This takes place just after Golden Sun: Dark Dawn finishes, and it may not necessarily be consistent with whatever occurs in any sequel that (hopefully) comes out.
Also, there is a lot of time spent on character development, mainly in the early chapters, because I felt the real game lacked that, especially towards the end… Please be patient. The plot will get moving, I promise.
So… read, and please review! Constructive criticism is welcome. I actually haven't had anyone look at it but myself yet, so I'd really, really, really, appreciate it .
CHAPTER 1: PHANTOM ON THE MIND
Alex landed on the ground softly, after his long drop from the Tuaparang airship. He knew his mission, which he had assigned himself. The Empyror surely wouldn't mind. After all, this could only help their aims. The Empyror didn't tell his agents how to do their missions, he only insisted that they accomplish their goals, however they deemed best. The river before him was stained red with the sunset. So were the waters of the Ayuthay capital.
Late evening in Ayuthay's royal dining hall
"This food is really good! Thanks for having us, Amiti!" said Rief in between bites. It was about the hundredth time one of the pair had thanked him for the food.
"No problem…" he muttered.
Amiti was annoyed. Not at Rief, Rief was his friend. He was irked by the endless exchange of redundant pleasantries that always occurred in Uncle Paithos' court. Though he also enjoyed the company of Rief and Kraden, the main reason he had twisted his uncle's arm to invite the pair to stay was that they had information he wanted- that he felt he needed.
"Rief… What do you know of that man… Alex, the one you called the traitor back at the Apollo Sanctum?" asked Prince Amiti, rather abruptly.
"Wow, that was abrupt", Rief said, still smiling.
Even after everything that had happened, all he could think about was that mysterious man over and over again. It haunted him. WHY?
Rief seemed know the most, but Amiti hadn't found the time to ask earlier. After the lighting of the Apollo Lens, and during their stay in Belinsk, he had decided that it was not the appropriate time to ask. There was so much else taking precedence- most importantly Sveta had just lost her only surviving family member (again) and was soon to be crowned Queen of Morgal. Then suddenly he was leaving on Eoleo's ship. And Amiti had watched as first Izumo and then Tonfon and then Champa became dots on the horizon. He just hadn't been able to find a good time to ask. Now might be his final chance- Rief and Kraden would leave tomorrow.
"I'm sorry… I've just been really curious. You know how that is?" Amiti said. He was sure Rief did. "We've finished eating. Would you care to join me in my chamber?" Amiti continued.
He hoped that King Paithos' advisors would forgive him for the "atrocious etiquette" of leaving dinner without being dismissed. Too bad for royal niceties, Amiti thought, but he didn't want this matter becoming the talk of the court, and he had never really gotten used to its stiff atmosphere. Both he and Rief had finished hours ago- typical of the court- and they were supposed to sit around and continue exchanging pleasantries and small talk endlessly.
"Yes, milord Amiti" Rief said politely. Amiti groaned internally. Not you too…
In Amiti's chamber.
Amiti stuck up his nose and puffed out his chest and declared "I, Lord Amiti, Prince of Ayuthay, nephew of his Majesty King Paithos and son of the Miraculous Veriti in my amazing Grace declare that thee, Rief, shall not refer to me as anything but 'Amiti'! Especially not 'milord'!"
Rief almost fell over laughing as Amiti grinned, pleased with himself.
"Phew… geez, Amiti. You guys in the Ayuthay court, you're all so cultured and polite. I feel so unrefined, so out of place there."
"You did fine, you didn't stick out in any way. And by the way, I've had the same feeling my whole life. "
"Really? But you're the prince here, and you seem so… I don't know, sophisticated?"
"I get lots of practice." Amiti paused. "But seriously, even King Paithos likes it better when people talk normally, more bluntly, to him. It's so much better to talk to people without all the etiquette crap. But of course, the court and the nobles and most importantly the king's advisors would never accept it, so I have to play along", Amiti replied. It was good to see that he wasn't the only one who second guessed every single thing he said. Rief was lucky. He did not have a royal reputation to protect. Amiti had to always second guess half the things he said and had to beg that he would say everything properly and nobody would turn against him within the court.
"So you wanted me to tell you about Alex, the traitor?"
"Alex is my mother's second cousin. Originally he was an apprentice in Imil, with my mother…"
Late evening, city outskirts
Alex walked up to the Ayuthay gate guards. "Hello," he said cheerfully, "good evening to you."
The guards simply glared at him. "What do you want?" the one on the left asked.
"You will step aside and let me enter the city." Alex commanded, as he began to walk in between them. He saw Ayuthay's famous moat behind them. This was going to be as easy as killing insects. But much more fun.
"You must tell us your purpose if you wish to enter," said the right-side guard.
"I see no need to tell you anything," replied Alex. "I am entering this city."
The two guards pointed their spears at him. "Don't be a fool. We won't hesitate to spear you."
Alex laughed. "Weapons are for those who need them." He clasped the air, and water silently rose out of the moat behind the guards.
"You don't stand a chance. Leave this place immediately", the guard commanded, unaware of the needle sharp icicles forming behind him.
"And if I don't?"
"Your blood will cloud the water."
"Oh, really?" Alex said, and with a swift clench of his fists, the icicles behind the guards impaled them before they had time to react. He chuckled to himself. This was power. No one could control or restrain him. Nothing else mattered.
Alex saw a trickle of blood from the chests of the guards.
"Oh, no, we can't have that. I dislike commotions", he remarked as he proceeded to freeze the bloodstreams of both guards, before silently depositing them in the lake.
Returning to Ayuthay brought back memories. He hadn't known that his fields had born fruit, until recently.
He wondered how well the city served as the capital of a kingdom, as he walked across the moat.
Night, Amiti's chamber
"…and thus Alex died during the Golden Sun event. Or so we thought", Rief finished.
Listening to Rief tell the tale, Amiti realized how much Rief felt betrayed by Alex. Alex was, after all, Mia's cousin, her kin. Usually, Rief did not voice such strong opinions in these discussions- despite often being involved in the affairs they talked about, Rief seemed to view them as merely intellectual studies, not background to policy making, like Amiti did. Amiti had talked with Rief and Kraden about the affairs and histories of various parts of the continent many times. But for him it was different. He shared their interest, but he always had strong opinions on the issues and sought solutions that suited Ayuthay's interests. This issue, however, was deeply personal for Rief. It was as if it had been him, not his mother, who had been betrayed. Rief felt his mother's emotions. Amiti wondered what that was like, to have a mother to care for.
"And this is the same man as that Arcanus, who manipulated and used us…" That man who made Ryu Kou unleash that horrible tower that caused so much death and destruction.
"Yes. Him", Rief said with disgust.
Amiti sat quietly, thinking for some time.
He was struck with a memory, of when the group was in the Kolima Forest… the Divine Tree God Tret had said that, like Rief, he possessed "Mia's aura". He did not think that the tree god, in all his years of boundless wisdom, could be wrong. This meant he must be among Mia's relatives.
And yet, most of Rief's relatives were bound to Imil. He doubted that he would possess very much of "Mia's aura" if they were only distantly related… but that would mean the most likely candidate for his father was…No…
Amiti didn't want to contemplate that horrible possibility, but couldn't stop his train of thought. Alex was a monster… Amiti realized that he had so many hopes for finally discovering who his father was: that he hopefully was an admirable person, who had not abandoned Amiti by any choice of his own. The concept that it could be Alex smashed all these hopes like a hammer.
What would that mean? Tentacles of dread wrapped around his brain, pulling him down into an abyss of fear. Did he have the same traits as Alex that caused Alex to become the person he was, who sacrificed millions of people to monsters to get power? Would he develop into… that sort of person, someone… something like Alex?
Amiti finally stopped himself. There was no reason to believe such a horrible idea. After all, Alex's only love was power. Admittedly, Amiti barely knew the man, but he was completely sure of this fact: Alex was incapable of human love.
And after all, when Tret sensed "Mia's aura" in him, could that not just be because, like Mia (…and Alex…) he was a water adept? There were plenty of water adepts all across Weyard… Surely.
His thoughts were interrupted by a loud voice.
"Hey, Amiti, thanks a lot for having us, but we really have to go now to pack up. It's getting deep into the night, and we're leaving tomorrow morning. Have a great life if I never see you again… Please respond so that we know you're still alive, geez."
Amiti looked up and saw Rief standing next to Kraden.
"Whoa… where'd you come from, Kraden?" he asked, startled.
"He's been here for quite a while actually. We've been trying to get your attention, but you were in a sort of trance…" Rief said, almost apologetically.
"Gosh… I'm so sorry for being such a bad host." Amiti mumbled almost lifelessly. He was going to get a protracted earful from the king advisor's, but much more troubling things were on his mind.
"Far from it, the food was absolutely scrumptious!" replied Kraden.
"It was no problem for me at all. Well, I suppose you'd best be off then… farewell." Amiti said, trying to muster a graceful smile.
As the two turned and began to leave, Amiti suddenly realized he had a question he must ask.
"Wait!" he cried out.
The two turned around, with rather startled expressions on their faces. Amiti realized he had just shouted.
"My apologies for that…. outburst…..ahm…..Kraden… about… uh, Aaah…ah… "
Amiti couldn't get the question out. He was afraid of the answer. Kraden was looking at him patiently. He tried to gather his courage.
"Erm…. What do you know about… uh… Piers. You know, after the whole Golden Sun event? I was just really curious, and I thought I might never get an answer after you left."
"Well, he loved sailing the sea, so he traveled all around for the most part. He stayed in his beloved home in Lemuria for a couple years at a time between voyages."
Amiti looked up hopefully. Piers had travelled all around the world… maybe Alex wasn't his father after all. Maybe…
"Do you know if, for some reason, he would have to hide his identity and take off from places without warning? Was there something he was ever running from or something like that?"
Uncle Paithos had told him that Veriti's lover had had to leave suddenly, and that he really regretted it. His father had loved her very much (something Amiti was sure Alex couldn't do).
A good reason for leaving an unborn son fatherless… and not coming back when that son's mother died, leaving him all alone…
"He's not your father, Amiti." Rief said. Had Amiti really made himself that obvious?
"Piers can't have children."
"It's a trait a large number of Lemurians have, for some reason unknown to me", Kraden explained. "In the long run, it may actually benefit Lemuria. If all Lemurians were completely fertile, they would reproduce much faster than people died, given the long Lemurian lifespan…
"…Before long, the isle would be flooded by too many people for its natural resources to support."
Amiti's heart sunk.
"I still don't know who my father is myself", Rief said consolingly. "He and my mother had separated somehow- I know not how- before I was born. She never talked of him and got emotional whenever Nowell or I asked…"
Amiti had never known this. He never would have guessed.
"…well, what I mean is, don't work yourself up about it. If you learn one day, it'll be when you least expect it. Until then, it's not worth it."
Amiti realized what a horrible host he was being. "Thanks a lot," he said," that really makes it better." He tried to sound convincing. He saw the pair weren't convinced.
"Are you sure you're okay?" Rief asked.
"Don't worry about me. I just need sleep… and so do you two. I won't hold you up any longer. You'd best prepare for tomorrow. Goodbye, and fare well in life…" he said weakly, and then he was consumed by his thoughts again. Before he knew it, they were gone.
Streets of Ayuthay, night.
As they were walking back from the palace, Rief was sure Amiti was not okay. Amiti was an expert at putting up the front of the emotionless, cultured prince. Perhaps it came from living in that stiff court. But he couldn't hide it at all earlier.
"Kraden? Do you think we could pay one last visit to Amiti to say a final goodbye?" he asked.
"You want to see how he's doing?"
"Good minds think alike." Rief replied, half-smiling.
Kraden let out a short laugh. "We will, then." And then they were silent.
Later that night, Rief lay awake on his bed, unable to go to sleep. The return of the Alchemy Well wasn't only good, he figured. All the water around could make the place dreadfully humid.
Rief was certain that something else was up, besides Amiti's unknown parentage. The latter was a serious issue, but he didn't think it would cause Amiti to act like that. Why, then?
As if to answer his question, his eyes were pried open by a sharp light. Above him stood a tall man, cloaked in a black robe. His face was clear, though, illuminated by the light coming from his hands. He eyes were struck by the sight of a familiar, masked face peering down at him. Blue locks fell down towards his face.
The light went out. Rief felt strong hands clasp his throat.
To be continued… next- Chapter 2: Phantom in the Night.
And again... reviews would be really nice :)