A/N: I will proudly and conceitedly say that this is the first Rune Factory fanfic on ffNet. Though I suppose that's what made me rush writing this. Chapter one was written on July 24 '08. Nothing major was added, to the updated readers, and I'll continue to revise the rest of the chapters. To the new readers, hello, and I hope you like the story. xD There will be spoilers, but they'll be marked, so don't worry. And NOT EVERYTHING IS BASED OFF THE STORYLINE. Keep that in mind, because I tend to throw in a lot of random twists along the way.
Disclaimer: I don't own Rune Factory, the main storyline, or any of the characters. Duh.
A Kardian Tale
…Where am I?
"What do you see?"
It's all black. I don't see anything…
"What do you feel?"
I feel…pain. I feel it everywhere. It's immense, and aching, and it won't go away. It feels like… I'm paralysed. In my heart.
"In your heart?"
I feel like I've lost someone. Or…or something.
"What is wrong with you?"
I…I only wish I knew.
"What's it like to feel blind?"
It's horrid. Yet comforting, at the same time. I don't really know. But I'm just…I'm scared... to open my eyes…
"Do you remember?"
What do you mean?
"Do you remember?"
"Do you know what happened?"
"Have you any recent memories?"
At first, he saw a light. A small light, like a fleck of stardust, or a tiny, glowing, floating orb. He looked at it fondly, and then around at its surroundings. Everything was pitch black but that light. He took a curious step toward it.
What a strange light. He reached his hand out to touch it, but it reacted instantly, something electric shooting through him, sending a shockwave through his body the instant he came in contact with the odd structure. He snapped back. What was that…that physical feeling? The sudden and disturbing upheaval in his veins that sent his nerves into disarray?
He stared at the glimmering orb, and this time it took on a whole new meaning, a whole new shape. He was now staring into a pair of deep-set eyes, which were locked intently on him, like those eyes knew him, like they could read his soul. Something along the lines of excitement coursed through his veins and he took another conscious step forward, the irises and clarity of the eyes intensifying.
Be reborn, he thought he heard faintly, like a whisper that had been lost in the air.
The rushing adrenaline came to an immediate halt. The eyes were gone.
He took a final step forward, light enveloping around him, swallowing him. Rebirthing him.
His eyes burst open like buds in the sun, and for a second the burning bright light hurt to see. He tried to roll over to block himself from the glare of the sun, but he realized, as he did so, that it hurt. His stomach felt like a void.
He looked up, desperate to find something, anything that could take away the throbbing pain inside. He looked around. A house. The sky. Some clouds. That was all he could see from his angle. It was all he managed to see. He seemed to be able to recognize all those things, but just subtly, like familiar, old friends. But he could not be sure of anything.
"How are you?"
He was startled by the voice above his head. "W…what?" Who did this sweet voice belong to? Who was there? And was this his own voice…?
"Are you okay? You're just lying down like that."
Who was this person kidding? He ignored the query, eyes fluttering in aversion from the angry sun. "Where am I…?" he asked weakly. His limbs were aching, and his throat was parched. The sun beat down on his head, frying him.
"On the ground."
He felt irritated. "What… town?" His voice was straining slowly. Something elapsed him, like a black blanket, or the night sky closing in on him. No… he was losing it. He struggled to pull back to the surface.
"Oh, what town are you in? You could've said that, silly!" The feminine voice giggled, and it sounded sweet as honey. She could never understand what he was feeling right now. "You're in Kardia. It's a peaceful little town. But why are you lying down like that?"
He squirmed a little in an attempt to stand. He managed to toss himself into a kneeling position, panting away the sting in his chest. He took a few lungfuls of air before replying. "I…" The answer grasped him--he didn't find the answer, it found him--but he lost it in a heartbeat. "I don't know."
"You don't know?"
He looked up for the first time to see another oddly familiar being, a girl with gray-blonde hair and soft, wide blue eyes that looked eternally curious as they gazed into his. It was all he could see of her from his position on the ground.
Pain seized his abdomen once more and he doubled over like he'd just been hit.
"What? What's wrong?" the girl asked worriedly.
"It… hurts," he said, in barely a whisper.
The girl bounced down to reach his length, blinking. "What was that?"
"Food," he pleaded simply. It was fading now… he was on the brink of consciousness. He was scared that the darkness would come back again.
"Oh, food!" She shot him a heartwarming smile, not taking the situation as seriously as he was. "I bet you're hungry after your long journey here from…wherever you came from," she finished hastily. "Stay here, I'll be back in a sec." She rushed inside the house behind her, earning a breath of relief from him. He laid back down on the ground, too sore to think thoroughly about the odd girl.
After a few moments, she burst back outside. "Here you go! If you really want some healthy, high-quality food, you can grow it with this!" She shoved an odd, curved contraption into his unusually pale hand. A…watering can? "But before you can do that, you have to till the soil, so the plants will be comfy and have a nice place to sleep." She shoved a long, bladed tool into his other hand bleakly. A hoe…? "There you go! All set!"
The pain was truly beginning to settle in now, and he moaned slightly as a throb rammed at the inside of his chest. "I need…to eat…" he rephrased, barely coherently.
The girl gave him a look like he was insane. An "oh" expression came to her face. It looked like a joke. "Yeah, I can do that!" she exclaimed, and again she vanished into the building.
He was just about to give up and die himself to get it over with when the girl threw the door open and hurried to his side. "Will this do?" She held out a loaf of bread and a glass of water a few feet from his face. He took the food wholeheartedly, his body feeding itself subconsciously. Slowly his strength regenerated. "Thank you…"
"No problem." She smiled from ear-to-ear, more interested in him than she should've been. "Hey, are you a traveler?" She said this like she already thought he was.
"Uh…no…I'm actually…" He furrowed his brow. He tried to sort through his memory, his past, but all that came to him was a big blank. "I don't know." He really didn't.
"Huh." She gave him another suspicious look, but this one looked… intrigued. "Where are you from?" she asked again.
He started to get annoyed. Not at her, but at himself, for not knowing anything. He racked through his brain quickly. But there was nothing to find. "I don't know," he said again.
The girl looked him in the eye, like she was searching for something. "Oh…" she finally said, softly.
"I think… you have amnesia."
He tried to pull himself up, strengthening from the meal he'd just received. "That's a possibility," he said thoughtfully.
She sucked in her bottom lip. "Maybe…" She was eyeing him now, like she was trying to will the answer out of him.
He frowned, confused.
"Maybe staying here will help you regain your memory." It sounded like more of a request than a suggestion.
His first instinct told him to decline, to say no, and turn around and leave. But his second instinct, the one that made less sense, but sent a familiar itch culling through his blood made him accept.
"Alright." He saw the ecstatic look in her eye and tried to downplay it a little. "I have nowhere else to go anyway."
Still, the girl looked overjoyed. "That's great!" She took his hand, and for the first time--or so it seemed--he felt warmth. "Come, I'll show you where you can stay. My name is Mist, by the way."
"Mist," he repeated, letting it sink in. "Alright."
She looked over her shoulder at him as they started walking north, toward a bridge. "What's your name?" she questioned amiably.
He looked puzzled. He should know this, shouldn't he? His own name? "I don't--"
"You don't remember," Mist finished, seeming unsatisfied with the phrase "I don't know."
He nodded simply.
"Maybe you can pick a name," she suggested. She let go of his hand, and the warmth dissipated. His hand clenched reflexively, cold and stiff.
"Pick a name? " he repeated. "I don't think I know one that'll suit me…"
"What do you mean?"
"I don't kn… remember what I look like." It sounded ridiculous, to say it. If only he could put the words into an intelligible phrase--if only he could just remember.
Mist looked stunned. "You've gotta be kidding me!" she said, and began ushering him over to the bridge. She put her hand on his back, signalling for him to look down into the glassy stream.
He did. A mess of dark brown hair, pale skin, and rather plain features was what came up. But what caught his attention the most fully was that…pair of deep-set eyes…
He touched them, not even thinking, and watching only his reflection. He ended up poking himself stupidly in the eye. "Ow," he whined.
"You're pretty handsome, actually," Mist commented casually, ignoring the little show he'd just put on. He shot her an embarrassed look in return, one she didn't seem to quite understand. "What?"
"Er, nothing." He looked back down at his reflection, feeling flattered and awkward. "I, uh…"
"So, you know what you look like. And now you need a name."
His mouth cocked open and then closed firmly. "No clue," he said flatly.
She seemed shockingly patient. "Do you want me to suggest something?"
She folded her arms. "What about… Zavier?"
"Zavier?" he repeated. Zavier… he kind of liked that. He looked like a Zaver. Kind of.
"Yes, that's my boyfriend's name."
He faltered noticeably and uncomfortably. "Erm… I don't think…"
"You're right. Too common." She was back at it again. "What about Emmett?"
"I guess that's okay," he began. But… "Wait, does that name already belong to someone?"
"Yes. Emmett works as bartender at the Spring Rabbit."
He was beginning to feel annoyed. And even more confused, if that was possible. He said the first thing that came to his head, just to get it over with. "Why not Raguna?"
"Raguna?" Mist seemed surprised, like he was incapable of thought. Her soft eyes flickered in indecision. She scanned him up and down, causing him to redden slightly, and appraised this. "I suppose you do look like a Raguna. Yeah, that'll do." Gradually, a smile worked its way onto her lips. "Okay. I'll show you to your farmhouse, Raguna."
Raguna couldn't help but smile back at the girl. He felt more at peace, knowing that he had a name now, an identity. But he got this slight feeling that the two orbs--one he'd created, and the other that had existed--were clashing. This wasn't his real identity. This wasn't really him. Who was he kidding?
Before he could voice his opinion, Mist, who didn't look like she'd agree with him anyway, grabbed his hand again, swinging it as she dragged him to the other side of the bridge. The warmth returned, so inviting and sweet it swept away all of his doubts.
"…And that's the field, where you can work and stuff," Mist concluded as she pointed around the farm. "As you can see, there's some debris and annoying logs and stuff like that, so you might want to clear it, to make life easier for you, I guess."
"Hang on." Mist looked up at Raguna's exclamation. "You mean I have to pay off my debt?"
"Debt?" Mist frowned, something he never thought she was able to do. "You don't have a debt. But don't you want to make money…or a living?"
"Well…" His shoulders slumped. "Yeah." But he couldn't see farming being his true living. He got that 'two orbs' feeling again and something uncomfortable nestled in his chest.
Mist surveyed the land, trying to think of anything she'd missed showing him. "Any questions?" she prompted, not noticing his slight pretense.
"Erm…well…I've got one. This is a farm, isn't it? Don't farms have… animals?" Or so he vaguely remembered.
Mist looked bemused. Then she laughed--not at him, but not exactly with him. It was like she was just laughing for the sake of laughing. "You're so silly, Raguna," she said contentedly.
He was shocked, and took her lack of seriousness as a sign of agreement. How could he make money without animals? "You know, like, sheep, and cows, chickens?" he pressed, praying she was kidding.
"Oh. Those," Mist said, the smile lighting up her face dropping.
He sighed in relief. "Right, so I can--"
"We don't have those."
An aggravated sensation dawned, this time showing on his face. All these constantly changing emotions felt so fresh to him, so strange. "Look, will you just give me a clear answer: yes or no?"
Mist puckered her lips a little. "Um… we kind of do, but we kind of don't."
He sighed again.
"We have…animals, as you call them. They're just not called animals. Plus they're better. And cuter," she added. She beamed as she looked up at the horizon beyond him. "See, we don't use animals here."
He froze, catching onto the sly tone in her voice. "Then… what do you use?" he asked, bracing himself.
Despite his anticipation, he could not omit his shock. "Monsters? You use monsters?"
"Yeah. And we keep them in monster huts. Camus will build you one. You just need to give him some wood and stuff, first." She went on and on, even though he didn't understand a word she was saying. "I think you should go capture some monsters at Carmite Cave first, train them, but Mayor Godwin will have to issue you a pass first, so you should go see him. But maybe you'd like to meet all the other villagers before you do that…oh, and it would be smart to get a weapon while you're at it. And a shield. You can never be too careful, you know."
He looked at her, and she smiled back at him serenely. "Who are you again?" he asked, just to make sure she really existed.
"My name is Mist, and you are in Kardia," she repeated patiently.
"I have to fight?" His resolve sank into his gut. Confusion. Pain. Annoyance. Happiness. Sadness. Fear. All the emotions were swirling around him, and he couldn't fully fathom any of them.
Mist nodded, still nonchalant as ever. "Yes, you do. Want me to show you how?"
"What?" Mist? Fighting? Raguna couldn't quite picture that. He felt a churning feeling, and his heel pivoted. "Look, maybe this isn't such a good idea," he started. "Maybe I'll just…"
And then he lunged forward, clutching his forehead and gasping, a splitting pain in his head making everything silence. Everything happened in the time span of a single heartbeat. Darkness wrapped around him, it was all hauntingly dark again, and he was all alone, staring into his own eyes…
There was a crunch, distant but very audible, sounding like it was coming from very, very far away, but just barely, like an echo. He wanted to stay there, safe, but he was almost scared to. Then he remembered Mist, and the farmhouse, and suddenly all of the information he'd obtained in that miniscule amount of time he'd spent in Kardia came slamming into him with such force that he burst into a surrounding filled with light. And he saw a farmhouse. And a field.
However, the two were accompanied by an enormous monster he didn't remember seeing before his small delusion. The beast hovered about ten feet away from them. Its skin was leathery, murky, and looked rough as alligator scales. It possessed a ragged red mane of hair, with two knife-edge sharp horns atop its head, and lastly…
Raguna felt his heart clench at this last detail.
An axe. An axe was enclosed in the cretin's right fist, large as Raguna's head, and sharp and clean. He could see his fear in the reflection.
Suddenly, something beside him moved, and he looked over quickly. Mist had stepped up heroically. "Okay, watch me deal with this guy," she said seriously.
His eyes widened in horror. "No way!" he protested, grabbing her by the arm as she started advancing. He yanked her back, saving her from a wild swing from the beast. "You're not going near that…that thing."
For some bizarre reason, one he couldn't pinpoint in his wildest imaginations, he felt…more familiar to that monster. Far more familiar to it than he had felt toward his own face, or the farm, or his own feelings.
The monster thundered over to Raguna and Mist, towering over them dangerously closely. Raguna reacted on his first instinct--he dropped the watering can gripped in his hand and raised his hoe, the closest weapon in sight that looked like it could do any real damage. He dove forward and dug it into the creature's rock-hard chest. It stumbled back, but otherwise was unharmed.
"Get back!" Raguna ordered, and Mist obeyed, backing, and wide-eyed as ever. He continued to hack at the mutant like a berserker, not stopping to take a breath once. He did not pause once to register what he was doing.
When enough damage was dealt, and the beast looked frail and weak, Raguna took one final blow at it, striking it square in the jaw. He almost expected bloodshed or something, but instead, the being dissipated cleanly into the air, and a mystifying orb of blue floated away into the sky, serenely, giving no indication that a second ago that had been a rabid beast. Raguna was bemused. And yet he felt like he'd done this a thousand times.
"Retornen," Mist uttered softly.
"What was that?" He turned to face her, confused by the look of interest piqued on her face.
"You're amazing, Raguna."
"I think…" She eyed the spot where the beast had recently been defeated. He anticipated her words, almost hoping, vainly, for more compliments. But instead, she yawned and rubbed her eyes. "Hey, you know what? I'm tired. I think I'll go now. See you tomorrow."
His mouth fell agape as Mist waved and headed back toward her house. "W-wait! What do you think?" he called loudly after her.
Mist didn't seem to hear him. "I'll be at your farm at noon! Remember to clear the fields!" she called, disappearing into the distance.
He sank back half-heartedly. Noon…he made a mental note to himself.
Then he looked over his shoulder, back at where the monster once stood. Was Mist seriously expecting him to "capture" and "train" one of those fiends?
Raguna walked cautiously up to the field, crouching down to examine the dirt. There were no remains. It was strange. And that orb…? And that thing Mist said…?
For the first time, he noticed the bright, cornstarch moon sealed above him, and how the sky had grown dark and the air cool. Yet this darkness was nothing compared to the shroud he'd been yanked into earlier. He started for his new house, only wishing he could remember his past. Amnesia. How come he could remember how to talk, and how to move, and so many things…but not anything else? Was this really amnesia, or could it be something else, something more powerful?
Why did he feel and act that way when he saw the monster? Why didn't he run, or feel fear, but instead that surging confidence? Where did that strength come from?
Who was he, and why was he in Kardia?
He'd think it through in the morning. Though he knew he couldn't possibly sort it out in a day, or even a week, he pushed all the thoughts aside. He disappeared inside the house, shutting the door behind him, and looking profoundly around at the gigantic contents of the one-room building.
Soon, he was in bed, and fell prey to the darkness.