This is going to be my last FE7 oneshot for a while, guys (excluding requests). Originally I wasn't going to write it at all, but I received word that Gunlord500, who in my humble opinion is the single most talented writer in the FE fandom, was retiring from FanFiction, and I wanted to write something in his honor.
Nergal laughed with confidence as he hurled Eliwood away with his magic. His elation, however, was short-lived as Hector cleaved Armads into his back. His aura sent the Ostian flying back, unconscious, but smoke began rising from his torso, indicating his inhuman body was grievously injured. Still, he tried to fight on. Lyndis flew as fast as she up to the druid and rammed Sol Katti through his heart. Like Hector, she was thrown back, but more smoke began to emerge from the sorcerer's body. Both of their efforts proved to be in vain, however, as Nergal still stood. But now, it was Eliwood's turn; Durandal shone white as the Pheraen ran up to Nergal and decapitated him. His body faded into smoke as his mouth uttered final words. Confident in his victory, Eliwood lowered his guard and sat on the floor, panting.
But victory was not yet his.
Nergal's disembodied head began to levitate, its countenance one of absolute indignation, and, seemingly propelled by smoke, rapidly soared toward Eliwood. The Pheraen looked behind him and screamed at what was to be his bane, but before the head made contact, a pillar of light engulfed it, finally bringing an end to the sorcerer. What little smoke remained retreated into the Dragon's Gate. Eliwood looked for the source of the spell and saw Renault, smiling as if a great weight had been lifted off his shoulders. Before the red-haired lordling could thank him, he turned his back and warped himself away.
It had been a year since that day came to pass. Renault had since settled down, a large part of his burden alleviated, in Etruria, where the Archbishops assigned him a diocese in a new city on the Western end of the country. The building was not yet complete, so Renault's parishioners had to deal with the sounds of construction if they came for any reason on weekdays. This took longer than expected, as Aquleia only assigned a single stonemason and his apprentice to build what was to be the most opulent church in the area (Renault had initially objected, but his superiors reasoned that they wanted the public to know that the Archdiocese was watching over them no matter where they lived in the country).
One day, as Renault and his priests were tending the gardens, the bishop overheard the mason's apprentice ranting and elected to investigate.
"…and she always forces me to pray! I swear, it's as if she loves God more than she loves her own son!" The apprentice finished, exasperated.
"Jacques, there's an old saying: you can choose your friends, but you can't choose your family. She's your mother, and you have to learn to accept that and love her for who she is," the mason replied.
"Not if I become a mercenary. There's a band heading north doing some work for the crown, and I was planning on joining them. I could use the extra cash."
"Excuse me, I couldn't help but overhear the commotion. Is there some way I could be of assistance, my sons?" Renault called out.
"Go to hell, priest. The church has done more than enough for my family," Jacques spat with contempt.
"If I cannot help you as a bishop, perhaps I can help you as just another man who has had problems with his family,"
"Hah, I doubt your family was anything like mine."
"My father was taken by consumption, which drove my mother to become extremely religious. At the time, I was just an angry child who wanted nothing to do with the church. My mother, however, seemed to love God more than she loved me and forced her religion upon me, eventually leading me to become a mercenary," Renault said. The boy hesitated for a moment, looked to his master – who nodded – and climbed down a ladder built into the scaffolding.
"How'd you end up a bishop, then?"
"As a mercenary, I spent many years doing nothing but killing; eventually, I grew to love it. It wasn't until after my best friend died in my arms that I realized the foolishness of my ways. I wandered off until I came across a man who taught me the values of light and put me on the path to repentance; that path led me to the church." Of course, that wasn't the whole truth, but Renault figured the boy didn't need to know any more than he told him.
"How many did you kill?" Jacques asked.
"More than enough. Every time you kill a man, a part of you dies with him. I had killed so many that I lost myself entirely, becoming less than human. Joining the clergy has helped me reclaim my humanity.
"Initially, I was a stoneworker's apprentice, just like you. If I could go back, I would have stayed the course, and I probably would have become a respectable mason. I don't want you falling down the same path that nearly consumed me. I don't want anyone to bear the burden I've carried."
"I… I can't stay with my mother. Every time I see her, I just get into an argument with her. I swear, one day I might actually lose it!"
"Tell me, my son, what would your father want you to do?"
"Why does that matter? He was murdered in cold blood. No-one really knows why… the assassin just came in, killed my father, took a ring from his finger and some artifacts from a cabinet, then called out to some guy named 'Nergal' and vanished," Jacques glared daggers into the distance. Renault went pale. He never performed that specific task for his former master, but upon hearing the boy's words all of the faces of the people he killed in the sorcerer's name came to the forefront of his mind. He sighed and continued his attempt to guide the boy,
"Did you love him?"
"Above all else."
"Then doing what you feel he would want would honor his memory. Doing something that may have been against his wishes would only cause him to roll in his grave. If he is in heaven, would you not want him to smile down at you?"
"It is always better for yourself and the world to do what you know to be right, whether you believe you are working for the people, for God and His Saint, or for the memory of a fallen friend or loved one. Don't give into childish hate. Don't blame others for things no-one had control over. Lead a peaceful life, one that benefits the world. Is that not what your father would have wanted?" Renault in hindsight realized that sounded rather presumptuous, but he said what he did remembering his own father, whose words he failed to carry out earlier in his life.
"I think I should go home and talk to my mother," Jacques said as he turned to his master.
"Go on ahead, I'll finish up my lunch while I wait," the stonemason replied. His apprentice smiled and ran off to his home, presumably to make up with his mother.
"You're no ordinary bishop, Your Excellency," the stonemason said to Renault.
"I have lived a very long life, so I know how to deal with troubled sons," the clergyman simply shrugged.
"Well, I feel I should thank you; I've never been able to get through to him as well as you."
"There is no need. All I did was guide a wayward son home. That is thanks enough in itself," Renault shrugged and returned to the gardens, concealing a smile. He had just prevented an angry child from becoming something much worse. He had just saved an innocent soul from treading down the sinful path he himself once took. He had finally lifted the rest of his burden.
I don't think I've ever poured that much dialogue into a oneshot before. As usual, you can find all of my notes on my blog.
Before I sign off for the day, I'd like to say and extended thank you to Gunlord500 for his skill, inspiration and kindness. Everything he has written has helped me progress as a writer and as a human, whether it be philosophical dialogue in his FanFiction publications or book recommendations on his blog. So much of his work has inspired me, from his interpretations of Catholicism, to his literary style, to the detail he pours into every single character.
In addition, he's always been supportive of me – and really of all FanFiction writers, leaving comments on all of our pieces, making sure we all have support. Most of my oneshots only have two comments – one from him, and one from another friend, Cormag Ravenstaff. I think I can speak for all of us when I say I am extremely grateful for his support.
Gunlord is, without a doubt, the best writer I have encountered on this website, and I strive to one day reach a level near his.
Thank you for everything, Gunlord, and I wish you the best of luck in all of your endeavors.