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20 October 2008 @ 07:26 pm
 
So. There's a lot going on with this ghost event. People are reliving traumas all over the place and shouting across their journals. But Richter isn't the type to shout anything, nor would he be careless enough to let his journal record it. (*cough*nevermind that bedninja incident, that was an accident*cough*) However, considering the event's nature, this is a pretty important experiment for Richter. Which is why I've written a one-shot to summarize the 'character development' he's going through. Posted right here in lucetifans, because this community needs more fan stuff.

Tales of Symphonia; Dawn of the New World spoilers, of course. Possibly the biggest you'll be able to find anywhere. (the fact that this one-shot has spoilers shouldn't be a spoiler in itself though, because hey, name one Tales character who doesn't have dead people in their emo background)

Anyway, if you don't care about being spoiled, or have already played the game, enjoy this reading experience. And yes, typos are likely to be in there. My beta-reader caught two of them, but you never know.

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Silence reigned in the apartment. Emil was nowhere to be seen, likely outside with one of his new friends. Richter had closed his journal and locked it in a drawer of his bedside cabinet; there was nothing but senseless panic to be heard. Everyone in Luceti was losing their cool thanks to visits of the dead.

It was because of this that he was prepared for the visitor of his own. A part of him was excited at the prospect of seeing his old friend again, but for that he felt guilty. Considering all that had happened, he was supposed to have learned his lesson about the afterlife. Why couldn’t he just let go?

Finally, the boy appeared. He looked as if not a day had passed since he’d lost his life. The same messy blonde hair, the same slim posture… He was still wearing his research attire, too. There were no wounds on his body, no bruises. But Richter knew, from the moment Ratatosk’s spell hit, death was instantaneous.

He wanted to jump up from the bed he was sitting on. He wanted to pull the boy into a hug, apologize for his failure. But he knew it would be in vain. His friend’s appearance wasn’t solid. All they could do was talk. “… I’ve been expecting you, Astel.”

The boy blinked slowly, somewhat confused. Why wouldn’t he be? The last thing he would remember, in all likelihood, was facing an ancient spirit in the Ginnunga Gap. He couldn’t know about the things that had happened. There was a good chance he didn’t even know he was deceased.

“Richter… What happened? Where…” Astel trailed off as he heard his own voice. It sounded distant and echoing. He slowly raised a hand in front of his face, only to peer straight through it. Then comprehension hit him. “… I’m dead, aren’t I?”

A stiff nod was the only response Richter could give. The feeling of guilt he’d been harbouring all these years increased. Why couldn’t he have reacted faster? Why did he fail to protect the only human who’d ever looked out for him?

The pain seemed to show on his face, as Astel took a step closer and crouched down in front of him. The boy met his gaze and Richer stared back into dark hazel eyes, so different from Emil’s emerald ones. “How long has it been?”

“Two and a half years. Perhaps more, by now.” After arriving in Luceti, Richter had lost track of time.

“I thought so. You look older.” Astel gave a faint smile, hoping it would cheer the man up. It didn’t. He wasn’t about to let silence reign, though. “What happened to Ratatosk? And Aqua? If you’re still alive…”

Yes. What did happen to Ratatosk? That was the most important question of them all. So Richter took a deep sigh, before starting to explain. Once the ball got rolling, he found he couldn’t stop. So he told the boy everything that had happened since that day. His resolution to destroy Ratatosk for good, the accusations he’d had to face when he returned to the academy, his allegiance with the Vanguard… And Ratatosk’s rebirth, as the boy named Emil. Not once did Astel interrupt his story, though at times it seemed like his friend was staring straight through him. All the words seemed to reach his ears, though, so it was only logical that after an hour of talking, Richter found himself explaining Luceti.

“An experiment?” Astel finally asked.

“So it would seem.” Richter’s hands were clasped together in his lap, tensing and relaxing at steady intervals. He didn’t even notice. “It looks like only the spirits of those who’ve had a great impact on you will appear.”

“It looks like I had a lot of impact on you, then, if you were willing to go through all that trouble just for me,” Astel replied, a sheepish grin on his face as he scratched the back of his head. Obviously, he was referring to the demon pact.

Richter sighed and looked away, remembering something Emil said to him in the Ginnunga Gap. ‘Astel wouldn’t have wanted this’. Perhaps things had gotten out of hand. He’d been selfish. Even the fact that he originally had a fail-safe didn’t matter because he’d tossed it aside. He couldn’t become the portal’s new guardian because he didn’t have a Cruxis crystal, yet he’d tried to go through with his plans anyway. He couldn’t have kept the demons at bay forever. He really was willing to condemn the entire world just to have his friend back.

“I’m sorry,” was all that left his mouth. He knew he’d been wrong and he knew apologizing wouldn’t do fix anything. He knew he often proclaimed that apologizing made a person weak. But this time, it had to be said.

“I know you are, Richter. You’re not a bad person. You just… lost track of your priorities,” Astel spoke simply. It was exactly like him to try and defend those who didn’t deserve it.

The former researcher looked up, his gaze fixing on the spirit again. “I’m thankful for one last chance to speak to you. Now I can finally tell you just how much you mean to me.” He paused, his eyes darting helplessly across the room for a moment. It wasn’t until after the boy had died that he’d truly come to realize it. Which meant that this experiment was the only chance he’d ever get to say it. “Astel, I…”

But the blonde raised a finger to his own lips, causing Richter to trail off again. The smile on his face seemed only sadder thanks to his ghost-like appearance. “You know you can’t say things like that, Richter. If this is an experiment, I’ll disappear when the time comes. Then you’ll be left all alone again.”

“I… just need you to know.”

“I already know. I’ve known all along. But I’m dead, see?” the boy moved his hand through Richter’s own for emphasis, causing the man to jump. “I can’t claim you for my own and I want you to find happiness. You understand, don’t you?”

A deep sigh escaped Richter as he pushed himself to his feet, trying to wander away from the spirit. “You’re asking me to forget about you?”

Astel remained where he was, watching the man intently. “No, not forget. I’ll always be your best friend, but it wasn’t meant to be more than that. You need to move on.”

“I’m not sure if I can.”

“Of course you can. You’re stronger than you give yourself credit for. If I think you can do it, so should you.”

“What if the Malnosso bring you here afterwards?”

“Are you really willing to waste your life because of the ‘what ifs’?”

Richter stared out the window, down at the village of Luceti. Before he knew it, he’d muttered to himself; “Courage is a magic which makes dreams come true.”

“Hey, you remembered that?” Astel chuckled. “It’s one of my more cheesy lines, but it does the trick, huh?”

His feet making no sound on the wooden floorboards, the spirit moved to join his old friend by the window. Just below, a boy with messy blonde hair and a slim posture was talking animatedly to one of the other residents of the village. He seemed to be apologizing for something, as he kept bowing his head with a mild blush.

“That’s him? Ratatosk?” Astel enquired.

“That’s him,” the other man replied simply. “He’s nothing like that ancient spirit at all. He’s just so…”

There were many words to describe Emil Castagnier. Weak, irritating, whiny, apologetic, intrusive… It was hard to choose something to go by.

Astel stood on toes to get a better view. “He looks like he’s a good friend. Maybe even better than me.”

“You’re only saying that to help me move on,” Richter grunted in response.

The late researcher laughed again, trying to appear innocent. Deep down, Astel was probably hurting too. He’d never show it, though. That’s the kind of friend he was. At least until the experiment was over, they could remain friends. Then, the day would come when Richter would have to say farewell for good.

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Author's note: Astel only gets one flashback, so his personality was mostly guesswork. But he's definitely a guy who places a lot of trust in people and if he'd have his say, I'm sure he'd tell Richter to just move on. So he did.
...
There's also a good chance they'll change Astel's name to Aster or whatever, once the English version is released. But I went with Astel because that's most familiar to me.
 
 
 
Emil Castagnier: Sheepishratatosk_knight on October 20th, 2008 05:39 pm (UTC)
Better watch out, Richter, Emil is totally going to be bedninja-ing again once Diavolo shows up.
Richter Abend: Angerjudge_evening on October 20th, 2008 05:43 pm (UTC)
Astel: Go ahead, Richter. Hold him close. It'll help you to move on.
Richter: No.
Astel: Do it.
Richter: NO!
Emil: ... Who are you shouting at?
Richter: Uhm... No one. Go back to sleep.
Emil Castagnier: Sheepishratatosk_knight on October 20th, 2008 05:52 pm (UTC)
Oh god. XD;
usagi tsukino: Reaching Lovethemoonuplifts on October 20th, 2008 07:45 pm (UTC)
I want to play that game now. D=

Anyway, I really liked it. It was a nice view into a character who seems so... stiff like he has a gigantic stick up his ass. I kind of feel bad for Astel, though.
Vyse of the Blue Rogues: Sighwinged_rogue on October 20th, 2008 07:50 pm (UTC)
Richter is extremely mistrusting of humans. He grew up in an academy where half-elves were forced to do research. Astel was the only human who ever dared to befriend him, despite the fact that everyone was all "Nooo, don't do it. He's just a filthy half-elf and it can only lead to trouble". Then the kid got killed. So when Richter returned by himself and wouldn't tell them what happened, everyone immediately assumed he murdered Astel. Which, of course, made him even more mistrusting of humans (and even a few half-elves).

So, really, he can't help but have a stick up his ass. XD
wants_to_lead on October 20th, 2008 08:44 pm (UTC)
D'awww! The poor guy! No wonder he's such a jerk! D=