The Meaning of Birth – 武田地夜

Disclaimer: I do not own Tales of Symphonia or Tales of the Abyss or the characters and story lines pertaining to it. They belong to their respective owners and Namco Bandai.

Prologue: A Cold Winter's Night

There was a succession of three sharp taps at the door. The young brunette boy turned reluctantly, about to answer. He wasn't quick enough however, and the impatient guest opened the door on his own.

Lloyd gasped, instinctively reaching for his twin blades at his hips. Just as he had them half unsheathed, the man in front of him held out a hand, signaling for him to stop.

Lloyd glared, unsure of the man before him. "What do you want, Kratos?"

The elder sighed almost unnoticeably, warily eyeing the boy. He was no fool; he saw how the child's hands never left his swords' hilts. The red-haired man looked up, staring Lloyd in the eyes. "Would you take a walk with me? I would like to speak with you. Alone."

Lloyd scanned the man, once known as his enemy and now possibly his father. He couldn't deny that he had questions, and he wanted answers. Lloyd straightened, resting his hand on the handle of his sword unconsciously. He nodded. "I guess."

Kratos followed as Lloyd left the room and inn before taking the lead himself. He led the 17-year-old to a balcony just outside the Church of Martel. Lloyd stood next to the Angel, glancing back and forth between the traitor and the scenery. He settled his gaze on the town, a small city called Flanoir. It was beautiful the way the moonbeams lit the falling snow, and it seemed to bathe the whole town in silver.

"I assume you have questions." Kratos, too, was watching the city. Although he would never admit it aloud, he was just as afraid as he knew the boy was.

Lloyd nodded, confirming Kratos' assumption and, unknowingly, his fears too. "Yeah, I do. My father?" Lloyd turned an accusing glare on the Seraphim. "You say you're my father? After all the times you've hurt us? After you've betrayed us and tried to kill us?" He was screaming now. He still refused to accept that this man was his real dad.

"Lloyd, I—" Kratos stopped abruptly and spun around, unsheathing his sword quick as lightning. He heard Lloyd gasp and the rasp of metal as he pulled out his own dual blades. The Angel's red eyes scanned the area, searching for the source of the sound that caught his attention. It was familiar, he knew— he just didn't know what exactly it was.

"Kratos!" The man in question looked up along with his son to see a man floating above them, his long blonde hair turned silver by the moonlight. "You, of all people… I can understand Yuan betraying me, but you? I knew I should never have trusted humans…"

Lloyd watched the man slowly descend on his multihued wings, his hair barely parting to reveal crazed blue eyes. Kratos grimaced. He hadn't seen his old friend look this distraught since his sister, Martel, had passed away.

"Yggdrasill! What do you want?" Lloyd readied himself in a fighting stance. Although he hoped it didn't come to it, he wanted to be prepared should a fight arise.

Yggdrasill glared harshly at Kratos and held a hand before him. "I think you need to find where your loyalties truly lay, my dear friend… lest you end up like Yuan." A small orb of pale yellow light appeared in the center of his palm, the intensity of the light increasing with every second. "Go back, Kratos. Back to it all. And return to me!"

Kratos' eyes widened in realization. "Mithos, no!"

Where before a man and a boy once stood, new snow fell, returning the scene to a peaceful winter landscape, uncaring of the two's fate.