The wind and snow battered down on Chrom and company. Morale was low and the temperature was lower- the icy mountains north of Ylisse were proving harsh.
"Chrom... how much longer?" Robin asked, shivering.
"I don't... know..." Came the response. "Nowi, c-check the map." Nowi opened up Chrom's backpack and pulled out a well-worn map with many faded colored dots on it. As she scanned the tan-colored page, a light of knowledge came over her pale face.
"We're h-here, I believe." Chrom and friends huddled around Nowi, all trying to get a look at the paper. Nowi pointed her frozen finger at an area of the map, indicating they were there.
"Hell! We have all that to go?" Sully exclaimed, driving her lance into the snow, sending up clouds of the puffy white substance all around her feet.
"We can't turn back now," Morgan raised her voice. "If we're going to reach this... Calagua, whatever you call it, we're going to need to stick together and keep our wits about us.
"Easy for you to say! You have your father's brain!" Lucina joked, and the rest of the group managed a laugh or two. In spite of the bitter cold, the group of Ylisseans were still in good spirits. To Robin's eyes, it was a wonderful sight. As the group turned to shuffle forward, Robin let his mind wander far, far from the mountains. Why am I doing this? What's Calagua like? Hostile? Friendly? Nonexistent? What do I plan to do there anyways? What's for dinner? He let his mind come back to the present situation, finding comfort in listening to the sounds of his team-mates. Cordelia was comforting a crying Lissa, if tears could even form in these gods-forsaken temperatures. Sully, as usual, was cursing. Lon'qu glared at her until she stopped. Nowi and Morgan walked side-by-side, discussing Manakete fighting techniques. Lucina and Inigo were talking dinner. Something Robin was interested in. He slowed his pace to match Lucina and Inigo's.
"So, what are you guys coming up with for food tonight? I don't know about you, but I'm starving!"
"We're all starving!" Lissa complained, before Cordelia shushed her.
"Hmmm..." Inigo looked thoughtful. "I was considering steaks and potatoes, if that's all right with Milady here," He added.
"I don't mind," Lucina replied. "Robin, does that agree with you?"
"As long as it puts nutrients in my body, I'm all for it. I'll go talk to Chrom about settling in for the night, you know, establishing a campsite in the freezing cold. What fun." Robin put on a sprint to catch up to Chrom.
"Yes, Robin? What is it?" Chrom asked.
"I've been wondering... what do you know about this Calagua place? I've never heard of it before."
"Neither have I. I know, it's strange, to never know about an entire nation just to the north of us. Either I'm oblivious, or they're evasive. Maybe both," Chrom added, jokingly.
"I guess we'll find out when we get there..."
"I guess we will."
The campfire sparked and crackled, its warmth providing much-needed heat for the weary travelers. They huddled around its blaze like moths around a candle, only walking away temporarily to perform some small task. Lon'qu dug a flat stone out of his pack, and started sharpening his Killing Edge. Olivia sat down next to him and put an arm around his shoulder.
"Dinner!" Came Lucina's voice, like a lighthouse in a foggy night. Instantly, the mood lifted, everyone cheering as Lucina passed out cooked steaks and potatoes to everyone.
"Thanks, Lucina! This tastes... not awful!" Henry managed to say through a mouthful of potatoes.
"Hey! You try cooking a stir-fry and fried chicken in the middle of a mountain! Not so easy, is it?" Lucina shot back, humorously.
"You win, you win," He conceded, returning to his food. The mood of the group got happier as the warm food entered their bodies, providing needed nutrients. Robin pulled a tome out of his backpack and started reading it. 'Book of Naga', it read. Nowi sat down next to him and gave him a big hug.
"You don't have to sit there by yourself," She said.
"Thanks, Nowi," Robin said, returning her hug. By now, the group had dispersed, off to do various tasks or sleep. Nowi and Robin got up and walked to the outside of their own tent, looking at the stars.
"Do you see it?" Nowi asked, pointing to something in the far-off distance.
"No, I can't. What is it?" Robin replied.
"I can't make it out. It'll have to wait until the morning." She strained her eyes to try to see whatever it was, but couldn't, and sat back, saddened.
"Don't strain yourself, dear," Robin said, and wrapped his arms around Nowi. She did the same.
"Hey! Lovebirds!" Came Maribelle's yell. "Quit staring at the sky like it's gonna write your names in stars! The fire is almost out!"
"Rgh..." Was Robin's reply. Without moving the rest of his body, electric bands of energy formed around his body. He reached his arm skyward, and an Arcfire shot from his palm to the fire, igniting the dying logs in a great blaze. Maribelle was satisfied. Robin watched the stars, and eventually found himself lying on the ground, hands behind his head. Nowi was softly snoring, using his chest as a pillow. He laughed softly for a bit, and brushed some of her hair off of her face, a loving gesture, before settling his head down and drifting off out of consciousness.
Robin's eyes flashed open. How had he fallen asleep on the back of the Fell Dragon, Grima?! The fate of the world was at stake, this was no time for a power nap! Quick as Thoron, he whipped two tomes from his robes and issued commands to his friends, cutting through Risen enemies like knives through hot butter. Robin came face-to-face with himself, the embodiment of Grima. He cast a Bolganone, but the mighty creature just shrugged it off and shot purple spikes out of the ground towards him. Robin braced himelf for the impact. Spikes connected with his body, and the pain shattered bones. He wasn't strong enough. As he faded from consciousness, he was dimly aware of Chrom calling his name.
"Robin... Robin, get up."
"Robin! Get up! You have to!"
"I can handle this. Chrom, you needn't exert yourself," came a voice Robin couldn't place.
"ROBIN! WAKE THE HECK UP!" Came Maribelle's earsplitting screech as she power-slapped Robin back into reality. The force of the hit left a big red mark on his face, and sent him reeling in the opposite direction, gripping his face.
"What... the hell... was that for?!" Robin growled, gripping his face. "That hurt like anything! That was not necesary!"
"Whether it was or wasn't, you're awake now," She pointed out smugly, crossing her arms over her chest.
"Yes, I... noticed."
"Robin, look!" Nowi poked his shoulder. "Look! Do you see it? Look! Look!" Nowi was excitedly pointing at something in the distance.
"Yes, Robin, get your wits about you and take a look," Chrom added.
"With all due respect, Chrom, after sleeping for a time frame shorter than Meta Knight's range, I can't even see ten meters in front of my face."
"Look, dummy!" Nowi said, her voice high-pitched with excitement. "That's it! That's Filem, Calagua's capital!"
The friendly banter of the tavern where Chrom and company had been sitting for the past few hours filled Robin's ears as he casually sipped his glass of ice-water. The people in Filem seemed to know who they were, and offered them free food and lodging. They seemed hospitable, at the very least.
"Gah!" Chrom exclaimed as a chunk of wood broke from the ceiling and hit him on the top of the head, shattering into many small fragments. The tavern owner rushed over to him.
"Are you all right?" He asked nervously.
"Yes, I'll be fine. I've suffered much worse than a small plank of wood to the head," Chrom reassured him. He shook his head, as if to dismiss the small crowd that had formed around him.
"Well, I'm heading back to our lodge place. I don't know about the rest of you, but that walk made me tired as anything," Lucina said. With that, she turned and walked out of the tavern. The rest of the group got up one by one and followed her out. Stepping out into the cool night air, Robin looked up at the stars. He slowed his pace to match Chrom's.
"Chrom," He began. "Are you all right after that plank of wood fell and hit you?"
"Robin, I assure you, I'm fine. It was barely a scratch."
"If you say so..." was Robin's reply. As the group approached their wood cabin, Lucina stopped at the door in front of the group and pulled out a key, which she inserted into a lock to open the door. After she walked in, she turned to the table and lit a candle. As the rest of the group filed in, an uneasy silence filled the room. Morgan was the first to break it.
"I forgot it was..."
"So small..." Chrom finished. Sure enough, there were only two beds and three couches. The group would have to get creative if there would be enough sleeping space for everyone. Nowi, who had already flopped down onto one of the beds, motioned for Robin to lie down next to her. Robin sat down on the bed next to her.
"Well, obviously, Robin and Nowi will get one of the beds. Who should have the other?"
"Me!" Lissa shouted, jumping twice. She turned to Henry. "Come on, we should have a bed, right?" She asked him.
"Eh, sure, if everyone else is all ri-" He cut off as Lissa jumped onto one of the beds, rolling around in the sheets, getting them all jumbled up around her. "-ght with it..."
"Well, that's settled. Everyone else, figure out how you plan to sleep." With that, the group broke into discussion over who would sleep where. Eventually, after an hour or so of said discussion, Chrom blew out the last candle and darkness filled the room. However, it wasn't long before the now-familiar bickering filled the cramped room.
"Henry, give me some of the blanket!"
"Gods, Lissa, I'm the one freezing!"
"Frederick, get OFF of me!"
"Lucina, your sword is poking me in the leg."
"At least we all know Robin wasn't compensating for anything when he picked the room!"
"Nowi would know more about that than the rest of us..."
"Excuse me, I have to go to the ba-"
"OUCH! You stepped on me!"
"ENOUGH!" Chrom shouted. "Quit your childish bickering and SLEEP!" With that, the room's bickering was replaced by the snores of the weary Ylisseans.
"YOWCH!" The sound of a loud crash violently interrupted Robin's sleep. Morgan got up and rubbed her eyes, then looked over to see Nowi wrapped up in the drapes like a human burrito.
"'S it moahnin alreddeh?" Robin asked, obviously still half asleep.
"Wake up, father... mother has gotten herself... wrapped up in some drapes..." Morgan sounded as exasperated as she did humored.
"All right, I'm up," Robin said as he shuffled out of bed, walking over to Nowi, still struggling inside the drapes.
"Hold still," Lucina said, walking over. She started to use her sword to slit a hole in the drapes, but Nowi interrupted her.
"Gah! Lucina, quit it! I'm not wearing anything!" She squealed. Lucina jumped back as if she had turned into a giant Nowi spider.
"You're meaning to tell me you tried to lean out a window while you were COMPLETELY NAKED?!" Robin raised his voice. "You DO have a brain, right?"
"Sorry! It seemed like a good idea at the time!" She said in reply. "It was early enough I figured no one would see me!"
"And if a member of our group had gotten up, they would've seen you and thought, 'Wow! Not bad, Robin!'"
"Can you just get me out of here?" She pleaded.
"Fine... the rest of you, out, Lucina, stay, get her out of it."
"I don't want to see her naked! Get her out yourself, Robin!"
"All right..." Robin grumbled as Chrom herded the rest of the group out the door. Robin worked the drapes off of her, and eventually Nowi climbed out. "Now, for the love of the gods, put some clothes on!"
"Okay!" Nowi replied, irrittated, as she slipped on her Manakete garments. She opened the door and poked her head out. "You can come back in now! I've got clothes on!"
"Finally. It's freezing out here, and I'm still in my pajamas!" Came Ricken's response.
"This isn't an invitation to go back to sleep, everyone. Get ready, we have a big day ahead of us," Chrom said. Groans met his words, but quickly as ever, the group got ready for the day. Afterwards, Lucina locked the door when they were all outside. "I'm going to read that message now. It said to only read it once we got to Calagua, and here we are." Chrom pulled out the message-in-a-bottle he had been saving. "It reads..." Chrom said as he began to read the message aloud.
I write to you to ask for your help. This new government of ours is making us all terrified for our lives and our children's lives. We have been treated like slaves, worked like animals, and had our property stolen. We are in dire need of your help, if you would help us. The Calaguan Guard is too strong for you to take on alone, so there are four sages you must visit in order to learn the virtues of Leadership, Courage, Wisdom, and Friendship. They will teach you what you need to know in order to defeat Zera, empress of Calagua. They are located at the following places:
-Zulu, port city to the northeast
-Sierra, mountain village to the far north
-Echo, resort town to the southwest
-Alpha, mining town to the far west
Good luck, hero. We are counting on you.
"Letter ends," Chrom finished. "Thoughts?"
"Kill him!" Frederick roared.
"Train first, then kill him," Morgan corrected.
"I say we visit these sages," Lucina offered.
"Breakfast?" Nowi asked. Agreement met her words, and the group walked off to the tavern to eat.
End Of Chapter One