AN: Sorry about the wait! I got caught up in writing SWTOR fanfics on my AO3 account. But I'm looking forward to picking up Fates in a few days so I've been getting back into the Fire Emblem spirit. :)

:: A Gift ::

His first memory was of fear and hatred. Small, fleshy creatures - humans, his senses hissed - surrounded him with pieces of misshapen metal they pointed threateningly at his eyes, wings, and throat.

"- just a wyvern, we can probably tame-"

"Do you see the size of that thing-"

"- where it came from, I know it wasn't here when we-"

Words flew back and forth over head, the humans talking as though he couldn't hear them even as they tensed at his awakening and watched him warily. But that had always been their problem, a voice whispered in the back of his mind, disembodied and somehow familiar. They see you, see us, as mere animals when it is they who are weak.

Kill them, said a second voice, different yet similar to the first that had spoken. Kill them all. Show the Divine how even a hatchling can easily annihilate the creatures they love so much.

It was a fair point, he thought as he watched the humans' conversation grow more and more heated. He was not a common animal to be cowed by whips and bought with food. He was a dragon and these humans, these things, were not worthy to stand before him. It was only logical that he cut out their legs so they couldn't stand at all.

The humans' screams grated annoyingly against his ears so he silenced them too. But then the air shuddered with an ancient power that dwarfed his own and a gargantuan... creature... rose from the horizon.

A great, horned head looked down at him with six glowing red eyes. Its mouth opened, revealing rows of razor sharp teeth, and it almost seemed to smile as its face slowly approached, pushed downwards by the twisting movements of a long, sinuous neck.

He shrank back and bared his teeth, not hopeful about his chances of survival but determined to go down fighting nonetheless. To his surprise the creature didn't attack at this clear sign of challenge, but rather paused and regarded him for a long moment. Then it threw back its head and laughed.

His wings clapped down over his ears and he instinctively curled into a tight ball, shuddering as that dark, mocking laugh rang out over the world. The laugh held more than a hint of rage and insanity, promising pain and revenge to some ancient enemy, but at the same time something inside him stirred at the sound. The sound was familiar. Safe. Somehow he just knew that this creature, whatever it was, would not hurt him.

"I apologize," a voice sounded from behind him. "Your existence was... unexpected."

He managed not to jump too badly, but his claws still scrabbled embarrassingly on the ground as he spun around to face the speaker. Physically it looked human, but unlike the humans from before this one had power - an ancient power almost identical to that of the creature still laughing above them.


"Hush," the 'human' said softly, and he fell silent almost without thinking. "I will explain, but before the curse awakens you must sleep."

A pallid hand reached out and settled gently on his head. Then there was only darkness.

When he next woke it was in a weak, fleshy, wingless body - a human body - that somehow felt as natural as his true form. With a groan he opened his eyes to find the 'human' - predator, his senses screamed; kin, his instincts whispered - looking down at him with a strange expression, both hands wrapped around one of his. There was something inside his trapped hand, something round and hard that dug painfully into his palm, but when he tried to shift his fingers the man's grip tightened until that grew painful as well.

He took a deep breath and forced himself to speak through unfamiliar vocal cords, wincing at the tremor in his voice.

"W-who... what are you?"

"I am Grima," the 'human' said, still staring at his face as though searching for an answer to some obscure question. "Do you have a name?"

"No," he frowned - he probably should fix that. Maybe he could come up with something later. "You still haven't answered my question."

Grima moved back and gave him space to sit up, though his hand still hadn't been released. "Do you know what is in your hand?"

So Grima had no intention of answering. Fair enough, he supposed; someone with that much power wasn't obligated to say anything to anyone.

"A rock of some sort?" he guessed. Scraps of knowledge floated to the surface of his mind, the details diluted from ages of hibernation but enough to give him a vague idea of what might've happened for him to have ended up in this body. "Wait, don't tell me..."

Grima's grip finally shifted and his fingers were pried open with surprising gentleness to reveal the stone in the palm of his hand. It was a perfect sphere and shone faintly with a dark inner light, looking almost like a black gemstone with shades of purple at the edges.

"A dragonstone," Grima said. "One of two of its kind. The first was forever lost, many lifetimes ago, after the defeat of its wielder. I trust you'll take better care of this one."

Morgan - no, he was Marc now - sighed in relief once Morgan vanished outside. He leaned against the wall; then he jumped away and made a face, brushing ineffectively at the new layer of dust on his coat as he reached into a pocket and pulled out his oldest possession.

Tempting as it was, he'd never returned to his true form after that first day and instead relied on the dark magic that came naturally to his fingertips. Master Grima did not need dragons; he needed loyal servants and retainers, perhaps even companions, and for a time Marc had been more than happy to be all three. Then Morgan had appeared - his namesake, the daughter of Grima's vessel - and Marc couldn't help but notice the way Grima's face sometimes softened when he looked at her.

It was merely a remnant of Robin, Marc had silently chided himself on each occasion. Some of the vessel always remained behind, especially if said vessel was actually a piece that'd been broken off from the whole. And while it was true that Grima seemed to have a soft spot for Morgan, allowing her far more indiscretions than any human would warrant, Morgan had never been taken into Grima's confidence - not like Marc.

Marc held up his dragonstone, the first and only gift Grima had ever given him, and took a deep breath. Then he choked and coughed on the dust-filled air, fought down a sneeze, and reached for his magic. Energy swirled around the stone and sank into it, the stone's own latent energies reacting to its manakete's magic and anchoring the spell in a way that made it undetectable to all but the most powerful human mages. The surface rippled and began to shift, its familiar dark color slowly bleeding away into nothingness until the dragonstone looked like a silver gem, a perfect copy of the gemstone Argent.

"This is for the greater good," Marc whispered, squeezing his fingers around the decoy. Regular stones had no way for him to anchor the spell, at least not in a way that made it almost undetectable, and the dragonstone was the perfect size and shape for the illusion. It wasn't like he used it anyway - if anything getting rid of it was the smart thing to do as long as he was playing at being Morgan's cousin - and he'd get it back once their mission was finished. A few years was nothing to someone like him.

Breaking into the royal treasury was ridiculously easy with most of the guards having been rerouted to the Exalt's defense. He walked past the remaining guards under a veil of magic and pulled Argent out from its slot in the Shield of Seals, replacing it with his illusioned dragonstone. Argent hummed unpleasantly in his hand and he quickly dropped it into a specially insulated bag which he tied to his belt.

Mission complete, he went to rendezvous with Morgan and tried to ignore the aching feeling of loss in his chest.