Hello, everyone! First off, this is a rewrite of my first story that was called Past Times...which was one of my first ever fanfictions. Spare yourself the pain of reading it. When this one hits the road, I am going to retire Past Times from fanfiction dot net. Anyways, you all know the drill! I own nothing of Tales of Symphonia - just my own original characters, which I'm sure you'll all be able to pick out. I hope you enjoy!
A Tales of Symphonia Story
A young girl with flaming red hair that reached to her lower back set her deep grey eyes with determination. She was no older than six, but with the accompaniment of her three close friends that were in the same situation as her, she would perform a robbery by these travelers. They were deep in the Iselia forest, fighting for survival as they always were. This young red head was called Scarlett. One of her friends, Faye, had pine green eyes and messy, short black hair that she tried keeping tied up with a piece of ribbon she had found once. Another was Sheldon, a young boy with light brown hair and darker brown eyes, his face set with decision. The last was Celeste, who had longer brown hair and usually gentle auburn colored eyes, but today, she had gone as long as she could without eating. This quartet was a group of orphans.
The two travelers they were planning on robbing were two men, both seeming to be in their mid-thirties at the latest. One had spiked auburn hair and brown eyes that seemed to be…distracted by something else. Something that he couldn't see. The other had long blue hair that was flipped over his right eye and tied back in a ponytail, not quite covering his cerulean blue eyes. He seemed to be concerned for his companion as well as sympathetic. Occasionally, he glanced around them, and the four would freeze stiff, because they always thought it was because of them making noise. When darkness fell on the forest, the two men stopped and built a fire to fend off monsters and the cold. The orphans got ready. The men were bound to soon sleep.
The four were set in different spots surrounding the men in the dark, and their eyes were all set on the same prize: their packs, which would contain food. They weren't stupid enough, even at young ages, to try and steal their packs while they were still awake. From watching them, the children had discovered they were very polished fighters. Their best bet was to wait until they went to sleep.
Hours passed, the stars moved overhead, and the men never fell asleep. Scarlett put her small hand in a fist and felt the painful ache in her stomach. She couldn't wait any longer for them to rest! Besides, what kind of men would kill a child? A starved, filthy little orphan? Most people left them alone because they figured the children would die soon enough. She braced herself, preparing to run and grab the packs. One, at least. Her eyes wandered, and she spotted Sheldon across the clearing, shaking his head, his eyes wide with fear.
What can I do? We're all so hungry… We can't wait any longer! With this thought in mind, Scarlett took a deep breath and shot out of her hiding spot. She ran straight for the men, who instantly saw her. Scarlett was too focused on the packs to even notice that from the looks on their faces, they were in no meaning of the word surprised. The one with blue hair reached out and scooped the girl up as he stood at the same time. She squealed with shock and thrashed around. "No, no! Let me go!"
A look of amusement crossed the blue haired man's face as he listened to the child's pleas. He turned to the auburn headed man, who said, "We know you've been following us. We also know that there are more of you." Raising his voice a little, he added, "You might as well come out."
The remaining children glanced at each other with panic, unsure of what to do. Scarlett still squirmed against the blue haired man until he sighed lightly and said, "We aren't going to hurt you."
With that assurance, the children all emerged from their hiding places, slowly walking into the light of the fire. The man holding Scarlett set her down gently, and she shuffled away from him a few paces, her eyes watching him carefully. The two men looked at these children with pity – they were all so filthy and wore hardly any clothes, if they could be called that. They were mostly just rags. "Listen, now…," said the man with blue hair softly, "like I said, we aren't going to hurt you. We are just wondering what you all are doing here in this forest at night and what you were planning on doing."
Celeste whimpered quietly and twiddled her thumbs. "We're really sorry, misters… We were just…hungry…"
The men shared a glance before the auburn headed man spoke up. "I am sorry, you four… We have no food on us."
"None?" Faye's face dropped with pure disappointment and realization at how hungry she really was.
"Tell you what. Tell us your names, we'll tell you ours, and we'll figure out a way to get you food first thing in the morning. Sound good?" The blue haired man looked about at all of them, and they all nodded excitedly.
"And I'm Celeste!"
Scarlett remained quieter at first, her fiery gaze still upon the man who had picked her up. "…I'm Scarlett."
She could see the smirk form on his lips. So young and she's already so proud. Heh. Don't see much of that these days… "I'm Yuan, and this is Kratos. Could you tell me where your parents are?"
Silence fell heavily in the air as all the kids turned their eyes to the ground. It was Sheldon that whispered, "They're all dead. Desians…they…"
"It's okay." Yuan shook his head. "We understand."
"Come closer to the fire, get warm, and get some sleep. We will get you all your food, I promise," Kratos assured them, gesturing for them to come rest.
Rest, they found. They curled up near the fire and closed their eyes, quickly drifting off into sleep. There was no telling what time it was; they had waited so long for Kratos and Yuan to fall asleep. When the two were certain the children were all asleep, Kratos turned to his half-elf friend, his hand resting on the hilt of his sword. "Would you like to go hunting? I will…stay here and watch them."
Yuan saw the look of grief and longing in Kratos' eyes. He knew instantly he was thinking of his deceased wife and lost son and all of the time with them that was stolen away in an instant. Without another word, he nodded in agreement and set off into the forest, his weapon at the ready. Perhaps he could snag a few animals to cook and have ready for the young ones by time morning arrived.
When Scarlett rose, she could smell something divine in the air. Food that was cooking over the fire, and when she opened her eyes, she saw that there was plenty of it. She nearly began drooling and sat up, her limbs practically shaking from both how hungry she was and also how close she was to stuffing her face for the first time in a long time. She saw Yuan tending to the food, his eyes turning to look at her once he saw she had risen. He could see the craving in her eyes and cracked the tiniest hint of a smile. "How about you wake the others, and you'll all eat together?"
Scarlett beamed, forgetting that this man had so easily stopped her plan just hours ago to try and steal some food…even if they didn't really have any. One by one, she went around to her friends and shook them, only barely pausing to glance at Kratos, who was leaning against a tree, his eyes closed. Perhaps he was sleeping now? Scarlett ignored him for the moment. All that really mattered was getting some food in her stomach!
With all four now awake and ravenous, Yuan gave each of them small portions of the meat to start with. Once they wolfed it down without hardly even chewing, he had them wait a moment or two to allow the food to go down. He knew that if they ate too quickly, they would get sick. Progressively, he gave them more and more until at last, they could eat no longer. They all sat back, hands on stomachs, sighing with relief and gratefulness. As they digested, Yuan moved away to stand by Kratos.
"…What are you thinking?"
"Maybe there is a way we could help them…," Kratos mumbled, almost as if he were talking to himself instead of answering Yuan's question.
"Kratos…" Yuan sighed long and hard, never sure how to handle these situations. Yes, he had lost the one he loved and cherished so long ago, so he had an idea of how Kratos was feeling, but not entirely. He knew that if he pushed Kratos too much, he would snap for sure. "I know you want to help these kids, but what can we do? Practically everyone we knew here on these lands are dead, save for the elves, and they would never take human children into Heimdall."
"Perhaps… Perhaps these children could…show something to Mithos."
"There's always Meltokio, but they probably wouldn't be much better off-… Sorry, what did you just say?" Yuan's eyes narrowed with disbelief. "…Did you really just say that? Mithos is too far gone, Kratos. How long has it been since he has been entirely sane? Bringing these children to Derris-Kharlan is not a good idea by any stretch of the imagination!"
"Mithos needs to be reminded of what is pure…and that might just be enough to bring him towards the light again." Kratos set his jaw and took a deep breath. "I know by myself that I can't get any further than the entrance to Welgaia. If you are with me, Yuan, he may just give this a chance."
"But-… You-… He-…" Yuan could find no words to say. He gave a light growl in his sigh and rubbed the bridge of his nose with both irritation and defeat. He peeked open an eye and looked at the children, all smiling now that their stomachs were full of food, their eyes wide and…not entirely innocent, since they had already seen the ugly side of life, but they were filled with pure intentions. They only wanted to live. Was that so bad, since they were so young? No matter how crazy Mithos was, he wouldn't kill these children, that Yuan was certain of. "…Fine. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I will help you."
Kratos' gaze softened ever so slightly. "Thank you, my friend."
"Yes, yes, you owe me big time for this one." Yuan pointed an accusing finger at his comrade. "I don't know what yet, but you will pay me back!"
"As you wish." Kratos stood and brushed by Yuan and on towards the four kids, who were all now aware of his approach and were watching him intently. He looked at them all, with their curious looks, and knelt before them. "How would you four like to have a home?"
"Humans? Human children? …Here?! On Derris-Kharlan?!" Mithos Yggdrasill barked a laugh that mocked the words that had left Kratos and Yuan's mouths. "Why in the world would I let them stay here?! Besides, look at them! They're such filthy creatures…"
Scarlett and Celeste yelped together and hid behind the legs of Kratos while Faye clung tightly to Yuan's cape, all three of the girls fearful of this seemingly young man with blonde hair and ferocious blue eyes. Sheldon was the only one who stood his ground against this young man. With his small fists on his hips, he stared straight up at Mithos, his eyes looking firmly at him. "That's not very nice, mister! We might not have been able to wash lately, but you don't need to go calling us names! –Or yelling at us!"
A heavy silence fell, causing tension so thick that one could have cut through it with a sword. Kratos and Yuan all but held their breath, waiting to see what Mithos' reaction would be, but were also ready to defend Sheldon should Mithos try anything funny. Instead of behaving violently, Mithos shifted his gaze to his two Seraphim and merely said, "I will be involved in training that they will be given. I will not take care of any of them. They will not disturb me."
He spun around on his heels and was gone quickly. Kratos and Yuan released their breaths while the girls emerged from their hiding spots. Celeste looked up at them with a beaming expression on her face. "Does this mean we get to stay?"
"That it does," Yuan assured her, a ghost of a grin gracing his lips. There was no way that he thought Mithos would have agreed. As he shared a quick glance with Kratos, he knew instantly what his closest friend was thinking. Mithos must have some ulterior plan…and that meant that they would have to be on their guard all the time to protect the children.
That brings us to the ending of the prologue! I hope you all enjoyed and if you have read the first story before, I reallllly hope you can see the drastic improvements. Please drop a review on your way out and I will see you in the next chapter!