"I do not own the Tales of Symphonia!" – I.K.A. Valian
Raine's eyes fluttered open and for a second, she swore Genis was standing right next to her. She rubbed her eyes roughly and quickly looked again. To her disappointment though, it wasn't Genis standing there, but Colette.
The blond was biting her lower lip uncertainly and had her arm extended out. When the younger girl saw that her teacher was awake, she broke into a smile.
"Good morning, Professor!"
Raine groaned as she sat up and rubbed her face. "Good morning, Colette," she muttered back. She reached a hand up and straightened her unruly bed-head and then stretched her arms and legs out with a loud yawn.
"Professor, we're going to meet with Governor-General Dorr today."
Raine blinked. "We are?" Colette nodded. "That's nice dear. Could you tell me what time it is?"
"It's still morning, but you must have been really tired because you're usually up earlier than this. Lloyd was up before you."
Raine stretched and yawned again. "I was really tired yesterday. That boat ride took a lot out of me." She shuddered from the memory and had to force a surge of bile back down her throat.
"Well, we're all ready to go, so we'll meet you down stairs." Raine nodded at Colette. The blond chosen left the room as Raine stood up. She picked up her staff and item bag, equipping them in their proper places. Then she turned to leave and stopped mid stride. Curious as to what would stop her, Raine turned around and her eyes were drawn to the bejeweled hammer.
"Oh… I almost forgot you. Better not forget again." Raine picked up the hammer and looked at it closely. A strange expression flickered across her face and her eyes widened in wonder. "You really are a fantastic specimen." That light in her eyes died soon after it was ignited. "If only Genis were here to see you as well." Raine walked to the door and left the room. Downstairs, she met up with the others and they all left the Inn.
On the way to the Governor-General's office, Raine asked about what happened after she went to bed the previous day. Kratos informed her that Lloyd had improved little since their last training session. Lloyd protested that by saying he was still better than he was in Asgard to which Kratos made an unintelligible response.
Colette informed Raine that she'd procured another Palma Potion before it was too late and given it to those travelers from the previous day. Sheena snorted and called Colette a 'Turbo Waitress'. Colette blushed bright red in response to this and said that the head chef had called her that as she left.
Raine was laughing at this as the group came up to the Governor-General's office building. The front steps were well worn marble, obviously well cared for since there was no dirt or anything for that matter to mar their surface. Several large marble pillars shone in the morning sunlight as they held up the front of the roof. Two guards stood in rough and tough armor aside a large intricately carved wooden door.
The two guards reached out and opened the door for the group and closed it behind them once they'd entered. In front of them was a heavy wooden half circle desk. Behind the large arch were four men and a few guards scattered about the room. A little girl stood quietly behind the oldest man in the room, fidgeting left and right.
"Welcome," said the older man. "As per the teachings of Martel, we welcome all travelers and pilgrims to Palmacosta with open arms." He stood with a straight back, probably a left over from military service. His hair was blond and his beard, though rough, was combed and well kept. He wore a purple cloth robe with three sashes around his middle, a symbol of his position as Governor-General. "I am Governor-General Dorr. What, may I ask, can we do for you?"
Lloyd stepped forward and motioned toward Colette. "This here is Colette, the Chosen from Iselia. We're on the journey for world regeneration. We need to get to the Seal of Water and we're wondering if you could help us."
Dorr leaned back slowly, eying the group critically. He glanced over to his right at a much younger man and then to his left at another man close to his own age. They returned the curious and then all of them turned back toward the group that was now the center of attention.
"You've seen the Tower of Salvation, correct?" Dorr nodded patiently at Raine. "Well the situation is as Lloyd says. Colette here is the Chosen of Mana and we would like your help finding the Seal of Water."
"…Are you saying that this girl is the Chosen of Mana? The chosen who will liberate the world and set free the Goddess Martel who sleeps in the center of the world?"
Colette coughed into her hand, then nodded and smiled brightly. "Ah, um, yes. It seems that way, anyway."
"Governor-General Dorr?!" shouted the younger man to Dorr's left. Dorr nodded and crossed his arms.
"The Chosen of Mana was here not but yesterday." Dorr stood up quickly and slammed his fist down on the table. "How dare you defile that venerated name and title! Guards!" A shuffling caused the group to look behind them and find a host of armor clad soldiers filling the hall behind them. Their weapons, polearms, were all pointed toward the group. "Take these despicable criminals who would besmear the good name of the Chosen into custody. After a thorough beating they will be handed over to the Church of Martel for judgment."
"Bu- what are you talking about?!" shouted Lloyd. One of the guards grabbed onto Lloyd's arm and started dragging him backwards. "Hey! Get off me!"
Another guard grabbed Colette from behind. "Ouch, hey, that hurt!"
"Chosen!" Kratos shoved the soldier grabbing him into a wall and dashed for the blond being marched from the room. Then, as providence would have it, Colette tripped and pulled the soldier down with her. Since all the soldiers were very close together in the small room they all somehow managed to be pulled down as well. This resulted in a large pile of bodies falling down like a stack of dominos.
Colette, blushing, immediately stood up. "I'm so sorry," she gushed, "Please forgive me, I'm sorry, please!"
The guard, who Colette was helping up, just stared awestruck at the shimmering crimson wings fluttering behind her. His polearm slipped from his fingers and clattered to the floor. The entire room was silent, staring at Colette. Even Kratos wasn't moving toward Colette anymore, instead he stood smirking with his arms folded over his chest.
"Wow…" exclaimed the little girl in the back of the room. She tugged on Dorr's robe and pointed at Colette. "Father did you see?! Did you see?! She has wings!" The men behind the table, the administrators of the town of Palmacosta, stared on in awe. Colette blushed again and disengaged her wings.
"W… wait!" said the young man to Dorr's left. "Everyone, lower your weapons! This girl before us is without a doubt the Chosen of Mana we've been waiting so long for."
"Yes." Dorr nodded in agreement. He cast his hand out toward the soldiers, pointing toward the door. "Please go back to your duties men. Keep an eye out for those Desian patrols."
The soldiers all turned to Dorr and saluted. Then they started filtering out of the room, though not before each and everyone of them bowed respectfully before Colette. Colette was blushing the entire time, asking everyone to stop bowing, which only made them bow lower. Lloyd was laughing at this until both Raine and Kratos cuffed him in the side of the head.
When everyone was once again settled into their original positions, the younger man on Dorr's left bowed again. "There is no mistaking who you are. Those angel wings make it blindly obvious that you are the Chosen One. Please forgive us."
"Ah, um, please, it's okay," Colette stammered. "It's all right, really. Everyone tells me that I'm not very Chosen-like at all."
"Still," replied the young man. He let his sentence trail off and lowered his head shamefully.
"It's alright, Neil," said Dorr softly. He then faced the group and said, "I apologize for the mix up. I hate admitting this, for it only shames us more, but believing that the group preceding you was the Chosen's group, we gave them the Book of Regeneration. Those imposters must have sold it off by now, as it was a valuable text. Many historians and collectors of ancient items have had their eyes on it for years."
"Wait a minute," said Lloyd. "You said something about those imposters earlier. And what's this Book of Regeneration you're talking about now?"
"The Book of Regeneration is the record of Spiritua's journey of world regeneration," said Neil. "It is the only remaining document containing a detailed record of what happened during that journey and it was a precious heirloom passed down through the generations of Governor-Generals of Palmacosta and the Kings before that."
"Our search for the seals would be greatly aided by the use of that book," said Kratos. He crossed his arms and leveled an accusing stare at Dorr. "And you say that you handed it off to these imposters?" Dorr and Neil nodded reluctantly, pained expressions flitting across their faces.
"… Of course!" Lloyd drew everyone's attention to himself. "I knew something was odd about that group we ran into. Those guys giving us all that trouble must have been the imposters."
"So it would seem," agreed Kratos.
Lloyd turned and asked Dorr, "You don't happen to remember what was written inside of the whatever-it's-called book, do you? Anything you know could help!"
Dorr shook his head. "Sorry, it was written in the language of the angels after all. But I do remember that the cover and a few of the pages were scarred by a fire in the distant past. Sadly, that's all I can remember of it."
"You let a priceless artifact fall to the ravages of the flame?" Raine was bouncing her new hammer up and down threateningly in one hand while glaring at Dorr. The much older man winced and shrank under the silver haired elf's domineering presence.
"Professor, it wasn't his fault." Raine turned her glare onto Lloyd, who also shrank back fearfully. "He said it happened a long time ago," the teen swordsman mumbled almost inaudibly.
"Such discrepancies do not matter in the pursuit of knowledge!" Raine raised her hammer and waved it around menacingly. "Why the Book of Regeneration is one of the most priceless artifacts of history in all of Sylvar-"
"I believe we should withhold our judgment of how badly damaged the book was until we see it for ourselves," said Kratos coolly. "For now, we must focus on finding the collector that the imposters would sell the book to." The mercenary turned to Dorr. "Do you know of anyone who would be most likely to have purchased the book? You said earlier that there were several people who have been keeping an eye on it for a while now."
Dorr nodded. "That is correct. Several people here and in Asgard have been inquiring every year, sometimes more often than that, if they could purchase the book. But perhaps the most insistent was an old man who lives at the peak of the Hakonesia Mountain pass."
"Hakonesia Peak, huh?" Dorr nodded at Lloyd. Determination filled his face as he pumped his fist into the air. "Then that's our goal. Off to Hakonesia peak!"
"Just try to maintain that enthusiasm," said Kratos sarcastically.
Genis was once again stuck inside of that cart. It bumped and jostled as it rolled along the crudely made road. Genis being the only one inside of the cart found this ride to be far more uncomfortable than the one out to the demon's camp. One difference in particular made it more unbearable, that is, the speed at which the cart driver was forcing the horses to move. Very fast.
The entire army was literally running, and had been running for the last day. Ever since the news about the demon attack on their homeland, the Norsemen had been in a panic. They'd packed up in literally under an hour and then all of them made a mad dash for the coast where their ships were moored. What amazed Genis was the fact that they all ran with their armor and weapons on.
Genis hadn't had any sleep for two days now and was beginning to get antsy. He felt like he was going to fall over dead or his head was going to explode, but either way, he was going out with a bang. Alfrún was no longer there with him. Genis was informed that she was to ride a horse at the front of the retreat to the shore.
It was a cold day out today. Strange mists filled the air and fog filled the sky, blotting out the sun and making all the animals and people uneasy. Genis himself wasn't feeling so good, but he couldn't tell if it was the lack of sleep or the depressing fog. And no matter what he did, he just couldn't clear his head. Ever since learning of who was leading the attack on the Norsemen's home he couldn't get a straight thought to flow through his head.
The sudden stop of the cart threw Genis out of the cart and onto the ground. He pushed himself up with a grunt and looked back at the cart. It was stuck in a giant puddle of mud; one of the wheels was sunk halfway down already. The driver jumped clear and cut the horse free so that it wouldn't be dragged down into the mud with the cart. Once sure that the horse was save and the cart gone, the man turned his horse and rode hard in the direction that the rest of the army was marching.
Genis stared at the retreating forms of the men running past him. He then looked back at the cart. Then back forward. And then back again. With a great sigh, Genis started walking in the same direction as the army.
Hours later Genis was dead on his feet. There were less men running past him now. Most of the army had already made it to the coast and now only the stragglers were left. Genis, mind blank, was stumbling behind. As one of the last in the long line of travelers, no one noticed Genis fall flat onto his face.
Genis welcomed the end to his torment. No more running, no more moving. Only rest. He listened to the air around him move, rushing past him and blowing his hair about his head. He felt the air and the cool mist moving against his skin as it moved and welcomed it. He heard the silence of nature in the air. And when Genis opened his eyes, he saw one of the largest feet he'd ever seen coming down toward his head.
With a yelp, Genis rolled out of the way just in time to watch the large appendage slam into the ground where his head once rested. Genis followed the leg attached to the enormous foot up into the fog where it disappeared. The thudding of various other footsteps woke Genis up to the fact that he was not alone on the grass.
His head cleared instantly. Genis jumped to his feet and started running down the hill. Ahead he could hear the sounds of battle and behind him he could hear the thunder of an army.
Genis ran, stumbled a few times, and then fell and rolled to a stop. He grunted as he felt a gash open up in his arm, but he pushed the pain to the back of his mind and stood back up. Falling back into a quick pace, Genis plunged into daylight and clear air.
Stumbling to a stop, Genis looked behind him and up at the large wall of fog. Looking forward presented him with an uninterrupted view of the ocean coast, the boats docked there, and the demons and Norsemen fighting each other.
The demons' running past quickly noticed the silver haired elf gawking. Several cries brought the elf's attention to the demon's bearing down on him. Genis launched into action. He snatched up his kendama and started casting a spell. The Mana, tinged red, swirled around Genis like an angry solar flare.
"Eruption!" Genis threw his kendama forward and sent the fire tinted Mana free. The spell's Mana sped along the ground, but then Genis noticed something was wrong with the spell. The Mana slowly sank into the ground and just before it reached the demons, it completely disappeared beneath the surface of the Earth.
"What?!" Genis didn't have time to figure out what happened because the demons that the spell was supposed to stop kept on running toward him. So, he turned and ran toward the shore where the Norse soldiers had managed to push the demons back far enough to man their ships and ready them for shove off.
Just as Genis reached the gravely beaches the ground began to shake. At first it wasn't so bad, but it quickly ramped up to the point where no one could walk without falling over, both demon and Norse alike. The waves lapping on the shore became larger. And behind Genis, the demons' chasing him perked their ears and looked back the way they'd come.
The ground, exactly where Genis had cast his spell, rumbled and roiled like a bowl of shaken water. Then the earth split opened violently, and just like the spell, the innards of the Earth erupted. The glowing red magma poured forth from the new volcano, quickly covering the giants and demons in its path to the sea. Chaos ensued as every living thing cast aside the fight and began fleeing the planet's fury.
"Little Master!" Genis spun around when he heard Alfrún shout his name.
"Alfrún!" The woman stood at the bow of a ship waving worriedly at him while the boat was being shoved away from the shore by frantic Norsemen. Genis sprinted forward and then tripped on a rock jutting out of the beach.
He let out a yelp of surprise when a giant hand wrapped completely around his small body and lifted him up. The giant brought Genis right in front of his face just as an arrow pierced into his head.
Suddenly free, Genis quickly jumped free of the giant's falling form and landed a few feet away. He was slightly surprised by his feat of acrobatics but didn't give it much thought as the lava he'd unleashed crept closer and closer by the second. Genis ran up to the boat Alfrún was on and jumped. A large hand reached out and grabbed a hold of his collar, dragging him up the rest of the way up.
The General in charge of the Norsemen dumped Genis onto the deck of the ship and signaled to his men to cast off. As the ship was roughly pushed away from the shore, Genis stood up and looked back.
The lava had completely covered the shore within the valley, making it glow an angry red. The demons that had escaped the lava on the land drowned in the ocean or were shot by arrows as the boats of the Norsemen passed. The demons in the sky didn't last to long before they were shot down as well. A few of the Norsemen's ships were little more than wrecks, but it appeared that the damage was done during the fighting and not by the new volcano.
"Little Master, I must apologize for leaving you behind."
"No, Alfrún, it's all right. Everyone was in a rush so it's understandable."
"I'm afraid you do not understand, Little Master. I had a reason for returning ahead of the army. It was because my Uncle wished it so."
"Your uncle? I thought you said your whole family was killed by the demons?"
Alfrún fell silent for several moments. She stared absently at the receding shore. Then she said, "No, not entirely. Only my immediate family was killed. My Uncle survived. In fact, he was the one who saved me and Esileif from the demons when my father and brothers were felled. He took us into his house and cared for us until it was decided that our people should strike back at the Demons.
The night that the fleet left, I snuck on board a ship and traveled with the army across the sea. I wanted my chance to avenge my parents and gain back our families honor. But my Uncle quickly found out and had me locked in a room. When we finally reached land, I was confined to the camp, that is, until you showed up. My Uncle didn't want you getting in the way, and I was to look after you and keep you in line. But when the order to retreat was announced, I was brought to the front of the line and told that I'd be one of the first to leave. When I asked about your welfare, no one would give me an answer. So please, forgive me for abandoning you, but it was out of-"
"Hey," Genis interrupted, "it's okay. I'm really not all that important you know." Alfrún was about to respond when one of the sailors came by and grabbed them both by the wrist.
"You two are to stay in your rooms until the voyage is complete," said the gruff man. He roughly hauled the two below decks and then shoved them into a small cramped room with several beds stuffed into it. "This'll be where you're staying. Keep quiet and don't make a ruckus in here. Got it?" Without waiting for an answer, the sailor shut the hatch. Both Genis and Alfrún sighed at the same time.
"How long is the trip back to your home?"
Alfrún looked dismally out of the small porthole and out at the ocean. "Last time, it took fourteen days for us to finally come ashore." Genis wasn't able to hide his dismay at the news. Alfrún noticed this and went on. "But I think that most of that time was spent scouting out the area. At most, I think it should only be six days before we arrive in Sundsvall."
Genis sighed and sat down on one of the cots. "I just hope Gaar's okay. What could have caused him to change his name? Did he remember who he was?"
"Are you sure your friend wasn't with the Demon's already?" Alfrún asked.
"No," Genis shook his head. "Gaar was always a little weird. But he was kind of like Lloyd. He wasn't that smart, but he wanted to do what was right." Genis lay back on the cot and closed his eyes. "What in the world is going on?!"
"I wish I knew the answer to that as well, Little Master," Alfrún said sadly. The small fleet of Norse ships sailed into the Baltic Sea, bearing north.
Yearg! I live! Granted, it's only been eight days, but still, that's a long time in fanfiction days. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the chapter. Please review, and thanks for reading!