I'd forgotten how big the Martel Temple was on the inside. Stained glass windows depicting the journey of Spiritua, the first Chosen of Mana, rows of pews for ceremonies, and doors lining each wall, leading to meeting rooms, living areas, and offices. However, the most significant feature was one you had to look for-a giant map of Sylvarant covering the entire floor. Directly in the center of the room, as it should be, was the location of the Tower of Salvation.
"Colette, you left this outside."
I turned to the voice. It was Lloyd, holding the chakram I'd thrown earlier, the one that had...I didn't even want to think about it. It was hard not to, though. The disc itself was in perfect condition, but you could see the trail of red on the side, a reminder of what I had done.
Had I done the right thing? I hadn't even thought about it, really. I took the chakram from Lloyd and clipped it to my belt, and looked up above the entrance. From inside the chapel, the door looked to be the trunk of a giant tree, as it rose up to the heavens. Looking higher, I could see clouds and what seemed to be winged people flying among them.
Why hadn't I ever seen that before? Was it because it was only now that I cared? Had I always been a selfish child, taking everything around me for granted? I'd never realized it before, but the entire ceiling was painted in that image, and most of the upper wall as well. The only exception was at the other end of the chapel, above the altar. There was a painting of a beautiful woman there, with a smile both stern and forgiving, that of a mother to her child. The Goddess Martel.
I don't know why I did. Maybe it was guilt? A desire to be forgiven, or to make amends, or something, I don't know. But I knelt down towards the painting, towards Her, and I prayed. I prayed that I had done right, that I would do right, that everything would be alright. By the end of my prayer, I was crying.
I shook away my tears. Enough of that. While I rose, I thought for a moment. Where was I to receive the oracle?
"Colette! You're alright!" The voice of Professor Sage brought me back to reality. "When the Desians came, we were worried they'd find you." In fact, it wasn't just Professor Sage, but a small group of people, mostly young adults and children. Apparently not everyone had been killed by the Desians.
"Raine! I was worried! Where were you?" Genis was practically flying to his sister, overjoyed to see her unharmed.
"When the Desians came in here, I was with these children at the time. We found a hidden area and waited there until it sounded like it was safe to come out. What happened up here?"
Me, Lloyd, and Genis all looked at each other. None of us wanted to say what had happened. Luckily for us, Kratos took over.
"The Desians attacked the temple, looking for the Chosen, and killed most of the priests here. I had been tracking them for some time when I came upon their champion attacking these three here. We managed to kill him and forced the others to retreat."
The teacher gave Kratos a look. It was a look all of her students had seen before, especially Lloyd. It was a look that said I know there's more. She looked at each of us in turn, and I was the last. I couldn't meet her eyes. I guess she wanted to ask me a question, ask if there was more to the story, if I was hurt, if I was-
"Colette." Her voice brought me out of my head and back to the temple. "I believe the chamber we found leads to where you recieve the oracle."
"I understand." As I, followed by Lloyd, Genis, and Kratos, proceeded to the back of the temple, an idea occured to me. "Professor, could you help my grandmother back to the village? They," I looked at my companions, "are going to guard me as we go to wherever I get the oracle from." I did my best to sound cheerful, as if it was all a game.
"I'll do that. Be safe, Colette. Lloyd, Genis, later we'll talk about following directions."
As she left, I heard Lloyd question Genis about that comment. "What did we do wrong now?"
I could hear Genis sigh as if he was talking to a toddler. "Maybe because we didn't stay in the schoolhouse?"
"Oh, right." Then again, when it came to Lloyd, sometimes there wasn't much difference.
Behind the altar was a staircase leading down. Maybe there had been some sort of switch. I remembered reading fragmented accounts of those who journeyed with past Chosens. It had been in the angelic language, and a lot had word away or faded, but I what was there was helpful, and I hadn't forgotten it.
"It's dangerous down here." Everyone paused to look at me. "I read about the seals. There are lots of traps down here."
"I kinda guessed." Lloyd said this casually as he passed me and walked down the stairs. "What kind of dangerous place has monsters and not traps?" Despite everything, I couldn't help but laugh at this. That was Lloyd, always pointing out the obvious.
"Thanks Lloyd. I don't know what me and Colette would do if we didn't have the swordmeister of Iselia telling us everything we already knew."
As we all began to walk down the stairs-Lloyd first, me second, with Kratos and Genis behind me, Kratos decided to speak up. "Lloyd. Your sword techniques are self-taught?"
"Are you familiar with tokugi?"
Lloyd paused, evidently trying to remember if he'd heard the term. "No, I'm not."
"A Tokugi is a combat skill. It's similar to Magic, but it relies less on Mana and more on the user."
"I don't get it."
Kratos sighed. I heard Genis laugh quietly behind me. It was a lot like Lloyd and the Professor, really.
"You can focus your body's energy into a special form of attack." There was silence. Lloyd was trying to grasp the concept. Truth be told, I'm not quite sure I did. I mean, it sounded simple, but really. Elves like Genis and Professor Sage used Magic because they weren't skilled in weapons. Those who could use weapons, like myself and Lloyd, didn't use Magic. Now Kratos was saying that the line was a bit less clear.
Kratos walked to the head of our group, to the bottom of the stairs. Despite being underground and untouched, there were several torches lit. The room we were in was small and circular, and there were three branches leading off. One of them looked like it was blocked by a bunch of rocks. Kratos looked over the area, and stared at the long hallway to the front. It looked like there were some eyes or flames or something down the hallway. Slowly, a large blob of...I don't know what. It was green, and there was something in it, and it didn't feel friendly. It slithered down the stairs, towards our group.
"Lloyd, watch and observe closely." Kratos drew his sword, and gripped it in his hands. He took a step forward, and looked at the advancing blob. "MAJINKEN!" he cried, and his arm flashed as a large wave of light traveled across the ground and into the blob, which promptly fell apart.
We were silent. The closest thing we'd ever seen to that was Genis's fireballs, and those were familiar to us.
Lloyd responded for the rest of us. "Cool! Can you teach me?"
We all laughed, even Kratos, as we proceded to explore the cave.
Author's Notes: Colette, in a skit, mentions she prays every night. While I do imagine that the Chosen would be a bit more religious than your average Sylvarantian, it's not too much of a stretch to think that the others are as well, if just by virtue of being with Colette. As for how exactly the religion on Sylvarant works, I'm mostly just making it up using what few clues I am given.
Tokugi is the name the Japanese Tales games gives for skills. Well, it's a bit more complex. Tokugi are the lowest level skills-level one. In most Tales games, the next level up is Ougi, but in Symphonia, it's Higi. After that comes Ougi, followed by Hi-Ougi. In ToS for the Gamecube, there are only three Hi-Ougis: Falcon's Crest, Holy Judgment, and Indignation Judgment. I used Tokugi because it sounded better to say than Ougi.
Majinken is merely the Japanese name for Demon Fang. After playing Tales of Phantasia for the SFC, I realized how much cooler it sounded to hear the Japanese quotes.
By the way, is anyone actually reading this? If you hate it, that's fine-suggest how to make this thing better. I understand ToS novelizations are a dime a dozen, though.