Ten years later, the Seeker still remembered the stories his mother told him, even after she died when he was ten, succumbing while giving birth to Seeker's younger brother. Of course, her death hit him hard, but when he turned thirteen, raising his sibling by himself with no help, the grieving thoughts eventually left him. Of course, he still thought of her, but he knew he couldn't bring her back and figured that if Wander's story was true, and he could bring her back, he figured that he'd never be able to accomplish the feats that his "ancestor" accomplished in order to bring her back to this corporeal realm. Even at that, those thoughts never occurred that often. He had other things, like raising a child, and other people to think about.
One of the people he thought about was a girl he met when he was thirteen. Her name was Alia, and when they met, she decided to start helping him raise his brother. She'd come over whenever she could to help watch him or do a running for him when his hands were full. Naturally, because she was only a year younger than him, he started thinking of her differently when he hit the fourteen mark. Everytime they'd be watching the toddler together, he always admired her fair blonde hair with the bangs swept to the side, her face, and even at times, her shoulders, because that's all you could see of her body from the dresses she wore. Silk dresses that went from the shoulder to the ankle. It was pretty, yes, but Seeker always thought it was something a girl...older than fifteen would be wearing. Quite older. But the boy really thought nothing of it, and watch her play with his brother, smiling when she laughed and laughing whenever the little boy'd walk up to her or them and started talking in an undistinguishable language that could only be classified as the tongue of infants. Seeker was sure that his brother viewed Alia as his mother, and me as his father, as weird as that concept seemed. They were the ones that took care of him, and Seeker almost viewed it as a family; Alia the mom, being that she spent almost as much time at their house as they did, himself as the father, even though the kid was his own brother, and the third part being obvious. Of course, being that the young man had thought about, he'd be ecstatic if him and Alia were ever real parents together.
One day, him and the girl were sitting against a tree together, watching Seeker's brother, now six years old, try and climb another tree. Seeker himself could easily climb it; it was only a half-sized broadleaf tree, with low branches that were thick; perfect for climbing. After a while, he turned to Alia. "You know, I was six when my mom started telling me the legends." She stopped watching the child, turning to face Seeker. I couldn't tell what she was thinking until she spoke.
"What legends?" she returned with a slight chuckle. "Our nation is known for its legends, tales, and fables."
"The ones about Wander and Dormin and Lord Emon. How Emon locked away Dormin, and when Wander's -"
"-Love is sacrificed, Wander goes to the Forbidden Lands to kill the sixteen colossi who bear the pieces of Dormin's soul. When Wander killed all of them, Dormin was complete and free. Of course he was defeated, but not before reviving Wander's love," she completed with a laugh. "If I had a coin for everytime I've heard that story, I'd be as rich as the shaman in the capital." When she said that, she glanced at me. "Isn't that story tied to your family somehow?"
"Yeah," Seeker said. "My mother told my when I was six that we were descendants of Wander and Mono. I always asked how, considering Mono was dead during most of the story, but my mom said that they must've been in a mutual-love based relationship beforehand and had kids during that time. I don't know. I never knew to believe it or not, myself." He could feel Alia studying him for a little bit, then looking away. "It's quite humorous, I know."
"It's not that funny," she mumbled. "There's always been ties between your family and the legend. I mean, look at your name. Seeker. It reminds people of Wander. Don't you ever think that your mom named you so because of the legend?" Seeker thought about that. Both his and Wander's names were based on a verb, not an actual name. "Lots of people know about it, actually. It's a legend itself, your family's ties. I think every family's supposed to have some famous relative or ancestor, but yours is the most renown of all"
"Do you...actually believe it, though?" Seeker asked, keeping one eye on his brother and the other on Alia. "I mean, I've always had trouble believing it. To think that you're related to a legend? I mean, some people think the story's not even true. How could I be descended from something that may or may not be true?" The pretty blonde glanced at him, then away, sighing as she leaned her head back against the tree.
"I will agree with you; I'd have trouble seeing the credibility myself if I were in your shoes, but honestly, I wouldn't give it much thought. Eventually, it'd just drive you insane. I can see it's already gotten to your head..." I took a deep breath, knowing I couldn't argue with her. Ever since his mom told him they were related to the boy who murdered the sixteen behemoths, He's never stopped thinking about how that'd work. Seeker saw now that Alia was staring at him. "How badly has it gone to your head, Seeker?" she asked, a bit of curiosity and concern in her voice.
"It's been my primary thought besides him and my mom for ten years," he replied while watching his brother, and as Seeker looked at him, he saw that the little boy was still trying to climb the tree, to no avail. He laughed lightly at his brother's attempts, then gave his attention back to the girl. "It's unhealthy, I know. I should probably stop talking about it now, now that I think of it."
Alia laughed. "We've barely started talking about it, and I don't think I've ever heard you talk about it since we met." As soon as she finished her words, Seeker noted a sudden change in the air. Not an actual, physical change in the air, but he could tell something was off. He looked past her, looking through trees. The girl's head tilted in confusion as she tried to follow his gaze. "Are you alright?" she inquired. He ignored her question, trying to figure out what was wrong. He looked towards the village, seeing two columns of smoke rising in the air above the trees. Seeker thought to check it out, and looked at Alia.
"Keep my brother here. I'll be back." And with that, he slowly got up from against the tree and navigated through the woods, going from tree to tree and jumping over fallen logs. Eventually, after navigating for about ten minutes, he got to the edge of the tree line. Looking out of the trees, he peeked at the village. There was actually a lot more than two columns of smoke; those two were just the biggest. There were around ten in total, and half of them had some kind of fire raging around it. The two large pillars of smoke had raging infernos dancing inside and around it. As Seeker looked at his village in amazement, he didn't know whether to run in and try to help people or to use stealth and figure out what was causing the fire.
Being smart, he picked the latter. Running out of the trees, he dived to the side of the nearest building, around ten meters from the forest. His back against the stone structure, he slowly put his head next to edge, listening for anything. He heard screaming, gurgling, and the pounding of feet as they ran out of the buildings and away from the flames. His face cringed in a combination of awe and sorrow, and he moved away from the edge and slowly moved to a tiny door in the back of the house. He slowly opened the door, then walked into the house as slowly as possible.
It wasn't the prettiest of houses; just a simple stone structure with the basic necessities for village life. Besides the fact that it looked abandoned, with everything trashed and some things burnt, it seemed intact. As Seeker moved from room to room, all he saw was things strewn across the floor, unorganized and/or broken. He wondered what happened, why the house was so messy and...empty. However, he continued to sweep the house, looking for anything to hint at where the fires started. However, as he worked his way to the front door, he tripped over something long. As he fell to the ground, twisting his ankle over the object, he looked back after groaning in pain. What he saw disgusted him. It churned his stomach, and he almost got light-headed seeing it.
It was a human body.
Covered in dried blood, with multiple gashes and stab wounds throughout the legs, body, and neck, Seeker could barely recognize it as a woman. Bruises and lacerations covered her head, and both her eyes had flies orbiting them. The boy had to look to his left, the image too disturbing. But there was a body there too, this time a guy. The man was a lot more bloody than his partner, and as Seeker crawled to them, he almost thought he recognized the facial features. Licking his finger, he tried to wipe away the blood on the man's face. Seeker managed to get some off, but as he started to look into the man's eyes, he heard a slight whimper in another room.
Getting up slowly, he looked around to find the source of the single sob. When he thought he lost it, he heard it again. A small whine that was barely audible. He realized the sound was coming from the right, in one of the only rooms he hadn't checked yet. He limped over to the room, dragging his ankle along the ground. In the span of a few seconds, he had gotten to the room. However, there was nothing there. He waited a second, then the noise came again. He heard it from his left, and as he turned in that direction, he saw a tiny stone door, hidden in the wall. Seeker slowly opened it, and to his surprise, a little girl with dark brown hair, her entire body covered in grime and dust, was crouched inside a tiny little cupboard, crying silently.
He slowly went besides the girl, and kneeled down to talk to her, only to be shocked by a, "Get away from me!"
Cautiously backing away, he whispered, "I'm not going to hurt you." In response, the girl shook her head violently. A frown crossing his face, Seeker thought for a minute. "What happened here?"
The girl glared at him for a second, her eyes dissecting the young man. After a few minutes, she whispered in a hoarse voice, "You aren't one of the evil men, are you?" Seeker frowned, furrowed his brow, then shook his head. The girl shook a bit, and then nodded. "Oh...okay." He noticed the girl completely ignored his question, but he didn't care. The girl was just deprived of her parents, and he was sure that she narrowly missed her end as well.
"What's your name, young one?" he asked, trying to soften her up.
It took a little time, but she eventually opened her mouth to speak. "My name is Oana," were the words that coldly came out. "You?" After telling Oana his name, he noticed that she must be in so much shock that she lacked emotion.
While Seeker tried to come up with another question to keep the conversation running, she spoke again. "What do you want?"
"What happened?" he asked after a small amount of hesitation. "Why are you hiding, why is the village in flames, why are your -" No, Seeker thought. If I were her, I wouldn't want the death of my parents being brought up...well, I know how that feels.
The girl started to choke up again, then through her tears, said, "The evil ones came! The ones who used to guard us, turned on us! Their tabards, whose symbols of our deity's mask used to shine with cleanliness are now stained with the blood of our kin! Our relatives! They've gone mad, murdering all of us because one man rebelled!"
Noticing she was screaming now, Seeker tried to calm her down. "Okay, just come with me, Oana, and we'll -" Just then, he heard a loud bang, and he looked out of the room and towards the door. He heard a yell, and then a man clad in a white tabard with the barn-owl-like mask of the ancient Lord Emon dominating the middle of it, along with a steel helmet and boots. He wielded a long, sharp sword with blood splattered along the sides of the blade and all over his clothes and armor. The girl...Oana, was right, Seeker thought.
The guard looked to his sides, spotted the two, and then sneered through his helmet. "Survivors!" he yelled before charging. Quickly, Seeker pulled Oana from the cupboard then slung her over his shoulder, running past him before he could swing his sword and out of the house, despite the boy's agonizing ankle. While they ran out, Seeker heard the guard draw the musket from behind his back, then fire. Before he heard the shot, the pained boy managed to get out of the house and behind the cover of the stone wall. The ball shot out of the door, hitting a tree a few meters away.
Before he heard the soldier start to run, Seeker set Oana down and yelled, "Run!" before doing so himself. The girl got on her feet and ran a bit, but tripped before getting to the tree line. The boy, sprinting despite his disability, looked back in horror as the guard got out of the house, setting his sights on the small child. Seeker started to turn back, but was too late. The man had already reloaded his rifle and shot, not missing his mark. Before realizing it, Seeker had screamed, two tears running down his face. He tried to get the girl to safety, but her small legs could only carry her so far before the uneven terrain got the best of her. He knew he couldn't do anything now though, and as more soldiers started running down towards their child-murderer comrade, they looked to the tree line where he was, then started their pursuit, some firing their rifles. They all missed though, and the boy sprinted into the woods, dashing over logs and such. He heard the guards running after him, but Seeker knew he was too fast, and after a few seconds, they were a hundred meters behind him.
He hid behind a tree, trying to hear them. He had thought he lost them, but after listening a few moments, he realized they were catching up. "Kill the survivor!" Some yelled. Others yelled commands, telling their inferiors to search for him.
Seeker realized one was right by the tree he was hiding behind, to his right. As the footfalls increased in volume, the young man barely waited to see the man's helmet peak into his vision before elbowing the temple, causing the pawn to fall to the ground. Quickly, Seeker stole his sword and resumed running, Jumping over logs and darting from tree to tree. He heard more musket fire, but considering they all missed, nothing phased him.
This time, he kept sprinting as fast as he could, only looking back once after a few minutes.
While he was looking back, he didn't know what was in front of him and hit a tree head-on, collapsing to the ground. Pain shot through his torso and head, pulsing into his muscles. Groaning, he heard someone running towards him.
"Seeker!" a familiar feminine voice rang. "Are you okay?"
Sitting up, he grabbed the sword off the ground, dropping it when he fell. Immediately, he jerked his head towards the direction he came from. Quickly, he got up and sternly said, "We need to go." Alia started asking why, and his brother started looking at Seeker curiously, silently asking the same. "Now," was all he said in reply, grabbing Alia's sleeve and tugging it the opposite direction.
"Seeker, why do we need to leave? Did you find out about the -" She was cut off by the sound of rapidly incoming footsteps and shouting and firing of musket balls. "Seeker, what'd you-?"
"Run!" he screamed, practically dragging Alia and his brother behind him. They eventually started running individually, but Seeker still pulled the little boy onto his shoulders, not wanting him to share the same fate as Oana.
Cutting through trees and jumping over logs and avoiding branches, all while holding his sibling up, watching Alia behind him, and making sure they were a safe distance away from the soldiers took its toll on Seeker, for he was never much of a multi-tasker. A couple hundred meters from where they started, Seeker had to stop to know where they were. He still heard the footsteps of the soldiers - he knew they hadn't lost them, for they were moving slow because of his brother and Seeker's ankle. However, he couldn't see them, so he quickly looked around for a hiding spot. He found it in the form of a log to his far left. He quickly signaled for Alia to follow him. He lifted his brother up with his free hand, holding the stolen sword with the other and ran to the log, climbing over it and ducking behind it, quickly lowering the child down besides him. A second later, Alia was besides Seeker, crouching down and hiding for dear life.
The footsteps got louder, and eventually they stopped close to where the three were hiding. "Where'd they go?" one called out in a gruff voice.
"They were just here," a calmer, younger voice called out. "I can't hear them moving anymore; maybe they're hiding?"
"Search for them, then!" the first voice yelled. "They've got to be somewhere! Our orders say to kill everyone in the village; one of them is the Rebel! Or the Cursed One! I...can't remember."
"You can't remember?" a third voice inquired, his voice inbetween number one and two. "Well, it doesn't matter who it is, we're just killing everyone."
"Says the man who killed a five-year old girl. I don't think she was a rebel or cursed. More like the Shocked One," came the second voice again. Seeker thought to himself, Maybe the second guard isn't so sure about his position.
"Just search!" the first voice commanded, and then Seeker heard the footsteps again as they started to search for the trio. They searched forever, it felt like. Sometimes, the footsteps would come so close that Seeker was sure that the soldiers would find and slaughter them all. However, none discovered the location of the group, and after a while, he couldn't hear the footsteps anymore, and he looked to Alia, who was trying to slow her breathing. She eventually noticed Seeker's staring at her, but didn't hint that she felt uncomfortable by it. Of course, the guy would've stopped if he felt she was affected by it, but he couldn't help it. He had to look at her, to take in her stunning features. When he thought about it, he realized that maybe he fell for her physically because she stood out. Every other girl in his village, and in general Shaiman, was usually a brunette with dark brown eyes - earthy, natural. However, Alia was a striking brunette with hazel eyes. Of course, Seeker fell for her emotionally because of her down-to-earth, sensitive, and humorous personality.
"Are they gone?" she mouthed, looking towards both Seeker and his brother. He had to admit though, the child really knew how to stay still yet quiet.
Seeker mouthed back, "I don't know." He wished there was a hole in the log he could look through, or anything to let him know if the soldiers really were gone, but there wasn't, so he just had to wait it out and see. After a few more minutes though, he assumed the guards wouldn't wait that long for three escapees. Or would they? He didn't know, but he went out on a limb and took a risk, and gave her the thumbs up, whispering, "They have to be."
Alia nodded, and then started to slowly get up. When she got to her knees, her hair about to peek above the log, Seeker heard the tiniest, most obscure scuffle of leaves. Immediately, he pulled her down, shaking his head vigorously. "They're there, they're there," he mouthed, and she quickly got as low as she could, terror obvious in her eyes. He heard her breathe heavily, trying to keep it quiet. However, her heartbeat managed to get louder than her breathing, and Seeker feared that the men already knew where they were.
His fears were confirmed when he heard a musket getting loaded.
Mustering his courage and breath, Seeker spoke out, leaning against the soggy wood of the fallen tree. "Let them go."
After a minute, he heard a response. Voice three. "Why should we? Our orders are to kill all of you. No negotiating." Seeker then realized what this was. He had to make a good deal. He knew that guards were able to be bought out, or persuaded, if they got the good end of the deal.
"You wouldn't kill a girl or a small child if you had a...rebellious man to kill instead." he could feel Alia staring at him in awe; he could feel the denial, horror, and shock in her eyes. "I know you've killed children anyways, and a girl wouldn't be a problem for you, but you could not resist a man who's fought and attacked your own," Seeker continued, trying to coax them.
It seemed like forever waiting for a response, but finally, number two spoke. "Fine. Stand up, and let your comrades go. Now, now."
Seeker looked at Alia, frowning as he watched the tears roll down her face. Slowly, he wiped them away with his finger. "I'll be fine," he whispered hoarsely. "You need to go; take my brother to the Capital City. You guy's will be safe there. Just say that you're refugees from another country. They'll take you in."
She shook her head. "No," she managed. "I can't do it."
"You have to," he said sweetly. "It's the only way."
Finally, she slowly nodded, and crawled to Seeker's sibling, who was silently balled up. Seeker turned to him too, then spoke to him in as courageous a voice he could muster. "You need to go with Alia, to the Capital. Okay?" Thankfully, the boy was easy to convince, and not knowing how emotional the whole thing was, he simply nodded and looked at Alia.
"Okay," He said. "I'm standing up. Let them go when I do, alright?"
"Sure," voice one said in his rough, masculine voice. And sure enough, when he stood up, Alia and his brother started sprinting into the woods. Seeker felt a rush of happiness, and before he registered the fact that they were going to live, he heard a deafening crack! The sound of a musket going off. However, Seeker never felt the small, pulverizing ball blast into him. It missed?
Then there was a thud behind him. He turned around, then slid to the ground at what he saw. Laying on her belly was Alia, a bloody hole in her back. He didn't even register the pain for a few seconds, and during those few seconds, his brother just blankly looked at the body. Finally, when the tears started streaming down his face, Seeker screamed at his kin. "Run, you damn fool!"
The boy stared at him for a moment, then ran off into the woods, zigzagging along the trees. Seeker just stared forward for a minute, processing the pain coursing through his frontal lobe. Alia? Shot? How? The guards...no...Why? Why did he trust those liars? Of course they were going to shoot her! He just sprung their trap! She...this was his fault! He didn't know how to do it, but he knew he had to do something to make it right. He sobbed silently, waiting for the guards to come, when he noticed the sword laying besides them. At that moment, he knew what to do.
Grabbing the sword, he jumped from behind the log and charged blindly, barely noticing where the guards were. He ran at the closest one, who was a couple meters away. The guy had drawn his sword and charged as well, but Seeker anticipated it, ducking below the swing and turning around, climbing on the man's back, putting his spare arm around his opponent's exposed neck, and ramming the blade into his spine.
At that moment, the second guard charged from behind the boy. However, Seeker heard the footfalls approaching and turned, parrying the soldier's strike. Ducking to his side, Seeker got behind the man and put him in a chokehold, trying to snap his neck. He couldn't twist though, for the guard kept resisting. Seeker thought about stabbing him, but noticed that the remaining guard was aiming at him with his musket, having already reloaded it from shooting Alia. Once the guard thought he had a clear shot, he fired. But Seeker used the second guard as a human shield, pushing him forward and into the path of the small steel ball.
The object smashed into the armored man, past his tabard and through his flesh. The guy fell over, and before the third knew it, Seeker was already on him with his sword. This opponent, smaller than the others, barely blocked the furious teenager's strike once with his rifle before he had the sword stuck inbetween his neck and shoulder. Seeker violently pushed the blade further into the man's jugular, then into his spine. Gurgling blood, the guard keeled over instantly, dead before he hit the ground.
His anger not vented, Seeker looked around for more, then realized those were the only three guards that kept pursuit. The others were still at the village, which was a good three miles away. And instead of running to the village to die depressed, Seeker ran back to where Alia was laying. He quickly but gently rolled her over to find that she was still alive, panting loudly and coughing up blood.
"Alia!" He yelled, sliding his hand under her to try and cover her massive wound, to stop the flow of blood. After it started flowing through his fingers, he frantically looked for something thick to use as a tourniquet. He took off his shirt, then lifted her dress up enough to look at the gaping hole in her back. He hurriedly wrapped the shirt, which was more like a shorter version of a toga, around her where the wound was, hoping it would at least delay the blood. Naturally, it only helped in a very miniscule way. Blood still soaked through the tightly-wrapped shirt and onto the ground.
Quickly, he started praying and started talking quickly, his sentences punctuated by sobs. "I'm so, so sorry Alia. This is my fault. I shouldn't of inspected the village, I should've just stayed with y-you. You shouldn't be like this at all; you should be with me, playing with my brother safely and talking like we always have! Why, why, why, why is it you that's mortally wounded and not I? I just want you to know that you were the best friend I could ever ask for, and I could count on you for anything. Y-you didn't...you didn't back away from me when something was too tough. You helped me take care of him, and if it wasn't for you, him and I'd both be dead of starvation or dehydration. You were the person that kept me running for these years, you...you..." Eventually, he just lost it, hopelessness and despair possessing him. He fell into her stomach, crying uncontrollably. He listened to her faint heartbeat, knowing it was deteriorating by the minute. "Please don't go," was all he managed in his strangled voice.
Alia then made a noise that was in between a groan and a whimper. "It's...," she started, laboring every word. "Not your...fault...Seeker..."
"Yes it i-is!" He cried, staring into her beautiful eyes. He could almost see the life leaving them, the beaeuty sprinting away from the pupils. "I sprung the trap! I...I should've known they wouldn't go through with the promise...please...I-I...I'm so sorry."
Her heartbeat decreased in rate and volume, now barely audible. He knew she had seconds, so in a final act of feeling, Seeker said, "I...I love you, Alia," softly kissing her blood-stained lips, not caring how unsanitary it was. He needed to do that, to make sure she knew that he would do anything for her.
"I...," she began. "I...love...you...too..."
And with that, Alia's soul ascended to the heavens, where a certain pair of hands would catch it and possess them for Their use. Unfortunately, Seeker knew who the one who grabbed the souls was, and despite his childhood tales telling him that the God of the Dead was themselves dead, he knew otherwise. Gods didn't simply die. They would always be there, waiting for worship, and as Seeker tore his eyes away from Alia and looked at the sky, he thought. He thought real hard about what he was going to do, and after what felt like hours of thinking, he knew that it was required. This was his destiny.
Dormin wouldn't be waiting for worship for long.
A/N Hey! Finally, I got chapter 2! Haha, yeah this is quite a behemoth (sorry I just love that word), but it had to explain a lot. I needed it to all fit into one big chapter because if the first five chapters are just about Seeker and Alia before she died, then where would the Shadow of the Colossus part come in? Oh yeah, and there is a song that fits the chase through the forest. "Black Hole Invaders" by Aaren Sen. The title doesn't sound fitting, but the actual sounds itself kinda go with the action. Ha, next chapter'll be about Seeker getting ready and heading for the Forbidden Lands (just a teaser, cause I don't know when it'll be uploaded.) In the meanwhile, R&R! Read and Review! You know you want to. Also, I realized most SotC fanfics are K-T, so yeah, I'm pretty sure I have the only rated M SotC fic, just letting you know. Not for language or anything. Alright, I'm out. -Blaine.