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"If I Had Known....."

by Lassarina Aoibhell


If I had known how it would all turn out.....

.....Would I still have joined them?

The others were frantically preparing for the battle against Melbu Frahma. Rose stood apart, as usual, staring at the crumpled body encased in red armour.

Zieg.

She had loved him, laughed with him, fought alongside him. She had watched him die, or so she thought. She had felt betrayed by him when Lloyd's "Emperor Diaz" removed his mask, and now felt relief to know that the man she loved had not betrayed all that he, they, had been.

Would I still have accepted the Dark Dragon's Dragoon Spirit?

It had been more than eleven thousand years, but still she could recall the day she met them.

~*~

At just eighteen, Rose was a beautiful girl with long limbs and a deadly skill with the rapier. She kept to herself in her small village, training arduously. Rumours swept across the land, rumours that at last a way had been found to defeat the bastard Winglies and reclaim Human land. Rose was determined to join their fight.

The afternoon was brilliantly sunny. She was alone in the practice field outside town, practicing her Addition skill over and over. Five more times and she'd have mastered it. It was an interesting maneuver, requiring lightning speed and catlike balance. The blows were both punishing and swift, performed at odd intervals that kept her enemy off balance and gave her an advantage. Slender she might be, and lacking in the massive strength of some of the village boys, but she was fast and she was determined. Those qualities made up for her lack of bulky muscles.

She mastered the Addition, finally, and stood silent in the middle of the square, a dark silhouette against the reddening sun. A slight sound behind her alerted her to their presence.

There were four of them. They were all dressed in a kind of armour she had never seen in her short life. Large, iridescent wings sprouted from their backs, and they floated about a foot off the ground. Headbands set with some kind of winking jewels adorned their foreheads.

They were very impressive. She tightened her grip on her sword. Winglies didn't have wings like that...did they...?

The one in red drifted toward her a little bit and bowed. "We mean no harm. We are looking for recruits to join Emperor Diaz in his Dragon Campaign."

Any other girl in the village would have run to get the warriors. Rose tilted her chin up and held her ground. Two of the oddly accoutered warriors were women. She had a chance.

"I'd like to join the Dragon Campaign." She spoke boldly, not letting her inner trembling show.

He smiled and landed lightly. Red light exploded from him, temporarily blinding her. When at last the spots stopped dancing in front of her eyes, she saw a man in plain red armour standing before her, sans wings. He had beautiful blue eyes and a shock of blonde hair.

He held out a hand. "I'm Zieg."

Cautiously, she shook it. "Rose."

"Not everyone can join the Dragon Campaign," he said, his eyes kind although his voice was serious. "Would you agree to a friendly contest? A sparring match if you will."

"Certainly." She braced herself, the rapier gripped in her left hand with the point of the blade angled up over her right shoulder. From this position she could easily block an attack...or launch one of her own.

He grinned as he drew his sword and settled into a battle stance. A devilish glint lit his blue eyes as he inclined his head to her. "Ladies first."

She chose her simplest Addition, not wanting to flub her first attack, and so nervous she doubted she could complete any of the more complicated ones. Leaping toward him, she brought her sword out in a sweeping strike, then slashed back in the opposite direction lightning-quick. She leapt lightly back and waited for his return attack. Whip Smack. She'd named it that for its speed.

He was still grinning, damn him. His confidence irritated her a little. "Quick, but not powerful enough." He leapt at her, bringing his sword down in a punishing blow, then cutting across with a second strike and finally lashing out with a powerful kick. She staggered backwards as he took up his stance once more.

Fine. He wants to play hardball? He'll get it. In bloody spades. Leaping, she unleashed a series of quick slashes, dodging and spinning to avoid his counters, and finishing with a swift stabbing blow. Hard Blade. He staggered and one knee hit the ground before he sprang up again and went after her with a devastating eight-blow combination. Her arm was numb from blocking his strikes when at last he stopped.

He tilted his head. "Give up yet?"

Her answer was the Addition she had just finished mastering when they arrived. She called it Demon's Dance, a brutal flurry of lightning-fast strikes and stunning blows. He tried to counterattack her. She evaded it easily. She spun around and brought her sword up for a final blow.

He fell backwards and landed hard on the ground with an "Oof!"

She offered a hand to help him up. He took it and stood, then grinned. "Is there anybody you need to speak to before we leave?"

She stared up at him. Surely she hadn't heard right. He'd have beaten her if he'd used one more Addition...

He seemed to be reading her mind. "You were holding your own quite well against someone who's bigger and stronger than you, as well as having had more training. You're more than qualified for the Dragon Campaign."

She took a deep breath. "There is no one here for me. I'm an orphan."

She felt a light, compassionate touch on her arm and glanced to her left. One of the two women, the ethereal-looking redhead in pearlescent armour, was floating next to her, her expression one of sympathy. "I'm Shirley," the redhead said quietly. She gestured to the massive giant of a man wearing gold armour. "That's Belzac, and this--"

The tiny girl in blue bounced and twirled around Rose. "I'm Damia. Wow, you're not too much older than I am, are you? You're a Dark elemental, right? Mine's Water."

"Damia!" Zieg looked exasperated and sounded amused. "Let her get a word in edgewise, will you?"

"Sorry." Damia seemed to droop immediately.

"It's all right." Belzac laid a hand on the younger girl's shoulder, amazingly gentle for such a huge man. She perked up a little, although she didn't go back to twirling insanely around.

"So you've no one you need to say goodbye to? Let's go pack your things," Zieg said briskly.

She didn't want to admit that she had only her sword and one change of clothes. "I can do it. Give me ten minutes."

She walked off briskly and found the tiny shed where she'd been living since her parents' death six months before. Thank God she wouldn't have to find a way to fortify it against the coming winter.

It took her only a moment to pack her extra clothes and the single thin blanket that served as mattress, pillow, and cover. She walked out and shut the door behind her, determined never to return.

When she returned to the four warriors, most of the village had clustered around them. Shirley raised an eyebrow as she approached. "Surely you'd like to bring more with you?" she asked in a low voice.

Rose shrugged. Shirley's eyes softened with compassion and understanding.

"Don't tell me the little slut's going with you." The icy words belonged to the village headman's son. Rose didn't look at him.

"Be careful how you speak to a member of Emperor Diaz's elite guard," Zieg snapped.

"She has the skills to fight with us," the giant Belzac rumbled.

"And if you have any 'skills' other than a big mouth, I've seen no evidence of it," Zieg added derisively, sweeping a chilling gaze over the headman's son and the other young men who thought they were the village tough guys.

"But she's a woman," the headmaster protested timidly.

Zieg grinned. "She almost brought me down, and I've been training in Emperor Diaz's army for two years." He turned and held out his hand to Rose, who was staring at him in some shock. "Come on."

He was wearing that weird shiny armour again. And his wings were back. Cautiously she placed her hand in his, wondering what on earth--

She found herself scooped up in his arms, held close against him. "Hang on," he murmured. In the next instant they took flight.

"How are you doing this?" Rose cried.

Zieg chuckled. "Let me tell you about Dragoons."

~*~

Rose looked at the dying Dark Dragon. It lashed at her feebly with one wing, then lay limp and still. Its body shrank and then vanished, leaving behind a tiny dark-coloured dragonet and a medium-sized round stone.

She picked up the stone and nearly dropped it, startled, when it began to glow with a dark-purple light. It felt warm and alive to her touch, and she could feel the energy singing through it. The energy was Dark-elemental.

Zieg helped her fasten the stone into the special slot on her glove. She wanted to experiment with her new Dragoon powers, but the baby dragon was creeling unhappily. Crouching down, she stroked its tiny head. Murmuring to it quietly in the ancient language of her home village, she fed it a little bit of the dried meat she had in her belt pouch. It gobbled the food up.

"He's your vassal dragon," Zieg said. "When you've reached your full power as a Dragoon, you'll be able to summon him."

"He needs a name," she mused aloud.

"He's yours to name, Rose."

She thought for a moment. "Michael. His name is Michael."

~*~

Such a quiet, peaceful little village in the northern reaches of Mille Seseau. The new baby princess, Louvia, had just passed through. In a few hours she would have to find the royal flagship and kill the child. But for now, there was this village to take care of.

The Moon Child had been here. The village must be destroyed lest its inhabitants serve the tool of their own destruction, the soul of the Virage Embryo that would destroy everything. The 108th fruit of the Divine Tree, the Creator Soa's last little joke. The end of the world.

Melbu Frahma had tried to stop it. He had sealed away the soul of the Virage Embryo, thinking to keep it from ever uniting with its body, the Moon That Never Sets. But Frahma hadn't counted on being killed by Zieg in the final battle of the Dragon Campaign.

Rose blinked back tears. All six of them, gone. Just gone. Thoughtful Syuveil, angry Kanzas, giant Belzac, innocent Damia, sweet Shirley, and Zieg.

Her lover. Turned to stone by Frahma's spell.

She did this for them. Not for the world. She'd long since lost interest in her own species; they were irritating, nothing more. But for the six other Dragoons, the ones who had died....for these, she still hunted the Moon Child every 108 years. Belzac's passion to protect the children, Shirley's desire to heal, Zieg's rage against injustice. Syuveil's constant questioning of life and death. Damia's desperate desire to find a world she belonged in, rejected by both the merfolk and the humans. Kanzas's rage against the world and everyone in it but Shirley.

Her sword stopped flashing after a while, too blood-soaked to catch the light from the leaping flames. The entire village was crumbling, and she was nothing more than a menacing black figure amidst the lurid, deadly fire.

She thought she felt the Red-Eyed Dragon's spirit stir. For just an instant, she could swear she had felt Zieg's presence. But then it was gone, and there was only blood and death and destruction.

Neet had been destroyed. Princess Louvia, the Moon Child, was next.

She took flight.

~*~

If I had known what would come of it, would I still have gone with them that day?

She stared into the distance, wondering, pondering.

The joy and laughter. The friends she'd made--Shirley and Syuveil, Damia and Belzac. Being in love with Zieg, the exhilaration of fighting to free Humans from Wingly domination during the Dragon Campaign. The fierce freedom of her Dragoon form.

The agony of watching her friends die, one after another. Belzac, crushed by a pillar, dying to save Shirley. Shirley, killed by a Virage. Kanzas, dead the same way. Syuveil, killed trying to rescue Damia; Damia, the fragile half-mermaid and half-human girl, killed by Winglies.

And Zieg. Watching her lover become a part of the stone outcropping.

They were going to get married after that last battle.

Would I still have joined the Dragon Campaign?

.......Yes.

She straightened her shoulders and checked her sword. The Dragon Buster, newly bequeathed to her by Lloyd.

"Rose? Are you ready?" Dart was looking at her with concern.

She smiled fiercely. "Let's kick ass."

~*~

Author's Notes: I don't own any of the characters in this story except the ones I created. The Legend of Dragoon and all characters, place names, storylines, etc are property of Sony.

This is a companion fic to my fic The Dragon Campaign. Some of the details in this fic are taken directly from that one, so if you see a detail that wasn't specifically mentioned in the game, guess where it came from?

I hope you enjoyed this fic. Rose is my favourite character because she seems to be the only one they put effort into. Anyway, please e-mail me with your comments ^.^;;;

"I'm sorry but you don't have time to be in love anymore. Because you will die here."--Rose

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