Chapter ten

Hot heat and dense forest was all I could see at first; then nothing but black and red suits.




"Scary!" A scream

"Camille!" An older deeper voice yelled; red warmth!

I reared up in the bed my breathing labored and covered in a thin layer of sweat. What the hell was that? I hate memories. I slowly slid off the bed so I didn't wake Xenedrix who was lying at the foot of my bed. Yanking on my pants, shirts, and weapons I opened the window and jumped. I took off running toward the docks.

During the night no one occupied the ships around the dock so I was free to collapse at the water's edge without someone wondering what I was doing. I had a lot of time to lay here and think. We had decided that we would make for the Dynasty Ruins around mid day tomorrow after we had gotten a chance to stock up on some supplies. Tomorrow would be when I would be forced to walk away from my sister once again.

I lay there until the first rays of light forced its way up through its seemingly watery grave. I stood to look out at the ocean, remembering that once long ago a young child had wanted the opportunity to see the ocean, but that child and her dream were cruelly snatched from this life. Camille was too young to have died in the horrible way she did.

"Nine years ago today, huh?" I said softly to myself. It's amazing that it's been that long and I still haven't truly gotten over it.

"Don't you sit around enough as it is?" I turned at the voice behind me. I knew before I was completely turned around that there would stand Michas and his bags. What I didn't expect to find was nobles to be standing behind him.

"Oh, yes that's all I do. I can't believe that you had to ask me that." I glanced at the people standing behind him.

"We're catching a ship from here headed for Tethe'alla. Yay!" I laughed as he threw an arm up in the air in fake enthusiasm.

"Well I should hope that you at least went to see Noelle before you left, correct?" I squinted at him.

"Yeah, that old bitch would never leave me alone if I didn't visit her before leaving. She'd beat the shit out of me if she ever saw me again." He chuckled lightly and you could tell that he didn't really mind his half sisters attention.

"Yeah." I stared out at the ocean and wondered silently, what would Camille have thought of the ocean? I knew the answer, she would have loved it.

"You were thinking about 'em?" Michas asked his once teasing tone now serious.

"Nine years ago to this day. I dreamt about them last night…and how I couldn't save them."

"Now that's the biggest piece of bullshit I've ever heard. You can't very well fight desians when you're being pinned down by someone that weights about three times your size now can you?" he stood next to me and stared silently out at the ocean. "She never got to see it."

I hung my head low, my sobs working slowly from the depths of my soul.

I could hear the steam rising from the ship that had appeared in the distance. Michas's ship had finally come for them. This would be the last time I saw my friend for a long time. With all my force I brought up my foot and kicked him into the harbor.

"Go fetch your ship you loser. You shouldn't make a lady wait." I gestured to the young noblewoman behind me.

I sauntered away from the dock ignoring his angry shouts and headed back to the inn. The wind blew gently towards the docks. When I finally made it back to the inn I made my way to the roof, by that time the ship was a small shape in the distance. Gale landed softly next to me, and I turned and pressed my face into his feathers.

"Ilex!" I looked over the edge at the shout. Everyone was up and waiting outside for me. I jumped down and landed in front of them.

"Where have you been?" Marta asked me.

"I don't really see how that's any of your business."

"Ilex, he's left already hasn't he." Ganesha stood with Zelos's arm around her, and his hand lay protectively on her stomach.

"Yeah, and I hope his ass gets killed." I wouldn't let them see how concerned I was for my friend.

"What lies you spew." Ganesha laughed heavily, but quickly stopped because of her stomach. "Right, no laughing."

"Well I suppose that we should head for the mountains pretty soon if we want to make it there before dark." I said to Emil and Marta. I turned to my sister. "If he bothers you send someone to find me and I'll come and kill him for you."

"Love you too little sister." Zelos said sarcastically. "I hope we can draw from this experience so that we can become closer to each other and share the love between us."

"…I would so tell you to go screw yourself right now, but something tells me you're not long enough for that, so I won't bother."

Before he could process what I said I jumped up to the roof above the door and laughed at him from a safe position. Once he was finished attempting to kill me I made my way back down so that I could actually say goodbye to my sister this time, before she was spirited away from me once again.

"Now, you should come and see us in Tethe'alla once in a while. Due to my current problem, I'm unable to travel very much. I would love it if you came soon, so you can be there when the baby's born."

"Now hold on; not too soon you know. You still have a while before he's due." Zelos said wrapping an arm around her.

While she was screaming at him that the baby was due in less than a month; Emil, Marta, and I made our way to the outskirts of Palmacosta. When we finally reached the dirt road that would take us to the ruins Tenebrae asked a question.

"So Colette isn't the only one that bears the title of chosen?"

"Nope, Sylvarant and Tethe'alla both have their own individual chosen. But only Colette is known as the chosen of regeneration."

"Question, why are referring to Colette so casually?" I asked a little out of the loop.

"When you left, we traveled on to Asgard where the met the chosen of regeneration and we helped her fight off monsters and the Vanguard."

"Well that makes me sad, because I haven't seen Colette in a long time."

"If you don't mind my asking, how did you meet the people that traveled with the chosen?" Tenebrae asked.

"Well actually Ganesha knew them first. She traveled with them alone for a while and then when we were getting close the final battle with Cruxis they asked me to come along and help."

"So basically back then you did nothing?" Tenebrae said

"Now you listen here. I may not have been part of the main action a lot but I helped bring down a lot of desians! That to me means more than anything." I shot back

"And why does that mean more to you than anything else?" He asked in a mocking tone.

"You know…I don't think that's any of your damn business. But let me put one thing in perspective for you Mr. kitty cat; my life has not been easy and I will most likely always be scarred by the things that I have seen in my life." Ignoring him from then on was my main mission until it became absolutely necessary to talk to him.

We reached the ruins by nightfall and decided that it would probably be best to go ahead and explore around inside, because who knew. By the time we slept through the night and then explored tomorrow, the fisherman my already be dead by then.

We walked slowly through the entrance and I grabbed the hilt of my sword and held it at the ready. I was a firm believer that even monsters understood the concept of ambushing an enemy. I had never actually been inside the ruins themselves and I was indeed pleasantly surprised that it was not that undesirable. The majority of the arch ways were wreaks and almost everything else was torn to shreds but you could still see that this had been a place of extreme beauty once.

"So these are the Dynasty Ruins?" Emil asked in awe.

"Yes, they say that this was a palace during the Sylvarant Dynasty 800 years ago." Marta replied.

"I can believe it; this place screams money and rich people." I said scraping my foot along a gold incrusted symbol on the ground.

"You know, I've been thinking about something Richter said to me." Marta and I gave Emil our full attention. "He said that the Vanguard wanted to use Ratatosk's core to revive the Sylvarant Dynasty. Before all of this happened, I used agree a little with what the Vanguard stood for. That they were fighting to save the Sylvaranti from the Tethe'allans, and that Lloyd was their sworn enemy. I have to wonder though, what does reviving an 800 year old dynasty have to do with saving the people of Sylvarant?"

"Oh that's an easy one; it's all about the power behind the source." Emil looked at me a little confused. "People are addicted to power; they think that in order for things to be right with the world they have to be in control of everything that happens, because they believe that they have the best way to bring peace about."

"The Vanguards commander, Brute, thinks that the people need strong leadership in order to live in peace. He wants to be crowned the king of Sylvarant. It's so stupid." Marta said.

"So you left the vanguard because you didn't want to be part of their ridiculous plan." Emil deduced.

I sighed to myself. This kid really is just too simplistic in his thinking.

"Yeah, that's right." Marta fidgeted under my narrow eyes.

"Good, I was worried that you felt the same way as the rest of them." Emil replied with a relieved voice and a smile.

"Of course not." Marta exclaimed.

I believed that she held different views from the rest of the Vanguard, but still. I felt like she and Mr. Mean kitty were holding something out on us.

"That's all well and good but what are they planning on using the core for? That's what I want to know." I voiced the question that I had formed in mind for a while now.

"I remember them saying something about using something called a mana cannon." Tenebrae answered her instead.

My eyes widened and I could feel the sweat start to form. If the Vanguard got a hold of that core, and then used it in connection with the mana cannon…we would officially be in some deep shit.

Apparently I was the only one who knew what it was though because Emil chimed in not long afterwards. "What's that?"

"It seems to be some type of ancient weapon, but that's all I really know." Marta replied. I was little relieved that at the most that was she knew, because surely if that was all she knew the rest of the Vanguard couldn't know much more. The only problem is, is that I can think of one Vanguard member right of the bat that would know exactly what it is and what it does.

I snapped out of my thinking when I picked up on Marta saying something else.

"But anyway, shouldn't we be looking for Thomas?"

Her question made me instantly alert. Despite that fact that we were fairly close to the entrance of the ruins, there were no monsters in sight. That concerned me more than anything. This was the type of spawning pit that one should expect to find dozens upon dozens of monsters everywhere. It was entirely too quiet.

The grand stair case in the middle of the room had small orbs of light all the way up to the top. Something about that just didn't seem right to me, but either way that was the only direction we could go. When we came to the landing at the top, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up with all the charge in the air. Something about this was just not right.

"Hey, that man! Is that him?" Marta and Emil rushed towards a younger to middle aged man lying on the ground a couple yards in front of us. While they checked him out I poked at the thing on the ground a couple of inches from him. Once they roused him I briefly heard him say something about this freaky fish thing being the cause of all the problems at sea, before returning to unconsciousness.

"Well that guy may think that this is the problem, but it most definitely is not." I said picking it up by the tail and slinging it over the edge. I had the feeling that someone was watching us.

"If that's not it then what could it be?" Marta asked.

"I won't know for sure until…" I stopped mid sentence to turn and draw my sword that stopped the giant paw of the beast behind me. "Holy shit!"

On top of the beast sat one of the people I hated most in the world. "Alice!"

"These ruins will be the final resting place of you and your dear friends my dear Lexi." She gave that childish little giggle of hers. "And since Hawkies away today, it's be a special treat. I'll handle you myself. Now, prepare to die!"

Because my only weapon was still being used to stop the giant lion from mauling me, I wasn't able to avoid being hit in the face with her whip. I could feel that it had broken the skin, and that blood was oozing down my face.

"Okay, so she wants to fight like that does she?"

I pulled a smaller and much less effective dagger out of my boot and stabbed the lion in the paw. When it reared up I made my escape and jumped a safe distance away. While the lion was still incapacitated and she was focused on getting it calmed down Emil and I began the real fight. I could feel the evil aura that came from deep inside him, and in its own way, it made me slightly afraid of Emil.

He decided to attack from above while I went from below. "Gravitational Tempest!" One of my more common artes that acts like a regular tempest but stays closer to the ground to deal a more compound amount of damage. Turns out my arte was enough to throw miss prissy off her high horse. She landed on her butt but was up quickly and casting a spell faster than I can stick my foot in my mouth and twiddle my thumbs. I kindly waited for her to finish.

"Just let me know when you're ready." I said about the time the she shouted.

"Photon!" I could see the huge ball of light matter coming towards me but I wasn't overly concerned. I was familiar with Alice and her tricks.

I brought my sword up to my face in preparation for the next arte.

"Savage Reaper!" Emil shouted landing in front of me blocking any attacks that could stop me in my tracks.

"Get out of the way!" he looked back at me in shock before doing what I asked. When he had jumped safely out of the way I sliced my blade through the air. "Nightmares shadow!"

A slimy shadow of darkness started oozing in around us from seemingly nowhere. I wasn't going to tell anyone what it did, but we would have a serious advantage with this now.

"Hump, you think this little old fog is going to stop me?" she laughed and went into another cast. "Photon!"

Emil and Marta held their weapons at the ready, but I didn't bother. Nothing would happen and slowly after about a minute they finally figured that out.

"What did you do?" Alice shouted with fury.

"Why, I thought this little fog couldn't do a thing to you. Too bad for you." I said sweetly before charging her. "Nightmare lance!"

The silver and black lance shadowed its figure around my blade, but it didn't hit her like I wanted it to. The beast that she had previously had been riding on lunged in front of her like a shield and the lance pierced the strange piece of equipment on its chest.

Finally I knew that we had won.

The heavy metal frame slammed to the ground and the lion turned on Alice. She fell to the floor backing away from the enraged beast.

"Oh no, look what you've done. You broke hypnose!" I wasn't too sure what that was but something told me it was how she had been controlling the beast all along.

"Fitting punishment for one who enslaved a once proud monster with a machine." Tenebrae actually said something I could agree with…what!

Just as the lion was about to bite a piece off of her something unfortunate happened. My sister's husband just ruined my day.

"Zelos you ass; way to ruin my life!" I pointed my sword at him, feeling the strange urge to run him through with.

He ignored me. "Well hey there cutie pie, I'll let this misunderstanding slide, if you just run along."

"Are you crazy? Hello, she's part of the Vanguard!" I made gestured that I wished my me popping his ugly little head right off his shoulders.

"Tata Mr. Big handsome chosen. I owe you one." I stared straight ahead when she walked past me, but even so, my ears still heard.

"It's nice to see that some people will never change." I gritted my teeth.

When she was finally gone I exploded.

"How could you just let her go? Do you understand the seriousness of what you've done?"

He was still ignoring me as he walked up to Marta and said.

"The beautiful Widow Dorr sent me to save you my dear. You're not hurt are you?" He flirted unashamedly.

"Your Tethe'allas chosen and one of Lloyd's friends."

Zelos and I stared at her in silence. They had never known that Zelos was the other chosen until now, but I had warned him this might happen once they got wind of it.

"Where's Lloyd. Please tell us if you know." Emil said stepping forward in an usually display of boldness.

"Why are you two looking for him?" Zelos asked with that tick in his voice that appeared when he was withdrawing his idiotic personality in exchange for the serious one.

"Because he…that bastard killed my parents!" Emil shouted

"So it's about revenge huh?" Zelos started to say something else but Marta cut him off.

"Lloyd's nothing more than a thief. He stole a very important jewel from us." She said.

"Well, I don't have time for a bunch of ignorant kids like you." He snapped his fingers and two guards that had followed him here started picking up Thomas. He then turned to me. "You're traveling with them, when their spewing this shit about Lloyd?"

"I don't believe that what they say is completely true, but I do believe that something strange is happening. And since no one else seems to know where Lloyd is, this seems to be the only way that we're going to find him. I already met him once. He said that he couldn't tell me right now what was going on, but just to trust him."

"Where did you see Lloyd?" Marta asked.

"Back at the cave where the lake used to be; in the chamber before you got the core room. I could've stopped him if I had wanted to but I didn't."

"So you let him come in there and take the core from us?!" she stared at me like I was the enemy.

"Listen, what you guys believe and what I believe are two very different things. For whatever reason Lloyd's doing what he is then it has to be something important. Something that would only affect the whole world if left undone otherwise." I could see that she was getting ready to spit fire at me.

"Sorry, but I have nothing to say to people who swear revenge against my bastard friends." Zelos said before walking past them, and stopping in front of me. "I don't know what's going on, but I trust you to make the right judgment about Lloyd, just keep me posted on what you find." And then he left.

Marta stuck her nose in the air and humped at me, while Emil looked at me like I had killed his puppy.

"Look, I'm not saying that he isn't doing what you're saying he's doing. I just think that maybe you have some facts wrong. You don't Lloyd like the rest of us do. We have reasons to be skeptical. Just hear me out."

They didn't say anything but I could see that for now everything would just have to be as it was.

I guys, I know its been a really long time since I updated and I'm not even going to bother with anything except. I'm really sorry. Anyway, I hope everyone had a good christmas and a happy new years, and I wish you all the best of luck this coming year on having a great one.