Vagrant Story will always remain one of the greatest RPG games that I played for the PS1. When I first started playing it, I didn't really find it too intriguing since it was a hack and slash sort of thing, but it was the overall plot that got me interested :P
Anywayy, this fic is based off of the scene when Ashley defeats Guildenstern - and there is a moment where he encounters Tia and Marco before fighting the final boss, Bloody Sin. The reason I decided to write this fic was pretty random and musically inspired - I was listening to the Vagrant Story OST and the song "Truth" came up, which was the song from that particular scene. I had always felt that this was one of the most important scenes in the game, so I decided to take a stab at writing from Ashley's POV during that time. Hope you like! XD
There is nothingness.
This place is foreign, unknown to me. Yet there is white and there is brilliancy. There is an echo of a heartbeat and I fear it may be my own. Perhaps this is what it is to be driven into insanity. However, madness is the first step towards unselfishness. Be mad and tell me what is behind the veil of "sanity". The purpose of life is to bring us closer to those secrets, and madness is the only means.
A voice speaks.
"Forget that which pains you…you cannot reclaim what is lost to time. Let it go. There is only regret here."
"What difference does it make? Whether you lost a wife and child or killed an innocent family, you cannot bring back the dead."
The words resemble tainted wine - they would seem like wisdom, if not for the warning of my conscience. I am wary of the situation and my mind immediately insinuates caution. There are evil forces at work here.
I turn. Guildenstern is standing before me. This cannot be real, I tell myself. My hands were stained with this man's blood only moments before I was received into this...ascension. Could this be an ascension into the afterlife? Had Guildenstern dragged me to the depths of the purest hell with him?
The voice continues, as if hearing my thoughts.
"Your hands are tainted with blood. Truth or no, your sins are eternal."
The heartbeat echoes again, more prominently than first. I gaze downwards. Tia lies before me, her hands at her side, facing downwards. Her white dress is stained with crimson. Bloods pools at her midsection and continues to flow towards my feet. I stare, transfixed by this scene.
"Release the past! Look to the future! Join us, Ashley!"
My eyes are unseeing as I look at her. This is the work of one of the deepest circles of hell; the darkness that consumed Guildenstern must be the prominent force that is currently producing the image that I see, here and now. I seethe in my mind, to see her like this.
I turn slightly, looking for the origin of this new voice. These words are different, they are soft and affectionate. My conscience finds rest as it is united with this voice, as a stranger is cheered when he sees another stranger in a strange land.
I turn. I see myself, a reflection of which I once was - standing a few paces away, depicted in passive shades of grey. The reflection however, wears no armor. I gaze downwards, acknowledging the image that has been presented to me. I contemplate who I once was.
Man is born pure and innocent. It is from the influence and manipulation of others that man has become corrupt and in doing so, promoting bloodshed and treacherous deeds. I myself, have become a victim of this; for I too am no exception to the many sins that I have committed.
This reflection of myself is a reminder that I was once a man free of sin. Facing the truth - this image of my past, is the only means of overcoming this evil that I feel present around me.
I open my eyes. Gazing at my reflection, I make for it steadily.
"There is no growth without birth." I hear myself speaking, the words echoing. "Without a foothold in the past, we cannot walk toward the future. Get thee gone, darkness!"
I now stand within a field. The sky an endless azure, clouds of the purest white.
I see them sitting there, beneath the shade of the white birch we used to picnic together as a family. My eyes must be deceiving me, for there is no possible way that I am seeing what is before me.
I step closer. Marco notices me and immediately he jumps to his feet. "Papa!"
He runs towards me, my arms outstretched. I pick him up, gazing into his young face. How can this be? How has my son returned to me? I feel as though I will 'awake' from this moment and no longer will I be able to see his face or hear his voice. My mind is trying to reason with the impossibility of what has happened - but I realize it does not matter.
I will not let this moment fade without saying what should have been said in the past.
I place my hands on my son's shoulders. "Forgive me, Marco. You must have been lonely…"
Marco looks up at me, determination on his face. "Nuh - uh. I'm brave! Just like Papa!"
I hear footsteps. My mind cries out in desperation to look up but I do it slowly. She approaches, dressed in a beautiful white gown. Her hair is tied back, her brown eyes upon my own as if trying to penetrate my soul. As she gazes at me, I can speak only one word.
Tia slightly angles her head at me. "Welcome home, Ashley." Her voice resembles the one I had heard earlier, convincing me to return home. It must have been her. She says this calmly with a smile, as if she had expected to see me.
I look down at Marco. He looks up at me with a wide smile.
Tia tucks a strand of hair behind her ear. "You've done all you could for us.'Twas a short time, but I knew happiness with you." She crosses her hands over her chest. "You gave me a lifetime's worth of love."
Tears fall. I do not intend to control my emotions. I see sadness but strength envelop Marco's eyes. "Don't cry Papa. See, I'm not crying. See?"
It is said that he who is seared and cleansed once with his own tears will remain pure forevermore.
I need to justify myself. The words come out slowly. "But…this..."
I feel Tia's finger against my lips. I say nothing more at her touch. She gently pulls away, shaking her head. "Do not be misled by other's words. Believe your heart."
At this statement I know what she is implying. She did not think I was responsible for her or Marco's death. After what had been told to me by Rosencrantz and Sydney regarding my past, I cannot be sure where to place my judgment on this matter.
However...with Tia's insinuation, I feel my conscience take over. Yes, it is saying. Yes. Believe her, for it is the truth.
Tia moves closer. I feel her hands wrap around my neck. She gazes at me for a moment before she kisses me. Her lips are soft and yielding, and as I hold her I know she is real and that finally I have come to an understanding. The understanding that from her forgiveness, I have forgiven myself. Her lips leave mine as she takes a step back, taking Marco's hand.
Putting one hand over her heart she gazes at me, her eyes gentle. "I love you, Ashley."
As she says this, I am at a loss for words. I cannot stand it any longer. I want to reach out to her and take her in my arms again.
She smiles at me, and Marco does the same, his eyes shining with happiness. As they do, they both start to glow. I see my wife and my son start to fade before my eyes, their illuminated particles scattered to the wind.
Then they are gone. I gaze off into the distance. A comforting presence surrounds me, an aura that is reminiscent of them. I know they have not truly left me. It is true that man cannot reap love until after sad and revealing separation, and bitter patience, and desperate hardship.
"Come home, Agent Riot. Your story is not yet finished."
I hear another voice, calling. I feel renewed, this visit a rejuvenation of the body, mind and soul. The aura that surrounds me now is one of immortality. I gaze off into the opposite direction. In defeating Guildenstern, there must be more to this confrontation. Had he been aware of the Darkness that would be unleashed when completing his sacrificial ritual with Sydney, Guildenstern would not have been consumed by his lust for power. That is a mistake I will not make. It is as Sydney had said. "Those who crave the dark, cannot control the dark…"
I feel light envelop my body. I feel there is an inevitable fate chained to my actions; for in defeating Guildenstern I too have unleashed the Dark's powers. However, I do not crave this power - I simply wish to destroy it.
This task was never appointed to me, but it is of my own duty and conscience that I finish this. What will come, will come. Lea Monde must be destroyed - this was Sydney's will.
Now, it has become mine.
You have been told that life is darkness, and in your weariness you echo what was said by the weary.
And I say that life is indeed darkness save when there is urge,
And all urge is blind save when there is knowledge,
And all knowledge is vain save when there is work,
And all work is empty save when there is love.
Author's Note: When I played through this game for the first time, the scene where Ashley is reunited with Tia and Marco almost made me cryy - (that, and when Hardin dies)! There are also many references in this story from passages by the prophet/poet Kahlil Gibran - I thought that they'd be pretty fitting for this fic. Hope this was somewhat accurate - reviews are greatly appreciated! :D