Author's Note: Another long one so soon? Well, yes, actually. This was something that I had actually started months ago. With the coming release of Dark Dawn and how we're getting plenty of information of what to expect – such as the family tree of our old and new heroes -, I was inspired to pull out my old GBA and copy of the first Golden Sun. And, with it, I decided that even though it's now been ten years since the release of Golden Sun, I decided to have a nice nostalgic trip which I desired to write with paper and pencil.
I already had most of this oneshot written down and all I needed was a couple hours to finish it up. With my completion of Defining Moment, I pulled out my old notebook where I had these written pages and decided to complete it. So for those of you who remember Golden Sun and have played it those many years ago (or perhaps played it upon hearing about Dark Dawn), I hope you all enjoy some of the nostalgia that drove me to write this!
The rain continued to spray down upon him, drenching his clothes, plastering them to his small, fourteen-year-old body. And then there was the wind; a seemingly never ending typhoon that blasted him at all sides. Each powerful gust threatened to topple him, forcing him to stumble in one direction and then the other, his tunic whipping all around him as he did so. But he didn't fall and instead kept moving to…he didn't know.
He should be heading to the plaza. Or at least that's what they had kept saying. Faces. Voices. He had seen them, had heard them only a few minutes ago. But the faces were now shadowed, the words hollow as they came back to him while he walked. Not to the plaza, just wherever his feet took him in this storm.
"…Just go to the south to get to the plaza."
"Hurry boys! Run! Just a little farther!"
"Be careful on your way to the plaza!"
"You head for the plaza, all right?"
The plaza had supposed to have been a safe haven. From the storm. From the destruction. From the boulder.
The boulder. The boulder that they had been running from, the one that the village elders and so many others tried to hold back with every last reserve of psynergy. All so that everyone could get to safety-
And it was falling, rolling. Hundreds of thousands of tons of pure, solid stone that plowed through the village and destroyed everything in its path. Homes that were reduced to flattened splinters, people that disappeared beneath its weight. People like the three adults that had been standing on the pier, frightened and offering comfort and encouragement to not only reach each other but also the teen that desperately clung to a piece of debris in the midst of the roaring waters of the river. And then they had turned just in time to witness the approaching shadow of the boulder before it took them all.
Dad, why did you have to leave me?
"Only the two of us survived."
Somehow those words managed to pierce through the numbness that possessed his body. Coming to a halt, he turned to where he had heard the voice and then cursed as he finally took notice of the blond locks that were, like his clothes, plastered to his face and over his eyes. Immediately he raised a hand to wipe at the hair, rain, and tears to clear his vision while another voice, this one more feminine then the first, was heard.
"How could we have anticipated Sol Sanctum would unleash such fury?"
"It's a miracle that even the two of us were spared."
He was freezing. Having just been immune to it, the cold rain and wind now cut him to the bone, sending him in uncontrollable shivers. Nonetheless, he tried to will his body to stop while he pulled his tunic around him, straining to hear more. Upon hearing – and recognizing – the name Sol Sanctum his eyes had grown wide.
He knew the name and, more importantly, the place if having only heard about it from the warnings of the elders; a sacred sanctum that the people were practically banned from exploring. For if the sanctum's purity – the purity that kept their village pristine – was ever tainted, it was said that terrible retribution would be wrought.
"That switch…" continued the second voice that had to belong to a woman. "It must have been a trap."
"But to think it could conjure up a storm this powerful!"
He could see them now despite the continued rainfall. One of them was dressed in blue, the same color as his hair. The other, the woman, had long, blond hair and was dressed in red, gold, and white. They had yet to notice him.
"Another demonstration of the awesome powers of Alchemy," spoke the woman again.
"Regardless, we must not fail the next time we challenge Sol Sanctum."
They had entered the Sol Sanctum! An act forbidden by the elders due to the warning of terrible retribution that would befall Vale.
The realization came a moment later. He felt his throat suddenly tighten, forcing his breathing to become slow, labored. The grief that he had felt gathered back within him, clumping together like the dark, thunderous clouds above him. And mixed within was something else; an emotion that he had felt before but not at such depths.
Rage. Pure, suffocating rage and hatred.
Retribution. The storm. The boulder. His father.
They had caused it!
The sudden, loud voice startled Isaac, forcing the teen to whirl around. If he hadn't been able to recognize the voice, he certainly would've recognized the spiky red hair and broad shoulders of his best friend.
"Garet!" Isaac called and remembered, too late, what he had just been doing.
The man and woman had also heard and, upon turning around, Isaac saw that they were now much, much closer. Close enough that Isaac could see the pale flesh that both possessed. Pale blue for the man, just like his clothes and armor, while the woman's skin was white. But they both had…scales. Isaac stared at the scales and spikes that he knew that only reptiles should possess. Lizards, not people!
"You were eavesdropping on just now…weren't you?" the blue-skinned man questioned threateningly.
Isaac's previous rage at the two strangers was the only thing that allowed him to form up some measure of defiance. Forcing his eyes to form a glare, Isaac straightened his shoulders and attempted to make his punitive form that much larger.
A foolish act considering the two were taller than the teen. And, this close, he was able to take note that they carried weapons. The man had a sword much larger than Isaac's while the woman carried a wicked-looking scythe.
"Yes," Isaac nonetheless spoke in defiance.
"Isaac…" the voice was Garet's this time. Now standing next to Isaac, Garet also looked to the mystery man and woman. Considering the fear on his face and voice, he must've noticed the same things that Isaac did. "Isaac, they look scary. Are you sure you should be talking to them?"
No, Isaac thought as he took a step back, the fear now fully taking hold as he realized that he should not be talking to them.
However, a silent conversation had already seemed to have passed between the man and woman and it was the latter that turned towards them. "You must forget everything you heard," she spoke with a smile as wicked as her scythe.
The man drew his sword and took a step forward and it was only then that Isaac noticed the red eyes that dotted the pair's faces. The red eyes that evaporated whatever ounce of defiance Isaac had left.
"Don't worry," the man joined in. "We'll help you forget."
"How are you feeling?"
There was no response to Mia's questioning; not with words anyway. Instead, two weak coughs were her only clues as to the health of the elderly man that lay in bed. Frowning at that, Mia turned to face the old woman that was standing at her side, looking quite worried.
"He's been coughing for quite a woman," the woman informed her, wringing her hands as a sign of deep concern.
Mia nodded her head and turned back to the man on the bed. "You'll feel better soon."
She had been seeing patients such as this elderly couple many times since the start of Imil's merciless winter. Imil, with the village located at the top region of Angara, was always cold. But when winter came it was unbelievably so, with epidemics having a nasty habit of infecting many of the townspeople. This wasn't new to Mia who had already experienced several winters in the homes of people that all know the blue-haired healer due to her extensive visits.
The problem with this winter, however, was that she was shorthanded.
Where are you Alex? Mia questioned and not for the first time. Sometime ago he had disappeared with no warning and no message to inform her of where he was. His absence having occurred just before the epidemic was an extreme inconvenience. She still had her apprentices Justin and Megan but Mia still found herself working even harder to save lives.
With a wave of her staff, Mia used Ply. A power that had been passed down through generations of the Mercury Clan, Mia and Alex had been the latest inheritors and had used it to heal the townsfolk when it was needed. Before her eyes – it was unseen to the elderly couple – what looked like a fairy suddenly appeared over the man before sprinkling what seemed like dust over him.
The effect was instantaneous as the man coughed, this time longer and more violently; a possible sign of returning strength.
"How do you feel now?" Mia asked after the fairy disappeared.
There was a moment of silence as the man breathed but Mia could see a return of color to the man's face and a fresh spark of life in his eyes. As if to prove her correct, the man murmured, "Much better", before raising himself in a sitting position.
"No, Grandpa!" Mia quickly warned, putting a hand on his shoulder. "You mustn't push yourself too hard."
Obediently, the old man lay back down. Next to Mia, the old woman turned to give her a relieved smile.
"Thank you Mia, I can't imagine how this village would ever manage without you."
With a smile of her own, Mia turned and shook her head gently. Though she wasn't really related to them, the elderly couple were two of many others that considered her as family.
"Don't mention it." A cough from the old man caused her to add, "You should rest in bed, too, ma'am."
After receiving an affirmative nod in reply, Mia started moving to the door of the couple's house, thoughts of work immediately occupying her mind. She should have time now to stop by at the Imil Sanctum to see if her apprentices had any news for her. Then she would have to pay a visit to the Heathersons to make sure they hadn't relapsed. Mrs. Marris's son Armand was showing possible symptoms yesterday so she may have to check him as well barring any desperate calls for her services having been sounded to Justin and Megan-
"Who are you?" Mia suddenly questioned, stopping upon only now noticing the trio that had entered the house without her knowing.
Knowing nearly every name and face in Imil, not being able to recognize the three before her was puzzling and yet intriguing; not many people came to Imil after all, especially during the winter times. Standing shoulder-two-shoulder were two young gentlemen. One was clearly older than the other - was probably around Mia's age in fact – with spiky red hair and auburn eyes. The shorter young man was blond and had unusual purple eyes.
But it was the individual that stood in front of the two – The leader? Mia mused – that the healer focused her gaze and question on. Like the first man, he had to be around her age. With his blond hair he looked slightly identical to the younger one but his eyes were blue.
"Can I help you?"
And then the Mercury Lighthouse glowed.
She had only seen it for a second, having noticed a sudden light that beamed through the windows of the course. But in that second a feeling of dread and fear caused Mia to quickly rush to the nearest window, forgetting about the three unknown individuals.
"Was that the lighthouse?" she questioned aloud though to no one in particular. She shook her head in disbelief. "It can't be…only I…"
The realization came a moment later and hit her like a brick. It was the Mercury Clan that had been given the duty and it was only members of the Mercury Clan that could enter the Mercury Lighthouse.
"Oh no…" she breathed. "Alex!"
Without another word, Mia took off, running past the three young men and all but flying out the door.
The stage is called the Scales of Justice.
Gently moving through the gathered crowd, Mia made her way up front. Remembering that she had limited time before the round started, Mia forced herself not to rush nonetheless. She already knew what to do and she had plenty of time to do what she had been assigned for.
Upon being given a tour of the stages, Mia and the group had been briefed as to how, exactly, the stage was to be completed. As the name implies, it was all about the two scales that dominated the stage. To get past the stage, the selected participants had to push a log over to the already raised scale that would, in turn, raise the lowered scale that was needed to jump over the gap if the participants wished to continue on. There were other stages within this final round but she, Garet, and Ivan knew how to make the challenges they poised easier.
For Mia, it was a puddle of water that was located beneath the second lowered platform. Whether it was rainwater – though Mia was sure that not a drop fell during the past few days – or perhaps a leak that hadn't been properly cleaned up, it was an opening that the Mercury Adept could exploit. Politely moving past the final spectator in her way, Mia pointed a hand towards the puddle when she was close enough.
Just like how the townspeople in Imil couldn't see the manifestation of her Ply, the spectators that were clumped all around her couldn't see the workings of this psynergy spell. Blue, frozen wisps of psynergy appeared around the puddle and, in an instant, condensed around and into the puddle.
Even though she had used this power before, it still astounded Mia to see the results of the spell. While Ply could heal her patients and traveling companions from the most grievous of injuries, it wasn't anywhere near as visually stunning as a spell like Frost. In only a short amount of time the small water puddle that was the focus of her spell froze…and then rose! Pushing the lowered scale up was a pillar of pure ice that grew tall enough to bring the scale at an acceptable height to allow Isaac to cross.
Not for the first time did Mia ponder about the morals of this "help" that she and the others had planned for the benefit of their leader. This was cheating; rigging the stages to offer Isaac an easier time to race to the arena and acquire the better gear before his opponents. However, like she had done with Isaac's rounds against the other gladiators known as Azart and Satrage, she reasoned that it all came to the fact that they were a team.
In her short time with the group since leaving Imil, Mia had faced a wide variety of creatures and other monsters that she and the others bested. From bears to giant lizard men, she had seen a large amount of creatures that all had the same thing in common: vicious and armed with either their natural born gifts of teeth, claw, and poison or the blades of artificial weapons. In fact, during the boat ride to Tolbi, they had to deal with boarding Cuttles; aquatic creatures with poisonous tendrils that sought to attack the passengers and the boat crew that Mia and the others had to defend.
And then there had been the kraken that sought to finish off what its smaller brethren had started by sinking the entire ship.
But they had defeated it as a team. They had defeated everything and everyone they faced whether it was a kraken or forest spirit that sought to turn the local populace into trees. They had never fought alone and the same thing applied here at Colosso. Mia would help her friend just as he had helped her.
For the third time since Mia had entered the Mercury Lighthouse, she was stuck. Now flustered beyond belief, the healer could only pace, impatience, helplessness, and despair offering power to her stomping feet. The action was only halted when she halted for a few brief moments to stare at her latest obstacle.
It seemed as if someone was actively trying to prevent her from ascending the lighthouse considering all that has impeded her progress so far. First, there had been the entrance that had been hidden and completely blocked off by a towering statue. Second, upon entering the lighthouse, a giant lizard man armed with a similarly-sized axe had blocked her path. No matter how many times she tried to go around it, it would simply walk in front of her with a menacing hiss from its reptilian face and a threatening wave of its axe to impede her progress.
And now there was this. A statue identical to the one that had first prevented her from entering the lighthouse stood solidly in her path. Not exactly a problem as, worse comes to worst, the blue-haired woman could've tried to carefully move around the statue in order to get by. The problem was the large gap in the floor. Normally it would be something that Mia could jump over easily but with the statue situated at the edge of the gap, any such hurdle would be foolish and, worse, painful as she would only succeed in falling through the gap and down to another level of the lighthouse.
"Need another hand?"
Eyes widening, Mia turned to face the group that seemed to be following her. The same group that she had met at the house, the same group that had moved the statue out of the way of the lighthouse entrance, and yet again the same group that had battled and defeated the giant lizard that had blocked her path earlier.
"The path is blocked again," Mia spoke to the trio, the frustration she was feeling ebbing into her voice. "What am I going to do?"
"Let me see what I can do," spoke the taller blond, the one Mia had assumed to be the leader of the group. An assumption that she thought was correct upon watching him issue orders to the other two during their battle with the lizard monster.
Nodding her head, Mia stepped aside so that the young man can move onto the ledge where the obstacles blocked the path. And just like at the entrance to the lighthouse the man pointed his hands at the statue and casted a spell.
Again there was that ghostly image that Mia had seen when he moved the first statue. Having not gotten a good look before, Mia now sought for a closer look, leaving her head practically right over the man's shoulder while her eyes squinted. There was no mistaking it; it was a hand. A giant, white hand that reached out and over the ledge to grip the statue across the way. And before Mia's eyes she watched as the hand pulled the statue forward, towards the gap, before it fell through, creating a small, makeshift bridge that will allow them to cross.
"You saved me again haven't you!" Mia explained, her despair now replaced with sheer relief and gratitude.
Having apparently been concentrating hard during his spell and not having noticed her close proximity, the young man jumped slightly upon her exclamation, causing Mia to blush and produce a sheepish smile of apology.
"It wasn't a problem," he assured, a smile of his own on his face.
This was the third time that he and his friends had helped her. The first two times she had given them quick thanks before running through the newly-opened path but it was now that she stopped herself from continuing in the same manner. And it was now that the question of why they were here came to her mind.
"Do you have business here too?"
The young man nodded his head in affirmative, his smile disappearing as his face grew serious.
"I thought so…" Pausing, Mia looked behind him to see the path that had just been cleared. A thought came to her mind that she voiced. "I am sure there will be more places ahead that I cannot pass alone."
"These statues do seem unusually threatening here," spoke a voice behind her. Looking back, Mia saw that it was the spiky, red-haired individual that grinned good-naturedly. Next to him, the short blond of the group shook his head, purple eyes rolling at the joke. Mia couldn't help but smile.
"Only those of the Mercury Clan are permitted to enter this place," Mia continued, turning back to the leader of the group. "However, I sense something special about you. I feel that I can trust you."
"What about me?" the red-haired man questioned behind her.
"Garet…" came the short blond, no doubt rolling his eyes in exasperation again.
In front of her, the young man didn't know how to take her compliment. Raising a hand to rub at the back of his neck, he grinned sheepishly before speaking, "We're just here to stop a group from lighting this lighthouse."
"Then we share the same goal," Mia replied. "As a member of the Mercury Clan I have sworn to guard the Mercury Lighthouse from such a thing." She gave him a short bow. "I'm sorry that I have not introduced myself before. My name is Mia."
"Isaac." He held out a hand to her. "We'll be grateful for whatever help you can offer."
"Isaac," Mia repeated and, smiling she reached out her hand to grasp his own to shake. "I'll be sure to repay you for your help."
Upon hearing the signal for the start of the round, Isaac took off in a sprint.
The stone pillar was right where he had remembered seeing it during the tour of the stage. Instead of pushing it towards the scale as he had been directed, the Venus Adept blew past the pillar, making his way to the two scales, hoping that Mia had come through.
Yes! He thought upon seeing the raised scale which was supported by a pillar of ice. Thank you Mia!
This was nowhere near the first time that he had been grateful for Mia's joining of the group and all the help that she had given them. With her expertise as a healer, she had quickly become invaluable to the group with her abilities to heal their injuries. Isaac knew this firsthand, having experienced her healing touch a dozen times over by now. From their trials at the Mercury Lighthouse to the battle with the Cuttles and the kraken, Mia would always be at his side, ready to administer what aid she could for any injuries that he may sustain.
As he hopped over the gap, Isaac paused to look to the crowd down below. Due to her blue hair and robes, he was able to easily locate the Mercury Adept within the midst of the crowd. Waving his hand down towards her, Isaac was able to make out a smile on her face and a return wave before he was moving on to the next stage.
The Stepping-Stone Stage, Isaac listed off as he made his way towards it.
Before each round, he and the group were allowed to tour through the stages of each round. The excuse was mostly to get an idea of what Isaac was to expect, but in reality the group was looking for advantages that they could create with their psynergy for him. In essence, the whole plan was all about cheating but his friends had been adamant with him. Since he had been the only one allowed to participate in Colosso – a fact that caused Garet great disappointment -, they had decided to give him all the support that they could muster, especially if it involved psynergy.
Besides, his sponsor Baby had seemed quite interested about the use of their psynergy.
Isaac put all thought of the ruler of Tolbi to the back of his mind as he entered the Stepping-Stone Stage. He would need his concentration to jump from pillar-to-pillar in order to get through this stage, especially since there was no help for him here. Despite how he and his friends had noticed how a shift in placement of one of the stone pillars would offer him a shortcut through, Isaac later declined the request that Garet proposed. They had later found a stage where the Move spell would be more beneficial and Isaac assured his best friend that he could make it on his own.
A jolt of pain in his left leg nearly toppled Isaac off from the pillar he just landed on to prove him wrong. Fortunately, the Venus Adept saved himself though his next few jumps were made with more care.
That had been from Satrage, the fellow participant that Isaac had dueled in the last round. Despite Mia's offer of her healing aid, Isaac had settled with the designated rest period that the Colosso participants were given before their next rounds. Isaac was starting to regret that decision as he was going to need every bit of strength he had if he wanted to win, even with his friends' help.
And if there was one thing he learned about Colosso, it was that it was indeed the place to find some of Weyard's strongest and toughest fighters. Despite his friends having given him aid, he had still found himself hard-pressed to defeat his opponents. Both Azart and Satrage were skilled warriors and even though they had run through the gauntlet without help, it may as well not have affected them at all. Isaac prided himself in the skills that were continuously growing after each day of their adventure, but without his psynergy he had to admit that he wasn't sure if his skills with a sword would've been enough to win.
Jumping from the last pillar, Isaac landed on a solid floor, signaling an end to this stage and the start of the next: the Wall Wedge.
Here he had help. For this stage he would have to run across a ledge. Simple if it weren't for the wedges that constantly pushed out from the wall to knock off any crossing participants, forcing them to start over. Timing was the key to get passed but when Isaac reached the ledge, he didn't slow down at all; the wedges that should be pushing out against him seemed to be stuck within the wall.
The reason for that was the operator down below. Seated at the controls, the operator would usually be pushing and pulling the levers to move the wedges. However, the operator was not doing so. In fact, the man seemed to be frozen in place. That would be due to Ivan and the Halt Gem that they picked up in their travels.
Isaac tried to look for Ivan but found the effort to be much more difficult then with Mia. Other then not sporting a unique hair color, there was the simple fact that Ivan was short. Being fourteen-years-old would do that and Isaac could recall a few of the many jokes that Garet liked to make at Ivan's expense. Nonetheless, Isaac was equally grateful for the more level-headed Jupiter Adept that they had met at Vault soon after leaving Vale. Though not possessing Garet's physique, Ivan truly shined when it came to his intelligence and attention to detail that astounded Isaac at times. It was not just monsters they had, had to contend with but puzzles as well that had sought to bar their way.
Ivan had been invaluable in that regard. And his abilities to call down the wind element in the form of devastating attacks upon their enemies of course.
A pair of waving hands, struggling to be seen over the heads of a line of Tolbians, caught Isaac's attention. Upon seeing the blond head of the diminutive Adept, Isaac smiled while trying to stop himself from laughing.
The Free-Climb Stage; this was another one that Isaac knew he could handle himself. A giant wall dominated the stage with specifically placed hand and footholds being the only method for participants to scale the wall. Fortunately for Isaac, there was an alternate route in the form of a small plant that had somehow managed to sprout within Colosso. A Growth spell allowed Isaac to transform the plant into a ladder of strong, twisting vines that led straight to the top. Scaling the wall with that proved much easier.
The Moving Side Walk Stage was next; a giant conveyor belt that moved against the participants, forcing them to run against it and beat it with their own two feet. A log that had been placed to jam the gears had halted the belt and allowed Isaac to run right across. This was where Garet's Move was considered to be the best place to be used and when Isaac looked to the crowd, he spotted the brawny form of his childhood friend. Grinning, the Mars Adept held a thumbs-up which Isaac returned.
A log-rolling stage was all that was left between Isaac and the main arena. A moat of water was all that Isaac had to pass, the method of crossing being a log he had to roll into the water to act as a floating platform. But first he had to push to the side the stone pillars that were in the way. That offered the only true, physical test in this round and Isaac strained against the pillars, his muscles burning against the effort while the pain in his leg throbbed.
The larger Navampa, his opponent for this round, would find this easier. With that thought and the drive to make that that his friends' efforts weren't for naught, Isaac struggled to push the last pillar to the side before finally rolling the log into the water. Slightly winded, Isaac nonetheless jumped across and before he knew it there was the sand of the arena beneath his boots, signaling that he reached his destination.
There were two swords laid out in the sand, spaced evenly apart. The larger, stronger claymore was what he wanted. Scooping up the weapon, Isaac took this moment to have a quick breather before the arrival of his opponent.
He didn't have to wait long. From the other side of the arena came the large form of Navampa who was decked out in his violet-colored armor. Running to the arena, Isaac had a feeling that Navampa had thought that he made it first. How his opponent suddenly froze upon seeing Isaac made the Venus Adept believe so.
Now moving in a slow walk, Navampa stepped to the center of the arena to pick up the smaller sword that had been left behind for him. Brandishing the weapon, the gladiator seemed to study Isaac beneath his visor, no doubt wondering how a seventeen-year-old could've possibly beat him in the race.
But now we have to duel, Isaac thought as he raised his claymore in a ready position.
Apparently done with examining his opponent, Navampa made a slow nod of respect. And then he charged in, on the attack as he swung.
Their blades met with a clang.
"It's your fault!" Isaac shouted in the face of his opponent.
He had seen her, hand seen them. Standing on the elevator had been Jenna with Kraden at her side. And, watching over them was Felix. He had not seen any of them since the debacle of the Sol Sanctum when he and Garet had been retrieving the Elemental Stars…before three of the four were stolen from them along with Jenna and Kraden.
"Isaac…" Jenna spoke, barely loud enough for them to hear her. ""Garet…be careful."
And then she was gone, dropping down the elevator with her brother and their teacher. Away from them, just like when they had first been pushed through the portal of the Elemental Star Chamber by their captors.
One of which he was face-to-face with as well as blade-to-blade.
"Its' all your fault!" Isaac shouted again as he pushed his blade against that of his opponent.
He remembered! He remembered the rage and hatred that had sought to overwhelm him upon the discovery of the truth. The rage and hatred that now coursed through him as he battled with the one who caused it all.
"You took him away from me! But you will not take them!"
Behind his own blade, Saturos's red eyes glowered at Isaac.
"Foolish boy," he growled. "You are messing with powers that you can't possibly comprehend! This includes my own!"
With a sudden surge of strength, Saturos pushed back, surprising Isaac with the power behind it. Forced to disengage, the Venus Adept stumbled backwards while trying to keep his blade up in case the Mars Adept thought to press his advantage. Unfortunately, he was too late to see the truth as, upon recovering, Isaac saw Saturos thrust his hand forward.
A rain of fire fell upon the Venus Adept who could only raise his arms to cover his face in advance. Isaac cried out as the flames enveloped him, burning his clothes and flesh beneath, trying to pass through his arms and strike at his face as well. That, at least, he managed to protect as he found himself dropping to his knees. His clothes were burnt and smoking, his body feeling like it remained on fire. In an attempt for support, Isaac stabbed his blade into the roof of the Mercury Lighthouse to stop himself from dropping face-first.
A shadow loomed over him. The glow of the lit lighthouse's beacon at his back, Saturos raised his blade.
"I should have killed you t hose many years ago," Saturos spoke darkly before bringing his weapon down.
There was another clang as Garet's axe interposed itself between Isaac's head and Saturos's sword.
"Too bad you didn't finish me either," the red-haired Valean spoke. "Now you're going to be in a world of hurt, scaly!"
Larger and stronger then Isaac, Garet was more suited to going toe-to-toe with Saturos. While Saturos pushed down against Garet's axe, hoping to reach Isaac, Garet's weapon remained steadfast.
On any other day Isaac would've laughed at the sight before him. While Saturos focused on his prey, a diminutive Jupiter Adept collided into the side of the Proxian. While the size difference that Ivan had to face would've made his attack hardly effective, the power of the djinni Gust made up for it. Thus, Saturos found himself flung off to the side.
Turning his fall into a tumble, Saturos rolled along the roof of the lighthouse and jumped back to his feet in time to knock aside an overhead strike from Garet who pressed the attack. While willing to hold his ground and face Garet head-on, a glance upwards caused Saturos's eyes to widen for a brief moment before leaping back even further. A bolt of pure plasma, Ivan's follow-up attack, struck the floor tiles where he had just stood a moment ago. Garet continued to rush forward, casting Flare so that Saturos would have something else to worry about while he closed in to continue the battle with his axe.
While his friend continued the battle, Isaac tried to get back to his feet. Leaning heavily upon his sword, the Venus Adept used it as a makeshift crutch to better help him get back to his feet. With a pained groan, however, Isaac found his legs being unable to obey his demands.
Got to get up! Isaac thought fiercely as he tried to overcome his weakness. Got to keep fighting. I won't let this happen again!
"We'll help you forget…"
The fiery pain that roared along his body was suddenly soothed. As if he had just been doused with cool, spring water, Isaac felt his burns become soothed and then outright healed. Looking up, Isaac saw what looked like a small fairy hovering over him, sprinkling him with a shower of blue, healing Mercury psynergy.
Mia, Isaac realized, looking to where he had last seen the newest member of their group. What he saw caused him to blink in surprise.
With a blue aura having materialized around her, Mia would've appeared almost angelic if not for the fierce expression on her face. Her staff having been pointed at Isaac, the healer swung it in the direction of Saturos while her aura briefly flared and her robes flapped from the abundance of psynergy that she called upon. Instead of using the psynergy for healing like she had done with Isaac, however, Mia summoned a storm of sharpened icicles down upon Saturos.
She had never manifested such an amount of psynergy before. True, Isaac only had their ascension of the Mercury Lighthouse to see her in action but he had a feeling that this power was not natural. It seemed more like her powers had been…enhanced.
Didn't Saturos say something about his?
"The light of Mercury…it's weakening my psynergy!"
Maybe Isaac had been lucky to have only gotten charred flesh and clothing from his opponent's fiery attack after all.
Feeling the strength return to his limbs now that his wounds were healed and his body refreshed, Isaac was able to stand back on his feet, sword clenched in his hands. Only one thing mattered right now and that was ending Saturos. The fire of his anger was rekindled and his gloved hands tightened their grip on the hilt of his weapon, wanting to drive the blade right into his foe's heart-
"Be careful Isaac."
The soft voice caused the Venus Adept to look back at Mia, his eyes meeting hers. Her expression was no longer fierce but, for the moment, compassionate with a hint of worry. For him?
With having a brush with death a moment ago, Isaac paused as he mulled over the advice while glancing at the battle. Ivan was being distracted by a fireball, forcing him to duck for cover, leaving Saturos free to beat down at Garet's defenses with his blade. Only Mia's intervention with Ice forced the foe to break off.
Be careful. For some reason Isaac was sure that she just didn't mean about being careful of Saturos as she did about himself. Remembering Saturos's blade almost about to come down on him, Isaac thought about his reckless charge and assault that had put him in that position. Memories of Vale, Jenna's desperate face, all the fault of Saturos, had driven Isaac to such an assault that nearly doomed him.
Right. With a nod of his head, Isaac finally stood.
He rejoined just in time. After cutting Garet's leg that crippled the Valean, Saturos turned his sights on Mia and sprinted towards her. Ivan fired off another bolt of Plasma but the Mars Adept dived, rolled, and came up with a slash to fell the healer. Isaac managed to get him and his sword in at the last second, Saturos's blade clashing into his own as he blocked the attack that was meant for Mia.
Saturos's brows lifted at the determined face of the revitalized Venus Adept before he had to quickly spin around and deflect a strike from Garet whose recently-injured leg still had a trace of Mercury psynergy that finish repairing his wound.
Isaac made sure to work with his friends this time and they, him. With Garet, the two of them struck at Saturos front and back, side-to-side, striking at every angle they could with sword and axe to keep him on the defensive. Even with a two-man team, however, Saturos was not only able to defend against the two but strike back. Upon blocking an overhead strike from Isaac, Saturos dropped to his knees and spun around, Garet's axe flying over his head from the maneuver while he nearly took out the other's legs.
While he thought Saturos to be pinned down by a sudden, violent rain of blows form Garet, Isaac had stepped forward to stab their opponent in the back only to have Saturos kick Garet back and, upon reversing the grip of his sword and stabbing backwards, nearly impaling Isaac. Fortunately, the Venus Adept had stepped aside at the last second to avoid such a fate but winced when Saturos still managed to cut into his side.
Both Valeans had trained hard during the three years after the Mt. Aleph boulder, developing their swordsmanship and psynergy. They were much stronger than they were back then and had gotten even stronger during their journey from Vale to Imil and the Mercury Lighthouse. But it was clear, as Isaac pulled back with a hand at his bleeding side, that Saturos was still at a level beyond them even when fighting together.
It was fortunate that they had also met new friends during their journey. A blast of wind blew past Isaac as, behind him, Ivan casted Tornado that sent a whirling vortex of air at Saturos that forced him to dodge. Again, Isaac felt the healing psynergy of Mia's Ply at his wound and, gathering his own psynergy, Isaac casted Gaia. The floor tiles, the very roof of the Mercury Lighthouse split open before Saturos and a blast of Venus psynergy erupted from the crevice. The Mars Adept was blasted backwards, coming down hard upon landing and sliding painfully along the roof of the lighthouse. Despite the pain that he must've been in as he slowed to a stop, Saturos was still able to raise his sword in time to block a blow from Garet who sought to strike him down in that compromising position.
Saturos was no match for all four of them. Despite a stab to Garet's left arm that forced him to hold his axe with one hand and casting Fireball to get Ivan running, Saturos barely managed to turn and deflect a strike from Isaac. Having turned his back to Garet, Saturos could do nothing when Garet, despite his injury, still managed to raise his arm and cast Flare, scorching Saturos's back. Mia again healed Garet thanks to her seemingly endless supply of psynergy but there was no one that Saturos could count on to do the same for him.
He was getting weaker. With each successful attack, with each successful heal that prolonged the fight, Saturos was getting weaker. His movements slowed, his physical and psynergy attacks losing strength behind them. Despite that he kept fighting, kept slashing and casting until…
"I summon the mystical beast cloaked in flame! Kirin!"
A portal opened up before Garet and out came the deity. What could only be described as a giant, flaming canine with two horned heads, there was also what appeared to be a human with pointy, elvish ears riding on top that directed the beast towards Saturos. With a howl from its pair of mouths, the monster charged forward. Behind it came a wall of fire that threatened to consume everything in it's path.
Whirling around to face this newest danger, Saturos bent his legs, poised to lunge to the side.
Isaac gestured one last time.
Beneath the Proxian, the floor suddenly shifted beneath his feet, putting him off balance. By the time he managed to recover, Saturos was only able to see four, large, flaming legs before they smashed into him. Thrown to the ground, Saturos landed with a sickening thud and before he could even try to get up, the wall of fire that had been following Kirin enveloped him.
When the flames vanished, Isaac saw Saturos sprawled on the ground, smoke rising from charred flesh and clothes. He wasn't getting up.
"How's he doing?" Mia asked once she reached them.
Garet turned to look over his shoulder at her but in an instant he was facing forward again, back to the arena while informing her, "He's fine. After all that we've faced before this is nothing that Isaac can't do."
Mia looked over to Ivan to find the young Jupiter Adept shaking his head. "He's not Saturos but Navampa is proving to be a skilled opponent nonetheless. Even with psynergy I don't know if Isaac can win."
Garet immediately shot Ivan a glare. "Now what's with that talk? Now you're going to get her all worried! Don't you know anything about thinking positive?"
"I'm just being realistic," Ivan shot back with an annoyed look of his own. "Even with our help at the stages, Isaac is having a real fight on his hand."
"Yeah, well, your height is realistic," Garet fired in a lame attempt at a comeback that got Ivan staring at him, dumbfounded.
Ignoring the banter, Mia squeezed between the two in order to peer into the arena just in time to witness another clash of blades as Isaac and Navampa struck one another, backed, and struck again with another clang of their swords.
The advantages that each fighter had become obvious even to the healer. Isaac, while shorter, was able to dodge and maneuver more easily and quickly then the armored Navampa. Upon sidestepping a downward slash, Isaac immediately stepped forward and struck back, his claymore hitting the armor plates at Navampa's side and forcing the warrior to stumble back. Navampa swung his shorter blade to keep Isaac back as he retreated but the Venus Adept easily ducked under it.
Unfortunately, Navampa's size and armor allowed him to take what Isaac was throwing at him. Despite the blow that he had just taken, Navampa had reoriented himself in time when Isaac sought to press his advantage. Though sporting a smaller blade, Navampa was able to easily push aside Isaac's claymore and deliver a heavy armored boot into his chest, sending the smaller man falling backwards onto the ground. When Isaac sought to immediately recover and get back on his feet, the large, dark shadow of Navampa fell over him and the Venus Adept had to do all that he could in order to block against a rain of hard, heavy blows that sought to pummel him into the arena floor. It was only with a quick casting of Quake that forced Navampa to stumble back was Isaac able to buy himself a few precious seconds of relief.
Mia bit her lip as she watched, worried. Despite Garet's condemnation, it seemed that Ivan's words were proving to be truer then she hoped. Though having admired Isaac's use of a blade and mastery of his Venus psynergy during their adventures, the Mercury Adept could see how even those skills may not be enough as the two combatants reengaged. It was only then that Mia could see how Isaac also favored one of his legs and she visibly grimaced, wishing that she had gone ahead with some healing psynergy despite Isaac's assurances that he would be fine.
"See? He's fine," Garet spoke, only to suddenly wince when a particularly vicious blow from Navampa nearly sent Isaac's sword flying from his hands. "Okay, that was close."
"Indeed." Ivan was watching as intently as Mia.
The next blow made Mia gasp and Garet curse. Now doing all that he could to hang into the fight, Isaac was dodging and parrying Navampa's attacks. Unfortunately, that soon proved to not be enough as, upon nearly losing his weapon a second time from another savage attack, Isaac left himself open to the armored gauntlet that smashed across his face.
Isaac! came the desperate, horrifying thought that reverberated through Mia's mind as Isaac was sent reeling back before collapsing to the arena floor. Unlike last time, however, he wasn't getting up anytime soon.
Upon seeing his victory – or perhaps he was similarly exhausted – Navampa remained back. His shoulders heaving and his blade held at the ready, the warrior waited to see if Isaac would stand again. When he didn't, Navampa lowered his blade.
As if sensing it, Isaac was on his feet! Almost as if he managed to tap into a hidden reserve of strength, the Venus Adept shot back up and, clenching his blade, leaped at Navampa. His sword held high above his head, Mia was able to barely make out a golden sheen encase his blade and the silhouette of a djinni – Flint – that made the weapon seem to glow as he attacked. Navampa, surprised at this sudden show of strength, sought to lift his sword in time to block Isaac's attack only to witness his sword completely shatter beneath the weight and power of a djinni-enhanced weapon.
"Yes!" Garet cried in victory as now it was Navampa that was reeling back from the blow. Still holding the shattered remains of his weapon, the gladiator stumbled, recovered, managed to stand on swaying feet as he stared at Isaac for about five seconds, and then fell to the arena floor.
Unlike Isaac, the warrior did not get back up. The crowd, having been knocked into silence, suddenly roared in applause and cheer.
"I told you he'd do it!" Garet gave Ivan a hard slap on the back. Despite how his face contorted in pain at the slap while he tried to not fall over from the force of it, Mia could see the relief and good cheer on his face that no doubt mirrored her own as she turned to look at the victorious Isaac.
Only to watch as, after his blade slipped from his hand and fell to the sand, Isaac fell with it as he collapsed.
All three of them rushed to the field at that, vaulting over the wooden barriers that blocked their path as they did so. Garet was the first to make it to the fallen Isaac. Dropping to his knees, the Mars Adept took Isaac by the shoulders in order to roll him onto his back. When Mia approached, Garet relented to her – but only after viciously shaking Isaac which did nothing – and the Mercury Adept knelt at his side.
"Isaac…" Mia spoke softly as she examined him. There was a bruise at his face from Navampa's gauntlet and the healer brought her hand to it, blue psynergy encasing it as she caressed his cheek.
No other outward signs of injuries. There's his leg but I don't see any blood. Any broken bones? Can't tell, will have to examine more thoroughly. Please by all right Isaac.
So overcome with worry for her friend's health, trying to find signs that he was going to be okay, Mia was actually completely caught off guard when she heard it. His chest rising and falling in a slow, steady rhythm, the healer jerked back when she heard the noise. He was snoring!
At first, Mia was only able to stare at the sleeping face, dumbfounded. Looking up at Garet and Ivan, she found similar looks upon their own faces. It was Garet who first broke into a grin and placed his hands at his sides, trying not to laugh. Next to him, Ivan shook his head in exasperation but there was a wide, humorous grin of his own.
"Isaac fell asleep," Garet managed to choke out.
"He must be exhausted," Ivan added.
Smiling, Mia couldn't help but giggle. Looking down at Isaac, she took one of his arms and rested it over her shoulders. Seeing her do so, Garet knelt at Isaac's other side and placed his other arm over his own broad shoulders. Together, the two managed to hoist him up. Despite the motion, Isaac kept sleeping.
"Let's leave him to sleep for now," Mia suggested as they carried him off, giving the still-sleeping Isaac a kind smile.
"It's been a while Mia."
Mia was only able to stare with wide eyes, horror and a sharp, devastating feeling of betrayal stabbing into her heart as a man with long blue hairstepped from behind the lit beacon of the Mercury Lighthouse and stepped forward until he was standing over the still-smoking form of Saturos who remained unmoving on the floor. Slowly, however, words started to form and, though she wasn't sure if she was conscious of it, she managed to speak.
"Alex," she spoke, the knife of betrayal driving deeper as she spoke his name. "Do you realize what you've done?"
In front of her, Alex grinned. Tilting his head back, he let out a short, sharp laugh that froze Mia to the core. "Hah! Of course! I have freed a great power that has long been sealed away."
Behind him, the bacon of the lit Mercury Lighthouse glowed and pulsated with power. Turning so that he could face it, Alex raised his arms as if in reverence to it. "Mercury, the lighthouse of water. What a might force."
Staring at his back, Mia looked up at the glowing beacon and then back at Alex. She tried again to muster up some words but again she failed at the initial effort. Lighting the Mercury Lighthouse went against everything that they had been bred under. It went against everything that she and Alex had followed with the belief that lighting the lighthouse was to surrender the world to utter chaos and destruction.
"Alex," she tried again. "You…are you mad?"
"No Mia." Turning his back to the beacon, he again looked to her, the grin disappearing from his face. "Don't you understand? The lighthouse granted you great power during your battle with Saturos."
Looking down at the body of the defeated Proxian, a quick slideshow of images and feelings passed through Mia's head as she remembered the recent duel. Empowered, her entire form had been bathed in a blue glow that had boosted her power to the likes of which she had never felt before. With a wave of her hand she had casted Ply upon a fallen Isaac and, when Garet was being driven back by Saturos, she had unleashed a rain of ice down upon the fiend to drive him back. She had been able to cast both spells and later ones with ease while the fountain of power that radiated within her body promised her to able to do so again in an endless supply and with greater intensity if she desired.
She felt it now. Tame at the moment, like a peaceful ocean but able to produce raging tidal waves to sweep away any foe at any moment if she desired it.
"It's true," Mia admitted in slight awe despite the circumstances. "I could use my power without ever depleting it."
"Don't you see?" Alex leaned forward, excitement and ambition exuding off of him. "The Mercury Lighthouse supplied you with limitless psynergy!"
Mia looked down at her hands. Even now, when they weren't fighting, a blue aura gently pulsed around them. "Psynergy? Are you telling me my powers come from psynergy?"
Alex took a step forward and waved at both himself and her. "You and I are both members of the Mercury Clan…masters of Water Psynergy."
Psynergy… Her pale fingers flexed and curled and again Mia felt this limitless amount of…psynergy that still awaited her commands whether to heal…or destroy. Mia was both in awe and fear of this new development. All her life she had thought that she was blessed with a simple Ply spell that was passed down from the Mercury Clan, allowing her to heal better than any other form of potion or herb ever could. As a healer of Imil, she had been happy with her status as a guardian of not only her people but of the world when it came to protecting the Mercury Lighthouse.
But now she realized that she possessed more than a simple healing ability; she possessed a power that could both heal and most certainly destroy.
"Tell me, Alex…why wasn't Saturos able to use his full power?" Ivan suddenly questioned, interrupting the discussion between the two Mercury Adepts.
Now turning his attention to the Jupiter Adept, Alex seemed to realize that it was not just he and Mia that stood upon the lighthouse. Looking from Ivan, to Garet, and finally to Isaac, Alex nodded his head. "Ah yes…I shall explain it all." He turned to Saturos who, though still having yet to get up, was starting to show signs of movement with slow shakes of his head. "Saturos is aligned with Mars, the clan of fire. Fire and water are opposing elements. His full power was bound by the Water Psynergy of the lighthouse."
"But…didn't Saturos know that?" Mia questioned, looking at Alex fully again.
"Of course he knew. However, he failed to appreciate the power of this lighthouse." He paused, seeming to be mulling over something as he continued to stare at the downed Saturos. "As did I…"
"Is that why we were able to defeat Saturos?" Garet asked.
Alex shook his head and looked towards the group. "No…there is more to it. I stood by, watching you battle from afar. I did not help Saturos because I was certain he would win. But I was wrong…you've become such great fighters in a short time."
To the shock of the group, the monstrous form of Saturos rose from the floor of the lighthouse. With glowing red eyes and the fact that his clothes still continued to smoke from Kirin's attack, he almost looked like a demon with scales and all. "Never! I lost to this lighthouse, not to you!"
Bending down, Saturos retrieved his sword, looking as if he was about to continue where they left off to the amazement of Mia. However, upon retrieving his sword, Saturos instead leaned against the arm that Alex offered to him. Even though he was on his feet again it seemed as if he was far from in the shape to fight again.
"I won't let Saturos escape!" Gritting his teeth, Garet stepped towards the pair, his axe raised and gripped tightly in one hand.
Alex looked towards him, amused. "And what are you going to do? Will you finish him off?"
That would mean fighting Alex wouldn't it? He didn't see it but Mia could see how Alex raised his shoulders that he was ready to do so if it came to it. Suddenly fearful, Mia turned to look at the others but, more specifically, Isaac.
The Venus Adept had his own sword in hand and had matched Garet when it came to stepping towards Alex and Saturos, ready to join his best friend in another fight. However, upon the question of finishing off Saturos, Isaac suddenly halted. Mia could practically sense the conflict the raged within Isaac and she suddenly remembered the seemingly barbaric rage that Isaac had previously displayed during the fight, completely different to the friendly, courageous leader that she had quickly come to rely on during their ascent of the Mercury Lighthouse.
There was some history behind Isaac…something that Mia didn't know about but could only guess that it involved Saturos.
She was worried. Not just about the idea of fighting Alex but of what could possibly be going on with Isaac. However, her fears were put to rest when Isaac lowered his blade and stepped back. He was not happy.
"I doubted that you were the type to 'finish' anyone off." Alex smirked.
And then he vanished.
Mia gasped at that, her eyes going large when he seemed to disappear. Where…how? Her head whirled around, looking left, right, all around the roof of the Mercury Lighthouse to try and locate him. She finally found him, Alex having only reappeared several meters away where the elevator was located.
"He warped again!"
Her head jerked towards Garet. "Again? He's done that before?"
Garet nodded. "Yeah, in Sol Sanctum."
Ivan, who had also been focused on Alex, suddenly looked towards Mia. "That psynergy…the warp. Does that mean Mia can use it?"
Mia shook her head. Though new at the idea of psynergy she was certain that this ability that Alex displayed was not only something she couldn't do but something that Alex shouldn't be able to do. "No, it's impossible. Even Alex didn't have this kind of power before."
Alex grinned at her. "Ah well…I can't stay the same Alex that you knew forever…"
The knife sank deep. A weakness coming over her, Mia collapsed to her knees, staring in disbelief at Alex's grinning face. Having seemed to have become deaf to the world, Mia was only able to watch as a conversation continued between Alex and the rest. What they were talking about she wasn't paying attention too; all she could see was Alex and what had he become.
Alex…what's happened to you? What have you done? What have…I done?
But soon Alex vanished again, this time it being the workings of the elevator rather than some strange ability that he had managed to pick up. Again the Mercury Adept was only able to stare, this time at where he had been standing just moments ago. Off to the side she barely took notice of how Isaac and the others were now speaking to one another, all of them looking glum.
"I don't deserve to be a healer…" Her head hung low. "We couldn't stop them from lighting the beacon. I've failed my clan…failed in my duty…"
A comforting hand was placed on her shoulder and, distracted from her thoughts, Mia turned to see a pair of blue eyes that stared at her with a gentle, comforting gaze. With one hand at her shoulder, Isaac held out his free one for her.
"We won't let Alex get away with it," Isaac promised.
How simple those words were. And yet, upon looking at Isaac's blue eyes with her own turquoise ones, the knife in her heart didn't hurt so much. Tenderly, she lifted a hand and allowed Isaac to gently grasp it and, soon, get her back on her feet.
Slowly, Isaac's blue eyes opened.
For a brief moment, the Venus Adept had entertained the thought that he had awakened back at his home in Vale. In the same house that he had lived with his father and mother, in the same room that he had lived in peacefully throughout his life where all he had to worry about were the latest lessons that Kraden had given him and patching up holes in the roof and hoping that Garet wouldn't put anymore new ones up there.
But he quickly knew better upon recognizing the more lavish furnishings that were common in Babi's Palace. Instead of having gone to bed after a mentally exhausting session with Kraden, Isaac remembered that it was a tournament that had ended up doing the job for him. A tournament that involved him nearly getting beaten to a pulp.
At least I won. Isaac nearly laughed at the thought. Oh sure, he hurt all over, was probably out for the entire day if not for two, but at least he won.
Isaac knew that, that soft voice could only belong to one person before she came into view. Having apparently not noticed her earlier, it was only now that he realized that he wasn't alone when Mia's face appeared over his, the Mercury Adept bending herself over the bed to look upon him. She was smiling but Isaac noticed how her eyes looked over him, no doubt examining him to see how he was faring.
"No." Apparently not noticing due to her concerns with his health, some of Mia's long hair slipped past her shoulders and dropped down towards the Venus Adept. A couple strands brushed across his face and nose. "That tickles though."
"Sorry." A brief shade of pink appearing on her face, Mia gathered up her hair and placed it back over her shoulder while she stood straight so as not to have a repeat. Still, that didn't keep her from the matter at hand as she asked, "How do you feel?"
"Remember when Garet had cooked for us that one time?"
Mia raised a brow at that but otherwise humored him with, "I remember; you and Ivan had it the worst. Stomach cramps, vomiting, a constant need to go to the bathroom."
"Well this isn't that bad."
Mia brought a hand to her face but Isaac was able to see her lips curl into a smile before she hid it. "Well good thing that." She stepped aside, disappearing for a moment before she reappeared in Isaac's vision, this time holding a plate in her hands. "Feeling good enough to eat?"
The smell that Isaac managed to detect of prepared food soon made him realize as to how hungry he was. "I'm going to have to be." He pushed himself up from the bed to sit up and immediately groaned. Catching the concerned look that came to Mia's features, he made a quick shake of his head before saying, "Just still a bit sore; I'll be fine."
Trusting him on that, Mia carefully placed the plate on his lap and the aroma hit him full on, causing his stomach to growl. It was some kind of venison that had been laid out for him, marinated in a sauce while sprinkled with spices. Isaac couldn't guess what either condiments were, exactly, but it looked absolutely mouth-water. On the side were a small pile of vegetables – broccoli he at least recognized with some cauliflower – that Mia had no doubt selected to make the meal just a bit healthier.
"Looks fabulous," Isaac complimented as he took the pair of utensils that came with it. "I'm guessing this would be the courtesy of Babi's kitchen staff?"
"You would be correct," Mia confirmed.
Not wasting any more time, Isaac sliced and quickly speared a piece of venison with his fork to place in his mouth. He was pleasantly surprised to realize that the food did taste as good as it looked as his taste buds were delighted at the treat. The sauce was sweet and the spices added a kick to it that he was more than happy to swallow down and immediately go for another piece.
Next to him, Mia suppressed a giggle as Isaac ate with gusto that she's usually only seen Garet display. There was a chair that had been placed to the side of the bed and she set down on it while Isaac ate. "I guess you approve?"
"Don't talk with your mouth full; I've been getting enough of that from Garet since yesterday."
"Ysdeh?" Isaac swallowed the mouthful of food and raised his brows at Mia. "How long was I out?"
"You didn't even star at all after you collapsed." Mia's own brows knitted in slight worry. "You slept through the rest of yesterday and most of today though I was worried that you would've continued sleeping until tomorrow."
"I was that out of it, huh? No wonder I'm so hungry."
Mia nodded slowly. "Yes. You showed no signs of waking up anytime soon while I was looking after you."
Isaac paused at that, a forkful of food held at his mouth. Lowering it, the Venus Adept looked at Mia curiously, his blue eyes narrowing as they examined her. "Have you been here this whole time?"
Mia fidgeted uncomfortably beneath Isaac's gaze, her cheeks pinking slightly while her hands unconsciously smoothed out her robes. They were quite wrinkled and it was only now that Isaac noticed plenty of loose strands of blue hair that had managed to slip free or her bound hair like the ones that had tickled his nose. On a hunch, he glanced to the corners of the room and found a pillow placed on a folded blanket on the floor.
"I was just doing my job," Mia spoke defensively while she now tried to smooth down her hair. "Your health as well as Garet's and Ivan's are at the top of my list of responsibilities for the group."
Isaac couldn't help but smile at that while placing the fork back down on the plate. "I know, I know." Unable to help himself, he reached out a hand and ran it upon the top of her head, trying to offer a small amount of assistance to help her tame her hair. "And I appreciate your help. I appreciate all the help that you give us. Speaking of which, thanks for the help at Colosso."
"…It was not a problem," Mia replied after a pause as she felt his hand run across the top of her head. The pink having yet to leave her pale cheeks, she felt them grow even warmer as she noticed that, with an awkward glance, she remembered Isaac was still bare-chested, his armor and tunic having been removed while she had sought to make sure he slept soundly and without any complications.
It was at least good to see that her work did not leave any scars. And she immediately told herself that, that thought was completely and utterly on a professional level.
It did remind her of something, however. Next to her seat on the floor was a bundle of cloth which she immediately bent down to retrieve, forcing Isaac to remove his hand from her head as she did so. Holding up the bundle, she placed it on the bed next to Isaac.
"Your clothes," Mia explained. "I washed and repaired them while you were out to help pass the time."
Isaac looked down at his clothes, impressed. "Healing, cooking, cleaning, and sewing, huh? There anything you can't do?"
Mia blushed even further. He's making me do that a lot, she noted dryly.
Putting what was now a clean plate to the side, Isaac unfolded his blue tunic and inspected it more thoroughly. Indeed, there was not one miniscule tear and there was no sign of any of the dirt and sand that he knew he rolled around in that stained the clothing. Nodding in approval, Isaac started to raise the tunic up over his head…and then quickly dropped it back down with a wince.
"Something wrong?" Seeing the pained expression on his face, Mia immediately stood up from her chair, looking at him worriedly.
"Like I said, just still a bit sore," Isaac murmured. "Nothing to worry about."
"Here, let me see that." Before Isaac could protest, Mia reached out and took the tunic from his hands. "Lift up an arm."
"Yes, mom." Grinning humorously, Isaac lifted his left arm as that was the one he could lift a bit higher than the other. "This is going to be as high as I can go." He could only raise it shoulder height.
"It'll do." Putting Isaac's head through the collar of the tunic, Mia's soft hands carefully guided his left arm through the first hole.
Needles of pain stabbed across Isaac's shoulder and back and he did try to keep a straight face but something must've shown as the Mercury Adept made the briefest of glances his way before mouthing a "Sorry."
"Can't you just heal this?" Isaac asked when he managed to get his left arm through before dropping it at his side.
"There's just some things that the body needs to do on its own," Mia replied. "It's just some momentary discomfort; you'll be fine after a while."
"If you say so." Curling his right arm at his stomach, Isaac slowly lifted it up through the bottom of his tunic to get through the other arm hole.
"This is hardly the worst you've felt." Taking a seat at his side, the healer sought to help him with his other side. "You'd be hurting a lot more if it wasn't for me. You remember that slap he gave you?"
"I remember a huge, armored something coming at me before everything went dark for the briefest of moments. Wish I had gauntlets that looked that heavy."
"Speaking of which," Mia cut in, smoothing out his tunic. "Do you want me to help with your armor?"
"I think I can live without it for a little while." Looking to his left arm, Isaac carefully raised it up and rolled his shoulder. The pain was still there but, as Mia said, it was something that his body could heal from by itself. He looked back to Mia who was still straightening his shirt…and hesitated. At this angle, with her smooth, pale face framed by her blue hair, the combination of these natural features offered a picture that he couldn't help but entertain using the word perfect to best describe it.
He stared a bit too long. Her hands at his chest, Mia only then noticed that he was staring at her. Glancing up, her turquoise eyes met his blue ones and froze there just like the rest of her. Instead of pulling away, Mia kept her hands there and her eyes remained locked with his.
Something passed over her face and Isaac just barely caught it. Her lips slightly parting, Mia tilted her head a centimeter. Isaac, unsure of what he was doing, lifted a hand to his chest and clasped both of hers in it to hold them against him.
The seconds, Isaac swore, stretched into a full minute. And that, he thought, was something he would always look back on and realize that he waited for far too long. They had sat like that, staring at one another, unmoving, and it was Mia that finally broke contact. Her eyes averting, the Mercury Adept slowly slid her hands out of his.
"We should find Ivan and Garet," Mia spoke, still refusing to look at him. "Let them know that you're up. And Babi wanted to speak to you as soon as you awoke."
Nodding slowly, Isaac watched as Mia stood up from the bed and walked to the door.
Stopping with her hand on the handle, she looked back at him.
"Thanks for patching me up." He waved a hand down at himself. "For…everything."
He was relieved to see a smile grace her lips as she nodded her head. "Anything for you, Isaac."
When the door closed behind her, Isaac decided it was safe enough to satisfy an urge that had suddenly came over him. Lifting a hand, he slapped himself over the back of his head. "Idiot."
He had to call himself that again a second later when the pain at his shoulder came back at the action and caused him to yelp.
"What's the matter? You look strange today, Mia."
At Justin's question, the Mercury Adept frowned, now feeling very uncomfortable beneath the stares of her two apprentices. Next to Justin, Megan stared at her with wide, curious eyes. Unable to look at either her or Justin in the eye, Mia had turn away.
"I…how should I tell you?" Mia began slowly, trying to find the appropriate words. It was difficult and she had hardly had time to plan this. At the top of the Mercury Lighthouse Mia had sworn her services to Isaac and knew when she spoke the words that she would have to leave Imil. Obviously, that meant that she had to leave Justin and Megan.
She told herself that they would be able to take care of themselves. That were young but they were her students and she had been sure to teach them all that she could. Besides, with the Mercury Lighthouse lit, there came one pleasant surprise: Imil now had a steady supply of the legendary Hermes Water that was being supplied by the lighthouse. Surely with that the townspeople would be well-prepared for the hazards of the winter while she was away.
"You have something to say?" Megan stepped forward, her eyes still open with curiosity and a tinge of worry. "What is it?"
Mia bit her lip as she forced herself to look at Megan. She had yet to retrieve the proper words as can be clearly heard when all that came out next was, "Well, I…uh…"
Just come out and say it, she told herself and, unable to help it, she looked behind her. Isaac had generously accompanied her for moral support and when she turned to look at him she saw that he stood patiently off to the side, nodding in understanding and simply waiting for her to say what she needed.
If anyone knew what she was feeling, it was him. During their descent from the lighthouse, Mia had gotten to know a little about Isaac. Specifically, she had learned that he had to leave his hometown in a similar matter due to his quest. A quest that was now hers as well.
"I…I'll be joining Isaac on his quest."
She looked back to see that her apprentices now stared at her with surprise and were now looking at Isaac as well.
"It's very hard for me to leave you," Mia continued quickly, wanting to explain herself. "But it's the lighthouse…"
"You said the world would be in danger if the lighthouse was lit, right?" That was Justin, the boy now focusing fully on Mia.
Megan turned to Justin at that and, seeming to catch on, she looked to Mia in sudden understanding. "Is that why you're leaving? To protect the world?"
Such a basic generalization of her quest helped remind Mia of why she was doing this. With the Mercury Lighthouse lit, there was no point in her being here, what with her duties to protect it having ended in failure. So, in repentance, she would be traveling with Isaac to stop Alex from lighting the other lighthouses. In that way then…yes, she supposed that this was all so that she could protect the world.
"Yes. That's right…"
Both children stared at Mia and then one another. Justin was the first to shake his head and, upon turning to Mia, he said, "Then there's nothing we can do…"
"We won't try to stop you, then," spoke Megan. "After all, you are trying to protect the Mercury Clan."
"Yes," Mia replied slowly and the thought of her recent failure weighed heavily upon her. "I am…"
Justin suddenly smiled. ""As members of the Mercury Clan, we will protect Imil ourselves! So don't worry, okay?"
Megan was smiling as well. "I will try hard and learn to heal as well as you, Mia!"
Surprised at the conviction of the two, Mia looked between the two of them, astonished. However, that astonishment evaporated into pride and the healer couldn't help but smile at the two. Behind her eyes she felt tears starting to build "Okay, I'll leave the village in your hands Megan, Justin…"
Mia turned her head just in time before she could let them see the tear that managed to escape from her eye. Quicker then she wanted, she walked over to Isaac, nodded her head to the door, and just as quickly started moving to it. Somehow Isaac was able to keep up and she felt a hand touch her shoulder.
"We can leave without any worries now," Mia assured as she felt the tear slide down her cheek.
"I'm sure they'll be fine," Isaac spoke soothingly as he gave her shoulder a squeeze. "From what I can tell they've had a good teacher. And I know without a doubt that I can trust you to help us."
Mia couldn't help but smile at that. Beneath the cold wetness of her tear, she felt her cheeks briefly warm. "Thank you for letting me join you, Isaac. Thank you for…everything."
Isaac's touch at her shoulder turned into a gentle pat on her back as he led her towards the door. "Anything to help you, Mia."
Author's Note: Yes, I'm a Mudshipper. And yes, I know that Valeshipping is the reigning canon shipping of the Golden Sun Universe. Is that going to stop me from writing future fics of Isaac and Mia? Lol, hell no! And I'm sure that if Isaac/Mia had been the canon shipping (which, sadly, it isn't), it wouldn't have stopped those Isaac/Jenna fans from writing fics about that pairing. I'm not biased either way; people are free to enjoy whatever they consider to be their "true" pairing and can write whatever they want about them. I will respect their opinions through and through as long as they respect mine.
Anyway, I hope those who have read this enjoyed the nostalgic trip that I had thoroughly enjoyed upon revisiting Golden Sun before the release of Dark Dawn. It just brings back the memories doesn't it? We all thought that lighting the Elemental Lighthouses were bad, Saturos and Menardi were bad guys that constantly found themselves being heroically vanquished by our heroes in the fanfiction before the release of Lost Age, and pretty much everything that we thought to be right and true was quickly proven wrong.
I, for one, thought that was one of the best things about the games. I went back to those old beliefs and, hopefully, I managed to make this fic just a bit more enjoyable for you all by hitting up some fond memories.