Author's Notes: Well, this is a little story idea that's been floating around in my head since… well, since Dark Dawn was announced. Not always in this form, mind you. Being the diehard mudshipper I am, when I heard they were making a third Golden Sun, I was ecstatic but also realized the problem. What if valeshipping is made canon? After all, I did actually think that if any pairing became canon, valeshipping was the more likely candidate. Didn't mean I liked it, but that's what I thought. So I started coming up with various ways I could potentially make mudshipping work without going against canon. I had everything from "Drunken one-night stand leads to shotgun wedding" to "elaborate hoax even the children are unaware of all made so that on the chance Alex is alive he won't believe that a child of the Mercury Clan exists who's inherited Isaac's portion of the Golden Sun". When I saw the characters I had varying ways I could change these plans depending on which new characters were the children of which old ones. Then the game came out and I reserved picking which excuse I would go with until I had beaten it and saw what worked best. What follows is none of the ideas I came up with beforehand, but an idea that grew as I played the game. This makes mudshipping happen without going against anything canon, and all nicely wrapped up in spiritshipping goodness. Enjoy!
Matthew sat on the bridge near lookout cabin, fuming. His father could be so insufferable at times. Usually Matthew was inclined to agree with his father, but Isaac would never admit to being wrong even on those few occasions when he was. And he felt he was so experienced and wise that he had an opinion on everything.
"He's so impossible," Matthew growled.
Matthew felt the bridge shake and looked up. He had been expecting Isaac, trying to once more explain why his advice should be followed. Instead, Garet had joined him on the bridge. Garet sat down next to Matthew and let his legs dangle off the edge, the same way Matthew was sitting.
"Quite the shouting match you and your dad had back there."
"Not really. I was the only one shouting. Dad just sits there quietly until you're done and then speaks with that… pitying voice!"
Garet nodded, understanding all too well how fruitless it was to argue with Isaac. "Wouldn't be so bad if he wasn't always right."
"But this time he's not right! I mean sure, he's travelled the world and saved it, and met all kinds of people, and had all sorts of experiences, but he has never been in a situation like this! He has no idea what it's like."
Garet shrugged. "Isaac's pretty smart. He usually feels that even if he hasn't been in that situation he's been somewhere close enough, or else he's known someone who was there."
"So are you on his side then?"
"Not on anybody's side yet. I have no clue what your fight is about."
Matthew huffed. "So I suppose this is where I explain everything so you can be mediator and we can all work out our problems."
"Yup," Garet nodded. "Unless you think Tyrell's better suited for it."
"Yeah, right." Tyrell was Matthew's best friend, but he could be really lousy dealing with people. "Fine," Matthew conceded. "I admitted to dad that while I enjoy keeping in touch with all my friends from the Grave Eclipse incident, it was awkward corresponding with Sveta."
"The Queen of Morgal you're always talking about?"
"I'm not always talking about her." Garet raised an eyebrow. "Maybe I… mention her a bit more than the others. But, I'm not always… okay, fine. You got me."
Garet chuckled. "So what's awkward about it? Haven't told her you love her yet? Or maybe you did and she told you she wasn't ready? 'Cuz you're certainly not mopey enough for her to have just said 'no'."
Matthew sighed. "I would try to protest your jumping from 'talk about her all the time' to 'in love with her' but if we're really doing this mediation thing then we'd get there sooner or later anyway. Still, I wish the problem was one of those you suggested," Matthew said, hanging his head. "I told her, and she said she loved me too. But it's complicated. She's queen and Morgal's in some difficult political times. We talked it over, quite extensively, and realized it couldn't work. So we said goodbye."
"Oh my," Garet said quietly. Matthew looked up to see Garet had gone pale. "No need to tell me what happened with your dad, then. Isaac insisted you go after her. He couldn't accept that you couldn't make it work."
"Yes," Matthew nodded. "Garet, what is it? You look like you've seen a ghost."
Garet shook his head, as if trying to clear his thoughts. "Matthew, I'm afraid you don't know as much about your father as you think. Isaac would be very interested in your situation, because he doesn't want history repeating itself."
"History?" Matthew scoffed. "Mom and dad were together for years, and when they did split up it wasn't anything like this. They just… couldn't keep going like that." Matthew became more subdued and quiet as he spoke of his mother. "They just weren't in love anymore."
"You don't understand. But that's not your fault. Your father never speaks of it, especially to you." Garet scratched his chin thoughtfully. "I'm not really sure it's my place to tell you. But it's something you need to hear, and I'm not sure Isaac would tell you. Not the whole story, anyway."
"Just tell me."
"Alright. See, you need to understand that Isaac loves you. He's glad for your sake that he got together with Jenna. But other than that, it's the biggest regret of Isaac's life. I guess I should start thirty years ago.
"Isaac, Jenna, and I were always great friends. And we all loved each other, but as friends. Isaac and I never felt more than that. But Jenna did. Jenna loved Isaac. For how long I don't know, but by the time the elemental stars were stolen she was in love. Isaac was ignorant of this.
"Soon, we went to Imil. You're well aware of what happened there, and Mia joined the group. Only a week or two after that Ivan and I were betting how long it would take for Isaac and Mia to get together."
"Wait a minute," Matthew interrupted. "You guys thought dad and Mia were going to be a couple?" Matthew had a hard time wrapping his mind around that. "That's crazy," he chuckled.
Matthew was confused. "What?"
"You know the story, right? You know when we got to Mogall Forest?"
"Sure," Matthew said. "That was about a month after Imil."
"That's how long it took for Isaac and Mia to start dating."
Matthew's jaw dropped. It took him a moment before he could speak again. "Now… we're eventually relating this to me and Sveta. So, are you saying that dad always loved Mia, and Mia loved him, and they both knew it, and they decided that they couldn't be together anyway?"
"Well, you're getting a bit ahead of the story, but yeah."
"What happened? I can't even imagine it."
"Well, Isaac and Mia stayed together throughout the rest of our travels. They were such a happy couple. Of course they had their ups and downs, but there was little doubt that after our journey they would settle down together and start a family.
"Finally, the power of the Golden Sun was unleashed. You know Vale was destroyed, but it wasn't the only place. There was lots of destruction. One such place was Imil."
"But the people survived. The Wise One warned Mia's apprentices," Matthew said, having heard the story before.
"Yes. And Imil rebuilt quickly. It's at the foot of the Mercury Lighthouse, and the only easy way there. So it's also the only way to the Water of Hermes. Imil quickly became hugely powerful and wealthy because of this. And as the world divided into those who were pro Warriors of Vale and those who were anti Warriors of Vale, we were surprised to see Imil on the anti side. Oh, they still loved their angel Mia, but they were totally against Isaac and the rest of us."
"Really? Whenever I've been there they seemed… alright. Sure, not the most welcoming, but nothing like those towns that blamed dad for 'ending the world'."
"Yeah, well, it's been years, and they've relaxed a little. And Mia always argued for us as well. I think they've moved most of the 'blame' to Felix now, but they think we all participated in fooling Mia to destroy the world and their town. As if the whole time we were in Imil we were rubbing our hands together saying, 'we'll get you soon enough and destroy all that you love.' Anyway, this strained Isaac and Mia's relationship. Mia loved Imil and its people and she couldn't give them up. But the longer they were together, the more the Imilians complained. So they finally broke up. Isaac would still visit Imil often, but just as friends. The Imilians still weren't pleased, but they stopped complaining. Of course they didn't know what happened on Isaac's visits as 'friends' or they would've thrown a fit."
"Hold up," Matthew interrupted. Matthew's whole perception of his father was being turned upside-down. "Dad and Mia broke up. And dad kept visiting Imil. And you're telling me that dad and Mia were sleeping together whenever he visited her as a 'friend'?"
"I think I need to scrub those images out of my brain before it shrivels and dies. Do you really need to tell me that much?"
"Actually, yeah. I do. See, Isaac and Mia had broken up. They had agreed to move on and date other people. Despite that, they weren't moving on. They never saw anyone else. And each time they got together they'd feel guilty and promise that it was the last time. But, inevitably, the next time they visited, they'd end up in the same situation again. Promising again that this was the last time."
"How do you know all this anyway?"
Garet shrugged. "I'm Isaac's best friend. He talks to me. Especially when he's upset and he can't talk to Mia. Some of this stuff he told me at that time, and some he told me later. But I promise you, none of this is just my best guess at what happened. I heard all of it straight from him."
"So, when did this finally stop? I mean, eventually mom and dad get together, and Mia married Rief's dad. Dad hardly ever even visited Imil in my memory."
"That all happened pretty abruptly," Garet said. "One visit to Imil happened just the same as the others. The next month Isaac goes to visit and everything was different. By the time he gets there Mia's been engaged to another man for a week, with the wedding was happening in just days' time."
"That's… sudden. From everything I know about Mia, she's always seemed very careful. I don't see why she would rush into something that important. I don't even see how she could if she and dad were really that close."
"None of us understood. Mia claimed she just couldn't keep going with Isaac the way they had been. She said she wanted to act quickly or she was afraid she wouldn't be able to act at all. We still didn't get it, not at first. But eight months after the wedding Mia gave birth to Nowell."
"Eight?" Matthew's mind was really spinning now. It wasn't hard to see where this was going.
"Mia said the baby was premature, though she was a fine weight and size. But some of us realized it was nine months after Isaac's visit, and the quick wedding made much more sense."
"Are you positive Nowell wasn't really premature? Absolutely positive?"
Garet nodded. "Isaac believed her. It wasn't until years later, but Mia eventually did tell Isaac he was the father."
They had never visited Imil often, so Matthew didn't even know Nowell that well. They barely even recognized each other when they met in Teppe Ruins. It was strange to think that they could be so closely related. "Nowell is my half-sister?"
"Yes. As I said, Isaac didn't learn that for years. Isaac saw Mia get married and have a child, and he was suffering. He tried to move on, just to forget Mia. Of course, Jenna was still in love with him, though she had all but given up. So Isaac and Jenna married, and had you. Mia and her husband had Rief, and everything looked like it would work out. But it didn't. Isaac just couldn't love Jenna. Not the way he loved Mia, and not the way Jenna loved him. They eventually got divorced. That was soon after Isaac learned Nowell was his daughter. He felt he had been a terrible person, because he had never realized and hadn't made himself a part of her life. But by that time it was too late. If Isaac tried it would've just confused and hurt Nowell. Mia divorced as well, though I don't know what finally broke that marriage. But neither marriage was ever truly happy."
"Why didn't Mia tell Isaac right way? And why did she finally tell him?"
"Well the first answer should be obvious. If Mia had told Isaac when she was pregnant, what would Isaac have done?"
Matthew thought about it. "He would've insisted on marrying her, probably."
"Exactly. That wouldn't have gone over well with the Imilians. Especially if they learned Mia was pregnant, and it hadn't been just one wayward night of passion. Mia may have been thrown out of town. Isaac definitely would have been. The Warriors of Vale's reputation would have been permanently destroyed as far as Imil was concerned. And Imil was too powerful and too important to Mia for her to let that happen. As for why she did finally tell him, it was a combination of things. I think Isaac suggested you and Nowell would make a good couple, and suggested to Mia that they should encourage it. Mia objected, much more than it seemed to warrant. Finally, Isaac remembered that Nowell was 'premature' and put it together with Mia's objections then. He asked her, and she reluctantly admitted it." Garet sighed. "Isaac and Jenna's marriage was… strained already. You were all that had been keeping them together. But that revelation broke it, and your parents divorced very soon after. Mia was already divorced by that time. But Isaac still wishes that he had stayed together with Mia. Instead, they've both been suffering for years."
This all made far too much sense to Matthew. Everyone had always tried to present his parents as childhood sweethearts. The start of their adventure thirty years ago always portrayed Isaac in the light of a knight going to rescue his princess Jenna from her kidnappers. If that had been the case, Matthew probably would've been almost thirty now, his parents happily married soon after the Golden Sun event. Instead, Isaac had spent more than ten years after the Golden Sun secretly courting Mia, and Jenna had been completely overlooked. It was heartbreaking to hear that his parents weren't what he had been led to believe. He had gotten used to the idea that they had fallen out of love. He had never considered that they had never been in love in the first place.
But, as heartbreaking as that was, his mind was drawn to his situation. He and Sveta were deeply in love, but convinced it would never work. There was too much at stake! Generally, the people of Morgal loved him and his friends for their help in ending the Grave Eclipse. But there was a faction that blamed them for it, just as the Imilians blamed Isaac for the Golden Sun. Still, the faction was small enough that Matthew would always be welcomed warmly as a visitor. But if he married Sveta, that changed things immensely. Now they could see him as an outsider who manipulated Sveta during their time together to win his way onto the throne. It would be seen by many that he had caused the Grave Eclipse to reduce the beastman numbers, and then marry their queen to take over. They would see themselves just a step away from being slaves once more.
And the fact that his parents were Warriors of Vale didn't help either. Though Matthew held no official political positions, he was still a political force whether he liked it or not. Many nations would hate him by association with the Golden Sun, and would see his marriage to Sveta as an endorsement of the Warriors of Vale and the Golden Sun. That would make many enemies. Those nations who were in favor of the Warriors of Vale would be fine with it, but once again Morgal's enemies would see it as a maneuver to ally with those nations against them.
Already there was a faction within Morgal that disapproved of Sveta as queen. The Tuaparang, Kaocho, and Bilibin were all vocal in their disapproval of the beastman nation. And while Sana was friendly with Morgal officially, there were still many hard feelings among the citizenry of both nations against the other over the still too recent war. Morgal was too weak after the Grave Eclipse to fight anyone on their own, let alone so many. Ayuthay and Yamata would have no trouble sending support, but both were too small on their own to be of much use. They were more of city-states than nations. Champa would be willing to send support, but receiving support from pirates was just as likely to make you enemies as it was to defeat them. No matter how Matthew and Sveta had considered it, Morgal could not afford their love.
But having heard about his father, Matthew saw things in a new light. It was true, his father had rarely been happy that he had seen. They had their moments, but his father always went back to his brooding too soon. He hid himself in his research, in training his son, in anything to keep his mind from wandering where it would. Jenna always had love in her eyes for her family, but it wasn't enough. She could give love, but she could never receive it from Isaac. He tried, so hard, but he simply couldn't. It had led to Matthew being very quiet growing up, and he had never allowed himself to consider his own happiness. It seemed to him that life was about duty, and happiness was fleeting. It had been a miserable way to grow up. And now he could see that Mia's family must have been going through the same thing. Was that why Nowell and Rief had been so eager to leave home and study with Kraden?
Still, his problem was on a whole different level than his father's, wasn't it? Perhaps Isaac and Mia would've been thrown out of Imil, and maybe the Warriors of Vale would even have ended up with rich and powerful Imil as their enemy. But so what? They already had half the world hating them, and many of those were rich and powerful as well. It wouldn't have started a war. Sveta and Matthew were surely in a much more delicate situation.
Were they really? So many already hated Morgal, it's not like Matthew and Sveta's relationship could make them more hated. And no nation would be able to justify going to war over a marriage, even one as significant as this. And it would bring allies as well. Kalay, which was neutral to Morgal, was very pro Warrior of Vale. They would clearly side with Morgal if Matthew were a part of it. And the very title of Warrior of Vale was a deterrent to violence. You may hate them and want them dead, but everyone knew how powerful they were. You didn't want to be the first ones to have to face them. Kalay had been attacked a few times, and it had only served to cement in the eyes of the world that it was a bad idea to fight Warriors of Vale. And within Morgal, would a marriage like this really be seen as bringing them closer to slavery? Most of the people loved Matthew and Sveta. And already Sveta had shown that she was a brilliant politician. Few people would believe Matthew was the power there. And Matthew would have very little chance of taking over even if he wanted to. While he was loved for helping stop the Grave Eclipse, the first name the people of Morgal thought of in that regard was Volecheck. He had fired the Apollo Lens, and Sveta was his blood. No, Morgal extremists wouldn't have much to complain about even if Matthew married their queen.
"You look like you've come to a decision," Garet said. "I recognize that steely look in your eyes. Your dad got that same look whenever he got serious about something."
Matthew nodded. "Thank you, Garet. You're right, dad would never have told me all that. I don't really blame him, either. It's not an easy thing to face, but I needed to hear it."
"So I assume you'll be headed off to Morgal soon, then?"
Matthew nodded. "But, we have time for a stop along the way."
Garet tilted his head to the side in confusion. "A stop?"
"Yes. Families have suffered enough. It's about time my dad stopped dragging his feet and claimed the woman he loves."
"Wait a minute, what?" Garet smirked. "You're going to drag your father to Imil?"
"And why not? I think thirty years is more than long enough to wait for your happily ever after."
"Well said." Both Matthew and Garet jumped at Isaac's voice. "Sorry to startle you. I never meant to eavesdrop." He shook his head. "I never thought I'd see the day when my son showed more courage and maturity than I could muster."
"So… you'll do it?" Matthew asked. "You're going to Mia?"
"Yeah. Garet and Tyrell can watch Mt. Aleph." He let out a shaky breath. "I… am afraid though. What if she doesn't feel the same way for me anymore? What if I'm too late?"
Matthew thought about this for a moment. "Then you'll just have to win her over all over again."
Isaac smiled. It was a shy smile that hadn't been seen in almost thirty years. "I guess I could do that."
Author's Notes: Well, that's that! I hope you enjoyed it. I do have worked out in my head how Isaac's meeting with Mia goes (answer: very well). After which Isaac accompanies Matthew to Morgal to meet Sveta, and I have worked out how that goes (answer: not as well, lots of drama there!). Whether I write up those or not remains to be seen. The Isaac/Mia thing would just be another one-shot, and probably shorter than this one. The Matthew/Sveta thing would likely grow out of control and become a long romance/drama/action story. Since I'm not too willing to commit to a long project right now you're much more likely to get the Isaac/Mia meeting if you get anything. It would be more than just Isaac and Mia getting together though, as I have Nowell being there finding out about Isaac being her dad and all that. So if I do write it I think it would be fun and I would get some drama thrown in there. Nonetheless, let me know what you think. And if any of you mudshippers like the timeline I presented here to explain how mudshipping works with Dark Dawn, feel free to use it with or without giving me credit! See you next time!