I'd like to start out by saying that this chapter is not referencing Fates. This just happened to be the best title for the chapter.
"Lucina, you can't do everything, you know."
"Severa. You… what do you mean?"
"You can't lead every mission we send out. You'll run yourself dry," she furthered.
"I have to. I need to know what happens first hand. It's the only way I can guarantee I have a good read on each situation we come to."
"You have Cynthia, and you have me. In fact, you have a whole bunch of us that would be more than willing to help out. Don't you trust us to do what you ask?"
"It's not that I don't trust you. I just can't afford to let miscommunication or inattentiveness or anything else keep me from grasping reality."
"Seems like you don't trust us to take this seriously."
"I said I do trust you. It's not that."
"Trust isn't just respecting others and having a common goal, you know. It's about depending on each other. You have to trust that we'll do what we say we will."
"... When you put it that way, then I guess you're right. I want to trust you, sure. But I shouldn't. If I trust others with my responsibilities, I can't guarantee they'll be fulfilled."
"Look. I know you don't want to take the chance. If you allow others to help, something might go wrong. Something might go wrong. But I've seen the way you look around camp: tired, worried, and pretty much depressed. If you don't trust others, something will go wrong. You'll collapse one of these days, or worse."
"You're not usually so concerned, Severa."
"I know. Do you think I'd be wasting my time with this if I didn't think it was important? I have better things to do than sit around patting your head. I'm just going to say it outright. You may not like trusting people, but sometimes you don't have a choice. You can't save the world by yourself. So just throw away your stupid pride and let someone help."
"I… I don't know what to say."
"Please don't. I can hardly believe I said all that to begin with. I can only handle so much sappiness, after all."
"Fine. I'll figure it out. Just give me some time."
Even before opening her eyes, Lucina noticed three things. First and foremost, she felt an ache around her left eye. It didn't hurt much, but it also wasn't pleasant. The second thing she noticed was an image that burned into that same eye: a poisonous violet symbol representing Grima himself. The image felt like the remnants of a nightmare. Despite the sinister nature of the symbol, it wasn't unexpected by any means. What really caught her attention was the slight breeze which fell cooly across her other eye. Once she had taken two seconds to process all of that, she opened her eyes and quietly demanded, "Where is my mask?"
"It's right by your hand," Robin answered from somewhere else in the room, "but you should leave it off so your eye can heal better."
"I'll be fine." Lucina sat up, and she became a bit light-headed.
"You'll be more fine if you don't put it back on. Besides, there's nobody here who hasn't already seen your face."
"I… I suppose you have a point," she reluctantly agreed, her voice low and strained. The time-traveller slowly removed her hand from the mask. It felt almost dangerous to do so; that mask had become almost like armor to her.
"You shouldn't have taken my mask off in the first place," Lucina stated, frustration evident in her voice.
"I agreed not to ask questions, and you agreed not to leave me behind. Letting your wounds fester was not part of the deal, Robin remarked sardonically. "Although you don't even seem to remember that deal, anyway."
"... I couldn't take you with me. It was too dangerous," Lucina argued hollowly.
"I'll say. You would have died if I hadn't followed you in."
"That's not what I meant."
"And what did you mean?"
"I can't tell you."
"That's fine. Keep me in the dark as long as you want, and I won't ask questions,"Robin decided. "Because unlike you, I keep my word. … It's all I have."
A wave of guilt came over Lucina ten seconds too late. She just couldn't keep her promises, no matter how hard she tried. She shouldn't have expected that to change just because she came to the past. Of course, she was mad at herself. She didn't want to keep down the path she had set for herself, but… could she afford not to? If she were to reveal herself, even to this one man, it could cause irreparable damage.
Since Lucina had remained quiet, Robin spoke up once again. "So you can either keep doing what you've been doing, or you can trust me. It's your choice, but the decision needs to be made now."
"I…," Lucina tried. She wanted to trust him, but could she? He was extremely helpful, and he had saved her life on more than one occasion. But there was still a chance he was putting on an act. The chances were slim, but… If he really is faking everything, then trusting him would almost certainly doom this world, just like mine. I can't allow that, she thought. I've decided.
'You may not like trusting people, but sometimes you don't have a choice. You can't save the world by yourself.'
Lucina sighed. Severa…, I'll trust him. But only because I trust you.
"Alright," she agreed. "I won't hide from this any longer."
Robin let out his breath sharply. "Then please, use your normal voice. Disguising it is pointless now, and I'm sure your voice is strained.
"Somehow, it's not," Lucina denied, relieved to be speaking naturally again. "And actually, I think we're ready to head out."
"You're still recovering."
"It's just a little eye pain. Besides, it's not like I need it to walk," she countered. "Let's go. I'll explain everything once we're out of the city."
"Suddenly, the mythic Owain Dark was surrounded by dozens - nay, thousands - of hellish beasts whose sole purpose was to bring low the people's last hero. Faced with seemingly inescapable defeat, he called upon the gods to lend him their strength, crying 'Great Awakening!' Slowly the creatures approached, none daring to face the mighty hero alone, but knowing their numbers were enough to overwhelm him. Finally, as they closed to within an arm's length of him, the Divine Dragon, Naga, answered his prayer by providing him escape to the distant past, a staggering twenty or so years. Saved from a grueling death, but tasked with the defeat of Grima himself, Owain Dark set out on his new quest, vanquishing each and every one of the monsters who dared follow him into the strange world of old."
"You mean you ran, since there were a hundred of them, and only one of you," Severa corrected, rolling her eyes. "I was there, moron."
"This is a tale for the ages! It must be retold, that no one could ever forget the plight of Owain Dark!"
"I swear, Owain, if you don't shut up about your 'epic adventures,' I'm going to end them myself."
"... And so it was that Severa the Cynical, charged with defending humanity's last hope, was separated from the legendary princess, only to be united with her rival in heroism, Owain Dark. Indebted to him after he had once rescued her from death's grasp, she repaid her due by-"
"Shut up, Owain!" Severa whispered. "I'm serious." She gestured forward into the night. "I think that's a Plegian camp."
"This far into Ylisse? That would mean the war's already started."
"I know. The assassination must be soon, if it hasn't already happened."
"We should engage them," Owain declared.
"Are you an idiot? Don't answer that."
"Then what do you propose we do?"
"We need to get some supplies."
"Then we head for Ylisstol, right?"
"Wrong. We steal what we need from the Plegians. Well, I do that - it's in my blood, after all. You, on the other hand, will probably just attract attention. Stay here."
"But what am I supposed to do until you get back," Owain complained.
"I don't know. 'Regale your misadventures,' or whatever."
"... Fine. Just hurry back."
Severa left without a word, approaching the enemy camp under the cover of the few trees scattered throughout the field. As she grew closer, she began to identify individual soldiers moving about camp. She estimated there to be nearly two hundred, which offered a great opportunity to blend in.
Once she determined she could enter camp unnoticed, she began wandering the tents, peeking inside as quietly as she could, and moving on. About eight tents in, Severa stumbled upon a soldier who had not yet fallen asleep. The man jumped to his feet.
" 'Ave we been spotted?" He began approaching his armor in anticipation for a battle.
"No, sorry," Severa replied, whispering in her best Plegian accent. "I jus' got off watch, an' I thought this was me tent. Tha's all."
"Kind o' like meself. Can't tell me left from me right in the dark."
Severa sighed quietly, relieved her act had worked. "We both should ge' some sleep," she finished, exiting the tent. That was close.
After a few more tries, she finally found a supply tent. Completing the scene was a pair of soldiers arguing. Just my luck. Upon further listening, it became clear they were arguing over a small bottle of wine.
Severa cleared her throat loudly. "I can't imagine how you two got in 'ere withou' bein' noticed."
The Plegians grew silent for a brief moment, before the one on the left regained his bearings. "An' I s'pose yer gonna repor' this to the general, huh? Perhaps ye'd rather join us…" he offered hopefully. "We'll even let'cha 'ave the wine." The man held the bottle towards her.
"Please," Severa mocked, making her way toward the back of the tent. She motioned for them to follow. Approaching a small, metal box, she removed a pin from her pocket. She fiddled with the lock for a moment before popping off the lid. "The captain's personal stache. 'Ave at it."
"Without hesitation, each man was practically drowning in alcohol. As they grew drunk, Severa took the opportunity to pack as much food and water as possible. Within minutes, she had as much as she could carry.
She snuck out of camp just as easily as she had snuck in. Unfortunately, it took her several more minutes to find Owain in the darkness. The only reason she didn't take any longer was that he was very loudly reliving his heroic life.
"Owain, I'm back."
He jumped a little, startled. "Oh, good. I was getting bored."
"I doubt that. But anyway, I have food that should last us until we reach Ylisstol. Plus the Plegians still haven't been found yet. They probably will stay camped out right where they are in order to avoid detection. With any luck, we'll make it to Ylisstol before the Exalt's assassination."
"How do you know it hasn't happened yet?"
"I don't know; not for sure, anyway. But I can't think of any other reason the Plegians would be hiding out. Besides, even if I'm wrong, it's not going to hurt us to stop by Ylisstol," Severa explained.
"So… we're just hoping for the best?"
"Well, I don't really have any better ideas. And I'm guessing you don't either."
"... No, I don't," Owain admitted.
"Alright then. Let's give the Plegians a wide berth. We need to get out of sight before morning hits. Once we've done that, we can set up camp."
"A spectacular plan!" Owain exclaimed.
"Ugh… why do you insist on monologuing?"
"Oh, that reminds me: having repaid her debt to the mysterious yet vigilant Owain Dark, Severa the Cynical made to part ways. The heroine then discovered something quite alarming…"
"I believe we've come sufficiently far out of town," 'Marth' decided. "Ask what you must."
"How did you know about the plot to kill the Exalt?" Robin started. It seemed like as good a place as any.
"... I've seen the future."
"I know, you said that to Chrom last night. But that's not what I meant. How do you know the future?"
"I'm… from the future," she clarified, hesitantly.
"Huh," Robin pondered. "And here I was thinking you were some distant cousin of his…"
"-Wait, you thought what?"
It all made sense now, Robin was sure. "I thought you were Chrom's long lost cousin or something. But you being from the future really explains a lot. Like how you know Chrom so well, but he doesn't recognize you in the slightest."
Their fighting styles were remarkably similar, not to mention how much alike they looked. It also helped that the birthmark the two shared belonged only to Ylisse's royal house. And to think, Robin wouldn't have even known if he hadn't spent so many days restoring his book on fighting techniques just to read the page about Aether. Robin might consider it luck, but it really was bad luck in the first place that the page was nearly ruined.
"How are you taking this so easily? I've just told you I came from the future, and you're acting as though that's normal."
"If there's one thing I've learned from being an amnesiac, it's that there's always something I don't expect. I can't afford to let myself get surprised at every little thing."
"I'm not sure I understand what you mean by that.
"When I first woke up, all the things were just so foreign to me. I hadn't given a thought to how things work. Naturally, I didn't spend a moment being surprised that there was grass, and I doubt you would have either. I just realized it was there and walked. Instead of being surprised I just accepted it. So when you told me you were from the future, I didn't waste my time being surprised. I just accepted it."
"That's… very practical," she responded.
"That's kind of the point. But if you don't mind, I do have another question or two to ask you. I'll be honest, this is going to sound pretty blunt, but I have no idea how to ask delicately."
"Very well, then."
"How did your parents die?" And there it was. Robin couldn't un-ask the question.
She sighed. "They died to the Fell Dragon, mankind's destructor."
"So you came back to kill him?" Robin concluded.
"No. Grima cannot be killed. I have come to prevent his return."
" 'Prevent his return' ? Where is he returning from?" Robin wondered aloud.
"He's ages deep in slumber, but his followers plan to revive him. Once they do, all peoples will be condemned to death, or else live in fear of dying."
"Then I can only assume the Exalt - your aunt, I guess - is important to stopping this world-ending catastrophe."
"She didn't deserve to die, and my father isn't prepared to be Exalt yet. But these, I suppose, aren't good enough reasons to meddle with the past. But the enemy aimed to steal the Fire Emblem last night. Without it, they can't revive Grima."
"First of all, I can't keep calling you Marth. What's your real name?"
"The one your parents gave you. Use it."
She sighed. "My name is Lucina."
"Alright then, Lucina. If your aunt didn't deserve to die, why isn't that reason enough to save her?"
"I was given the mission to save this world by the Divine Dragon herself. I wasn't sent to pick who lives and who dies. I saved the Exalt not because she was a good person or because I care for her; I saved her because doing so would help complete my mission to save the world."
"I'm not so sure I share your point of view, but I guess now's not a good time to argue," Robin decided. "It is a good time to discuss our next move, though."
"I suppose you're right."
"Wait, let me get this straight. The plan is to get your friends together and then sit around for three years?" Robin was stunned. "And here I was determined not to be surprised."
"That's not what I said."
"Oh, that's right. We don't even know where your friends are."
"I'm beginning to regret filling you in on everything."
"It seems you're stuck with me, though."
"Maybe you don't see training as productive, but we don't really have any other option."
"Because you don't want to change things any more than you have to."
"I told you my plans because I thought I could trust you," she remarked.
"You can trust me. You're my only friend, and I don't plan on turning my back on you," Robin defended. "But that doesn't mean I won't try to change your mind when I disagree with you."
"Fine. We'll deal with that later. It seems we've got more pressing matters," Lucina noticed, gesturing forward. "I know that smoke…. The Risen."
"What happened to not interfering?"
"These Risen came from the future. They're not supposed to be around until much later."
"So we agree on something, then," Robin confirmed. "These things have to go."
The mindless Fell-spawn scoured the plain ahead, reeking of the strangely alluring stench of evil. Clearly, this called for action by none other than the mysterious Owain Dark. The hero unsheathed his blade of legend, Mystletainn, and stealthily began his approach.
"Owain, what are you doing?!" Severa the cynical whispered sharply.
"I'm confronting our dastardly foes, of course," he explained. Perhaps she hadn't seen them yet.
"They outnumber us twenty-to-one. We just don't have the strength."
"They may be numerous, but forget not that we are heroes of legend; we have the strength of a thousand souls each!"
"I don't know about you but I find it hard to fight on three hours' sleep."
"But you insisted on keeping watch. I told you we didn't need to keep watch, but I figured you'd have the sense to rest up."
"We were only a mile and a half from a Plegian camp!"
"They do call you 'Severa the Cynical' for a reason, you know."
"They don't call me that. You're the only one who's ever called me that," she refuted. "Besides, whether or not you wanted to keep watch, I'm still too worn out. If we're forced into battle, so be it. But we're not throwing ourselves into a battle with just the two of us!"
"Fine, fine. Let's go." Owain proceeded to move toward the Risen.
"You said we couldn't with just the two of us. Lucky for us, there's already someone else out there." This time, Owain didn't wait to hear Severa's response. This was his only chance to save the day, after all.
It was hard to tell exactly what was going on through the smoke and Risen, but there was some sort of conflict. He knew the only way to see for sure was to fight his way in.
The Risen were so focused on their first attacker that they failed to notice Owain and Severa at first. As for Owain himself, he struck with devastating force and lightning-quick movements. His enemies were slain with a single slash each, back, forth, back, and then a jab to the neck. It was truly a sight to behold.
Severa complemented Owain's prowess by moving in on the few that had the good sense to stay out of Owain's path. She may have appeared to be a poor swordswoman, but she fought side-by-side with Owain Dark. It was only natural for even the greatest of warriors to seem inferior in the presence of his overwhelming might.
Finally, the Risen thinned out, and Owain could just make out their fellow swordsman. Who could it be? None other than his dear cousin, the beautiful and ruthless Princess of Ylisse herself! What a stunning turn of events!
"Lucina, I've come! And I've brought Severa with me!" he called out, removing Mystletainn from a hazy corpse.
"That's right," he confirmed. Suddenly, he noticed the presence of a stranger. The stranger seamlessly protected Lucina's flanks with well-timed wind spells and the occasional swing of his sword. "You've gained a comrade?"
"I have. But let's talk about this after these Risen are dealt with," she requested.
"Of course." Owain and Severa instinctively moved outward to attack the Risen from opposite sides. The monsters noticed them at this point, and they each were confronted directly. However, it allowed both to put in their full effort, as they didn't worry about wounding one another. Meanwhile, Lucina's new companion closed in and left everything to his blade. It took only seconds for them to successfully vanquish the devilish creatures.
As he heroically returned Mystletainn to it's sheath, Owain realized that, unfortunately, he wasn't going to learn of this stranger's identity just yet - no, no. They had to recover from battle, first. Of course it wouldn't take long, only a short minute or two. Those seconds would feel like eternity, though, as the suspense built. There was a word for this. They called it a cliffhanger.
Coincidentally, the two newly introduced characters happen to both be in Fates. But as I said, that's just a coincidence that they're in this chapter.
Anyway, I'm back from the depths, or whatever they say. I've been trying out this new thing called college, and it's actually been pretty fantastic. I've also been using the word 'fantastic' more often now, so I may accidentally use it in this story more often. I hope not, though, because it's a speech pattern of mine that doesn't really fit any of the Awakening characters, and it would be redundant to use in the narrative, since this is literally a fantasy world. But enough semantics.
I'll be honest, this chapter was a bit of an iffy one for me. It's the first one I've done without gokart48's help, and it was pretty strange to begin with. Robin and Lucina can't immediately hit it off just because Lucina revealed her identity, but there's also been a lack of positive relations for Lucina. I'm hoping that Owain and Severa can help with that. And I may have totally missed the mark with that whole reveal scene, but I'm not the best judge of my own writing.
My other big concern, though, was that Severa was OoC. I know she's supposed to be super cynical, and I managed to get some of that out there in the scenes with just her and Owain, but I didn't want to throw her jealous act at Lucina with all that's been going on. Usually her sincere side takes a while to show itself, but I took the liberty of speeding that along to give Lucina a more familiar and supporting friend. And then, I hope I painted that thieving scene realistically. Rest assured, though, I'll try to keep her interactions with Owain and Robin more classic-Severa complete with sarcasm and criticism. Just be sure to let me know how I can improve. Reviews are much appreciated with regard to any subject that's relevant to the story, or my writing style, or whatever.
And then there's Owain. Enough said.
Finally, I'd like to respond to the few reviews that I've received since the last chapter:
To Daraen-Dragmire, Han-Ko, and Antex-The Legendary Zoroark, and everyone who's post reviews of encouragement in previous chapters: Thank you, and I look forward to continuing, despite my turtle-pace.
Manny Siliezar: "You have Basilio using 'her' instead of 'him'..."
Me: Thanks for pointing this out to me. I'm going to go fix that after posting this chapter, because it actually makes an important difference there. And because, even if it wasn't important, I'm still a grammar freak who's also blind to his own mistakes.
Manny Siliezar: "... does that mean you'll introduce the children shepherds earlier than the game does?"
Me: Nope. Especially not Severa and Owain. All jokes aside, this little group will stay separate from the shepherds for a while. They will join up eventually, but when and where... well, we'll find out. You will find out - believe it or not, I've actually done extensive planning to the point where I know the general events of each and every chapter up through the epilogue. I'm just apparently really slow at turning my ideas into chapters.
Thanks again for reading, following, favoriting, and/or reviewing. Seriously, though. Do that last one; reviews are great. I don't know, yell at me for being an idiot or something, if you want. Have a fun day!