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A Prologue To Phantasy Star IV
by Bruce Chang


PART 1: Chaz

It was early evening, and Chaz was hungry again.

He had been lucky that morning; as one of the townsfolk left her house, Chaz spotted where she hid her key - underneath some shrubs in the garden. When he saw that she had entered the Aiedo marketplace, he and his companion quickly ran for the house and broke in. "Wow, look at all these vases!" Chaz exclaimed. "they could pay for our food for a whole week!"

Luis objected. "Chaz, I don't want to get involved with stealing her pots. When she finds them missing, she'll call the police, the police will trace the pots to the marketplace where we sold them, and the storekeeper will give out our descriptions. I say we just look for the food, take that and split."

Chaz gave Luis a hard look. Luis had always been more reserved when it came to these raids. He did it for survival only and would never do anything immoral unless his life was at stake. He was a tall, but thin boy, and at age 12, he was half a year younger than Chaz. Both he and Chaz grew up on the street, and they both looked as if there was a permanent coat of dirt on them. Chaz was the stronger of the two, but Luis was smarter and got caught a lot less than Chaz did. But despite his unwillingness to participate in these plunders, he could become murderous when angered. Once, while walking through the marketplace, a peddler had insulted him, calling him a good-for-nothing bum. Luis did not say a word in retort. In the next instant, Luis was on top of the peddler, pounding his fists into the poor peddler's face, while two hunters pulled him off with considerable effort. Luis broke free from the hunters' grasps and fled. Chaz watched the whole incident from aside, and immediately took a liking to Luis. They have been together ever since.

"Come on, Luis. We'll take the vases to another town and sell them there," Chaz said resolutely.

"But we'll have to cross the desert. The nearest town is Nalya, but even to Nalya, it's a 5 mile hike. We'll be killed by sandworms for sure."

Luis was right. Without a hunter as a guardian, it would be impossible for them to reach Nalya without being slain by the local wildlife. Chaz had once pick-pocketed a dagger from a hunter in the guild and decided to venture outside of the town gates to take on the wildlife. He had taken just a few steps when he felt an enormous force shove him from behind and knock him down. He turned to see an infant sandworm bearing down on him and tried to slash with his dagger. His form was bad, and instead of cutting the worm, the dagger slipped from his hand. Chaz fled back to the town.

Now, standing in the living room of someone else's house, his choice was clear. Risk his life to sell the vase, or leave the vases and look for food. Chaz was forced to agree with Luis. "You're right, blast it. Why are you always right?"

Luis gave Chaz a sly grin. They proceeded to raid the kitchen and emptied the cabinets of food, then climbed out a back window and ran with their loot. In the back alley, they looked through their stolen treasures. Most of it was spoiled, but they were able to scrounge a meal for themselves. With their stomachs satisfied, they fell into a deep slumber in the shaded alley. When they woke, the sun was setting... And they were hungry.

Neither one of them spoke. Chaz was deep in thought, and Luis wasn't talking because Chaz was silent. After a long silence, Chaz turned to Luis. "We can't go on living our lives like this. If things continue as is, we'll be bums forever, or we get caught and spend our lives in jail."

Luis nodded consent. Chaz continued, "I hear that the commissions for the hunter's guild is kept in a hidden room behind the receptionist's desk. From what I've heard, a hunter could earn up to 80,000 meseta on a job. So there has to be money at the guild. If we could..."

"If we could what? Sneak there and take the money? Chaz, are you nuts? Just a minute ago, you were telling me how awful it would be to spend your life in a jail cell. If you get busted for this, you'll definitely get a life sentence."

"Yes, you're right, Luis, but we're going to plan for this raid. This won't be a blind rush; everything will be worked out."

Luis still looked doubtful. "No, I don't think I want to."

"Listen, here's how we're going to pull it off. And it WILL work, if I can get your full cooperation. Just think of getting our hands on all that money! OK, I'll wander into the guild, reading all the messages on the wall about the hunters. Ten minutes later, you come busting in saying that you saw the receptionist's house on fire. Everyone will rush to her place to try to put it out. Then we can jump behind the counter, grab the money and scram."

"No way. I'm not doing it. I'd rather try to find work and make a living."

"Fine... You'll change your mind when you get hungry."

But they were already hungry. Luis suggested that they raid the house they looted this morning, but then he noticed that there were people in the house. The night went by, and no opportunities came. They were not going to get a second meal that day. It was not uncommon for them to only have one meal a day, but Chaz was resolved to get Luis to cooperate with his scheme, and he kept tormenting Luis by describing some of the delicious dishes prepared by the Innkeepers. By noon the next day, after seeing no opportunities to steal their food, Luis caved in.

PART 2: Rune and Alys

Alys stood at the front gates of Aiedo with her arms around Rune and tears in her eyes.

"Don't be such a baby, Alys. I will come back, I promise."

"Rune, I know we went through this before, but I feel that you just don't care that much for me. How can you leave me now? Especially right after I admit to you my feelings for you. And you telling me that you feel the same way. I know you are an Esper, and you can sense things, and you get this feeling you need to return to Dezolis, because it's your destiny and all that, but what about our destiny? Can you not sense that?"

"I'm very sorry Alys. I know I am insensitive at times, but I do care about you. A lot. So I've decided I will tell you why I must leave. But you must be strong, Alys, because what I tell you will most likely alter your destiny forever."

"I am willing to make that sacrifice, just to hear your reasons for leaving me!"

"Then lets head back to your place, and I'll tell you everything."

Two thousand years ago, there was an esper named Lutz. He teamed up with a girl named Alis, to defeat a great evil that had come to Algo. As an esper, he was able to contain his soul and memory in a crystal ball before he died. Lutz decreed that when a chosen esper would come forth, the new esper would inherit his memory, and thereby keeping the spirit of Lutz alive. He wanted future generations to be protected from evil, as he had done during his time. Lutz's precautions had proved invaluable: a thousand years later, the same evil came to Algo, but the spirit of Lutz was able to warn the protectors of that age, and the evil was vanquished. Since then, the spirit of Lutz have transferred 3 times; and now, the fourth generation Lutz is nearing his death, and I am the chosen fifth generation Lutz. I now have a mission as a Protector of Algo.

"Rune. that is so noble. I understand now; it was so selfish of me to want you to stay here with me. But now I see that you must leave to become a protector of our world. Yes, you must go now."

Rune smiled at Alys. "I'm glad you understood. Besides, I'll be back after I have completed my mission at the Esper Mansion, probably in a few months."

He stood up to go. They kissed one last time, and he walked out of her house. Despite what she just said to Rune, Alys felt depressed. She buried her head in her pillow and cried herself to sleep.

When she woke up, it was already noon. She decided that she needed to do something that would keep her mind off Rune, so she headed for the hunter's guild.

She approached the guild desk, and the animated receptionist began, "Welcome to the hunter's guild, where we enrich... oh! It's you, Alys! My, you aren't looking well today. May I ask what's bothering you?"

Alys sighed, "I'm just tired I guess. Didn't sleep well last night."

The receptionist responded, a bit too cheerfully, "well, don't worry, from this job list we have today, doesn't look like there are any tough jobs. The first one: a request from a peasant in Aiedo. "my house was robbed, and I have no money to feed my child. The doctor says she's too weak to recover and will need..."

Alys interrupted, "OK, I'll take this job. Just gotta go get some Perolymate, that's all. How much is she paying?"

"Well, um... Alys, I know that you do good work, and you expect to get your commission, but this lady was hoping that she could find a hunter with a good heart... I know you usually turn these jobs down when you hear that, but..."

"No, I'll do it," Alys replied with a sigh.

"Really? Good for you, Alys! Her house is located at the southwest corner of the town," the receptionist added helpfully.

"Thank you. I guess I've been thinking things through these days and perhaps there is more to my life than just fighting monsters. It's more about helping others who need help, whether it be the monster problems, or a job like this." Alys caught herself spilling out her emotions, and recovered her composure. "I really need a drink!" She said goodbye to the receptionist and headed over to the bar. After a few drinks and chatting with the bartender, she felt better. She thought about what she would do in the future. Would she still be a hunter? Or would she change professions? It was a family tradition that everyone became hunters; she had gone along with her parents' will, and she had no regrets. She came to realize that it wasn't for money she was fighting for, but to make the world a better place for everyone. People knew she was a great hunter, but they all assume she did it for the money, and no other reason. After all, that was the mind set of most hunters. There was a kindness in Alys that no one noticed, perhaps by her authoritative personality. But Rune saw the kindness underneath. "Rune..." Alys muttered. Then she realized what she wanted in her future. How nice it would be to have a family of her own, with kids to take care of, and Rune to father them! But that would have to wait, because Rune was gone, and she would not have a family until he came back.

Her reverie was interrupted with shouting at the guild. Suddenly, she was swept with apathy and disinterest. She continued to sip her drink and daydream about Rune. A few minutes passed and the guild went quiet. In fact it was silent, as if everyone had left. Alys decided to take a look over at the guild... after she had finished her drink.

PART 3: Alys and Chaz

"This will be easy, Luis. Just don't panic, and it'll be over really quick."

Luis gave Chaz a confident look. "No problem. I'm psyched now! I need food!" With that said, Chaz entered the hunter's guild. As he walked in, he eyed all the hunters milling around. No one paid any special interest in Chaz, so he decided to look busy and went up to the posters on the wall and read them. He noticed that there was a record of the hunters and the number of jobs they had completed, and that the hunter in first was a woman by the name of Alys Brangwin. Chaz wondered where Alys lived, for he knew that a successful hunter such as this Alys would have lots of money. He waited patiently for Luis to run in and to sound the alarm. He was not disappointed. A few minutes later, Luis came in screaming "Fire! Fire at the southwest corner of town!" Immediately, people turned to Luis, and started asking him questions. He insisted that he saw a house burning. No one even looked Chaz's direction. His plan was working so far. The receptionist, overhearing the ruckus, asked what was going on. "Oh my! That is MY house. Quick, someone help me!"

The hunters ran out to try to put out the fire, while the receptionist ran to see how her home was doing. Chaz took this moment to hop over the counter. Sure enough, there was a room hidden to the left. There were several chests, and Chaz opened them all. To his dismay, there was only a couple hundred meseta, and a few other items that he had no apparent use for. He grabbed the money and started to leave the room, when he noticed someone walking outside. It was a woman, and apparently a hunter, for she wore the usual armor, and she had two lethal slashers strapped behind her. She must have wandered in and wondered where everyone went, Chaz thought to himself. She will probably leave soon.

Chaz wondered what had happened to Luis. He had not gone over where Luis was to hide while the hunters were away. Most likely, he fled and would meet with Chaz that night when no one was around. But Chaz needed to get out of the guild before the hunters returned from their false alarm. And he couldn't leave because this hunter was still outside. After ten minutes, Chaz decided that the hunters were on their way back; he had to sneak out of the room. Still clutching his newly found meseta, he tiptoed out of the room. Now he was out in the open. If the hunter turned around now, he would be seen. But the woman was nowhere in sight. He hopped over the counter, and started to run out the guild, when a commanding voice froze him to the spot. "Stop right there!" It was the woman hunter. Normally, Chaz would have continued running, but her voice was so sharp, that he hesitated. There was something else fascinating about this woman and her deadly weapons that caused him to become intimidated. He turned to see the woman leaning against a pillar. "Hand over the money, boy." Chaz obeyed.

The woman looked at Chaz sternly. "You set this up, didn't you? You somehow got everyone out of here, so you could steal the money."

"I'm sorry," stammered Chaz. "Please don't turn me in! I'll do anything!"

"See this money? This money belongs to a hunter who has completed a mission. So you're robbing not only from the guild, but from the hunters as well."

Chaz made no reply; he was to humiliated to speak and looked down at his feet. The hunter resumed, "I ought to turn you in to the authorities, but I'm gonna cut you a break, kid. I'm going to take you to your home, and we're going to have a nice talk with your parents; I think they'll mete out the proper punishment."

"But I don't have a home, and I don't have parents."

Alys softened immediately. "You've no home and no parents! How do you survive???"

Chaz found himself telling this stranger everything - about his way of life, his companion, Luis, and his reason for stealing from the guild. To his surprise, the woman smiled at him and said, "Come to my house. Let's get you cleaned up!" Chaz followed like a lost puppy.

"My name is Alys, by the way."

"Alys Brangwin? The hunter with the most jobs processed?" Chaz asked, repeating the quote he read from the guild.

"That's me, kid," Alys smiled proudly. "Even the street rats have heard of me, eh?"

Chaz made no reply. He was too flustered by the sequence of events that just took place. He had robbed the guild, was caught by this hunter, which happened to be the best hunter in Motavia, and she had taken him under her wing. But why?

"What's your name?" Alys inquired.

"It's Chaz. Chaz Ashley."

"Well Chaz, we are going to straighten you out, kiddo. I'm going to make you respectable and give you character. What do you think of that?"

"Please, don't take this the wrong way, but..." Chaz took a deep breath then continued. "Why are you looking after me when a few minutes ago, you were going to bust me for robbing the guild?"

Alys smiled him. "You DO have character. I can see it in you. But you had no parents to teach you, to guide you. And since I found you today, I feel... I feel obligated to raise you as if you were... as if you were my child."

Chaz noticed that Alys had become silent, lost in her own thoughts, so he decided not to ask her any more questions.

After a moment of silence, Alys stopped and turned to Chaz. "How would you like to become a fighter? It's the only skill I can offer to teach. It is a well respected job, and it pays well too."

"Yes! That would be great! I can go out and conquer anything that challenges me. I'll be a hero!"

Alys gave Chaz a stern look. "That's a very childish view on the hunting profession, but you're excused this time. You have much to learn, Chaz. Shall we start tomorrow? You'll be a trainee under Alys Brangwin. That in itself is an honorable title that people would envy."

Chaz nodded. "ok then, make me a fighter."

PART 4: The End of the Millenium

Four years had passed since Alys adopted Chaz and began training him as a fighter. During that time, Alys poured all her knowledge into Chaz; she taught him the stance, how to wield daggers and swords, when to lunge forward, when to dodge and parry. Chaz learned quickly and became an upright adolescent. Chaz had never heard from Luis again; he was smart and probably abandoned Chaz on that awful day when he yelled "fire" in the guild. But all that seemed irrelevant now. Soon, he would become a full-fledged hunter and partner of Alys Brangwin.

Alys never saw Rune again. After a year had passed she had given up hope. He had said he would be back within a few months, but one year had gone by, and then two, then three, and now four. Alys wished she could somehow go to Dezolis. She had always wondered how Rune managed to get there; she had never asked when Rune was still around. Now she will never know. She recalled Rune telling her about an evil that stirred two thousand years ago. It had come again a thousand years ago as well. And now, it was nearing the end of the millennium, and Alys wondered if Evil had stirred again, and whether Rune had to do battle with it.

She no longer yearned for him; he was also just a part of her past, and she had moved on. She wasn't even sure how she'd react if she saw him now. Alys sighed. She put all her thoughts aside and focused on the events to come. Today, she had gotten a message from the town of Piata, the town of learning. The principal of Motavia Academy had written that they were in need of some good hunters. "Just come" was what was written on it. Today was also the day she decided to make Chaz a hunter and partner.

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