Author's Note: Okay, yes, I know…it's been a while. Not my fault! Well…it kind of is but…*coughs* But I did good and added some extra length to this chapter to make up for it! I hope that will help get people to forgive me!
Speaking of people…
Jelloh and Specter Von Baren: I'm not abandoning it! Or trying not to anyway! But look! Chapter! Ya chapter!
Barefootbean: Right now the rating is K+ and I do intend to keep it that way…for now. Maybe. If there ends up being some more intimate moments (and it's a romance fic, why wouldn't there be?), we'll see how willing I'll be to push the boundaries when it comes to showing affection. As for the lack of dialogue and personalities, I hope to get that fixed in later chapters but I believe there's plenty of dialogue here in this chapter for you.
jollygreendragon: As you know, I didn't know about the nifty new things that added while I was away. This includes replacing chapters with an edited version like you showed me, lol. Back then you had to completely delete the chapter and add in a fresh one if you wanted to fix your edits if I remember correctly. Having this sitting on my computer, I've had more time to review and edit my work so try to find something wrong! I dare ya! *waves fist* .
Cstan: Like I said, I tend to give at least a little bit of spotlight to Himi. Not this chapter as she doesn't appear in it but in the later ones when she does appear I hope to work more on Himi's personality and perhaps her value to the group. I already have one member selected that I think could work well with Himi but that's all I'm saying.
Alright, so here's what you've all been waiting for! New chapter!
"Come on, Matthew! Only ten more!"
A low growl being the only response that he could muster, Matthew forced himself to bend his knees to squat down. If it wasn't for the fact that he was balancing a quite large and heavy log at his shoulders, this would've been easy. Couple that with the sets he had already done as well as the previous exercises that had drenched his body and clothes with sweat that was currently stinging his eyes, Matthew was willing to do anything that wasn't ten more squats.
"Ten more! Ten more!"
Ah yes, he had forgotten about them. Standing on top of the log that burdened him so were seven Venus djinn that danced, hopped, and cheered with a constant reminder of how much work he needed to yet force from his body. When he managed to raise himself back up, the chant changed with the ten being replaced with a nine.
"I can count!" Matthew managed to gasp out.
Something tapped against the top of his head; the tail of one of his djinn no doubt. The exact culprit made himself known when Matthew heard Flint's command of, "Less talk, more squats!"
"Less talk, more squats!" the rest of the djinn repeated.
The thought of sending the log and thus the chanting djinn hurtling to the ground gave Matthew the motivation that he needed. His legs burned, the muscles within them wanting to quit and give out on him, but he forced them to lower and raise into another squat and then another, the numbers ticking down within the Venu Adept's head until, with a roar, he dropped the log from his shoulders.
With disappointment he saw that, apparently having expected his retaliation, the little critters had already hopped from the log and managed to reach safety on the ground. He couldn't dwell on it for long, however, as the commanding voice from before made itself known again.
Instinct took over and Matthew reached out a hand to grab the hilt of the wooden training sword that had been stuck in the ground next to him. He barely managed to turn and bring the sword up in time to intercept the blow of another training sword that had been coming down towards his head.
With a nod of approval, Isaac swung again.
As tired as he was, Matthew nonetheless brought his blade to the side to block this second strike. Unfortunately, the very force of the blow caused his legs to wobble and forced Matthew to take a stumbling step to the side to compensate. Isaac showed his son no mercy as he moved in, pulling his sword back and then stabbing it forward. Again Matthew managed to parry but his legs still shook, making it impossible for him to stand his ground as he stumbled a second time.
Halfway through his squats, the young Adept had known that he wouldn't be able to hold his own for long as soon as he picked up his wooden sword. Being beaten back as he was now was clear evidence of the fact.
Well let's try something different then. With what strength he had left, Matthew forced his legs to give him power to reverse his direction as he now lunged forward, his sword held high.
For a brief moment he had the satisfaction to see the brows of his father raise in surprise at the sudden switch to offense. But after that moment, Isaac's own years of honed reflexes had him quickly sidestepping away from the attack. Matthew's blade sliced at the space of air where he just was and, his legs failing him, the younger Adept found himself overstepping, leaving his back to his father. A sudden, loud thwack and the pain that blossomed at his back told him that Isaac did not miss the opening. That was all that was needed to bring Matthew falling facedown into the ground.
"Ow," came his muffled voice.
"You sure you didn't hit him a bit too hard there, Isaac?"
Sitting a few meters from Isaac and Matthew was another father and son team that had been taking part in the training exercises with them. And, like Matthew, Tyrell showed similar marks of a rough sparring session such as a bruise at his left arm which he still nursed.
"I'm sure he didn't feel a thing, Garet," Isaac replied. Looking down at Matthew, the elder Adept sported an amused look before nudging Matthew's side with his boot. "Isn't that right, son?"
Tiredly, Matthew waved a hand. He had yet to remove his face from the ground so his words were still muffled when he spoke, "Give me Blados; I'll take him instead. Actually, throw in Chalis while you're at it. At least I know I can take them on."
"Yeah but you had us to help you last time," Tyrell pointed out.
"Don't care." Matthew rolled on the ground, removing his face from the dirt and grass. Once he managed to roll onto his back he looked up at his father. "They're not as bad as you."
That got a laugh out of Garet and Isaac even chuckled at the joke. Planting his training sword into the ground, the man knelt over Matthew. "You've gotten a lot stronger since then Matthew. I'm sure that a couple Proxians that I used to know would get a run for their money from you."
A light blush burned at Matthew's face from the compliment. Lauded for their accomplishments, he had always been inspired to reach a status that his parents were held up to. Just the thought of perhaps being as good as his father had been during his youth – well, continued youth really – made Matthew smile wide, his pride swelling with the praise.
His smile was probably what coaxed Isaac to add, "But that's no reason to start taking it easy. Who knows when your next Grave Eclipse or a couple of big, bad agents of the Tuaparang will appear. You must always be ready for the next threat that may arise."
He extended a hand. "But I am proud of you."
Though Matthew had nodded his head at the lecture, there was still a smile on his face when he reached out and took his father's hand. When Isaac pulled him up to his feet, he was quickly reminded of the training that he had just finished. Other then the bruise at his back as well as a dozen other sores, Matthew's legs shook and he had to wait a couple of moments before he was able to steady them.
"Wish we could use Cure," Matthew muttered while he placed a hand on his back where he got hit.
"You can only let psynergy do so much," Isaac lectured and retrieved Matthew's sword. "Sometimes the best way to get stronger is to let the body recover unaided." He held out the wooden weapon to him.
"Yeah, yeah." Matthew took the sword and sheathed it in the scabbard at his back where he usually carried the Sol Blade. He winced when that only aggravated the bruise there. "I'll still be feeling that in the morning though."
"Cheer up!" Isaac patted him on the shoulder and led him towards Tyrell and Garet. "You'll be seeing your mother in two weeks, after all! We have to work hard before we allow ourselves to relax at Kalay."
The reminder did cheer him up and Matthew smiled at the thought of seeing her again. It was only two times during this last year that Jenna had come to visit her husband and son. The first had been right after the Grave Eclipse to check to make sure that the two most important people in the world to her were alive and well. The second had been a standard, family visit that Jenna had managed to take between some business that she had been hard-pressed with. Other than being in the sphere of influence of the Grave Eclipse, Kalay had been a center for refugees that had fled and sought shelter in the city. Jenna had been busy helping with both the recovery and the care of the refugees along with Ivan who had moved back with Karis to assist her.
In a couple weeks there would be an anniversary and a celebration. Not just for the end of the Grave Eclipse but, more importantly, the start of the Golden Sun event. It will be exactly thirty-one years since the lightning of the four Elemental Lighthouses and Kalay has hosted a festival each year for it. Though not all of the people of Weyard praised Isaac and the other Warriors of Vale for starting the Golden Sun event, Kalay had been a staunch supporter from the beginning due to its fortune. Ever since Master Hammet had helped build the town, it had seen nothing but continued growth from not only trade but through the efforts of many of refugees from Vale that has led it to become a country of its own.
"Come on, let's head home," Isaac spoke which brought Matthew out of his thoughts. "I think we've done enough training for the day."
Matthew replied with a nod and a look of relief as he and Isaac walked over to Garet and Tyrell who were standing to leave.
"So are you proud of me too, dad?" came Tyrell, a grin on his face.
Garet ruffled his son's hair. "Of course, boy!"
"Think I could've taken on Saturos and Menardi?"
That caused Garet to pause. Putting a hand to his chin, the elder Mars Adept thought about it. "Well…maybe?"
Tyrell immediately frowned. "Oh come on!"
Matthew laughed at that, his spirits high as the group made their way back to the Lookout Cabin atop Goma Plateau. With training now over, the only talk there was between them was of plans for their trip to Kalay. Ivan and Karis, having been on a business trip concerning the relations between Kalay and Ayuthay, were supposed to stop by later today to spend a couple of nights. Matthew and the others would go into Kalay with them and that's where the talks degenerated into previous games and foods that had been in last year's festival.
"We need to make sure the others are invited," Tyrell suddenly put in. "I know Karis probably invited Amiti while she was at Ayuthay but we have to make sure that Himi, Rief, and the others got invitations!"
"Actually," Isaac started, "didn't you mention that you were expecting a letter from Sveta, Matthew?"
And just like that, whatever exhaustion he had been feeling suddenly vanished as Matthew took off across the bridge that led back to their cabin.
Hawke was a relatively ironic name considering it was for a pigeon but that was what made Matthew decide to pick it when he chose the bird to carry his messages to Sveta. Opening the small pigeon coop that was located in his father's study, Matthew was happy to see that Hawke, who had a violet ribbon around its neck to differentiate it from the others, was currently waiting for him with a letter attached to his leg.
"Thanks, buddy." A small handful of seeds in his hand, Matthew placed it in front of the pigeon who immediately walked over to feed. Matthew untied the letter from its leg while it ate before leaving Isaac's study and heading to his room.
As Sveta had agreed when they had made the arrangement on the deck of Eoleo's ship, they had been exchanging letters with the use of carrier pigeons over the last year since they had separated at Belinsk despite the awkwardness that had come between them. As Himi had predicted, the strange connection – Matthew had no other word for it – that had been established since the Apollo Sanctum had not relented as, with the barest of touch, Matthew was still able to look into her thoughts and vice versa on the day that they had parted.
She had not liked it one bit. Though her Spirit Sense allowed her to see into the hearts and minds of others, apparently Sveta did not like the idea of him being able to look into hers. He did not know the exact reasons for it but Matthew had respected her wishes for privacy – if there was even the possibility that something like that could still exist between them - and had never brought up the issue. And when he had returned home and sent out the first letter to Sveta, he had honestly been troubled by the possibility that she would not respond. Fortunately, he was pleasantly surprised when Hawke flew through the window of the cabin one day, the first of many of her letters tied to his leg.
The first of their letters had been uneasy to say the least. Tentatively, Matthew had dared to ask how her first days as Morgal's queen had been for her while adding that he was hoping all for the best. Her reply had been short, saying that there were many things that had to be done and that she was constantly busy to the point where she was unsure if she would be able to continue with their letters. Though distressed at that, Matthew had assured her that he understood and that he would understand if she could not keep in touch.
For a while it seemed as if she had done just that when he did not receive a letter back for some time. However, his fears had been put to rest when the pigeon had been waiting for him after he and his father had returned from Patcher's Place during one of their trips to buy supplies.
Things took off afterwards. With each letter Sveta sent it was not only an update of the recovery of Belinsk but inquiries of how he was. Though Matthew did not possess the monumental task of rebuilding a capital and running a country, he had responded in kind with news of Tyrell and Karis, how his training was progressing, how the rebuilding of the soarwing was going, things like that. Their letters having once been short paragraphs, they were now pages of enthusiastic conversations that they may as well be having face-to-face.
And he couldn't wait to read the latest one. Closing the door to his room, Matthew took a seat at his desk, placing the letter on top of it. Then, as if he was handling a precious treasure, the Adept carefully unfolded the letter, smoothing out the creases as he laid it down in front of him. He took note that the letter was not a particularly long one, being contained just to one page, but nonetheless he eagerly read the contents.
I can't believe it has been a year already. It feels like only yesterday that I had taken the throne but I am happy to say that things have taken a turn for the better since then. Though I cannot erase the past for my people, I have done my best to make things better for them. Our food shortages have long since ended, sufficient housing has been provided for returning refugees, our military has recovered, and now trade relations are currently being established with towns such as Ayuthay.
By the time you receive this letter, the memorial that I had established for my brother should be completed by now and I have decreed a time of mourning and remembrance for not only Volechek but all those who had suffered during the Grave Eclipse. We cannot forget about what has not only been won, but what has been lost and that we should learn from our mistakes. I hope that one day that I will be able to do what my brother could not and, perhaps, establish friendlier terms with Bilibin and even Sana in order to finally bring my people true peace.
On the subject of remembrance, I also realize that it has been a year since we had first met. I had not been able to say this before but with all that's happening I want you to know that I appreciate our friendship. Your letters have helped me during my stressful beginnings as queen and it is your kind words that have allowed me to face each day and each duty that comes to my desk. For that I cannot possibly thank you enough.
Please tell Tyrell and Karis that I think of them often as well and I hope that all three of you have been enjoying this undisturbed peace with your friends and family. Without you, this day may never have come.
With a warm heart Matthew read these words, a smile coming to his face. So many things have occurred during this past year, this was true, and Matthew was glad to see how Sveta's words spoke of all that they had accomplished. More importantly, he was happy to hear how Sveta seemed to fully accept her duties to the throne and to her people. He remembered her doubts and fears that he had glimpsed when he had last looked into her mind but he was glad to see that everything seems to have gone well for her.
And it looked like now may be the perfect time to ask Sveta to come to Kalay. Matthew had always been hesitant to offer such an invitation, especially as she had never offered such for him to come to Belinsk, but it had been a year and with this being a time to celebrate more happy occasions, he was not as concerned as he would usually be about making such an offer. He just hoped that her duties as queen would allow her time off.
Hoping for the best, Matthew pulled out a sheet of paper and quill and got to work.
There was no answer to the call that Isaac voiced when he stepped through the door. A quick look told him that his son was nowhere to be seen in the living room and another look in his study showed that Matthew had already retrieved whatever letter had been delivered by the pigeon who was even now pecking at a small mound of seeds.
"Matthew?" Isaac called again, now moving back into the living room. Still no answer and that was when his blue eyes looked to the stairs. His son was probably in his room right now, reading and then responding to the letter that had been delivered.
Just as he was about to move to the stairs and give Matthew another call, Isaac stopped when he saw movement at the corner of his eye. Over at the couch he noticed a golden-brown tail that poked out from beneath it, wagging in the air as the creature it was attached to seemed to be struggling with something. His son temporarily forgotten with this odd scene, Isaac focused on the couch. The shape and color of the tail was all too familiar to the elder Venus Adept as belonging to one of his djinn.
Out of all of his djinn, Flint was the most outgoing. Though djinn like to get out and explore and not be set to their masters every once in a while, Flint had become increasingly comfortable to the outside world to the point where he would only be set when it was necessary; specifically for training purposes and battles. When Flint had first joined Isaac when he had left Vale so many years ago, he had been one of the rare djinn that had willingly joined without a fight. In fact, Flint had been ecstatic about the idea of traveling and upon their first meeting it seemed as if he had been waiting for Isaac and Garet in order to help them.
Flint had become much more than a tool for battle over the years. He was a companion, a friend, and even a teacher. When it had been Matthew and Tyrell's turn to follow in their fathers' footsteps and go on their own quest - well, really an errand that had ended up becoming a quest of its own -, Flint had all but insisted that he join to watch over and assist them.
"One second!" the diminutive creature replied, his struggles having yet to cease.
"You stuck?" Isaac questioned, a humored grin coming to his face as he stepped over to him.
"I'm fine! Just give me a second; I have something to show you!"
Isaac raised a brow at that. Crouching down, he waited patiently. This close he could see that Flint was pulling and tugging at…something that was apparently underneath the couch.
"Need a hand?"
"I got this! Just one…more…pull!"
At the last the word the djinn nearly toppled on his back as he removed himself from underneath the couch, clutching at an item that had to be what he had wanted to show. At first Isaac thought it was just a book but upon closer inspection he saw it for what it was: an encyclopedia. When he picked it up and held it in front of his eyes, he confirmed his suspicions that it was the same one that Matthew had taken and compiled during his quest.
"I've already read this before Flint," Isaac replied as he opened the encyclopedia, skimming through some of the pages. Matthew had once been a very quiet child in the past but he had enjoyed the printed word much more then the verbal one, always reading and writing when he wasn't training. Sometimes Isaac wondered if his son tended to wield a pen more than his sword.
The quest for the Mountain Roc feather that led to the Grave Eclipse had changed Matthew, making him more outspoken. Isaac remembered being just the same; having friends look to you for leadership tended to change you. But Matthew's use of the pen hadn't changed and he had written about, well, everything that he had encountered during his quest; people, places, objects, whatever. When he had returned with a book full of the wonders that he had seen, Isaac had spent a couple days reading through them to see some of the changes and discoveries that had occurred throughout the world years after the Golden Sun event.
"I know you have!" Flint spoke up. Hopping onto Isaac's shoulder, the djinni gestured with his head to keep turning the pages. "But there's been some additions that had been added to a certain article…"
Isaac found those changes as soon as Flint finished. Halfway through skimming the encyclopedia, Isaac stopped when a mess of papers that had been stuck within the pages were revealed to him. Those had certainly not been there before and, curious, Isaac selected the first one he could see and read at the top:
The Grave Eclipse has been devastating. I'm still trying to get a list of reliable numbers but the initial counts are most distressing. You were there when it happened, you know how bad it was, but you don't know just how bad. My first week as queen and I've become nearly overwhelmed with reports of casualties, destroyed properties, missing persons, low supplies and so much more. I honestly don't know where to start, what I'm even supposed to do! This wasn't even supposed to happen!
If Volechek was here he would know what to do. But he's gone and the least I can do is make sure our people can recover if such a thing is possible with all that they had suffered through. I'm actually glad when I stumbled across your letter amidst the reports. It gave me something to take my mind off everything that's going wrong, even for a moment.
But even now I can't help but write about my people's troubles. And I'm also worried about you even if you said that the Psynergy Vortex had vanished over at your home. Though the Grave Eclipse is over, I'm worried about the lasting damage that may've occurred. More importantly, I'm worried if I will be able to fix them. I do not believe I am qualified to rule in such times but I will nonetheless do my best.
I hope that you write back. I do miss all of you and would like to hear about how you all are doing.
Isaac recognized the name of the writer: Sveta. She had been the princess of Morgal that his son had traveled with and, as Matthew had explained, was now queen of Morgal due to the death of her brother. Hearing about the Grave Eclipse and what it had done to the beastmen, especially to their king, had disheartened Isaac. He and the rest of the Warriors of Vale had visited Belinsk once when Ivan had required a Mountain Roc feather that would be used to create the soarwing. That was before Sana had invaded and the king – Sveta's father – had even helped them in obtaining the Mountain Roc feather.
It was sad to see at what had befallen the beastmen and, more importantly, the Czamarai clan. The letter certainly didn't help matters. Flipping through more of the letters, Isaac selected one that was dated a few months after the first.
My favorite color is blue.
Isaac's brows rose in surprise at that. Considering how distressed the first letter seemed, he wasn't expecting this. He kept reading.
I would think that's obvious, being a Jupiter Adept and all with the sky being colored blue but that is my favorite color.
As you requested, I wrote down a couple of exercises that you could perform before you have to train with your father. He sounds like a very strict teacher when he wants to be like my old hand-to-hand combat instructors but these should help. I'm glad to hear that you managed to spend time with your mother and it's very good to hear about how well the situation is going at Kalay with the refugees. Even today we still have once-thought missing or dead beastmen coming home and it's just lovely to see families reunited…
Isaac read through this letter and several more before stopping after reading half a dozen of them. From what he could see, there were no letters from some of Matthew's other faraway friends like Amiti or Himi: just Sveta. And a lot of letters at that with at least three per month from what Isaac could see. As he read through some of them, he found the same patterns: information about the recovery of Morgal but then there was other information like favorite colors, foods, and so on.
A sudden nudge at his cheek caused Isaac to glance at his shoulder at where Flint still sat, having used his tail to poke at the Adept. At his quizzical expression the djinni said, "The article!"
Removing the letters from the encyclopedia, he saw that they had been placed with the same page that Matthew had donated to Sveta. He blinked at what he saw. Flint had been right; Matthew had added quite a bit concerning his article about Sveta such as princess being crossed out and being replaced with queen. At the corners of the page he could see footnotes that his son must've added overtime. Upon seeing that one of these notes read "Favorite color is blue", Isaac finally understood.
He looked back at Flint who seemed as if he was smiling despite not possessing a mouth.
"They grow up so fast," Flint spoke and brushed underneath his eye with the tip of his tail as if wiping away a tear.
Chuckling, Isaac took a seat at the couch, intent on reading more about this girl that had captured his son's attention so.
Author's Note: Okay, not gonna lie; I had about 70% of this chapter done when I kind of left it in its little space on my hard drive before I finally pulled it out to finish it so that I could post it today. The reason for that is…well…I'm gonna take the easy way out and say Dragon Age 2, Crysis 2, and Homefront. Been doing a lot of video gaming lately and I've actually started playing the Gears of War 3 multiplayer beta yesterday. Knowing that soon that will be taking up a bunch of my attention while I get the exclusive content (Thrashball Cole!), I decided to finish and post this chapter before I got too caught up in that.
Anyway, no I'm not going to abandon this. Or at least that's not my intention anyway even though my updating time may get sketchy…such as now . I think it's because of how the fic is, specifically its center on romance and nothing really much else. I had the same thing happen to another fic I've had where I kind of just flail about at times and it even becomes a chore with what I should pull out with the romance.
Which is why I'm actually tempted about starting another fic that has a bit more adventuring and stuff. Fic ideas were another thing that was going on during my absence and I've recently started thinking about an idea I really, really liked. Specifically, this would be about Amiti. Some faces of the past have come to haunt Amiti and in order to defeat them he'll have to come to learn and accept his heritage. It's an idea that I'm really interested in as it'll deal with an issue in Golden Sun that has never really been brought up before but one that I've always at least mentioned somewhere in my previous fics. And for those who are wondering, yes there will be some Amiti/Karis to go along with it.
I do actually have a chapter written down for it and ready to go, I'm just wondering if I should take the risk of doing two fics. On the one hand that does mean more work to do but Tangled Spirits actually doesn't have that many chapters to go: three, maybe four with what I'm planning. And, like I said, the romance-centricness of Tangled Spirits is good and all but I think I need something else to work on to distract me and give me something else to do. Your opinions could certainly help with that decision.
Anyway, for now, I hope you enjoy and that you all haven't abandoned me during this time of absence, lol.