Well, I was convinced into picking up the slack on the Wonder Chef/Caleb series of fics for ToS, which means I'm juggling a lot more fics than I'm comfortable with, but at least these ones were completed long ago. So they were never posted anywhere. Go fig. Adam's story is companion to Caleb: Center of the Storm, as the events in both occur at about the same time, running parallel until they reach the Wonder War event. Now, because things from Caleb's future is a little different from the series I've written so far here in his past, we can just blame ToS2 for that, since its timeline crashed with the one I had for my fics and so I had to speed up the events in the history Caleb has in his modern form. Did that make any sense? Oh well. I'll try to keep both of these updated at the same time. Also, anyone interested in reading the complete Cast From Paradise poem should be able to find it on my dA gallery. ht tp: / digi-dolphin .deviantart. com/art /Cast-From -Paradise- 31802503
Adam: Cast From Paradise
The meadow of the Yggdrasill Tree was regaining more of its verdant glory with each passing day the tree grew strong. Vines and saplings slowly began covering the remnants of the Tower of Salvation, crumbling the rubble that had been left by its destruction years earlier. From the village of NeOzette, one could just about see the top of the tree and the many sparkling colors that danced around it were the mana beast clans collecting mana to spread around the world. In this sacred and sheltered meadow, the Guardian of the Tree, Martel, watched over the magical beasts as they performed their ancient duties. The Spirit of Mana, now called the Goddess of Symphonia, tended to the tree and protected it as long as Lloyd and the world kept the pact that had been made to her.
As Martel had taken the combined forms of Mithos' sister Martel and Tabatha, the automated doll, as a vessel to be reborn, the Goddess was now able to freely move from the spirit realm to the living world. In the process of taking this body, she also gained a younger brother, Caleb, Altessa's second automated doll. Many hours were sometimes spent by the goddess pondering her situation. Though the form she was in was used to having a sibling, Martel herself was not. And the fact that the bond between them was doubly strengthened because of Caleb's soul was slightly unsettling, but so far there have been no troubles. Caleb wasn't attached to Martel that completely, emotionally speaking, and with the adventures he'd been undertaking recently, his visits became fewer and didn't last as long as before. For that, Martel breathed a sigh of relief.
Then she would remember about Wren.
Wren, known better as Adam Voraci, known best as the Wonder Chef, was considered by Caleb to be the closest he had to a best friend. Isolated from everyone because of his looks and what he was, Caleb often could only count on Martel and Altessa, and sometimes the Heroes of Union, to treat him as an equal and a friend. With the rescue of the Wonder Chef from an incident long ago, Caleb found a sort of kindred spirit he could truly call a 'friend'.
Martel sighed again, this time with a sense of dread as she sat demurely on the giant root of the Mana Tree.
Caleb had found a friend, true, but his best friend was human and subject to all that being human entailed. A doll built by magitechnology, Caleb would live almost forever, eternally youthful and everlasting. Adam, Wren, would eventually die, as all living beings must. This may be the doll's undoing, as Caleb formed an attachment to his friend so strongly, one would say it was eerily familiar. For this, Martel would shake her head, almost despairingly, then gaze heavenward in search of an answer. Beside her, Orator, the wisest of the mana beasts and her personal companion, lifted his head from massive paws, dark brown and black-striped fur rippling in the breeze as he watched the meadow with a firm expression on his face.
A blast of white smoke erupted not far from them and Martel blinked. Standing there in the clearing of greenery and stone was the very man she'd been thinking about, Adam Voraci, along with a new girl she'd not been introduced to at all. Martel stood and floated off the root, pushing her troubled thoughts aside for later. This was new; the Wonder Chef in her meadow without her younger brother and Peppermint FireBlossom, Caleb's mana beast companion? This did not bode well.
Ginger Spicewood looked all around her in awe as Adam sighed half-heartedly and slid the Wonder Fork onto his back. Normally, coming to the meadow inspired a sense of understanding about the nature of the world in him, followed soon by the realization of how little he was in comparison to everything that happened around him. Now, it was just a reminder of pain and misery and old wounds that never fully healed.
"Wow! Is this really the Holy Ground of Kharlan? I thought only priests and scholars ever came here!" Ginger exclaimed as she took in the sights with wide, almond-colored eyes, "It's amazing! Look! Here's what's left of the Tower of Salvation! Is it true that it was just a gate that helped separate the worlds before the Reunion?" Adam sighed again and closed his eyes, trying not to lose his temper again.
"Yes, yes. Big, stupid tower. That's right." he murmured and rubbed his head as he tried to get used to being in a world covered in mana again. The week or so he had spent in Shadow's mana-less book-world was unnerving for him, though exactly why it would affect him like this when Ginger was perfectly fine wasn't clear at the moment. He would need a good day's rest, a well-prepared meal and perhaps a hot bath as well before he could begin feeling anywhere near normal, especially after his narrow escape earlier.
"Oh my Goddess! More mana beasts! Look at them all! So Pepper really isn't the only one!" Ginger squealed and gasped, "Ohhh! And the Mana Tree! It's so beautiful and big! The link that connects the worlds, right? That's what the Heroes of Union called it, right?" She gasped again as Adam looked at her in irritation. "Who is that? Adam, there's someone here... she's coming towards us..." Ginger whispered fearfully as Martel walked up to greet them. The green-haired woman stopped before them as Adam folded his arms over his chest irritably.
"This would be Martel, Guardian of the Yggdrasill Tree." he answered. Ginger's eyes went wider and she dropped into a kneeling position, head bent over clasped hands as she began praying fiercely, eyes shut tightly.
"Goddess Martel, blessed be those that follow thy teachings. Thy mercy be all-encompassing and eternal. Forgive me of my sins and guide me to thy path of salvation..." the words tumbled from her mouth, voice trembling as she struggled to remember the whole prayer. Martel frowned slightly and Adam blushed.
"Stop that! She doesn't like it when people act like that in front of her!" he yelled, "Martel's the Spirit of Mana, not the fake Goddess Mithos claimed she was just to get people to kill themselves for her!" Ginger snapped her head up and stared at him, horrified. Martel sighed and rubbed at her forehead.
"At this point, I may as well just accept it, right?" the goddess muttered, "Maybe then I can get the people to find something else to worship, eventually. I hope." She helped the confectioner to her feet and dipped her head in greeting. "Let's start this again. I am Martel, the Spirit of Mana and Guardian of the Mana Tree. And I would suppose Goddess of Symphonia, too, though that was never my intent." she remarked and smiled gently, "And you are...?" Ginger blinked and blushed furiously, trembling nervously.
"Ah, ah! M-my name's G-Ginger Spicewood! I'm a confectioner!" she stammered loudly. Martel's smile grew wider and she chuckled.
"Oh? Really? How sweet! It sounds like a fine thing to do." she remarked and turned to the Wonder Chef, "Adam, where are Caleb and Pepper? Has something happened?" Adam frowned and turned his head aside, gazing into the distance.
"They went to Derris-Kharlan. I chose to stay behind." he answered shortly. Martel waited and he growled. "I was told to stay here in your meadow until Caleb returns." he finally added. The goddess nodded.
"I see. Come with me, both of you." she murmured and turned, leading the way back to the tree. Orator stood to meet the newcomers himself, nodding his head at the blonde chef in greeting.
"Good day, Lord Wren. I trust you are well?" he asked. Adam smiled weakly and waved at him.
"Please, just call me Adam. Wren is just a nickname and, to be honest, I only really feel comfortable when it's just Caleb who calls me that." he answered, "And I'm feeling a little ill right now. I'm not entirely sure why." Orator raised an eyebrow at that and nodded.
"All right. Lord Adam it is. May I inquire as to the name of your lady friend?" he went on and grinned as the two humans both turned a shade of pink.
"There's nothing going on between us!" they exclaimed, "Why is everyone trying to say there is? We've got nothing in common!"
"I didn't say anything of the sort. I only asked her name." Orator corrected, still smiling, "But now that you mention it, you seem far too nervous for there to be merely 'nothing'." Martel turned and blinked at her companion, then looked at the two chefs for a moment before gazing distantly away. She smiled suddenly and looked back at them warmly.
"Ah, you must be the ones then. I had a feeling the day I first met you, Adam, that many great things would come of your life." she murmured. The two humans looked at each other in confusion, then shrugged, lost.
"My name's Ginger Spicewood. I'm a confectioner from Ozette." the dark-haired cook answered at last. Orator thought it over and nodded.
"All right. Lady Spicewood it shall be. Bride of the Wonder Chef, a fine title indeed." the mana beast agreed. Ginger turned red and sputtered as Adam groaned softly to himself.
"I'm never gonna hear the end of it, am I?" he sighed. Martel tapped her staff into the earth for attention. The group looked at her, confused.
"Okay, I think we've all had enough. Adam, Ginger, you two must be tired. The day is waning and there is much yet to be done." the goddess told them and raised her staff, summoning a pair of tawny mana beasts to her, "These two are of the MudPuppy clan, blessed by Gnome to be in tune to the earth. They will construct a temporary shelter for you. There is a hot spring not far from here in the forest and NeOzette is a few hours away if you ride the GaleForce mana beasts." Ginger stretched and nodded as Adam frowned in confusion.
"Wait, what did you mean by there being much to be done? Is something going on?" he asked her and stiffened slightly, "Does this... does this mean something's gone wrong with the Wonder Organization? What's happened to my family?" Martel reached out and placed her fingertip over his mouth, silencing him.
"Tomorrow, we will discuss this. Rest now, your mana was severely depleted and you're lucky to still be standing here like this." she told him and shook her head at his startled expression, "No more questions. Not tonight. Rest." With that, she lit up in soft, green light and vanished into the tree. Adam blinked and sighed.
"Why do I feel like everyone knows more about my life than I do?" he muttered and walked off to follow the MudPuppies and Ginger as they searched out a spot to make camp.
By the time the sky was filled with stars, a new hut was fully built and furnished to shelter the cooks in the meadow, a small campfire burning brightly just outside to provide light and warmth. Ginger sat on the fallen log that served as a bench and watched the simmering pot that hung over the flames. Things were so confusing now, and she was beginning to see what Adam meant by everything one knew being torn to pieces. Her own beliefs were crumbling the more she learned and traveled with Caleb and his friends. She propped her cheek on her hand and sighed sadly.
Once upon a time, Ginger dreamed of becoming Wonder Chef herself, a child's wish to use the title to further the fame of her family's candy. Once, she dreamed of becoming the world's greatest confectioner, with treats praised by royalty all over the land. And now, those dreams were gone.
Her family was killed when Ozette burned and her dreams of continuing the family business died with them. She joined the Dark Chef Alliance in hopes that their influence would help revitalize her work and bring the honor she felt the Spicewood Family deserved, then discovered her recipes were stolen to further the war between them and the Wonder Organization. The betrayal tasted bitter and she abandoned them. Traveling with Caleb and Adam and Pepper, Ginger learned of the Wonder Organization's intentions for Adam, and her dream of a peaceful group that would help her restore her honor went up in flames.
"This is all insane. And here I thought that the Wonder Organization would be the saviors of the world, not a bunch of old fogeys trying to kill their leader to gain more power." Ginger muttered and looked over at the edge of the clearing. She blinked and straightened in surprise. There he was, just standing there, looking up at the sky. She followed his gaze and spotted the round, shimmering violet and pink circle that was Derris-Kharlan. Smaller than Symphonia's moon in the sky, the comet was so far away, trailing behind as the world spun on through space. "And Adam is still scared of that place. But why? Why would he be afraid of a place he's never been to?" Ginger murmured and looked back, gasping as she found the chef gone. She stood quickly and looked around her, searching the meadow almost frantically. "Adam? Adam! Gah, he could be anywhere if he used that fork of his to teleport!" she exclaimed and ran for the hut, peering inside to check on their packs. The Wonder Fork lay on a bed of leaves and dried grass next to the chef's bag. Ginger tilted her head in confusion. "Okay, so he didn't teleport. Maybe he's in the forest?" she murmured.
If Adam had to name just one thing he liked about Tethe'alla, it would have to be the hot springs. Not only did that world have dozens of them all over the place, but they were great for cleaning utensils and dishes that had to be completely sanitized before being used again. Then there was that whole soaking in them for a good long while to relax and rejuvenate oneself. Nothing in the world could beat stress like a hot spring bath.
"I hope the joining of the worlds moved a couple of these to Sylvarant; I know of some people who could definitely use them." Adam sighed comfortably, up to his neck in the water. The pond he discovered on his walk through the forest was unusual, as if it had been crafted to suit different depths, and was surrounded by rock and rubble covered in moss. Perhaps it had been made by a MudPuppy, or one of Undine's Tempest clan mana beasts had a craving for a hot spring and joined forces with one of Efreet's FireBlossoms to create one.
Surrounded by the shimmering light of mana and warm water, the blonde began feeling better almost immediately after stepping into the pool. Maybe Martel had been right about his mana being drained, but where would it have been depleted, and why? Adam opened his eyes and gazed up at the stars, pensive as he turned the questions over in his head. There was a lot he learned in such a short time, and not only was it highly confusing, it was painful as well.
"So much I never knew, so many things that don't add up. Shadow's right about Eru; if he had the Wonder Fork the whole time, like the legends say, then there's no way he could have died in the ambush seven thousand years ago." he murmured, "But if he survived, he would have continued his bloodline. His family should still be alive. So where are they? Where is the Tanreht Family, the true Wonder Chef Family?" He blinked at the shimmering star that was Derris-Kharlan and bit his lip, eyes tearing up at the thought of Caleb and Pepper being up there. "Please..." Adam whispered to the heavens, "Please, don't find out I lied. Don't let them find the truth."
The stars only twinkled brightly, almost mockingly. The chef sighed again, floating on his back as he stared up at the sky.
"What the hell did I do to deserve this?" he finally groaned before taking a deep breath and allowing himself to submerge completely into the pool of water.
Ginger pushed aside the brush and branches, grumbling to herself as she winced at the multitude of scratches and scrapes on her arms and legs. For all the crud she was going through, she had better find the idiot Wonder Boy in serious trouble or something. This was not how a lady traveled, no way; she was the last Spicewood, heir to all that was left of the Family! She had to find a confectioner equal to her skill, marry, and start the family over again. Ginger did not have time to deal with a bratty little blonde who didn't know which way was up every half hour or so.
"I am so going to wring his neck like a lump of taffy!" she growled as she stepped out of the foliage into a small clearing. She paused and blinked at the wide pool of water before her. It was steaming and surrounded by moss-covered stones, all shimmering in the light of beads of mana floating through the air. Ginger smiled brightly, eyes shining at the sight. "Now this is more like it! I'll look for Adam later; Momma needs a soaking!"
Moments later, Ginger was thoroughly enjoying herself in the hot spring, drifting along the surface as she lazily tread water on her back. The stars overhead seemed to wink at her and she smiled wider. This was a perfect spot to relax. Once she found the chef, she'd drag him over and throw him into the water. Maybe that would loosen him up some and help him get over being so uptight.
"This is heaven!" she burbled and giggled, "Oh, if I had known this was here earlier, I would have staked this place out and told those mana beasts to make the camp here!" After a moment she glanced at the edge of the pond and blinked at the folded green cloth set on the grass nearby. "Hmm? That's not my dress." she murmured in confusion, paddling over to examine it. She picked up the first piece and spread it open before her. Her eyes went wide in shock. "This is...!" she began in a tight voice as the familiar brass buttons and white sleeves sent alarms pounding in her head, "Aaaiiieee!"
The water behind her erupted in froth as Adam surfaced in a panic, splashing about wildly as he tried to get his bearings and a lungful of water out of his mouth. Ginger screamed again, staring at him as she clutched the shirt to herself, eyes growing wider with each passing second.
"What? What?" the blonde yelled between coughs and focused on the source of the screeching. For a moment, both of them went silent, staring at each other in horror. Their faces turned red almost the same moment and both screamed in unison once realization brought life back to them.
"Aaaaiiiieee! Get out!" Ginger screamed, curling her legs up to try to cover her whole body with one shirt. Adam backed away quickly, taking refuge behind one of the boulders that sat in the more shallow end of the pond.
"Me? You're the one who invaded my privacy! You get out!" he yelled back and covered his face with his hands, "For the love of all things that still remain sane in this world, put some clothes on!"
"I can't! My dress is too far away! I threw it off before I got in!" Ginger wailed, "This was supposed to be a relaxing soak! You ruined it!"
"You're ruining my clothes! Stop splashing around like some half-dead fish!" Adam yelled back, "Besides, I was here first!" Ginger only wailed louder. The chef blinked and groaned as he remained huddled behind the rock. How could this get any worse? "Did you take the soup off the fire?" The wailing grew in intensity. "Okay. So, dinner's ruined too. I suppose that's my fault as well?" Adam grumbled, trying hard to look at everything else but the naked girl across the pond.
"Maybe I should change my name to Zelos and be done with it."
It took a few minutes to calm Ginger down as Adam sat behind the boulder, looking out at the forest in annoyance. When she was sure he wasn't watching, she backed out of the pond and snatched up her clothes, dressing hurriedly while maintaining a steely glare at the hot spring. This was an embarrassment beyond anything she could imagine. To think that the both of them were in that hot spring au natural and he had the nerve to suggest that the whole stupid thing had been her fault!
Ginger's face grew warm and she shook her head, clamping one hand over the brightly shining ring on her finger. The Sardonyx Ring was acting crazy again, and that was probably what was making her feel strange. She'd eat something filling, take a good long sleep and everything would be normal in the morning.
"Hey, can I get my clothes on now, or what?" Adam griped from his barricade and she swallowed the sudden lump in her throat. He looked around the rock and frowned. "Goddess, can't you even give me the decency of you turning around so I can get my stuff?" he snapped, cheeks still a burning red. Ginger spun on her feet and whimpered, shutting her eyes tightly.
What was wrong with her?
What was wrong with her?
Adam tore into the question with all the fury of an angel of judgment as he grabbed for his clothes and pulled them on. Did that Candy-Maker have nothing better to do with her time than find new ways of torturing him? At this rate, he'd be begging the Wonder Organization to finish him off, if only to get sanctuary from the crazed woman standing not more than fifteen feet from him! He scowled at the waterlogged shirt and twisted it in his hands, wringing out as much water as he could. With only the undershirt covering him, traveling to NeOzette for fresh supplies was simply out of the question. And without those supplies they would have to go without dinner for the night.
"Couldn't get any worse, I said." Adam grumbled to himself and stalked past Ginger on his way out of the clearing, "When will I learn to keep my friggin' mouth shut?" He glared over his shoulder. "Are you just going to stand there all night? Come on! Least you can do is help me salvage what's left of that chicken soup!" he snapped and marched on.
Dark hair and pale skin. It stuck in his mind and no matter how many times he recited recipes in his head, it wouldn't leave. Dark hair and pale skin; wasn't that indicative of the people of Mizuho? Adam shook his head furiously, willing away the thoughts and turning his focus on the soup. If it hadn't completely burned, there should be enough liquid in the pot that another cup or two of water wouldn't dilute the flavor too much. The meat would be a bit tougher than he liked and the broth not as tasty, but a meal was a meal and if Ginger didn't tell anyone, no one would have to know that the Wonder Chef screwed up again.
Ginger mumbled something behind him and he stopped with a sigh, anger draining out of him with the thought that, maybe, it really was an honest mistake. He turned to face the confectioner and blinked as she stood there, shaking and sobbing.
"Um." he mumbled and rubbed his head, a guilty flush creeping over his face, "Look, I'm sorry for yelling at you, okay? I should have told you I was heading out, so this whole thing was my fault." Ginger sniffled and rubbed at her eyes, hair still dripping water and mingling with the tears on her face. "Please stop crying."
"Why don't you just admit you hate me and that's that?" Ginger suddenly screamed at him and dashed past him into the Mana Tree's meadow. Adam stood in stunned silence and blinked.
"Ookay. I take it this means a simple 'I'm sorry' isn't going to fix this." he murmured and sighed sadly, "No matter what I do, I keep fouling something up somewhere. What a failure... the only time I was ever a valuable asset was when Mithos was in power, and I ran away from that." He shook his head and headed back to the camp, blinking again when Ginger stood before the fire, a fierce look on her face and a sack of ingredients in one hand.
"All right, Wonder Chef! This time, we go all out! This time, there's no turning back!" she declared and aimed a finger at him for emphasis, "I've had all the time I need to study your tactics! Tomorrow, we're having that cooking battle!" Adam sighed and shook his head.
"Ginger, we've played that game already..." he began and yelped painfully when she kicked him.
"That's Chef Spicewood to you, Wonder Chef!" the woman snapped, "I mean it! I challenge you to a cooking battle! The ingredient will be chocolate! If that Orator guy is as smart as you and Caleb say he is, then he can be the judge!" The blonde rubbed at his leg and stared up at her in shock.
"You really mean this? Ginger?" he exclaimed and cried in pain as she kicked him again.
"Spicewood, you idiot! Chef Spicewood!" Ginger spat back, "Orator will be the judge, the ingredient to use will be chocolate and I've got plenty of it for us to use tomorrow! If you win, I'll leave your stupid little party and be on my way to stop the Dark Chefs myself!"
"What? But-!" Adam stammered, shaking his head in disbelief, "That's suicide! They'll kill you if you go after them alone! You betrayed the Alliance when you quit!"
"Shut up! What do you care? I'm just some stupid Dark Chef Candy-Maker to you!" Ginger snapped, "That's the prize if you win! I'll die and be out of your miserable life forever! But if I win...!" She tightened her hands into fists, eyes tearing up, "If I win, then... you'll have to renounce the title of Wonder Chef and give it to me! I'll use its power to destroy the Dark Chef Alliance and you can just die as plain old Adam Voraci!" she finally screamed.