I lied. I was going to wait to tomorrow to upload this, but it was all complete and just sitting there so I figured I'd put it up tonight rather than wait for tomorrow.
Chapter Eighty-Six: This is It
They took off down the street. It was around seven o'clock, and the sky was beginning to darken. Lloyd sat next to him in the passenger seat, with the rest of the group crammed into the back. It was a good thing they had borrowed Ellie's dad's minivan, because there was no way they'd all fit into Will's brother's crappy car.
After going through several intersections unheeded, the light at the next one turned red and Will slowed down.
"Why are we stopping?" Lloyd asked as they stopped at the light.
"The light's red."
"It means you aren't allowed to go."
Lloyd looked both ways down the intersecting street. "But we're the only ones on the road!"
"That doesn't matter. The light is red and we have to wait until it turns green."
"Just go, Will!" Genis said.
"It will turn green in just a second!"
They sat in silence, all eleven of them staring at the glaring red light. Seconds ticked by.
"It's still red," Zelos announced. "When will it turn green?"
"Will," Kratos said, "Yggdrasill is waiting. There are more important things than traffic laws."
"But-" The light changed. "Yeah! Here we go!" He sped off, everyone thrown into the backs of their seats at the sudden acceleration. Of course, they couldn't accelerate too quickly, because they were driving around in a crowded minivan. Will felt like a soccer mom.
There was only one more light before they'd reach the school parking lot, and right now it was still green. Halfway to it, it turned yellow. "No!"
"What does yellow mean?" Lloyd asked.
"It's going to turn red any second now."
"Hurry! Speed up and get through it!"
If they went just a bit faster, they just might make it. "Here we go!" He pushed down on the accelerator, and great hulk of the minivan zooming into the intersection just as the light turned red.
"Oh my god I'm going to get a ticket!" Will said in a panic.
"I don't see any guards around," Raine said. "I think you'll be fine."
"But what if they have hidden cameras here? They do that sometimes you know!"
Regal said, "Calm down. I think you're taking this out of proportion."
"Focus on Yggdrasill," Kratos said. "You're letting your nerves get to you."
As they pulled into the school parking lot, Will nodded. "Right, right. I'm sorry. I just… I hate breaking the law…"
There were still a few cars in the parking lot, so Will pulled up next to one of them, closer to the school than the street. If they caused a disturbance tonight, he wanted it to be as hard as possible to identify Mr. Green's minivan as being connected to it.
The poured out of the car, then stood at the ready in front of the minivan.
"Where are we going?" Presea asked.
"Over there." Will pointed across the street to the rows of peach trees. "Is everybody ready?"
"Yes," Lloyd said. "Let's go stop Yggdrasill once and for all!"
Will started off across the parking lot, the others close behind. They looked so out of place in the familiar streets of his home, but in a way it was nice. They had become such good friends of his, and at least now he got to show them his home since he'd already seen all of theirs.
"Look both ways before crossing the street," Will said when they reached the curb. Man would it ever suck to come so far only to get hit by a bus while crossing the road. Luckily the streets were pretty deserted at this hour, so they were able to hurry across the asphalt without fear. It was also good that no one was around to see them, because a group of eleven people decked out with weaponry wandering into an orchard next to the wealthy neighbourhoods around the school would probably be cause for alarm. Will definitely did not want to get arrested before they defeated Yggdrasill.
There was a low white fence surrounding the orchard, which did little to keep them out. Will climbed over it and his feet came down in the dirt. He couldn't see any sign of Yggdrasill yet, but he must be just ahead. They moved forward into the trees, and Will stopped worrying about being spotted.
"Everyone be quiet," Kratos said. "If we can take Yggdrasill by surprise, all the better."
"Will, what's that?" Colette asked, pointing to a tree.
"What's what?" He walked over and saw a piece of paper pinned to the trunk. He had a feeling he knew who the note was from, as the pin used had a large yellow head with a bright red fork and a smiley-face.
Dear Everybody, the note read. Welcome to Earth! Isn't it fantastic? I just love it. Good job on figuring out where to go – I knew you could do it! You guys just make me so proud. Anyways, I just wanted to let you know that I've done a little bit of magic around this orchard so you don't have to worry about the police showing up when you use Judgment or the like. I was going to show up and tell you this myself, but I don't think I would be able to escape without Will punching me in the face and that doesn't seem pleasant at all! Good luck in the fight!
Lots of love,
P.S. If you win, I'll give you all cookies!
"Well, he got one thing right," Will said. "I most definitely would have punched him in the face."
"What kind of magic do you think he means?" Presea asked.
"I can sense a bit of it," Mithos said. "It's not exactly mana the way our world uses… It's something different."
"I'll ask him about it next time I see him," Will said. "You know, after I punch him in the face."
"We're wasting time," Kratos said. "If the Wonder Chef is taking care of damage control, all the better. It will be one less thing to worry about in the fight."
"Exactly," Regal said. "This means we can go all out without fear of the consequences."
"Then let's go," Lloyd said. He led the way through the trees, heading down the row deeper into the orchard.
As they got further in, Will began to hear low voices and footsteps up ahead. "It's over there," he said, pointing a few rows over.
"Right." Lloyd darted from tree to tree, the others following with varying degrees of stealth.
Will reached a tree with Lloyd and they peered around it to see Yggdrasill standing in the dirt in a clear area of the orchard. In the middle of the clearing were three giant stones embedded into the earth. They were barren at the moment, but a handful of soulless angels fluttered in the air with brushes and ink, painting the mystic patterns on their sides.
Lloyd looked over at Kratos, who stood behind a tree a few feet away, as they tried to come up with a plan of attack. Yggdrasill didn't seem to know they were there, yet, so they still had the element of surprise.
Then Colette walked into a tree.
The whole tree shook and Yggdrasill's head darted around. He spotted the group clustered in the trees and his lips turned into a smile.
"Ah. I was wondering if you were going to show up."
Lloyd drew his swords. "Alright, Mithos. I defeated you last time and I'll do it again!"
Yggdrasill sighed. "Some other time, Lloyd. I'm busy."
Lloyd faltered. "What?"
"You heard me. I'm rather busy right now. You can fight me once the Otherworldly Gate is finished."
"We can't let you do that, Yggdrasill," Will said.
"We have to stop the angels," Kratos said in a low voice to the rest of the group. "Half of us should distract Yggdrasill, and the other half will go after the angels working on the gate."
"Alright," Lloyd said. "Yggdrasill is going to be more challenging, so I'll take him on. Who else is with me?"
"I am," Mithos said.
"As am I," Kratos said. "I suggest Will, Raine, Sheena, Zelos, and Regal focus on the angels. The rest of us will focus on Yggdrasill."
"Understood," Presea said.
"Let's go!" Lloyd said, leading the charge towards Yggdrasill.
As Lloyd and the others headed for Yggdrasill, Will took off towards the angels. All he had to do was interrupt their painting project. That shouldn't be too hard, right?
Zelos pulled his wings out and took off. The angels didn't even look up as they attacked, focused solely on their task. Zelos soared straight towards one of them, sword reaching out to impale her. The angel snapped to action like a mousetrap, exchanging paintbrush for sword in half a second and whirring to block Zelos' attack with the same impassive expression. She lashed out with her other hand and punched him hard in the side, sending Zelos crashing into one of the stones.
Down on the ground, Raine was casting something while Sheena scaled a tree to get to the angels' level. Will didn't have the luxury of wings or ninja-skills, so he went with Tempest. This launched him into the air, sending him crashing into an angel. He had swords in both his fists, but still managed to get the angel in a bear hug and drag him back down to earth with him.
The angel didn't show an expression as he pushed Will off with strength Will wouldn't have expected of such skinny arms. The angel got to his feet and clutched its spear, jabbing it towards Will as it started hovering again. Will rolled to the side to avoid it, but while he was prepared to jump up and defend himself, the angel just took off into the air to resume its task.
Will desperately wished he was wings. Zelos was doing his best to defeat an angel in mid-air and even Sheena had managed to get from the top of a tree to the top of one of the stones. From her precarious perch, she slapped pieces of paper all over the rock.
Will wasn't sure what she was planning to do, but the angels seemed to have noticed. After one spotted her up there, they swarmed like flies to honey. "Sheena, watch out!" Zelos said, flying after them.
"Ray!" Raine cried, her stack slashing through the swarm and holding them up before they could descend on Sheena.
Sheena looked up with a bit of panic, then yelled, "Get over here, Zelos!"
"On it, hunny!"
The angels recovered from Ray, a few feathers drifting down from injured wings the only thing to show for the attack. They were almost upon Sheena just as she yelled, "Pyre Seal!" and pushed off from the rock. She fell through the angels, only to be caught by Zelos a second before hitting the ground. Behind her, almost ten cards erupted in an instant, blasting the angels away from the rock and damaging the stone as well. Zelos set her on the ground and she gave him a reluctant nod in thanks.
Will risked sparing a glance over at the other group to see how they were fairing. Mithos and Colette whizzed through the air, looking like nothing but colourful streaks of light. Down on the ground, Kratos, Lloyd, and Presea danced around Yggdrasill trying to find an opening. Yggdrasill was very fast, though, and always seemed to be able to dodge. From his position half-hiding behind a tree, Genis tried to hit Yggdrasill with spells before he managed to dodge.
The angels were on their feet again (or rather, their wings) and headed back to their painting job. Zelos took off again while the grounded team members considered their options.
"Will," Regal said, coming up beside him. "You need to get to their level. It's difficult for me to fight aerial opponents with my fighting style, so allow me to help you."
Will looked up. "What? How?"
"Get on my shoulders. I'll lift you up."
Will couldn't think of anything better, so he agreed. Regal knelt and Will climbed onto his shoulders, balancing high in the air as Regal stood up again. He brought his ankles together so Regal could hold on to them even with his hands bound, keeping Will secure.
"Alright. Let's go."
Regal ran forward, with Will now on the same level as the angels. One of the angels painting the middle stone looked at him as they approached, and Will was certain that if she had been human, she'd be very shocked at the sight.
"Hunting Beast!" Will yelled, blasting the angel against the very rock she was trying to paint. The design she had been applying with black ink was almost complete, but Will wasn't going to let her finish.
The angel held a serrated sword in the hand opposite her large paint brush, and she wasted no time in slashing back at him. Regal was quick on his feet, though, and jumped to the side. Will realized that in this position he'd have to entrust Regal with doing most of the dodging while all he could do was lean a few inches side to side. It wasn't the ideal situation, but he trusted Regal.
"Tiger Blade!" He managed to cut the angel, but injuring did little to hinder a creature that felt no pain.
The angel slashed her sword at him and Will threw up his own to block. It got stuck on the serrations, but he used his other sword to try and attack her. The angel showed innovation by using her thick-handled paintbrush as a shield. Will's sword lodged itself halfway through the handle, just as she pulled back on her sword and slashed at him again. Regal ducked quickly, bringing Will's head just below her slash. If he had still been Lloyd, he'd probably have lost a bit of hair. As it was, he managed to yank his sword from the paint brush.
Regal got back up again, but in the couple seconds he had been kneeling, the angel turned her focus to the design. She dabbed the brush at the rock, straightening the final segment that joined the band wrapping around it.
"No!" Will said. "Super Sonic Thrust!" He impaled the angel through the back, and her body went limp. But it was too late – the design on that rock was complete. The others were nearly done, too. They had to hurry.
Regal turned to start heading towards the angel Sheena was fighting, but then strong hands wrapped around Will's chest, lifting him up.
"Hey!" he shouted.
"Sorry for the sudden entrance, Bud," Zelos said. "I need you to do a unison attack with me."
"Can you ask before manhandling me next time?"
"Usually hunnies like it when I grab them!" They hovered in the air about ten feet above the ground.
"I am not your hunny!" Will raged at him.
"Haha, I'm just teasing. When I use Eruption, you use Beast, alright?"
Will didn't even have a chance to confirm before Zelos started casting, the red light swirling around the air around them. The Angel slashed her sword at Sheena, driving the ninja back. Then Zelos shouted, "Eruption!" and tossed Will towards the angel.
In air, Will shouted, "Beast!" This turned into Fiery Beast, which caused him to be surrounded by flames as he came crashing down on the angel like a fiery ball of death. Sheena had injured the angel pretty bad already, so when Will got up again, the angel was dead.
Several other angel corpses littered the ground, their paint brushes and swords lying discarded in the dirt. Now there was only one angel left, dutifully finishing the pattern on the far stone.
Will glanced at Sheena. "I'm gonna get it. Can you help me get up there?"
She nodded. "I'll give you a boost. Just a sec." She pulled out another card and grabbed Will's arm.
"What are you-?"
She slapped the card on his wrist, and the edges glowed black for a second. "It's a Tethe Seal of Darkness. Angels are weak to darkness, so this will make your attack extra powerful. Now let's go."
"Thanks!" Will shouted taking off after Sheena.
She paused below the angel and held her interlocked hands down, giving Will a step up. She launched him into the air, and on the way up Will shouted, "Rising Falcon!"
He was launched even higher into the air, and then came down hard, striking the angel right through the back of his neck. They both fell to the ground, but while Will jumped to his feet again, the angel was still.
The group looked around the Otherworldly Gate as Raine started to cast Healing Circle. Two of the stones were complete, but the third one still had a gap in the encircling band. For now, they could wait to completely destroy it and go help the others with Yggdrasill.
They ran over, but it looked like the others would have been fine by themselves. Yggdrasill's white body-suit was streaked with blood and he seemed to be more interested in defending than attacking.
Lloyd looked up from where he was kneeling and taking a breather as they approached. He had blood streaked down his face and looked thoroughly exhausted, but he still managed to give them a grin.
"Are the angels destroyed?"
Raine nodded. "Yes. The Gate is incomplete."
"Good," Lloyd said. "Then let's just take care of Yggdrasill."
They ran into the fray.
"Outburst!" Yggdrasill said when he saw them coming, sending the entire group blasting backwards.
Within half a minute, though, they were all back on their feet. Lloyd stood near Kratos as they made their way towards Yggdrasill, Zelos joined Mithos in the air, Raine hurried over to stand by her brother to support them, while Regal, Sheena, Will, and Presea, covered each other while trying to get close enough to fight.
"Demon Fang!" Will shouted, trying to distract Yggdrasill long enough to let Presea strike him with her axe. She missed, but Regal used the opportunity to come around from behind and kick him in the back.
Yggdrasill staggered forward, and Will finally paused to think why he was still on the ground. Shouldn't he be in the air, decimating them all with powerful attacks? In fact, the way he was fighting reminded Will of the way Zelos had fought in their battle. He was almost exclusively defending, and seemed terribly reluctant to actually cause the others grievous damage.
That's when Will noticed that Colette was missing. He scanned the sky for her, expecting he had just missed her or mistook her for Mithos. But no, Mithos and Zelos were the only angels in the sky. Then where…?
A pink glow out of the corner of his eye caught his attention and he turned his head to see Colette floating by the unfinished stone, wielding one of the angels' discarded paintbrushes.
"Colette?" Will shouted, all thoughts of Yggdrasill flying out of his mind as he abruptly turned and started running towards her.
She looked up with a panicked face. "Wait, Will!" she cried. "You don't understand!"
"What the hell are you doing?" He stopped below her. Her face was torn and she looked like she wanted to cry.
"I'm sorry," she said. "I wanted to tell you the truth, but Mithos made me promise I wouldn't!" She turned to the stone and finished the design. The Otherworldly Gate was complete. "Please don't be mad."
From the battle, Yggdrasill looked over at them. Colette threw the paintbrush down and drifted to the ground to stand next to Will. Will didn't know how to react. Colette was clearly herself and not being brainwashed or possessed, but it was impossible to believe that she would betray them. What was going on?
Then his attention turned back to the battle, and he could do nothing but watch in awe as the area around Lloyd seemed to grow dark. Then blue light exploded out of the ground, swirling around him interlaced with purple.
"I'll show you divine justice!" Lloyd shouted as he leapt into the air, the light becoming so bright Will almost had to look away. The Material Blades came together in his hands and in a burst of light they became the Eternal Sword, which came crashing down towards Yggdrasill. "Falcon Crest!"
And Yggdrasill… just stood there. He did nothing to block, nothing to avoid, nothing to strike back with his own attack. He just watched the attack come with a solemn look on his face.
Blue light exploded in a shimmering dome from the impact site as Lloyd's attack struck home. Lloyd jumped back when he was done, while Yggdrasill staggered and clutched his chest. Blood poured down his front, bright red on pure white clothes and mingling in his golden hair. Mithos and Zelos descended. Everyone was still.
Then Yggdrasill turned and took a few staggering steps towards the Otherworldly Gate. As he walked towards him, Will saw his appearance flicker. He was losing energy fast, and no longer had the strength to maintain his Yggdrasill guise. He was starting to become the old man whose body he had stolen again, and Will was struck with pity for the poor man who was going to die now because he was unlucky enough to get possessed by Yggdrasill.
Yggdrasill – or was he Mr. Reedley now? – stopped in front of Will and put one blood-stained hand on the stone.
He raised his head, and managed to hold onto his Yggdrasill face long enough to look at Will with a pained smile. "You did good, Will…" he wheezed. "When I see Ellie… I'll tell her you won…"
Will stood frozen with shock, unable to tear his eyes away from Yggdrasill as his face faded into that of an old man with greying hair. He slumped forward, while beside him Colette sniffled and rubbed tears from her eyes.
"He's releasing his mana!" Kratos said, running forward. "Will, stop him!"
"What?" Will turned to look at the stone and saw light glowing around the edges of the designs. The Otherworldly Gate was now complete, activated by Yggdrasill's mana.
"The Gate…" Will said in horror, staring at it as the others gathered around. "I… I didn't… it's…"
Yggdrasill wasn't quite dead yet, and managed to turn his head. With his eyes closed, he said in a weak voice, "Don't worry about it. It's not going to tear your world apart. It's just a portal to Sylvarant and Tethe'alla."
"What do you mean?" Lloyd asked. "What are you talking about?"
Yggdrasill groaned and coughed, blood spilling out onto the ground. "Raine… after I die, resurrect this poor man. He didn't ask for this fate."
"What is this?" Sheena said. "He's become a totally different person!"
"No…" Yggdrasill gasped. "I've always been this person… I've just… been… playing along to complete the time loop…"
"I don't understand," Regal said.
Yggdrasill smiled. "It's over now…you guys won… just like you were supposed to…" His cheek fell into the dirt. His chest stopped rising with shallow breaths. And just like that, Mithos Yggdrasill was dead.
There was a long silence following his death, only disturbed my Colette's sobs. After a long minute, Will turned to Colette.
She could only nod as she choked on her sobs.
"Chosen," Kratos said, his eyes narrowed with a scary look. "Explain. Just what has been going on?"
Colette rubbed tears from her eyes as she tried to regain her composure. Lloyd walked to her side and put his arm around her shoulders.
"It's ok, Colette. We aren't mad at you. We just want to know the truth."
"He told me in the Hall of the Great Seed," she explained in a slow, heavy voice. "After I was captured and Zelos pretended to betray you guys. He told me that he wasn't really trying to hurt us or build his Age of Lifeless Beings at all. He wasn't the Mithos from the end of the timeline that Lloyd and I remember… he was the Mithos from the end of this timeline." Her eyes turned to Mithos, who stood next to Zelos near the back of the group. All eyes followed her gaze.
Mithos looked confused. "Me?"
Colette nodded. "He's been the good you all this time… forced to do unpleasant things in order to keep the time flow going in the right direction."
"He killed Ellie," Will said. "If he was really a good guy, why would he stand by and let that happen?" But still, a memory of words crossed his mind.
"I'm sorry about what happened... will happen... I never intended him to do that... it was a mistake...and I'm so sorry."
Could Mithos have been apologising in advance for Ellie's death?
"He did try to stop it," Colette said softly. "That's why he separated you from us when we were captured. He thought that if you weren't at the fight, then you wouldn't die and then Ellie wouldn't have to save you…"
A new voice entered the conversation. "And that's where I come in." The Wonder Chef walked towards them, cape billowing in a non-existent wind.
"You," Will said, seething at him. "You dragged me to the fight. You made sure iw as there to make sure Ellie died. It's your fault she's gone!"
The Wonder Chef shrugged. "If you want to blame me, fine. I was just making sure the cycle of events happened the way they were supposed to. Ellie was meant to die. I've told you time and again that when someone is supposed to die, they have to die, or else they'd become a ticking time bomb and risk blowing the whole timeline up later on. That's why I yelled at Mithos to kill Corrine."
"What?" Sheena said, finally speaking. "What do you mean, Mithos killed Corrine?"
The Wonder Chef blinked. "Oh. I guess no one told you. You see, Will here saved Corrine's life at the Temple of Lightning even though I told him not to."
Sheena gave Will a shocked look. "You… what?"
Will frowned. "I knew Corrine was supposed to die there, but then when it came down to it, I couldn't just stand by and watch. But later, Mithos killed him because that's how the story was supposed to go."
Sheena's eyes were wide and sad. "I had no idea…"
"Will," the Wonder Chef said, giving him one of his rare serious expressions, "I really am sorry that she had to die. It isn't fair. But it's the way the story goes."
"Wait," Lloyd said, wrinkling his brow. "I don't get it. I thought we were going off of the version of events Colette and I remember?"
"Nope," the Wonder Chef said. "You were actually going through a time loop made up of a convoluted amalgamation of this timeline that is based on the presumption that it is a different timeline."
Lloyd stared blankly at him. "A… convo… imagination…what?"
Raine didn't take her eyes off the Wonder Chef as she explained. "A time loop where the primary reason for most actions is the assumption that we are actually in a different time loop."
"Precisely!" the Wonder Chef said. "Mithos was doing everything he could to ensure that we would all end up right here, with a brand new Otherworldly Gate."
The group's attention turned to the stones. Genis asked, "So… what does it do?"
The Wonder Chef smiled. "Why, it allows one to one transportation between your world and Will's, of course!"
Lloyd's face brightened. "Will, did you hear that? Now you can come and visit whenever you want!"
Will smiled, though he wasn't fully over his shock at the recent turn of events. "So, Colette…" he said, "from the time Zelos betrayed us at the Tower, you knew this whole thing?"
She nodded, her eyes on the ground. "Mithos explained everything to me, but made me promise not to tell. I didn't like lying to you, but I understood that if I told you, you'd probably change things, even if on accident."
"I understand," Will said. "After all, I did the same thing when it came to not telling you guys the truth."
"Professor," Lloyd said, turned to her. "You need to resurrect Mr. Reedley. We only have one hour."
She nodded. "Yes, of course." She knelt beside him and began charging her mana. Meanwhile, Mithos had come to stand next to Will.
"I don't understand," he said to the Wonder Chef. "If the Mithos who died here tonight is me… how am I supposed to become him?"
The Wonder Chef smiled at him sadly. "Ah. Right. Um… you're not going to like this…"
Mithos hung his head. "I have to die, don't I?"
Will gave him a sharp look while Lloyd looked up in alarm. "What? No!"
The Wonder Chef just nodded. "You will die here, and enter the black space in an Exsphere. From there, I will make sure you find your way through time and come out at just the right moment so that you can possesses Mr. Reedley."
"But I don't know what to do," Mithos said. "I don't know how to build… this!" He pointed at the stones. "And I don't know how to go to the convention to find Will and Ellie, and I don't know all the details about what I need to do to make sure we end up here…"
"Don't worry about it," the Wonder Chef said. "I'll help you out. In fact, I already have! You guys made it here, didn't you? So clearly you've already done it!"
Mithos frowned, trying to make sense of the confusing time-travel logic.
Raine said, "Resurrection."
Light glowed and swirled around the body of the old man, patching the fatal wounds. A few seconds later, he slowly sat up and looked around. He frowned.
"I don't suppose that was a dream, was it?"
Raine shook her head. "I'm sorry."
"No, it's quite alright," he said, shifting so he could lean against the stone. "In my old age, I never thought I'd get an adventure like that."
"What do we do now?" Presea asked.
The Wonder Chef shrugged. "Whatever you want, really. You should get back to your world and reunite Sylvarant and Tethe'alla, though. Mithos, you don't have to go away right now. You can stay with them for a little while. No rush. And now…" he reached behind himself and said, "I believe I promised you all cookies!"
He turned around with a huge silver platter of chocolate chip cookies. "Dig in, everyone!"
They sat in a circle in the dirt, enjoying the Wonder Chef's cookies. As Will ate, it was hard to believe it was really over. Yggdrasill had been defeated. Or had he? They hadn't really 'defeated' him, per se, they had just played along with the plan set by fate. Yggdrasill hadn't even needed defeating, when it came down to it. Will watched Mithos eat a cookie with a happy look on his face, trying to wrap his mind around the fact that this was the same person who had put them through so much misery.
"I was wondering," Raine said, looking up at the Wonder Chef. "You said you used magic to protect us from law enforcement. How exactly did that work?"
"Oh," the Wonder Chef said, "well, you see, in Gaoracchia Forest there are these paths that when you walk down them, you reach the end only to find yourself at the beginning again. I simply set it up so that the orchard surrounding us is like that. No doubt there are police crawling all over the streets outside, but they can't get in here. It will last long enough for Mr. Reedley here to clean up the blood and corpses."
"How am I going to get to the minivan?" Will asked, frowning.
"Go back with Lloyd," the Wonder Chef said. "This is an Otherworldly Gate, now. It will warp you there automatically on the full moon, but at any time if you show up, I can open the portal here and let you through. That is, if Mr. Reedley lets you on his property."
The old man nodded. "Yes, of course. After all that we've gone through to get here, I'm not about to tear this thing down! You are welcome to come here any time you like."
"Thank you," Will said. Then he looked back at the Wonder Chef. "But if I'm not going back to my house tonight, I really need to get a message to Mr. Greene. I need to tell him that we're all alright, Yggdrasill's dead, and he can come pick up his car at the school."
The Wonder Chef nodded. "I'll drop him a note for you."
Will smiled as he took another bite of cookie. "You know, Wonder Chef, you really need to decide if you're a good guy or a bad guy. You keep screwing with my mind."
The Wonder Chef gave him an elusive smile. "But I'm not a good guy or a bad guy. I merely am. I am a being a the black space, existing simply to ensure that the flow of time all across the multiverse remains consistent. I don't care about good or evil – simply order." He stood up. "And no, I am afraid I must go. I hope you all enjoy the cookies, but I am afraid that a being of the multiverse has a great many places they need to be. I probably won't ever see you again, since I don't actually have to appear to let you through the gate, so I hope you don't miss me terribly."
"Goodbye, Wonder Chef," Will said. "I guess I should thank you, even though half the time I wanted to strangle you."
The Wonder Chef grinned. "Have a nice life. I hope you never get sucked into an inter-dimensional paradox again!" He whirled in a circle, his cape surrounding him. A moment later, he was gone.
"What a strange person," Regal remarked.
"Is it really over, Lloyd?" Sheena asked from across the circle. "You still have to reunite the worlds. Is that terribly difficult?"
Lloyd shook his head. "No, it's not that bad. I know what I'm doing this time so it will be a piece of cake."
"If we are now working on a one to one ratio of time," Regal said, "we ought to head back to Tethe'alla as soon as possible to reunite the worlds."
"That's true," Lloyd said. He got to his feet. "Is everyone ready to go?"
Will reluctantly put down another cookie. He could enjoy himself when they were done. Sure the hard part was over, but he supposed there were still some things to do in Symphonia before he could really say it was over.
"I'm staying here," Mr. Reedley said. "I have to clean this place up."
"You're not going to do it alone, are you?" Sheena asked.
He shook his head. "No, I have enough workers on the property who can help. I trust them not to go running around talking about angel bodies or asking me questions."
"Alright," Lloyd said. "If everything is taken care of here, it's time to head back to Tethe'alla."
The group stood before the Otherworldly Gate. They weren't show exactly how it worked, when suddenly the patterns on the rocks began to glow and a swirling black vortex appeared before them.
"Goodbye," Mr. Reedley said. "Good luck."
They waved goodbye and one by one they stepped through the portal.
There were a couple seconds of complete blackness that Will was beginning to get used to, and then they were hit by cool air as they came out at the Otherworldly Gate near Altamira. It was night by now, the lights of Altamira lighting up the sky in the distance.
"Now what?" Genis asked.
"I have to use the Eternal Sword," Lloyd said. "Don't worry everyone. I know what I'm doing."
"Be careful, Lloyd," Raine said.
"I'll be fine." Then he thrust his swords into the air, letting them come together and form the Eternal Sword just like they had while performing Falcon Crest. "Origin!" he shouted, staring into the heavens. "Please – unite the two worlds!"
The ghostly voice of Origin drifted across the island. "Understood."
The ground began shaking. Will threw out his arms to stabilize himself as Colette lost her balance and fell over. In the distance, from where the Tower of Salvation once stood, a beam of light shot into the sky. It kept going up and up, higher even than the Tower ever had. And from that beam, more lights appeared, snaking out across the ground. The sky was filled with lights like the aurora borealis, and when Will looked down, he saw the ground writhing below his feet. The worlds were colliding, land masses merging into one. The earth was still shaking with enough force to nearly throw Will off his feet.
The light began to die down and fade. The shaking slowed down, until it was nothing more than a distant rumbling. The lights disappeared. And in the sky, a second moon had appeared.
Lloyd lowered his hands, taking a deep breath. "Is it… done?"
"It appears so," Kratos said. "There are two moons now. The worlds have come together once more."
"Lloyd, you did it!" Colette cheered as she got back to her feet.
"It's not over yet," Lloyd said.
Just as he finished saying that, burst light began appearing all around them. With every explosion of colour, a Summon Spirit appeared. They floated in space, staring down at the group.
"Whoa!" Sheena said, looking around. "What are you guys doing here?"
Origin's voice came again. "Your wish has been granted. But there is no link. Without a link, the world will die."
"No!" Genis said. "We can't let it die now after everything we've done!"
"The world is suffering a deficiency of mana," Origin said. "Now that the worlds have combined, it lacks the mana to support itself. The land… is dying."
"What do we do?" Presea asked. "We cannot fail now."
"We aren't gonna let it fail!" Lloyd said. "We'll support the worlds by linking them with the giant tree. All I have to do is bring Derris Kharlan down to the Great Seed and expose it to the mana, and it will be reborn!"
"Can you do that?" Sheena asked.
Lloyd nodded. "I did it last time, didn't I?"
"Derris Kharlan is already at the edge of the gravitational field," Origin said. "Not even Mithos could stop this from happening."
"I'm going to try," Lloyd said, holding the Eternal Sword into the air again. "I know I can do this."
Will noticed that Lloyd's Exsphere was beginning to glow, just faintly right now.
"Even strengthened by your Exsphere," Origin said, "your body will likely not be able to withstand the force. Are you certain you wish to do this?"
"I said yes, didn't I?" Lloyd said, the light from his hand growing stronger and stronger. "I won't just stand here and do nothing while the world dies!"
More lights appeared in the sky. It was difficult to see what was happening from so far down on the ground, but Will watched in silence with the others as a glowing mass of green light approached the distant purple gleam of Derris Kharlan. Lloyd held the sword aloft, eyes squeezed shut and body shaking slightly from the exertion.
"It isn't working!" Mithos said. "The mana is being deflected."
As he said that, the Eternal sword faded from Lloyd's hands. He opened his eyes and dropped his arms. "Dammit!"
"The Great Seed…" Presea said, "is already dead."
"I won't let it die!"
By now everyone had noticed that Lloyd's Exsphere was shining with light, even if Lloyd himself was ignoring it. It was so bright, Will couldn't look directly at Lloyd's hand anymore.
"Lloyd-" Raine started to say, but before she could finish warning him of the light, blue light exploded around him.
Wide blue wings extended from Lloyd's back, with a wingspan that spread several times that of anyone else's wings. Lloyd merely glanced back at the wings with a determined look, seeing the wings as a useful means to his end. Of course, it helped that he had known they were coming.
"Lloyd!" Genis shouted. "What's going on?"
"I'm going after the Seed!" Lloyd shouted. "I'm going to bring it back and force the Giant Tree to germinate!"
With that said, he took off. Colette cast a quick look at the others, then pulled her wings out too. "I'm going to help."
"Be careful, you two," Raine said. "Come back safely."
"We will!" Colette called, and flew away. Soon the pair of them were nothing more than two points of light in the sky.
"Is it really going to work?" Mithos asked.
"Yes," Will said. "They'll do it. They did it last time, and they'll do it again."
"Now that they've gone…" Presea said, "there is no other way that we can help them. The final act for the fate of the world is up to them."
"We can trust them, though," Zelos said. "They'll have that tree revived in no time."
"So now," Will said, "we really are done. There's nothing else we can do."
"We can wait for them," Raine said, then sat down in the grass. She was shortly followed by the others. They sat in silence, all eyes on the sky as they hoped to see some sign of their friends.
After a while, Genis turned his gaze to Will. "Will, what are you going to do now?"
"I'm not sure," Will said, lowered his gaze as well. "I had wanted to spend some time here relaxing, but now that we have to travel on a one to one ratio, I have to go back tomorrow before my mom gets home. I have school on Monday." The thought of sitting in a class room the day after tomorrow was bizarre. He was afraid he had forgotten everything he'd learned before Spring Break.
"You're going to come back and visit, right?" Genis asked.
Will nodded. "Yes, of course. I put a lot of work into this world – I want to see how it turns out." Although, Will had heard rumours that there might be sequel to Tales of Symphonia coming out. If that was the case, they were clearly not out of the woods yet if another game-spanning adventure was coming up.
"What about you, Mithos?" Genis asked. "When are you going to… um… go?"
Mithos had a sad look on his face. "I don't know. I can't stay here too long or else I'll never want to leave."
Presea, always the blunt one, said, "How are you going to die?"
Mithos looked up at Kratos. "Actually, I… I wondered if you would do it, Kratos?"
"Me?" Kratos said, taken slightly aback.
Mithos nodded. "I know that it's a really difficult thing to ask of you, but… you've been my friend and teacher for four thousand years, even if I was a pretty terrible friend for most of that."
Kratos nodded. "I will do it," he said.
Will stared at the ground, twisting blades of grass around his fingers. "Can't we try to look for another way? I hate thinking about that fact that you have to die. It isn't fair."
"Lloyd isn't going to like this," Genis said.
Kratos said, "Hopefully Lloyd will understand that this is the way things must be. If we were to find a different solution, we may create a paradox and throw all the fruits of our labour into jeopardy."
"It's ok, Will," Mithos said. "I'm prepared to do anything in my power to redeem myself for all the horrible things I've done. If this is what it takes, then I'm ready. Besides… four thousand years is a very long time to live. I'm ready to move on and be with my sister again."
They waited for many hours. They had all intended to stay awake and wait for Lloyd and Colette to return, but as the late hours of Saturday turned into the early hours of Sunday, they all found themselves drifting off to sleep.
They were awoken early the next morning by Lloyd shouting. "Guys! We're back! Wake up! Come on, guys!"
Will sat up and blearily rubbed his eyes. He smiled when he saw Lloyd and Colette, triumphant grins on both their faces. "How'd it go?"
"Perfectly," Lloyd said. "The Great Seed has germinated and the tree is growing. We've given it its new name and the worlds – or rather, world – is safe."
"So…" Genis said as he sat up. "Does that mean we've won?"
Lloyd nodded with a huge smile. "Yeah. We've won."
The group cheered. For the first time in eight months, nobody was worried about the world being in peril. It was over.
"What do we do now?" Presea asked.
The cheering died down as everyone stopped to consider this.
"I suppose…" Genis said, "we can't really stay together anymore, can we? Our journey is over. We all have to go back to our separate lives."
"Yeah," Sheena said, looking down. "I'm needed back in Mizuho."
"And I have duties in Meltokio," Zelos said.
"The Lezareno Company needs me in Altamira," Regal said. "I can no longer sit in prison. It's time to take control again."
Lloyd looked to Kratos. Even though he already knew what Kratos intended to do, he still asked, as if he had a small spark of hope that things might be different this time. "What about you, Dad?"
Kratos met his gaze. "I'm sure you already know."
Lloyd's shoulders slumped. "Yeah."
"I must leave this world," he said. "I will take the remaining Exspheres of Derris Kharlan and dump them in space, finally ridding the world of the last vestiges of Cruxis."
The celebratory mood of only a few minutes ago was gone as everybody pondered the imminent separating of the group.
"But guys," Colette said, "we don't have to do this today. We're here in Altamira – why don't we spend one more day here before we separate?"
"Yeah!" Lloyd said, forcing a smile on his face. "We can finally party in Altamira without worrying about anything else!"
"I like that plan," Sheena said.
"Me too!" Genis jumped up as he said.
Lloyd grinned. "Then let's go!"
The rest of the day passed in a blur. And seemed to simultaneously last forever and whizz by in seconds.
Will spent most of the day with Lloyd, Colette, and Genis. They ran around the theme park with a free pass from Regal, trying all the rides and eating themselves silly on cotton candy and hot dogs. There was no time to think about Will returning to Earth that evening while trying not to vomit on the tilt-a-whirl after eating an entire bag of cotton candy.
Lloyd dragged Kratos on the roller coaster, and they all laughed at Kratos' expense when they got saw the picture taken on the ride, with his hair forced straight back by the wind.
Genis kept eyeing Presea as she sat by herself eating a corn dog, until Will came up behind him and pushed him forward. Presea looked up as Genis fell into the seat next to her, babbling like an idiot. Will and Lloyd hid behind the bushes, clutching their stomachs with laughter.
Regal was nominated to retrieve Raine when she assaulted the operator of the Ferris Wheel, trying to get him to explain the inner workings. He tries to explain that he was just a student in town and was hired to press the button to make it go, and had no idea how the actual thing worked. The operator gave Regal a look of intense gratitude as Regal gently shepherded Raine away.
At one point, Will, Colette, Lloyd, and Genis walked past Zelos and Sheena, who were standing by a hot dog stand and talking. Then a girl wearing short-shorts and bikini top walked by, with Zelos' head turning to follow her like an owl. His face was snapped back around the other way as Sheena slapped him across the cheek. Later, Zelos came by and talked to Will, mentioning how the scar on his face actually helped, as it made girls think he was mysterious or rugged or something. Will wasn't sure if Zelos was thanking him for slashing his face open, or if maybe Zelos just had a weird way of looking on the bright side of things.
And then, before Will knew it, they were standing in front of the Otherworldly Gate again. He was the first to leave the group. His mom was due to be home from Los Angeles in an hour, and he still had some math homework that was due tomorrow (truth be told, he probably wasn't actually going to do it).
"Well, I guess this is it," Lloyd said, standing before him
"Yeah." He was going home. For good this time. Sure, he would come back to visit, but it wouldn't be the same. The group would be separated by then so he'd probably never get to see everyone all together again.
"Thank you for everything," Lloyd said. "If I had to pick anyone in the world to be me for a little while, I'd pick you. Even if you are a bit of a nerd sometimes."
Will smiled. "Thanks. And I can't think of anyone I'd rather be for a few months."
Colette chimed in, "I hope you have fun back on Earth, Will. And thank you for everything you've done!"
"Yes," Presea said. "It was a pleasure meeting you. I hope you come to visit soon."
"Goodbye, Will," Regal said, nodding slightly. "I'm certain you have a great future ahead of you."
Zelos crossed his arms. "Yeah, so long, Bud. And remember – if you ever need a hunny for a weekend, come to Meltokio and I'll hook you up."
Will rolled his eyes. "I'm going to be honest and say I'll probably never take you up on that."
Zelos shrugged. "The offer stands."
"Bye, Will," Genis said. "Thank you for being such a good friend."
Sheena smirked at him. "I know we didn't always get along, but… you're an ok guy. Come visit Mizuho some time."
"You can come to Iselia as well," Raine said. "Perhaps you'll be able to pound some sense into Lloyd and convince him to open a text book some time." She glared at her student, who smiled sheepishly back.
"There are some things even I can't do," Will said with a laugh. "I'm sorry – but I did try to teach him some things while I was here. It just never stuck."
"It's ok," she said. "I don't blame you. I've been trying for years."
"Will," Mithos said, "I'll see you yesterday at the convention. Hope I don't freak you out too much."
"Oh, you will," he replied. "But don't worry about it, because we'll win in the end."
"Goodbye," Kratos said. "I am very proud of the progress you made on this journey. It has been a privilege to get to know you."
"You too, Kratos," Will said. "I can't thank you enough for all the ways you helped me. But now, I… I have to go."
He turned to face the Otherworldly Gate. The designs glowed, and the portal opened before him. He turned around one last time. "Goodbye, guys. Thanks for making this trip worthwhile."
"Bye!" Genis called.
Lloyd said, "Make sure you visit!"
The entire group chorused their farewells, and then Will stepped through the portal.
Will sat on his bed, staring at his math textbook. The glossy page stared right back, boldly proclaiming that he must find the y-intercept of some equation. Will hadn't done math since that exam in Palmacosta, and for the life of him he couldn't remember how to do this. He banged his fist into his forehead, hoping to jar his memory. It didn't work.
After walking back from the school and getting his car, he'd gone to Ellie's house. He felt he owed it to Mr. Greene to see him in person and let him know he really was alright. When Mr. Greene answered the door and saw him, relief dawned on his face.
"Will. It's good to see that you're safe."
"Didn't you get my note?" He wasn't invited in this time, and he had a feeling it was due to the sobbing he could hear coming from the living room. Will was glad he didn't go in – he didn't think he could face Ellie's mom.
Mr. Greene nodded. "I did. Someone knocked on the door and when I answered it, I found a letter. But seeing you in person confirms it." He put his hand on Will's shoulder. His eyes were red but he was doing his best to keep his voice level. "Will, you should know that Mrs. Greene and I… we don't blame you. You're always welcome here if you need us."
Will couldn't hold the gaze without wanting to cry himself. "Thank you," he mumbled, looking down.
"Now…" Mr. Green removed his hand and rubbed his eyes. "You should go home. You must be exhausted and you have school tomorrow."
Will said goodbye, and left the Greenes to their grieving.
He heard the garage door go up, and realised with a start that his mom was home. His brother was still with his girlfriend, so he'd been home alone all evening. He'd made himself a microwave pizza for dinner and started on the math homework that needed to be turned in at eight o'clock tomorrow morning.
It was surreal how quickly his life had gone back to normal, and yet at the same time, everything was different. He could feel his Exsphere under his old t-shirt, and his shirt of chainmail was draped over the chair in the corner of his room. His blood-stained blue shirt had been tossed in the closet, and he was still figuring out what to do with it.
The biggest difference, of course, was the fact that Ellie wouldn't be at school with him tomorrow. Her parents had reported her as missing. As far as the authorities knew, Will had dropped her off at home after the convention and then she had disappeared before her dad got home. For now the police suspected she was simply another teenage runaway.
He heard footsteps, and then his bedroom door entered. "Hi, honey."
Will looked up, unable to believe how good it felt to see his mom. She smiled at him. "Did you have fun at your anime thing?"
He faltered, not quite sure how to answer that question. "Um… yeah. I met some pretty cool people."
"That's nice," she said with a smile. "Will you be going to another one?"
Will thought back to all the horror and pain he'd been through because he had been nerdy enough to go to an anime convention. "…I don't think so."
"Oh, that's too bad. Well, have a good night. Back to school tomorrow!"
"Yeah…" he muttered as she closed the door and left him alone again.
Going back to school was hard. He was distracted in all his classes and had forgotten most of the things he'd learned before Spring Break. He found himself staring blankly at the board as the teacher talked, his mind focused on sword fights while he was supposed to be learning English.
The only class where his grades didn't slip was PE. With an Exsphere, running laps was a breeze. His PE teacher mentioned to him how proud he was of his sudden physical ability, and asked if he'd worked out over break. Will just shrugged and said he'd done a bit.
Most of all, he felt restless. He'd spent so long travelling every day and always being ready to wake up early and fight monsters. Now he spent lazy afternoons sitting around and surfing the internet, unable to shake the feeling that he was supposed to be somewhere else, doing something important.
And so one day as he began walking home from school, he stopped. At the corner where he would usually keep going straight, he gave a quick call to his mom to tell her he was staying at a friend's house for the weekend and then crossed the street to the orchard. It was a Friday afternoon about two weeks after he'd gotten back. He hadn't spoken to Mr. Reedley since that night in the orchard, but he'd seen him on the local news talking about the strange commotion and how he had no idea what had gone on.
Will walked through the trees, remembering their furtive sneak through them that night. After a minute or so of walking, he reached the Otherworldly Gate. It looked very alien in the ordinary peach orchard, like something from another world. Of course, it was from another world.
He stood before the Gate, and within seconds the portal appeared. He walked through, coming out near Altamira a few moments later. There was a wing pack sitting in the grass, just as planned. When he opened it, a Rheaird came out. It was the red one, which had always been Lloyd's favourite. Will had a feeling Yuan was not too happy about them 'acquiring' this Rheaird when the rest of them had been given back, and wondered just how much he'd made Regal and Zelos pay.
As he boarded the Rheaird, he thought about Yuan, which led to him thinking about Halsey. It was nice to know for sure now that Halsey really hadn't been a traitor. Mithos' apology hadn't been about him, it was apologising for Kratos accidently killing Will. And it made sense that they'd 'lucked out' and had Halsey appointed to the bases – Yggdrasill had specifically picked him because he was a good guy. Halsey had done nothing but help them out the whole way through, and Will felt a little bad about doubting him.
The flight was long, but at the same time it felt right. After spending two weeks sitting in a classroom, it felt great to be soaring through the sky in the world of Symphonia again.
By the time the sun started going down, Will landed his Rheaird near Dirk's house. He heard voices from inside, and knocked on the door. The voices stopped, and then he heard the pounding of footsteps.
The door swung open and Lloyd's face lit up. "Will!" He laughed. "It's great to see you! Come on in!"
Inside, Colette and Dirk sat at the table. Colette beamed when she saw him. "Oh, hi, Will! I'm so glad to see you again." From the ground, Noishe barked in greeting. After Will left, Lloyd had gone back to Hima to pick up his wayward 'dog'.
"So what are you guys up to?" Will asked, sitting down. He felt slightly out of place now that he was here in blue jeans and a polo shirt, with his backpack still full of binders and text books.
"We've been taking a break for the past two weeks," Lloyd said. "Genis and the Professor left a few days ago for their journey, and Colette has moved in with me since… well…"
Will pictured Colette's burned house and the bodies of her father and grandmother. He frowned. "Right. What has everyone else been up to?"
Lloyd shrugged. "Oh, you should know. The same thing they did last time. Regal and Presea are in Altamira – I think she's still trying to talk him into take the handcuffs off. Sheena is in Mizuho. They're trying to track down Kuchinawa to punish him for attacking us at the Gate a while ago, but they haven't had any luck so far. Zelos in in Meltokio, working with the king to get the laws changed to protect half-elves. And Dad… left. A few days ago."
Will's smile fell. "So… Mithos is gone, too?"
Lloyd nodded. "He left right before Dad did. Man, you should have seen Dad's face afterwards…"
"I understand." He understood completely the pain of thinking you'd regained an old friend only for them to slip through your fingers once again.
"Oh, but Zelos says the rest of us have to pay him back for the Rheaird we took from Yuan. Yuan was so mad when he told him we were keeping that one…"
Will smiled. "Well, thanks for that. I don't know what I'd have done if I got here and had no way to get anywhere."
"Oh, and I heard from Halsey. He was kind of upset because we never got around to explaining to Yuan everything that went on with Yggdrasill, so Yuan was really suspicious of him. Also since we got rid of Yggdrasill, Yuan is officially in charge again and Halsey has lost his rank."
Will laughed. "Aw, poor guy. We should pay him a visit sometime. When were you guys planning on setting out?"
"In a few days," Colette said.
"For the Exsphere trip, right?"
Lloyd nodded. "Sort of. We will get to that, but there are some other things we need to do first. We're going to find the rest of the Devil's Arms and take care of Abyssion, then deal with that cursed book in Sybak. Once all of that is taken care of, we'll worry about the Exspheres."
"Lloyd, I have a request," Will said.
"It's a favour you ask of someone."
Lloyd gave him a dry look. "I know what a request is."
Will smirked. "Well, you can never tell with you…"
Lloyd rolled his eyes. "Just tell me your request."
"I'd like to come with you."
Lloyd stared at him. "What?"
"I want to help you. There's still so much to do in this world and I can't stand sitting around on Earth being useless while you guys do all the hard work."
"Will…" Colette said, "you've done your part."
"I know," he said. "But I want to do more. I'm not saying I'm going to go off with you guys full time; I do still have goals on Earth, such as graduating high school and going to college. But I want to come here whenever I have time off and help you guys."
"Well…" Lloyd said. "You know what? Sure! If you really want to help, then we'd love to have you along."
Colette smiled after a glance at Lloyd. "Ok. It will be nice to have your company, Will."
"But if you're going to have to leave again on Sunday night, we might as well set out tomorrow."
"Ok," Colette said.
"If you're leaving tomorrow," Dirk said, "you should head to bed and get some rest."
"Right," Lloyd said. "Come on, Will, you can sleep on the floor in my room."
"Goodnight!" Colette called as they started walking upstairs. "I'm really happy to see you again, Will. This is going to be so much fun!"
They headed upstairs to Lloyd's room, where Lloyd grabbed a spare blanket and set it out on the ground. "This isn't that comfortable.. .sorry."
"Don't worry about it. I've slept in way worse places than this."
Will laid down on the floor while Lloyd took the bed. As they lay there, Lloyd said, "Are you really sure about this? I thought you were looking forward to a return to normal life."
Will thought for a moment. "I was. But after I got there, I realized that going back to my old life was impossible. Adventuring and journeying across this world is part of my life now, and I can't let go of this, either."
"I'm glad you're here," Lloyd said. "I was beginning to miss you."
Will smiled. "I missed you too."
Will closed his eyes and got comfortable on the old wooden floor. In a few hours, the sun would rise again, bringing with it the beginning of a new day and the beginning of many more adventures to come.
And that's that. I can't believe this is finally over. It's been such a huge part of my life for over two years. This is without a doubt the longest thing I've ever written, and the first time I've completed a novel-length work (who am I kidding? No novel is 830,000 words long. This is an entire novel series worth). I can't thank all of you enough for reviewing and supporting me all the way through.
But, I'm sure the question you're all dying to ask is: What happens next?
You may recall that a while ago, I said I was planning a sequel. Well… I'm sorry, but that's probably not going to happen. I've spent a very long time working with this continuity and these characters, and I'm ready to do something different. On the off chance anyone else wants to write about Will's adventures in Ratatosk, feel free and I'd be happy to read it. But it won't be coming from me.
But does this mean you will no longer get to read Symphonia fanfiction from me? Nope! Because I have a brand new story in mind that I've been itching to write for months now. My next story is going to be my take on the journey of Spiritua. Because this takes place almost four thousand years before Symphonia even starts, this does mean that it will be almost entirely OCs. But I can promise that Kratos and Lloyd will both get large parts in it. I expect to start posting it in December.
Why December? Because I have some things to do first! My first step is going to be an edit of ToC. Starting from chapter one, I'm going to go through and fix typos, clean it up, take out parts I don't like and maybe add new things. I've been working on this for so long that a lot of the earlier parts seem awful to me by now. This is what I am going to be working on until November. Once November starts, I have my annual NaNoWriMo challenge so I won't be writing any fanfiction during that month.
Once again, I can't thank all of you enough. Thank you all so much for taking the time to read and care about my story. Goodbye!