Open Your Wings
They stood atop the peaks of Hima, a fearful group headed towards the final seal. Colette was smiling, but her eyes were frantic with fear. Raine kept looking at her students with tears in her eyes. Sheena chewed her lip in thought and Genis was pacing. Lloyd stood at Colette's side, stone still. Only Kratos remained as impassive as ever. Ada was staring at the ground, as far from Kratos as she could get.
This is it, the last time you speak to him and friend and not foes. I knew this day would come, I knew this choice was before us, but after yesterday.Images of the kiss sprang into Ada’s mind followed swiftly by pieces of broken thoughts showing other kisses, other days, other times, but all centered on Kratos. What are these images of him in my mind? She glanced over at Kratos for a moment before catching herself. Stop thinking about him. It doesn’t matter why he kissed me. He probably is just confused since apparently I look like Anna. Perfectly reasonable and yet…why does it hurt so badly?
The Dragon Tours proprietor brought four dragons forward. "Please board in pairs. One person can take the smaller dragon."
Kratos stepped up to Colette. "I'll ride with the Chosen. Protecting her…" he trailed off of a second and half turned his head toward Lloyd. "…is my job"
"All right," Lloyd said. "I guess…Professor Sage will ride with Genis. Sheena, you're with me."
"Excellent," the Dragon Man said. "Right off you go!" Kratos and Colette had already boarded and took off into the bright blue sky. Raine and Genis followed about five minutes later, then Lloyd and Sheena after that. Ada gulped and gripped the reins on her own Dragon. This is it.
"Where are Colette and the others?" Lloyd asked as Ada landed.
"Inside," Ada replied curtly, sliding off her dragon. "We have to go. Now." Lloyd looked slightly taken aback, but lead the way inside.
Ada gasped in horror. It was worse, a hundred times worse, than she had thought. Hundreds of coffins loomed in her eyes, the failed vessels forever imprisoned inside the place where they met their end: a place of lies, deceit, and fear. Ada clenched her fist. How many did you lead here Kratos?
"So if Colette fails…she'll end up here?" Lloyd looked ahead to the portal. "Damn it! COLETTE!" he dashed forward and disappeared.
"Hurry," Ada said, following Lloyd.
In a flash, she stood behind Lloyd who faced the altar. Colette knelt, praying to a Goddess who could not exist so long as Martel Yggdrasill was inside the Great Seed. Remiel stood behind her, a maniacal grin on his face. Ada looked around, trying to figure out where Kratos could possibly be hiding.
"Now, my daughter," Remiel said in fevered excitement. "Release the final seal! In doing so, you will complete the final sacrifice of your human existence—your heart and your memory. By doing so of your own free will, you will become a true angel!"
"Sacrifice her heart and memory?!" Lloyd exclaimed.
"Colette's going to forget about us?" Genis cried.
"Colette's human life will now end," Raine said sadly. "She will be reborn as an angel."
"Professor Sage!" Lloyd rounded on his teacher. "What is he talking about?!"
"Lloyd, I'm sorry." Raine hid her face in her hands. "I promised Colette I wouldn't say anything."
"Colette will give up her life in order to regenerate the world," Ada said. "Becoming an angel means dying."
Lloyd looked from Ada to Raine in horror. "You knew! You both knew and didn't say anything?!"
"I'm sorry," Ada said, her eyes darting around for a sign of the other angel. "I can't reveal the future…you know this. Colette is going to sacrifice her life to save Sylvarant."
"That's not quite correct," Remiel said smugly. "The Chosen's heart will die, and her body will be offered to the Goddess Martel. By removing her body, Colette will revive the Goddess. This is the true nature of the world regeneration! The revival of the Goddess Martel…is the revival of the world itself!"
Ada fixed her eyes on Remiel and laughed bitterly. "That's the truth. The truth…tell us, what of Tethe'alla?"
"That is not for you to know," the angel thundered.
"You kept it a secret because it is true," Raine said boldly.
"Isn't there a way for both worlds to be at peace?" Sheena asked.
"Who told you of this?"
Ada laughed outright. "You are supposed to be an angel. All knowing, yet you can't tell that two people not of this world are standing right before your eyes?"
Remiel ignored her. He knows. "The salvation of both worlds…if that is what the Chosen desires, she can lend her power to Cruxis by becoming an angel. Once the Goddess Martel is revived by the Chosen, the two worlds will surely achieve peace, just as the Chosen wishes." Colette looked at Remiel. "Is that true? You know why you have come here."
"Colette, stop!" Lloyd cried. "If you sacrifice yourself, your friends who love you…and your family and… and me…we'll all be sad. It will be the same as sacrificing all of us!" Lloyd dashed forward to Colette, but Genis grabbed him.
"Genis! Let me go!"
"I don't want anything to happen to her either!" Genis cried. "But what else are we supposed to do?! The people of Sylvarant are suffering, too!"
"The sacrifice of one single person, the Chosen, will save the world," Remiel said coldly.
"Are you saying that you would choose the Chosen's soul over the entire world?"
"I would," Ada said indifferently. Everyone looked at her shocked. Ada shrugged and looked up defiantly at Remiel. “If I thought it would work, that would be a different story, but it won’t. You’re lying. You whole system, you’re whole being is a lie. Colette shouldn’t sacrifice herself to a lie.” In that moment, Ada didn't care about the timeline, the effects, any of it. All she wanted was to protect Lloyd from the loss he was about to suffer, protect them all from the pain of watching Colette's soul fade from her eyes.
Remiel smile coldly. “What do you know of the being of the superior race, human? Now, Colette. Come join your father."
Colette went obediently to Remiel's side. "Damn it, Colette!" Ada shouted. "Don't do this! Listen to me! It’s all a lie.” But Colette would not acknowledge Ada--she had come too far and still believed in her role as the Chosen. She would bear the burden on the off chance it could help, even though she knew it probably wouldn’t.
"Wait! Remiel!" Lloyd shouted, tearing away from Genis. "Is there really no other way? Colette's your daughter. Surely you don't really want her to die, either!"
Remiel laughed a cruel heartless laugh that made the hair on the back of their necks shiver. "My daughter? Don't make me laugh. When I came down to play the role of guardian angel, you inferior beings just started calling me her father on your own."
"Big mistake, bird brain!" Ada called.
"Wh…what?" Lloyd stammered.
"I merely placed the Cruxis Crystal upon this sacrifice, who was selected to become Martel's vessel." Remiel grinned evilly.
"You're just digging your hole deeper," Ada said, anger building in her veins.
Lloyd ran up to Colette, tears in his eyes. "Colette!"
"Lloyd, it's okay." Colette's voice echoed around the room, sadness in every syllable. "I realized what was going on. Every time I met Remiel, I felt that he was not my real father. But still, for some reason, I still feel like I want to cry."
"Colette! If you realized what was going on, then why-?"
"You can hear my voice? I'm so happy! I'll be able to say goodbye to you in the end!" She smiled.
Lloyd choked back a sob. "Colette, I'm sorry! I couldn't save you. I'm so sorry! I promised I wouldn't make another mistake, but it looks like I have again…"
Colette shook her head. "No. Thank you, Lloyd. Because of you, I was able to find the courage to protect the world. Because of you, I was able to find the strength to live these sixteen years to the fullest. So please…"
Colette rose in the air, Lloyd clinging hopelessly to her. "Please don't leave me Colette."
"It looks like it's time,” she said sadly. “Goodbye." Her hands slipped from his as she hovered next to Remiel.
"No!" Ada shrieked, drawing her blades and charging Remiel. "Stop it! STOP IT!"
A flash of light stopped her dead in her tracks. They looked up as Colette's eyes slowly opened. Their blue coloring had faded away, replaced with a horrible, crimson red. She was gone.
Remiel began to laugh maniacally. "I've done it! It's finally complete! Martel's vessel is finally complete! With this, I shall become one of the Four Seraphim!"
"Wait just a minute!" Sheena was catching on. "What are you gonna do with Colette?!"
"He's going to take her to heaven." Sadly Raine was not.
Lloyd clenched his fist. "You bastard! You'll pay for this! Cruxis, the angels, the Goddess Martel…its' all a big lie, isn't it, just like Adad said. Let her go, now!"
"That, I cannot do, for she is Martel's vessel. This is Martel's new body which took years to complete.” Remiel drew a sword out from behind his back, still grinning maniacally as he stared down at them. “And now, I have no use for any of you! Be gone!"
Remiel flew at Lloyd. "Holy Lance!" Light erupted from the sky, headed straight for the five humans, but their rage and their pain kicked their minds into action.
The light engulfed them, obliterating them from sight. Remiel laughed as the light cleared. "To think they believed they could beat-"
"Die!" Lloyd roared, bursting through the clearing dust, Ada beside him. Together they drove their swords through his heart.
"What?" Remiel gasped as blood gushed from his wounds.
"Pyre Seal!" Sheena cried, slamming him with her powerful attack. "You won't take Colette from us!"
Remiel crumpled, swords still inside of him.
Raine was suddenly behind him. With a shout, she drove the blunt end of her staff into his back and twisted. "How dare you deceive us!"
"We'll finish you off," Genis cried. "Wind blade!" Fierce blades of air erupted around the angel's body and cut his flesh to ribbons. The warriors pulled away as Remiel slumped onto the floor.
"Impossible,” he groaned, blood pouring from his lips and leaking from his wounds. “How can an angel, the ultimate being, lose to a group of humans?"
They paid him no heed, leaving him unceremoniously to die on the floor. Lloyd ran to Colette and put his hands on her shoulders, a frantic look in his eyes. "Colette, come back to us! I'm going to restore you back to your normal self! I promise!" Lloyd cried.
Colette didn't respond. She didn't even look at Lloyd.
"Colette…" he said softly, "have you really forgotten me?"
Ada put her hand on his shoulder. "No Lloyd. She still knows you. But unless we get her soul back…she will remain like this."
"No," he moaned. "It can't be. COLETTE!"
"You're wasting your time," said a cold, inhuman voice they knew all too well. Ada looked up slowly, trying not to cry out in pain as she saw him standing placidly next to the soulless Colette. "Kratos…" she sighed.
He heard her, heard the pain in her voice, but it didn’t matter, it couldn’t matter. He couldn't draw this out. It was time."Not only did she lose her memory, but she has lost the soul to listen to your words. Now Colette is merely a puppet standing before death's door."
"Kratos!" Lloyd exclaimed, sounding both shocked and a little relieved. "Where have you been?! What are you saying?!"
"The Chosen desired the regeneration of the world and chose this path herself," he replied evenly. "By the summoning of the Chosen to Derris-Kharlan, the seal will be broken and the regeneration will be complete."
"Kratos?" Lloyd was putting the pieces together in his mind…but not in time. "What are you talking about?"
"It is what you wanted as well," Kratos said, purposely avoiding his son’s inquiries. Still, he paused and locked eyes with Ada before returning his gaze to his son. "We will take the Chosen as the new body for Martel.”
"What are you talking about?!" Lloyd shouted. "Kratos, answer me!"
"Lord Kratos," Remiel moaned, to everyone but Ada's surprise. "Have pity on me. Please…lend me your aid."
Ada kicked him. "Quiet, Big Bird!" she hissed.
Kratos looked at Remiel in true disgust. "Have you forgotten, Remiel? I was once of the inferior race…a human. Does the ultimate being seek help from that which he despises the most?"
Remiel scowled before crying out in pain. He flopped back to the floor, his life finally extinguished.
Lloyd stared in horror at Kratos. Slowly he walked up to the man, disbelief in his eyes and for a moment Kratos actually looked afraid. "Move out of the way," he said firmly, but Ada could hear the wariness in his voice.
"Kratos," Lloyd said softly. "Who are you?"
Ada closed her eyes, unable to watch. Open your wings evil angel…
Kratos’s body began to glow. The air around him shimmered and began to adopt a bluish glow at his back. Suddenly, two large, shining blue wings erupted from his back, flapping gently. "I am of Cruxis, the organization that guides this world. I am one of the Four Seraphim, sent forth to keep close watch over the Chosen."
"Kratos is an angel, too?!" Genis exclaimed.
"You deceived us!" Sheena gasped.
"Deceived? If the Chosen merges with Martel, she will awaken, and the world will be saved. Is that not what you wanted?"
Ada could not contain herself. "Your answer is little more than a technicality!" She glared up at the angel, her heart thudding wildly. "You know this isn’t what we wanted. You know this isn’t right!"
"Why should I pay your words any heed?" Kratos asked her coldly. "What do you care of Sylvarant? Your place is far away."
"My place is here!" she shouted. She felt something inside of her rise up, twisted and angry and hurt, but something that wasn’t her. It wasn’t her, it wasn’t mana, it was something else that seized Ada in that moment. Without meaning to, the words burst from her mouth, s couldn't have stopped the words, even if she wanted to. "You coward! You couldn't face your past, could you! You couldn't forgive yourself! What happened to you, Kratos?"
Kratos felt as though the air had been knocked out of him. He looked hard at Ada who stared just as hard back. Something passed between them and without meaning to, Kratos checked for her mana signature, confirming his suspicion. It can’t be…
"Once her body is taken by the Goddess of Martel, Colette will truly die," Raine said, interrupting their tense moment. "We never wanted that."
Kratos blinked and shoved the revelation he had just made aside. You must do this Think of Lloyd. "No," Kratos said to Raine. "She will not die. Rather, she will be reborn as Martel."
"Damn it!" Lloyd roared, drawing his blades. "You think I'm going to let you do that?! Colette is our friend!" Lloyd charged, and Ada knew he stood no chance. To her horror, the others followed.
"Sacred powers," Kratos chanted. Everything was in slow motion: the glittering of the wretched blue wings, the glimmer of his magic, the figures of Lloyd, Raine, Genis, and Sheena racing toward their former ally.
Stop him, Ada! Stop him!
Ada ran as fast as could. "Cast thy purifying light upon these corrupt souls…"
She ran past Raine, past Genis and Sheena.
"Rest in peace sinners!"
Ada shoved Lloyd aside, knocking him back as she scrambled up to the dais where Kratos and Colette stood. Without thinking she dove at Kratos.
Ada threw her hand back at Lloyd. "Guardian!" a shield formed around him, just as she collided with Kratos and they crashed to the floor.
There was a great rumbling. Beams of light erupted from the sky, rocketing down to earth. Ada heard the screams as she clung to Kratos, digging her nails into his flesh as the ground shook. "If you kill Lloyd, the world will die, Kratos! Stop the attack."
Immediately, the light cleared. Ada jumped to her feet and ran to Lloyd, who was wounded, but not seriously. He and the others were in no condition to fight.
"Damn it!" he gasped, his face smudge and bruised, his chest heaving as he fought to draw breath. He looked at Ada, confusion and pain in his eyes. Then he looked up and shoved Ada away hard, sending her sprawling. Kratos stood before his son, his sword unsheathed. He raised his blade to deliver the final blow and for a moment, even Ada believed he would do it.
"Ugh!" Kratos dropped his sword. I can't do it. I murdered my wife with these hands…I can't kill my son as well.
"Enter Yggdrasill," Ada muttered, struggling upright and crawling over to Lloyd.
“I guess not even you could bring yourself to fight against such an opponent.”
There was another flash of light and the man himself appeared, if you call him a man, complete with rainbow wings and white spandex. Ada stared at the real life version of Yggdrasill, and did not laugh like she did when she played the game. He radiated sorrow and pain…but also a maniacal thirst for power and desperate urge to conquer. He was actually somewhat frightening in his obvious insanity. Kratos faced Yggdrasill, knowing what was expected, and bowed.
"Lord Yggdrasill," he acknowledged, his stomach twisting in disgust.
Ada gagged at Kratos's groveling. Lloyd was panting on the ground, but he gritted his teeth and stood facing Yggdrasill. The others grimly rose as well, keeping their weapons at the ready, though only Ada was in any position to fight.
"Who's that?" Genis asked, staring at the rainbow wings.
"Another angel?" Sheena gasped.
"Are you Lloyd?" Yggdrasill asked, though he obviously knew the answer.
Lloyd straightened, in spite of his battered state. The appearance of a new foe was giving him strength, likely siphoning off of his exsphere. "Give me your name, and I'll give you mine!"
Yggdrasill laughed "People need not introduce themselves to a dog."
"What did you say?!" Lloyd and Ada shouted.
"Fine, I shall tell you my name, wretched human.” Mithos drew himself up and said importantly. “I am Yggdrasill. Leader of Cruxis…and the Desians!"
Lloyd instantly understood. He knew that this man was responsible for all of the suffering, particularly Colette’s and Lloyd was not happy about it. "Damn you!" Lloyd ran forward, his swords ready.
Yggdrasill smirked. He disappeared and reappeared a mere inch from Lloyd's face. He shot his hand out and clutched the boy's throat. "Disappear." he said calmly before blasting Lloyd with mana. The others tried to attack but Yggdrasill hit them with Holy Lance. It was over in seconds. Lloyd still struggled up as the others lay motionless.
"Wretched human," Yggdrasill said in a bored voice. There was a flash as great purple sword materialized in front of Yggdrasill, who seized it and swung it at the young swordsman. Lloyd flew backward and crashed into a pillar, breaking it in half.
Yggdrasill turned to Kratos, whose face was impassive, though his eyes were haunted. No…not my son. Please don't tell me I must watch him kill my son. I can't! I have to stop Yggdrasill. "Kratos, I trust you have no objections?" Kratos said nothing, ready to spring into action if Yggdrasill went through with it. Yggdrasill turned back to Lloyd's group, smiling maniacally. "Farewell."
"Kratos may not have an objection," Ada said. The two angels turned to their left to see Ada standing there, her swords ready and fire in her eyes. "But I do!"
Yggdrasill's eyes widened. "You!" He looked back at Kratos, who's faced revealed nothing. "How is this possible? He murdered you!"
"No," Ada snapped. "You murdered Anna. You and your foolish perversion of a dying woman's wish!" Ada ran for the angel, knowing full well that it was a dumb thing to do.
Yggdrasill's face twisted in rage. "You insolent little- JUDGE-"
Just as Yggdrasill was prepared to finish the wretched human off, a fireball erupted from the shadows behind her, missing the angel by inches. Botta and his Renegades appeared at the scene, quickly evaluating the circumstances.
"Damn!" Botta swore. "The Chosen has already become an angel! We have no choice. We're taking her back with us alive!"
Botta opened a portal behind him and the soldiers carried Sheena, Raine, Genis and Lloyd through. But Yggdrasill wasn't giving up. He began to fire mana bolts at Ada, who ducked and dodged still trying to charge the villain. Three soldiers raced in front of her to distract Yggdrasill and Botta grabbed her arm. "Let's go. Now!" The Renegade lieutenant drug Ada over to the portal, but she struggled.
"But…" she protested, looking at Kratos who refused to look at her. A tear slipped down her cheek. "Kratos, why?” she whispered, though she knew why. Kratos looked at her for a fraction of a second before looking down at Lloyd, who was being carried beside her, and then back at Ada. Ada understood: protect Lloyd. Light gathered in the portal, and she shielded her eyes. When it cleared, she stood in the Renegade base, Botta at her side. "You fool," she muttered. “Yggdrasill will pay for this!
Back in the tower, Kratos watched his former student obliterate the Renegade soldiers who had stayed behind before glancing around to find his targets had escaped. Mithos sighed. "Renegades, as irritating as ever. Still, it is of little consequence." He narrowed his eyes. "That girl…what game is Origin playing?" He shook his head. "Kratos, let us leave."
"As you wish," Kratos replied as Yggdrasill vanished. He looked back at the spot where Lloyd had vanished, pleased with the turn of events. He was even more pleased that Ada understood his silent plea and would keep her promise to protect Lloyd. Still, the girl’s words in the tower, the feel of her lips in Hima, these would not fade from Kratos’s mind. He had to focus on Lloyd but... he had to unravel the mystery of Adalais Aurion too and hope that both of them were safe in the hands of the renegades. "Saved by the Renegades." Kratos smiled to himself. "Don't die, Lloyd."