Because Lorelei doesn't get to be much more than a passive victim in the game.

This is the fairly short final chapter of Hunting by Moonlight. Like Nebulae, I'm ending it at a point where the characters essentially have it worked out. I put my thoughts on that ending idea in the final chapter of that fic, actually. The thing is, the cleanup is the important thing. Which the game fails to realize or doesn't want to address, the way Luke's trauma is handled for example. They even leave him in the manor! Still, after this the reader can probably figure out what will happen in the future on their own.

I have a few other Tales of the Abyss fics close to completion: I'd like to have the project labeled 'healing' ready to begin posting at this time next week, or perhaps 'falling' since 'miasma' requires not just a serious ending with boss battles but going through and standardizing Luke's character and the changes to it in there. I also need to decide if I'm ever going to post the fic I have with Lorelei and Yulia. It fits with what we see in the games, in fact the amount it doesn't just go with expectations would help make the point of how much history has been lost since those days and how wrong the world's perception of Yulia and the Score is, but there's all this extra revealed background Dawn Age material that completely Josses it. Normally, I love to incorperate background info like that, but dealing with the headdesk that is the Ar Tonelico settei books has kind of burned me out on that. The purpose of having a universe bible is to avoid making stupid blunders like having three sets of the same numbers, one of which is completely possible due to a little thing called the gestation period, and technobabble should support the game's physics, not render every single ending impossible since Misha should have collapsed into a pile of goo and died the instant Shurelia sang Suspend and Aurica... Good god, the worldbuilding fail! It's worse than chatspeak!

On the one hand, normally working with canon when that's possible is important to me and on the other I really don't want to toss out around fifteen thousand words after I figured out how to portray everyone and such. So we'll see.

Disclaimer: I don't own Tales of the Abyss, Namco-Bandai and other rightful owners do. No infringment intended or money made, please don't sue.

Whether he headed for Baticul or Daath first, the first step was to take the Katsburg ferry to Chesedonia, so Van headed south again until he had to stop for the night.

Four god-generals dead so quickly and Asch vanished along with the replica Luke? He'd thought the child was harmless! Idiotically loyal, groomed for foolishness, unwilling to listen to the Necromancer or anyone who spoke against his beloved Master Van. Yet the sight of Asch on the Tartarus appeared to have turned Luke's own loyalty against his master. Was he fighting more to prove himself to Van or for vengeance on Van for the betrayal? Either way, Luke would have to die for Asch to live.

What to do next? Largo, Legretta, Arietta, Sync… Dist was only loyal to the dead and Asch still didn't know the truth about the replica world. True, Van still had many other faithful supporters among the Oracle Knights, but the loss of his strongest and most loyal subordinates would make everything far more difficult, not to mention how was he going to make Akzeriuth happen and lull the world and Order into not only a false sense of security but a war that would keep it too busy to oppose Eldrant's rise without his most valuable pieces?

"Vand…. Um, excuse me, Commandant Van Grants?" Van cursed himself for not noticing the approach of the person who spoke so hesitantly. How had they managed that?

"Yes? What is it?" He covered his slip by continuing to stare out into the forest, certainly not surprised at all, much less threatened.

Silence, for a few moments, as he picked out the sounds of thick robes. "I… " The speaker's voice seemed familiar somehow, but he couldn't put his finger on it. Painfully young: more so than even the replica Luke. "It's nothing," they said finally, and the voice did sound a bit like Luke's. Not as childish as Luke's, not as angry as Asch's, sadness was this one's defining trait.

Younger than the voice he heard in the Score: far more human and alive. And yet… Van turned around, hand on the hilt of his sword, to see a bowed head covered in red-gold hair: more golden than Luke's in fact. Evenly split between that red-orange and gold, or perhaps not even that, ever-shifting hues that almost hypnotized as the light changed or strands of hair shifted as his head bowed further.

"Who are you?" Van asked, knowing that he already knew. "What are you doing outside the core?"

"Aska and Luna restored me to life." Lorelei slowly, no, hesitantly, raised its head to meet Van's eyes, its own full of an emotion Van could not, or would not, name. "All that you have done is my fault, but… No, to say that is to insult you." Lorelei lowered its eyes again, shook its head. "Those in the presence of either of my other selves possess free will, yes, but… The reasons you made the choices you did were my fault. Not even Yulia's, because it was my weakness that made the Score necessary. But Aska sees you as an enemy, as a threat to all that lives, and Luna sees you as a cause of fear, as a threat to this world's future. They know my feelings, but… If you go to Daath where Aska hunts or Baticul where Luna walks you will die, oh one who would seize glory. I will soon be free of the Score, but it is not just my pact with Yulia that makes me wish to protect her children."

Lorelei's hands twisted together. "I would have done anything to have spared you." Spared him Hod? "I am too weak because of the Score to oppose either of them, and they won't listen to me since my own free will was taken from me by the Score along with my life, but I will still do my best to protect you, even if I can't do anything but warn you." They both knew that Lorelei's warnings had come true for two thousand years.

"Your other selves." Van had no reason to think that Lorelei would lie. After all, the Score had been the honest truth for two thousand years, and even though Lorelei was compelled to come to his aid if he sang the grand fonic hymn he hadn't sung it. Luna was known to be the name of a sentience, but "Aska?" That name… "Asch. Asch and Luke."

"Their true names are Aska and Luna. My other selves. Aska died fighting the miasma and Luna was sealed away by the Score as the greatest threat to it. I have missed them." Around the edges of the murmuring rock's voice resounded a desperate loneliness, so newly sated that it was still raw. "I do not want anyone else to die because of me, Vandesdelca. The Score is almost over, the hope that was born in ND 2000 almost fulfilled. I hoped against hope, since it was my fault Luna was sealed, that the small deviations of the few replicas made and Luke's birth could prevent Hod. I should have known better, really, but I hoped that…"

Lorelei, Lorelei speaking of preventing Hod? He should have tried to get more information, but he couldn't take it anymore. His sword swung out, and down.

He'd sliced Lorelei through, hit it to the ground: there should have at least been a grunt of pain even if he had no magic lens to tell him how much he would have to hurt Lorelei before it died, as if killing this manifestation would destroy it. Instead Lorelei just lay there, so very sad and broken. "I am sorry I could not scream for you." It wanted to apologize for that? "I feel everyone's pain, you see, and there are many who hurt more than I do right now. If I were to scream because I felt as much pain as being run through I would never stop screaming. Although there was a time when I screamed, and screamed… but no one who heard cared." They read and followed the Score anyway. "So I stopped. I am sorry." He raised his hand, reaching out to Van. "And I am sorry for this as well."

Lorelei had been called Mother Auldrant in ancient times, before the discovery of the seventh fonon, with good reason. Aska might guard the dead and dying, Luna might ensure birth, but it was Lorelei who protected and healed, who watched over all of the living.

The people of Auldrant: every one of them was precious to him.

"My poor child," he murmured, picking up the dusty-haired babe."My poor, brave child." Lorelei knew all of Vandesdelca's terrible memories, the events that had distorted him into this. The spirit that let him endure it and cling to the hope of a better world.

None of them could truly hate him, not when it was their fault, after all.

Not when Lorelei had planned Van's childhood and Hod's fall out in advance, scripted it out as Yulia bade him, so there would be someone to fight for Eldrant, for the survival of something.

"Oh one who would seize glory, you reached it. Because of you, Luna and Aska are reborn and I am freed. Oh little glorious one. Our little Elca." Hard and cruel as he'd needed to be.

The legacy of their love, his and Yulia's, and they'd destined him for the cruelest fate and hardest task.

"I'll take care of you," he promised the child, even though he was too young to understand a word Lorelei was saying. "You'll have the life you should have had." That wasn't a prediction, not anymore. That was a promise.

He tucked the child next to his heart, held him lovingly and carefully as his parents never had, and began to sing for him, a song that was no longer a chain but only a lullabye, now and forever.