The world from above looked so.. Small. Mountains looked like hills, and cities like towns. He didn't need a Rheaird to fly through the morning sky; he doubted it would work anyways, since the mana was so thin in this world. His wings, something he had to earn the right to represent Cruxis, were a brilliant teal color. His feet made landfall beyond the Iselia human ranch, thick red boots kicking up dust as he stumbled on the earth. He rubbed his cheek, a small smirk on his face once he righted himself.
'That was probably my best landing,' he thought.
Now that he was on the ground and unlikely to be seen by humans, he started walking. His clothes were light, something that he had gotten from Hima to blend in better. He had a semi-shoulder cape that was a dark blue, and a maroon adventurer's shirt underneath with chain mail under even that. He was covered head neck down in clothes and armor, though he couldn't feel the heat that undoubtedly came with the summer months. If you wanted to survive in the monster filled world, that was to be expected. It didn't hurt that he couldn't feel the heat either.
He walked until he found a leading to the nearby village path, humming in the back of his throat a song he had heard at Palmacosta as he had been traveling to learn more about the world before the journey. However, like every adventure there was a place he hated to acknowledge existing that always lurked behind the shadows.
He wasn't looking forward to seeing the human ranch, even if he avoided looking directly at it. A brief glimpse from above was more than enough for him, and it was distinctly why he refused to join that... sector of Cruxis. There was always a part of him that despised what had happened to his mother, and he knew well from his father what had happened to her involved the Desians.
"Your mother.. Was a human. Don't hold that against her." His father had spoken to him softly, cradling his crying preteen child against his chest. "She didn't hate me for being an elf, nor did she hold any contempt for you. When she looked at you, she had nothing but joy in her eyes. She would walk with you by the beach to ease you into sleep. She loved you with all of her heart despite who you are. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise."
The ranch, where she had been raised as nothing more than cattle for years only for a stone to end up hanging around his neck hidden in his father's old locket.. He had seen it with his own eyes. Seen the humans suffering and glaring at him through the barriers, malnourished and injured. He sobbed as he clung to his father, "The things they were doing to them, they were terrible. Da-Dad, I know I'm not supposed to but I.. I.. wanted to help them."
His father let out a slow, meditative sigh. He had to balance this, had to balance his words. He shouldn't fear being heard, as his relatively plain rooms were all sound proof even for angels, but Lloyd.. Had a habit of repeating what he heard. "You're kind Lloyd, like your mother. It's not wrong to help those who are suffering, but Lord Yggdrasill is doing this for the better." He whispered to him, patting his head protectively. "They wouldn't want to help you if you were in their place. Humans are.. A cruel species."
Lloyd frowned at him, teary eyed and his mind unable to grasp the full nature of what his father meant. In his mind, his young, naive mind the half elf thought, "Aren't we the same way?" As he remembered kids his own age and younger curled up and turning away from him at the ranch with fear in their eyes. "Are we really not cruel?"
Sliding his thumb over the glowing blue stone on his collarbone hidden underneath his shirt, his brown eyes flicked away from the ground toward the two people running up the hill to the church of Martel. The light from the oracle was burning bright enough that if he looked directly at it, his eyes would burn.
His elven father, Kratos, had requested that he go in his stead to Sylvarant to join the Chosen on her journey. In hushed words, he whispered to his son, "Make your own decisions, Lloyd. I trust that you will come to your own conclusions about this world. Just be careful."
Later, Lord Yggdrasill had gifted him with a special key crest to wear so he could finally, after all of this time, become an angel. The cruxis crystal on his chest was similar to his mother's, but it didn't feel the same. Her high exsphere was embedded now on a choker he had hidden against his neck, while his crystal was on his hand, a sickly green like his Lord's eyes.
"In order to keep you safe, my kin." He had said as he placed the stone on his hand, acidic green eyes boring into him like the parasitic stone began to do. Unlike what he had been told, his transformation process was rather perplexing instead of predictable. It was faster than others had experienced from what he was told. Much more painful, as he was bedridden with nearly no heartbeat and utterly incoherent. His body seemed to fight him, and he had torn at his hand to try and get rid of it to no avail. His wings had been a bright teal, but the first few times he brought them out, he had passed out so he had to figure it out in front of a mirror. So on and so forth, his transformation was agonizing and sometimes he could still feel indescribable pain. Like somehow, it was still fighting inside of him.
At the end of it all however, everything else seemed fine.
Now, Lloyd glanced to the village behind him. It had only taken him entering to hear about 'Desians' running through and parents running to get their kids from the school did he think to check in to see if the chosen was in class. Lo and behold, she was there, with another child a good few years younger than her at their desks. They seemed to be in some kind of conversation, hushed and both being avoided by the others. He wondered if it was because they were avoiding both of them, or if it was the other way around.
Impulsively, he had went up to them to ask if she was the chosen since he could easily sense that she radiated the same mana signature as Martel did. The other students only glanced his way, before returning to conversations with only glances with clear and unabashed anxiety. "Hey, not to be noisy or anything, but.. Do you happen to be the Chosen?"
What he was surprised to notice alongside her mana, was that the younger boy held his own blood in his veins. He didn't bother to hide a surprised face, and neither did the silver haired child. Another half elf.
Snapping them out of their spark of connection however, was the girl who stood up and smiled at him. "Yes! But you can call me Colette." She had long, blonde hair, and something felt.. off about her, and her smile.
He couldn't quite place it when the other half elf spoke up, stuttering, "A-And I'm Genis! What's your name?"
Lloyd smiled softly at him, tipping his head off to the side in what he hoped looked friendly. He was cute, in that 'I'm trying to impress the older kids' way. "I'm Lloyd. I.." He glanced to the window. "I saw the oracle and thought I'd come see it for myself. Then I overheard that there were Desians running around and that the chosen was still in school so.." He rubbed the back of his head, genuinely feeling a bit antsy. When was the last time he was around kids his own age?
"So I figured I'd offer protection to get the Chosen there securely. You can't be too safe, right?"
He looked to the girl, whose smile vanished, with a wide-eyed slack jawed look replacing it for only a second as she scoffed and smiled at him again. "O-oh. Of course." She placed her hands together, "Professor said to stay here and left but.. I'm worried about her. So I'll go with you."
Genis, sensing his moment to jump in, had spoken up, "Yeah! Me too! Big sis can get pretty.. distracted, and with Desians around, I don't want to risk it! I'm coming too!" He looked at Lloyd, however a clear underlying desire to be near someone like him evident in his puppy dog eyes. "And before you ask, I can cast spells! I'm not defenseless."
Colette nodded along and interjected while side-eyeing Lloyd, "I'd like him to come along. I don't want to be without someone I know, for moral support."
She distrusted him, and was probably was putting up a front to keep herself safe by being distant. Much less obnoxiously as the Tethe'allan Chosen, he noticed, but it was still there to block him and everyone else out.
"Of course. I wouldn't ask you to come along with some stranger. Is there someone you can tell where you're going?" He offered, before she relented and mentioned her human father, Frank.
It had just been perhaps an hour ago that they had run through all of this, and he was now following the two of them up to the temple.
Something was definitely up though, and he could hear it before he could see it.
Renegades, he silently thought. No way would Pronyma chance angering Lord Yggdrasill for some reason with this Chosen. She was much too similar to Lady Martel. Nor would Forcystus, perhaps the most loyal of the Grand Cardinals besides Magnius, and they were too far out for other Desians to attack without being noticed beforehand. Maybe Rodyle, but he wasn't the sort to directly involve himself when he could throw others under the bus.
He waited until a priest descended from the temple to catch up, standing by the others as he wished her luck on her journey and died in her arms. The girl sobbed, her soft heart now clearly evident, yet she was a silent crier. Genis was in disbelief, and he realized that this must have been their first time seeing someone pass on.
A part of him felt cheated that he was almost.. numb to it now, as all he felt was pity for the man being unable to fulfill his mission. Perhaps because he was a human? He wasn't sure, but he didn't bother to question the Chosen as she stood up with white knuckles, turning to face the temple as she marched up the shoddy stairs with a determination he hadn't seen from her before.
"Colette! Where are you going?" Genis asked, desperation in his voice for his friend.
She turned to look at him, smiling at him with puffy red eyes. A real smile, Lloyd noticed.
"I have to go receive the oracle. You can wait here since it's dangerous, Genis. I don't want you to get hurt." She spoke to him, not condescendingly like he had expected from a Chosen. Though it wasn't beyond him that she excluded himself from the option to wait.
Lloyd stepped forward, glancing behind him. "He could wait, yeah, but if he stays behind he's in more danger if monsters smell the blood."
He couldn't help himself from inviting the boy along, even if it was just the truth. "If you're afraid for him, stay back and defend him. I can handle the front lines." He added, noticing a chilling look in her sharp eyes. "Just let me handle this and things will go smoothly. Promise."
She sighed, before turning back toward the temple. "...I guess I have no choice. Alright. Please stay safe, Genis."
A large half elf man with black pointed hair cursed as his large hulk of a subordinate fell to his knees, shouting in confusion as children took him down. He fell hard, the thwump! of his body connecting to the ground moistened by the blood on the earth. Lloyd cringed at the sound, just enough that their leader ran with his surviving underlings with a rushed shout, "Damn, it's Lloyd! Run!" He had no choice but to let them run, not wanting to make a large deal of hunting them after just getting the Chosen to let him assist her. He would deal with them if they got in the way again. Until then..
Lloyd flipped his swords back into their sheaths, watching as they left with wary eyes. He eventually relaxed his stance when he realized the enemies had all ran off, and let his shoulders slump forward a bit. He looked at the carnage, then to his two acquaintances. Genis was pale and sweating, but trying to talk to Colette. She was red and flushed, finding a few priests that were murdered and kicked aside like rubble. Neither of them were handling it well, but both were unhurt since he had taken the brunt of it with melee. Even as a half elf, he preferred swords to just spell casting.
His father hand been upset that he used close range weapons, but he had justified it by making sure he got swords that he could channel magic through to imbue them with elements. Not exactly unlike his angelic father, but unique enough that he didn't feel like he was simply copying him nor totally regaling his magical heritage. It was his own style, and he liked it like that.
He walked over to them, and despite having already assessed them from a distance he asked, "Are you two okay? That was.. surprisingly tough."
Genis looked to him, and gave him a weak smile as Colette rubbed her face to bring herself back to reality. Genis started speaking as she was steadying her breathing. "We're fine. You-you were amazing! Without you, we might have.." The child took a deep, shaky breath, letting it out slowly before finishing, "Been in some trouble. Thank you, Lloyd, you saved us."
Lloyd felt his stomach twist and he blushed, despite himself while Colette nodded in agreement. He spoke with a bashful chuckle, "Don't doubt yourselves too much. If you think you're not able to fight alone, just.. Stay together." He spoke, almost flustered by the compliment and he covered his mouth with his hand to hide a shy smile.
He was interrupted however, by an elderly lady who looked not unlike Colette. "Chosen! You're okay. Thank the Goddess Martel." She stepped out of the temple and he felt his smile and growing giddiness fade.
"To understand why this Chosen is so important, you need to know the about previous Chosens that have underwent the journey of regeneration." Lord Yggdrasill himself typed on one of his computers, bringing up old footage of different Chosens throughout the seven hundred years since this started. "As you know, most Chosens are just married off to create the best chance of a mana signature that will match Martel's. When we need to swap the declining worlds, we send them on a journey. The last one took place in Sylvarant, with the name Aithra."
He pulled up footage of the young woman, pulled along by the priests. She was... Unwilling. She didn't want to lose her humanity.
"Seventy years ago, she failed the journey. This is what to expect if the worst is to happen, but of course, since this new Chosen is similar to Martel, she is unlikely to actually fail." His voice was monotone, dry, like he wasn't speaking about someone who even unwillingly gave her life up for his cause. Like she was just a number, which he supposed she was, though the thought made him shudder.
Before his eyes, he saw her go throughout the journey at each seal. The first, she seemed to go pallid, and panicked upon seeing her wings, but continued hesitantly. The second, her mind started to lie to her and the start of her waning sanity bore through. Sometime in between there, she had saved a half elf, who now was with the priests as an escort. However, at the third seal, she completely lost her mind. She screamed terrible things, and Remiel, being the pretentious angel, mocked her and informed her her journey would fail with her life forfeit.
That didn't end well. Lloyd saw the uninformed half elf try to save her from the others, only for the priests to attack him. She sacrificed herself for him by taking a nasty attack.. And of course, because no one needed to leave alive with this knowledge... Remiel killed the rest of them. Not a single person survived that journey, and he felt his limbs go cold and his stomach to ice.
He felt numb to the violence, but the injustice, the cruelty, made his skin crawl. He couldn't voice his distaste; Lord Yggdrasill wouldn't have it.
"The last Chosen lost track of what needed to be done. She prioritized herself over us. So we need to make sure this doesn't happen, Lloyd." He looked at him, cold eyes glittering almost too beautifully for what was beneath them. "At all costs, bring the Chosen to me."
"I trust you Lloyd, my kin only behind Martel herself. Don't let me down."
He recognized the woman before him, she looked like an elderly version of who had been her older sister. Aithra. His throat tightened, averting his eyes from her. She probably knew the sickening truth that she had failed, but he had been shown her death in detail. Now that he looked at Colette, she, too, bore resemblance to the failed Chosen. He hoped she didn't suffer for what happened.
Hesitantly, Lloyd stepped up to the older woman when he remembered what he needed to do. "Uh, Hi there. I'm assuming you're the head of this temple?" He fake-guessed, not wanting to dawdle on his thoughts. She took a second to nod, "Yes, I suppose I am so now. And who might you be?"
"Lloyd Irving." He said. Down on Aselia's Sylvarant half, he had decided to go by his mother's maiden name. A part of him feared meeting someone related to her, knowing what he was, but at the same time.. He wanted to try to have a chance to meet more of his family, to see what they were like. "I'm an adventurer, sort of a mercenary. Kinda." He pushed some of his bangs out of his face. "I saw the oracle and thought I'd come see it since it's a once in a life time opportunity. Heard about Desians, and, uh.."
Genis stepped up once more, that eager child was definitely out to keep him around. "He offered Colette help! She asked me to come so she wouldn't be stuck with him, and he kept us safe!"
Colette spoke up, stirred by Genis's input. Like somehow she didn't feel proper speaking without prompting. "Ah! Genis, that's-!"
Phaidra hummed softly, eyeing him thoughtfully with recognition in her eyes. "A mercenary? So young?" Her eyes looked hard at him, like she was seeing someone else. "I see. I suppose that makes sense.. But that's none of my business.." She trailed off, leaving Lloyd curious but unfulfilled.
She looked at the two children, sizing them up. Seeing that they had no harm done to them. "I see.. Well, Lloyd Irving.. I'd like to request your assistance. I'll pay you if you would please accompany the Chosen on her journey. All of her priests have.." She looked to the ground around them. "Been taken out."
Lloyd a frown on his face. "All of them? Oh, I mean.." He looked at Colette, then back to her grandmother. "Of course I'll join. I can't imagine letting the Chosen go alone after this tragedy. The Goddess awaits us, right?"
Lloyd watched as Remiel descended from the dome above, warm brown eyes meeting bright, insipid blue. The angel smiled wide, a twitching at the corner of his lips when he saw an angel like Lloyd blending in with 'inferior beings'.
'Probably thinking about how he's more important than them. I wonder how he'd fare in my place.' He glanced at the other two, both wide eyed and gaping at the angel. Even when Colette approached and bowed, he felt like it was a mockery of something actually holy.
Gods, he hated this. He hated Remiel more than anyone he knew. He was two faced, and openly against Kratos for being a full blooded elf in his mortal life as he desperately fought to take his place. He could care less if he was an angel like him as Lloyd saw him as a disgrace to all beings who could hold a thought.
Something that made him feel even worse when he lied about being the Chosen's father. He blanched at him, looking at her then to him. He was lying, he knew that already. But to say that to her knowing he would use her? While he understood it may inspire her, he didn't like underhanded means like emotional manipulation... Which he didn't want to think about, since his own situation was too much of an oxymoron to his feelings. He wanted to punch him, scowling at him before turning away and settling his sights on his home's front door. The Tower of Salvation as it appeared in this world, tall and elegant with old technology. It was somewhat creepy to think about, that there would be where the Chosen would fall and here they began.
As much as he hated this, it was the only way. Right?
He pushed that from his mind. Thinking about it would make him feel guilty. As of right now, he couldn't afford that. Guilt would get in the way of making this land truly prosper and reach Lord Yggdrasill's goals. He couldn't fail him, not his friend as terrible as he was.
Lloyd had been planning to stay the night at the Chosen's home so they could leave early and make it to the House of Salvation, and with better time, perhaps even Triet within a few days. Horses were hard to attain, especially so when considering the desert wouldn't be good to them either, so it would all be them on foot.
However, Genis had asked him to come over after they had concluded the official hiring of Lloyd to aid the Chosen at Frank's house.
So he stood by Genis's pond, looking at the fish swimming by when Genis stepped out of his home. "Lloyd! You actually came!" His face lit up, somehow surprised that the other half elf had decided to give him the time of day. Despite being an angel, he still felt closer to who Genis was than any of his cohorts in Cruxis with a few exceptions.
"Yeah, of course I came. Why wouldn't I?" He asked, turning toward him and walking over to meet him.
The twelve year old looked abashed at him, face turning pink. "I-Um.. That's.." He fidgeted for a moment, twiddling his thumbs together. "Because.. You.. You're an older.." He cut himself off, looking up at him with pleading eyes, not wanting to say it out loud.
Lloyd felt his heart twist and he smiled at him, nodding, "Yeah, I am. But my age doesn't mean I'm going to think you're just some kid. Besides.. Am I the only other one you've met besides your sister?" She had been wild to meet, especially after seeing Genis in the temple. He had barely managed to cover his own butt, but still got a solid kick to the stomach for dragging her baby brother out into danger.
He nodded, looking away, "Uh, I.. Yeah. You are." He looked back to him, before glancing at the sky. "But that's not why I asked for you to come over. I actually wanted to ask a favor of you."
"Oh," Lloyd muttered, almost disappointed before he covered it up. "Sure, it depends on what it is.. but I don't think you'll ask something unreasonable of me."
Genis coughed softly, clearly fake as he spoke. "Yeah. Totally. So. Uh." He glanced toward the nearby forest. "Can you take me up there?"
Lloyd stood at the entrance of the desian faculty, staring down at Genis's apologetic face. "Really?"
"Sorry! I just.. There's someone I'd like you to meet."
Lloyd felt his stomach twist, 'I don't think I want to.'
He went with him even still; he couldn't chance Genis getting caught and indoctrinated. Even now, he didn't like the Desian organization. He understood why they were necessary but he felt like it was too far, even by angelic standards.
Genis stood by electrified wires, and whispered out. "Marble! I'm here!"
He saw the old lady come up to him with such a gentle and loving smile on her face and he wanted to gag.
"Genis! It's so good to see you! And you've brought a friend, too?"
"Yeah! He's like me, and his name is Lloyd! Lloyd, this is Marble, Marble, this is Lloyd! He helped me get here so I could give you something." He shuffled around, pulling out his bag and offering a sandwich and cookies to the woman through the sparking fence. "I want you to have this, okay? I even had some left overs from making Colette's birthday gift."
She took it, thanking him kindly. The sounds were muffled, Lloyd hyper focusing on her exsphere. Impulsively, he spoke, "That's dangerous." He said, looking up only to see the two of their confused faces. Quickly, he explained, "The exsphere on your skin, I mean. You need a key crest to make it safe." He held up his hand, "Like this."
Genis blinked at him, confused as he asked, "Well, do you have another one we could use?" Marble stashed away her food, potentially going to save it for later and perhaps even share with others. She seemed like the type.
He shook his head, "No, it's hard to get them. Dwarves are the only ones who can make them, and most if not all live underground and away from the surface."
For some reason, Genis lit up. "No way! We have a dwarf that lives near here! His name is Dirk, and sometimes he has his assistant come to town to get materials! They're really nice people even if they're strange, so maybe they'd help Marble."
That was... Pretty lucky, actually.
Just then, they heard a shout, "Hey you! What are you doing over there?"
"Uh-oh." Lloyd muttered at the same time as Marble said, "Lloyd, Genis, run!"
Quickly, Lloyd grabbed Genis and pulled him toward the bushes close to the front, before Genis urged him to get higher so they could watch.
It escalated quickly, the young half elf had cast fireball to stop the whipping the woman. Lloyd had felt the heat of drawing fire mana next to him, and he could have stopped him, but seeing her hurt.. He didn't bother to try. He knew it wouldn't kill the Desian, but it would stop the disgusting act he was committing.
Genis quickly apologized, and he couldn't help it when helped him escape capture. He drew the attention of the Desians, leaping across the posts easily, and defending him when Genis was in danger of being caught.
In the end, he got the young one back to the bottom of the small mountain, and instead of parting there Genis wanted to take him to meet Dirk the dwarf. Back toward the ranch, but it was better than leading them toward Iselia.
Lloyd followed Genis up a foot path, the two having rushed up the hill to get to the abode before night fall. However, Genis was bemoaned at the idea of going home in the dark, and he figured they could ask to stay during the night.
As they approached the cabin, he saw plenty of flowers adorning the sides, vines climbing up and making the home look rather fantastical. Off to one side had a stable for some large.. Dog looking thing. The creature seemed to perk up at the sound of their footsteps, standing up and stretching. Off to the other side were two graves, beautifully intricate with yet even more colorful flowers lining them.
He didn't pay much mind to them; if a dwarf lived on the surface, they must have a reason to, no matter the sacrifices made. Considering most of the ones he knew about stayed underground and worked for Cruxis, he wondered if that meant that the dwarf lost them as punishment.
The closer they got, the more anxious the large 'dog' became before it yipped and dashed from its pin, running over to Lloyd. Even with his angelic reaction time, he barely managed to get his hands up before the large beast was on him and licking his face. "O-oh! Hey! Oh, that tickles-"
Lloyd laughed, trying to push at the loving being with Genis standing by. He'd seen the 'dog' before, but it seemed anxious of people. He had no clue as to why it tackled the older boy, but it was definitely funny to see the half elf's hair slick upwards with saliva. The door opened with a gruff man stepping out, odd accent as he yelled at the creature. "Noishe! Leave that poor fellow alone, would ya'?" He said, stomping over and tugging him off. "If it weren't for ya' willingness to pull a cart an' Anna's tears, I'da have you trained right well with other dogs."
He reached down to Lloyd, who took his hand and was effortlessly lifted up to his feet.
"Sorry 'bout that fella. He gets excited sometimes an' I still don't totally understand 'im. Name's Dirk, pleasure to meetcha." The man spoke with an odd warmth to his tone, and he looked just as friendly as he sounded. His beard reached his lower chest and his as skin as bronze as the metals he worked with, clothes dirty but clearly well kept with tight patches adorning the material. He glanced at the two young folks, grin barely visible on his face through his mustache. "Ah, Genis, you're here. What're you doin' here so late in the evening?"
Genis chuckled softly, more nervous than humored. Right off the bat, huh? "Ah, uhm.. Well... First, let me introduce you! This is my new friend, Lloyd!"
Lloyd glanced with his brows up to Genis, surprised at being called his friend. He seemed to catch it too, as the child went pink yet again, hopefully peeking at the older one for confirmation. Lloyd grinned at him while shaking his head, looking at Dirk. "Yeah. I'm Lloyd Irving, nice to meet you." He stuck out his hand, expecting a handshake.
Instead, the dwarf startled at his name, but caught himself and took his hand. Rather than shake it, he pulled him down to his level, looking at him intensely. It took an immense amount of willpower to not pull away or punch the man for his crass move, but before he could, he was released.
"Ah, I see." He started, voice deep and low. "Right then. What are ya' here for?"
Lloyd pursed his lips, speaking carefully, worried that he somehow gave himself away. "I.. We're here to see about a key crest. Genis has a friend that isn't equipped with one but has an exsphere. I was told a dwarf lived here and..." He drifted off when the dwarf huffed, shaking his head and turning around.
"The only people with key crestless exspheres are people at the ranch. If yer messing with those people, I don't want ya' here."
At that moment, a woman stepped out. She wore gloves and a high turtle neck despite the heat. Her hair was a warm mahogany brown that was cut short into a messy bob with hair flipping every which way. Her voice, when she spoke, was slightly warbled even if kindly. "Dirk! That's not how you treat guests, is it?" She walked out, scowling at the man.
Genis seemed as taken aback as Lloyd was; most of her visible skin was a strange greenish-black color with decent patches of what he guessed was her normal skin tone, and one eye had a red iris with a black scelra. Genis had seen her in town, but she typically wore something to cover up her skin, and he didn't know she looked like.. This.
She looked at the two boys, a strange, self concious look crossing her face before she spoke, avoiding their gazes. "Sorry for his brash attitude, he gets like that sometimes. How about you both come in before it gets dark and we get supper for you? We'll both hear your story then." She turned without a confirmation, somehow already assured all three would follow... Though she did have to push Noishe out of the door way as he tried to follow as well.
Eventually, they were urged into seats as the woman scooped soup out of a pot that had been stewing and into several bowls. Dirk had returned to his spot at his work bench, grumbling disagreements under his breath while working. She set one bowl down for each of them, one next to Dirk and then the half-elves. She settled herself in, pulling off her gloved to reveal jewel like red-clawed hands and the same oddly colored skin beneath.
"Eat up, and tell me why you're here. If I think it's fair, I'll threaten Dirk with burnt food until he relents." She smiled softly at them as she tried to put them at ease, her lips now noticeably split in odd ways on the top and bottom as if they were torn. Dirk, from the other side of the room, grunted once more, uncharacteristically involved.
Before Lloyd could start his pitch again, Genis pressed in his childlike curiosity and endless scholarly intrigue, "What happened to you?"
Lloyd looked at him, "Genis!" The woman dropped her spoon into her bowl, lowering her eyes in what could easily be identified as shame.
"What? I'm sorry, I couldn't help it. I don't mean to be rude.." He bit his lip, "But you come to Iselia all of the time, and somehow I've never seen.. this! I can't help but wonder! You have to be curious too, Lloyd!"
Lloyd bumped Genis's shoulder, "Yeah, but I'm not going to ask her if it clearly makes her uncomfortable!"
She looked back to them, glancing between the two then focusing on Lloyd. As if she somehow saw something she hadn't before. "Your.. Your name is Lloyd?"
He turned to her, bowing his head, "Yeah, sorry about that. I'm Lloyd. Uh, Lloyd Irving. You probably know this kid, but he's.." He cut himself off as he looked back up to see her eyes well with tears.
"Oh my god.." She stood up, hands covering her face. She was shaking something hard and seemed like she didn't know if she should hide or grab him. In her bewildered state, he voice distorted more. "Lloyd!"
His nerves suddenly went tight, confusion and anxiety hitting him hard, "Y-yes?"
"I-I'm.." She swallowed, and she looked away. Afraid to tell him who she was, as if he'd reject her. "It's me.. Anna." She sobbed softly, turning toward him and holding open her arms with the strongest need to hug her only living child. "Lloyd, my son, you're alive!"