Tales Of Eternia Fan Fiction ❯ Because I'm Needed ❯ Chapter 6 ( Chapter 6 )
[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
Okay, I'll try to make this short. Firstly I want to apologise to for taking so long to update; I could reel off the usual excuses but you've heard them all before so I won't waste your time with them. All I can say is that I'm truly sorry for keeping those of you that enjoy my story waiting for such an insanely long time. I only hope that this chapter doesn't disappoint.
Secondly, I want to thank each of my wonderful reviewers, without you all this story would most likely have never been updated and I can't even begin to tell you how grateful I am for your support!
Okay I think that's everything. Enjoy!
Disclaimer:I do not own Tales of Symphoniaor any of its charactersor locations mentioned in this story; they are all owned by Namco. Tai, however, is my creation alone.
The winged beasts circled, creating winds strong enough to tear tree roots from the very earth they clung to so desperately with a mere beat of their vast wings. It had been a long time since they had been sent out on a mission by Lord Yggdrasill, and they were impatient to feast after all those years of confinement. Especially since their main course was the same wretched little worm who had caused them so much grief five years ago. The leader of Cruxis didn't like failures, and they had been spared their lives only because they were the most powerful left of their kind. Yet they had still been punished severely for allowing such a pathetic child to escape them. But no matter, they would not fail this time.
Swooping low with a grace unthinkable for ones of their immense size, the creatures surveyed their opponent, their malevolent eyes sweeping up and down her trembling form. Disappointing, she'd gown up much scrawnier than they would have liked, but it was definitely the same one. Those fearful eyes of that maroon shade peering from under that murky blonde hair were unmistakable. In fact, the dragon girl looked so vulnerable and weak, standing there terror-stricken while the white haired half-elf tugged foolishly at her arm that the mighty dragons wanted to laugh. This was the one who was meant to help bring Lord Yggdrasill's downfall? Why, she was nothing more than a bug waiting to be squashed. If she was just any insect, she would not have been worth their time, but the desire for revenge burned with the intensity of the strongest flames deep within their guts, and they knew they would not rest until they could savour the taste of her smouldering flesh in their mouths. She was small, but they could share her. The time had finally come.
Tai couldn't move, couldn't think, couldn't speak. She just stood there, her world being ripped asunder around her once again, yet she stayed still, unable to even hear the cries that echoed through her mind as the jewel at her throat continued to flare uncontrollably. The creatures before her were not strangers. They were the same ones - the same ones who attacked her village 5 years ago and succeeded in wiping out its entire population. Everyone that she held dear - gone, incinerated before her very eyes. Only she had managed to escape with her life. And their reappearance now only confirmed what she already knew: it was her fault...
She was allowed no more time to dwell on this thought, as at that moment scarlet light exploded in her mind, shortly followed by searing pain and the inevitable angry words.
This is no time to wallow in the past - we are in danger! Never attempt to block me again!
Coming to her senses, Tai saw just how true this statement was. The dragons were coming in to land, their enormous bulk creating shockwaves as their enormous, scaled feet came in contact with the ground. Ivory claws raked the earth, leaving trenches long and deep. The monsters that stood before her were every bit as terrifying as she remembered, and she only just managed to dive out of their path as one snaked its grotesque head towards her, extending its long neck in an attempt to catch her without having to move from its current position. Vicious jaws snapped at her retreating form, succeeding only in yanking a few hairs from her plait. The girl winced as they parted unwillingly from their roots, and turned briefly to see her pursuer spit the hairs out with distaste, watching the limp strands fall to the muddy earth before trampling them underfoot, snarling. So far this was just a sick game to them... but soon they would turn serious. Tai knew that the beasts had waited far too long for this to just finish her off quickly. They wanted to make her suffer first.
Rising to their full heights, the dragons spread their impressive wings and each let out a deafening roar in turn, displaying their lethal fangs. The first had scales of the deepest rust red, dull, dry and rough, yet as hard as diamonds. The foul colour deepened as it climbed its long neck, crimsoning as though the scales had been permanently stained by the blood that must have dried there in years gone by. The monstrosity lashed its tail, daring the others to try and take his place as leader as they moved into formation, making it clear that he was the dominant male of the three. His claws where filthy with the remnants of past victims and his entire body was ill kept, battle scarred and encrusted with grime. Clouds of thick, grey smoke shot from his nostrils as he snorted with impatience, revealing the flames which burned within. This dragon was a warrior, built for battle.
Towering above the desolate landscape, the second dragon seemed to make the size and power of other two almost pale in comparison. She was the only female of the three and was much older, hence her great magnitude, though her scales were clearly kept in far better condition than those of her comrade. Gleaming faintly in the rays of the setting sun, the deep mauves and violet tints of the plate like structures were beautifully highlighted, taking on a more sombre hue as they reached her legs and tail. Static crackled around her, creating a ghastly aura of negative energy. Her element was electricity, and she obviously commanded it with ease.
The third dragon seemed smaller and more slender than the others, the hum of eager anticipation reverberating from his smooth, jade scaled throat clarifying his position as the junior of the three. Neither spike nor horn jutted from his streamline physique; only the smallest of ridges adorned his back, allowing his glittering green scales to flow undisturbed from head to tail. Had the foliage beneath masked his feet rather than being crushed, one could almost be disillusioned into thinking that the mythological beast was in fact an enormous winged snake. As things were, the dragon rustled his wings impetuously; creating a small whirlwind as he experimentally folded and outstretched the emerald membrane that filled out his wingspan, an act which earned him a warning growl from his female superior.
Reacting with practised speed, the Chosen's party were already in battle formation, each member assuming their individual fighting stance, weapons in hand. Tai felt herself being pulled towards the back, Genis having finally gained control over her waywardness as he planted her firmly between himself and Raine. Confused, she blinked at him questioningly and he shot her a look of concerned exasperation that reminded her entirely too much of his older sister.
“You attack best at long range, like me,” was all he said in response.
Her eyes widened as she realised that he, along with all her other team mates, still didn't understand. “But if you all fight then they'll hurt you as well!”
The dragons snarled as they counted the eight obstacles blocking the path between them and the archer. You miserable beings protect her?
Dismissing her illogical reasoning with a jerk of his kendama, the young sorcerer proceeded to focus the mana surrounding him. “They'll hurt us anyway Tai!”
The red roared and initiated the attack. Then you shall all perish together!
“Okay, let's do this!” Lloyd shouted as he drew his twin swords from their sheaths, the scarlet blades reflecting the last rays of the setting sun. Signalling a familiar strategy to the rest of the party members, he ran towards the nearest dragon, the other frontline fighters in quick pursuit. Dodging the beast's claw swipes, he eventually managed to get between its legs, where he unleashed his Omega Tempest attack on its underside. The fire dragon roared both in anger, yet soon dispelled the young swordsman's technique with a swipe of its spiked tail. Lloyd defended just in time, his crossed weapons taking the brunt of the counter move as he skidded backwards though the upturned gravel.
`Man, these guys are tougher than I thought. I was sure that I'd hit his weak spot, but my attack hardly seemed to damage him…'
“Lloyd, are you okay?” came Collette's worried words as he heard her run up behind him. Realising his both opponents' strength and the unlikely-ness that they would fall for the same strategy again, he called out to Collette as she neared him, his expression troubled.
“These guys are even stronger than the dragons we fought when we were rescuing you! You think you can help us out?”
“I'm on it!” came the angel's faithful reply, spectral feathers already spreading from the two shining spots between her shoulder blades, framing her with their heavenly glow. Soaring high, Collette found she had a perfect view of the battle field around her, and so proceeded to clasp her hands together at her chest in a state of prayer, a sense of calm descending on her thoughts as she closed her eyes.
`Yes… I can reach them all from here.'
Sparkles of mana began to concentrate at her pointed toe tips, condensing to form a ball of brilliant white light before flowing out beneath the girl, bathing her in its radiance. She smiled inwardly as she felt the tickle of the ghostly feathers surrounding her; all warm and rosy. She always felt so peaceful when she performed this technique, most likely because she knew it would cause no harm.
"Thy faithful servant asketh for thy blessing,” the girl murmured softly, now completely serious as she contacted her inner goddess, “Honour us with the splendour of thy song. HOLY SONG!"
She felt the light enveloping her intensify as her feathers flocked together, then released the gathered energy granted to her all at once, watching as it took the form of a dazzling halo which dispersed in all directions. The ring of light soon reached all her friends, washing over them in waves of pure energy and enhancing their skills. As the last remnants of her technique dissolved, leaving only a few scattered feathers in its wake, Lloyd looked up and gave her a wave of thanks, his face shining with fresh determination. Collette grinned despite the danger she knew they were in, and after allowing herself only a moment to enjoy the fuzzy feeling that came with this, swooped back down to the battle field to fight by his side.
Meanwhile the frontlines were taking a serious beating despite combining their best techniques.
None of them had much effect. The creatures were too well protected and there were too many of them too focus their strength on just one to see if they could break through. So far they were doing little more than buying the magic users some time, chipping away at the creatures' defences. Presea gritted her teeth as she was forced to put up her Earthy Protection for the third time, her palms growing sweaty around the handle of her axe. The constant defence was tiring her, and so she seized the opportunity to smash her heavy weapon onto the green dragon's jaw as its head snaked past in pursuit of Sheena. Caught off guard, the youngest monster screamed far louder than the taciturn girl deemed necessary. It wasn't a critical hit, her aim was slightly off. Still, it felt the need to abandon the ninja in favour of snapping at her instead. Having prepared for this, she raised the axe once more, sparing a thought for one mage in particular.
`Genis… please hurry.'
Cast aside on the outskirts of the party, Seles emerged apprehensively from the bushes in which she had taken refuge to find the Chosen's group already engaged in battle, completely oblivious to her absence. The young red head ground her teeth in irritation, angry at the creatures both for scaring her into hiding and for diverting Zelos's attention away from her presence.
“Impudent beasts…” she sneered as she clambered clumsily from the thicket, clutching her purse-like weapon. “I'll show you!” Her embroidered skirts began to flutter as cold winds roused and swirled around her petite frame, her already pale skin acquiring a ghostly tint from the icy blue light glowing below. “ABSOLUTE!”
All those years of study in Abbey had paid off, and she allowed a self-satisfied smile to spread across her face as the jagged spear of ice erupted under the fire dragon, piercing his soft underbelly. The scream told her she'd chosen well: fire was always weak against ice. Recovering, the male turned blazing eyes on her and bared its fangs at the newly identified threat. Seles' face fell as she comprehended what was coming next; the weakness worked both ways. The jet of flame was upon her before she had time to even think of defending herself magically. All she could do was fling her arms in front of her face, a cry of terror tearing her throat.
The flash was so bright that Seles saw it even behind closed eyelids. Opening them slowly, she found her vision part obscured by tongues of fire. No… it wasn't fire but hair; long red hair streaming as Zelos took the impact of the attack, shield raised.
“B-Brother…?” she gasped, her astonishment was evident
His concerned gaze quickly swept across her shivering body. “Are you hurt?”
Seles could only shake her head, eyes wide. Thankfully her attacker had already lost interest due to the fresh barrage of skilled kicks coming from Regal. Having confirmed that she was not mortally wounded, Zelos turned to leave.
Panic suddenly seized the young girl's stomach. “Wait, what are you doing?”
“What does it look like, I'm going back to help!” he called back, “You stay here and keep outta sight. Don't move!”
The previous attack seemed to momentarily relive itself before her eyes: razor teeth, a flash of fire… yet she was not the one it was aiming for this time. Her hand gave an involuntary twitch and rose.
“You can't go back, they'll kill you!”
Suddenly her fingers had closed around Zelos's wrist and she looked from them to him, surprised by her own action. He glanced at her sharply over his shoulder, then shrugged her hand away before carrying on. “Then you'll get to be Chosen. That's what you've always wanted.”
`Fine, I shall kill the both of you!'
Zelos couldn't hear anything but the beast's snarls, but he didn't need to decipher them to understand his intentions. A fury like no other had possessed him the moment Sheeena was knocked unconscious, and something seemed to be growing stronger within, feeding off the struggle. The knowledge that his spells weren't strong enough to deter the creature for long didn't help matters, but at that point he was past caring.
“I won't let you near her!” he shouted up at the monster in the sky, all the while intricately moving his hand back and forth in preparation, a tawny magic circle forming at his feet. “GRAVE!!”
`The fool is using the same spell twice even though he knows it's ineffective?' the dragon thought, readying himself to dodge. `Humans truly are pitiful beings…'
But rather than the rocks trying to pierce him, they instead leapt up around the ninja, forming a closed dome between dragon and prey. Frustrated, he snapped his attention back to the Chosen, who was now drenched in sweat and shaking from the effort of holding the barrier in place. Something was gleaming faintly red beneath his clothes.
Beams of dazzling white light streamed from the heavens, piercing the enemies' bodies yet somehow missing Zelos and the others. A chakram whizzed past, striking the shrieking dragon with full force before returning to Sylvarant's Chosen of Mana, who was following close behind. Her sparkling magenta wings carried her swiftly to Zelos's side, where she looked up at the winged reptile with fixed determination.
“Please just go, leave us alone!” she cried, tears pricking her azure eyes, “Haven't you hurt us enough?”
The dragon hissed at the angel in surprise, uncertainty flickering across its features. Then it turned, retreating back to its comrades, leaving the two Chosens in a state of shock.
“I don't… understand,” Collette whispered as she watched the dragon fly away.
Zelos wasn't listening; he'd released the stone prison and was kneeling exhaustedly at Sheena's side.
“Sheena?” he murmured fearfully, reaching out to brush some of the matted dark hair from her face. His pupils shrank as his hand cam back bloody. She wasn't moving. Eyes stinging, he whipped round to face Collette, panic evident in his voice, “She needs help! NOW!”
The blonde started at his harsh tone and spread her wings hurriedly, “I-I'll go get Raine!” She took flight urgently. Zelos hardly ever lost his cool, if he was this upset then there was definitely a reason to be worried. A silent prayer formed on the young girl's lips as she flew: Please let Sheena be alright…
Gently lifting the summoner's bruised body towards his, Zelos propped her shoulder on his chest, cradling her damaged head in his arms. The blood from her wounds seeped into his clothes as he counted a hundred different cuts and grazes through the tears in her own, and he held her possessively, willing her to live with all his heart.
“C'mon Sheena,” he pleaded, “You gotta talk to me, please…”
Still she made no movement; her breathing so shallow that it was almost as if she wasn't breathing at all. It was no use, she was too far gone… he knew his level healing magic couldn't save her now, and he mentally cursed his inability to perform the resurrection spell.
“Listen, I'm… I'm sorry I called you a demonic banshee alright?!” he said in desperation, “Just please wake up!”
Her arm twitched slightly at this, and he watched breathlessly as dull chocolate eyes stared up at him through a crack in her eyelids.
“Sheena…?” he asked tentatively. The girl struggled to come round, but it was plain that she was fighting a losing battle; already the gap which granted her sight was closing. The effort proving too much, she settled for shifted slightly, leaning in towards Zelos more, and in a state of semi-awareness, instinctively clung to his coat like a small child. Stunned, the Chosen froze in his current position, feeling the warmth of her body on his own, and for the first time in years not a single perverted thought crossed his mind. She clung to him in perfect innocence, and for a moment she looked safe, contented, despite all the hurt the battle had caused her and the times she'd spent ranting at him in obvious dislike. But she was oblivious to that now, clutching the linen folds in her sore fingers.
“Zelos…” she murmured; her voice a rough whisper.
Then the moment ended, and her hand slipped from the fabric as she lapsed back into unconsciousness, leaving Zelos staring at her, his mouth slightly ajar. A shiver passed up and down his spine, and to his horror he felt himself start to turn numb where he knelt, Sheena's warmth slowly drifting away. Panicking, he wrapped his arms around her protectively and hugged her close, as though this action would prevent him from losing her. And that was how Collette found them when she dashed back seconds later; Raine running close behind.
Still fighting alongside Genis on the backlines, Tai released another volley of enhanced projectiles, trying her best to avoid the wings of the fire dragon against which she knew they would have no effect. Rough winds whipped her hair as the Green returned, soaring overhead. The violet dragoness was livid, and she lashed her tail in agitation at the emerald's incompetence, `The summoner is about to be healed! Why did you not finish her when you had the chance?!'
`The angel got in the way!' he snapped back with equal intensity, `Lord Yggrasill specifically told us spare her; no harm must come to Martel's vessel!'
`Enough of these foolish games,' came the roar of the red male, `It is time we finished this!'
Raging flames leapt from the dragon's jaws, spreading rapidly across the richly vegetated earth until they wreathed every member of the Chosen's party, severing them from outside aid. The mage and the archer barely had time to jump apart before a jet of fire scorched the ground between them.
“Tai!” Genis cried, snatching back the hand he'd impulsively reached out as he was encircled.
Taimat could only cough as thick smoke choked her lungs. She tried desperately to call out for Genis, to ensure his safety, but the swirling embers overpowered her. She had been cut off from everyone else, just like the dragons intended.
A high-pitched scream sounded from amidst the chaos, alerting them that a team member had fallen. Through the smog, Tai saw the young sorcerer falter. There was only one female member who was young enough to scream like that.
Genis up-righted himself weakly; his smoke polluted senses causing him to sway as he continued to stare wide-eyed through the flames. Though he could see nothing, Tai managed to make out a small form lying motionless on the distant ground, and her expression told him all he needed. Gritting his teeth to fight back tears, he thrust forward the hand gripping his kendama as a brilliant blue magic circle flared at his feet, his small face twisted with fury.
"Form a torrential vortex and engulf the evil spirits!” he yelled, forcing all the contempt and spite he could muster into his words. “TIDAL WAVE!!"
Tai watched in awe as the world around her was enveloped by raging waters which crashed into the dragons with full force, instantly dousing the flames that imprisoned them. Weakened, they hissed in frustration once they saw that their prey was free to move again, through they were too sturdy for the attack to best them.
The warlock boy's breath came short and sharp as his spell dispersed, indicating that too much mana had been used when he lost control. In a heartbeat the green was above them, his allies hissing close behind. In repetition of what happened to Sheena, Genis was flung aside as his meagre Force Field spell caved under the pressure of high winds.
But Tai's scream was lost. Genis seemed to fly, his body limp and broken. Time appeared to have slowed. Elsewhere more screams echoed, deathly and defeated, as one by one the fire and lightning dragons eradicated what little resistance remained in her friends from the battlefield. Part of her wanted to turn, to see, to stop them; but her eyes would not leave the white-haired boy.
`This is… my fault.'
Another cry: this time male. In her mind she glimpsed Lloyd's body being thrust to the ground, his twin swords scattered far from reach, as her spirit had seen it.
`I…I've caused this…'
Finally Genis fell. Tears slid from her eyes as she heard the thud of his body hitting the scorched earth, hot blood trickling from her clenched fists. The dragons united and advanced, their final opponent having fallen.
Foolish dragon-child! You honestly thought that your weakling comrades could protect you?
They watched in amusement as the girl dropped to her knees beside the half-elven boy, continuing to shake violently and making no attempts to wipe away the moisture flowing freely down her face. Yet she did not cower before them as she had done before. Certainly, her eyes were tightly shut and her head tilted earthward… Yes, she was trembling just like last time; there was no doubt about that. So why couldn't they taste her fear? Perhaps it was the dissatisfaction caused by this that prevented the dragons from finishing her where she knelt. Their greed was too great. They wanted her to suffer more.
“Why?” Taimat muttered to herself, over and over again, “Why… why does this always have to happen?” Her crystal flashed in growing agitation as its light intensified with each passing moment, the spirit incapable of restraining her rampart emotions, yet at the same time having no desire to. Through their bond it shared her madness, and could do nothing but observe while the years of pain and anguish gathered in Tai's mind, sending her thoughts reeling with loathing. She stood shakily, whirling round to face the dragons' penetrating stares and then met theirs with her own.
`WHY??!!' she screamed mentally, not caring that there was no possible answer that could satisfy her.
Tai almost drowned in the waves of fiendish amusement that replied. It is your own incompetence that condemns you, little girl. You couldn't save your friends today any more than you could save your mother five years hence!
White hot tendrils burst through the flimsy mind barrier that usually separated her spirit's conscience from her own. Tai could feel pure hatred resonating through every heartbeat as they stretched and condensed to form threads of pure power. Even in her mind's maddened state she could see them clearly, they seemed so tangible… She almost wanted to touch them. But the pressure in her temples was too much; paralyzing her thoughts as it reached its burning climax.
Basking in their eminent victory, in the shocks of mental torture that pulsed from the human girl, the male leader bent his head down to Tai's level, so close that his rank breath blew back the tangled hairs that blood and sweat had plastered to her face. If dragons could smile, his would be one of pure evil as his final, poison drenched words seeped through.
Just like your little dragoness couldn't save her mother two thousand years ago…
A mind-wrenching shriek echoed through the wasteland as the girl threw her head back, lines of fiery white light zigzagging from the glow beneath her feet, etching a dazzling magic circle in the bare rock. The dragons hissed in shock and confusion as waves of sweltering energy knocked them away from their target, forcing them to watch helplessly as the circle, unlike any magic circle they had ever come across, came alive with white fire, the slivery flames twisting up the girl's legs and torso until her entire body was engulfed. But she did not burn.
The dragons screeched in furious disbelief as they witnessed what could not be. Holy Fire?!
She reached behind her and held up her bow, her stance now straight and tall; even her long hair had become tendrils of pure flame fluctuating wildly, having now completely escaped its plait. She drew no arrow, instead waiting as the flames that licked her fingertips moulded themselves into a burning projectile of their own, fitting perfectly into the bowstring without charring wood or twine. With seemingly little effort, she pulled the string taught and took aim at the heavens.
NO!! Breaking free, the beasts spiralled into the air, combining their forces in a desperate attempt to eliminate her, to preserve themselves, anything. One by one fierce blasts of lightning, fire, and wind bombarded the new threat, only to be tossed aside by an invisible shield, almost as though huge wings had enclosed the girl in a protective cocoon. Lifting her head slowly, she regarded them for a moment through half lidded eyes, then her lips began to move in a manner they were unaccustomed to; the sounds escaping them incomprehensible to both human and elf. The dragons understood though.
“Traitorous creatures who betrayed your own kind…” Her dragon language resonated with control over the raw power that rippled through her being, sending the monsters into frenzied panic as she held them with her merciless tone. Opening her eyes fully, her pupils contacted into slits framed by glowing irises of no discernable colour, as every shade of red melded with burning white. “You will pay for what you did to us!!”
The bowstring ripped from her fingers as she released, sending the shining arrow shooting upwards like a star. Flying high above the three traitors, it exploded into thousands of fiery needles which then plummeted in great sheets, penetrating every futile defence and piercing every inch of the dragons' usually impenetrable hide. The mortal screeches which ensued should have been enough to rouse the dead. Burying deep into flesh, the sliver flames spread like parasites, eating away from both outside and in as the enormous reptiles writhed in agony, their terror filled screams gradually turning to wails as they weakened. Finally only ash remained.
Sensing the battle was over, the light died at her feet and the arena was immediately smothered by darkness. Taimat blinked several times as though coming out of a deep trance, her head dizzy with sudden fatigue and her body feeling like it had just been caught in an avalanche. Heavy limbs abruptly decided to give way and she caught herself just in time, forcing her wobbly knees to hold her upright with what little will power she still possessed. She couldn't see a thing; neon lights danced distractingly before her eyes disturbing her normally keen vision, but even if this wasn't the case she felt that the deep night that had blanketed her wouldn't grant her anything to see. It mattered little, she still had her other senses. She could still hear and smell…Oh the smell! Tai convulsed as her nose finally registered the disgusting stench of incinerated flesh and bone and the full realisation of what she had done fully hit her. Cradling her aching head in her hands, she fought the urge to be sick as the gently falling ash tickled her bare skin. What on earth had happened?! Her mind was spinning… but it was her mind, that much she was sure of. But before when she battled, that wasn't her. Or it was, but she wasn't alone. When she spoke, those weren't her words or her language. When she drew back her bow, it wasn't just her in control. Still unable to take it all in, she glimpsed her crystal which was still gleaming faintly, yet she could take no comfort from its light.
`It was… both of us?' she asked despite already knowing the answer, as though hoping for some sort of reassurance or explanation. Her spiritual companion answered immediately, but offered little of either.
We have grown stronger…
It was all too much. Shoulders sagging, Tai remained conscious just long enough to make out the distant glow of Raine's resurrection spell before succumbing to the dark.
There you go! Sheelos-ness, as promised. :D And just so you know, I've not just given Tai an amazing power to maker her cooler and stronger than everyone else. It is actually necessary for her to put on such a display for the plot to continue. Anyway I hope you liked it, please review for me again and tell me what you think!
Till next time,