Mutterings in Angelic

"Kalibkyv, me'Il mythsem kug ryt'Il omladnu?" Kratos muttered to the air around him and sighed, not expecting an answer. Neither he nor Anna was stupid, so he could only conclude that Lloyd's utter lack of intelligence originated from his dwarven foster father. Perhaps he would have been smarter, if only the mercenary had been the one to raise him.

"Kratos, is something wrong?" The Chosen paused in her explanation of double inflections to the elven schoolteacher to turn and favor him with a worried expression.

Did she... understand? He suppressed that thought before it could go any further; there was no need to worry about things that could not be. It was merely the Chosen being as she always was. While the Angelic the Chosen knew and the Common Kratos knew were essentially the same language, Common had undergone the mutations of time, and Angelic had forcefully adhered to the demanding strictures of the more traditional form of the language.

"Omyinis," he shook his head and assured her, taking up the Angelic dialect, "Ae numer'na demytha'den, ji'nol Ilji omdiln'rem."

"Her name is Colette." Lloyd's voice countered absentmindedly from the right of the Iselian healer.

"Ilera mer'Il mythsem," Kratos stated without thinking. He refused to call her anything else; she was the Chosen, and that would be the end of it.

"Her name," Lloyd looked up, glaring at Kratos, "is Colette. Is it really so hard for you to call her that?"

Kratos glared, eyes narrowing, at the challenge in his son's voice. He would call her what he wished. Curtly, he said as much. "Riumvalme mer'nu mythsem ti'mer genivme."

"Kratos, you jerk!" Without warning, Lloyd stood up and stormed off.

He immediately regretted his abrupt response, but even so, he wasn't going to go after him. He'd done no wrong by refusing the boy's request, and Lloyd's outburst had been childish. He looked to his son's retreating form emotionlessly, knowing the twin blade would be back before long. He turned to his dumbstruck companions, not giving Lloyd another thought.

"Wow..." the elemental mage murmured, breaking the silence. He looked to his sister and the Chosen, confusion plain on his small face. "Do either of you get what just happened?"

Both the Chosen and the children's educator shook their heads, also clearly confused. The healer seemed confused and yet her eyes held a flicker of an impressed light as she looked toward the direction Lloyd has gone in the darkening woods around them. Foolish woman; Lloyd had done nothing to merit her admiration. The Chosen watched him, confusion and hurt shining in her eyes. Kratos had done nothing to hurt her, and though it was clear to him that she cared for his child, he'd done nothing wrong to Lloyd, either. She was wrongly accusing him for the ordeal.

"How could you hurt Lloyd?" The Chosen said sadly. "I... I really thought you liked him."

"Hmph." Kratos glared at her, unmoved. This was all being put on him, and he had merely stated a fact. Besides, this was none of their business. His relationship with his son was his own; they had no right to interfere. The fact that his companions didn't know about that was not his problem.

"Go," she commanded, tears beginning to fall from her eyes. He glared even harder; no one ordered him around like that.

Ready to argue his standpoint, Kratos started, "Me'Il-"

"Go." A fierce stubbornness that even surpassed Lloyd's radiated from her as she pointed in the direction Lloyd had left in a short time ago. While he was of a mind to press the point further that this wasn't his fault, he wisely decided against it. He did have a mission to complete, after all, and the Chosen hating him would make things difficult later on.

"Fowesker," he grated. He turned on his heel and left them all behind, eager to get this over with.

-

Two hours later saw two half-elves and an innocent angel sitting around the campfire, yawning. Though her little brother had asked to go to sleep numerous times since Lloyd and Kratos had gone off to who-knows-where to fight with each other some more, she could not let him. They all had to stay awake to watch for monsters until those two immature, arguing social misfits came back; one of them couldn't handle an ambush on their own.

"So," Genis started and ended up inadvertently yawning again, despite his best efforts. "So," he started again, seemingly eager to find anything to talk about to relieve the sleepiness, "Raine. Do you know any ghost stories?"

The professor nodded. "I do, though I'm sure Lloyd would know many more. Is there one in particular you would like to hear?" If her brother had a preference, she would tell it if Colette didn't mind. The small girl was easily scared and usually stayed away from the campfire when Lloyd, or Goddess forbid, even that mercenary launched into a horror-filled, often gruesome legend from times past, scaring them all into wakefulness for the rest of the night. Of course, the older man would then proceed to complain all the next day that they needed to quicken their pace.

"Um," Genis thought a moment before answering, "Tell me about the Dark Denizen of the Tower of Mana."

Raine turned to Colette, intent on asking her if the story her brother asked for was too scary. Seeing as the Tower of Mana was only several days' travel away, Raine was almost certain the girl would refuse. "Colette, is it all right if I tell that story?"

Colette merely continued to stare at the campfire in silence, not even looking to have heard the professor speak at all. She could only guess that the fight between Lloyd and Kratos had hurt her deeply, though Raine was at a loss as to why; those two fought constantly. Then again, Colette was a caring girl. She felt everyone was truly good inside, that people did horrible things because they could not see the Light of the Goddess, and, by following the teachings, everyone was able to become good once again.

It was a pure-hearted view, and Raine had to admit to herself sadly it was one she did not agree with. She envied Colette for her pure heart and hated that she herself could not hold such a view. Knowing the fate of the small girl in front of her, there was no chance she could believe such a thing. Yet, even being the one that fate would fall upon, Colette still managed to believe in the goodness of people's hearts.

If her ill-fated student that had an endless supply of inner strength was suffering, Raine knew it was her duty to soothe the girl's pain. "Colette," she called to get the girl's attention. Seeing no response, she called the girl's name once again louder. "Colette?"

Concern for his friend quickly growing in her little brother from Colette's lack of response, Genis decided to take action by hopping up from his place on the ground and walking over to her student, placing a worried hand on her shoulder. "Colette?"

Jerking at the sounds of his voice, Colette moved her head to look up at Genis, pausing for a moment to look blankly at his hand. "Genis?" she questioned, her voice strained.

He nodded. "Colette, are you okay? You haven't said anything for a while, and you didn't even answer when Raine called for you."

She smiled, the light immediately returning to her eyes, clearly with the intent of trying to satiate his fears. "Oh! Yes!" She laughed lightly to accentuate her point. "I'm fine. I'm sorry to have worried you."

He smiled back, the smile calming him of his worries. While Raine knew better, the perfect smile that lit up the world around her did have a calming effect. The teacher knew about Colette's bad habit of hiding her pain from others, trying to keep them from worrying about her, but Raine also knew there was nothing she could do for the girl. It was at times like this that she felt she had failed her children.

Yes,they are all my children, not just my students, and I have failed them. That thought did not comfort her in the least.

Seeing Colette's fake smile mask her hidden emotions and her little brother glad to see her alright but still a little worried for her, Raine knew she had to do something, even if it wasn't what really needed to be done. She locked her eyes onto the angel of innocence's form. "Colette, do you want to hear a story?"

"But, Raine-" Genis immediately protested, and Raine's hand descended onto his head before she knew what it was doing. "Oww!" Genis exclaimed, rubbing his head. "What was that for?"

"Be nice! Let Colette choose the story!" Her brother didn't know what he was saying, so she'd have to tell him it was wrong, even if she wasn't able to tell him why. The hand and the meager excuse were the only ways she knew how to tell him what he needed to hear.

Colette jumped and turned to the professor. "Oh! Um... It's okay to let Genis choose. "

She let loose a heavy sigh, releasing all of her trapped emotions in a single breath. Turning her gaze to her little brother, she spoke. "You wanted to hear 'The Dark Denizen of the Tower of Mana,' right, Genis?"

"Yeah!" He sat down right where he was at rapt attention.

"Is that alright with you, Colette?" Raine tried once again. With so little time left for the girl to live, she didn't want to scare her away from one of her last chances to sleep.

Colette's smile merely widened. "Yeah. I want to hear it, too!"

She nodded. "Alright. Ten years ago, a young girl named Kaya escaped from the Human Ranch only to become lost. Eventually, she found her way to the Tower of Mana," her tone became excited as she thought of all the wonders she would get to see when they arrived at the Tower, "where she studied all the rare artifacts and even learned Boltzman's technique! Oooh! I can't wait! It'll be fabulous!"

"Raine!"

-

Kratos sighed in frustration. Lloyd was leading him around the forest like a frightened deer running from a hunter and it was quickly becoming irritating. He knew Lloyd's weak friends would not be able to hold their own against any monsters that chose to attack while he was away, and he wanted to go back to the Chosen as soon as possible. It was possible the Chosen would try to befriend any beasts that tried to kill her; he had to be there to protect the girl from herself.

His angelic hearing had been of no help to him, other than to give him a constant reminder of exactly how far ahead his son was, and how hard he was running from him. However, he could already see that for himself by picking out the boy's frame from the darkness. Even the trees did not obstruct his vision of the boy running away. The boy that ran from him because he hated him. Kratos grimaced at the turn his thoughts were taking.

The ear-splitting war cry of an Ogre cut the air, jolting Kratos from his thoughts. He knew that cry only meant one thing: it was about to attack. Instinctively, Kratos whipped his head around in either direction, looking for the monster trying to attack him, and then shook his head, realizing no Ogre would dare. He relaxed his tense muscles as he continued to run, knowing there was no danger from that cry.

He caught another glance of Lloyd running in the distance, and suddenly remembered what he was running for, and who the Ogre would attack. It wasn't him; it was Lloyd. His son stood no chance against one of those fiends alone. He needed help; else, the boy would be sure to die. Kratos could not let that happen.

"Lloyd!" He cried out despite knowing the reckless twin blade would not hear him.

It all happened in what seemed an eternity condensed into a single moment. His eyes widened of their own volition as the scene played out before him. Lloyd, oblivious to his coming attacker, ran on as a lumbering shadow came up quickly from behind him. The beast, in a rare moment of agility, took a dive at its ignorant prey, effectively knocking the boy to the ground and out of sight of the mercenary. A scream of untold suffering ripped through the air.

Unmindful of the risk, Kratos unsheathed his sword and unfolded his wings, caring only for the extra speed they would bring him. It didn't matter if being discovered ruined Cruxis's plans. It didn't matter if his son hated him. It didn't matter if he died from this encounter. Only one thing mattered: Lloyd. He would do anything to keep Lloyd alive. Anything.

Lifting from the ground effortlessly, he raised his weapon, taking it into both hands to ensure the hit would be fatal. The lazy flapping of his sapphire wings somehow propelled him forward at speeds unreachable by any normal humans, even those equipped with Exspheres. The wind rushed passed, roaring in his sensitive ears, the world around him quickly becoming a blur as he caught sight of the enraged animal attacking Lloyd.

Closer and closer he came to the monster as it ruthlessly tore at Lloyd's flesh. Its muscles bulged from the strength it was putting into every stroke. Kratos tightened his already tight grip on the sword, preparing for the initial impact his blade would make forcing its way through the beast's vital organs. He aimed carefully.

Not a moment too soon did the satisfying resistance come and the sound of death that followed was like music to his ears. Pulling the blade free, unsatisfied with a single death, he aimed again. No one would hurt Lloyd. Not Mithos. Kratos's long sword buried itself deep into the beast's stomach, twisting in the newly inflicted wound of its own accord. Not Kvar. His sword pulled free and rose it to the fiend's neck, taking an animalistic pleasure in seeing the light gone from them before making a clean swipe all the way across. Not this monster. The severed head fell to the ground with a loud thud, after which the mutilated body followed it to the ground, dead.

He stood there, green blood of the dead Ogre coating him, basking in the afterglow of a satisfying kill. There were not many times he'd been able to feel this whole. Martel's murderer and Kvar had been the only other victories that had tasted so sweet. As the faint blue iridescence of his wings spilled onto the ground, he tried to remember why such a weak monster had given him such a sense of accomplishment. One had been for Martel, one had been for Anna, and one had been for, he paused to remember the final name, Lloyd.

A mixture of panic and shame began to rise in his throat. In his blind vengeance, he had forgotten Lloyd- had left him for dead. Frantic, his eyes scrutinized the landscape, searching the surrounding area for the form of the one that was all he had left in this twisted world. The one he had left alone when he was needed most.

He glimpsed the infamous red color of Lloyd's shirt peeking out from under the fallen corpse of the disfigured monster. Not wasting another moment, Kratos roughly kicked the still-bleeding carcass as far away from his son as he could manage. It had done enough damage to Lloyd; he would not let it have the chance, even in death, to cause any more.

Kneeling next to the boy and setting the sword aside, Kratos checked him over for injuries. Most were not serious, but the gaping hole that took the place of his stomach was fatal. He cursed himself for not having caught up to the boy earlier. If he had, this never would have happened. His son was going to die, and it was his fault. Just like Anna's death.

Taking his son's unconscious form into his arms, the lone Seraph began to stroke Lloyd's hair as if to comfort the sleeping boy while he began chanting the words of a First Aid spell. Almost immediately, a warm, gentle green light spread all over the child's body, working to cleanse and heal both the wounds he could see and those he could not. Barely giving the first spell time to finish, he called on another one. Then another, and another. He would not stop until every drop of blood was gone.

Four First Aids later, he folded his wings knowing he would no longer need them; Lloyd was safe. Leaning forward onto his son's chest, Kratos tightened the embrace, content to listen to the beating heart pound almost painfully in his ears. The louder that heartbeat was, the more it meant his son was alive. He willed the sound louder.

-

Kratos did not know how long he laid there with Lloyd wrapped in his arms, listening to his son's heart go about its constant work and the sounds of his lungs evenly inhaling and exhaling. A few times, the boy had repositioned himself in Kratos's embrace, once wringing his hands into his father's shirt, curling up against his body to absorb all the heat he could manage. He continued to stroke his child's hair absently, taking pleasure in the mere fact that the hair belonged to a boy who he had once thought dead.

Will he ever wake up? The thought crossed his mind without preface, and Kratos couldn't help but immediately recoil from its implications. When Lloyd awoke, the dream would be over, and reality would set in once again; however, if the boy never awoke, it would be the same as his death. Indecision gripped him. He did not want the boy to look at him with those eyes that didn't know him for who he was. He did not want to see the repulsion from this child who hated him. He didn't want to be alone anymore.

Instantly, reason took over and he berated himself for having such thoughts. Things could not stay this way. Lloyd's companions were in danger from monsters without a swordsman there; fire did not provide as much protection from such things as most people believed. Any desperate animal would be willing to risk the heat of the fire to seize such simple prey. He cursed his recklessness. Despite it having been both the Chosen's wishes and his own, he should not have left them alone.

And, he added, allowing a small smile to grace his features, I would miss Lloyd's infectious happiness. As the quasi-leader in their doomed group, Lloyd possessed a positive outlook on the world and a disposition free of the masks the rest of his companions were forced to wear. Those were two things Kratos had not come across in four-thousand years, and he wanted to experience as much of it as possible before he would be forced to shatter that fragile happiness.

"uren Llor yd... Mela jitanvol." He pled quietly. If Lloyd slept on, he would have his dream, but one day the boy might learn of his true parentage, and the dream could become a reality. Perhaps they would one day again lay under the stars, speaking of long lost legends and trivial matters. Perhaps his son would grow strong, being as his namesake, and bring change to the foul system that governed the worlds. Perhaps he would see Anna again.

Perhaps the child in his arms would sleep the eternal sleep. "Vajitanvol," he tried again with more fervor. He received no response from the boy, and Kratos looked onto his son's face, brow creased with worry. That worry lightened slightly when he saw the contentment and serenity in place on Lloyd's face. He wanted to wake the boy, but he looked so blissful sleeping. A commodity Kratos had long ago lost the ability to partake of. He didn't want to end it for Lloyd. Not yet.

Shaking his head, he set himself to his task. His thoughts were going in circles and the mercenary knew that both of them needed to go back to the campsite and to the Chosen and her companions as soon as possible. If Lloyd had been so injured from a single monster in an ambush, then it was not looking well for the Chosen, should she ever be thrust into a similar situation. If the Chosen died, then this journey would be for naught. He scowled.

"Ivajitanvol," he commanded while bringing the hand that wasn't holding the boy down to the pommel of his sword. It wasn't a harsh command. It was more like an urgent request, like a command and a request to wake combined into one word. It was more than just an appeal for the listener to do something, but it was less than requiring it of him. He hoped the boy would listen, nonetheless.

"Jus' five more minutes." Lloyd mumbled tiredly. Kratos complied momentarily, albeit unwillingly, to the request, surprised the boy had answered at all. It often took the healer's powers with the staff, a quick murmured water spell from the mage, and sweet words from the Chosen to wake him. Nothing Kratos had done to wake his son had worked, not considering the time he'd been forced to put the child at sword point. That experience had not been a happy one nor did he wish to remember it.

Dropping the arm draping around Lloyd's shoulders, allowing him to stay where he was, Kratos leaned back, permitting the memories of his past to overtake him for a moment. It seemed that his son had changed very little in the time since he had been the boy's father. Anna had been able to wake the boy by merely whispering his name in the same room while it had taken Kratos nothing less than screaming death threats at the child to wake him, and even then, it was not a true wakefulness until his mother swept into the room, dressed in her favorite silk nightdress, swept him up into her arms and planted soft kisses on everything that moved. Anna had been a wonderful woman.

He closed his eyes, willing away the memories that loomed just at the edge of his thoughts, trying to find their way to him again. He could not let them come this time; he needed to stop this foolish sentimentality, wake Lloyd, and return to the Chosen's side to complete his mission. Completing his mission was of the utmost importance; nothing else came before it. He sighed and opened his eyes to stare at Lloyd for a moment; absolutely nothing came before the mission.

"Il'jitan!" Kratos barked harshly. He didn't have time for this. The memories were not lessening in their endeavor to overtake him despite his best efforts to thwart them. The memories that came were never the happy ones. He never remembered Anna's smiling face or Lloyd's happy giggle; it was always the end he remembered. Anna's scream of anguish as he heard her fall from the cliff to her death and his son's loud cries as they rang out from within the circle of bloodthirsty Desians.

No! The lone man's mind screamed in one last attempt to stave off the coming memory as the scene began to play out once again before him. "Lloyd..."

-

Anna. Blood. The two words had become synonymous. It... She coated everything. Him. The sword. The ground. Everywhere. Everything.

A shrill cry. A push. A sadistic laugh. The events unfolded as he stood, unable to do anything. A life four thousand years in the making had vanished with naught but an impulsive act meant simply to satisfy the desires of a twisted demon.

The end had come. All that remained was the blood, the scream, and the memories of a life that once was. Only the memories. Never the reality. Pain. Grief. These had become the foundation of his existence.

Anna was everywhere, and yet, he had nothing.

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Author's Note: What I've been working on since last year. Finally decided to split it into three parts in an effort to jump-start my creativity. As such... this isn't all there is. Part Two is done and Part Three is one-third to one-half done, depending. Besides, I want to finish some of the stuff I've got laying around. Hopefully that will actually happen.

Knowing what the Angelic/Common means isn't essential to the plot, but I'll share the translations if anyone is interested. On the side, note that Common is to Angelic like Spanish is to Latin. Angelic has a long set of rules that everything follows and Common has even more rules with a bunch of exceptions to those rules, which makes even more rules.