What had started as a routine mission quickly escalates into something much greater. As another war looms on the horizon, Prince Chrom finds a great assent in the tactical genius of the young woman he found bloodstained in the field. But who could have guess that the future holds something much grater, and much more devastating, or even who is at the center of it all?
Authors Notes: Honestly, there are two things difficult about writing this, first is how do you make the summary engaging? Second, are my battle strategies really a good idea, or are they only good ideas if everyone else is stupid? Clearly, I've made the right choice in writing for a Fire Emblem game.
So. this story will be filled with my headcanons, such as, who the hell was Robin's mother, some events in the first war, among other things. And before anyone asks, yes, I do have set parings, but they will be under wraps for the time being. Spoilers.
Anyway, let's get started.
"People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually - from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint - it's more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly… timey-wimey… stuff."
- The Tenth Doctor, Doctor Who, 'Blink'
At the moment, I am very torn between wanting to scold him, and being in awe of his abilities. He very well knows that he should not be pushing himself like this; that his arm will start bothering him, and he won't be able to fight. We warned him, of course. We always warn him every time we go out into battle. And he seldom listens. His right arm has not been the same since that night, just as the healer's had said.
But, in spite of his bad arm he always makes battle look so easy. I do not think I will ever live long enough to equal him in that aspect his injury not withstanding. I watch with one arm wrapped around my tome and with my opposite hand at the ready, as the blue haired man fights against the tall man with sickly grey skin. While this tall lanky man uses magic he and the blue-haired man are just about equal in speed.
I am not sure how but in spite of the danger and my current conflicts, I feel so, so safe in the company of the blue haired man. Like nothing else matters anymore. I trust him; I know him so well. But I fear that he can no longer say the same about me. Because, suddenly I don't know myself at all.
The two men continue to clash, the man in blue would go for a strike, then the sickly-skinned man would strike back with dark magical energies, and the process would repeat itself. Orange-yellow sparks begin to flicker around my free hand as I ready myself. The sickly-skinned man leaps up, levitating himself just below the banisters. His hands are held out in front of him, collecting the magical energies to strike down the man in blue. The man in blue is already dodging by the time the tall man throws down the spell.
The force of the blast throws me off my feet. I snap my tome open, careful not to lose it, then I toss my hand at the robed man. My Thoron spell sails into the air, but the man has already vanished before my spell could even hit him.
I slide to a stop, and look back up at the blue-haired man, just as blue electricity crashes into him. I shout his name, panic begins to swell up inside me. He's fine, I tell myself, he's fine. The dust begins to settle and the blue haired man pulls himself onto his knees. He is bruised, with thin cuts along his exposed skin; but thankfully, he looks relatively unharmed. He uses his sword, a brilliant piece of weaponry, as support to help him onto his knees.
My heart is in my throat. I can see pain written across his face, the shakiness in his arm confirms it, he went over the limit, his arm is starting to hurt him. It happened all the same, just like he said it wouldn't. I should know better, with so much at stake now he was not about to back down. If the situations were reversed, he knows I wouldn't either.
The buzz of electricity fills my ears; the tall, lanky man in the dark robes was preparing another spell. Cackling, the man throws the spell in the direction of the blue-haired man. "No!" I shout tossing another Thoron spell.
The two spells collide filling the room with a bright white light. I am glaring into the tall man's red eyes long before the light dies down. I have him to blame for all of our misfortunes. So much blood has been spilt, and a good portion of it is on his hands. So much of it was because of him in the first place. But… it's on mine too. Too many failed plans, too many enemies I underestimated, too many fallen comrades. And a bad temper to top it all off.
Perhaps it was better if I just disappeared. Maybe it would have been better if-
I feel a hand squeeze my shoulder. The blue-haired man is beside me, his sword still at his side, at the ready. "You're one of us," the blue haired man says assuringly. I look at him, and there I see that unwavering conviction in his eyes. "No 'destiny' can change that."
Just like that the rage and doubt are gone. These emotions are replaced with a light, bubbly serenity. Everything was going to be okay in the end. Everything would be all right. "Yeah," I nod.
"Why do you still resist?" the robed man shouts. "You cannot erase what has been written!"
No! He's wrong! He's wrong about everything! He's wrong about me!
I run at the heels of the blue-haired man, his sword shining brilliantly in what little light there is. The blue-haired man and the tall man suddenly go at it, not unlike they had just moments ago. I withdraw my own blade, and aim it at the robed man's neck. One way or another this was going to end today.
The tall man reaches his hand out to block my oncoming attack, just as I had hoped. I aim a Thoron spell into his side, just as the blue-haired man cuts into our opponents opposite side. The tall man pushes himself back a couple of yards away from us, black and purple flames dance around his body. The man falls onto his knees, he stays still for just a moment… and then he drops flat onto the floor.
The blue haired man looks back at me, and smiles. The weight is suddenly lifted off my shoulders, if only for a brief moment. It is like I was carrying a large wagon of heavy stones, and the stones just suddenly vanished. It's liberating.
I take a step forward, and reach out for the blue-haired man's hand. "This isn't over…" the robed man says through a ragged voice. He prompts himself up on one hand, and extends his opposite hand towards us. He shouts, utterly enraged, "DAMN YOU BOTH!"
I do not have time to think. I just act.
My extended hand suddenly changes its course, from the blue-haired man's hand, to his chest. I put as much strength into it as I can; I shove him out of the path of the other man's spell. I catch a glimpse at the blue-haired mans face. Fear and confusion is written all over it, he just realized what is happening. He just realized what I've done.
My vision goes white.
The blast is enough to throw me off my feet; hot pain sprouts from the middle of my chest, then spreads out to my upper arms, and my solar plexus. A new form of pain consumes me as soon as my back hit's the floor. I feel throbbing pain on my shoulders, and the back of my head. My head is a little fuzzy, I cannot remember what it is I'm supposed to be doing right now. What was our goal again? How do I even breathe?
The man in blue shouts my name, and with that alone, everything comes back to me. Our goals, our hopes. To breath you inhale, then exhale, then repeat for as long as you can.
Slowly, my vision begins to clear up; the blue-haired man runs up to me. He drops down to his knees, then, by wrapping an arm around my shoulders, he helps me to sit up. "You all right?" he asks, clearly concerned. As he prompts me up, I find that I cannot find my voice, so I nod in response. Relieved, the man looks back at the tall man in the dark robes. His body is disintegrating into a black and purple haze now, so surviving that. "That's the end of him… thanks to you, we carry the day."
I feel the blue-haired man's grip on me change. And then comes the pain from the deepest crevices of my head. The pain is so intense, I hardly notice the man helping me onto my feet. In this moment, I am no better than a puppet following the orders of a puppeteer. Another spasm of pain goes through my head, I vaguely wish for deaths embrace. "We can rest easy now," says the man, his voice sounds so distant and muffled, it's like I'm underwater, "at long last."
The pain in my head is constant, maddening. I would scream now if I could get relief, but I'm deathly afraid to do anything, I do not want to make it worse. Help me…
"What's wrong?" the man asks, mercifully reading my face. I don't trust myself to answer, but I just childishly will him to help me. I see a slight bit of panic on the man's face as he encourages, "Hang on! Hang-"
My head is clear of pain. I blink, confused. What happened? The man's hand has left my neck, and I see him take a step away from me on unsteady legs. My heart stops. In his hand he holds a large volt of orange-yellow electricity in his abdomen. Already blood drips through his clothes.
My breathing becomes labored at the utter I feel over the sight. It's just the two of us here! Who could have…
Utterly terrified, I look down at my dominate hand just in time to see small traces of electricity park across my fingers. It's enough to confirm my worst fear. "No…" I shake my head. Tears prickle at my eyes as I try to convince myself that it wasn't me. "No… No… No!"
Not him, please, please not him. He can't… he can't… not by my hands!
The man takes a step towards me, his free hand caresses my cheek, wiping the tears out of my eyed. Don't… "This is not your-your fault…" he rasps, blood begins to drip out of the corner of his mouth. "Promise me… you'll escape form this place… Please… go…"
The light leaves his eyes as they roll back into his head. He drops to his knees, then collapses onto the floor. Blood begins to pool out onto the floor. My hands clasps over my mouth, muffling the sobs that have finally escaped.
Why am I still alive?
Godsdamn it, why am I still alive?!
I just… I want to die…
The sorcerer's cackling laughter echoes in the room. My shoulders begin to shake, I feel a smile form behind my hands. I lower them down to allow the low chuckle to escape my lips. Euphoria builds up inside me for the first time in who knew how long, I finally understand! Relieved I start laughing alongside the disemboweled voice.
I let the monster rise.
The Verge of History
If there was one thing about the day he could just forget ever happened, this really would have been nice. If he could ignore the battles he had just fought and the tragedy that befell one soul, this, right now, would have been a nice change of pace. Just taking a nice walk, to feel the wind on his face, and just breathe in the fresh sent of grass. If everyday could be like this moment, Chrom would have been more than willing to put up with Lissa's complaining. "Well, I'm sorry!" his younger sister, Lissa said. She threw down her hands in exasperation. "I am so, so sorry if I don't understand why we ever bothered to bring a horse along if we don't even ride her!"
"A little walking builds character, milady," Frederick replied with a chuckle.
The brown haired man in a full suit of armor followed the brother-sister duo at a reasonably safe distance. Or, at least Frederick's definition of 'reasonably safe,' so he was probably less than three meters away as he lead his mare by the reigns.
Lissa, a blonde girl with green eyes, stuck her tongue out of the corner of her mouth and blew a raspberry. She had just turned sixteen a few short weeks ago, but she still had the tendencies of a nine-year-old at times. "If I wanted character building," retorted Lissa, "I would have stayed at home and trained with Sully."
"Believe me, I would have preferred it that way," Frederick muttered under his breath. It would have given him one less thing to worry about if Lissa had stayed behind.
"What was that?" asked Lissa.
"Frederick is right, Lissa," Chrom said, turning to his sister, "a little walking is good for you."
Lissa's brother Chrom was a young man with his twentieth year fast approaching. Lissa would often point out that he was a bit of a fashion disaster with the blue one-piece suit he wore and the bits of asymmetry, which included only one sleeve on his left arm. This left his right arm bare, therefore exposing the Mark on his shoulder. Chrom had a muscular built to him, with rather shaggy blue hair.
Lissa let out a sigh, then proceeded to pout while she crossed her arms over her chest. She knew her big brother was right, of course. Frederick's mare was already carrying her healing staff and the medical supplies they brought in case the village they just visited needed them. Any more weight on her and the mare would tire out. But if Lissa had to walk much more, she was sure her legs would pop off. "You knew it would be like this when you became a Shepherd, milady," Frederick was quick to point out.
"I know," the blonde mumbled. "I also knew it would give you one more excuse to worry about every little thing, Sir Allow-Me-to-Clear-Every-Tiny-Little-Pebble-and-Stick-So-You-Don't-Trip!"
"Milady!" Frederick chided.
"She has a point, Frederick," chuckled Chrom.
He allowed his eyes to wander off to the field just off the dirt path. The three of them had just fought off bandits that had been terrorizing a small village throughout the night. They rescued the village, but sadly, there was one death, and a few injured from a traveling caravan who had warned the villagers. They told Chrom and the other's that they would give their fallen comrade a proper burial, and tried to assure him that she died without regrets. But she shouldn't have had to die, period.
Forcing the memories away, Chrom took in the scenery. The wind billowed through the grass, making the field look like waves were crashing into one another. His gaze followed the 'waves,' until Chrom spotted something truly unexpected; a human figure, a woman going by her long hair, lied motionless on the ground.
With a sharp inhale Chrom tore off the path, hurrying straight for the fallen woman. Lissa called his name before she chased after him with a bottle of vulnerary in her hands. Frederick, on the other hand, had called for them both. His pleas may as well have fallen upon deaf ears, as neither sibling responded.
When Chrom reached the woman's side, he dropped onto one knee then lowered himself down so that his face was in front of hers. Her warm breath met with his skin in steady beats. On the woman's opposite side Lissa dropped to her knees and began to inspect her. "She's still alive," Chrom said, standing back up.
"Not for a lack of trying…" said Lissa. She gingerly moved the flap of her thick coat to the side.
Chrom saw what Lissa had meant.
She was a young woman, about eighteen or nineteen, maybe twenty, with skin a handsome shade of honey brown. The woman lied on her side with her hands close to her face; dried blood had coated her fingers. There were even bloodstains on her clothes, on her coat, her tunic underneath, and some even smeared on her neck and cheek.
Her white hair was fanned out around her head, a few locks had a little blood smeared on them. Outside of that there wasn't much else to describe about her at the moment. Ironically enough with her eyes closed, her head slightly tilted inward, and the calm expression on her face she looked like she could have been sleeping. Of course her current state suggested otherwise. "Plegian robes," Frederick said from behind the two. Chrom looked over his shoulder to find a hardened expression on Frederick's face. "We must leave. Now. This could be a trap set up by Plegians."
Oh yes… Chrom wasn't sure how he could have missed it. The woman was dressed in a thick, black coat with yellow-gold accents. On the coat's sleeves were three purple eyes that ran down the center, a classic sign of her Plegian origin, if her desert princess appearance did not already suggest such.
Lissa peered up at him over her shoulder, clearly unimpressed by his accusation. "Honestly!" she huffed. "Do you really believe they would be this obvious."
"Milady," Frederick said, with a hint of exasperation, "you see that coat-"
"I see it," Lissa interrupted, "but that's all it is. Clothes do not mean anything."
"And the mark on her hand?" Frederick countered. "Does that not mean anything either."
Had Frederick not said anything, Chrom would have missed it completely. With the woman as alarmingly bloody as she was, the mark Frederick had mentioned would have been easy to miss. But now that Chrom had seen it, he couldn't tear his eyes from it. There it was, the light purple, strangely ethereal, mark on the back of the woman's right hand. It was not something one would see in Ylisse, but Chrom knew full well what it was; the Mark of Grima. The sigil of the Grimleal, and the mark of the fell dragon.
Lissa bit her lower lip momentarily. "It doesn't mean anything," she said, standing firm with her resolve.
"Milady, it's a blindingly obvious sign that she is one of the Grimleal," said Frederick.
"And? We cannot hold it against someone for the basic right to choose their religion."
"Even when they come from the country that's been terrorizing our borders? Who's to say she hasn't? Look at the blood on her clothes, milady."
"But it's smeared!" Lissa argued. "For all we know she could have been trying to save someone."
"I think we can both agree it's long dried," Frederick pointed out. "So it could have been splattered."
"Then why is she passed out on the ground here?"
"It is as I said, a Plegian tra-"
"Then why isn't she awake now? I'm sure they wouldn't keep us waiting." Lissa cupped both hands over her mouth and shouted, "OKAY, WE TOOK THE BAIT! IF YOU'RE GOING TO ATTACK US BETTER DO IT NOW! C'MON, DON'T KEEP US WAITING!"
Chrom pinched the bridge of his nose while Frederick tried to get Lissa to stop yelling. You could always count on the two of them to draw attention to themselves. "Hold on," Chrom spoke up. He raised one hand to silence the two; his gaze was held upon Lissa. "Now, I'm just as willing to hear this woman out, but I do agree that we should approach this with caution." He then turned to Frederick. "And what if Lissa is right, Frederick? For all we know, someone was in trouble, and this woman was trying to find help for them."
"Chrom," said Lissa. She stood up, her gaze held upon the woman, then up at her brother. "We have to do something."
"What do you propose we do?"
"Uh… I don't know…"
The siblings turned their attention back to the woman; she sat up, her eyes fluttered open to reveal a set of red irises. She blinked a couple of times, and shook her head to remove the dreariness. "Hey there," Lissa said to the woman with a kind, warm smile.
"There are better places to take a nap than on the ground, you know," Chrom said hoping to put the woman at ease with a joke. He extended his hand to her, "Give me your hand."
Hesitantly, the woman slid her right hand, the very hand with the mark, into Chrom's. He pulled the woman onto her feet, she swayed slightly, still in a daze. "Easy," Chrom said gently. He placed his free hand on her shoulder to help her steady. "You all right?"
He smiled slightly recognizing that the woman was staring at him right in the face. The woman blinked once as the realization that she was staring dawned on her. Shaking her head, she released Chrom's hand and took a step back. The woman stood a full head shorter than Chrom, and her hair fell to her mid-back. While she clearly looked confused, she remained calm. "Yes…" she said, her voice, while pleasant and smooth, was hoarse. The woman cleared her throat, "Thank you, Chrom."
Oh, this should make this easier. "So you know me then."
The woman's eyes narrowed while she thought. Her brow furrowed, she was still confused, if not even more so now. It was like the woman was trying to grasp at something right in front of her, but her hands just slipped right through it. "No…" she shook her head. "I'm sorry… I don't know why I linked that name with you… It just… came to me…?"
It seemed highly possible that she was not Ylissean then. Granted, just about everything about her already suggested she wasn't Ylissean. The woman looked down at her hands, surprised by the blood coated on her fingers. With a glint of fear in her eyes, she looked more like a frightened child than a young woman.
"I see…" Chrom said thoughtfully. This was odd, but there were other things to worry about at the moment. "Might I ask for your name, then?"
"Y-Yes of course," said the woman. She lowered her arms to hide her bloodied hands with the long sleeves of her coat. "I'm… uh…"
She was silent for a few more seconds before her fist balled up in front of her mouth, the blood on her hand that had once frightened her was now no longer a concern. Her eyes were wide; she was desperately searching for something to hold onto. Anything. But there was nothing for her to grasp. "You don't know your name?" Chrom asked, furrowing his brow.
The woman tried to hide herself in her collar. 'What's your name,' was the one question anyone should have been able to answer, but for some reason she couldn't. The woman looked so lost and helpless in that moment, Chrom's sympathies went out to her. "But it's your own name," Lissa gasped, green eyes widening as she spoke, "everyone has one, right?"
"Where am I exactly?" the woman asked. "Nothing feels familiar."
"Oh! It's probably amnesia!" Lissa said in a hushed tone, as though the woman couldn't hear her. Odds were she could. "Maybe she fell off her horse."
"Or it's a load of pegasus dung," Frederick announced. He held a hard glare at the woman. "You mean to tell me this woman remembers milords name, but not her own."
"I know how this looks," the woman said. She swayed from left to right, while she hugged herself with one arm. "But I promise, I'm not lying."
"Forgive me, ma'am, if I find your words ring hollow," Frederick said. His cold gaze held upon the woman, but his words were firm and fair. "Your whole situation, and the way you present yourself reeks of suspicion."
"Frederick!" Lissa snapped.
"Milady, please take a step back and think about all of this," Frederick said. He gestured to the woman. "We find an unknown, bloodstained woman in Plegian garb, with the Grimleal's emblem on her hand. She claims to know milord's name, but not her own? I'm afraid we cannot simply ignore this."
"And if it's true Frederick?" Chrom countered. "We cannot leave her alone and confused. What kind of Shepherds would we be otherwise?"
Frederick quickly glanced back at the woman. She was biting the inside of her cheek, and her brow was furrowed. If this woman an actress she played the part of the fool spectacularly well. "All the same, milord," he said after a pregnant pause, "we must emphasize caution."
Chrom turned his attention back to the woman. She was now trying to rub the blood off her hands, she was either oblivious to the stuff on her face or she simply chose to ignore it. However, the woman did not pay the mark on her hand any mind, completely unaware of what it meant, nor did she realize the significance behind her robes. "We'll sort this out when we get to Southtown," he decided. "It's not that far from here."
The woman's eyes snapped open in panic. "Wait a moment," she said, her hands balled up together in front of her chest, "don't I have a say in all this?"
"Peace, friend," Chrom said with a slight chuckle, "I promise we'll hear all you have to say back in town."
The woman was hesitant as Frederick lead the others back down the road. Perhaps she should run, perhaps they had wicked things planed for her. Or, maybe they could help her, maybe she could find her family in this Southtown. What could she really do if she did not go with them.
In the end, the woman followed them. She tried to make herself small, to make herself invisible as she pondered her fate. What would she do if she could not remember herself? She could not expect these strangers to care for her, that is assuming they did not have anything horrid in store for her. But what if they did? What if they planed on selling her to a brothel? Oh, gods what was to become of her?
"What will you do with me?" the woman asked, stopping in her tracks. She couldn't stand the silence that fell upon the group, nor could she stand the suspense. "A-am I to be your prisoner?"
Chrom chuckled at this, prompting a blush on the woman's cheeks. "You'll be free to go once we establish that you're no enemy of Ylisse," he explained.
"Ylisse? Is that where we are?"
"Yes. This land is known as the Haildom of Ylisse. Our ruler is the Exalt, Emmeryn," said Chrom. "Is none of this familiar?"
The woman shook her head. "Well, don't push it," Lissa advised, "I'm sure it'll come to you in time."
The woman bit her inner cheek and nodded. As far as Chrom could tell she did not seem to be all that convinced. He decided that it was understandable. This whole experience had to be overwhelming. Chrom could not begin to imagine what was going through the woman's head that very moment.
For all any of them knew she was doing all she could to avoid breaking down right then and there.
"I suppose proper introductions are in order," said Chrom. "My name is Chrom - but then, you already knew that. The delicate one here is my little sister, Lissa."
"I am not delicate!" Lissa snapped, pounding her older brother on the arm with her fists. When she was finished, she shoved him aside. "Ignore my brother, please. He can be a bit thick at times."
"And the perpetually paranoid one is Frederick the Wary," Chrom continued.
"A title I shall wear with pride," Frederick replied with a fake smile. This sort of teasing was nothing new to him, and he fully expected more in the years to come. "Gods forbid one of us keeps an appropriate level of caution." He turned to face the woman with a calmer expression compared to the judgmental one he wore earlier. "I have every wish to trust you, stranger, but my station mandates otherwise."
The woman nodded. "I understand, sir," she said, "I would do no less in your position." The woman paused, staring off into the distance for a moment; she blinked. "Anali."
"Beg pardon?" Chrom asked studying the woman.
"My name," the woman said with a smile that was beginning to brighten by the second, "it's Anali. So strange, it just came to me."
"Anali…" Chrom repeated gripping his chin. There was something pleasant about it, however it certainly wasn't commonplace in Ylisse. "Sounds foreign."
"Oh! Maybe you're from Valm!" Lissa suggested in spite of Anali's blindingly obvious Plegian traits.
"Milord!" Frederick exclaimed.
In unison Chrom and Lissa turned to the direction of Southtown. A tall pillar of black smoke billowed out from the town. The scent of burnt wood was carried by the wind with the cries from the village. "Damn it!" Chrom shot out. "Brigands, no doubt. Frederick, Lissa, quick!"
"What about her?" Frederick asked gesturing to Anali.
"Unless she's on fire, she can wait!"
"Aptly put, milord."
Lissa hurried to Frederick's mare and pulled out her staff from the saddle bag. Frederick mounted the horse before he pulled the blonde girl up behind him. The mare tore off into a gallop with Chrom already ahead of them.
"B-but…" Anali said wearily. She held her hand out in a futile attempt to stop them, but they were already gone.
The town was in shambles. Homes and shops were either on fire or torn to bits, civilians blocked their doors, and brigands pillaged anyone they could. A few of Southtown's men had already taken up arms in retaliation with varying degrees of success.
A woman knelt on the ground, holding her husband close to her. The fool tried to fight back against one of the bandits but he was quickly, and brutally struck down. Now, cradling him close to her the woman was not sure if she should be praising him for bravery, or condemning him for sheer stupidity. She felt a strong, rough hand grab her from the back of her shirt collar, another hand forced her husband out of her arms.
The bandit dragged her back with one arm around her waist. The woman cried out nearly hysteric as she reached her hands out for the dying man on the ground. She knew full well what her fate had for her now, but could this man not wait until her husband was gone? Give her that at least. He needed someone with him, he needed her with him. She needed to be with him!
Blood suddenly splattered onto the woman's back; she froze, stunned and afraid to look behind her. The bandit's grip on her lessened, and he fell over. Surprised, the woman took a chance and looked over her shoulder to find Chrom sliding his blade, the Falchion, back onto it's sheath. "Are you alright?" he asked.
"Yes," the woman breathed out wiping the tears from her eyes. "Thank you, milord."
Lissa knelt down beside the woman's husband, muttering something under her breath. She tore her eyes off the man and looked up at his wife. "Your husband will be fine," she said. "Can you please spread the word that I'm caring for the wounded, and that I will need as much help as possible."
The woman nodded and went into the nearest shop that had yet to be plundered. "I've got things taken care of here, Chrom," Lissa said, looking up from the man. "Be careful."
He gave her a brief nod. "You too."
Chrom did what he could to get civilians out of their burning homes. Some, namely those who lived on higher floors, tended to be trapped by burning debris. With help from the men of the house they were able to get their loved ones out safely.
The blue haired man guided the old woman into the arms of her son. The poor woman was stuck upstairs as the home burned away. Her young grandsons sobbed into the hem of her skirt, the whole experience must have been terrible for them, with or without the risk of their grandmother dying horribly. The woman ignored the burns to her hands and hugged the children close to her whispering comforting words into their ears.
The family slowly filed away, the father carried his two boys, while his wife lead the old woman by the shoulders. The heart of the town was near-disserted, save from a few of the bandits, pillaging homes, and taking what they could.
Chrom's breath was caught in his throat when he felt something barrel into him at full force. He was thrown back a few inches before he and his attacker landed on the cobblestone. Chrom prompted himself up by one arm and looked over his shoulder with the full intention to retaliate against his attacker. He caught himself as soon as he saw the white hair and the purple eyes on their coat sleeves. With one hand Anali pushed her hair out of her eyes. She was panting, sweat beaded down her brow; she had herself prompted up with one arm. Something in her arm caught Chrom's eye, it was a yellow book with gold markings on the cover. Was that a magic tome?
A metallic clang caught Chrom's attention. By Anali's feet an axe landed on the ground. Chrom would have been it's intended target had Anali not acted. Immediately Anali got onto her knees, opened her tome, and tossed her free hand in the direction of the axe-wielding bandit. Orange-yellow ruins circled around her hand, and before the bandit could act, volts of electricity struck the man in the chest, hurtling him onto the ground.
Anali snapped her tome closed, she glanced at Chrom. "Sorry," she said, still trying to catch her breath, "there wasn't really any time for tact…"
"Given what could have been, I won't complain much," Chrom said, getting back up. Helping Anali onto her feet he eyed the yellow book she held close to her chest. "You can use magic?"
"Apparently," said Anali. She lifted her cloak, revealing a sword and money pouch secured at her side. "Guess this thing has a few surprises in it."
Chrom grinned; he was almost tempted to correct Anali, it certainly wasn't her cloak that had a few surprises in it. Instead, he grabbed Anali by the arm, and pulled her into his chest. She was about to shout harsh words at him, until Chrom held his sword out in front of them, protecting them both from a swordsman's attack.
The sword reflected off Falchion, and Chrom immediately sprinted to the brigand, Anali followed close behind still clutching onto her tome. The blue haired man slashed his sword against the ruffian who was then blown back by Anali's Thunder spell. "They're not that strong," Anali said, hugging her tome close to her. "Their armor is fairly weak, so, really, they should go down with one good hit in the back or mid-section."
Furrowing his brow Chrom looked straight at Anali. "You got all that with one look?" he asked her.
The white haired woman shrugged. "Isn't it obvious?"
"Not to me, it isn't."
Anali hugged her tome tighter and tried to hide under her collar again. She did not quite understand why Chrom was so intrigued by this information. It was not as though Anali did something that was so spectacular. Anyone could have figured it out.
It was just as Anali had said. These bandits were not well armed, nor did they have the strength to match Chrom and Frederick. What's more is that there were so few of them. Had they started out as such, or did the villagers actually succeed in slaying a few?
The pair found Frederick, who had successfully struck down several bandits with a swift movement from his lance. Chrom explained Anali's observation to him, but he seemed hesitant to take any advice from her. She understood why he was a little hostile towards her, but now was not the time to argue her case. "These guys seem to be armatures," said Anali "if we can find the leader, and take him out, the others will probably surrender or flea for their lives. But with that said, I'd be willing to bet that their leader is the strongest."
Chrom crossed his arms over his chest. That did make a little sense, if they were really as weak as Anali said, then they probably were not all that experienced. And, with that in mind, it would be safe to say that their leader was the only contender amongst these bandits. The problem was that he was most likely hiding behind his men. Cowardice, no doubt
The three of them continued through the town, cutting down bandits who attacked, dwindling their numbers. The deeper they got into the town, the less bandits they came across. And then they made their way to the church courtyard.
Sure enough, the bands leader had set up a sort of base there. And, sure enough, he hid behind his men. The townsmen fought against them as best as they could, but they were inexperienced, they were struck down like tall grass in the way.
The man Anali had to presume was their leader did have a muscular built to him, with a large axe in his possession. There were three other's in his band, two carrying axes and one wielding a like green tome. Anali motioned at herself and Chrom, then at the three mooks. She gestured at the band leader, then to Frederick, asking him if he could handle the guy. When both Frederick and Chrom gave Anali a sign of approval the white haired woman tried to motion for them to hit them all at once. But her way to convey this was to have the tips of her fingers meet with the open palm on her opposite hand. This looked more like a wave crashing into shore.
Seeing the men's confusion Anali mouthed slowly, 'All at once.' She pointed at Frederick, then held up five fingers. 'Give us five seconds.'
Taking in a deep breath, Anali opened her tome, keeping it balanced it in one hand. She followed close behind Chrom as they ran out into the open. He clashed blades with one of the brutes. The second axe-wielding man swung at Chrom, he was blown to the side by Anali's Thunder spell. She, herself, was suddenly blown off her feet. The bandit's mage had cast a Wind spell at her.
A shrill whinny echoed as Frederick road out into the open on his mare. The leader started shouting for his subordinates to counter attack, now. The bandit's mage snapped open his tome. Gritting her teeth, Anali quickly got onto her knees and hugged her open tome close to her. Electricity formed in her free hand; she got onto her feet and stepped forward, driving the volt into the mage's side. The man gasped before he fell to the ground, bleeding out in front of her.
Chrom fought off against the axe-welding mook with fluid movements, let it be blocking with his blade, or dodging the swinging axe. However, with both of them attacking him at once, it was difficult for Chrom to land a blow on either of them. Anali grabbed the fallen mage's Wind tome, and opened it. The orange ruins circled around her hand as the spell knocked the ruffian off his feet, and his axe a few yards away from him.
Quickly, Chrom slashed the man in the side, he cried out as blood seeped out of the fresh wound. The man was about to shout curses at Chrom, but Chrom drove the blade into the mans abdomen. The mans eyes rolled back into his head as he slumped over.
"Damn you!" the remaining bandit shouted. He got onto his knees and reached for his axe, but he would never grab it.
Chrom drove his sword into the man; pulling it back out, the man collapsed. One left. A cry caught both of their attentions, Frederick had drove his lance all the way through the leader's chest. Readjusting his grip on the weapon, Frederick pulled it out effortlessly. The leader dropped dead; it was over.
The town was safe.
The fires across town were successfully put out. Some of the homes and shops were saved with minor damage, but others were not as fortunate. The townsfolk had already gotten together, devising restoration plans; the injured were cared for by a medic team lead by Lissa. She all but demanded to know what happened, and when Anali had showed up. "Wow, Anali!" Lissa gushed when Chrom had finished recounting events. "Sounds like you were really on top of things."
"You're certainly no helpless victim," Chrom agreed, "that much is for sure. The Shepherds could use someone like you."
"Oh, yeah!" Lissa agreed. "Anali would fit in perfectly!"
"Wait…" the woman said weakly, "don't I get a say in this?"
The siblings simply stared at her. Had she just said something wrong? Had she insulted them? "Of course you do," Chrom said kindly, "it's not forced upon you. But, the Shepherds would welcome someone of your tactical talents."
Anali cocked a brow in confusion. All three of them, Chrom, Frederick, and Lissa, had mentioned the 'Shepherds' several times. But the first thing that Anali imagined was, naturally, the three of them herding sheep. However, she realized fairly quick that that wasn't what Chrom and the others did. The armor and weapons sort of tipped her off. But Anali had come to the conclusion that they were something like the local authorities or at least something akin to that.
With that in mind, Anali started second, third, and fourth guessing the offer. How could she with no past and no idea of where she was or what was going on, fit in with this group? Realizing this, Anali rubbed one arm. "I don't know…"
"I don't need an answer right away, but I would like one," Chrom said, placing a hand on her shoulder. "But I do believe we could all benefit from your abilities.
"Milord," Frederick said, dismounting his horse, "did you notice? The brigands spoke with a Plegian accent."
"Plegian?" Anali repeated. That was the second word that kept popping up that day. "What's that?"
Frederick peered at Anali; she felt like he was trying to bear a hole right through her chest with one glare alone. As though she would crack and spill her guts under enough pressure. "Plegia is Ylisse's western neighbor," Chrom explained, "they send small bands into out territory, hoping to instigate war."
"And it's the poor townsfolk who suffer most from it," Lissa said, hugging herself.
Casting her eyes downward, Anali peered at the mark on the back of her hand; the mark Frederick identified as Plegian. "And you believe I could have been one of these instigators," she said eyeing Frederick.
"It is nothing against you personally," said Frederick. He outstretched one arm, gesturing to Southtown. "But you've seen the damage they are capable of."
Anali just nodded. "Your skepticism is understandable, and justified."
She knew full well that her story was ridiculous. Anali knew how this must have looked from an outsiders perspective. Of course anyone dressed in foreign garb, and a mark on her hand would be deemed suspicious. Who in there right mind wouldn't find it all odd? "But I promise," Anali looked back up, "none of this holds any resonance with me."
"Frederick, she fought to save Ylissean lives," Chrom said, keeping his sight on the brown haired man "and may have very well saved mine, or at least prevented serious injury. My heart says that's enough."
"And your mind, milord?" Frederick countered. "Will you not heed it's counsel as well?"
"Anali is able to size up enemies with one look, and she came up with the plan that won us the day, we could use someone of her talents. And I believe her story, as odd as it might be."
"As do I!" Lissa spoke up with a hand in the air. "Frederick, Anali had plenty of opportunities and the skill to have done something by now if she was against us."
"All the same," sighed Frederick, "I would prefer to approach this with caution."
Anali bit the inside of her cheek, she felt a little disheartened. She utterly loathed her situation and really began to wonder if joining the Shepherds really would be good for all involved. While Frederick had not been violent towards her for her possible origins, there was no guarantee everyone would be like that. Someone could take one look at the mark and turn violent on her in two seconds flat. The last thing Anali wanted was the cause problems for the kind people who found her.
The restorations took up what was left of the day. Anali did what she could to help rebuild, but it was pretty clear that it would take a few days, or even a few more weeks to fully complete the restoration. Her hands felt sore and tender after clearing sites, lugging timber around, and holding beams into place. All the while, she thought about Chrom's offer while she worked and how joining the Shepherds could be beneficial.
Anali had a fairly decent idea of what they did, so she knew it would have been a noble cause, if nothing else. On one hand, Anali could see more of the country, so maybe she might have a better chance at finding someone who knew her before all of this. And perhaps it could give her a roof over her head while she figured herself out.
When things calmed down a bit, Anali looked through everything on her person. There was a large pocket inside her cloak that carried her Thunder tome. That was good to know. She had on a belt that carried a bronze sword in it's sheath. A sword Anali was fairly certain she had no idea how to use, even before she lost her memory. With the tome using magic just sort of came to her. One look at the sword… and Anali got nothing like that. She did not even know how to hold it properly, let alone how to use it. And on the opposite side of her sword, was a pouch with a single golden Sun, fifteen silver Moons, and two copper Stars.
There was very little on her to tell Anali just who she was before she woke up. From these items alone, Anali could tell that she had some skill in magic, carried a sword but didn't know how to use it, and perhaps liked to read. It made Anali sound like she was a traveler of sorts, or maybe even a nomad, but a very ill-prepared one.
No memories of herself, all the reason in the world for distrust, Chrom's offer. It was really beginning to become difficult for Anali to think straight.
With her back leaned against the wall of an unharmed building, Anali ran her hands through her hair. The blood was beginning to rub off, though there was still plenty under her fingernails. She just did not know what to do. "I hope you've been thinking about my offer," Chrom walked up to her. He leaned his back against the wall beside Anali.
Sighing, the woman pushed her bangs back. She could feel the ash and grease clinging to her roots. "I keep going in circles," she admitted.
"As I've said before, I won't force you into anything," he assured her.
"I know… But will everyone really be okay with this?" Anali asked gesturing to herself. "Will everyone, in the Shepherds, out of them, be okay with a woman who's most likely Plegian amongst their numbers? Someone who's most likely from the same country trying to start a war?"
Chrom looked away from the woman he had found just a few hours ago. Of course, it would be wishful thinking to believe that no one would have a problem with this. There would be civilians who would have a problem, and it was possible that some of the Shepherds would have to warm up to the idea in time.
"Anali," Chrom said calmly, "I'd be lying if I said that no one would object to it. There would be problems. But I do believe that if we want peace between our two countries, someone needs to take the first step, no matter how small."
"I'll… I'll take that into consideration…"
Chrom sighed. In the end it was her decision. He could not, and would not force anything upon her. "Come on," he clapped her on the shoulder, "we're about to head off."
"Where are we going?" asked Anali.
"Ylisstol," Chrom explained. "The capital city."
Night had fallen before they ever made it to Ylisstol, much to Lissa's dismay. While the innkeeper in Southtown offered them stay for the night, Chrom and Frederick declined. Lissa complained, pointing out that it would be dark soon. And she was right. "Told you!" Lissa complained loudly swatting at bugs. "It's already dark. I can hardly see two inches in front of my nose. And the bugs are already out!"
"It's not that bad," Anali said swatting a few bugs away from her face with a sour expression.
"'Not that bad?'" Lissa repeated, she begin thrashing about, her arms were held close to her chest. "The disgusting, noisy bugs that buzz around, crawl all over, and bite are 'not that bad?' Eh! No thank you!"
"Come on now, Lissa," Chrom chided playfully, "hardship builds character."
"Yeah, well between this and walking earlier I think I've built up quite enough character for one day."
A loud gurgling sound rumbled from Anali's belly. All eyes turned to her; the woman's expression dropped as a blush appeared on her face. Giggling weakly, Anali placed one hand on her stomach, trying, and failing to silence it. Embarrassed, she rubbed the back of her neck with the other hand. "I suppose some hunting and gathering is in order," Frederick teased with a smirk. He peered back at the group a hand. "Now, who wants to clear the campsite?"
Lissa puffed her cheeks and pouted. "Come on, Lissa," Anali said, placing a hand on her shoulder, "I'll help clear the campsite out."
"Fine…" moaned Lissa.
Frederick marked the campsite and the girls cleared out the area while Frederick hunted, and Chrom got firewood. Anali mostly followed Lissa's instructions as she really didn't know what she was doing. It just told Anali that she had probably never been camping before.
They both had to cringe when Frederick returned with a couple of dead rabbits, though Anali found it in her to just grin in bare it. She helped Chrom skin the animals while Frederick made the fire. Anali lost track of the skins, though she assumed either Chrom or Frederick had them stowed away somewhere. They were in pretty good condition and could have made a fine pillow.
The roar of the fire and scent of cooking meat was enough to drive Anali crazy with hunger. "Is it a wise idea to have a fire going like this while it's dark out?" she asked. "It seems like an open invitation for bandits or wild animals."
"You say that after seeing how we handled brigand's in Southtown?" Chrom countered. "I would think it's safe to assume we'll be fine."
Anali's head bobbed from left to right, an odd nod of agreement. Another growl rumbled from her stomach.
Her mouth was watering something fierce by the time the meat was deemed edible. Anali may as well have been replaced with a fierce predator once she sunk her teeth into it. Chrom tore off a bit of rabbit for himself when he looked up at Lissa. His sister had hardly touched it. "What's wrong, Lissa?" he asked. "Dig in."
"Think I'll pass," said Lissa. She peered over at Frederick, who had hardly eaten anything either. "Couldn't you have speared us something people normally eat for once? I can't eat something so cute and soft I just want to cuddle it! Isn't that right, Anali?" No response. "Anali?"
There where a few grunts and slurps coming from Anali who devoured her meat with vigor. Her face suddenly paled, her eyes widened as she started to beat her fist against her chest. Chrom almost reached out for Anali when she started to take a few deep breaths in. She caught her breath, and looked up at the three with a sheepish grin.
Lissa sighed. "I guess a person would enjoy just about anything after not eating for days…"
"Just eat it, Lissa," said Chrom, "meat is meat."
"How could you make me eat something as cute as a bunny?!" the blonde girl exclaimed.
"Every experience makes us stronger, milady," chided Frederick. "Even those we don't enjoy."
"Really?" Lissa countered with a raised eyebrow. "Is that why I don't see you eating anything, Frederick?"
"I had a large lunch, milady," Frederick replied coolly.
"Fine," sighed Chrom. He waved his hand once. "Go without anything tonight. Just don't complain about an empty stomach in the morning."
"Fine by me," Lissa said, folding her hands into her lap. A sickening gurgle came from Anali's belly. The woman held her stomach, fighting the urge to throw up. "But, from where I stand, it's not my stomach you should be worrying about in the morning."
Authors Note: W00T!
Okay, before we end here, I'd like for everyone to know, that I've got a writing blog on Tumblr, where I will be more than willing to answer any question (provided there's no risk of spoilers) there regarding any of my fan fictions (I'm hoping to have a second new story up within a few days to a few weeks). The URL is sammiewritesstuff, there's a link on my homepage. When I've got thing's organized there, you will eventually find a few tidbits, headcanons, and other goodies, so, feel free to drop by. And yes, you can ask anonymously.