DISCLAIMER: FIRE EMBLEM AND ITS CHARACTERS BELONG TO NINTENDO.
Last Edited 1/22/15, credits to 'Ventrust Westwind'.
Of Sacred Blood 1
A week before the campaign against Valm.
"You! H-how are you d-doing this?" said a young man, wincing as his vision began to blur slightly.
"Why is that you close your heart to him?" says a taller, thinner man, with piercing slits of eyes, clad in a familiar looking robe.
"W-what do you mean.."
"Can it be you have truly forgotten?"
"Forgotten what!? G-get.. out.. Get out my head! UGHH.." a strange pressure began to squeeze inside the young man's head.
The taller man softly smiled "Heh, you have grown quite arrogant boy. It appears I have failed you if you have got the nerve to take that tone… with your own father."
"…What?" A million different thoughts raced through his head. It was ludicrous to even begin to think that... But at the same time, who was he to deny the claim outright? After all, he did only have about 2 and a half years worth of actual memory to serve him at this point. As much as he wanted to deny it, he was afraid. Afraid of how much sense it made. His plegian coat, his adept skills at magic, and 'him'. The Hierophant. The one that could only be described as his spitting image. It was no coincidence that the man held such uncanny resemblance to him.
The taller man smiled once again, knowing just how vulnerable the young tactician was at the moment. "Heh, stop resisting it boy. The power is yours if you would only open your eyes. Come now, search deep and find that this is your destiny."
The pressure in his head began growing.
"Do you not see? Do you not see that your rightful place is not with this band of fools, but at my side? Give yourself to Grima! Those who wish to serve Naga are doomed and are all but walking to their own deaths. They claim to be your friends, child, but they are but an obstacle in the way of you achieving true greatness… Heh heh.."
The young man slowly found himself grabbing his head, doubling over. The pressure in his head was becoming unbearable. "No! Shut up! Just… go! Get out.. of my.. he-"
The tall man quickly threw a glance to the source of the voice, annoyance plastered on his face, "Tchh, that fool of a prince. No matter, the seeds have already been sown. It will only be a matter of time before you realize. And that, boy, is the only thing left in the way... Time..."
With that, the voice in Robin's head began to fade, along with the image of the man.
The tactician slowly turned and was met with a blue-haired man running up the hill.
"Good lords, Robin, you're a mess! I heard you yelling. Are you all right?" said Chrom with a worried look on his face.
The pain had subsided rather abruptly after the figure disappeared, but Robin's heart was still pounding from the encounter.
"I'm fine… It's fine... I'm alright… " He said in between breaths.
"Fine's a rather poor choice of words given how you're looking right now. What happened?"
Robin paused for a bit, gathering his thoughts and calming himself down.
He looked up to meet Chrom in the eyes.
"Chrom. Validar came to me."
Chrom looked around suspiciously, giving the area a quick survey. They were all alone atop the hill. Any brush or trees one could hide behind were hundreds of meters away. Too far for anyone to have escaped to in such a short time.
"What do you mean? You were the only one up here."
"He came to me in my mind, a mental projection of sorts."
Chrom shot Robin another worried look, before he began, "Your mind?! Well what did h-"
"He said I was his son". Both fell silent for a moment, Chrom clearly shocked at the news.
"Is.. is this true?"
"I don't know, but I also don't know if it's false. It disturbs me to say, but I felt a sort of strange connection between us two. And besides, as odd as it sounds, it would explain a great deal about the situation I'm in…" said Robin softly as he gazed towards the darkness of the distant woods.
Chrom rubbed his forehead, trying to take it all in. "That damned hierophant doppelganger… Could he be his son as well? Your twin maybe?"
"I'm not sure, but I feel as if I'm not really too eager to find out about my past anymore.." said Robin softly. Then the news hit him at once. He began to panic."I mean me? The son of that Validar? For gods' sake Chrom, this might've been the man that tried to kill your... And what's this about Grima!? I do-"
"Hey! Snap out of it!" boomed Chrom, as he shook Robin's shoulder with his hand. "I don't care if Validar's your father or not, and I'm confident I speak for every Shepherd when I say this. You've proven yourself countless times, so have some faith in yourself! Before you're anyone's son, you are yourself. Remember that!"
Robin smiled softly, hope returning to his eyes. It was true, he was his own person. Despite whatever plans the world had in store for him, ultimately it was him that would choose how to live. He would not let this pull him down. Not after all he'd gone through with them. Son of Validar or not, the Shepherds would always be family to him. He still felt like this affair needed sorting out, but they had bigger problems to deal with.
"Yeah, you're right. I-I don't know what came over me. I am Robin, the tactician of the Shepherds. That's who I choose to be. Thank you, Chrom."
Chrom chuckled in relief, giving Robin a pat on the back,"No problem friend. All of us are in this together, we've got each other's backs. You're lucky I was the only one to see this little episode of yours though. Haha, why, if everyone at camp saw our tactician acting the way you did, sh-"
The two frantically spun around to find Frederick rushing uphill on horse.
"Risen! A group of risen have encircled the camp!" said Frederick, hand gripping his lance, clearly ready for battle.
"Risen!? How did this happen? Our sentries.. No.." Chrom said with a panicked expression on his face, disappointed in himself for allowing the company to be caught off guard.
"It's not your fault milord, these Risen are… different from what we've seen so far."
"Different? How so?" asked Robin with an alarmed yet intrigued look on his face.
"They appear to have some form of 'organization' if that's what you could call it. They made a rather stealthy approach on us. But for Risen to act in such a way, to me is unheard of," said Frederick. His eyes squinted as he continued, as if unsure of what he would say next was plausible, "It's as if they're learning from us, or being lead by someone.."
"It's him!" Chrom interjected.
Robin and Frederick were taken aback by the outburst.
"Damn him! It had to be Validar, I'm sure of it. Why else would he ask to meet us at such a location. Frederick, rally everyone in camp able to take up arms. Tell them we fight for our lives."
"Right away", with a small bow, Frederick sped back to camp.
"Let's get going too, Chrom. If we're going to stop Walhart, we Shepherds can't afford to get killed here of all places now can we?" said Robin smirking, determination burning in his eyes.
Chrom nodded in agreement, mirroring the smirk,"Right, I'll be counting on you."
"You know it."
With that, the two ran back to camp.
The Shepherds had split into three groups consisting of their main force, an aerial division and a team tasked with luring the Risen.
The team in charge of luring the enemy consisted of the more agile Shepherds, such as Lon'qu, Gaius, Robin and Anna. Anna and Gaius' lives of thievery and knack for landing themselves in gods know what sticky and unsavory situations gave them the agility to evade most if not all attacks by the Risen. The two were unmatched in terms of speed among the shepherds, but were closely followed by the nimble swordsman Lon'qu, and Robin, who he had been training in the art of the myrmidon for the last 2 years.
Although the 4 of them were a force to be reckoned with, it was foolish to think that they alone could fend off the entire Risen horde.
Robin's plan was not to engage the Risen with the squad, but rather to be dropped off via fliers into the midst of the the enemy forces to attract their attention, then lead the horde to the bridge while evading the mob and cutting down what they could on the way back.
As soon as a majority of the Risen had followed the small group to the large bridge atop the valley, Chrom signaled the main force of the Shepherds on both sides of the valley to rush from out of the woods onto both ends, effectively trapping most of the Risen on the bridge. With the entrances blocked off, the Shepherds stood their ground to contain the enemy, fighting off any Risen that tried to escape.
The small squad still on the bridge was then extracted by the Pegasus riders, Sumia and Cordelia. With only the Risen left on the bridge, Robin gave the order to spring their trap into action.
The Pegasus Riders returned, along with Nowi in Dragon form, Cherche and Minerva. This time they carried with them the Shepherd's mages, Miriel, Ricken, Tharja, and the newly recruited, but oddly enthusiastic Henry.
With the mages airborne along the side of the bridge, they prepared their Elwind Tomes. As soon as Robin fired an Elfire into the sky from the side of the cliffs, giving the signal to commence, the mages fired. Countless, powerful blasts of wind swept through the bridge. The fliers covered the entire length of the bridge, ensuring the mages thoroughly blew all the remaining Risen off and down into the deep valley below.
A layer of black fog just barely visible at the bottom of the abyss signified that the fall did its job. All that was left was to take care of any remaining Risen that didn't make it onto the bridge in time for the trap.
Needless to say, the enemy met a swift end.
"And that's why they call me Teach!" said Vaike, gloating as he spun his axe around.
Maribelle and Sully rolled their eyes, while Donnel was in awe of Vaike, genuinely inspired by the man's heroics.
"Tchh, if you call taking down only 10 Risen impressive, then sure." said the usually stoic Lon'qu, who wore a playful smirk.
"Hahah! What have we got here?" started Vaike towards Lon'qu, "Is the pupil really dissing Ol' Teach? Wait a second, wasn't your group in charge of… hmmm.. well... running away?!" Vaike finished with a grin on his face.
Not soon after, Vaike and Lon'qu were engaged in a rather competitive argument regarding who had 'won' the battle. That was until Chrom cleared his throat, then demanded the two knock it off. Unfortunately, by then the other members of the group started joining in on the little competition leading to most of the Shepherds bickering to one another. The debate quickly escalated from who contributed the most, to the point where members began outright mocking one another.
Robin should have seen it coming. Everyone was a bit too professional after the repelled invasion at Port Ferox. There was only so much people could take before they needed to vent. It seems that news of some 'Conqueror' taking away their homes was just enough to set them off. Despite the chaos, Robin was glad that they decided to let it out here, rather than in the midst of battle.
"Nyahaha. Say you're pretty good for some weirdo who prances around in her underwear! We Plegians sure are a bunch of characters!" laughed the new recruit Henry.
"...Thank you. By the way, how to do you feel about frogs..." responded the clearly annoyed dark sorceress, who seemed to be plotting a lot more than small talk.
Elsewhere, "I'll have you know that my Minerva is among the finest of all wyverns!" said Cherche proudly.
Nowi pumped a fist in the air as if she had sealed victory, "That's it! You said so yourself! Heh, she's a 'wyvern', not a real 'dragon'. I'm clearly her superior! I'm the only dragon this army needs! Haha!" she taunted, as Cherche began to rebuttal with the fact that girl was not a 'real dragon' herself.
On the far side of the bridge, "And you! Round, metal man! We are supposed to work as pair, yet you go off disappearing just as Gregor was about to send walking corpses crying to mothers! Gregor proposes you hand over title, and that Gregor is one that gets called '"Kill'em" now." cried Gregor as he went on about cowardice on the battlefield.
"Umm.. I never left... and it's Kellam... And it's not a title, it's my name.."
To the right, it seemed that Ol' Teach, one of the instigators of the fiasco, was receiving quite the lecture himself. "And what is this 'tenure' you're always blathering about!? I doubt a buffoon such as yourself has ever even seen the insides of any established educational facility," huffed Maribelle.
"Let alone have read a book", Miriel curtly added, a look of disapproval on her face.
Beside her, Olivia looked as if she had something she really wanted to add to their comments, but couldn't muster the courage to say it. Unfortunately for her, Lissa caught wind of this and began snorting in laughter at the red faced dancer.
It seemed that the Exalt was not spared from the carnage, as he could be seen arguing with Frederick about his smothering behavior. "I assure you milord, I've only your best interests in mind."
"Yes Frederick, and I wholeheartedly thank you for your services, but the line must be drawn somewhere."
"I understand how it might upset you, bu-"
"How about that time you put up the posters of me in everyone's tent? Was that in my best interests?! I was naked save for a sword and scale!"
"Milord, that was merel-"
"W-wait! Is that what Robin's always going on about?! Time to to 'tip the scales'?! Gods Frederick, how many people are in on this joke!?" moaned Chrom as he dared to even think of how the public really saw their Exalt.
The Shepherds really were like one big family. A very idiotic one at that.
After deciding that enough steam had been blown, Robin spoke up,"Hey! Hey! Settle down everyone!" he said while working his way through the circle. The commotion began to die down as their tactician called for their attention.
"Now, all of you did an excellent job out there." Everyone stopped and listened to what he had to say.
"First off, it was thanks to the distraction squad that the plan was able to be set into motion in the first place," Gaius and Lon'qu shot a smug look, while Anna gave a little wink towards the 'main force'.
"But it would have fallen apart if the rest of you didn't hold them down at the bridge," he continued. With that, Vaike, Sully, Donnel and the others nodded in agreement, satisfied with their acknowledgement.
"Finally, it's because of the mages and fliers that we were able to finish them off." Robin said with a smile on his face, praising everyone's efforts equally.
The members of the shepherds began laughing and cheered in agreement, finally ending the uproar.
"Haha, that's more like it." said Robin, taking in the sight of the other Shepherds celebrating their victory together.
Compared to everyone else, Robin had always been the voice of reason among them. Sure he enjoyed his share of fun and horseplay, but as their tactician and de facto co-leader of the Shepherds, it was necessary at times for him to put on a serious face and straighten out the group, all the while keeping morale high. With a job as important as his, he had to be able to keep a cool head in such situations.
However, it seems that Robin had deemed that this was not such a situation.
Then, with a smirk," And besides, if we want to talk achievements here, you'd all be goners if it wasn't for my genius tactics." said Robin proudly.
"Ahh screw you Bubbles."
Chrom slapped his forehead, "…you just couldn't resist…"
A few moments later, Robin was pelted by whatever small objects the other Shepherds were able to pick up.
"Gahh! H-hey! Come now! I-I was just messing around!"
Birds of a feather indeed.
By now, most of the Shepherds had already made their way back to camp, leaving only Chrom and Robin.
"Good job out there Robin, I mean it. All jokes aside, you really did save our hides back there," said Chrom patting Robin on the back. "Although it's not really like you to put yourself into such a risky situation like that with the distraction team and all. It may sound kind of harsh, but the you from the war in Plegia wouldn't have made it 10 feet! Finally decided to fight on the front lines for once?" said Chrom laughing.
"HA HA. That was 2 years ago Chrom. Besides, due to the momentary peace that your Majesty has graced upon us commoners, a war tactician really wasn't needed anywhere. And you can only run simulations in your head as practice for so long." Chrom cringed at his title.
"Alright, alright, I get it. So, that's why you decided to pick up the sword?"
"Yeah, remember when I'd leave the castle to go on trips every so often? I'd go to Regna Ferox to train with Lon'qu and Vaike"
"Even Vaike? Wow, and you kept this from me? Some friends you guys are…" said Chrom pretending to be hurt.
"Hah, well if you weren't so busy with your 'kingly' duties all the time, and actually spent some time with your pals, maybe we'd have time to train like before. Remember where you started Chrom! "
"Where I...started? I was born into the royal family, Robin."
"Ahh, yes... Fine, next time you need a sparring partner, I'm your guy. If not, send me to the chop block your Highness!", Robin said, eyes closed, hand over chest.
"Hahah fine, just shut up with the Exalt jokes already," said a laughing Chrom as he lightly punched the tactician on the shoulder. "Besides, I'd never think of doing that to you of all people. After all, I wouldn't want another war with Plegia to break out."
"Hm? What do you mean?"
"Oh you know. The off chance that sending you to the guillotine means that Yliss has just sent Plegia's crown prince to his death." Chrom laughed.
"Haha, you see? Now you know how I feel."
"Hah, yeah I guess. And so long as we're on the subject of war here, things wouldn't look so good for Ylisse if I were your enemy now would it? I did get awfully attached to my room back in your castle." Robin stated smugly.
Chrom rubbed the back of his head, "Geez, talk like that's how guys like this Walhart is born."
"Yeah haha." Robin laughed.
"Well, we best get back to camp now. Sumia's probably going to give me a tongue lashing because of this scrape I got on my forearm." Chrom stated glumly, dreading the upcoming meeting.
"Tis the life of a married man. Lucky you." Said Robin sarcastically
"Yeah, yeah, I've had enough of that sarca-"
A Risen wielding a Killing Edge had suddenly appeared before them in same effect as that of a Rescue Staff.
It jumped into the air and kicked Robin a few feet away.
"Chrom! Look out!" he called out from the floor.
Chrom grabbed for his Falchion, but the assailant had already lunged toward him, poised to strike.
At that moment, a young blue-haired woman jumped from out of the brush. Leaping in front of Chrom, a sword looking eerily similar to the Falchion in hand, she repelled the assailant's strike. She followed up with a swing, but merely grazed his arm. It seems it had no intention of sticking around for a fight. The Risen assassin growled and jumped back, disappearing in the same manner he had arrived.
'An assassination attempt?' Robin thought to himself as he dusted himself off. 'And by a Risen of all things! It even had the mind to retreat after failing.' Remembering Frederick's earlier comment about the Risen's suspicious behavior, he had come to the conclusion that the risen were indeed being controlled. In fact it was not the first time such a thing had occurred, Robin thought as he remembered the tragic deaths of Phila's squadron. Combined with the fact that Aversa had been involved with both incidents made Chrom's accusation against Validar quite solid at this point. 'Heh, crown prince of Plegia huh?' Robin thought to himself, sullenly entertaining the idea.
"Thank gods you're safe," she stated, sighing in relief.
Chrom still in shock, turned towards the blue haired woman," Marth? …you called me 'father'?"
Robin, who was standing a few steps behind the two, was too lost in thought to have heard the small exchange.
"Did I?" replied a flustered Marth. "Well, I… perhaps it's best if we speak in private.."
"…Perhaps it is," said Chrom, the shock refusing to leave his face.
To be continued...