Skewed Destinies- The Flames of Origin

Just another afternoon in Meltokio

Chapter 23

Just another afternoon in Meltokio

Meltokio was stunning. Lloyd couldn't help but be at awe at everything. He couldn't think of a single city in Sylvarant that they had visited that even vaguely matched up to it. Marble footpaths of an almost golden hue lined every inch of the city, except for a small offshoot that led off to an eastern residential area of the city. A small dirt path led to to a series of old houses made of clay. Seeing them made Lloyd feel a little homesick for his slightly run down wooden-style house in the middle of the Iselia woods. He briefly wondered when he might next get a chance to talk with his dad about everything that had happened so far on the journey before he heard a small gasp from Gesea."What's the matter?" he asked, looking down at her.

She shook her head and gave him a small embarrassed smile. "I'm not sure why I did that. I just saw that man up ahead there and it sort of just..slipped out."

Lloyd looked to where she was pointing and saw a peculiarly dressed man with spiky dyed blue hair and a monocle that made him look twenty years older than he probably was. The man was standing on the next level of town near a fountain, nodding to himself as though deep in thought. Lloyd was about to turn to Yuan and ask him if it was anything they needed to be alarmed about when Colette absently walked ahead of the rest of them and to the stairs. Instead he exchanged a shrug of the shoulders with Gesea and followed the weird new addition to the party.

A puppy wandered away from two curly haired brunette twins as they reached the top of the stairs and curiously wandered over to them. Gesea knelt down to inspire it to come to her, but the puppy seemed more interested in the flapping angel wings of Colette.

"Uh, that isn't a good-" Yuan started and cringed with the rest of them when Colette kicked the puppy away toward the children who had been running to catch it. They cried in horror and picked the puppy up. Mouths still wide, they ran away, turning their heads back to them every so often to make sure they weren't being followed. "-Idea.." Yuan sighed, finishing his sentence.

Gesea put her hands on her almost non-existant hips. "Colette!"

She looked at Lloyd with the same angry expression and he recoiled back. "What did I do?"

Gesea calmed herself. "Sorry. It's just.. you like dogs, right Col?"

"Of course. I have Noishe. That puppy was really cute too," he answered, still unsure where she was going with this.

"Then why did she kick it?" Gesea asked. She asked under her breath, making Lloyd wonder whether she was actually directing the question at him. "She was a part of you, wasn't she?"

Lloyd slapped his hand to his forehead. "You're asking me that question?" He shook his head. "Martuan said a lot of things back then and you guys saw it happen, but it still doesn't seem possible that I just happened to randomly split into two people."

"Another mystery of the world we have yet to really uncover," Yuan said from behind them. They turned to him and he continued with a strange whimsical grin on his face. "I'm sure if we can figure out how to get Colette back to normal, she might be able to help us figure it out."

"You think so?" Gesea asked. She habitually touched her chest where her Cruxis Crystal sat, covered by her apparel currently. "I suppose it's possible that she isn't exactly herself at the moment."

"My, what a violent lady you are," said a strange cackly voice, interrupting their conversation. They all looked in the direction it had come from to see the spiky haired man looking at them with one hand on his monocle. He held the eyeglass closer to his eyes and leaned closer to them all and then stopped on Colette. "Marvelous."

As quickly as he had invaded their conversation and personal space, he walked past them and headed down the steps to the exit of town. Yuan turned and watched him for a few moments, making Lloyd curious whether he should have asked the ex-professor whether there was any cause for alarm. Another couple of moments passed before Yuan nodded to himself in thought and turned back to them. "Shall we continue on to the castle?"

xXx

As they passed the large water fountain the odd man had been standing near and approached the large stone castle, Lloyd looked left to right. He could see another residential district off to his right with white picket fences and large mansions. Ladies walked together with fans clutched in their hands and men walked about with cravats around their necks. He wondered if people related to royalty lived there. From where he was standing he could practically see the air of stuffiness in the area. To his left he saw a cathedral that connected on to the side of the castle.

"Come on," Yuan said, looking left to right. "We should hurry to the King. Hand me the note would you Colloyd?"

Lloyd uncomfortably and slowly went to hand it to him, hoping for an explanation. Yuan opened his mouth to give it to him but found himself cut off by some loud shrieks from the distance.

"It's Master Yuan!" cried one woman with strawberry blonde hair as she ran toward them.

"It's really him!" another woman with brown hair exclaimed, joining her in the race. Several other women in the vicinity turned their heads and stared directly at the group, predominantly Yuan. Before Lloyd or Gesea could say a single word, Yuan was surrounded by squealing women. He tried to back away but like hungry wolves, they latched on and would not let go.

"Master Yuan! How are you?" one woman asked.

"Did you get my latest letter to you?" another questioned.

"Will you be my Salvatorian?" at least three asked in the space of two seconds.

"What's with all these girls?" Gesea asked, trying to see past all the women to Yuan.

Lloyd nodded in agreement. "What's going on Yuan?" That was all he could ask despite the amount of questions an answer other than "I don't know" would raise.

The women turned their attention on Lloyd. "You dare to speak to the great Master Yuan like you know him?" Three asked in unison.

"W..well, I do.." Lloyd defended, stepping back when the blonde who had been the first to the location stepped out of the crowd and glared. Gesea took a few very quick steps back with him.

"You must be from the slum crowd," the woman said, the pitch of her voice really grinding on Lloyd's ears. "Nobody of any class woud speak to our Chosen like that!"

She took another step toward Lloyd. Before anyone could stop her, Colette stepped in the way, picked up the woman and threw her toward the door of the castle. Stunned, Lloyd watched her fly, and then as all of a sudden Yuan jumped out from the middle of the gaggle of girls and to the woman's location. He caught her bridal style and she looked up at him with a wide grin before fainting in his arms. The other girls cheered and cooed while Gesea and Lloyd watched the scene blankly.

"Did I just hear correctly, Col?" Gesea asked over the commotion.

"I don't know.." the boy replied, a little numb. "Did you just hear her call Yuan... The Chosen?"

Yuan put the unconscious woman down on the ground carefully and ran to the castle doors, waving at them to follow. They glanced at one another and quickly sprinted after him, the screaming girls of all ages giving chase like a wild stampede. Yuan didn't even stop properly when he got to the guards standing out front. They nodded at him and opened the heavy iron doors for them to run straight through. The doors boomed shut behind the four of them. Lloyd looked at the guards who stood to his left and right, back at the door, and then at Yuan.

The elf grimaced and pushed his hair that had been messed up during the attack back behind himself. "I was hoping this wouldn't be as awkward as it seems to be."

"Yuan," Lloyd frowned. "What that girl said? Is it true?"

"That I'm the Chosen?" Yuan asked, crossing his arms. "I suppose it is." He turned toward the large arched hallway that seemed to lead to the throne room. "I think the King will be in his chambers. We might as well head there."

He started walking but Lloyd, Gesea and Colette stayed where they were. When he realised they weren't following, he sighed and turned to them. Lloyd clenched his fists and looked to the floor. "You as well, Yuan? Have you really been lying to us all this time?"

Seeming to finally realise the implications, Yuan gazed at the bunch of teenagers and slumped his shoulders. "Does me being the Chosen really change everything that I have done and helped with up until now, Colloyd?"

Lloyd considered his point carefully. He wasn't sure what to say to that. If he went by the same logic that he had only hours ago used to console Gesea about Kraine, than it shouldn't have mattered. "I.." He trailed off and shook his head. "At least tell us what's going on!"

"Col's right," Gesea nodded. "If you're Tethe'alla's Chosen, then that means you've known about Tethe'alla this whole time we've been travelling together."

"You're right, I have," Yuan admitted. He looked at Lloyd. "Just as Kraine likely does, I also have a reason for having deceived you until now."

Lloyd stared. It was like Yuan had just read his mind. Yuan chuckled to himself in the awkward silence. "This is hardly the place to have a discussion like this." He looked at the guards standing at the doors. They did their best to keep straight faces but he'd heard them telling all kinds of stories about the goings on inside the castle to their comrades on many other occasions.

Still feeling and looking troubled and with a million other questions ready to ask, Lloyd reluctantly agreed to wait for a time when they were alone.

xXx

The blue haired ex-professor-elf-apparently-Tethe-alla's-Chosen led them through to the eastern wing of the palace and up two sets of stairs as though he had been inside the castle many times. He didn't look back at them, sensing their contempt for the situation. Lloyd watched him from behind, thinking back on everything he knew about the man. Yuan had been his Professor at Iselia for four years before Kraine and Gesea had come. He had been his first ever official school teacher since before he'd turned ten he hadn't been allowed to mix with other children. He had been home schooled by Phaidra at the Temple of Martel on all things Chosen. The old woman had tried her best to teach him things but it hadn't been until Yuan had come to Iselia that things had begun to sink in. The elf had taught him more about being a person as well as the Chosen and he had treasured those years. He'd resented Kraine at first for replacing him until he had been told that Yuan had left of his own volition by Phaidra. His stomach twisted into a knot upon the realisation that the reason Yuan had been able to offer such honest knowledge to him about Kharlian, the written language of the Angels, and about how to deal with being the Chosen was because he had first hand experience. He didn't exactly know how to feel.

By the time they climbed the staircase and stood in front of a door with a golden plaque above the frame that read "ROYAL CHAMBER", Lloyd had gone through a long list of emotions in his head about how he felt about the revelation. Deciding he felt more confused than betrayed, he decided to focus on the task at hand and to trust that Yuan would give them a more thorough explanation soon. At seeing Yuan, the guards stood at ease and allowed him entrance into a large bedroom. A man with a long fuzzy beard sat in bed with a trolley next to him full of medicine and surrounded by tissues. It looked like he was bed ridden with a cold. An empty chair sat on the other side of the king-size bed as though he'd had visitors recently.

The King fluttered his eyes open at the sound of the door shutting behind them and observed the group. "Oh, Chosen. It has been some time since we have had your presence in this castle." He looked at Lloyd and Gesea equally before looking a little perplexed at the sight of Colette. Lloyd couldn't blame him. Her pink angel wings had not retracted back into her back and were clearly visible.

There was movement from a small room off to the right. A man with a long hat and clothes representative of the Church of Martel walked into the bed chamber. Lloyd guessed he might have been the Pope that Sheelos had mentioned earlier.

"Ch..Chosen!" He said, looking surprised but not all that pleased to see Yuan. He also looked over the rest of them "Who are these other people you have brought into the castle?"

"Yes, I would like to know that as well," the Tethe'allan King said, hacking a cough.

Yuan turned to his side and waited for the King to settle down before he waved his hands at Lloyd and Gesea, then over to Colette. "These are very important friends of mine, your Highness."

Before a word more could be said, the doors behind the group opened. A woman with long dark blonde hair that was parted at the sides and a ruffly blue and white noble dress stepped through. She gasped when she saw Yuan and just like the rest of the people in the room, seemed confused at the "extras".

"You are just in time, Princess Hilda," Yuan said with a polite bow. Princess Hilda nodded back in greeting and sat in the empty chair next to her fathers bed.

"As I was saying, these people are from Sylvarant," Yuan said.

"These are people from the declining world?!" Hilda gasped and brought a small fan out of her sleeve. She fanned herself while she looked over the group again. Lloyd looked down from all of their gazes. He was starting to feel like an exhibit.

"Well don't just stand there," the Pope said, "Introductions are in order."

Lloyd and Gesea shared a glance for a second before Lloyd stepped forward. "I'm Lloyd, Your Highness." He realised too late his mistake in telling his new name and saw Yuan and Gesea's expressions change. They didn't approach him on it though and he was glad. There was a better time and place for this conversation too. Gesea stepped forward to introduce herself next, then Yuan introduced Colette to them. "Colette is the Chosen of Sylvarant," he explained.

Lloyd kept his lips tight this time, remembering what it had been like when he had proven his Chosen status to Martuan. Still, he felt bad. If anything bad came of her being labelled the Chosen.. No. He didn't want to think about that. "We've come to deliver a letter," he explained, trying to get the attention off of the absent angel. He didn't want to know what might happen if someone in the room decided that they wanted to shake hands with her.

"A letter?" the King asked. "Whom is this letter from?"

Lloyd looked at Yuan, who nodded and handed the letter from Sheelos to the Pope, who handed it gingerly to the King. "Sheelos Wilderbayashi, Your Highness," Yuan answered.

"Sheelos?" The Kings eyes widened and he opened the letter. It turned out to just be a folded piece of paper with some kind of wax seal. They all waited for him to finish reading and watched as his expression changed by the time he arrived at the end. He frowned, making the aging lines on his forehead all the more prominent. He rested the letter on the bed next to him and looked at Lloyd. "People of Sylvarant, please be escorted by our guards and wait in the Crimson Chamber."

The doors behind them opened and the guards who had been out front stepped inside. "Please follow us," one of them instructed.

Lloyd looked at Yuan, who shook his head. "It's okay Lloyd. The Crimson Chamber is just a fancy guest room."

He relaxed a bit more and left with Gesea at his side and Colette following blankly as always.

xXx

Lloyd impatiently paced back and forth in the waiting chamber while Gesea had taken to summoning her kendaxe and playing with it using the ball and paddle end in order to pass time. Just when he was about to ask the guards standing outside for the eleventh time whether they knew when they would be able to go, the doors opened and the Pope and Yuan stepped into the room.

"Sorry to keep you waiting, travelers from Sylvarant," the Pope said.

"So can we go now?" Lloyd asked. "You read the letter right?"

"You want to use Tethe'allan technology to save the Chosen from your side, correct?" The Pope asked. Lloyd nodded, realising that Sheelos must have mentioned the idea of saving Colette in her letter as well. The Pope tisked at that and shook his head. "I'm afraid that as long as the Chosen lives, our world teeters on the brink of destruction."

The guards that had been waiting outside the doors and possibly going mad at Lloyd's persistence earlier approached Colette. They barely placed a hand each on her before she knocked them away. One was sent crashing into the wall of the hallway outside of the room while the other crashed into a stack of chairs on the other side of the room and sent them all tumbling down.

Gesea backed away. "They were going to kill us all along!"

"Just for the record," Yuan said, "I was not a part of this plan." He looked at the Pope with a cross expression. "What would you say to making a deal?"

"A deal?" the Pope's eyes narrowed at Yuan.

"I will continue to accompany the Sylvaranti and ensure that they do not try to leave back to Sylvarant if they decide to save their Chosen's life using our technology," Yuan explained.

Lloyd frowned in confusion, but Gesea seemed to understand the implications. "In order to attempt to get Colette back to normal and conduct our own research on matters as they stand, we will forfeit our right to completing the world regeneration."

"Abandon Sylvarant?" Lloyd looked at Colette and briefly wondered whether it would be worth such a price. It didn't take him long to agree with himself that it was worth it. He had vowed to Sheelos that he would try to stop the sacrifice of Chosen's. Regardless of his somewhat confused notions on the fact that he was the Chosen and Colette was Colette, saving her was the first step to his goal if she did in fact turn out to be the Chosen of Sylvarant somehow. With a weak nod of his head, he agreed to the deal.

"Are you sure something like that should be decided so easily Col..uh, L..Lloyd?" Gesea asked. "This is the whole of Sylvarant we are talking about."

"I know," Lloyd answered. "But if we back away now, we might as well have let the Renegades capture us in Sylvarant."Gesea remained quiet after that. Lloyd looked at the Pope. "We'll do as Yuan..uh, the Chosen suggested. Please tell us where we need to go to help Colette."

"We should head to the Imperial Research Academy," Yuan answered. He looked at the Pope. "Please tell His Majesty of the affairs as they currently stand. I'll escort the Sylvaranti out of the castle now."The Pope didn't look like he appreciated the order, but did as was told and left them to go to the Kings chambers again. Yuan turned to look at Gesea, Lloyd and Colette.

"So where is the Imperial Research Academy?" Lloyd asked him. Yuan felt surprised for a moment. He had expected a bombardment of questions. He regained his composure quickly and led them out of the castle as he explained that they would need to journey out of Meltokio and across the Grand Tethe'alla bridge to get to a small town called Sybak that was known for its research.

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