Day 3
by Meimi


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

Spoiler Warning: Up to the search for Spinoza, with just the hint of a few smatterings of bits and pieces from later on to add flavor.


He had finished up with breakfast just a few minutes past, but it was already turning out to be an excruciatingly long morning for Fon Master Ion. Which wasn't much of a surprise since he had gotten absolutely no sleep the night before. Not that he'd let on, if it became obvious that there was something... bothering him, then there would be questions. He had no use for questions right now, especially pointed ones from a certain scheming Grand Maestro. He trusted Grand Maestro Mohs just about as far as he could throw the man, which was to say, not at all. And after last night's "development", well, there was no way Mohs would ever learn of what had happened last night, not if he could help it.

For the first time that Ion could remember, which, admittedly, wasn't much time at all really, he had locked his bedroom door securely before heading out to perform his regular morning duties. Granted, he hadn't wanted to leave, but if he didn't act normally and do what was expected of him, then there would be questions, questions that he couldn't and wouldn't answer. Not that he really knew what was going on in the first place, but there were things that must be protected at all costs, precious things.

Treasured friends.

Ion suppressed a tiny, pleased smile that the thrill of those words produced in him. Friends, yes, they were his friends, and very good ones at that. He had such beloved people in his life now. They were so much more than he could have hoped for, certainly more than anyone could have expected in such a short amount of time. He wouldn't let Mohs or anyone else hurt them again, not if he could help it. Being the Fon Master had to account for something.

Grimacing, Ion shook himself as he exited a side door of the cathedral and headed towards the courtyards out back. He needed to focus on his duties as Fon Master, and right now there was the immediate concern of the disturbance he had been hearing whispers about for the past half hour. He had been hearing them, but had yet to receive any sort of report about what the problem might possibly be. That made him terribly suspicious, especially considering that Grand Maestro Mohs would probably have been the first to hear about it. The fact that he had not deigned to inform Ion about whatever it was spoke volumes. It was either something the man was involved in or something he felt important enough to warrant his personal attention and to ignore general protocol. Ion didn't like the implications of either of those options. So here he was, strolling around his own cathedral in hopes of ferreting out someone who should be his subordinate, though fat chance of that ever happening. The day Mohs gave him any consideration other than as a tool would be the day Commandant Grants admitted that he was, in fact, bug nut crazy. Which he was, but Ion was nice enough to not say that in front of Tear, though honestly, she'd probably agree with him at this point.

Shaking his head at his own thoughts, Ion rounded a corner and barely managed to keep from smashing his face into the back of the Oracle Knight that was just standing there in the middle of the breezeway. Smothering an irritated growl, Ion opted instead to clear his throat audibly before speaking, "Excuse me."

"Oh! Fon Master, please forgive me," the Oracle Knight stammered apologetically before awkwardly clambering to the side. "I'm afraid I'm a bit distracted by the goings on this morning. Won't happen again, sir."

"That's quite all right," Ion smiled pleasantly, "We all have our moments. Would you happen to know, by chance, where I might find Grand Maestro Mohs?"

"Oh certainly, Fon Master," the Oracle Knight saluted crisply before gesturing further down the corridor, "The Grand Maestro should still be inspecting the courtyard up ahead."

"Thank you," Ion murmured politely before taking a few steps in the indicated direction. He would have gone further save for the hand that had descended upon his shoulder. Reminding himself that yelling at one of the Order's knights was not something the Fon Master should do, unless his patience was pushed any further, Ion turned his head and simply arched an eyebrow questioningly. He would not yell. He would not yell. Even if he really felt like it at that very second, he would not yell.

"Ah," the knight yelped weakly as he yanked his hand back, almost as if having touched the Fon Master so carelessly had burned it somehow, "My apologies, Fon Master, but, uhm, the scene in the courtyard is rather... disturbing. Perhaps it would be best to wait here and allow me to fetch the Grand Maestro for you."

"Do not concern yourself with such things on my behalf," Ion said airily, gritting his teeth while he gave the rather clueless knight a decidedly bland smile. "There are always unpleasant things in this world, unfortunately, but we must face them with calm and clarity. It is my duty to watch over the people, after all."

"Of course, Fon Master," the Oracle Knight mumbled reverently before shaking himself and giving a sharp salute, "My most humblest of apologies for delaying you, sir."

"It's quite all right," Ion nodded absently before continuing along the path. Really. Did they all have to treat him like he was breakable or some silly child who got the vapors at the first sign of unrest? Admittedly, some of the stuff that he had seen in his rather short life could curl the hairs on the most seasoned of veterans, but it was better to know and face such adversity than to ignore it and pretend that it didn't exist.

Last night for instance...

Ion blinked, his train of thought trailing off as he entered the courtyard proper. There were quite a few Oracle Knights milling about, either watching the proceedings or searching around for clues of something or other. Grand Maestro Mohs stood off to the side, glaring sourly at the tree situated in the center of the courtyard. Why? Ah, there was something hanging from its branches. A... rope? Ion blinked again as he stepped closer to get a better view, his right hand unconsciously reaching up to touch his bottom lip in thought. Yes, it was a rather sturdy looking rope, though the dangling end seemed frayed and ragged. And there were splotches of something, something a very dark red, all over the lower part of the coil. What in the world? Looking down, he could see that there was a lot of the same red substance spattered below on the ground as well. That didn't leave much to the imagination. Blood, and quite a bit of it too. It didn't take much of a leap in logic to realize just where it had come from either. In fact, he could definitively say that he even knew who it had come from.

Ion allowed himself a rather vicious scowl. That explained quite a bit for him, more than he needed really. Now all that was left was to discover just who had been responsible for it, and then he could go about with arranging a suitable punishment. There were uses to being the Fon Master, after all. And since he required further information before he could arrange such, who better than to start with than a likely suspect.

"Grand Maestro," Ion said pleasantly as he plastered on a sunny, if properly disturbed, expression before turning to give the older man his complete and undivided attention, "Would you care to fill me in on just what is going on?"

"My apologies for being lax in informing you of this event, Fon Master," Mohs grumbled, his face growing even more sour looking than it had been before, "I had planned to come give you a report about this disturbance once we had some information to provide. Unfortunately, we have learned very little since its discovery."

"I see," Ion nodded encouragingly, "Well, what have you learned?"

"As I said, very little," Mohs shrugged his indifference, "Whomever was the victim, they somehow managed to break the noose and escape. The trail leads haphazardly to the west for a few blocks, but mysteriously vanishes in a rather nondescript alley. Whoever the poor soul was, it seems they made good on their escape. Unfortunately, this leaves us with no clue as to their identity."

"Hmm," Ion hummed to himself in thought. He could surmise part of what had happened, though not the rest. And the rest was what he needed the most. Frowning slightly, he eyed the Grand Maestro appraisingly for a moment before deciding that the direct approach might work best. "I trust you did not have a hand in this?" he asked softly, meaning only for his words to be conveyed to Mohs and no one else.

"Fon Master," Mohs hissed quietly, clearly scandalized by the very idea, "I uphold the Score, nothing more, nothing less. I have no use for such barbarism. And besides, Daath is a holy city and should remain thus. This sort of indecency has no place here."

"Of course, my apologies," Ion said placatingly. The Grand Maestro's reaction seemed believable enough, but that still left him with too many questions that he had no answers for. He had to know who did this. He had to know so that he could make sure that they never had the chance to ever do it again. Not to anyone, and most especially not to his friends.

"Something of interest did come up yesterday, which might possibly supply an explanation of sorts," Mohs began slyly, waiting until Ion gave him an interested look before continuing, "It seems as if Commandant Grants was spotted in the city yesterday. No one seems to know just exactly what he was up to, but it does seem suspicious, does it not?" The Grand Maestro humphed and glared acidly at the rope hanging forlornly from the tree. "This sort of thing certainly brings his villainy to mind."

Van. Ion narrowed his eyes dangerously at the implication. He definitely wouldn't put it past the man to do something like this. He was something of a lunatic, after all. But why? He had always seemed to value Asch above all else is his grandiose schemes. What could possibly have changed to make him want to kill the young God-General instead? It didn't make sense. And if he had been the one responsible then what did this all mean for Luke? Ion did not like the implications that particular thought dredged up in his mind.

But if it had been Van, then he would have to die, regardless of Tear's feelings on the subject. If he was willing to sacrifice someone as important as Asch, much less do what had been done, then he had just become something much more than just a distant looming threat. Van Grants had done many things in his life, some things Ion would have even thanked him for... and some things even the entire world itself would revile him for. But this? This was a bit beyond any of that. There was no logic to it, only an apparent underlying intent to cause suffering for all those involved. That sort of thing could never be condoned, regardless of the reasoning.

But he had to be certain, absolutely certain, first before he decided upon anything. And, unfortunately, it seemed that the only person within reach that knew exactly what had happened wouldn't be answering any questions anytime soon if... at all. Ion sighed sadly and rubbed wearily at his eyes, not really caring what Mohs would think of his overtaxed display. Then again, he'd probably just think that the Fon Master was simply distraught about the day's happenings.

Ion didn't really care. He was trying desperately to not think about the very real possibility that he might never get an answer to any of this. And he didn't have any idea of how he could help them either. The only thing that was left for him to do was wait and hope that the others came searching for Luke. Surely Colonel Curtiss would have some sort of idea about what could be done for them. He always had ideas. But the waiting, Ion wasn't sure he could stand the waiting.

Ion was naturally patient, it came with the job description, but even he had his limits. He couldn't stand to see people in pain, and the fact that he could do nothing to alleviate it in this case just made it that much worse. And these were his friends. His inability to do anything but wait was utterly intolerable. He hated it with every fibre of his being, but what else could he do? All that was left to him was to wait and wonder and hope that the others arrived before he went mad from worry.

Having one lunatic running around the planet doing Score knows what was more than enough.

Hurry, my friends, please hurry.