Finals are finally over! Now I can return to working on FE:CSR! Before I do that, however, I wanted to make this little one-shot, which explores a topic I've never seen written. Hope you like it!
"I really don't like this, Commander," Jan, the Wild Bull, said worriedly. The axeman was a member of the Black Fang, a recently founded, eight-man mercenary group based in Bern. This job they were contracted for, however, did not seem to be a noble one – they were tasked to eliminate a village full of sages allegedly experimenting with spells that could bring upon the end of the world. Brendan, however, doubted the legitimacy of these claims; he had heard of the sages before and was acquainted with their leader. Their employers were a druid named Nergal and his assistant, a sage named Sonia. Neither of them seemed like good fellows, but the auras emanating from them made them too frightening to refuse orders from.
"Neither do I, Wild Bull, we must do as we are paid to do. That's the life of a mercenary – the life we chose," Commander Brendan responded.
"Exactly right, Young Master Reed. Fear not, so long as you follow my commands, you will all come out of this alive and unscathed," Nergal said. Jan couldn't understand how Brendan could tolerate being called 'young master' by a man who appeared to be younger than he was.
"Don't judge a book by its cover, Wild Bull," Sonia smirked.
That woman can read minds?! Jan shouted inwardly.
"Indeed I can," the Sage's voice resonated in his head. Jan blinked, shook his head and tried to clear his mind.
"What's wrong, Jan?" Laurel, the Brown Eagle, asked worriedly. Jan looked up to Laurel as if she were his big sister. The only people closer to her were Brendan – her husband – and their two children, Linus and Lloyd, who were only a few years younger than Legault.
"Nothing you need fret over, Brown Eagle."
"That's the spirit more of us need to have, Wild Bull," Pascal, the Crazed Beast, smirked. The paladin was a cocky soul, but he had a good heart.
Jan, Brendan, Pascal and Laurel were the only adults of the group. Uhai, the Soaring Hawk, was over twenty years younger than the Wild Bull, but had a fair amount of experience for his age. Jerme, the Death Kite, Legault, the Hurricane, and Aesha, the Storm Crow, were the youngest and had never done anything large-scale. Brendan only accepted them into his circle out of kindness, as they all had rough lives and had he not found them, they would have remained lowly thieves, scavenging for food like vultures.
"We're here," Nergal said coldly as the village came in sight. Based on the moon, Jan could tell it was nearly midnight.
"Earn your keep, Master Reed. Kill them all."
"My lord, this is no bandit camp. The residents here… I've met quite a few. They are wise, kind scholars; many of whom are exceptionally talented mages," Brendan frowned.
"…Kill them all," Nergal repeated.
"I will not! These people do not deserve death, and I will not be the one to bring it upon them!"
"Like the Commander, I refuse to kill anyone undeserving of such a fate," Jan glared at the druid.
"I would touch them no sooner!" Laurel added.
"These are innocents. I will not harm anyone who has done nothing wrong. It is against the code," Pascal frowned.
"If it were a bunch of men, I'd do as I must to earn my keep. But women and children? Never," Uhai fumed.
"I agree with Uhai. It is a grave, unforgivable sin to hurt women and children. When I was but a thief, I only stole from the richest of the rich lords… those who could easily afford to replenish their stocks. But no matter how wealthy or politically powerful they were, no matter how crude their personalities, I never stole from women or children!" Jerme took his daggers out and threw them to the ground.
"I will follow Brendan's lead anywhere. I owe him everything," Legault looked to Brendan.
"I feel the same way as Legault," Aesha said hesitantly.
Nergal simply shrugged, "So be it. I have no need of you; the only reason I contracted your pathetic group was because I felt sympathy for you, being such a new and underpowered band. But since you have proved useless to me, I will simply cast you aside. Sonia! You know what to do." The sage nodded, pulled up her hood and began walking slowly toward the largest house in the area. Nergal muttered an incantation and suddenly it began to rain quite heavily.
Sonia knocked on the door of the house she approached, and a green-haired man opened the door. After a brief discussion, he let her inside.
"What's going on?" Aesha stuttered.
"I wish I could say, Storm Crow," Brendan responded. He tried to remain stoic for his soldiers, but his nervousness was beginning to break through his façade.
Ten minutes later, Sonia emerged with a green-haired toddler in her arms, the man from earlier pursuing her. It quickly became evident to Jan that she was holding her hostage. When Nergal saw what was happening, he clutched the edges of his cape and brought them outward. In a fraction of a second, thousands of golden-eyed phantoms flew out from it at unbelievable speeds. Nergal laughed as the demon-spawn he unleashed burned their way through the village at inhuman speeds, destroying everything in their path. Some broke away from the main group and restrained Jan and the other mercenaries with little difficulty. Even the commander, with all his might, could not break free from the grasp of the shadow-binds Nergal and the creatures placed on him.
The green-haired man pursued Sonia all the way to Nergal's side. When he saw the druid, he scowled.
"Hello, Juge, my old apprentice," Nergal smiled.
"Why?! Why are you doing this?!"
"You know the answer to that – I tried to teach you how to use your birthright, but out of fear, you backed away and attempted to give my location to my enemies in the hopes that they would be able to kill me. Naturally, they are all dead, and the quintessence I harvested from them will be most useful in my plans!"
"Don't you understand?! Your plans will never come to fruition! Even if you do bring them back, you'll never be able to control them! All you'll do is unleash a never-ending firestorm upon the continent! I left and reported you because I saw what you have become… your lust for power is too great and you must be stopped."
"Oh, Juge, how small you have become. You have Loptyr Holy Blood – you can control the magic I can teach you! It really is a shame that you have to die. So long, old friend," Nergal laughed as he extended an arm toward Juge. Suddenly the sage began to act as if he were being choked, eventually collapsing to the floor.
"Wh-what did you do to him?!" Jan yelled.
"I harvested his quintessence and converted it into power. I am doing the same with the rest of this village."
"You… you monster!" Pascal yelled as he tried to charge the druid. All the paladin met were an army of phantoms and a mystical barrier.
"The only reason you are all still alive is because I sense you may be useful to me in the future. But I warn you, do not test my patience," the sorcerer growled. The sheer tone of his voice (which Jan suspected he supplemented with magic) was frightening enough to stay Brendan and the other mercenaries.
After the phantoms finished burning the village and slaughtering its denizens, Sonia pulled out a knife and prepared to execute the little girl in her arms.
"No! Let my Nino go!" A purple-haired woman raced out from Juge's now-ablaze home. Jan assumed it was his wife. Sonia simply rolled her eyes and felled her with a Fimbulvetr spell. All that was left of the woman were shards of ice and a small locket, the latter of which Jan decided to pick up. Before Sonia could kill the girl, Nergal restrained her,
"Wait, Sonia. I sense this girl may become useful to us. Raise her as your daughter, teach her the ways of magic and keep her safe until I say otherwise."
"Lord Nergal, you can't be serious!"
"Sonia, you will follow my commands. If you fail to do so, I can easily replace you."
"As you command, my lord," Sonia acquiesced reluctantly.
"Also…" Nergal then proceeded to whisper something into his assistant's ears. In response, the sage simply nodded.
"A word of advice, Black Fang, do not cross us or attempt to report us. If you do, you will end up just like Juge. Do I make myself clear?" Jan and the others were silent. Laurel broke the silence by drawing her bow and firing at Nergal's head. It was a clean shot, hitting him right between the eyes… and bouncing right off, dealing absolutely no damage.
"Fool," Nergal rolled his eyes and drained her of her quintessence.
"NO! LAUREL! I'LL KILL YOU, YOU SORCEROUS SWINE!" Brendan shouted and managed to break free from his bonds. Jan and Uhai quickly moved to restrain him,
"No, Commander! You'll only get yourself killed, and your wife's death would be in vain!" Jan shouted.
"What am I supposed to tell Linus and Lloyd?! That I cowered while their mother gave her life?!"
"Commander, it is better to bring bad news than never to speak to them again. Besides, your sons are very strong! They will use their mother's death to justify increasing their abilities and pushing their limits!" Uhai reasoned. After a moment, Brendan realized the wisdom in his subordinates' words.
"It is wise of you to listen to your comrades, young one. Now pray that we never cross paths again," Nergal chuckled as he and his soldiers warped out. Sonia stayed for a moment and gave Brendan a sympathetic glance,
"I'm sorry… Lady Laurel didn't deserve that. I wish I could have prevented it," she sighed. Jan took a few steps away from the group and examined the locket,
One day, I will return this to Nino. I swear on my honor and on my life, she will know the truth of today, he thought to himself.
Fifteen years later, he would keep that promise.
The Black Fang made their way back to their hideout on the border of Queensborough and Fafnir as quickly as they could. All were visibly shaken, and Brendan, Jerme, and Pascal would never be the same.
"Alright, we must swear here and now that we will never let this happen again. The Black Fang will only attack corrupt noblemen, and we will accept whatever the villagers are able to give us as payment, even if they are too poor to give anything at all. I cannot commit to killing innocents, no matter how much we would be paid. Most importantly of all, we must swear to stopping Nergal and Sonia from achieving whatever Juge said they were planning. Those two represent the worst of humanity, and must be stopped whatever the cost. Do you all promise, with God and His Saint as your witnesses, to uphold these values?" the Commander looked to his soldiers, all of whom gave their consent, though the Death Kite and the Crazed Beast did not give as convincing statements as the others.
Thus the Black Fang became what it was known to be for the next fifteen years, until its corruption and downfall.
Yes, this is a tie-in with my main fic, Fire Emblem: The Complete Saga Rewritten.
Check my blog (the link to which is on my profile page) for character biographies and further Author's Notes.