Siren: (shoves Muse out from the shadows)

Muse: Hahahahiguysit'sonlybeenthreeyears. Long time no see.

Siren: I promise we didn't die or explode or anything like that! It was, mostly.

Muse: Yeah, college kind of kicked our asses. But!

Siren: Ass indeed, Muse! We're back! And will update on a regular schedule.

Muse: Didn't we say that last time?

Siren: (hits with calculator) Shut up, Muse.

Muse: Seriously, though, it'll be little easier for us to write more often. We rented an apartment together.

Siren: As in, like, we moved in two days ago. Seriously, there's still unpacked boxes.

Muse: We just wanted to say that we really do appreciate you guys-

Siren: Even when we disappeared off the face of the earth-

Muse: -and we want to thank you if you stuck with us.

Siren: Okay, enough with the feelings. On with the story! (pelts with updates)

Rule #11: Don't forget the baby.

Revision #11: Don't intentionally leave him behind, either.

A threat is meaningless if not carried out.

"I can't believe we just left him there!" Genis protested. Kratos ignored him.

"Please, Mr. Kratos, we can't release the seal without him!" Colette pleaded. Kratos ignored her.

"While I understand the sentiment, Kratos, I seriously disagree with your methods. Honestly, leaving Lloyd to his own devices back there…I'm beginning to have second thoughts." Raine looked back towards Asgard, worried. Kratos ignored her.

This was the third time Lloyd had woken up late, throwing their travels off by at least a full day every time. Kratos had threatened last time to leave him behind if he couldn't keep up. Lloyd had brushed him off.

Kratos was not a man for idle threats.

"If he doesn't face consequences for his actions," Kratos said, "he'll never learn. And besides, we need to press forward. We'll go back for him after we release the seal."

"We should've at least left him a note," Genis said. "What if Lloyd wakes up and sees that we're gone?"

"Then he'll realize that this is serious. We don't have time to sleep in." Kratos sighed and turned around, facing all of them. "I know it's harsh, but Lloyd has to learn. If he wanted to sleep all day, he should've stayed at home."

"Please, Kratos," Colette said. "Lloyd's probably worried about us. Can't we go back?"

"I'm sorry, Chosen," he answer, still going ahead. "But this is not a game. You want to save Sylvarant, do you not?"

"I-I do, but…" Colette sighed. "Maybe you're right. But being away from Lloyd makes me anxious. What if something happens to him?"

Kratos stopped. "Lloyd is perfectly capable of fending for himself until we get back." I hope.

"What if he tries to find us?" Genis asked. "What if he gets lost? What if-?"

"That's enough what-ifs," Kratos interrupted. "Lloyd will be fine. We, however, need to make our way to the Seal of Wind if we want to continue this journey." With that, he turned around and started walking.

"I just think this whole thing is ridiculous," Raine said. "Teaching Lloyd a lesson isn't a good reason to leave him behind!"

"We need Lloyd," Colette added. "He's a member of our group and we can't do it without him. Please, Kratos, let us go back for him."

Kratos sighed and pinched his nose. "This is no longer a discussion. We cannot afford to waste any more time than we already have."

Colette stopped in her tracks. "I'm…I'm not going without Lloyd. I have a bad feeling about going without him."

Kratos groaned. "Lloyd is not in any danger. If he was, I would never leave him behind."

Colette shifted on her feet. "You can't release the seal without me," she said. "And I won't do it without Lloyd."

She turned around, the Sage siblings following suit. Raine shot Kratos a smug look and he felt his temper flare. "Chosen," he said as he caught up with her. "You know what is at stake. We cannot delay the releasing of the seal anymore than we already have."

"Kratos, that's enough," Raine said sharply. "Colette is the Chosen, and she is the leader of our group, not you. If she says she doesn't want to release the seal yet, she doesn't have to."

"Yeah," Genis agreed. "Weren't you the one who said that we should respect the Chosen's wishes, or whatever?"

Kratos gave in. "…Fine. We'll go back for Lloyd."

"Thank you, Kratos," Colette said. "I'm sorry I'm causing such a problem."

Kratos sighed. "No, Chosen. I didn't take your feelings into account, and for that, I apologize."

Colette smiled, accepting his apology. "I just feel better when Lloyd is around, that's all. It wouldn't feel right to release the seal without him."

"We've been gone for several hours," Kratos noted. "Perhaps by now, Lloyd has learned his lesson."

"I bet he's freaking out," Genis said, snickering. "Probably came chasing after us."

"What if he left Asgard?" Colette worried out loud. "It's dangerous out here, especially if he's alone!"

Kratos blinked. What if he left Asgard? The area was full of monsters; would Lloyd be able to fight them by himself?

"He'll be fine," Genis said. "I mean, what are the odds of him being captured by Desians again? Even Lloyd's not that unlucky."

Desians? Kratos hadn't thought about them. The only human ranch in the area was run by…


Oh, no.

"Lloyd would have no reason to leave the city," he said out loud, trying to reassure himself. "That would be irresponsible."

"Yes, and Lloyd is the pinnacle of responsibility," Raine muttered.

"Are you alright, Kratos?" Colette asked. "You have a weird look on your face."

"Are you…worried?" Genis asked. Kratos shook his head. "Ha! You are! You're worried about Lloyd."

"I'm not…I'm simply concerned that he may be causing more problems," Kratos said, trying to keep his voice calm.

"You should've thought about that before you insisted we leave him there," Raine said coldly. "I can't believe I let you convince me. These are dangerous times, and this is a dangerous place."

Dangerous didn't even begin to describe it. Kvar would recognize Lloyd's Exsphere, and he would want it back. Desperately.

"…I will admit, I acted hastily," Kratos conceded. "Perhaps I made a mistake."

"Perhaps?" Raine snorted. "You most definitely did! Lloyd is not a pet, Kratos. You can't just set him down somewhere and expect him to be there when you come back."

"I understand that, Professor Sage," he snapped. "I am not an idiot."

"Please, stop fighting," Colette said, and both of the adults sighed.

"I'm sorry, Kratos," Raine said. "It's not all your fault. I should've spoken up when we left the city."

"I shouldn't have left him behind," Kratos murmured. "I was thoughtless. I'm sorry."

The group walked in an awkward silence for a while, leaving Kratos' mind reeling.

He had a sudden image of Lloyd being dragged away by Desians. Being attacked by Kvar. What would he do if the next time he saw Lloyd was lying on the ground, dead? He would never forgive himself…

He felt his chest tighten as another image came to mind. Lloyd, suddenly morphing into a monster, into the same one they'd seen in Palmacosta.

Into Anna.

"Kratos?" The swordsman looked up in time to realize Colette was talking to him. "Kratos, what's wrong? You really seem upset."

He took a deep breath to calm himself. "I'm fine, Chosen, just thinking. Thank you for your concern." She nodded, although they were watching him carefully. He tried to focus on Asgard, which had come into view on the horizon.

Lloyd's Exsphere wouldn't go out of control, he told himself. Lloyd had a Key Crest; he was protected. And even if Desians had found him in the few hours they were gone, Lloyd was strong enough to hold his own, at least for a while.

"Kratos! Pay attention!" He snapped out of his thoughts again to see Raine glaring at him. He was wondering off the path, a good five feet away from his companions. "You're headed the wrong way."

"The wrong way…" He shook his head to clear his thoughts and rejoined them. "I'm sorry."

Once they reached Asgard, Kratos had to restrain himself from running to the inn to find Lloyd.

He carefully opened the door, hoping his son was still inside. A stream of light feel directly over a patch of spiky brown hair.

"Mmmm…" Lying on the bed was Lloyd, wrapped up in his blankets. He sat up, eyes half-closed, hair sticking up. "…Kr-Kratos, tha' you?"

Kratos breathed a sigh of relief. "Yes, Lloyd, it's me."

"…'kay." He fell backwards onto his pillows and began to snore.

Kratos went back into the lobby. "I can't believe it," he seethed. "He's asleep. We've been gone five hours, and he's still asleep."

Genis laughed. "Typical Lloyd. He probably never even knew we were gone."

"Oh, but aren't you relieved, Kratos?" Colette said. "Lloyd was perfectly safe! There's no need to be worried."

Kratos ground his teeth. "I knew I should have left him here."