Flight of the half-elves
Flight of the half-elves
Putting the Fandalia's into a secure pocket on the underside of his cloak, Yuan set about his next task. Sending a little magic to his fingertips, he put them to his mouth and breathed the same high pitched whistle he had earlier for Noishe. He watched and waited after that.
The Protozoan had never once not come when he was called. The whistle was not only a call, but a promise for his favourite food. Even if the creature did sometimes get randomly stubborn about wanting to be treated as an equal, his stomach had always won out in the past. He'd always come, tail wagging and drool from his mouth leaving a trail on the ground in his wake. It also didn't seem likely that he had decided to stop being his ally now.
No. Something had happened to him. Out of all the feelings Yuan still felt strongly, he hated this one the most. The horrible feeling of helplessness. He hadn't been able to help Martel back then when their 'friend' who had joined their cause shortly after the battle with Volt had taken her life. Since that time, he had vowed to never let the same fate come to his comrades. It had been why he'd been unable to stop Mithos and why he hadn't been able to bring himself to kill Kratos when the time had called for it to be the lesser of two evils. Knowing he may have directly been the cause of something happening to the fluffball did not sit well with him at all.
The sound of heavy wings flapping in the air came from overhead suddenly, snapping him out of his guilt-ridden thoughts. All the thoughts of a moment ago vanished and were immediately replaced with an immense surge of relief when he saw a green and white bird the size of a harpy monster gliding down from the clouds and toward him. It sung a light tweet of greeting as it landed on its fluffy white paw-claws in front of him.
He gabbled for words for a second as he looked over the wispy white down on the birds front and up to its green crest and curved beak. It chattered its beak at him and tilted its head from side to side. Suppressing the grin tugging at the corners of his mouth, he crossed his arms and grunted. "You have some explaining to do, Noishe. Do you realise how much trouble you got Kraine and I into by not coming when you were called the first time?"
Noishe the bird uttered a twitter of apology- or at least he imagined that was what the sound meant. He rolled his eyes and shook his head. "How about talking in a language I can understand if you actually have something to say?"
At his request, he immediately needed some sunglasses. He had to shield his eyes while his companion radiated a brilliant white and morphed into a humanoid form. Once the glow reduced and he could look at him again, he opened his mouth to question him for a proper explanation. He was stopped in his tracks when the boy-protozoan looked up at him with worried eyes. "Yuan, big problem!" He turned around in a panicked circle, his hands rubbing his head. Yuan watched as he started to pace back and forth, somewhat precariously close to the edge of the cliff, muttering and growling to himself. "Oh gosh, this is terrible. It wasn't supposed to happen like this!" His tail whipped about behind him in large circular motions followed by quick up and down strides.
"Noishe," he called, tapping his foot.
"There was nothing I could do. I couldn't-"
"Noishe!" He raised his voice a little higher this time and bent over to grab the boy and hold him still from his frantic movements. "Tell me what happened. From the beginning if you would so please?"
Noishe relaxed his shoulders and nodded in agreement. "Genis and I were kidnapped by a caravan guy and Sheelos is with them and now Genis is gone!" He took a deep breath once he blurted out the sentence. "I should have done something. I should have made him escape when we could. I should have protected him!" He whimpered and shook his head frantically, then whined again.
Yuan breathed inwardly slowly as he straightened up from the protozoan and looked out over the edge of the mountain top. "You don't know what happened?"
Noishe shook his head. "One minute he was standing next to me and the next he was gone," he answered miserably. "He just vanished!"
"Calm yourself Noishe," Yuan murmured. "All is going according to plan. Mostly anyway. I hadn't considered that you would also be captured by Novariel, or Sheelos' involvement." He glanced off to the side. "Though I should have." Snapping his eyes back to Noishe, he cleared his throat. "Allow me to explain."
"I had thought I would see you again soon enough," Altessa grumbled when Tabatha let the two of them in, Colette carrying Kraine's unconscious body and Lloyd trailing behind her, his confidence as a man severely in question. Tabatha directed Colette to take Kraine into the bedroom on the right of the entrance to the house. Lloyd watched until she disappeared. "Something weighs on your mind," Altessa grunted in statement to him through his thick and greying beard before waddling off down the short set of stairs to the lower part of his house, leaning on his gnarled walking stick as he did.
Lloyd seated himself down at the low chair on the table in the middle of the room and rested his head in his hands. The old dwarf wasn't wrong. Colette had been really quiet on the way to Altessa's place, but he suspected it was partly his fault. He hadn't really been in much of a mood to say anything to anyone. Three different thoughts swirled around his head over and over again and he still didn't have any answers. He'd eventually resolved to himself that the only way he would get things cleared up would be to wait for the people in question to be able to talk to him.
The problem was sitting patiently and waiting for answers. Kraine was sick. Yuan had gone off to do something and hadn't told them what. He'd just left and not told them anything!
"Damn it!" he cursed, smashing his fist into the table. "Why didn't I see it until now!?"
The irony that he'd had two seraphs as teachers at two different times was thick. His thoughts extended to Kraine and what Yuan had said about his mother. Then to what Kraine had himself said to him in that strange voice and with the expression that wasn't his. There had been no mistaking it that time. Knowing it was true didn't help. It only made it worse. To top it all off, they still had no idea where Gesea was. Not to mention Sheelos was also missing in action. They'd all been split up because he'd insisted that they find Kraine and Gesea. The world needed to be saved and the only way they could possibly do it was with the help of Sheelos.
Reaching down into the pocket of his pants, he pulled the half-painted wooden Noishe figurine from his pocket and looked over it. It was chipped in a few places from all the running and crawling around he'd been doing recently. It seemed like so much had happened since he had first given Gesea the figurine. She'd never asked for it back. He wasn't even sure if she remembered he had it anymore.
Leaving it sitting on the table and pushing himself up, he turned to look into the other room where Colette and Tabatha were tending to the worst of Kraine's condition. He'd noticed even as they'd been flying over Tethe'alla that the man had been sweating with a high fever. Even from where he stood, he could see that it hadn't exactly improved. The girls were folding a blanket over a shivering Kraine. Tabatha looked in his direction suddenly and he quickly looked away, unsure why.
Colette left the room and started toward him, concern written all over her face. "Is there much we can do?" he asked, following her with his eyes as she went to a small water trough in the corner. She ran the tap and placed a green face towel under the faucet to let it soak up some water and expand. She shook her head. "Tabatha doesn't know for sure what's wrong, either."
"Actually," came the green haired girls robotic sounding voice. "I know now. Kraine is most definitely sick with the Ozette flu."
"The Ozette flu?" Lloyd couldn't say he'd heard of it before, but he was almost willing to bet that if Gesea had been with them, she would have a few facts to say about it.
"Is it some kind of sickness that comes from Ozette?" Colette asked, turning to her and letting some of the water from the towel fall to the floor. She gasped when she heard the dripping sound and quickly raced into the bedroom to place it on Kraine's head.
Tabatha graciously waited for her to return and nodded her head to her respectfully. "It is a sickness that came about during the Kharlan War. A very long time ago now. It came from a combination of Ozette soil being infected by tainted mana."
"Tainted mana?" Lloyd questioned. "How is that even possible?" He saw Colette nodding along to his voiced thoughts as though she'd been thinking the exact same thing.
"The events of the war are seldom spoken," Tabatha replied. "It was a terrible time. It was only Mithos the Hero and his companions who were able to finally bring an end to it."
"Mithos the Hero.." Lloyd mumbled. "Was he actually real? I'm not sure how much I believe about the legend now."
Tabatha didn't seem to really know how to respond to that. Instead she turned her back to them and waved them to follow her into the bedroom again where Kraine was sleeping. "The Ozette flu has many symptoms. The first tends to be a fever, followed by all manner of hallucinations."
Lloyd watched an odd expression appear on her face. Any expression would have been strange to see on her, but she looked at Kraine with pity. The question was just begging to be asked.
"How do you know about the Ozette flu, Tabatha?"
Lloyd blinked and shut his mouth. Colette had beaten him to the punch. "You sounded so sad then when you were saying about the symptoms."
Tabatha's face turned back into the emotionless one she usually wore. She didn't give either of them eye contact. "I was once sick with the Ozette flu. It is not an experience one merely forgets."
"Oh," Colette nodded. "I'm sorry to have pryed."
Without making an attempt to comfort Colette's guilt, Tabatha took the towel from Kraine's forehead and headed back out past them to the taps to rinse it once again. She returned after a second and put it back down gently on him. "Fandalia flowers can only save him now. They are only found in one spot however."
Lloyd took a deep breath and exhaled with relief. "Finally something I can do. Where can I find them?"
"It is never a certainty that they will grow, but they have been found atop the Fooji mountains in the past. The Ozette flu is a rare disease today."
"Really?" the relief Lloyd had felt a second before replaced itself with disappointment. "But we were just near there!" The moment he finished his sentence, the realisation hit him. He thought about the direction Yuan had flown in after abruptly leaving them. He turned to Colette. "Yuan must have gone there to get them!"
Colette's eyes sparkled as a smile grew on her lips. He knew she was happy that she had decided to trust him. "That's great!" She looked curious. "He must have known about the Ozette flu from his studies as a professor."
"Yeah," he agreed. Something nagged at him about that though. He couldn't help but wonder if it was more than that. Yuan had some explaining to do when he came back to them.
"You look like you're deep in thought," Novariel observed as he rode on his horse. They were heading straight for some deep thicket that led up to the Gaoracchia forest.
"Huh? Oh." Sheelos blinked away from where she was staring off to the east. The Tower of Salvation taunted her from afar. It stared down at her, giving her a very clear reminder on how she felt about being the Chosen. The curse for being born to someone who matched closest to the signature for Martel had never escaped her. The Cerberus taking measures to protect her from the duties of a Chosen as service to the people of Mizuho hadn't exactly helped. Not that the people of Mizuho trusted her with the idea of being the Chosen anyway.
"It's nothing you need to worry about darling," she said almost automatically. "Just keep your eyes on the prize and we'll be golden."
She focused on their surroundings and surmised that they were definitely going to hit the forest. Her guard immediately shot up by just thinking about it. She didn't know what business Novariel had with the forest, but he wasn't going to get anywhere close to Mizuho if she had anything to say about it. "I see you're avoiding the more regular trade routes," she deadpanned to the tanned caravener. "Just goes to show that you definitely know how shady the stunt you're pulling is."
The guy smirked and set his eyes back on the road, seeming to be okay with leaving her alone with her brain. She didn't understand why he was being so nice to her. He was treating her as a friend rather than as the woman who had 'just so happened' to be in the right place and right time to catch him doing the deed of drugging and kidnapping a young boy who just so happened to have very recently joined the ranks of the angels.
She'd made a deal with him to come along and help him out against monsters and such in exchange for her secrecy on his deed and half of the money he would get from completing the deal. Luckily for her, he'd given her the once over and agreed. Despite Yuan's lack of interest in her and the friend zone she had landed herself in with Lloyd, it appeared she still had it if she tried.
Thinking about her friends, she was somewhat surprised that they hadn't yet come to find her. Granted, she hadn't exactly told any of them what had happened. She wondered if Yuan was worried about her. The selfish voice in her head actually hoped he was. He needed to stop mourning for Martel and move on. There were plenty more fish in the sea, including her. The moment the thought crossed her mind, she felt just a little bit guilty.
Hating feeling guilty, she decided to put him out of her head. Instead she thought about Genis. He wasn't quite the enigma that Kraine was, or even half as sneaky as Yuan, but she wondered whether it was a half-elf thing that made them impossible to figure out at one stage or another. Genis had escaped the cages inside the caravan, of that much she was sure. She thought he would have decided to leave the moment they'd locked eyes, but instead he had remained in the carriage behind her with the boy she was sure he'd become besties with by now.
If Genis had some reason to stick around, there was a high likelihood that he'd convinced the other boy to as well. But why had Genis decided not to make a break for it when Novariel had been distracted on the bridge? She wondered if he thought she might kill him if he tried. Her heart sank for a second before she decided that it was probably for the best. After all, here she was, about to do something that the kid would likely never forgive her for. It was easier to be alone after all, she realised. Being alone meant she didn't have to feel so hurt when she had to be accountable for her actions. It meant siding with the strongest had no repercussions. Unfortunately for her, she couldn't say that she was all that alone. Friends were a commodity she hadn't expected to gain from her trip to Sylvarant, that was for sure. The scattered trees around them grew tighter and the road became a bumpier ride as they entered the labyrinth forest.
"Mithos," Genis cried, looking back over the landscape as they flew. He could still catch a glimpse of the white caravan sometimes when the moon hit it. It was little more than a small speck of light in the dark amongst the lush greenery now though. "We have to go back for Eon! Who knows what Novariel will do to him?" He watched the white speck fade again as it entered a darker patch that he assumed to be the Gaoracchia forest.
Mithos, in his adult Yggdrasil form currently and flapping his large angel wings extra hard while he carried him away, glared down at him. "Do you want to talk to Kraine or not? This will be your last chance before I take him back to Derris Kharlan."
"You'll what?" Genis blinked.
Mithos didn't sound very remorseful. The look on his face was pretty scary. "He has become a liability as of late and I'm not sure I understand what has caused him to suddenly reveal his crimes to Meltokio."
Genis stopped squirming, his heart all of a sudden heavy. "It really is true. I mean.. I knew it was true... but I always hoped.."
"That he killed your sister?" Mithos asked. "I'm afraid so Genis." He cringed against him.
Genis snapped out of his thoughts and looked over him. "Mithos, are you still hurt from the battle at the arena?" He frowned. "I still haven't forgotten what you did. I'm still angry at you." He would have crossed his arms if it hadn't meant he would be falling to his death by doing so.
"Then you haven't forgotten that you can fly yourself?" Mithos gave him a wide grin and glowed. He felt the mana well up around him and watched as yellow balls of light surrounded them. He felt the grip on him loosen. Then, without warning, he was falling away from the Cruxis leader. The child form of Mithos swooped after him. "C'mon Genis! Pull out your wings!"
"What!?" he gasped inbetween screams as gravity did its thing. He tried to reach out for his friend but he was just slightly far enough away. His ears blocked and popped multiple times. "I'm going to die!" He closed his eyes. "I'm sorry Presea.."
The direction of the wind hitting him changed all of a sudden. He opened his eyes just before he slammed into Mithos. The seraph disappeared and reappeared on the other side of him. "Good job Genis. You figured it out!"
It took him a moment to regain any semblance of reality. The world spun around him and for a few seconds he saw four of Mithos at once. He felt like dry heaving and had to hold a hand over his mouth until his stomach calmed itself. It was a good thing that all he'd been fed in the past twelve hours or so was a rotten tomato he hadn't eaten. Glaring at Mithos, he finally found his voice. "Y-you could have killed me!"
"Don't be ridiculous," Mithos laughed. "If I wanted to kill you, I'd have done it already."
He thought about that statement. True enough, he supposed. Mithos had stopped time and saved him. One minute he had been talking to Eon about where he supposed they were going, and the next he'd been flying over the Grand Tethe'alla bridge.
"Aselia to Genis," Mithos called to him. He looked around. He was nowhere in sight. "Up here," Mithos called. Craning his neck upward, he saw Mithos looking down at him, his features looking spooky thanks to the darkness around them aside from the light of the full moon and his wings. "You need to flap your wings," he continued, zipping down to his level. "You're going to sink down to the ground at this rate."
"Flap my-" Genis found himself rising higher just thinking about the prospect. He blinked and experimentally did it again. "Really?" he snickered. "Is that really all it takes to do it?"
Mithos met him again, skimming through the air as comfortably as a fish swimming through water. He'd obviously had a lot more experience. Although Genis was flapping easily enough, he was nowhere nears as stable as the other half-elf.
"You're a natural," Mithos called, lying on his back and stretching his wings in and out in sideways motions, floating steadily. "Now you just need some confidence."
"I get the feeling you've done this before," he said dryly, raising an eyebrow at him.
Mithos stopped backstroking away from him and soared back to a standing position in front of him. "The training part or the flying part?" He rested one hand on his hip and gave a proud smile. "The flying part should go without saying, but I also trained my friends to fly since I was the first one who got the wings." His smile became a grin. "Kratos and I used to spar in midair sometimes."
Genis watched his friend as he seemed to reminisce. He'd obviously been quite fond of Kraine. In a weird way, he felt kind of jealous. Mithos had known his brother-in-law for far longer than he would have even wanted to live. A speck of brilliant red from down below eventually distracted him from his envy. Mithos appeared to have seen it too. They were hovering directly over the rolling hills that surrounded Altessa's place and the Gaoracchia forest. A warm glow flowed out from the house's windows and shone just enough light on the outside that Genis could clearly see Lloyd standing there. His friend did nothing for a short time, just looked up toward them. He knew he was probably more interested in the stars, but a small part of him wished he would be able to see them and their glowing wings in the darkness. Mithos didn't seem too fussed, so he had to assume he was doing something to stop Lloyd seeing them or he didn't think there was any chance of that happening.
He watched Lloyd pace back and forth, his arms outstretched in front of him. Then suddenly, the blue light of his wings filled the area. Next to him, he heard Mithos gasp. "What's wrong?" he asked, still watching Lloyd. "You've seen Lloyd's wings before."
"I have," he agreed. "But that was before.. um, nevermind."
"Oookay?" Skeptical but deciding to let it go for now, he went on to his next question. "When can we go and see Kraine?" He also wondered how they could find the caravan and rescue Eon. Mithos didn't answer. He seemed completely distracted by Lloyd. "Mithos?" He flapped slowly up to him and tapped him on the shoulder. Mithos blinked back into reality and looked at him. "O-oh, um, Kraine. Right. Uh." He scratched his chin and started to zone out again when he looked at Lloyd.
Genis groaned and decided to take matters into his own hands. A little unsure how exactly to do it, he experimentally tilted his whole body toward the ground. His stomach lurched again. Yelping, he put himself the right way up and looked at Mithos for guidance. His friend was laughing at him. "I suppose even the naturals need to remember the rules of velocity." He wiped a tear from his eye. "That and you're overthinking it. Let me make it a bit easier for you."
Before Genis could even ask how, he was forced to watch his friend unsummon his wings and start rapidly plummetting toward the ground. "M-Mithos!" he cried, wondering what was going on. The moment he caught him after zipping down to his rapidly decreasing height, he realised what had happened. Mithos raised his eyebrows up and down and summoned his wings again. Genis let him go and crossed his arms over his chest. "Hey! That wasn't fair!"
"Did the trick, didn't it?" his friend said, sounding amused.
"Well yes.. but.." He didn't really have any good comeback that didn't make him look like a wimp.
Mithos burst out in laughter again. "You look so pale Genis. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to worry you like that."
He suppressed a smile. "Was that some crazy game of trust or something?"
"Yeah! You passed with flying colours."
Genis blinked at him, the suppressed smile becoming a grimace. "Did.. you just make a joke, Mithos?"
Mithos stared back, then raised an eyebrow. He pumped a fist into his hand and shook his head. "Damn. See him again for the first time in ten years and he's already rubbing off on me."
"See who?" he asked. Mithos was talking in riddles again. Genis glanced back over to where Lloyd had been with his wings outstretched and gaped. Someone else had joined him. Someone with electric blue hair. It wasn't Yuan.
A jolt of shock and realisation came over him. He opened his mouth to hopefully try to distract Mithos, but it was too late. His friend was looking at the situation. "As for your question, I think now might be a good time to go and see Kraine."
Novariel knew the route like the back of his hand. It was pretty obvious he was a seasoned veteran in kidnapping. Sheelos supposed he hadn't usually made a habit out of capturing children though. The other boy that had been in the cage had a green and white tail. She supposed he was some kind of shape shifter. Something about him had felt familiar though.
They emerged through the other end of the forest in no time flat. The horses hadn't been scared of the monsters that lurked the forest. She hadn't even needed to dismount her horse. The field close to Ozette faced them as they barreled through some tall grass and onto a more stable dirt road finally. From their location, a boat at the dock to the north over the other side of the bridge could be seen. The bridge clacked underneath the horses hooves and the sound of shifting objects could be heard from behind her in the carriage. She hoped Genis and the boy were staying out of the way of falling objects.
The closer they got to the boat that Novariel was obviously heading toward, the more she could feel the cold breeze coming off of the sea to them from Flanoir. Mizuho sometimes got the breeze, but for the most part they were protected by the mountains and the forest. It wasn't uncommon to get some snow falling every so often though. Naturally she always made herself scarce whenever that happened. The thought of snow made her shiver, and not because it was cold.
Something didn't seem right though. If Cruxis was right and Novariel had ties to the Renegades, she had to wonder why they were being so blatantly obvious. They had gone to great efforts to conceal their base from anyone, including Mizuho, for the longest time. She and Yuan were the only ones who knew where it was, and only because Yuan had set out to look for it without the permission of the chief. They had agreed to keep that secret close to their chests. So why was Martuan leading a random caravan trader straight to her? Wouldn't she have preferred a Renegade grunt to handle the dirty work if that was the case?
She straightened her back involuntarily, deciding to keep on guard. In too deep now, all she could do was watch and wait. It reminded her of the silly "Ignorance is knowledge" creed that the kid sometimes spouted about. Assassins never got anywhere by being rash and not knowing the full story. She knew that and still had to suppress the itch to confront the trader for information she already knew he wouldn't give her. She had been an unofficial spy for Cruxis for some time now and had yet to 'meet' the leader. Pronyma had promised that if she were to fulfil this task though, she would finally get to speak with Yggdrasil.
Finally, they came to a halt not too far from the beach. Novariel jumped off of his horse first and looked at the boat floating on the water. It was wooden and looked only barely sea worthy. Nothing like the boat they'd been lucky enough to acquire from the Lezareno Company. It creaked and groaned against the heightening tide that crashed against the shore. The trader looked back at her as she slid off her own horse. "I'll put you in charge of bringing them around back." He dug into his pockets for a few seconds and shuffled up to her. She hid her clenched fist when he brought out a bottle and a syringe. "Make sure you give them both a good helping of sleep medicine before you get them out of the cages though. Who knows what they'll do."
She took them from him, squinting her eyes. He saw her mistrust and clutched a hand to his heart. "I know a good partner when I see one m'lady. Think of this as an exercise of my trust in you." He cleared his throat. "There's no reason to think you'd release them, is there?"
"Of course not," she answered. "Why one earth would I want to risk having two annoyed parties on my back for the sake of a couple of kids?"
"Hmm." Novariel scanned her, smiled, then set about getting onto the boat. "Grab the horses too, once you're done." He disappeared into the cabin and pulled the worn door shut behind him, having to slam it a couple of times and lift it slightly to get it to close. Sheelos waited a few minutes under the pretense that she didn't want him to come out while she was inside the carriage, but it was really more to do with her nervousness about what the kid would say.
Taking a deep breath, she headed over to the detachable ramp connected to the side of the caravan and hooked it to the platform that led to the door. Once it was safely attached, she let the makeshift stair-ramp fall to the ground and made her way up to the opening. Sticking her hand in first to find the string for the light generator, she gave it a tug before peeking inside. Her breath caught in her throat as her eyes fell on the curled bars of the cages but not on any kind of living life form.
"They've escaped!" She smiled broadly and clapped her hands together for a second. "Now is the time for the true Sheelos to shine. Let's finish this little charade."
She turned away from the caravan opening and looked toward the rickety old boat. The seemingly boring adventure to her least favourite place had just gotten a whole lot more interesting.