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Skewed Destinies- The Flames of Origin

By Keko_the_Hybrid

Mystery / Adventure

Two guys, a girl and a sail boat rail

Chapter 42

Two guys, a girl and a sail boat rail

The bloody colour red surrounded Genis when he opened his eyes. A pink haired girl gazed down at him.

"Pink!" he exclaimed, happy to see her. "I mean, Presea!"

Presea bobbed her head and gave a short wave in greeting. "I heard Mithos call me by that name as well."

The mention of Mithos stirred a memory and Genis finally knew what was going on. He had fallen asleep at some point. The last thing he remembered was Mithos telling him he was the actual Hero Mithos named in the legend.

He blinked at Presea. "So you can still see everything that happens while you're in here?" It was pretty dark at the moment, unlike the last time he'd been in the Angelus Project with her.

"Yes," she answered. "I can see everything Genis. Provided you do not put your hand in your pocket, that is."

Genis looked at his hand where the terrible exsphere everyone seemed to want sat. "I'm sorry. I'll try not to in future."

"It's alright," she reassured. He found her placing one hand on his shoulder and the other on his head. "Do your best, Genis." She gave his hair a little rub and he was surprised to actually feel it as though he were actually there. He paused, feeling all of a sudden awkward. She tilted her head while she held her hands in their place, looking expectantly for a reply.

"You seem.. different.. than before," he observed. "I suppose it must be because I'm dreaming."

"No, Genis," Presea said as she shook her head. "I'm really here. Please do not forget about me."

"But how can I help you?" He showed his hand to her. "I can't do anything about the rune crest in my hand. Kraine made sure of that."

"I don't know," she answered, looking sad. He noticed for the first time how much she looked like Annalicia. He hadn't seen his own reflection yet, but he was quite sure his hair was silver like the majority of full-blooded elves. Regardless of everything, it filled with him with both anger and determination in equal measures. "I'll ask Mithos. He knows a lot about what is going on, so maybe he has an idea on how I can get you out of here."

"Be careful," Presea said, removing her hands from him and crossing her arms over her body. She looked like she might be shivering for a second. "I don't think we can trust Mithos."

"You don't?"

Presea shook her head and avoided eye contact with him. She looked as sad as he felt at hearing she didn't seem to see things the same way he did. "He has a darkness in his heart. Didn't you feel that as well?"

He almost reflexively agreed, but decided to stand his ground. "No. I think Mithos must be a good person deep down. Things have just gotten complicated." He hesitated the next part of his sentence. Presea didn't seem too impressed with his admittedly weird trust of the leader of Cruxis. "Just like Kraine is a good person."

That seemed to be the last straw for Presea. "No. Kraine lied to us. We cannot just simply forgive him."

"We should at least find out his story," he explained reluctantly in his own defence. Judging by the differences between them so far, he wasn't all that surprised that they had conflicting opinions on this matter too. "He and Annalicia were in love," he decided to add.

"Yes, I understood that part." Presea sighed. "He still lied to us... and.." She clutched her chest and appeared in pain. Genis stepped forward, his hands flying out from his sides to do something to comfort her. She caught his eyes and he stopped before he reached her. "Genis. I can't shrug the feeling that-"

Genis didn't get a chance to hear the rest of her sentence. His eyes shot open and he almost head butted a curious and somewhat startled looking Lloyd looking over him from one side, and a Colette with a near identical expression on the other. They jumped away simultaneously and stared at him. The first thing that actually struck him was the dark patches of sleep deprivation under their eyes. The second thing was the bandages all over Lloyd's body. His eyes glimmered with interest though and he didn't seem too bothered by it. Genis felt relieved. He'd seen what those dragons had done to him. He also remembered the pain of being hit over the edge of the floating platform by the very same attack.

"You're awake!" Colette chimed, breaking him out of his guilt-ridden thoughts that he did not seem to feel any of that pain any more. "Um, now let's see. Who were you again?" Her eyes trailed up to the ceiling in thought.

"His name is Genis, remember?" Lloyd reminded her, laughing softly and clutching the bandages around himself as he did. "Mithos said he said that was his name."

"Oh!" Colette's sunny smile returned and she nodded in thanks before looking straight back at Genis. "Hello Genis."

"Um, hello," he said, feeling his cheeks heat up. He wondered what Mithos had told them. It didn't take a 'genius' to realise that Mithos wouldn't have given them the full story. He mulled over in his head what to say next. "I'm actually a part of Gesea. Nice to meet you all.. again?"

That didn't sound right.

"I'm Genis. Presea was the other half of me. Together we were Gesea."

No. That sounded like a cheesy advertisement for a theatre show. He couldn't just drop that kind of surprise on both of them. With them both looking at him like they were though, he felt the pressure mounting on him to say something. "Where's Mithos?" he asked.

They looked a bit surprised at his random question. He hoped they wouldn't mind waiting a bit longer. He needed to sort his own brain out first before he was able to explain anything. Knowing Lloyd like he did, he knew telling him what had happened at the Dragons Nest would likely spur him to ask that the sail boat be turned around to go and hunt Kraine down. He didn't exactly know where the 'Great Seed' as Mithos had called it was located, but he had the sneaking suspicion he could guess.

Knowing he was being a bit rude still, he turned his feet to the side of the couch. He had to go and talk with Mithos before anything else and get his version of the story. He stopped himself from sticking his hand in his pocket after he stood and stretched, remembering his dream with Presea. A part of him wondered whether it had all just been a dream of his, but the other (likely smarter) part of him admitted that plenty of weird things had happened to him lately.

He didn't want Presea to continue to distrust Mithos, either. He'd felt that she wasn't entirely convinced he wasn't to be trusted and hoped he might be able to convince her otherwise, unlike the situation with Kraine.

He sort of understood why she was so resolute in her opinion on the Cruxis angel though. He didn't quite understand why he felt so differently about the matter himself. Kraine had pretended to be their brother. The way Genis saw it though, Kraine had always put their needs before his own and been everything he would have expected a sibling to be. Finding out that he was technically his brother-in-law (a term seldom known in the non-elven world) according to Rodyle had been a shock to the system, but it hardly changed anything else.

He turned back to Lloyd and Colette to catch them sharing a confused glance. "Sorry, but where did Mithos go?"

"Oh," Colette pointed to the back door past the bridge room. "I think he went outside for a little fresh air." She bowed her head. "I'm sorry. I should have answered you the first time you asked."

"Colette." Lloyd let out a short groan at her.

Genis smiled briefly. They seemed to be getting on rather well. Unlike him and Presea, their personalities seemed pretty similar. He wondered how on earth he'd ever been able to agree with himself on anything in the past when they'd been as one. He shuddered. That still sounded weird to think about. He also felt bad for thinking like that. He'd had one disagreement with her and it felt like the end of the world. It wasn't logical at all.

With a brief thanks, he left them to head to where Colette had directed him. He remembered Sheelos leaving via the same door when they'd been on their way toward Volt's temple. He'd been more interested in Mithos teaching him about the sail boat though. Briefly figuring out that she must have been in the bridge control room, he tugged the door open and squinted as he stepped outside into the bright light and cold air. They seemed to be travelling toward a snowy region. He turned his head when he caught a glimpse of hot breath off to his side. Leaning back onto the sail boats cabin and casting blue eyes on him was Mithos in his much younger looking body.

Genis examined him as he approached a little closer. Without his rainbow coloured wings of mana flapping behind him, he looked almost completely normal. Now that he knew that Mithos was Yggdrasil though, he couldn't help but wonder how he hadn't seen the similarities between his friend and the leader of Cruxis before now. They had the same blond hair and the same blue eyes. Even their mana signature was similar. Granted, he hadn't been suspicious of that similarity for the same reason he hadn't suspected Kraine's change in mana signature when he had his wings visible. An annoying memory about Yuan's odd mana signature from before he and Presea had been taken by Rodyle's dragons niggled itself to the forefront of his mind. He shrugged it off and focused on the situation at hand.

"Good morning Genis," Mithos greeted with a grimace and a short wave. Genis stuttered for something to say. Things seemed different after a nights sleep. He wondered just what he was getting himself into.

"I think it is important we talk," Mithos said when Genis remained a jumbled mess. He straightened up and headed to the railing of the deck that would stop any mishaps if the sea got randomly choppy.

Genis found the ability to agree hadn't left him and joined his friend. He leaned against the rail and eventually summoned the courage to ask the question he wanted to ask in continuation to their conversation the previous night before he'd fallen asleep. "You're really Mithos the Hero?"

Mithos chuckled darkly. "As I said, debatable, but yes. My friends and I split the world to stop the war by making a pact with Origin."

"And what about that stuff about Martel becoming an angel?" Genis questioned, still feeling somewhat doubtful. It wasn't that he didn't believe him; Mithos didn't seem to have a reason to lie. He'd been the one to reveal his true identity to him after all. "What happened to your sister?"

Mithos' eyes shifted and he glanced out to the sea. A few small patches of ice floated past. "Well, the 'becoming an angel' part was not a lie."

He didn't say anything more on the matter. Genis realised he was going to have to prod him on the subject. "What happened to her?"

Mithos dropped his elbows to the railing and spread his palms out in front of himself with a heavy sigh. "Nothing, really. All that happened is that I found out that she existed. That is where my quest began with using the experiment once used on myself to be able to save a world that has long hated half-elves for being different."

Genis took a moment to absorb that information. He still had the feeling Mithos was skipping over his question, but he let him continue regardless. "I started the story about the Journey of Regeneration and gained power within the Church of Origin to rename it in my sisters honour in order to do two things. Do you know what they were?"

Genis thought about it. "You wanted a vessel for Martel?" He still didn't understand what was going on with that.

"That's right. I needed a vessel for her." Before Genis had time to flinch away, Mithos grabbed his hand where the Angelus Project stuck out through his skin. It looked like he was wearing a Cruxis crystal without a key crest. Upon closer examination however, the bumps and shape of the rune crest could easily be felt when the skin around the crystal was touched. "Just like what happened with you, my sister is one soul of two trapped in the collective consciousness of one person. Her name is Martuan, though I doubt you'd have met her yet."

Genis stared. "M-Martuan?"

"As in the RENEGADE Martuan?" he thought. He stuttered and gently pulled his hand away. He had to keep a straight face. It was no wonder why the blue haired angel lady was being a double agent now. She was against Mithos' ideas for more than one reason, obviously.

"Using the already existing research from during the Kharlan War, Cruxis learned the location exspheres occurred naturally and set up a company that would allow us to easily access them." He paused for a second. Genis wondered what he was thinking until he continued. "Through the information that he had garnered during his time as a spy before he was also caught up in the Angelus Project, Gabriel informed me on the way exspheres gain their power. I'm sure I don't need to explain those facts to you by now though."

Genis shook his head. "They grow by feeding on the hosts mana."

"Simply put, but correct." Mithos didn't sound particularly proud to confirm that. Genis felt quite relieved. "The strength in the soul of the person also makes a large difference in the metamorphosis from an exsphere to a Cruxis crystal, as well as a significant amount of time. Most people with only one soul do not stand a chance. I suppose I am the exception to that rule, as is Gabriel." His lip curled slightly upward and it dawned on Genis that this 'Gabriel' person was the only one of Cruxis' Four Seraphim that he'd been yet to meet. He wondered what he looked like. Mithos got a look on his face whenever he mentioned him. Quickly reminding himself of the 'Ignorance is Knowledge' creed, he decided not to breach that subject for the time being.

"Gabriel eventually suggested that we do further research into the way the exspheres worked. He suggested that it might be possible to use one to absorb enough of a soul to be able to simply transfer it to another body by using the exsphere as a catalyst," Mithos explained.

"And that's when human ranches were created," Genis thought bitterly.

"Our research led us to Rodyle and the rest of the Grand Cardinals," Mithos went on. "From there, the plan evolved from not only trying to force Martuan's two souls apart, but the rest of the world as well. By allowing the world to understand the way things should be, half-elves would be free to live normal lives without fear of prosecution from the believers of the W.S.P."

Genis eyes widened in surprise. Mithos spoke about it with such passion that it was getting gradually more and more difficult to believe that he'd ever seemed to be the uncaring leader of Cruxis he had appeared to be once before. Mithos turned to him, eyes shining with hope. "Can you imagine what it would be like, Genis? For people to understand what the elves tried to get them to understand forty centuries ago? We would no longer need to stay in hiding and we would be able to use the Worldwide Survival Project to prove the very thing the followers don't believe in."

Genis tried, but he actually -couldn't- imagine it. "Can you imagine it, Presea?" he asked in his head, wondering if their connection via the Angelus Project ran deeper than just what might have been a shared consciousness during R.E.M sleep.

"Neither could I," Mithos replied to his invisible answer and before he could ask what he meant about 'using' the W.S.P. "Until I discovered through the pact with Origin that the world had more problems than its declining mana and the Kharlan War. The reason why most people do not understand love has something to do with a curse Origin has placed on this world. Those that do understand or at least feel that something is amiss seem to have a little elven blood in their ancestry."

"A curse?" Genis blinked. "I thought Origin was meant to be one of the good guys."

"I think he was, once," Mithos agreed. "Something changed him though. When we made the pact with him, he seemed very bitter toward me. I gained some of his power when I used the Eternal Sword to split the nations of Sylvarant and Tethe'alla apart, and with it," he sighed, "the ability to see through his curse." He turned to him. "That is how I know that your name is Genis and how the fairy-floss haired girl that was once a part of the same being as you is called Presea."

Genis' head spun, but he thought he followed Mithos' explanation for the most part. "So let me get this straight," he started. "You made a pact with Origin and then found out through his powers that people are two or more souls in one?"

"That about sums it up," Mithos said. He scratched his head. "You make it sound simple though."

Genis snickered, then a thought struck him. "Hang on a sec Mithos. Just how old are you?"

Mithos snorted, "I suppose you could say I'm on the earlier side of four thousand."

Now that just begged another question. Genis waited though; holding off his curiosity to see if Mithos added anything. His patience was rewarded when Mithos continued. "Myself and my friends became Cruxis. Training ourselves with our exspheres after our...captors.. got what they deserved, we found they eventually evolved into what we called Cruxis crystals. I was fourteen when I stopped growing. The others followed eventually."

"That's a bit of a pain," Genis joked to lighten the mood. "But at least I know you won't get taller than me." "Naturally anyway," he amended after a second, thinking of the adult form Mithos had taken when he had appeared to him the previous night and when he'd introduced himself as Lord Yggdrasil in the Tower of Salvation.

Mithos gave him a brief smile, but it didn't reflect in his eyes. "Making use of our halted internal clocks, we have watched over this world for a very long time." He sounded tired.

Genis felt sorry for him instead of impressed. Mithos seemed to understand his reaction without him actually needing to say it. "A lonely thought, I know. As a young half-elf in the war, I didn't exactly think my prospects of living through it were good. That all changed once I found my friends though and it was a terrifying thought that I would lose two of them eventually to human aging." He glanced past Genis to the door of the cabin. "You have good friends. I know the thought of carrying on without them has crossed your mind more than once."

Genis nodded and let a smile break the sombre mood. "You're smart Mithos."

"No," Mithos disagreed, shaking his head. "Just old."

"So Cruxis was founded by you and your friends?" Genis asked, perching on the question that had been hanging in the air for a while. "They wouldn't happen to be-"

"Myself and the other three seraphim," Mithos finished for him. "My friends Martuan, Kratos and Gabriel."

Genis frowned. He'd heard two of those other names before, but not the second one.

"Kratos is known by something else now, thanks to Origin's curse on the world," Mithos explained. "Unlike most people, his situation was.. unique."

"So Kratos is really.." Genis gulped and couldn't finish his sentence.

"Kraine," Mithos completed for him again.

Genis couldn't help but stare into nothingness for a while. Of course, the moment Mithos had mentioned the other three seraphim, he had known. Kraine wasn't just an angel of Cruxis. He hadn't just recently become one, either. He was friends with Mithos the Hero and had helped to stop the ancient war. He couldn't even begin to imagine what his brother-in-law must have seen in all that time. It was no longer a mystery as to why he was always so stoic and reserved.

His fascination with ruins made a lot of sense too now. Genis imagined he was excited about ruins because they were some of the only things that hadn't changed in the long time he had been alive. Kraine had said something to that effect to him once before but he hadn't quite understood the true meaning until now. "So why was he called Kratos back then?" he asked next. "Was it some kind of alias?"

"No," Mithos shook his head. "It was the name he was born with. Kratos Aurion, to be exact. In the grand scheme of things, the other two souls that inhabit his consciousness only came about a blink of an eye ago. Unlike everyone else in the world who goes through the exact same thing, Kratos...being in a certain situation... was immune to one part of Origin's curse."

Genis desperately wanted to know what this 'certain' situation was, but by the way Mithos had withheld it from him in the explanation, he doubted he would get it even if he asked. "Ignorance is knowledge. Ignorance is knowledge."

The wind around them picked up. Mithos pushed some loose strands of his hair behind his ears and spoke a little louder to compensate for the whistling. He seemed content with their talking location despite the fact that the bottoms of his nostrils were garnering a small patch of frostbite. "He was not able to automatically believe he had always been a part of his second soul, Regal Bryant, despite the fact that every other person around him started to address him as though he had. If he had not already known the name thanks to asking me for a suitable alias as president of the Lezareno Company, I'm sure it would have been much more difficult."

Genis could feel his own nose starting to run as he thought about his own name. Gesea likely equalled Genis and Presea together. He wanted to ask more about it but Mithos was already going on past the perfect opportunity.

"Using the system of the W.S.P to my advantage, I gave the order to Gabriel to send down to the Grand Cardinals and to the Desians to capture generations of the same family to test out the theory that the Cruxis crystal would absorb the most dominant soul and be able to be transferred to another with a close mana signature."

Genis was afraid to ask, but he had to. "What happened to the subjects?"

Mithos hesitated to answer, making Genis even more afraid. "We discovered that the process had flaws. Mostly being that while you could take one soul from one person and put it into another body, the new body would then have a second or a third soul depending on the individual. The only solution was to create an empty vessel for Martel or her counterpart to transfer to."

Genis had a feeling he knew where this was going.

"We started the story of the Oracle and the Journey of Regeneration for the Chosen by tracing a bloodline through the ages that was the closest to Martuan's. While we were going on with Plan A, Rodyle, Magnius and Kvar worked together on a Plan B that would allow the least deaths and complications that would occur if we were to use the Cruxis crystal method we were testing with the Chosen's bloodline. Eventually they successfully developed new technology in the form of a special key crest. Using it, we slowly cultured a different type of more powerful Cruxis crystal."

Mithos' gaze fell to Genis' hand and he immediately felt uncomfortable. "The Angelus Project," he added to the end of the explanation to show he was still following. He still had so many questions. Why he and Presea -Gesea-, not to mention Annalicia and also Lloyd's mother been chosen as a test subject was right up there on his priority list. He hesitated though, not sure he would like the answer.

"That's right Genis," Mithos commended. "Just as with exspheres turning into regular Cruxis crystals, the Angelus Project needed a very specific environment. Only one subject-" He stopped mid-sentence and turned his head to the door.

A second later it opened and Lloyd poked his head out. "What are you guys still doing out here? Come inside where it's warm."

"Oh," Mithos said in a higher tone than Genis was used to hearing from him now. "We'll be there in just a minute!"

Lloyd hung in the door crevice for a short time more before nodding his head and retreating back inside. Mithos snapped his head back to Genis and he jumped when he saw a brief scowl on his features. It faded when Mithos seemed to realise he'd surprised him. "As I was saying," he started again, "only one subject was able to successfully grow a Cruxis crystal while using a key crest to delay the parasitic process for long enough for it to evolve further. She ran away with it as it neared its completion. Kvar eventually tracked her down and she died for it, but it vanished before he could get his hands on it."

"Col's mother," Genis thought sadly as he balled his fists up behind his back. What could he do? What good would lashing out at Mithos do? He had to be very careful and play his cards right with this one. With power like Mithos had, he could easily blow apart their ship. They were nowhere near strong enough to stop him. A small part of him felt guilty for pretending to be okay with everything Mithos was explaining.

"When Colloyd split into Colette and Lloyd at the tower, I thought we had found it again. It seems that I was mistaken though and the true Angelus Project resides with you." Mithos' explanation seemed slightly truncated, but Genis was more worried about the look he was being given. "Now Genis, this is where your cooperation comes in."

"W-what do you want me to do?"

"It's a really simple win-win," Mithos went on. "We have to train you so that Presea comes forward into your body, then use the power of the Angelus Project to create a new body using her mana signature for her. If we can do that, then we can do it for everyone."

"A new b-" Genis found Mithos' hand over his mouth. The door to the cabin opened again and Colette stuck her head out this time. "It's reeeeally cold you two! Come on in so we can talk together." She giggled at the scene of Mithos with his hand on Genis' face and opened the door further to usher them in.

Mithos shot Genis a look that he decided to translate as "we'll talk more about this later." He hoped that was what it meant anyway. Either that, or it meant "If you tell anyone I will blow the boat up." He really hoped it wasn't the latter. Mithos was ruthless in his goals, but after hearing his story (or at least some of it), he felt a bit better about deciding to trust him.

His legs involuntarily shaking a bit, he turned from the undercover Cruxis leader and proceeded inside. His head quickly filled with other things when he caught a wave in his direction from Lloyd. Would Mithos allow him to tell the group that he was the Genis part of Gesea? He wondered whether there would ever be a chance to talk with his best friend alone.

He wanted to talk to Lloyd about everything- especially Kraine. He wanted to tell him about his sister and the events that had come to pass. What he mostly wanted was for Lloyd to tell him that it didn't matter that he and Kraine weren't related by blood. Lloyd had been raised by Dirk after all, so if anyone knew what he was going through right now, his best friend would.

xxx

"You should also proceed inside," Undine said. "I can protect the boat from meeting tragedy at sea but I am not able to prevent the blood in your body from freezing."

Sheelos let out a sombre laugh and peeled herself from the wall she'd been leaning against while she'd listened in to the conversation between the half-elves. The wind had made it difficult, but she'd definitely gotten the gist of it. Now she knew two things.

One- Mithos was in fact Yggdrasil undercover and wasn't killing them (at least yet anyway), and two; Yuan had known Mithos was Yggdrasil and chosen to keep it a secret from the rest of them.

An unsettled feeling formed in her gut about the second revelation as she ensured her gloves were on properly before climbing the drainage pipe on the wall to the roof of the cabin. Treading lightly, she made her way to the sky light window of the bridge control room and pulled it upward to open. Steadying herself so that when she landed she would do so soundlessly and holding on to the metal latch of the window, she dropped down through the hole.

xxx

Another thought struck Genis while Mithos trailed into the cabin behind him. His eye caught the exsphere sitting in the key crest on Lloyd's hand. Just how had Colette spoken with her and Lloyd's mother during the time that she had been trapped if he and Presea -Gesea- had wound up carrying the Angelus Project she had been killed for all along? He mused on that for only a second or two before an even bigger question hit him.

Why had Annalicia been inside the Angelus Project that had come from Lloyd's deceased mother?

Lloyd shot him a friendly grin as he petted an empty seat on one of the lounge couches, but all Genis could do was stare.

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