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.
It was late afternoon, the sky clearly showing signs of darkening to dusk, by the time Anise had managed to ferret or flat out steal all of the required supplies that Jade had requested. A few people in the Order had changed positions and she hadn't wanted to risk alerting a certain Grand Maestro by attempting to sweet talk her way around strangers who may or may not have been on his payroll. Such a nuisance. But thankfully, Mohs still seemed to be focusing his attention on the "attempted murder" and not the Fon Master's strange guests. That would change, of course it would, Mohs's influence was far too prevalent in the church for him to not eventually find out that something was up with Ion. But hopefully they'd be on their way out of Daath by then.
Then again, Anise sighed soundlessly as she plopped another box full of surgical grade cloth down on Ion's desk. Asch... hadn't looked very good. She didn't want any of the others to know, but she had her doubts about whether all the stuff she had managed to gather would actually be put to use or not. There was beat up and then there was that. Maybe they shouldn't be doing what they were doing. Maybe they should just let them stay that way. At least that way they'd both still be alive. But no, neither of them would want to stay like that, regardless of whatever might happen afterwards. And yet, Asch had been a prickly, snooty, stuck up bitch for the majority of the times they had run into him, but she still kinda liked him despite himself. She didn't want to see him die. And besides, he couldn't die! He could cook, he could clean, and he was great with a sword. He'd be the perfect wife for Natalia. They just had to fix him up and then everything would be fine. Anything else was unacceptable.
Jade hummed appreciatively as he riffled through the box. "Yes, quite satisfactory. These will do nicely." Nodding to himself, he turned and rewarded her with a gleeful little smirk, too gleeful. "Now there's just one last thing for you to collect."
"Wait a minute," Anise said defensively, one eyebrow twitching slightly in annoyance, "I got everything that you put on the list. What else could we possibly need?"
"Why clean water, of course, dear Anise," Jade answered smugly as he reached up and readjusted his glasses. "What else would you use to clean bloody wounds with?"
"Water?!" Anise stared at him aghast and then pointed imperiously at the door to Ion's bedroom. "Have you been in there? Have you seen that mess?"
"Indeed I have, Anise, as have we all." Jade looked down and tugged his gloves on tighter, completely unconcerned by the fuming Oracle Knight in front of him.
"Then you do realize just exactly how much water we'll need to clean it up, right?"
"Quite a bit I'd imagine," Jade said cheerfully as he patted Anise on the head, his condescension impossible to miss. "I guess you'd best get to it then if you want to get done anytime soon."
"Argh!" Anise snarled, her face twisting up in rage before she whirled around and stalked her way out of the room. "I hate you!" she yelled back before slamming the door shut behind her.
"Of course you do," he murmured fondly. Then, as if a switch had been flipped, he instantly pushed the previous confrontation out of his mind and instead focused his attention upon the door leading into Ion's bedroom. It had been awhile since he had checked in on them, but Tear's progress would be reaching a critical point in the very near future. Perhaps it was time for him to intervene just a bit. It wouldn't be good to rush things too much. Gracing the others with a benign smile, which only earned him dubious and suspicious looks in return, Jade walked over to the bedroom door and quietly entered the room.
It was much the same as when they had first arrived. The golden glow of hyper resonance still infused the room with its brilliant light, but now there was soft, gentle singing to counteract the discordance of its source. It was an odd scene, but he was getting quite used to the strange and downright bizarre that seemed to crop up all the time with this particular group. And truth be known, he rather enjoyed it. But, unfortunately, enjoyment wasn't exactly the proper response to this sort of situation. Alas.
Shaking his head at his own whimsy, Jade silently made his way over to Tear and was pleased at what he saw. She sat in front of the pair with her legs curled up underneath her and her arms buried elbow deep in the light, all the while still singing, her voice weak and strained, but still soothing and calm. She had reached Asch by now, her hands tentatively grasping at his shoulder as she continued to slowly inch her way in. It wouldn't be much longer until she could get a good, solid hold on him. And then time would begin again.
Frowning slightly, Jade kneeled down behind the young woman and took hold of her upper arms. Not yet, they weren't quite ready just yet. "Tear, you need to stop," he whispered into her ear as he began to gently pull her away from the glowing pair, "Come now, let yourself rest for a bit."
"But Colonel," Tear rasped even as she allowed herself to collapse back against him. She was so tired and so very drained. "I'll just have to start all over again."
"No you won't, Tear, look at them." And she did. At first glance there were no obvious changes, but a closer look quickly brought the differences to light. A tension she hadn't realized had been there had bled out of Luke, leaving him much more relaxed. And almost cute, she thought with an exhausted mental giggle. His desperate hold on Asch had let up a bit, becoming less of a drastic grip and more of a tender support. What a strange way to see them, two people who seemed to dislike each other so vehemently. But then, she had realized early on that Luke was genuinely kind, when he didn't let his stupidity get in the way; and she had a sneaking suspicion that Asch may, in fact, be similar, but hid it behind an aloof and surly disposition instead. It would fit.
But Asch... he may still die regardless of what any of them could do. The gray tint to his complexion didn't give her much hope. He had lost too much blood, probably even before Luke had found him. And she wasn't quite sure, but from what little she could see it appeared as if there was something wrong with his neck. Would he even be able to breathe once they took him away from Luke? Was what they were attempting the right thing to do? If he died, Natalia would be utterly crushed and the rest of the group wouldn't be far behind her. And well, she didn't even want to contemplate what her own reaction might be. As for Luke, what would that do to him? She honestly didn't know, but she was quite certain that it would not be pretty, far, far from it.
"Jade," Tear began, choosing to distract herself from her morose train of thought by something else that had struck her as curious, "Why did you want me to do this? You could have just had Ion pull him free."
"I didn't want to risk it." Jade said flatly, clarifying further when she gave him an utterly confused look, "As it stands, Ion is considered safe. But do you think it would continue to consider him as such if he tried to separate them? That just isn't a risk I am willing to take in this particular situation. If it decided that sanctuary could no longer be found here, with Ion, I'm sure that it could easily transport them to another location, perhaps to even where it is. They would then be far beyond our ability to reach them."
"You think that it is more than just seventh fonons and the hyper resonance then," Tear stated frankly, unsurprised when he nodded. She had suspected that there was more to it, but had been unsure of just what else it might be.
"I am not entirely certain, mind you, but I think it is Lorelei's direct will that we are witnessing here," he explained after a moment's hesitation.
"Lorelei?" Tear mouthed, her eyes widening in shock as she looked up at the Colonel then back over at the glimmering pair. "But why?"
"I think," Jade murmured thoughtfully, his eyes growing distant, "That it has been with them for a very long time now, perhaps even before their births. Not in the physical sense, but there has always been an extra, enigmatic sensation present where those two are concerned, something more that lingers just beyond our ability to perceive it."
"I don't understand," Tear muttered and shook her head in shaky disbelief, "Why would the sentient manifestation of the seventh fonim be interested in either of them?"
"I don't know," Jade said bluntly, a dark scowl forming on his face, "But I don't like it and I don't think I need to explain to you why it concerns me."
"No." Tear shook her head again, perfectly understanding what he was getting at. "No, you don't." Dealing with the seventh fonim was difficult at best and with the added danger of hyper resonance, there was no telling what might happen if something that bordered on being a god decided to start interfering with them. But was it something they should worry so much about? This was Lorelei they were talking about. If it truly existed, would it not be a benign force instead of yet another danger to them? But Jade seemed to think that it could take Luke and Asch away from them if they proved to be a threat in its mind, and that was not acceptable. No, Luke had to stay with her. And Asch... Asch couldn't leave either. He had to stay. He couldn't die. She wouldn't allow it. Be it by Lorelei's will or not.
Ion grimaced as he hefted an oversized jug of water and trailed laboriously after Anise as she wended her way around the cathedral in the most unobtrusive, but grueling, trek back to the transport glyphs that lead up to his rooms. He had gotten corralled into helping her on her second trip down, not that he really minded. Much. He did like helping out, after all, and this was so much better than sitting around and worrying, even if Anise had practically bullied him into it. When she got so utterly annoyed like this, which was a common occurrence when the Colonel was involved, she could be one of the pushiest people he had ever met, and that included the God-Generals, Commandant Grants and Grand Maestro Mohs. Perhaps he should just arrange to inflict her upon them whenever she was in one of these moods. He doubted there would be much left of them to cause any sort of trouble after she was done with them.
Anise grumbled nastily the entire way up, stopping short at the door to Ion's quarters and banging it viciously with her foot. "Open up, damnit." Said door instantly swung open, an extremely wary looking Guy quickly fleeing from Anise's path of rampage.
Natalia smiled apologetically at Ion as Anise stormed past. "Here, let me help you with that, Fon Master." She took the jug from him before he could even protest, though Anise did more than enough in his stead.
"Hey, what about me?" The Oracle Knight snarled as she carelessly thunked her own jug down on the desk. "You could help me, or Guy could at least. It's not like that damned Necromancer hasn't had me running all over the cathedral all day long."
"Now now, Anise," Natalia said placatingly as she plopped her burden down beside the former Guardian's. "You know that Guy can't help. Well, he can't help you, at least. You're a girl."
Ion froze as something occurred to him then. Something very odd had happened earlier that day, something that was very unexpected. "Guy! You touched the princess earlier! You even helped her to get up!"
Natalia gasped at the realization and glanced over at Guy in pure shock. "That's right! You did!"
"Uh," the swordsman scratched the back of his head nervously, "I guess so? I didn't really think about it at the time."
"Does that mean he's cured?" Anise asked curiously, her anger at Jade and the world at large completely forgotten in light of this new and interesting development. Humming thoughtfully, she sauntered around the desk and over towards Guy. She looked him up and down inquisitively for a moment, then reached out and poked him experimentally.
"Gah!" Guy instantly jerked away and zoomed across the room to cower behind a flustered Ion.
Anise shrugged, "Guess not."
Natalia giggled daintily and peered around Ion at their shivering friend. "Well, regardless, thank you very much for your concern, Guy. I really appreciate it."
"No... problem... princess," Guy stuttered, shrinking further behind Ion to avoid any possible contact with the Kimlascan princess. He honestly hadn't even thought about the fact that he'd been touching a female at the time, but now, the very idea was making his blood pressure sky rocket. He really was a sad, pathetic case.