Splintered Fragments
Memory File 02 - Cause and Effect
by Meimi


Disclaimer: I am in no way associated with Namco or anyone who hold rights to Tales of Symphonia. It isn't mine, I'm just playing with it.

Spoiler Warning: The entirety of Tales of Symphonia. If you haven't beaten the game at least once and don't want to be spoiled, read no further.


Sunlight glittered brilliantly through the trees as Yuan made his way sedately down the forest path. He was in search of someone, but he was in no hurry. Truth be known, it would probably be for the best if he took his time and let his bubbling irritation cool down a bit. Having to mediate between the half-elven workers and Mithos on construction of the new tower -and seal- for Luna -and her pet bird- was taxing at best, infuriating at worst. He could sympathize with his people, to a point. Who in their right mind would believe that a little brat was in charge of such a vast undertaking, after all? But knowing this did not stop the ever growing urge to resort to violence when they felt like being obstinate for the umpteenth time.

Their varying, yet similar, reactions to Kratos did not help their standing in his eyes - or Mithos' for that matter- in the least. He could understand fear in the face of an apparent human, even anger, and yes, resentment. He could even understand why they still continued to feel that way regardless that their overseers happened to trust said human implicitly. No, what really set his teeth to grinding was the fact that Kratos always stood there and accepted any and all dark looks and snide comments they sent his way like an unfeeling lump.

That ongoing irritation, of course, was only one of the reasons that he was now out here in the woods in search of said human. Kratos had disappeared sometime around midmorning. No doubt he was out here somewhere communing with nature and that thing he had rescued once upon a time. Noishe was its name if he remembered correctly. It wasn't that his absence was a deterrent to the project. No, in fact, it had the opposite effect. So that really wasn't the main reason that Yuan was traipsing around looking for him. No, it was something far more worrisome.

Lately, Kratos had been exhibiting a rather disturbing personality quirk -or should that be lack of-. It was almost as if Kratos was becoming more and more like him everyday, and loathe as Yuan was to admit it, it was starting to scare him. It just wasn't right for the Guardian to be so very dead on the inside. Just... not right at all.

Yuan sighed softly and glanced up through the canopy of branches above. When exactly had Kratos' wellbeing become his own personal project? ...No, he had no need to ask himself that. He knew exactly when it had happened. Dear, precious -beloved- Martel, so caring and thoughtful even in death.


The world was falling apart right before his eyes and he honestly didn't give a damn about it one way or the other. His own world had already fallen to ash. It was all over. Martel was dead. Mithos had gone mad. The Great Kharlan Tree was ablaze and their... "friend" was dying, his life trickling out between his fingers. He couldn't seem to hold onto it. The instant he thought that he had managed to catch ahold of Kratos' life force, it vanished from his grasp as if only a puff of smoke, a miniscule waft that fled before the burning fury that signaled their horrendous failure.

He should be grieving, wallowing in the cold, empty pit that had replaced his insides. Instead he was trying to save the life of a stupid human and he had no idea why. Mithos has warned him away from Martel's... body on pains of death and he just didn't have the energy or will to fight with the distraught boy. So why was he fighting a hopeless battle with death instead, one he was fated to lose? Why couldn't he just let him die?

Yuan smiled bitterly as he gently brushed his fingers across Kratos' forehead, burning leaves whipping around them while mana fell like rain. So much life... and none of it would save them. They were all going to die. The world couldn't survive without the great tree. There was no more hope. No more anything. Well, it wasn't so bad then. He wouldn't grieve for long.

Save him.

Yuan winced as the soft, familiar voice ghosted through his mind. He wasn't sure whether it was a form of self-imposed madness or if it was really her, but he answered nonetheless. "I can't. Martel, I can't. Even if I were a healer, I can't stop him from dying. I can't stop any of it."

Have faith, dear one. Have faith.

Yuan gave a hollow laugh at that. In a world bereft of hope, what good would faith do him? He looked up as he caught movement out of the corner of his eye. Mithos had clambered to his feet and was now walking determinedly towards the hulking mass of flames that had once been the Great Kharlan Tree. The Eternal Sword glimmered in his hands and he was muttering something, though the roar of the blaze made it impossible to hear anything. Perhaps Mithos, in his madness, had decided to be merciful and end it all now. Yuan couldn't quite seem to muster up any sort of feeling other than disjointed bemusement at that thought. If Mithos wanted to destroy the world, then good for him. Yuan would rather join Martel sooner rather than later.

No. Wait. If Mithos was leaving them behind then that meant that he would be left alone. For the first time in his rather lonesome life, the half-elf felt inexplicably and irrationally terrified of that very concept. He didn't want to be alone. He didn't want to be left alone in this place of death. Why couldn't they stay? Why did they all have to leave? Why couldn't they take him with them?

Save our friend.

"Don't leave me here alone."


Yuan shook his head sharply at those abhorrent memories. He would not wallow. He had already done enough of that to last a lifetime and knew that doing so wouldn't solve any of his present problems. Mithos needed someone to reign him in and Kratos, apparently, needed a nursemaid. True, there were other looming problems, saving the worlds being at the top of the list and helping his fellow half-elves escape the hatred of the humans and elves being somewhere near that. But none of that really seemed to matter when dealing with his companions.

Very well, if that was what he had been reduced to, then so be it. He could play babysitter and nursemaid to those two if it was needed. One of them had to stay somewhat sane, after all. If that role fell to him, then he would accept it. For now.

Shivering slightly at a cool breeze, Yuan tugged his traveling cloak a little tighter around himself. This chill was completely out of season. It should be much warmer at the tail end of spring. But then, that wasn't the only thing that was out of place, now was it? The half-elf squinted as he looked up at the sun. It didn't look quite right to him. It seemed almost... washed out, too pale for spring. Too distant. And it wasn't just the sun, Yuan frowned as he looked around him, studying the trees critically. Not enough leaves had sprouted to be healthy. And even that wasn't all, for the very air told the tale as well. It was thin, not noticeably so unless the person breathing it had dealt with thinner atmospheres -Derris-Kharlan being a rather good example-, but still too thin for such a low elevation.

This world was failing. It was a gradual decline, as expected after Mithos' rather inane solution, but it would continue to do so unless something was done to stop it. Which brought it all around full circle to yet another one of Mithos' inane ideas. Grudgingly, he would admit that it would probably work, but only as a stop-gap measure. They would have to come up with a more permanent solution eventually. Unfortunately, he had no idea of where to even start when trying to solve that particular problem. Which was why he was in the woods searching for a far more mundane problem. And one that he had just found.


The red-haired swordsman was seated at the base of a gnarled tree, staring dispassionately down at his hands. Noishe was sprawled out beside him, snuffling contentedly around in the grass. Kratos did not look up at Yuan's approach, but the half-elf wasn't fool enough to think that he hadn't noticed. No matter what the recent odd state of being was doing to him, Kratos' senses hadn't diminished in the least. He was still incredibly dangerous to the wrong people, which thankfully did not include a certain blue-haired half-elf.

While Kratos did nothing to acknowledge Yuan presence, Noishe certainly seemed quite eager to take up the slack. The evil, green thing had instantly clambered to its feet upon noticing him and had raced over to give him its usual disgusting greeting. Yuan cursed rather viciously as he wiped the slobber off of his face, giving that thing the evil eye as it galloped happily in circles around him. One of these days he would take great glee in finding out if its pelt would make a satisfactory rug.

"Done so soon?" Kratos asked in a blank, monotone voice as he continued to stare at his hands in disinterest.

"Construction is still in progress," Yuan answered matter-of-factly as he gave Noishe one final murderous look before turning his full attention on his companion, "I simply took my leave of them for the moment."

"Rather counter-productive of you," Kratos murmured flatly as he finally glanced up at the half-elf, "If something comes up, Mithos will be forced to seek you out for they will certainly not listen to him."

Yuan found himself almost shivering at the hollow look in the human's eyes. They shouldn't be like that. He shouldn't be like that, so bereft of life. "That's his problem," Yuan found himself muttering absently. He couldn't fix this. He didn't even know where to start anymore.

How useless you've become. Shaking his head as that bitter little voice whispered out from the back of his mind, Yuan turned his back on the reclining swordsman and instead found his gaze searching out the sun. The fading light of a slowly dying planet was so much easier to face than the personal, empty loneliness of his own failures.

I can't do this anymore.

"He still needs you." The voice cut easily through the rising hysteria that wanted to engulf him whenever he let himself actually think about their... his predicament. Yes, that's right. He was still needed.

Shaking his head again, as if to clear it, Yuan shot back, "He still needs both of us." He was rather proud of how steady and even his tone sounded regardless of how adrift he felt at the moment.

"I suppose," Kratos said, his voice dipping back into a soft murmur as he nonchalantly transferred his gaze back down to his hands, "But they will not listen to me."

"You're human, they're afraid of you," Yuan pointed out needlessly as he turned back around and walked over towards his companion, stepping carefully over the tree's knobby, twisted roots. "But regardless of your regrettable parentage, they'll listen to you before they'll heed a bratty kid."

Kratos chuckled flatly, sounding more as if he were doing it because it was expected of him than as if he actually felt like doing so. "Such reverence they show for the one who saved all their lives."

"He is still a child," Yuan commented blandly as he gingerly seated himself down beside Kratos. He tucked his cloak securely around him, then crossed his arms and tried not to shiver. It was supposed to be spring.

"You are cold," Kratos deduced after a few moments of surprising companionable silence had passed between them.

"That is because it is cold," Yuan muttered waspishly as he finally gave up and let his body do what it felt like, namely, shiver.

"Hmm," Kratos hummed as he eyed the half-elf speculatively before turning his gaze to the center of the clearing and the protozoan that was happily rolling around in the grass there. "Noishe," he called out gently to garner the creature's attention. Noishe perked up eagerly, giving his most favored being in the entire world his undivided attention.

"What are you doing?" Yuan asked apprehensively, his eyes narrowing in growing suspicion.

"Solving your problem," Kratos answered offhandedly before calling out again, "Noishe, Yuan is cold."

Noishe yipped happily and zipped over towards the pair, giving Yuan no chance to even voice an objection. The evil, green, furry thing gifted the half-elf with yet another happy lick on the face before flopping down practically on top of him. "Thanks ever so much," Yuan wheezed acidly as he swiped at his face and attempted to lever evil personified off of him enough so that he could breathe.

"Happy to oblige," Kratos said cheerfully, causing Yuan to give him a rather startled look.

The amused lilt in Kratos' tone actually sounded genuine for once. Perhaps the sickness -for lack of a better word- wasn't quite as severe as Yuan had first assumed. That didn't mean it wasn't advancing, just that it wasn't as bad as he had thought. Yet.

With the immediate reason for his worry reasserting itself, Yuan glanced over at Kratos' hands and scowled. The swordsman was wearing gloves, a habit he seemed to have picked up of late as well as a penchant for avoiding Yuan at any possible opportunity. Something was going on, something Yuan didn't know about -yet- and something he didn't want Yuan to know about. So what could it be now?

"You do realize that you cannot hide it from me forever, don't you?" Yuan asked coldly as he glared accusingly over at the only human he had ever considered worth his attention - and grudging concern-.

Kratos shifted uncomfortably away from the half-elf and sighed wearily, "No, I suppose not."

"Show me the crystal," Yuan commanded flatly, not caring how it may have sounded. He was actually a bit angry at the very idea of Kratos trying to hide something from him. Was the idiot completely oblivious to the fact that he was a bit worried about him?

Kratos sighed again, allowing his shoulders to droop in defeat as he reluctantly tugged the glove off and allowed the light of day to touch the Cruxis Crystal for the first time in several days. It was not a welcome sight.

"What is this?" Yuan hissed in shocked dismay as he dragged his arms out from underneath Noishe and grabbed Kratos' hand, yanking it closer for further inspection. The entire appendage seemed to be covered in crystal... or was it actually turning into crystal? "When did this start?"

"Just a few days ago," Kratos said quietly as Yuan continued to study his hand. It was still his, regardless of whatever it was that was happening to it and it still worked properly -for now-. It was just... mostly crystal now, instead of flesh.

"Why is it doing this?" Yuan asked absently, more to himself than anything else. He knew that if he wanted an answer he'd have to figure it out on his own. But this was so... strange. He hadn't been expecting such a bizarre new symptom. And yes, he was quite sure that it was yet another symptom of the overlying problem. But what was the cause of it all? If he could just figure that out, then surely he could fix it.

It was while he was pondering this new unwelcome element of their dilemma that a foreign yet familiar sensation intruded upon his mind and found something similar dwelling there. Yuan shuddered and abruptly dropped Kratos' hand as the heavy, black sensation twisted around inside of him. This was... he knew what this was. Oh yes, he knew well what this was. Loneliness. Was that what this was all about? The cursed thing was lonely? Yuan glanced sharply at the crystal before turning away and tuning everything out.

If that was the problem then what could any of them possibly do to fix it? How did one go about curing a blasted stone of loneliness? And this feeling, it was so all-consuming. He could easily drown in it if he wasn't careful. But no, that didn't seem to be its purpose with him. It felt more as if it was commiserating with his own brand of loneliness. Was that it then?

"Don't leave me here alone."

Yuan froze as that hated, unwanted memory echoed out from the depths of his mind. He had been so desperate then, grasping at straws even as he had despaired of being left there alone with only death for company. Was it his fault then? Had he somehow awakened this thing with his own selfish desires and condemned his friend to a slow, empty death instead of a swift, merciful one?

Did I do this?




The half-elf glanced up questioningly as he was brusquely shaken back to reality. Kratos was standing over him now -When had he gotten up?-, giving him something of a worried look. "Yes?" he answered vaguely as his mind tried to right itself from the pit it had all too eagerly pitched itself into.

"Mithos is calling for you," Kratos explained plainly as he shooed Noishe off of his companion, earning himself a short grumble of protest from the protozoan.

"He is?" Yuan murmured softly as he tilted his head slightly and listened. Yes, that was Mithos' voice yelling irritably in the distance. Well, it looked as if it was time for him to get back to mediating between the brat and their half-elven workers. A task he certainly didn't look forward to. Silently accepting Kratos' offered hand -gloved again-, he swiftly pulled himself to his feet and brushed himself off.

"I will find a way to fix this," he said resolutely as he looked up and pinned Kratos with a rather piercing glare. Yes, he would fix this. If it was his fault, then he would fix it, and if it wasn't, he would still fix it. He wouldn't be left behind. Nay, he refused to be left alone.

Kratos wasn't going to get out of life that easily if he had anything to say about it.

And he most certainly did.