Melody of Elemia: the Dance of Lance and Scythe
Prolouge: A New Beginning
Long ago, in a land where the green earth still teemed with life and the oceans blue sparkled, there existed people. People who were just like you and me. Of many shapes, many sizes, many dreams, many desires, many beliefs. They grew old, lived many years. Found the joy of living and discovered the depths of dispair. Died defeated and lived victoriously. Like the infinite stars hanging in the night sky... Some flickered out quickly, many just burnt out after years. No matter who they were: rich or poor, beautiful or ugly, just or unjust, faithful or unfaithful... all fell to the ground to rest within the womb of mother Ar Ciel forever more. Dust to dust. Ashes to ashes. Their fall from grace sustained the world. From within the ashes, others rose like a phoenix to live in their place. Those scions made the same mistakes. Fell just the same. The lucky ones, the ones who tamed the lion of destiny, broke the cycle. Changed the world for the better or worse. Either way, they were remembered by the ones who came afterwards. Though their light faded, the resonsance they left behind stayed with the people. The legends created in honor of those lost souls helped them ascend above the grave and shine once more above us as stars in the sky. Creating tapestries in sky. The constalations are the legends left behind by our precursors. Though people may forget about them in time, the stars hanging above us are always there. Ready to share their tales with those who are willing to listen.
This, my children, is one of those forgotten stories. Gather around the fire, bask in the brillance, and make yourselves comfortable. For this shall be a long tale. Where shall I begin...?
Humanity has always had a curiousity about it. They cannot seem to be satisfied with what they have. They lust after what they could have even if they already possess great wealth. It is alright to want more. It's the basic function of life to desire a more comfortable existance. There is a difference between wanting and guttonous consumption. That greed eventually becomes a beast of unending hunger. A void of endless nothing. It will not stop until it has destroyed everything in pursuit of satisfaction.
Humanity became such a beast. It hacked, tore, and clawed through the earth. Leaving it a scarred and tattered body. The beast of never ending possiblities thirsted after its meal. It drank from the oceans, in one single gulp, the oceans once abundant with life became vast deserts. With the water of life gone, everything began to wither and die. It was a slow, painful death. No hope seemed present. Even the gods seemed to have turned their backs on their creations. Beyond help, the only thing to be done was wait. Watch the last sands of time silently clink at the bottom of the hourglass.
Or so it seemed. The architects of the world's demise also would become its savior. Those few who stood up, opposed human nature, and flew like hawks above the gluttonous horde had a solution. A plan to restore the mother earth to her former glory. The great powers of humanity all came together with their greatest minds. For the first time in human history, all were united for one singular cause. All the killing and chaos had stopped miraculously. Just by knowing the innate nature of humanity, one might've thought this impossible. One might suppose impossible circumstances bred strange alliances. Alliances gave birth to hope. Hope grew up to inspire the people.
The new hope appeared in the form of three new lives. These new life forms who became known as the Trio. Humanity abandoned by its own creators themselves became as gods themselves through the Trio's birth. Creation of living breathing beings was only supposed to have been within the power of the great pantheon. No longer was that the case. One might expect retaliation, no such thing happened. If there was one admirable thing about the humans, it was when they did something they acted quickly and without sense of mercy. In conjunction with the creation of the Trio, the three great spires were irrected. Countless years, lives, and resources were spent to build the towers. In the shadow of their completion, these great lances sprang up from the Earth to pierce the skies. Announcing the dominence of humanity the new rulers of the heavens. The heart of gods had been perforated. If their plan succeeded, the final nail in their coffins would be pounded in with one final strike.
With the everything finally in place, the Trio and their towers were ready. The Trio created by the humans were not mere mortals. These artificial beings were made to be perfect in every way. Their power was unrivaled. Their beauty was unmatched. Their lives were unlimited by the confines of age. These girls, once they were connected to their respective spires, would become goddesses. Their lives became one with the towers just as the towers would be connected with them. Every facet of the tower became an extention of the Goddesses. The power it generated made them omnipotent. The many eyes it had made them omniscient. Just as quick as lightning they could be present anywhere with just a thought. In every aspect, they'd become just as powerful as the supposed gods who created Ar Ciel. The challenge to their authority was plain. No one god showed to take it up.
The hopes and dreams of all life rested on their shoulders. Such weight was unbearable burden for anyone to have. Mortal or deity. One couldn't fathom the pressure they felt. This operation on the planet was do or die. If one thing were to go wrong, it surely would mean the true end. There was no turning back. Years of preporation, lives sacrificed meant they couldn't simply sit around. Regret, doubt, my children... are poisons. Let it linger inside you for too long and it will blacken your soul. Throw you into into an abyss of between what could have been and what is. When you see your chance, let not those chains bind you to the floor. Break those self imposed bindings. Step forward, take the plunge. For falling is the only way you will learn how to fly.
Fly is exactly what they did. Those goddesses through the power bestowed upon them spread their wings. The entire world came under their protective embrace. They whispered to the earth caring reassurances. Sang loving songs into the ears of the children of the great mother. Coaxing them to wake up after a long, long slumber. Emerald Grass once again sprouted from the barren land. The Azure Seas cooled the throat of the parched infinite deserts. The winds of the once poisoned skies no longer were lonely, tortured howls of a dying world. Now they were playful, warm whispers dancing through the restored forests. The four winds had just one simple thing to say: thank you. Even though humanity was nature's destroyer, it was also its savior. They'd done wrong, surely. But, the fact that they tried to make things right trumped all. Success over death. Over the final curtain call. The great stage could once again host a full cast of actors. This one story has a happy result. It's just the one thread of many weaving a single complex tapestry together. The first act, if you will, has come to a close. The next is...
"That's enough for tonight..."
The storyteller's eyes flickered towards the darkness. A figure half shrouded in shadow and light, the edges of a beautiful face came into her vision. Somewhere in her twenties, she was tall and elegant woman. Long sky blue hair fell down her shoulders shone like a glittering water fall in the radience. Ends of it curled like tiny drills, giving her greater distrinction. Her steel gray eyes had a certain hardness to them, hinting at a difficult life beyond the glamorous her appearance. She may've been a woman of great beauty on the surface, but the storyteller knew all too well about the warrior beneath. This was the wilderness was her home away from home. A place beyond the cold, artificial tower she hailed from. The great spire of Ar tonelico was been where she was born. Still, she prefered the warmth of a summer's day on the lower world to the constant mountain air of Platina. The cool wind blew through her hair, shifting the hair silky blue hair to the side and back. Rather than twist her face in annoyance of the mess it created with her long locks, her face curled into a glad smile. As if the wind had told her a bit of good news. A bundle of kindle under one arm, and a hatchet held loosely in the other hand. The bounty of her venture into darkness reaped much good fortune. The fire was sure not to go hungry tonight.
"Besides," She jested, gesturing casually with her axe. "I hardly think these kids understood half of what you said. Your stories can be so long and drawn out..." She dropped the bundle plus cutting tool with a slight clatter and sat down on the dewy grass relaxed like. All cares she had drained away from her. She stretched and yawned. "Y'see..." She grinned toothly, not bothering to hide her yawn. "I wasn't here and you're putting me to sleep already!"
"Nuh-uh!" A tiny voice interjected pointedly. Raising a slight hand in defiance. The little girl behind that confident voice smiled big. The jade green eyes she had twinkled like stars with intelligence and exuberence. The twin black braids her hair were put into seemed to bounce as an extension of her energy. "I understood plenty of it, Auntie Cathy!"
"Of course you did, Misha..." The woman, despite the flatness of her voice, looked at the young girl fondly. "You are the resident genius among the young'uns. I wish mine were that smart."
"Hey!" Another young voice rang out angrily. Just plain peeved face glared daggers. A boy of ten years of age spat. His dark hair was long and wild mane that jut out every which way. Dark blue eyes were filled with some disdain. His wild look made him seem as if he belonged to the forest. It wasn't easy to discern that he was her son by looks alone. Maybe he just took after his father? "We're just as smart as her!" He nudged girl sleeping on his shoulder awake. Her eyes fluttered open sleepily. Not quite knowning what was happening. "Aren't we, Lexi?"
"I don't care..." She murmured tiredly, rubbing the sleep from her steely gray blue eyes. "Let me sleep, Xander." The girl latched onto her brother's arm. She again buried her head into his shoulder, seeking again the comfort of sleep in him. In just about every facet, she looked the splitting image of her younger brother. Except for the wild hair, Lexi's midnight colored locks were long and straight. Styled into two very long pig tails, if it weren't for the luminence, her hair might've just blended in with the background. Again, she really had no resemblence to her mother. The father's genes ran strongly through the both of them.
Cathrine chuckled. "Don't take it so personally, hon. I was just kidding." Despite how much she loved making fun of them, she also loved both of her children deeply. Alexandre and his sister Alexei were both of the Caelestinus bloodline. A line of strong, independant warriors that'd fought through many great wars on both sides. It honestly didn't matter... If there was a fight to be had, they were always seemed to be in the general vicinity of it. They had a innate ability to find a conflict like a wolf sniffing out its next meal. Fighting was in their blood and they were proud of it. Whether this was to the greater benefit of the world often varied. Regardless, the Caelestinus were always the vanguards at the head of change's relentless charge. She had overwelming confidence they'd live up to their family's heritage.
Misha giggled at the twins. The boy sitting next to her joined in on the moment of unbridled humor. "Yeah, Andre." He teased eagerly. Mouth arching into a superior smile. "Can't you tell a joke from a serious moment?"
"So says the idiot who hasn't mastered tying his own shoe laces yet..." Alexandre countered. A smirk of his own on his lips. The other boy winced slightly. Looking down in shame. Misha patted his unruly blond head comfortingly. She scowled slightly at Alexandre. "That was pretty low. You know how hard he works on that between Funbun breaks. You should apologise. Before I have get your mom to step in."
His eyes widened like prussian blue saucers. "Y-you wouldn't!" He stammered. The wrath of his mother was too great to put into words. Being right there, she honestly really didn't seem very concerned by their childish squabbles. He didn't seem to notice though. The prospect alone was too frightening.
"I would!" She said confidently. He gulped and looked to his sister for some help. Alexei unconcernedly snored the night away. "You are some help..." He muttered sarcastically.
"What will it be?" She coldly asked. "Intense pain or a simple apology?"
"F-fine!" He tried and failed to sound genuine. "I'm sorry Lyner!"
"Say again?" Lyner raised his head. Not entirely convinced.
"Don't make me say it twice, Barsett!"
"Sorry... I'm hard of hearing."
"I'm sorry! Please don't let mom kill me!"
"You're so easy to manipulate..."
"You were faking! Why you..."
The Storyteller watched the entire scene unfold quietly. She smiled to herself. The simple joys of moments like these were few and far inbetween. The beauty of in their young smiles were the few things she hadn't become jaded on. She wished for a moment these children were her own. The Storyteller supposed they were, in a way. They'd let a total stranger into the lives without judgement or demand of reason. Their innocence was one of the few last pure things left in this dead, decomposing world. Humanity, the remnants of life itself, were clinging to the final strands of what you could barely call a life. They lived on borrowed time... Everyone did, in a sense. All had their limited time on the shattered Ar Ciel. It was all just a matter of time before remaining pieces fell into an even darker abyss. A disaster that would make the tragedy of 700 years ago look like a picnic loomed above their heads like a perverbial Sword of Damocles. No one knew it, but the rope was to be cut sooner than they expected.
Being the only one with such knowlege was a harsh burden, for sure. It troubled her not though. In her long life, she'd lived with many heavy weights on her shoulders. They had yet to break her. As long as she walked this world... she wouldn't let anything happen to those children. That's just how important their lives were to her.
"FERRY... HEEEELLLOOO! AR CIEL TO THE DAYDREAMER! WE'D LIKE YOU DOWN HERE ON TERRA FIRMA, PLEASE!"
The storyteller blinked. Her recollection was shattered. She frowned deeply at the curious face so close to hers. The steelly grey eyes she looked into glimmered with mischief. She could imagine the stupidly huge grin on Cathrine's face. Anybody else she might've considered aiming a little impromtu missile at them for this violation of personal space. Luckily for Cathrine, she was a friend... Sort of.
"Hello, Cathy..." She said disdainfully. A wicked smile slowly appearing on her face. "Would you like to experience a firey demise, old friend? I can arrange that for you with ease and quickness."
"Whoa..." Cathrine quickly retracted herself from her personage. Her body and voice were ripe with faux terror. "Scary! You wouldn't wanna do that wouldja, Ferry? Not to somebody whose been a loyal friend as I have!"
"I wonder about that sometimes..." The Storyteller played along, a certain playfulness was lined in her cold tone. "With how much you make fun of my stories and talk about how boring I am to my face. Would a true friend do that?"
"It's what real friends do!" Cathrine protested, making over dramatic motions with her arms. "Just like we're doing now! Right, Ferry?"
"You're truly blessed..." 'Ferry' chuckled. A slight smile tugging on her lips. "To have such a boring friend. I don't know what you'd do with my stiff habits to rope you in, you surely would've been put to the steak and lit aflame for your annoyingly cheerful demenor."
"And you as well, ol' friend." Cathrine smiled back. Her pearly whites showing their best and brightest. "You wouldn't get away from that stuffy library of yours either. Filled with cob webs and old, dusty books. Without me getting you out there, you'd be a manless shut in."
"I guess we balance out each other's existences." The Storyteller said sarcastically. "That doesn't make us friends though. Just neccessary allies."
"You're so cruel, Ferry..."
"And sadistic. It's one of my most charming qualities." She added humorously.
The two young women shared a good laugh. Even though the final moments were few, having such people by her side made it bearable. It was one of the reasons why she still fought even today.
The children watched quietly. Giggling to themselves all the while at their guardian's exchanges. Being around them was often like having their own private comic duo playing live for them. Lyner wasn't quite getting the context of it. Misha explained it to him patiently. Lyner grinned big and laughed a bit. Alexandre simply mused on the ways he could get his sister unhinged from his arm. Alexei joyfully snoozed the time away, dreaming of what she'd do with her beloved twin tomorrow.
In the shadows beyond the luminence, a figure stirred the blackness. Cathrine's eyes narrowed dangerously. Her hand darted for the hatchet she'd used moments before for an entirely different purpose. The Storyteller was also at the ready, she threw herself in front of the children to act as a protective barrier for them. Faster than lightning, both young women were very ready to do what it took to sheild their charges. Cathrine's lazer like glare was locked on the silhouette. It didn't make a sound as it approached. The figure bobbed up and down in mid air, almost as if resisting gravity. A set of many eyes blinked ominous crimson. The sense of forboding they projected did not make Cathrine's fighting stance go limp. Her desire to guard her kin was amplified by it. Her steel colored eyes became harder than diamonds. Cathrine raised her weapon for the kill.
"Stand down, Captain Caelestinus." A cool, commanding feminine voice ordered. Emerging from the shadows, the white and gold figure was bathed in luminence rendering her colors once more brilliant. She could've been described as a Valkyrie, a warrior angel of legend, decended from heaven to visit mere mortals. A massive helm covered her head, leaving only her mouth exposed. A golden head piece topped the head of her helm like the tiara of an empiress. Her face couldn't be seen through the dark blue visor sheilding what may've been some important electrical equipment. Three narrow blood red lights blinked dully on either side of the helmet. Her golden breastplate shaped to her chest shown brightly. A massive pair of featherless wings jutted out from her shoulders, covering her arms. And yet for their massive size, they did not flap. This didn't explain the reason why she could levitate. Through some unmeasureable power... She floated on air. Be it magic or science. She would probably never tell.
"Lady Shurelia!" A blond blur shot out from behind Ferry, latching himself to the levitating armor. The humannoid mouth of the armored woman let out a small gasp. Shurelia wasn't at all expecting such a fast response. The force of the sudden embrace caused her to thrown off offbalance. The soft glow of emminating from her 'feet' compensated for Lyner's unexpected attack. A gloved hand patted the boy's frizzy mane affectionately. Lyner looked up at Shurelia with a jovial grin. His hold around her metallic waist tightened. His face pressed up against her midriff. Lyner loved the feeling of her cool armor against his face. "I see your training is going well, Lyner." A loving smile tugged at Shurelia's lips. "You're much faster than last time we met..." She admitted, almost begrudingly. "I have to say you caught me off guard there."
"This is the reason why you need us, Mil Lady Admin..." Cathrine visibly relaxed along with everyone else. Chuckling lightly at the sight of Lyner almost bowling Shurelia over, she decided to give her superior a hard time. "If a ten year old can almost knock you over, I'd hate to see what a virus could do to you."
Whether or not Shurelia heard that was left hanging in the night air. The children all seemed to be excited to see Shurelia. All for very different reasons... Alexandre was facinated by her armor, he seemed to think Shurelia might've been a robot. Ferry thought maybe he should lay off the cartoons a bit. He intently tugged at Shurelia's arm. Perhaps to see if her arm were detachable for a signature rocket punch. Lyner and Alexandre constantly argued about whether or not Shurelia was a robot or a cyborg. Ferry had her money on cyborg. Shurelia claimed neither were right. Quite advantagous that she wasn't the betting type. Tugging on Shurelia's other arm, Lyner himself possessed strongest attachment to the Administrator by far. He treated the armored woman almost as if she were his mother. Shurelia strangely did not shun his affections. It was possibly the first time she'd ever seen her open her heart to another living creature. Alike creatures attracted alike, she supposed. Alexei sleepily stared up at her with quiet facination, still holding onto her twin's arm as if she were going to fall off the edge of world. Which could be a very real prospect on the Wings of Horus. It was a good thing they decided to stick to more inland Skuwat. Poor girl would've had a fit if she had to look into the Sea of Death again. Except for Misha... She stood beside Ferry, staring at the night's sky thoughtfully. Ferry knew what the girl was pondering... Fate was a cruel master. Bending even innocent children with their whole lives ahead of them to serve her feet.
"Ow!" Misha whined. Rubbing the nose Ferry had victimized with a quick flick. "What was that for?"
"You should be over with them..." Ferry said flatly, gesturing lazily to the crowd around Shurelia. "Not stinking it up here with old foggies like me. You can save the plainitive look for when you get older and have actual regrets."
"But...!" The girl went wide eyed, trying desperately to formulate an arguement with her precocious brain. Ferry would hear none of it, she shoved Misha towards the children's direction. "Go..." She said quietly, a sad smile on her bookish visage. She pushed up her glasses back up to the bridge of her nose. Jade and Prussian blue lock for a moment in pure, wordless understanding. Misha offer, the ever stubborn girl, offered no protest. She simply nodded at her and went off to join her friends.
"I know, Cathrine..." The bookish woman's face hardened, she glanced over at the children and Shurelia. They were joined by a few of Shurelia's escorts... It was a rare thing to have the Administrator herself come down to the lower world. She believed the armored woman simply wanted to make sure Misha's delivery to the Tribe was done personally. It showed how little Shurelia trusted them. Not that she blamed her... If she were Eoria, she'd trust her very little also. She gestured for Cathrine to follow her. Cathrine hestantly followed, looking back at the group cautiously. It was just in Cathrine's nature to be so protective of her kin. "I wish her involvement in this silly conflict wasn't required either... Sadly, the young must always fight the battles of the old."
"We could..." Cathrine offered hopefully. The cool night wind blew through her hair. None of its normal comforts could wipe the worry from her expression.
"I know how easily we could end this..." Inferia cut Cathrine off. Not at all wanting to hear any arguement. Her voice had a commanding tone to it. It was very clear between them who was the superior. "That just is not a part of the plan. We need her knowledge if we are to accquire the Heart. I nor Shurelia know how to create one. It's a neccessary evil for the greater good..."
"For the greater good..." Cathrine did not seem to like the taste of those words on her tounge. The frown on her face deepened. "Do you think..."
"Yes..." Inferia answered with a sense of finality. She already knew what Cathrine was going to ask. They'd been over this a million times. Once the scenario was finalized, there was no changing it. Inferia's stubborn streak ran a mile high. "The chidren's participation is also key to this operation. That's why I entrusted him specifically to you. Make sure he grows up strongly. We will need his strength once he comes of age."
"Of course, Mistress Inferia..." She saw there was no obedience in her supposed submission to the plan. Not in her voice, nor in her face did it show. Strange how a hardened killer like her grew so attached to creatures so inane.
"None of that..." Inferia dismissed quietly. The quiet forest night stroll at the ended at the boundry between the small town of Skuwat and the wilderness. Soft glow of the lights inside the few houses that hadn't gone to sleep yet lit up the night. The local tavern was lively with music and cheer. The recent summer harvest was a bountiful one. All the village's hard working men gathered to celebrate a fine year and toast to another late into the night. Inferia was slightly jealous... The harvest of their own garden was far from full bloom. "I know how attached you've grown to all of them. If you train the two properly, they should be able to survive splendidly."
"..." Cathrine glowered at her. She didn't like talk of her children as pawns. Inferia only wished she understood how much she hated talking like that. Somebody had to be the logical one here. How much of a burden that was nobody fully understood.
"Don't look at me like that, Cathrine..." Inferia sighed, putting a comforting hand her friend's shoulder. She hoped Cathrine would appreciate her words. Her confidence in Cathrine and the plan she'd made couldn't be defined by mere words. "I've already calculated the odds of everything and figured it all into the plan accordingly. I don't doubt your capacity... In fact, I trust in yours completely. There is no other partner I'd rather have than you. We've worked too long and hard to see the restoration of our Empyreal Mother fail."
"Long and hard... Hehehe." Suddenly, Inferia could feel stiffness in her shoulders loosen up. Cathrine was shaking with laughter.
"Stuff it, Cathy..." Inferia's eyebrow twitched. She really didn't meant it in that context. Even if she did, it really wasn't that funny. "You're ruining my moment."
"You're just no fun, Ferry!" Cathrine somehow managed in her bouts of laughter.
"I'll show you fun once I start singing!" She smiled dangerously. By no means was it happy, the killing intent in the vein throbbing above her left eye brow was almost palpable.
"Oh no!" There was sudden distance between them. Despite the rage Inferia that washed off her friend in droves, Cathrine grinned big. It was all too much fun. "The evil master mind is going to murder me!"
"Murder? That's just the start!"
Laughter rang through out the forest with explosions. The citizens of Skuwat on that night swore the devil had come to visit them. To a little girl named Aurica watching this... It was her first taste of true power. There was no fear... Just a morbid facination of the angry bookish woman and her indescribably fast target. Before she was taken away from by her father, half of the forest of destroyed in five minutes. That was more power than Claire had demonstrated in any song she sung. Even as she was taken away by the hand hurriedly, she couldn't tear her eyes from the alight forest. Or the woman wreaking unprecidented destruction. Aurica wondered how she could gain something so indescribable. So... heated. Everytime another explosion set off, a new sun lived and died in a moment. She could feel the heated wind blowing through her hair... Whispering in her ear words only Reyvateil could understand. She desired it for herself... That hot flame no one could hope to touch without being consumed by it. That flame of a Goddess' passion...
Destiny had a funny way of intertwining even bystandards in its indescriminate threads. Aurica Nestmile would become more important to its unfolding than she ever imagined.