PART I: Spark
Chapter 1: Flickering
((Author's note: I don't own Fire Emblem: Awakening, which is probably for the best. If I did, the game we got would have been a whole lot weirder.
Thank you to StarryNox and WhenTheMoonMetTheSun for the constant support and beta reading this story; I wouldn't have been able to push the prose to the next level without you. Thank you as well to UltraRed for inspiration and character names. Last but not least, thank you to Ticcy on tumblr for the incredible ideas of Robin's mom and the endless inspiration via art.
And thank you to the readers for doing their thing, and for reading!))
Their blood was fire, burning bright through their skin and fighting against the chilled, oppressive shadow of the chamber. Darkness tried to swallow them up, only held at bay by the glow from their flesh. The light pulsing off their skin was aided by a pale blue glimmer racing along the sword held by the man in front of her and the purple crackle of energy rising off her hands. The shine pushed against the stale air of the tomb-like room they found themselves in.
The atmosphere promised death within seconds. And without a doubt, that death would be their own if they didn't move swift and sure. The figure in front of them, staring them down was gaunt as a specter. The spells curling out of his fingers and rising off his shoulders in a heat haze were lanced with a sickening purple color that turned her stomach the more she looked at it.
Strike. Sword swing, spell blaze. They all blurred and burned together in a flurry of combat. The swordsman was a blur of white and silver, his cape billowing out behind him, twisting and snapping in the heavy air.
Her own motions were weak, little more than echoes compared to the main fight. It was like the fire on her skin left the rest of her a burned out husk. Her eyes could barely track everything, and even the cape melted into a pale shade.
For a few heartbeats, she swore she saw something else twisting out of the swordsman's back. Something silvery and bright. But she couldn't keep her focus on that. Not with the sorcerer still drawing breath.
The swordsman moved like lightning, rolling underneath the sorcerer's spells, refusing to stay down when one managed to strike him. The same couldn't be said for her. Now her movements were turning sluggish, even though her thoughts raced.
She should have been an easy target, but the swordsman stayed between her and the sorcerer. He was set on looking out for her, keeping that glimmering sword between her and the mage. The white shapes arched out of his back, and her eyes watered from how bright they were; like a gleaming shield against the violet bolts of spell fire.
His name hummed in her head, in her heart, with a strange certainty. It thrummed through her like power, in time to the energy coursing through her blood. The light didn't feel like it was burning through her anymore, but giving her strength. Just enough to lift her hands, and shift her fingers. The tired weight faded from them. Just for a heartbeat, but enough to weave one spell.
She snapped all of her power into a bolt of crackling magic. Chrom struck at the same time, sword and spell both piercing their enemy. Chrom leapt away before the sorcerer could summon up a counter spell and moved in front of her to guard her against another attack.
It never came. The sorcerer collapsed to the floor stones, his spells turning traitor as they washed up his skin and devoured his flesh with a hiss of flame.
Chrom turned to smile at her, and she felt her own lips quirking up to match it. They'd done it. Somehow, they'd done it-
"This isn't over-" A snarl worked its way out of the sorcerer's body. Impossibly, he stood up. He was little more than a charred wreck, and yet he still stood. His eyes burned, bright as the flames clinging to his form, glaring at her and Chrom.
The words punctured the air, hate-filled and yanking the last ounce of power out of the sorcerer's flesh to direct it at Chrom. He turned, slowly. Too slowly, his motions strangely heavy in her eyes.
Her hands snapped out and grabbed him hard by the shoulder. The violet and blue light surrounding them mingled for one heartbeat, before she flung him to the side. The spell blazed past Chrom, burning white hot and close enough to scorch a few stray strands on his cloak. But that was all of him that it touched.
Instead it slammed straight into her, with a sharp blast that tore all along her body and inside her ears. The world turned red. She fell through a haze of pain and smacked hard against the tile. Whatever air the spell didn't shock out of her lungs was torn out by the impact. She couldn't move, couldn't even twitch from how much it hurt.
"Alright-?" A voice pierced through the haze.
"You alright?" It asked again, and she felt a hand weave around her back, lifting her up. It dulled the agony racing through her, her eyes tried to focus on the pale blue aura, tied to the grip and trying to wash over her and mingle with the purple on her hands and arms. The red in her vision stained into both, and the light began to fade underneath the haze.
"That's the end of him." The voice continued, and she picked out Chrom's face above hers. She felt herself trying to smile again in response to him... but something in the spell still burned, and it hurt to move anything. Chrom kept speaking, but there was something wrong with her ears. They still rang, even though the energy of the spell should have dissipated.
More red jabbed into the corners of her vision in painful jolts. It drowned the last glimmer of light from their skin. Her head pounded in time to each bolt of red, and her breath rasped loud in her ears. She fought for control, some tiny bit of calm as she inhaled. It did nothing to banish the shaking in her limbs, the pain blossoming fresh along her arms and head.
Something was wrong.
Chrom picked up on it too. His smile vanished. He leaned in closer to look at her, concern creasing at the corners of his eyes.
It was all she picked out, before something else cut into her ears. A wet slicing noise followed by an impact jolting up her arm. Chrom flinched in the same instant.
He staggered away, a glowing, jagged fragment of lightning lodged in his side. Her eyes, the one thing she could still control as red tinged as they were, flickered down. Spell fire crackled along her hand, the same yellow-orange color as the magic blade jutting out of Chrom's side.
Chrom whispered something to her. Something pleading, telling her to escape. His face clouded over in pain, and his life started to flicker out.
Because of her.
Despair broke through the last of her control as he hit the ground. A mocking laughter rang through the room when she tried to scream out the grief in her throat. Instead of crying, a dry rasping laugh joined the voice.
A flicker caught her eye. Chrom's body lay across the stone, something pale and broken framing him, and his white cape covering the puncture in his side. A point in it slowly turned red, but something else drew her eye.
She stared at a fragment of something bright rushing along his cape. It shimmered from heat and traced along his back, spreading out from a point on his shoulder. Flickering, growing, burning.
Fire. It wreathed his body, shining and brilliant as the heavens themselves. For an instant she saw his sides draw in a shuddering breath, but before she could look closer, a new color stained her vision. Purple flames, the same as the sorcerer's spell, laced around her hand. The fire was an antithesis to what wrapped around Chrom, dark and trying to eat the light.
The fire swept over her and pushed fresh sparks into her blood. Her body felt too small to contain the snap of fire blazing up inside her. Flames consumed them both, burning away everything that surrounded them. She fell into the blaze and knew nothing else... save for six words, echoing beyond all of that.
'One last throw of the dice.'
The workshop was in tatters, a match to the village outside. Screams and sounds of burning wood felt oddly muffled through the thick walls, like the room was trying to keep what was left of the magic inside from escaping.
Only one light pierced the gloom, a shaft of sunlight that spilled through a rent in the drapes surrounding the windows.
A woman's body sprawled across the center of the light, a slash of red streaked metal resting close by. The age lines on her face went tight from pain, and she grit her teeth against it. It had been years since she'd felt the bite of steel, or fought against the way it shredded concentration. Exhaling and inhaling had turned ragged and wet. She tried to focus and breathe around the new hole punched into her side. She found it more and more difficult, and standing up was impossible.
She'd already tried once and collapsed from the strain. With a grunt she rolled onto her side and stared up at the roof timbers. The wooden beams were burned black from a stray blast of fire, and her fingers still ached from launching the spell. Directly under the scorch marks was a pile of ash. All that was left of the one who put the knife in her side.
The sorceress held a hand to her wound. She tried to grip with fingers going cold, pulling herself along the wooden floorboards. The boards scrapped against her side, a fresh coating of dark red soaking into the heavy wood. Numbly, the woman wondered if this much blood would pose a problem to the people setting up shop underneath her.
Screams and the ring of steel seeped up from underneath her. Her body shivered from the crash of furniture below. A reminder that the entire town had other things to worry about.
No time left. Not for Southtown, and not for her.
"N-not yet..." she rasped out.
Her work desk was smashed to bits. All the instruments dashed to the ground, the ceremonial silk cloth pooling on the floor. A red smear decorated the cloth and wood both, showing where she'd been thrown and gutted.
One thing was still intact, shielded by the bit of magic she'd been working before getting blindsided by the attacker. Her bloody fingers closed around a bowl. Half of its precious liquid spilled onto the floor, the water mixing with blood and dust. But enough magic remained stuck to the surface and remaining water. Inside the groove of the bowl the scrying spell continued as best as it could. It fought to reach out beyond the confines of the room, to reflect something else.
The liquid rippled, casting a soft glow that burned away her agonized reflection and replaced it with something else.
The water revealed a figure laying in a field, her arms spread out in the grass and almost lost in the folds of a thick traveler's coat. The figure in the vision was far removed from the chaos and violence clutching the town.
The sorceress had one heartbeat to feel relief. The next her breath seized up in her throat. The vision flickered out, then back, like shadows of cloud across the sky. The robed woman wasn't alone; a second presence stood above her, wreathed in shadow and in defiance of the sun. Through her skin, the scryer sensed something about the figure. Something oily, something that set flesh crawling when her eyes could pick out nothing.
'It can't be-'
Years of separation from shadowed halls and crypt-like cathedrals hadn't dulled the scryer's memory. She knew that sensation, and it felt like her stomach was trying to leach out of the hole in her side.
"Gri-" her throat choked around saying the whole name, gone dry from fear and tight from pain. And she could do nothing about it; just helplessly stare down at the vision.
The figure on the ground gave a feeble stir, like she was fighting back against the other. The shadowed figure knelt and clapped hands around the girl's face, trying to force her to accept something. But then the shadow's head snapped up at something just beyond the vision. The shadow froze, coiled itself up, and then melted away, turning to smoke that dissipated into the air.
"Safe?" The sorceress croaked out, still staring at the vision. What had caused the other to vanish? The little bit of fight left in the field bound one, or-?
The pool blurred out, the spell losing some of its power. Pain wracked her body and bit into her focus. Her ragged breathing told her that she hadn't much more time.
"Not yet-!" she hissed again and dipped her fingers into the waters. The blood running from them carried some of her life, acting as a catalyst and renewing the spell.
The vision reformed, and a different collection of figures joined the scene. The field had lost the miasma cloaking it, replaced with warm sunlight the newcomers could have brought with them. A young man stood above the woman in the field now, along with a girl in a gold dress. Another stood aside, his shoulders tense. She forced herself to take a second look at the first man, picking out more details.
A ragged white cape draped around the stranger's shoulders. Despite the wear on its edges, it looked like it was made of fine material. The same as the armor on one shoulder. The other-
Her breath sucked in when she saw the brand on his shoulder, so similar to the one on the robed woman's hand, clearly built into the flesh. It formed a shape like a tear or a flame with a faint blue tinge. A symbol she knew well, though she had been taught to hate it instead of revere it. She had no room for either emotion now, however.
"Well... then." She breathed out, and the vision guttered like a dying candle flame. At the same time her breathing grew fainter, and her head went oddly foggy. She'd lost enough blood; it was amazing the spell had lasted the span it did, with how her life was slipping out.
Soon enough she was sure the bandits would pound their way up the stairs, to finish off what the knife had begun.
Something roared outside that wasn't flame. The screams took on a different sound as the sorceress snapped her head up. The sound rumbled through building and bones equally, an animal cry seeped in fury.
'Portents. So many portents.'
She couldn't move anymore. The best she could do was slump against the wall and catch one last glimpse into the scrying bowl. The cloaked woman took the man's hand, finding her feet. They both spoke, each one blinking in surprise over what the other was saying.
No words. Not with the spell faltering. But she could imagine some form of very unusual introductions going on.
"...Prince of Ylisse. I wouldn't have expected that." She murmured. The vision faded in and out, each pulse turning back to a bowl of messy, blood-tinged water. "But I pray…that you might be able to help her."
One last breath to draw.
"Whichever god listens, let him live up to his bloodline and legacy. Be a savior and... Save my daughter as well." Her hands fell away from the dagger wound, and she slumped, lifeless, to the floor. The scrying spell died out in the same instant, leaving the room shrouded back into shadow as flames began to spread outside.