"What appears to be the end, may really be a new beginning" -Anonymous
Welcome to the Final chapter of TRTL. Thank you for accompanying me on this journey.
I told you to bring tissues, remember?
Chapter 31: The End of a Journey
The sound of a severe coughing fit reverberated through the Yllisean castle. In a large bed on the third floor, a blue haired princess laid still. Her skin was as pale as snow, and her eyes had dark circles surrounding them. Her breathing was labored. At either side of her, two young twins lay with her, both with blue hair and tears in their eyes. Out in the hallway, she could hear hushed whispers.
"Fuck….Fuck! Chrom! How did it ever get this bad!?" Robin was speaking in a pleading voice. His eyes were red and puffy from crying over the past few days. Lucina's minor cough had turned heavy in a matter of a few short days. Before they knew it, she was coughing up thick black smoke, as if somebody had set fire to her lungs. Robin had packed up her, Marth and Megan as fast as he could and rushed her to the Ylisstol Palace, sending express notice to Lissa for urgent care. When they arrived, Lucina was taken to her childhood bedroom, where she had been bedridden for a week.
"Just two weeks ago, she was perfectly healthy! And now…..and now Lissa is telling me to prepare for the worst…" The last part of Robin's sentence was nearly inaudible as he pressed his back against the stone wall and let himself slide to a seating position, his head propped back against the wall. Chrom was standing beside him, his bangs covering his eyes so that nobody could see the tears.
"I know Robin….I ask myself the same thing. We have asked the best doctors, and nobody seems to know what it is. Even Tharja came in to examine it, and couldn't crack the code. She only confirmed that it was some sort of dark arts, but says she has never seen the spell before. Even as we speak, her and Miriel are examining that smoke she keeps coughing up." Chrom's voice seemed stoic, but it was as devoid of emotion as the day Emm had died.
"Damn it! There has to be something! Can't Tiki or Naga do something!" Robin yelled.
"You think I haven't tried! That is my daughter in there, Robin. You aren't the only one trying everything. We dispatched letters to Tiki, but the only note we got back said Naga could do nothing about it. Nothing else" Chrom's voice betrayed him and allowed his emotion to break through. His sorrow and pain were evident.
Robin sunk his head into both hands.
"Damn it! Damn it damn it damn it!" Robin was on the verge of tears again. He could only blame himself. He should have brought Lucina here earlier. He knew he should have taken it seriously, but he let her words sway him. And now….
The door to Lucina's room swung open as Lissa looked out at Robin and Chrom with a panicked face.
"I think….you two should come in here now…" Her voice was dull, as if something were gripping her tightly about the waist as she spoke. Robin quickly stood and rushed in behind Chrom. On the bed, Lucina had grown even more pale. She had pulled in the twins to a hug with both arms, and the two of them seemed to have fallen asleep, likely exhausted from all their grief. Robin walked to Lucina's right side, and pulled up a wooden stool to sit beside her. He took her right hand in both of his and stroked it gently. Lucina's eyes were half open, and she seemed as if it took all her energy just to remain conscious.
"Hey dear, how are you feeling?" Robin asked, doing his best not to let his fear and sorrow betray his voice. He didn't want Lucina to know what he was thinking. If nothing else, he would keep hope alive, so that she could hang onto it and live.
"Not…great" She answered. Her voice was harsh from her coughing fits, and she seemed to be quite parched, so it took great difficulty to speak. Robin grabbed a glass of water from her bedside table, and slowly started bringing it to her lips.
But her left hand came up and stopped the glass before it could reach her.
"What..?" Robin said, stunned at his wife stopping him. But then he saw it. The look in her eyes.
Robin quickly turned to look towards Lissa, wanting some indication at Lucina's condition. Looking, hoping, for a sign that his thoughts were in error. Lissa offered him no such comfort.
The mage, clad in all white today, averted her gaze from Robin's. Tears began flooding her face, and she collapsed into Chrom's arms. Sumia soon came to the room as well, obviously having been summoned by a messenger boy that Lissa had sent. The brunette was a complete mess, her face stained from crying. She quickly crossed the room to stand on Lucina's left, stroking her daughter's hair. Morgan too was not far behind, along with her brother, rushing in to stand next to her father, though she was uncharacteristically unable to make a sound with her voice.
Robin instantly knew what was happening. Lucina's eyes told all he needed to know. He had seen it a thousand times before, both from enemies and comrades. Lucina's eyes had lost the fire they once had, and with it, her will to fight for her life.
Robin held onto Lucina's hand and brought it up to his cheek, so that she may feel her husband's face.
"Dear…..listen…everything is going to be fine" Robin's voice squeaked at the end, betraying the confidence he was attempting to show.
"My love…..it is…ok…" Lucina said, with strenuous breaths between each phrase. Robin felt tears welling up in the corners of his eyes, but chose to ignore them. Everybody else in the room was sobbing at this point as well.
"Lucina, just hang on with me. We…we are going to keep raising Marth and Megan to grow happy together….and then when they get old enough….we can tell them about Marc and Morgan. Then we can have a big happy family, and grow old together in the comfort of our house. Can't you picture it?" Robin's voice was hoarse, though Lucina gave him a soft, weak smile.
"Yes, my dear…..I can….see it.." She said. Lucina's eyes started to droop, and Robin's heart fell with them.
"W-Wait! Why don't you tell me a story! Anything! Or, if you don't want to speak, I can tell you, you just need to listen! Please, Lucina, stay here with me! I'll do all the work, I promise, you can just sit back and relax, and enjoy a life of peace! Doesn't that sound wonderful?" Robin had turned to pleading now. Anything to keep his wife in this world.
"Dear…" Lucina started saying. Robin quickly moved close to her. Her face started to look so peaceful.
"I'm…tired….I think…I'll rest…now" Lucina said before her eyes finally closed.
"No! Not yet, Lucina, I told you, I'll tell you a story! Please, listen!" Robin's voice was becoming high pitched, as his tears welled up, and his throat tightened.
"Ah, remember when we found Morgan? I swear, I thought Chrom would murder me that day, but we got through it, just like everything else. As long as we have each other, we can get through anything, isn't that right?" Robin pleaded. But Lucina gave him no response, she stayed looking peaceful in rest.
"L-L-Lucina?" Robin asked. His voice growing devoid. All the people around him seemed to fade away, until his vision only saw him and Lucina. She gave no response.
"Hey? Lucina?" He asked again. His grip loosened, and his wife's hand fell lifelessly to the side of the mattress. Robin made no sound, his jaw remaining unhinged, as he refused to accept reality. He picked up her hand again, and then released it, only to watch it fall to the bedside once again. Though his gut screamed at him not to do so, he put two fingers down on her wrist, and waited. And waited. And waited. But no pulse came. Finally, the tears that had been welling up released, as Robin let out a blood curdling scream.
Robin was devoid of all feelings, save for the empty pit in his stomach. He had been this way for five years now. After Lucina's death, he had asked Sumia and Chrom to watch over Marth and Megan, then took only a picture of Lucina and moved out to a small shack in the Plegian wasteland. In the end, no matter how strong he thought he was, Robin ran from his pain.
He turned his back on everything and everyone, and fled from his failures. Maybe….just maybe, the pain would start to disappear if he didn't have to face everyone. In his state, he never even could face anybody. He had long stopped shaving, so his hair had grown long, and a white beard covered his face and stretched to the bottom of his neck. Alcohol bottles of all kinds littered the sand flooring of the shack. On most days, Robin would drink himself into stupor, then lay in a corner, doing his best not to think of her. He had long ago laid her picture face down. He couldn't let himself see her, not in the state he was in.
On particularly bad nights, he would step out of the shed, and swear he could see a figure covered in black robe watching him from the horizon. But, this was likely mirages from his drunken state.
He cut all ties with his friends, and told nobody where he was going. He felt terrible for leaving all of his children behind, but he felt that he would only hold them back in his state. It was all Robin could do not to just cast a dark spell on himself to end the pain. The only thing that would keep him going was the thought that he had to live for Lucina. Someday, he may get better, and if he did, he would start to live as his wife would want him to.
At this moment, however, his stomach still felt as empty as the day she died. He had begged Naga to offer him some salvation, to give him a chance to change things, but nothing ever came. This was in the first year. Ever since, he relied on nobody.
On one night of only light drinking, Robin stepped out of his shed to use the restroom. There, on the horizon, the figure clad in black seemed to be walking towards him. Robin kept a sword strapped at his hip, but at this point, he figured that he may just welcome death if it knocked at his doorstep.
As the figure approached, Robin started to recognize the purple markings on the dark cloak, mimicking the one he was currently wearing.
"Grimleal…" Robin thought dryly. Suddenly, a headache like the ones he felt when Grima was nearby fell upon him. He clutched at his temples, the pain too intense to even see clearly. By the time the headache subsided, the grimleal was standing thirty feet from Robin.
"Can I help you?" Robin asked, his voice holding no emotion. The figure stared at him in silence for a while, then removed its hood.
Robin took a step back in shock, his senses immediately returning to him, after having taken a five year hiatus.
"Y-You! You are the one that took the Fire Emblem!" Robin yelled, his voice hoarse from not getting much use. Across the way from him, a perfect copy of himself stood, although this figure was clean cut, and had no facial hair.
"How long did you plan on sulking out here?" the copy asked.
Robin grew angry, the first emotion other than sorrow he had felt on a long time.
"I bet you had something to do with this, didn't you!" Robin accused the man. Finally, somebody had come along that Robin could pass this torch of grief to. It wasn't outside the realm of possibility for the Fire Emblem to be used to cast a curse of such strength as the one cast upon Lucina.
"I must say I had no part of your wife's death. For the past five years, I have been but a spectator, making sure you did not do anything stupid in your drunken nights." The copy said, his voice seeming to have a hint of disgust.
"Just who in the hell are you!?" Robin roared. The clone debated with himself for a second, then gave a shrug of resignation.
"I suppose I do owe you some bit of explanation" The copy said as his white hair fluttered in the wind. His face seemed to contort in thought, as if he was having great difficulty choosing his words. Finally, he turned his back to Robin, speaking in the same way he did the night the Fire Emblem was stolen.
"I come here to offer you a new chance. A chance to escape the pain you are currently feeling. You are the key to many different destinies, yet this whole time you have been attempting to open the wrong lock."
Robin squeezed his head as another headache hit him.
"T-the wrong lock? What does that even mean!?" Robin yelled. The copy kept his back turned, the outside breeze causing his coattails to sway in the moonlight.
"You wish to save her, do you not?" The copy asked. His voice seemed to hold great despair, mimicking Robin's own feelings. Robin clutched at his heart, feeling the sensation of emptiness once again as Lucina's face appeared in his mind.
"She….she is long gone from this world! How dare you speak of some dark arts as to bring her back!" Robin yelled back. He was fighting everything and everyone at this point. The world had long bared its fangs to him, and he had learned that such deals as was being proposed to him never were as simple as spoken. Surely, this man was going to trick Robin into summoning some demon or other sort.
The man sighed, showing a rare break in composure.
"You yourself came back to this world once, didn't you? Why couldn't she?" the man asked. Robin took a step back, anger slowly building within him.
"I came back because my life was attached to a demon. When my life was all but forfeit, the demon's life disappeared instead, and I returned to this world, though in truth it seems Grima never fully vanished until some years past. Lucina does not share that same fate, and I would not wish that fate on her! It is a curse that nobody should bear!" Robin yelled, his hand starting to reach for his sword. The copy turned his head slightly, so that Robin could just see the man's left eye. It was glowing red, the same as Grima's.
"What if I told you that my methods of saving were….different from what you speak of?"
Robin was caught offguard, and allowed his heart to be swayed slightly.
"Different…..how so?" He asked, caution still evident in his voice.
"As I said, I come to offer you a new chance. You see, you do not truly belong to this world. You never did." The man said. Robin bared his teeth angrily.
"What the hell are you talking about!? Don't fuck with me!" Robin yelled, pulling the sword, and rushing at his copy. The man stood still, only moving his left hand in lazy fashion. Robin swung with all his might, but the sword abruptly stopped as the copy caught the blade with his thumb and forefinger. Robin felt panic seize him, and brought his eyes up from the man's hand to his eyes, which glowed a crimson red in the dark.
"Wh-who are you?" Robin asked shakily. He let go of the blade and started backing up, though his heel caught on a rock and he stumbled back, falling onto his backside. The man slowly started approaching him, now holding the sword by the hilt.
"I am one who attempted the tale I just told you. I took a chance to save somebody, but failed. However, there is something different with you. I believe you hold the true key to ending this all. To ending the nightmare me and my predecessors have been forced to repeat time and time again. You, Robin, are the one who can end this. Should you accept, I will grant you another chance at life. I will give you the opportunity to save the one you hold most dear. Perhaps you will even surpass my expectations of what can be done. Either way, you must take this opportunity."
Robin stared at the ground, the face of Lucina's lifeless body once again coming to mind. His voice became choked as the depression gripped him once again. As if he was all along.
"But….what if I fail again…." He asked in a whisper.
"Even if you fail, there will be somebody else to take your place and try again. There will always be somebody you can pass the torch to. But I think you are the one who can end all this. After all, you possess something different from the rest of us. A fragment that has stayed with you, despite everything, that had disappeared from all those who came before us." The man said as he stared at Robin's chest.
"What are you talking about!? Who are these 'predecessors'? What do you mean by fragment? Who the hell are you!?" Robin yelled with anguish.
"I fear I cannot speak much more of this topic. A curse prevents me from revealing more than riddles, and even still you may be better off going in blind. Regardless, should you accept, I will leave a note of instructions for you to open when the right time comes. It will explain things to you, to the point you will need."
"I still don't understand!" Robin cried out. His head was pounding, and this copy wasn't making any sense.
"Then listen only to my question. Do you want the chance to save Lucina?" The copy asked, his face dead serious. Robin avoided the man's eyes for a while, thinking desperately of an answer. Though he knew that offers like these always had strings attached, he still couldn't sway his feelings for Lucina.
"…Yes….I do…" Robin finally answered, slowly. The copy stood motionless as seconds ticked on for what seemed like ages. Robin remained seated, staring at the ground, waiting for the copy to tell him what hell he was going to unleash. After five minutes of silence. The copy finally stared up at the sky.
"The contract has been sealed. Naga, open the gate" the copy spoke calmly towards the open night sky.
"N-NAGA!?" Robin jerked forward, falling onto all fours, surprised at hearing the name of the divine dragon.
"Very good, Fellblood. I knew you would take this chance. In truth, you would have been forced to take this chance no matter what your answer was. I am glad you are cooperating of your own ambition." A majestic voice rang out from seemingly everywhere. A bright light suddenly illuminated from about fifty feet in the air above Robin, seemingly bringing daylight to the small shack. The sand glowed luminously as it reflected the divine light of Naga, who appeared in her human form. As if she were a fallen angel, she slowly descended upon the land of mortals until her feet hovered an inch off the sand.
"N-Naga? What is going on?" Robin stammered, his chest feeling tight. He shrugged off his Plegian coat and clutched at his chest. Not only did his head feel like it would burst, now his heart felt like it was going to beat out of his chest.
"You are not long for this world. It seems that, despite all our efforts, my Fell Brethren still infects your blood. In short, Grima is still living within you." Naga began.
Robin shakily stood from the sand. His arms lay limp at his sides, and his head was dangling, his nose pointing to the ground.
"G-Grima? But…but he was gone…..we flushed him out of my body after fighting Lucifer…." Robin suddenly brought both hands to clutch his temples, letting out a roar of pain.
"Th-then…..that black smoke that Lucina was coughing up…" Robin started to say as realization dawned on him.
"It is best if you do not dwell on it, Fellblood. Regardless, there is nothing that could have been done. Not at the time. Now that you are taking this contract, you will have a chance to not only save Lucina, but everybody that has ever perished due to the Fell dragon, in this universe and all others. You will have a chance to save this whole world from calamity." Naga spoke.
Robin stared blankly at the divine being.
"But…how!? How am I supposed to save everybody!?" Robin yelled, his voice practically pleading.
"I am sure he has told you all that we are allowed to say" Naga said, making a motion indicating Robin's copy, who had still been standing motionless.
"We are going to send you through time and space, much as my child Lucina once did."
"You are sending me back? But haven't we already tried that!? It didn't work, Grima was still summoned to this world! And it would be more dangerous if there were more avatars lying around for him to possess!" Robin fired back at Naga. He couldn't comprehend what the Exalted Dragon was thinking. Lucina had already gone back in time, and she could not stop fate. Even with Validar killed, Grima still found a way to resurrect the dark mage, and bring about the events that caused Grima to be born into the world.
"You will not be in this world. Not this time, Fellblood. There will be no danger of Grima's soul being reborn." Naga said.
"Not in this world? What world am I going to then? How can I save Lucina if I'm somewhere else?" Robin asked, the hope he had initially felt starting to disappear. Surely, this was some jest. The dark pit in his stomach started swelling again, as the feeling of emptiness started to overtake him. He felt as if he needed to vomit, each time the image of her hand falling lifelessly to the bed came to mind.
"Fellblood, we are sending you back to the point of origin. As we speak, the timelines are intersecting. I have no time to explain it in detail. You will replace the soul of a child that dies in a terrible accident, and from there you will grow into a fine prince. You must then make a path that fights fate itself. You will be faced with a decision, and your choice must both preserve our timeline and shatter it to pieces. If you do this, Lucina and every other child in this world and any other world will never know pain."
Robin's mouth opened and shut a few times as he tried to decipher what the Exalted dragon was saying.
"Preserve our timeline and also shatter it!? How can I do that!?" Robin's voice was hoarse. Despair had begun to set in as he glanced between his copy and the divine dragon.
"Unfortunately, it is impossible to explain unless you experience it yourself. Now, we must begin the journey right away, otherwise we will miss our chance at the gate" Robin's copy spoke, then pulled a large oak staff with a purple gem at the top. He began making circles in the air with it, while making some incantation Robin had never heard. A blue portal emerged in the air where the copy had made the circles, just large enough for Robin to crawl through on all fours.
"Robin, listen close to my final words to you. In this world, you will take a new name. Your memories will be temporarily erased, until a time comes that you must start to act. Then, your memories will come in piece by piece, and a former ally will join you in guidance towards your ultimate goal."
"I'm going to lose my memory again!?" Robin interrupted his clone, who had been giving him instruction. The clone, with irritation heavy on his face, screamed back at Robin.
"Damn it all! This isn't the time! Your memory will return! Now listen, we don't have much time left! I have left a note for you in the coat of the child you will replace. You will be unable to read it until your memory returns, but make sure to keep it close! It is going to be kept in a locket, the key to which will be in your bedroom between dimensions, in a chest sitting upon the third shelf. Your memory of the importance of that locket will remain, but the memory of the key's location will disappear until further time. The note is in the Plegian language, which you will forget for the time being, so that it does not fall into the wrong hands. Remember this information, and when your memory returns, read the note!" Robin's copy shouted.
Robin's head was swirling as he tried to take in all the information being thrown at him.
"B-but, how will I-" Robin started, before Naga interrupted him.
"There is no time, Fellblood. If you wish to save Lucina, go through the gate now. Otherwise, the chance will never come again."
Robin glanced between Naga and his copy. He was sweating profusely, and his head and chest felt as if they might explode.
"No….if I can save her….I will do anything!" Robin resolved within him. Taking a deep breath, he sprinted across the sand, and dove into the blue portal that hung in the air.
"I'm disappointed in you, Sumeragi. That wasn't even my best trap." A cold voice spoke.
Robin heard groans of pain, and a large thump. His world was black, and his body felt cold. He felt a pressure on his neck, but it was as if his body belonged to somebody else. He felt as if he were wearing a large coat that surrounded his entire body, though at the same time he felt no warmth.
"Damn it archers! You weren't supposed to kill the kid!" A shrill voice called out from next to Robin. The feeling of cold was overbearing. He felt empty, as if his very soul was floating in space, surrounded by a hollow shell. Slowly, his bearings started to coming to him.
When he opened his eyes, he first noticed it was dark out. He was laying on a cold stone floor on his side, but there was something warm running down his fingers of his right hand. He brought his hand up to his eyes, though his movements were incredibly slow. His eyes shot open when he saw the red substance covering his hand.
"I'm….bleeding?" He thought. His throat was parched, and he couldn't make a sound. With great effort, he tilted his eyes down to see an arrow sticking through his chest, right where his heart was. Suddenly the pain came to him all at once.
"Arrghh!" He cried out. He felt as if a hole was being bored into him. One was, after all.
"Hmm?" The cold voice rang out again. Robin looked up, but did not see its source, only an army of archers standing at the end of an outdoor corridor, across from him.
"You poor thing" The voice said again, this time from Robin's left side. He spun his head as fast he could, and his eyes landed on the source. A monster of a man clad in thick gold armor. A red coat with white trim that covered all but his front side. A long white beard with a single grey streak down the center, all of which outlined his jaw line. White hair that was held back by a black crown. Pale skin that seemed to glow in the moonlight. And those red eyes that bore through Robin's soul. The man caused Robin's body to shake. The man took slow, pounding steps towards Robin.
The former grandmaster quickly reached for his sword, but found nothing at his side. Looking down in confusion, he realized that not only did he lack a sword, but his body had shrunk. No, it appeared he was in the body of a young child. Though hazy, his last few memories started returning to him.
"….You will replace the soul of a child that dies in a terrible accident….." Naga had said.
"Damn it! I can't die here!" Robin thought as he clenched his teeth. His body was screaming at him, both in pain and fear.
"Orphaned at such….a tender young age" The cold voice said again. Before Robin knew it, a massive hand that was encased in a black glove reached out and grabbed him by the scalp, hoisting him high up into the air, bringing him eye to eye with the red eyed beast.
"You're my child now, Corrin" the beast said with a cold laughter.
"Corrin!?" Robin had time to think just this, before he felt something hard strike his head from behind. His body went limp as his consciousness faded, his last sight being the treacherous smile of that red eyed man.
And then, darkness fell upon Robin.
A/N: Thank you again for all of the support during my time of writing this. After such a long journey and nearly two years, this story finally closes its pages, and another story may begin. Be on the look out for the new adventure of Robin as he travels a new land in an attempt to save Lucina from Grima once again. There are going to be a lot of twists and turns, so strap in tight. There were no reviews on the last chapter, which makes me a bit sad, but I hope you will take the time and drop your thoughts on this final chapter for the story overall. Strengths, weaknesses, what you liked, what you thought could be better. I welcome all feedback, since I will use it to make my next story even better. I will update this chapter as reviews roll in to reply to them in this A/N and forever engrave your mark upon this story. Thank you again to all of my readers.
Responses to Reviews:
Guest: I hope you enjoy the ride!
Greyjedi: The reasoning to all this helps set up the events to come, but a further explanation you will find below in response to A Pokemon Tactician. I look forward to seeing you next story!
A Pokemon Tactician: Thank you for the feedback! I'm going to break down my answers in correlation with your review, hopefully I can give some guidance and reasoning to me decisions. As for Robin being OOC by leaving everybody behind, in actuality he is aligning with the character I have created for him. In all situations where he has found loss and depression as seen here, and as will be seen in the prequel story the Beginning of Life, Robin pushes people away when dealing with loss. The only things that lead him to get better are his friends around him, who force him into getting past the grief, the parts that Chrom and Lucina have traditionally played in the past. Since these parts have not been written into the Beginning of Life, I understand the confusion, but my outline has Robin responding in the exact same ways in several situations, but Lucina breaks him out of the shell rather swiftly so that he does not ever get as bad as shown. Since all of his friends and family are in a state of grief when he pushes everybody away, there is nobody to break him out of the state. Dealing with grief is not something people do well alone, and his grief has spiraled to the point you see him in. Which brings me to the next point: Why has he not gotten better over the past five years? You are correct, in normal circumstances, Robin should have gotten better and returned back to the kids. In actuality, in normal circumstance, I would have had Robin return to his children after a year, and this was originally the planned ending. However, and yes, you could call this a plot device, I realized that the plans for the next story were contingent around a very certain fact. As alluded to by Naga, Grima still remains within Robin. As seen in the game, Grima feeds off negative energy, and reduces people to states as you see Robin in (see The Future Past DLC). So, instead of Robin being able to get better, Grima constantly drags him down, and causes the empty feeling within to worsen. It is in efforts that Robin really will use the dark spell, as this would weaken Robin enough for Grima to regain possession of him. As I said, you could call this a plot device if you wanted, though every plot element can be seen as such. I hope this helps to explain to you my decisions thus far, and if you have any more questions, I will be happy to explain more.