Spoiler Warning: This fic occurs after Dawn of the New World, and may contain spoilers.

Wow, it's been over a year already.

In the small fishing village of Izoold, a teenage boy of 16 or 17 walked back home carrying food from the market place. The village was a change of pace from the city of Palmacosta. It wasn't as large or as bustling as Tethe'allan cities (or so he heard. He had never actually been to one), but Palmacosta might as well have been compared to the sleepy Izoold. Oh sure, there was that incident months ago with an arsonist setting boxes on fire at the docks. Rather than a person, it was apparently caused by a monster, though the president of the Lezareno Company was blamed at first. If the boy had not heard the story from several people, he would have dismissed it as an odd joke. Even when the Vanguard was causing uprisings worldwide, villages were largely ignored.

If the news and rumors about the Vanguard was true, they had been behind the Blood Purge at Palmacosta from the start. The Martel Knights that attacked the city were themselves Vanguard members, framing the church and the hero Lloyd Irving. Some people thought it was too convenient; that the whole thing was a lie made up by the church to pass the blame onto someone else. The boy wasn't sure what to think either way.

That day over a year ago was still so very vivid in his mind. The familiar streets and buildings were swathed in flames, making what should have been a dark night look especially ominous. The crackling of the fire melded with the screams of pain and shouts of anger, a sound he would not forget soon. He raced through streets, not far behind his parents. He had fleeting thoughts on the safety of his friends and neighbors, but mostly he concentrated on running and keeping his parents in sight. Their flight was cut short by the sudden appearance of a figure in red, a boy who two years prior helped the Chosen Colette to regenerate the world. He cut down the boy's parents in flash. The boy cried out for his mother and father but then he saw Lloyd leap towards him and there was nothing but black.

When he finally came to, he found himself in the grasslands surrounding Palmacosta. Around him were several injured and burned people in varying degrees of intensity lying in a hodgepodge of blankets, quilts, and towels. He winced as he tried to sit up, and then noticed the bandages that wrapped around his chest.

Shortly afterwards he would learn from his neighbor, Thomas, that it was he who found the boy and brought him to the makeshift hospital. It was a miracle he survived, though sadly the same could not be said for his parents. Sometime after things settled down a little, he was sent to live with Thomas's sister's family in Izoold. There were no surviving members of his father's family and he didn't know anyone on his mother's side. She became estranged from them after marrying his father, so they were rarely talked about. He was thankful to Emma, Thomas's sister and her husband Hilbert for taking him in and helping him to cope with his parents' deaths. Despite their insistence that he wasn't a burden, he fully intended to learn a trade and support himself.

Lloyd Irving …what was the truth behind him? Was it really someone in disguise that led the massacre and killed his parents? Even if the story about the Vanguard being behind the Blood Purge was a fabrication, there was no denying the chaos they caused months later. He didn't really hate Lloyd, especially after hearing that it was him and his companions, along with a former member of the Vanguard that stopped them. Yet he was still terribly confused and uncertain. Maybe Lloyd wanted to atone for what he did in Palmacosta? Some part of the boy still wanted to confront the swordsman and ask him the truth, but he doubted he would or even should go through with it. For starters, he had no idea where Lloyd was at any given time. Even before the Blood Purge, he was rarely at his home village of Iselia. Also, what if it were true that he killed the boy's parents, assuming Lloyd would give him a straight answer? Would he take his revenge on a skilled swordsman? He was just a normal person after all.

Well, reminiscing like this won't get the dinner ingredients home, the boy thought, noticing that he had slowed down on the way home.

"I know we're not in any hurry, but it would be nice if we still had the Rheairds. Iselia is kind of far from here on foot."

"Ugh, it might've not been that long ago when I flew on one, but I'm still not very comfortable with them."

"If you're afraid of heights, how come you like to fly on Angin's back?"

"Emil, I already told you. It's not that I'm afraid of heights; I just don't understand how a hunk of metal with stiff wings can fly. What's stopping it from just dropping out of the sky? Angin is a Sigmurgh. She can flap her wings."

"Oh, right."

"Besides, by taking the long way, we get to spend more time together before we see the others."

He briefly paid attention to the passing speakers, a blonde-haired boy with an unruly cowlick and a girl with flowers in her long brown hair. Both appeared to be around his age. After the girl said the last statement, the boy blushed, but smiled broadly and nodded. The two were soon out of ear shot, seemingly leaving Izoold.

The boy wasn't one to listen in on others, but he couldn't help but take notice when he heard the blonde kid's name. He knew he shouldn't have been surprised. After all, there were only so many names in the world and so many more people, especially now that Sylvarant and Tethe'alla were one. Even so, it was the first time he had ever run across someone else with the same name as his. Emil certainly was not as common as John or Joseph.

He reminded himself that he was taking his sweet time with the groceries. On that thought, Emil Castagnier hurried his pace a bit as he headed home.

Author's Note: The idea for this short fic came to me some time ago, as I contemplated what that fisherman Thomas said. When Emil identified himself, Thomas said something like "that can't be." The assumption players are probably supposed to make later on is that Thomas knew what happened to the real Emil; that he likely died. Then I wondered if maybe the original Emil wasn't dead after all. Maybe Thomas knew what happened to him and where he was living. I doubt this is a likely scenario, and it would raise many questions, but I thought I'd play with the idea of the real Emil living in a rural area so he would be unlikely to run into the Emil we are familiar with. Or at least run into him very often. This was not the most exciting fic I know, but I hope you all found it interesting.