Palmacosta

Feet clad in thick leather boots ran through the fiery wreckage of buildings searching for anything. A young girl no older than 20, with black hair and well worn battle cloths, and her soot covered face. On her back was her prized sword that traveled everywhere with her, and a young child.

"Ilex, where is momma and daddy?" It was a little boy around the age of 5, "I'm scared."

"Don't worry", she assured him, even though she wasn't so sure herself, "we'll find them."

She stopped running and dove to the ground as a sword came swinging past the place where her head had been located. She quickly pushed herself up from the ground and clutched the child tighter.

"Don't be so sure that you're going to make it out alive!" Standing in front of her was a red clad swordsman with two single edge blades.

"Lloyd Irving!"

She barely had the chance to say those words before he came charging at her with both swords raised to strike. She dropped the kid to the ground and pulled out her own sword. Sparks flew as the swords clashed and a screech flew out. While her sword had effectively stopped one of his and slowed the other his free sword still impaled her side.

"You better pray to Martel one last time!" he yanked the sword out and watched her fall to the ground before turning to the kid.

He raised his swords again as the child coward beneath him while shaking his female companion.

"Stop!" Lloyd ran when that voice rang out, and the child watched as another Lloyd ran past him.

"Ilex, look it wasn't the real…" he stopped when he saw his companion coughing up blood. "Oh no, somebody help!"

Dreamland

I saw myself floating downward through clear water. There were no bubbles coming from my mouth so I figured that the worst had happened.

I had died.

The realization kicked me in the stomach; no I couldn't die now. I couldn't leave poor little Luke on his own. He was too young to understand what I did. I knew that his parents would not be found by us, because they were no longer in Palmacosta. I had awoken in the middle of the night to see them fleeing the city without their son. They had paid me to get them from Sybak to Palmacosta, I had no idea how they knew that the town was going to be attacked, but the fact that they didn't take their son with them is even worse.

I hadn't tried to stop them, because if they didn't want him they wouldn't take him with them and they would only treat him unfairly. Like they had been since the day I first met them. I moved my arms and tried to swim up and get out, but no matter how I tried I couldn't get anywhere. It was like I was trying to swim up against a down flowing stream. I finally stop realizing that no matter what I did there was no way to escape death.

"That's not a very positive out look on life." I twisted around in the water to try and find the source of the voice, but I could find no one but myself. "I'm not seen by anyone unless I want them to see me."

The voice giggled as I madly looked around for it again. I didn't know for sure but something about this voice told me that it could help me get back to Luke.

"You really would do anything for the little boy wouldn't you?" I finally looked behind me to see a beautiful young woman dressed in green. Her face was different than a normal face as it was pale and her eyes had no pupils and she had green markings going down her face. "I can help you, but it's up to you want happens."

I nodded for her to continue. "I can make you a knight of Ratatosk, I can give you unreal power, and it will save your life." I nodded and silently asked her what I needed to do.

"You will need to make a pact with Ratatosk, that way you can receive his power. However, just so you know, once you forge the pact it can never be undone, and should Ratatosk call you to his aid, you must go, or you will be killed." I nodded my consent even though I didn't have a clue in hell who that Ratatosk person was. "He is a summon spirit with great powers, don't worry he will bring you back to your little friend."

I looked down as bubbles began to erupt all around me and pushed me to the surface of the water. When I looked down I was glowing green and my cloths where changing on their own. I now had on a green outfit with some strange symbol on them. (Just imagine Emil's cloths only they are green and white) When I looked up again the woman was standing in front of me.

"Do not wear you knight clothing if you have no need, you only need think of your regular clothing to switch them back and forth. Be warned my dear new friend. Hard times will soon be upon us and you must take your place as a fighter of justice."

She began to slowly fade away. "Wait!" I screamed. "What is your name?"

"I am Centurion Ventus." That was all I managed to hear before she completely disappeared and everything went dark.

Palmacosta

"Ilex, wake up. Come on you can't leave me yet." I slowly opened my eyes to look into the gaze of the little boy I cared about so much.

"Luke," I sat straight up and regretted in immediately as my ribs I figured as much were broken or cracked one. I grabbed him by the shoulders and spun him around to look at him, "you're not hurt are you?"

"No, I'm okay, listen. That wasn't the really Lloyd that attacked us, when you went down another Lloyd came and saved us both. Then he brought you here and told me to give you these." I looked at his small hands and gasped at what was contained within them. An elixir and five miracle gels; I'm fairly sure that my jaw dropped to see them. Those gels were almost impossible to get a hold of seeing as they were originally made by the half-elf desians. Ever since the end of the human ranches I had heard that they were being sold in remote locations around the world. Mainly in Tethe'alla, because obviously that was the only place that could afford to have them shipped from the few places that still allowed half-elves to live.

I clutched Luke to me when a man fell off dead from the roof. I grabbed the gels, and popped one into my mouth and instantly felt the gel working its magic. I took Luke by the hand and dragged through the raging mess that was Palmacosta. I was going to get him out, but obviously others had different plans.

"Stop them!" I felt a surge of anger towards the men in masks that were chasing us. I had heard of the Vanguard, but never thought they would attack the very place that had sworn to protect. My body surged green and I found myself in the same green cloths that I had worn in the dream.

"Ventus, help me." Right then I heard the screech of a wild animal and looked up to see a griffin watching me from the roof of a building that hadn't been burnt down yet. "Luke, go with the griffin."

"No, I won't go without you!" He cried as he clutched my leg. The griffin screeched and jumped from the building to land at my side. I grabbed him rather roughly and threw him on the back of the griffin.

"I'll catch up to you as soon as I can." I looked into the griffins eyes and it took off.

"No!" I saw Luke reach out to try and grab me before the griffin was too high off the ground for him to reach. I smiled and waved, then turned to face those idiots that called themselves the Vanguard.

I pulled my sword from the scabbard, and smiled at them before charging into battle.

Three weeks later

"Do you have to go?" Ilex smiled at the small boy in front of her.

The attack on Palmacosta had happened just three short weeks ago. Luke was still completely obsorbed in the idea that it wasn't the real Lloyd that had attacked Palmacosta. After things settled down a little I told him the truth about his parents. He hadn't really shown any sadness over it, but he has said that as long as I was there to take care of him that he would be okay; although he was still made at me for throwing him on the griffin. Who was now my everyday partner, he never left my side, and I named him Gale.

"Don't worry Luke; I'll be back to see you before you know it. I'm just going to Asgard and Luin for a few months, don't worry I'm not disappearing forever." I ruffled his hair and turned to go out the door. I was leaving him with a nice couple that had given them boarding while had still been healing. They commended me for taking in the boy after what his parents had done.

Before Luke could stop me again I made my way out the door and out of Palmacosta. I remembered in the middle of the attack when I woke up Luke had told me what happened after I had passed out. I didn't really think that the Lloyd that attacked me was the real one either. Even though his sword skills were good they were nothing compared to what they should have been had he been fighting with both of them for the entire journey of world regeneration. Not to mention that I was there two years ago when Lloyd and his entire group stopped in Luin to help rebuild the town after it was destroyed by the desians.

Something just wasn't adding up right and I am going to get to the bottom of it if it is the last thing I ever do. I stared at the spot where my exsphere used to be. I hadn't actually noticed it was missing until after I had beaten the shit out of the Vanguard members. I didn't really understand what had happened to it, but I realized that I no longer needed it; and that in the forming of my pact with Ventus, all of the powers I now had were my own.