Entwined fates and divided hearts
Entwined fates and divided hearts
Lloyd gripped the handles of his rheaird tightly as they made some distance from the base. He could see Sheelos still flying off on her rheaird in the distance. It looked like she was flying in the direction of Ozette. Once they were almost directly above where their sail boat sat in the sea, he drove his rheaird a little closer to Yuan's. "We don't have time to chase after Sheelos at the moment. Gesea was kidnapped by Rodyle and his dragons. We have to find her!"
Yuan nodded in agreement and he sighed with a bit relief. He still felt a bit bad though for Sheelos and for the slap she'd inflicted on Yuan, but he figured they'd work whatever he'd done wrong this time out soon enough.
"You don't need to worry about Gesea," Yuan replied.
All guilty feelings flew aside at his words. "You know where she went?" he asked quickly.
"She's with Kraine," the bluenette answered. "In a manner of speaking."
"Kraine!?" Lloyd exclaimed, mind reeling. "What happened? Is she okay?"
"What do you think happened?" Yuan asked back.
Lloyd tried to remain calm. This was not a good time for the Game of Questions. Colette's hands around him that he'd insisted she put there to make sure she didn't fall tightened their grip. He realised he'd subconsciously leaned closer to Yuan in his frustration and thrown the rheaird off balance.
"Exactly what you think," the bluenette responded calmly to his demanding question. "I went with Kraine to the Tethe'alla base using my rheaird and helped to locate your rheairds. Kraine then found out through Martuan that Gesea had been kidnapped. We made a deal with her and Kraine went to rescue her."
"What is Kraine doing with her?" he questioned next. "We've been so worried..."
He tried to focus on hovering his rheaird on the spot. "I failed to protect her." The weight and the odd shape of the Noishe figurine in his pant pocket made itself known to him again. "She must have been so scared."
"Kraine is doing his best to protect her as well," Yuan answered. Lloyd couldn't look at him. Colette seemed to understand his feelings though. He felt her rest her forehead against his back. "It's okay Lloyd," she whispered softly, just loud enough for him to hear. "Kraine would never hurt her."
"We need to go and find her," he decided to voice. He breathed deeply and peeked over to see whether Yuan would agree. The half-elf didn't look entirely sure of the idea.
"We have other priorities," he started. "It is important that we continue to break the mana links to be able to save Sylvarant. We don't have time to-"
"How can we save the world if we can't even look after those right in front of us?" Lloyd interrupted. "We need to find Kraine anyway to make a rune crest for Colette."
Yuan let out a sigh and gazed up at the dot in the distance that was Sheelos now. "I should have guessed you would be adamant on this. Some things don't change."
"That's right!" Lloyd grinned.
"But Lloyd, do you even know where Kraine went with Gesea?" Colette asked, looking over his shoulder at him and then at Yuan.
Lloyd followed her gaze to him. "You know, don't you Yuan."
"I never said that." The half-elf let the statement hang in the air for a few seconds and cut Lloyd off before he could complain. "But if we were to head in the direction of Meltokio, I think we will come into contact at some point very soon."
"Meltokio?" Lloyd felt confused. "Isn't Gesea still wanted by the Pope as a part of our group?"
Colette turned to Genis to their left. "We'll explain everything later, I promise."
Genis nodded, looking a bit thankful. He'd been quiet for most of the conversation- not that Lloyd could blame him. Most of what they were talking about seemed kind of obscure.
"What would Kraine so badly want to do in Meltokio that he would risk an arrest?" Yuan asked back to Lloyd's question.
"You mean he must have had a good reason?" Lloyd puzzled over it for a bit.
"Oh, oh!" Colette sounded like she had a better question to add. "Do you think he would be going to talk to someone who could help us?"
"Help us?" Yuan asked. "What makes you think Kraine wants to help us?"
"If Kraine didn't want to help us, why would he have gone to the Renegade base with you to get the rheairds?" Colette asked again quickly, grinning.
"Why would he work for Cruxis if he wanted to help you?" Yuan bounced back.
Lloyd found himself stumped on another question to ask. Colette faltered as well.
"Could it be because Cruxis isn't actually evil?" The question came from an unexpected source. Everyone turned to Genis. "I mean, what if there are things going on with what they're doing that we don't know about?"
Lloyd and Colette's head's turned back to Yuan to await the next question. "If you think it's like that, what do you think they're actually doing?" Yuan drilled, delivering a perfect counter.
The brunette and blonde turned again to Genis. He felt his palms getting sweaty. "Um.. uh.." He sighed and bowed his head. "I don't really know."
"Guess the game goes to Yuan again," Lloyd said, sounding as disappointed as Genis felt.
Genis sighed again and decided to try and practice thinking on the spot in the future a little more. He felt Colette gazing at him. She smiled when he caught her eye contact. "It's okay Genis. We were bad at the game when we first started too."
"Thanks," he said, trying not to say it as sarcastically as he wanted to.
"Yeah, don't feel too bad," Lloyd added. "Yuan kind of cheated a bit. He knew you wouldn't be able to answer that question. You barely know anything about what's going on."
Genis nodded, but as he gazed at Yuan and the long blue ponytail of hair flying behind him in the wind as they hovered in the sky above the boat, he actually had to wonder whether he knew the opposite was true. If his (and likely Sheelos') suspicions were correct, then it seemed possible that Yuan might know who he really was- or in the very least, who he had been once.
He lowered his rheaird toward the sail boat after Lloyd declared that they should probably take Mithos back to his home in Ozette anyway before continuing onward to Meltokio. He was kind of surprised that they hadn't brought up his own 'family' again since he was still basically a stranger. Lloyd and Colette had just accepted him into the group like it was as natural as a fish breathing water. A curious part of him noted that as a question to ask Mithos later- whether it was possible that his companions subconsciously knew he was one of them or whether it was just because both Lloyd and Colette were too friendly for their own good and Sheelos was just a pervert Chosen.
A new sense of dread filled him when they landed on the deck of the boat to have Noishe greet them all with happy barks. Just what was he going to tell Mithos about their rendezvous with the Renegades?
The day grew later and eventually after having enough of Lloyd, Colette and Yuan trying to avoid explaining too much about what had happened, Mithos left them to go to the bridge control room in order to ensure that they were travelling in the right direction. Wanting to avoid their suspicion on him for as long as possible, Genis made his way out to the side deck to allow himself some fresh air and some time to think everything over. He needed to come up with some kind of strategy.
Lloyd had instructed Mithos to take them toward Ozette but had not actually told him that they would be dropping him off there. He clearly felt bad about it- no doubt because he'd been aware at just how well "Gesea" and he had gotten on. Still, it made the most sense. Mithos was their captain, but since they now had the rheairds, he was better off staying out of their troubles.
He let a quiet laugh out to himself as he leaned over the railing and watched a school of fish swim by in the water shallows. Small rainbow colours reflected off of them when the light from the sunset getting lower and lower on the horizon hit their scales. Mithos staying out of the situation seemed pretty ironic. Yuan had definitely cornered him when it came to asking what he thought Cruxis was actually doing. He wouldn't have been able to answer even if he had wanted to.
He fluttered his eyelids and massaged the temples of his forehead, still trying to work out how he'd gotten himself so deep in trouble. A part of him blamed himself for falling asleep when he'd been taken back to the sail boat on the back of Yggdrasil. If he hadn't done that, then Mithos would not have had such an easy time fabricating a story for him and he might have been able to work out a way to explain how he'd gotten himself back to them without revealing Mithos' identity.
He needed to talk to Yuan. He wondered whether he'd just misinterpreted something much more innocent in some ways. Sheelos' reaction to him and as she had seemed to think about things while they were in the Renegade base seemed to point toward what his own thoughts had been though. The Tethe'allan Chosen had looked so mad at Yuan that Genis still cringed when he remembered the look of some kind of demonic banshee in her eyes. It reminded him of Kraine when he was in a "don't ask me any questions" mood. Sheelos was still off on her own somewhere but Yuan hadn't seemed all that concerned. When Lloyd and Colette had expressed their concern, Yuan had quelled it by saying that he knew where she had went and would go to check on her a little while later.
"Ignorance is knowledge.." He wondered whether he would regret going forward and confronting Yuan about everything he suspected. He had to balance the options out before he decided what to do. He had to-
A hand clenched at his shoulder from behind and he almost lost his balance over the railing. He regained it quickly and regarded the near miss with an oceanic grave for a second before turning to see Yuan standing there. He had two eyebrows raised in mix amusement and concern. Obviously he hadn't expected to have startled him. "Genis, could I bother you for a chat?"
Genis realised he must have been so deep in thought about everything that he hadn't even heard the cabin door squeak open or sensed Yuan's now very obvious presence. "Um-" He wondered what to say. "Actually-"
"I'm just going to put it bluntly," Yuan interrupted forceably. "Do not tell Mithos anything about the Renegades or their leader."
"Uh oh.." Genis gulped and stepped back from Yuan. The half-elf had trained a very serious green gaze on him. It reminded him of someone else. He didn't have time to think of who before Yuan continued. "I heard the real story from Mithos about how he saved you from the Dragons Nest. You don't need to hide who you are from me." His expression softened a little. "I must say, I'm relieved that you are both okay." His gaze fell a bit and Genis realised he was looking at his hand. "In a manner of speaking anyway."
Genis clenched his fists, suddenly angry. "You knew about Mithos!? Since when?"
"That's irrelevant," Yuan answered.
"No it isn't!" he argued back. "It's very important. If you knew about Mithos.. then.." he trailed off, still partly unsure whether he actually wanted to go there at this point.
"It's a bit hypocritical for you to judge me on my knowledge considering your own predicament in this," Yuan pointed out, filling Genis' uncomfortable silence as he crossed his arms. "You've yet to tell the others what actually happened at the Dragons Nest because it would implicate Mithos and his cover story."
Genis looked down, feeling ashamed somehow. Yuan was right. How could he be angry when they were essentially hiding the same secret. "That's not the only reason."
"I know," Yuan agreed in the more understanding tone he'd grown used to. "You don't want to tell them what happened with Kraine and Annalicia until you get the truth from Kraine."
Genis felt his face flushing. "Y..you knew about them?"
Yuan sighed and joined him to lean on the railing, his back to the sea. "Kraine entrusted me with looking after Lloyd; but I've been looking after him for far longer than you probably realise."
"You have?" Genis gripped his own hands. "So it really is true. Kraine really is his-"
"-He also wanted me to make sure you and Presea would be alright without him," Yuan interrupted again. "He might not have really been your brother, but he considered you family. I'm sure I don't need to tell you that. You especially."
Genis didn't know what Yuan mean by the 'especially' part, but he felt a bit relieved to hear it regardless. He'd known all along that Kraine hadn't been pretending to care for him though. As Colloyd had once told him- family was family. It didn't matter that they weren't blood. He swallowed and gazed to his side at his friend. It was now or never. He clenched his fists to quell his nerves and turned to Yuan. "There's something I need to ask you."
"Are you sure you want to ask?" Yuan asked simply.
Genis fell quiet for a few seconds, thinking it over. He eventually nodded and focused on the bluenette. "Yuan.. are you a member of Cruxis?"
Yuan smiled and clutched his forehead as though relieved. "No, I'm not."
Genis felt his heart soar with happiness as he examined him for any hint of a lie. He didn't see any, but then again he was no expert on body language. "R...really?" A part of him still wasn't ready to believe him at his word, but for the most part he felt relieved as well. He sighed and held his heart before grinning up at him. Yuan didn't meet his gaze, instead looking somewhere off into the distance in thought. A small amount of worry set in as he waited for him to say what was on his mind, if he ever would.
Yuan closed his eyes. "Not now, anyway."
Genis gasped as the mana in the air welled up next to him. He could feel the hairs on his arms standing on end. He knew this feeling very well. Concentrating on Yuan, he saw his mana signature changing until it felt exactly the way it had before. Like Yuan.. but not like him at the same time. The blue-haired half-elf allowed a pair of ethereal amethyst coloured wings to sprout from his back. They flapped back and forth and made a low humming noise for a few seconds before they disappeared again and the mana signature changed back to the normal one Genis had become acquainted with over their travels through Sylvarant and Tethe'alla together.
Yuan peered at him, a crooked smile gracing his lips. Genis looked down, unsure what to say at first. "I suppose you're entitled to be a little surprised," the older half-elf said casually. "I purposely kept this from all of you, after all."
Genis picked at a loose piece of lint on his clothes. "I mean.. I suppose I saw this coming for a while. I felt your mana signature was different back when I knew you'd been around Kraine, and again in the Renegade base." He was a little bit surprised at the tears that threatened to drop from the corners of his eyes all of a sudden. "This is so confusing! I'm surrounded by angels!"
"Yeah well, we're not all cut from the same mould, you know." Yuan stepped away from the railing and paced a little ahead. "There are conflicting sides to things that are happening at the moment as I'm sure Mithos has informed you." He turned to him. "What do you think of his cause?"
"His cause?" Genis battled with himself on the question in his head. "I'm not sure," he mumbled, meaning to be vague. He still wasn't certain how much Yuan knew. He'd said he wasn't a member of Cruxis now, but did that mean that he had once been? He wasn't entirely certain.
Yuan rolled his eyes. "Fair enough I suppose. It's a lot to take in. Let me ask an easier question. Who's side are you on?"
Genis shook his head again. "I don't know Yuan. I don't want to pick a side. I want to believe in Mithos but I believe in Lloyd's idea that nobody should have to suffer any more, including Mithos and Kraine and everyone."
Even as he said it, things seemed all of a sudden clearer. He'd expected Yuan to get cross at his vague response, but to his surprise the 'former' (apparently) member of Cruxis smiled. "Good. Make sure you remember those words." He stepped past him and toward the door, seeming like he thought he'd finished his explanation. Genis wanted to ask more, but decided to let him go to find Sheelos while he deliberated just what he would have to do in order to help everyone work together. He wondered if there would be a way to help Lloyd understand things from Mithos' perspective. He was sure Lloyd liked Mithos too.
Just as he was wondering how he could justify Mithos' actions to Lloyd as well as partially still to himself, the door to the cabin opened again. The blond seraph in question stepped out and smiled happily at discovering him. "Genis, tell me everything!"
"There isn't much to tell," he answered, hoping it didn't sound too rehearsed. He continued and tried to avoid the rapidly angering expression on Mithos' face and the gradual tightening of his fists. "Actually Mithos, could we start my training to help Presea?"
Mithos' expression softened and he gave an excited smile suddenly. "Okay. We'll start once we're back in Ozette. I'm pretty sure you guys were planning on ditching me there anyway."
Genis glanced away. "No! Well, at least that's not the way we thought about it."
"I suppose not," Mithos said, sounding unsure. "At least I'm sure you didn't think of it like that. The humans are the ones I'm not sure of."
"Lloyd and Colette?" Genis felt puzzled. "They really like you, Mithos. You can't say bad things like that about them."
"Right.." Mithos sighed. "I'll hold my tongue in future, but I still can't help but to hate humans."
Genis lowered his gaze to his feet. "Yeah.. I guess I can understand that too. If they weren't so closed-minded, we wouldn't have to hide. You might not have even needed to do everything you've done."
"I would have still done it," Mithos negated. "A lack of understanding is only part of the problem. The real problem comes from their combined souls."
"Right," Genis nodded sadly. "What does training involve, anyway?
"You should never have been born..."
Sheelos gazed up at the moon from her spot rested up against her favourite rock and sighed. Her mothers words rang true in her head in a new and depressing way. She'd always felt like an anomaly in the world. Being born the Chosen of Tethe'alla and told to live her life in secret while another man called the Cerberus took up her responsibility hadn't necessarily seemed like a bad deal. It separated her from the reality of her fate if she were to fail in her mission to stop the Chosen of Sylvarant and Tethe'alla went into decline.
She'd always justified the actions of those around her with that thought. The people of Mizuho looked at her like a valuable object that needed to be cared for, but not as a human capable of making mistakes and needing to be forgiven for them. Since the incident with Volt, it'd gotten worse. Perhaps it was because she had been accepted for the mission and they'd expected her to fail that they had all insisted that she be called only by the name 'Chosen' in the village.
With all that said and done, being the Chosen still wasn't all bad. She'd met Yuan because of it, not to mention Corrine. She still remembered the first time Yuan had graced her with his head of finely combed blue hair. How could she not?
Nothing more than a child of a woman and a man running from their fate as Salvatorians, she'd also run soon after the snow had been painted red with her mothers blood. Her first night alone in Flanoir would have seen the death of her if it weren't for him. Seeking shelter upon realising that she in fact did not know the first thing about surviving a cold winter night without the guidance of her mother, she'd found herself traversing through the snow field until she happened across the place she now knew as the resting place of the summon spirit, Celsius. Being a nameless cave at the time though, she'd ventured into its depths to find a good place to sleep until morning. She had instead found herself surrounded by monsters. Too weak to fight back and already malnourished, she remembered resigning herself to an early death and thinking it was probably better that way. That was until the Cerberus himself had shown up all hero-like and slashed the monsters into various types of fish fingers.
"Are you alright?" the mysterious azure-haired man asked, turning from the remnants of the monsters and to her. Shaking, she stood up on her now badly frost-burnt legs and looked over him suspiciously, wondering if he was going to finish her off now too. Life was never so forgiving to throw her any free help.
Hot tears fell from her eyes but she made sure not to take her them off of him. He took a step toward her and she quickly scrambled back. "What do you want with me?"
"Is that any way to greet your savior?" he asked with a cocky snicker.
She raised an eyebrow at him. "You're not here for anything?"
"Not particularly," he responded. "Unless you count saving you." He looked off in the distance behind her and gave a strange short nod.
She heard what sounded like a bell rattling from behind her and quickly turned her attention away from him. A fluffy yellow fox-like monster with a rainbow coloured tail and a golden bell around its neck charged right for her. "It's you! It's really you!"
"It's.. me?" she tilted her head in question at the softly spoken and yet slightly high pitched voice."Did that monster just talk?" She turned her head toward the mysterious man who had yet to give her his name (not that she had given him hers either) and felt something warm curl around her neck a second later. She jumped back in surprise and fell backward into the slow-moving icy brook that seemed to run all the way into the depths of the cave.
"Oh no!" the fox cried, using her as a step ladder to get to safety and looking up the man. "Yuan! Do something! She's going to be so cold! She might get pneumonia."
'Yuan' rushed over, looking at the fox as he did, and reached his hand out to help her. He pulled her out with little effort. She felt cold for a brief point until a familiar black cloak fell around her shoulders and covered her entire body when she pulled it around to her front as well. The bottom sprawled out along the ground in a circle around her like waves of black water. She'd seen him wearing it. Without it, she could see his actual attire. He looked quite regal- like a knight- without the cloak to cover his body.
"We'd better get out of here," Yuan said, petting her on the head for a second. "Celcius' lair is no place for the Chosen to be."
She blinked in bewilderment at him. How could a man she barely knew have discovered her secret identity as the next Tethe'allan Chosen?
Despite feeling relatively safe and warm as she walked beside him and the cute little fox creature, she realised she still needed to tread carefully. "What do you mean, 'For the Chosen'? I'm not the Chosen."
Yuan raised an eyebrow. "Of course you're not. I am."
She stifled a giggle and made a noise. "No you're not!"
"Well if I'm not and you're not, who are we?" Yuan asked then. "Surely one of us must be the Chosen."
Sheelos realised she was grinning broadly. "Don't be silly. What does the Chosen have to do with anything?"
"It's because Corrine here is a heat-seeking missile that homes in on Chosen," Yuan explained in a voice so even-toned and honest sounding that she actually had no idea whether he was being serious or not. She looked at the fox again, perplexed.
Corrine looked up at her as though sensing her gaze. "Don't listen to Yuan. I'm not heat-seeking at all."
"You don't look like it," she agreed. "Why is Yuan lying?"
Corrine made himself comfortable around her neck. "It's because he doesn't want you to cry," he whispered into her ear.
Sheelos sighed and picked up a stick from the ground next to her. She'd introduced herself as Sheelos to them shortly after they'd left the cave and Yuan had showed her his rheaird. He then took her away from Flanoir and to a much warmer spot just outside of the Gaoracchia forest- her current location. Even after Yuan had taken her to Mizuho and she'd found out that he had known the truth about her all along and was actually the Cerberus, she came back to this place whenever she wanted some time to think.
Some footsteps from behind startled her out of her thoughts for a second until she recognised them from all the times they had tracked her down before. "I thought I'd find you here," Yuan said, dropping down and joining her against the rock. "You should really find a more original hiding place if you don't want me to find you."
She didn't answer. She didn't want to look at him right now. "We're heading for Ozette on the boat at the moment," Yuan explained further, leaning forward to make it impossible to avoid his gaze unless she turned away.
"You lied to me, Yuan," she muttered dryly. She wasn't even sure why it hurt so much.
Yuan was quiet. "I know," he responded eventually. "I'm sure you understand better than most that I have a very good reason for my secrecy."
"If you were an angel all along, that means you have a Cruxis crystal," she murmured. "You should have been able to open the Sylvarant seals on your own. You didn't need me."
"No," Yuan shook his head. "I did."
"Huh?" She couldn't help her surprise at the fact that he was being completely honest with her.
Yuan crossed his arms. "Let's just call it a hiccup in the system."
"You really are an angel?" she asked, just to be clear. She turned to him and noticed the redness from her earlier slap decorating his features.
"Why do you think the role of Cerberus is so fitting?" Yuan quizzed back. "Or do I need to show you?"
She grimaced and shook her head. "No, I believe you. It's just.. I wish you could tell me why it was so important Lloyd didn't do too much fighting at the seals, and why you're an angel, and why-"
"Do you still trust me?" Yuan asked, putting a finger to her lips to stop her rambling on with questions. He took it away after a second. "Or are you going to make me work for it again?"
She drew back and turned her head so he couldn't see her blushing. "Do you even need to ask that question after everything we've been through?" She rested her head on her knees. "You don't exactly make it easy though."
"Good." Yuan stood from his spot. "That's all I needed to know."
He went to walk away but she quickly stood and caught his arm. "Yuan, wait."
Yuan turned and waited for her to explain herself. She glanced away, feeling like steam was going to come out of her ears at any moment. She felt like such an idiot. Out of all the times she'd flirted with random cute men, the one time that it mattered, she couldn't even get a single word out.
Yuan shifted out of her grip but didn't move from his position close to her. "Don't say things you'll regret one day, Chosen."
She withdrew her hand right before it proceeded to tan the other side of his face, thinking more clearly on what else he'd said. "You already knew?"
The Cerberus gave her a gentle smile. "I apologise for toying with your heart like I have. I'm sure you're smart enough to have realised long ago that mine is elsewhere though."
"With Martel?" she asked softly.
"Why do you think I never told you her name?" He glanced away. She watched him habitually reach for the ring on his finger and twist it a little. "I'm sure the moment you found out her name that night, you started hating her."
"N-no," she denied. Yuan gave her a look and she rolled her eyes. "You know me too well."
Yuan grinned and rested a hand on her head, just like he had when they'd first met and had done various other times to reassure her of her misgivings. "Come back to the sail boat when you're ready to continue. I know you'll do the right thing."
He was off then, in his usual fashion. Sheelos watched until he disappeared out of sight, unsure whether to feel confused, upset or relieved. She took a deep breath and looked up at the starry night sky through the trees above. "Guess the Chosen is destined to be alone after all."