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Intertwined Destinies

Author: Bird
Rating: Moderate
Status: Complete
Series: Wolf Heart
Preceding: None
Succeeding: None

Some say that fate is a funny thing

But it's a part of us, woven like a cloth

So our destinies interlace with many others

But me? Well, you wouldn't believe me if I told you.

But you'll learn.

Some of us aren't just a part of fate.

Prologue

Sometimes we feel trapped.

That we are being led by hand.

Forced to our destinies.

My name is Anima, you may know me, I'm quite well known. If you don't, well funnily enough, you're about to know a lot more then the average mortal, which is very little.

I didn't used to be a Fate, but of course, mortals don't know that, we usually... Encourage their ways of telling history. As much as it is void of any real fact, and as much as it annoys us, it just gives them that sense of security.

The truth is, I was just like you. A mortal, trying to find her path in an open world that was ruled by old gods, in my time, balance was just starting to crumble, even it didn't appear to seem so, but you could feel it in the wind, just the change of the weather showed there was a great change coming.

But did I know that change had anything to do with me?

Well... No, I don't think any of us did, we were just mortals. Of course, I was a bit older, and my other siblings weren't even born when my own destiny started taking shape.

You see, fate doesn't happen over night, it takes years for anything to happen.

I'm not saying my life was boring, it was anything other then boring, I was a hunter, I knew the ways of life and the wild well... Maybe that's why Garaos took a keen interest in me.

Of course, maybe you don't know who Garaos is. He is the old god of earth and balance, but he was starting to fall, lose his sense of power, and you could say not only did he need one to take the torch of balance, he needed four of us.

Why did he pick us out of lots more? Because we had certain qualities that no one else had, because he sure didn't feel sorry for us. For example, maybe he picked me because I was a hunter, and knew life in all it's harsh and sometimes fluffy ways.

Funny though, did I know my life was going to turn this way?

Well, no, you see, sometimes there are days where anything could happen, the limitless possibilities were almost amazing.

It gave me a head-ache, if I'm honest, I wasn't an avid believer of fairy tales and magic.

Well, that was about to change, rather quickly, and way out of my comfort zone.

But you know, sometimes you just can't stop fate.

Sorry, I'm being ironic again, well, I'm going to tell you my story first, since I was, and am, the first Fate. 

The Fate of Life.

Chapter 1

Sometimes though.

People will fight to change their fate.

The young girl sat in a tree, leaning against it's prickly bark, she was carving on a bow, she narrowed her eyes as she tried to carve a bird, which was perched across from her, staring at her curiously. She was a better artist then most, and managed to get some of the details right. Her bow itself looked like a bird, with the wings of the bow cut and curved in a way that they looked like feathers.

She brushed off the wood shavings, and stared up at the sky, the sun was partially hidden by fluffy gray clouds, it gave a promise of nice weather. The girl sighed, and heard her name called from down below, "Anima! What are you doing way up in that tree, are you hoping to catch some cloud fluff?"

Anima looked down, and she asked playfully, "Why are you down on that boring ground then?"

The red-haired boy laughed, and said in a matter of factly tone, "You're the leader of this hunting party, or did you forget already?" He laughed some more, green eyes flashing.

Anima rolled her eyes, nimbly jumping from the tree to the ground, and she asked curiously, "Did you catch anything, Cole?"

He grimaced, and said scornfully, "I came close to catching a hare, so close, I bet it's sniffing it's wound right now." He toyed with his back pack in a frustrated way.

Anima pushed him, and said in a playful voice, "Work on your aim, remember what happened last time you got distracted?" She scolded.

He laughed, "I almost planted one in Aarons' shoulder, and he still isn't letting that go." He looked down thoughtfully.

Anima scowled playfully, and muttered in a matter-of-factly tone, "I don't blame him, I don't think it's nice to have a piece of wood stuck in your arm, infection is possible when it comes down to it."

Cole rolled his eyes, "Yeah, whatever, what about you? Any luck hunting?" He asked curiously, looking around for what Anima might have caught.

Anima shrugged, and said dismissivly, "Eh, something has been on my mind, not sure what though."

Cole laughed, "Oh no, the magical fairies are taking over your mind." He said in a mocking tone.

Anima rolled her eyes, she never was an avid believer of magic, she thought it was something to keep the kids from being too naughty, and she had to admit, it worked well, one thing she heard was that if kids weren't good, the old gods would mess with their minds.

Yeah, right. Anima thought with a laugh, her believe extended only to the old gods, and no furthur, everyone knew the old gods were real, they roamed the land sometimes.

Why? Maybe to eat little kids. Anima laughed at the thought, old gods were tricksters, but they probably didn't have a literal taste for mortals.

"Hello, earth to Anima." Cole waved his hand in front of her face.

Anima smacked his hand away, and grunted flatly, "Right, fairies, no, I think it's just a time for thinking, not hunting."

Cole laughed, and said jokingly, "Right, so you're saying you didn't have much luck, maybe Aaron did, maybe he was lucky enough to get a mouse."

"You underestimate him too much." Anima teased.

Cole rolled his eyes, and looked up at the sky, and said quietly, "You're always feeling changes in the wind, it's slightly unnerving."

"And you over-complicate things." Anima muttered.

Cole laughed, and tipped his head, "Come on, we better return to base camp before Aaron gets antsy and asks where we've been." He said cheerfully.

"Yeah, he's the one that believes in magic, avidly, he gets antsy when it gets dark." Anima said with a laugh, and rolled her eyes.

Cole led the way, but Anima stopped when she felt a sudden chill run down her spine, she looked around, and Cole asked cautiously, "What is it?"

Anima tipped her head, "Eh, it's nothing, let's go." She said quickly, she took the lead.

They finally reached base camp, where the hunters of her town usually set up their main trading, that's how they make money for the town, Gray Lock was known for their plentiful hunting grounds, seeing as their forests were home to many creatures of many shapes and sizes.

She saw Aaron, he was a bit older then her, he had brown hair and nervous brown eyes, but he was talking avidly with a tall man, who's even browner hair was tinged with gray, and his eyes were a deep moss green, and it reminded Anima of the earth.

He turned, and saw Anima, he said in a deep and powerful voice, "So this is Anima, the leader of this talented bunch of hunters."

He held out his hand in greeting, and Anima took it curiously, and he said cheerfully, "Just needed to do business before I make the trek back home."

"You live far away?" Anima inquired.

He nodded, "You could say that." He said with a smile.

Anima didn't pry, people came from all over to trade with them, and he said quickly, "Well, I must be off, I'll see you, Anima."

Anima wasn't sure what he meant by that, but thought nothing of it as he said his good-byes and followed the path deeper into the forests, towards the large mountain at the centre of the land.

Aaron was looking at what the man traded curiously, and muttered curiously, "Have you seen anything like it, Anima?"

He passed it to her, it was a golden coin, it had the sun on one side, and the moon on the other, and she muttered, "No... I have never seen a coin like this before."

The coin sent a shiver down her spine, she could see her reflection clearly in the moons' surface, but the sun seemed to dim her reflection, and it gave her an odd feeling.

Aaron asked curiously, "What do you think it is?"

Anima hesitated, and said flatly, "A gold coin, nothing unusual."

"You know you're wrong." Aaron murmured, and walked back into the tent.

Anima stood there silently, staring down at the coin. It's gleaming surface giving her shivers, but she still refused to believe in anything magical, that man may have seemed to have some sort of power emitting from him, but powerful people always do have that aura around them.

Some people even commented that Anima has that type of air, of great power. A natural leader, but she knew Aaron was right, this power was different, it was unnatural.

But that didn't make magic even more believable. Some things just had that air of weirdness. Sometimes Cole got it when he was angry, but Anima deducted that Cole was always weird.

She decided to retire to her tent, she sat in silence by her little fire, she poked it, thinking deeply about the man she saw.

Anima jumped where there was a crack outside her tent, she jumped up, grabbing her bow, and walking outside. Time had passed, it was now nightfall, bright stars sprinkled the night sky, while the crescent moon lit the darkness.

The main fire died out, she could hear the stifled snores of her hunters, and she crept into the bush, bow at the ready.

She travelled a bit deeper, and farther away from the camp, she jumped when there was a crack of a twig beside her, she drew her bow, and pointed at the bush.

"Relax, young one." A deep voice said calmly.

The man stepped out, but he looked different this time, his eyes were a sharper green, and his hair was a brownish black, Anima snapped, "Who are you?"

"It's also known you don't believe in magic," he said, not answering her question, and he asked carefully, "But is that true, Anima?"

She kept her bow drawn, and she growled, "Magic and fairytales are for children."

He laughed, "What would you say if I knew you are going to be someday a true fairy-tale?"

"I'd call you crazy. Only the old gods are true fairy-tales, the only piece of magic I actually believe in." Anima hissed.

He smiled, "That is good, for you know, I'm well aquainted with the old gods." He said calmly.

Anima relaxed a little bit, and growled, "How?"

"Heh, you see, my dear, the guiding light of life. I am Garaos, the old god of balance, of the earth." He said flatly.

The power seemed stronger, as if trying to prove his point. Anima tipped her head, and said, "Garaos? I was expecting something... Bigger and more... Different."

Garaos laughed, "Don't be so naive," he hesitated, then said, "I can change my appearence at will, I can even be the thing you fear most, it's all part of the mind though, because say you were afraid of swords, I couldn't change into a sword, but I can mess with your dreams." He smiled in an almost eerie way.

Anima muttered, "That's comforting, so what do you want?" She asked sharply.

Garaos examined a golden coin, much like the one Anima was given by Aaron, who had gotten it from Garaos himself.

"Just a small favour, until we meet again." Garaos said cooly, twisting the coin in his hand.

Anima fully relaxed, and asked cautiously, "What is it?"

Garaos looked up at her, and smiled coldly, "That golden coin you have, throw it into the sparkling pond, and the question you've been dying to have answered will be answered," he clutched the coin he was holding, and he growled warningly, "But at a price."

"What is that price?" Anima asked.

"You will lose a lot more then you realise, and you won't be the only one to lose something, be warned, Anima, the question you want answered..." He faltered, then continued, "Will have dire consequences in your present, and in your future, time was never one to be merciful."

He waved his hand, and said in an unnaturally perky voice, "Until we meet again, Anima."

He disappeared in a breath of wind, but the forest started to shimmer and darken.

Am I dreaming? I must be. Anima thought as the dream fully blackened, and she awoke to a faint ringing in her ears.

She blinked open her eyes, morning light was shimmering through the small crack in the entrance, she sat up, and peeked out of the tent.

Cole was by the fire, eating in silence, she went back in her tent, and closed the tent flap securely.

She changed into her leader clothes, they were a white and sky blue, with feathers around the cuff and hood, her sheathe for her bow had two eagle feathers, signaling her authority. Cole, who was the second in command, had one eagle feather.

Anima grabbed her bow sheathe and her bow, and walked out.

"Is Aaron awake yet?" Anima asked Cole, who looked at her.

Cole shook his head, "No, but he will be," he hesitated and asked curiously, "Are you all right? You look like you had a rough sleep."

"A bad dream, that's all, nothing more." Anima said cooly.

Cole didn't pry, he wasn't one to ask a whole lot of questions, Anima guessed that could be a good thing. The dream seemed too weird to share anyways.

Cole sighed, and said, "I better go wake the sleeper up then." He walked towards Aaron's tent.

Anima sat by the fire, waiting. But she jumped when she heard a large noise, and stood up to see Cole and Aaron flying toward her, Aaron angry, Cole amused.

She had to pull them apart forcefully, and she growled, "Hey!"

Aaron snapped, "He poured cold water on my face!"

"How else was I going to wake you up?" Cole laughed, entertained.

Aaron looked like he was about to have another go at Cole, but Anima stopped him, grabbing them into a headlock, even though both Aaron and Cole were an inch taller than her, and smashed their heads together, they both exclaimed at the same time, "Ow!"

"Enough, you're acting like children, now go pack up." She snapped, and pushed them away from each-other harshly.

They both nodded, and retreated, Anima rolled her eyes, sitting down again, and ate. She stood up after she was finished, and packed up her tent.

She heard her voice said nervously behind her, "Anima?"

She looked behind her, and asked, "Yes?"

"There's something you got to see." Her hunter muttered quietly. She nodded, and followed him.

They stopped by a river, but it wasn't blue, it was a clear kind of white, and he muttered curiously, "What do you think it is?"

Anima crouched, and made a face, and asked jokingly, "Maybe a cow fell in?" 

But he frowned, and said quietly, "There's too many weird things going around, I don't like it."

Anima stood up, and said, "You know I don't believe in magic." She walked away from the milky white river. The hunter followed her quietly.

The camp was soon packed up, but she couldn't help but feel as if something was wrong, she took out the golden coin, it was as golden and shimmery as ever, and it still gave her shivers.

What did Garaos truly mean that there would be a price to pay if I want my question answered? It all seems very silly to me. Anima thought grimly.

But the golden coin meant more then some small magic.

~*~*~*~

When it was time to go, she led them to the river, it was back to a clear blue, to match the sky, and they followed it.

Cole was walking beside her, and he asked curiously, "You know where you're going?"

Anima looked at the coin discreetly, and said quietly, "Maybe."

Cole didn't ask anything else, but they stopped to take a break by the rivers edge, Anima watched as the others talked about things.

Anima sat alone, examining the golden coin, until she heard Aaron say darkly, "I'm still confused on what that coin is."

"Who knows, it's a coin, simply put, but being you, you're thinking of what else it could be, a key, for example, to a secret memory and question." She said flatly.

Aaron went silent, and said jokingly, "You were never one for magic and tales of the unknown and fantasy, Anima."

Anima stood up and said flatly, "No," she turned to look at Aaron, and said quickly, "But I've seen enough to respect those stories, even if they're a bit like children stories."

"Maybe we are children to others older than us." Aaron said quietly, and walked away.

Anima was left alone, and she sighed, taking a walk. She kept the golden coin close to her, and stopped at a pond, she sat down, and listened to the noise of the forest.

Birds chirped in the trees, while hares sniffed about in the bushes, trying to find something to eat. But she didn't feel like hunting.

She skipped rocks in silence, causing the water to lap at it's bank. She jumped when there was a sharp crack, and saw a huge brown wolf, who's eyes were a dark looking green.

What are you doing here, Anima? The wolf asked her, in her mind, it was Garaos' voice.

Anima readied her bow, and growled cautiously, "What do you want?!"

Nothing, young one, I'm here to give you a warning. He thought calmly.

Anima didn't relax, and he continued, I'm afraid the longer you dwindle on the edge of dreaming and reality, the more danger you put your friends. Even now, the danger is close, you're going to lose the ones you care about. He flicked his tail, and disappeared.

Anima raised an eye-brow, and sat back down, thinking coldly, I don't dwindle on the edges of silly day-dreaming and true reality.

She continued to skip rocks, thinking deeply about where they should go next, but a even louder noise snapped her out of her thought.

She stood up, and murmured, "Was that...?"

Anima smelled smoke, and she growled, "I swear, if either Aaron and Cole couldn't control the camp fire..." She walked back towards her camp.

But she was confused when the smoke got stronger, she rolled her eyes, and muttered quietly, "They do not know how to control a camp-fire."

But that wishful thinking was quickly cut, when the whole camp was on fire, and it didn't originate from some small camp-fire that got out of control.

~*~*~*~

She leaped into the clearing, bow at the ready, she couldn't see anyone, but everything seemed to be burning, the trees were already scorched, and threatening to fall.

"What in the name of..." Anima murmured, relaxing, but was still tense, having to dodge some of the flames, and called loudly, "Cole, Aaron, are you there!?"

They didn't answer, and she thought worriedly, Don't be dead... Please... Please don't be dead.

She looked around the burning clearing, and had to dodge a falling branch, and she asked, "What happened here..."

"I have no idea..." A familiar voice murmured weakly.

She whipped around to face Cole, he looked injured and woozy, and she walked up to him and hugged him, and she asked, "What happened?" As she hugged him tightly.

Cole hesitated, and said, "I don't know... I mean, it all seemed normal... Oh jeez... Everyone is..." He shook out of sickness and fear, and continued, "They either ran off or..."

He obviously couldn't bring himself to say the word, so Anima murmured, "It's all right, we have to get you out of here, and I'll continue searching around here for everyone."

Cole nodded, not in any shape to argue or think of something else. Anima led him away from the carnage of the ongoing fire, and toward the pond.

It all seemed peaceful here, the fire had not reached the pond yet, Anima doubted that it would ever reach the peaceful pond.

Anima said flatly, "Sit," indicating near the pond, Cole obeyed and she paced, and asked cautiously, "How did this fire happen?"

Cole seemed to be in deep thought, and asked curiously, "Didn't you hear it?" He looked up at the sky with flat green eyes.

Anima looked at him, and he continued darkly, "I'm not sure what it was, it wasn't a cannon shot, only deep in the lands do they have those, and they rarely use them, but it sure sounded like one." He sighed, looking at the waters surface.

Anima sat down beside him, and asked gently, "Are you feeling all right?"

"Eh, a little bit woozy." He murmured, looking at her, and he shook his head.

Anima frowned, and asked carefully, "Do you think you can make the journey back home?"

Cole seemed to think about it, "Yes." He murmured.

"Alone?" Anima asked cautiously.

Cole looked up at her, and asked, confused, "Alone? Are you not coming with me then?" He tipped his head curiously.

Anima shook her head, and said darkly, "There's something I got to do first."

Cole nodded, "Yes, I probably can." He said with no objections.

Even in this state, he doesn't pry or ask too many questions. Anima thought, even though she wished he would at least ask a question that she could easily answer.

Anima stood up, and so did he, and he asked in a tired tone, "Be careful, will you?"

Anima looked at him, and nodded slowly, and hugged him, and murmured, "Of course I will be, you be careful too, Cole."

They stepped back from each-other, Cole waved as he walked away from her, but he was frowning, and soon he walked away from the fire behind them.

The fire that ruined everything, everything that Anima stood for.

Anima growled, and turned towards the fire, and walked towards it, determined to find out why this happened.

It started to rain, as if trying to match Anima's mood, Anima grumbled something as she returned to the ashen clearing, she wasn't trying to find anybody. She doubted if she wanted to find anybody after what happened, like Cole, she couldn't bring herself to admit what might have happened to her friends and family.

But if there was one person she was trying to find, and who she suspected to be responsible, was the old god.

Garaos.

The second thing she was hoping to find was that shimmering pond that Garaos talked about, and hopefully if she threw the coin in it, she could return home to take care of Cole.

But something deep within her said that wasn't going to be possible, and Cole would be fine, but would she?

That was a question needing to be answered.

But as she conclusivly came up with questions, her believe in magic and unknown started to slowly rise within her. The golden coin seemed to radiate power from her pocket.

But Animas' biggest question was, Why me?

Chapter 2

Is there no way out

Of this eternal mess?

Anima walked through the silent forest, no birds chirped, no hares scruffled through the under-growth, it was quite fore-boding to hear nothing of the forest.

She frowned, sitting down near a tree, I need some time to think... She thought darkly, and looked up at the sky. There was dark gray storm-clouds blocking the blue sky and the bright sun.

Anima took out her gold coin, and felt a surge of anger within her, she was tempted to throw the coin away, but something kept her from it. She would throw it soon enough, into a pond where it would stay for a long time, never to bother anyone.

She sighed, and sat under the shade of the tree while it rained. She scoffed, the golden coin wasn't so golden, it seemed to be a darkened yellow under the darkness of the clouds above.

Anima watched as the rain fell, Garaos did warn her about the impending danger, I'm starting to doubt if it had something to do with him, she thought, almost disappointed, she sighed, Maybe he's right, maybe I should not dwindled on the edge of day-dreaming and reality.

She stood up, and decided to follow the river again, rivers always tended to lead to a pond or a lake. If she was lucky, it would lead her to the pond Garaos wanted her to go too.

I can't believe I'm doing what an old god is telling me to do, after what happened. Anima thought, and rolled her eyes, putting her hood up to guard from the rain.

The river she was following seemed unaturally shiny and shimmery, when there was no sun to skewer it's clear surface.

She frowned, and continued to follow it, the rain stopped, but the storm clouds did not move away from the sun. She took out the coin again, looking down on it's flawless surface, and she sighed, continuing to walk.

She looked up at the sky. A lone eagle was flying across the empty and void sky, but the eagle was a sign of power and independence, and it gave Anima new strength.

Anima continued to walk, and finally stopped at where the river fell into, a small lake pond, and it was shimmering, even in the darkness of the storm.

She looked at the coin, and clutched it, she felt the anger rise within her again, and she thought sadly and angered, Why...? I lost people I cared for, and nearly lost Cole, why are you doing this? What do you want, Garaos?

She threw the coin as far as she could throw, and it splashed into the pond, creating small waves in the shimmering and starry surface.

When nothing happened, she growled, "I should have known... Garaos tricked me." She stomped her foot in frustration, and was about to turn back, before she heard another noise.

"I'm surprised you came, I thought you didn't believe in magic," she turned around, and saw Garaos, and he asked quietly, "Or were you willing to believe a shred of it for Cole's well-being?"

Anima growled, "Give me one reason not to stick an arrow in your face!" She readied her bow.

Garaos didn't seem too fazed, and he said faltly, "Calm down, I was not the true cause of that fire."

Anima slightly relaxed, and said coldly, "So, you told me to throw the coin into the pond, I'm waiting for my question to be answered."

Garaos smiled, "Ah yes, the biggest question in your mind is why you? Well, you're about to learn that many others are going to be asking that question soon enough." He said calmly.

When Anima didn't say anything, he continued, "You see, I took a particular interest in you because of your insight on life," he hesitated and continued, "You're firm but caring, just like a mother is to her children, or a sibling is to a younger one."

Anima said coldly, "That still doesn't really answer my question."

Garaos smiled, "I'm afraid your question will take years to answer, and you'll only get it once balance is restored." He said cooly.

"But you're the god of balance, are you saying the land isn't balanced?" Anima asked coldly.

Garaos nodded, "I am one of the oldest of the old gods, and my power is waning, the balance is starting to fall. I can not always hold up the scales." He muttered darkly.

Anima asked carefully, "And what does this have to do with me?"

Garaos said, "At the moment? Nothing, I'm afraid. You will have to wait until you're 24th birthday for anything true to happen, and a couple more after that, until you are ready for the last favour I have to ask of you." He murmured calmly.

"Well, I'm 17 right now, are you saying it's going to take 7 years, and maybe more, that you'll actually tell me something?" Anima hissed, "That's illogical."

"But it's the way magic works, I'm afraid the 7 years are going to go fast, and the next years, even faster. You will know when it's time." Garaos growled.

Anima growled, "What are you saying?"

Garaos started to disappear, "You will learn, Life. But for now, return to your town, you are the bearer of the bad news, not Cole." He said calmly, and soon, he fully disappeared.

Anima stood there for a couple minutes, she then huffed, throwing a rock into the pond, it created a large splash, she groaned in frustration, and huffed away.

As she found the path that leads to the nearest towns and villages, she followed it huffingly, sometimes passing horse carriages.

Some people stared at her clothing, noticing her as a hunter for her town. Children seemed to steer away from her, and she thought menacingly, What? Think I'm going to hunt you? She glared down at the children.

They squeaked and ran to catch up with their mothers. She rolled her eyes, when she wasn't camping with her hunters, she lived alone, in a small town called Jyris.

She followed the signs to her town, and was glad when she reached the familiar dirt path to her home. The streets weren't as busy as they usually were, but people seemed shut out, she felt alone once again, shut out from the world she never truly understood.

Anima jumped when someone called her, she looked up, and sighed when it was just Cole, but he seemed nervous, and he looked around hurriedly.

"Nice to know you're feeling bett-" but before she could say more, she was dragged inside the house, whom she recognized was her friend's Youra, and she asked, "What?"

Cole said quietly, "You might want to see this, Anima."

He led her to Youra's back room, where she was sitting in a chair, shaking, her eyes wide in fear and sadness, Anima looked at Cole, and asked, "What's going on?!"

He shrugged, obviously confused, and Anima walked up to Youra, and asked quickly, "Can you hear me, Youra?"

"Anima... I saw... The most horrible thing... I can't..." She stammered in fear and sadness.

Anima growled, "What did you see, Youra!?"

Youra stammered, "Deaths... Four... Too young... It wasn't fair!" She yelled out the last.

Cole seemed terrified, but Anima continued to pry, "Who's deaths, what did you see Youra?!"

Youra looked at her with her shining hazel eyes, they were unaturally pale though, Youra was cursed with the gift of sight. It was called a cursed because well, it was a piece of magic that no one could understand, and especially dangerous.

"Yours!" She cried, "Not just yours! But others as well, deaths caused by the great one! Deaths that were never supposed to happen!" Her eyes were full of tears from the grief, as if she was really there in the vision, but there was also a tinge of anger in her voice.

Anima finally backed away, "Death?" She murmured, being reminded of what Garaos said about the price of having the question answered.

No... She thought, horrified. Once again she felt tricked, had she caused the death of three others, besides herself? All because she threw the golden coin in that pond?

"Anima! Please... That golden coin... The great one is falling, that's why he wanted you!" Youra gasped, "He sees you as the key out of the mess!"

Anima asked, "But death? That was the price...?" 

Youra was still crying, and she looked at Cole, and Anima said quickly, "Get some water, Cole."

Cole nodded, looking glad to be out of there, he closed the door behind him. Anima looked back at Youra, and murmured, "Just take deep breaths, and tell me what you saw."

Youra cried, "I-I can't... But... The true key, is not you..." She murmured.

Anima growled, "Then what is it?"

Youra showed her a drawing she did while in the vision, if anyone was a better artist then Anima, it was Youra. The picture showed a necklace, it looked kind of like a sun, with waves entwining around it, and it's orb blackened by menacing fog.

"What in the name of..." Anima murmured.

Youra continued softly, "I don't know what it was, but I saw it in a cave, before the third death, it had such a powerful aura, that whoever it was that found it was curious on what it was."

"Do you know who?" Anima asked.

"It is long after your death, long after, I can't tell who, but they were younger then you." Youra murmured, calming down.

Anima wasn't worried about her death, it was going to happen eventually, so she wasn't bothered, but the way Youra was describing as young, it unnerved her, and Anima asked, almost afraid of the answer, "How young, Youra?"

Youra tipped her head, "Well, definately younger then 24, the second was 18, and the third was 16, but they are definately way younger then you, because this happened way after your death, I don't think they're even born yet." She said, and looked up.

Anima hated knowing she was old. But she shook her head, and said, "Maybe I can stop these deaths from happening."

"I'm afraid if you do that, it won't stop their deaths, but maybe you can ease it. I can sense the change if you do, it's a lot more nicer." Youra said quietly.

Anima just nodded, and asked, "All right, is that all, Youra?"

"No, one last thing, you were all connected after, that was when the vision ended, a great blast of white, it shattered the vision," Youra murmured, "A greater power greater than the great one..."

Anima heard Cole come back in, holding a cup of water, and he asked quickly, "Everything all right?"

Anima nodded, taking the water, and gave it to Youra, who drank it, and Anima said quickly, "Follow me, Cole."

They nodded their good-byes to Youra, and when they were out on the street, Cole asked curiously, "What was that about?"

"She had a vision, about not only my death, but the deaths of three others." Anima said thoughtfully.

"So I'm guessing after that incident, you're starting to believe in a shred of magic?" Cole asked.

Anima looked at him, and thought darkly, If only you knew, Cole...

Cole took her silence as a yes though, and he nodded, "Freaky stuff has been happening lately, first, the fire," he shivered, obviously still terrified by the thought of it. "And now Youra and her freaky vision powers." He murmured quietly.

Anima looked at him, and said, "I'm afraid there's a change in balance coming."

"A change in the wind?" Cole asked carefully.

Anima smiled, and said, "You could say that."

Cole nodded in silent agreement, Anima had the feeling he still didn't really believe in magic, but being faced with things you can't explain, you've got to turn to something, it's like trying to find someone to blame for your problems.

Anima had a feeling that was going to be ironic later, but she didn't dwell on it, and turned to Cole, and asked curiously, "So, what do you think?"

Cole smirked, as if he was thinking, and he asked mischeviously, "Some delicious food? Sound good?" He looked at her with wide eyes.

Anima rolled her eyes, and said, "All right, but just this once." She motioned with her finger, and laughed.

Cole smiled, happy with that answer, and he said, "Well, follow me, I know just the place to sit and chat." He shrugged, and walked away from her.

Anima followed, she was led to the lake by the town, where people usually fished, but there was no one there now. She didn't expect any people to be there.

Cole sat down, and motioned for Anima to sit beside him, as he rummaged around in his pack.

Anima watched the lakes blank surface, and Cole finally got out a rare delicacy.

Chocolate.

Anima took the piece he offered, and he said, "Funny, when you were gone, I was hanging around here, and I was visited by someone that looked about your age," he bit into his piece, hesitating, then continued, "Saying something about time, and he disappeared."

"That's strange." Anima muttered.

"He gave me this though, and knew your name, and said I should give it to you." Cole said, he took out a piece of paper.

Anima took it from him, and examined it, it was a picture, the same picture Youra drew, but the drawing seemed different, as if someone else had drew it, with more detail; the waves were interlaced with blue and white foam, and the fog was a mysterious, clear white colour.

"Interesting." Anima muttered, and bit into her chocolate.

"I feel sorry for the guy, he seemed a bit rushed, and he looked sick, as if there was something more important, I hate being rushed, you feel as if time is against you." Cole muttered, looking down at the ground with a distant look.

Anima didn't answer, but continued eating her chocolate. Something about the image unnerved her, and she knew that whoever he was, she'd know him soon enough. Maybe she knew him already.

"You know what, thinking about time is strange, time is time, it continues ticking, without giving any considerance for people who are rushed," she hesitated, and asked, "Did he say anything about the old gods?"

Cole smiled, "Funnily enough, he seemed to know you were going to ask that, and said that to beware a hot tempered one, but the hot tempered one was no real danger," he said, and added, "He said it in a funny way too. The accent totally threw me off though."

"What did the accent sound like?" Anima asked.

"Oh, icy and sharp, somewhat musical tone, but in a nice way, he seemed friendly enough, but we didn't get to names." Cole laughed, amused.

Anima asked, "What did he look like?"

"I don't know, didn't get a good look, that, or he did something with my mind, it does get fuzzy around him, and I could never get a clear look." Cole murmured.

Anima looked on thoughtfully, was this a smaller god trying to help her and guide her, like those spirit guides in the old stories, or was it one of the tricky old gods?

She had a feeling it was neither, but she didn't dwell on that feeling either. She just said to Cole, "Maybe you didn't see clearly because you got a dizzy spell?"

"Maybe," Cole said, taking another bite of chocolate, "He did seem concerned about my well-being, but I told him I was fine," Cole hesitated, then added, "I asked him if he was all right, and he said, in that icy, sharp accent 'That's not important right now' or something like that."

"And he disappeared after he gave you the paper and mumbling about time?" Anima asked.

Cole nodded, Anima was intrigued, old gods did take interest in humans, but not that much interest. But the person Cole was talking about didn't seem human either.

Almost like a totally different entity to the old gods.

Cole said, "Well, it doesn't matter now, I gave you the piece of paper, question is, what is it?"

"A necklace, the same necklace Youra drew." Anima murmured in shock.

"More freaky magic?" Cole asked, in mock exasperation.

Anima nodded, and murmured, "More magic."

She looked up when there was a sharp noise, Cole looked up too, but more relaxed.

"Probably some animal." Cole muttered.

Anima agreed, but none of the less, she stood up, finishing her chocolate. Cole finished his chocolate too, and stood up, and asked, "Well, what do we do now?"

Anima looked at him, and said flatly, "I don't know about you, but I am waiting."

"For what?" Cole asked in a sarcastic voice.

Anima looked at him, pondering how to answer, and finally found the perfect one, where Collin couldn't ask too many questions.

"A change in the wind." Anima muttered.

I'd like to add, at that time, I didn't know what 'change in the wind' I was looking for...

Maybe some type of sign in the sky, a comet, signalling where I had to go?

Or an animal, a spirit guide, just like in those old stories?

Sadly, it was none of those things, and Youra's vision, was about to take it's turn.

Change in the wind is right...

I wasn't expecting the type of change that took place after the 7 uneventful years, where I re-grouped the hunters, and life continued on as normal, with uneventful birthdays where all I had to endulge in was fruit, vegatables, meat and weird friends.

Of course, I never found out where Aaron disappeared too.

But if it was anyone's guidance I needed...

It was his, being all knowledgeable in the magical field in all, I'm surprised he didn't know any magic himself...

Or, maybe he did know, and I just... Never thought to ask.

That made me feel slighly dumb, I blame myself sometimes for my naive insight. At least some people still had some insight, Garaos would love to hear me admitting I was being naive.

He never did hear me admit it, Flynn did though, he never let me live it down. Teased me for months. He was smart, had that insight like other mortals, that's why I couldn't bring myself to retort anything back, how could I when I knew he was right?

Sadly, I wasn't one of those smart people, I chose to only believe in that sliver of magic, just like Cole, who's insight was better then mine, he was thoughtful, but never asked questions.

Which means I should have only believed in a sliver of myself.

I guess that makes me the biggest hypocrite ever, Flynn and Collin would love to hear me admit that too, but instead of months, they'd tease me for years.

But since you're here to listen to the story of why I became a Fate in the first place, I'll continue, by starting on the day...

Where absolutely everything went wrong, even my birthday.

The change in the wind had came, and it smacked me right in the face, just like Collin with his silly ironic ways of getting back at me.

So, I'll give you what I don't have, insight of what it's like to become immortal.

It hurts by the way, and in more ways than one

Chapter 3

Lux aeterna

The eternal light

Anima could only watch as everyone celebrated over her 24th birthday. It made her uncomfortable, 25 was usually the milestone, but being the oldest next to Cole, to them, she was the elder, and also the leader.

Cole was sitting beside her as everyone enjoyed themselves, and he said, "Come on, don't be so upset, at least we're not as old as... Let's say, the town elder, and he's what... 50?" He laughed.

Anima couldn't bring herself to tell him this day, or maybe the next day, was when Garaos would come and see her about a huge favour. When they left the village that morning, Youra only had given her a sad look, as if she wanted to say good-bye.

Anima murmured, "I can't help but feel as if something is wrong."

Cole frowned, and said quietly, "Maybe you should just enjoy your birthday, not everyday someone turns 24." He laughed, standing up.

Anima was left alone in thought, while eveyone had fun. She couldn't have fun, not with the darkness looming and following behind her from Garaos's talk. It worried her.

She finally stood up, grabbing her bow, Cole looked up from where he was, and he asked, "Where are you going?"

Anima looked back at him, and said flatly, "I just need some time alone."

Cole looked like he was about to ask why, which would have made Anima a bit more relaxed, but he didn't, and only nodded.

Anima frowned, and walked into the undergrowth carefully.

She jumped into a tree, and sat there, scanning the under-growth. She readied her bow when she saw a small hare sniffing about.

Anima narrowed her eyes, ready to let go, but a sharp noise startled Anima and the rabbit, but Anima let go, missing the rabbit, which ran into the under-growth.

She face-palmed, and leaped down from the tree, and went to retrieve her arrow. But stopped when she heard a noise.

"Who's there?" Anima asked quietly, tensing up.

She jumped when Garaos appeared, and he said with a cold laugh, "So you reached your 24th birthday, colour me impressed."

Anima said coldly, "So, you said you'd explain everything on my 24th birthday."

"And so I will, first though..." Garaos murmured, and waved his hand slowly. Anima felt like her spirit was trying to break out of her. But she also felt like she was being choked from the inside.

Her vision blackened, and soon she felt like she herself was floating, but that was impossible, she obviously fainted. But it felt different, instead of regaining conciousness, she stayed that way. The world stayed black and foreboding.

But then she saw a light, she walked towards it, but heard a voice, that growled, "Not that way."

Anima looked around, and asked dangerously, "What did you do to me?!"

Garaos growled, "I see you still remember, that will change."

She looked to face a strange pendent, it was quite incitricate, with vines wrapping around it's surface, and two leaves seemingly protecting the orb.

But some mysterious power shattered it. A white light came from the cracks, and when it broke, it felt like all of her life flashed in her eyes. The death of her parents, moving to Jyris, becoming one of the best hunters of the known land.

But soon, it dissolved, and her spirit was jumping, she felt like her head was about to explode, and once again, her vision blackened.

~*~*~*~

Anima didn't know how long she was out, but it felt like forever, she groaned, and opened her eyes. She was surprised to find herself in a normal looking house, but she could hear light rain-drops, and there was no fireplace, but there was warmth in the room she was currently in.

Anima sat up, and held her head, and she heard a voice, something awakened inside her, she knew that voice, "You are awake?"

"Garaos?" She asked, confused and groggy.

Garaos entered, and asked, "So you are awake, you had me worried for a second there, what were you thinking? Taking on that powerful old god alone?" But his voice didn't hold any worry, it was cold as snow.

Anima narrowed her eyes, trying to remember, but it was weird, all she could remember was blackness. Did I fight an old god? That's pretty stupid of me. She thought darkly.

"Well, at least you survived, I expected that, you are immortal after all." Garaos laughed.

Anima looked at Garaos, and he looked different, his hair was a pitch black, and his eyes were a sky blue, and she asked groggily, "Immortal?"

"Wow, you must have gotten knocked around quite a bit," he sighed, sitting on the chair across from her bed, "Immortal is when you can't die, your soul is unable to truly die."

"Oh." Anima said, narrowing her eyes, something seemed suspicious about the whole situation, but couldn't remember much, Maybe I was knocked around quite a bit... My head does hurt.

Garaos stood up, "When you're feeling better, see me at the top." He said curtly.

"Er... Top?" Anima asked

Garaos rolled his eyes, "Go outside and follow the stairs." He said in an annoyed voice.

Anima made a face, annoyed with Garaos already. But something struck her as odd, how did she come to know Garaos?

Anima shook her head, and sighed, but was shocked when she heard water drip faster. She looked up to see the decorative rocky waterfall, probably fed from the outside, since it was similiar to a fireplace, and distributed out. The water suddenly spurted out, and it sent up a light mist into the room.

She looked up at the ceiling, where vines intertwined with each-other, but they seemed to slowly grow across some more, and she could see buds blooming. She tipped her head, confused.

Wow, that magic- but a sudden image struck out her thought.

There was smoke and orange flames everywhere, she shook where she sat, horrified, she could barely see anything, and the smell threatened to choke her.

"C-C..." But for someone reason, she couldn't speak out the name, if it was if it was lost on her. But the scene reminded her of something, something that happened to her.

Anima finally stood up, the water stopped flowing, she ran outside of her room, and looked around, the house must have been huge, there were quite a few rooms. But she opened the door to step outside.

She realised she was on a mountain top, she looked at the steps to go down, they were a neatly carved white stone, but old enough to have vines protrude out of them.

Anima looked higher, and realised that there was still lots more to the mountain, she walked up the carved steppes. She saw Garaos by a cave, she looked inside as he waited expectently, and Anima asked, "Er, what is this place?"

Garaos looked too, and said, "Just a cave, it doesn't go that far, there's just a huge perfectly rounded and carved boulder in there, it's actually some sort of map."

Anima nodded, and asked, "Why did you call me up here?"

"A favour." He said, and smiled coldly.

Anima wondered why he looked as if this should mean something to her, and she asked coldly, "What type of favour?"

Garaos indicated Anima to follow him, Anima didn't hesitate, they walked deep into the cave, and she was amazed at what she saw.

The boulder was huge, it almost took up half the cave, but there was room to walk around, since the cave itself was huge, there was a hole at the top, and the moonlight cast a white light on the perfect boulder.

Garaos walked up to the boulder, putting his hand on it, and said quietly, "I can feel my power weakening... Everyday, it gets hard to perform the balance."

Anima asked, "But what does this have to boulder have to do with it?"

Garaos looked at her, then put both hands on the boulder, she gasped when the boulder started to slowly spin, like it was being held up and pushed around by some unexplainable force.

"This boulder has nothing to do with it. Like I said, it's just a map." Garaos murmured.

Anima asked, "What do you want me to do?"

"I'm afraid there's others like you, but they're still stuck as mortal souls, I no longer have that much power to save them from their unstoppable death, turning them immortal, that is a job you have to take up, since you're the Fate of Life, but even you don't have balance, not yet." Garaos said, "Life needs Death, just like Freedom needs Order, and vice versa. They balance, it is a cycle."

Anima asked, "So?"

Garaos frowned, and said carefully, "You are going to have to go to the forests of Hamark soon, a couple more years, maybe more, and you'll know them when you see them, for now, get familiar with Hamark."

Anima hesitated, but finally nodded, walking out of the cave, leaving Garaos staring up at the moon-lit boulder.

She sighed, sitting down by the edge, she looked around. She had a view of all the lands around the mountain. But which of these lands held Hamark?

Anima felt her attention drawn to the land in front of her, it also had a mountain, and it looked like there was a white city built on it's top, she looked down at the ground, the whole land was littered with pine and leafy trees. She looked back up, and she could sense a great power, the same power she felt around Garaos.

An old power.

She sighed, and stood up, staring straght ahead at the pine forests of Hamark. She looked at her hands, and thought deeply, So, let's see... Garaos told me nothing about this land... But even now, I feel a power greater than mine radiating from it.

Anima put her hands down, and felt the wind flow around her, as if calling her to the mysterious land.

She listened, getting an odd feeling. The wind whispered nothing, Anima expected that, she looked back at the mountain, feeling like her own power was being given to her from it.

Anima stepped back, and murmured in a language she didn't understand, even though it was kind of familiar, "Natura... Show me the Forests of Hamark, and guide me..." 

She took out her hand, and vine coloured lights wrapped around her hand, and soon, a glowing green orb appeared, with small leaves emitting from it.

She whispered to it softly, "Little leaf, show me the path to Hamark, the dark pine forest."

The green orb seemed to bounce from her hand, and got close to the edge, and soon shimmered, revealing on the other side, a dark pine forest.

She walked towards it, unsure of if it was an actual type of portal. But walked through it anyways, and soon found herself in a dark place.

Full of misery and hatred.

~*~*~*~

As soon as she stepped out of the gate, her heart dropped, the pines were shadowed, the clouds were an angry black, but no rain fell. The silence made the place seem dead in all life, it made something inside her sad.

The pines needles were turning into a dead, brown colour, as if something was draining away any life in this land.

She touched the bark of a near-by pine tree, and it seemed to perk up, but not enough, the needles didn't turn back to a green, but stayed brown. Anima frowned, What has happened here? Even the tree didn't react to my magic? Something's up...

She decided to walk around, she came across a little village, but was surprised at how the faces of the people were set in a frown, and they all seemed to be minding their own business, and avoided looking each-other in the eye. But some eyed each-other with great dislike.

Anima walked towards the town, trying to catch someone's attention, she would stand out, her outfit was a lot brighter then their outfits.

They did notice her, some glared, some cowered in fear, she walked up to a man, who made a face as she approached.

"Is something wrong, sir?" She asked carefully.

"Wrong? You must be an outsider, you sound like you're from Gray Lock, pfft, thinkin' they're all bett'r then us, with their nice clothes and good luck..." He ranted on, and Anima backed away, leaving him to voice his thoughts alone.

She grumbled, "What's Gray Lock?" As she rushed away.

She found a woman, who was edging away from other people, Anima stopped her, and asked, "What's going on?"

"Outsider..." She made a noise that sounded like she was displeased with the idea of an outsider, but said coldly, "Outsiders never listen to the wind, they think they're the only ones in the world, hmph, I'll tell you what's wrong. Guagamela has cut off contact with the villages it depends on."

"How is that bad?" Anima asked curiously.

She snarled, "Guagamela is like our spiritual and cultural centre, without it, we're nothing, we're just like a blank yellowing page." She snapped, and walked away.

Anima seemed taken-aback at the hostility, and asked a passing child, "Where is Guagamela?"

The child looked at her with flat blue eyes, and pointed at the mountain with the white city, and she said quietly, "You'd be lucky if you could get up there, they've been hostile lately."

Anima smiled, "Thank you." She said, but was shocked when the child seemed taken-aback by her politeness, and she rushed away.

Anima murmured, "All right..." She walked away, using the mountain as a land-mark.

She soon found herself in another darkened forest, almost as dead as the last, the needles of the pine scattered the ground, and the leaves of the other trees were barely hanging on.

Anima jumped when she heard a smooth, cold voice, "Now this is one thing I wasn't expecting..."

She felt as if something pulled her legs out from underneath her, and she sat up to face a man, who had icy white hair and sharp stormy grey eyes, with a sneer on his face.

"Garaos told me a lot about you, what's he trying to pull?" He growled menacingly, his eyes flashing, pointing a icy sword at her chest, "I'm not dumb, the old gods tend to avoid going to mortals for their problems, and for good reason too."

Anima backed up, "Who are you?!" She asked.

He took another step forward, his eyes flashing in interest, and he said cooly, "Well well, he wasn't kidding when he said he destroyed your memories, but seeing as I'm a keeper of memories, of a sort, I can still sense them around..."

"Memories? What are you talking about?" Anima snapped.

"Ah, I forgot, you remember nothing, you know as much as a child, ever thought of how you became to be what you are?" He asked in a dark growl.

Anima growled, "I don't even know what I am!"

He laughed coldly, "You're going to learn, my dear little fate holder, life does not bode well here, in this land of secrets, and you're going to be shocked on why Guagamela has cut off contact, dealing with a scourge themselves." He sneered.

He pointed his sword away from Anima's chest, and Anima stood up quickly, backing away.

"Oh, I wouldn't do that." He shook his head, smiling coldly.

Anima froze, and he stepped forward, "I'm quite curious, not only you don't know who you are, but you don't know what you are." He growled.

Anima took a step back, and asked, "What do you mean?"

He smirked, and said cooly, "My dear, you're not an old god, that's for sure."

Anima snapped, "Out with it!"

"I'm sure if you had known, you would have decried this fate," he hesitated, then added icily, "But you can no longer do that, you are fate."

Anima went silent, and he asked calmly, "Don't believe me? You may have the look of a mortal, but deep inside you, your soul has been poured with ancient magic even us old gods are almost unfamiliar with." He snapped.

"You're an old god?" She asked curiously.

He looked at his hand, which Anima realised was coming in and out of focus, and he said quietly, "I'm the spirit of an old god, I'm close to waking. Storm-bringer, the one you seek, is going to make just a tiny mistake." He shrugged, his demeanor changing quickly.

"The one I seek? Storm-bringer?" she asked.

He laughed, "You really do know nothing," he looked at the skies, "Look around you, these storms are caused by me, but because of these storms, I have become what I am, a weak spirit, but when the storm-bringer truly arrives, I will awaken because of the storm he will create, and no, not in the literal sense." He said cooly.

Anima didn't like the context of that, but she asked, "Where can I find him?"

The old god's sword disappeared, and he pointed up to the mountain, "The same place where you'll find my sleeping body." He said icily.

Anima turned away from him, and was about to head toward the mountain, but he called her back, "I'd better warn you ahead of time," she looked back, and he said quietly, "He doesn't realise what he is inside, and if you don't save him in time, his own soul will destroy him."

Anima narrowed her eyes, and he continued, "But there's a couple years until that yet, he's still quite..." He tipped his head, and waved his hand, "Small."

Anima grumbled, "I'll take that into consideration."

He called back as she walked away, "Remember! You have very little time once the re-awakening starts! And if you go past the limit, the balance will be corrupted, and Garaos's plan will fail!"

Anima couldn't help but roll her eyes, and she estimated that it would take a day to get to the mountain, she sensed a great power emitting from it, and thought, I doubt my nature gate would work...

She decided to walk towards the mountain, unsure of what she would do once she got there, Garaos said it would take a couple years, but until then, she should get familiar with Hamark.

She thought, But first, maybe I should learn what is up with Guagamela...

~*~*~*~

It soon became nightfall on the second year, and she walked a great distance around Hamark, trying to learn about it. She sighed, sitting down against a nearly dead tree, and she frowned. The old god's words echoed deep within her mind, she couldn't shake off the nasty feeling of the 're-awakening' he was talking about.

Was he a powerful god like Garaos? Or was he a small one? Garaos never told her anything about this land, only told her to go learn about it, and she didn't like the idea of getting into a fight with that one, even though in spirit, he looked weak, but even then, he managed to trap her.

She sighed, and murmured, "I don't know what to do..."

As if in an answer, the wind blew, but still, she couldn't hear the whispers of the wind. As if the wind was silenced.

She stood up, and held out her hand, once again, small, green, shimmering lights seemed to wrap around her hand, and came together as a small green orb.

She murmured, "Protect this area until dawn."

The green orb floated high above her, she watched as it burst into small green sparks, and the sparks went into different directions, and smashed into the ground, causing little patches of grass to perk up.

Anima frowned, but sighed, "I guess that'll have to do..."

She leaned against the tree again, and stared up into the dark sky. She felt her eyes close, and soon, the world was black.

Anima opened her eyes when she heard a noise, and found herself standing on a mountain top. But it wasn't the mountain she woke up on, this mountain seemed more open and free.

She was staring up at an acropolis, the white city she saw while sitting on the grey mountain-top. Wind blew freely and frequently here, but it was a softer type of wind, but it seemed hesitant, afraid.

Anima looked around, and rubbed her head, and she murmured, "I must be dreaming."

She looked up when a boy a bit younger then her walked up to her, she was about to say something, but he looked frustrated, almost angry, and when he walked through her, she could feel a rush of emotions, none of them good.

Anima knew he couldn't hear her, but she asked anyways, "Is something wrong?"

He didn't answer, as Anima expected, he just huffed away, something inside made her smirk, but she followed him.

He stopped beside a pillar, and looked behind him, and he growled in a sharp accent, "So they didn't follow me, eh?" He blinked his sky blue eyes, and huffed, "Right..."

He leaned against the pillar, and Anima took a good look at him. He was in his late teens, with black hair, the colour the clouds were when Anima fell asleep.

Anima heard a voice, "Storm-bringer..." She whipped around, narrowing her eyes. But felt her gaze drawn to an black cave mouth, something about the cave made her nervous.

She looked back to see the teen looking a shining red rock, his gaze darkened, and he murmured to himself, "Do I really want it to wake up?"

Anima thought, Want what to wake up?

He sighed, looking almost sad and remorseful. Anima could feel the energy pulse from him, the stone, and the cave, it was almost over-whelming.

Her head was pounding, it was if the power was seeping into her dream. She backed away from him, he looked up, and she gasped when his eye colour changed to that of stormy grey. The same colour of that weakened, yet powerful old god.

She heard a icy voice whisper in the wind, which changed to a harsh unforgiving power, "When I have fallen, the fear and hatred will be placed on him. He will be treated the same as I was, and will be treated like a scourge upon Hamark." The voice hissed.

Anima shook her head, and growled, "No!"

The boy looked as if he heard her, his eyes flashed back to their sky blue, and he seemed confused, and she growled, "I feel as if I lost something, but I did... My memories..."

He looked at the rock again, and murmured, "Of course I don't want it to wake up... Of course... It's just a fairy-tale."

Anima yelled at him, "That's what I said when I woke up, and now I don't know who I am!" She closed her eyes, and murmured, "I feel as if everything I cared for was taken away from me, and I can't even remember it."

He stared at her, but she knew he couldn't see her. She growled, "I know you can't see me, I know you can't hear me, but your soul can. Listen to me, whatever you're planning, don't do it!"

Both of them looked up when they heard a girl's voice, "What are you doing over here alone?"

He suddenly got nervous, Anima looked at him in the girl, and she smiled carefully, I see... Maybe that will work...

She felt the dream shimmer, but she murmured to the teen, "You may not be ready for it yet, but when you feel that it's time, give her the stone."

He narrowed his eyes, but she knew that his soul could somewhat understand the message it was getting.

The dream finally shimmered. She woke up to the sound of angry yelling, and the voices were full of hatred.

She blinked open her eyes, and was faced with her wakened nightmare.

I didn't know if that was a vision, or what, but Garaos was right, it would take two years for Collin's time to take shape.

And Garaos wasn't the one saving him from himself.

Back then, I barely knew any magic, not enough to save a soul metaphorically ripping up it's own vessal.

But somehow, I managed to save Collin, if just barely, he was out for a while, longer then I was. That worried me, and barely anything worries me.

But, before that... I wouldn't, and still can't, get that horrorfying image of when I woke up, out of my head, it still haunts me to this day.

And that moment seemed to activate my past life somewhere.

Did I know where? No, not yet.

I'll explain that part, and tell you Collin's story.

But be warned... Had I known what would happen to him, he nearly did die...  At first, he took that stone because he wanted to do it to prove fairy-tales weren't real, just like I didn't believe back when I myself was only a teenager, but that changed.

Willing to decry any fate that I didn't like. But both me and him just ended up making our fates happen accidently, and both of us suffered for it.

Like me, he didn't know he was about to become a Fate, but in a way, Orias was right, I just didn't want to admit it to myself out of fear, because Orias, no matter how weak, was evil in his own way, but maybe... He wasn't as evil as Garaos. Not even close. I cared enough for Collin to not want that, as much as I place my caring side to few people.

Collin was one of the few that managed to understand why I usually hid behind a tough exterior, he was the same... But as much as me and him were alike... When it came to the old god, Orias.

Orias and Collin were one in the same. Both with darkness in their heart.

But what made them different?

That notion of kindness and caring Collin showed Marla, the day he turned into what I am. And that is also what saved him.

Love is a funny thing. It can destroy whole kingdoms, and even cause war. But can also renew a life, no matter how lost the cause.

Everyone in this land seems to fight for love, and Collin's fight wasn't Orias, but himselfhis greatest fear was never heights...

But that's not for me to tell, in all honesty, sometimes I don't even know...

I hope you're ready for what comes next, because compared to Collin's, I got off pretty easy when Garaos turned me immortal.

You will never understand how hard it is to turn someone into an immortal, and becoming one.

Yes, it hurts, sometimes physically sometimes mentally, and a lot I might add. But on with the story.

The nightmare... It was almost as bad as that fire I nearly lost Cole too...

Chapter 4

Each moment you try to take a step away from your true destiny

You're just making the inevitable happen faster.

For every step you take to decry that fate.

You will learn, that you can't fight fate so easily.

Anima shook her head when the noise grew louder. It echoed around the dead forest, she could see the fire-light of torches. She thought, standing up, What's going on?

She headed towards the fire-light, and realised it was a bunch of villagers holding torches, and they looked very angry.

Their leader, who jumped in front of them, yelled, "For too long, Guagamela refused to contact us, most of you have a sneaking suspicion that they are keeping us in this dark and lifeless place for their own benefit."

Some of the villages agreed, while Anima listened intently, even if it was very illuminating, it wasn't good.

He yelled, "Well, I'm not going to have any more of it! For too long, our people, the people that depend on the white city, are dying because of their closure!"

The villagers yelled, and Anima thought, Hm, what are they planning?

He yelled to the villagers, "So what are we going to do?!"

The villagers took a second to answer, and then yelled, "We're going to attack Guagamela!"

Anima had to hold in a gasp, and they continued moving. Anima murmured, "I have to beat them there and warn someone!"

She broke into a run, and ran sneakily past the villagers, who were too busy yelling and complaining. It took that whole morning just to get to the base of the mountain, where she felt the villagers following the trail to the mountain of the white city.

Anima stopped at the perfectly carved steppes, and stood there, panting. She could still hear the villagers yelling, but how was she going to climb up that mountain top in time?

She jumped when a small dagger flew where she was moments before, and stood up to face the same boy she saw in her dream, except he was younger, about 15.

"Who are you?" He asked in that same sharp voice.

Anima was about to answer, but the villagers yelling was getting louder. So she snapped, "I have no time for introductions right now!"

He didn't seem to fazed by the snap, and asked sarcastically, "Sorry? I thought when people meet others, usually they introduced themselves, or is that different from where you come from?"

Anima looked at him confused, and he growled, "We don't welcome outsiders in Hamark very much, now what are you doing here, or I promise I won't miss again." He gripped the handle of another dagger, and narrowed his eyes suspiciously.

Anima liked his attitude, even if at the current moment was not the best time to have a spat about being an outsider.

"The villagers, the villagers your city is supposed to be taking care of, are rebelling!" She yelled.

To her shock, he smiled, "That's the second time this week, really, they never even get past the gate." He said calmly, and laughed.

"They seemed quite determined, they're worried, and they have a leader!" Anima yelled, desperate to stop this fight, whom she sensed would have loads of losses.

He looked confused, "Cory? Pfft, he's all talk and no fight." He said cooly, obviously not bothered by the impending threat. His tone immediately reminded her of the old god she had ran into.

Anima knew there was no getting to him, so she snapped, "Look, your city is in danger of this rebellion! What do you need to believe me?!"

He thought about it, but the voices were getting louder, and Anima started getting nervous, but he said calmly, "Knowing your name would be nice."

Anima growled in frustration, and could see the fire-light of the torches. She rolled her eyes, and snapped, "Look, does it really matter if you know my name?"

He must have known that time was against them, so he hissed, "Whatever, I assure you they're not getting past the gate."

Anima growled at him, "Fine, don't believe me, I'll stop them myself."

He smirked, "That sounds like something I would do." He said cooly.

She thought sadly, And you're going to keep saying that for a long time, until you become what I am... Whatever that is...

He looked like he was about to say something, but an arrow hit where he was moments before as he jumped back. He rolled his eyes, and murmured, "Their aim is at least a bit better."

The villagers poured out of the tree, and their leader, Cory, hissed, "Well well, one of Guagamela's residents and a-" He took a glance at Anima, with a disgusted look on his face, "An outsider, from Gray Lock, by the look of it, hmph."

Anima wasn't sure whether to be offended or laugh, she chose to laugh, and asked, "Gray Lock, care to fill me in on what that is?"

Cory growled, "I have no spite against an outsider, but him-" he took a hated glace at the young boy beside Anima, then he turned to a man beside him, and he growled, "Let's send them a message, shall we?"

The man beside Cory nodded, and pulled the arrow back, pointing at Collin.

Something seemed to click inside Anima's mind, something she knew, something she recognized. Even if she couldn't remember it, her first instinct was to jump in front of Collin when the arrow was loosened from the bow's line.

Time seemed to go slow, the arrow heading straight for Anima, she narrowed her eyes, she could see a faint glimmer of green light seperating her from the arrow, and time sped up again.

The arrow burst into leaves as it hit the nature wall, the young boy had jumped back in shock, and so did half the villagers.

Cory hissed in a disgusted tone, "Magic?"

She heard the boy behind her murmur in shock, "Awesome..."

Anima growled, and soon a bird-like bow was in her hands, but the wood seemed more wild, with vines wrapping all the bow, even to the wings.

She pulled an arrow out of her back-pack, but did not aim at the villagers, instead she aimed it at the ground, it seemed to melt away into the ground, and it seemed as if nothing happened.

Cory laughed, and so did the rest of the villagers, "Magic never does good, I-" but he was cut off when his feet were pulled out from under him.

The villagers jumped back, while Cory fought to stand up, and flinched when Anima walked up to him, and she hissed, "I don't want to see you near this base again, if you do, nature will stop you, and I will not be there to control it." She felt a hidden power rise from her voice, as if she meant it.

Cory nodded, and was finally able to stand up, he retreated. With the villagers following him in fear and anger.

They stood in silence, and she finally turned to the boy, who seemed surprised and almost awed at what he saw.

Anima sighed, holding her hand out, and she said, "I'm Anima, I am not human."

He seemed to hesitate, then asked cautiously, "If you're not human, what are you?"

Aniam thought, remembering what Orias had called her, A Fate? Is that what he said? Like... Fate?

She finally looked up, and murmured, "I'm not an old god, nor am I mortal, I'm half, I'm a Fate, the Fate of Life." She wondered if he was scared.

He finally relaxed, and growled, "I see, well, I'm Collin." He didn't take her hand though, it seemed to confuse him.

She dropped her hand, and said, "You were supposed to shake it." She didn't know how she knew that, it just seemed natural.

Collin looked confused, "So that's how you greet each-other over at Gray Lock?" He asked curiously.

Anima hesitated, and said quietly, "I guess so..."

Collin asked curiously, "Do you not remember?"

Anima growled, "I never remember anything."

Collin laughed, "I see, well, follow me!" He indicated to up the steppes, where a golden gate stood tall, it gave Anima the shivers.

But she followed Collin towards the gate, he looked at her, and murmured, "Wait."

Anima nodded, and he stepped toward the towering gate, he said, "Only people from Guagamela can get through this gate, but even then, it must be done by magic," he looked at Anima, and said, "That's why I wasn't so shocked when you did that magic, even if I've never seen it in that type of power myself." He rolled his eyes.

He held his hand out to the gate, and Anima could see the reddish field in the gate slightly, and it seemed to eminate away from Collin's touch.

Collin nodded, and Anima followed, and he said, "That magic was put there by an old god, some suspect the one that's currently sleeping deep in this mountain," he rolled his eyes, "In my opinion, maybe it's just well... There. Not put there by an old god..."

"You do not believe in the old gods?" Anima asked carefully, as if his attitude toward anything unnatural reminded her of something, she just couldn't remember.

Collin made a face, "You could say that, I have my own reasons for not believing in them." He growled, as if it hurt to think about.

Anima asked, "Yet, you believe in magic?"

Collin said quietly, "Magic, I see it everyday, it's hard not to believe in, since it's actually a part of my life, if I didn't believe in it... Well..." He didn't finish the sentence, and soon they were at the mountain top.

Collin looked around, and finally turned back to Anima, "But whether you're an old freaky god or what, I still need to thank you for saving my life, even when my doubt almost stopped you from being helpful." He said in a strained voice, as if he hated to admit it.

Anima was about to say something, but he said quickly, "My father... He... Well, before stuff happened, he went to Gray Lock a couple years ago, to Jyris, and he gave me something... Of course, it's not much use to me, but to us, if you need to remember something, you either go to where the memories were, or get something that acts like a key."

He took out a feathered necklace, with silver gray lines wrapping through it, and he murmured, "I never knew what it was, but he said he got it from an old lady, that had the power of a seer."

Anima took it from him, something inside her wanted to scream, she recognized the necklace, and whatever it was, it made her angry and unhappy.

But she just couldn't remember it.

Collin added, "It takes a while, but it always works, you'll remember at some point."

Anima hesitated, and asked, "Do you know where I can use magic freely?"

Collin frowned, and indicated his head toward the cave, "Like, in the first part of that creepy place." He said cooly.

"Can you show me?" Anima asked.

Collin shrugged, and walked towards the cave. Anima followed, and they walked into the dark cave, the first part was lit up, but Anima had a feeling that was the only part lit up.

She held out her hand, and watched as the green shimmering lights wrapped around her hand, and formed into a little green orb, she murmured, "Natura... Garaos's mountain."

The orb jumped out of her hand, and turned into the nature gate, showing a grey mountain, Looks boring compared to this mountain, if not a little sad and gloomy.

She was about to walk through, but was called back by Collin, who asked, "I have to ask this... Is there... an odd chance we might run into each-other again?"

Anima hesitated, and said quietly, "It will be a while, but yes, we're going to run in at the oddest time..."

Collin didn't ask anything else, and she nodded, and walked through the gate.

She heard the gate close behind her, and she heard Garaos's voice, "Well, that's good, you ran into Collin."

Anima hissed, "He's way too young to be turned into immortal."

Garaos wasn't fazed, and didn't repond to the comment, and instead said, "You were out for a long time Anima, if you were mortal, you'd be in your late 20's early 30's by now."

She snarled, she still was suspicous of the old god knocking her over the head story, but she couldn't say anything.

Garaos murmured, "Look at me, I've been immortal for a long time, and I still look about in my 30's, but in reality, I am over millions of years old, and my time is limited, yours is not."

Anima still didn't reply, and Garaos growled, "Go get some sleep."

Anima just huffed, and stalked away, walking down the steps to the main house. She opened the door, and nearly slammed it.

She sighed, looking around, she finally saw the room where she woke up in, and walked in. The water wasn't flowing, the vines stopped growing, but they also looked like they were dying, the whole room seemed dark and black, as if matching Anima's mood.

Anima sighed, feeling gloomy, Garaos was asking too much of her, and knowing that Collin would die at that young age, almost seemed to hurt her in some way. She didn't know if she could face it in the end.

But if I don't, Collin's soul will.... She could not continue the thought, she wasn't really experienced with what souls did when unleashing power, mortal souls don't have that type of power, or aren't supposed too, and if Collin ends up over doing himself, Anima will have no choice but to do what Garaos tasked her with. 

Even if she doesn't like it.

She looked at the feathered necklace again, it reminded of something, but it seemed so far away and long ago. But she couldn't remember.

Anima murmured, "After a while, I have to remember, I feel as if it's important, but it's being hidden away from me." She shook her head, and looked up at the ceiling.

She felt a emotion of anger rise within her. Anger towards Garaos, he caused this, he took away her memories, she knew it.

But Anima also feared what she would learn about herself if she found out her memories, And I don't think I can handle that... She thought darkly.

That was a complete nightmare, knowing what I was about to do. It's against nature to make a soul immortal when it doesn't want to be.

It goes against principle, especially my principles, I am the Fate of Life, and Life is something I automatically understand to a point.

Death? No, especially the death where you turn immortal, that's not real life, you're just living in stilled time, time that has stopped just for you and no one else...

You have to die to become immortal, and even now, I sometimes look at Collin, Flynn, even Vortex, thinking that they were all too young for this path.

Collin's story was generally peaceful, until the last years of his life, where the hidden war kept going on and on. And he was quite alone.

I didn't learn about his mortal father until later on, but when I did, it made me upset.

When I learned...

Collin was alone his whole life, no family, not even friends.

Utterly alone. Causing him to have a likeness to Orias, who was the old god of storms, and Orias had a knack of feeding people's fears, just like Garaos.

Collin wasn't only afraid of heights.

He was also afraid of being alone. 

And he was since he was 11, at that young of an age, and having to learn to fend off others hatred without parents or friends, and it was 11 where he felt something went wrong during his up-bringing.

We all felt that way, but we dealt with it in under circumstances, I had friends, people I cared for like my own family, Flynn had family and friends, my little sister had a family who loved her dearly.

Collin never had that, and that makes him not quite understand the meaning of friendship and family, only because he never actually had those things.

But that didn't make him heartless, he just felt... Well, alone.

And don't all of us sometimes feel alone sometimes? It's not a good feeling, it's an unhealthy one too, Orias was misunderstood, causing him to also feel alone.

Talk about self fufilling prophecy...

But anyways, this is my brother's story, to up to when he was 11, to his mortal death when he was just 18.

Just like my friend Youra saw and predicted.

The most important event to turn that tide his soul took, was his father saying just one word, and nothing else, that one word changed an 11 year olds life, one word changed everything, changed the whole waking world of Hamark.

Goodbye

~*~*~*~

A group of young kids sat around a women, who's aged face looked at them grimly. She leaned on her staff, and said, "I'm here to teach you about the old gods," she looked at them all darkly, and said, "Be warned, this story isn't for the faint of heart."

In the back, two boys were sitting, one rolled his eyes, while the other shook his head. The one that had shook his head, murmured, "Yeah, Collin, the old gods are going to eat us." He made a mocking scary face at his friend.

Collin smiled at him, his eyes flashing, "Everyone knows these stories are just to stop us behaving badly." He jumped when the women called.

"I'm afraid that these are quite true, for we live on a mountain, where an old god sleeps, his power protecting us from the outside dangers," she walked up to the two, and said quietly, yet grimly, "Everyone learns this one day, no matter their beliefs."

She walked away, and Collin let out a breath, and looked at his friend, and made a face, who held in a laugh.

The women continued, lighting the fire, "You little ones have the naiveness of young kittens, wanting to play in a world unbeknowest to the greater dangers." She murmured.

Collin murmured to his friend, "Not the kitten metaphor again."

His friend couldn't help but laugh, all the kids turned to look at them. Collin caught the gaze of Marla, her sharp emerald gaze seeming to skewer them, she rolled her eyes, and brushed back her light blonde hair, and turned back to the woman.

The woman had watched them, and said, "Now that I have your attention..."

Collin and his friend sniggered, and she continued, "The old gods, they have watched over us the first time our kind have walked the waking earth."

Collin couldn't help but blurt out, "Then who was here before us?"

All the kids looked at him again, he just stared back at them. Some of them whispered, and looked at the woman again.

The woman looked at him, "No one knows, young Collin, maybe the old gods were once humans too, but that's just legend of course." She said cooly.

Collin huffed, rolling his eyes, but now his friend had taken a keen interest, Collin thought, Really? It's a legend, I've never seen an old god myself...

As the woman explained the old gods, her tone turned dark as she turned to their old god, Orias, the storm god, Collin thought, What's so scary about an old god? They don't seem too threatening.

She took out a bag of some fire dust, which was used to heighten the fire, and sometimes could show images, but everytime the dust was thrown in, he could never see anything.

She threw the dust in the fire, and she continued telling the story, but Collin soon got bored, and used a stick to doodle in the sand of the mountain-top.

He jumped when someone poked him, he looked at his friend, who said, "It's over, let's go!" He ran off.

Collin stood up, dropping the stick, and was about to follow his friend, before he was stopped by the old woman.

"Did you pay attention this time, Collin?" She asked grimly.

Collin wasn't sure what to say, and said cooly, "Of course I did, ma'am."

She frowned, "It's not good to lie, Collin."

He huffed, "I wasn't lying!" He said, raising his voice.

She looked down at him, and said, "Your father told me you weren't very good at paying attention, at first I didn't believe him."

Collin made a face, and snapped, "I haven't seen my father in a while, I don't care what he thinks." He turned his back on the woman.

The woman said, "I see, well he's not going to be there when you need him most, what are you going to do then?" She asked.

"Nothing, I don't need him," Collin looked back at her, eyes flashing. "I've never needed him!" He snapped.

The woman said no more, and walked away, Collin kicked a rock, and muttered, "I'm not helpless." He walked to find his friend.

He wasn't paying attention to where he was going, and bumped into someone, and he growled, "Sorry."

Collin looked at who he bumped into, and nearly jumped back when it was Marla, who glared at him, and asked cooly, "Do you ever pay attention, Collin?"

She pushed past him, he stared after her, he murmured, "I said I was sorry..."

Collin sighed, and continued walking, he finally saw his friend, sitting on the edge, he went to sit beside him, and Collin said, "That was interesting."

His friend asked, "What was interesting?"

"I just ran into Marla and she snapped at me, Allen." Collin said quickly.

Allen shrugged, "That's girls for you," he said, and looked over the edge, "That's really high up!" He said in a gleeful voice.

Collin looked over too, the pine trees below seemed like tiny little ants, he tipped his head, "I wonder if someone would survive if they fell." He wondered.

Allen hesitated, then said, "I don't think so."

Both of them laughed, and Allen stood up, and asked mischeiviously, "Well, want to go down to the base?"

Collin smirked, and said in a mocking voice, "You know that's not allowed!" He mimicked their elder, and they both laughed.

"Right, come on!" He ran off once again, leaving Collin to catch up.

Collin stood up, being watchful of the people walking around, and dodged a couple adults, who were looking at him curiously. He met Allen near the gate-way to their city, and they snuck through without anyone noticing.

When they were down a couple steps, they looked at each-other, smiling mischieviously, and ran down the steps.

But they were met with another gate, and Collin asked, "What's this?" Never being down this far himself, since it wasn't allowed until age 12, rarely did the people of Guagamela leave the mountain anyways.

Allen looked at it, and said, "I don't know."

Allen took a step toward it, but was soon thrown back, and he gasped, and held his arm, making a face.

Collin laughed, "Good job."

Allen growled, "Then you try passing through it, oh smart one." He then laughed also, rubbing his arm.

Collin made a face, and faced the gate. He narrowed his eyes, and took a step forward. He didn't feel anything throw him back, but was shocked when it seemed he stepped into a different world. A world where he couldn't see anything, only hear.

He heard whispers as he stood there, and he called, "Hey, Allen?"

Over the whispers, he heard his friend call, "Yeah?"

"Do you hear that?" Collin asked.

"Hear what? Collin, what-?" But something cut him off, and the whispers grew into what sounded like flames, and Collin heard a deep voice, hissing the words of ancient times.

Storm-bringer...

There was a blast, and Collin was thrown forward out of the gate, and Allen called, "Collin, are you all right?"

Collin blinked open his eyes, and he was back in his world once again, he held his head, and asked, "What happened?" He looked at his friend, who was standing up.

"Well, after you asked me if I could hear anything, your eyes went all weird, greyish, it was kind of freaky, and then you got blasted forward onto the other side." Allen said quickly.

Collin stood up, and asked curiously, "Can you get through?"

Allen shook his head, and said quickly, "It seems to be blocking me from going any furthur."

Collin stepped forward, and said cheerily, "Let me try!"

He took a step toward the gate, and finally got what Allen meant, it was like a force was pushing on him, keeping him away from the gate.

"I can't get through either." Collin muttered.

"How are you going to get through?" Allen asked.

Collin shrugged, and said calmly, "It's not like there is anything dangerous, I'll go down to the base and come back."

He was about to go, but Allen said, "Hold on! It's dangerous to go alone."

Collin smirked, and said, "Well you're not getting through the gate."

Allen said quietly, "Maybe we should wait here for help..."

Collin looked at him, and said cooly, "I thought you wanted to go to the base." He narrowed his eyes dangerously.

Allen stammered, "W-Well, I do, but after seeing you go through the gate... M-Maybe it's not such a good idea." He looked down at the ground nervously.

"I'm fine, why do you seem so worried?" Collin asked carefully.

Allen murmured, "You listened to the stories, there's dangerous things down there."

Collin made a face, "Allen, they're just stories, nothing more." He said hotly.

"But the elder said they were true! They may be called stories, but they're true, that's what she said!" Allen replied back in a annoyed tone.

Collin scowled, "Then why are they called stories?" He asked.

Allen growled back, "I have no idea! But maybe we shouldn't be so naive, like this gate, there's some things we just have to believe, even if we can't understand them."

Collin scoffed, "Look, maybe there's a weird spell on the gate meant to keep anyone younger then 12 in, I'm telling you, you're just paranoid about the stories."

Allen asked cautiously, "And what if you're wrong, Collin?"

Collin hesitated, and stared at the gate, he rolled his eyes, I'll prove they're just stories! He took a step-forward to the gate, and Allen asked, "What are you doing?"

"Just move back, Allen." Collin scowled, Allen did what he was told.

Collin reached to touch the gate, the field in between it felt warm to the touch, he could feel power emitting from it, but not powerful enough to be any of the magic from the stories.

"Er, Collin?" Allen asked.

"Yes?" Collin asked, while concentrating on the gate.

"You might want to hurry." Allen whispered.

Collin looked behind him, and could see fire-light, he growled to Allen, "I can't rush this!"

Allen growled, "Well, try!"

Collin closed his eyes, but the warmth to freezing cold, and soon he fell forward.

Both him and Allen looked forward to where the firelight was getting closer.

Collin stood up, and asked quietly, "Who would be coming up the mountain?"

Allen said, "I don't know, we should get back."

For once, Collin agreed, and followed his friend up the steep steps, and they sneakily entered the village once again, and hid behind a building, and watched the entrance to the city closely and tensely.

Collin watched as the firelight finally appeared, and frowned when the elder walked up to the gate, eyes grim.

"Well, this can't be good." Collin murmured.

And it wasn't.

Chapter 5

You may say things you don't mean out of anger.

But in the end, when the one thing you needed most is not there.

You're still going to have a hard time taking back what you said.

Because that thing is no longer there.

Collin and Allen watched as a group of men walked through the gate, looking weary and injured. The elder whispered something to them.

They all nodded, and dispersed into the city, Collin looked at Allen, who shrugged, and they stepped out, Marla was there also, and she hugged her father, who had came with the group, Collin frowned, knowing that this was one confrontation he wanted to avoid, but couldn't.

Allen and Collin just stood there, while the men dispersed back to their families, Collin was confused on where they were all this time.

Allen saw his father, and ran up to him, bouncing around him. Obviously happy to see him after a long time, Allen's father beamed.

Collin felt alone, even if he knew among that group was his father, neither of them had a friendly relationship with each-other, Collin thought, We hate each-other, I can tell.

He noticed his father first, they had the same raven black hair, but his father had sharp emerald eyes, while Collin had icy blue.

They stood in awkward silence, when Collin, who usually broke awkward silences, asked darkly, "Where were you?"

His father looked down at him with a flat expression, and he said cooly, "You know I can't tell you."

Collin made a face, and asked cooly, trying not to yell, "Why not?" He felt an anger rise inside him.

"You're not old enough yet." He said flatly.

That's always your excuse... Collin scowled.

His father realised that there was no point arguing with Collin, so he took something out of his pocket, a feathery necklace, and he said, "I got this from one of the places I was visiting."

Collin took it, and asked, "What is it?"

"It comes from a land full of forests and life." His father said cooly.

"Great, what's its name." Collin pryed more, glaring at his father.

His father scowled too, and said, "Gray Lock."

"Mm." Collin stared at him unblinkingly, his father stood up straight, and looked around.

"Well, first off, I need to ask a favour." He said cooly, looking down at Collin.

"Gee, this is a first." Collin said, and rolled his eyes.

"This is way too important to be cheeky," his father snapped, "First off, do you promise to keep that necklace safe and behave?"

Collin said nothing, so his father continued, "I'm going away again, Collin."

"Again? Where? Are the others going with you?" Collin asked quickly. He noticed the elder watching them, with a sad look in her eyes.

He looked back at his father, and he said in a cool tone, "I'm afraid I'm making this journey alone, and I might not be coming back."

Collin crossed his arms, and asked, "I might as well not ask where you're going?"

"It's better if you not try and find me, Collin, you won't be able too." His father said, and scowled.

Collin said nothing, and his father said in a strict tone, "This is going to be the last time we're going to see each-other, so whatever you need to say, say it now."

Collin just stared at him, more in shock and anger, and said nothing.

"I see..." His father murmured, almost in sadness, and he backed away from Collin, "This is good-bye then, try not to misbehave, Collin."

The elder finally spoke up, almost in a whisper, "You know that's impossible, Ajin, he's too much like his mother."

His father looked at him, and whispered back, "That's what I'm afraid of." He walked away, and passed under the gate, alone.

Collin just stood there, unsure of what to say, Good-bye? He thought, getting an emotion of fear, Collin hid it though, and stared at the elder evenly.

She asked gently, "Are you all right, Collin?"

Collin just took a step away from her, and turned away, walking back to the edge of the mountain, and sat against a pillar, looking at the feathered necklace darkly.

Does it matter if he said good-bye? He's never here anyways. Collin thought, staring at the sky as it turned into a golden hue with the setting sun.

He heard foot-steps come toward him, and he asked darkly, "What?"

He jumped when he heard a soft female voice, "Are you all right?"

Collin looked behind him, and nearly jumped back when it was Marla, and for the first time, her eyes weren't filled with annoyance anymore, but worry.

Collin just sat there, staring, and she smirked, "Is that a yes?" She asked cooly.

Collin tipped his head, and finally said, "Oh! Yes, I'm fine..." He faltered, and stared back at the sky.

"Do you mind if I sit down?" She asked gently.

Collin shook his head, and she sat down beside him, and said gently, "If you don't want to talk, it's fine, but I heard it's unhealthy to keep your emotions bottled up."

Collin looked at her, but she was staring at the sky, and he said, "It's fine, me and my father just don't get on good terms, that's all."

"You didn't seem to think that when he said you wouldn't be seeing him again." Marla said softly.

Collin smiled in sadness, and asked coldly, "Why are you being so nice to me?"

Marla looked at him, and blinked, "It's not that I hate you, I tend to be annoyed with all the boys," she sighed, and said, "And you seemed almost upset when he said that, and left without another word."

Collin hesitated, and said huffingly, "He just gets on my nerves, that's all."

Marla smiled, and said calmly, "That's what family is supposed to do, but that shows that if they're getting on your nerves, they care about you."

Collin frowned, and said darkly, "I wouldn't know, my mother died when I was small, and my father is always away, and barely talks to me, that was the first time we actually had a proper conversation." He watched the sun set.

Marla said nothing, and asked gently, "Did you get the chance to talk with your mother before she died?"

"Yeah, I guess you could say that, even if I couldn't really say anything past 'Mother'." He said darkly, and couldn't help but smile.

Marla said calmly, "Even though your father might not show it, and may seem cold and emotionless, your mother did love you, and so does he."

"I know, but he doesn't seem too." Collin growled darkly.

Marla said, "Maybe, maybe not, boys, especially fathers and sons, have that awkwardness that only mothers can get past, it's kind weird, and the same for girls, and I'm being honest," she looked at Collin, "Maybe you will see him someday, fate might be nice."

Collin smiled, and said quietly, "Fate is such a weird thing."

Marla nodded, and said quietly, "It is, it's so unpredictable, but in a way, maybe that's what makes it calming, in a way, because at the same time of being afraid, you can be hopeful."

Collin said nothing, and they watched as the sun sunk past the trees, and the sky turned dark, they watched as the northern lights streaked across the sky.

Marla murmured, "I need to go back home, see you later, Collin." She stood up, and walked away.

Collin watched as the stars came out, and he sighed, he usually stayed at Allen's place, but decided he would go to his own home.

He stood up, and walked to one of the bigger houses, he opened the door, and looked around, the white stone that made his house was smoothly cut, but seemed gloomy, he looked around, and sighed. He stepped in fully, closing the door behind him.

He looked at the hand-crafted boat his mother made for him when he was small, before she died.

Collin looked at it, his eyes flat, he took it from the pedastal, the only stories he ever appreciated was his mothers, stories of far off lands and fantasy, she told them as if she had lived them herself.

He put it back on, his eyes getting blurry, he blinked, and shook his head, walking to his room.

He looked around, and finally sighed, the window showing the stars, both him and his mother loved stories, maybe not the same stories, since his mother did believe in the old gods, strangely, he could remember everyone giving the cave a dark look. His mother gave the cave a look of hope and love, like she knew something about whatever was in there way better than the others did.

He climbed into his bed and closed his eyes, and soon enough, went into a deep sleep.

But never was it a peaceful one.

~*~*~*~

Collin woke up in a dark clearing, he rubbed his eyes, and looked around, eyes narrowed. He sighed, the clearing was always silent, always dark and gloomy.

He looked up when there was a large shadow looming over him, but all he could see was darkness, and the sharp ice blue eyes of a dragon, he could see the silhouette of the dragon, it's icy spiked tail flicking back and forth, as if in curiousty.

Collin didn't jump away, and he asked darkly, "What do you want this time?"

He could hear the shiver of scales, and the dragon hissed in an ancient tongue, You know what I want, storm-bringer.

"You haven't answered my question about why you keep calling me that." He said pointedly, and turned his back on him.

"Your mortal naiveness never ceases to amaze me, I clearly explained that I would explain why once I woke up, but I can't do that until the seventh stone is taken out of it's place." The dragon hissed in modern language.

Collin hesitated, then asked, "Why should I help you?" He turned to look at the dragon, "How do I know you're not just a figment of my imagination?" He asked sharply.

The dragon laughed softly, "I'm far from a figmant of mortal imagination," he circled Collin, "You should know better than that, young storm-bringer." He hissed softly.

Collin made a face, "Why do you seem so curious about me?" He asked cautiously.

The dragon hissed softly, "I've never seen a mortal as unique as you, or about to be as unique, I can sense the power within your soul, it astounds me, it matches my power." He stopped, and flicked his tail.

Collin smirked, "It would match your power, if you were still awake." He said mockingly.

The dragon's scales seemed to bristle, "Your attitude astounds me also." He hissed in a strained voice, trying to restrain his anger.

Collin shrugged, and once again turned his back on the dragon, and crossed his arms, and the dragon hissed, "But..." He craned his neck to face Collin, "Your soul is also in danger, I can sense it, soon, it will not be able to be contained by a mortal vessel." He hissed in an almost worrying fashion.

Collin laughed, "It probably won't happen in my life-time." He waved his hand dismissivly towards the dragon.

The dragon seemed to smirk, "You'll learn, Collin, your soul's power steadily grows as you get older, it will tear you apart at your mortal peak." He said, blinking his icy blue eyes.

Collin didn't flinch from the gaze, and shook his head, "Yeah, whatever." He growled, rolling his eyes, and turning his back on the dragon.

The dragon sighed, and slinked back into the darkness, muttering in it's ancient tongue once again, You're wrong, storm-bringer, and you know it, and when it happens, you will die a mortals death. No chance, but yet, you will be saved by the Life...

The dream started to shimmer, and he could hear the dragon roar in the distance, and he woke up to morning sun-light.

He sighed, not surprised the night went by so fast, he jumped out of bed, and changed into new clothes, and wrapped a black cloak around himself, and he frowned, Hold on a second... What stone? A stone was never mentioned in any stories.

He shrugged, and walked out of the house, taking one last glance at his mothers boat, he smiled softly, and walked out.

But before he could go anywhere, Allen smashed into him, causing Collin to fall over. 

"Eh, what?!" Collin asked, confused, looking up at his friend.

"Hey! Why didn't you tell me?!" He said, hiding jealousy in his voice, but he seemed excited.

Collin stood up, "Tell you what?" He asked.

Allen said quickly, "The elder wants to see you! Marla is there, of course, the elder is grim as always, but she seems to have something for you." He ran off to the direction where the elder and Marla was.

Wh-What? Marla is there? He followed his friend, now curious on what could be so important.

They jumped over small pieces of debris, and met the elder, she was standing by the gate, while Marla had a back-pack, but her expression was excited.

The elder said calmly, "It seems your father thinks you're ready to pass the white gate, of course, that's up to the old god to decide in the end." Collin noticed she was carrying a small bag, Collin could hear clinking inside them, but she gave them to Marla, and looked at Collin.

"I assume you know what to do?" She asked.

Collin tipped his head, and said, "Well, first, I need to go past the village, then go to our sacred pond."

The old woman smiled, "So you did listen sometimes, yes," she brought something out of her pocket, a golden coin, and gave it to Collin, and she whispered, "I trust you know what to do when you get there," she looked at the bag she gave Marla, "Once you do this, that gift is from your mother."

Collin looked at Marla, and Marla said, "I'm coming with you, mostly if we get in trouble, and one of us gets hurt." She smiled.

Collin smiled also, and the elder stepped aside to let Collin pass.

Collin stood beside Marla, and nodded. She nodded too, and they walked down the steps, leaving Allen to wave his good-bye.

They walked down in silence, and when they reached the gate, Marla said, "This is the tricky part, we have to-" But she was cut off when Collin stepped forward, reaching a hand to the invinsible force field, he could feel the warmth radiating from it, and then it suddenly turned cold, and soon, there was nothing.

He smiled at Marla, and walked through with no problem, while she just stood there slightly impressed, and followed Collin.

As they reached the base, Marla looked around cautiously, and Collin asked, "What's wrong?"

Marla hesitated after looking around a couple times, and she turned to Collin, "I expected you wouldn't know about the dangers in the forests, since you weren't paying attention to any of the stories." She said darkly, annoyance in her eyes.

Collin growled, "Tell me then."

Marla sighed, and said, "There's dangerous animals, great cats, bears, you name it, but that's not the worst part, some believe there's a curse going around this land," she signaled to the trees, who's leaves were falling off, and the bark looked like it was burnt and tore apart, "Everything is cursed to die, only those on the mountain are supposedly safe." She looked at the ground, where the grass was yellowing.

Collin wasn't sure what to say, but he said, "Come on, let's go, maybe it's better if we don't stay in one place." He led the way towards the village, at which he could tell it was by the camp-fire smoke.

When they entered, Collin recognized the hostile looks from the villagers, but he didn't flinch as they walked, passing through the village.

Marla whispered, "They don't like us very much, so watch what you say." She blinked her blue eyes fearfully.

Collin looked at her, and nodded, ignoring the hostile glares as he led Marla away from them, and soon, they were outside of the village, and were heading to the sacred pond.

Collin said sheepishly, "Er, I may not have been paying attention when the elder was telling the story about the sacred pond, and what I'm supposed to do with the coin."

Marla rolled her eyes in a playful way, and she said quickly, "You're supposed to throw it in, I can't tell you what happens," she hesitated, and added calmly, "That part you're supposed to figure out yourself."

Collin nodded, and soon they found themselves in a large clearing, where a shimmering pond was, it took up most of the middle.

Collin looked at Marla and she nodded, he took out the coin carefully, he shrugged, and threw it in. The waves from the impact were small and shimmery from the sun's light, and soon the pond went still.

Collin looked at Marla, who seemed confused, he asked, "Now what?"

Marla crouched near the pond, she put her hand in it, and murmured something, shaking her head.

Collin asked, "Was that supposed to happen?" He tried to see what she was doing.

Marla stood up, and said, "No, I-" But stopped when she faced him, her eyes going wide, Collin stepped back, and he asked in confusion, "What? What's wrong?"

"A-Are you all right?" She stammered.

Collin asked, confused, "Are you?" He took a step toward her.

She backed up, but tripped, falling down, and she murmured, "Oh, old god, O-Orias..." She stared up at Collin with fearful eyes.

Collin looked down at her, confused, and looked around, but they were the only ones in the whole clearing, and he asked, "Orias? As in the old god of storms?" 

Marla didn't answer, she stood up quickly, and stared at Collin, Collin took another step toward her, and he asked curiously, "Are you all right, Marla?"

Marla didn't say anything, but finally, she sighed, and said cooly, "Sorry, Collin. Er, yes, that was supposed to happen."

Collin frowned, She's hiding something? What did she see? He thought dakly.

Something deep in his mind whispered in an ancient tongue, She saw you, young storm-bringer... It hissed.

Collin rolled his eyes, and thought amused, Yeah, right, that water is just weird, I wouldn't touch it with a stick. He asked Marla, "We should go," He hesitated, then added, "What's in the bag the elder gave you by the way?"

Marla jumped, and said, "Er, well, can you wait until you're 15? They're your mothers, she wanted you to have them when you were older, apparently."

"Er, yeah?" Collin said, confused, and Marla nodded, and took the lead.

Collin was still curious on what terrified her, We were the only ones in the clearing. I highly doubt Orias was there and only Marla could see him. Besides, what would an old god be doing there? He pondered.

When they reached the base once again, it was almost afternoon, and Collin could hear the ancient voice whisper what he refused to believe.

It was you she saw, young storm bringer...

You and only you.

~*~*~*~

They finally reached the top, after passing through the white gate, at which Marla had to open because Collin wasn't feeling so good.

Marla hurried to the elder, and whispered something to her, at which she got a look of shock on her face. Collin just stood there, mystified, as Allen walked up, staring at the two also.

"Do you know what they're talking about?" Allen asked, confused.

Collin looked at his friend, and shook his head, and said darkly, "I don't want to know, Marla had this creepy vision of Orias when she touched the water after nothing."

Allen gasped, "Orias was there?" He asked.

Collin shook his head, "No, that's the weird part, she was looking straight at me, and there was no one else in the clearing." He said, confused.

"Hm, weird, oh well, so what was it like?" Allen asked.

Collin raised an eye-brow, "What was what like?" He asked.

"Throwing that coin in the pond." Allen said excitedly.

"Er, I don't think I'm supposed to tell you." Collin said, taken-aback.

Allen shrugged, "Oh well, I guess I'll find out soon enough." He laughed, and walked away, obviously pondering on when he would be able to go down to the base.

The elder walked up to Collin, and she said, "I see you're both safe." She stared down at him with flashing eyes.

Collin nodded, and for the first time, was unable to meet the elder's gaze. Instead, he looked at the ground, and said quietly, "Yeah."

The elder said nothing, but walked away, he looked up at Marla, who flinched away from his gaze, and walked away also.

Collin frowned, What is going on? He thought darkly. Allen didn't seem bothered that Collin couldn't tell him, but he was confused on why Marla seemed so afraid of him over something she saw.

What did she see that was so scary? I didn't see it, it'd be nice to understand why she seems so scared... Collin thought, watching Marla walk away in a hurry towards her house. 

He sighed, Maybe at some point everyone will actually tell me stuff without needing to whisper whenever I'm in the area. He thought, rolling his eyes in annoyance.

Collin walked to his house as the sun set behind the horizon, the moon slowly giving light as the sun set. The stars were blocked by clouds, and only the moon managed to shine through, and deep in the cave, an ancient power was anticipating the day of being awoken.

When we got back our memories, at least, some of them, Collin was confused, and I think he still is, on why Marla was so afraid of him.

Or maybe he knew, but like Marla, he refused to accept the truth because it terrified him.

That ancient voice never once lied, even though it was an old powerful god trying to wake up.

Not once did Orias lie, he never did, and probably never will. That's what made him so more powerful and terrifying than Garaos ever would be.

Because he said things as they were, and didn't butter the truth for a mortals or his benefit, he was brutally honest.

This caused him to be one of the most feared among the old gods.

Simply because he told the truth, and never lied.

It's surprising, mortals sometimes find it hard to tell the truth when it's really needed, and it also goes for the other old gods.

Why was it so easy for Orias to tell the simple truth through complex words? 

I believe this is what made him so feared.

Simply because mortals can never tell the truth.

And only tell lies that benefit them and sometimes others, it is hard to tell the truth when you fear the consequences.

That simple fact is itself scary, and I'll admit that, never once had I feared such a greater power.

Simply because they told the truth.

Chapter 6

Would you tell the truth without being afraid?

Or would you tell a lie, to have that sense of security?

Even though, in the end, you fear both?

Four years had passed, and the 'curse' was getting nearer and nearer to the mountain, much to the fear of Guagamela. Villagers were starting to get impatient, and needed someone to blame, so they turned to Guagamela, causing them to cut off all contact.

Collin was standing alone by the edge, Allen had disappeared a while ago, Collin had the sneaking suspicion that he was getting a bit bored on the mountain, so he didn't try to stop him.

But Collin wished he did, Allen was his only friend, everyone else tended to avoid him, especially Marla.

Ever since that day, she avoids me, it's getting confusing. He thought, and sighed, looking down at the forests, after staring at the ground, he felt dizzy, and stepped away from the edge, shaking his head.

That curse, whatever it is... Half the forests are dead, it's slightly unnerving, even though I don't really believe in that stuff, it's kind of freaky. Collin thought darkly.

He bumped into someone as he walked, and he murmured, "Sorry."

He nearly jumped back when it was Marla, who's gaze was flat, but she smiled, "Still not paying attention are you?" She asked gently.

Collin made a face, and rolled his eyes, and she asked, "Everyone's down at the base, want to come?" She looked up at him with no fear in her eyes.

"I'm still shocked that you're talking to me again." He said, and smiled.

Marla frowned, and said, "The past is the past, let's leave it at that," she turned away, and murmured, "I'd rather not recall a nightmare."

Collin frowned also, "I'm sorry." He murmured.

Marla turned back to him, and shook her head, "Nothing to be sorry for, it was four years ago, I'll probably forget what I saw eventually." She said quietly.

You sound like you want to say hopefully... Collin thought curiously, and he smiled, "I'll come..." But he faltered, "Hold on, everyone as in, Kory and them?" His gaze darkened, and he narrowed his eyes.

Marla noticed the change, and she clutched Collin's arm, and whispered, "I know you guys don't get on good terms, but they're just hanging out in the near-by forest, not by the village, I promise they'll be civil." She looked up at Collin.

Collin hesitated, then sighed, "Fine."

Marla smiled, and said gently, "Come on then."

Collin followed Marla down the white steps, for once, the elder was not hanging around, she was in bed sick. But either way, she wouldn't stop them, they were old enough to take care of themselves.

As they walked, Marla asked gently, "Did you open your present?"

Collin nodded, "Yeah, two swords, why would my mum give me those?" He asked curiously.

Marla shrugged, "I don't know, protection maybe, they were once hers, from what I heard, and she was pretty dangerous with them." She said, and they stopped at the white gate.

Marla said, "I'll go first." She stepped towards the gate, reaching her hand to it, she closed her eyes. After a second of silence, she dropped her hand, and walked through.

Collin was about to follow her, but for the first time, the white gate was rejecting him, he froze, unable to move forward.

Marla turned to look, and she asked curiously, "What's wrong?"

Collin said nothing, and he heard the ancient voice again after four years of silence, Prove your soul is strong, storm-bringer, or fall victim to the smallest force. It hissed dangerously.

Collin reached his hand out to the gate, he felt the warmth, and it soon turned cold, and soon he was able to walk through.

But he froze in the middle of the gate, he looked on confused as his world started to blur, flashes of images he did not recognize and couldn't see clearly, Marla asked, "Collin?"

Collin blinked, and asked, "Yeah?" He stepped through, and thought darkly, Well, that was new.

Marla hesitated, then continued leading the way, the whole way they were silent. Collin asked curiously, "So what are they doing anyways?"

Marla hesitated, then said quietly, "I'm not sure, usually I just sit and watch while they do their thing."

Collin frowned, and they stopped in a clearing where Kory and his friends were talking in hushed whispers. They all looked up when they arrived, and they waved.

Collin looked at them suspiciously, but Marla waved, and asked, "What are we doing?"

Kory smiled darkly, and indicated his head to a small cave, Marla and Collin looked at it confused, and Marla asked quietly, "Isn't that a bit dangerous?"

"Ha, not when you know what you're doing!" Kory laughed, his friends laughed with him too, but Collin frowned, and he whispered to Marla, "Isn't that a great cat cave, Marla?"

Marla nodded, and Kory said, "Well let's go." Kory and his friends walked up to the cave.

Marla and Collin hesitated, but soon enough, Marla walked forward cautiously, and Collin followed her out of suspicion.

Kory was holding a large rock, he smiled at his friends, while Marla murmured darkly, "That is too dangerous, Kory, we should turn back."

"Relax, Marla, great cats are so dumb." He laughed, dismissing her worry, Collin could only watch as he threw the rock in the cave.

Collin heard rock against rock, but there was no sign of movement. Kory turned his back on the cave, and said, "See, not a problem, it's probably-" But he stopped when he saw his friends back away quickly. While Collin stood there in shock.

Kory turned around quickly, and jumped back when a huge paw slashed in the air where he was moments before, just missing him.

"So that's a great cat?" Collin murmured in keen interest as Kory's friends started to panic, while Kory tried to avoid the great cat, it was quite large, must be older, with a lean muscular body and sword sharp claws, it looked at Kory with an angry expression.

Marla backed away, but stepped on a twig, catching the attention of the cat, and it looked at her with narrowed slitted eyes.

She froze, unable to move, Collin, who had already backed away, yelled in shock, "Get out of there, Marla, it's going after you!"

Marla didn't seem to hear him though, her gaze was frozen on the cat as it made it's way toward her, Collin watched as Kory and his friends watched with a flat gaze.

Are you kidding me? Collin thought, annoyed.

The great cat was looming over Marla though, Collin had to do something, or Marla would be taken down by the angered cat.

He ran forward as the cat rose it's paw, it's claws glinting in the sunlight, he smashed into Marla, but soon his world went blurry, and he found himself staring up at the sky, with Marla watching him in horror.

He couldn't hear anything, and his side hurt. But he was surprised when the cat growled, it's ears back, and it slinked back into the cave, as if that's all it wanted.

Marla was bent over him, tears streaming down her face, while Kory stood up, looking at him in shock. He looked at Kory, and growled weakly, "You... Idiot." Soon his world went black, while Marla and Kory watched with horror and shock.

~*~*~*~

He didn't know how long he was out, he sat up, and rubbed his head. He was in the dark clearing again, but he could see the white dragon clearly, it was laying down, it's tail flicking in curiousity.

Collin held his side, flinching from the pain, and the dragon hissed, "Well, I have to hand it to mortals, willing to sacrifice their lives for another, reminds me of someone I once knew." It's head tipped slightly to the side, it's eyes flickering.

Collin took his hand off his side, and he realised he was bleeding heavily, he rolled his eyes, not feeling so good, and held his side again.

"You'll be all right, storm-bringer, it's going to take more than a great cat to kill you." The dragon hissed, it's scales shuddering.

Collin made a face, and said quietly, "Easy for you to say, I'm just a mortal, I'm not..." He tried thinking of a word, but couldn't because his side hurt so much.

"Not a freaky powerful thing like me." The dragon hissed calmly, raising it's head a little, it's eyes narrowed.

Collin nodded, and couldn't say anymore, he had a massive head-ache, and asked in a slurred voice, "What was I thinking...?"

The dragon hissed, "You weren't thinking, young storm-bringer." It flicked it's tail.

"That's obvious." Collin murmured, feeling tired.

The dragon sat up, and hissed, "But you saved a life at the risk of yours, but I promise you, you aren't dead yet." It flicked it's tail again, and narrowed it's eyes.

Collin nearly laughed, "That's surprising, I feel like it." He said darkly.

The dragon seemed to smile, almost in sympathy, "It will take a bit for your soul to recover, but no, you're not dead, think of it as a near-death experience." It hissed.

"Oh, wait," Collin said, looking up at the dragon, "Is Marla okay?" He asked.

The dragon hissed, "She is all right, a bit shaken up, but all right. Thanks to you." It stood up, stretching.

Collin raised an eye-brow, and the dragon hissed grimly, "I must part, I sense a lot of things stirring, be careful, Collin." It flicked it's tail, and slinked into the shadows, leaving Collin with a painful side.

"That was random, and that's the first time he's called me by my name." Collin murmured, looking down at the ground.

At least Marla is all right, if she wasn't, me taking the blow for her would have been pointless. He sighed, looking up once again, but nearly jumped back when his dream started to shimmer, and soon the world went black once again.

He couldn't open his eyes, but he heard voices, but they seemed to blend together, and didn't make much sense to him.

"That's all I can do, Marla, his wounds are too great, and the chances of losing him are great..." An elderly female voice whispered.

He recognized Marla's voice, which sounded annoyed and worried at the same time, "I don't want him to die because he risked his life for me."

"That's what I'm curious about, his act was brave, surely, but why was it needed?" The other female asked firmly.

Marla had went silent, while Collin listened, "Kory wanted to wake up a great cat, and I hate the things, I froze up, and it was about to kill me, but Collin pushed me out of the way, and well... This happened." She whispered.

The other female murmured, "I see... Well, I did all I could, now it's mostly up to Collin," the female hesitated, then said in a reassuring voice, "He's strong, he might pull through."

"Might?" Marla asked in a strained voice.

Collin finally murmured in a joking way, "That's way too big a 'might'."

He could almost hear Marla sigh in relief, and she asked softly, "Are you all right, Collin?"

Collin hesitated, then murmured, "I've been worse, I guess." He opened his eyes, finding himself staring up at Marla.

Marla rolled her eyes, and she asked, "Why did you do that, Collin? You knew as well as I did that great cats are dangerous."

Collin smiled, and murmured, "I couldn't let you die like that, Kory wasn't going to do anything, someone had to, of course, unless you wanted to end up near death." He rolled his eyes.

Marla narrowed her eyes in worry, "You didn't need to do that." She whispered.

Collin murmured jokingly, "Well, you weren't going anywhere." He sighed, tired.

Marla smiled, "I guess not, I owe you my life..." She murmured.

Collin shrugged, even though it hurt a little bit, he flinched, and said, "It was nothing, really..." He faltered, growing tired.

Marla asked, "Nothing? You could have died, Collin..." She whispered darkly

Collin hesitated, then murmured jokingly, "Well, aside from the dying part, it was nothing." 

He heard the elder speak up, and she said grimly, "That was really brave of you, Collin, I have to go, I have to talk to Kory." She walked out, leaving and Marla and Collin alone.

Collin looked back at Marla, and asked curiously, "What happened when I lost conciousness?"

Marla looked at him sadly, and she said softly, "Well, I kind of had to keep you alive while Kory went to get help, I was surprised, he ran as fast as lightning," she hesitated, then added, "For a couple minutes, I thought I had lost you."

"I'm afraid it's giong to take a lot more to get rid of me." Collin joked.

Marla smiled softly, and she murmured, "I'm glad you're alive."

"Would that be a first?" Collin asked softly, drifting off.

Marla smiled, and shook her head, "No." She murmured.

Collin felt his world getting blurry again, but Marla leaned over, and kissed him, taking him off guard, he wasn't sure how to react.

She smiled, and stood up, and said calmly, "I'll come back and check on you, but you need rest." She walked out.

Hold... On... But even his thought seemed to falter, he felt his eyes close, his side still hurt, but not as much as it did before. But his face felt hot, he rolled his eyes before drifting off into a peaceful sleep.

After a while, he woke up once again, but Marla wasn't there, he frowned, sitting up, which hurt a little bit, he looked around, it was silent.

He got out of the bed, and narrowed his eyes, the world seemed to spin, and he felt like he would fall over if he moved too much.

Collin grabbed his cloak, and put it on, he looked around for something to lean on, but couldn't see anything, he thought, I doubt I'm going to be able to stand up long.

He then saw a long, grey pole, he reached for it, and he peeked outside of the house.

There was no movement, and there didn't even seem to be a living in sight. He tried to look for Marla, but she was no where in sight.

Collin took a step out, but nearly flinched from pain, he made a face, and nearly jumped back when Marla ran up to him.

He asked, "Where is everyone?"

Marla looked up at him, and said worriedly, "By the cave."

He walked down the steps to the house with some trouble, and he asked curiously, "What are they doing by there?"

Marla shrugged, and led him to the cave, where people were gathering, some talking in hushed whispers. While the elder stood in front of the cave with a flat gaze.

Marla called, "What's going on?"

The elder looked back, and said calmly, "We are not sure." She turned back to the cave.

Marla looked at Collin, while Collin shrugged, but he got a weird feeling that something was stirring, just like the dragon said.

They both jumped when the elder called, "No one is to come near the cave, something is stirring, we better make sure whatever it is doesn't wake up."

The people seemed to agree out of fright, and dispersed quickly, Marla asked quietly, "What could be stirring?"

Collin shrugged, and said darkly, "I don't think I want to know." He turned away from the cave.

"You're starting to get freaked out by stuff you can't explain?" Marla asked calmly.

Collin froze, and turned back, and narrowed his eyes in sadness, and said cooly, "No, I'm getting freaked out by stuff I can really explain."

Marla asked flatly, "You know what's stirring?" She stared at Collin.

Collin shook his head, "Not really," he said, then added, "It's not good though, but that's kind of obvious." He shrugged.

Marla rolled her eyes, and asked, "How's your side?"

Collin made a face, "Hurts, but I don't think that's the thing we need to worry about at the moment." He said, indicating to the cave, and walked away.

Marla followed, "It's getting more dangerous to live up here, but we can't move, this has been our home for far too long." She said sadly.

Collin silently agreed, unable to imagine Guagamela in ruins because of an ancient power waking up, and it wasn't a happy thought.

Collin watched as Marla took the lead, stopping by the edge of the mountain, and she said quietly, "It'd be sad if we had no other choice."

Collin stayed away from the edge though, I'm not going near it in this state. He thought darkly.

Marla turned back, and said cooly, "Well, it might not happen in our life-time." She walked away from the edge.

Collin said calmly, "Well, we don't know that for sure." He remembered what the dragon said.

Marla shrugged, "Chances are it won't, but you're right, we don't know." She said.

Collin nodded, and asked jokingly, "Well, it probably can't get any worse, right?" He rolled his eyes.

Marla rolled her eyes, and said cooly, "Yeah, I don't want to imagine what could possibly be worse then getting attacked by a great cat and something stirring in a huge creepy cave."

Collin said flatly, "I doubt there's anything in that cave."

Marla shrugged, "I think there is something in there, it's just asleep," she hesitated, then added curiously, "Have you even been in there?"

Collin thought, and said in a matter-of-factly tone, "Once when I was 13, and only because Allen wanted to see what was in there."

Marla asked, "And?"

"It was just one big room in the first part, with branches of caves going deeper in, we only looked around the large part though, it was just this big stone with red and blue stones all over it." He explained calmly.

"Hm, the blue stones I'm not really sure what they do, but apparently the red stones awaken great powers, but of course, they are stories, even if they have a hint of truth, I doubt the red stones are it," she hesitated, then added, "I'd love to see one though..." She murmured whimsically.

Collin shrugged, "Maybe at some point." He said flatly.

Marla made a face, and said sadly, "Well, if the stories are true in that way, I don't think it's a good idea."

Collin rolled his eyes, "They're just stories, I don't know, maybe the stones awaken great powers figurativly, not literally." He said flatly.

"I guess that's true." Marla murmured.

They stood there in a tense silence, finally, Collin said, "Well, I'm going to go back to my house." He turned to walk away.

He heard Marla murmur, "Be careful."

Collin turned to look back at her, as if she meant more then 'Don't trip.' Collin frowned, and continued on. Even more unsure then he was before.

After that day, was the day he met me, he may have thought I was a little weird, but he never was scared of me. Actually, I think he was more curious then anything...

Setting the path to his inevatible death...

He may have seemed fine and healthy on the outside, but just like Orias had said.

Every day he grew older, the more power his soul got.

When he reached 18, would be the day his soul just couldn't take it anymore, and would, metaphorically, tear itself apart.

Never once had Orias lied, even though he was cryptic about what he said, in the end, it was actually a straightforward answer.

But what Orias couldn't see, is what saved Collin the day of the superstorm.

Hmph, he never changes...

Collin was sitting down near the base, hidden from sight. He could tell the villagers were angry, he could almost see the fire-light coming, he rolled his eyes, They never learn... He thought, amused, Although their determination is kind of impressive.

He noticed movement come out of the forest, a woman stumbled out of the under-growth, she looked in her early 20's, but Collin got a strange feeling from her, an unusual power. Her brown hair was tied up, and her eyes were the green of the earth, but she seemed tired, Collin narrowed his eyes, and stood up slowly as she staggered up to the base.

She was just standing there, looking concerned, he rolled his eyes. He took out his dagger, clutching the soft yet sharp metal tightly, he threw it at the ground, and as he expected, she jumped in shock, and stared down at the dagger.

When she looked up, Collin had walked from where he was hiding, he smirked, and asked curiously, "Who are you?"

Collin noticed her open her mouth to answer, but something she heard must have stopped her, so instead she snapped, "I have no time for introductions!"

I like her attitude, he thought amused, and asked sarcastically, "Sorry? I thought when people meet others, usually they introduced themselves," he hesitated for a second, then added, "Or is that different where you come from?" Collin asked, She definately doesn't look like she's from a​round here.

She looked at him confused, and he thought, Hm, now I'm curious... Since I've never met someone outside of Hamark... He thought, then said warningly, "We don't welcome outsiders in Hamark very much, now what are you doing here, or I promise I won't miss again." He gripped his other dagger, and narrowed his eyes, Not that I would actually throw it...

She got a look of annoyance on her face, which reminded Collin of Marla, and she snapped, "The villagers! The villagers your city is supposed to be taking care of, they are rebelling."

Collin smiled, and said calmly, "That's the second time this week, really, they never get past the gate." He laughed, And I'm being serious, they'd get blown back.

She looked at him in shock, then snapped desperately, "They seem quite determined, they're worried, and they have a leader."

Collin raised an eye-brow, then asked cooly, "Cory? Pfft, he's all talk and no fight." Collin shrugged, but he knew that if Cory was determined, there was no stopping him.

He nearly laughed at her face of annoyance, and she snapped, "Look, your city is in danger of this rebellion! What do you need to believe me?!" She asked in a hiss.

He thought curiously, Hmm, I hate keeping this going, but if there's one thing I want to know, is who she is. He looked up, then said calmly, "Knowing your name would be nice."

She didn't take that to well, she growled in frustration, getting nervous of the nearing torches. Collin wasn't in any rush though.

She rolled her eyes, and snapped nervously, "Look, does it really matter if you know my name?"

Collin thought sadly, Time is pressuring isn't it? He hissed back, "Whatever, I assure you they aren't getting past the gate."

The woman hesitated, then growled in frustration, "Fine! I'll stop them myself!"

Collin smirked, Well then... He said cooly, "That sounds like something I would do."

He looked at the woman confused when she gave him a sad, knowing look. He opened his mouth to say something, but saw a sharp movement, and jumped back before the arrow hit him, and he thought darkly, Well, about time. He rolled his eyes, and he murmured, "Their aim is at least a bit better..."

Collin watched calmly as Cory and his followers poured out of the trees, Cory caught the gaze of Collin, and he hissed gleefully, "Well well, one of Guagamela's residents and a-" he stopped, just noticing the woman, and hissed, "An outsider, from Gray Lock, by the look of it, hmph."

Gray Lock? Collin thought, suddenly unnerved, remembering the feathered necklace his father gave him four years ago.

But he was shocked when she laughed, and she asked, "Gray Lock, care to fill me in on what that is?" She narrowed her eyes dangerously.

Both Collin and Cory stared at her, until Cory snapped, "I have no spite against an outsider, but him-" He gave Collin a heated glance, but Collin raised an eye-brow as he turned around to his friend beside him. "Let's send them a message, shall we?" He growled.

Collin made a face, Oh, you have got to be kidding me... As the man pulled back the bow, aiming straight for him, he knew he couldn't avoid this one.

Not that he needed to.

The woman's eyes seemed to flash, and she jumped in front of Collin as the man let the arrow fly. Everything seemed to be on fast forward.

Next thing Collin knew, the arrow had burst into leaves, he jumped back in shock, and so did Cory and his followers.

Collin smiled when Cory hissed in a disgusted yet fearful voice, "Magic?"

"Awesome..." Collin murmured, I've never seen that type of magic before, that was awesome. He thought in curiousity.

But he looked up when he heard the woman growl something, a bow appearing in her hands, it was quite incitricate, with vines wrapping around the wings. She pulled an arrow out of her back-pack, causing the villagers to flinch as she took aim, and fired at the ground.

Collin looked at the arrow thoughtfully as it melted deep into the ground, and he looked at Cory annoyed when he taunted the woman, "Magic never does good, I-" But Collin smirked when he fell onto the ground, shocked and confused.

The villagers slinked back, fearful, as the woman walked up, staring down at Cory. Collin was unnerved when her voice changed to a dangerous one, as if she was speaking an ancient tongue in a modern language, "I don't want to see you near this base again, if you do, nature will stop you, and I will not be there to control it."

Collin saw Cory nod, and he scrambled up, and he retreated with a fearful and angry look on his face, with the villagers following him.

Collin watched in surprise, Impressive, Cory doesn't back down that easily. He looked up when the woman had walked up to him, and held out her hand, and she said calmly, "I'm Anima, and I'm not human."

Collin stared at her, confused, then asked cautiously, "If you're not human, what are you?"

She seemed to be thinking, and she murmured cooly, "I'm not an old god, nor am I mortal, I'm half. I'm a Fate, the Fate of Life."

Collin narrowed his eyes, and finally relaxed, standing up straight, and said darkly, "I see, well, I'm Collin."

She finally dropped her hand, and said in a strained voice, "You were supposed to shake it."

Collin looked at her curiously, and asked curiously, "So that's how you greet each-other over at Gray Lock?"

She seemed to hesitate, confused, and she murmured, "I guess so..."

Collin thought, It's like she can't remember... He looked up, and asked curiously, "Do you not remember?"

Anima growled suspiciously, "I never remember anything." And she got a sad and defeated look in her eyes.

Collin laughed, "I see, well, follow me!" I think I know what will help you get your memory back... He thought as he indicated to the golden gate, and walked up the steppes.

As they reached it, Collin said, "Wait," he walked towards the gate, sensing the power, he said calmly, "Only people from Guagamela can get through this gate, but even then, it must be done by magic," he turned to look at Anima, "That's why I wasn't so shocked when you did that magic, even if I've never seen that type of power myself." He rolled his eyes, and turned back to the gate.

He reached a hand out to the invinsible force, once again feeling warmth, and soon it grew cold, then nothing.

He continued, hearing Anima follow him, and he said cooly, "That magic was put there by an old god, some suspect the one sleeping deep in the mountain," he thought, rolling his eyes, Right, that dragon is starting to get antsy. He sighed, "In my opinion, maybe it's just well... There. Not put there by an old god..." He faltered.

Anima asked with a careful tone, "You do not believe in the old gods?"

Collin scowled, and said darkly, "You could say that, I have my own reasons for not believing in them." He narrowed his eyes in sadness, remembering how Marla reacted at that pond.

Anima asked in a funny voice, "Yet you believe in magic?"

Collin narrowed his eyes, and said quietly, "Magic, I see it everyday, it's hard not to believe in, since it's actually a part of my life, if I didn't believe in it... Well..." He faltered, unable to finish the sentence, magic has saved his life numourous times.

They were at the mountain top, everyone was either at the large camp-fire or inside, and he turned back to Anima, who had a cautious look on her face, and he said, "But whether you're a freaky old god or what, I still need to thank you for saving my life, even when my doubt almost stopped you from being... Helpful." He said in a flat tone, And I hate to admit that. he thought grimly.

She looked like she was about to say something, but Collin cut her off, "My father... He... Well, before stuff happened, he went to Gray Lock a couple years ago," Collin rolled his eyes, Well, more then a couple... and he continued, "To Jyris, and he gave me something... Of course, it's not much use to me, but to us, if you need to remember something, you either need to go to where the memories were, or get something that acts like a key."

He took the feathered necklace out of his pocket, and he murmured, "I never knew what it was, but he said he got it from an old lady with the powers of a seer."

He noticed her eyes flicker in shock and anger, after a moments silence, he added, "It takes a while, but it always works, you'll remember at some point."

She seemed to hesitate, then she asked carefully, "Do you know where I can use magic freely."

Oh no, I know where this is going. He thought grimly, and frowned, indicating to the cave, "Like, in the first part of that creepy place." He said cooly.

She asked, "Can you show me?"

Collin shrugged, and led her to the cave, Collin knew where he was going, but he heard Anima stumble a bit. Soon they were at the lit part, Collin noticed the boulder right away, but Anima whispered something he didn't catch, and soon, a green orb was in her hand.

She whispered something else Collin didn't catch, and he watched as the orb seemed to jump out of her hand, and soon turned into some sort of green gate, that showed a dark and gloomy mountain.

Collin noticed her moving toward the gate, but he asked, "I have to ask this... Is there an odd chance we might run into each-other again?" Because I remember that dragon talking about Life as if it was a person... Collin thought curiously.

Anima hesitated, she frowned, and said quietly, "It will be a while, but yes, we're going to run in at the oddest time."

Collin only stared as she nodded, and disappeared into the gate. He watched as the gate closed, and he could only stand there. Unnerved as the boulder glinted in the sun-light.

Chapter 7

They say that some stories are supposed to serve as lessons

And that they ring with truth.

But there's some stories... You just don't want to believe out of fear.

Collin was sitting against a rock, watching the sun slowly move across the sky, he jumped when Kory, his frenemy, jumped in front of the edge, waving his hands, "Hey!"

Collin raised an eye-brow, and Kory asked icily, "Are you half-asleep or something?"

Collin asked cooly, "No? What's so exciting that hands need to be waved?" He looked up at Kory.

Kory stopped his jumping, and said excitedly, "Well, we're going into the cave, just to see what's in there." He continued to jump.

Collin sighed, standing up, and asked mischeviously, "Isn't that forbidden?" He raised an eye-brow.

Kory laughed, "Since when did you care?" He narrowed his eyes suspiciously, and said in a matter of factly tone, "Besides, it's not like the elder is going to haunt you!" He rolled his eyes.

Collin laughed icily, "I think she's doing that already." He eyed his house. The windows were dark, and he still got a strange feeling from it.

Kory looked at his house, and said cooly, "Maybe it's just you, now come on!" He started to walk, but he hesitated, and asked icily, "Or are you scared?" He turned to stare icily at Collin.

Collin scoffed, "Yeah, right." He followed Kory, who's eyes flashed.

Kory said cooly, "Great!" He led the way to the cave, who's entrance was as dark and foreboding as ever, the only different thing was that the power rising from it's depths was slowly growing.

They stopped in front, where Kory's friends were waiting, they looked at Collin expectantly, Kory nodded, and looked around. They finally entered the cave, walking into it's darkened depths, going only by hearing and what they knew already, and soon they narrowed their eyes from a sudden light.

Collin heard Kory murmur, "Amazing, no wonder this cave is thought to hold power."

Collin frowned, getting a bad feeling, Hm, as much as I never really believed the stories the elder told... There's something not right here. He thought darkly as Kory examined the rocks covering the boulder, he called to Collin, "Aren't these those rocks that are supposed to awaken some sort of power?"

Collin just looked up, and nodded, but looked back confused when Kory's friend was eyeing one of the tunnels nervously.

Kory noticed too, and asked icily, "What's the matter?"

"I think I saw eyes down there." He murmured fearfully, backing away from the tunnel and toward the entrance tunnel.

Collin asked calmly, "Are you sure you weren't just seeing things?"

Kory's friend glared at him, "No, the eyes were like, red, and I could hear it growl!" He huffed, annoyed at Collin's disbelief.

Collin just shrugged, and Kory's friend growled, "I'm getting out of here, there's something that doesn't want us here." He rushed out of the cave.

Kory and his friends jumped when there was a sharp crack, they backed toward the tunnel entrance quickly, watching the cave as the light seemed to grow dimmer.

Collin and the others froze when there was a sharp growling, they all looked up at the big tunnel behind the boulder. "The stories..." Collin heard one of the others say. But they seemed to be frozen in place as the shadow seemed to evolve from the darkness of the tunnel, it's icy blue eyes staring at them hungrily.

Collin stared at the shadow, but instead of backing away, he looked at the boulder, getting the feeling that the shadow was somehow coming from the power of the boulder.

I still don't believe the stories, I'm sure the shadow is probably more of a reflection... He stepped toward the boulder as the shadow seemed to get bigger, while Kory and his friends watched, petrified.

Collin looked curiously at a red stone, it seemed to be floating in it's crevice, he grabbed it, feeling the warmth it was emitting.

He looked back to see that the others had disappeared, Collin rolled his eyes, and mumured, "Idiots."

The shadow didn't seem dangerous, only curious, and it watched as Collin tried to pull the stone out of the crevice. He rolled his eyes, and he growled, The stories aren't real! It's just a dumb rock! He finally managed to get it out, getting pushed back from struggling to get it out of the boulder.

He watched as the shadow seemed to dissipate, it's eyes turning into a flash of red before disappearing completely.

Collin tipped his head, and looked at the small red rock, which was glimmering faintly, he frowned, and he thought, Those stories aren't real, they wouldn't be called stories if they were... Trying to push down his fear of the small rock.

He suddenly heard a calm voice, "Funny, how one so small could cause such fear."

Collin whipped around, but nothing was there, the calm voice continued, "You will not see me storm-bringer, that's slightly impossible, unless you can see through your own eyes."

Collin relaxed, and the voice continued, "Good, now, that rock is more of a figurative thing, if that makes you feel better."

Collin asked quietly, "How do you know all this?"

"I'm afraid you'll learn soon enough." The voice said darkly, then disappeared.

Collin frowned, and murmured, "What was that about?" He shook his head, and decided to follow the entrance tunnel, and looked around when he left the cave, Kory was no where in sight.

He continued walking, but he had a head-ache, and he thought, I'm not feeling so good... He looked up when someone called him.

Marla had ran up to him, and said quickly, "I just saw Kory run by me."

Collin asked, "Really?"

Marla nodded, and asked, "Hey, are you all right?"

Collin shrugged, "Not feeling good, it's fine, I think the elder is trying to haunt me." He murmured tiredly.

Marla made a face, "I don't think she'd purposely hurt you, maybe you should rest?" She asked.

Collin shook his head, "Nah, It's probably the air, it's getting to me." He murmured.

Marla frowned, but said, "Whatever you say, I've got to go, got stuff to do," she walked past Collin, and she murmured, "But maybe if you feel any worse, you should go have a rest." She finally walked away.

Collin frowned, clutching the rock, he sighed, and nearly jumped when he heard Kory, he jumped behind a pillar, and sighed, not wanting to run into Kory with his dumb ideas.

They were edging closer, and he hurried away, annoyed at Kory. He huffed, and thought, He'd probably ask if I wanted to go in the cave again, no way.

He stopped beside a pillar, feeling tired, he shook his head, and looked back, Kory and his friends had headed toward the entrance of the city, and he growled, "So they didn't follow me, eh?" He sighed, "Right..." He leaned against the pillar, not feeling good.

He took out the red rock out, and guilt seemed to pierce his very soul. He shifted uncomfortably, and he murmured, "Do I really want it to wake up?" He thought darkly, If... The story is true...

He sighed, staring at the stone for a little bit before something caught his attention. He looked up, but nothing was there. He looked confused, and murmured, "O-Of course I don't want it to wake up... Of course... It's just a fairy tale."

He stared straight ahead, getting a strange feeling, and jumped when he heard Marla's voice, "What are you doing over here alone?"

He shifted nervously, and narrowed his eyes, and he shrugged, "Erm, nothing really, just pondering." He murmured quietly.

Marla raised an eye-brow, "Maybe you should rest, you're not looking so good." She murmured.

Collin looked at her, and asked, "Marla?"

Marla looked at him, "Yes?" She asked.

"Wh-What... Did you see... 6 years ago, at that pond?" He asked nervously, unsure of how she would react to the question.

Marla frowned, and said calmly, "It's nothing, I'm pretty sure I was just seeing things." She stared unflinchingly at Collin.

Collin stared at her in disbelief, but did not pry, and he said, "I guess I'll have a rest, these days can't get any worse..."

Marla made a face, and said ominously, "You never know, Collin. You never know..." 

Collin didn't like the sound of that, but headed towards his darkened house, still getting that feeling that the house was haunted.

He was close to right.

~*~*~*~

The day was unusally cold and dreary, a few days had passed, people on the mountain stayed in their houses, to avoid the cold harsh wind. While the villages below were unbeknowest of the real danger on the mountain, going about their regular business with cold looks at the mountain.

Collin followed everyone else, and stayed inside, he listened to the wind. He growled in annoyance, even in his house, it was freezing.

"You've got to be kidding me." Collin huffed, arms crossed, standing up, he peeked outside. Some people were wandering around, but not many, it was cold these days, or maybe it was just winter. Either way, it wasn't usually this cold.

He sighed, looking up at the sky, the blue sky was blocked out by menacing grey storm clouds, not even the sun shone.

"How lovely." Collin murmured, taking a step out, and looked around.

He realised it was close to dawn, he sighed, going outside, feeling strangely tired these days.

Collin headed towards the edge, he looked over, feeling woozy once again. He shook his head, and turned away from the edge.

He sat against a rock, watching as the coulds slowly move north, he couldn't tell if the sun had risen or not, there was too many clouds.

That's not annoying at all... Collin thought, making a face.

He sighed, shaking his head, it felt as if time was going too slow, he could hear people bustling around, but that echoed around the mountain, it was hard not to hear.

He continued staring up at the clouds, Sometimes I wonder if it's ever going to be nice up here. He thought, looking down over the pine forests.

He could hear the crunch of rocks, he jumped when he heard Marla's voice, he looked up, and she said, "I haven't seen you so deep in thought since Ora talked about that legend." She looked down, looking amused.

Collin's face grew hot, then he said sheepishly, "I was just thinking about how legends are only stories, Marla." He looked up at her, and stood up, feeling tired.

"Legends may be stories, but they hold the tiniest bit of truth." She said quietly, smiling.

He looked up at the clouds, and then said amused, "Right, Marla," he looked back down at her, "A big dragon is living in the cave we are currently living right beside," he indicated to the dark cave, and he rolled his eyes, "And is supposed to wreak havoc and destroy everything!" He laughed.

Marla rolled her eyes, and said grimly, "That's the story, Collin. Now, Why did you want to meet here of all places?"

Collin hesitated, he had asked Marla a day ago to meet him over here, stressing that it was important, he was afraid he was going to mess up.

He bowed sarcastically, and growled, "Marla, you wound me." He looked up, trying not to laugh.

Marla rolled her eyes, and laughed, "Don't try and flatter me, Collin, it won't work."

Collin smiled, "Eh, no harm in trying," he hesitated, then said, "But I do have something that'll work just as well."

Marla raised an eye-brow, and Collin smiled, he reached into his coat pocket, feeling the warm touch of the small, red stone.

He took it out, and Marla looked shocked, she murmured quietly, "I-I thought those stones were rare..." She took the rock, looking at it.

Collin smiled, and said, "I went into the cave, a little forbidden exploring with Kory, and I..." He faltered, hesitating, then said shyly, "I stumbled upon that, I knew you loved hearing about those type of stones."

Marla looked speechless, Collin smiled, Of course, they're just stories... He thought darkly.

He jumped when Marla murmured, "Collin, I could kiss you."

Collin wasn't sure what to say, and he stammered, "W-Well, it-it was nothing." He looked down nervously, waving his hand, trying to dismiss as if it really was nothing.

He looked up to see Marla was blushing, and she said, flustered, "No, seriously. This is amazing, Collin."

Collin murmured, "I-it was nothing, I just thought you'd might like it..." He looked back down nervously.

They sat in a minutes silence, and Marla murmured, "Collin..."

Collin looked up, and smiled nervously, and nearly jumped when Marla hugged him, she murmured softly, "I didn't know you were this sweet."

Collin stammered, "Yeah, I'm not used to this type of affection!" 

Marla smiled, and said curiouly, "I thought you were."

Collin smirked, "No, 'fraid not..." He rolled his eyes.

Marla smiled, and said, "Yeah, well, thanks, seriously," she laughed, stepping back, and said, "See you later, Collin."

When she was out of sight, Collin frowned, looking at the cave, I don't feel right... He looked down at the ground, shaking his head.

He headed back towards the rock, and sat down, he sighed, looking up at the clouds darkly, Did I make a mistake...? He questioned sadly.

He sighed, looking down at the ground, and jumping off the rock. He was about to take a step forward, but nearly lost his balance when the mountain shook.

He rolled his eyes, and growled, "Someday this whole mountain top is going to shake itself apart."

When the shaking stopped, he decided to look for Marla where she usually was when she had nothing to do, by the mountain edge.

He looked around, and saw her where she usually was, he tried to stay away from the edge, and he asked, "Marla?"

Marla turned, and she smiled, "Quite a shake that was." She laughed, looking back down below.

He looked at the edge, and he asked cautiously, "Isn't sitting beside the edge a bit dangerous?"

Marla smiled, "Not when you were born up here like we were," she stood up, and said gently, "Come on, it ain't so bad!"

Collin was about to say no thank you, but the mountain shook again, he looked down at the ground, and he murmured, "That's... Not the mountain."

Marla asked, "What was that?"

Collin looked at her, then looked at the cave in horror, he could feel the dark power seeping from it, Oh... No... He turned back to Marla, "Marla, I-I have to tell you something!" He said quickly.

Marla looked at him confused, and asked, "What is it?"

Collin looked around, he realised the pillars looked ready to tumble over, some did, he turned back, and stammered, "I-I..."

He stopped himself when there was a deafening crack, time seemed to speed up as Marla lost her balance, and nearly tumbled over the edge.

Collin dived for her, looking down at the pine forests, he growled in horror, fighting to hold Marla up, who looked shocked, but not scared.

Marla noticed he wasn't looking so good, and she asked, "Ah! What's wrong?!"

Collin hesitated, then said, "I-I don't like heights." He looked at the ground again, but didn't loosen his grip, even though he felt like he was going to be sick.

Marla asked, "Why didn't you say so earlier, Collin!?"

Collin could hear people freaking out, and he said, "Because, I was too proud to say, and that you'd probably laugh at me." Collin frowned, and fought to pull up Marla.

Marla asked, "Laugh at you? Just because you're afraid of heights, not all people are fine with heights." She said gently.

Collin sighed, "Because, we're expected not to be afraid of heights," he pulled her up more, "Living on a mountain top and all..." He murmured.

There was another shake, Marla flinched, and Collin said softly, "I'd never let you go, afraid of heights or not."

Marla seemed to relax, he managed to pull her away from the edge, and they sat there, confused. Marla asked, "What's going on?" She looked around.

Collin sighed, and said, "I-I need to tell you something..."

Marla looked back at him, and asked curiously, "Wait, what you wanted to say wasn't your fear of heights?"

Collin shook his head, and murmured, "No, listen, those stories..." He jumped when one of the villagers called out, "The dragon, he's awake!"

Marla looked shocked, and Collin said quickly, "The stories are true, after learning that from Ora, I didn't believe it, so I went into the deepest part of the cave a few days ago and found that stone. There was nothing there, so I thought I was right, and brought it to you because..." He faltered, and sighed, "Because I like you."

Marla stared at him, and asked, flustered, "What?"

Collin didn't want to repeat himself, "B-But what I didn't realise, that stone, after I gave it to you, I realised what Ora said, something about the glowing red stones, and I realised, I made a horrible mistake..." Collin said grimly, looking down at the ground.

Marla murmured, "Collin..."

"I made a horrible mistake... I woke up the World Eater." He murmured, continuing to look down, he heard the pillars start to slowly crumble.

Marla murmured, "Listen Collin, the world eater was going to wake up eventually, I don't blame you, I wouldn't have been able to resist the caves evil power myself."

Collin asked, "You don't?"

She shook her head, and they could only watch as the pillars started to crumble, Collin helped Marla up, and she asked, "What do we do?"

Collin looked at the ground in thought, he then looked up, and said, "You need to get everyone out of here," He looked at Marla.

Marla asked, "What about you?" Worry clouded her gaze.

Collin smiled sadly, "This is all my fault, I'm stopping it." He said darkly.

"Alone?!" Marla asked in a worried tone, "You can't face that thing alone-" But Collin cut her off.

"I know I can't," he hesitated, then added, "But I can give you and everyone else enough time to escape, I don't want people to die because of what I did." He said darkly.

Marla looked like she was about to say something, but instead sat in uncomfortable silence, and sighed, looking down at the ground, and Collin murmured, "You've got to trust me..."

"It's not that I don't trust you..." Marla murmured.

Collin smiled, but frowned when Marla seemed worried, and he asked, "What is it?"

Marla asked, "Wh-What if you die?"

Collin smiled, knowing that he might, and he said gently, "It's better for one to die, than more to die."

Marla hesitated, then murmured, "I don't want you to die..." She looked up at him sadly.

Collin frowned, and said darkly, "Listen, Marla, can you do me a favour?"

Marla looked at him, and she murmured, "Yes."

"I need you to get everyone off this mountain, Orias hasn't flown in what? Thousands of years? I need to lead him to the edge." Collin murmured quickly.

"You'll be cornered, Collin." Marla said in shock.

Collin said, "That's what I'm hoping, if I'm cornered, so is he."

Marla sighed, looking down at the ground, she shook her head, and asked, "I can't stop you, can I...?" She rolled her eyes.

Collin smirked, "Once my mind is made up, there's no changing it." He said cheerfully, even though the situation was bleak.

Collin was about to turn around, but was stopped by Marla as she kissed him, he stood there in shock as Marla hugged him and stepped away, and murmured, "Good luck, and try not to die."

She ran toward the other villagers, trying to calm them, while Collin stood there, confused, he finally sighed, and turned to face the cave, he brought out his mothers gift, and stared at the cave while the villagers retreated.

I know this is the right thing to do... He thought sadly, knowing that he wouldn't win.

He saw the familiar dragon step out of the cave, looking weak, it stared at him, it's scales shivering, and it's blue eyes narrowed, but it wasn't staring at Collin, he was staring at the two daggers in his hand.

He looked at the dragon confused, and joked, "I thought you were bigger..."

The dragon didn't attack, he didn't expect it to, but he could hear the familiar voice growl, Storm-bringer, long have I awaited your arrival, your mortal fold won't last long. It hissed in an ancient tongue.

Collin rolled his eyes, "Storm-bringer?" He asked, still confused on what that meant.

The dragon seemed to laugh, Collin, your soul is worth more then this whole village, yet... You would risk your life to save it?

Collin growled darkly, "This is my home, of course I would." He tensed up, and narrowed his eyes.

The dragon laughed even more, Then it is my honour to release your soul from your mortal self, storm-bringer, before someone else does it for you! The dragon whipped it's tail back and forth into columns.

Collin backed up, heading toward the edge, the dragon followed him without hesitation, and he growled, "Yeah, that's right you lizard!"

Collin knew that provoking was probably not the best idea, cause he saw a large spiky tail rush toward him. He rolled into a pillar, but smashed his head on the rock. He sat up, feeling dizzy, but he looked up to see the dragon standing over him, ready to land another blow.

He rolled towards the edge, and looked down at the pine forests, and looked back at the dragon.

The dragon murmured, impressed, You're strong, storm-bringer, but not in that form, you're cornered. He growled.

Collin had turned his back on the dragon, and thought, Sorry, mother... And he struck the blade into the already weakened edge.

He waited for the dragon to strike before moving out of the way, and he saw the dragons eyes really close, he jumped away from the edge, but the large fang of the dragon managed to get him. He managed to roll away, he felt the world blur as he watched the dragon freeze on the edge, unable to move in fear of making it crumble.

Collin laughed weakly, "Not so smart now, are you...?"

The dragon looked back at him, I underestimated you storm-bringer, but my fangs are poisonous. It hissed.

Collin smiled, feeling his world getting blurry, it was strange, he didn't feel the poison, but he did have a head-ache, but that was all.

He nearly jumped when he heard a soft female voice ask, What is it like?

Collin murmured, "What is what like?"

I'm talking to the dragon, Collin. The soft female voice said.

"Oh." Collin murmured, feeling his world go black.

Keep fighting, Collin, Orias won't win, I promise that life will never leave you... The female voice murmured.

"I feel dead though..." He murmured, as he couldn't see anything. 

In a sense, for now, you are, just be patient, unless that's really that hard for you. The voice turned sarcastic, he could almost see the person eye-roll.

He stayed silent, listening to the wind as the mountain seemed to shake, he wasn't sure where he was, he wasn't even sure if he was really dead.

It feels like I'm floating in a space... I hate never-ending spaces, I really must be dead...

~*~*~*~

Anima was facing Orias, her eyes narrowed as the dragon whispered in an almost sad voice in the mortal tongue, "Come to finish me off, Anima? You'd be doing me a favour."

Anima huffed, "No, I'm here to put you to sleep, for good, hopefully."

Orias laughed, "You can't keep a storm asleep forever, they always form again..." He murmured, slowly turning to face Anima.

Anima narrowed her eyes, and Orias murmured quietly, "Here's your choice, you can finish me off, but lose storm-bringer in the process, or you can simply put me to sleep, and try saving him with your unknown powers, that even you don't know, but hurry up, I don't think Collin will last long."

Anima sighed, looking at Orias, she finally looked down at the ground, and backed away from him, allowing him space.

She headed towards Collin, setting a barrier between them, and Orias.

The villagers were long gone, she frowned, and thought as she watched Collin, who was deathly pale, How, how can I save him...?

She finally sighed, and murmured, "I don't know how to save him..."

"Death is a funny thing, young one, you have very little time left, better figure out soon." Orias murmured, as he walked towards his cave, the air seemed to still from the storm.

Anima was annoyed, Collin didn't have much life within him now, and she growled, "I'm the Fate of Life, I will save him."

She thought, Natura.... Please save him, he is too young, he is the storm-bringer, Garaos needs him for some reason... He will bring back the life this land has lost.

She opened her eyes, and realised that something had changed about the environment, she looked down at Collin, who didn't seem so deathly pale anymore, but he didn't look so good.

She heard Garaos whisper, You did it Anima, but you must get him to the mountain, or it won't work.

Anima nodded, and took out the little green orb, and she whispered, "The mountain..."

It jumped away, and turned into the green gate, she helped Collin up, but he growled, "Ow."

"Sorry." Anima murmured, Collin must have been fighting to stay awake.

She got through the gate, and realised she was in the house, she looked at Collin, who looked like he was going to be sick.

Anima murmured, "I hope I did it right."

She heard Garaos say, "Somewhat, but his soul still might reject your power though, he still might die." She looked up to see him in another room, and she followed him.

They put Collin down on the bed, and Garaos murmured, "Storm-bringer?"

Collin didn't answer. He had fallen unconcious, Anima growled, "He can't die, I won't let it happen."

"Death is inevitable, Anima, even if you try to stop it." Garaos said.

Anima clenched her fists as Garaos continued, "If he does die..."

But he didn't get a chance to finish, she had thrown a punch, he landed on the ground, confused, and he stood up quickly as Anima hissed, "I am the Fate of Life, I will not let Collin die, even if it takes all my power to keep him alive."

Garaos smiled, "Well, I was expecting you to hit me with your power, not your own hands." He said calmly, and walked out.

Anima watched him leave, horrorfied, then looked back at Collin, who seemed like he was dead, but he wasn't.

Not yet...

You might be wondering what made me throw a punch at the old god.

Well, I don't know, when I told Collin after he woke up, he laughed, and asked me what he did to make me do that.

I couldn't bring myself to tell him, because the memories would go rushing back to Collin, and that would be too much for his still weakened soul, I promised myself to tell him after he fully recovered.

I just told him it was a regular occourance.

That's the only thing he didn't believe, things just got worse from there, Garaos...

He seemed like he was trying to get the memories to flood back, it's like... I don't know.

But Collin just got worse, he didn't die, but he seemed different, like that storm you see on the horizon, you know it's bad, you know it's going to be destructive.

You just don't know when it's going to snap.

I was the only thing keeping Collin from snapping, Collin knew very well something wasn't right, when memories are blurred together, you can't tell what's the truth, and what's a lie.

Maybe that's what made him rush out in anger that day, in all honesty though, I think he was more surprised then I was when we were having a go at each-other in that cave after a heated argument with Garaos.

He would never admit that though, but I'll give credit to him, he did say sorry after.

I think he was more mad at himself then he was at me though...

Chapter 8

Some choices are hard to make.

Especially when people disagree strongly with you

But as long as you stand up for what you believe in, maybe they'll see your point too.

Anima watched as Garaos huffed after a spat with both of the Fates, he stood up from the chair he was sitting, and walked out of the house.

Anima jumped when Collin asked, "What's his problem?" He looked up with his unnatural stormy grey eyes, something had gone wrong with the process when he was being revived, not that he minded.

Anima looked at Collin, who made a face, Anima said calmly, "He's growing weaker, which means his temper is short."

Collin smirked, as if this wasn't new to him, but he looked up confused, and rubbed his head, as if he was trying to remember something. Anima looked at him sharply, and he snapped as Anima's power cuffed him around the head, "Ow! What was that for?!" He huffed.

"You-" But Anima couldn't bring herself to say it, she knew that his blurred memories wouldn't stay that way, but she had to keep that from happening for as long as possible.

Collin stood up, shaking his head, and he growled, "What?" As he towered over Anima, Anima shivered, he looked too much like Orias.

"I don't have time to explain myself." Anima snapped.

"You sure had time to mess with my head!" Collin retorted back, Anima knew that an argument with Collin was laughably one-sided, as Colllin always usually knew what to say to a snap, always knew what to say.

Anima rolled her eyes, standing up also, and walking out. She knew Collin was following her, they both headed to the top of the mountain. Anima whipped around to face Collin, "Look, whatever you want to say, say it, right now!" She snapped, staring at Collin.

Collin snarled, "What do you want me to say?!" He suddenly looked tired, and looked down at the ground, "I don't have anything to tell you..."

Anima growled, "Come on, Collin."

Collin snapped, "I don't know what you or Garaos want from me." He held his head, as if he was getting a head-ache.

Anima whispered softly, "I don't want anything from you, I don't want you to feel like that..." She took a step toward him.

Collin glared at her, and noticed a puddle, he looked up at the clouds sadly, and Anima sighed when it started raining, and she murmured, "Learn to control your emotions, Collin."

Collin snapped, "That isn't as easy as it sounds!" He looked back at Anima darkly, she could hear thunder rumble in the distance.

"Are you trying, Collin?" Anima asked flatly.

Collin glared at her, and said grimly, "I'm trying, but..." He looked back at the dark sky, and murmured, "I can never seem to control it..."

Anima murmured, "You need to try harder."

Collin growled, turning his back on her, and he crossed his arms, and growled, "I can only ever go so long, Anima." He looked back at her.

Anima watched as he looked at the puddle again, and held out his hand. The water seemed to float away from the puddle, Anima watched he looked at the water floating around his hands, and he murmured, "This is the only thing I do that's close to calming, and even then...."

Anima flinched when there was a sharp sound, and the water turned to ice, he looked at it sadly, and let it fall from his hands, and it shattered into many pieces.

Anima murmured, "Your powers aren't destructive Collin, you just need to control them," she looked at the ice sadly, "That wasn't destructive, it was actually quite calming to see."

Collin looked at her, the ice suddenly floated and turned into water again, he looked back at the water, and said, "That's the only thing I can control fully, but sometimes I can't..." He shook his head, and the water suddenly splashed onto the ground, showering them both. Anima flinched.

Collin said jokingly, "You act like water is going to make you melt."

Anima said, "I just don't like getting wet, that's all." She smiled.

Collin rolled his eyes, and said, "Yeah, well, are your weird freaky magic stuff easy to control?" He looked at her curiously.

Anima sighed, "When I was new to it, it kind of was." She said cautiously.

"But you're usually a patient person..." Collin faltered.

Anima looked up at the stormy clouds, and she said quietly so Collin couldn't hear, "You are like a storm, impatient, can't sit still."

Collin looked at the clouds too, the rain had stopped, and he sighed, "Oh well, I hate dwelling on stuff, I'm going back inside." He nodded, heading down the white steps again.

Anima watched him leave, she smiled, and murmured, "You never do change..."

She continued looking on in the lands, she sighed, watching the mountain where Orias was. She finally looked to the north lands.

~*~*~*~

A young boy was walking through the forest nervously, he eyed the trees, he growled, "This isn't fun..." His sharp green eyes scanning the under-growth.

What he didn't know was two other boys were getting ready to scare their friend, one had brown hair, and sharp grey eyes, while the other had strawberry blonde hair and friendly blue eyes, but both of them had mischevious smiles on their faces.

They watched as their friend climbed over a fallen log. They both nodded, and moved quietly toward their friend. They froze when they heard their friend yell, "You guys aren't going to win, forget about it, not even if Flynn is on your side!"

The strawberry blonde rolled his eyes, and he heard his friend whisper jokingly, "Is this really going to work, Finny?"

Flynn raised an eye-brow, and whispered, "He's so easy to scare." He rolled his eyes, and moved toward his other friend sneakily.

His friend froze, and Flynn whispered in an eerie and cold voice, loud enough for his friend to hear, "Karlin..."

Karlin jumped, staring into the under-growth, and he snarled, "Very funny guys! Look how I'm not laughing."

Flynn quietly went to the other side of the tree, and smiled mischeviously as his friend started to climb over. Flynn took his chance when he was on top of the tree.

He nodded to the tree behind him, and he smiled when one of his friends nodded, and blew a sharp wood whistle, which sounded like a scream, causing Karlin to get unbalanced.

Flynn jumped out of the bush, and yelled, "Hey!"

Karlin screamed, and landed on the other side of the log. Flynn laughed, and looked over on the other side of the log.

Karlin was in the snow-bank, he looked angry, and Flynn continued to laugh, and watched as his friend fought to get out of the snow bank.

"Very funny! You, my good friend, have a very sadistic sense of humour." Karlin yelled playfully.

Flynn asked smoothly, "Then where would the fun be in scaring people?" He held out his hand, and Karlin rolled his eyes, and brought out two coins, and passed them to Flynn.

"Only this time, Finny." Karlin growled, pushing Flynn to the other side.

Julius, one of Flynn's friends jumped out of the tree, and laughed, "That was amazing, you sure know how to scare the living out of people, Flynn."

Flynn stood up, and said calmly, "I enjoy scaring people, especially when it's someone who's terrified of the dark." He looked at Karlin mischeviously.

"Don't even think about it." Karlin snarled playfully.

They all laughed, and went back to their make-shift camp-fire. When they reached there, Julius sat down, and asked Flynn, "Now show us that trick!"

Flynn rolled his eyes, and asked mockingly, "Do I have too?"

"Yes, you have too." Karlin said jokingly.

Flynn took out one of the coins, and was about to show them the trick that they were dying to see when there was rustling in the bushes.

Flynn looked up, everyone stared at the bush. Watching as the bushes revealed a small girl, she looked scared of the dark, and he asked quickly, "Ellie, what are you doing up?"

Ellie murmured quietly, holding her cloak closer, "I couldn't sleep...." She murmured quietly.

Julius asked curiously, "Why not?"

Ellie looked at Julius for only a second, then looked back at Flynn. Flynn frowned, and said quietly, "You shouldn't be out this far, you're too young."

Karlin murmured something that sounded like, 'We're too young, we're in the ranges of 12-13.' but him and Julius fell over when Julius held his mouth, and they both fell over where they were sitting.

Flynn glared at them, and Ellie stepped closer, "It's just that..." She said shyly, then looked down.

Flynn sighed, standing up, heading toward his sister, and murmured, "You miss mum, don't you?" He bent over to meet his sisters eyes. Ellie sighed, and nodded sadly, Flynn was about to say something, but looked behind him when he heard a noise, he rolled his eyes when Julius and Karlin were trying to sit down, but were having trouble.

Flynn looked back at Ellie, and he murmured, "They aren't coming back, Ellie, they're gone." He looked at his sister.

Ellie nodded, "I know, but it just feels so empty in the house... It felt like you were gone too, it felt like you weren't going to come back either..." She murmured.

Flynn tipped his head, and said softly, "I told you I was going to be there soon."

Ellie frowned, and murmured, "I know..." She looked down at the snowy ground.

Flynn frowned, and said, "Come on, let's go home." He stood up straight, and nodded to his friends.

"We'll come too, I'm tired, are you tired?" Julius asked, and looked at Karlin.

Karlin mused, "Noow!" When Julius punched him in the arm, and Julian said quickly to cover up, "Karlin's tired everybody. Let's go!"

Ellie looked up at her brother, and nodded, following him closely back to their village, people were hanging around, chatting to their neighbours. Julius walked beside Flynn, and whispered curiously, "Doesn't it get annoying to have a younger sibling?"

Flynn frowned, "Maybe if my parents were still here, then it would have been a bit of a bother, but they're not, I can't think like that that much anymore." He whispered back.

Julius nodded in understanding, and looked as his house, which was beside Flynn's, and nodded, "Oh well, Come on Karlin." Both him and Karlin retreated to their houses.

Flynn watched them leave, he sighed, shaking his head, when he felt a tug on his cloak. He looked down to see his sister looking up at him with wide eyes.

Flynn nodded, and headed into the house, with his sister following.

Ellie sat down on a chair, while Flynn looked around, and she asked, "Can you show me that trick you were going to show them?"

Flynn looked at her, and nodded, "Sure." He murmured.

He sat down across from her, and took out the coin, Ellie watched curiously.

Flynn held out both his hands, "I'm going to make the coin disappear." He said.

"Is that possible?" Ellie asked curiously.

Flynn shrugged, and smiled, and closed both his hands, he looked up, thinking, then looked back down, and opened his hands, Ellie gasped, the coin was gone.

"Whoa! How did you do that?!" She sat up straighter, trying to find the coin.

Flynn smiled, "It's a magic trick." He said.

"Magic?" Ellie asked, "I thought that was a myth."

Flynn smiled, then shrugged, "By the way, the coin is in your pocket." He said calmly. Flynn watched as Ellie reached for her pocket, and took the coin out, putting it on the table.

Flynn said, "Go to bed, Ellie, it's close to dawn." He shaked his head, taking the coin back.

Ellie nodded, jumping out of the seat, and walked to her room. Flynn frowned, shaking his head, watching out the window as everyone slowly went to their houses.

He decided to go to bed also, he sighed, trying to be quiet.

~*~*~*~

He woke up to find himself in a familiar place, he stood up, and sighed. The place was lightened up by an unknown light. There were flowers everywhere, and a soft wind blew.

The only weird thing about this place was the people, they seemed like misty visions, but they were happy and friendly, they waved to each-other.

Flynn murmured, "I'm still confused on what this place is." He looked around.

He never got an answer, he only watched as the dream started to shimmer between the light place, and the dark forest.

Something woke him out of the dream, he looked around the still dark house, he sat up, and sighed. He shook his head. He got out of bed, trying to hear if anyone else was awake. When there was no noise, he changed quickly, and slipped quietly to the living room of the house.

He sat down on a chair, looking down at the floor, he sighed, It feels like I'm forced to be a brother and a parent at the same time... Why did you guys have to go...?

He felt his eyes get blurry, but he continued to stare down at the floor.

He heard foot-steps head toward him, he looked up to see Ellie, who looked concerned, and she asked, "Are you all right?"

Flynn smiled, and asked, "Are you?"

Ellie nodded, and Flynn said calmly, "I'm all right."

He stood up, and headed out of the house. Ellie followed, and she asked curiously, "Where are you going?"

"To hang out with my friends," he said, and added, "Can you just stay in the village...?" He looked at his sister, who nodded slowly.

"Thank you, Ellie," he hugged his sister, and he murmured, "I'll be back, I promise..." He walked away from his sister.

Flynn sighed, shaking his head, She never listens... He looked back to see Ellie frowning, and sadly go back into the house.

He shifted uncomfortably, and went to find his friends.

Flynn stopped by the statue of their leaders, he stared up at it until he heard his voice called, "Hey, Finny!"

He looked down to see his friend, Julius, run up to him. But he froze, and Julius asked, "You don't look so good." He tipped his head curiously.

"Rough sleep, that's all." Flynn said cooly.

Julius made a face, and said with a laugh, "Nice excuse."

"Hey." Flynn growled, rolling his eyes as Julius pushed him.

"Come on, Karlin is getting antsy." Julius laughed, and led Flynn away from the village, but Flynn hesitated, and looked back at his house, he frowned.

Will she listen to me this time...? Flynn pondered as he followed his friend into the forest.

~*~*~*~

They sat around a make-shift camp-fire, and once again, Julius asked Flynn, "Okay, you don't look so good, I doubt having a rough sleep is the problem." His eyes flashed.

Flynn looked at him, and he growled in annoyance, "Do I really have to explain?"

Julius seemed to flinch away from Flynn's annoyance, and he said calmly, "I don't need to you to explain, Finny, you just seem tired these days."

Flynn put his head in his hands, he just shook his head, and Karlin murmured, "You can't keep going on like this, Flynn."

Flynn looked up sharply, and snapped, "I have no choice!" He shook his head.

Julius asked, "What would you do if you had a choice?" His eyes flat.

Flynn looked at Julius, but looked back at the under-growth when there was a soft rustling, but when it stopped, he looked back, and murmured, "M-Maybe I'd choose to actually be able to do what I want, without worrying-" But he looked up again when there was more rustling.

They all stayed silent, and Flynn frowned, and Julius asked, "What was that?"

Flynn looked back, and shrugged, he said, "I don't know," he sighed, and said, "Anyways, as much as I'd love to choose that, I can't, and I won't, even if there was an oppurtunity." He looked up at his curious friends.

Julius nodded, but Karlin was still staring at the undergrowth. Flynn looked at him, and asked, "What's the matter?"

Karlin didn't answer, but he said cooly, "You still can't go on like this forever, it's wearing you out." He stared at his friend.

Flynn didn't retort back, he just looked down at the ground, and shook his head, "I can try though." He murmured, watching the snow.

He looked up, and Julius murmured, "Just be careful, Karlin is right, there's a difference between trying your best, and trying too hard." His grey eyes flat.

Flynn nodded, and smiled, "Of course, why are you guys worrying?" He asked.

"Someone has to look out for you." Karlin and Julius said at the same time.

Flynn smirked, "That's funny, I'm older then both of you." He pointed out.

Julius shrugged, "You're not that older then me, just by a couple months." He said cooly, but he had a smile on his face.

Karlin made a face, "Stop bragging how you two are both older then me." He snapped playfully.

Julius stared at Karlin, and he bent down, packing snow into his hand, and he growled, "There's one thing only I can brag about." 

Flynn and Karlin just stared, and soon Julius threw the snowball at Karlin with amazing accuracy, causing Karlin to fall off his seat.

Julius and Karlin got into a snowball fight, and Flynn shook his head, and said in a mocking tone, "And these are the people looking out for me, I'm dead for sure." He rolled his eyes.

A mis-aimed snowball nearly caught Flynn in the head, he ducked, and he growled playfully, "That's it!" He stood up.

He walked around Karlin and Julius, looking up at the snow heavied tree, he kicked it, causing some snow to fall loose, landing on the two.

"Ah!" Karlin gasped, while Julius just sat there, snow all over him.

They all laughed, and Julius said with a laugh, "Sorry, Finny, that snow-ball was totally aimed for Karlin." He said it in a sarcastic voice.

Flynn rolled his eyes, "Whatever you say, Julius." He said cooly, crossing his arms.

Julius laughed sheepishly, and stood up, shaking the snow off him, and he growled, "Stupid tree."

"It's not the tree's fault." Karlin pointed out, and laughed.

Flynn laughed also, and said calmly, "Let's get back to the village before you two catch a cold."

Julius asked, in an overly offended voice, "Me, catch a cold?" He growled sarcastically, and laughed, "Whatever, let's go!"

He followed Flynn, and they joked about the weather.

But, they were about to learn, that it was going to become hard to come across friendly and nice moments.

My brother knew more then I did on what it was like to take care of a smaller one, I didn't, that's why I got into fights with Collin more then once.

Honestly, the one breaking up our fights was Flynn, and after he'd scold us on how we were supposed to be the adult ones.

Even Collin couldn't retort back, he knew just as well as I did Flynn was right. Even though after he'd find a way to snap back.

But Collin for once, met his match at who could end an argument.

His fights were no longer one-sided anymore.

Strange, him and Flynn got along the best, even if they did have their own fights. I think Flynn kind of looked up to Collin to a certain extent, and Collin seemed to soften his temper over time because of Flynn.

I was mostly alone until Vortex came along, I would watch as the two brothers got along famously, one often being able to calm the other if one was angry.

After all, Collin was the one that stopped Flynn from losing it, I nearly got killed when I tried.

I didn't make Flynn's memories a confusing path for Garoas.

I made them like that to protect Flynn from himself.

If there was anyone's temper that was worse then Collin's...

It was Flynn, but the difference, he usually had a calm and laid-back personality, me and Collin knew better then to provoke him though.

What Garaos did... I was tempted to just let Flynn finish him off.

But I think if I did, not only would have Garaos died, so would Flynn, I hesitated, I didn't know what to do... I was lost, so Collin had stepped in.

Maybe I did begin to care about them, or even before I met them, just like Youra said...

Maybe I look up to both of them, sometimes I turn to either of them if there's a hard desicion.

They both knew what it was like to make a hard choice, I didn't.

I was naive in that way, I guess...

Chapter 9

But there are some things...

You just do.

Flynn entered his house, and was surprised when Ellie shied away from him when he entered, and retreated into her bedroom.

He looked on confused, and shook his head, I'm sure whatever is bugging her will pass... He looked back where his sister retreated.

He was tired after tailing Julius and Karlin, at which Karlin nearly broke his leg, and started complaining on how Julius tripped him.

"It's not my fault you're a klutz." Julius had said, rolling his eyes.

Both Julius and Flynn were 14, and Karlin was 13, Karlin was still bothered about being the youngest, feeling like he was only trailing behind his older friends.

Flynn rolled his eyes, I had to remind him that he was only a year younger, and not by much. He walked into the house, still confused at Ellie's shyness toward him.

He looked around the living room, and sat down, toying with the toy boat their father left them, he thought, Why is Ellie trying to avoid me though?

He looked up when their was a knock, and nearly jumped back when Julius came in, looking wet.

"What in the world happened too you?" Flynn asked curiously.

Julius snapped, "I'm going to kill Karlin when I find him!"

Flynn jumped up, leaving the boat, and said with a laugh, "Come on, let's find him!" He followed Julius out, closing the door behind him.

He followed Julius to the pond near the village, it wasn't iced over, since the day was quite warm, but he could see Karlin laughing hard.

"It's not funny!" Julius ran to Karlin, tackling him to the ground, while Flynn watched with amusement.

Flynn asked, "What happened?" He tried not to laugh.

"He nearly pushed me in the pond!" Julius snapped, but his eyes shown in playfulness.

Karlin laughed, "I couldn't resist!" He was rolling on the ground, tears in his eyes.

Flynn rolled his eyes, and said, "Is that really all?" He looked at the pond curiously.

Julius and Karlin nodded, but Karlin gasped when his head was dunked into the pond by Julius, he stood up, staring at Julius.

Flynn laughed, "I'm going to get something from my house, I'll be right back," he turned around, and started to walk away, but he turned back and added, "Try not to kill each-other."

Julius called back, "I can't promise anything!"

Both him and Karlin laughed, while Flynn just trekked back to the village, nodding to greetings from the other villagers.

Flynn entered his house, and called, "Ellie?" He walked down the hall, calling, "Ellie? I'm going to be by the pond if you need me."

He opened her bed-room door, and could only stand there horrified. Ellie was not there.

He looked in and asked, "Ellie? Are you in here?" He looked around, confused, and stepped out of the room, and looked in his room.

"Ellie?" He asked, looking around his room, but frowned when she wasn't there either.

Flynn called as he walked down the hall to the living room, "Ellie? Ellie? Are you here!?" Worry rising in his voice.

He stepped into the living room, looking around frantically, he called, "Ellie?!" 

He looked around frantically, and he shook his head, No... She couldn't have.... Why... He thought in worry, and narrowed his eyes.

Flynn walked out of the hall, going back to his room, and grabbed his sword, and walked out of the house, knowing Ellie was not there.

He ran back to the pond, and Julius and Karlin looked up confused when Flynn arrived.

"You okay? You don't look so good." Julius said.

Flynn walked past them and growled flatly, "Ellie is missing."

Karlin gasped in horror, "What?"

Flynn did not answer, but Julius called, "She heard you."

Flynn looked back, and Julius continued, "A year ago, she heard our conversation, only the first part of it." He backed away.

Flynn growled something under his breath, shaking his head, and ran into the forest. He jumped down into the grove, and he called, "Ellie?!"

He listened, and frowned when he didn't hear anything. He trekked deeper into the forest, and called, "Ellie? Can you hear me?!"

He still didn't hear anything, and he looked around nervously.

Flynn froze when he heard a growl, when the growling seemed to get distant, he called, "Ellie?!"

Julius had caught up to him, they both stayed silent as they headed towards the growling, and they both flinched when they heard a scream. They looked at each-other and both gasped, "Ellie."

Flynn passed Julius the sword, and they ran toward the scream.

They both tripped into another grove, where Ellie was cowering in fear before a Snow Cat, who's eyes were narrowed.

Julius nodded to Flynn, and Julius jumped in front of Ellie, waving the snow cat away, while Flynn picked Ellie up and dragged her away.

Flynn snapped, "What were you thinking?!"

Flynn frowned when she cried, "Flynn! Why did you come and find me!?" But she seemed angry.

"What do you mean?" Flynn asked.

Ellie seemed to lose the anger in her voice, instead it was filled with sadness, "I thought you hated the fact that you were stuck with taking care of me! I heard you!" She snapped in nervousy.

Flynn sighed, shaking his head as his sister cried, and he said calmly, "Of course I don't."

Ellie went silent, and she asked, "Wh-What?" He looked up at her brother.

Flynn said softly, "Let me finish, after, when you ran away from that conversation, I said that even if the oppurtunity arose, I wouldn't take it," he hesitated when his sister frowned, and he murmured, "You're the only family I have, If I lost you, I don't think I could keep going."

Ellie stayed silent, and Flynn watched as Julius stared down the Snow cat, and he said, "Ellie, you need to understand that I will never be mum or dad," he looked down, and murmured softly, "I'm your brother, and I need to take care of you as well as myself, and I'm young too, it's hard, you'll understand someday."

Ellie stayed silent, and she asked, "So you don't hate me?"

Flynn shook his head, "I don't. I don't think I ever will." He murmured.

Ellie hugged him, starting to shake, and she cried, "I'm sorry! I'm sorry for running out like that!"

Flynn hugged her, and he said quietly, "It's okay, I don't blame you."

Julius won the stare contest, and the snow cat backed away, Julius rolled his eyes, staring up at the sky, and he asked quietly, "What is a snow cat doing near the village?"

Flynn shrugged, looking back at his sister, and he said to her, "I need you to do me a favour, though."

Ellie asked, "What?"

"Please don't do that again." Flynn said, smiling.

Ellie smiled, and murmured, "Sorry."

"As long as you're all right." Flynn said calmly.

Ellie nodded, and they both stood up, Julius passed the sword back to Flynn, and Julius asked quietly, "Again, what's a Snow Cat doing this far out of the woods?"

Flynn shrugged, and said quietly, "Snow Cats usually stay deep in the woods, and don't stray that far from their dens."

Ellie asked, "A Snow Cat? Is that what was towering over me?" 

Flynn and Julius looked at her, and nodded, and Julius said, "We should be going back, Karlin is probably wondering where we are."

Flynn nodded, following Julius, with Ellie following behind.

Karlin was still by the pond, and he looked up when they entered, and he asked, "What happened?"

Julius said jokingly, "We all died by Snow Cat, you must be the one to go find us, oh wait, you might get lost, nevermind."

Flynn and Julius laughed at the joke, while Karlin and Ellie stared at them confused. Karlin said with a laugh, "I don't get it."

Flynn said, "It's nothing, it was just a young Snow Cat, no problem, Julius stared it down." He smiled, shaking his head.

Julius laughed, "Oh yeah, I can stare down anything!"

Flynn rolled his eyes, and he said jokingly, "Let's go back to the village, before something else happens." 

Julius laughed, "What else could happen?" He asked curiously, following Flynn away from the pond.

Flynn could hear Karlin growl, "I know what could happen!"

Julius stared at him, and next thing Flynn knew, he was forced to stumble forward, he looked back, rubbing his head, while Karlin and Julius looked horrified.

"Oops." Karlin said calmly.

Ellie smiled in amusement when Flynn bent down, packing snow calmly, and stood up. He stared at Julius and Karlin.

"Uh." Julius could only say as Flynn smirked, and threw the snow-ball at Karlin's face.

Karlin jumped back from the cold, and he gasped, "Hey!" He started packing some snow up, and throwing it at Flynn.

Flynn ducked, and laughed, while Julius and Ellie watched with amusement.

A mis-aimed snow-ball hit Julius in the face, he shook his head, and yelled, "I'm joining in!" He jumped into the fray, while Ellie watched.

Flynn and Julius were against Karlin, and they stopped when everyone was tired out.

Julius laughed, "Come on, let's go back, you two are more likely to catch a cold then I am."

Flynn rolled his eyes,"You have been sick before." He pointed out as they walked back.

Julius said, "And I haven't been sick since, even if I was stuck in the cold all day." He sniffed.

Flynn rolled his eyes, while Karlin sneezed, Ellie jumped away from him, not wanting to get sick.

Flynn said calmly, "I wouldn't worry, Ellie."

Ellie nodded, staying behind her brother. As they reached the villages, Flynn felt like he was being poked by Julius, he turned back, and looked at Julius confused.

He indicated to where Carla and her friends were, but they weren't looking at them, they were looking into a bin curiously.

Flynn asked quietly, "What?"

Julius sighed, "Nothing." He looked at Carla, blushing a little bit.

Flynn smiled mischeviously, "You like her don't you." He asked quietly.

Julius just stared at him, and Flynn smiled, walking toward the girls, with Ellie following him.

He heard Julius squeak, and he looked back to see Karlin holding Julius back, Flynn and Karlin nodded, and Flynn continued walking.

Ellie giggled, while Flynn walked up to the girls, they looked up, and said, "Hey!"

Flynn smiled, "Hey!" He looked at Carla, "You know Julius?" He asked mischeviously.

Cala nodded, and said, "Of course."

The girls were whispering to each-other, eying Flynn and the two guys away from them, while Flynn looked at them confused.

Flynn choked when someone grabbed him, dragging him away while the girls giggled, Julius growled, "Did you tell her?"

Flynn choked, "N-No!"

Julius let go, and Flynn laughed, "Wow, you do like her."

Julius's whole face was red, and he snapped, "Never speak of it."

Karlin teased, "The only thing Julius is sick with is love." He drawled out the word love, and Flynn laughed.

Julius murmured, "Shut it!" He started blushing.

Karlin and Flynn continued teasing all the way to their houses, with Ellie trailing behind, Karlin sneezed, Flynn slightly edged away from him, but stopped when he heard someone trip behind them.

They all looked back to see Ellie on the ground, she sat up, looking confused, and Flynn walked up to her, helping her up.

Ellie hugged him, and said, "Oops."

Flynn smiled, and went back to his friends, followed by Ellie.

Karlin kept sneezing, and Julius laughed, "Hah! Told you!"

Karlin muttered, "Shut it." As he headed towards his house, and entered it, Flynn shrugged to Julius, while Ellie entered the house.

Julius asked, "How about you? You feeling sick?"

Flynn shrugged, and entered his house, while Julius walked to his house.

Ellie was playing with the boat, Flynn put the sword back. He sneezed, and rolled his eyes, while Ellie peeked in, and asked, "Are you okay?"

Flynn nodded, "Yeah." He said.

Ellie said, "All right!" She skipped out back to her room. Flynn sighed, feeling tired, and went to bed a bit early.

And found himself stuck in the familiar dream world.

~*~*~*~

Flynn sat up, and sneezed, but wasn't in the light world, he was in the dark forest, he always got a creepy feeling from the place, and hated thinking about it.

He stood up, watching as the misty figures around him slinked in different directions, unlike in the light world, their gazes were darkened, there were no cheery hellos. The place gave off a feeling of hatred and sadness.

The spirits payed him no mind, even if they did, nothing would change, Flynn decided to step away from the clearing, he entered into a grove, where spirits seemed to shy away from him. Flynn murmured, "What's wrong?" He looked around curiously.

He headed towards the pond in the middle of the darkened grove, the only part that was really lit up. Flynn watched it's surface curiously, unsure of why he was looking at it, it's surface shimmered, he tipped his head when the familiar image of the grey mountain appeared.

He looked on, the mountain also gave off a sad feeling, but a hidden anger also, he watched as the image disappeared.

Flynn stood up, and thought, Everytime I'm here, I see the same image, the same mountain.

He looked around, the spirits shyed away once again, Flynn rolled his eyes, going back to the clearing, he sat down, and sneezed again, feeling tired.

He jumped when he heard his name called, he looked back curiously, not recognizing the voice calling him.

The voice seemed to grow louder and softer, louder and softer, he called back, "Who's there?"

There was no answer that time, and he watched as the dream started to shimmer, and his world go blurry, he sneezed once again, and watched as he woke up in his room, with Julius and Ellie staring at him.

Julius laughed, "Look who's sick now," then looked at Ellie, "Your sister came crashing into my house, saying that you weren't waking up, my mum had to calm her down." He said.

Flynn asked, "Really?"

Ellie nodded, shying away.

Flynn sighed, and muttered, "It's just a cold, Ellie, I'll get over it."

Ellie nodded slowly, and Julius asked, "Do you think you could come out, Karlin isn't doing so good, even though he got over his cold."

Flynn looked up curiously, and nodded, getting up, and following Julius outside.

Karlin was indeed having touble, he was being teased by some of the older kids, around Julius's and Flynn's age.

Karlin snapped, "I'm sorry that you're not the smartest in this whole village, that's not my problem." He glared at their leader, Tanner.

Tanner just smirked, "You think you can take me on, Karlin?" He asked darkly.

Flynn and Julius walked up, and Flynn asked curiously, "What's going on?"

Tanner looked up, and his eyes flashed, Ellie hid behind Flynn, while Tanner said calmly, "It's nothing, Flynn."

Flynn looked at Karlin, and said cooly, "I doubt it's nothing."

Tanner looked at Karlin once again, who flinched away, he took a step-toward him, but Julius stepped in front, and punched him in the arm, and snapped, "Hey! Leave him alone." He glared at Tanner.

Tanner shrugged off the hit, and looked at Flynn, and asked, "Don't you agree that Karlin is always trailing behind?"

Flynn asked cooly, "Why do you want my opinion?"

Tanner smiled, and said, "You should know what it's like to have people trailing behind you, it gets annoying after a while..." He stared at Flynn.

Flynn went silent, while Ellie asked quietly, "Is he talking about me?"

Flynn's eyes flashed at that, and soon Tanner was on the ground, holding a bloody nose, and looking dizzy, while Julius laughed.

"Nice hit, Finny!" Julius laughed, while Karlin stood there in shock, surprised that Flynn had punched Tanner. Some of the girls were watching curiously.

Flynn growled, "I don't know what it's like Tanner, because I don't think that way." He stared down at the other teen threateningly.

Ellie had flinched away, and Julius had to pull Flynn back, "I think he got the message, Finny." He murmured.

Flynn relaxed, and looked at Julius, and Julius turned to Tanner, and growled darkly, "I don't know what your problem is."

Tanner stood up, and laughed, "Yeah, I don't have a problem."

Flynn snapped, "You sure act like you do!" He went for another hit, but was stopped from Julius, who shook his head, and he growled, "He's not worth tiring yourself out."

Flynn made a face, heading towards his sister, while Julius and Tanner argued.

Ellie asked, "Who is he?"

Flynn looked on, and said darkly, "No one, go back to the house, Ellie."

"Why?" She asked, starting to sound annoyed.

Flynn said flatly, "I'll explain later, just go back to the house, Ellie." He glared at her flatly.

Ellie huffed, and stalked away. Flynn shook his head, turning back to Tanner. Tanner was still holding his bloody nose, while Carla and her group of friends watched horrified. Julius blocked Flynn from Tanner once again, and Julius said, "Now, I'm sure you have better things to do, Tanner."

Tanner just nodded, and walked away in a huff, followed by his friends, while the girls retreated.

Julius looked at Flynn who scowled, and Julius said calmly, "If it makes you feel any better, I was tempted to just let you have a go at him." He smiled, and laughed.

Flynn smiled also, rolling his eyes, and he sneezed, and Karlin laughed, "Hope he gets sick."

Flynn rolled his eyes, and said cooly, "I better go get Ellie, she is mad at me." He headed towards his house.

When he entered, Ellie was in the living room, looking down at the floor angrily.

Flynn said gently, "I didn't expect you to seem so angry."

Ellie looked up, and made a face, but said, "Sorry," Flynn shrugged, and when he entered the living room, Ellie asked, "Why did you punch that boy?"

Flynn smiled sadly, "It's complicated, Ellie, you wouldn't understand until you were older." He said quietly.

Ellie looked like she was about to argue, but she sighed, and nodded, Flynn looked around, and Ellie said, "Julius's mother wanted me to give you this."

Flynn watched as she jumped down from the couch, and she brought out a sweet smelling herb, and she said, "She said that this would make you feel better."

Flynn smiled, and said, "I'll be sure to tell her-" But he was interrupted by Ellie.

"Oh, I'll tell her you're thankful, you need to get some rest, okay?" She asked, jumping up and down.

Flynn said, "Thanks." He watched as Ellie skipped out of the house and to their neighbours.

Flynn sighed, looking out the window, where it started to snow. He looked down at the herb, and thought, Hm... Well, she is the doctor of our village...

He decided that probably the best way to make it was with herbal medicine, him and Julius used to watch Julius's mother when she was preparing that type of stuff when they were Ellie's age.

When he finished it, he jumped when Julius came in, and he asked, "Are you all right? You kind of left in a huff."

Flynn rolled his eyes, and Julius said gently, "Tanner deserved it."

Flynn said flatly, "He did."

Julius laughed, "That was some hit you gave him."

Flynn smiled, and said, "Didn't you hit him too?"

"Not like that I didn't!" Julius laughed some more, sitting down.

Flynn took the medicine, and said with a smile, "Well, if you weren't going to do it, I was."

They both laughed, and Ellie came back in, and walked to her room. Flynn just shrugged, and Julius laughed, and said, "Well, I'm going home." He stood up, and walked out.

Flynn waved, and went into his room, closing the door behind him, he sighed, staring out the window. He frowned, and went to bed.

Sometimes I wonder what might have happened if I never met Garaos.

Whenever I ponder about this to Flynn, he just gets a distant look in his eyes, I know he can remember, I know that he wonders the same thing too.

After the fall of Garaos, he became distant, didn't talk to any of us, and any time me or Collin tried to start a conversation, he'd just nod to show he was listening, but it seemed like he was somewhere else entirely.

Something had happened, after the fall of Garaos. We all felt distant to each-other, the only one familiar with this feeling was Collin, so he didn't really change, in reality, the one starting most of the conversations was him, I guess he just knew what to say.

But I could never change how either of them felt, because in the end, I felt just as lost and sad as both of them, I hated feeling lost.

We had our lives taken away, but I didn't have a choice, Flynn and Collin... They knew what would happen, they knew the price of their choice.

When I threw that coin in that pond, I had no idea what price I would be paying, just to have a question answered.

Especially when I had the answer the whole time.

Some days I'd just pace outside, and Flynn would always end up doing the same thing, it kind of made it awkward, since he didn't want to talk, and I didn't know what to say, actually, I think he wanted to say something, but he stopped himself from saying it.

Strange though, Flynn could tell when someone was upset, no matter if someone tried to block their mind, I remember when he asked me what was bothering me, I asked him what he meant, and he said that he could tell I was sad.

I told him of that day where I lost everything...

At first, I thought he would have hated me or something, he surprised me, he told me that he knew what I did, but he also told me that him and Collin were given a choice, and it wasn't my fault, I never had the choice, I was made this way by force.

Although, sometimes, I feel like it is my fault, I can sense Collin's frustration and Flynn's hidden anger, even during the first years, both of them were suffering... 

They were trying to reach out to me, I just couldn't see it. I feel as if I just hadn't thrown that coin in the pond...

None of this ever would have happened.

Chapter 10

When someone tries to reach out to you

Sometimes you just can't see it.

Two years had passed, Flynn was woken up in the night by something whimpering. He sat up, and rubbed his head, he muttered quietly, "Ellie?"

The whimpering continued, Flynn sighed, standing up. He stepped out of his room, and the whimpering stopped, he frowned.

Flynn sighed, stepping into the living room, looking around, he looked out at the darkened village, it must have been in the middle of night. He sighed, turning around, as he walked past Ellie's room, he heard someone whisper, "Flynn?"

He turned around, looking at Ellie, who looked like she was crying.

Flynn asked curiously, "Are you okay?"

Ellie didn't answer, but she said, "Oh, yeah, just heard you walking around!" She retreated back into her bed-room, tears in her eyes.

Flynn followed her, and saw her crouching on the other side of her bed, staring at the wall, Flynn asked, "You can't fool me, Ellie, what's wrong?"

Ellie looked at him, and said quietly, "Just a bad dream, that's all."

Flynn didn't say anything, but he asked, "Are you sure that's all?"

Ellie looked away, and nodded, Flynn narrowed his eyes, and said, "Whatever you say..." He walked back to his room.

He stopped when there was a sudden wind outside, he could hear it, because the trees they were beside often knocked on the walls and scared Ellie.

Flynn could hear Ellie squeak when it happened, he looked inside her room to see she was now looking down, and Flynn said, "I'll go see what it was." Ellie looked back, horrified, and she looked like she was about to say something, but didn't, only nodded.

He put on his cloak, and peeked out. He looked around, but the wind was gone as soon as it appeared, he stepped out, and sighed.

He looked up when he saw a shape run towards the pond, he followed quietly, closing the door to the house.

Flynn stopped when he reached the pond, he couldn't tell who it was, but it was definately human, it seemed to be doing something to the pond.

He called, "Hey!"

It looked back, and before he could get a good look, it disappeared. Flynn raised an eye-brow, and walked up to the pond.

He looked in it's surface, and he thought, It seems to be normal... Who was that...?

Flynn stepped back, shaking his head, and headed back to the house, and he thought, It must have been my imagination...

He entered the house again, listening to see if Ellie was awake, when there was no noise, he quietly slipped back to his room.

Flynn sighed, not sure if he could sleep anyways, dreams of the dark forest seemed to plague him even more often now, he preferred the light place, a lot less feelings of sadness and hatred there.

He just watched out the window as the dawning sun slowly slid from behind the trees. He looked down at the floor. He changed quickly, and decided to go back out of his room.

Ellie was still in her room, Flynn did not bug her, but he jumped when she suddenly came out, and asked curiously, "Where are you going?"

Flynn answered, "To find my friends, we were going in the forest today, said they wanted to see something." shrugging.

Ellie asked, "Can I come?"

Flynn looked at her, confused, and murmured, "I guess if you be careful, I don't see why not..."

Ellie seemed excited, and said, "All right, I'll get ready!" She shut her bed-room door.

Flynn rolled his eyes, then sat in the living room, thinking deeply as he examined the boat, it was made out of real wood, but it had a sad look to it. He looked up when Ellie's door opened, and she said, "All right, let's go find Julius and Karlin!" She walked out of the house.

Flynn jumped up, and sighed, following his sister, he looked around when his name was called, and relaxed when it was Julius.

Julius waved, and said, "Karlin is already in the forest," he looked down at Ellie and asked curiously, "Is Ellie coming with?"

Ellie nodded, and said, "Yes!"

Julius smiled, but Flynn noticed it was more of a grimace, Flynn shook his head, and Julius said cheerfully, "Well, let's go!" He led the way to the forest.

Julius, Flynn, and Ellie stopped when Karlin was jumping up and down, waving, and he yelled, "Guys, come look at this!"

Flynn and Julius rushed over, but Ellie hesitated, but soon followed her brother as they followed Karlin deeper into the forest, he pointed to the familiar cavern, but Flynn could feel something weird, something unnatural was in the cave.

They all looked down, the drop was around 15 feet, and Karlin murmured, "You think someone would survive that fall?"

Flynn heard Julius answer, but it seemed distant, but he heard Karlin say, "Well, I guess that's true, one would get injured if they fell."

Flynn looked at them, and asked, "Do any of you guys feel that?" He stared down in the darkness.

Julius and Karlin looked up at him, and Julius said, "I feel something weird, but then again, creepy caves scare me." He smiled, and laughed.

Flynn laughed too, and said, "Yeah, let's go though, I'm starting to get creeped out." They all stood up, but went silent when there was a type of crumbling sound.

Karlin looked down at the edge they were standing on, and backed up quickly, and said quickly, "Yeah, that edge is weak, probably from rain water."

Julius hesitated before backing up, and laughed, "Rain has it's bad parts I guess."

Flynn backed away silghtly, but something was calling him into the cave, he turned to go back, but Julius ended up grabbing his arm, and the edge crumbled away from both the boys weight.

Karlin went to grab Julius, causing both Julius and Flynn to smash their heads against the rock, and Julius yelled in anger, "Karlin!"

Julius snatched onto the outer area of the cave, while Flynn ended up on the lower part, dizzy.

Ellie and Karlin looked shocked, while Julius called, "Are you okay, Finny?"

Flynn didn't hear him at first, there was a loud ringing in his ears, and it looked like there was flashing in his eyes, and when Julius called louder, Flynn looked up, and nodded, "Yeah, I'm fine..." He said quietly.

"You sound weird." Ellie called to her brother.

Flynn asked confused, "What do you mean by that?"

She didn't answer, he stood up using a low vine, but got a massive head-ache, and he asked in an annoyed tone, "Karlin, did you have to smash our heads against the rock?"

Karlin murmured, "No..."

Flynn rubbed his head, while Julius said, annoyed, "I feel dizzy, help me up, Karlin!"

While Karlin and Ellie tried to help Julius up, but to no avail, Flynn decided to venture deeper into the cave.

Soon he was enveloped by darkness, he looked around, unable to see, but he could tell he was in a tunnel, he entered the other side, and there was a little light here, mostly from cracks in the wall.

He realised there was somthing in the middle, he headed towards it, and realised it was some sort of pendent. Flynn looked at it closely, because his vision was blurry.

He took it, and looked at it carefully, it was a moon coloured silver, and there was a dark orb in the middle of interlacing waves, the orb was giving him a funny feeling.

He heard Julius call, "Flynn?!"

Flynn looked back, putting the pendent in his pocket, and called back, "I'm coming!"

He ran back to the entrance of the cave, where Julius was still having trouble getting out.

Julius turned to look down at Flynn, and said, "Come on!"

Flynn nodded, climbing up to the upper levels, Karlin finally managed to get Julius out, and soon Flynn was out also.

Julius rubbed his head, and said with an airy laugh, "That rock did not agree with my head."

Flynn rubbed his head also, silently agreeing, still feeling dizzy, and his vision seemed a lot more blurred, Ellie asked him, "Are you okay? You look off-balanced."

"Yes, I'm fine, Ellie." He said, and stood up.

Ellie frowned, but followed him as Karlin led the two away from the cavern, and Karlin said, "You guys can't even walk straight."

Julius said scornfully, "You smashed our heads into a rock, what do you expect?" He scowled.

Flynn murmured from behind the pack, "I don't think that would have happened if me or Julius stood there and just watched the edge crumble away."

Julius turned back kind of clumsily, and said in a sarcastic tone, "Really? I thought we were standing there because a thought overtook us of major revelation," he turned back, scowling, "And not because we were like dumb-struck squirrels." He murmured.

Karlin laughed, and said, "Sorry, I meant to pull you guys up, that didn't really work."

Julius laughed, "No, really?"

Flynn smiled, but soon he heard the ringing again, and he stopped, rubbing his head. Karlin turned back, and asked, "Are you okay, Flynn?"

Flynn didn't hear him, the ringing was too loud, and everything seemed to be moving, it was if the ground itself was shivering like waves.

Flynn shook his head, trying to clear his vision, but his vision stayed blurred.

He looked up to see almost nothing, the colours were merging together, and everything seemed distant.

This hurts... He watched as his world went suddenly black, he jumped back in shock, and fell back into the dark forest once again.

He looked around in confusion, and once again felt sick, he rubbed his head, watching as once again the spirits avoided him.

He huffed, I must have blacked out, but why did I have to get stuck in this forest? He scowled, the spirits stared at him, it made him slightly uncomfortable.

He sighed, feeling dizzy, the edges of his vision dark. He tried to stand up, but couldn't, and he murmured, "Did Karlin have to smash my head against that rock?"

He heard a soft laugh, and he looked up. But nothing was there.

Flynn finally stood up, and he listened as the voice said, "That must have been one knock to the head you got."

He jumped back when someone appeared, but unlike the other spirits in the forest, the person was very solid and very alive.

He looked two to three years older then Flynn, and he said, "Oh, sorry, didn't mean to scare you," he muttered under his breath as he looked around, "Why would she send me here, of all places?"

Flynn asked, "Who are you?"

His vision cleared, and was shocked, the person looked human, but he had the air of the forest. An unusual power, he looked down at him with stormy grey eyes, and he said, "Oh, sorry, I forgot to introduce myself..."

He looked back up, "My name's Collin, I-" But he was interrupted by Flynn.

"Are you human?" Flynn asked curiously.

Collin smiled nervously, and rubbed his head, "Er, you could say that." He laughed nervously.

Flynn didn't say anything, and Collin continued, "By the way, do you know where you are?" He asked curiously, with a hint of nervousy in his eyes.

Flynn looked around, "Er... A forest that gives off a very evil and creepy feeling?" He asked jokingly.

Collin smiled, and said, "Not quite, Anima told me this is the Lower Spirit World, where spirits stay if they can't get to the Farlands."

Flynn asked, "Anima?"

Collin said quickly, "She's the Fate of Life," he hesitated and continued, "And from what I'm told, the Farlands are a lot..." He looked around critically, "Brighter and more cheerful then this place, you wouldn't catch me dead here if I had the choice." He shivered.

Flynn stared at him, and Collin laughed, "Sorry, that was a bad pun," he rolled his eyes, and took something out of his pocket, and said, "Anima told me to give you this."

He helped Flynn up, and gave Flynn a familiar herb, something that Julius's mum used for head-aches and other related things.

Collin laughed, "She kind of scares me, she said that you might need it, and when I asked her why, she said that 'Don't make me throw a rock at your head too.' So I kind of didn't have any choice."

Flynn watched as he disappeared in a flash of white, he rolled his eyes.

He looked up when the forest started to shimmer, the spirits seemed to disappate. His vision blackened, and he was overtaken by darkness.

Flynn opened his eyes when there was a large noise, and someone yelling, "Hey!"

He was staring up at a brown ceiling, but there were other colours too, he flinched, looking around.

Julius was looking down at him, and he said quickly, "I think you got a concussion, or, that's what my mum says, she can't find the herb though, that's annoying."

Flynn smiled, and said quietly, "She doesn't need too."

He reached into his pocket, and took out the herb, and Julius asked, "Hey! How did you get that?!"

Flynn was about to tell him, but he stopped himself, and said quickly, "I found it in the cave, and since both of us got our heads knocked around, I thought we would have needed it."

Julius laughed, "Oh yeah, I didn't think of that." He rubbed his head also.

Flynn sat up, and looked around, Karlin was looking out the window, and he asked, "Where's Ellie?"

Julius said, "Oh, she's with my mother, she was actually kind of calm about it."

Flynn stood up, shaking his head as his vision blurred in and out, he asked Julius, "What about you? Feeling all right?"

Julius said, "Surprising, after we got you here, I blacked out, oh well." He shrugged, making a face.

Flynn laughed, "I'm surprised you actually managed to stay awake that long, I think you got knocked around more then I did." He shook his head.

Julius laughed, "Yeah, come on Karlin, we know you didn't mean it."

Karlin laughed also, "You'd probably knock my head around if I did mean it." He walked out of the room, smiling.

Flynn rolled his eyes, following him, but stopped when Julius went silent, he turned around, confused when Julius was looking down at the ground, his eyes a weird looking colour, Flynn thought, I must be seeing things.

He walked up to him, and shook him, "Julius, earth to Julius!" He said loudly.

Julius finally looked up, staring at Flynn, both him and Flynn jumped back. Flynn stared at his friend in shock, Julius's eyes were a light grayish white, and Flynn asked, "Julius, are you okay?"

Julius murmured as his eyes flicked back and forth, as if he was seeing something that was going too fast, "What...?"

Flynn only watched as his friend was seeing something that Flynn couldn't see. Flynn asked, "Julius? Are you all right?"

Julius didn't seem to hear him, he murmured, "What... This can't be happening..."

Flynn asked, "What, what can't be happening?" He stepped towards his friend.

Julius's eyes went back to their normal gray colour, he looked up at Flynn, and said calmly, "Erm, sorry, I guess I blacked out again."

"It sure seemed more then blacking out." Flynn said, narrowing his eyes suspiciously.

Julius shrugged, standing straight, and said, "Well, let's go see your sister." He walked past Flynn, a little shakily, walking down the hall.

Flynn followed nervously, unsure of what came over his friend.

And he was afraid he was about to find out.

~*~*~*~

A few months into the winter, Flynn was sitting around a camp-fire with his group of friends, they were listening to a story from Karlin about a snow cat.

"We've heard this a thousand times, Karlin." Julius said, shaking his head.

Karlin stopped, and looked at Julius, "Oh, I thought no one heard it." He growled sarcastically, then laughed.

Flynn sat back, shrugged, and said sheepishly, "I don't mind hearing it again."

Julius snapped playfully, "Yes you do," he rolled his eyes, and said mischeviously, "I want Flynn to tell us that scary story again."

Flynn said cooly, "I thought you hated hearing stories over and over."

"Yeah, when they're boring ones," Julius pointed out, and he laughed, rolling his eyes, "And your stories aren't boring."

Flynn sighed, "Well, I get bored of telling the same story over and over, you tell it." He looked at the fire distantly.

Julius made a face, "Me? Tell a scary story?" He looked at Karlin, "You guys always complain how I make cheesy scary stories." He laughed.

Flynn said cooly, "That's because you do." He crossed his arms.

Julius shrugged, poking the fire with a stick, they both looked up when Ellie walked up, and she asked shyly, "Can I join you?"

Flynn looked at Karlin and Julius, they shrugged, he looked at his sister and nodded.

Ellie sat down, and watched as Karlin asked, "Are you sure won't tell that story?"

Flynn shook his head, "You two need to learn to make up your own stories, it's getting tiring telling the same story over and-" He hesitated, and looked at Julius, who was gestering towards Karlin.

Julius stopped when Karlin looked at him, Julius just waved, Karlin looked at Flynn curiously. Flynn smirked as Julius continued to tease Karlin behind his back, Karlin looked back, causing Julius to lose his balance.

Karlin laughed, and made a face at Julius, Julius huffed, kicking some snow, and he stood up.

Flynn thought, Those two are going to kill each-other someday. He stood up, walking towards them, and yelled, "Hey!"

They both looked at him, and Flynn said, "Julius, it's your turn!" He laughed while Julius made a face of mock horror as he sat down.

"Oh gods! No! I have no stories left, Finny!" Julius laughed.

Flynn rolled his eyes, but turned to look at his sister when she whispered, "Flynn, you know how I don't like scary stories."

Flynn crouched toward his sister, and said, "Ellie, there's nothing to be afraid of, they're just stories," he hesitated, then added, "And Julius has no scary stories." After a second, Karlin and Julius laughed.

"Yeah, all I have is silly stories. If you want scary stories, ask your brother!" He laughed, and ended up falling off his seat again.

Karlin perked up, "Yeah! Remember that story you told us last time, Flynn? That gave me nightmares for weeks." He laughed also.

Flynn stood up again, and mocked them, "Ha ha, very funny." He smiled, rolling his eyes.

Ellie giggled, and Flynn looked at Julius, "It's your turn." He said pointedly.

After a minute of silence, Julius finally perked up, 'Oh! I got this really good sad story!" His face brightened.

Ellie stared at Julius, and she asked, "Not scary?"

Flynn shook his head, and turned to face his sister, "No, just sad," he smiled, and sat down. He murmured, "Hopefully he doesn't do it in a cheesy way."

Julius snapped playfully, "Since when have I done stories in a cheesy way?!" He laughed.

All of them, including Julius, yelled, "Always!" He rolled his eyes as his friends laughed. While Ellie smiled nervously.

Julius sighed, "Ugh, whatever." He smiled, looking ready to launch into his story.

Flynn noticed Karlin slip behind Julius, and Flynn laughed when Julius yelled, "Eh?!" He jumped as Karlin made a large noise.

Karlin and Flynn laughed, but Ellie stayed silent, and smiled shyly. Julius chased Karlin around, Flynn stood up, walking toward his friends, and pulled them apart. He joked, "Don't kill each-other now."

Julius looked at Flynn in mock anger, and he smiled, "You're going to get it, you may have won last time-" Julius growled, but Flynn interrupted him.

"Well, I win again." He laughed, rolling his eyes.

Julius laughed mockingly, "Want to test that theory?"

Flynn asked mockingly, "Why should we?" He smirked.

Julius punched Flynn in the shoulder, and growled mockingly, "Just because you're the better fighter..." He rolled his eyes showily.

Flynn smiled, pushing him away, "If only you payed attention." He laughed, sitting back down, his sister sitting beside him.

Julius shrugged, "Eh, now, can I get on with my story, without any interruptions... Karlin." He said, glaring at Karlin.

Karlin laughed, "Go ahead!"

Julius waited for the fire to die down, and he asked, "You've heard of the pond right?" He looked up at Flynn.

Flynn looked at him confused, and said, "We live right beside it, of course." He smiled.

Julius smiled also, but Flynn noticed something different, his eyes seemed to change, and he looked like this was more serious then what he was leading for them to believe.

It looks like that one time when he had that weird thing when we were both hurt... Flynn was suddenly unnerved.

Julius sighed, and said darkly, "Well, before our group moved here, there was another group, just like this one. Except they had a terrible thing happen to them."

Ellie asked, "What type of terrible thing?" She frowned.

Julius did not take his eyes off Flynn, Flynn thought darkly, Are you trying to say something, Julius?

Julius frowned, "One day, an older sibling went to hang out with his friends on the outer edges of the pond, where the ice was strongest," he hesitated, his eyes growing darker, "Except... He didn't know his younger sibling followed him, and she went to cross to meet him, but the middle was where the ice was weakest, he had to stop his sister from moving any farther."

Flynn only stared in shock as Julius continued, "He slowly had his sister move toward him, and when she was finally in arms reach, he pulled her out of the centre, but he himself had to move to the centre to manage it."

Flynn suddenly felt like he was floating in an unknown space as Julius's story continued, "He knew that the ice could not hold him, but his sister was more important, in the end, he fell into the cold lake, never to wake up to sunlight again."

Flynn finally looked down at the ground, while his sister asked quietly, "That didn't actually happen, right?"

Flynn looked at her, and shook his head, and murmured calmly, "No, Ellie, it's just a story." He hugged her in reassurance, even if he wasn't sure if it actually was just a story.

Ellie seemed to relax, and she said, "I'm tired, I'm going to go home!"

She had tears in her eyes, as if that story was way too familiar to her, she ran off, while Flynn just sat there confused.

He turned to look at Julius, who was frowning, his eyes distant, while Karlin was scuffling the snow in nervousy, not looking at either of them.

Flynn tried to lighten the mood, "Well, that wasn't cheesy, I'll give you that." He said.

Julius smiled, but it seemed forced, and he said, "Yeah..."

After minutes of silence, Julius said quietly, "Go see if your sister is all right, I think I did too good a job."

Flynn looked at his friend, Julius's gaze was flat, it unnerved Flynn, and he nodded, going back to his house.

He stopped when he heard a crash, he walked into the house, and nearly froze in horror to see Ellie staring down at broken glass, a memory of their mother, she turned around in horror.

Flynn asked as he walked towards her, "What did you do?"

Ellie turned to face him, "It's not my fault! I didn't mean to!" She stared up at him, tears in her eyes.

Flynn stared down at the glass, and he growled hotly, "I thought I told you to try and stay away from the glass!" He stared down at his sister.

Ellie snapped, "You're always telling what to do and what not to do!" She had lost the fear in her voice.

"For a good reason, Ellie!" Flynn snapped.

Ellie asked hotly, "What good reason? It's like I have no free will of my own! Mum would have-" But she jumped back when Flynn snapped.

"Mum was the one that told me to keep you safe, and it was her that set all these rules." He growled.

Ellie snapped back, "Then what did the glass have to do with it?!"

Flynn growled, "The glass had everything to do with it, dad gave that piece of glasswork to mum when you were born! It was really important to her, like you were!"

Ellie tried to snap back, but Flynn continued, "And she didn't want it to be touched, she said so the day she died!"

Ellie snapped, "That's funny! Haha!" She growled hotly, "Are you sure this isn't about something else?"

Flynn asked, "What else could it be about?!"

Ellie said hotly, "When you were little, I remember, you'd always trail after mum, but she'd never pay you any mind, not much mind anyways! Father was never usually there!" She added, "See, since mum never paid you any mind, that's why you decide to just hang out with Julius and Karlin most of the time."

Flynn stared, and snapped, "It has nothing to do with that!"

"Are you sure about that?" Ellie asked hotly.

Flynn finally couldn't retort back, he growled, "I'm sure, that glass was really important to our family!"

Ellie went silent also, she finally said coldly, "You were worried that mum hated you, because you reminded her of dad." She stared up at Flynn angrily.

Flynn finally went silent as Ellie continued hotly, walking past Flynn, "Maybe she did hate you for reminding her of him, that's why she tried to not pay attention to you!" She snapped.

She stomped down the hall, while she left Flynn standing there, staring down at the glass.

He sighed, crouching down, his ears ringing. He picked up the shards, and shook his head. He stood up and put the glass on the counter.

He stood there for a minute, and he thought sadly, When you said that I can't let the glass be broken... You didn't mean this glass, did you mum...

He sighed, unsure of what to do, After that, I doubt I can sleep... He thought sadly.

He walked out of the house, and into his back-yard, he watched the small moonflowers whoosh in the wind, he sat down, staring down at the snow until he heard his name called, "Flynn? Usually you're in bed at this time."

Flynn turned to see Julius, he seemed confused. Flynn turned back, and shook his head, and Julius murmured, "You guys fought didn't you?"

He sat beside Flynn, and Flynn asked, "How did you know?"

Julius hesitated, then smiled, "Funny feeling." He said with a laugh.

Flynn looked at him, and Julius said, "Look," he sighed, and stared up at the northern lights, "She's like you, surprisingly, she'll calm down in a few minutes and be cheerful and shy again."

Flynn smiled sadly, "I don't know, she was pretty mad." He said.

Julius added, "Okay, maybe a month it'll last, but it's not like she hates you."

Flynn asked sarcastically, "Really? I was getting those vibes that she really didn't like me at that moment."

"Did you like her at that moment?" Julius asked curiously.

Flynn didn't answer, and Julius said, "Maybe she thought you hated her, when in angry situations, some people don't think rationally, they just react what they think."

Flynn watched the moonflowers, and Julius said gently, "I've known you for a long time, Flynn, and I've seen you mad, you usually don't stay that way."

Flynn said, "I guess it's kind of my fault she reacted like that." 

"Maybe it's both your faults, you're siblings after all, it's going to happen." Julius shrugged, and he laughed, "Makes me glad I'm an only child."

Flynn shook his head, and watched as the dawn slipped over the horizon, Julius continued, "Although, you shouldn't beat yourself up about it."

Flynn looked at him, while Julius stared at the dawn, and said, "You know, she'll get over it, she is a girl after all," he rolled his eyes, and laughed, "And girls are confusing!"

Flynn smiled at his friend, and said, "Yeah, I guess you're right." He watched the dawn.

Julius added, "And, even if it does take months for her to get over it, it's not like..." But he faltered, looking down at the ground with sad eyes.

"Not like what?" Flynn asked curiously.

"Nothing, I lost my train of thought." Julius said, and smiled.

Flynn said with a laugh, "Not like you to lose your train of thought."

Julius made a face,  "You sound like Karlin." He laughed.

"Sorry." Flynn laughed, as the sun finally slipped over the trees.

"Aw, it's all right, Karlin is Karlin, he says things as they are." Julius laughed also.

Julius stood up, "Well, since niether of us got sleep over different reasons, let's go wake up Karlin," he laughed, and added, "Also, since he's a light sleeper, I have the perfect idea to get him up!"

"Oh no." Flynn smiled, standing up also, following Julius to Karlin's house.

It must have been horrible for Flynn to bear through what had happened. After all, his sister had a point, being as little as she was, she never held anything back.

But Flynn did, so did Julius, both of them had their secrets, but then again, Ellie knew Julius's story only too well.

Ellie didn't mean to get angry, niether did Flynn, but siblings are funny, the bond they share is like a piece of fragile glass, the littlist thing would break that glass.

Is it like that with us now? Oh yes, especially us, but...

That day... I would never forget the thoughts and feelings that went through my head, because I was the quite opposite of Flynn.

I was the one keeping him from dying then, even though I felt what he did, and it made me want to explode in rage too.

But Collin... Didn't have that yet, he didn't feel what we were both feeling, it didn't affect him, which made him able to stop Flynn.

But I bet anything, if Collin didn't have some common sense, he just would have let Flynn have a go at Garaos, and I would have gladly just let it happen, if it wasn't at the risk of Flynn dying.

Both me and him weren't willing to risk that... I could barely move, I just felt like screaming, the pain was too great, I couldn't handle it.

And those weren't my feelings, it was just the connection causing me to feel exactly what my little brother was feeling.

And I hated it.

I just wanted it to stop.

But... It felt as if... It would never stop, I just wanted to give in to the hatred and anger.

But... I couldn't, if I did, Flynn would have died.

I'm still not sure what reached to Flynn that day, maybe it was Collin.

Or maybe it was something else.

Chapter 11

When you cannot see..

What hope do you have?

Especially when the cau​se of the dread is yourself?

A few months, everything was dark to Flynn, he tried reaching out to someone, anyone, but the darkness stayed, even after that flash of white on the pond, he still couldn't see in the seemingly never-ending darkness, and everything hurt.

What happened? Flynn thought, It feels like I'm floating in a never-ending darkness, like I'm just going to stay like this, I feel like I'm going to explode...

Flynn gasped, sitting up, he realised he was in the dark forest again, but something seemed different, he looked around, and for once, the spirits didn't shy away, only stared at him in strange curiousity.

He stood up, and nearly fell back down, he rubbed his head, and he murmured, "At least you're safe, Ellie..." Still remembering that flash of white.

He looked at the spirits, who were staring at him in curiousity, he asked them, "What?"

One of them murmured, "Little Fate... Do you not understand?"

"Understand what?" Flynn asked curiously.

The spirit just smiled darkly, and didn't answer, but they started whispering, he looked at the sky, but it wasn't a dark black, it was a deep saddening blue.

He looked back down when he heard his name called, deep in the forest. He walked towards the voice, it was familiar somehow, although he couldn't recognize it, but found nothing.

But he did see the pond, he walked towards it.

He looked in the reflection, and nearly jumped back, his appearance had changed, he sat down, and growled, "This can't be happening..."

He heard a spirit murmur, "But it is, little Fate."

Flynn looked back in annoyance, and the spirit went silent, I... I look different... He looked at his hands, which were shaking.

"Of course you do little Fate, one of your own saved you, but since there's no balance, you changed." One of the spirits said.

Flynn murmured, "I didn't want this..."

The spirit murmured, "Yet you made the choice of sacrifice, did you not?"

Flynn went silent, and he finally murmured in annoyance, "This makes me feel loads better, just spirits for company."

"Only when you wake up, little one, will you escape this forest and not have angered and lonely spirits for company." The spirit murmured sadly.

Flynn said calmly, "Sorry if I hurt your feelings." He looked in the mist around him.

"You did not hurt my feelings, little Fate, you only speak what one would say in this situation, very strange for a living one." The spirit laughed softly.

Flynn asked, "Why do you keep calling me a Fate?"

The spirit finally appeared, and she said, "Because that is what you are, now wake up, someone is getting antsy, but you know, you have full control, Fate of Time."

She disappeared, leaving Flynn alone in the dark forest, to ponder what just happened to him.

Am I dead? I can't be...

~*~*~*~

"He's been sleeping for days now..." Anima murmured, staring down at the unconcious Flynn. Anima did her best to save him, but in the end, Flynn was the only one that could wake himself up.

Collin was playing with some cards, and he said, "Don't worry, Anima, if you start worrying, he's going to sense it, and he's going to be very confused," he added, "I can sense it, and I'm confused."

Anima sighed, turning to Collin, "That's what I'm worried about, I don't like what Garaos is planning, and the fact he couldn't find Flynn's memories..." She faltered, and said, "He's going to find another way, and that'll end up hurting Flynn."

Collin shrugged, and asked curiously, "Then why don't you blur his memories together?"

Anima snapped, "I wouldn't do that unless I had too, I don't want..." She looked back at Flynn, who stirred.

He sat up, looking around, the first person he saw was Collin, and he said cheerily, yet in a tired voice, "Oh, hello, Collin."

Collin just waved, while Anima asked softly, "How are you feeling?"

Flynn looked at her, and Collin said, "Meet Anima, the Fate of Life."

Flynn nodded at Anima, and he said, "Erm, I feel okay, I guess..." He looked around again, and asked, "Where am I?"

Anima thought, I have to word this carefully, his memories are still very much intact, and one wrong thing said might set him off.

She said calmly, "On the mountain, Flynn."

Flynn murmured, "Mountain? Hm."

Collin murmured in Anima's mind, You shouldn't hide what happened.

Anima retorted back, I feel if I do, something terrible would happen...

Flynn looked at them, and asked curiously, "Is something wrong?"

Anima sighed, "Do you know how you got here, Flynn?"

Flynn went silent, thinking hard, then he said, "Well, it's all a little fuzzy... But, I remember a pond, then the darkness I was stuck in, and waking up in the Lower Spirit World." He looked up at Anima with sad eyes.

Anima nodded, "You're safe now, Flynn, you should rest." She murmured.

Flynn smiled, "I'm okay, really." He said, while Collin continued with his cards.

Anima just nodded, turning back to Collin, and asked cooly, "Are you really that bored?"

Collin nodded as Flynn stood up, Anima shook her head. She sat down, rolling her eyes as Collin asked, "Are you really that boring?"

Anima glared at him, while Collin smirked.

Flynn stood by awkwardly, while Collin asked, "Hey, Flynn!"

Flynn looked at him, Collin stood up, walking towards Flynn, and he asked calmly, "Want to see outside? It's pretty cool!"

Flynn nodded, Anima sighed, standing up, and followed them out.

They walked up the white stone steps to the top, Flynn and Collin, much to Anima's annoyance of boys, looked down the mountains edge with keen interest, but Flynn soon backed away, and said darkly, his eyes flashing, "I've seen this mountain before." He growled darkly.

Anima looked at him carefully, and Flynn said, "I think it was in a dream..." He looked at Anima curiously.

Anima shrugged, "I wouldn't doubt it." She said cooly, but got steadily nervous, Garaos had already voiced his concern, and she was starting to understand why.

Collin asked, "In a dream? Hm, that happens a lot, this mountain is so creepy," he kicked the rocks at the ground, making a face. He looked up at Anima and asked huffingly, "Why are we on this mountain anyways?"

Anima stared up at the sky, then sighed, "Well, I didn't use to question it, but now that you ask..." She hesitated, then said quietly, "I don't know."

Collin looked at her, confused, while Flynn just stared, Anima nodded, and said, "But..." She faltered, unsure of what to say.

Collin shrugged, looking at Flynn, who shrugged also, and Collin said pointedly, "You've been acting weird lately." He narrowed his eyes.

Anima asked, "Have I? Oh, I did not notice." She smirked in annoyance.

Collin laughed, while Flynn just watched, arms crossed. Collin said, "Well, that's interesting, you never even noticed." He laughed nervously.

Anima rolled her eyes, but hesitated when she heard someone whisper in her head, It's great that you all get along, but something tells me that there is doubt and seperation.

Can't you just leave me alone, Garaos? Anima asked coldly

He laughed, and said cooly, It is not as easy as that, young one, my powers are weak... But Flynn's are not, I want you to see how far you will go, to protect these two.

Anima whipped around, much to the shock of both Flynn and Collin, and she snapped out loud, "What are you saying?!"

I'm not saying, I'm asking. How far will you go to protect both of them? He whispered, Anima was unable to determine where it was coming from.

Collin stepped towards her, and asked, "What's wrong?"

Anima couldn't hear him, and she yelled, You can't do that Garaos! You'd kill us all! That would make no sense!

I'm afraid I can, Anima, I am still the god of balance, yet balance is corrupted, with my failing powers, I want to see just how strong of a connection you have with just the three of you. He whispered.

Anima yelled to the mountain, "I won't let you!"

Collin jumped back, right into Flynn, who flinched.

Collin yelled, "Anima! Are you even listening to me?!" He ran toward Anima, and started shaking her, "Get a hold of yourself, Anima!" He snapped.

Anima snapped back, "What?" She was already sensing the the frustration between all of them.

Collin asked, "What is going on?!"

Anima looked at Flynn, who seemed confused, and he asked curiously, "Are you all right?"

Anima and Collin both stared at him. Anima felt tears in her eyes, and she snapped to Garaos, I won't do it Garaos! Not for you, not for anybody!

Garaos sighed, Then what choice do I have? 

Anima suddenly thought in her own mind, What... Choice do... You have?

Anima looked up at Collin, who was standing up, a look of concern growing on his face. He asked, "Is something wrong?"

Anima stood up, and nodded, "Sorry, just..." She looked at Flynn, who seemed normal.

He asked calmly, "What is it?" He stared at her curiously.

Anima rubbed her head, she had a massive head-ache, and she murmured, "It's nothing, Flynn." She shooed away Collin, who didn't look like he believed her.

Anima walked away from both of them, and toward the edge, she sat down, trying to get rid of her head-ache, but it wouldn't go away, even the rising feeling of dread wasn't going away.

Is this feeling even mine? She wondered, looking back at the two others, who seemed concerned, but both of them seemed fine.

What was Garaos talking about? What is he planning? Anima thought, as the two shrugged at each-other.

But it was when Flynn started rubbing his head in confusion, when Anima knew exactly Garaos was planning. She stood up quickly, and yelled, "Stop!"

Both Flynn and Collin jumped back from her, and Collin yelled, "What is wrong?!"

Anima stared at Flynn, who was staring at her, she growled to him, Don't listen to whatever you're hearing, Flynn!

There was a minute of silence, and she heard Garaos hiss gleefully, He can no longer hear you... He is lost to your words.

Anima yelled, No!

Anima backed away, pulling Collin back from Flynn, and he asked, "What's going on?!"

"Brace yourself..." She whispered, the head-ache growing, and hatred replaced the dread, and it wasn't her feelings.

But when nothing happened, Collin murmured, "You're nuts, just thought you'd know that." He smiled, standing up, while Flynn smiled nervously.

Anima rolled her eyes, standing straight, and she murmured, "B-But... I don't understand."

Collin asked, "What's going on, Anima, you're acting weirder than usual." He said.

Flynn asked pointedly, "Weirder than usual?

Collin nodded, and asked Anima, "Are you sure you're okay?"

Anima stayed silent, then she sighed, and nodded, "I'm fine." She looked away from the two, her eyes watering. Garaos... Why does he keep doing this? Is he trying to drive me nuts?

Flynn said suddenly, and in a worried tone, "You're lying."

Anima looked up at him, expecting to see a darkened gaze, but his eyes were only a flat grey. She sighed, and thought quietly, Only to myself... She then realised that it didn't sound like Flynn was talking to her.

Flynn did not pry, he only frowned. Collin asked, "Well...?"

Anima rubbed her head, and asked Flynn, "Are you... Okay?"

She knew something was wrong when he did not answer, and only turned away from her, and she said quietly, "I'm going to take that as a maybe."

They both looked up when they heard that familiar voice growl, "So that's where you three got to, you've to to be careful up here, you know."

Anima stared as Garaos walked towards them, he looked older, no longer the sophisticated and polite man that Anima first saw. He now looked like more of a beraggled, crazy, old man, his appearance reflecting what little power he has, when Anima knew him, he was at his most powerful... But now, he has lost all that power, but that doesnt mean he can use their power.

Collin waved cheerily, oblivious to the tense atmosphere, Anima and Flynn stood beside each-other, staring at Garaos, and he murmured too warmly, "I hope you young ones are all right, I'd hate to have something bad to happen."

Collin asked, "What could happen?" He looked around at Anima.

Garaos smiled darkly, staring down at the fates, and he said, "A lot of things, Collin," he looked at Anima and Flynn, "There are many things in this world that are dangerous."

Anima took a step forward, and asked coldly, "Is there something you want?"

Garaos stared at her with an even gaze, and said coldly, "You've grown strong Anima, but when it comes to understanding another's feelings, you are weak, it will destroy you."

Anima finally flinched back, and Garaos laughed, "You were never one to flinch back, Anima, what is wrong?" his face suddenly changed, it was dark and evil, she heard Collin step back, "Are you afraid?"

All three of them were silent, all of them edging away as Garaos stepped forward.

When Flynn stopped, Anima stood behind him, watching as Garaos walked past Flynn, who's gaze was finally darkened, "The one things humans never learned to speak," Garaos murmured, then smiled, "Was the truth."

Collin and Anima gasped, Garaos laughed, "This is a true test, all of the old gods are nearly gone, but two stay with us, they last forever," he looked up at the sky, which was a dark grey colour, slowly turning into a menacing black, and he continued, "But even they can be covered."

Anima looked at Collin, and thought quickly, Are you causing the storm?!

Collin shook his head quickly, Anima held her head as a searing pain seemed to take hold on her, and Garaos murmured, "You must learn Anima, even the strongest of bonds, as much as they are helpful, are your worst enemy."

Anima could barely move, the pain was too much, Collin was confused, looking up at the dark storm, he said in shock, "I can't see..."

Anima yelled at Garaos, "What are you doing?!" She held her head as the pain grew, and the ringing noise grew louder and louder. She was crouched over the mountain, feeling like she was going to be sick.

Garaos smiled, and said with a sneer, "This is not my doing, Anima."

A whole bunch of feelings grew within her, none of them good, but the biggest feeling within her, was the feeling of fear and sadness.

Anima growled through the pain, "Well, you're doing something!"

Collin could only watch as Garaos stepped forward, and said cooly, "It's not what I did."

Anima snapped, "Stop! You're doing something."

Garaos said curiously, "That's what I never got with you mortals, sometimes you tell the truth, but sometimes you lie, please explain that to me."

Anima gasped as the pain was searing hot, "I-I can't!" She yelled out, her eyes watering.

Collin yelled at Garaos, "What are you doing?!"

Garaos looked up, and said cooly, "I'm not doing anything to Anima, notice how you are not affected by what she is feeling."

Collin edged forward towards Anima. But he said nothing, and Garaos continued, "How long can you last Anima? How long can you bear through anothers feelings?"

Anima sensed Collin take another step forward, and she snapped, "Don't!"

Collin hesitated, while Anima tried to sense the air around them, but nearly gasped in horror when she couldn't feel anything, it was all dark, it was like there was no air around them, just the black clouds above them.

Collin looked around, "What-?" But he stopped when Garaos murmured something.

"I'm giving you an hour to fix this, Anima, if you can reach into the darkness with your healing light..." Garaos stepped aside, and Collin had to drag Anima away from what they saw.

Anima finally regained her balance, but the pain was still there, but she was face to face with something she was horrified, yet expecting to see.

Garaos was behind Flynn, who's eyes were a deep red, and his gaze flat, and Anima snapped, "What did you do to him?"

Garaos smiled, "If I cannot remove his memories, either you have to blur them, or... We could resort to higher measures, I'm giving you time, I want to see what you will do." He murmured.

Flynn took out a sword, and Anima pushed Collin away from Flynn's swipe, and she rolled away, and thought, trying to reach to Flynn, What did Garaos do to you?!

No answer, but she heard Garaos laugh, "He cannot hear you, little Fate, his concious is long gone."

Anima growled, I refuse to believe that!

Collin watched in horror as Anima and Flynn attacked and dodged, Anima said to Flynn, "I'm not going to hurt you!"

Flynn seemed to hesitate, but that only lasted for a second, and Anima had to dodge a close blow. The pain still searing through her head, and she could barely see through the dark fog.

She gasped when she tripped over a loose rock, and was forced to stare at Flynn as he walked up to her, sword aimed for the killing blow.

The pain was too much, she finally yelled in fear and sadness, "Stop!"

She watched as Flynn hesitated, and she yelled, "Stop! This isn't you!" She sat up, "I know you're suffering, and Garaos is using that against you!" She snapped.

She noticed Collin edge forward, as if to give Anima a clear way, and she yelled, "Don't you listen to a word he's saying!"

Flynn narrowed his eyes, and she yelled, tears in her eyes, "I'm sorry!"

That finally broke Flynn from attack, and Collin took a chance to give Anima a clear shot that would stop Garaos.

Collin shielded Anima, but both of them got knocked back by an unknown force, Anima stood up, the pain gone, but was shocked when Collin was holding his arm, and he snapped, "This is your only chance, I'll hold back Garaos!"

Anima nodded, Flynn was standing there in honest shock, but his eyes were still that menacing red, and the fog seemed to get thicker and thicker.

She finally reached Flynn, who took a step back, and she sighed, and told Flynn, I can help you Flynn, If you'd just let me...

She felt her vision darken, and soon she found herself standing in a dark forest, but it seemed to have a sad atmosphere, not hatred, just sadness.

She noticed Flynn staring down at the ground, and she asked, "What has he told you?"

Flynn looked up, and Anima relaxed when his eyes were their normal grey, but they were tinged with red, and they were watering, and he murmured, "I-I don't know... I just felt..."

Anima murmured, "Sad, angry, upset? Those ring a bell?"

Flynn looked at her, and Anima sighed, "I guess you did hear me, out there, not only could I sense your fear, I could really, and I mean really, feel it." She smiled warmly.

Flynn frowned, shaking his head and looked away from her, and he murmured, "I nearly killed you."

"You didn't though," Anima said softly, taking a step towards him, then she sighed, "If it makes you feel any better, I probably wouldn't have died anyways."

Flynn said quietly, "A bit." He smiled.

Anima smiled, and then looked around, and she asked curiously, "How do we get out of here?"

Flynn looked around also, and shrugged. He said sheepishly, "I have no idea."

Anima made a face, and looked around, she said, "Well, we've got to get out, Collin can't take Garaos on his own." She thought deeply.

Flynn seemed to be thinking, Anima turned around when he said, "I guess we could try breaking the barrier." He stared up at the sky

"Is that a good idea? This is your dream world, which is connected to the Lower Spirit World... Wouldn't that... Hurt you?" Anima asked quietly.

Flynn shook his head, and said cooly, "No, this is just the Lower Spirit World, we could easily break out, but we have to be careful." He looked at her expectantly.

"What?" Anima asked.

Flynn said flatly, "Well, I don't know how to get out."

Anima said in shock, "I don't either!" She started looking around frantically.

Flynn said, "Well, maybe we could just wait." He looked at her, and shrugged.

"We don't have time for that, Flynn." Anima said quickly, worried for Collin.

He stared at her, and he murmured, "Time?"

"Yeah, time." She stared at him, unsure of what he was thinking.

Flynn looked like he was thinking quickly, then he asked, "Do you have a time dial?" Then he looked around at the sky.

"Only one that Garaos gave me," she took it out slowly, and asked, "Why...?"

Flynn took it from her, and looked around, he looked at it closely, and Anima asked, "What are you-" But was cut off when the dream started to shimmer, Flynn looked up from the dial, and he smiled, and said cooly, "It worked."

Anima and Flynn soon landed back into their world, both stumbling backwards. They sighed in relief, but they jumped when there was a large explosion.

Anima jumped up when Collin jumped towards her, and he snapped, "Garaos keeps-" But he was interrupted when Anima pulled him out of the way of a powerful blast.

Anima snapped, "We need to get out of here!"

Collin said sarcastically, "No... Really?" He ducked when Garaos attacked from no where, and disappeared again.

Anima turned to face the edge, and murmured, "But how?"

Both her and Collin turned around just as Garaos was about to finish them off, but she gasped Flynn jumped in the way, and he seemed to take them somewhere else, she looked around, confused on why she was still standing. She gasped when the northern lights filled her vision.

Flynn yelled, "Hold on, Garaos is trying to cut my path!"

Anima nodded, and gasped when she saw the lights seem to crack, and Collin growled, "No way I'd let you old man!"

Flynn growled tiredly, "No... Wait..."

Anima knew it was too late, the dream seemed to speed up, and the lights seemed to shatter in their faces, and her vision darkened.

She didn't know how long she was out, she sat up, holding her head, and she yelled, "Collin, what did you do?!"

Anima shook the blurriness out of her vision, and saw Collin rubbing his head, and he snapped, "Well, sorry, I didn't want Garaos killing us."

"You nearly killed us!" Anima snapped back.

A tired voice said, "Will you two stop arguing?"

Anima turned around, Flynn was standing up, and Anima gasped at what she saw, they were on a path, and it was lit by lanterns of many colours. It was beautiful, in a creepy way.

Collin asked, "What is this place?"

Flynn looked at him, and said cooly, "I'm not sure, I didn't know where I was going," he looked around, and murmured, "But we're not safe here, I can sense Garaos's power." He started walking.

"Hey! You said you didn't know where you are going!" Collin said, standing up, Anima followed.

Flynn turned to him, and said cooly, "I guess that's true, but I have a feeling that this is where we're supposed to go."

Collin growled sarcastically, "That's reliable."

Anima sneered, "He probably knows this place a lot more then you do, even though this is his first time here too." She said cooly.

Flynn said calmly, "Oh, it's not a good idea to argue by the way."

Collin asked, "Why?"

Flynn signalled to around him, where spirits were staring at the newcomers warily. Flynn smiled, and continued leading the way.

Anima stopped when Flynn looked around, and he murmured, "This seems good."

Collin asked from the back, "What seems good?"

Anima crouched toward the ground, brushing her hand on the surface of the earth, she saw an image of a small clearing, it seemed peaceful, and out of the reach of Garaos.

Anima murmured, "It is perfect."

Collin asked, "What's perfect?"

Anima stood up, nodding at Flynn, then looked at Collin, and said cooly, "Until we figure out how to beat Garaos and find the fourth fate, we need to stay far away from the reaches of the mountain."

Anima turned back to Flynn as the path seemed to dissolve, and the darkness was being replaced by a flood of colours, the colours seemed to be getting farther and farther, and soon they were in the thicket, but Anima was confused on why it was night.

Flynn noticed her confusion, and said, "Time must go faster in the lower spirit world and the spirit path." He nodded to the northern lights above them, like a streaming river of colours in the night sky next to the stars.

"Makes sense." Anima murmured.

Collin sighed, looking around, and said calmly, "I definitely like this place better then the mountain... A lot more... Open."

Anima laughed, "Don't tell me you were getting claustophobic up on an open mountain-top."

Collin made a face, "Me? Nah, it was more of the air surrounding it that gave me the feeling of being choked." He said dismissivly.

Anima raised an eye-brow, and Collin snapped, "What? Couldn't you sense it?"

Anima said, "I could sense the evil, if that's what you mean."

Collin nodded, "Yeah, that, I think the old man officially lost it at that point, all I could feel in the air was evil and a lot of nasty stuff." He said.

Anima agreed silently, and Collin said smoothly, "Well, I don't know about you, but I'm going to start a fire because it's about to get really cold." He walked into the darkness.

Anima rolled her eyes, looking at Flynn, but frowned when he was looking down at the ground, as if he was distracted from something, but Anima thought better to ask.

I didn't know what was wrong with Flynn...

Was it something me or Collin said? I don't think it was, Flynn was hiding something.

I knew we wouldn't be able to beat Garaos the way we were going, being distant with each-other...

So an old god helped me change that, even though I had trust issues with old gods... This one said himself that he was brutally honest, so I did trust him, but only a little.

He told me a lot of stuff about both our worlds, about the first old gods, about who created them, why Garaos was failing to keep the scales of balance even.

It was kind of like a history lesson.

I learned that all the old gods were evil in their own right, that was needed, but Garaos took it to a whole other level by breaking the one rule all old gods, no matter how crazy, followed.

That rule has changed when me and the other Fates took the balance, it had to do with mortals.

An old god can't take a mortals life unwillingly...

How did he break that rule?

By making me an immortal, for that, I had to die, but did I know? No.

So, when the old god told me that the other old gods had sensed this change, the balance started to tip, so he made me what I am, but he knew I couldn't be the only one, there needed to be four of us.

It's strange, what he told me, he told me his reasons for helping me, even though he and Garaos were on the same level of power, he didn't want to see the oldest gods be covered by darkness.

Was it Garaos's darkness? Somewhat...

He told me I had to reach out to Collin and Flynn, or else Garaos would destroy us.

I did succeed? How did I do that?

By breaking down in front of them, I didn't know what freaked me out, but when it happened, something about it... Reached to both of them.

It also somehow made Garaos weaker.

Chapter 12

Sometimes, just reaching out to somebody

Just might turn the tides.

Anima was sitting down, poking at the grass, waiting for Collin, they already had firewood after Collin came back with some, Anima thought, What is he doing?

Flynn was sitting a bit away from her, staring at the ground, Anima sighed, feeling awkward, but continued to stare into the forest.

Soon, they both looked up when Collin came back, and he said, "Well, there's this small pond by here, but the trees around it are like... Dead, no life at all."

Anima made a face, and asked grimly, "Can we just get the fire started?" Collin nodded, leaning toward the fire wood, trying to get it to start.

Anima looked at the sky, while Collin murmured, "I was never good at starting fires."

"What makes you-" She looked down, and nearly gasped in shock to see that it was not Collin, the boy had ginger hair and bright green eyes, the boy asked, "Anima, can you help me?"

Anima blinked, but was confused when Collin was back, and he said, "Anima, hello?" He waved, trying to get her attention.

"Help? Okay." She stood up, heading towards the fire, but Collin stopped her, and said quickly, "I got it, hang on."

She jumped back in fright when the fire suddenly started, Collin looked at her confused when she crouched, holding her head, more images returned to her vision.

Collin asked, "Is something wrong?"

Anima didn't hear him, she opened her eyes, looking up, and the scene had changed, the boy was back, and he asked, "Anima?"

Anima just stared at him, and jumped when the spirit of a girl passed through Anima, and she said cooly, "Come on, I was just looking at something."

Anima stared as the two talked, and Anima asked, "W-What is going on?!"

A male voice said, "You are getting your memories back."

She whipped around to face Orias, who had his arms crossed, and he said calmly, "When Collin started the fire, that unlocked your mortal memories."

"Mortal memories, I was never a mortal." Anima snapped, backing up.

Orias smiled, and said cooly, "Yet, you know the boys name, even if you disagree that you've ever seen him before."

Anima looked back at the boy, who was alone, the girl must have walked off, he stretched, and Anima murmured, "Cole..."

"Yep, that's his name." Orias said calmly.

Anima rubbed her head, and murmured, "This can't be right, I'm immortal, that means I'm not mortal!" 

Orias nodded, "Correct, but... An old god can make a mortal into an immortal, but that would be breaking the code." He said calmly.

Anima asked, "Code?"

Orias smiled, "You really want a history lesson from me?" He hesitated, then shrugged, "Well, better me than the other old gods."

Anima snapped, "Why should I trust you though?"

Orias seemed to think, and she swore she saw Collin's playful and carefree gaze within them, and he said calmly, "I do not want to hurt you, I want to help you." He murmured.

Anima sighed, and said, "Okay."

Orias said, "Well, better sit down." He sat down, and Anima followed suit.

"Okay, well, I'm not very old, not as old as Garaos, but every old god knows the code, set down after the fall and death of Tharas." He said smoothly, his eyes narrowed though, a flash of sadness across them, bringing out a book.

Anima asked, "Who was Tharas?" She stared at the old tome, which had golden bindings.

Orias frowned, and asked quietly, "Are you sure you want to know?" As he opened the book.

Anima nodded, "Yes." She murmured.

Orias sighed, standing up, and he said sadly, "He was not unlike Flynn, especially what they had control over, he was young, smart, but could not control the darkness," he sighed, "He was one of the few old gods I could trust, it was impossible to lie to him."

Anima asked, "What happened?" Soon worry clouded her gaze, knowing what was happening.

Orias sat down again, opening the book to another page, "Garaos killed him." He murmured sadly.

"What?! How?!" Anima gasped.

Orias said sadly, "By using his own weakness against him." 

Anima stared at him confused, and Orias opened the book, Anima gasped when their environment started to change. It was pure darkness, the moon and sun were blocked out by black clouds, but everything was silent, there was no movement.

"This is when Tharas fell, the world was cloaked in darkness when he died," Orias murmured, then sighed, "Yet, this darkness was caused by him."

Anima asked, "Did the darkness kill him?"

Orias nodded, "In the end, it always does." He murmured.

The environment changed again, and they were now in a dark forest, and Orias said coldly, "Let that image serve as a warning."

Anima stayed silent, and he continued, "After that stunt, all the old gods put down a code, that would stop that from happening again."

Orias opened the book to another page, and said, "We all agreed that old gods could not make a mortal immortal unwillingly, since that caused death of the mortal, that we could not kill another old god for our own needs... And the most important one..."

He opened to another page, and he murmured, "We were not to mess with the cycle of life and death, of which Tharas had governed."

Anima looked at the book closely, but it was written in rune writing, and Orias murmured, "When these codes were written, Garaos tried to strike back, but Solaris and Yuna, the sun and the moon, stopped him, and these codes were placed, and he was placed in keeping balance alone, without Tharas to help him." He closed the book.

Anima piped up, "Hold on, I have a question!"

Orias looked at her, and she asked, "Well, first, why are you helping me?"

Orias looked at her, and said, "I do not want to see that image of darkness again, I may be evil in my own right, as all old gods are, but I do not want such a young immortal like Flynn to suffer like Tharas did, they are both cursed with the darkness, and both, when provoked, can bring about that eternal darkness," Orias sighed, "Tharas fell because Garaos continued and continued to provoke him, until Tharas had it with him, and the darkness killed him."

Anima asked, "Is Flynn in danger?"

Orias said, "More then any of us knows," he hesitated, and added, "Old gods do die, it takes our own weakness to kill us, Tharas is gone, but the cycle of life and death continues, and it has been imbalanced since Tharas left this world."

Anima gasped, "That's why Garaos needed us!"

Orias nodded, then said in an urgent voice, "You must strengthen the bond between the four Fates, the fourth is already safe, but you three are not, you're distant, you will lose everything if Garaos gets his way," he growled, "History tends to repeat itself."

Anima gasped when Orias said quietly, "This world is just a bunch of broken pieces of glass because of Garaos, it's near unfixable, and will become unfixable if you three fail, and Garaos becomes powerful again."

Anima murmured as the vision faded, "This world is just a bunch of broken pieces of glass..."

She woke up in a world of colour, and was confused when Flynn was staring at her in horror, while Collin stared at her confused, and he said jokingly, "I think you've lost it too."

Anima stared at Flynn, and he murmured, "Broken pieces of glass...?"

Anima stood up, and said, "Er, nothing."

Flynn seemed to draw back, he backed away from Anima, and Anima asked, "Is something wrong."

Flynn hesitated, and said cooly, "No, er, I'm going to go for a walk."

Anima stared at him as he disappeared into the darkness, she heard Orias whisper, "Go after him, reach out to him, he shouldn't be alone when Garaos is trying to find you."

Anima pushed past Collin, who gasped, "Hey!"

Anima heard him call, "Guess I'll just stay here, watch the fire!"

Anima looked around for Flynn, she called, "Flynn, wait!"

She stumbled into a clearing, she bumped into Flynn, who was frozen in horror, and she said, "Are you-" But she hesitated, taking in her environment.

All the trees were burnt, she could not sense any life here, it was if it was completely wiped out. She groaned, getting a head-ache, Flynn finally snapped out of his thought and asked coldly, "Why did you follow me?"

Anima shook her head, and said, "I... Not a good idea to be alone."

Flynn made a face, and said, "I can handle myself." He crossed his arms, not liking the company.

"Not alone you can't!" Anima snapped.

Flynn flinched, and Anima sighed, "Look, er, I had a dream," she sighed, and said, "I noticed how you reacted when I said the world was just a bunch of broken pieces of glass."

Flynn turned away from her, and he murmured, "It... It just reminds me of something."

Anima started to get nervous, His memory is too good, this is bad...

"Then help him." Orias murmured.

Anima stepped towards him, and said gently, "Is it something you want to talk about?"

Flynn looked back at her, and shook his head, "I'm not really sure why, but something about what you said, it just... I don't know..." He murmured.

They stood in silence, then Flynn asked, "What happened here?" He looked around at the burnt land around them, even the pond seemed dead and forlorn.

Anima felt the bark of a nearby tree, and murmured, "This place... There was a fire."

Flynn looked around, and said quietly, "I don't sense anything..."

Anima just stared at the tree, and said sadly, "Yeah, I don't either, it's like... This whole place..." She couldn't bring herself to say the word.

"Is dead?" Flynn asked carefully, crouching toward the ground.

Anima nodded, feeling tears in her eyes, and she growled in sadness, fists balled up, "How could something cause this much damage?"

Flynn seemed distracted, Anima turned to look at him, he stood up, looking around, and said, "I think..." He looked at a tree, and said quietly, "I think this place is trying to heal."

Anima frowned, and they both stiffened when there was a chill in the air, they looked up, and the clouds were a dark stormy grey.

Anima looked back at Flynn, and asked, "Collin?" Flynn thought, and shook his head.

Anima stepped towards Flynn, and stepped in front of him, and she asked, "Listen."

They were both silent, Anima felt her nervousy rise. This chill was unnatural, and creepy. She asked quietly, "Are you sensing anything?"

Flynn looked up, and said quickly, "Erm, yeah."

He looked around, skirting around Anima, and crouched low to the ground, narrowing his eyes. She murmured, "What is this?"

Orias spoke quietly once again, "One thing to remember, trust each-other." His voice disappeared, and Anima felt the chill again.

Flynn stood up suddenly, pushing Anima back into the trees, they both hid nervously.

They both stiffened when Garaos appeared, looking wild and crazy. Anima noticed Flynn move, but stopped him, keeping him against the bark of the tree, she signalled him to be quiet. Flynn nodded, they both watched as Garaos called cooly, "I know you're here, Anima. Do you not recognize this place?"

Anima flinched, but Flynn held her back, he shook his head, and Garaos called again, "You should, this is where the fire happened."

Anima nearly gasped when images of orange fire-light flicked her vision, everything was burning, she nearly cried out, but Flynn nudged her, and she kept quiet.

"Come on, Anima, I was the one that caused that fire in a hopes to get you to believe," he laughed coldly, "Don't you want to get revenge for the ones you cared about?"

Anima clenched her teeth, but Flynn held her back, fighting with her to keep her hiding.

Garaos laughed, "Don't you know Cole and Aaron are long dead?"

That made her snap, she pushed Flynn away harshly, she leaped out of the trees, bringing out a dagger, but she heard Flynn's alarmed voice in her mind, No! That's what he wants, Anima!

She didn't listen, she slashed at Garaos, who dodged easily, and he laughed, "Come and get me, Anima!"

Anima slashed at every direction, but Garaos seemed to dodge every attack, she panted, getting tired, and flinched when Garaos brought out his sword, ready to strike.

Flynn jumped towards them, blocking the attack, and pushing Anima away, he jumped back when Garaos's sword got his shoulder, he fell back, Garaos turning on him.

Flynn did not try to get away, and Garaos murmured, "Tsk, how funny..."

He brought his sword up to finish Flynn, but Anima yelled, "Like I'd let you!"

She jumped in front of Flynn, holding her arms out, and she snapped, "Kill me and your plan is ruined!"

Garaos hesitated, clutching his sword, and he smiled, "Well well, we're at a stalemate," his sword disappeared, and he said coldly, "I'm giving you ten days, after that, well, I bet you've heard how history tends to repeat itself."

He turned around, but then said coldly, "Oh, by the way, you should hurry up and go get freedom, there's a brink when it comes to the cycle."

He disappeared in a breath of wind, Anima and Flynn stared where he had disappeared.

Anima finally whipped around, and snapped, "What were you thinking?!"

He snapped back, "What were you thinking?!"

Anima frowned, looking down at the ground, and she said coldly, "You shouldn't have taken his attack."

Flynn sighed, "I'm afraid if I didn't, that one time he wouldn't have hesitated."

Anima looked at him, he was holding his shoulder, which was bleeding, but it didn't seem to bug him that much. She said cooly, "Let me take care of that at least."

Flynn nodded, they both flinched when they saw the blood, Anima sighed, crouching toward him, she said, "Try and sit still."

Flynn nodded, she held out her hands, and soon the familiar green light came, she drew from natures power, and closed her eyes.

She heard Orias murmur, "Garaos is planning something... You need to get Storm bringer."

Anima murmured, "I know..."

Flynn asked, "What was that?"

Anima opened her eyes to see the wound was healed as it would go, she sighed, putting her hands down, and said, "That's all I can do."

Flynn nodded, putting his cloak back on, and they headed back to camp.

Anima asked curiously, "Was he... Telling the truth about Cole's and Aaron's death?"

Flynn looked at her, and said carefully, "I wasn't sure, but, I think he was." Anima sighed, shaking her head as they walked back to their camp.

They froze when Collin was not there, and it looked like there was a struggle. The fire was recently snuffed out, Anima and Flynn looked around.

Flynn asked, "Where is he?"

Anima shook her head, and murmured, "I... I don't know..."

Flynn murmured, "Do you think Garaos got him?"

Anima looked at him grimly, then said, "You need to get out of here, Flynn."

He looked at her confused, and she continued, "I need you to go and wait for me somewhere, far away from the mountain," she looked up at the sky, "I promise I'll be back, but Collin might be in trouble."

Flynn frowned, but Anima stared at him, he nodded, disappearing in a breath of wind. Anima sighed, looking around, and called, "Collin!?"

She brought out her hand, and the small orb of light appeared, and she murmured, "Show me a general area where Collin is."

The orb flew out of her hand, and opened the nature gate, she flinched when she saw the pine forests of Hamark. She ran through the gate, determined to find Collin as quick as possible.

She looked around the pine forests, which were growing. She frowned, looking around, and called, "Collin!"

There was no answer, Anima frowned, looking up at the sky, it was a dark and stormy grey, she looked around, she eyed the mountain of Guagamela, hoping that she wouldn't have to check up there for Collin. It was the last place she wanted to check.

Anima looked around some more, she jumped when she heard her name called.

She ran into Collin, who seemed nervous, and Anima asked, "Are you okay?"

Collin looked around, and said quietly, "Erm, I'm fine..."

Anima raised an eye-brow, "You don't sound fine." She pointed out.

Collin stared at her, and he murmured, "I have no idea what Garaos did to my vision, but now everything seems so small and closed," he took a deep breath, as if he was having trouble breathing, and said, "It's unnerving when everything looks like it's small and closed." He took in another deep breath.

Anima asked curiously, "He messed with your vision?"

Collin nodded, and he shivered, "Everything is all closed." He said quietly.

Anima stared at Collin as he looked down in nervousy, and she said suddenly, "You are claustrophobic."

Collin stared at her, and murmured, "Erm, yes and no."

Anima rolled her eyes, and said gently, "I'm sure it will wear off."

Collin blinked, looking around Anima, and he asked, "Where's Flynn?"

Anima said, "He's somewhere away from the mountain." Anima indicated for Collin to follow her, and she walked forward.

She jumped when Collin gasped, she turned around to see him rubbing his head, staring at a tree branch, she asked, "You ran into it, didn't you?"

Collin snapped, looking a bit nervous and shaky, "It's not my fault everything I see is tunnel like!"

Anima frowned, and said gently, "Just follow my voice, Collin."

Collin nodded, Anima asked as she walked, "Anyways, how did you get all the way out here?"

Collin followed her closely, and said, "You know, I was just watching the fire, when all of a sudden, there was this big flash of white..." He faltered, then continued, "I think I went unconcious or something like that, and when I came to, I was here, with weird tunnely vision." He said in an annoyed tone.

Anima stopped, listening to the forest around them, she murmured carefully, "Well, what do you think about this place?"

Collin looked around, and blinked, then said softly, "Hm, I don't know, it gives me this weird secure feeling, it's better than the mountain I guess." He shrugged.

Anima stared at him, and thought, So you don't remember anything much... Maybe Garaos's plan did work, when it came to you at least... She felt a shot of anger rise within her, but she tried to push it away, not wanting Flynn to think there was something wrong.

She brought out her hand, and the green orb appeared, and she murmured, "Where is Flynn?"

The green orb jumped from her hand, and formed into the gate, she led Collin to it, who flinched from the light, and they went through it.

They ended up in a place full of heather and plains, Anima brushed her hand against the wheat, and murmured, "How nice."

She looked at Collin, who seemed confused. Anima jumped when Orias spoke in her head, She's here, Anima, the fourth Fate. You must reach her before Garaos's does.

Anima nodded, looking back at Collin, and she asked, "How's your vision?"

Collin hesitated, then said, "It's coming back..." He looked around, and he asked, "Where are we?"

Anima growled, "At the current time, that's not important, the fourth Fate is here, and so is Flynn... And so is Garaos."

Collin looked shocked, and Anima led the way, she thought, Flynn, can you hear me?

There was no immediate answer, Anima shivered, and called in her mind, Flynn, please answer me!

She sighed when she finally got an answer, Yeah? Flynn asked, confused.

Where are you? Anima asked.

There was a moments of silence, and she heard him answer, Definitely some place I don't want to be... I think Garaos is around in this land too.

He is...  Anima thought darkly.

She looked around, and Flynn murmured, Stay where you are, I can find you, but you won't be able to find me.

Anima nodded, indicating for Collin to relax. He sat down on a near-by rock, while Anima paced. When hours seemed to pass, when the sun was sinking toward the horizon, they all looked up when Flynn appeared from the shadows.

Collin muttered, "I still don't get how you do that."

Flynn looked back at the shadows, and said quietly, "It seems natural, I guess..."

Anima murmured, "Someone told me the fourth Fate is here."

Flynn looked at her, and he asked, "Really?"

Anima nodded, "Yet, so is Garaos." She murmured.

Flynn shook his head, and murmured, "I know he is, I think he's trying to find the fourth, but he's not having any luck."

"Will we have any luck?" Collin asked.

Flynn looked at him, then looked at Anima and said, "No, not right now at least, it seems she's... Blocked her mind, I have to give her credit, she's has great control over her mind, from what I can tell." He smiled, rolling his eyes.

Collin asked, "Hold on! Read my mind!"

Flynn raised an eye-brow, and asked "Why?"

Collin said excitedly, "I want to see if you can read my mind!"

Flynn stared at him, and Collin said quickly, "Now! Now, now, now."

Flynn made a face, and said cooly, "I'm afraid I don't need to read your mind."

Collin narrowed his eyes, and asked carefully, "What's that supposed to mean?"

Flynn just smiled at him, and he asked cooly, "Do you really want me to answer that question?"

Anima watched as they argued back and forth, Collin finally called to Anima, "Can you read minds, or do funny stuff with them?"

Anima stared at him as he jumped from the rock, and stared at her. She said cooly, "Er, no? Not like Flynn anyways."

Collin huffed, and looked back at Flynn, "But seriously, can you read my mind?" He asked curiously.

Flynn shook his head, "Nope, your mind is locked." He said quickly.

Anima said, "Well, before this gets huffy," she glanced at Collin, who waved nervously, she said cooly, "We better just relax for now, we know the fourth is safe."

Anima sat down, and sighed, feeling tired from all the excitement, Flynn leaned against the rock, looking down at the ground in thought.

Collin asked, "Well, can I go for a walk at least?"

Anima looked at him, and said, "Try not to run into Garaos."

Collin laughed, "That old man can barely contain and control his own power anymore."

Anima was tempted to say that he couldn't either, but didn't as he walked away. She heard Flynn laugh, and she asked, "What?"

Flynn looked at her, and said calmly, "He really has a funny way of showing how he feels."

Anima asked, "So you could read his mind?"

Flynn shrugged, "Somewhat, I could tell something is bothering him, he keeps beating himself up for something, I can sense that feeling, I don't even need to read his mind to tell." He said.

Anima muttered, confused, "But, he seems perfectly fine, normal."

Flynn said calmly, "Some people tend to be like that."

"What about you?" Anima asked carefully.

Flynn looked at her, and said, "Well, I'm fine, but Collin sure isn't."

Anima sighed, and said gently, "I'm going to talk to him."

Flynn nodded, and said smoothly, "I don't feel like going anywhere with Garaos lurking around."

Anima rolled her eyes, and followed where Collin had went. Hoping that Garaos had not reached to him.

Garaos never did reach to Collin...

Flynn was being truthful when he couldn't really read Collin's mind.

It's because something was blocking any outside dangers, I was determined to find out what it was.

Even though... I'll admit, I was kind of scared to find out.

But it probably was scaring Collin more then it was scaring me, even if he wouldn't admit that he was scared.

He's just like that, and he hasn't changed at all...

I'm kind of glad for that, like the fourth fate, his mind was safe from Garaos, but only because his pride was blocking him from admitting he was afraid.

But then again, boys are usually like that, I think... If I remember correctly.

I guess Collin somehow did tell me, maybe I just didn't see it...

Chapter 13

You've just got to listen

To see.

Anima walked through the wheat, looking around for Collin, she called, "Collin? Are you there?"

She looked up when she heard a rock splash into a body of water. She saw Collin sitting on a rock, staring at the water with a distant look.

Anima jumped onto the rock beside him, and sat down. She watched as he threw another rock into the pond, she narrowed her eyes when she saw the splash, That looks familiar... She thought grimly, then looked at Collin, who seemed upset.

Anima asked carefully, "Are you feeling all right, Collin?"

Collin looked at her, then looked away, and said flatly, "I'm fine."

Anima raised an eye-brow, and asked jokingly, "Right, I'm convinced you're just peachy." But she frowned when he stared at her sadly.

Anima said gently, "I can tell you're upset."

Collin made a face, and said flatly, "I'm fine, it's nothing."

Anima held his gaze, and she said, "You know, someone told me I should try reaching out to you two, and I didn't trust him."

Collin asked, "What does this have to do with trust?"

Anima poked him, "A lot." She said jokingly.

Anima frowned when Collin looked away from her, and he snapped, "Sorry, it was so funny I forgot to laugh." He jumped off the rock, his arms crossed.

Anima made a face, and she thought, He sure isn't making it easy...

Did you really expect him to, young Fate? Orais asked jokingly.

Anima shook her head, and thought, No... She stared at Collin as he ignored her, she called, "Do you not trust me, Collin?"

She slid off the rock when Collin didn't answer, walking up to him, and she murmured, "You don't trust me, do you?"

Collin looked at her, he huffed, and looked away again. Anima murmured, "I can't help you if you close yourself away from people who care," she thought, and said gently, "It's worse than being in a small space, if I'm honest." She shrugged.

Collin finally turned to look at her fully, he said flatly, "It's not that I don't trust you."

Anima asked, frustrated, "Then what is it?"

Collin looked up at the sky, where a storm was brewing, the dark clouds rumbled with thunder, Anima thought, Did Garaos... Put false memories? How could he? I was the one that blurred his remaining memories...

Anima shook Collin, who looked back down, and she snapped worriedly, "Do you remember anything strange? Anything out of the ordinary?"

"Er, well, yes, but I thought you got them too, by the way you sometimes acted." Collin said nervously.

"I got true memories, Collin..." Anima turned away from him, shocked.

Collin asked curiously, "Memories? I thought these were just bad day dreams Garaos was giving me."

Anima murmured, "That's not as far from the truth as you think it is." She looked up at the storm clouds, now unsure what to say.

Collin asked, annoyed, "Are you going to tell me what is up?"

Anima stared at him, and she said sadly, "Collin, I think it's time I told you the truth."

Collin just stared as Anima sighed, turning away from him, "I... I wasn't like this a long time ago..." She murmured, and looked back at him grimly.

Collin asked funnily, "What do you mean?"

Anima stared down at the ground, "I thought I could protect you, when you came to the mountain, I wanted to protect you from Garaos, but how could I have been so blind...?" She murmured, then sighed, "I was mortal, Collin, Garaos killed me and made me a Fate."

Collin stepped back in shock, and asked coldly. "Is that even possible? That doesn't seem right for him to do that." He shook his head.

Anima stared at him, and said sadly, "That's what I thought a couple of times, so I dismissed anything that seemed off to me, when really, I was putting myself in danger in ignoring the warnings I was seeing," she stared at Collin, and said quickly, "It's the same for you, except Garaos didn't kill you out-right."

Collin stared down at his hands, and asked, "I'm... Supposed to be dead?"

Anima stared at him, and she murmured, "You would have been if I didn't save your soul... But I was almost too late."

Collin stared at her, and he asked, "What about Flynn?"

Anima said, "I think he knows, he just doesn't want to accept it, I thought I could protect both of you, but now I see that I can't." She sighed, feeling defeated for the first time in a long while.

Collin said calmly, "I think I can understand why you would."

She looked up at him, and he looked thoughtful, "You took away the one thing Garaos thought he had," he said calmly, he smiled, and said, "If it makes you feel better, I'm not that mad."

Anima hugged him, and she murmured, "Thank you, Collin, I also need to thank you for risking your life to save mine and Flynn's." She let go of him.

He said jokingly, "Well, I was the only one there that wasn't affected by that weird fog darkness stuff," he hesitated, and asked, "Should we tell Flynn though?"

Anima shook her head, and murmured, "If I'm honest... I couldn't sense... Garaos within that darkness, like, that power wasn't his."

Collin frowned, and said quietly, "Because it wasn't his power, Anima."

He turned away from her, and he said calmly, "I may not have been feeling the pain you were, but I certainly felt the suffering within that darkness," he looked around the land, and said, "Actually, I'm getting an uneasy feeling from this land..." He shrugged.

Anima asked, "You can sense power, even if you aren't sure what it is?"

Collin looked upwards, and said calmly, "I guess it's kind of like that feeling you get when you see a storm coming, but different, the feeling can sometimes change." He waved his hand as the storm over them made no noise.

Anima's sight seemed to darken so she could only see the storm above them, as he continued, "A storm may never unleash the power, but you don't know that. Even a harmless looking cloud can turn out to be even more dangerous than a powerful storm."

Anima murmured, horrorfied, "Someone once told me, I forget who, but that I shouldn't judge on appearance alone..."

Collin nodded, oblivious to her horror, and he said calmly, "Exactly, just because something doesn't look dangerous, doesn't mean anything."

Anima stared upwards and Collin asked, "Are you all right?"

N...No, please say it ain't so, Orias, give me an answer! Anima thought in horror, fear rising within her.

When she got no answer, she sighed, shaking her head at the ground, and Collin asked, "Anima?"

She looked up at him, and she murmured, "Not possible..."

Collin asked, "What is it?"

She clenched her fists, and growled, "I'm going to kill him."

Collin jumped back when she took out her hand, the green orb appearing in a flash, and turning into the nature gate, showing Garaos's mountain.

She heard Collin call out to her, but the gate closed behind her, but she was confused, it seemed to be taking longer then it would have.

She heard a soft voice, "I can't let you just go like that, Anima..."

"Let go, Flynn, I'm going to destroy Garaos." Anima snapped, feeling anger rising inside her.

Flynn murmured from the space around her, "I can stop you, you know, I learned our ways of traveling always have to go through the spirit path, I can easily cut your route," he hesitated, "And you can't stop me from doing just that." He added.

Anima snapped, "Just let me through, Flynn!"

Flynn said quietly, "I can't."

"Why not?!" Anima yelled at the space.

"Because without the fourth, you will die facing Garaos." He murmured.

Anima finally relaxed, and she asked, "How can you tell?"

Flynn said quietly, "Well, I don't really know, I just know."

She blinked, and saw herself standing in the Lower Spirit World, but it seemed different, it seemed to shimmer, and she saw Flynn, and he said, "We're in the dream world of the fourth, can you sense anything weird?" He asked calmly.

"Besides the fact this place is shimmering... It feels... Strange to me." She murmured and looked around, where leaves were falling of the trees.

Flynn nodded, "The fourth Fate is dying of sickness, a sickness quite common in this land, but with both of us here, it should be easy turning her into..." He faltered, and said quietly, "A Fate."

"Will it hurt her?" Anima asked.

Flynn shook his head, and said, "It shouldn't, let's go find her, she's here somewhere, and she's in a neverending sleep... It seems people in this land tend to be very tempermental." He walked towards the forest.

Anima followed him, they saw a girl in a field, with light blonde hair, she was fiddling with a pretty flower, who's centre matched the moon.

She looked back, and she asked curiously, "Are you more spirits?"

Flynn and Anima looked at each-other as the sky darkened, and the girl said calmly, "It's always so dark in this place, can you fix it? I've tried already!" 

Flynn nodded at Anima, and looked around, he jumped when there was a sharp noise above them, Flynn murmured, "Garaos knows we're here."

Anima hissed, "Don't let him in!"

Flynn growled, "I'm trying!"

Anima brought out the green orb as the girl watched curiously, and Anima said softly, "Brace yourself young one."

The child just nodded, staring as Anima stepped beside Flynn, and let the orb go as he stopped the strange darkness from getting in.

Flynn suddenly looked around, alarmed, he yelled, "Get back!"

Anima stared at him, then growled, taking out another green orb, throwing it at the child. It created a green like shield around her, and Anima's vision went black.

~*~*~*~

Anima opened her eyes, and found herself in a field, she groaned, unable to move her arm, she sat up, looking at her arm curiously, and moved it. She sighed, and asked, "What the heck was that, Flynn?"

She looked around, and called, "Flynn?"

There was no answer, and she called out in her mind, Flynn?

There was still no answer, she stood up with difficulty, and she growled, "When I find you, Flynn, you are so dead..."

She held her arm as a stab of pain shot through her, and she snapped, "What was that?!"

She sighed, The child should be protected... But we didn't get a chance to turn her immortal, I'm going to kill Garaos...

She gasped in pain, sitting back down, she growled, "Oh for..." She held her arm, tears in her eyes.

Where did you go? Collin's voice rang in her mind.

She gasped, Am I glad to hear you, Collin!

Collin asked, Where are you? I can't... But he faltered, and then continued, Look, just leave her to me, all right?

Collin, you have no idea how to do that stuff! Don't- Anima faltered. She knew that he wouldn't listen, she had no choice but to trust Collin for the moment.

Right now I have to find Flynn, before Garaos tries anything else...

~*~*~*~

Flynn opened his eyes to a bright light, he looked around, and realised that he was in a forested clearing. He thought, Now where...?

He tried standing up but couldn't he held his side. Unable to move from the pain, he smiled, Anima is not going to be happy with me.

He looked around, and sighed, holding out his hands. Which had blood on them, he sighed, and thought, Garaos sure tried to do a number on me.

Flynn tried standing up again, but couldn't, he felt nauseous, and he thought, But I'm not going to give up, Anima would kill me herself if I just let Garaos continue.

He grabbed a branch above him to get up. He held on, and looked around again, and he called, Anima? Can you hear me?

After a minute's silence, he sighed, and shook his head, "She can't hear me..."

He looked up when another person entered the clearing, he narrowed his eyes when it was Garaos, and he said cooly, "I didn't expect to see you here."

Flynn asked carefully, "What were you expecting to see?"

Garaos did not answer, and he said, "That was an... Interesting tactic you did back there."

Flynn asked, "Thanks? Anyways, what do you want?"

Garaos narrowed his eyes, and said, "Since it's obvious you're not going anywhere like that, I'm here to give you a warning."

Flynn stood up straighter, and asked, "Why?"

"Because as an old god, I know a lot. A lot more then you do, and since the balance is slowly falling apart, I have to warn you, just to make it more interesting." Garaos said cooly.

Flynn stared at him, and he continued, "It's hard to tell what you're truly afraid of, young Fate. But the thing you are dreading is going to happen if the balance continues to crumble."

He disappeared into the shadows, and Flynn murmured, "What was that about?"

He held his side as he stepped forward, the sun was setting, casting a fiery glow on the sky and clouds. He sighed, and thought, Back there, in the dream, Garaos did something, I don't know where Anima is. He looked around.

Night had finally fallen, Flynn sighed, looking into the darkness, Collin is right, Garaos has lost it...

~*~*~*~

Anima felt like she was walking for hours, she sighed, sitting down on a flat rock, and stared across the plains. She made a face, and sighed, This is going to take forever...

She gasped when she tripped over a stone step, she glared at where she tripped, and murmured, "Now what are these doing here?" She studied them. Then looked up, and followed the path of stones.

Anima looked around when she entered an ancient looking ruins of an old city, she came up to a large building, she opened the door carefully, unsure of where she was going.

She looked around, the temple looked unkept. She brushed away some moss off the walls, she narrowed her eyes when there seemed to be rune inscription and drawings.

She looked around some more, and walked into the inner area, there were two statues of the old gods, Solaris and Yuna, the sun and the moon, and around them, the statues of the old gods, she immediately recognized Garaos and Orias at their prime, but Orais seemed a lot more different. A lot more like Collin... Anima shivered.

Anima looked around the hall, the walls themselves told the stories of the old gods, she looked up, where the sun, the moon, and the stars seemed to move with the sky outside. The glass was out of place compared to the old temple, like a mosiac.

She looked down at the ground, where there were lines spanning out towards the outer circle, She leaned forward to the middle, where there were scales, signifying the blanace the old gods were supposed to keep, but ultimately failed to do.

Anima touched the ground, feeling like she was being watched. She looked up at the statues of the old gods, she thought sadly, It's just not the same from being alive... Being immortalized in stone makes no difference; all of you had all died in a sense, changing you.

She jumped when the floor began to shimmer with the moons light above her. She gasped when mists started to take shape.

Anima gasped as they took the shapes of the old gods, but they didn't pay her any mind, she was shocked when the younger Orias treated Garaos like a friend, while Garaos seemed a lot more cheerful and friendly.

"Don't be so surprised young Fate."

She turned around, and found herself staring at a man around her age, he had black hair, and whitish gray eyes, but he also seemed like a mist, not really there, and he said calmly, "These spirits are memories of this place, they cannot see you, they only see the world they are happiest in." 

She tipped her head, and asked carefully, "Do I know you?"

He smiled, and said calmly, "Maybe, I was the old god that goverened the cycle of life and death."

Anima stared at him, and murmured, "You-You're Tharas... Orias told me about you." She suddenly felt small compared to Tharas, who seemed menacing, yet not.

Tharas frowned, and said calmly, "Yes, I know, all of us have been watching you grow into what you four are, it wasn't very pleasant for us."

"Us?" Anima asked.

Tharas nodded to the memories of the old gods, and said, "Our old selves have long died, but that doesn't mean they still can't think, what do you think made Orias hesitate the day Collin became like you?" He smiled, then murmured, "It still makes me sad, the fact that we all got along so well in the past."

Anima sat down, and asked, "What changed?"

Tharas said, "I don't know, maybe something just happened, we don't control it, it just happens."

Anima said coldly, "Right, your death 'just happened'"

Tharas didn't seem to surprised of her coldness, and he said quietly, "I'm afraid that is what it is, and that it was my own fault, not Garaos."

Anima asked, "Wasn't he the one that killed you?"

Tharas seemed to think about it, then said gently, "Hm, depends what you mean by that."

"What do you mean?" Anima asked.

Tharas smiled, and sat down as well, and said, "Think of it like this, weren't you the one that chose to save Collin, even though Orias was giving you the chance to finish him off?"

Anima asked confused, "So you just let it happen? You let Garaos kill you?"

Tharas sighed, and said calmly, "I never said that, it's the choice Orias made after that lessened Garaos's power, and why my spirit still has time, even though it's little right now, I can feel myself fading."

Anima murmured, "That's because of me and Flynn, right?"

Tharas said quickly, "Please don't think I'm mad, I'm actually quite glad that I'm finally fading away all this time, it's strange though, I thought I'd never see the day I would say that," he frowned, and said calmly, "It was my job to soothe spirits that were passing, but I knew even then it wouldn't last, the way Garaos was slowly changing," he looked up at the statues, and said calmly, '"I could sense the change, something dark was growing inside him."

Anima suddenly asked, "Wait? What do you mean? What choice did Orias make?"

Tharas smiled, and said, "He knew as well as I did that if he killed Garaos, that would make the cycle imbalanced, and even like this, I would sense it, he didn't want me to feel that, even if he really wanted to get rid of Garaos."

"So... Orias didn't kill Garaos, even when he had the chance?" Anima asked.

Tharas nodded, "Yuna was giving him a great power, but also a great choice, make the wrong choice, and it would tear his soul apart." He murmured.

Anima stared as Tharas looked around sadly, and said, "Honestly, I thought he was just going to get rid of Garaos, but when he didn't, I was really shocked," then he smiled, "He never really had that much self control, he was quite a resolved person." He laughed.

Anima sat there in silence, then she asked, "Orias told me about something, about the day you died..."

Tharas asked calmly, "And that is?"

She stared at him, and said quietly, "He said that Flynn was a lot like you, and that included the thing that killed you."

Tharas asked gently, "And what do you believe?"

Anima stared at him, and asked, "Wh-What?"

Tharas asked, "What do you believe? Me and Flynn are two very different people, but only if you look closely," he hesitated, then added, "As an old god, I was evil in my own right, and that meant, I didn't really have that much self control either, or, I chose not to have that self-control." 

Anima then said, "Flynn is a lot more... Laid-back."

Tharas nodded, and said, "I think what Orias meant is that Flynn reminded him a lot of me," he added, "But that doesn't mean we're the same," he hesitated, then said, "You remind me a lot of Yuna, but you are not her, she was quite protective, yet friendly."

Anima suddenly realised something, then said, "I need to get back to Collin and Flynn!"

Tharas called after her as she ran out, "Be careful young Fate, I'm afraid you don't have a choice when it comes to Garaos."

Anima ran out of the temple, and looked around frantically. She thought, Where are you two?

She sighed, and started walking away from the ruins. She was unsure of where she was going, I have to find Collin and Flynn, I hope Collin didn't get into too much trouble with the kid, seeing as he's practically one himself.

~*~*~*~

The sun had risen past the horizon. She sighed, I'm never going to find those two at this rate...

She gasped when a flash of light nearly blinded her, she rubbed her eyes, and realised it was Collin. She asked quickly, "What was that for?"

"Well, how else am I going to get to you, I'm not walking that distance." Collin said with a laugh.

Anima said coldly, "Right, funny, anyways, where is the little one?"

"Who? Vortex?" Collin asked.

"Vortex?" Anima asked, confused.

Collin nodded, "That is her name, or did you forget to ask?" He asked with a sneer.

Anima didn't reply, and asked, "Where is she, and is she safe?"

Collin waved his hands, "Woah, slow down! She's fine, I told her to stay in the clearing I was planning on getting us reunited, she hasn't moved, I think she's quite interested with the flowers." He said calmly.

Anima just stared at him then asked, "I haven't found Flynn, have you seen him?"

Collin frowned, and murmured, "Not a sign of him."

Anima sighed, and she said calmly, "All right, take me to Vortex, and I'll go find Flynn after..." She looked up at the mountain with a distant look, and she murmured quietly, "I have a bad feeling about all of this, something is not right."

Collin followed her gaze, and he said coldly, "Well, we better get going before... You know." He shrugged, and walked away.

Anima nodded, and followed him, she looked around as they walked, I can't shake off this weird feeling... Something is off. She stopped when Collin called, "Vortex?" 

She heard the little girl call, "Yeah?"

The girl ran toward them, and she asked curiously, "What is it, Collin?"

Collin indicated to Anima and he said, "This is Anima. The Fate of Life."

Anima nodded her head, and Vortex piped up, "I saw you in my dream!" She looked around, and said in a confused tone, "I thought the other one would be with you."

Anima said cooly, "We can't find him, I've tried everything."

Vortex said quickly, "Oh, I'll help!"

She headed towards the heather, and Anima whispered to Collin, "And how did you turn her into an immortal?"

Collin stared at her, and said cooly, "I told you to trust me, I'm not sure how, but I did it, however," he looked down at the ground, "I'm not sure if something went wrong or not."

Anima said, "Don't worry about it, as long as she's safe from Garaos, we're worry about that later," she looked back at the clearing, and murmured, "Right now, we have to find Flynn, Garaos is still looking for us, it's not safe for any of us to be alone."

Collin nodded, and Vortex asked, "Who's looking for us?" She walked up to them, and looked up at them with wide eyes.

Anima and Collin looked down at her nervously, and Collin murmured, "Er, we'll tell you later, right now, we have to find Flynn."

Vortex nodded, and asked, "Where do we start first?"

Collin turned to Anima, and said, "I think you should try contacting him again, maybe he couldn't hear you the first time."

Anima eyed him, and said coldly, "I doubt that was the problem, Collin."

Collin asked pointedly, "How do you know?"

Anima stared at him, unsure of what to say, she finally sighed, "Whatever, I'll try it, but I doubt that it's going to work that easily."

Anima turned away from them, and closed her eyes, she thought, Flynn, can you hear me?

There was no answer, just as she expected. She turned back to Collin, and grunted, "Nothing, there's something wrong."

Collin frowned, and Vortex said, "Maybe he's hurt."

Anima and Collin looked down at her, then looked back up at each-other, and Anima murmured, "That's a good explanation, but that also means we need to find him before Garaos finishes him off."

She was about to talk away, but Collin asked quickly, "Woah woah, what do you mean by 'finish off'?"

Anima turned back to face him, and said cooly, "When we were in Vortex's dream, I guess Garaos found us, and attacked us, but I guess Flynn took most of the attack, because when I came too, all I had was a slightly injured side."

Collin stared at her, and Anima continued, "We should all look for him, but I don't want us splitting up, he has to be here in this land."

Vortex looked at the ground, and said suddenly, "He is in this land."

Anima stared at her, and asked, "How do you know that?"

Vortex looked up at her, and said cheerily, "Well, I know this place better then anybody, I can sense stuff, can't you?" She asked.

Anima looked down at her, and said, "Yes, however," she looked away from them, "Garaos is somehow blocking my power."

Collin said with a laugh, "That must suck."

Anima glared at him, and said coldly, "That's not the point."

Collin made a face, then said, "Anima, we have to risk splitting up, either way, we are all in danger!"

Anima stared at Collin, and sighed, "I want you two to stay here while I look for Flynn."

Collin asked angrily, "What, you think we can't-"

Anima stopped him, "It's not about whether you can do or can't do something, I'm not asking you, I'm telling you. I need you two to stay here." She snapped.

Collin replied hotly, "So you just want us to sit here while you go out to who knows where, alone?"

Anima didn't answer that time, then she said, "I cannot risk losing you two," she sighed, "You can look around here, but don't split up."

Collin looked like he was about to argue, but Anima didn't let him, "Just do as your told, Collin, just this once." She said flatly.

Collin made a face, and didn't push it furthur. Anima sighed, and said quickly, "I'll be back, I promise."

Collin called after her as she ran away from them, "Don't make a promise you're not sure you can keep!"

Of course he'd say that. However, I know a lot about promises... I think I made one to the old gods, in that temple, I was shown something to beat Garaos.

I just didn't know it. Not yet.

I learned after we beat Garaos that the temple was once part of a city of the olden Ishari, I forgot what it was called, Azarath or something like that.

I would find Flynn, but I'd also learn of something that would make me wonder if we really did have the power to beat Garaos.

The things Flynn told me, it sounded like Garaos was playing his own game.

And that's bad.

Chapter 14

Be wary

For you don't know what's just on the other side.

Anima ran through the heather, and called, "Flynn?"

She felt like she had been searching for hours, night had fallen, and she could feel like she was being watched. Anima looked around the clearing she was in with narrowed eyes, and she called, "Who's there?"

There was no answer, she clenched her fists, and snapped, "Just come out!"

She nearly had a heart attack when Flynn limped into the clearing, she realised he was hurt, as he was holding his bleeding side, and he asked cooly, "What are you yelling for?"

"I just had the feeling I was being watched." Anima said, staring around into the darkness.

Flynn looked around, and said calmly, "No one here but us."

Anima shivered, and asked quietly, "Why do I keep getting this feeling though?" She then added, "And what did you do back there in Vortex's mind?"

Flynn looked at her, and said, "I had to force Garaos back for a chance to escape," he sighed, and asked, "Where's Collin?"

"Back where I told him to stay. In the clearing." Anima said.

Flynn smiled, and asked, "Are you sure that he listened to you?"

Anima sighed, rolling her eyes, and said, "He better have, he tried to argue, but I wasn't going to hear it."

Flynn looked around, confused, and he murmured, "Okay, now I get why you were saying you felt like you were being watched."

Anima asked, "Well? What is it?"

Flynn murmured, "I-I'm not sure, it's not a spirit," he looked at her, and shrugged, "We should get Collin and Vortex."

Anima sighed, "What if he didn't listen to me?"

"Then we both expected that, we'll find them." Flynn said calmly. Anima looked at the sky disbelievingly, and followed Flynn away from the clearing.

When they finally reached where she had left Collin and Vortex, Anima could see the rose coloured horizon of the coming dawn, she looked around, and couldn't see Collin.

She sighed, rolling her eyes, and murmured, "I should have known..."

Flynn looked around, and pointed out, "Well, he couldn't have just intentionally ignored you, especially not with Garaos wandering around."

Anima laughed coldly, "Oh yes he would. I wouldn't put it past him."

Flynn frowned as he stared at the morning sky, and he said, "I don't think he would, he knew as well as you did about the danger of traveling alone."

"Wouldn't stop him." Anima huffed.

Flynn smiled, and said cooly, "Better take that back Anima."

They both looked down to see an impatient looking Collin and a calm Vortex, they walked up to the two, and Collin asked, "Where have you been?"

Anima asked in surprise, "You actually listened to me?"

Collin stared at her, and asked darkly, "Why are you so shocked?"

Anima said in surpirise, "You never listen to me!"

"What's that supposed to mean?" Collin asked hotly, taking a step forward.

Anima was about to snap a reply, but Flynn stepped in, lightly pushing Collin back, and said cooly, "What she means is, you don't often listen to others, intentional or not," he hesitated, then added, "It's just not like you to just listen."

Collin made a face, and said, "You make it sound like..." but he faltered, and shook his head, stepping away from Flynn, and he growled, "Forget it."

Flynn looked at Anima, and shrugged. Anima walked past Flynn, and said quietly, "I'm sorry if I offended you, it's just that, you don't often listen."

Collin had his arms crossed, and growled, "Who said I was offended, I'm not offended."

Anima smiled, and said, "It sounds like you are offended." Vortex stared at Collin, then turned back to Anima, and nodded.

Collin made a face at Vortex, and said firmly, "I'm not offended, why should I care if you guys think I don't listen." He huffed.

Vortex murmured quietly, "Because you do care."

Collin looked like he was about to reply, but didn't, he only sighed, and turned away from Anima and Flynn. Vortex stepped in front of him, and she whispered something to him.

Collin seemed to listen, and sighed, Vortex walked up to Anima, and murmured, "We should leave him to cool off, that's probably the best right now."

Flynn and Anima nodded, and Vortex led Flynn away, while Anima went to follow. She turned around, and stepped toward Collin, who didn't say anything.

She murmured, "Collin."

Collin turned to face her, expressionless. She frowned, and hugged him, he didn't try to step away, and she murmured, "I really am sorry, I didn't mean to hurt your feelings."

Collin didn't say anything, he just shrugged, and she stepped away from him, and turned to follow Vortex.

"Wait." She heard Collin say behind her.

She turned to see him step toward her, and he murmured in a nervous tone, "Um, I-I know you didn't mean to hurt my feelings, you don't need to be sorry." He muttered.

Anima was about to take another step toward him, but he turned away from her again, sadness flashing across his face.

Collin... Is your memory breaking? Anima thought sadly, wanting to reach out to Collin, but couldn't, because she knew nothing she would say would help him.

She said, "Just be careful, we'll be near." She then went to catch up with Vortex and Flynn.

She found them sitting in a clearing, she looked at Vortex, who shrugged, and she said cheerfully, "He'll come around, just give him time."

Anima looked at Flynn, who only nodded, and she sighed, "And what if he doesn't come around in time?"

Vortex said, "I don't know, but we can't rush him, or well," she gestured back to where Collin was, "That happens." She smiled.

Anima looked back at Flynn, who was twirling her time dial that she gave him. Something deep in her memory seemed to click, and someone's words echoed through her head. 

Time is time, it continues ticking, without giving any considerance for people who are rushed.

"Time is time." Anima murmured, and Flynn looked up at her.

She stared at the time dial, and she repeated, "Time is time, it continues ticking."

Anima's eyes widened, and said suddenly, "I know how we can beat Garaos!"

Flynn and Vortex jumped from her outburst, and Flynn asked quietly, "How?"

Anima motioned to the time dial, and said in triumph, "With time!"

Flynn raised an eye-brow, and she asked, "Don't you get it? I can't believe I've been so blind," she paced, and said quickly, "Flynn, remember when you got us out of that dream world? And you said something about time?"

Flynn said, confused, "Yes?"

Anima smiled, "Flynn, we are the Fates of Time."

Flynn just stared at her, and nodded, "Yes, but-"

Anima didn't let him finish, and said, "I-I think, when I was mortal, Garaos gave me the answer to beat him, even though I don't think he knew it. I just couldn't remember until now."

She took out the feathered necklace out of her pocket, and murmured, "Time, he said time was against him and the balance was crumbling, but..." She faltered, and then looked back, "The balance is perfect, it was never crumbling to begin with."

Flynn finally began to get it, and he said, "Yet, Garaos was weakening because time was against him."

Anima smirked, and said excitedly, "Because he killed an old god that ruled over life and death, and life and death take time."

Flynn seemed to smile also, and Vortex murmured, "I still don't get it."

Anima said, "I need to find Collin."

Vortex asked, "Why?"

"Storms rush you too, do they not? They always seem to come at the worst time, but maybe..." She murmured, and smiled.

She ran off back to Collin.

Anima called, "Collin!"

Her smile faltered as she called again, "Collin?"

She frowned, and called in a more worried tone, "Collin? Are you there!?"

She noticed something shine on the ground, she bent towards it, and realised it was the dragon necklace she had given him a while ago. He was quite fond of it, and that worried her that he would just leave it there. She picked it up gently, and looked at it with horror.

She stared down at it, unsure of what to do, she thought, Collin... Can you hear me?

There was no answer, she made a face, and clutched the necklace gently, she stood up, eyes flaring, and snapped, "Garaos!"

She wasn't sure where she was going, but something instinctivly called her back to the temple where she met Tharas.

She opened the large doors with some difficulty, and asked, "Collin? You here?"

Her voice echoed around the temple's silent hall. She decided to go back to the centre room, she looked up at the mosiac, it was as calming as ever.

She jumped when she heard Collin's weakened voice call, "Anima, please tell me that's you and not just another weird vision."

She jumped when he limped out from behind Orias's statue, he was bleeding, and he held his side, and his eyes were glazed over.

She jumped in shock, and rushed over to him, and asked quietly, "Who did this to you, Collin?"

Collin murmured, "H-He did, Garaos, he sneak attacked me..."

Anima realised that he was fighting to stay concious, and she murmured, "How? How did you get here?"

Collin shook his head, and murmured, "I-I don't know."

Anima helped him up, but she suddenly had to duck behind Yuna's statue when Garaos came back, and she murmured to Collin, "Stay quiet."

Collin didn't argue, Anima doubted if he had any energy too, she heard Garaos say, "I see you have found the ruins of the lost city, Azarath, once a meeting place for the old gods."

She thought, Once? Aren't Orias, Yuna, and Solaris still alive?

Garaos laughed coldly, "I knew you'd come here Anima, especially if Collin was in trouble."

Anima looked at Collin, who was staring at the ground, shivering from his injuries.

Anima clenched her fists as Garaos taunted her, "I wonder if young Flynn and Vortex are safe, you did leave them on a rushed note."

Anima turned to Collin, and murmured, "Listen to me, Collin, you have to get out of here, find Flynn and Vortex."

Collin looked up, and murmured, "Y-You can't fight him by yourself." He sighed, and shook his head.

Anima seemed to think, and took out the dragon necklace, and gave it to him, "No, but I can give you enough time to get Flynn and Vortex, you have to trust me Collin." She murmured.

Collin flinched back, leaning against the stone pillar, and he murmured, "I can't even move."

Anima clenched her fists when Garaos asked coldly, "What are you going to do, Anima?"

Anima stood up, making Collin flinch, she was about to come out from hiding, but Collin stood up after her, and both of them tumbled out from the shelter of Yuna's statue when Collin tried to stop Anima.

Garaos turned to face them, Anima stood up, but Collin had trouble, Anima helped him up, and shielded him from Garaos, who stepped toward them.

Collin asked quietly, "I have an idea, how about we both get out of here?"

Anima shook her head, and Garaos said darkly, "You cannot run forever, Anima."

Anima looked around quickly, Garaos looked ready to attack, I need to distract him, but with what?

She looked up at the mosiac, then asked Collin quietly, "Can you see the mosiac?"

Collin looked up, and nodded, and Anima said quickly, "This may sound weird, but I need you to make an illusion, fog, whatever, using the light shining on the mosiac."

They stepped back as Garaos headed toward them, and Collin murmured, "It's going to take a lot of energy."

Anima murmured, "Not if you do it right."

Garaos finally took out a sword, and Anima said in a strained voice, "Now would be nice, Collin."

Garaos went to slash at the two, but Collin jumped in front of Anima, and he and Anima jumped back from Garaos's attack.

Collin looked up at the mosiac, and Anima kept Garaos away from him, Collin finally said quickly to Anima, "Cover your eyes!"

Anima obeyed, and she flinched when she was pulled away, she opened her eyes to see white fog, with the mosaic dimmed because of the fog, yet it's light creating pictures, reflecting the mosiac.

Garaos was confused, and Anima felt herself pulled away again by Collin, and they both fleed the temple, and stopped outside, and stared back.

Anima looked at Collin, who looked tired, and she said, "We have to get out of here."

He murmured in a tired and slurred voice, "What'vr gave you th't idea?"

Anima raised an eye-brow, unable to understand Collin's sharp accent, she thought, He must be really tired, she asked, "Are you all right?"

Collin frowned, and said, "Erm, jus' give me a second..." He rubbed his head, and blinked, and he murmured, "Um, s'rry, that last one took out a lot out of me..."

Anima rolled her eyes, and said, "You over-exerted yourself, didn't you?"

Collin shook his head, and murmured quietly, "It was because Garaos seemed to be draining energy from the air, it felt weird, didn't you feel it?"

Anima shook her head, and Collin sighed. Anima said, "Let's get back, and get out of here," she looked around, and added, "It's not safe here."

Collin nodded in agreement, and Anima led him away from the temple. She started getting worried when Collin looked like he was about to be sick, and she asked carefully, "Are you going to be okay?"

Collin looked at her, and said cheerily, "I'll live, if that's what you mean."

Anima smiled, but when they arrived at the clearing, Flynn and Vortex were no where to be found. Anima called, "Flynn? Vortex?"

They stood their in shock, and Anima murmured, "Where could they have gone? Did Garaos..."

Collin said firmly, "No."

Anima looked at him in disbelief, and he said, "Flynn wouldn't let that happen, he's a whole lot smarter then Garaos is, who's power is too weakened to find all of us," he hesitated, and added, "Maybe Garaos came close to finding them, so he took Vortex somewhere safe."

Anima said teasingly, "You seem pretty confident about that."

Collin smiled, "Of course, like I said, Garaos is weakened, he couldn't have found them that easily." He pointed out.

Anima pointed out, "Then may I ask how he found you?"

Collin frowned, and turned away from her, and he said, "I don't know how he found me."

Anima replied, "Then it's best if we don't underestimate Garaos right now," she hesitated, then added, "Don't forget, he's an old god, and knows the full extent of his power, while we," she indicated her hands in a circle, "Don't know the full extent of our powers."

Collin made a face, and grumbled, "You don't have to tell me twice."

Anima said coldly, "I wish I didn't have to tell you anyways, now let's go find Flynn and Vortex, before Garaos does."

Collin looked back at the direction of the temple, and murmured, "And before something else does too."

Anima silently agreed, and they rushed away from the clearing.

~*~*~*~

As they walked, Collin sighed, and growled in annoyance, "It feels like we've been walking forever."

"We're been walking for only an hour, are you really that tired?" Anima asked.

Collin nodded, and Anima said, "Well, we can't rest, I'm not liking this feeling I'm getting." She looked around cautiously, while Collin looked at her confused.

"What... Feeling?" He asked cautiously.

Anima looked at him, and bit her lip, she said darkly, 'I-I don't know, I can't really explain it, or if it's even mine," she hesitated, then added, "It feels as if... Like you're being watched, but you know no ones there."

Collin piped up, "Oh yeah, that's right, you can feel what Flynn is feeling, right?" he asked.

Anima nodded, and Collin asked, "Is it possible Flynn is trying to contact you?"

Anima looked down at the ground thoughtfully, and said, "That is a good possibility, however, I see one problem with that," she looked at Collin, and added, "If it works the same way with me and Flynn, you would be able to feel what Vortex is feeling."

Collin looked confused, and Anima asked, "Do you sense anything out of the ordinary?"

Collin hesitated, then paced a circle around Anima, then said, "Nothing."

Anima tipped her head, and said, "That's strange, but like I said, if Vortex is with Flynn, and they're sensing the same thing, you should get the feeling."

Collin shrugged, and Anima said, "I guess it is my own feeling."

Anima and Collin continued walking, but Anima's feeling persisted, it wouldn't go away, she thought through her head-ache, Flynn, are you trying to contact me? Say something!

She got no answer, but she stopped when her vision started to blur, Collin asked, "Something wrong?"

Anima held up her hand for him to be quiet, as her vision flashed images, she got an uneasy and nervous feeling from the images, one image was that of Guagamela, and the last one just a snowy land, and she thought, What are you trying to tell me Flynn?

The images flashed between the sun, the moon, and Garaos's mountain. Anima felt like she was being pointed out something obvious, but just couldn't see it.

She thought, Is there something you realised Flynn? 

The images seemed to go faster, flashing between the sun and the darkness she saw when she was with Orias, and the final image she saw was the memory necklace that Flynn had found in a cave, and then her eye-sight seemed to flash, and she blacked out.

When she came to, Collin was staring down at her, and he asked, "What was that?"

Anima held her head as she sat up, and said, "Flynn is trying to contact me, you were right, but why not just say something?"

Collin looked at her confused, and Anima said, "He was trying to contact me through images..."

Collin asked, "What did you see?"

Anima looked at him, and said, "The white city, a snowy land, then the sun and the moon, and Garaos's mountain."

Anima stood up, and said, "Flynn and Vortex are in trouble."

"Huh?" Collin mused.

"I know this because the last images I saw definately were a sign, he was asking for help, because the last image was a memory necklace Flynn had found when he was still mortal." Anima replied.

Collin asked, "Is his memory breaking?"

Anima said, "It was never really blurred to begin with Collin, he just can't remember a lot because he was confused on where he was," she added, "But it's coming back."

Collin said, "And that's trouble."

Anima nodded, and said, "We have to hurry."

Collin agreed, and they ran through the clearing, they looked around quickly, and Anima suddenly stopped, and said, "I wonder if I can communicate with Flynn the same way he communicated with me."

Collin nodded, and said, "That's a good idea!"

Anima sat down, and said, "I can't be distracted."

Collin nodded, and sat down a bit away from her. She closed her eyes, and thought deeply, Flynn, I am here, I'm in this land, by the ruins.

She wasn't sure if she did it right. So she tried again, Flynn, please answer me...

She looked up when Collin huffed, he was holding his head, and his eyes were narrowed, and Anima asked sharply, "What are you seeing?!"

Collin didn't answer, his eyes seemed to be trying to catch what they were seeing, then he said, "Woah..."

Anima asked, "What are you seeing, Collin?"

Collin said, "I don't even know myself, um, but it's dark, and it's in a clearing, and the feeling I'm getting is really bad."

Anima looked up at the sky, it was nearly sundown, she thought, Flynn! Answer me! What is happening!?

She was shocked when for the first time, she got an answer.

Help would be nice, me and Vortex may be in trouble, we're in a clearing, but I don't know where, Vortex is telling me we're in the same land, but on the border of some other Kingdom. Flynn answered.

Anima sighed in relief, and thought, We're coming!

Anima stood up, and said, "I know where Flynn and Vortex are, let's go!" She ran off away from Collin, not waiting for him.

Collin stood up shakily after her, and blinked, then ran after her.

It was nightfall when they reached the clearing they saw, they looked around, and she called, "Flynn? Are you here?"

Flynn and Vortex peeked out from the trees, and Flynn murmured, "Yeah we're here-" But was interrupted by Collin.

"You have no idea how long we've been looking for you-!" But was shut up when Flynn walked up to him and poked him in the arm, and he glared at him angrily.

"Be quiet!" Flynn hissed.

Collin kept his mouth shut, and Anima asked as Vortex joined them, and hid behind Collin, "What's going on Flynn?"

Flynn murmured, "I've got a really weird feeling about this place, something isn't right." He eyed the forested area suspiciously.

Anima asked, "What type of feeling?"

Flynn looked at her, and said, "Something is here."

Anima looked around, and asked, "What do you mean?"

Flynn made a nervous face, and said quickly, "There's something here, and I can tell there's something here, it's kind of weird." He turned back to the forested area, and watched it carefully.

Anima watched also, and all of them stood in silence. They all froze when the clearing got a cold, creepy feeling, Anima noticed Flynn was the one being most affected, he was staring at the forested area, he seemed to shrink back from it.

Anima started to walk towards it, but Flynn called her back, "Don't go near it!"

Anima looked back, and was surprised his eyes were wide with confused fear. He said, "It's dangerous!"

Anima asked, "How do you know?" She narrowed her eyes.

Flynn said firmly, "I just know!"

Anima stared at him, then sighed, backing away from the forested area, and back toward Flynn, Collin, and Vortex, who was still hiding behind Collin.

Anima narrowed her eyes when she was followed, a light, cold mist started to overtake the clearing, Vortex clinged onto Collin fearfully, while Collin, Anima, and Flynn looked around.

Anima saw a shape start to form out of the mist, and she looked at Collin, who tried reassuring Vortex, and Anima snapped, "You two! Get out of this area!"

Collin stared at her, and was about to ask why, but decided against it, and led Vortex away from the clearing. Anima looked at Flynn, who was staring at the shape, she said quickly, "It's a spirit, Flynn!"

Flynn snapped, "I know what it is!"

Anima narrowed her eyes at the spirit, the spirit seemed to be unrested, yet lost, not evil. She turned to look at Flynn and said, "It's lost, it doesn't know how to get to the Farlands."

Flynn stared at her with nervousy, and Anima nodded. He narrowed his eyes too, and nodded, and they both turned to the spirit.

Anima murmured, "Try convincing it first, it's not out to harm."

Flynn nodded, and stepped in front of Anima, and he said, "This is not where you should be, where you want to go is the Farlands, and to do that you need to pass on."

The spirit didn't seem to react, and Flynn started to step back, but the spirit took another step forward, and Flynn asked nervously, "Can't you pass on?"

The spirit hesitated, and Flynn asked, "What's stopping you? Don't you want to be free of the world? You will only keep suffering if you cling on to this place."

The spirit finally took a step back, and shook it's head, and it seemed to be indicating something, Flynn froze, and Anima asked, "What's wrong?"

Flynn was staring at the spirit, and he said, "It's telling me it can't leave because of Garaos, since..." He faltered, apparently listening to the spirit, "Since the old god of time died, it has been harder to pass into the Farlands without getting stuck in the Waking Dreams or the Lower Spirit World."

Anima stepped beside Flynn, and she asked, "What has been so hard about it?"

Flynn answered as the spirit talked to him, "Because when the old god died, it made itself a barrier to protect itself from outside dangers, like Garaos, and it could have only been passed with the old god's help."

Anima asked Flynn, "Can you help him through?"

Flynn looked thoughtful, and said, "I can try."

The spirit and Flynn conversed silently, and Anima realised the mist was starting to dissapate, then finally, the spirit disappeared into white smokey mist, and Flynn held his head, and Anima asked, "Are you all right?"

Flynn nodded, and said, "That barrier was powerful, ow, I'm sorry, I've got a bit of a head-ache," he rubbed his head, and said, "We better get back to Collin and Vortex."

Flynn nodded, and followed Anima.

I somehow knew, after my talk with Orias and Tharas, that Flynn had a connection with the spirit worlds

Strangely, I was right, so, now that we were all together, I bet you think that we faced off with Garaos, and I guess that's not that far from the truth.

However, both me and Collin started having problems with our magic, mine wasn't as affected though, but I noticed the change in Collin, and it seemed that Vortex knew as much as I did, which worried me.

It's like Garaos knew that he was on the losing side, so he must have been doing anything to stop our powers.

However, at the temple that day... Something told me that Garaos was trying to wake something up, something that even we couldn't stop.

So we had to stop Garaos first...

But that was also the day that I saw how much more powerful Flynn and Collin were next to me and Vortex, and me and Vortex were kind of in a situation, where we couldn't have Garaos fall outright

Doing so would kill Collin and Flynn.

So we did the next best thing...

Chapter 15

Sometimes you never know what may happen

But sometimes, even when you know the risk

You still do it.

They soon found Collin and Vortex, they both looked up when Anima and Flynn entered the clearing, and Collin asked curiously, "What was that?!"

Flynn answered before Anima could, "It was a lost spirit." 

Collin tipped his head, "A lost spirit?"

Flynn nodded, and talked with Collin, while Anima started hearing Orias again, Are you listening young Fate?

Maybe, why? Anima asked.

Orias seemed to hesitate, then said, I need you to come to my mountain, try not to bring storm-bringer with you, but if you do I would be careful of what he sees, I can sense his memory. In that place, it will easily break.

Why? Anima asked.

I must tell you something crucial, but I cannot tell you from where you are, Garaos is blocking any power I have from entering this place.

Anima nodded, and said, Okay, I'll try and leave them here and come there.

Anima turned to them, and they looked at her, and she said, "I have to go somewhere, I'll be back soon." Flynn and Vortex only looked at her doubtfully, but Collin asked, "Where?"

Anima glared at him, "No where."

Collin stood up, and said quickly, "You did tell us we shouldn't seperate."

"Yeah, you three shouldn't seperate, I'm fine on my own." Anima snapped, and thought, Stop arguing with me Collin, I won't bring you because I don't want to hurt you.

Collin huffed, "I think that includes you too, you know."

Anima looked at Flynn for help, but he only looked away, she made a face, then snapped, "Fine, come with me, but don't blame me if we both get lost and seperated!"

Collin's face lit up, and he walked towards her, and Anima asked Flynn, "Can I trust you to stay somewhere safe where I can find you," she hesitated, then added, "And contact you?"

Flynn nodded, and Anima left, closely followed by Collin. They entered the clearing where they saw the spirit, and Collin shivered, "It's like that spirit is still here."

Anima ignored him, and she brought out the little green orb, no longer needing to tell it where she wanted to go, she let it fall out of her hands, and it created the nature gate, showing the mountain, and Collin commented, "Hey, it's that mountain I saw while in that land."

Anima didn't say anything, and stepped through the gate with Collin, she looked around when she was on the mountain top for a third time, even then, she could almost sense the memories this place had, she looked at Collin carefully, who was looking around curiously.

"Don't touch anything Collin!" Anima snapped, and he jumped.

She looked around also, waiting for Orias, and Collin asked, "What's this?"

Anima turned to him while he was looking around the ruins, and he said, "This place is ruins, did there used to be a city here?" He looked at Anima curiously.

Anima nodded, and said, "Yes, but it's been like this for a while-" She noticed him shifting through a rubbled house, and she snapped, "I thought I told you not to touch anything!"

Collin ignored her, and pulled out an old, wooden boat, Collin examined it, and said, "How nice." He turned it over, and said, "Hey, it says something..."

Anima widened, her eyes, and ran toward him, flicking him in the head, and snapped, "Don't touch anything!"

Collin made a face, and asked, "Why are you so jumpy all of a sudden? Can't I look around?"

Anima wasn't sure what to say, and Collin continued, "I can't read it anyways, it's too old."

But he didn't put it down, he turned it over again, and asked to himself, "A boat?"

He looked up at Anima, and asked quietly, "Why do I get this feeling, like... I've been here before?"

Anima pointed out, "Maybe because you were in the land below, and saw this mountain before?" She tried avoiding his past, Orias warned her about it.

Collin shook his head, walking past her, and he said calmly, "No no, I mean, like I've been up on this mountain before." He stared up at the white tower protruding out of the mountain, and he soon got a distant look in his eyes.

No, no, no, not now! Anima thought in alarm, and glared at him, he held his head, and he snapped, "Do you mind?"

"Yes I do!" Anima snapped, still waiting for Orias.

Collin made a face at her, and sat down, examining the boat like a child would to a new gift, Anima called, Orias, I get what you mean that his memories would possibly break here.

Of course young Fate, but you know, you can't protect him from his past forever, someday, it will break. Orias replied.

So, what is it you wanted to tell me? Anima asked, keeping a close eye on Collin, who was now staring at the boat, as if he was trying to figure something out.

Garaos wishes to awaken the old god of light, Solaris. Orias said.

Anima gasped, but Collin paid her no mind, and she asked, How do you know?

I may be asleep, but I can hear everything. Orias commented.

Anima wasn't sure what to say, so Orias continued, I do not know why he wishes to awaken Solaris, but Solaris holds a lot of power, not all of it good, if Solaris was to awaken, then the old gods time would surely come back, Solaris wasn't the type to be forgiving.

Anima asked sarcastically, Don't you want that?

Not exactly, I know when the old gods time is up, I knew it was up when Tharas died, Anima could almost hear the sadness in his voice, But all old gods have this instinctive urge to stay powerful, to stay known, even asleep, I still feel like... He faltered.

Anima thought to herself, Wow, he sounded a lot like Collin for a second...

Collin broke her out of her thought, and asked, "Anima?"

Anima asked, "Yeah?"

"Can you take that thing out of your pocket?" Collin asked.

Anima glared at him, but sighed, taking the feathered necklace out of her pocket, and passed it to him, he looked at it carefully, and said, "I-I don't understand..."

"Don't understand what?" Anima asked carefully.

"I feel like I should know this place... But... It's like... I don't..." He faltered.

Anima wasn't sure if it was a good idea to talk, Orias had warned her everything she might say might break his memory, and he obviously wasn't ready for that, so she murmured, "Just don't worry about it right now, okay, I'm done here, let's go back to Flynn and Vortex."

Collin didn't answer her, he only stared at both the feathered necklace and the boat, he gave back Anima the feathered necklace, but continued to stare at the boat.

"Collin, we need to go." Anima waved a hand, trying to get his attention.

Collin just looked up at her, and he said quietly, "Well, this is nice craftwork, I can't just leave it behind on this ruin."

Anima sighed, "Then we can come back for it later, after this Garaos mess is sorted out," she glared at Collin, "But we really need to get back to Flynn and Vortex, I promise we can come back for it later."

Collin nodded, finally hiding the boat back in the rubble where he would be able to find it again. Anima brought out the green orb, and once again heard Orias's voice.

I truly believe you can beat Garaos, for far too long, he has been ruling, the old gods wish to have some peace and quiet from him, just for a little while.

They walked through the gate, and Anima's gaze darkened when they entered the plains again, and there was a storm forming. She looked at Collin, and tipped her head towards the storm, and he just shrugged confused.

They hurried back to the clearing, and Anima was surprised to see Flynn and Vortex were still there, they looked up when they returned.

Anima said, "I thought you would have moved."

Flynn sighed, "Well, I wanted to, but Vortex insisted we stay here."

Vortex said, "I can sense Garaos, I felt like it was better to stay right here and wait for you guys."

Flynn didn't say anything, and Anima said coldly, "Well, I got what I needed to hear."

Collin looked at Anima and asked angrily, "That's it then? What are we going to do now?"

Anima glanced at Collin, and said, "We take on Garaos."

Collin just stared at her, then asked, "Oh, come on, we barely got off the mountain alive, what makes you think we can just take on Garaos like that?"

Anima smiled at him, and said, "I'm more confident in our abilities then I was before." She glanced at Flynn and Vortex, who stared back curiously.

Collin crossed his arms, and rolled his eyes, and said sarcastically, "Right, that makes things better."

Anima said, "We can't run away from him forever, Collin, we also can't run away from the simple truth that if we don't fight him, he'll fight us, and will kill us."

Collin made a face, and Flynn said calmly, "Well, sitting here isn't going to help us either, Collin." He stood up, and stood beside Anima.

Collin huffed, and asked, "All right, say we confront Garaos, and manage to get to the mountain," he hesitated then added, "It's not going to be easy taking down an old god as powerful as he is."

Anima wanted to point out that he had taken down the old god of storms when he was only a mortal, but decided against it, and she said, "We aren't human, Collin, I think we can manage it."

Collin said nothing, and Anima looked at Vortex, and asked, "What do you think?"

Vortex twiddled her fingers, and said nervously, "Um, I think we should do it, but we should be extremely careful, but my question is how we're going to get there."

Anima sighed, and said, "We can't take my way, I'm getting the feeling Garaos would just shatter it."

Collin stared at her, and she said, "Flynn?"

He looked up, and she asked, "Do you know exactly how you got us to the spirits path?"

Flynn looked alarmed, and said, "T-That was instinct, I'm not exactly sure how I did it." He looked down nervously.

Anima looked at him, then murmured, "I see, well, you better figure it out Flynn, Garaos isn't going to wait, he wants to find us and kill us."

Flynn sighed, and shook his head, and Vortex said, "Aw, come on Flynn!" She pulled at his cloak, and looked up at him with wide eyes, and said, "You did it once, I bet you can do it again!"

Flynn looked down at her, and Anima noticed his eyes flash, she flinched, but Vortex continued staring up at him, he smiled, and said gently, "I guess I could try..."

Anima smiled also, and he sighed, Vortex stepped back from him and Anima asked in a low whisper, "How did you manage that?"

Vortex smiled, "I guess he's just like that." She said sweetly.

Collin looked up, "The storm is getting worse, now would be nice Flynn." Collin said.

Flynn said calmly, "I'm sorry, Garaos seems to be indirectly blocking my path."

Finally, Anima felt her eye-sight darken, but she knew they were heading toward the spirits path, she listened for anything that may signal Garaos's shattering their destination.

But nothing came, and they entered the spirits path more gracefully then last time, but Flynn looked around, concerned. Anima asked, "Is there something wrong."

"It seems... Different." Flynn murmured, deep in thought.

Collin asked, "Different how?"

Flynn looked around, and said coldly, "I don't like this, I think we should hurry up and get out of here." He hurried forward, Vortex followed without hesitation, also looking around. Anima and Collin hesitated, then finally followed.

As they walked Anima felt weird, she eyed the lamps, but instead of the colours being calming, they were giving of a foreboding feel to them. Collin stopped, and looked behind them, Anima followed suit, and asked Flynn, who hesitated, "What's wrong? I can sense something..."

They jumped when the colours started turning to an ominous black, Anima pulled Collin back toward them, he gasped, and exclaimed, "Hey!"

Flynn looked around, edging backwards. Anima said, "We need to get out of here, Flynn!"

Flynn was about to answer, but he suddenly looked forward, horrified. Anima realised what was happening, and she murmured, "No... He can't do that..."

Collin stared at him as they stood there, shocked, and yelled, "Hello! Let's get out of here!"

Anima felt like she couldn't hear him, and Flynn said, "The path, it's breaking... That... Can't be possible."

Collin groaned in annoyance, and Anima jumped when he grabbed both their cloaks, and Vortex gasped, and held onto Anima's cloak.

Anima's eyes flashed white as the break caught up to them, and soon there was silence, and she could only hear the wind.

She looked up, and realised that they were on the mountain, she looked at Collin, who was holding his head, and she asked, "How did you do that?!"

Collin looked around, and said, "I-What?"

They all stood up, and Anima asked, "How did you get us out of there?"

Anima and Flynn stared at him, and he said coldly, "I just wasn't going to stand there like you two."

Flynn sighed, and said, "At least the path wasn't destroyed."

Anima asked, "How can you tell?"

"It stopped breaking as soon as we got out." Flynn pointed out.

Anima looked around the mountain, and murmured, "So here we are."

Flynn looked off, and Anima asked, "Are you feeling all right, Flynn?"

Flynn looked at her, and said, "Um, I'm okay."

Another voice suddenly interrupted them, "I didn't expect you four to arrive so soon, I'll give you credit, you have taken me off guard."

Anima edged toward Vortex, shielding her as Garaos left the cave with the map, Anima noted that he looked different, and realised his hair was fully grey, and his eyes were dull, and Anima realised in shock, He's... Aging, how is that...

Garaos looked at Anima, "Surprised, young Fate? Did you not expect an old god able to grow old?" He waved his hand, and said quietly, "The fact that I'm aging means that I'm slowly but surely falling."

Anima did not move away from Vortex when he stepped forward, he then said, "I wouldn't worry about her Anima, I can no longer get near her." He eyed Collin as he said this, who glared at him.

Anima asked, "Why do you want to awaken Solaris, when you know what will happen!?"

Garaos wasn't fazed, and he said, "Simple, I was asked to by Solaris himself, you see, Yuna and Solaris, the sun and the moon, are opposing elements, it can be said for the old gods that get their power from them," he added, "I am an old god under Solaris, while say, Orias and Tharas were old gods under Yuna, the old goddess of darkness."

Anima motioned for Vortex to wait and hide, Vortex obeyed, and took shelter in a rocky crevice, and watched fearfully.

Garaos looked thoughtful, "Well, come to think of it, it wasn't always like that, but I won't bore you with history lessons."

Anima stood in front of Flynn and Collin, who looked on doubtfully, and he laughed, "Ah, now here is the prefect example of why I chose you in the first place Anima."

Anima said nothing, and Garaos asked, "Have nothing to say, Anima? You've been hiding the truth from the very people you wish to protect."

Anima was about to say something, but Collin said quickly, "That's not exactly right, she told me about how-" But Anima shut him up with a glare, and indicated to Flynn, who didn't know.

Garaos finally found their weakness, and he asked, "So, you did tell one of them, but you didn't tell both of them everything?"

Collin asked, "What's he saying?"

Anima stared at Garaos, for the first time, in fear. He smiled, and said, "I wonder how much of a shock it would be to learn..." He looked at Anima, and said, "It was quite a shock to you."

Garaos took out a sword, and said in a mocking tone, "Oh well, you came here so willingly, expecting to win, how wrong you are."

Garaos headed towards them, and Anima stood there motionless, unable to move, but Collin and Flynn stepped back.

She flinched as he raised his sword above her, and she thought, I... I can't move...

She flinched when he brought down the sword, but opened her eyes to see Collin and Flynn blocking the attack, and she asked, "What are you doing?"

Collin said calmly, "Well, you said you were confident in our abilities, what about yours?"

Anima just stared at the two pushed Garaos back, and Garaos flinched, and said, "You've grown stronger..." He looked at Collin, and asked him, "The white mountain has been calling to you hasn't it?"

Collin jumped, and froze, and Garaos said cooly, "You know exactly what that mountain is, however, you cannot remember, so your memories are being called there, you just didn't tell Anima, because you thought it was just some weird thing." He smiled, taking a step toward Collin, who didn't move.

Flynn stepped in front of Collin, holding out his own sword, and he asked darkly, "You don't fight fair do you?"

Garaos looked down at Flynn, and laughed, "Since when do old gods play fair?"

Garaos continued, while Flynn stared at him, and he said quietly, "Both me and Anima know the one thing that could destroy all of you, and the exact reason why Anima hid your past from you."

Flynn asked, "My past?"

"Not just yours, all of your pasts," Garaos signalled to Anima, Collin, and Vortex, he glanced at Anima, "Pity that all the work she did to protect you can be destroyed by me in about ten seconds."

Anima tried to take a step forward, but couldn't, she called weakly, "Flynn..."

Flynn looked at her, and she murmured, "Don't... Listen to him..."

Flynn just stared back as Garaos took a step toward him, he stepped back toward Collin, who was unable to move either, and Anima thought, He's draining mine and Collin's power... He's going to... straighten Flynn's memory.

Anima hissed under her breath, "Vortex... You need... To..." But couldn't finish her sentence, and Vortex looked alarmed.

Anima and Collin just stared as Garaos asked, "Do you not remember anything, Flynn?"

Anima hissed, "Flynn... Don't listen to him."

But it seemed like Flynn could no longer hear her, and Garaos said, "For instance, an icy pond? Do you remember that?"

Flynn stepped back, almost bumping into Collin, who was looking down at the ground, concentrating, as if to break through Garaos's spell.

Flynn said nothing, and Garaos, "Do you not remember the darkness, Flynn? Do you not remember how you lost your life?"

Flynn only continued to stare, and Anima finally said, "Garaos, stop, you're... Going to hurt him, and you're going to hurt yourself!"

Garaos glared at Anima, and she felt her soul being clutched, she made a face, and Flynn stared at her in horror, and Garaos said, "Just tell him the truth, Anima..."

Flynn asked, "I-Is it true? Did I... Die?"

Anima felt tears well up in her eyes as she stared at Flynn, and she nodded painfully. Collin just stared at her in horror, as he was in a really bad place to be, he stared back at Flynn in shock.

Flynn only looked up, and the wind seemed to have gone silent, even the storm was hushed, and Garaos's eyes flashed in victory.

Flynn murmured, "I... Ellie..."

Anima looked on horrorfied as Flynn looked back down at the ground, and she tried to break free of the spell, but couldn't, she stared at Collin, who finally managed to break out of the spell, and backed up a bit, but Anima shook her head.

Collin indicated towards the sky, which was slowly darkening, and she hissed, "Vortex... Reach into Flynn's mind, try and stop him!"

"I-I can't..." Vortex said fearfully.

"You're the only one who can, Vortex! The only reason he listened to you because you reminded him of the sister he saved the day he died, trust me Vortex!" Anima hissed.

Flynn finally clutched his sword, and headed towards Anima, Anima flinched when his eyes were red, but he didn't attack, and she said, "I was wrong to withhold the truth from you Flynn."

Flynn frowned, and said in a cold, unnatural voice that wasn't his, "It is not your fault. However..." He glared at Garaos, "It's best that you don't try to stop me this time around, lest we all get killed."

Anima growled, "I... Know... Garaos is the cause of all this, but if you kill him this way, you're not going to be so well off either."

When he looked back, she could almost see his gray eyes, she realised Vortex was trying to get to him, he almost smiled, but sighed, and turned back to Garaos.

Flynn growled, "You took everything from us."

Garaos took out his sword, and Anima glared at Collin, who was staring at them both, and she hissed, "Stop... Him... Collin..."

Garaos blocked Flynn's attack, but as they fought, Collin hissed back, "I don't think I can stop him like that, why not let him? Garaos deserves it."

Anima hissed, "He may deserve it, but if Flynn goes on with this, he'll die, just like... Tharas."

Collin looked on worriedly, then nodded, skirting around Garaos.

It felt like minutes was almost going into an hour, the clouds were fully black, and Flynn had Garaos cornered, Anima glared at Collin to hurry it up.

Garaos stared up at Flynn, who was coldly looking back, and Garaos hissed gleefully, "Finish me off, Flynn, after all, I took all of your lives."

Collin saw this as his chance, he jumped between the two, and snapped, "He made the choice of sacrifice old man, we both chose to sacrifice ourselves for the ones we loved and cared for!"

Flynn shocked, his eyes turning back to gray again as Vortex finally reached into his mind, calming him down, however, Garaos somehow blasted them both back, Collin taking most of the attack.

Anima saw Flynn get up shakily, but Collin wasn't moving, she finally broke free of the spell, and called, "Collin!"

He didn't answer, she realised he was unconcious, she glared at Garaos, and snapped, "What did you do?!"

Garaos laughed weakly, "Who said it was me?"

He looked at Flynn, and Anima looked at Flynn also, and he just stared at them horrified, and he said, "I..." But faltered, and Anima headed towards him, and she murmured, "It's okay, Flynn, just relax... It's fine..." She shielded him from Garaos.

Vortex looked tired, and Garaos stood up straight, Anima turned to face him, taking out her own sword, and she snapped, "It's over, Garaos!"

Garaos laughed, "You expect to beat me so easily, you cannot beat me, your powers awakened when I immortalized your soul, and they have an eerie reminensence to the old gods under Solaris," he added, "You cannot beat an element with the same type of element, if I remember all the mortal books on magic."

Anima glared, and he smiled, "You cannot hope to beat me Anima, it'd be like a never-ending chore."

Anima growled, finally bringing her sword down at Garaos, he dodged, and said calmly, "I also cannot defeat you either, we are at a stalemate."

Anima relaxed a bit, and Garaos laughed, "So, how are you going to beat me?"

Anima looked back at Flynn, who looked petrified, she thought, He's in no shape to fight either, Collin is unconcious, and Vortex doesn't have that much power yet.

Garaos asked, "So what will you do Anima?"

Anima growled, and snapped, "I can't let you win!"

Garaos held out his sword, and they both went at it, as Garaos continued taunting Anima. 

"You can't win Anima, I'm an old god, if I fall, there will be consequences," Garaos said, and finally trapped Anima, and continued, "I have much more fighting experience then you do, what can you hope to do to me?"

She flinched when he brought his sword down, but she was surprised when nothing happened, she opened her eyes, and saw Garaos, frozen much like she was. She rolled to the side to see Flynn standing behind him with sharp black looking eyes.

Anima smiled, "Check-mate, Garaos." She snarled.

Garaos growled, and suddenly both their visions flashed white, and they both blacked out.

~*~*~*~

When they came too, Anima looked around to see Flynn shaking his head.

"How did you do that?" Anima asked, shocked.

Flynn looked at her, and said quietly, "I don't know, he was starting to annoy me with his monologuing."

They sat in silence, and Anima asked, "Are you all right?"

Flynn didn't answer for a minute, then he said, "I'm okay... I guess..."

Anima thought, I'd blur his memories, but I won't do that without his permission...

Flynn looked thoughtful, and he said, "Collin said... You can blur memories right?" He looked up curiously. Anima looked at him, and nodded, and he continued, "Well, I'd rather not remember what happened, it's obvious Garaos only did that to try and get rid of me."

Anima frowned, and said, "Whatever you want, Flynn, but first, let's wake up Collin."

They walked up towards Collin, who was starting to stir, he opened his eyes, and blinked, he asked, "Hey? What happened?"

He tried standing up, but couldn't, and he growled, "Ow, my ribs feel like they're going to explode."

Anima sighed, sitting down in front of him, and said, "I guess from the-" She eyed Flynn, who said nothing, and she continued, "I guess when you got thrown back, your ribs must have cracked."

Collin made a face, and asked, "And how do you know that?"

Anima rolled his eyes, and poked him in the ribs, he jumped back in pain, and asked, "What was that for?!"

"Your ribs are cracked, point proven." Anima said.

Collin made a face, and asked, "Where-" He looked around, "Did Garaos go?"

Vortex finally walked up to them, "He is in an eternal sleep for now, it may not be eternal though." She said quietly.

Anima looked at Flynn, who said, "Well... It's going to be a while at least."

Anima narrowed her eyes, and Flynn looked at her suddenly, Anima rubbed her head, only hearing ringing, but she thought, There, I only blurred them a little bit, not enough to stay that way...

Flynn continued as if nothing happened, "Anyways, as long as Solaris isn't awake, we shouldn't really worry about that at this moment."

Collin and Anima nodded, and Vortex jumped happily, "Wow! This mountain is actually pretty and calming without the surrounding evilness Garaos was doing!"

Collin looked around, the sun was starting to break from the clouds, and he smiled, "I guess you're right."

Anima and Flynn just looked at each-other, and said nothing, Vortex jumped around while Collin stood up, holding his side, and laughed as Vortex tripped, and she said playfully, "Stop laughing at me!"

"Sorry, your tripping over a rock is the funniest thing ever." Collin laughed.

Vortex came up to him with a huffy faced and poked him hard in the ribs, he gasped, and she laughed, "Hahah, who's laughing now!"

Anima looked at Flynn, who was watching with amusement. But Anima frowned, and looked up at the sky.

This isn't the end, I know it's not... Somethings going to happen that this time I won't be able to stop, but this time.

I'll let it happen.

Because some things you can't keep bottled up forever

I guess love is weird like that.

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