Things you need to know before reading this chapter:

- Character thinking, Character Reading

Disclaimer: I don't own Tales of Symphonia and Tales of the Abyss

Epilogue: Breaking Out of a Caged Life

After a long wait, Asch finally resumed his training under Kratos. Ever since the auburn haired angel returned from the Tower of Rem, he was occupied with whatever it was he and Dist had been planning to use the power of the Aggregate Sentience of Light and Darkness for, leaving Asch to train on his own. His new master might not be able to train him, but he wasn't complaining. He understood the importance for Kratos to find a way to restore humanity to the angels.

He for one wasn't good at all the technological stuff, well, he knew the basics, but even the basics he knew about fonic artes and fontech wouldn't be able to help him understand the magitechnology used in Derris Kharlan. He was content letting the others figure out the technical part and help out when he was needed, like when Kratos took him to the Radiation Gate, though that time he was more of a burden than anything else...

He was told that he couldn't stay in Derris Kharlan for however long he wanted anymore. From his understanding, the Aggregate Sentience of Darkness had the power to draw out one's darkest desire if a person spent too long near him, except Kratos and the angels. The former having some form of protection due to his other pacts or something similar and the later didn't have an ounce of desire in them at all.

He hated to admit it, but it's true that he's very weak in the psychological department currently, and so he had reluctantly agreed to leave Derris Kharlan till Kratos had the time to resume their training. Fortunately, Kratos had once helped out a group of homeless people and when their leader, a young woman that seemed to only be around twenty years old, heard that Kratos needed someone to look after his student, she welcomed him with open arms.

Although Asch hated to be looked down at – he was nearly eleven years old and could take care of himself – he couldn't help but form a bond with Noir and her people. After all, though the situation was different, they were both abandoned by the world and had to find a new place to live. Therefore, Asch had been helping out with the construction of their new home in northwestern Radessia in the past three weeks.

He had still taken at least two hours everyday to train. Although Kratos wasn't able to train him yet, he had realized that he needed to do much catching up to get himself back to shape. It wasn't like he had been neglecting his daily exercise since he first went to Derris Kharlan, but he had messed up all his movements just by intentionally avoiding himself from doing anything that resembled Van's teaching. He knew he was foolish when the others pointed it out, but only when he tried to pick up his normal training again did he realize the full extent his foolishness did to his stances.

It had taken him weeks just to get back to the level he had when he was fighting alongside Kratos after he escaped Choral Castle. It was also around that time that Kratos finished whatever it was that he was occupied with and the two could resume their training, only this time it was real training, starting from where his training under Van stopped. This was the third day since Asch came back to Derris Kharlan – they were only here because Kratos said there's something he wanted to monitor in Welgaia and that he didn't want people to see his own training, something about using the power of the Aggregate Sentience would attract too much unwanted attention.

Today was another day of vigorous training and he was totally spent after three hours. Kratos also noticed that he was exhausted and allowed him a forty-five-minute lunch break. He had quickly grabbed some food from the cafeteria – he had thought it strange for this city to have a cafeteria when no one here needed to consume food, but Kratos said that there once were other beings that would come here every now and then to work and the cafeteria was built for them – and went back to the training area.

He was munching on the bread roll and watching Kratos doing some training on his own, something about utilizing his new-found, not really new, considering he came here five and a half years ago, power to create some new artes. He took out the small booklet Kratos had given him when he was first informed about the plan to break the world from the curse of the Score and turned to the page he had bookmarked.

The One Who Would Seize Glory shall bring to the world its greatest hope and despair. He who choose to lead shall have the power to contain and control. Greatest hope of the land and greatest despair of those who walk on it are but two faces of the same coin. The grand finale shall become a curtain painted by the very essence of life and covers the land. Decision to toss the coin upwards or throw it to the ground lies in the song.

The Light of the Sacred Flame shall follow and fall or thrive. Upon sweet nothings and kind words of the precious and treasured, he who choose to follow shall hold half of the cards. The gears of fate of the new and the old shall turn with his choice. The destiny called upon by him shall lead to the greatest fall or triumph.

The Remnant of the Sacred Flame shall rebel and be lost or found. Upon being wounded and healed by the loved and hated, he who choose to rebel shall hold the other half of the cards. His actions not restricted by the rule but the truth behind the mirror. The destiny called upon by him shall lead to the worst ending or the best beginning.

The Dawn of Strength shall decide and be the judge of all. He who shall decide shall not have his right bound. The word of fate barely touches him, to be or not to be falls in his own hands. A being above all, an old partner surrounded by life and death, a rock of creation and destruction. The final judgement shall reflect on the most cherished and least expected.

"Say Kratos." Asch looked up from the little notebook in his hand to the swordsman who was slashing his glowing sword horizontally in the air. "I am not lost, right?"

Kratos stopped his movements and the glow on Last Fencer disappeared. "What do you think?" He turned to look at Asch who was deep in thought.

"I'm not sure... I don't even know if being lost means I am lost to the Fabre family... but here it also says that you are the judge of all... does that mean that I am not lost because I was found by you?"

"I can't tell you the answer to that." He sheathed the Last Fencer. "This Score, or should I say prophecy, is still very vague. And even if we understand the meanings behind it, there might still be a chance that it won't come true."

Asch blinked at Kratos' reply. "It won't?"

"It might not." Kratos walked over to where Asch was having his lunch and sat down next to him. "I have been thinking about this since I was first told about the existence of this prophecy." He paused as he pondered his next words. "Yulia and Lorelei foretold this prophecy hoping that it would help us overthrow the Score, so that people won't live a determined life anymore. But don't you think it weird to overthrow a Score with another Score?"

Asch thought about the others' words. It's true that it didn't make sense to follow another Score after they rejected the original one. It was like they still couldn't do anything apart from living according to the Score's guidance. Before he could make any comment, Kratos continued talking. "If we rely too much on this prophecy to prevent the destruction of the world as predicted in another Score, then what next? Do we find a way to come up with yet another new Score to guide our lives?"

Kratos took the book from Asch and pointed at the last two passages. "Your action and mine are not restricted by the Score so we shouldn't worry too much about doing what is and what is not written. I realized it too late and now I have to face the consequence."

"What consequence?"

"You. From this prophecy, Van would be the one to carry out the plan and I am supposed to have the role of an observer, at least until his plan started. The result is I let him rip you away from your past when I could have become your teacher right from the beginning."

Asch frowned, he thought they were over this already. "But you said it yourself we needed my replica. Though I still don't like it and might regret it in the future, it is because of what happened that I could live a life apart from the Score. I told you before that I don't blame you. And you found a way to correct it the moment you had the chance."

Kratos shook his head. "Anyway, what I am saying is that now that all the players are gathered, we shouldn't rely on this prophecy too much, if at all, anymore. It wouldn't do to break ourselves from the Score's clutches only to fall into another cage right away."

Asch smiled. "Right. I am going to live a new life, a life that's not bound by anything."

Kratos returned his newest student's smile with one of his own smile. "Hurry up and finish your lunch, we will resume our training in another ten minutes."

~ Omake: Best Gift of the Day ~

Peony looked around to take note of the people that came to see his crowning ceremony. He searched through the crowd and saw Nephry standing next to her husband. He felt something tighten in his chest and quickly averted his gaze to look at others.

He saw out of the corner of his eye the young boy who he heard to have become the new Fon Master a little over an year ago in one of the suites on the second floor. Dear Lorelei, Peony could tell even from this distance that the child and the pink haired girl beside him, which had to be the Fon Master Guardian, were only about twelve years old. He glanced briefly at the suite occupied by the people from the Order of Lorelei before looking back to the crowd cheering before him.

So he didn't come, I should have expected that. It was obvious Saphir wouldn't come, they still hadn't hit the eleven year mark yet and he could still be arrested if someone noticed him in Malkuth territory. But it's been so long since Peony last saw and teased his friend.

He heard that Saphir had become the the Commander of the Second Division in the Oracle several years ago and had thought that the man would at least show up in Grand Chokmah acting as one of the bodyguards for the Fon Master, especially when the Fon Master Guardian was so young herself. Being a Locrian Colonel didn't automatically erase his criminal status in Malkuth, but at least he was so high up that the Fon Master and the Grand Maestro could simply bail him out and take him back to Daath if he was arrested in Malkuth.

I thought I knew what I had to go through, but apparently I underestimated how tiring the crowning ceremony can be... The newly appointed Emperor let out a tired sigh as he dragged his exhausted body back to his quarters below the throne room. He nearly jumped onto the bed in joy when he entered his room.

It's at least ten times more troublesome than the one I went through when I became the Crown Prince. He thought as he lied on his bed staring at the ceiling of his room.

"Greetings, and congratulations, Emperor of Malkuth."

Peony quickly jumped out of the the bed in alarm and looked around, all the tiredness disappeared. His gaze finally fell on a man standing before the door, the same one that he entered the room through, and cursed himself for not noticing the stranger earlier. Throughout his life, Peony had dealt with quite a number of assassins, but this man before him didn't feel like one, what with his sheathed sword and relaxed stance. Maybe that's why he hadn't shouted for the guards yet, though he was still edging closer to the window so he could escape if need be.

"Who are you?" Peony asked as he gazed sharply at the man. The intruder had wild red hair, wore purple and-

"No one of consequence. I am merely a messenger." The man said and promptly cut off Peony's thought.

Peony raised an eyebrow and decided to go along if the man wanted to remain anonymous. "Of who?" He asked.

Instead of answering Peony's question, the man handed something to him.

Peony blinked. In the man's hand was a stuffed rappig doll. The doll was quite big, though it wasn't as big as a real rappig, it was nearly the size of a normal pillow. It was in a lying position, a position most fitted for one to use it as a cushion or a pillow. Around it's neck was a sky blue colored collar, Peony's favorite color. The doll was so well made that if it wasn't for the fact that it was a stranger, a male to boot, handing it out to him as if it was a present, he would have hugged it tightly to him the moment he saw it.

"I know I have many admirers, but I am sorry to tell you that I don't go for guys."

"As I said, I am but a messenger. This is from one of your... 'admirers' as you put it." Somehow Peony thought he saw laughter in the man's eyes as he said the word 'admirers'.

"How do I know it isn't something that would explode in my face the moment I touch it?" Peony asked suspiciously. He didn't think the man before him would harm him, but the possibility wasn't zero.

"You don't." The man said casually. "In that case I will take it back to the sender and let him know that someone isn't as stupid as he believes." That caught Peony's attention, but before he could say anything, the man continued. "I am also to relay his message to you: try not to doom this country with your idiocy."

Peony had an idea of who the sender was when he heard the first comment and the message just confirmed his suspicion. He snatched the doll from the man's still outstretched arm before he could take it back. He started examining the doll and when he turned it around, he saw the words 'Stupid Prince of Keterburg' on the collar.

Peony grinned the 'stupid grin' as dubbed by the only one who dared to continuously throw insults after insults to the Crown Prince, now Emperor of Malkuth. He then realized something and looked up to see the man looking at him amusingly. "So you are the one?"

The man raised an eyebrow at Peony's out of the blue and vague question. "If you are asking what I am thinking, then yes."

"Thanks." Peony said.

"I will relay your message back then."

"No, I was thanking you. And if it isn't too much trouble, There's something I want you to deliver for me."

The man nodded . Peony grinned again, this time not the 'stupid grin', but a 'devilish grin'.

Dear Saphir,

Thanks so much for the gift! Now there's something for me to hug when I sleep! Such a thoughtful gift~

I knew you could stitch but sometimes I just forgot that you are actually a girl and can be soooo swe-

"That. Stupid. Idiotic. Good for nothing. Pervert!" Dist screamed and furiously tore the small note that was attached to the gift Peony sent him into pieces. Though the gift itself, a toolbox with a beautifully designed exterior, was already sitting safely in one of his drawers.

Author's Note:

patrick the almighty observer – The sequel will be about the main game. There are two main reasons that I'm doing making a sequel and not just continue it here apart from the time skip. 1. There is a change in the main characters. Well, not really a change, seeing as Kratos is still one of the main characters. 2. This fic was titled Fonic Interruption as it was about how fonons 'interfered' Kratos' life. Though this problem will still be addressed in the sequel, it's not the main point so it needs a new title.

1412 karasu – I agree with you about people learning English as their second language having better grammar when it comes to writing, even though the grammar in my oral English is really horrible... and I also need to reread each chapter at least twice before I deem it ok to upload it, though when I reread it again later I can still see some grammatical errors... it's alright if you are ok with not understanding some of the explanations, I'm glad that you are still reading it even if that's the case^^ About the sequel, I've already posted the prologue of it, read the A/N below for more info on it. As for the time flow, yes, they are different, but right now the only ones that are affected by it are Kratos and the angels, but they are ageless beings, so that's fine.

splitheart1120 – I haven't mentioned it before, but the comments you left for each and every chapter had occasionally helped me think of a better plot. I really appreciate them and I hope I will see you leaving comments here and there again in the sequel.

That's it! The fic finally ends and though the updates were quite irregular, I managed to finish it in exactly one year! As promised, the prologue of the sequel is already up and it is called Crystalline Disturbance. This time, apart from Kratos, Lloyd (yes, Lloyd will make an appearance! Finally some father-son interaction between Kratos and Lloyd!), Asch and Luke will also be the main characters. The first few chapters will focus more on Asch and Lloyd before the attention finally drifts back to Kratos. So, Kratos lover out there, please bear with it for the first few chapters.

By the way, the omake of this chapter happened during the time skip. To be exact, it's two and a half years before the game event started and several months after the Battle of Northern Chesedonia, so Ion was eleven.