A/N:This is my first Tales of Vesperia fanfiction and it's been a long time coming. I've had this idea floating around in my head for a while now and finally committed it to paper. It's a very complex form of AU that is rather difficult to categorize. Just a quick, important note-This fanfiction is overall rated T for teen, but there are instances where I believe some chapters need a slightly higher rating, such as T+ due to violence and suggestive themes. This story does contain bits of fairly mild yaoi(not what anyone is really expecting mind you), and if you are not comfortable reading it, please don't. These chapters will be clearly marked at the beginning of them, and I strongly advise that if you do not find it comfortable to read something above teen, do not read this story. It's not M worthy or I would be putting it in the M category, but if the T+ category existed, I would put it there. You have been forewarned. It starts just a tad slow but picks up rather quickly. As with any story, please read and review. Constructive criticism is highly appreciated, flames will not be tolerated and reviews will be enjoyed. Thank you.
Dance with the Devil
"Here I stand, helpless and left for dead."
-Breaking Benjamin, "Dance with the Devil"
The castle was beautiful that morning, with the sun glistening off the polished white marble the building was made of. It had the shine of 'high and mighty' and probably made anyone who gazed upon it have thoughts of envy. The castle didn't seem old in any way, always carrying the appearance of 'newly built' even though it was decades old.
It was the highlight of the town, a symbol of unity and power, even though many were left suffering and discouraged in its shadow.
Though, ignoring this, anyone could see it was a marvel. The tall gothic windows allowed for plenty of light to filter into the castle, and allowed people outside to see into the beautiful building. The wonderfully furnished inside showed how much money the royal family had, a living that many people outside the gleaming walls couldn't afford.
Regardless, it stood tall and glorious, many people admiring it from far and wide, but Flynn Scifo wasn't amused by the glamorous appearance.
He knew first hand how bad the empire was. The lengths they went to keep the castle in the spotlight of glory only deepened the shadows that the castle gave. So many people starved and died in the capital everyday, yet not a finger nor dollar went to helping them. Instead it went to helping the castle keep its beauty. It went to spoiling the rich people who spent money on the glorious building that stood up for the whole world to see. Resources were used to magnify the white gleam that the entire town could recognize.
Flynn, personally, hated it.
Unlike a friend of his though, the blonde had the will power to stay inside the castle walls as a knight, in specific, a captain. He'd risen in the ranks several times and finally made it to the height of captain in a few short years.
He'd come from the lower quarter, the poorest section of the city, and anyone and everyone had gossiped about him.
"He'll never make it further than a pawn."
"He's to poor to be great."
"He doesn't have the talent to be anything special. He'll just die in battle."
"He has no skill!" They'd laughed, "He is the son of a poor man, and he never had money to buy food, let alone train with a sword..."
But, Flynn had done what no one else had expected. He'd climbed, with great battle and many sleepless nights, and finally reached the rank of captain, to everyone's astonishment.
The day he received his title, the blonde had gotten many threats and glares from the locals who had all believed he was born to fail. A poor boy from the lower quarter wasn't supposed to be in the higher ranks along side nobles! But Flynn had proved them all wrong.
He was now a well-liked figure in the Imperial Knights, and loved by the common folk. He'd reached his dream... well, one of them.
Now he wanted to be Commandant. He wanted to change the workings of the laws from within. Give money to the poor, steal from the rich, change the government... a modern day Robin Hood. He wanted to be able to feed the people starving in the streets, house the homeless and provide for the children whose parent's abandoned them. He could list dozens of things that needed repair, but he wasn't in the right place to make those changes. Commandant was his goal, but he still had a ways to go.
The light spring air whistled around his blonde locks and tickled his face. It'd been a long time since he'd been able to enjoy himself with a simple walk.
Normally, people were hustling and bustling across the sidewalks, folks were asking for help from him with daily duties or meeting plans, but today was completely different. For some reason, the castle was at a calm sense of peace, and the captain could finally pleasure himself with a walk.
Beside him walked a woman. She was only there for a visit, she'd informed him, but he enjoyed her company nonetheless.
"Oh, the flowers are in bloom!" She squeaked.
Flynn chuckled to himself while she hurried herself over to the flowerbed, her pink dress dancing around her.
"Flynn, look, they planted the roses!" She gazed upon the newly born flowers in amazement.
"Yes Princess Estellise. Even though you are hardly present anymore because of your travels, I requested them to be planted."
Estellise looked up to Flynn with a look of both happiness and confusion,
"You certainly didn't need to Flynn."
"I wanted to…"
She gave him a warm smile, her blue green eyes sparkling some in the spring sun,
"That was very thoughtful of you."
Flynn felt his heart hammer some in his chest, but he quickly ignored it. He coughed a bit to hide his embarrassment, and was about to comment about something else when his name was shouted in the distance. He sighed inwardly, knowing that all that could mean was trouble.
Turing around, he gave his caller a questioning look, "what is it Sodia?"
Sodia, a bright knight with orange shoulder length hair saluted quickly, "Sir, we found something unusual in the basement of the castle. The Commandant told me to come get you." Her harsh cat like eyes stared, determined, into his, and she stood perfectly erect.
Estellise gave Sodia a concerned look,
"Is it dangerous?"
The lieutenant jumped a bit, as if she hadn't noticed the princess's presence,
"Oh, Lady Estellise!" It was hardly an answer, and the cat eyed knight struggled to put some coherent words together, "um, yes…" she directed her answer back at Flynn, as if he'd asked the question in the first place, "The Commandant wanted your immediate return."
Flynn nodded, turning towards Estellise,
"Princess, I'm sorry…" He started but she waved a gloved hand at him,
"Don't worry, I understand." She smiled again, even if it was a bit sad, but a knowing expression filled her eyes. She understood that Flynn had a job to do.
The captain felt his heart beat increase again, but he once again ignored it. Those types of feelings towards the princess were not exactly politically correct. He turned then, with a goodbye, and walked briskly behind Sodia, who led the way to the basement.
Once they were out of earshot from the princess, Flynn thought out loud, "something unusual in the basement"? It sounded more like a horror story than actual truth. Of course, it was the Commandant that had sent for him, and it wasn't like the man to tell a lie.
The blonde couldn't help but wonder what was going on. The Commandant was asking for a newly promoted captain to come to his bidding? Working under the Commandant was really more of Schwann's or Cumore's role, not his, so he had to ask himself the purpose of this journey.
The basement stairs were steep, so Flynn took them slowly. They had been slightly worn with age, faded lines indicating places people before him had stepped, but being a part of the castle that wasn't frequently updated, it had fallen into slight disrepair. Some of the old brick the castle's foundation had been built on were visible from the steps, the red shades sharply contrasted with the yellow lamplight that had been brought down.
To Flynn's knowledge, most of the basement had been sealed up twenty or thirty years ago for safety reason, and it was by His Imperial Majesty Ioder's command that the basement be dug out. It had been a mystery to several higher ups within the military and council branches for many years; what did the people of twenty or thirty years ago want to hide?
Reaching the bottom of the stairs, his eyes automatically gazed to the "unusual" something in the basement.
It was a large floating stone. Shades of several blues coated its surface, but the most predominate shade was a bright sky blue that seemed to bubble under the hard surface. The thing's very core seemed to vibrate, and the audible noise in the room shook the foundation.
"This is what we found." Sodia, still in her stark position, pointed to the object in question. "We haven't done anything with it yet, the Commandant said to find you first. He went to tell His Imperial Majesty about the findings, and said he'd report back soon."
"Thank you Sodia." Flynn took a few steps closer, his eyes awed.
It didn't resemble anything that he'd seen in his life. It looked similar to a large blastia, but the term didn't seem to stick well with the stone that floated in the middle of the room.
The captain's hand went to the side of his belt, but his fingers found nothing of value. He hadn't brought his sword?
"Does anyone have a weapon?"
A few confused grunts came from the small mass of guards that stood near the entrance. After a moment of trifling about and quick murmurs, a guard handed a sword over to Flynn, who grasped it tightly.
With careful movements, Flynn shuffled forwards, sword extended. It probably wasn't the smartest thing to do, but it was better than staring at the object in awe.
Many of the guards started voicing their complaints, but a quick glance over Flynn's shoulder shut the men up.
Sodia, instead, perked up at her commander's movements, "sir, you probably shouldn't touch it without the Commandant's-"
But it was to late…
The sword touched the floating mystery, and Flynn felt a sharp burning pain in his hand, and a bright light engulfed the basement.
The blonde felt like his skin was on fire, and every nerve in his body began to scream as an invisible force shoved its way through his body.
A clatter of metal hitting the floor, and the light faded, leaving no trace of Flynn or the floating stone anywhere.
"Something's hitting my head..."
Flynn opened his eyes slowly, only to shut them quickly.
Rain was pouring out of the sky, and the air carried a feeling of dread. He was lying with his back on the ground, mud seeping through his clothes, soaked to the bone, his uniform sticking to his skin.
He was also cold. Very very cold.
He sat up slowly, not sure of his surroundings. The pain he'd experienced only a moment ago seemed far away, but his body still felt weak. Carefully, he opened his eyes, clearing the water from his face and bangs. It didn't help much, but it was enough for him to see his surroundings much more clearly.
He was in a meadow.
The sky was gray, the grass brown and the air felt heavy. Flynn couldn't believe what he was seeing... no where on Terca Lumireis was there a place such as this, so it begged the question, where the hell was he.
Slowly, the captain stood up, gazing further into the horizon. Grass greeted his vision for miles. In the far distance, he could see what looked like the outline of treetops.
It was miles and miles of dead meadow and rain. Lots and lots of rain. Nothing like the capital he'd been in previously with its clean air and globs of people. If anything, the place he stood in now was the exact opposite. The air wasn't clean, there was no one around gawking at the castle in all of its glory; there was just a damp, dismal, practically dead meadow.
Flynn spun around, looking for his subordinate, but not seeing her, "Anybody?"
He looked around desperately, hoping against hope that someone who appear out of nowhere and tell him what was going on.
He took a couple of steps forwards; unsure of his course of action. Was it the right thing to do?
Truthfully, he didn't feel like leaving the area, he just wanted to get back to the capital, see his friends and comrades again. He wouldn't even mind weeks of paperwork or hours of meetings day after day just for a bit of information on where he was or a familiar face.
Another couple of steps...
The captain knew that really, if you get lost, you're suppose to wait in the area you are in until someone finds you, that way you aren't moving around while another person is searching high and low for you, so he really needed to stay here and wait for Sodia or someone else to find him, but that only counted if Sodia and the others knew where he was.
Hell, he didn't even know where he was.
He decided then, that he'd have to move forwards. As soon as he found a town, he could stay at the inn and send a message to the capital. He had enough money on his persons that staying for days at an inn, even the most expensive, wouldn't put a dent in his budget. At least it was better than standing in the rain, and it was a plan of action, so he headed off.
The rain made it hard to see, and he found that walking was a challenge in and of itself.
His boots didn't do well in the nasty muddy ground. He slipped and fell several times, finding that it was hard to keep his balance.
On one instance, he fell hard, his hands barely catching his fall before his face smacked into the mud. A sharp, quick pain floated across his body and for one second, Flynn wanted to lay down and give up for awhile. He let the rain pelt against his skin, the cold numb washing over like a blanket.
"This is hopeless," Flynn stated, not really feeling despair as much as resign. It hadn't been that much of a walk yet, but his legs were tired and his arms sore from constantly catching his fall.
Shifting a bit, the blonde gazed at his hands, remembering the burning sensation that had come from touching the odd object in the basement. Long since gone, the only indication that something had happened at all was a patch of flesh that had bubbled up. It followed where he'd hold a sword and hurt with a simple poke.
Which made falling all that much harder.
He sighed deeply, contemplating giving up his mud dance, when he shifted his head a bit and spied what looked to be a city on the horizon.
He couldn't make out a sign, or any form of town recognition, but the blonde felt his spirit lighten when his eyes traced the skyline of the town.
He didn't know what the city could hold, but it probably had an inn.
With renewed energy, the captain pulled himself off the ground and wandered through the mud towards his destination, but what he found wasn't anything as promising as he'd hoped for.
Barbed wire stretched around the perimeter of the town, which consisted of small wooden houses. The large metal front gate was open, leading down a mud path towards what seemed to be the center of town. No one was outside, but Flynn could see several long ditches dug into the mud. Shovels were scattered nearby, and a small well stood prominently near the ditches...
"The hell?" he whispered, keeping his voice down. A small part of him screamed danger, but another part of him was curious. Sure, fear trumped them all, but what was this place? For some reason, it felt familiar to his feet as he stepped around the barbed wire and through the wide open doors.
Flynn wandered in cautiously, taking small steps, and keeping a constant lookout. Nothing seemed suspicious or out of place, but he couldn't shake the feeling of familiarity that came with each footstep; nor could he shake the small bouts of dread that leaked into his stomach with each squish of his feet against mud-
The blonde froze as he felt a sword come to the back of his neck. His hand instinctively went to his own hilt, only to be cruelly reminded that he didn't have his weapon.
Vaguely he wondered about the sword he'd used to touch the stone with, but a poke from the receiving end of the other man's blade tossed that thought aside.
More blades made their way to Flynn's throat; several were centimeters away from making a fatal cut. Many of the guards, helmets blocking their faces from view, snorted through their faceplates.
With a loud gulp, the captain slowly raised his hands into the air.
There were some soft murmurs as his hands were grabbed and roughly pulled behind him. Shackles were placed on his wrists, and he was shoved onto his knees. He grunted in pain, but said nothing. Through several months of practice and hardship in knight training, Flynn had learned when to stay silent, obviously this was one of those times.
"What should we do with him?" a knight asked, apparently not the one in charge.
Another knight replied, "Go get Sir Cumore, he'll know what to do."
"Cumore?" Flynn thought, "Is Cumore involved with this event?" It certainly raised questions in the captain's mind. Cumore wasn't known for his fair play and honesty. It wouldn't surprise the blonde one bit to hear the elder captain was involved in something as confusing at this, but Flynn remained silent as before.
It took several minutes for the rival captain to arrive. In that time, the mud had soaked through to Flynn's tan skin and the rain had matted his bangs to his face. He'd slumped over, losing his perfect "captain" posture simply because he was tired, but when Cumore arrived, the blonde straightened up, allowing some dignity back into his otherwise poor state.
"Who do we have here?" Cumore asked, his feminine face twisting in malice.
Flynn watched as the rival captain crossed his nimble arms over his torso, and with a casual flip, he tossed his hair out of his face.
"We found him infiltrating the camp. What do you want us to do with him?"
Cumore seemed to think about it, his face breaking into a pondering expression, and his lips pursed as he gazed down at the blonde as if he was a worm. The overall feeling Cumore gave off was one of disgust, as if he'd been interrupted while he was in the middle of something important and wanted to get back to it.
"I should ask Scarlet. He usually likes to make these kinds of decisions. Give me a second."
Cumore turned on his heel, and the only visible in the ever-increasing pit-pat rain was his pink coat flaps billowing behind him.
As the rival captain left, Flynn relaxed. Everything around him was drawing down on his mind, and he didn't need to have Cumore mixed in with it. He breathed out deeply, allowing his eyes to slip shut for a moment of peace.
Chilled air rushed him, and the rain made him shiver violently, but other than that, the captain could happily say he was in a fine physical state. Mentally, though, he couldn't relax. How he wished the water could brush against his mind for a moment, just to allow the same calming pause that was going through his body. Of course though, the blonde thought to logically for that. His mind scanned recent memories, trying to add things that were simply not worth the effort to add.
His brain processed the dead meadow, the frightening camp he now kneeled in, the odd presence of Cumore, and now something new. Scarlet?
If he was still near his hometown, Flynn found it hard to believe that he'd never heard of a man named Scarlet. The name itself was strange, and the blonde, who usually remembered everything, found it a bit disconcerting that he was drawing a blank.
So, was Scarlet an enemy, or a friend?
Another couple of minutes passed as Flynn pondered the new questions. Rock, meadow, camp, Cumore, Scarlet… it didn't make a whole lot of sense, and no matter what order the events were put in, the results were the same.
Something was amiss, and Flynn had stepped right into it.
Cumore was surly playing with the blonde. He wanted Flynn to be confused. This was all probably connected to some sort of promotional thing. Cumore had been one of the captains most vocal about Flynn's status and rank. The noble captain had found it highly degrading to be working along side a man who'd actually had to work to live all his life.
That had been what made the blonde dislike the blue haired man in the first place. He couldn't stand people who believed them better than everyone else.
So what was Cumore planning? Some sort of situation to have the new captain demoted, some sort of scheme that made it so Flynn had to quit the knights?
When the rival captain came back, he carried a new look on his face. This one though, Flynn couldn't place...
"Scarlet decided that we should put this one to work... he could be part of the rebellion. Scarlet said, and I quote, we should work him to death and see what the precious rebellion thinks then." The sneer on the rival captain's face made the blonde's blood boil.
Some of the guards laughed, giving off handed comments about one thing or another, while others gave a snort. Everyone except Flynn Scifo found it funny.
A laugh escaped the rival captain, and then he raised his head, gaze looking down his nose, "what's your name?"
Flynn rolled his eyes in anger. The captain was raised up to meet eye level with Cumore, who looked curiously into the blonde's face, "You look familiar..."
"I'm Flynn Scifo."
Cumore erupted into a fit of laughter, some of the other guards mingled in as well.
Flynn held in a scowl. What was so funny to the rival captain?
"Flynn Scifo? You lie... what's your real name peasant?" Cumore growled, all traces of humor gone in his face.
Flynn couldn't help but think the rival captain was laying it on a little thick, "you know hell well that I'm not lying Captain Cumore. I'm Flynn Scifo, Captain of the Imperial Knights, Flynn Brigade."
Immediately after saying that, he received a swift punch in the stomach. The captain couldn't help but gasp in pain. He winced a little and looked back up at Cumore, "I could have you expelled from the Imperial Knights for assault of a Captain!"
Cumore laughed again, the humor back. Whatever he'd found so funny, he'd found again, "Imperial Knights? They don't exist anymore, and neither does Flynn. He died six years ago."