A/N: Holy…crap. Words cannot describe how sorry I am. In fact, I can't even begin to apologize for my six-odd-months absence. But whatever, because I am really, really, really, really sorry. It was purely the fault of writer's block, and my life, in general, that had prevented me from continuing this. But I'm here now, and I have an update, and so PLEASE DON'T HATE ME. xD This won't happen again. And if it does…uh…okay, it just won't.
Thank you Dimention, Captain Deadpool, The-Saiyan-From-Hyrule, Mereo Flere, and EmeraldGlee for reviewing. You guys might have to look back to remember what in the world's going on…again, so sorry. I'm planning on doing a rewrite of the first dozen chapters or so, try to make things less rushed, add some more plotless cutscenes, etc., but I'll maintain the same storyline. So if you're a new reader, please don't comment on how rushed or crappy the beginning was…I'm working on it.
Chapter fifteen is a bit dark, and…rather confusing. I tried to make it a tad longer to make up for this unforgivable hiatus, so I hope you like it, whoever you are. It'll clear up and get happier, I promise.
A Kardian Tale
It was like seeing something he wasn't meant to see.
Like a young child watching his father fight in the war, observing the wounds and gashes dealt to his body.
Raguna grew awkward and uncomfortable when the cellar door swung shut behind him, and the silence was so thick he could probably reach his hand out and touch it. He glanced up nervously at Bianca, who he was so used to being prissy, confident—almost condescendingly so—and superior. She was sitting on one of the heavy barrels pushed against the wall, her back slouched, looking small and insignificant.
What the hell was wrong with the world?
"So…" Raguna broke the ice.
Bianca, awakening from her vulnerable state, glanced up at him with a look that could kill ten thousand. He could feel the after-freeze of the shattered ice, and he stiffened, unsure of what to say.
"About this…thing you want to talk about," he started again, carefully this time.
He almost jumped when Bianca let out a long, exasperated sigh. He would never get used to her moodswings.
"Have you ever gotten the feeling that, well, that you have a secret to keep? And you feel like you're responsible for keeping that secret a secret, even though it's not your secret, but…it feels like it is?" she asked slowly.
Raguna could tell she was being serious, but he had no idea what she was talking about. He tripped over her words, trying to process them, and failing. His mouth dropped open dubiously.
She rolled her eyes. "It's like I'm explaining this time and time again. I hate telling stories twice, don't you?" She wasn't looking at him, which probably meant it was a rhetorical question. "The thing is, I'm not supposed to tell anyone, period. Because it's…not really something that I have the right to tell. I'm not really sure I'm doing the right thing."
Raguna stared at her, waiting impatiently for her to just tell him already. He thought of Mist, the markings, the Greater Daemon, and wondered why he was wasting his time listening to a torn girl's paradox. It was maddening—and confusing as hell.
"It's just this…thing. I know we're not supposed to keep things bottled up, but maybe I didn't deserve to know in the first place. She shouldn't have told me. Oh…this is wrong. Ugh, what am I doing?" She seemed to be changing her mind.
And he'd lost her again. "Bianca…" He tried not to sound annoyed, but it showed, just a little. "What are you talking about?"
"Um…I don't know where to start."
He resisted the urge to smack his forehead against a heavy metal bar to his side—it was tempting. "Start at the beginning," he murmured flatly, in a neutral, safe tone.
"I don't really know all the details."
"Look, is this about you?" Raguna snapped. He saw hurt flit across her face, naked pain, and regretted his bitterness.
But Bianca unleashed bitterness of her own. "No, dammit!" she hissed back. Then her voice shrank. "It's about…Tabatha."
Raguna waited for her to continue, but she remained silent. He let out a sigh. "Look, this is none of my business. I don't think you should be telling me this. I should go." He got up to leave when he heard a sharp intake of breath.
"No, stay! She told me…to tell you. Oh, crap, I wasn't supposed to tell you that, either…" She groaned, seeming as aggravated as the poor farmer did.
He sat back down, paying more attention now that Tabatha was part of the…weird girl thing. "If she wanted you to tell me, then why can't you just spit it out?" he asked brusquely.
"It's not like that," she snapped. "Ugh. I just…it feels so wrong. I don't see why she can't do it herself. It's just…"
"Continue," Raguna hissed, his hourglass of patience devoid of sand now.
Bianca took a deep breath and then said in a firm, yet shaky voice, "Tabatha…has a secret…from the village. She…is…"
The longest silence in the world ensued. Raguna held his breath, expectant.
She let her guard down, and her face showed that she was definitely going to spill the truth at that instant. "Tabatha is—"
And she would have finished her sentence, had there not been an explosion that could be heard all the way from the town square, resonating painfully in the two's ears. It was a clashing sound, like two stonewalls smacking against each other, or two lightning bolts colliding into one another. And for some odd reason, it made something click in Raguna's head, his head jerking forward in shock, things seeming to occur at twice the speed for him, and him alone.
"What was that?!" Bianca shrieked, her hand flashing to her mouth.
But Raguna didn't reply—he was feeling a familiar, trickling sensation. A tingling in his abdomen…like the one he'd received the first day he'd awoken in his new life, and fought the orc that had started this all. He gave into this instinct and stood up slowly.
"Where are you going, fool? You heard the—the explosion—you could die!" Bianca sputtered, watching him in horror.
"You don't understand." The feeling kicked in again, a sort of aching that pulled him out of the cellar. It felt like he was drifting—he wasn't aware at all that his two feet were still attached.
Bianca followed him, and surprisingly, she didn't say a word. However, her pants were heard as she struggled to pace with him. Was he running now?
The bright sunlight hit his face as he raced out of the Saint-Coquille mansion, pushing aside the heavy and exaggerated doors. The air was eerily silent, and though no smoke rose, no screams were heard, and there was no physical evidence of any sort of explosion, Raguna just felt that something was wrong. He also got the feeling that death could be a possibility in the next few minutes but he pushed it aside. He had no memory, no past that he could reflect with—death was an empty threat, not something that actually scared him.
But what really bugged him, what really pissed him off, was knowing that he had had a family, a life, good or bad, and now he couldn't remember a thing about it. It was infuriating knowing he was living the wrong life, like a turtle in a cheetah's body. He felt like he was wearing the wrong pair of clothes, or too-tight skin.
And now, more than ever, it felt like he would find an answer, and that was what he wanted more than anything else.
"Raguna, wait," he heard from behind him, and turned slowly on his heel. Bianca ran up beside him, looking exhausted. "You could…get hurt." Was that worry present on her face? It made Raguna's resolve falter, but just barely.
"Bianca…" His throat closed for a second. He mirrored her as he asked her in a rushed voice, "Have you ever had that feeling where you had to do something, you had to go somewhere, and you don't know why the hell that was?"
Her eyes, more innocent and fragile and scared than he'd ever seen them, stared into his. "…Yes," she finally replied, surprisingly calm.
"Well, that's what I'm feeling right now. So…stay right here, and don't even move, and I'll be back in a sec, because…I just really have to go find an answer right now." He sprinted off before he could see her reaction, his empty promise forgotten in two heartbeats.
His conscience, his mind, and everything that he had control over seemed to slip away as he ran with his life blowing in the wind behind him.
The boy's eyes flickered over to his sibling's unsurely as he called his name.
The other, older, a man, didn't look back at him from his spot on the wooden stool. He was staring down at a long blade in front of him, watching his reflection as he angled the sword this way and that. "Yes?"
"Why did Father tell me it was dangerous for me to leave the castle?"
The man halted in his place. "Brother…you are very strong," he said slowly.
The boy frowned. "That doesn't answer my question…at all…but thanks?"
He continued on as if he had never been interrupted. "But…what you lack is control."
"Control?" The boy furrowed his brow.
"Yes. And your control…sometimes your control falters. It distinguishes the line between who you are, your soul, and who the fighter in your soul is."
"The fighter…in my soul…?"
"And sometimes you lose that control. Sometimes you lose consciousness, and you lose yourself altogether."
"It's not your fault, little brother." The older man sighed, putting down the sword and then walking over to his sibling, laying a hand on his shoulder gently. "It's in your blood. You can't change that."
"But why?" he repeated.
The man closed his eyes. "Just…because," he muttered, annoyed now.
The boy hit the hand on his shoulder away angrily. "What are you talking about? You and Father, you sound the exact same—you're answering my questions, but it seems like you're avoiding them at the same time! Can't you just tell me what's wrong with me? Don't I deserve to know?"
The man grimaced. "I'm sorry," he said quietly. "But there's nothing more to say. You will find out who you are on your own, and you'll find out the right way."
The younger one groaned. "Okay, stop playing Mr. Wise and just spit it out. I know something's wrong with me. Is there some legend behind it, some connection?"
"A legend?" The man smiled slightly for the first time. "Well…"
"What is it?" The boy's interest piqued, he stared at his brother, waiting for an answer. "Tell me!"
The man leaned in, his voice lowering. "You can't tell your father I said this," he said seriously.
He nodded intently. "I won't."
"Okay…well…" He was right next to the boy's ear now. "They say…that there is a swordsman in the Norad kingdom with amazing powers. Not only is he an earthmate, with the ability to tame wild beasts, but he has the power to communicate with gods, supreme beings…and…"
The boy's breath hitched, when suddenly he felt something hard and solid smack against the back of his head.
"And dragons," the man finished, smirking from ear-to-ear. "Quite the tale, eh?"
"Dragons? Supreme beings?! What the hell does that have to do with me?" the boy fumed, reaching up to get revenge. He tackled his brother onto the ground and they both laughed.
"Maybe nothing, and maybe everything," he sang.
And that was the boy's last day of his conscious life.
"I've been waiting for you."
Raguna approached the square, his mind a frozen, white blank screen. He couldn't think—he could only feel. He stopped when he was at the entrance, just beside the benches where the children usually played.
A woman he did not recognize stood on the separated, raised platform at the far end of the square. She smiled widely at him, unconscious bodies littered around her, off to the far sides. He thought he recognized Mist among those bodies and the little bit of control he still had made him grit his teeth, a low growl escaping.
"Who are you?" Raguna demanded. His hand clenched reflexively onto where the handle of his sword would have been—if he'd had it.
"Well." The woman dwelled on the question so deeply that it was almost laughable. She gave up finally, shooting him an animated smile. "You could say we used to know each other."
"I don't remember knowing you."
"Ah." She began to walk toward him, like a train advancing down the tracks: with no intention to stop, and with the threatening force that could crush him. "But that's just the point."
His conscience, his control, told him to run, but his mind forced him to stand his ground.
"Who am I?" he whispered.
She smiled back. "If I told you, then that would ruin everything," she said, and came to an abrupt halt only a foot away from him. He could taste her breath; smell her skin.
"What do you want?" He was trembling with anger.
The woman seemed to notice this and she took a step back. "I just wanted to see you. Now I know what I'm up against." She grinned cattily. "And I must say, I'm quite impressed. You seem strong enough…" She brought an unsuspecting hand forward and flicked Raguna in the forehead, making him stumble backward. "Unfortunately, you have no control over your own power, which is…eh…pathetic. And you're quite weak when you actually do have control." She shrugged. "Guess it's my fault, though."
"Your fault? You have something to do with this?" His top and bottom teeth crushed against each other and he stepped forward, still absolutely unaware. His hand shot forward to grab her by the collar, but she was faster than him, bouncing back lithely.
"Slow," she commented, brushing away a stray lock of russet hair that had gotten in the way of her eyes. "Hm. Disappointing."
"Who are you?" he growled, swiping at her again, and missing by almost a metre as she snapped back again.
"Even if I told you, you'd forget," she said, seeming to enjoy his moment of anger.
"What?" he demanded furiously.
"Oh, just watch. See, this is the fun part." She smiled and brought one white-gloved hand to her side. Her fingers struck against each other, like two sticks igniting a fire.
It was as if someone had just flicked off the lights; Raguna could no longer see.
Now he was swimming in a pool of black, somehow standing in a neverending hole. He was paralysed, floating—nowhere.
And he was getting that feeling in the very back of his head that he was forgetting something. It wasn't like an annoying feeling, like when he walked over to the store to buy some seeds and found out he had forgotten his money at the farmhouse—it was an entirely unbearable feeling that clawed at him from inside. He could hear his thoughts, what ran through his head, and that boggled him. It felt like he was being born again, everything seemed so new to him…except now he knew what he was doing.
No, that was a lie. He had no idea what he was doing, or what was going on.
He opened his eyes, fully in control now, and the world spun around him. It wasn't very sunny outside, but the light seemed to blind him, overpowering the darkness in his mind. Something blurry wavered like a mirage in the hot desert in front of him and when his vision steadied, he could see none other than Mist, staring into his eyes with worry.
"…Mist?" He blinked a few times. "What just…?" He couldn't remember a thing over the last few minutes. It was like his mind was a microscope, and his memories were slides, his most recent one covered by a black sheet. He looked up into the sky, his eyes still squinting. They were at the town square, and everything was…
Normal. Absolutely normal.
"Come on," she said, tugging on his arm, and making him look back at her, out of his reverie. "Judging starts soon."
"Judging?" he asked. "What are you talking about?"
She rolled her eyes. "It's the Cooking Festival, silly," she said, and let go of his arm as she skipped ahead without him. Raguna saw Zavier run up and join Mist, shooting Raguna a dirty look, but he didn't even care.
Why didn't he remember anything? Why? Was there even anything to remember?
Raguna…he thought he heard a voice whisper into his mind.
He scowled, answering with a thought of his own.
Oh, shut up.