discovered. Do you really think I'd let Mithos find me?" Kratos didn't respond as he stared at his old friend, trying to keep his face clear. "Tell me," he began, realising Kratos was not going to speak, "How is the preparations going for the Ring of the Pact?"

Kratos gasped, "How did you?"

"I already told you, you are getting sloppy and reckless. You are lucky Mithos pays little attention to the minor details of the world, otherwise he would piece together your frequent trips to Lloyd's father, or to Heimdall with the recent theft of mere wood by a mysterious stranger from the King's palace. He did destroy that forest for a reason besides luring your son's group."

"What do you want, Yuan?" he knew that Yuan must be after something.

"Like I asked," he replied smugly, "how are the preparations going for the Ring of the Pact?"

"I have gathered most of the necessary materials and enlisted Dirk to forge it. The only material I'm missing is..."

"Aionis." Interrupted Yuan, and Kratos nodded, "That was always going to be the hardest. Mithos wouldn't give it to anyone, not even you." Kratos gave no response, knowing this was true, "Thankfully, I have this all taken care of."

"What do you have planned?"

Yuan laughed, "Come now, my old friend. You know me better than that. When do I show my hand before it's time?"

"Damn it, Yuan!" Kratos growled, "This is the fate of my son and his friends! This is my own fate. I need to know when it's time."

Yuan stared at him closely, "If it's your son's fate you are worried about, then I'd suggest you pay attention to Mithos' final card in controlling him."

"Do you know what he has planned?" Yuan seemed to have a habit of finding out things he shouldn't. Did he know what Mithos had done in order to secure Lloyd's loyalty?

"All I know is that he has confidence in it; he knows he'll be able to control Lloyd." Yuan placed his hand on his chin thoughtfully. "But that's not what I mean. Mithos is sure to prove to Lloyd he is in control. He'll no doubt push Lloyd into challenging him."

"I've told him to keep his cool. He shouldn't lose his temper."

"Have you truly become that naive?" he asked, obviously irritated, "You know what Mithos has become, the lengths he stoops to. I guarantee you that Mithos will make Lloyd challenge him. He'll order him to do something he knows he'll refuse, then all he needs to do is threaten Sheena."

Kratos gasped in shock. How did he overlook this? "Lloyd!" he vanished in a flash of light.

"You need to be careful, Kratos." Yuan started, although it was too late for this warning, "Your feelings for your son are clouding your judgement. If you aren't careful, Lloyd won't need to be the one to break Origin's seal.


"Let's see." Said George, Regal's assistant, as he looked through the files on the shelves in front of him. The group had met with him and, thanks to Regal, had convinced him to let them see the recent dispatch of Zircon. "Ah, here we go." He handed a sheet of paper over to Regal.

"Thank you, George." He replied, reaching for the information, "I assure you it is greatly appreciated." Before he could get a proper hold on it, there was a bang, and large cloud of smoke filled the room, "NO!" cried Regal. As soon as the smoke cleared, they saw that the sheet of paper had vanished.

"Wh-What happened?" asked Genis, looking around, "Where did that smoke come from?"

"Sheena?" asked Colette, worriedly. Sheena had walked to the window that was now wide open. On the floor beneath the window, a kunai had been forced into the wood boards, with a small piece of paper attached to it.

"Kuchinawa." She said, pulling the kunai free, "He took it. He's challenging me."

"Oh great, that guy!" exclaimed Zelos, "How do you know it was him?"

She raised the knife to show the paper attached to it. There was a red snake coiling into itself. "I'm sorry, Sheena." Said Regal sadly, "I should have reacted faster. I should have grabbed the information." George too looked very apologetic.

"It's not your fault," she answered, "by the look of it he was following us for a while, and planning his move." A mixture of emotions ran through her, she was angry that Kuchinawa had interfered with their plans, she felt regret for being the reason he did so. She didn't have the time to fight him, nor did she want to. She knew she would have to deal with him eventually, but she didn't know how; part of her still wanted to let him kill her as punishment for what happened to Mizuho...but she couldn't die...not yet.

"So where is he?" asked Presea.

"He'll be outside Altamira." She answered, "He'll want the space to fight." She turned to the lifts, obviously making her way back outside to city.

"I guess we going there then." Sighed Zelos, as he followed suit. Before the door opened however, he put a hand on her shoulder. "Sheena. You know Lloyd will never forgive you if try sacrificing yourself again." He wasn't asking her.

Everyone was shocked at his sudden seriousness, but Sheena did not seem to care as she replied, "I know."

Done! Changed the Kuchinawa scene slightly but I thought it might work better. Hope you enjoyed reading and I'll update when I can.