Arc One: Discovery
Part One: Destination Iselia
Chapter One: The Beginning of it All
Intention: Ever been bitten by a plot bunny that just kept gnawing at you till you wrote it, yeah, this is one of "those" stories. My intention with this story is to create a self insert that doesn't suck. Yeah, I know, the pitfalls are many, but I think I've found a way around them. Also, though I do intend to see this story through to it's end, I'm also not entirely sure where that is. But I do know that it's going to have at least three arcs: Discovery, Growth, and Revelation. Discovery should last until up to or around Palmacosta (in game storyline/easy path). I'm not going to think about Growth Arc until I get there because I want to focus all of my time writing in Discovery on that theme, discovering who, what, where, when, why, and how. All of this while keeping everyone in character. Yeah, it's quite a high bar, but I'm going to do my best.
I'm also going to implement a kind of chapter filing system, providing easier navigation for readers. You can see it above where I list Arc #: name; Part #: name; Chapter #: name. Keep in mind the chapters are like the seconds on a clock, Parts = minutes, and Arcs = hours. Unlike a clock, there won't be sixty chapters to a Part, and on up. In fact, Part One should only last this chapter and the next.
Note: This is a side project, done in my very limited spare time. No update schedule or writing schedule has been creating. If you like it and don't want to keep looking for it, just fav it and wait for an email to notify you. It'd probably be easier that way.
Disclaimer: I don't own Tales.
The first time Raine Sage heard the voice was when she went on an expedition with a respected researcher, Professor Rafleur, and his students to the Triet Ruins. She was only fourteen at the time. She was allowed to go because she was able to prove that her knowledge in the subject of ancient cultures rivaled that of some of the Professor's own students. After making sure Genis would be taken care of for the three month's she would be away, they were off.
She found so many fascinating things while there, becoming more enamored with the ancient world and the truths it held. She brushed off the voice, much like she was brushing the sand off the ancient silver chain, which she would later concluded was the cause of the voice, as mere echoes of the other people at the dig site.
If she were to think back now, and try to remember what the voice said, she'd have a hard time of it. The voice hadn't said much and now it seemed more a blip of sound than actual words in her memory. At the time, the words didn't stand out or make her feel like something out of the ordinary was happening. She was… acutely naïve at the time, caught up in the grandiose ancient edifices surrounding her, instead of being the professional researcher and recording every little detail for later study.
The second incident with the voice was upon her return with Professor Rafleur to Palmacosta. The old academy was still being refurbished and everything from the dig had to be housed in a nearby warehouse. It was in this warehouse that Raine came upon the same silver chain she'd found in the ruins. As she reached out to stroke the silver, a spark of electricity jumped from the delicately crafted metal to her fingertip.
Shocked, she snapped her hand back, cradling it with her other hand against her chest. She checked for injury and then studied the chain again. It looked brighter somehow, as if its dingy surface were cleaned. Several chains of thought ran through her head at this point.
Is this silver chain reactive to Mana? Can it sense when a Mana capable person is nearby? Would it react to anyone who had Mana reserves, or is it just because I'm a Half-elf? Could it be that this is a piece of Magi-technology?
Her eyes snapped open wider as that last thought cleared her mind. She quickly glanced left, and then right. Upon finding the warehouse empty, she reached out and snatched the chain, then bolted. As she dashed away, it was then that she heard the voice.
"Where am I?"
Even now, she could remember those words clearly, as if they'd been whispered into her ear. At the time though, she was more occupied with making a clean get away. The next day, alarms were raised. It turned out that more than one item was stolen the night before. But she knew the drill. They'd come looking for anything they could find from her, suspecting someone who looked like a Half-elf first, even though they'd bought the lie about being pure bloods.
So she packed up everything and said her goodbyes. Professor Rafleur understood, of course, and extended an open invitation for her to return whenever she wanted. He would also extend the same invitation to her brother over a year later, shortly after Genis turned five, when he aced the entrance exam to the newly re-opened academy.
It was while they were stopped in Luin that Genis took the test. She was contemplating returning with Genis to Palmacosta, so he could attend the academy and she could try for a teaching position. She was reasonably confident she could get the position, given how much more studying she'd completed since leaving the city. The only pause in this consideration was when she found that silver chain in her bag.
She'd studied the silver chain after leaving Palmacosta for almost a week, trying to recreate the spark. Eventually, she came to the conclusion that it was just an ordinary chain. The spark must have been from static electricity and the voice in her head was more than likely herself. Though, the idea that she didn't know her location was a bit confusing.
Thus, as she lifted the chain out of her bag and started walking toward the door with the intention of selling it to the nearest store, she was startled when her whole arm when numb. The arm holding the silver chain. All the planned routes to the store behind the inn, who to avoid if she saw them, and how much she could get for the chain vanished.
"The land north of Triet," the voice said.
She stared at her arm, likening it in her mind to some foreign object or monster that had attached itself her arm. The numbing sensation slowly started to dissipate, almost as if the presence she felt in her flesh was evaporating like heated water. Fearing that the presence would disappear again and before she could think of what to do, a question was out of her mouth before it could register in her brain.
"The land north of Triet," the voice repeated. "You… the Chose…"
By now, her mind was working in over time, but any more questions she asked, shouted, demanded, were in vain. Even as the voice was speaking, the last of the numbing sensation was evaporating. She surmised that was why it grew too faint to hear at the end.
For a while, after she calmed down, she sat on the bed she and Genis shared. She stared at the wall, her expression blank, her hair in need of a combing. A few times she glanced down at the silver chain before she returned to searching the wall. Within her mind, the new experience was being integrated into the knowledge of the silver chain that she already had.
It was clearly magical in nature, even though it belied this nature when it didn't react to Mana or commands made verbally or mentally. She concluded that whomever made this ancient trinket, made it so that its magics couldn't be messed with by someone who didn't know what they were doing, a kind of safety to keep it from breaking. That aside, she realized, moments before Genis arrived back from school that day, that she wasn't going figure out what this was or how to use it based on the knowledge she currently had.
As soon as she had this realization and was thinking of what to do with it, Genis arrived. He was all smiles and grins as he bounced in the door to their one room home of the moment. Brandishing his test score results like a badge of honor, he prattled on the whole evening about how impressed everyone was with his score. But she barely heard a word of it because a new worry pressed upon her mind now.
She couldn't deprive Genis of this chance for an education, just so she could traipse off to Triet or wherever her search took her to figure out this chain. But then, she was also the only family he had left. She couldn't just abandon Genis in the Academy either. And this mystery wouldn't allow her to sleep at night. She had to choose between her brother and a mystery that refused to die.
It was that mystery that ended up making the decision for her. For while she was contemplating how many trips she could take between helping Genis study and get good grades, the silver chain grew warm. It was only for a moment, but it was long enough for her to recognize it was there. After glancing at it for the briefest of moments, the two choices in her mind seemed to merge together into one, mixing with the cryptic message that the voice had given her.
"Genis," she said, interrupting whatever he was saying about the stew he was making. "I'm sorry, but we're headed toward Triet. Palmacosta is the other way."
"What?!" He dropped the soup ladle into the large pot boiling in front of him. It became lost amidst the frothy mishmash of beef, vegetables, and broth. But Genis had instantly forgotten what he was doing and was now focused on her, his mouth hanging agape slightly. "But sis, didn't you hear anything I said about my test scores? They want me to go to the Academy. The Academy! It's the best school in all of Sylvarant! I thought you said that one day we'd go back and stay there. This is the perfect opportunity. Maybe then we can…" Genis' rant died off as the unspoken words barely escaped his mouth.
She knew, of course, what he wanted to say. That they'd be able to settle down and not keep moving around, searching. But her mind was made up, and she wouldn't have it any other way. Standing, she moved next to her brother and hugged him, gently holding him against her. The way he desperately clung to her made her think of how she would do the same to her mother, eliciting an unasked for emotional response in herself.
"We must go on," she said firmly, but with a soft voice, belying the growing emotions inside. She internally recited the reasons her mother gave her, at least the ones she could remember, for staying on the move. "Maybe in the future, you can go to the Academy, but for now, we need to stick together. We're all we have to call family. We're the only ones who we can trust our secrets too. As far as your education goes, I'll teach you. I'd more than likely be one of your teachers at the Academy anyway, if we were to go back."
"When will it end," Genis asked, but she clearly felt him trembling under her embrace and the words were garbled by sobs. Bitter tears were threatening to fall from her own eyes, but she forced the bile down and calmed her emotions. She had to be strong and protect her little brother. "When can we stop moving?"
"Soon," she whispered, her voice intentionally quiet to keep from betraying the emotions roiling underneath her calm exterior. After a few moments more, which she took to push those depressing emotions further down into her psyche, she went on. Her lips moved slowly, almost as if she wasn't sure she was forming the right words. "We're headed toward Triet, but our final destination lies far north of there."
"Where?" Genis asked, raising his head to look into her face. She emphasized the word 'final' when she'd said it. Genis' hopeful yet scared face as he looked up at her made her stomach lurch and brought tears anew to her eyes. "Are we going to stay there? Will it be… safe?"
"We're going to a village in the lands north of Triet," she said. She hoped that the voice was referring to the only town she knew to be in that area, since that's where she decided they were going. "To a village said to be the birthplace of oracles. It's named, Iselia." Genis fell silent as he contemplated this new information. Raine took this opportunity to look into the boiling pot of stew. There was a layer of froth on the top as vegetables and meat bobbed up and down on the surface. She gave the pot a lopsided glance before she let go of Genis to reach out. "I think this needs some more Liquorish."
Genis blanched whiter than his hair.