Authors' Note: And here we are at the start of the game. As I'm sure all of you know, Luke is seventeen (and at the height of his bratty-brat years), and Guy is twenty-one. It's going to be a somewhat bumpy ride from here on out, guys! Hang on tight!

Keep in mind that some of the dialogue from this chapter is straight from the game, since I wanted to start this chapter from Guy's first entrance in the game. It's not just a rewrite of those scenes, however. But, to give credit where credit is due, a few select pieces of the dialogue belong to Bamco, not me. :) (Though, a bit of the dialogue is changed, particularly the lines about Luke's kidnapping, just to make it sound more natural and less "let's give the audience this information so they have plot backstory." You all already know the backstory, so there's no reason to completely rehash it. :) )

Please drop me a line if you read!

Bonds of Brotherhood

Eleven: Kidnapped - Take Two

Guy was really beginning to consider carrying more than just his sword.

"Ooh, Guuuuy! Come over here, just for a minute!""We just want to talk to you!""Just for a minute!"

The maids could barely get the words out for their giggling, but Guy saw them as lethal anyway. He could never actually hurt them, but body armor certainly couldn't hurt.

"Now, now, ladies, you know I have to go check on Luke." That wasn't the complete truth. Guy did plan on stopping by to see Luke soon, but he technically didn't have to. Still, Luke's room would make an excellent refuge. "So, uh, I'll be going now."

"No, Guy, stay!" On the last word, the maids made a dash for him, and Guy -- putting every ounce of speed he'd gained over the years to good use -- turned and bolted in the opposite direction.

The laughter of the maids followed him as he rounded a corner and burst through a door, throwing himself out into the courtyard. It was a beautiful day; the sun was hot and high in the sky, set against a deep blue sky and white clouds. Guy allowed himself to relish this fact only once he was in the center of the courtyard, turning so that he could face the doorway he'd just run through. The maids followed him to the doorway, but not beyond, each one smiling in the face of his fear.

"We'll let you get away this time, but we'll get a kiss from you one of these days!" Guy grinned sheepishly in response, rubbing the back of his neck.

"I'll, ah -- I'll see you later, ladies." He grimaced as his words caused the girls to shriek with laughter, winking at him and blowing kisses before they turned to head back into the manor. From across the courtyard, tending to his flowers as always, Pere called:

"You really shouldn't lead them on. They'll start to believe you're serious."

"It's not like I'm trying to lead them on. It just happens." Guy crossed the courtyard, walking over to join Pere by the flowers, shaking his head. "I was just trying to be nice."

"Being nice to a lady who's smitten with you can easily be construed by her to be flirting."

"Yeah, well . . ." Guy sighed, and ran a hand through his hair. "So long as I run fast enough I should be okay. Hopefully. If anything, Luke can bail me out, right?" Pere gave Guy a look that suggested he doubted that Luke would be of any help, and Guy rolled his eyes. "Oh, come on, Pere. He's not that bad. He'd help me out if I was in a tight spot."

"I never said a thing, Guy." Pere finished tending the flowers in the current pot, and moved on to the next, glancing once over at Guy. "Are you on your way to see Master Luke now?"

Guy nodded. "I told the maids that I would, so I might as well check in and see if he's there. He's probably going stir-crazy by this point, anyway." Guy chuckled. "I swear, it's like if he doesn't have something to occupy every second of his time he loses his head. Luckily, I can usually find some way to keep him occupied, even if it's been taking longer each day."

Pere smiled. "He's lucky he has you."

Guy grinned. "Damn straight. Anyway, I'm going to go see if I can find him. Talk to you later, Pere." Pere raised one hand to wave in response and Guy turned, jogging around the main building so that he could make it to Luke's window. After all, it wasn't like he wanted to have another run-in with the maids by going into the manor, and in the broad daylight it was much too risky to walk straight up to Luke's bedroom door and walk in.

As per usual, Luke's window was unlocked, so all Guy had to do was swing the window open and hop onto the ledge. As he did, however, he caught sight of Luke crouched on the floor, one hand clutching his red hair, his face contorted in pain.

"Luke!" Guy called sharply, pulling himself completely onto the ledge and preparing to jump down into the room. "What is it? Not another one of those headaches?"

"Guy . . . is that you?" Luke choked out, shakily pushing himself to his feet. He shook his head a couple times, like he was trying to clear it, but some of the pain remained visible in his green eyes. ". . . It's okay. It's gone."

Guy sincerely doubted that the pain was entirely gone -- if it was, Luke wouldn't still be wincing -- but he let that particular matter drop, instead noting how Luke still rubbed at his ear, appearing distracted by it. "You hearing things again?"

Luke didn't answer directly, instead putting one hand on his hip and canting his weight to the side, his expression one of petulant frustration. "I wish I knew what the hell it was," he groused. "It's so annoying."

"They're getting more frequent," Guy muttered, turning to look out of the window. "They said it was just post-traumatic stress from your kidnapping, but it's been seven years now . . ."

"Yeah. Thanks to Malkuth, now I'm going crazy," Luke grumbled, and Guy looked back over to see that Luke was glaring sullenly at the opposite wall. Hopping down from the ledge, Guy tucked away the thoughts of Luke's headaches for later examination, figuring that a change of subject might be best.

"Well, don't worry about it too much," he said, and then tried to make his voice sound more cheerful. "So, what do you want to do today? How about some sword practice?"

As was typical for temperamental Luke, his mood seemed to vanish in a flash, his scowl replaced by a grin. "Sorry, not today!" he said brightly. "Master Van's here." As quickly as Luke's smile had appeared, Guy's faded, replaced by confusion.

"Van?" he asked, and Luke nodded. "But today's not a training day, is it?"

Luke shrugged. "Apparently, something came up." Before he could say anything more, two knocks sounded from Luke's door, and Luke rolled his eyes as he turned to look, a maid calling through the thick wood.

"Master Luke? May I come in?"

"Uh-oh." Guy turned, bounding over and up onto the window ledge, glancing back over his shoulder at Luke. "You know I can't let anyone see me here. I'm out of here before I get caught. See ya!" Guy raised two fingers to snap a salute, and Luke waved, heaving a sigh.

"Yeah. See you later." Guy hopped out of the window, but from his place just below it, he heard the maid knock again.

"Master Luke?"

"Yeah, yeah, I hear you!" Guy chuckled at Luke's irritable response, but didn't stick around to hear the rest of the conversation. It really wasn't his business, and besides, he had more important things to do: like find out why Van had decided to stop by the Fabre manor.

It wasn't that Guy thought Van was up to anything suspicious. If there anyone besides Pere and Luke that Guy could trust, it was Van. But still, it didn't mean that Van suddenly appearing at the manor on a random training day wasn't odd. Something was up; Guy just had to find out whether it had to do with the plans to resurrect Hod or not.

Guy doubled back around to the courtyard to see if Van was there, waiting to train Luke. Whether it was a training day or not, if Van was at the manor, odds are he would end up training Luke. There was no way Luke would let him train otherwise. As it turned out, Van wasn't there, but Pere was packing up his gardening supplies and he looked over at Guy with surprised eyes.

"Did Master Luke not wish to see you?"

"Apparently, Van's here." Pere looked just as shocked by the news as Guy himself had felt, and Guy furrowed his brow, putting his hands in his pockets as he walked over to match stride with Pere. "I take it you haven't seen him?"

"No, not at all . . ." Pere trailed off, looking thoughtfully at his feet. "I wonder why he's here today of all days? It isn't one of Master Luke's training days, is it?"

Guy shook his head. "Nope. I have no idea why Van's here, but I wonder . . . I wonder if it has something to do with you-know-what." Pere looked sharply at Guy, and Guy looked over to meet Pere's gaze. Pere was getting on in years, and he was one of the gentlest people Guy knew, but sometimes his gaze was as sharp as a sword in the hands of a trained assassin, striking Guy down to his core.

"And if it does?"

"If it does what?"

"I have been thinking about this for some time now," Pere began, speaking slowly as they entered the manor. Choosing his words carefully, no doubt. They couldn't risk the wrong thing being heard. "We have lived in this manor for many years now. I realize that Van still wishes to pursue his ideals, and seeing our home again would be a wonderful thing. However--"

"Guy! You came back to see us after all!"

"Oh, no," Guy mumbled, turning to see two brunette maids heading right toward them. Pere's words had been cut off, and in Guy's opinion, in the worst way possible. He'd known that going back into the manor was risky, but in-between looking for Van and talking to Pere, he'd completely forgotten. "Pere," Guy whispered, "save yourself."

Pere chuckled, though Guy didn't see how he could possibly find humor in the situation. "We are near enough to our quarters that you could come with me, if you moved quickly enough," Pere said, but Guy -- backing away from the two maids -- practically already had his back against a wall, in a corner.

"If you have any ideas of how to call them off, now would be a great--oh, hi, ladies." Guy couldn't help that his voice hiked up an octave, and when he glanced to his right, he saw that Pere was walking back into his room. So much for Pere criticizing Luke earlier -- it seemed as if Pere wasn't willing to help him out, either.

"Hiiiii, Guuuuy," one of the girls cooed, and the other burst out giggling.

"Ooh, Lucy, that rhymed!"

"I know! Wasn't it cute?" Lucy leaned forward, and Guy pressed himself as tightly against the wall as he could, his heart hammering, his body starting to shake. He would have preferred if the girls were two fire-breathing dragons, or bloodthirsty demons, or barbaric savages, or anything, really, than two giggling females. "What do you think, Guy?" Lucy asked, looking at him from under her long lashes. "Wasn't it adorable?"

"I - I . . ." Guy tried to swallow, but his mouth was too dry, and he looked around for any possible route of escape -- any at all. His desperation caused him to nearly cry out in relief as he caught sight of a mop of red hair entering from the end of the hall. "Luke!" he called, and the relief that flooded him when Luke looked over caused him to nearly melt. "Do something! Please!"

"Oh, Guy, you're such a joker!" the other maid said, reaching out to swat Guy's arm playfully. Guy flinched. "You're going to go out with me later, right?"

"No," Guy said hastily, but his fear made his voice sound weak and not all that certain. "Look, I've already told you, I can't really . . . I mean . . ."

Lucy shook her head, clicking her tongue. "Honestly, if you keep acting like that, you'll never get over your fear of women." Guy swore in that moment that Lucy sounded almost like Natalia, which made the situation ten times worse. "So just go out with us. One little date, that's all we ask!" She leaned closer, and Guy shrank farther back against the wall, though it wasn't budging. "Please?"

"All right, all right, that's enough! Don't you two have jobs to do?" Luke asked, crossing his arms over his chest. "Go and do them already and leave Guy alone."

"Aww. Master Luke, you spoil our fun." Lucy stamped her foot and pushed her lips out in a pout, but Luke pointed toward the door at the far end of the hall, raising his eyebrows.

"I said go!"

The maids turned back to give Guy one last look, promised, "Don't worry Guy, we'll see you later!" and then turned to head back down the hall, whispering between them as soon as they thought they were out of earshot. Guy relaxed as they walked away from him, nearly melting against the wall, and gave Luke a grateful smile. "Thanks, Luke. I knew you'd come through for me."

"You're just lucky I was passing through, and that they gave up so quickly. I don't really have time to stick around." Luke had already started off again, and Guy fell into step beside him, slipping his hands into his pockets again.

"The maid tell you that you were summoned somewhere?"

"Yep. I have to go to the drawing room as per Father's request." Guy looked away, furrowing his brow speculatively.

"Duke Fabre, huh . . ." From Van suddenly appearing to Duke Fabre summoning Luke, it was definitely turning out to be a strange day. Duke Fabre spent most of his time pretending Luke didn't exist, or so it seemed; it was strange that he wanted to see him so suddenly. "I bet this is related to Van being here, whatever that reason is. Something tells me you're going to find out during this little meeting."

"Maybe." Luke shrugged, and reached up to put his hands behind his head as he walked. "But so long as he trains me, I don't really care all that much."

Guy chuckled, shaking his head. "Aw, c'mon, don't be like that. You know you care about Van."

"Well, yeah, I do, but I mean, besides train me, what else is there for him to do?"

"He's the Commandant of the Order of Lorelei. There's plenty for him to do."

"Yeah, yeah." Luke waved off Guy's words as they reached the drawing room, pushing the door open. "I have to go now. I'll see you later."

"All right. See you." As Luke opened the door, Guy took the opportunity to steal a quick glance in, and managed to catch sight of Van sitting at the long table. Guy still had no idea what the meeting was about, of course, but he at least had his suspicions confirmed, and he had a feeling that if he was right about that, he would also be right about Van training Luke later. Turning on his heel, Guy made his way quickly back to the courtyard, aiming to wait there all day if he had to. One way or another, he would talk to Van.

Fortunately, he didn't have to wait all day. The meeting lasted all of about fifteen minutes, and Van came striding into the courtyard not long after. Guy, having taken a seat dead center, stood to meet Van as the older swordsman came over, raising an eyebrow.

"Strange seeing you here," Guy greeted, nodding once in Van's direction. "Today's not an ordinary training day. What brings you by?"

"I suppose I shouldn't be surprised to see that you've come out to meet me," Van said instead, and Guy kept his expression neutral, not showing any reaction to Van dodging the question. "No doubt Luke informed you of my presence."

"Yeah, he did." Guy waited a few beats, and then asked, "So, about why you're here--"

"I have to return to Daath," Van interrupted, and Guy's eyes widened slightly. "Fon Master Ion has gone missing, and I must join in the search to rescue him. I came to inform both Duke Fabre and Luke."

Guy winced a little, reaching up to rub at the back of his neck. "Something tells me Luke didn't take that news too well." Van chuckled humorlessly, shaking his head.

"No, he did not, but I promised to train him today to make up for it." Guy cracked a grin, canting his weight to one side.

"Make sure to wear him out plenty, yeah? That way I don't have to deal with the fallout of this news later. That is, unless you're planning to come back any time soon."

"I don't believe I'll be returning in the near future, no." Van's voice was so grave that it caused the grin to fade from Guy's face, and he eyed Van more closely. Van hadn't quite met Guy's eyes since coming out to the courtyard, and was instead looking off at another part of the manor. There was also something strangely formal about his tone -- something business-like and almost cold that gave Guy pause. "The Oracle Knights are stretched to their limits searching for Fon Master Ion. The God-Generals are currently all deployed as well. We have no idea of where Fon Master Ion could possibly be, which means that all of our energies and efforts must go toward finding him. Unfortunately, I don't foresee this to be an easy task, given the amount of land that we must cover and the lack of manpower we currently have."

"I see," Guy answered, frowning. "Sounds like the Oracle Knights have it pretty rough."

Van started to walk past Guy, his eyes still distant, his countenance still strictly formal. "I'll have to leave everything to you for the time being," he said, and Guy tensed, realizing suddenly what Van was thinking -- and talking -- about. "The Duke, the King, and Luke's--"

"Ah, Master Luke!" Pere's voice cut off Van, and Guy thanked his lucky stars that -- unless it came to women -- he wasn't the type of person to get startled easily. Keeping a game face on Guy turned, watching as Luke headed out to meet them in the center of the courtyard, confused suspicion written plainly all over his face.

"Guy? What's up?"

"Well," Guy said, thinking fast, "Van's a master swordsman, so I thought I'd ask for a little instruction." It wasn't the best lie in the world, and Guy knew it. He wasn't surprised when Luke gave him a dubious look, coming to a stop right in front of him.

"Really? That's not what it looked like to me."

"Well, it is rather hard to read lips from a distance, isn't it?" Van answered, saving Guy the trouble of pushing the lie further. Luke didn't seem to be too mad or suspicious, so Guy didn't think that the lie would have been too hard to push, but even so, he was glad to have been spared the trouble. "Now, why don't you go take your starting position so we can begin your training?"

Guy knew that Luke could be obstinate. It was even one of Luke's defining character traits. But Luke never disobeyed or ignored Van -- never showed Van anything but the utmost respect. Now, however, he showed no reaction to Van's words at all; instead, he winced a little as if in pain, his green eyes becoming glassy as one hand reached up to touch his head near his ear. Guy frowned, remembering Luke's headache from earlier. "Luke?" he prompted, but when Luke showed no sign of reacting, Guy reached out to touch his shoulder. Van's voice, loud and sharp, interrupted him before he could.

"Luke! Did you not hear me?!"

Luke seemed to snap out of his daze, shaking his head as if trying to clear fog from it. "Huh?" His eyes widened suddenly, and then his lips quirked in a sheepish grin. "Oh, right!" Turning, Luke ran over to take his position, one hand already reaching for the practice sword at his waist. Van smirked, one hand reaching for his own blade. Guy always thought it was somewhat dangerous for Van to use his actual sword while Luke only used a wooden one, but it wasn't as if it was his place to criticize Van's methods. Van knew what he was doing, and besides, Luke would never hear of anything Van did being criticized.

"Are you ready?" Van asked, and Luke nodded once, snapping one hand in to a sharp salute.

"Yes, sir!"

Ordinarily, Guy would have just wandered off to do his own thing. Luke's practice sessions were never overly exciting, and Luke hated to be monitored like a child. But even though he said he was ready, he still looked somewhat distracted by something, and with two (well, possibly two) headaches in one day, Guy wasn't going to wander away from the courtyard. Instead, he walked over to take a seat on one of the benches, making himself comfortable before calling, "I guess I'll just watch from over here. Let's see what you've got, Luke."

Luke waved Guy off impatiently, and even from his distance Guy could see him roll his eyes. "Yeah, yeah."

Though Guy tried to keep on an eye on Luke, he found that he couldn't concentrate completely -- not when the most exciting thing to happen for the first ten minutes was Luke having impromptu meetings with the ground after every few swings. It was clear that Van wasn't really trying; he was instructing and guiding Luke, teaching him new techniques, but although Luke was giving it his all, Van kept easily throwing him down to the ground. Every now and then, Guy would catch a snippet of Van's instruction ("You need to block, Luke -- defense is just as important as offense"), but for the most part he tuned them out, looking at them, but not really watching what they were doing. It wasn't until their training abruptly stopped that Guy felt his attention snap fully to them -- well, to them, and to a melodic voice drifting from the direction of the manor.

"What's that?" Luke demanded, reaching one hand up to his ear again. Guy stood up, about to go over, when he noticed Van fall to his knees.

"That voice . . .!" Van grunted, and as he spoke, Guy felt himself sway, and had to drop to his knees himself to stay up, bracing himself on the bench. The voice was getting louder, but Guy couldn't understand the words that were being sung -- could barely concentrate on them for the dizziness that suddenly gripped him.

"I . . . I can't move!" Luke sounded near to panic, and Guy forced himself up, stumbling a few steps forward in an attempt to reach him. It was no use; Guy slumped against one of the columns, his eyes refusing to stay open, his head dropping down to his chest.

"That's a fonic hymn!" Guy heard Pere gasp from somewhere behind him. Wasn't Pere by the flower beds? Guy thought, and shook his head, feeling sluggish. Yeah . . . That's where he is. "Has a Seventh Fonist invaded the manor?!"

"Damn it . . ." Guy mumbled, his words slurred with fatigue. "It's putting me to sleep . . . What the hell are the guards doing?"

Guy didn't notice when his eyes closed until he needed to open them again, at the sound of the song finally ending and another voice -- the same voice, he realized, as the fog surrounding his brain began to clear -- spoke, clear and strong in the courtyard.

"I've finally found you, Vandesdelca." The voice belonged to a girl standing behind Van, a knife gripped in one hand, a sharp-pointed staff in the other. Guy was positive that he had never seen her before in his life, but all the same, there was something familiar about her. "Prepare to die, traitor!"

Guy watched, his body still weighed down by the hymn, as the girl rushed forward. At first, he honestly thought she was going to get the jump on Van -- that Van was still too out of it to react -- and he opened his mouth to try and shout a warning. It proved to be unnecessary; Van spun and dodged her attack, staying low to the ground, but appearing alert all the same.

"Tear! I knew it!" Van stood quickly, lashing out at the girl -- Tear, Guy assumed -- with his practice sword, but she jumped out of the way, landing right in front of Luke. Guy pushed himself away from the banister, reaching for his own sword, though he still felt shaky on his feet. No, focus Guy, wake up. Whoever she is, she's dangerous, and it's not like he's in any position to protect himself . . .

"Who the hell are you?!" Luke demanded, and Guy almost groaned. If there was one thing he wanted Luke to do at the moment, it was not draw attention to himself, but Luke never was the type to take a hint and stay quiet. Instead, he stood up, reaching for his practice sword again. Guy's eyes widened, and he tried to call out to Luke to stop, but found that he was still too out of it to get his mouth to cooperate with his brain. Damn it, Luke, sto--wait, is he glowing?

Guy didn't know if it was the after-effect of the fonic hymn or not -- maybe he'd actually fallen asleep without realizing it -- but Luke seemed to be actually glowing, radiating with light. Guy tore his eyes away from Luke for a second to look at Van, who actually looked panicked for once -- and that was something Guy thought he would never see. "No!" Van shouted. "Stop!"

But it was far too late.

Tear turned at the exact moment that Luke swung with his sword, her staff blocking his wooden blade. In the exact second that their weapons connected, a metallic ring resounded through the courtyard, the light that was engulfing Luke spreading to wrap around Tear as well, sparking brightly around their connected weapons. For a moment, Guy was too stunned to react, his eyes practically burning as he tried to see through the light to make out the forms of Luke and Tear. Luke seemed to be paralyzed, unable to move at all, and it was that which forced Guy to start moving forward, aiming to pull Luke out of whatever he'd gotten himself stuck in.

"Not that weird voice again . . . !" Luke hissed.

"The Seventh Fonon?!" Tear cried, and at her words the light intensified sharply, swelling around them. Guy stopped short of reaching them and lifted one arm, shielding his eyes from the suddenly intense light -- but shielding his eyes did nothing to shield his ears, and he heard Luke and Tear both scream in pain as a gust of wind and light swept up the courtyard.

"Luke!" Guy forced himself forward, light be damned, but it was too late. By the time he got to the center of the courtyard, the last few specks of light were already fading, leaving not a trace of either Luke or Tear in sight. Van rose to his feet as well, looking up at the last tendrils of light that fluttered down from the deep blue sky, his eyes just as wide as Guy's.

"Too late . . ." he said, sounding completely floored. "The Seventh Fonons have reacted with each other!"

Guy didn't react at first. He was staring at the spot where Luke had stood -- at the spot where Luke had disappeared. Completely vanished. Gone without a trace, and with a girl who'd been trying to kill Van just seconds before -- who might have gone after Luke, if she blamed him for what happened. His mind clicking several things together quickly, Guy spun to face Van, his voice harsher than he meant to be.

"What do you mean the Seventh Fonons reacted with each other?! What the hell just happened, and who was that girl who just tried to kill you?!"

"Calm down, Gailardia." Van sheathed his practice sword, looking back down to Guy at last, though Guy had no intention of calming down as Van requested. "She won't hurt him."

"How do you know that?" Guy demanded. "She just tried to kill you, Van. How do you know she won't hurt Luke? And you didn't answer the other questions, either!"

"I know because she isn't a killer. She's a soldier, yes, but not a killer." A thin smile found its way to Van's lips, and he continued before Guy could interrupt. "Her name is Mystearica -- Tear -- Grants. She's my younger sister."

"Your sister?" Guy blinked, his anger momentarily forgotten. "I didn't know you had a sister."

"Most people don't, because it isn't information that's really relevant to day-to-day activities. Nonetheless, I do, and she seems to be rather mistaken about something. Whatever she is mistaken about, however, she will not harm Luke. I promise you that."

The information mollified Guy, if only a little, and he looked back to the point where Luke had disappeared. "That doesn't mean Luke won't get himself into trouble some other way," he muttered, before speaking louder. "But what happened? You said something about Seventh Fonons, and I heard Pere mention a Seventh Fonist earlier." Guy looked over to the flower beds, watching as Pere headed back inside the manor -- either to rest or to alert the guards of what had happened to Luke. Guy wasn't really sure which. "I'm guessing the Seventh Fonist was Tear, but what about Luke could have triggered . . . whatever that was that we just saw?"

"That was hyperresonance, caused when Seventh Fonons react against one another," Van explained. "It appears as though Luke is a Seventh Fonist as well."

"What?" Guy's eyes widened, and he shook his head. "That's impossible. Luke barely knows what fonons are, much less how to manipulate them."

"Then he must have done so accidentally. There is no other explanation for the sudden hyperresonance that occurred here."

"I . . . I see." Guy frowned, turning once more to the spot where Luke had stood. It felt surreal; to think that Luke had been standing there just a few minutes prior, and was now gone with a mysterious assassin -- Van's sister, Guy corrected himself -- to Yulia knew where. Van claimed that Tear wouldn't hurt Luke, and Guy wasn't one to call Van a liar, but that didn't change the fact that Luke was gone. He wasn't even supposed to leave the manor, and now they had no idea where he was. And it had happened right in front of Guy's eyes.

"Well, it's my job to take care of you, Luke, and I say nothing bad's going to happen to you so long as I'm around. . . . Promise."

Well, Guy had screwed up that promise, hadn't he?

"I will go inform the Duke and Duchess about what has happened," Van said, breaking Guy from his thoughts. Guy walked over to match Van's stride as Van began to head back to the manor. "They will want to mobilize a search party, I'm sure, just as they did seven years ago."

"There's no need for that," Guy said, fists clenched at his sides. "You can tell Duke Fabre what happened, but you can also tell him that he doesn't have to send out a search party for Luke."

"Oh?" Guy had the feeling that Van was looking at him, but Guy didn't look at Van to confirm his thoughts. Instead, he merely pulled open the door to the manor, stepping in ahead of Van and turning to head toward his room. "Why not?"

"Because I'm going to find Luke." Guy didn't look back as he spoke, nor did he speak with any hesitation. "It's my job to look after him. Since he was taken away under my watch, I'm going to fix that mistake and find him myself. Mark my words, he will make it back to this manor in one piece, with every memory intact."

"Do you truly believe that you can find him on your own?" Van's words stopped Guy short, and Guy turned back to see that Van was watching him with something of an amused smile. "You have no idea where they've gone."

"Doesn't matter," Guy answered immediately. "I'll find him." As Van began to chuckle, Guy's brow furrowed, and he felt impatience coil in his gut. "What's so funny?"

"Nothing. You're just very determined, is all." Van continued to smirk. "It looked as though the hyperresonance shot in the direction of Tartaroo Valley. I would recommend starting there, if anywhere."

Guy stood still, surprised by the sudden information, for a minute before he smiled. "Thanks, Van," he said. "If you happen to find Luke before I do, grab him for me, will you? While you're searching for Ion, I mean."

"Will do." Van turned away. "I will go speak with the Duke and Duchess now. Don't be surprised if they request to see you before you depart."

"I'll be ready." Raising one hand in a farewell wave to Van, Guy turned and headed back to his room.

After gathering all the necessary provisions he would need, speaking with the Duke and Duchess Fabre, and saying goodbye to Pere, Guy set off.

Truth be told, he didn't really know where he was going, except for in the direction that Van had pointed out. Guy had a feeling that even if Luke was there, he was going to be gone by the time Guy arrived. Luke was never one for sitting still, and his curiosity often got the better of him; to be randomly thrown out into the world after spending seven years locked in a manor was going to be tough, but not even to satiate Luke's desire to explore. Oh, sure, Luke might be irritated that he was just thrown into a situation like that, but that didn't mean that he'd just sit in one place forever. Even if that would make things easier on Guy, that was simply not the way that Luke operated.

That is, if he was okay. Guy kept telling himself that Luke was fine, but that didn't mean that he necessarily was, and deep down, Guy knew that.

Well, if he's not okay now, then he will be when I get a hold of him, Guy told himself. Since his journal wasn't in his room, Luke must have had it on him, which means that he'll at least have a way to trigger his memories if he's lost any. Then again, it's weird that he had his journal on him, anyway . . . I'll have to remember to ask him about that when I find him, which I will. Guy nodded once, believing his words more and more each time he spoke or thought them, and left the gates of Baticul completely, stepping out into the plains of Kimlasca-Lanvaldear. Hang tight, Luke. I'll be there soon.