Chapter 34: Displaced
The docks of port Ferox swarmed with activity, accompanied by a constant drone of crews readying the ships and the lapping of ocean waters. Lucina sat against one of the dock posts, eyes scanning the harbor and the sprawling camp set beyond the tiny port.
The Plegian warships had arrived as promised, and now drifted in the waves. And Lucina had breathed out a sigh when she realized the holds weren't full of Risen. With the ships at port, the task began with loading them up with weapons, and supplies. That, and gathering the soldiers into camps as they all waited for the main force to be ready for sailing.
There was still quite a bit of waiting to be done. No matter how far Lucina ranged beyond the camp on her own searches and patrols, she couldn't ever seem to find enough to fill her days.
"Lucina," she stirred at a familiar voice, and turned to see Robin. The tactician stood on the docks, back carefully turned to the Plegian ships. With the violet eyes painted on the sides, it wasn't hard to see why she glanced away from them. And kept her focus on Lucina.
"Mother?" She tested the word again, and was rewarded with a tiny smile from the woman across from her. The weight of Southtown still rested on Robin's shoulders and hung around her eyes, but it faded for a moment upon hearing that word.
'It's hard to imagine she ever would have minded hearing that,' particularly when it brought her a small measure of peace.
"I've noticed you seem ill at ease, as of late." Robin continued. "And if you would tell me, I wish to hear why."
In answer, Lucina's eyes went back to the great field of tents growing along the hills. Ylisse, Ferox, even expatriates from Roxanne were arrayed in the camps. But as valuable as the troops were to their cause, they were not the ones she desperately wished to see.
"I... I keep hoping I'll see others from my time. That somehow they'll have made it here as well." But still there was no sign of any familiar faces. Lucina slumped forward.
"They'll find a way, I'm certain. Chrom was right, that we'll need all the help we can get in order to win this war." Robin offered, resting a hand on her shoulder. "And these others from your time must be capable."
Lucina gave a slight nod at that, but her own smile was watery.
'They are... but that doesn't prevent me from worrying about my-' Lucina stopped the thought short. She didn't want too much of that concern showing. Or adding more worry to her mother's shoulders.
"You're right. But... I suppose I have too much time on my hands, and it can cause me worry."
"Actually, I had a notion on that." Came a new voice, raising both Lucina and Robin's heads. And it made her brighten, and Robin's smile widen. Chrom moved down the docks with a surer step than before, a more confident light in his eyes, now that he had some sort of plan in his head. One that didn't involve sitting about.
"Apparently Vaike, Lissa, and Maribelle have been visiting the local taverns. Something about teaching Ricken the ways of bars... and I can safely say I NEVER imagined I'd hear those words out of Maribelle's mouth." Chrom gave a short laugh at that. "However while they were out carousing, they heard some interesting rumors about some place further to the north. Old ruins, from the sound of it... and locals talk about there being something sealed there..."
"You plan to investigate." Robin finished for him.
"If it gives us an edge in the coming conflict, then yes. I… just have a feeling about this, too, that there's something important there. I wish I could put it into better words than that, but…" There was a far off look in his eyes, like he was trying to recall some hazy memory.
"I've gone with gut instinct before, and while it isn't my preferred way to act on…" Robin tilted her head to Chrom. "I'm also not getting any feelings we should avoid this, either. And far be it from me to say we can only act on MY spur of the moment ideas."
"I resent that," Chrom laughed out. "I'll have you know I've had this feeling whenever I wake up for weeks, by now. Not that I can recall my dreams very well, but still. And besides... well, aren't you the least bit curious?"
Robin stepped forward, favoring Chrom with a knowing smile. "If it held the attention of those three long enough to report it, then yes. I'd like to go with you and bring a few of the other Shepherds along."
Lucina stood as well, hovering for a moment, looking between them and wondering how to ask-
"Lucina... do you want to go with us? I stand by what I said on Carrion Island. You have clear skill with sword, and I'd be glad to have you fighting alongside us again."
"I..." it would be an honor, her thoughts said. A chance to make sure they both stayed safe. But ultimately she settled for a small, slightly squeaked out "yes!"
And somehow, going by how her parents smiled at her, they caught the meaning well enough.
The ruins stretched out as far as the eye could see, pristine and white, their sheen unsullied by however many ages had gone by. Sea water lapped up through the fallen columns and half submerged marble floors. Chrom took a deep breath of it as he looked around. His steps echoed across the first platform.
"It has to be the place," he murmured. There was old power here, somewhere; as ambient as the mist settling about the Shepherds.
The ambient energy settled into his bones, like a soothing hum or a familiar touch. Off to the side of the group, he thought he glimpsed Lucina tilting her head; like she caught a very faint feeling of it. He wanted to ask her more, but the expectant looks from the rest of the Shepherds stilled that question.
He allowed himself one breath to steady himself, then raised his voice.
"I'm certain you all know why we're here, but to remind you…" he recounted the tale, that there was supposed to be something sacred to Naga hidden in the ruins. "...Hopefully we won't have to brave too many brigands, or-"
He cut off, seeing something dark move between fallen and half standing columns. Another shadowy thing lurched about, and he could pick out more and more black dots, looking like sores on the pristine temple surface.
"...Risen." He finished, hand going for Falchion. "Looks like we'll be earning this treasure the old fashioned way, after all."
They weren't a large group of explorers; just a detachment of Shepherds with the rest managing the camp. But all the same, they all braced up for battle well enough. Stahl and Cordelia were already mounting up, with Sully in the saddle and ready to lead the charge, according to Robin's plans.
"Remember the strategy," Robin cautioned them. "Riders, take the front and watch where you lead your horses. The footing looks precarious enough here. Mages, keep to the rear, and foot fighters watch our flanks."
Miriel was among the ranks, as were Ricken and Gregor; they all gave a quick nod, before following the clatter of hooves; the forward riders were already vanishing into the mists.
Lucina hesitated, caught between following the others, or staying with Chrom and Robin. She'd been standing apart from the others as is, and now stopped short in her tracks.
"Go on ahead," Robin gave her a soft bit of encouragement. "You don't have a scarred Brand to worry about, so there's no reason you can't fight. And you'd do better moving on ahead, instead of fretting over us." Lucina considered, before giving a quick nod.
Leaving Chrom with Robin.
'It's for the best,' he reminded himself, although his muscles all twitched to charge ahead, and get into the thick of the battle. His brand itched, eager to join in on the restless feeling. Ahead, a clash of steel rang out, though curiously muffled by the hazy air and echoed off the marble ruins.
"…This is driving you mad, I know." Robin murmured, and he caught the way she shifted from foot to foot, the fingers on her right hand clasping and unclasping. "But…"
"…But we need to try and get a handle on how the Brands are acting, and fight off any sudden transformations, I know." Chrom answered.
"AND keep an eye out for any ambushes." Robin continued. But she at least let them walk forward, tailing the sounds of a conflict. Together they picked their way along the edges of the ruins, skirting the ledges of the platforms as the sea tide swirled underneath them.
The Emblem stayed on Chrom's arm, a comforting weight. And Robin carried Argent at her side, under his insistence. And as restless as he felt, the two treasures DID seem to fulfill their tasks. As he forced himself to breath in deep, the tug from the Brand seemed to ebb-
But he could feel a tug from something else. He froze for a moment, terrified he'd underestimated the pull. Maybe it was too soon after their transformation, maybe the Emblem's influence was waning-
Maybe he should have moved, so Robin didn't smack straight into his back. His balance was already half gone. When she bumped into him, it went all the way. Without thinking her grabbed onto her, trying to keep his balance. But all he succeeded in doing was pulling her down with him, with a massive splash of cold water that made him gasp.
"Chrom!? What was-?" Robin just managed to sputter, trying to slosh back up to her feet and pull sodden bangs out of her face. Her eyes couldn't seem to settle on being furious, confused, or blanching from just how chilly the water was.
Ultimately confusion won out, as she broke eye contact with him and stared down at something. Chrom followed her gaze, eyes settling on the Emblem. There was a strange glimmer, down in one of the sockets of the shield. Something in the ruins was calling out to the Emblem.
Their eyes both traced back to the fight.
'But… I think they can handle themselves. And they have Lucina with them.' That seemed to decide Robin as well.
"Seems like your hunch was right." Robin breathed out. "Something IS here… and we need to find out just what it is."
'Where am I?' was the first thought in the boy's head. Followed quickly by 'Who am I-?'
That was when he picked out shapes moving about wherever he was... and there was a lurch to their steps that told him the strangers weren't anything good. He was also sure that normal, friendly people didn't have smoke seeping out of their mouths. Underneath the slant of his hood he could also see a red glow in their eyes. Which ALSO didn't look friendly.
'Am I going to die?' took third place in terms of questions. He cast around for a weapon, only to realize he was wearing a sword at his side, and a spell tome strapped to his other hip. At pouch was tied to his belt, curiously heavy with something. An experimental draw and cut with the blade told him he could at least use a sword, and the weapon almost danced through the air in his hands.
He stepped carefully through the ruins, trying to keep his footsteps from echoing, and avoiding any staircase he saw. He was sure there was a rustle of footsteps from down the steps...
"Do you hear something-?" A voice echoed against the walls, from somewhere across the water. He froze, listening closely-
And then wincing when the voice got traded out for a yelp, followed by a massive splash of water.
"Gods above Chrom, don't freeze in front of me like that!" Came a second voice, that yanked the boy's head up to attention. "I'm getting a bit tired of getting soaked."
"S-sorry, but...I think I heard something, that wasn't the Shepherds. Here, watch my back. I'll take point." A splashing sound, as someone moved through the mist. As he listened, the boy crouched down, trying to pick out something from the mist.
He saw them; two figures trudging their way out of the water. He couldn't make out the second one, but the man leading looked... oddly familiar. He had blue hair and fine clothing, sodden as it was with water. Something about the man held his gaze...
He almost forgot that he had is back to the steps. Almost. A faint shadow fell over him, and he rolled out of the way just before a spear found his back. The steel spearhead struck tile with a loud CHNK, as he rolled out of the way. He tried to find his feet, hand going to the spell tome at his side. For an instant, the ruins went from white to red as a fire spell lit the area. The flames glowed an unusual bright crimson, before they hit the spear wielder, charring the skin an even deeper black while the eyes burned bright in pain.
...But still, it stood. He fumbled for his book, trying to bring up another spell-
Only for the splashing to grow louder, as someone pulled themselves out of the water. The man in blue slammed hard into his attacker, cleaving the burned form in two with a great, golden blade.
"Wh-who are you?" Before he could think, the question fell out of his mouth. The man froze, turning back to look at him with eyes widened in surprise.
"...I could ask you the same thing." The warrior answered. "There's a battle going on here, lad. Why on earth are you in these ruins?"
The question tugged at his mind, and brought a headache fast on the heels of it.
"I-I don't... I don't know. I don't remember..." He was VERY sure there was supposed to be something in his head instead of a blank space. Through the pain building in his head, he glimpsed a strange, almost concerned look pass through the stranger's face.
"You lost your memory-?" The stranger spoke at last.
"I...I do have a name, though." He offered, having something flicker across his thoughts. "Morgan."
"Well then, Morgan." A hand rested on his shoulder, steadying him. "My name is Chrom... and apparently I have a special talent for finding amnesiacs."
There was an odd chuckle in the back of Chrom's throat, and that prompted Morgan to smile a little as well. "You do?" Morgan found himself asking.
"Aye. I actually met someone very important to me in a very similar situation. Her name is Robin-"
"Mother!?" Morgan blurted out before he could think. The name slammed into place in his brain, along with who he was really looking for. "You know my mother?"
"Wait then you're- You're-?" Chrom, for his part, looked like he'd just been punched in the gut. He stared at Morgan, mouth hanging open and trying to form more words. Instead, a new voice drifted in from the mists.
"Ah, Chrom... don't charge off like that. I was terrified you'd-" this time Morgan had no trouble placing who it belonged to. He dashed past Chrom, as the man gaped after him. On the edge he saw his mother pulling herself out of the water-
And swiftly fell back in with Morgan, as he threw himself into her arms. A second splash followed and Morgan babbled, heedless of how his mother was sputtering.
"Mother! I was so worried you were-"
"W-wait what!?" He heard he all but squeak, as he finally got a good look at her. Something about the temple air and getting dunked in the water certainly agreed with her, he thought privately. She seemed years younger.
"Um... Chrom? Is there something you want to tell me?" His mother asked, looking between them. Chrom lowered himself back down into the water, sloshing over to them. He put a hand on Robin's shoulder, tracing his fingers down to her arm in a strangely tender gesture... at least to Morgan's eyes. Chrom's other hand rested on Morgan's back, and he pulled them both up. Once they were standing, he didn't remove his grip.
"Okay... everyone, stay calm and listen for a moment. Robin... is my wife. Which means you're my son, and you came from the future along with Lucina."
Strange, how those words made sense individually. But put together, they made Morgan's head scrunch up.
"But- but I don't remember you! Just... just mother. I needed to find her-" Robin took a deep breath, and brought her hands up to Morgan's cheeks, pushing his hood aside.
"Look for yourself, Morgan."
Morgan's eyes darted down to the water, following the way she gestured. He caught his reflection in the rippling water; his hair was mussed... but unmistakably the same color as Chrom's.
'Huh. You'd think I'd remember something as important as hair color.' Morgan thought, running his hand through his hair and looking back up at Chrom. The man who had to be his father hesitated, an almost pained light crossing his eyes.
"At least... at least you remember your mother." Chrom finally said. "I wish we could talk more and figure this out, but this isn't a safe place. Stay close, and we'll figure a way out of this."
Morgan gave a quick nod, hands going to his spell book.
"I can fight as well, trust me! I can defend myself... is something wrong?" The eyes of his parents rested on the cover, taking in the cover and the hint of flames in the design.
"...It had to be fire magic," Robin muttered under her breath. "Morgan, can you... possibly stick to a sword instead, if you know that?"
"I don't see why not," he admitted, following them both along a stone pathway. He would have liked lighting a fire to chase the sodden feeling out of their clothes, though.
Morgan stared at the backs of his mother, and the person he was slowly becoming more and more convinced was his father. His thoughts felt weirdly stretched out, half formed... and there was a strange, warm feeling in his chest. Yet like his thoughts, that warm feeling only felt half filled.
"Isn't there supposed to be another...?" He murmured out. The thought caused Morgan to lag behind the group, rubbing at his head. Still disoriented, and the blank space in his head wasn't helping. Or giving him any answers. The steps of his parents were growing fainter, a gap growing between them.
Though Morgan didn't quite notice that. Or how there were still shapes moving through the misty ruins. Ones that didn't seem much like the living.
"For...saken future... child..." A hiss of words fell over Morgan, prickling every hair he had on his head. The voice crawled up his back and into his ears, coming from a rotted throat. Morgan spun around, his eyes meeting bright red spots in a battle scarred, stitched and rotting face.
'GUARD UP!' His thoughts screamed at him, and his arm raced to act. His sword hand jerked up, and the axe slide across the blade with a screech of metal on metal. The axe skittered loose as the attacker threw all its strength into the cut. Morgan staggered back, shuddering against an attack he couldn't fully turn and arms screaming. His feet slipped against the marble, and slid back until he had to duck away under the force of the attack. The axe barely missed his neck when Morgan flinched to the side, balance and strength both spent.
"K-kill..." The Risen rasped out, raising the axe above its head. He saw his mother turning, eyes wide when they saw him kneeling against the ground. She dashed towards him, shouting out something-
"YOU WON'T HARM HIM!" A new voice screamed out. The next instant a figure in blue lunged in front of the Risen. He picked out a sword much like Chrom's, raised against the attacker. The blue figure threw herself against the Risen, all but howling. She knocked the axe aside for an instant, twisting around to stare at Morgan, a desperate and fearful light in her eyes.
Morgan was pretty sure shoulders weren't supposed to pop out of alignment like that. But they did on the Risen, and the arm still had enough strength to bring its axe around in another swing, blindsiding the girl. She tried to twist out of the way, only for the axe to strike her outstretched hand. Iron stained the air, and her left arm opened up from elbow to hand, the fingers twisted into pained claws. She screamed as the Risen tried to attack again.
Morgan rushed in, shoving her away from an attack that could have taken her head. Instead it lashed him across the shoulder, a line of burning pain. They both crashed to the ground, wincing from the impact.
A frenzied howl opened up from behind the Risen, as something slammed into it with robes billowing. The Risen collapsed as Robin stabbed her sword down into its neck, lightning sparking from the zigzag blade in her hands. For an instant, Morgan swore he saw a shadow of wings from her back-
The next, they were gone, as she and the Risen skidded across the tiles. Robin called down thunder, again and again. The Risen didn't rise from the attack.
"H-here. Heal up, before you bleed out." Came a voice from beside him. Morgan found himself taking a vulnerary, as the girl poured one over her arm. The wounds sealed up instantly from the poultice... and to his shock, the blood steamed away as well. In another instant, it looked like there had never been a wound at all.
He didn't remember vulneraries doing that.
"Morgan..." The girl's voice reached his ears, and he turned around to see tears rolling down her face as she looked at him.
"A-are you okay?" Morgan tried to say. And wondering at the familiar feeling tracing through his head. "Are you still hurt? I thought your wound got healed all the way up-urk!?"
A pair of arms thrown around his neck and crushing him close to her chest cut off the rest of his questions.
"I-I thought you were lost." She sobbed into his shoulder. "Gods, how could you worry me like that!?"
Finally a name pushed its way into his head. And this time it didn't make his head ache as it slipped out onto his tongue.
"Lucina? Your name is Lucina, right?" She pulled away from him, her eyes gone red and puffy in record time.
"You... you don't remember?" Lucina barely got the words out, searching his face for something; some hint of recognition. There was such a desperate light in her eyes, that Morgan felt a pang of guilt.
"Well, I'm guessing by the similar hair color, we're... siblings?" Morgan tried.
"...And apparently, we all have some explaining to do." Chrom's voice came in above both of them. A shuffle of steps, and Robin picked her way over too.
His sister said nothing, shaking her head and running the sleeve that was still intact across her face to scrub the tears away.
"I... didn't want to raise your hopes when-" she started to whisper out around a choked throat. But she trailed off as an odd metallic thud echoed around the ruins, followed by a triumphant cry.
"JACKPOT!" A woman shouted out. She almost danced through the ruins, her red hair falling around her face. "Got the Risen off our backs, and guess what they were guarding? A nice collection of treasure chests!"
"AND, you should be glad to know I've tickled open the lock!" The red haired woman said, tossing a shiny object up and down in her hand. "A crystal tear of Naga. It's a nice enough little trinket, but the main chest was empty..."
She trailed off as Morgan reached down to the bag at his side. He drew the strings open, and pulled out a crimson, nearly blood red gem. Chrom stared as he held it up, and Morgan noticed how the gem looked like it would fit easily into the shield Chrom carried.
"...I think we should head back." Chrom finally said. "And everyone should get some much needed rest... while we see if Basilio and Flavia can spare a drink and some conversation, about what this is doing in their territory."