|A Dragon's Wish
Author: Mr Khan PM
Shadow Dragon. The spell that controlled Tiki has gone out of control, causing her warped mind to reach out to soldiers of the League for companionship.Rated: Fiction T - English - Mystery/Angst - Chiki & Minerva - Words: 5,877 - Reviews: 1 - Favs: 1 - Published: 04-28-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8068469
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A Dragon's Wish
By Mr Khan
Author's Note: Another one written primarily for my DeviantArt account, but this one eschews smut unlike most of the others, though it does still incorporate mind-control elements. This is essentially a what if regarding Tiki (Fire Emblem 1/11), and what would have happened if the spell Gharnef used to control her had gone wrong. Might be formatted a little weird because DeviantArt has very different formatting from
Tiki, Princess of the Divine Dragons, had gone out of control. Gharnef had feared this, knowing he had been playing a dangerous game in trying to keep her bewitched, half-hypnotized and under his control for so long. If she were more mature, he would not have dared approach her, for she and her kind bore more magical power than he, mightiest sage among humans. However, although she had lived many times the lifespan of normal men, she was still childlike in her development, and thus malleable, if only for a time. Tiki was also mentally vulnerable because she was alone; the last of her kind in this world and even the Fire Dragon clan that had once served her clan was thought to be extinct.
Taking advantage of her weakness, he had bewitched her, and his spells had held for a while, but eventually they had proven too damaging, warping Tiki's mental state beyond his ability to influence her, and now she had finally collapsed. Gharnef had gone to the Fane of Raman to direct his pawn against the coming of the League led by Prince Marth, hoping that the Divine Dragon's power would be enough to foil the young hero that seemed intent on spoiling all of Gharnef's plans. When he had arrived at the Fane, however, he found many dead men: corpses or burned piles of bones that were all that remained of the mercenaries he had hired to help keep Tiki under his control. Gharnef himself had barely escaped a blast of blinding silver magical fire.
Yes, she had gone out of control, but that could still help his cause. The Archanean League was marching to the Fane of Raman, and if Tiki didn't slaughter them all in her indiscriminate wrath, she should at least do enough damage before she was taken down. Her death would be bothersome, however, as Gharnef hoped to use her as a counterweight against Medeus when their alliance inevitably shattered, but Marth and the League were the more immediate problem. All he could do now was wait and hope for the best.
Maria, the younger Princess of Macedonia, snapped awake, bathed in a cold sweat and with her heart pounding in her chest. Her neck-length red hair was unusually unkempt from the fitful dream that had awoken her, and the pure white robe she wore clung to her youthful frame from her sweat. She slid from her cot shakily, unsteady on her feet, and stepped over the cool fabric of the tent floor to another cot, where she addressed the figure sleeping inside.
"Sister," she said, her voice sounding squeaky and frightened even to herself.
"Who's calling? I… Maria?" asked the other figure, a veteran warrior who came awake quickly and sat up. She was Minerva, elder Princess of Macedonia. Minerva was much like her younger sister in looks, especially now that Maria's hair had become messy, for Minerva's hair was also red and hung down only to the line of her jaw, but usually hung more wildly than her sister. The two were alike in temperament as well, for although Maria had no intentions of embracing the way of the warrior (despite the fact that she was past the age where Minerva's training had begun in earnest), she was strong and steadfast, loyal to a fault, although the energy of adolescence made her seem different than her sister, who had matured into young adulthood and had fought both for and against her country in war. The two princess sisters now habitually shared a tent in the Archanean League's camp, and Minerva had grown used to disturbances from her sister at night. Minerva felt an odd disquiet, however, the traces of a dream that seemed to slip from her grasp when her sister had awoken her.
"I had a nightmare again," Maria said, sitting on the side of the cot. Minerva sat up completely, her face creased with concern for her little sister.
"About your captivity?" she asked gently, putting a hand on Maria's shoulder.
"Worse than that," Maria said, her voice quivering. "I felt like I was abandoned, like I was completely alone in the world with no-one who would ever come save me, and like I had been that way for a long time, years and years..." She sniffled suddenly, remembering the clutching despair of her nightmare. "When Zharov kept me, I never gave up hope, but in this dream I felt like I had…" she said.
"Dreams are strange things," Minerva said. "Distortions of our feelings and memories." She said it as much to comfort herself as to comfort her sister, for the feelings Maria described Minerva too seemed to feel, and she wondered if she could have been having the same nightmare as her before she had been awoken. "But I'm here for you now, and that's what's important," she finished, drawing her sister in to a loose hug.
"Sister…" Maria began.
"Yes, you can sleep with me tonight," Minerva said, smiling. This had been a regular request since the two sisters had been reunited, given the stresses both had felt during Maria's captivity, it was comforting for Maria to know in the night that her sister was right by her side, and it was comforting for Minerva as well, although she did not say it. Maria lay in the cot with her back to Minerva, who draped her arms around her.
Big Sister's comforting presence seemed to be enough for Maria, who drifted off quickly and peacefully, but Minerva lay, embracing her sister but wrapped in her own layer of unease. The more she thought about it, the more her sister's dream sounded somehow familiar to her. Minerva knew that magic was abundant in the world, but at the same time she had never been superstitious, and thus had never been given to believing that dreams were more than they appeared. She had to call to mind her own words of wisdom to her sister, that her dream had just been a distortion vomited up by her mind, but some deeper instinct was telling her there was some significance to this.
Minerva's unease allowed her to catch the occurrence that followed. She heard a low whoosh of heavy, feathered wings, the familiar sound of a Pegasus flying overhead. The sound was definitely out of place, because the guards that formed the night watch on the Archanean League camp were always foot soldiers, with Pegasi, Wyverns, and Horses kept stabled each night.
Minerva stepped out of the other side of the cot, causing her sister to awaken. Maria looked at Minerva questioningly, but the elder sister signaled for silence, and Maria understood. The sisters walked out of the tent and Minerva caught a glimpse of a Pegasus, with a rider whose long hair whipped behind them in the moonlit night, winging its way low through the sky, barely above the tops of the tents. The Pegasus landed briefly, then took off again, this time with a second rider, a slim figure with long hair. Neither of the figures were discernible, but the Pegasus itself was familiar to both of the sisters.
"Is that… Caeda?" Maria asked.
"I can't tell…" Minerva replied. "That was definitely her Pegasus, and the rider had long hair like her. I'll go sound the alarm." The camp needed to be alerted to these suspicious activities.
"No!" Maria insisted, suddenly and forcefully as she grabbed Minerva's arm.
"What is it?" Minerva asked, hearing the odd note of desperation in Maria's voice. "Why not?"
"I… don't know…" Maria said slowly. "But it doesn't feel right. They… other people shouldn't know about this."
Minerva frowned. Maria was a staff user, and thus was more attuned to magical sensations, to the kind of irrational feelings and sensations that Minerva normally dismissed out of hand. Coming from Maria, however, there could be some meaning to this, some misfortune that would come from rousing the camp over this suspicious activity, a course of action that would otherwise be Minerva's natural response. Minerva decided to give Maria's intuition a chance to prove itself.
"Would it be okay if I followed them?" Minerva asked instead.
Maria paused, closing her eyes. Maria did not think of herself as any sort of seer, or any great mage, but the feelings had come in so strongly, that sense of foreboding now and her nightmare from before, they had to be coming from somewhere. She did not feel any danger surrounding Minerva's suggestion, however. Instead, a feeling of correctness filled her, a sense of certainty that was abnormally strong, that what Minerva had just suggested was fundamentally right. "Yes," Maria said. "That is the course we should take."
"Alright," Minerva said. "Stay in the tent," she advised, turning to head towards the stables.
"I'm going too," Maria said.
"But if it's dangerous?" Minerva said. She looked into Maria's eyes and saw her sister's answer. Maria was determined to not let Minerva face any danger alone, but once again, intuition powered Maria's judgment in this matter. "Fine," Minerva relented. "But listen to me carefully at all times."
Minerva's wyvern winged its way slowly through the night, the Princesses of Macedonia both on its back with the elder at the reigns holding a axe in one hand, and the younger in the back, clutching a staff and her elder sister for support. They followed behind Caeda's Pegasus, a distant point of whiteness that glinted in the moonlight, far enough away that they, riding Minerva's blue-scaled wyvern, wouldn't be spotted. The Pegasus was making its way away from the camp, which sat hidden from view around the bend of a small river valley from the great temple that was the Fane of Raman, which sat prominently on a shelf of land above the river.
"Why would they go to the Fane by themselves?" Minerva asked out loud. "Whatever guards the treasures here isn't supposed to be human or Manakete, and two alone would not be enough to search the temple."
"Maybe they feel it too…" Maria said softly. As they had flown away from the camp and closer to the Fane, the sensation from Maria's dream had been returning. Clutching despair, a sense of loneliness and an overwhelming desire for companionship, a need for human contact, for love, that surpassed anything Maria had ever felt. It was a palpable feeling, no mere remnants of a dream, but a definite sensation that was being sent from some source.
"More of those visions?" Minerva asked.
"It's not visions, it's a feeling," Maria said. "Like the one in my dream. Someone is very sad somewhere."
"Is it a trap?" Minerva asked. She didn't like this, disliked having to rely on something other than what she could see and hear and assess for herself. She trusted that her sister meant what she said, but some greater magical power could be bewitching her.
"I don't know…" Maria said. "But wouldn't a trap send out good feelings?"
"Such speculation would be fruitless," Minerva said, which was true enough. It would do them no good to speculate endlessly on what this might be; they would simply have to verify what it was, and be all the more cautious while doing so.
They watched the Pegasus descend into the Fane, somewhere inside the outer walls, and then followed. A quick flyover revealed the Pegasus trotting lazily around a courtyard for the temple with neither of the riders in sight, so Minerva landed in the courtyard as well. Upon dismounting, Maria swooned, dropping her staff from her hands and collapsing to the ground.
"Maria!" Minerva shouted, driven to great concern for her sister. For a moment, she lost all sense of restraint, diving to the ground and clutching her sister to her armored body. "Maria! Don't leave me! Come back!" she said, sobbing and approaching hysteria.
"Sister?" Maria said, slowly coming awake as Minerva began to cry.
"Maria…" Minerva sobbed, "I was afraid… afraid…" she repeated the word as she wondered what she had been so afraid of. Certainly Maria fainting was cause for concern, but Minerva had almost lost all restraint, dived into the depths of despair, over her sister's fainting spell. There was no doubt now that something was affecting her mind.
"I was afraid too…" Maria said, mistaking what Minerva was talking about. "When I fainted. It was like a bunch of feelings washed over me at once; fear, loneliness, great sadness and pain. Something in there," she said, now more confident in feeling her way through the intangible sensations. She broke Minerva's embrace, stood, and pointed into the Fane. "That's where the sadness is coming from. That's the source of all of these feelings."
"Be all the more careful," Minerva said, regaining her composure. "If either of us start to feel overwhelmed, we'll both run."
Maria had a thought. "What if the people who came here from the camp were also lured in by those feelings?" she asked.
Minerva's eyes widened. She had been laboring under the idea that whoever was astride Caeda's Pegasus was a spy or a traitor, not a victim. The long hair of the rider, the fact that it was Caeda's Pegasus, the possibility of some sort of psychic lure, a siren's song of sadness that called out to people overwhelmingly. "Damn," she cursed. "I hadn't thought of that. Let's hurry!" She picked up her axe, and Maria her staff, and the two hurried into the temple.
The inside was dark, lit only by moonlight streaming in through windows or cracks in the aged, vaulted ceilings. The two sisters ran alongside one another, with Maria pointing the way at each new corridor they encountered, led on by the unnatural sense of despair that was growing stronger with each step they took forward. The feelings did not want to make her despair, particularly. They did not make her want to give up hope, but instead inspired a deep sympathy in her, a longing to reach out and comfort whoever or whatever could feel so profoundly sad. That was how it was luring her in, by making her pity whatever was in the temple, filling her with the desire to help it, to love it, to do whatever it took to make it stop feeling sad. In her rational mind she too suspected a trap, but in her heart, she could only feel an honest desire to help whatever was in the Fane of Raman.
They quickly found out its identity. They ran across another courtyard, then passed a gate into the central temple area, a long hall with a number of rooms off to each side. Halfway down the hall, and slowly walking further away from them, they could see the figures of two women. The first was taller than the second, with long blue hair that ran down to her waist, while the second was shorter, and had brown hair in a ponytail as well as the more revealing garb of the desert city of Khadein. Even from behind, their comrades-in-arms were instantly recognizable. The blue-haired woman was Caeda, Princess of Talys and one of the founding partners of the Archanean League, while the brunette was Linde, daughter and heir of the former Pontiff of Khadein, the sage Miloah. Neither woman bore any weapons.
At the far end of the hall was something more alarming, all the more so because their comrades seemed to be walking towards it. Crouched at the far end of the hall, surrounded by a few ominous bones of the mercenaries that had once worked there, was a silver dragon. It was smaller than the forms that the Manaketes took when they transformed, but looked very dangerous of its own accord, more snake-like than the Manaketes who better resembled Wyverns, this dragon was sleek and dangerous looking, crouched low towards the floor with its blue eyes staring piercingly at the two Princesses who walked towards it, narrow wings clutched close to its sleek body.
Upon seeing the dragon, however, the two Princesses forgot their danger momentarily. Seeing it at last brought the full force of the spell down upon them. They felt the dragon's despair, its grasping loneliness and need for companionship. Her need for companionship. Feeling the emotions so directly, they could tell the dragon was female. Sympathy and a powerful sense of pity tore through the princess sisters. Minerva felt something catch in her throat, as if she were approaching tears. It was worse still for Maria, who felt weak-kneed again, as well as a growing urge to get closer to the dragon.
Minerva shook off the feeling. She could not afford to fall into the dragon's trap, nor to run away, which might otherwise be the prudent course of action when faced with something that was clearly very magically powerful. Linde and Caeda seemed to be fully under the spell and heedless of their danger, and it was up to her to save them.
"Linde!" Minerva shouted down the hall. "Caeda! Linde!" She knew it was likely pointless, that no-one still in control of their own faculties would be walking towards that thing. She would have to stop them, and pray that the dragon remained content merely to watch. "Stay here," she warned Maria. "If I don't make it out of here, go back and alert the camp. Somebody has to know what happened here." Maria nodded weakly, her lower lip trembling. It was dangerous to rely on her, since she was more sensitive to the dragon's spell and might succumb at any moment.
Minerva sped up the hallway, closer to the danger and towards the entranced princesses. She would have cursed the fact that she was wearing light armor and bearing her axe, Hauteclare, as these would have slowed her down, but Caeda and Linde seemed to be in no hurry, so Minerva caught up to them quickly, roughly two-thirds of the way from the entrance to the lethal dragon waiting on the other side. The dragon seemed to take no notice of her attempts to interfere. Perhaps she thinks I am under the spell as well, Minerva thought. She sped around so that she was standing in front of her comrades, not wanting to look into those eyes too long. The dragon's gaze was piercing, seeming to drive the feelings that the dragon emitted deeper into her psyche, trying to put her further under the spell.
"Caeda, Linde! Snap out of it!" she urged, touching both on their shoulders. They both stared back at her with half-lidded, lifeless eyes, lost completely in the dragon's woven spell.
"You have to get out of here, you're under a spell!" Minerva urged, focusing this time on Caeda, grabbing the woman by both shoulders and shaking her.
"Love…" Caeda moaned.
"Caeda, wake up!"
"She's so sad…" Caeda said, her voice distant and her eyes unseeing. "She needs love, she needs family…"
Minerva growled; this wasn't going to be easy. As she tried fruitlessly to wake Caeda up, Linde had simply kept to her slow pace towards the dragon's compelling call. Minerva realized that Linde would probably be even harder to deal with: if her sister Maria, a neophyte staff-user, was as sensitive to the dragon's spell as she was, then Linde, who was deeply in tune with magic and heir to one of the greatest mages of the day, would be all the more susceptible. She would have to be more assertive.
She rushed over and seized Linde bodily, pushing her back so that she stood right next to Caeda, who had begun walking forward as soon as Minerva had let her go. "Turn back," she said, her voice hard and losing any note of concern. "I'm taking you out of here one way or another," she added, taking up her axe and leveling it towards both of them. She intended no bodily harm, of course. At worst, she would have to use the flat of the axe-head to knock them both out.
Life suddenly came into Linde's eyes, and tears followed quickly after. "You're horrible!" she said, sobbing. "Don't you feel it, Minerva? She's so sad! She needs a family, she needs someone to love her, to take away the pain!"
Minerva frowned. It seemed Linde was so far under that the dragon's spell had been integrated into her waking mind, meaning that this might get a lot harder. But if she was talking, perhaps logic could reach her. "Look at her," Minerva said, pointing down the hall towards the dragon who was watching the scene intently, her frost-blue eyes making a stark contrast to the feeling of sympathetic love that Minerva felt when looking at her. "The only pain you'll take away by going to her is the pain of an empty stomach."
"Hypocrite," now it was Caeda who emerged to lucidity. Minerva glared at her. "You know how she feels. How much did you suffer when your sister was being held captive? How much did she suffer? Well, it's worse for her," she said, pointing to the dragon. "She's so lonely, and how could you be so heartless to ignore that? We're all going to help her!"
I should have assumed that I'd need to use force, Minerva thought. It was the only way, she'd just have to be careful. She again assumed a fighting stance, leveling Hauteclare towards the two of them. "You're not getting near her," Minerva said.
"We'll gladly die to help her," Caeda replied, pointing her lance towards Minerva. Linde hefted a tome in one hand, pointing towards Minerva with the other.
Both of Minerva's foes were formidable fighters, and she needed to end this quickly, before she or her sister fell under the spell's influence. She could feel it working at her, felt a stinging guilt at Caeda's accusations of hypocrisy, felt a compelling desire to go try to comfort the dragon, a similar feeling that she felt whenever she was around Maria since the two of them had been reunited. It was an unnatural desire that would lead her to her own destruction, but she could not deny it. All she could do was attempt to defy them, to rescue the two princesses, get them and her sister out of here and then get as far away from the Fane of Raman as they could.
Caeda stabbed at Minerva with her lance, though Minerva dodged out of the way. The three women then began circling, each in a careful combat position and both sides waiting for the other to make a move, edging around in a circle. Too late, Minerva realized what they had been trying to do, as Minerva was now staring down the dragon directly, some 40 feet away. Minerva cringed as she caught an indirect glimpse at the dragon's eyes, feeling a momentary spike of guilt.
"We know you feel it," Linde said, sounding like a friend who is trying to convince another friend to do the right thing. "Don't try to ignore it, don't try to look away. She's sad, Minerva, she needs as much love as she can get."
Minerva's eyes flicked from Linde over to Caeda, and in the process made an instant of contact with the piercing dragon gaze, her will wavering and her uncertainty growing. "You know what you have to do." Caeda said. "Please, help us. Help her."
"No…" Minerva said with an effort. "It's not… right… I can't give in…" her doubt grew by the moment, and even looking into Caeda or Linde's eyes seemed to be impacting her; the guilt, the pervasive sense of transmitted sympathy. She couldn't give in! She couldn't get killed by the dragon, only to leave Maria all alone.
"It's okay…" she heard, then felt someone embrace her from behind. "Go ahead and feel it, sister. It'll be alright."
"Maria…" It seemed Maria too had succumbed, and while Minerva had been distracted in subduing the princesses, Maria had crept up behind her, now catching her in a hug. "You too?"
"You do know how she feels," Maria said, nuzzling her face into Minerva's back. "I know you're not this cruel," she said, her voice choked with sadness.
Minerva could feel her sister's body heat through the lighter leather that protected her back, feeling the love that came through from her sister's embrace, and noticing how the warmth of that love contrasted with the sadness that hung in the very air and penetrated her mind. Her eyes were drawn back to gaze into the eyes of the dragon. Even from this distance, she could see that the frost-blue eyes were not soulless and lethal as she had seen before. Although no visible change had come over them, she could see that the eyes were filled with sadness and yearning. A growing part of her thought that there was no harm in simply going to check if the dragon was actually sad. She still had her axe, after all; she could defend herself if she needed to. She took a step forward.
"I knew you'd do the right thing," Caeda said, smiling. She reached out and put an arm over Minerva's shoulder, and Minerva, Maria, and Caeda all took a step forward.
"Thank you so much," Linde said, tearing up slightly. She wrapped an arm around Minerva's shoulder from the other side, and all four took a step forward.
As they walked forward, Minerva felt the warmth from the other women, emotionally and physically, soothed by their touch and by the promise that they were going to make it all better, that they were going to help the dragon. With each slow step they took, Minerva grew more certain that no harm would come to her; that no harm could possibly come to anyone who just wanted to show their love to someone else. She wanted to heal: they all wanted to heal, and weapons were no good for healing. She barely heard her axe as it clanged to the temple floor, her senses dulled by the empathic love that flowed through her and the other princesses leaving her thinking only of the poor, lonely dragon. Caeda's lance fell to the floor as well, as did Linde's magic tome. Only Maria's staff remained in her grasp, for one thing that was now plain to see was that the dragon was wounded in several places; darkened wounds marring her sleek coat of silver scales; the dragon needed physical healing as well.
She watched the girls as they approached with an unreadable expression on her face. Her eyes did not, in fact, look sad, but nor did they look particularly feral or predatory. Her fangs, long rows of teeth, were bared, but her breathing was slow and lethargic. Once the four women were within mere feet of her, she suddenly tensed; not recognizing that she had been the one to summon these women and suddenly afraid of what they might do, even if they were no longer armed. The last humans had tried to hurt her, and she had killed them all. She had attempted to kill another human as well, an old man who wielded great power. Was that what she wanted to do to these girls? Why had she called them?
One of the human women, a brunette with a ponytail and somewhat revealing clothing, stepped forward and put a hand to the dragon's nose. "We're here," Linde said, fresh tears in her eyes although her voice remained steady. "We're here for you."
Another girl, a shorter redhead clad all in white, seemed to step aside, wielding a staff, moving towards the side of the dragon's body where her wounds were at their worst. She was afraid again, and she growled loudly. This caused an older redheaded woman to move suddenly, and the dragon tensed again, but the woman simply threw her arms around the dragon's muzzle. "Shh…" the older redhead soothed. "Just relax. It'll be okay."
The dragon suddenly felt a soothing sensation spreading into one of her flanks, one that had been itchy and irritated since a human axe had bitten deep into it some weeks ago. The torn tissue was healing under the staff of the youngest human.
"See?" a third human, one with long blue hair and a loving face said. "We're here to help you. We want to help you."
Help? What did she need help with? She tried to remember, but it was very hard. The dragon's mind seemed to scatter every time she grasped at it, and that annoyed her. Maybe these women were doing that to her, maybe she should kill them.
"I know how you feel," a new voice came, the youngest human who was tending her wounds. "When I was held captive for the war, I missed my family, I missed my sister," Maria said. "You've been alone for so long, and no-one should have to suffer like that."
"That's why we're here for you," Linde said, looking straight into the dragon's eyes. "We'll never leave you, and you'll never have to hurt again."
The largest wound finished healing, and Maria turned her attention towards another. The dragon shuddered, hearing the words and taking in their meaning. Her addled mind shifted, something clicked, and she howled, a keening sound that tore through the temple as she pointed her snout up to the ceiling. It was not an intimidating sound, but a pitiful one, her great sadness made manifest.
Her cry set all of the princesses to tears, each woman, entranced by the dragon's misery, went and embraced a part of the dragon's body. "That's right…" Minerva said. "Go ahead and let it all out. Let it all out and we'll all be right here for you."
The dragon continued to howl, slow, mournful notes that sounded disturbingly like human crying as it slowly descended her head to the ground. The dragon had a lot of sadness, the kind that would take a long time to properly heal, but a ray of hope, four rays of hope, had pierced through the mantle of darkness that had enshrouded her for centuries.
A burst of late and the dragon was gone. In her place stood a girl who looked perhaps to be a year or two younger than Maria, wrapped in a lavender gown, with long green hair, pointy ears, and a golden tiara on her head to denote her status; heir to the Divine Dragons, last of her kind, Princess Tiki.
"Humans…" Tiki said slowly, somewhat fearfully. Strangers in the Fane of Raman, now here before her when she had lost her dragon form. Small and vulnerable and helpless, she would be no match for them.
"So it wasn't a trap," Minerva said, her rational mind reawakening from the spell it had been placed under, the spell of reversed mind-control that was now broken now that Tiki had awoken. "You really were… alone."
"Alone… I…" Tiki said, sniffling, caught somewhat between remnants of her old sadness and fear of these strange humans, for now merely a lost and frightened girl and not the mighty Divine Dragon.
"Not anymore," Maria said, stepping towards Tiki. The girl recoiled slightly, but saw the warmth in Maria's face. "You're not alone anymore."
"We're still here to help you," Caeda replied, also coming closer to Tiki. "That hasn't changed."
"We'll never leave you," Linde finished. "You'll never be alone again."
The four strange humans closed in on Tiki from all sides, bringing her into a warm embrace that let her know that they were all sincere, Princesses all, they would now be as sisters to one another, the dragon Princess included.
Caeda landed her Pegasus in front main tent of the Archanean League camp. The barest hints of dawn could be seen over the Eastern horizon, and the camp would normally be rousing soon, although it already seemed to be a hive of activity. After landing, she and Linde dismounted and were quickly approached by Marth, as well as an odd-looking old man in a red cloak who had been traveling with the army for a while.
"Where were you?" Marth said. "We've been searching the camp for you since we heard that horrible cry come from the Fane. I… we feared the worst."
"We were called to the Fane," Caeda said. "Linde and myself, as well as Princess Maria and Princess Minerva."
"Called?" asked Marth. "How?"
"You'll see," Linde said. "There's nothing to fear, it's actually all good news. The Fane is now unguarded, so we can search for Falchion and the Orbs of Moonlight and Starlight at our leisure. And we have a new ally."
Marth's question was answered as Minerva's wyvern descended from aloft with three passengers, the two redheaded Princesses of Macedonia, and a third, unfamiliar figure, a girl child, whose eyes were drawn not to the Prince of Altea, but to the odd old man at Marth's side. "Ban-Ban!" the girl said with unbridled joy, leaping down off Minerva's wyvern and dashing towards the old man. "You're alive!"
"Princess Tiki!" said Bantu, the old Manakete of the Fire Dragon clan who had once, long ago, been Tiki's guardian. He had been separated from her for so long that he forgot to stand on ceremony with her, forgot to kowtow, and instead hugged his long-lost ward, tears springing to his aged eyes. "I'm so happy to see you safe. When I heard that call, I was afraid…"
"Don't worry, Ban-Ban. My sisters were there for me!"
"They heard me crying and came to help," Tiki said, retreating from Bantu's hug towards Minerva, Maria, Caeda, and Linde. "And I'll always be grateful for that," she added, as the princesses leaned in for a group hug.