Tales Of Eternia Fan Fiction ❯ Because I'm Needed ❯ Chapter 3

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

This chapter revolves a lot around Tai's past so please bear with me, the storyline will return to Zelos soon enough. There are just a few things I need to get out of the way first; otherwise the story won't make sense.
Read on!
Chapter 3
In the days that followed their initial meeting, Tai stuck to Zelos like glue as the group travelled through Tethe'alla. She often tried to touch his mind, hoping that he would let his guard down enough for her to see what he was hiding, but she had no such luck. The icy, steel barriers stayed in tact no matter how much she probed them… she was just grateful that the magic of her crystal stopped Zelos from realising what she was doing. She doubted the Chosen would appreciate her actions, whether they were just simple curiosity or for his own good. When she was first told that Colette was the Chosen of Sylvarant, Tai had wondered if perhaps she was the one she had come for. However, she quickly dismissed this idea when it became clear that Colette was not only very open-minded, but almost too cheery and optimistic for her own good. Tai had no idea how she managed to smile all the time, even when she tripped or when they were in danger, and came to the conclusion that Colette was a lot braver than she would ever be. Tai was a coward and she knew it, even though she tried to put on a brave face around the others.
That afternoon everyone had stopped to rest and refresh themselves in one of the fresh-water streams that ran near Latheon Gorge. They had crossed the ocean using the EC, which had resulted in a heated argument between Lloyd and Raine.
“Don't you dare complain that you're bored Lloyd Irving! If you it wasn't for you we wouldn't be travelling by foot and have to ride on that… thing again!”
“What?! How's it my fault that we're in this mess?”
“N-no I didn't, I just experimented on them a little bit…”
“Well we never had stuff like that in Sylvarant, s-so when I found the little door with all the weird wires behind it I couldn't resist just tweaking a few to see what happened…”
“Come on Professor! You're just mad because you had to go out to sea again… ARRGH!!!”
Tai turned to see Lloyd lying sprawled across the ground, clutching his stomach in agony. Raine's expression was one of utter fury, her cheeks burning scarlet. She would have found the professor kicking Lloyd highly amusing if she hadn't felt so down. Their arguments were giving her a headache. Slowly, she walked further up stream to distance herself from the others, and tried to organise her thoughts. She didn't have much success. The truth was that she was scared; she didn't know what to do.
`I have to stop Zelos from making a mistake, that's why I'm here! But how can I do that if I can't get him to open his mind?'
He won't talk if he doesn't trust you... answered the familiar voice.
`Oh very helpful! What in Martel's name can I do to make him trust me?!'
The little gem remained stubbornly silent, but continued to gleam faintly. Tai sighed, rolling her eyes heavenward.
“Don't tell me, I have to figure this out on my own right?”
Whispery laughter filled her head and for a split second rainbows danced before her eyes. Tai wondered why it found her current crisis so funny, but didn't pursue the matter further. At least someone was in good mood. Lost in her thoughts, she continued to wander along the waters edge towards the gorge until the sound of rushing water grew loud enough to bring her back to reality. A small waterfall cascaded down the cliff side, almost completely hidden by the by trees which had clearly flourished there for many years. It was as if they were protecting the natural beauty from being corrupted by human hands. Ripples sparkled as the afternoon sun danced across the waters surface, the reflected light making it seem more like an illusion than real running water. Tai gazed at her discovery, entranced. It reminded her of the spring she used to bathe in when she was little… before her home was destroyed.
She knew she should probably return to the others so that they didn't worry, but the water called to her and she couldn't resist. Removing her leather boots and knee length socks, she sat down and dipped her feet in the stream. The water was cool but not unpleasantly so. Nostalgia swept over her as she watched the water swirl around her bare ankles. She remembered it as if it was yesterday… the day her life changed.
The midday sun shone down on the small collection of thatched houses, hidden away in a depression between the mountains. The villagers went about doing their daily chores as normal, with no cares about the outside world. They felt secure knowing that they were concealed from both the elements and other humans by the cliffs which surrounded them. A few weeks ago they would have worked with shadows under their eyes as worry lined their foreheads, but not any more. The children had nearly come of age; it was only a matter of time before the next guardian was chosen. Soon they would have the dragons on their side once more.
Suddenly a young girl came racing down the path which led to the village shrine. Her dark blonde hair whipped her cheeks as she ran; her red eyes wild with terror. Turning so sharply that she nearly slipped, she dashed into her house, not stopping for breath till she was safely inside her room. Slamming her door as she passed, she threw herself onto the small bed, where she then burst into tears. Alerted to her daughter's distress by the noise, her mother gingerly knocked on the door. When no perceivable answer came, she entered the small bedroom to be greeted by her daughter's fearful sobs. Sitting down on the edge of the bed, she gently lifted some of the long wavy hair away from the young girl's tear stained face.
“Tai, what's happened?”
Refusing to answer, Tai buried her head deeper into her pillow and continued to cry. Her mother eased her into an upright position and hugged her close, stroking her head to try and calm her.
“You're supposed to be cleaning the shrine today Tai, you know you can't just abandon your duty…”
“No! I won't go back, you can't make me!”
“Taimat! Do you want to dishonour our family?!”
Her sharp tone did nothing to sooth her child's fear. Taking a deep breath, she cupped Tai's face in her hands and wiped away her tears.
“I'm here for you sweetie, but if you don't tell me what's wrong I can't help you”, she said more softly.
“T-they won't leave me alone… Tai whispered.
“Who won't?”
“T-the voices… I hear them every time I'm at the shrine. At first they were quiet, l-like whispers, but lately they just keep getting louder and louder!”
“You hear voices at the shrine?!”
“Y-yes, but no-one else can hear them! It's like they're inside my head, and no matter how hard I try, I just can't block them out!
“Listen carefully Tai, how long has this been going on?” Her mother's voice was low and urgent.
“A-about a month now.”
Taking her child by the hand, she pulled Tai of the bed and smoothed her tangled hair.
“Come with me, hurry.”
As she led the frightened girl down the wooden stairs and out the front door, Tai pulled back in desperation.
“Please mother, no! Don't make me go back; I don't want the ghosts to possess me!”
“Don't worry sweetheart, we're just going to see the village elder.”
Confusion clouded Tai's eyes as she allowed her mother to lead her into the elder's house. She had only been inside once, and that had been when she was first given the `honour' of cleaning the shrine a few months ago. She and her mother bowed to pay their respects and then her mother began to whisper furiously to the elder in a voice to low for her to hear. Tai was too distracted to care anyway - what if they made her go back?! The elder was a kind yet strict man with a wrinkled brow and skin which had withered after many years in the sun. He was also very wise, and knew everything there was to know about their people, their past and most importantly, the dragons. Tai watched as his wiry eyebrows raised in obvious surprise then plummeted into a frown as he heard her mother's news. Then he turned to her, concern radiating from his eyes, giving her a glimpse of what they would have been like in his younger days.
“So young Taimat, am I to believe that you have heard the spirits whisper?”
“Why won't they leave me alone?”
“My dear child, they speak to you because you have the gift of our ancestors. Though I have to admit, it is unusual for the dragons to contact one so young…”
“They were dragons?!”
“Of course they were! You know the tales of our people well enough by now. Those of us who possess the gift of being able to contact the dragon's spirits are bonded with one of them to help protect our people. It's about time to; it's been eleven years since the last dragon guardian…”
“What! I can't be the next guardian! I'm only ten years old!”
“That does not matter, the spirits clearly find you capable as you are or they wouldn't have spoken to you. You will bond with them Tiamat, our people depend on it. It is a great honour to be chosen.”
“But I don't want to bond with them! I can't even understand them!”
She was crying again, tears cascading down her flushed cheeks. Couldn't they understand how scared she was? She wasn't strong enough to be the next guardian; she hadn't even come of age yet! The elder knelt down beside her and tucked her hair behind her ear, smiling kindly as he did so.
“Fear not my child; I can sense a strong spirit within you, it burns like a dragon's flame deep in your soul. I have faith in you, as do the people of our village. You don't want to let them down do you?”
Seeing that she had no choice in the matter, Tai nodded slowly and wiped her eyes harshly using the sleeve of her tunic, much to her mother's disapproval. Satisfied, the elder pressed something into her hand before leading herself and her mother towards the shrine. When she looked, she discovered it was a small, blood red stone, about the size of an exsphere. She tried asking the elder about it, but all he said was that it was needed for the bonding process.
As they reached the shrine, he turned and beckoned to her with a reassuring smile. He told her to walk to the front of the shrine and to hold out the jewel when she heard the whispers again. Panic swept through her, making her feel sick as she slowly walked toward what she was sure was her doom. Her mother and the elder held back and watched from a distance.
The whispers came to her before she'd even stepped through the boundary of sacred stoned which encircled the shrine. They were loud, excited and incomprehensible, as if they had been waiting for her return. With a shuddering breath, Tai held out her hand, the small gem glistening in the sunlight on her outstretched palm. The whispers became unbearable as the stone began to glow. Slowly, it floated up above her hand and then towards her neck, where it attached itself to her throat. It emitted a dazzling flash of light, forcing her to shield her eyes with her hand to prevent being blinded. But when she cautiously peeped through her fingers, she discovered that she was no longer at the shrine, but suspended in mid air, surrounded by pink-red light. Ghostly forms swooped around her, but to her surprise she no longer felt scared. These were the dragons. Gazing around in wonder, she noticed a small spirit glide effortlessly towards her and examine her face up close. A silvery, forked tongue briefly tickled her cheek, and then the spirit dissolved into mist and entered the still glowing crystal at her throat. Rainbows burst into her mind as she felt another conscience touch hers. Then the scene faded, and Tai found herself back in the village shrine.
Looking round, she realised that her vision was much sharper than before. She could hear better and the air even smelt and tasted different. Then the whispers returned, and she found that she could actually understand them this time.
"You who possesses the gift of an open mind, there is something of great importance that we must tell you. Long ago, thousands of years in fact, we dragons ruled the skies and the mountains beneath. Our strength was great and our magic a mystery to humans and elves alike, but we discovered a way to increase our strength even more by linking our minds to those with the gift, and in doing so we bridged a chasm between those bound to land and we who roamed the sky. We lent your people our strength to protect their homes and in return they protected our eggs from predators as we hunted, and for a time all was well. But one day, the angels of Cruxis descended from Derris Karlan and demanded that we leave the inferior beings and serve them instead. There were fewer then, and they wanted our magic for themselves. Those half-elves insulted our pride, for we serve no-one, and when the dragons refused to submit to their will, they slaughtered us all. Their leader, Yggdrasill, wished to punish us for our defiance, so he used the eternal sword to seal our spirits inside this shrine for all eternity. We are bound to this world, powerless and unable to rest in peace…”
Tai began to feel uneasy. The voices were all around her, she had no idea were to focus on. The spirits were angry, yet their whispers were filled with infinite sadness and pain. They were trapped here.
But your people didn't loose the ability to hear our voices, though as the years went by fewer and fewer could contact us. We discovered that the only way to escape our imprisonment was to have our spirits bond with the few who still possessed the gift, so that when they died our spirits would be free with theirs. But in order to free us all, Yggdrasill must be defeated, so that his power over the eternal sword is broken. We have been waiting for his downfall for thousands of years, but it has not come. You are our last hope little one, you are the last child of your people with the gift. Listen carefully, in a few years time the one destined to defeat Yggdrasill and save both worlds will travel through Tethe'alla in the Chosen's group. But the Chosen's heart will be filled with a dark sadness due to things which have happened in the past. It is this sadness which could endanger the group, preventing Yggdrasill's fall. When that time comes, you must join their group and open the Chosen's heart and mind. If you don't, we shall never be free… Trust in your dragon's spirit child, for it will lead you where you need to go and lend you it's power when you are in danger. The longer it is with you, the more it's strength will grow. Please, do not forget what we have told you. You are needed…”
“You sure seem deep in thought.”
Tai jumped in alarm as she heard Zelos's voice behind her, and glared at him angrily.
“Y-you scared me! What are you doing here anyway? Spying?”
“Actually, I was just checking you were ok. You've been staring at the water, hardly blinking for about twenty minutes now. I'm surprised you're feet haven't gone numb, they've been in there that long!”
Tai blushed as pins and needles viciously attacked her toes. She hastily dried of her feet, refusing to meet the Chosen's bright blue gaze.
“Aww, come on! You can't be that mad at me”, he said, tilting his head to the side.
“Sorry, I was just surprised. I was miles away…”
“That was pretty obvious. What were you thinking about anyway? Not a long lost boyfriend I hope!”
“Nah, just the past…” she answered quietly.
He stared at her for a second, then tossed back his red hair and grinned.
“Well anyway, we'd better head back or they'll leave without us. Plus we'd better check that Lloyd's recovered from his beating.”
“Oh yeah, I hope he's ok.”
“He'll be fine, he should just be grateful that the Professor didn't aim any lower!”
Zelos winked and ran back to the camp, leaving Tai alone on the river bank. She smiled in spite of herself, then hurriedly pulled on her socks and boots before returning to the others.
End Chapter
Yep, you know the drill by now. Please review! *does puppy dog eyes* Please?