"There are better places to take a nap, you know."

Robin's eyes snapped open. He stared in disbelief at the person standing over him, taking brief note of the man's sister and attendant close-by, then quickly scrambled to his feet, tears streaming down his face.

Chrom blinked. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to startle you. I just- Whoa!"

He was cut off abruptly as Robin lunged forward and embraced him tightly. "You're alive!" the tactician exclaimed exuberantly, unable to believe his senses. "You're alive, Chrom!" He pulled away, holding Chrom at arm's length. "...But how?! I saw you die! You, Lissa, Frederick, Lucina; all of you died, I saw it, Chrom!"

Chrom simply stared at him with a look of intense confusion. "I... What? I'm sorry, but I'm not understanding a word of what you're saying. Could you start over? Tell me, who are you, and how exactly do you know me?"

Robin went rigid, an icy dread crawling up his spine. "...What?"

Frederick stepped forward. "Indeed, I must inquire as to how it is that you know all three of our names, stranger," he said sternly. "And why is it that you wear a Plegian coat?"

A cold sweat was threatening to break out on Robin's brow. "Is this some kind of joke? Because it's not funny, Frederick!"

"Agreed. The potential threat you pose to my charges is no laughing matter," the Knight Commander replied.

"Frederick! Don't sound like you're about to drag the poor guy through some sort of inquisition!" Lissa chided.

Robin staggered backward, now realizing that he was in the middle of a field. A far, far too familiar field. "No..." he murmured in disbelief as a horrible realization started to surface in his mind. He scrutinized the trio. Chrom looked a bit younger, and Frederick did as well. Lissa definitely looked younger. His denial came louder. "No no no..."

Lissa and Frederick had begun bickering about something or other, but Robin ignored them and dazedly turned away and took a few steps, staring numbly up at a cloudy sky.

Flashes of remembrance sprang to mind.

The wind howling on a dragon god's back.

An endless sea of Risen and Grimleal fanatics. The legendary Deadlords, revived again for one last battle.

Friends falling one by one, giving their lives for a future they would not see.

He, Chrom, and Lucina breaking through the mob to confront the Fell Dragon himself.

A fierce struggle against the god incarnate.

Being forced to watch Grima use his doppelganger's body to cut down both exalts—first future-past, then present.

Throwing himself in a rage at the monster, fighting like a man possessed against a man quite literally possessed.

Striking the finishing blow against Grima, his hand cloaked in the Fell Dragon's own dark power as he shoved it through his other self's chest. Grima cursing him as his mirror-image disappeared.

Racing to the sides of Chrom and Lucina, only to find cold and lifeless bodies. Searching the battlefield desperately to find at least one surviving Shepherd, and failing.

Screaming, long and hard, before the void snatched his voice into silence.

And now he was here, three years in the past, as if none of their sacrifices had mattered. The injustice of it all was monstrous enough to put Grima himself to shame.

Robin jumped a bit as a hand was placed on his shoulder. He turned his head to see Chrom. But not the Chrom he had known. Another, distinctly different Chrom, if Robin's theories on time travel were accurate.

"Are you alright?" Chrom asked in concern. "You're crying again."

"Huh?" Robin reached up and rubbed his eyes, realizing that Chrom was correct. "Ah. Sorry, it's just that-..." Robin began to tremble, tears welling up and spilling over once more. "Everyone died, Chrom." The tactician's voice was thick and cracking. "I couldn't save them. They're all gone." He sank to his knees and began to sob openly.

"Are you a refugee of some sort?" Chrom questioned. "Were you beset upon by bandits?"

But Robin gave no answer, too caught up in his grief to speak. Chrom stood silently over the man, patiently waiting for the shudders that wracked the stranger's body to subside. Frederick and Lissa soon joined the prince in vigil.

After some minutes, Robin managed to compose himself, and rubbed his face dry on the sleeve of his coat. He froze as his eyes fell on his right hand. He held it up to the sunlight, not daring to believe what he saw.

The Mark of Grima was gone.

Frederick cleared his throat. "Forgive me, stranger, but I still have a great many questions that need answering."

"...Ah," Robin replied noncommittally, still gazing at the unblemished back of his hand.

Grima was dead. It was the only explanation. At the very least, he could be sure that everything they had fought for had not been in vain—that the deaths of his friends had had meaning and purpose. Grima was well and truly dead.

But what about in this world? Robin realized with a start.

"Let's start with proper introductions," Chrom suggested, smiling. "My name is Chrom. This is my sister, Lissa, and our protector, Frederick. But then, you seem to have already known all that."

"...I am Robin," the tactician replied. He held out his hand. "It's nice to meet you, Chrom."

Robin's voice was laden with irony. Chrom looked a bit confused at the tone, but he shook hands nonetheless.

"Let's move on to the more pressing issue, then, sir," Frederick said stiffly. "How is it that you know us?"

Robin did not reply immediately, staring off into the distance. A different Grima still slept in this world, Robin was sure of it. And he would be damned before he allowed that monstrosity to roam free. He wouldn't let it claim the lives of his friends yet again, not while there was a single breath left in his body.

Gangrel, Walhart, Validar, Grima. A series of plagues ready to be set loose upon the world. But unlike before, Robin knew exactly when they were coming, and in exactly which ways. He would stop them all. This time, he would save everybody.

"...What if I told you that I had seen the future? That I had been here with you all before, and would go on to be your comrade for years after?"

"I would say that you take me for a fool," Frederick replied.

Robin chuckled. "A predictable response from Frederick the Wary."

The Knight Commander raised his eyebrow at Robin's use of the nickname.

"...Well, you're not going to believe anything I say for a long time yet, but if I can convince you, Chrom..." Robin continued, turning and pointing at the exalt. (No, prince, Robin corrected himself.) "...Then this is going to be a lot easier."

Chrom looked at the tactician skeptically. "Forgive me, friend, but it's going to take some doing to convince me that you hail from the future."

Robin smirked. "All in good time. Let's start off with things I couldn't possibly know unless I had been friends with you all for a long while. Chrom, you hate rhubarb, are banned from the royal art storehouse, and you once accidentally knocked a hole in the wall of Castle Ylisstol while sparring."

Chrom's eyes widened. "How did you know about that last one...?" He looked over to Frederick, who was raising an eyebrow at him. "What? ...What?!"

Robin turned to the young princess. "Lissa, you're paranoid that you're not lady-like enough, snort when you laugh, and are as we speak plotting a way to dump a toad—no, actually a frog—inside my coat's hood."

Lissa grinned. "Wow, you're good!" she exclaimed as she stealthily let an amphibian slip out of her grasp.

Frederick was beginning to grow agitated. "Enough of these games, sir. Any competent spy or saboteur could-"

"And as for you," Robin interrupted, jabbing his finger emphatically at Frederick, "You have a fear of large animals, a bizarre fixation towards fire, and are secretly in love with Emmeryn!"

Chrom and Lissa's jaws dropped, and Frederick's face became red as a beet as he began to splutter in shock. Robin nearly burst out laughing; he had never seen Frederick blush before, not even once. And judging by their reactions, neither had Chrom nor Lissa.

"I... I think I might me starting to believe him," Lissa admitted.

"Is he right, Frederick?" Chrom asked.

"I-It is my sworn duty to protect L-Lady E-Emmeryn," Frederick blustered. "A knight c-could never allow h-himself to-"

"Naga above, he is right," Chrom breathed, staring at his attendant in a new light.

"You're probably going to find yourself saying that a lot about me," Robin said smugly while idly inspecting his fingernails. He suddenly frowned. "Still, I feel like there's something I'm forgetting here... Oh shit! Southtown! We went to Southtown right after we met! Shit! Shit!"

"Robin?" Chrom asked.

"We need to get a move on. Now. Southtown is about to be attacked by bandits. Might even be happening as we speak."

"You expect us to believe such a claim?" Frederick growled, face still a tad pink. "How could you know of this without having a hand in it yourself?"

"Like I said, future. Seriously, it's going to save us all a lot of trouble if you just assume the answer to How does he know that? is Because he's from the future." Robin put his hand on his chin. "Or Because he's a genius. I got called that a lot." He shook his head. "Right, not the time for ego-stroking. We need to move. Civilians being slaughtered, buildings burning, all that."

Chrom nodded. "Alright. Let's go."

"Milord, I must object!" Frederick stated forcefully. "This could easily be a trap. We have no reason to trust this man."

"And if he speaks true? There may be people who need our help, Frederick. We can't turn a blind eye out of fear."

Frederick sighed. "I know that look and that tone well. Very well, milord, we shall go." He turned toward Robin. "But don't think for even a second that I will not be watching you like a hawk. And should anything happen to Prince Chrom-"

"You'll make me wish I had just passed away peacefully in my sleep here?" Robin asked.

Frederick narrowed his eyes, for this had been nearly verbatim what he had been about to say. Which of course, Robin knew from prior experience.

Robin grinned. "Just so long as we're on the same page."

An hour later, Chrom growled as he heaved against a bandit's axe with Falchion, struggling to break a stalemate. He twisted the blade, then sidestepped around the axeman's retaliatory swing, lunging low at the man's side. Falchion's tip caught the bandit's gut, causing him to snarl in pain. He immediately charged Chrom again, bringing his axe down in a blow that caused Chrom to strain as he countered it.

Meanwhile, on the opposite end of the market, Robin casually parried a myrmidon's attack, then beheaded the man in one stroke with his silver sword.

"This is weird," the tactician muttered while he sheathed his weapon. Lissa crouching at his side as she gawked at the headless corpse. Robin folded his arms. "I remember this being a hell of a lot more difficult. I'm pretty sure we almost died two or three times apiece." He put his hands behind his head. It was possible that in comparison to himself and most everyone else from three years ago, he had simply become abnormally strong. He must not have noticed how drastic his improvement had been due to the constant escalation of his battles.

"...Hmm, I suppose bandits shouldn't be much of a concern for someone who's gone up against Deadlords..."

Lissa looked up at him quizzically. "Deadlords? You mean those things from fairytales?"

Robin snorted. "I wish. By the way, get used to the idea of animated dead, because those aren't going away anytime soon."

Suddenly, a bolt of electricity struck Robin's back. A bandit mage smiled, pumping his fist at an easy kill.

Then Robin turned around, and the assailant froze in place.

"That was cute," Robin grinned. "I almost felt that. Would you care for me to show you what being hit by real magic feels like?" he asked as he drew his Thoron tome.

The bandit mage nearly soiled himself when he saw the B-Rank magic and sprinted away in a panic, as fast as his legs would carry him.

Robin smirked and put the Thoron tome away. Beside him, Lissa gaped in amazement. "That was so cool!" the princess shouted. "But shouldn't you like, zap that guy or something?" She pointed to the still-fleeing mage.

"Nah. He's lost the will to fight, and I don't fancy myself a murderer. Besides, if he still wants to go at it then I should probably have Chrom take him down. He's going to need experience fighting mages."

"Uh, ok. Do you need me to heal you?" Lissa asked, waving her staff.

"Believe me, I'd like for you to be able to, even if it was just a scratch. You need as much healing practice as you can get." Robin gestured to his uninjured back. "But I guess that my magical resilience has gotten so high that that attack did literally nothing to me." He shrugged, then tapped his finger on his chin. "Maybe I should have tossed that mage an Arcthunder tome to see if that would have let him do any better..."

Lissa gave him a strange look. "You say some weird things. You wanted that guy to have been able to hurt you?"

"Well I mean, it's not like I'm a masochist or anything. Healing any little injury is just the most optimal way for you to gain experience."

Lissa tilted her head. "'Optimal'? Are you some sort of tactician or something?"

Robin laughed. "Something like that. Anyway, let's go see how Chrom and Frederick are holding up."

"Ok! Hey, does my bro become as strong as you?"

"Oh yeah. He was probably even stronger. He killed Walhart the Conqueror, after all."


"Eh, give it two years or three years and you'll know."

Robin folded his hands behind his head as he walked. Now that he thought on the matter, he realized that he had a long road ahead of him, even before he got to the very serious issue of Walhart, let alone Grima after that. Saving Emmeryn would have to be his first priority, and afterward he would need to figure out a way to deal with Gangrel. If Robin did manage to prevent Emmeryn from falling to her death this time around, then he would have to deal with a less galvanized Ylissean-Feroxian alliance, and a more unified Plegian army. The clash at the border wastes would probably become much more bloody, assuming it even happened at all. And who knew what state the continent would be in when the Conqueror's forerunners came knocking?

Robin sighed. He was beginning to understand the problems "Marth" must have been grappling with. He abruptly stopped in place, realizing that Lucina might not even be in this timeline; he had no reason to believe that this was an era where she and her comrades had traveled into the past. He would have to operate under the assumption that he was alone in his foreknowledge, and for some reason that he couldn't quite pin down, this distressed him.

"Robin?" Lissa called.

"Hmm? Ah, sorry. Coming!"

Chrom ducked a broad swipe from the bandit leader's axe, swinging upwards with Falchion. The man, Garrick, jumped back, wincing as Falchion nicked his side and drew blood. Chrom lunged forward, intend on finishing the duel in one blow. Garrick was quicker than anticipated, though, and countered the attack before punching Chrom in the gut. Chrom gagged, staggering backwards. Garrick raised his axe overhead, about to strike, when a bolt of lightning flew down and struck the ground between the combatants. Both leapt away, skidding to a halt.

"No good, Chrom, no good," Robin said in exasperation, shaking his head. "The old you would've just headbutted the bastard and gutted him like a fish afterward."

"It's not exactly that easy!" Chrom snapped. "I could die at any moment if I'm not careful!"

Robin rubbed the bridge of his nose. "Yeah, yeah, I know, but I don't think you're supposed to be struggling with this jackass."

"Who said I'm struggling?! And why are you acting as if you're in charge?!"

Robin blinked. He hadn't anticipated resistance from Chrom of this sort. The tactician supposed that he was going about things a little bit differently in this scenario; the previous time, he had fought at Chrom's side, but here Robin was having Frederick fill that role instead, as the tactician wanted the two men to hone their combat abilities as quickly as possible. Robin frowned, realizing that he had been taking his previous close friendship with Chrom as a given. This was a mistake he couldn't afford to make, not when everything might hinge on his ability to convince the prince to go along with his every decision.

"You're right, I'm overstepping some bounds here," Robin conceded. "I'm sorry, but I promise you that my intentions and reasons are both good. Let me show you that I'm here to help. I'll off Gaptooth over there myself if you'll let me."

Garrick growled. "Oy, you git! I've got me a name, and it's-"

Robin raised his hand, cutting the bandit off. The tactician smirked. "Sorry, but don't waste your breath. I didn't remember your name the first time, and I'm sure as hell not going to bother now." The bandit howled in anger, but Robin ignored him and turned back to Chrom. "May I? I understand if you want to settle this yourself."

Lissa nudged Chrom. "He's really strong, bro!"

Chrom sighed. "Alright, go ahead. Show me what you've got."

Robin grinned. "As you command, milord." He strolled up to Garrick, no weapons on hand. The bandit raised an eyebrow, then swung with his axe. Robin stepped away nimbly, dodging by a hair's breadth. Garrick growled and swung again, and once more Robin avoided the attack by less than inch. The bandit, starting to become frustrated, began swinging erratically, and still Robin continued to be just ever-so-slightly out of reach in the one-sided dance. Chrom and Lissa's mouths dropped, and even Frederick seemed begrudgingly impressed.

"You. Stupid. Asshole!" Garrick seethed, each word punctuated with an axe stroke. "Just. Stay. Still. And. Die already!"

Robin ran his fingers over the edges of the pages of the tome in his pocket, uttering a few short words. His hand became shrouded in lightning, and after ducking under Garrick's last swing, he jammed his fist into the bandit leader's heart before releasing the pent up electrical energy. A large bolt of lighting burst out of the man's back, shooting off into the sky before dissipating. Garrick gagged, eyes bulging as blood spurted from his mouth. He took a few tremulous steps backwards, then collapsed, dead.

Robin turned back to his comrades, each of whom were shocked by what they had just seen. "I'm strong, Chrom," Robin said quietly as he flicked blood off of his hand. "It's quite possible that I'm currently one of the strongest people in the world. But I can't do this alone. Dark days are coming, Chrom, and I need your help if we're all going to get through them."

Chrom frowned, searching Robin's eyes. The sincerity he found in them was profound. After a few moments the prince sighed. "You might be a prophet, or you might just be a lunatic." He suddenly smiled. "But either way, you fought with us to protect innocent people, and as far as I'm concerned that makes you a friend."

"Milord, if I might interject," Frederick objected tersely. "The bandits spoke with Plegian accents, and our mysterious friend here wears a Plegian coat. That is too great a coincidence for me to ignore."

"I trust him, Frederick. And judging by the display he put on just now, if he was our enemy, I don't think we would be able to stop him from killing us anyway."

Frederick's jaw tightened. His pride demanded that he contest this statement, but realistically he did not like his chances were he to challenge this enigmatic threat.

"However, the bandit being Plegian does concern me," Chrom note. He turned to address the tactician. "I don't suppose your foresight tells you what that's about, does it Robin?"

"It's not foresight. I've just experienced this all before. And the bandit's Plegian because Gangrel's trying to stir up unrest on the Ylissean-Plegian border. He wants a war, and he's going to stop at nothing to get it."

Chrom frowned. "I don't like the sound of that. Our peace with Plegia isn't an easy one, but it's something worth protecting. I don't want to believe that even the Mad King would be willing to throw it away."

"More than willing, Chrom. He would relish in it. He wants to bury every last man, woman, and child in this country. I've heard him say as much."

Frederick raised an eyebrow. "You claim to have held audience with the king of Plegia?"

"No, we only met on battlefields."

Chrom raised an eyebrow as well. "That's a tad hard to believe, but if Plegia really is readying for war then we need to tell Emmeryn immediately. I would appreciate it if you would accompany us back to Ylisstol, Robin."

"Frankly, I was worried that I was going to have to convince you to let me come with you," Robin admitted.

"Milord, I cannot condone allowing this man anywhere near the Exalt," Frederick said through gritted teeth.

Robin looked at the Knight Commander with a deathly serious look. "Frederick, I might be the only thing standing between Emm and an untimely death. Believe me, you want me in Ylisstol right now more than you could possibly know."

"I have had quite enough of you!" Frederick snapped. "I will not allow you to-"

"Frederick," Chrom said sharply.

The knight instantly fell silent.

"I appreciate your concern for Emmeryn's safety," Chrom continued. "I really do. But as bizarre as Robin's claims are, he might be the only person who can prevent a sea of bloodshed. I'm going to trust in him. You don't have to do the same, but you will obey my orders. And I am ordering you to leave him be."

"...Very well, milord," Frederick answered quietly. "As you command. I will make preparations for our departure." He gave Robin a quick glare, then began to walk away.

"What?!" Lissa exclaimed. "We're leaving right now?! But I want warm food to eat and a warmer bed to sleep in!"

Chrom grinned. "And you can have those things, once we get back to Ylisstol. But for now, we need to make haste."

Lissa groaned loudly. "But I wanted Southtown Soup! I haven't had it in ages!"

"Sorry Lissa," Robin chuckled. "But you're out of luck, because there is not a chance that I am missing an opportunity to eat bear meat."

When the group finally made camp for the night, Robin was nervous. The moment of truth would soon be at hand. He tried to savor his dinner, but the tension prevented him from doing so, and later interfered with his sleep as well. So when Chrom and Lissa got up in the middle of the night, Robin rose with them. They wandered through the woods for some ten minutes before the earthquake struck. Chrom and Lissa were terrified, but Robin was exhilarated. He looked up to the night sky expectantly, and witnessed the first portal when it opened and dropped Risen into the world. Robin's heart was hammering in his chest as he and Chrom dispatched the undead, and it nearly stopped when the second portal appeared. A feminine form could be seen as if underwater, and then she had crossed the boundary, flying through the burning air.

She was here. Lucina existed in this timeline as well. And Robin was relieved, not only at seeing his friend alive once more, but because he would no longer need to shoulder his heavy burden all alone.

But Robin's elation quickly turned to dread as a sobering realization struck him.

If Lucina is here, then so is the other me, and her world's Grima along with him.