A small change can send events spiraling out of control. What if Luke wasn't Asch's replica? What if they were really twins? One small change can make everything so different. Enemies, events, and… friends.
Disclaimer: I don't own Tales of Abyss, as much as I wish I do. If I did, Asch would have never died.
BTW: If anyone knows or has a game script, can you let me know? All I have is a translated and somewhat inaccurate version. Thanks:3
She could hardly believe it. Even now, she had a hard time grasping her mind around such a mind-boggling concept. The whole nine months she was expecting a child- hence single child- but when the doctors proclaimed that there was another baby coming out minutes after her first birth, she was as surprised as her husband. The Score had predicted only a single child. But the second boy's birth was unpredicted. As if he had appeared out of nowhere; that boy had proven the Score wrong. It was as unsettling as it sounded. It wasn't just wrong; it went against what the planet had planned for their future. So when her boys were born, she agreed with her husband to keep quit about the Score's false predictions. Susanne didn't want any unwanted gossip lurking around the boys as they grew up.
Her precious boys. If her husband hadn't suggested color-coding them- black for Asch and white for Luke- there would have been no way to tell them apart. Indeed, they were identical to the last strand of hair. Even she, their own mother, had a difficult time telling the differences.
Double the joy and quadruple the mess. She often jested that she was lucky enough not to be saddled with triplets. Luke had been a chronic child, crying into the late hours of night. It took all the wet-nurses and the finest nannies to calm the baby, but Asch was as silent as can be. As if to make up for his little brother's troubles. Asch was the responsible one, as if he instinctively knew that he had be there for little Luke.
The two were as thick as thieves, and never far from the other. If Luke was caught red-handed with the cookie jar, then chances were that Asch wasn't too far away, hiding. Vice versa with a different scenario. And to make matters worse, if they switched places, no one would be any wiser. Their tutors were at ropes end with those two. Luke would pretend to be Asch while taking their literature lessons, while Asch would brilliantly pull of Luke's persona during mathematics. Rarely would they get caught (and when they did, her husband made properly sure they were punished).
Now, as they stood guiltily in front of her, both covered in mud and grime she was still unable to tell who was who. It was like putting a mirror between the two.
"Boys…" Susanne began, disappointment heavily coloring her tone. "What have your father and I said about leaving the manor without a proper escort?"
Luke (or was that Asch she wondered silently) shifted uncomfortably. His sad green gaze inspected the highly polished marble floors, unable to look up. "Not to leave without one…" He softly mumbled, eyes tearing up.
Now she knew it was Luke for sure.
"We're sorry, mother. It won't happen again." Asch replied, seconds after his twin's confession. His confident voice sounded loud in the empty drawing room. It was obvious that the two had no intentions of meaning what Asch had promised. They were confined to the manor or surrounded by an entire fleet of guards when they were allowed to venture the city. No wonder they had taken to sneaking outside. Asch and Luke's identical emerald shaded gazes focused upon her face, one was defiant while the other seeking forgiveness.
"Don't tell father, please?" Luke implored while looking anxious. His sweet ten-year-old face melted whatever traces of resolve within her heart. "We're really, really sorry! And it was all Asch's fault! He wanted to go see the- mmph!"
Clamping his hand over his idiot twin's mouth, the redhead glared at his brother. True, they had been caught sneaking out, but if his parents found out that they had been looking for monsters in the abandoned factory. . . and Luke almost told her! "May we be excused?" Asch asked, dragging Luke by the arm before he heard his mother could inquire further. The older redhead was fuming silently as he hauling both of them out of the room.
So, they had been doing something harebrained again. Between the two, they created enough trouble for the entire kingdom itself. She supposed that there were some thanks that they didn't involve princess Natalia in this incident. What her brother would do if his daughter was involved again! No one ever wanted a repeat of what was dubbed as, 'The Guy and Princess Natalia Incident.'
When they were a safe distance away, Asch released a breath that he had been holding the whole time. "You stupid dreck!" He hit Luke, positively seething.
"Oww! You didn't have to hit me!"
"Don't you know how much trouble we could have gotten if she found out?" Asch stomped away, leaving Luke alone in the hallway. The door to his room slammed, shutting Luke outside.
The redhead's eyes filled with tears, the boy struggling not to cry. It was his fault that they got caught in the first place. If he hadn't slipped and made Guy notice them, they could have quietly snuck back to the manor. Asch would have gotten most of the punishment just because he the more responsible and older one. To everyone, Luke was the little kid- even father babied him. It wasn't fair! "A-Asch. . . Asch!" He stubbornly refused to cry. "I-I'm s-sorry! I-I won't do it again. . . Asch!" A sniffle escaped his iron will, and the carefully erected wall broke down in a torrent of tears.
He stood there, tears streaking down his grimy cheeks. The redhead furiously tried to wipe them away, but more would replace his trial of tears. Luke felt ashamed. Asch would never cry because of a stupid thing like this. The door to Asch's room slowly creaked open; an exasperated sigh escaped the older boy's pursed lips. As much as Asch tried to be angry at his crybaby of a brother, he couldn't stay like that for very long. Maybe it was the fact that Luke was so naïve, or he trusted his older twin too much for his own good.
"Oh shut up." Asch handed Luke a towel to wipe the mud and tears off his face. Scrunching his face after a moment of deliberation, the older boy reached over and helped Luke. "Next time, don't blab your mouth off or else I'll really won't forgive you."
Wordlessly nodding, Luke handed Asch back the towel. "I'm sorry. . ." He mumbled, looking away from his brother's intense green gaze.
"Whatever." Asch sighed, shaking his head. They stood awkwardly outside of Asch's room, silence bubbling over quietly. Roughly taking Luke's hand, the boy led them outside.
"Where are we going?"
"Isn't it obvious? If Guy hadn't been looking for us, none of this would be our fault. I want some payback. . ." Asch grinned, watching an identical smile creep onto Luke's face. Inside his head, plans for revenge pieced themselves together. If he couldn't blame Luke, then he would find retribution with their servant. "Come on. You know that he's afraid of girls. Let's find Natalia."
Instantly catching onto Asch's evil smile, the younger brother nervously laughed. "Err, Asch. . . Is it okay to scare Guy like that? Won't Natalia get mad if we do this. . . again?"
"Why? Guy's just a servant. It's not like Natalia'll care about playing a joke on a servant." Asch scoffed, gently pushing Luke outside. "Come on Luke. You know how father'll get if he hears you like this." The boy frowned at his twin, bringing up the fact that as the Duke's sons, they were under no circumstances to fraternize with the servants- Guy included.
To Luke, Guy wasn't that bad. He could be a potential friend, if it wasn't the fact that other than the blonde's required duties; Guy refused to stay in the same room as the twins. Luke never figured out why they were so disliked by him. Asch just said that Guy was probably resentful because they were the masters and he was only their lowly servant. "I guess. . ." The redhead hesitantly agreed, following Asch's lead. "Yeah. Who cares about some stupid servant anyways?" Of course Asch was right. But it didn't help shake a stirring of unease within his chest. "I bet you we can order all the maids to help too." Luke added, eventually warming up to the idea.
Asch grinned. No, blaming Luke wasn't going to make him feel better. Rather, extracting revenge on Guy was much more fulfilling. Besides, as hard as he tried, it was impossible to stay angry at Luke for very long. Once his sad green stare fixes on you, everyone becomes like putty in his hands- himself included. "Yeah. Just as long as Father and Mother don't find out. Let's hurry up and go get Natalia!"
The twins exchanged identical grins before running out the door. As they crept past their guards, Luke peeked at Asch. His older brother didn't seem mad at him anymore, which was a relief. Whenever Asch got angry, it made him feel sad and scared. But mostly, he felt as if it was his fault. It was a good thing that Asch wasn't mad anymore. They turned around the corner, silently slipping into the garden. The overgrown hedges were perfect hiding areas because it was hard to spot the two redheads sneaking outside under a hole in the fence.
Twenty minutes later, and a very reluctant Natalia running with them, poor Guy's terrified shrieks echoed around the Fabre household. Susanne winced as lady-like as possible. As she feared, 'The Guy and Princess Natalia Incident' had reoccurred yet again. Seconds later, something akin to dishes shattering and more terrified screaming followed with more chaos.
And she hoped for a quiet afternoon.
------- Seven Years Later. . . ---------
ND 2000, in Kimlasca shall be born one who inherits the power of Lorelei. He will be a boy of royal blood with hair of red. He will be called the Light of the Sacred Flame, and he will lead Kimlasca Lanvaldear to new prosperity. ND 2002, the one who will seize glory shall destroy the land in which he was born. A land by the name of Hod. War shall thereafter persist between Kimlasca and Malkuth for a full cycle of the seasons.
"So. . . The time has come. Prepare. . ."
He was bored out of his mind.
No, scratch that. He didn't have a mind anymore. If things were as dull as they were right now, the servants would come into his room finding glop dripping out of his ears. It was one of those afternoons where everyone but him was too busy being preoccupied with something else. Each second seemed to last forever, and the last time he checked his clock only ten minutes had crawled by. Uggh. Luke thought, staring outside his window with an impassive look on his face. Can things be any more boring? I wish something interesting would happen. But nothing ever happens anymore. Things are the same old routine.
He wearily slumped back onto his bed, messing his sheets. The ceiling had been repainted, he noticed wryly. I wonder when? Luke mused, mentally sighing- it had come to watching the paint peel off his walls. "I hate my life." He grumbled, rolling over to his side. For starters, ever since his kidnapping incident seven years ago, he was absolutely forbidden outside without a whole legion of guards and a proper escort (either Asch or Guy); there were the same restrictions with Asch. Even if it was a jaunt to the castle, there was the tedious preparation of getting ready- i.e. weapons, armor, healing gels, etc.
Just as he rolled out of bed and approached his door, Luke heard a ringing sound echo inside his head. Oh no, he thought, feeling the tell-tale warning signs of an oncoming migraine. Not now. . . He grimaced, green eyes narrowing.
'Heed. . . My . . . Voice. . . Answer me. . .'
Luke's head suddenly felt as if it was split in half. Doubling over in agony, the redhead gasped in pain. Great. . . I'm hearing voices again. I wonder if I'm going crazy? He cradled his throbbing skull gently into his arms, letting the hurt fade away. Everything was spinning around, and he was beginning to feel sick.
The door suddenly burst open; Asch stumbled in looking just as bad as he did. The voice must have affected him too. "Luke! Are you all right?" Asch managed to spit out, face contorting into a look of pain mirroring his brother's. Slumping down next to his twin, Asch gently rubbed Luke's temples although his headache was just as terrible. "It seems to be getting more and more frequent- these headaches. Ever since your kidnapping seven years ago. . . Damn those Malkuths!"
Both boys didn't raise the question why Asch was being affected as well. It was a phenomenon that even their doctors couldn't explain. They passed it off as a freaky twin thing. Like their ability to sense each other without even looking up or their near telepathy communication that scared most people. However, the headaches started right after they found Luke at Choral Castle. But the family was relieved that apart from the headaches Luke was all right.
"I'll be fine. But Asch, are you okay?" Luke inquired, the last of the throbbing was gone. Looking worried, Luke thoughtfully tilted his head to the side. "Don't worry about things like that! You have to lighten up, or else you're going to look like you have a stick up your ass." He laughed, attempting to make Asch smile. "Let's train some before Master Van comes today."
Clearly, Asch didn't buy any of his cheerful façade. A delicate eyebrow arched over at Luke's strained grin before the other eyebrow followed.
"C'mon bro, I'm fine. And don't act like you're not hurt either. Look, I'm bored and you just happen to be here. Problem solved!" Luke pointed out, already getting to his feet with a Cheshire cat smile. "Besides, today's training day so we don't have any bookwork lessons. I know you're just itching to settle the score- what was it now? I think fifty-one to fifty now, in my favor."
Sharp emerald eyes glared at his brother. "That didn't count. You cheated." Asch retorted sharply, rising up to match Luke's height. "The score is fifty even. Using Natalia like that. . . that was a low blow, even for you, Dreck."
So, Asch had taken his bait. Luke would have snickered if Asch didn't look so dangerously close to strangling him. "Yeah, yeah, whatever. You're just jealous 'cause I beat you in front of Natalia. Man, you really looked like a loser in front of her!" Luke taunted as he took off, running for his life. He could practically feel Asch breathing down his neck.
At least he got his twin properly motivated now- perhaps too much for the servants may have to put together his body parts before giving him a proper burial. They had ended up in the courtyard where the training equipment had been set up already in preparation for the Commandant's arrival. Both simultaneously reached for a wooden sword and attacked at the same time, matching each other's movements perfectly. It was like a reflection of the same fighter, only one was wearing black while the other its inverse. The servants gathered around the Fabre twins, eager to watch their fight. Identical narrow gazes locked with each other, the same techniques executed at the same time.
Both cried out, their Arts canceling each other. Landing on their feet, they rushed once more to lock their blades together. The wood cracked and clanged.
"What's the matter, Asch? Getting tired already?" taunted Luke as he shoved his brother back, swinging his sword quickly up. Grunting when the other redhead blocked and counterattacked, the boy quickly spun around and guarded.
Asch shook his head. "You wish, Dreck. I'm just getting started!" He lunged forwards, trying to stab past Luke's solid defense. Although their sword skills were almost evenly matched, Asch was a better rounded fighter because he had a better grasp on Fonic Arts. Luke had yet to cast a faster spell than he did.
However, Asch knew better than to cast a Fonic Art inside the manor unsupervised. When they were being taught, their tutors, parents, and their Uncle made them swear under an oath of eternal grounding in the dungeons that they would never use a Fonic Art during training unless overseen by Master Van. Apparently the mischief the twins attracted (and conjured) would be more than enough to tear the manor apart brick by brick. So Asch was restricted to swordsmanship. Luke nearly hit his wrist if he didn't bring his weapon up to stop him. The heir of the Fabre manor decided that not being able to cast Fonic Arts royally sucked.
When the two of them were breathing hard and sweat dripped from their brow, they silently agreed on a truce for now.
"Man, I'm tired." Luke sighed, wiping his face with a towel provided by a servant. "I can't believe that I couldn't win!"
Making a face, Luke tossed his towel at Asch.
The older twin chuckled, catching it before it hit his head.
"Master Asch. Young Master Luke."
Guy approached the twins, his head bowed down. "The Lord and Lady request your presence in the drawing room." The blonde's blue gaze didn't dare make eye contact with the two. His voice was tight and sharp, as if somehow further reducing the words he spoke to a bare minimum.
Asch nodded, not sparing Guy another glance. "Let's hurry."
Shrugging, the redhead followed Asch. When they were young, he tried being nice to Guy but that stupid servant just treated his kindness with the same respect you would give to dirt. Of course, when the Duke found out, Guy was properly punished. Things never were right between them for some strange reason. "Yeah. Oh, Guy?"
"Yes, Young Master?" Guy's soft tone hid the venom lacing his words.
"Clean up the courtyard. When Master Van comes, I don't want this to be a mess." Luke ordered.
Murmuring, Guy replied, "Of course, Young Master. It will be done."
Even to this day, Luke felt some regret. Perhaps in a different world, in a different place, things between him and Guy were all right.
But that was just his wishful thinking.
Entering the drawing room, Asch raised his voice so that it carried over the conversation between his parents and Master Van. "Father, Mother, Master Van. We have come." He bowed his head, Luke following the suite.
"Ah, boys. Have a seat." Their father said, his stern gaze following the twins. "I'm afraid today's training day must be canceled. There are more pressing matters to be discussed."
Luke couldn't hide his disappointment. "Aw. And here I was, looking forward to it too. May I ask why?" He sat down next to Master Van while Asch sat next to his mother.
Clearing his throat, Van looked slightly apologetic. "I'm afraid that I must return to Daath tomorrow. As the Commandant of the Order of Lorelei my duty is to protect the Fon Master." The worried look didn't go unnoticed by Asch.
"Why? Is there something wrong?" He asked, voice suddenly becoming sharp and serious. The previous playful banter in his tone disappeared at once. Sitting across from him, Luke silently marveled at the sudden change from annoying older brother to serious future king. "Did something happen to Fon Master Ion?"
Duke Fabre nodded. "It appears that the Fon Master has gone missing."
Eyes widening, Luke stared at Van seeking answers. "B-but what's going to happen between Kimlasca and Malkuth? Thanks to the Fon Master, we were able to make a truce between the Malkuth Empire and us. With him gone. . ." He trailed off, the sudden implications of the Fon Master disappearing made his stomach churn.
He exchanged troubled glances with Asch.
"Not to worry. At the moment, the entire Order is doing its best to search for the Fon Master. It will only be a matter of time before we find him." Van's confident voice soothed most of Luke's anxiety. "And I'm sure the King is wary of war as much as Emperor Peony."
Their mother, as if perceiving her sons' disappointment of not being able to train with the Commandant, softly amended matters. "Dorian General Grants is leaving later this evening. Perhaps you can spare some time to teach them something this afternoon?"
"They need to get stronger." Duke Fabre sounded condemning. "As they are right now, they are too weak."
The twins made a sour scowl.
"Dear. . . Although Luke had experienced a terrible ordeal in the past, they're both trying to become stronger. Try to be a bit more understanding." Susanne reprimanded her husband, sending her sons a soft smile. "Boys. Although I understand your need to become better swordsmen, you might get hurt so please be careful."
"Don't worry about us, mother. We'll be fine! Isn't that right, Asch?" Luke cheerfully replied, "Although you ARE getting a bit slower. Slacking off much, are we? Been too busy with Natalia, have we? Hmm, is there something going on that you're not telling us, bro?" His wicked grin stretched from ear to ear.
"Take that back, Dreck!" Asch gritted his teeth together, eyes closed in deep concentration. It would not do if the heir of Kimlasca strangled his twin brother to death- as tempting as it was at the moment. No, he was supposed to be refined, dignified, and most of all, responsible. He, Asch fon Fabre was the responsible elder sibling. There was no way in hell that he was going to succumb to Luke's level. . .
"Did you kiss her yet?"
With an undignified growl, Asch rose to his feet to permanently silence his brother. So what if father won't have Luke to take over when he retired? The look on his face was positively murderous. "I'll give you to three. One. . . Three! Dreck! Get back here!" He snarled, storming off after Luke who had taken off like a rabbit.
"Nyaaa! Can't catch me, Asch!" Luke's light teasing banter carried back into the drawing room where the occupants sighed.
Van shook his head ruefully. "Perhaps I should prepare for their lesson. Once they settle down, I'll begin immediately."
"Jeeze Asch, you didn't need to throw the chair at me! What if you had actually hit me?"
"I would have asked if the chair was all right."
"You're being mean again."
"And you're being a Dreck again. Same difference."
"Someone's touchy today."
"Maybe I won't."
"Do you want to die?"
The two bickered back and forth as they walked to the courtyard where they were told that Van was waiting for them. So far, Luke was winning the verbal spar by dragging Asch's obvious love for her into their argument.
In the middle of the courtyard, Guy and Van were discussing something in hushed tones. From where the twins were, they only heard snatches of their conversation.
"As I said. . . I'll leave this to you then. The duke, the king, and about Luke. . ."
"Hmm. . . I see. The Oracle Knights must be in pretty bad condition then. . ."
Before the twins could eavesdrop any further, their gardener gave them away. "Master Asch! Young Master Luke!" Much to their disappointment, Guy and Van immediately ceased their discussion.
"What are you doing here?" Luke asked Guy, his large green eyes searching Guy's own.
"Ah. Forgive me, Young Master Luke. . . But I was merely asking Dorian General Grants the finesse of swordplay." Guy never raised his head, instead to keep his attention focused on the ground.
Asch gruffly stepped in, "It sure didn't sound like that to me." He suspiciously glanced at Guy and then to Van. For now, he would keep quiet. He didn't want to ruin the lesson for Luke who had been looking forward with Master Van. "Whatever."
"Guy, perhaps you would like to watch us?" Van invited the blonde with a warm smile, motioning him to sit on a bench. "You might learn something more about swordsmanship that way."
As impatient as ever, Luke huffed, "Master Van! We don't have all day! Let's get started!"
Asch rolled his eyes.
A typical Luke response.
"All right. Let's start, shall we?" Van raised his sword, and motioned for the boys to do as well. "Instead of wooden swords, today we will use real ones. Be careful, now." He warned, knowing the full capabilities of Luke and Asch's penchant for trouble.
"We know, Master Van."
They began, Asch attacking Van while Luke supported him from the side. Unfortunately, as good as their swordsmanship skills were, Van's was much better. It was as if the Commandant had two swords in his hand- not once was Luke or Asch able to land a hit on the man. Sliding back from a blow, Luke winced. Asch wasn't faring any better either. They proceeded attacking again, metal crashing against metal.
"Arrrggg!" Luke recklessly charged, letting his frustration get the better of him.
"You idiot!" Asch yelled, too late to stop Luke.
Van smirked and the redhead was sent flying. He strode over to Luke, offering his hand. "Let's take a break, shall we?"
Balefully accepting Van's help, Luke brushed off his clothes. "I guess." He sheathed his sword, and stretched, getting the kinks in his back. "It feels like I haven't gotten any better, you know? Master Van, you're so strong. . ."
Throwing his head back, Van laughed. "Well, with practice, who knows?"
"A lot of practice." Asch added, taking a drink of water. He ducked when Luke crossly threw a rock at him.
Luke snorted, turning his head away from his brother. Stupid, overbearing, Asch. . . His ears twitched, hearing a faint melody. His sibling was too busy talking to Van to notice. What is that? Is. . . Something going to happen?
"Tue rei ze croa riou tue ze."
"What is it Luke?" Asch paused, glancing over at a frozen Luke. His brother's eyes were wide, body trembling slightly. Something was wrong here. Battle instincts suddenly warned him that an enemy had invaded his manor. Suddenly, his limbs felt heavy and it was a struggle to stay awake. ". . . Luke. . ."
"What's happening to my body. . . I can't move." Luke gasped, falling to the ground. "I'm so tired all of a sudden."
"It's a Fonic Hymn! There's a Seventh Fonist in the manor!"
All heads turned to the speaker. It was a girl around their age, holding a staff in one hand while a dagger in the other. "I've found you at last. Vandesdelca, you traitor! Prepare!" She jumped from the roof top, and landed before Van, swinging her weapon.
"I thought it was you, Tear!" Van blocked with his sword.
Luke watched with horror as his teacher and this (possible) assassin fought. Unlike his battles with Asch, this was for real- life or death. Although he knew that Master Van was skilled, it didn't help that this girl- Tear- was probably just as good. When Tear jumped above Van, preparing to attack him from his blind spot, Luke dove in to save his teacher. This was probably one of his more stupider ideas; he defiantly had a penchant for trouble. How the hell did one manage to turn a training lesson into a life attempt? Only he could. His knees shook as he braced himself against her attack. "What the hell do you think you're doing?" He broke free of the stalemate. "Hyyaaaa!"
"Don't! Luke!" Van yelled, but it was too late to stop the wheel of events. The Commandant knew what would happen if two potential Seventh Fonist would resonance together. As of right now, he couldn't afford this to happen!
At first, Luke had an upper hand- his sword was digging into her staff. Suddenly, white light spilled out of nowhere and he was assaulted by the familiar pangs of headache. Out of the corner of his eyes, he saw Asch grip his head in pain. "N-not this again. . . Ahhhh! That damned voice! Now is so not the time for this. . ."
"Resound. . . The will of Lorelei shall reach you. . . and open the way."
Tear gasped in shock at what she recognized as the seventh fonons engulfing them. They were causing a hyperresonance somehow. If things continued to oscillate like this, things might spiral out of control.
"Luke!" Asch yelled, running towards his brother. "Luke!" Like a red blur, he dashed to where the light was glowing. Blindly swinging his arms, he knocked the girl away but somehow the seventh fonons kept him from pushing away Luke from this Fonon phenomenon. The light intensified, forcing him to close his eyes. Dimly, he heard Guy's panicked voice.
"Master Asch! Young Master Luke!"
He felt another body plow into his, and an unsettling feeling told him it was their blonde servant playing hero. Why was this happening? Just when he was enjoying a peaceful afternoon, all this just had to happen. Why couldn't things just stay boring in his life? He didn't mind it. The seventh fonons continued to oscillate until there was a final flash of white light. The Fabre twins and their servant disappeared from the courtyard.
After a moment's of silence, Van quickly reacted. Reaching out, he disarmed Tear and pinned her arms behind her back. Just as the guard came pouring into the area, he leaned down so that he lowly said, "You have a lot of explaining to do, Tear."
Somehow Asch, Luke, and Guy had vanished without a trace.
And it was only the beginning.