Chapter 24 – Compromises
Morning came too fast for the Shepherds. The revelations from last night's events, coupled with the exhaustion from their recent battles, forced their Captain to order them to rest and clear their minds before further dialogue could be made. With any luck for Rose, they would be at the very least furious instead of calling for her head.
Not that she cared at the moment. The only thing in her mind was the sight of her children sleeping around her. Despite all she had lived through, this was the first true miracle she had witnessed. To be reunited with her children– her actual children!– was something she never hoped. And that they accepted her and forgave her? It was more than she could ever ask.
She would keep her family safe, no matter how this day ends.
That night the trio silently agreed to stick together with her. They all place bedrolls on her tent and when to sleep with a tight embrace. Rose was the only one awake, which allowed her the opportunity to see her children.
Lucina had discarded her outfit and tiara for a simple shirt and laid to her right with a serene expression on her face as she embraced her mother. At the left was Marc, curled under the arm. On the other hand, Morgan crashed on top of them, though no one seemed to mind. Except maybe Marc who kept groaning every time Morgan's foot poked his nostril. Rose looked in amazement and amusement as her youngest daughter was somehow able to harass her brother in her sleep. All the while drooling all over her sister's shirt.
The world could wait a little longer.
Inside another tent, Robin woke up to what he knew would be the longest day of his life. At first, it simply felt like he woke up in his tent just like any other day but a rush of memories from the night before did nothing to help with his growing worry. Something– Someone else did, however. He turned his head to see his beloved still in deep sleep, possessively clinging to his arm. As he saw Tiki's serene expression, he thought that there might be some truth to the rumors that dragons protect their treasure.
Both wore nothing but their nightclothes beneath the blanket and he didn't mind. Tiki offered the warmth of simple companionship that soothed his worries and that's only made him love her more.
Robin sat up, looked around as if making sure that there's no one looking, and caressed her cheek, stirring the manakete from her slumber. Tiki blinked the sleep from her eyes until she could focus on him. She smiled at him and he returned the gesture in kind.
"Hey," Tiki replied with a lazy smile, snuggling deeper into the blanket's embrace. It was a chilly morning, after all, being this close to the Feroxi coast. "Mmmmm, I could sleep a few more days… or years, but I don't believe I have that luxury anymore."
"Please don't have one of your 'naps'? I'll get lonely, you know," Robin said in jest, but his smile faltered after a moment. "It's... going to be a long day, isn't it?" he asked in a tired voice.
Tiki pushed herself upwards, embracing him. "We will get through this. Your friends had time to process this. I believe this will work out."
"I supposed that no one tried to knife me in my sleep is a good sign," he conceded.
"As much as it pleases me that you're looking at the silver lining, I dare say my presence might have deterred any attempts at such. No one here would try anything least they provoke mine and my mother's ire."
"All the more reason for us to keep sharing beds then," Robin added with a smile.
Tiki rose an eyebrow at that, though her lips still quirked upwards. "Not bad."
"I try," he said with a chuckled and stood up. "Now, I think we better get ready for today. I'll go take a bath first." He paused. "I better be careful in case your mother is still around and gets the wrong idea. I rather not get vaporized before judgment is passed." The idea of Naga thinking he dishonored her daughter out of wedlock is something Robin rather not imagine.
The manakete replied with a roll of her eyes, understanding the meaning of his words. "Mother does tend to get too invested in my personal life," she admitted with a huff before smiling at him. "But if you are worried about that, there is always a solution," she added with a wink.
His heart skipped a beat.
Chrom awoke an hour earlier than the rest, no less tired than the night before. The prince remained on his bed, staring at the roof of his tent in thought. Too many burdens were in his mind in the wake of the revelations. Despite his reassurances to the tacticians last night, the prince was not as confident everything will turn out well today.
In the span of one evening, a militia he built with the tenants of trust and bedrock camaraderie stood on the brink of falling apart. His closest friend–no, brother– is a vessel for the Fell Dragon. The woman that saved their sister from certain death has the power of the Fell Dragon.
The fact that he had three grown children in the span of a single night had not led to a peaceful sleep as his mind turned the idea around. It was ironic that of all things that should worry him, such as the oncoming war or Grima's return, it was that he was now a father that caused him the most distress.
He was not a fool. Chrom understood they were not his children, as Rose pointed out, but that didn't mean the prince didn't felt a responsibility to them. His personal situation in regards to the time travelers was one of the most complicated in the army and he would've to deal sooner or later.
First, he needed to convince their comrades of not doing anything rash. Unity will be needed to face the oncoming storm. The prince would be lying if he said his heart didn't have a sliver of conflict towards his decision to fully trust the tacticians but he was willing to power through the whispers of doubt. He was only human, after all, but his instinct and experience told him to trust them. That's why he professed his trust to the two last night and he intended to remain true to words.
Walking to the bucket of cold water in the corner of his tent, Chrom washed the sleep away and got ready for the challenging day ahead.
Words could not describe how happy Marc felt at being reunited with most of his friends family. The finding his mother–his actual mother, not a past version of her– was something he and his sibling dreamed for years. The truth of her original fate hurt but that didn't stop him from relishing the joy of their reunion.
Still, Marc didn't know how to act with those outside their small group. That was bound to make future interactions awkward affairs. He knew the Shepherds were talking to their children with bemused vigor if that's even a thing. A part of him was sad that his friends could not enjoy a true reunion like he and his sisters had, but there was nothing he could do about it.
At least their family was having a nice breakfast in a private tent despite their upcoming… discussions.
Glancing around the table, he saw Lucina listening with rapt attention to their grandmother as she told her tales of her life, while Morgan pestered mother for tips on magic and strategy. As much as Marc wanted to do the same, the young prince was happy to converse with his uncle, even if it was weird or use the name for his uncle instead of his mom. After a while talking he had found a kindred spirit in his uncle. It probably helped that both of them had… energetic twin sisters.
Finding out that, when not bound by her duties, his mother was a grown-up version of Morgan was both shocking and terrifying. He remembered her as a kind and caring, but then again those were memories of a child. Not that it changed how she treated them.
Talking to his uncle was nice. It was great to have someone that understood what it was like to be the sole voice of reason, even though the two tacticians were just as weird as the rest of the Shepherds.
He still wished he had his father with them, though. That thought made him glance at Prince Chrom. Not Exalt Chrom; that title remained with his still-alive aunt.
Speaking of which, the paintings didn't do her justice. Emmeryn had this graceful air that commanded respect through kindness, not through force of will or power. He honestly wanted to sit with his entire family and truly get to know them. They will need to get through this day first, but the young man had faith.
He was enjoying his grandmother's scrambled eggs when he heard his uncle ask, "So what's our plan for today?"
Rose took a gulp from her water before giving a tired sigh in response. "Not much to plan, really. The Shepherds have seen all I have to show them. The only thing left is to make our case."
Lucina decided to give her opinion at that. "I want to check on our friends before the meeting. I want to make sure they are well, and if possible, I want to clear the air with them and not let these wounds fester." Not a bad idea. Swaying their opinions in their favor would be prudent. Though it would be better to leave that to his older sister. Lucina would have a better chance of convincing the others.
"Wampt shome help, Luchy?" Morgan asked through a mouthful of eggs, earning a reproaching glare from their mother.
Oh, gods. No. Morgan's idea of diplomacy tended to involve physical and magical violence. At least among their group of friends, it was a headbutt or a punch. In other cases, it involved explosions, destroyed property, and the remains of what was law enforcement.
If the cringe Lucina failed to hold back was anything to go by, she felt the same. "I'm fine, Morgan," she said gently with a fake smile worthy of court. She then frowned before adding, "And don't speak with your mouth full. May I take my leave, mother?"
"Of course," Mother said, moving to gently grip Lucina's hand with a smile that the eldest princess returned in kind. A simple gesture that they all treasured above all else.
As Lucina left, Morgan pouted but shrugged it off. "Now that Lucy is not around, let me tell you how I brought this fort down all by myself!"
Marc felt a migraine coming. This day was going to be a long one.
Priam rubbed the back of his neck, avoiding looking at the princess of Chon'sin. This was probably the hardest battle he had ever faced and no amount of physically grueling training had prepared him for this. The scion of the Radiant bloodline had no other desire than to refine his skills with the sword and to face new challenges.
Talking to the woman he fancied, and a princess at that, about their time-traveling adult son while said son stood close was not among those challenges.
He would rather face Yen'fay in a duel than this awkwardness, which given the circumstances, would most likely happen.
And while he would prefer to take things slowly, he couldn't deny that the outcome pleased him.
At least that meant she said 'yes'?
And their son looked strong. Stoic, sure, but he saw him fighting and he had both their skill sets. Though he did find it odd that Ragnell remained sheathed on his back and that made Priam wonder if there was more to it.
"Say'ri, I..." Taking a deep breath, he braced himself for what was about to come. "I am a man who is dedicated to the art of combat and the way of the sword. However, in recent weeks, it has been you who dominates my thoughts. And I...think I have fallen...in love."
"Priam, a-although we sired a child and are betrothed to another in the future, it does not mean you should feel bound to–"
"It's not that!" he shouted, cutting her off, immediately clasping her hands in his palms. A small part of his brain chastised him for just disrespecting royalty, regardless of their friendship. "Fighting at your side for the past year, I saw your dedication to your people. In your strong heart and spirit, I've found a new way to see the world. You have been gentle and patient to me, yet still stronger than any steel. All my life, I have lived only for the blade. But now I want to live for you."
"I was waiting until after the war was over. Until I can prove myself to your family." Was the air getting thinner? "I might be the descendant of the Radiant Hero, but I have no noble title. No lands or riches to offer a woman of your station. Only my blade and my devotion, should you accept i–"
Whatever else he was going to say was silenced once he felt Say'ri's lips on his.
Pulling away, the princess took his hand into hers and looked at him directly in the eyes. "Priam. We have fought together for a long time and I have bore witness to the man you truly are: strong-willed and kind. Mayhaps be a little hot-headed, but not something that would push me away. Titles are of little meaning to me when your deeds have brought you more favor than any title could."
Hope swelled in his chest at her words. "Does that mean that…?"
Say'ri gave a tiny chuckle before rewarding him with a smile. "Yes, I will ma–EEP!" The princess let out an undignified squeak when the swordsman pulled her into his embrace.
Priam let a joyful bark of laughter as he spun her around. "Oh! Huzzah! HUZZAH!"
The princess laughed, wrapping her arms around his neck. "Why, Priam, I've never seen you so...emotional!"
He stopped and put her down, never breaking their embrace. "I... would not normally allow myself such a… display. But when you follow the way of love, you must let your feelings sing. Anything else would be a grave disservice to the one you pledge your heart to," he said, allowing his heart to guide his words. "You give my strength a new purpose— and meaning. I'll let the world burn before I see you hurt. I swear that on my honor."
"Poetically put," she replied, leaning into his arms. "Well, let us not get carried away. We are trying to prevent that from happening, after all."
He chuckled. "True enough."
"I expect my brother to challenge you for my hand, though," she added with a hint of amusement as she pulled back to look at his face.
Priam said with a confident smirk as he took the princess' hand to lead her in a stroll. "A challenge I look forward to overcoming."
Sun'fey used all of his strength to hold back his uncle, preventing him from drawing Amatsu on his father. The young swordsman didn't expect for the man to turn so overprotective all of a sudden. Last night he was as calm as a river in springtime, but after the revelation of their future, that sense of protectiveness had transformed into something ridiculous.
"Please, Unc– Lord Yen'fay! I swear on my name that my father will never dishonor mother!"
The amused retainers were not making things easier either but at least they weren't helping his uncle. He probably didn't even register their presence. At least as royal retainers, they were already informed of the entire mess. Otherwise, he would've been assaulted by daring to lay a hand on the Crown Prince of Chon'sin.
Despite having a lighter build than Sun'fey, his uncle's stride was still making progress. Albeit inch by inch. Sun'fey was at least slowing his advance.
"Could any of you help!?" the future prince demanded from the watching retainers.
"Honor does not allow me to lift a finger against my liege," Han'zo said in a serious tone, but a small curl of his lips betraying his amusement.
Pheros sighed, raising her gaze from her book and gave him an insincere look of pity. "Alas, I owe Lord Yen'fay too much to consider such acts of insubordination."
"And you two?!" he asked his mother's retainers as he uselessly dug his heels on the ground.
"Oh, we are simply enjoying this," Gen'ji admitted without shame as he leaned on a tree to watch his struggle.
"This is so much fun," Kas'mi added between giggles, only her skill preventing her from falling from the branch she was sitting on. "Who would've guessed Lady Say'ri's son would bring such fun with him!"
The time traveler made a vow to make them pay.
'This day hasn't started yet, I swear...'
"So you're our little Alann? The little baby I left with my mom and sisters?" Anna asked the time traveler.
"Well, if we get technical–Ow!" The young man exclaimed as his mother grabbed his head, turning him around to look behind his ears, inspecting him like a piece of new merchandise.
"Hmm, yup. You have the same mole behind your ear, just like my baby." She pursed her lips for a moment before grinning at him. "You may have Gregor's hair, but you clearly inherited my stunning good looks!"
"Ah… Y-yeah," Alann said with an embarrassed blush on his cheeks. "Thank you, mo– Miss Anna."
"Now now, I might not get the whole time travel thing, but when all's said and done, you're still my baby boy, so mom it is!" Anna declared, sending a wave of relief through Alann's body. Everyone was still coming to terms with being in the wrong timeline, but this made him feel a sense of peace.
"Ha! Gregor is happy of having such strong son!" his father exclaimed with pride, slapping Alann in the back and realigning his spine and nearly knocking him over.
"N-not that strong," Alann replied, doing his best to not flinch in pain. "I'm more of a merchant, but I'm decent with the sword."
"You know, looking at you up close, I feel like I have seen you around before..." Anna said, look him closer once more and humming to herself in thought. When it clicked, her eyes widened in realization. "Wait... You're the owner of Alann's General Store!"
Alann blinked twice at that. "Well, yes. It's in the name."
"You're one of the best stores in Ylisstol! Everyone talks about your store's rise in prominence! And I heard you've started taking a portion of the clientele away from my third cousin, Anna!"
The merchant's gossip network with her sisters. He should've known. "I tried to apply everything I remembered from you, but well… You can't exactly run a store from where we came from."
His mother looked apologetic. Something unusual from her spunky self. "Sorry, I should've thought of that," she admitted in an embarrassed tone. "But then how did you manage to build up your store so fast?"
"Before traveling to the past, we took what gold and trinkets we could carry to help set us up. We sold them for quite the profit but not enough for the long term. While we waited to make contact with the others, I decided to open the store and used it to fund our group as well as gathering information," Alann explained, running through his memories from his arrival years ago. "It started small but with all the money we gathered, and even selling some of the jewelry we kept in the store, we earned coin quickly. It just snowballed from there. It helped us a lot once we all gathered together."
"Ha! Just as expected from my kid! I bet you're rolling in gold by now!"
And now they reached the part the young merchant dreaded. He might as well just get on with it.
"Well, I only keep what we need to finance our equipment and living arrangements. The rest of my profits go to villages in need and the local churches."
As he expected, the young man bore witness to his parents' brains freezing, not processing those words.
"W-What?" his mother managed to croak out after gathering her wits. "C-Charities?" she breathed the word as if it was cursed.
"W-Well… growing up in our ruined future, gold is not that important or useful, you know? I just keep what we need to finance our group and donate the rest to those in need," he said before adding with a shrug. "It worked fine so far."
The explanation did not seem to register with his parents, which Alann already expected. All his aunts reacted the same in his time, even after all sense of economical systems had already collapsed. Must be genetic, at least on the female side.
Anna threw herself at her husband's embrace, crying in a frankly, embarrassingly dramatic fashion. "GREGOR! WHERE DID WE GO WRONG!? OUR BABY IS CHARITABLE!"
"Now now, Anna," Gregor soothed her, softly patting her head. "He has the blood of a merchant and a sellsword. Gregor is sure we can fix this. We just need to ensure the future is safe for our son."
"Right! We shall spend day and night with him until we make a proper businessman out of him!"
Well, that wasn't the motivation he wanted to spend time with his parents but it would have to do. With any luck, his was the most awkward of the parent-child conversations.
Both Khans looked at their future daughter.
The muscular girl looked back.
None truly knew what to say. Jocasta's scowl remained in place, but there was a glint in her eyes that spoke of a mischievous side inherited from both her parents.
"So, have the two of you stopped pretending you're not fucking each other? Because from what I heard you're not fooling anybody."
Both Khans balked at her words for an instant but then threw their heads back a laughed.
Yep, she was their daughter alright.
Not all parents could interact with their children, regardless of how much they wanted too. The needs of the army still needed to be met before they had that luxury. As a result, Gaius and Stahl reluctantly had to leave to fulfill their duties, leaving Cordelia and Sumia some alone time with their daughters.
Together with their squad of curious Pegasus Knights.
Phila had taken her squad on patrol, to give her junior officers some time with the time travelers, and to distract her own squad from the images of their deaths. The Pegasus Knights surrounded them, already having introduced each other to the girls. Sumia was glad that they had a chance to meet them. From what they saw in those memories, she and Cordelia should've been the only surviving members of the entire Pegasus Knight brigade. They only lived thanks to Rose and Robin. Or was it Robin and Robin? The brunette filed that question away for later, focusing more into
"Your baby girls grew up into beautiful ladies," Elsa said to Sumia and Cordelia, giving a smile to the girls in question.
Cynthia gave an embarrassed chuckle as she took the compliment while Severa just crossed her arms with a huff and a blush in her cheeks. That girl's fiery disposition matched her hair color. Strange to think the little, giggling Severa would grow up into such a... strong personality, but then again, the future was not kind to them.
"Indeed. I'm glad Cynthia inherited Gaius' hair color. It suits her both as a baby and a young woman," Sumia said, making her grown daughter beam with happiness that made her heart swell. "And you too, Severa. Your red hair is lovely."
"Thanks, Aunt Sumia," Severa muttered making Sumia smile. At least she could get through the girl's hard shell. Still, everyone could tell there was tension between Severa and Cordelia thanks to the girl's poorly hidden antagonism to her mother.
"Thank you," Cynthia said, puffing her chest with pride and saving her comrade from an awkward conversation. "I heard so much about your order growing up and I have to say it's a pleasure to meet all of you."
"Here we go with the fangirling..." Severa muttered with a roll of her eyes, just loud enough to be heard.
"Can't you be polite for once?!" the orange-haired girl hissed in a poor attempt to not be heard. "You're embarrassing us."
Severa's lips turned into a flat line, doing her best to hold back her temper. "You would know something about embarrassing yourself..."
The girls didn't notice the knights sharing worried glances between each other. Sumia frowned a little. Why were the two so antagonistic to each other?
"So, Severa," Cordelia started, offering the mercenary a smile. "We haven't had a chance to talk, so why don't you tell us about yourself?"
Conflicting emotions flashed across Severa's face before settling on a scowl. "Why do you care? As long as we are fighting for your precious Chrom, that's all that matters to you," she spat.
Sumia cringed, something that all other knights in her squad also did, at the girl's words. They all could tell what the source of her
Cordelia seemed to physically recoil at that. "Ex...cuse me?"
"Be polite," Cynthia hissed through a forced smile, turning to address the stricken captain. "Sorry, Aunt Cordelia. Severa can be… difficult at times."
The red-heard looked at Cynthia with a mix of bewilderment and indignation. "I'm difficult?! Geez, I wonder why! Between her fawning over the prince and you over fairy tales of heroes, it's a miracle my arteries haven't hardened!"
Cynthia's expression hardened more at every passing moment. "Like your heart could get harder than the solid rock it already is."
"Oh, should I be all smiles and sunshine like you?!" Severa fired back, before taking a more mocking tone. "Oh my! Worry not, citizen! The Legendary Hero Cynthia is here!"
"It wouldn't hurt you to try to be positive, jerk!"
The girls continued to fire harsh words at each other, completely forgetting they were not alone. Sumia gave a side glance at her best friend and she could see the pained expression at her daughter's words.
It seemed that at least in their future, Cordelia had not moved past her crush on Chrom. They all knew she loved Stahl, and at least in this world she had managed to move past it, but what was different in the girls' future? Had the survival of their squadmates affect Cordelia's love life? Or had her relationship with Stahl degraded with time?
At least Cynthia had given no indication of Sumia's marriage to Gaius failing.
"It's… It's everything alright, girls?" Sorano asked, attempting to stop their argument with poor results.
"We are fine!" they replied as one, all while glaring daggers at each other.
"Why do you have to act like that?" Cynthia asked, ignoring the show they were putting up. "We just traveled back to the past, everyone is alive, and we have a chance to meet our predecessors! Why do you have to put your 'bitch' act now of all times?!" she said in a way that just told Sumia her daughter didn't curse often. Small mercy. "And to your own mother no less!"
Severa didn't take that lying down. She walked towards the other girl and jabbed a finger in her chest. "How I speak to my mother is none of your business!"
'Well, at least Severa did consider this Cordelia her mother', Sumia thought. She knew not all the time-travelers felt the same.
"Remember when we were spying on them and our younger selves in Ylisstol and you were all emotional on how she spoke of you? Why do you keep lying to yourself?" the orange-haired girl demanded.
Sumia blinked at that. "You were spying on us?"
"I wasn't emotional!" Severa yelled, ignoring the question.
Cynthia scoffed at that. "Please. We've known each other all our lives, I can tell. You always act like a jerk when it comes to your mother but everyone knows you care about her. You even named your sword after her!"
Severa froze for a moment before her glare burned hotter than dragon fire. "Shut up! Don't go telling her private stuff like that!" the red-haired girl snarled as she slapped the back Cynthia's head with her armored hand.
"Ow! You bitch!" she said, pulling at Severa's hair, making her cry in pain.
"Ah! Now you are in for it!" Severa shouted before launching at Cynthia and rolling down the hill as they devolved into a catfight.
Inigo was walking with his sister on their way to meet their parents when he froze mid-step with a thoughtful frown on his face.
"What is it, brother?" Ke'ri asked, stopping at his side.
He narrowed his eyes and rubbed his chin in thought. "I feel like I'm missing something amazing."
The Pegasus Knights could only stare in shock at the girls rolling in a pull of mud, pulling hair and scratching each other like savage cats.
"Should… Should we separate them?" Anise asked, giving the pair's mothers a sideways glance. The pair, though, could only gawk at their daughters.
Cordelia, in particular, didn't register her friend's words. She was focused on the fact that, at least in one future, her crush on Chrom had affected her relationship with her daughter so much that the girl grew up to resent her if not outright hate her.
She loves Stahl. The red-hair would never deny that. And she would like to think she had moved past that with her comrades' help.
But she didn't have that support in Severa's future, did she?
Nagging doubts began crawling through her mind when a distraction presented itself.
"Let them be. This is how they always are," a young woman's voice said from behind them.
The squad turned to see Rose's elder daughter walking towards them while casting an exasperated look at the brawling girls.
"Marth! I mean, Princess Lucina!" Cordelia exclaimed, regaining her bearings long enough to put on the mask of professionalism. "Attention!" she ordered, saluting the princes with the whole squadron swallowing suit.
The blue-haired girl just waved her hands in front of her to stop them. "Please, I'm no princess in this world," she explained with a little hint of sadness in her voice. "Just call me Lucina. It's a pleasure to meet you all," she added with a curtsy and a smile.
Cordelia relaxed slightly at that, with her squad following suite. "I...suppose there is no protocol for time-traveling princesses… from parallel worlds on top of that," she said, frowning at her words. Apparently, time-traveling was not that uncommon these days.
"You can write one later, Captain," Jean said, before giving another small smile to the princess. "Lady Lucina, pardon me if I'm being too familiar, but you mean to say they are always like this? I would've thought that being the daughters of such close friends as Sumia and Cordelia, they would be in better terms."
The princess let out a resigned sigh, looking once more at her friends, but a small smile crossed her lips. "They are actually quite close friends that respect each other, even if it doesn't appear so at first glance."
The squad shared a look of disbelief at that statement.
"I… pardon me, but that is hard to believe after such display," Jean said dubiously.
Elsa nodded at that, "Their attitudes are also quite the opposite of one another. Pardon me, but it looks more like they, well, despise each other."
Well, those words hurt Cordelia and she was sure they hurt Sumia too. The two of them wanted their daughters to get along just like them, but the princess had said they were indeed friends.
"Hmm, we have time. They will be at that for a while," Lucina said after taking another look at her friends. "It's best if I provide some context to their relationship and personalities," she said, motioning for them to take a seat. "They will not tell you most of their story but I feel you need to know to truly understand them."
"If you could, we would appreciate it," Cordelia said, a bit too earnest. "Severa… I understand I'm not really her mother but I would still like to have a good relationship with her. But she seems to hold a grudge against me."
The bluenette barely managed to hold back a grimace at her words. "That will indeed be a difficult task," the princess said, mulling her thoughts for a moment before deciding how to proceed.
"Is there a particular reason for her resentment?" Anise asked, deciding that was the best place to start.
Lucina frowned for a moment. "There are two reasons in particular for her behavior. Pardon if my words sound harsh but Severa grew in your shadow, Lady Cordelia," she stated, making the entire squad flinch. This was the one thing Cordelia did not want for her daughter, as she herself admitted to having grown under her father's shadow.
"Could you elaborate, milady?" Samantha asked in her captain's sted.
The princess nodded. "As one of the few surviving Pegasus Knights, as well as one of the most decorated knights in generations, you set the bar very high for her. You were always spoken of as the perfect knight and she always felt inferior to you for that reason."
The squad gave her sad looks of regret. It was the same feelings they had for her when they started working together.
"I'm not perfect," Cordelia said, old feelings coming back to haunt her. "I never pretended to be. I just..."
"Pardon me if I offended you, but I'm only stating what I know," Lucina said soothingly before continuing. "As I was saying, Severa felt she could never measure up to those expectations and eventually she decided to forfeit her role as a Pegasus Knight and follow another path."
Cordelia perked up at that. "She trained as a Pegasus Knight?" she asked, unable to hide the pride in her voice.
The princess gave her a smile in response. "Indeed. I have to admit she is a better rider than Cynthia, and they are about equal with a lance." The bluenette paused as she seemed to think deeply about something.
At that moment, everyone could see it was the same expression Rose wore once she was weighing their squad's strengths and weaknesses. Like mother, like daughter.
"Severa is stronger, which I believe inherited from Ser Stahl's build, but Cynthia is faster thanks to Ser Gaius. Both of them inherited your skills with the lance and having fought against the Risen and since they were young they are quite capable, though they are still unused to fighting living people."
"Then why does she not fight as one? Cynthia even wears the armor. But Severa doesn't. She doesn't even use a lance," Sorano asked, echoing everyone's confusion.
The princess didn't bother to hide her exasperation with her friend. "Stubborn pride. We all reassurances that to her she is a fine warrior but Severa still pushed herself despite our effort. That's what pushed her to abandon her Pegasus Knight training and take Ser Stahl's sword. It hinders her combat prowess but she insists on using the sword as a way to differentiate from you."
Cordelia had seen her daughter fight with a sword and she was quite the proficient swordswoman. If she was better with a lance then she could be a splendid Pegasus Knight. This only made her feel guilty that her own successes had hampered her daughter's growth. She looked down at her hands, curled up into trembling fists. "I never wanted that for her," she said in a small voice. "I just want my daughter to be happy. To be the best she could be."
She felt a hand intertwined with her own and looked down to see Sumia giving her a comforting squeeze. The brunette then looked at the princess. "I think we all have guessed it by now, but... what is the other reason for her resentment?"
Lucina looked outright uncomfortable at the question, which only validated their fears. "I… From what I heard growing up, everyone except for my father was aware of your... feelings for him. Even after he married my mother in the future."
Well, if it wasn't the pinnacle of awkwardness to hear that from your crush's daughter, then Cordelia didn't know what was.
Cordelia bowed her head in shame to the princess. "I am deeply sorry if that offended you, milady. I just..."
Lucina stopped her with a have of her hand. "I will not judge you or the other Cordelia for her feelings. She never acted on them and I do believe you moved on. Though my memories are from my early childhood, I recall you and Ser Stahl were quite a loving couple, though you married about a year later when compared to this timeline."
Making a note to clear the air with her husband so there were no misunderstandings, Cordelia asked, "Then why is she affected by that knowledge."
"Those that knew you and survived Grima's initial attacks believed you dedicated yourself to the Exalt's army not only out of duty but to protect Severa."
That sounded right to Cordelia. She only wanted the best for her daughter, but it was clear from Lucina's expression that her feelings had not been conveyed to her daughter.
"Sadly, she didn't see it that way. She felt you abandoned her to follow after Chrom and then died for it, leaving her alone. I think she attached herself to the idea that you loved the Exalt more than your family."
"Never!" the redhead exclaimed, only to wince once she remembered whom she was speaking to. "I mean… I don't want my loyalty to the crown to be questioned, princess, b–!"
"I never pretended as such, milady," Lucina said, taking a look at her still brawling friends to check they had not listened to her outburst. Luckily, they hadn't. "Severa loves you. Of that, I have no doubt. She knows you love her, but she doesn't know for sure what you love more. Her, your duty, or the prince."
"She's afraid of getting close to Cordelia and have her fears justified," Sorano said, letting the realization fall upon all of them.
Lucina nodded looking dejected. "I fear that is something a lot of my friends will have to overcome, not only Severa. Our situation is quite… unique." She then gave Cordelia comforting look. "Just know she doesn't hate you. Severa is just lashing out because more vulnerable than what she looks."
The group descended into silence for a moment while they digested all the information. Just one of the time travelers showed how some actions could have dire consequences on someone else's lives. Who knew what the other Shepherds were dealing with when confronting their own children? And that was nothing when compared to what Lucina's mother had gone through.
"What can you tell us about Cynthia?" Sumia asked, changing the topic.
"Well, that is a happier subject at least," Lucina answered with a smile, letting herself relax. "Growing up, Cynthia disliked fighting, but still wanted to protect others. She idolizes all of you." She then grimaced and muttered. "Maybe a little too much..."
"What do you mean?" her clumsy friend asked with concern.
Realizing she spoke it out loud, the princess reluctantly continued. "She has this… idealized image of heroes. Her heart is in the right place and her skills are nothing to scoff at, but she tends to let her fantasies and theatrics get the best of her," Lucina explained, and then adding, "...Which might be my cousin's fault."
"Ah, you mean Princess Lissa's son? Prince Owain, correct?" Elsa asked.
Samantha frowned slightly, most likely recalling the earlier introduction he performed for the Shepherds. "He's quite the… colorful individual," she added lamely.
"Yes… he has been described as such, among other things," Lucina drawled in a deadpan tone that would've made her mother proud. "But it's their way to coup with our circumstances," she said before shaking her head. "But I digress. She is good in a fight but tends to rush into situations without proper preparation. In truth, she used to more idealistic, believing that the hero would always prevail."
"That's not a good mindset to have in battle," Cordelia said, hearing the disappointed sigh from Sumia. Even a romantic like her friend knew better.
"She has mellowed a little during the past few years once she dealt with living bandits and deserting soldiers. Not by much, though. After years of fighting Risen, it was easy to decide who is good and evil."
"But in our time, it's not as simple," Cordelia added, understanding what the future princess was saying. "Not all bandits steal for greed. Some do so for necessity. While not all knights and soldiers are honorable."
Sumia frowned, adding, "We had various deserters of the city guard before the assault on Ylisstol. There were also Feroxi mercenaries that took 'payment' for protecting our lands."
"We had to hunt them down with the Shepherds after the war," Sorano said, her eyes far away into a bad memory. "It was not pleasant to fight your fellow countrymen or realizing that your comrades do not always share the same morals as you."
"Indeed," the princess said with a disappointed tone. "We too had to fight deserters from both sides of the last war, each with their individual motivations. Plegians that only wanted food and Ylisseans that wanted to pillage their own country. It was a sad but required eye-opening experience for everyone in our group. The things some of them did to the smallfolk… Risen were never as cruel."
None of the Pegasus Knights said anything to that. They had seen what some troops did during the attack on Ylisstol and the clean-up of the surrounding villages that followed. Even the Valmese had taken 'liberties' with the people of Port Ferox. No one could remain completely innocent after that.
"Did you not had to deal with bandits or thieves in the future?" Jean asked. "Pardon my bluntness, I would think people desperate enough would go down"
"There were rarely any brigands left. Not out of some unity in the face of calamity, but because they were easy prey for the Risen or each other. By the time we were old enough to take the field, only Risen remained as our enemies, with humanity falling back to the few strongholds we possessed."
"How old were you when Grima resurrected?"
"I was around nine or ten years old. Cynthia and Severa were only slightly younger but they were trained since they were very little," Lucina explained and it hurt all the knights to know these young warriors were robbed of their family and childhood. "It was actually Severa the one that berated Cynthia for getting into trouble," the princess continued.
"Really?" From what she had seen, her daughter was not one to bite her tongue, so it shouldn't be a surprise.
"Yes, and I can say it was for the best. It helped Cynthia grow up, though. As exasperating as her antics could be, I'm glad Cynthia hasn't lost her optimism and still strives to be the image of what she believes a hero should be," Lucina said fondly with a shake of her head. "It might sound silly to some, but I think it's an admirable trait."
Cordelia took a moment to analyze the girls not as their daughters, but as a potential member of the Pegasus Knights. Anyone could see that they were experienced against Risen from their raw skill. They had to be, to have survived such horrors as those present in the future. They could be refined into even deadlier fighters if trained properly.
"Despite what they saw, they are good friends," Lucina said, gaining her attention again. "They are always partnered together and have some of the best teamwork out of our group. Severa keeps Cynthia grounded and out of trouble, though she has a brash approach to that. Cynthia meanwhile offers Severa a rivalry where she can focus on her own strengths. They might not admit it outright, but they respect each other."
The princess lost herself in an amusing memory if her expression was anything to go by.
"I remember when Cynthia focused too much on her training trying to be like you, that she forgot her pegasus. Severa was furious for her lack of attention and berated Cynthia for it. She then spent a whole week teaching Cynthia all she knew pegasus care with her," the princess said, with fondness in her tone. "I have seen them fight time and time again over small things, but they will always back each other when it matters."
Sumia and Cordelia shared a look and smiled. It seemed that despite everything, their daughters would still have each other's backs.
"You hold them in high esteem," Sorano said.
Lucina nodded and gave her a small smile. "They are my best friends. They have always been at my side," she added softly. "That's why I am telling sharing this with you. I… I know you're not really their mothers. They were not as lucky as my siblings and I, but I hope that you can bring them some closure and happiness, regardless of today's outcome."
Ah. The tacticians' "trial". The squad had yet to come to a decision before this talk, but they needed to discuss it soon.
"You've given us a lot to think about, milady," Cordelia said.
"Then I will leave you to those thoughts. Good day to you all," Lucina said, giving them a nod and moving to leave.
"Wait!" Jean said, stopping the princess mid-stride. "I can't speak for everyone, our squad owes your mother our lives. It might not be much, but you have my support."
Sorano looked a little conflicted but gave her a firm nod. "I can't say I'm completely at ease having Grima's power so close, but I don't blame your mother for the dragon's actions."
As the rest of her friends voiced their support, Cordelia didn't know what to think. They clearly felt they owed Rose, and if she was honest, so did she. She didn't want to think what her other self felt watching her squad fall in front of her eyes. Robin couldn't be blamed for things yet to come. Not when they can be prevented.
Still, it was a risk that threatened the entire world.
Sumia shared a glance with Cordelia, who gave her a nod before the brunette spoke. "We will speak with Severa and Cynthia first, but I think we can trust your mother and uncle. They have learned that much."
Lucina's eyes widened at that before her gaze softened. "Thank you," she said sincerely.
As they watched the princess leave, Cordelia felt a tap on her shoulder. Turning, she saw Sumia smiling and pointing to the bottom of the hill. Their daughters laid sprawled on the floor, breathing heavily, but the air felt clear between them.
"Ha...Ha… You… your right hook is stronger..." Cynthia breathed out, turning her head to her rival.
Much to her shock, Severa nodded her head and spoke in a tone that hinted to respect. "You too… You no longer… drop your blocking arm… when you kick..."
"Heh, tricks like that… only work once. Come, let's find a healing staff to clear that bruise."
"Fine… But only because you offered!"
"Those girls have fire in them," Sorano said behind her as the rest of the squad walked to them.
"They have gone through a lot," the redhead replied, thinking of all the pain her daughter carried on her shoulder.
"Well, now they have their mothers and their aunts to help them along, right?" Elsa said with a smile that Cordelia felt herself reciprocating.
Moving the wet rag in soothing motions, Gerome washed the grime out of the scales of his faithful partner. Normally he performed this action to maintain the bond with his partner, for she could simply dive into a river to wash herself, but today Gerome needed to clear his mind.
And if he was evading his parents too, well, all the better.
No, not his parents. They were dead and these were not them. Why couldn't the others see it? Why bother with this world that is not even their own? If anything they should kill the two vessels and be done with it.
But that would mean also killing Lucina and her siblings. They were his friends, even if he never expressed it out loud. And yet they carried the blood and potential to continue Grima's bloodline. Not only that but the idea of being the one to kill their mother after they just got it back left a bad taste in his mouth.
Gerome scowled, hating that there was no easy solution for this mess. He continued to focus on cleaning the wyvern, letting the repeating monotony of the action clear his mind until Minerva was as clean as she could be.
"There Minervakins, your scales are all shiny now," he said as he gently patted the scales of the old wyvern. Minerva purred in response, leaning into his touch, making Gerome smile. No matter what, he would have her always at his side.
"He certainly inherited your skill with Minerva, my dear Cherche."
"Was there ever any doubt, Virion?"
The voices made his muscles freeze in place and he felt his heart hammer against his chest. Gritting his teeth and taking a deep breath, Gerome turned to face the smiling faces of his parents.
No. Not them. Never them. Trying his best to separate these people from his real parents, Gerome asked, "What do you want?"
His tone must have shocked, as he could hear them falter. His m– Cherche was the first to rally, "Well, we came to talk to you. Is it wrong for us to want to know our son? I'm sure there is much we can talk about." Her sweet tone brought up memories that he rather remained buried in the deepest parts of his heart.
"No?" There was clear bewilderment in her voice.
"There is no point. You're not my parents. I'm not your son," Gerome returned. Despite the veracity of his words, it didn't make them less painful. "From what I've gathered, you don't even have a child yet."
Looking at that painfully familiar pair give a small flinch at his words didn't feel like a victory.
"That is true, but certainly there is value on knowing one another?" Cherche insisted, giving him a smile that clenched his heart.
"My parents are dead. There is nothing I can learn about them from you."
The Duke of Rosanne looked at him with the calculating gaze that revealed his true intellect to any who dared look. The eye of an archer and a ruler. "Did our other selves mistreat you in some way? I can not think of another reason for this hostility."
Not bothering to hold back the childish bitterness that swept into his voice, Gerome said, "Yes, they did. In the worst way."
The pair's eyes widened in shock, not believing his words. His heart clenched at the sincere concern they showed him. No, not his parents. Not even their past selves.
Curse his conscience. Curse his weak heart.
"...They were everything to me," he gritted out, letting years of bottled up anguish trickle into his voice. "If father wasn't teaching me the ways of war, he was drilling me on courtly behavior. If mother that was teaching me how to fly, she taught me arts. They made me who I am, and I loved them. And then they died. They hurt me in the worst way imaginable!"
Feeling Minerva stir in worry at his outburst, he ran a hand through her scale, calming her, but not himself.
"They left after swearing they would return. They swore it! But only Minerva came home, covered in wounds... My parents were the most wretched liars I have ever known."
Saying those words felt both cathartic and horrible. The logical part of his mind told Gerome that his parents had no control over their fate, but the bitter part of him that was the child that never grew up with his parents couldn't let go so easily.
"No wonder you greeted us so callously," the ruler of Rosanne said, his voice carrying a hint of regret and resignation, before voicing the same words he knew were true in his heart. "Forgive us, Gerome. No one can predict their own demise. Your parent had every intention of keeping their promise, I know it. Unfortunately, destiny and they did not see eye to eye. In his final moments, I am quite certain your father was thinking only of his promise to you."
"And your mother too," Cherche said, reaching up to touch his cheek. It took all of his willpower not to slap the hand away. "I...We haven't welcomed you into our family yet at this time, but I see the strong man you will become. One that has endured pain and still keeps going. That only fills me with the fire to crush anyone that threatens him… or you."
"While it may be too late, we are here to uphold that promise on their behalf. Fight with us, Gerome. Let us help you win a happy future for yourself and Minerva. I dare say we are in the prime of our lives. You will find that our odds are better."
"And if Virion messes up, I will be at his side to shoulder the burden. Like always."
"Cherche dear… I was on roll..." Virion complained with that theatrical flair of his.
"Of course, you were, hun," Cherche said on that sweet tone Gerome recalled her using to win her arguments. "So, what do you say, Gerome? We might not be your true parents, but will you allow us to know you and to fight at your side to fulfill their promise?"
He wanted to say no. To harden his heart and prevent the pain of loss to invade his soul once more. The feeling he had for Lucina and her family were still conflicting for him. There was so much blame he wanted to lay at Queen Robin's feet for her weakness, and yet here he was, being given a chance to have his parents back.
"...We shall see," he said tersely, feeling a spark of hope ignited at the sight of his parent's happy smiles.
The Wyvern Rider would refrain from stomping it off, for now.
Watching Lon'qu spar with her little Inigo left Olivia a bundle of nerves. A bigger bundle than normal. Well, this Inigo was not little anymore. Her sweet, timid baby boy had grown into such a handsome young man.
A flirty one, from what little she saw of him talking with the camp's handmaidens and cooks.
She didn't know what to think about that. Whom did he inherit that from would forever be a mystery to her.
The clashing of steel rang as the two men bonded in the only way Lon'qu knew how. Both needed to release some pent up emotions
Olivia had her own task, however. The dancer wrang her hands as she nervously glanced at the young girl that looked so much like her. Though Ke'ri had inherited her father's fighting style, she could pass for a younger Olivia if she allows her hair to grow longer.
"So, um, Ke'ri. I see we named you after Lon'qu's friend," she started nervously.
The petite girl shifted nervously in her seat, eyes flickering between the spar and her mother. "Um, yes, mother. Inigo told me it was your idea."
Olivia nodded. She had never been jealous of Ke'ri for the place she had on Lon'qu's heart. They had been young and while they might've ended up together had things be different, she had also help made Lon'qu the man he was today. For that, she would be forever thankful.
"I'm glad," the dancer said, smiling at her daughter. "So, if it's not a bother, would you tell me about yourself? We only have Inigo so far, but I would love to know you. I… I can't replace your real mother, but I think we can have something, yes?" Oh gods, she hoped she hadn't messed up and insulted the girl.
Ke'ri's eyes widened at her. Olivia had seen her in battle and she had the same poise as her husband. But outside of battle? She could be as shy and skittish as the dancer.
"I would like that. I… I don't have many memories of my mother. Of you," she amended. She considered Olivia her mother despite the messed up timelines and that made the dancer want to protect this girl with all her might. Granted, that was the might of a meek mouse, or maybe a possum if she tried, but still.
She might not look like it when she is in battle, but Olivia is always trembling inside. She just lets her Feroxi blood treat fighting like a performance, and she loses herself in the heat of the battle.
If she always ended up puking later, well, it could be forgiven.
At least her dancing arts helped more than her moderate fencing skills. Most don't realize that there is magic involved in revitalizing others through her dance, no different than using a staff or chanting a spell. The fitter she is, the more she can revitalize others.
It's not for everyone so it was not surprising to Olivia that as she learned more of her daughter, she discovered that while in appearance and personality she took from Olivia, she took entirely from her father in battle.
Before she could touch the topic, Ke'ri beat her to it. Her daughter fidgeted in her seat as she steeled herself. "Actually, I… If it's not a bother and we stay with the Shepherds, we could talk more while you… taught me how to dance?" the young girl asked nervously as if afraid she would be outright rejected. "I was too little to remember much of what I was taught and it's something I always wanted to learn from you."
Olivia's heart swelled at that and seized the chance eagerly with both hands. "I would love to!" she declared, earning a full smile from Ke'ri. Feeling mischievous, she leaned over and whispered in the girl's ear. "Now, don't go telling this to your brother, but I always wanted a daughter to teach myself," she shared, earning a giggle in return. But that made a thought pop-up in her head. "Did your brother not teach you?"
Ke'ri's smile faltered and she nudged a pebble with her feet to stall for a moment. "Inigo tried to teach me, but I'm not good at it. One of our comrades once said that I have two left feet when not in battle. I… I hope I don't dissapoi–"
"Oh, dear, no! I would never think that!" Olivia declared with fervor. No way she would let her daughter, of any timeline, feel like that. Her maternal instinct went on overdrive, pulling the girl in a girl. "Dancing it's hard, but I truly believe anyone can learn. And if it means spending time with you, then I don't mind at all."
"I would like that," Ke'ri said softly, a soft blush dusting her cheeks and returning the hug.
It took all of Olivia's meek willpower not to squeal at her adorable daughter.
"I have a son..." Lissa stated, looking at her cup of tea and not meeting Emmeryn's eyes.
"That seems to be a common occurrence at the moment," Emmeryn conceded. Despite everything that had happened, there were some positives to the situation. "I thought you were fine with the idea? You were quite excited last night, despite everything else."
"It didn't hit me then, but it's kind of strange. We didn't plan on having a child so soon! He's as old as me! Gods, he's only two months younger than me!"
Ah. Was that the issue? Emmeryn placed a comforting had on her sister's shoulder and offered her a warm smile to calm her down. "Lissa, I think I understand. Have you and Henry not being intimate?"
Lissa's face could rival Cordelia's hair in color at the moment. "Emm!"
"It is perfectly fine, Lissa. It is part of marriage," the Exalt reassured her. "Why, when Aedan and I first–"
"I don't need to hear that Emm!" Lissa cried in despair. "I mean… We have been, but it's not that!"
"Then what is the issue?" Emmeryn asked.
"I'm not sure… I think there are many things..." Lissa said with a shrug. "I love Henry, but I'm not dumb. He's is sweet with me, but I know what others think of him. What the nobility thinks of our union. Henry is not normal, I know that. It's already messy that a Ylissean princess married a Plegian mage after the war and what problems that caused you."
Emmeryn signed and traced comforting circles on her sister's back."Do not concern yourself with that, Lissa. I can handle such issues if they arise. Henry only needs support to bring his kindness out."
The Exalt did have her reservations about the sorcerer, but she had seen how taken the couple was with each other. Dealing with the nobility that wanted to ascend themselves through marrying her siblings was a small price to pay for their happiness.
"Teaching him morality has been a challenge," Lissa admitted, before smiling. "He's been getting better with his emotions, though! And his smiles are more sincere know."
"Are you happy with your union?"
Lissa smiled. "Yes."
Emmeryn smiled, happy to hear that. "I am glad. I swore to myself that you and Chrom would be allowed to marry for love."
She understood Lissa's concerns. Emmeryn was lucky Aedan is of noble birth, or their union may have caused concerns amongst the nobility. She wondered how Chrom and Rose handled their union in that other world, but knowing what does now, that is not a topic the Exalt will broach anything time soon.
"But that is not all that troubles you, am I correct?"
Lissa's face contorted into a conflicted frown. "I...How can I be a good mother if I can barely behave like the lady I'm supposed to be?"
That took Emmeryn by surprise. "What?"
Her sister looked down at her hands. "I always thought of myself lacking as a princess and a lady. I'm not like Chrom and you." The princess clenched her hands and "And now… I failed as a mother and a princess. I couldn't protect Ylisse and I left my son alone. What kind of mother does that?"
"Oh, Lissa..." Emmeryn said, finally understanding. Lissa had her insecurities just like everyone else. It was worse for her being the third child of House Lowell. She was bound to feel pressure with her station. "You did not fail. We all died. I died and I left you. Do you blame for it?"
"No! I would never do that!"
"And I am certain Owain does not blame you either. You saw how he acted around you, Lissa. He adores you."
Lissa smiled at that. "He does, doesn't he? He woke me up yelling something about 'legendary blood' and 'heroic legacy.' He's proud of his blood… I hope I can live up to his image of me."
"You already do," Emmeryn insisted. "We could not have foreseen Grima's revival. Not until it was too late. We may have lost in the future but now we have a chance of preventing that tragedy from happening."
'All the more reason to keep Robin and Rose around,' she thought to herself. Hopefully, the Shepherds will see that.
That seemed to lift Lissa's spirits as she grinned, "You're right! We will kick that stupid gecko's butt!"
Emmeryn giggled at her sister's enthusiasm. She certainly bounced back quickly. "I can see whom Owain inherited his enthusiasm from," she said in a kind, but teasing tone.
"Oh, hush you!
"Just like that?," Owain said simply as he walked next to his father, who had accepted him easily. "You will speak for them?"
The prince wanted to help his cousins and his aunt. He understood the reluctance that many shared, but they were his family. His memories of his aunt were blurry, but he only had good ones. And his cousins had been at his side all his life. He wouldn't abandon them for their blood.
And there was also the not-so-quiet voice in his head that insisted that having two dragon bloodlines too awesome to be evil. A bit childish, he would admit, but having both Naga's and Grima's bloodlines was something out of legend! Maybe his aunt could share a bit of that blood with him?
He did take after his father in some things.
Said father laughed his concerns away. "Nyahaha! I like Rose and Robin. Can't promise the words of a Plegian sorcerer will sway many much today but will speak in their favor. Or I could curse them! Maybe swap some of their bodies with my crows? I will need to experiment first… Maybe Sumia? Hmmm"
"It didn't take much to convince you, Father..."
"Nyahaha! Well, it's simple! If a fight breaks out we get a nice bloodbath! If not, we fight Valm and Plegia and we cause a bigger bloodbath! Ohhh blood," Henry explained.
"... I should have seen that coming," Owain admitted. "By the way, where is Mother?"
Henry shrugged, still smiling at the thought of carnage. "Lissa is with Emmeryn. No idea what they are doing. Nyaha!" The mage stopped on the edge of the forest and called to the woods. "Hey, guys! Come meet my son!"
A murder of crows took flight, breaking through the foliage. The birds flew in a circular pattern around the pair, cawing in excitement. Two of them flew closer and rested on the prince's shoulder. They looked at him in their dark eyes, measuring him with a sight no mortal possessed.
The two crows spread their wings and let out a shrill caw that no mere mortal could understand.
"CAW! THE SCION! THE SCION HAS COME!"
"CAW! ONE CHOSEN BY THE MASTER!"
Owain peered at the acknowledgment. Finally! Someone understood!
"Ha!" he exclaimed, striking a pose that made the crows caw harder. "Truer words have not been spoken, messengers of fate! For Owain Lowell is the scion of heroes! My holy blood aches for purpose!"
The birds preened in joy at his exclamation. "CAW! THE CHILD SPEAKS THE TONGUE OF NATURE! CAW!"
"You can understand Mr. and Mrs. Crowley." Henry said softly. His grey eyes were open in shock as he looked at his son.
Owain nodded, taking a more somber tone. "Yes, Father. You showed me how to talk to animals when I was little. After… you perished, you sent your crows back to me. Actually, they taught me some of your spells."
"CAW! THE CHILD OF THE EXALTED BLOOD WORDS RING OF TRUTH! CAW!"
"CAW! THE MAGIC OF LIGHT AND SHADOWS FLOWS THROUGH HIS VEIN! CAW!"
The rest of the crows sang as one with their leaders. "HE SHALL STAND WITH THE MIXED BLOODS! THE WHEEL OF FATE IS TURNING! GO FORTH TO VICTORY, SCION OF HEROES! DESTINY AWAITS!"
"AHAHA! This is great! Can't wait to tell Lissa!" Henry exclaimed in glee. "She owes me ten silver!"
Owain's pose faltered. "..Huh?"
"I bet her that our kid will speak to animals like me."
"Oh." Well, no skin of his back. His family has always been weird.
The crows on his shoulder trembled slightly.
"CAW! THE AURA OF TIME CLING TO THY SOUL! A VISION HAS BEEN GRANTED BY THE MASTER! CAW!"
"OH! You can see his future? Do I get grandchildren? I think Lissa will love to have grandkids," Henry said with a grin, which faltered for a moment. "Though she may not be thrilled to be a grandmother before being thirty. Nyahaha!"
"CAW! A CHILD BORN FROM YOUR SEED SHALL SING THE SONG OF THE STARS, CAW!"
"CAW! A SWEET MAIDEN WITH THE BLESSING OF THE DRAGON! A CHOSEN ONE! CAW!"
A grin spread through the prince's face. "So my daughter will be a chosen one?! That's awesome!" Owain cheered. He had no idea what that would entail but he didn't care.
And hey! If he will have a daughter, that would mean they will survive! And she would inherit his greatness! Maybe a swordmaster? Or a cleric like his mother? Or a knight that uses magic and swords like his aunt!? A dark mage commanding the shadows to protect the light?
'...' Owain paused in thought as the image of his daughter formed in his mind.
He hoped she won't take the path of the dark arts. Not because of the hexes, of course. His father used them for good. Well, more than Noire's mother.
But his mother would kill him if his daughter walked around in an outfit as revealing as Tharja's.
Across time and space, a few iterations of Ophelia "Dusk" Lowell, the Chosen One of the Stars, sneezed.
"So why are you hiding here?" Nah asked the taguel-shaped nervous wreck that was sitting next to her in the supply tent.
"I-I don't want to face my mother. I feel she will chew me up and spit me out," Yarne said "Y-You?"
"I don't want to endure my mother," Nah replied, before adding. "Not yet at least. It's too early in the day. I might not remember her much, but the kind of energy she has… it doesn't fit with me. Maybe once she's tired I will talk to her."
"T-That's fair," Yarne said, pulling something from a nearby box. "Apple?"
Nah blinked at the offering and smiled. "Thanks," she said, taking a bite of the fruit. "Do you think anyone else has more taxing parents than us?"
"I can think of someone..."
"MY SON IS A DELINQUENT!" Maribelle wailed in distress, looking over Brady.
"Ma! I ain't no street punk!"
"AND HE SPEAKS LIKE ONE TOO! THIS IS ABSOLUTELY, MORTIFYINGLY, UNACCEPTABLE!" She declared, ignoring her son's words. "RICKEN! Send word to my father! We need to start early to prevent this behavior coming from our little Brady!".
Ricken had no idea how she expected him to explain her reasoning to his father-in-law. Not only had Chrom forbidden them from divulging the entire time travel situation to anyone outside of those present last night, but that was not even something he could use to explain her behavior. Using cross-dimensional time travel as a basis for their son's education will certainly raise a few eyebrows.
So he decided to ignore Maribelle's suggestion. The young mage turned to his son. A son that was just as old as himself and a few inches taller. Deciding to push past his wounded pride, he spoke to Brady.
"Before we do anything rash, why don't we ask him his reason. Why do you talk like that?" he asked, giving a sideways glance to his wife, who stopped her rant to actually listen.
Brady scratched his head awkwardly. "Well, pops, when I was a pipsqueak, I had trouble talkin' to people. So a few months before y'all… ya know… Ma gave me this book to build confidence. I used it ever since."
Noticing how Maribelle stiffened at that, Ricken suppressed a smile and asked what he knew she was wondering.
"Was it a green book called 'To Be Bold! Bring Out Your Inner Lion!'?" he asked.
Brady's eyes widened in surprise. "Sure was! How did ya know, Pops?"
Controlling his amusement, Ricked decided sincerity was in order. "Well, Maribelle was trying to help Olivia build her confiden–"
"RICKEN!" Maribelle screeched, scandalized. "Never speak of that again!"
The mage stifled a laugh and looked at the confused priest. "...Right. Well, I now understand. I suppose you simply had a different education than what your mother expected."
"Yeah. I was never good with all noble stuff. It's too difficult to learn..." he complained.
"Hmph! That's no excuse! Proper etiquette is essential to one's station! Why! Otherwise, we would be no different than bandits!" the noblewoman retorted, looking closely at her son. Her eyes widened in shock. "Do not tell me you gave up on your titles?! Did you went looking for fights?! Is that how you obtained that dreadful scar?! knew it, you got hurt fighting hooligans! And stand straight!" she added, hitting Brady with her parasol to fix his posture.
"Now, now, Maribelle… No need to start making assumptions..."
"Aw, come on, Ma! That's harsh!" Brady complained, frowning at his mother's ideas. "Sure, I'm not the prettiest guy around, but I'm no thug," he said.
"I can believe that. You're a healer like her," Ricken pointed out, motioning to a flustered Maribelle. "And well, with everything going on, I dare say we shouldn't judge a book by its cover."
Ricken didn't know what Brady thought of the Plegian family, especially those that were his friends, but hopefully, that little phrase would make him think on giving them a chance. The young mage didn't hold anything against the tacticians, but he knew there were many that would. To many, he might sound naive, but he was willing to give them a chance.
"I suppose… Heh, thanks pops," Brady said, smiling at his father. "Ah, for the scar… Em… I got it when the string of my violin snapped and cut me.'
That was a surprise. "Violin?"
"Ya, I was never good with most of the stuff you tried to teach me, but I like playin' the violin. I dare say I can play pretty darn well!"
Biting her tongue for a moment, Maribelle asked in a more measured tone. "What is your favorite piece of post-schism neo-baroque music?"
"Well, I prefer Brahmz 3rd Concerto. It really captures the emotion of spring and gives a vibe of hope to the listener. Like at the end when he switches to a higher, faster pace to symbolize the sun rising after the dangerous night has passed," Brady explained with vigor and eloquence they did not expect. "Gorts Concertos are good too, but they were too depressing to live the mood in the future, ya know?" he added, slipping at the end.
The noblewoman blinked in surprise, and Ricken noticed how similar they looked when they were shocked. She nibbled her lip in an unladylike manner, before conceding.
"At least you retained some lessons. Tell me more about your pursuits with the violin."
Brady smiled in relief. "I can tell ya all about it if you want, Ma. How about I make us a pot of tea? I'm told I make one mean chamomile tea!"
Maribelle's eyes softened slightly, though her lips were still pursed. "Hmph! There might be some hope still."
Ricken sighed but still had a smile on his lips. Small victories.
"I can't believe we trusted them!" Sully snarled, kicking a piece of wood into the river. "I fucking gave them a chance and it turns out they are Grima!"
"Damn Plegians! Damn Grimleals! Just let me take my axe to them!" Vaike ranted, crossing and uncrossing his arms as he paced all around the clearing.
Frederick did his best to ignore the two raging Shepherds. It's not like he disagreed with their statements. Something in the back of his mind always made him distrust both Robin and Rose, despite his words after they had proved their worth. He couldn't help himself and now he knew why. A wolf amongst their herd he had said.
'A wolf? Funny, I consider myself more of a dragon.'
That wench had spelled it out for him and he had no idea at the time. She must have been laughing behind their back.
The knight's teeth ground in fury. They had both an incarnation of a parallel world Grima and the vessel of the one in this world. Their mother also carried the blood of the Fell Dragon.
And then there were her children; born from the Exalted and Fell bloodlines. They looked so much like his liege lord, but they carried that tainted blood in their veins. He didn't know what to think of them... or even of his own son. At least Laurent had taken Sully's daughter along with Tharja's away.
Frederick was not in the right place to speak with him at the moment. Miriel at least spoke to him a little earlier, and it was clear he took after her the most. They both missed the little boy they left in Ylisstol and were shocked to see him so grown up. Miriel did mention something strange. Laurent said that he shouldn't have been born until a few years in the future.
Though, with all that had been going on, that was the least strange thing the knight heard in the past day.
Sully's voice cut through his thoughts. "You have to speak some sense into Chrom, Frederick! We should deal with them at once!"
"It would be his word against that of Naga herself," Miriel stated simply, not even looking from her notes.
That made their tirades falter. His wife was right. No matter what argument he made, he would've to challenge Naga to make his argument. What could he say? That the Fell Dragon had corrupted Naga? That Robin had seduced the Voice?
"And your statements are wrong. Your emotions are clouding your judgment," the mage added in that clinical tone of hers. "Robin is Grima's Vessel, a key for him to get full power. One that, if we understand the information given, is no longer required."
That caught their attention. "What do you mean?" Frederick asked.
Looking up from her notes, Miriel adjusted her glasses before speaking. "The Fell Dragon is weakened, and needs Robin to accelerate the awakening of this time's Grima to combine their powers."
Vaike nodded in agreement. "Exactly! We s–!"
"But Robin is not required," Miriel said with finality. "Grima still has his vessel from the future. Killing Robin would amount to nothing but a minor inconvenience. If he gains another method to generate the necessary magical energy– which there are plenty if we consider all the known legends– then Robin or any other Fell Blood would be necessary."
Frederick recognized the look in the mage's face. "That's not all, is it?"
Miriel nodded. "With his current Vessel, Grima can also father new Fell Bloods. Ones loyal to him that would serve as powerful troops and vessels if they inherit a fraction of our tacticians' power and skills. Or he could grant his brand to new loyalists and start a new bloodline. Too many factors and he had two years to set them up." the scholar explained, each word further showing how precarious their situation is.
"That didn't happen in the world Naga showed us..." Frederick pointed out, though his tone was not one of confidence.
"This is not that world, Frederick. Not only has Rose, Naga, and the Children changed the world, but so has Grima. The abominations he created to fight us were unknown even to Rose. This further shows this is not the same opponent she faced."
Sully scoffed, shaking her head. "So what? You want us to keep them with us? Pretend nothing is wrong?"
"Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. While I do not believe they are our enemies, it is better to work together," Miriel stated. "We all saw the information Naga showed us. While the Falchion can send Grima into a slumber. But if Robin delivers the final blow he can vanquish Grima forever. A more beneficial outcome for the world, even if it cost Robin his life," she added in a more somber tone.
"Didn't work for his bitch of a sister, did it? Those other Shepherds killed her and here she is!" the cavalier insisted.
"The conditions were not the same," Frederick mussed, showing he understood what Miriel had said.
His wife smiled slightly and nodded. "Indeed. Rose and Grima were both struck down by Falchion and faced each other in a half-dead state. If both Robin and Grima are alive, then Naga's plan can work."
Vaike threw his hands in the air and yelled in frustration. "Bah! This is so confusing! Why can't we just kill them and be done with it!?"
Miriel pinched the bridge of her nose and gave an exasperated sigh. "In small words for you to understand. We gain more by keeping them on our side."
"Even Sustrai? We don't need her to kill Grima and she's a Fell Dragon!"
"She does possess the Fell Dragon's power," Miriel conceded, "But she's not Grima. She's her own person. One that Lady Naga and Lady Tiki vouch for. Pragmatically, having her on our side it's the best choice."
"Her magic could be used by Grima to reform, yeah?" Vaike suggested, earning surprised looks from the others. "What? Teach ain't that dumb!" he retorted, offended.
"Right...If she dies, her power could also be taken by this Grima and our chances of victory would be impossible if Grima increased his power threefold."
"...We could take matters into our own hands," Vaike said, earning surprised looks from the others. "Her kids… they are her weakn–"
"Do not finish that sentence!" Miriel said, standing up to glare at Vaike with a fierceness no one ever suspected. "I am willing to discuss intelligent plans, but I will not lower myself to such actions!"
The others recoiled at her temper, though Frederick understood her better. She was a mother. To use someone's children as leverage, even Fellbloods.
"While I do not have any particular attachment to the tacticians or their family, such actions… are not something I will never bring myself to do," Frederick said, with authority. The knight leveled a hard stare to the axe fighter. "...I might not like it but I will not betray the commands of House Lowell. And thus, if it's true that Rose is in fact betrothed to Prince Chrom in the other worlds, then my allegiance goes with their children as well."
To an extent. If they proved dangerous to the safety of the world, then certain vows would need to be broken.
"...Yeah, I got it," Vaike said after a moment. "Sorry, it's just..."
"I know," the mage said, a little more calmly. "But we can't let ourselves discard our values like that."
"Yeah, I really don't wanna find out what Naga and Lady Tiki would do to us if we did anything to those two," Sully said with a snort. "Gods, what a fucking mess this is..."
"If the situation were so simple, we wouldn't require Naga's assistance or her intervention."
"Right… I… I'm going to look for Kellam and Kjelle. I'll see you all at the meeting."
"Me too. Gotta find Panne and the kid," Vaike added, leaving with little of his boisterous air.
Once they were just the two, Miriel leaned on his embrace. She rested her head on his armored shoulder, already used to ignoring the hard metal.
"I hope we'll make the right decision today," Miriel said softly.
Frederick looked to the sky, letting a sigh escape his lips. "So do I. Come on, the meeting will start in an hour."
The situation was dreadfully familiar. Rose couldn't say if this 'trial' would go any better than her last one. Not only was she going to be judged, but so were her mother, brother, and children. What a joke. She had done everything to make things right in this timeline. Her brother and mother had done nothing other than being alive, and her children had led the future resistance for years. She was willing to continue giving them the benefit of the doubt, but if any of them dared to harm her family, Grima would be the least of their problems.
Her family sat inside a large tent, waiting for the Shepherds to finish talking amongst themselves before coming to hear their side. The waiting was the worst part in her opinion. Looking around, she could see her family was not much better.
Her mother was sitting with a small frown on her face. She looked calm, but to be judged by Ylisseans after spending nearly two decades evading the Grimleals did not sit well with her. She had stalled the rebirth of Grima and did her best raising her child to be a good person.
Rose's children were nervous in their own way. Despite having a calm day talking with their family and reassurances from some of their friends, the situation really drove home that they had Grima's blood in their veins. At least they were trying to separate Rose and Grima in their minds, but the idea of having the Fell Dragon's blood made them doubt a lot of their actions in the future.
Morgan was handling it well, with a surprisingly positive attitude. Marc was more nervous, having expressed his doubts. Lucina was still conflicted. She didn't deny she disliked having Grima's blood in her veins and that it might cost her her friends. The eldest princess reassured her that she did not blame her mother, but she might need time before she comes to terms with her bloodline.
Robin was obviously the most nervous. The sword was dangling over his head and no amount of reassurance seemed to quell his worry. Having seen what Rose went through did little to ease the worry of losing his body to this world's Grima.
After what seemed like an eternity, their comrades entered the tent. The Shepherds and the Valmese representatives came in first, followed by Emmeryn and Phila came in. The retainers and Pegasus Knights remained outside the tent to not overflow the tent.
The Fellbloods stood and stared at them.
Chrom looked at them, trying to keep his tone neutral as he spoke. "All of you carry the blood of a Fell Dragon, which makes you a risk. That is just a fact, but if Lady Naga and Lady Tiki trust you, so do I. I trust you. I believe you will not side with Grima and that working together would be in everyone's best interests," he said, loosening fear's grip on the Plegian's hearts. "Many share this feeling," he added motioning to a large portion of the Shepherds. He then gave a conflicted glance at Vaike, Frederick, and Sully, along a few of the future scions. "Others have their reservations."
Robin nodded, his shoulders sagging slightly, though he was not unsurprised. "I understand. Mere promises wouldn't be enough when the fate of the world in the balance, though I have little more to offer."
"For everyone's peace of mind, could you answer some questions?" the prince asked.
Rose and Robin nodded, with her taking the lead. "That's fair. What else do you need to know?"
Chrom nodded and gave them a reassuring smile. "Miriel?"
The scholar stepped forward, adjusting her glasses as she looked at the tacticians. "From what we observed of your timeline, Rose, Grima manifested while you remained independent and imprisoned. Am I correct to assume that, at this point, Grima already has a proper vessel and gaining control of Robin would only accelerate his plans?"
Rose nodded at that. "That's correct. I can't tell you what would happen should Robin die. I don't even know for sure what would happen if I die. I could lie to you and tell you it would be worse, but I don't know. It might kill Grima, or revive him faster. Robin is the strongest Avatar he has available and is tethered to Grima's soul since birth. That has linked him to his power."
"And as such, he can use the same power as Grima against him, killing him permanently," Miriel stated. "Could you deliver the final blow?"
"Maybe," she admitted. Rose didn't want to give her brother false hopes. "This is uncharted territory. Again, my own power is not the same as this Grima's. They were separate Fell Dragons. It might kill him, it might do nothing. We won't know until we try. I'm betting that Robin and I combine our power, he will survive."
"I see," Miriel said writing some notes down. After a moment, she nodded and looked at those present. "I believe keeping Robin alive and on our side would be the best course of action. We know the outcome should we follow this path, as its the one Rose partook. Other paths contain unaccountable risks. And… I do believe he is trustworthy."
"Thank you, Miriel," Robin said, earning a small smile from the mage, even if her husband remained stone-faced.
Cordelia was the next one to speak, though there was no hostility on her tone. "We need to know is what are your plans now that we know everything. Robin now knows his role in Grima's plan and you just found your children."
Rose and Robin looked at each other, with her giving a glance at her children. For this, Robin took the lead. "We discussed it. If you would have us, we would continue working with you. If not, we will work alongside Naga and Tiki to undermine Grima's efforts. We can still strategize, but like always it's up to you if you decide to follow our plans."
"You expect us to still trust you with our lives?" Frederick asked. His antagonistic tone came as a surprise to no one.
"It's up to you. You saw the casualties suffered in my world when they followed your plans."
Her brother stepped in before things could escalate. "Despite how it may seem, I never had absolute control over the army's movements. Chrom and other generals were given the plan and they are welcome to veto any of my plans. If you find that my plans could jeopardize the lives of our soldiers, then say so."
The knight looked at them for a moment longer before nodding and stepping back.
"I suppose your children will stay with you, then?" the red-haired pegasus rider asked.
"That's their decision," Rose said.
"Yes. We intend to remain with our mother," Lucina said, standing strong alongside her siblings.
"And your plans, Lady Morgana?" Cordelia asked next.
Morgana gave a small shrug, surprisingly calm despite the situation. "I will remain in Ylisstol. Your sister wants my knowledge of Plegia to help prepare for more attacks now that the Grimleal are moving."
"She speaks the truth," Emmeryn said, gaining everyone's attention.
"Your Grace, are you certain?" Frederick asked with concern.
"Yes. I have no doubt of their intentions. Naga trusts them and they haven't given me a reason to doubt them," the Exalt said with a tone of finality that made the knight back down.
"I understand, Your Grace," Cordelia said, offering the Plegian a small smile. "I have no further questions."
Surprisingly, it was Olivia who spoke next. The dancer wrung her hands nervously as everyone's attention fell on her. "Umm, Rose… Do you… hate us? Because of what our other selves did? I'm sorry! I didn't mean to imply you're evil or–"
"No offense taken," Rose said, slightly bewildered that Olivia addressed her. She had a better relationship with her than most in this life, but not by much. "I understand. And I don't blame you, but just as you're cautious of us, I'm equally cautious of all of you. I've...come to accept that you are not the same people, but are close enough to make the same decisions."
"I understand," Olivia said, giving her a shy smile and accepting her answer. "Um, and you, Robin?"
He gave Olivia a smile of his own. "I can't fault you all for being cautious of us, but if you give me your trust, I would be a hypocrite to not reciprocate. I have no reason to do accept Grima's power. I am content with my life and through my sister, I've seen what joining him would cost me. If our futures were the same, then I didn't merge voluntarily with him."
"If," Vaike said with a scoff.
Robin hesitated but nodded. "If. I can't give you more than my word."
"Hmph. And we are supposed to trust you based on just that?" a gruff voice said from the back.
"Gerome..." Lucina whispered, pained at the doubt her friend had. Marc placed his hand on her shoulder and gave it a reassuring squeeze.
The wyvern rider scowled and turned his gaze to the side. "What about Lucina, Marc, and Morgan? Can they be possessed by this Grima?... By you?"
"Hey!" Marc exclaimed, for once beating his sister to the punch. But before he could continue, his mother stopped him with a raised hand.
Rose's expression became pinched. "I will ignore the insinuation that I would do such a thing to my own children after I went through that. I understand my failure caused your pain, but it was not intentional. As for this Grima possessing them. No. If anything, we block each other out. That's how I stop him from controlling my brother."
Gerome's frown only got deeper at her words. "I don't want to distrust them. But after this, I will be more cautious if we do follow their order."
"I have to agree with that," Kjelle said, looking at the siblings. "We survived for so long thanks to their leadership, but I need more time to decide if we follow their lead. I'm willing to follow Prince Chrom and the Shepherds," she said, with her comrades agreeing with her.
"Eep! That power your mom wields is terrifying Lucina… But, if you trust her, then I will," Yarne said, mustering his meager courage to stand for his friends.
"Hmph! I'm not thrilled with the idea of working with the blood of Grima," Severa said with a scowl. She then looked at the side. "But if it's those three I can work around it. I will give the rest of their family a chance. Don't make me regret this!"
"Thank you," Lucina said sincerely, with her siblings nodding in agreement.
"Anyone el–Oh..." Chrom said, grimacing as Sully stepped forward, glaring at the family, though her glare was focused mainly on the mercenary tactician.
Everyone tensed as they sized each other up. A fight is the last thing anyone wanted, but Rose was not about to roll over for anyone.
After a minute of silence, Sully broke the silence with a simple statement. "I don't like you and I don't trust you."
Rose just raised an eyebrow at that. "The feeling is mutual."
"Rose..." Robin muttered, earning a shrug from his sister.
Sully ignored that. "But you haven't gotten us killed," Her eyes narrowed. "So far."
Rose was more successful that her brother on not letting the words get to her. "We both want Grima gone. It'll be counterproductive if I acted on this shit attitude of yours."
The cavalier seemed to bite her tongue to stop commenting at that. "You have one of the gemstones, right? We saw you taking it from your father," she spat. "You want our trust? Hand it over."
"No?" Sully growled, making everyone tense. "Why you–!"
"I will keep it as leverage," the white-haired woman said simply. "I need to ensure that you won't harm my family."
"So you want us to trust you, but you won't trust us?" Frederick asked in a sharp tone.
Rose nodded towards some of the Shepherds. "Trust them? Maybe. You?" she added with a scoff, looking at Frederick, Vaike, and Sully. "I'd sooner trust a backstabber with a knife."
"And what if you die? We won't be able to obtain Sable, and Grima would win."
"Then it's a good thing we will work to keep each other alive, yes?" She hadn't told them that Naga could extract it if need be, but she would keep that to herself for now. "Ylisse has the Fire Emblem and Argent. Basilio still has Gules under his eyepatch."
"WHAT?!" Flavia shouted, looking at her fellow Khan. "Why don't I know about this?!"
The West Khan just grumbled under his breath. "Damn time travel..."
Ignoring the Khan's bickering Rose turned to the Chon'sin royals. "Does Chon'sin still have Vert under their control?"
Yen'fay nodded, his body language not giving anything away. "Yes. It resides in the royal vault in Chon'sin, protected by our best defenses. I swear that unlike your world, I will not give it to Walhart."
Rose nodded, pleased with that. "Good. Tiki still has custody of Azure. I will keep Sable," she said, looking back at the seething Sully. "Be happy that is no longer under Grimleal's custody. They will most likely try to lure you into a trap by offering it to you under the guise of help."
"And we will be ready for it this time," the prince declared with conviction.
"Chrom! Are we really letting her keep Sable!?" Sully protested, looking at her leader with unbelieving eyes. "It's one thing to fight at her side, but allowing her to keep a gemstone is too much!"
"Enough, Sully. Unless you want to try and take it from her, then that will be the end of it." Chrom reprimanded, silencing the cavalier. "Does anyone else have any other questions?"
"We have discussed this enough on our own. Unless someone has an argument not based on emotions or instinctive fear, I dare say our verdict has not changed."
"I will not lie to you, part of it is to give some of our comrades' peace of mind by keeping an eye on you, but you will be working with us." Chrom said, giving a look to those that had complained. Shaking his head, he gave the Plegians a reassuring smile. "But for the most part, the Shepherds trust you. I hope that we can still work together."
"Then it is decided," Emmeryn declared with a tone of finality. None dare to challenge her. "By my authority as Exalt of Ylisse, Lady Rose Surana, you shall retain the duty of safeguarding Sable. In addition, no harm shall come to you, Grandmaster Robin Surana, and Lady Morgana Surana by all of us present today. In exchange, you and your brother shall remain with the Shepherds, and Lady Morgana shall accompany me in service of the Halidom. And it is both of your responsibility to ensure that no reckless harm shall befall the men and women of the Shepherds under your command."
Emmeryn's commanding presence shook the Shepherds to a side rarely seen of the gentle and kind Exalt. Even the usually stoic Frederick was astonished by her resolve and use of her authority. Something that made Rose slightly giddy.
The Exalt gave the Plegian family a gentle smile. "Redouble your efforts as we both stop the Valmese Empire's threat and prepare for the Fell Dragon's return. As Naga has said, we shall never judge the actions of those who were not in control. Nor will we judge from one's blood or heritage. For those who will violate this pact, they will face the harshest extent of Ylissean law."
The family shared a look, communicating their relief at the decision. They were all expecting things to go awry like on Rose's world, but it seemed lessons had been learned. "You have our gratitude for your trust, Exalt Emmeryn, Prince Chrom, and Princess Lissa. While I might wield the power of the Fell Dragon, I swear that we shall remain loyal to you as long as trust is not breached on your end."
"Though we carry the true right to Plegia's throne as members of House Savill, we also carry the blood of House Sterling," Robin said, giving a bow to the three Lowells. "Kris and Katarina Sterling were loyal to House Lowell, and so we shall honor that lineage."
Morgana nodded at that. "Indeed. There is much we can do to help you in the oncoming war. And I have some personal issues to deal with in Plegia." Satisfied with that answer, Emmeryn turned to Lucina.
"Lucina, as the representative of your timeline, your counsel will be needed in this time as we prepare for Grima's return. I seek not to impose orders upon you and your comrades, but I would like for everyone to remain with the Shepherds. You have much to teach them to deal with the Risen while you will need the experience necessary to fight against persons that threaten your nation."
Lucina looked at her siblings, receiving a nod from Marc and a thumbs up from Morgan. "My siblings and I carry both bloodlines. We don't know what that means, but we are sure it hasn't changed our goals. We intend to assist the Shepherds to the fullest extent. We will fight Grima to the very end. For the worlds that died because of his actions, and for the family and friends we lost along the way."
Emmeryn smiled endearingly to her niece and turned to the rest of her audience. "There will be much for us to do while you are in Valm. For today, I believe we all should rest. But tomorrow we have much work to do before you depart. We need to deal with the captured Valmese, their supplies, repair the town, and other logistical issues," she said, giving Robin an apologetic smile. "You will be busy for the next few days, Grandmaster."
Clearly happy to have retained his position, Robin bowed to the Exalt. "I shall do my best to assure you your faith in me was not misplaced, Your Grace."
"I shall make sure he finishes his work," Tiki said, speaking for the first time after allowing everyone to reach their conclusions.
Emmeryn smiled at that. "Of that, I have no doubt, milady. Rose, we shall speak later. I bid you goodnight," she said, leaving with Phila in tow, who just gave a curt nod to the family. At least there was no hostility there.
Sully and Vaike stormed out shortly after, having remained just out of respect to the Exalt. The other left with little words, though some like Olivia, Virion, Sumia, and Ricken gave more encouraging words to the former queen. It was a surprise, but not entirely unwelcome by Rose. She wasn't sure if she was willing to let them close but she might give them the chance for their support.
Her children shared a few words with their friends. Like her, there were still issues present. A lot were willing to give them a chance, but that didn't mean they were entirely at ease. Some were still afraid of her power but were doing their best to push through the fear.
Soon, the Plegian family was alone with Tiki in the tent. They sat down, feeling a weight off their shoulders now that the executioner's sword was no longer hovering over their neck.
"That… went well. Right, mother?" Marc asked her, still uncertain. Not surprising considering the weight of the situation.
"Yeah..." she said, giving him a wan smile that didn't hide her bewilderment. "I'm not sure what I expected to be honest. I hoped for this outcome but to have it actually happen..."
"Now, now. Let's not brood," Morgana said, ruffling her grandson's hair and placing a comforting hand on Rose's shoulder. "Things have worked out so far. As long as we work together we will get through this."
"That's true, mother," Lucina said, giving her a relieved smile. "I… Their unease at our ties to Grima, even if you're the one commanding its power now, is something I share. I understand that everyone has their doubts, but we can prove ourselves through our deeds."
Morgan nodded eagerly, pumping her fist with determination. "Yeah! We just need to kick Walharts and Grima's butts and everything will work out fine!"
Robin and Rose snorted at the same time. Robin gave his niece a smirk. "I don't think it will be that simple, but that's not a bad plan, overall."
The youngest of the lost waved his concern away. "I can refine it later, Uncle! Now, it's time for a celebratory dinner!" she declared cheerfully, eliciting chuckled from the family.
"I think that went well," Chrom said, sitting on a log and passing his wineskin to the tactician. Today has gone by faster than he expected and yet it felt like it took months to go through. A lot of the Shepherds were already asleep, but the two friends had finally sat down by the fire; alone for the first time in the whole day.
"Considering I still have my neck intact, I'm inclined to agree." Robin snorted, taking a swing from the offered drink. He tasted it for a moment, nodding in appreciation. "Not bad. Probably costs more than my monthly pay."
The prince chuckled. "Emmeryn gave it to me. Part of a case she received for her wedding. She has too much wine."
The two friends sat around the fire, drinking and watching the troops move around setting everything in order. The war effort hadn't stopped because of the "trial". Supplies were being loaded onto the ships, weapons and armor checked, prisoners moved, bodies burned, and so on. The knowledge of the future made Chrom appreciate that this time their war on Valm will be on a more even footing.
Robin's voice brought him out his musings. "Thank you again for your trust, Chrom. I… Just… Thank you," he said softly.
Chrom patted his friend on the back and smiled. "My sisters and I promised you our support. We have seen that the future's not set on stone. All we have to do is make sure the future we build together is a good one." His voice softened, willing it to convey his conviction to his friend. "We trust you, Robin. You and your family. So don't worry about that."
"When did you get so eloquent," Robin jested, sharing a chuckle with the prince. They sat drinking in silence until Robin broke the silence. "They are your family too, you know..."
Swallowing the wine, the prince sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "I… Don't know. I told your sister that I wanted to get to know ou– her children. To give them some closure, but I don't even know where to start."
And that was the truth. Despite all the duties he had to juggle today, Chrom spent a fair amount of time thinking on how to approach those three, and he came up blank. Every idea ended up being extremely awkward. Though, now that they had made a tentative peace between the Shepherds, maybe he would be more successful.
"I can understand how it can be difficult. Your position is the strangest of the whole army, outside my sister's. How about I tell you a bit about them?" Robin suggested, peaking the prince's attention. "I learned a fair bit about my nieces and nephew today. I'm by no means an expert on their tastes, I dare say I have got a nice grip on their personalities. That could give you a headstart to find common ground."
Chrom relaxed, smiling at the suggestion. Robin always was helpful. "I would appreciate it."
The tactician chuckled and looked up in thoughts. "Well, let's see. Lucina is quite serious. And jokes tend to fly over her head..."
Walhart looked at the man with the same hard gaze he used to enforce his will on his troops. Valm Castle was filled with his troops, but the great hall only had some of his officers at the moment. "How many ships do we have left?" He asked, his voice as hard as steel.
"Nightsong is doing it best, but the forest fires the Resistance started has diminished our wood reserved for a new fleet," the messenger from the castle of Nightsong informed. The man was clad in the red armor of the Valmese Empire, kneeling to show his loyalty to the Conqueror. "Sage's Hamlet is providing as much timber as they can to the harbor, but Chon'sin raid did a lot of damage to our navy and the ports. "
"You haven't answered my question."
The messenger gulped and thought for a moment. "After sending that fleet to Ferox, we are down to half our remaining ships. If we take into account the casualties on both sides, then we are now on even in terms of naval power with the resistance, Emperor." He stopped, hesitating for a moment before asking, "I-If I may ask, Your Grace… My liege lord wanted to know the reason for sending our the Third Fleet to Ferox with all those troops? Wouldn't it b–?"
"Are you questioning me?" Walhart's silenced the man as well as a headsman's axe would.
The man paled at the tone, knowing he was treading a thin line "N-no, Your Grace! I just–!"
"Silence. No plan is perfect and that fool tactician I had ruined a lot of the war effort with his scheming. I will handle the planning and strategy, while my lords will execute my will. Ensure Lord Oakley understands that," the Conqueror said, looking down at the terrified man. "Stand. I will not punish you for bringing your liege's concerns, but you will not speak without permission in my presence, again. Understood?"
The messenger dropped his gaze to the floor and nodded rapidly, not willing to utter another word.
Walhart gave the barest of nods at the gesture. "Good. Now, leave. Court is dismissed," the Emperor said, standing up and motioning his guards to stay as he walked back to his chamber. After he closed the door behind him, leaving him alone in the long hallway, he stopped.
"Good work, my puppet."
"Was that to your satisfaction, Hierophant?" The Conqueror asked, not turning to look at the figure that stepped from behind a statue. If anyone looked closely, they would see the slightly glazy look on the Conqueror's eyes.
A sign that the most feared man on Valm was nothing more than a puppet.
Morrigan stepped into the light, a grin plastered on her face. "Heh heh… Yes. Our Master will be thrilled."
"Would it be best if we attacked them directly? I can command our troops and stamp out the opposition with your help." The Conqueror asked, offering his insight with the little willpower he was allowed.
Morrigan rolled her eyes. The man was brilliant, but she didn't want to conquer the land. Her orders were to put both sides on even ground to ensure they weakened each other. Why leave one side stronger when both were her master's enemies?
"Oh! Don't worry your big head with that!" she said, petting the head of her brainwashed puppet like a toy. The young manakete let out a mad giggle as she contemplated the oncoming conflict. She spoke to herself as she spun in place, ignoring the Conqueror as if he were a mere decoration. "Soon, we will have a good bloodbath! Once we ensure our enemies are crushed, we can show those that matter the right path! And then my family will be whole again!"
AN: A Map of this world: fav. me/dd8o8ej
You can see a FE Style portrait I made of Rose and Morgana. Checking Summer Robin on Heroes, turns out F!Robin is quite busty. fav. me/dd0nkoo
I also made similar portraits for 2B, Devola and Popola for fun.
2B: fav. me/dd5qd9f
Devola and Popola: fav. me/dd83em5
So, I have edited the first two chapters. A lot in them made me cringe and I had to clean them up a bit. The story remains the same, but the way I write has improved. Not a lot, but I feel I know more about medieval warfare after 5 years. I'm also trying to streamline the dialogue and events so they feel less forced while fleshing up the world.
Between my job and planning all this is why I haven't posted in the past few months. My apologies.
Thanks to Shipping Rates Apply for his help with this chapter.