Memories in the Forbidden Book. Spoilers.
Glimpse of Tomorrow
When you were a memory projection residing in a cursed book, there were few opportunities for amusement or distraction.
The heroes they'd been waiting for for what seemed like an eternity hadn't quite been in time to burn the thing, which meant that they were doomed to existing for a little while longer. Not that Mithos particularly minded, even if the bit of him labeled "righteous defender of justice" was railing about the potential danger.
As he watched the boy and his companions fade away, forcibly evicted from the book, he couldn't resist a rather tactless comment. "He looks just like you."
Predictably enough, he was rewarded by the rare sight of his mentor at a complete loss for words. Kratos reflexively opened his mouth for a reply, but it was obvious that the mental processes that would have driven that response had locked up somewhere along the way. He simply stood there with his mouth agape and a perplexed expression on his face.
And Mithos, of course, was simply telling the truth. Any idiot could tell that the boy bore an unusual resemblance to Kratos himself. The face still retained some measure of youthful roundness, and the eyes were wider, but Mithos could see suggestions of the fine, stern features that turned heads wherever they went. Given another five years or so, he'd be attracting just as much attention as Kratos himself.
Or maybe he already was, thought Mithos as he mentally reviewed the brief interactions he'd seen in their little party. Which would put him at an advantage over his father, at least. It was mind boggling enough that Kratos would unbend from his oh-so-important Honor and Duty to notice one of the girls who habitually threw themselves at him, much less long enough to have offspring. But the respect and concern that the boy obviously held for Kratos, combined with his physical resemblance, spoke obviously of kinship, and unless there was a long-lost little brother somewhere---
"I do not recall having any children." It appeared that Kratos had finally found his voice.
"What else could he be? He's got the same appalling taste in clothing you do." And for someone beloved of as calm and mature a woman as Martel, Yuan could be amazingly childish at times.
"This is my uniform, thank you very much. And I . . . I would . . . know if . . ." Sputtering was also not something that Kratos did very often.
"We have no idea how much time has passed out there. If not now, then in the future. After all, you do have the rest of eternity to find a suitable---"
"I will do no such thing!"
Mithos closed his eyes briefly and smiled. Whatever objections Kratos was making, he could tell that the thought of having a family was not entirely unwelcome to the knight, and Mithos knew first hand the bliss that came of having kin. The memory of Martel was not with them, but there was an almost uncanny sense of familiarity in their visitors that reminded him of his sister's gentle smile. The feel of mana that came like a sixth sense to all half-elves told him that it was the blond girl with her wings of soft lavender.
But the familiar warmth of kinship that also came with his heritage pointed to the white-haired boy and his sister. The boy had looked at him with affection and warmth, apprehension and guilt all wrapped up in ambivalence, and he could believe that in the real world out there they might have been friends. He was a couple of years younger and hadn't quite acquired the calm that Mithos had been forced to adopt early on his quest, but his enthusiasm, curiosity, and affection for his sister was quite the same.
Which was probably also why he aimed his spells at the other two when she volunteered to be part of their challenge. It was probably unbefitting the Hero Mithos, but his sister was his one weakness, and he was fully prepared to admit that.
As Mithos mused, the argument behind him continued.
"The dual wield swordsmanship was most impressive. Perhaps you could learn a thing or two?"
"Without a shield you are sacrificing too much defense for offense, as I've told you countless times before. If I had trained the boy---"
"Aha. In which case, if you hypothetically did have children, you would obviously see to their training yourself?"
As aggravating as Yuan could be at times, he did have a point. The boy's movements were extraordinarily agile, but it was not the full angel transformation that Mithos and his own companions had been forced to resort to.
Like the memories themselves, it was something he wished they'd never had to use. And that they had obviously failed to remove from existence after their quest, looking at the winged girl. He regretted it, even now, whenever he thought about the Crystallization Syndrome that threatened to take his sister and the terrible weeks that had followed when they'd searched desperately for a cure.
"So then, you admit that perhaps the boy is more skilled than his father?"
"At least I was not the first to fall." Apparently deciding that the subject of his probable offspring was a lost cause, Kratos was moving the topic of discussion onto more advantageous ground.
"That was entirely an unforeseen variable and in no way reflects upon my combat ability." Which was apparently quite an effective tactic for pressing Yuan back onto the defensive.
Of the three of them, Mithos had accustomed himself to the angel transformation the fastest, and he had gotten better at recognizing it in others, even when they weren't displaying the full extent of their powers. So it wasn't entirely a surprise when the swordsman, all graceful turns and swirling red hair one minute, suddenly spread delicate golden wings and blasted poor Yuan into the pavement. Yuan obviously felt differently.
Being half-elven and outcast was difficult enough; inorganic immortality brought its own set of troubles, not the least of which was the sense of loneliness, of something cold and unfeeling that was taking over their senses and would continue to sit there for the rest of eternity.
But the blonde girl who resembled Martel so closely in spirit - including the disease, his mana sense told him - seemed neither lonely nor cold. During their brief encounter, he had seen her smile and laugh in honest joy, show concern for her companions and even pout at some inane joke. If the price of power was the loss of soul, she had weathered the effects with amazing resilience, and for a moment Mithos dared to hope that it might have been the same for themselves.
As for the redhead, Mithos wasn't entirely certain what his real self was doing or had done out there to cause such antagonism, but he couldn't shake the impression of a cat with all its fur standing on end. Especially when it came to the boy leader: subtle looks and touches, the protective stance of his body and the way he moved. He might as well have been holding a giant sign with an arrow pointing to Kratos' son going "MINE".
Son or no son, all of that had gone straight over Kratos' head, of course. And Yuan being Yuan obviously hadn't noticed either.
He wondered if he should point it out. And whether he'd get to see any more of Kratos' rare expressions if he did.