Disclaimer: I don't own Tales of Symphonia, Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World, nor do I make money from writing this.
Author's Note: First fanfic I've written since in almost 6 years. I hope you all enjoy it. I've had floating around in my head ever since I played ToS2 and saw the perfect ending. That said, if you haven't seen the it, go youtube it. Also goes without saying this is Emil (in both personalities) x Marta.
AN2: Rereading this, I wasn't really happy with how some of this was written. So, as of 8/29/2011, it has been edited and reposted.
Ratatosk sat in the chamber, gazing at the enormous crystal floating next to the seal. A girl, in her mid to late twenties, eyes closed and face expressionless, was frozen inside. Flowers, that looked like lilies, adorned her hair, one on each side, as the rest of her hair fanned out behind her. Memories of her in life, her laughter, her bright smile, her unflagging optimism flashed by in front of his eyes. Nearly a millennia has passed since she died, and he could still hear her voice echoing within the confines of his memory as though they had spoken only yesterday.
And her scent! How could he ever forget that wonderful fragrance that surrounded her and enveloped them every time they made love in their home above the inn he had inherited from his aunt and uncle? Or the way her body melded into his as she slept next to him at night? Or the way the moonlight cast its glow on her as she begged him to stop his torturous caresses and enter her?
A voice interrupted his thoughts. "Lord Ratatosk, the process is complete. All that is left is for you to complete the seal on the Ginnungagap and the gate to Niflheim will be forever locked. Once the seal is placed, I will go rouse Richter from his sleep." In an effort to ease Richter's pain, Aqua had begged Ratatosk to allow her to put Richter in a comatose state after Ratatosk returned from his life as "Emil Castagnier". During his years helping Marta – and later, alone – atone for the sins she and the Vanguard had committed, he had seen enough pain and suffering to allow Richter this small reprieve.
"Thank you, Tenebrae. I promised her, when she died a millennia ago, that I would not hesitate to complete the seal using the world's mana," he paused, suppressing memories of a life long past, "I cannot bear to use it. To contribute it to the seal would mean losing her forever. As long as this crystal exists, I can reincarnate her, Tenebrae. I can bring her back. I . . . I miss her."
Tenebrae hovered, as he often did, contemplating a response. "You know what Lady Marta said when she died. She made you promise." Ratatosk's eyes swam with emotion, and for a moment, he stopped trying to forget.
After being bedridden for a week, Marta's body had finally failed her. She had been feeling reasonably well that morning, and they had prepared a small picnic to eat just outside of town. He had tucked her back into bed after carrying her home, and the two were looking out at the scenery from her window when she leaned into his chest.
"Emil," she started, her voice weak – he had started praying this would not be the end as soon as she spoke, "promise me. Promise me when it's time to make the seal that you won't hesitate to use the mana in my body."
"Marta, I-" Didn't she know, given a choice between the world and her, the world could self-destruct for all he cared?
"Don't hesitate," she firmly repeated. "As long as you hold the memories of our time together dear to your heart, I will never be truly gone."
"Marta, what are you saying?" Looking down, he realized her face was paler than it had been before, and he desperately hoped it was merely a trick of the light that she appeared to very nearly match those flowers she had once worn in her hair. "Marta, don't go, hang on Marta, I'll go get Professor Sage!" He made a move to rush to the door, to call the professor from the ruins in the lake bed just outside town, but a weak tugging on his sleeve stopped him. When had her grip become so weak? "Don't leave me so soon, Marta."
"Promise me Emil," she weakly whispered, tears beginning to fill her eyes.
How could he deny her this promise, even as it broke his very heart to do so? "I-I promise Marta. Just hang on; I'll go get the Professor."
"It's too late for me, Emil." Her voice was barely above a whisper – since when had her voice been that weak? A small smile graced her lips as she looked up at him. "I'm so happy I met you. No matter what happens in the eons ahead, always remember that I love you." She paused, struggling to reach up, and Emil was sure he knew what she wanted.
His mouth descended upon hers, as though his kiss would give her that breath of life that would enable her to live just a few moments longer. But even as he pulled away from that one last kiss, he felt her body go limp, and her last breath caressed his cheek, as though she too, wished she could have stayed with him just a little longer.
It took a moment for him to refocus back onto the present. "But I don't think I can go through with that promise." If only he could hold her in his arms once more and have her hold him back, he would happy for an eternity! Walking up to the crystal, he placed his hand on what would have been her cheek, and he murmured, "Sorry Marta, but I can't do it. I can't bear the thought of never seeing you again."
At that moment, a voice echoed through the chamber, "It is time, is it not, Ratatosk?"
Ratatosk whirled around, surprised at the presence of the fox-like summoned spirit near the entrance of the chamber. The rite involved with sealing the gate only called for the Centurions, not the summoned spirits. Just what was she doing here?
"Ratatosk, have you forgotten what I am?" A simple question, with a simple answer. He knew quite well who and what she was, and he was positive what he truly desired was beyond her domain.
"There is nothing you can do Verius. Though I am grateful for your visit," Ratatosk answered, turning back to the crystal.
"What if I told you there was a way? The strength of your love for this girl is more than enough for me to grant you your wish. Your wish is to bring this girl back to life, and this time, as an immortal like ourselves, the Summon Spirits."
"A spell like that would require mana, mana that cannot be spared," Ratatosk simply stated, shattering the mana crystal. Marta gently dropped into his arms, and he took the opportunity to cradle her, one last time. Even after over nine hundred years inside a mana crystal, and her beautiful hair was as silky as ever. He knew, though, that once the mana he had used to preserve her body was removed, she, too, would disappear.
And once more, he would truly be alone. Unnoticed by the spirits, the shards of the mana crystal vaporize, leaving a glowing blue trail of light as they, too, joined the rest of the mana in the seal.
"You underestimate the strength of my domain, Ratatosk. Mana need not be the only source of power for spells and magic. An unending love like the one you have for this girl can be the source of power, and as long as you love her, she will live."
Ratatosk stopped short as Verius's words sank in, and for a few moments, the only sound that filled the air was the pulse of the magic of the seal. "Even so, her body has been maintained by mana for so long, that once it is stripped from her body, it will vanish. There will be nothing left to bring back."
"Ah, but strength of will and a desire to live with those we love most is more than enough to sustain a body. Have you not heard of the stories of mortals miraculously surviving what should have been a fatal disease or wounds just because of their desire to stay with their loved ones?"
If it were possible . . . would he do it? Should he do it? To see her bright blue eyes, to hear her cheerful laughter, to feel the warmth of her embrace; it was all he ever wanted. But what would she want? "I . . ."
Why was he hesitating? Verius had all but said Marta would be more than willing to come back . . . what was the harm in trying?
Because she's dead. She should be resting. The dead should not walk amongst the living, an inner voice answered. But to live without her? Forever? He could not do it. If nothing else, bringing her back, just this once, just to say goodbye . . . that would be enough.
"I see you have come to a decision."
"Yes. Bring her back."
For a moment, nothing happened, and he almost thought he had misunderstood his memories and made a terrible mistake, but then slowly, ever so slowly, warmth began to seep back into her body, and color began to creep back into her cheeks.
"Thank you, Verius," Ratatosk mumbled as he finally set about to complete the task he had accepted so, so long ago.
One by one, the Centurions appeared next to their lord, and magical energies collected over the millennia coalesced into the seal. As though the demons on the other side knew what was going on, they rammed against the seal, making one last desperate attempt at breaking out of their world. For a moment, he thought the gathered mana would be insufficient, as every time they rammed against the seal, it would shudder ever so perilously, but one glance behind him, at the one thing he loved above all others, the one he would do anything and everything for was more than enough for him to push harder. And as he continued to pour mana into the seal, the pounding grew fainter and fainter and the seal shivered less and less, until the seal stopped shaking and silence filled the room.
And then there was a groan and a rustle from behind, and he turned fast enough to nearly give himself whiplash, not that he cared at the moment.
"Wh-where am I?" Even though the voice was laced with confusion, his ears drank in every note. He dashed down to her side, helping her up as she used muscles weak with centuries of disuse. "Emil!"
At the bright smile that lit up her face he pulled her close, and held her tight. Somewhere, he was vaguely aware of the tears coming down his face, soaking into her hair, but right now, he couldn't be bothered enough to care. "Marta," he croaked out, "you're back."
"Back? What do you mean?" She took a confused look around the room before recognition flitted across her face before it settled back into confusion. "Ginungagap? But, I thought-"
"I couldn't bear the leave you, so I took you with me when I came back," he whispered. "I kept you in a mana crystal, so that I wouldn't ever forget your face. I saved you for last."
She ran her mind back through her most recent memory: a fading touch on her lips, as she grew ever colder, and despite her attempts to get closer to his warmth, her body just would not move . . . and then darkness. Comprehension flooded her eyes. "I-I died, didn't I?"
"And I brought you back."
"But how, the seal?"
"Has been completed. Verius . . . Verius helped me."
Slowly, she began piecing together what must have happened, and as she was about to speak again, a bundle of cloth landed squarely on her lap.
"Lord Ratatosk, I saw to it to fetch this for you. It would not do for Lady Marta to fall ill again."
Had Tenebrae not called her attention to it, she may not have noticed, but he had, and she looked down. And flushed. Instantly, she stood, her anger feeding her body the strength she had lost, "You-!" She raised her arm, only to realize she had nothing to hit the Lord of Monsters with, until a grinning Tenebrae handily supplied her with her trusty spinner.
The Lord gulped, and began running for it as her cries of, "EMIL, YOU PERVERT!" echoed throughout the cavern.
"But Marta," he called back, unable to resist, his heart feeling lighter than it had in, quite literally, centuries, "it's nothing I haven't seen before!"