A Bargain of Souls

Note: Happy Birthday, Folken!

Just a quick intro chapter to a story I've had on my mind for a while now. It's Folken-centric so I figured I'd at least start writing it and post the start today.

This is inspired by the song "Pray" from "Once on this Island". I've been obsessing over the new Broadway soundtrack since last year and I've found some themes that really work with Folken's situation. So this might read like a songfic (I'm really old in the fandom that way) but I'm still just adapting the song as not every element fits perfectly.

There will be hints of my favorite pairing, of course, but that will come later. This first part will feature Hitomi mostly because she plays such a pivotal role.






"Now the sky is growing dim

And the clouds are racing by

And the Fates are looking down

At a man they meant to die..."

Folken Fanel was falling.

Action, reaction. He should have known. But if was the price to pay for all his sins, so be it.

He felt the shard from his sword dig deeper into his skin, no doubt closer and closer to his heart. The black wings had fulfilled their purpose and this was how he would leave the world. Dornkirk was dead. He had accomplished what he had set out to do. And yet, somehow knowing this brought him no peace.

His greatest regret was that he had not reconciled with Van. There was also a moment of sorrow for the rest of life he could have lived, the years of happiness he could have shared with someone, and he glimpsed a silhouette of this person but he could not see their face. It didn't matter anymore, that future was denied him because of all his own foolish actions. Clearly, these were boons he would never have deserved.

He had no choice. This was what Fate decreed. So, with a heavy sigh, he closed his eyes and gave in.

"And a girl who placed herself in their way..."

But there was someone who was willing to defy Fate itself.

Hitomi Kanzaki would not allow Van to lose his brother again, not after all they had suffered. Not now that there was a chance that they could both heal from the ravages of war. She had seen so much loss in Gaea and she had had enough of heartbreak.

She knew she had the power to reverse this tragedy with a simple wish. And she would make the most of it this time, consequences be damned. This was worth whatever risk and her determination overpowered her fear.

"Folken Fanel will not die today," she declared resolutely.

Something stirred in the air, an unseen force that had responded to the girl's power. And just as suddenly as it had appeared earlier that evening, a pillar of light came to whisk the falling Fanel away from the darkness of Zaibach to a place of safety.

Hitomi sighed with relief. So far, so good.

But she waited for what that inevitable confrontation with the powers beyond her. She had faced them before, in one form or another; she was ready to face them again. She was alone in the chamber where Emperor Dornkirk lay dead, Folken's mission accomplished. But she knew that she would not be alone for long.

"You may well wish for his life," a strange voice echoed in the chamber, sending a shiver up Hitomi's spine. She could not see the speaker but she knew that they were not of this world and they had come to test her and she would not falter.

"But are you willing to pay the price?"

The girl from the Mystic Moon reflected on this for a moment with the greatest seriousness. But she had already made her decision.

"I am."