"I do not own Tales of Symphonia" – I.K.A. Valian

He was falling, that he knew from the amount of air that was rushing past him and a certain sense of weightlessness that he felt. He couldn't see anything because of the oppressive and complete darkness he was surrounded by. His numb skin kept him from feeling the tears rolling down and then flying off of his cheeks, but he still knew that he was crying. He was confused by these tears. He couldn't remember what they were for.

Suddenly, the darkness lifted in a flash and the boy was now falling through the sky. The sun-blinded boy reoriented his body so that he was falling face down, enabling him to see a bright blue ocean in every direction. The waves reflected the sun light coming from overhead creating a dancing light show in every direction. The air was warmer too, for the boy could now feel nerves returning to life in his body. As the boy fell, he silently admired the amazing ocean directly below him, enjoying the feeling of rushing warm air flying past him. Soon, the peninsula of a large land mass came into view, the boy could make out forests and meeting the ocean were huge cliffs.

When the boy's altitude was low enough, he could see a large structure in the middle of the forest, as well as a village nestled in the valley formed by a small mountain and a plateau on the opposite side. What caught the boy's attention next was a bright light coming from a stone structure sitting by itself next to the ocean. The boy was so distracted by the bright light that he didn't notice the ground he was going to crash into. His scream could be heard for miles, as well as the following explosion. Dirt and rocks exploded hundreds of feet into the air, forming a mini mushroom, and then came raining back down in a deadly storm of shrapnel and boulders.

The boy didn't know how long he was unconscious before he woke up in the center of a large crater. When he tried to move he found his entire body was covered by large and heavy rocks almost as big as him. Once realizing that he had no way of escaping, let alone moving, he began to feel his rocky prison closing in on him. He couldn't see anything, but he could feel the air becoming thicker, his breathing became labored as he struggled to free some part of his body. Panic, like a thrashing boar, found its way into his whole being as he screamed as loudly as he could, tears of abject terror fell freely down his face while he contemplated his demise in a small cramped space that wouldn't allow movement of any kind.

When the boy's voice had become so ragged that he could barely make anymore sounds, his mind recognized the futility of fighting circumstances larger than himself. His body went limp, his fighting spirit spent, and he lay there. All hope had deserted him when he heard the faintest of scratching sounds from above him. The will to live once again flared inside of his young body as he again started struggling, this time motivated not by panic but determination not to die in a place like this. The scratching grew closer to the struggling boy and then became a scratching and crunching as hands finally punched through the densely packed rock and touched the boy's head.

"I'm alive!" he tried to scream, but all that came out was croaking and wheezing as his dry throat attempted to and failed to form speech. Nonetheless, the person whose hand was touching his head heard him, yelling to everyone who was with him that he found someone. The boy then felt the hand leave only to feel more and more of the rocks lifted off of his entrapped body until he finally was lifted free of the hole formed exactly to his body. The group of ten formed a conveyor system, lifting the boy up and out of the crater and laying him down on the ground. The boy, happy to be alive and free of the dark prison he was just inhabiting, could only lay there and cry tears that would not come from his over used tear ducts.

"I can't believe he is alive," said an astonished woman, who had considerately placed a blanket over the boy's nude form.

"I don't know how he survived that explosion, he is one lucky lad," a nearby elderly man said. He turned and looked back into the crater. "That explosion was huge, I'm sure the Desians are going to send men to investigate this."

"Do you really think so Mayor?" asked a young man standing next to him.

"Yes, I'm certain of it. Anything like that might make them think they are under attack. We must not let them think our village is to blame," the mayor replied hastily. He walked quickly over to the boy who was still lying on the ground and kneeled down. He looked straight into the boys eyes and said, "I don't know who you are or where you came from, but I will not let the Desians think that we were harboring you. If for an instant they thought so, they would not hesitate to burn down the village once again." The mayor then looked up and addressed the rest of the people standing around him. "When the Desians come looking for the cause of the explosion, we will hand over the boy." This statement brought gasps from the three women there and hardening of expressions in the rest. "Hopefully, they will show leniency and spare the village. Let's not have a repeat of the last time the Desians came looking for someone." There was complete silence for a few moments as the mayor's words sunk in. "Now then," commanded the mayor, "Back to Iselia."

Four men picked up an arm and a leg of the boy each and started carrying him, the blanket laid on top of the boy flying off forcing a young woman to go chasing after it. The mayor led the group back toward the village. The boy saw smoldering fires and several black stalks of once vibrant evergreen trees as the four men carried him into Iselia. Some of the houses were still smoking while most had fire damage of some kind here and there. The only building that the boy being carried could find with no damage was a long building with lots of children inside of it, a school house he assumed. A young boy then came running at the ten adults who were carrying the boy, screaming in terror with tears flooding down his cheeks.

"Mommy, mommy!" the boy screamed, running over to the woman who was once again putting a blanket over the nude boy on the ground. "Mommy," her son cried again, "the Desians are coming back again, there are lots of them and they look mean, and I'm scared." The woman shushed her son as the villagers surrounding her immediately bolted into action. The men all went down one of the three pathways in Iselia to gather villagers who were not in the immediate area and lead them to the school house, while the women all ran to their homes to retrieve the children there or went directly into the school house. The mayor ran in the direction that the hysterical boy came from.

"What's going on?" asked the boy on the ground. The woman holding her crying son glanced sympathetically at the boy on the ground, and then ran into the school house. The boy then asked the same question to one of the men who carried a pitchfork around and he got nearly the same answer. The boy stood up and, holding the blanket around him, looked around him at the manic desperation the scrambling villagers. Down the left most pathway the boy saw an old woman standing hunched over a cane. He walked over to her and asked, "What is wrong with everyone?"

"Oh, my. Who might you be?" she asked calmly in response. The boy was visibly soothed by the calmness in the old woman's voice.

"I…" the boy stopped, confused. "I can't remember who I am." He looked at the old woman and asked, "Who are you?"

Kindly she said, "My name is Phaidra Brunel, but you can call me Phiadra." Phaidra then noticed the blanket that the boy was holding around himself. "Please come in. Let's see if we can find you something to wear." Phaidra turned and went into the rather nice house behind her. The boy glanced about him, noticing that the previous frantic village was now nearly deserted. Then, realizing that the door was left open for him, he rushed in and closed it behind him. The boy looked around the inside of the wooden house and saw a multitude of plant life, but the old woman had disappeared leaving him alone in the large room. The boy walked over to sit in a wooden chair. He placed his left hand on the large dining table while holding the blanket around his waist. He jumped out of that chair and almost lost his grip on the blanket when a man came down the stairs holding a white bundle of clothes and a pair of boots.

When the man handed the bundle to the boy he said, "The dress is my daughter's, I'm sorry I couldn't find anything that was your size. The pants and boots are my own though, I hope these aren't too large for you. It's too bad Genis isn't here, or we could have him lend you some of his clothes, you two seem to be the same age and size from what I can tell."

"Thank you, um…"

"Frank, and it's no problem at all. My daughter won't be back from the journey of regeneration for a … long while." After mentioning his daughter, the tall man seemed to dishearten in a way. But he visibly readjusted his features into smile with a deep breath. "Phaidra tells me that you don't know your name, why don't we make one up." The boy had just buttoned up the blue trimmed white dress and started working on the brown pants. Without looking up, the boy nodded in answer to Frank's offer. "How about Gaar, it supposed mean mystery," Frank offered.

"Gaar, Gaar," the boy said, testing the sound of the word, "yeah, I think that will work. Thank you for the clothing."

"Oh, you're quite welcome." Frank smiled when he saw that the dress acted more like full length robes. He turned to the window and looked out into the village. "Oh! What happened to the villagers?"

The boy crouched down to tie up the boots and asked, "Umm, if you don't mind me asking, what are Desians?"

Frank's face showed surprise for an instant before he replied. "I see, so it was Desians that caused the villagers to vanish. They tend to have that effect on folks round here, after what they did last time." Frank turned around and walked toward the table. Gaar stood up and looked at his new appearance as best he could, twisting back and forth several times. "I'm sure you saw the fire damage all over town," Frank continued.

"The Desians really did that? To the entire town even? I heard the people who saved me talking about it." Gaar looked astonished that anyone would purposely burn down a town.

Frank nodded to the boy's questions. "They blew up two homes last time and set fire to the rest of the village. They claimed it was punishment for breaking a non-aggression treaty Iselia has with them. Of course, they could have burned the village anyway, regardless of anything the villagers might have done to them." Franks disgust with the Desians was apparent to Gaar in the way he sarcastically described them.

Silence stuffed the room until there was a knock at the door, which caused both occupants of the room to jump an inch. Frank stood up and headed to the door saying, "Let me handle this." He opened the wooden door and stood in a way so that whoever was outside would not be able to see inside. "How may I help you Mayor," Frank inquired.

"I'm here for the boy. I want to take him to the square and present him to the Desians," came the gruff reply from the mayor. They mayor tried to push past Frank but he stood his ground. "Please move out of the way Frank."

"Mayor, the last time we tried to appease the Desains, they broke it themselves and then blamed us for breaking it later just so they could burn half of Iselia down. What makes you think that–"

"Don't," and then in a more quiet voice, "argue with me Frank. You know perfectly well that the Non-aggression treaty was for the benefit of your daughter."

"And of course, the village also benefited from my daughters protection, living carefree while the Desians butcher people in their ranch. Don't act so self-righteous, the only reason that you are want to hand over the boy is to save your own hide." Frank finished and glared at the mayor. The mayor glared back.

Finally, the mayor said, "Is it so wrong to sacrifice one person's well being so that others may live." That seemed to break Frank's will as his shoulders slumped and he moved to the side, which let the mayor and two guards carrying pitchforks into the house. The guards walked over to the boy and leveled their weapons at the boy while the mayor just said, "Now come with us boy." One of the guards poked Gaar in the back, who shot forward a few feet and then, rubbing his back, started out the door. Gaar looked at Frank who gave him a look as if to say 'I'm Sorry'. Gaar just nodded in return.

"It's alright." Gaar said. "Thank you for your kindness." Gaar walked out the door with the two guards right on his heel. The mayor stayed behind to talk to Frank a little while longer. Gaar was escorted to the front of the village where six men stood in linear formation. They stood as still as would be expected from basic military training.

As soon as the Iselian guards had brought Gaar to stand just in front of them, the right most soldier said, "Stop. We claim the boy that the mayor has told us caused the disturbance and escort him back to the Iselia Ranch. Hand him over." The two guards behind Gaar poked him one more time, pushing him closer to the six soldiers, and then stepped backwards. "You have been identified as subject # 7834, you will be sent to the Iselia Ranch for processing and assignment. Hold out your hands, Human." Gaar's face twisted when the disgust in the soldiers voice.

"Are you Desians," Gaar asked, his hands kept at his side. He stared directly at the one who was speaking before. However, it was one of the soldiers in the middle who answered when he took his whip off of his belt.

"The commander said hold out your hands, WORM!" the whip wielding soldier said. Then he lashed the boy along the arm, which left a rip in the white sleeve of the dress. Gaar cried out in pain.

"How come you burned the village," Gaar asked through clenched teeth.

"Arrgh!" The Desian started whipping the boy faster and harder, enunciating after each whiplash, "You. Filthy. Human! When. You. Are. Told. What. To. Do! Do. It! You. Filthy. Pathetic. Human!" When the Desian finished with his assault on the young boy, he stood hunched over, breathing heavy from the exertion. Gaar was left on the ground in a fetal position covered from head to toe in welts, cuts, bruises, and blood spots. The tears in the dress and pants fluttered in the slight breeze.

"Chain him and escort him back to the ranch." said the commander, who turned and walked out of the village followed closely by two other Desians. Two of the Desians that were holding the chain linked cuffs walked over to Gaar and attached them around his wrists. The Desian who was whipping Gaar chuckled before he turned around and followed the commander, a broad smile plastered on his face. The two Desians who chained the unconscious boy grabbed the chain connecting his wrists and dragged his bloodied form behind them as they left Iselia. Smears of blood were left behind by Gaar's wounds as the Desians dragged him away.