The wind bristled the surrounding trees, birds chirping in their harmony. Within the forest that surrounded an unconscious man, a gust blew. The man’s eyes opened, revealed blue irises. Blinking, he sat up and looked over his surroundings. The first thing that this man did was to check his bag, next was to inspect the quality of the sword beside him, and finally to look at what he was wearing. He was certainly not wearing a glove on his left either, and he just recently recognized his old white shirt, the Templar logo attracting his eyes. He took a deep breath and began to recollect herself.
“Is it just me… or… well, I guess it did. I somehow ended up back here, no memories of the past but of the future.” His eyes widened. “If I’m back here, with my old bag, that means…”
“HELP!” a voice echoed throughout the forest canopy.
“Flora!” He immediately stood up, both hands reaching to take his bag and sword, and hastily followed the voice. ‘I hope I’m certainly not late yet.’
As he had thought, he had spotted the bandit and the tiger Keidran, in the green shirt that she wore ever since the first time meeting her. He now noticed how cute she was, mind you. He could hear the conversation, but he decided to jump in earlier than it had been, sword prepared to protect.
“Wha… I saw him first, and what are you… you’re the Grand Templar!” he realized.
Trace looked at him with a little confusion. His first conversation after his memories was taken surely didn’t start at that.
“My apologies, Master Templar,” the bandit told him. “The Keidran’s all yours. Goodbye, Trace.”
“Uh… bye…?” Trace turned around to check on Flora before he looked around after hearing something. Looking back, he extended a hand. “Hey there. That guy won’t won’t hurt you now. Trust me on this. You remind me of someone else.” ‘I spared Laura due to that reason. Will Flora believe me on this?’
Flora uneasily stared at the human gesture before she saw Trace’s expression turn into a contented frown as he began to walk away. She felt a bit awful a little before she pounced Trace.
“Nya!” she said.
“Blarg!” He mumbled as he was tackled down with silent amusement. ‘I guess I forgot her strength!’
As it had been, the tiger Keidran had been following Trace while Trace had been following his instincts as they drove their way through the forest, his right hand on his sword while the other in his pocket. The trip had been mostly silent after their first re-encounter, and Trace wished she remembered her. It was hard enough that he had to act throughout the forest as a clueless person, but it was nonetheless rather nostalgic.
Especially when he tripped on a root with a resounding crash, causing Flora to snark at his demise.
Nonetheless, it had been like a silent version of their true first encounter until he decided saw the sky.
“Well, it’s getting kinda late,” he decided as he stopped to open his bag, “we should camp out here for tonight.”
He blinked, noticing her tired huffs, wondering if that happened. Kneeling down to open his bag to pick up a map, he forced himself to stop crying as he remembered how long they had been traveling. He remembered Natani, Keith, the others, especially that pervert. He looked back and unconsciously jumped, seeing her without clothes.
“Uh… sorry,” she apologized. “This shirt gets kinda uncomfortable against my—”
“That’s alright,” he interrupted her in surprise. “I’ve heard about it.” He turned away and looked into his map. “Well, I’m planning to go into town, and I won’t ask for you to come with me if you want.”
“Really?” Flora mused. “You promise?”
Trace extended his hand again, which made him blink and wonder why he was doing it. “I promise.” He looked at his hand. “Shake my hand, trust me.”
Flora took her hand, and memories came crashing down within the split millisecond that their hands touched. Before long, Trace received another hug in a form of a glomp.
“Trace!” she called with joy before looking around and she realized where they are. “Trace, how are we back here?”
“I don’t know, but it’s nice to see you again.” Trace looked over his hand. “Looks like I can remind someone when I touch something with my hand.”
Flora nodded, understanding what had happened before she gasped. “Trace, we’re going to encounter my ex-fiancé. What should we do? Can you make him remember?” she asked.
“I don’t know.” He looked around and saw darkness has come first before their campfire. “Maybe camp first?”
Flora nodded. “I get your blanket, like how it really happened.”
“Yup.” He pulled out his blanket and neatly tossed it towards her, which she happily took and used to cover her. “Uh… you know, we have a long day ahead of us, and I’m sure that we aren’t going to sleep very well tonight.”
“Yeah… I miss Eric and my attempts to shove him off,” Flora mused, looking over him.
“How about Keith? And your comment about Basidian Island’s inhabitants?” he pointed out.
Flora giggled. “Keiths everywhere!” she quoted herself, giggling before frowning. “That’s also the first and last time we met Keith’s fiancée… will she survive this time?”
“Well, I wouldn’t let anybody hurt you, but I’m thinking to save everyone that matters this time. No shortcuts, this time.” Trace looked over his left hand, still clean and not corrupted by dark magic. “I’ll find a way.”
“Well, I’m sure that you won’t lose control again.” Flora yawned. “Goodnight, Trace.”
“Goodnight.” Trace watched as she turned around before looking at the stars. “I hope I don’t have to use it…”
“Pretty sure you promised not to,” Flora mumbled. “I just realized we’re now both time travelers.”
Trace looked at her with surprise before he smiled. “You know, why don’t you teach me some basic words on Keidran?”
<Oh… so…> Sythe mumbled.
Trace and Flora had woken up earlier and had decided to trap the wolf so that they could see if they could make him remember anything. As it had turned out, even a slap or a punch worked as long as he had used his left hand.
“Yeah,” Trace nodded, thankful that he had extra time to learn a few words, but not enough to use it. “So, either everything goes normal, or you could probably join us.”
<No thanks,> Sythe answered. <Although, now that I hear about your adventure from her, not some assassin who claims that he has a mental link to his brother, I think I’m more inclined to join.>
<So that’s why I had a sudden urge to hit him last time in Eric’s ship,> Flora figured out. <Oh well. It would’ve been nice if you did join us, but considering that last time, Trace was a confused memory-less human.>
<Well, sorry.> Sythe looked over the rope they had used to tie him to the tree. <I didn’t know you had rope.>
<Saved our skin a few times,> Flora wistfully remarked.
Trace remembered the time that he had to use the rope to heal her foot at the town’s healer. “Besides my reputation, maybe,” he whispered.
Flora and Sythe looked over to Trace.
“I won’t back down, Alaric,” Keith proclaimed, holding onto his sword but not unsheathing it. “I must do what I know is right… Even if it means fighting the ones I’m trying to save.”
Nickolai Alaric sighed, something that Keith was very sure he didn’t do last time, holding his blade and eyes closed. “Very well, Keith.” He swiftly charged. “En garde!”
Keith took his right foot backward, drawing his sword to block his opponent’s sword. He had always wondered why Natani and Trace had created a new “art” of swords, and now he recently realized that Trace actually gave the Basitin the moment to save his best friend! Swiftly ducking another slash, he went to swing his sword towards his dominant arm; to a little effect as he saw Alaric’s grip merely hardened.
“I won’t back out, but I won’t certainly kill you,” Keith warned. The image of his parents floated by and stopped on the other side of the bridge where he should be.
“Where did you learn to do that?” Alaric asked. “No matter. Don’t force me to kill you as well.” He swung his blade towards his head.
Keith barely dodged, causing a part of his right ear to be cut with a grunt. Alaric prepares to strike once again, but Keith stepped sideways and dove underneath him and swung upwards.
“Aah!” Alaric screamed in pain before attacking back with a swivel. “Come back here!”
Keith took the moment to hop into the bridge’s concrete rails and jumped back towards the open space to the tower. He swung back to deflect another attack, making their swords hit the bridge that merely clanged off.
“How did you do that?” Alaric demanded.
“It’s not in law to use the surroundings, isn’t it?” Keith pointed out. “I’m giving you a chance to back out. I’m not going to kill you.”
“I wouldn’t either, but you’re forcing me,” Alaric mumbled.
Before Alaric could strike, Keith took the upper hand by slashing downwards, but it was blocked and Alaric swung against his chest. A familiar deja vu entered Keith’s mind as the pain caused him to struggle upwards. Before he could fully recover, Alaric swung up.
Keith had sometimes wondered what fate wanted for his friends. Nonetheless, everything faded to a blur.
Keith kept his right eye closed, then went over to crawl off, only to be stopped by Alaric.
“It’s over, Keith.” Keith noticed that he had barely made a scratch on him at all. “Surrender before it’s too late. I don’t want to kill you.”
“Surrender before it’s too late.”
“Then… don’t… You have free will… you have a choice!”
“I have made my choice, Keith. I chose to stay on the path of righteousness… You chose the path of rebellion. There’s no turning back now, Brother.”
“… I… I guess you’re right, Alaric… we’ve… made our decisions… Now we… erg…have to live with it!”
“I won’t let you get away!”
“Then don’t,” he wheezed between the pain. “You have… free will, a choice!”
“I’ve made my choice, Keith,” Alaric told him. “I chose to stay on the path of righteousness. You chose the path of rebellion. There’s not turning back now, Brother.”
Keith merely smiled, remembering how that ended out. “I… guess you’re right.” He struggled to stand up, using his sword. Alaric noticed that Keith had slid a collar to the sword that was connected to the rope on his belt. “We’ve… made our decisions.”
Alaric looked at him in confusion.
“Now…” he slowly rose his sword. “We have to live with it!”
Alaric yelped and saw that the bridge was collapsing. “Ah!” He was stuck between backing off, but he had to get Keith to the dungeons for the treachery. He jumped. “I won’t let you get away!”
Keith’s eyes dilated as he saw Alaric barely making it, only to fall. Determined to keep him alive, he dove to catch him over the edge, one hand now working to pull them up. “I got you, Alaric!”
“You… saved me.” Alaric commented in disbelief. “You’ve… decided to—”
“No, I haven’t!” Keith interrupted, not wanting to hear what he had said another timeline ago. “Don’t you get it, Alaric? It’s not about sides. I’ve been away long enough not to care about sides or politics. I just don’t want to see my friends hurt. Not Natani, not Trace, and not even you!”
“Me?” Alaric repeated. “Maybe… maybe you’re right. M-maybe the laws can be wrong…? Keith!”
“I… I can’t hold on…” Keith mumbled, his arm shaking as he struggled to pull him up.
The rain isn’t even helping, for it was reminding him of what will happen on this island.
“Augh! Alaric, hurry…” Keith told him. “I can’t hold on…”
“Just… don’t let go!” Alaric shouted, grabbing towards his sleeve. “Keith, there’s things I haven’t told you… things I couldn’t work up the nerve to tell you…”
“I’m… surprised. I mean…” Alaric mumbled.
Keith smiled. “I know, Alaric. Just… I can’t loose you again. Not after the last time.”
Nickolai looked over him. “So, you already knew everything, huh?” Nickolai asked for the last time. “I just wonder something.”
“Yeah?” Keith looked over to his wounded friend.
“So… what should’ve happened?” Nickolai asked. “And where did you learn that new form?”
“What should’ve happened…” Keith looked over the remains of the bridge.
“Oh.” Nickolai looked over the other side and saw the beam of light. “What the…?”
Keith’s eyes widened.
“Didn’t you say that you saw Laura…?” Nickolai stared at Keith’s expression and then towards to his view and saw what has happened. “Oh. Don’t worry, Keith. I’m sure she’s going to live.”
As if fate wanted to prove his point, a very familiar face appeared.
“Oh, look there she is. Keith, look. Keith? Oh, great.”
“I suppose, Ambassador Keiser,” Nickolai began, “that you’ll return for the foreseeable future, right?”
Keith nodded. “Just… good luck.”
Both of them nodded to each other before Keith began to leave. Nickolai remembered something and approached Keith. “I just remembered something.”
“What is it?” Keith wondered.
“What was that sword style you were using?”
… Keith’s mind went blank. “I’ll get you back on that,” he answered before awkwardly returning to the ship.
Laura lay ill on Keith’s bed. It had been a few mere months since they had rejoined from Basidian Island and Keith was beside her. Natani was with Keith, and both of them were trying to prepare for this day. They tendered each moment with Natani on the stand in case something went wrong, which happened after a morning where Keith had noticed that she had a fever. At first, Eric had also thought that it was merely just a regular fever but as time ticked within each passing minute, it got worse.
As of the moment, Laura was merely reminiscing the days that had elapsed, and Keith would answer with his experience.
<... and thank you,> Laura finished.
Keith looked at her. <What are you saying?> he asked, confused. <We… we haven’t…>
As much as Keith wanted to keep her within his grasp, he couldn’t fight the fate that was predestined for her. It was hard to admit that their dream will stay a dream forever, and the thought alone sent shivers along Keith’s fur. But, he has accepted it last time, can he do it now?
<You know… I heard that you… you can summon whatever the heart desires,> she wheezed, surprising both the Basitin and the Keidran.
<Yeah,> Natani answered. <But I can’t use it on you, it feels on your life energy once I activated it!>
<Oh…> Laura looked over the fox with a knowing smile. <It’s… nice to meet you, Natani.> Her eyes carried a different message that the said assassin only picked up.
<Laura…?> Keith mumbled.
<You too, Keith.> Laura coughed. <I… I’ve never been happier in my whole life.>
Keith opened his mouth to protest before he remembered everything his time with her. Natani was silent, worried for his ‘very good’ friend. It took a few seconds before Keith opened his mouth again.
<Me too, Laura.> He whispered, taking her hand. <I… I wished I never left.>
Laura gave a weak smile. <You never did.> Laura looked over her pendant that had been used to enchant an arrow to destroy the object that nearly caused the damnation of Keith’s home species. <Take care… of it for me, will… you?>
<I will. I promise.>
Wearing Laura’s pendant, Keith walked out of his room. Trace and the others waited for them and Flora spotted the pendant first. She immediately knew what it meant and let him pass to another room. Natani soon followed, not after pointing an accusing finger to Eric, who hid a painting behind him.
<What’s that? Did you paint a painting of her?> Natani accused.
Eric shook his head as quick as he could’ve. <Not that kind of painting, Natani!> he explained. <Look, Miss Laura requested me to paint this.>
He showed the painting to everyone. It was a beautiful portrait of the recently-passed fox Keidran sporting a smile. Their expressions threw everyone to the floor, seeing how much normal the half-body portrait was. Eric blinked before awkwardly leaving the painting leaning on the door. Natani immediately regained composure and took the painting by his arms, and frowned.
“I don’t know how Keith’s react to this,” Natani mumbled.
“Huh, it looks beautiful when you hold it,” Keith told him from the hallway, returning to the group.
Flora raised an eyebrow before noticing what looked like trails of tears from his face.
“You okay?” Trace wondered. “I mean, we all know how it was really meant to happen, right?”
“Yeah. I feel fine,” Keith admitted. “Though, I did realize our next problem.”
“Him?” Eric guessed.
Keith nodded. Natani, not being able to understand, confused on what had happened. Even after he had attempted to learn Human, he didn’t still do not understand most of their conversation.
<You guys do know that I still can’t understand Human, right?> Natani pointed out.
<Yup,> Keith and Trace chimed.
<It makes things a bit easier to hide from you,> Keith joked.
Natani frowned. <You’re making me regret less about me trying to kill you from day one,> he warned.
<All’s fair in love and war,> Kathrin read out from a book as she passed by.
The party looked over to Eric’s sister and shrugged, contemplating how much that made sense for their lives.
Soon after arriving back on the mainland, Keith and Natani followed Keidran tradition for Laura’s burial. Both of them watched the smoke rising and Keith unconsciously placed his head on Natani’s chest while their tails rubbed against each other. Flora smiled at them, while Trace looked over his map. The two stowaway Basitins, Lynn and Maddy, merely stood within the distance.
Trace lowered the map then approached the pair. “We’re getting close to Edinmire, and soon to my (apparently) estate,” he relayed, “if you want, you can head over there first. Pretty sure we were ahead of schedule this time, considering that Neutral didn’t turn Martholm into an illusion and just warned us.”
“If you call burning the forest a warning,” Keith joked. “I guess the masks know that we’re basically playing the time traveling route and spared throwing things at us.”
Both of them looked over to Natani.
“We still need to learn about his mental link,” Keith whispered.
Natani frowned. <Hold that thought, Zen.> He looked over to Trace and Keith. <Can you guys please, at least, join me in your talks?>
Trace ended up laughing when he saw Keith attempting to make a decent reason.
Zen looked over the cuff that his captors had and frowned. He knew that it caused trouble for the brothers. Thankfully, their encounter with the tiger and the Basitin made them remember what would’ve happened, and currently, Natani was sending amusing, but comforting, thoughts about how much a magic-nullifying shackle can do. And no, not the good kind.
<And if you managed to— Zen, I just remembered something!> Natani interrupted her messages. <Do not go to Edinmire.>
Zen rolled his eyes. <You told me that like a thousand times already,> he told her.
<But, we’re already there, you see. Well, sort of. I’m in the Grand Templar’s Palace right now,> Natani meekly explained before he saw Red with the cuffs approaching him. <Those runes are going to temporarily cut the mental link off, okay. I’ll be fine.>
On the other side of the link, Keith jumped from his location to suppress Natani’s fall, noticing her eyes had faded into gray. The Basitin merely sighed.
“So… what’s the plan now?” Keith asked after he had retrieved his clothing from a waterfall after taking a short bath, cursing because Flora had pulled that prank again on him. “We’ve been walking around in circles.”
“I dunno. Why did we knock out the two assassins anyway?” Flora asked back. “Sorry about your clothes anyway, I couldn’t resist.”
Keith looked at her and facepalmed. “Only you, Flora. Only you.”
Natani groggily woke up with a little pain from the back of his head. He attempted to reach to learn what caused the pain, but he noticed he was tied. Without his clothes, nonetheless, and his equipment. He looked up to find he was tied to a tree, and above the tree were words that gave him a feeling it’s offending him.
Not that the words “This is a real guy” are offensive.
Looking around, he saw his brother, also tied and with the same words etched on the tree he’s in. The words were surprisingly written in low Keidran, and the currently-awake wolf read the words.
“Flora was here,” it said.
Natani frowned. Was that the name of the girl they were sent to kill? She looked around again and felt a fist hit his snout, and with a slight static, his eyes widened. He remembered this mission, but it played out differently. He remembered coming to them for safety. He remembered that nice fox Keidran and the… Keith look-alikes…
<Ow,> Natani mumbled, shaking his hand. <What’s going on?>
<Something happened, Trace got sent back to the past, and now he can make his friends remember what happened!> Trace happily explained. <Well, not all of his friends, my ex-fiancé remembered too. Apparently, Trace just has to touch anybody with his left hand!>
<Yeah,> Trace answered, surprising Natani. <Also, can understand Keidran a little now.>
<...Uh… hi,> Keith greeted him.
Flora gasped and immediately pulled Trace off towards the plains, where a certain dragon waited. This dragon, You-know-who, had been reminded somehow before Trace returned from time, and she would sometimes appear in places where she would’ve been if everything was normal and nobody remembered the future.
“Trace, Flora, leaving them to talk to themselves, I see?” Nora teased. “I suppose the child’s going on nicely too.”
Flora nodded. “We sort of went with the original schedule,” Flora explained. “And then we’re about to meet… him…”
All three beings shuddered. Trace blinked and wondered why Lady Nora shuddered.
Things had mostly played out in almost familiarity that Lady Nora thought that everyone had forgotten what will happen. They really didn’t, for once inside the ship and a few handshakes, Eric was back to his more perverse self, interested in painting Basitin women. Keith could only imagine how much the terror Eric would bring alone if it weren’t for the Templars.
“So, are we in favor like last time?” Eric offered. “You know, ‘trading’ Mike and Evals to your name?”
So, everything was fine. Everybody made sure of it.
Especially Keith. He wanted to make sure that at least everyone survives this time.
- Chapter 1 - Trace wakes up back from the first place he remembers, remembering everything from the future! How does that work? It’s called time travel! Wait. How did he get back in there!?
- Chapter 2 - Keith trained with Natani and Trace on fighting, and the trio of fighters created a technique that suits their needs. He gets to use the subdue method on his general friend.
- Chapter 3 - In this second timeline, I suppose we can say Laura’s older than the last time they met, and she’s nearing the end of her life. Yup. And also they were really early enough to warn Zen about the
- Chapter 4 - How Trace made Natani remember (and unconsciously Zen too), and how much Lady Nora will be around this time.
- All chapters are not chronological. They just come whenever I think about it.
- This is based on Saphroneth’s Ashes of the Past, Master, Pokemon? and the Innortal Time Loops community project.
- Some speech might be out of character.
- A contribution is helpful.
- The fanfiction comes in sets, while every chapter/snippet comes in ~1k words, except for Chapter 4.
- This will update faster than A Different World. I hope.
- Also, I'll post a compilation on Fanfiction.Net!