..Woots More DaddyLloydness coming at you ;)

Disclaimer: I still own nothing. Why don't I get donations for this like they do on youtube? D8 lol I'm kidding

Nothing.

They had trekked all the way into the desert and they reached the ruins, and there was nothing. The scientists enjoyed what ruins were there, that was true, but there was nothing to help him. Nothing seemed to give any sort of connection except for the oracle stone in front of the sealed entrance. He frowned, walking back to it, scanning the stone.

The crest of Colette's family- his family- the mana lineage, was carved into the stone surface. He had heard one of them tell him that it was designed to recognize the mana of the Chosen. How a piece of stone did that, he wasn't sure, he just knew he had scanned that thing top to bottom and it hadn't given him so much as an idea.

Well…it had given him ideas but nothing helpful. It just brought to mind the image of his Arie, sixteen, placing her hand on that stone and starting off for her death.

His grip tightened on his hilt.

That wasn't going to happen. He wasn't going to let it. One more look, there had to be something.

He knelt down, scanning the stone from the bottom up, brushing away sand in places. Eventually he reached the top, scanning the flat surface with a frown. Maybe there was something else written there, under the dust? He brushed his hand over it and then suddenly- well, he hadn't expected it.

A surge of pain shot through his left hand, as if someone had poked him with a burning stick. He choked down a yelp and drew his hand back, but noticed the strange glow the stone gave off, that and the door to the ruins …'shuddered'. It didn't open, but it shifted, and the sound was enough to catch the attention of the researchers.

What the hell? It had…responded to him-?

"What did you do?" one of them immediately asked him.

"I- I was just looking at it," he said, shaking his head.

"You touched the stone?"

"Well…yes but obviously I'm not the Chosen," he said with a huff, scanning the stone.

They eyed him and he tried not to fidget, frowning to himself.

"Do it again, touch the stone."

Lloyd scanned the speaker a moment before eying the stone. It ad to just be a fluke right? It was supposed to react to the Chosen- even if it was just to the mana lineage in general, he had married into the line, he wasn't part of it. So it didn't make sense…

Still, something was odd here.

"Please, Mr. Lloyd?"

Lloyd sighed, glancing at the scientist before placing his hand on the stone again. Once again the slab shuddered and that same pain shot through his hand. This time he hissed, pulling his hand back and rubbing his left one- wait, his exsphere hand…

Of course, none of the researchers cared about that tidbit, they were too busy going into a frenzy about the door.

"How did that happen?"

"He's obviously not the Chosen, why did the stone react?"

Another scientist touched to stone out of curiosity, not surprisingly, nothing happened. Lloyd frowned, rubbing the back of his hand as he slowly tried to drift away from the frenzied researchers. Great, just great, he should've just refused to have- but…why did it react? He was just as perplexed as they were….could it possibly have something to do with his exsphere? He knew it was unlike normal ones, though he had yet to really see why that was the case- could this be it? But then why would an exsphere have anything to do with Cruxis?

"Mr. Lloyd-"

Whatever the man was going to ask, he never found out. Just that moment the ground began to shake violently, knocking some of the group off their feet. Lloyd whirled around, hearing- he wasn't sure what, but it sounded like something very large was-

Sand erupted into the sky, blowing past them as a gigantic worm like creature emerged from the sands. It was lined with rows and rows of sharp appendages, and its mouth appeared to be even more heavily armored, with huge gnashing teeth.

Ah hell….

The group shouted and scrambled, but the beast had closed them into the area, the rock walls were on all sides of the ruin itself. Lloyd grit his teeth, drawing his blades and rushing forward. What kind of damage he could do against this thing, he wasn't sure, but he did know if he did nothing they'd all end up worm-bait. Naturally, his charge attracted the creature's attention, and it made several snaps for him, shrieking.

Lloyd evaded each assault, side-stepping and slicing into the side of its head, though from the looks of it he succeeded in only scratching the monster. It whipped around, barely missing his leg as he backed up. Okay okay, maybe he could lure it away enough for the scientists to escape, then once they were clear he could run for it himself-

It swiped for him again.

On instinct he dodged to the side and in what seemed like a single instant, his eyes locked with the globular black ones of the creature. Like a sudden spark, he knew what to do and then simply acted. Quickly he drove a blade into the eye, withdrawing quickly as the beast began to shriek, flailing.

Well he'd made it madder…

He retreated, keeping faced toward it as he attempted to lead it out of the escape route. It had to swerve its head to look at him, but Lloyd figured it probably was more focused on his smell. That and the fact he was now covered in its eye 'juice'.

…Which was pretty disgusting now that he thought of it, but he had bigger issues to deal with.

"Come on you big piece of fish bait!" Lloyd snapped, trying to keep it after him.

It lunged for him.

Something strange happened then, he wasn't quite sure what to make of it. He had nearly gone to dodge to the side when instead, just as its head passed over him, he ducked, slamming his sword up into its underbelly. The creature's momentum made it continue forward, slicing its innards out form its stomach. That wasn't the odd part though, as odd as that sounded. When the body began to collapse on top of him, a strange surge of..something, flashed through his body. There was a slight burn from his exsphere as he pushed himself- and the massive monster- up. In one quick motion Lloyd had gotten to his feet, easily lifting the beast over his head and slamming it into the ground with such force the ground beneath shuddered, the sand sinking under the weight of the now dead monster.

Lloyd panted but could only stare a moment. The burn on his left hand had diminished but still stung minutely as he registered what he had just done. How- how had he..he had lifted it, not only lifted it, thrown it. How was that possible? There was no way he could lift that thing, no human being could possibly lift something like that, even with an exsphere. Lloyd frowned, stepping back and sheathing his swords, his right hand rubbing the exsphere on his opposing one.

He wasn't the only one that was amazed by this, of course.

"That- that was incredible!"

The gaggle of scientists had crowded around, half eying him and half eying the fallen beast. One brave one had already dared to approach the corpse and was examining it curiously. It was the look Raine often got in her eyes over something that piqued her interest; what Lloyd didn't like is that's how many of them were currently looking at him.

"How did you- do that? I've never seen anyone do something like that, even with exspheres!"

Lloyd merely frowned, rubbing the gem on his hand.

"Sir…" The head researcher eyed him warily as he approached. "Who…are you?"

The man twitched a bit, eying the scientist.

"What do you mean by that?" he asked, his voice a little harsher than he had intended.

The head researcher frowned, scanning him a moment before muttering intently with a few of his colleagues.

"You wouldn't happen to be Lloyd Irving, would you? The Chosen's father?"

Lloyd didn't reply.

"You are, aren't you? Miss Sage has told us about you, spiky brown hair and two swords, exsphere on the left hand-"

"So what if I am?" Lloyd snapped, his voice unintentionally icy, his eyes narrowed on the speaker.

"I- please, don't be angry, Miss Sage told us…she told us you were a good man. It's just given your unusual traits she's collected some interesting data on you-"

Lloyd twitched.

"Data? Unusual- what? The Professor's been …researching me?" he stared, a mix between shocked and betrayed.

"Well…just observations she's made about you while living in the village-"

Lloyd turned, walking fixedly back toward the desert.

"Wh- Mr. Irving-"

"Let's go, if we don't leave now it'll be dark before we cover any ground."

He didn't exchange another word with them. Raine had been 'studying' him? How could she- though admittedly he wasn't too surprised, but…surely he wasn't that 'odd' was he? Raine wasn't a gullible rumor-junkie like everyone else in the village, she wouldn't waste time collecting 'data' on some ridiculous lie. Then again…did that mean she really didn't' consider it so ridiculous? Did that mean that there really was something 'strange' about him-? That was a dumb question. He grimaced, rubbing his face as he thought back to his battle with the worm, which he still stunk of. Well, he was strange, wasn't he? How had he done that? Exsphere or not, no human was strong enough to do that, and just before that that damn oracle stone had reacted to him- how? That didn't even make sense. It was supposed to react to the Chosen, or at the very least someone of the mana lineage. He didn't have any blood of the mana lineage, it would've made more sense if Colette had triggered it or something, what the hell would make that stone react to the 'Father of a Chosen'?

He was still semi lost in thought by the time they finally returned to Triet. The group he escorted had been talking amongst themselves for a while, and quite frankly Lloyd was a bit irritated. Were they really so rude as to discuss him so openly when he was present? They didn't even lower their voices. Going on about his newly discovered inhuman strength, the way the stone reacted to him, and even bits about how he didn't' seem to get as tired from the heat.

"Look, I can hear you," he eventually said, glaring over his shoulder. "If you're going to discuss me then at least don't do so right behind-"

He cut off, staring at the group, which was actually a good distance behind him. They stared at him and Lloyd blinked; they had sounded as if they were right behind him…

"How did he hear us?" one asked another.

By their expression and posture, it looked as if the man was whispering, but it sounded so clear to him it was as if they had said it from right next to him. A cold chill ran up Lloyd's spine and he abruptly turned back toward the city. He'd get to the inn, collect his pay and then he'd go to his family and Genis. Then they'd make preparations to head through Ossa Trail. He didn't want to spend any more time with these people. Of course, staying away from them didn't mean the strange things about him would go away, but he stubbornly refused to acknowledge that fact, telling himself it wasn't important.

Again ignoring stubbornly the nagging voice in his head that told him it was.

Lloyd was more than relieved when he opened the door to the room his family was staying in, unable to help laughing when his daughter tackled his legs without rapid shouts of 'Daddy Daddy!'.

"Hey sweetie," he said with a smile, stooping down to pick her up. "Did you miss me?"

"Uh-huh, uh-huh!" Arie nodded quickly, her pigtails bobbing comically. "I missed you! You were gone forever! Mommy and Uncle Genis played with me, but they don't play like you do!"

"She's mad at me because I couldn't give her a horsey ride for an hour straight," Genis muttered grumpily from his seat against the wall, the circles under his eyes indicating his exhaustion.

"I told you, Arie," Colette said, smiling weakly at Lloyd despite her scolding tone. "Uncle Genis isn't as strong as Daddy, you have to let him rest."

"Thanks a lot, Colette," Genis grumbled, letting out a loud yawn.

Lloyd chuckled as Colette approached him, stretching up to kiss his cheek.

"How did it go, Lloyd? I-" the blonde cut off, wrinkling her nose. "Uh-"

"Daddy smells!" Arie jolted suddenly, covering her nose.

"Oh..yeah I should probably go wash up." Lloyd smiled sheepishly. "Had a run in with a pretty big monster and- uh…"

"Ewww! Daddy got dirty with monster guts!" Arie cried, wriggling in a desperate attempt to escape back to her mother.

Lloyd flushed lightly and put her down, the girl retreating to the far side of the room with Genis, holding her nose.

"Arie, that's rude!" Colette scolded, but backed up nonetheless.

"No no, I'm sorry, I tried to clean most of it off, but I didn't want to waste water out there. I'll go clean up, I just wanted to see how you were all doing first," Lloyd said, a crooked smile on his face.

"We're fine," Colette replied, smiling weakly. "You go ahead and wash up, you can tell us what happened later."

Lloyd gave her a nod and left, quickly going to clean up, but still quite clearly heard Colette scolding Arie for being 'mean' to him. Despite it he managed a soft chuckle, smiling as he hurried to the bathing room. It didn't matter how tired he was or how she reacted, he was always happy to see anything from his little girl. She had obviously been bored out of her mind, though. The only time she was ever so blunt like that was when she was half brain-dead. He frowned a bit, thinking as he commenced cleaning himself up. It had already crossed his mind before that perhaps this trip would be too much for her, that perhaps it would have been better if he had just left to search for answers on his own. Perhaps it would've been better, but…no, he couldn't have left her. He couldn't' have left his daughter in the village that was grooming her for slaughter. If he could have his way he'd never let her get near that place again, not until she was released from her so-called 'fate'.

Besides…if need be, if she was with him, he could hide her…

He spent the remainder of his evening playing with his daughter after informing his wife and Genis that he would tell them everything that had transpired once she was asleep. Truth be told, he was unsure just how much he was willing to tell them. How would they react? And Genis…how much had Raine really 'studied' about him, and what of that was Genis aware of? If anything?

Soon, too soon, Arie was tucked into bed, sleeping soundly. Lloyd smiled, kissing her tiny forehead before turning to his wife and friend, walking over to sit with them at the table.

"So, how'd it go? You find anything? The chapel here didn't have much that we didn't know already," Genis said, frowning a bit.

"You said you got attacked by a big monster? Was everyone all right? You didn't have too much trouble, did you?" Colette asked, concern etched into her features.

"That's…actually something I should tell you about," Lloyd said slowly, frowning.

Lloyd proceeded to tell them about his encounter with the sandworm, how he had defeated it and the resulting reactions from the researchers. The pair stared at him, stunned, but before either could ask anything Lloyd had turned to Genis, bringing about what the scientists had mentioned about Raine's 'data' concerning him.

"What? Look, if she really did that, I didn't know anything about it." The half-elf shook his head. "I mean sure she seemed interested, but I mean, what hasn't she gotten suspicious about? But...you actually did that?"

"Yeah." Lloyd bit his lip. "I did, and on the way back I-…I heard them talking. I mean…they were whispering and pretty far behind me, but I heard them fine. They could've been talking loudly or something, I mean that's the only thing that'd make sense, right? But the way there were moving I could've sworn they were-…and…"

Again his companions fell silent as he told them about his inspection of the oracle stone, and what had happened when he had touched its surface. Genis stared and Colette's eyes widened, obviously shocked at the idea.

"I don't know how it happened, I mean, it's only supposed to react to the Chosen, right?" Lloyd asked the two of them. "Even then, I'm not of the mana lineage, do you know anything about that, Colette? Is there something about that I don't know?"

"I- no." Colette shook her head, staring at him. "It's only supposed to react to the Chosen."

"And you're only in the mana lineage by marriage, that doesn't make sense at all," Genis added, frowning.

Lloyd sighed, settling back in his chair as he ran over the events of the past two days in his head again. He hadn't learned anything at all, but he'd found more than his fair share of new questions. His brown eyes drifted over to his sleeping daughter, his frown furrowing his brow. How the hell was he going to save her, to protect her, if he couldn't even figure out what was going on with him?

Mwahahah, suffer Lloydie, suffer.

:P Next chapter, a certain pinkette axe-wielding shows up. How? Well you'll just have to read it! MWahahah, fear me.

Lol, review?