Prologue) Child of Two Worlds
The stories tell us that humans were the children of Mother Earth, and the dragons, the children of Father Sky. Just as the earth and sky share the same horizon, so too did the humans and dragons. But then, one day, the peaceful coexistence between them shattered. The great war, the Scouring, destroyed both sides, warped the very laws of nature, and in the end, cast the dragons away from this world entirely.
Most of the stories talk about how it was divine right that led humans to victory, but Mom's lessons are always careful to emphasize that war is not so easily defined, and that humans did many horrible things for their victory, just as dragons did many horrible things to try and win. She always makes she to give me these lessons after Sue and I visit Etruria and had our ears ringing with all the sermons of the silly Elimine church. Not that Elimine was silly. But her church is. Why worship a woman when there was the sky and earth and the spirits that danced through them?
I suppose that must sound odd, but I think it's normal. My mother is Etrurian by birth, and well loved by her family and friends even after eloping, so we visit places outside the Plains often, mostly Etruria or Lycia. But I am Sacaean by birth, just as my father is, and so I listen to the whispers of Father Sky and the reassurances of Mother Earth far more than I do the singing of Etruria's Elimine.
It's strange, learning from two completely different worlds, but I find it fun. It's me. It's my normal. I wouldn't have it any other way.
Thud. Thud. Thud. My arrows arced gracefully into the target, hitting perfectly. Thud. Thud. Thud. I enjoyed archery. It was such a calming, peaceful exercise. Thud. Thud. Thud. All I had to do was breath. It was me and the arrows, with the earth below and the sky above. Thud. Thud. Thud. This was exactly what I needed.
"Irene?" I shot one last arrow before turning at the call, smiling at Mom as she walked up. "You need to either stop or set up another target, sweetling," she gently chided. She swayed a little as she walked, a result on the brace on her leg making her limp. "Are you feeling better?" She reached up to stroke my hair gently, wincing a bit as she raised her arm too far. "…It has been twenty years. How do I always forget I cannot do that?"
"Well, Mom, isn't it because you just ignore your health when you think people you love are hurting?" I asked innocently. "That's what Dad says, at least." She made a face, but accepted my kiss on the cheek. "But yes, I'm better."
"Good…" She breathed a little sigh of relief, and gently took the bow out of my hands, checking my palms. It always startled me how soft Mom's hands were. Everyone else in the tribe had calluses all over their palms and fingertips, but Mom barely had any, even after twenty years of living out here in the Sacae. "Come. The hunters are going to return soon."
"I hope Sue did all right." Slowly, Mom and I left the practice area and walked back to the main part of the camp. "She was really nervous. Did you notice?"
"Of course. She always clings a little when nervous." She gave me a look. "Just as you tend to yell and scream." I simply grinned in reply. Sue was stoic like Father, but I apparently got Grandfather's rather nasty temper. I think it was from him. It wasn't from Grandpa, and it wasn't from Mom. Mom never seemed to lose her temper at anything. "You forgot to finish the laundry, by the way."
"I finished it!"
"Leaving the wet clothes scattered about does not count as leaving them out to dry, Irene." Argh… she noticed… "You will have to re-wash half of them."
"This is the importance of not taking shortcuts." Mom reached up to tap my nose, making me squirm. "You must apply your work ethic to tactics and archery to other aspects of your life, Irene."
"Mom, I'm eighteen. When am I old enough to escape lectures?"
"Never, for you are always my precious baby girl." She laughed as I groaned. "Would you rather I did not lecture?"
"No, because you only don't lecture when you're sick."
"Huh? Oh, no, Mom, it's fine!" I smiled to reassure her. Uncle Mark once explained that Grandmother had been horrible to Mom, so now Mom lived in fear she would be horrible to us. I didn't get how, after eighteen years, she was still afraid, but I was always willing to remind her. "You're the best mother in the world!"
"That is sweet of you to say, Irene." There she went again. I knew she wasn't accusing me of lying, but it did always annoy me when she brushed off my compliments. "Ah, there they are."
"I swear, Mom, you and Dad have some sort of psychic connection," I deadpanned, noting that the horses were barely visible on the horizon. But she always just seemed to know when Dad was returning.
"I am just good at guessing." I thought it was Mother Earth whispering to Mother, but while Mother encouraged Sue and me to believe in it, she… well, it wasn't that she didn't believe, but more that she thought Mother Earth and Father Sky would not speak to an 'outsider' like her. "But I'm glad they're back sooner than usual. I need to talk to Rath." The serious look on her face told me it was something bad. I felt my heart stop, remembering the last time serious news had come. "Easy, sweetling." She stroked my hair, smiling reassuringly. "No one has died."
That was… good. That was good, but it didn't prevent me from leaning into her and clinging a little as the hunters all returned. I tried to throw off my fears to smile, but the first thing Dad did when he dismounted and came over was ruffle my hair and tug me into a hug, so I guessed I failed. Well, that wasn't a surprise. Dad saw everything.
"Did something happen while we were away, Katri?" he asked Mom, stroking my hair as I leaned into him. Dad's hugs were always soothing. "I know she was crying earlier…"
"I got a serious message from Eliwood, and that worries her," Mom answered. Her smile was warm and soft; Dad always got her best smiles. "It has only been a year since Mldain's accident, my lord husband." Dad automatically made a face at that and it made me laugh. Whenever Mom wanted to be extra teasing, she used that, since it was what she would be expected to call him in Etruria. "Welcome back, Rath." She leaned up to kiss his cheek, hand resting on his shoulder. She lingered a bit, and I wondered if she was whispering in his ear. But, if she was, Dad gave no sign. He was a master at what Cecilia called 'a poker face'.
So, instead, I pulled away from Dad's hug, not wanting to eavesdrop. Mom and Dad had their secrets, and that was… annoying, but fine. But sometimes, Mom forgot how keen my hearing was.
Sue didn't, though, and the quiet trickster part of her loved sneaking up on me. "Hello, Irene," she whispered in my ear. I playfully squeaked and stumbled back, as if thoroughly shocked. It was part of the old game, and her soft smile told me she still appreciated it. "Are you feeling better?"
"Yes, I am," I reassured. I held still as she tilted her head to study my face, and smiled when she gently poked the skin around my eye. "Yes, I know. I'm still puffy. But I am feeling better."
"Okay." She hugged me, pressing her cheek to mine affectionately. "Love you, sister."
"Love you too, sis." I pulled away, and prodded her cheek. "How did your first real hunt go?"
"I missed my first shot." Her eyes narrowed slightly and her head dropped. "My second one didn't, but my first did."
"I bet you fired the second one so fast no one even noticed."
"Dad notices everything." Since she still looked disappointed, I started tickling her to make her squirm. "Cheer up! You're the second-best hunter in all of Sacae!" Dad was the best, no questions about that. The best warrior of the plains.
"Fifth. Dad, Grandpa, Sin, and you are better than me."
"I am stronger and more accurate perhaps, but you are faster, which is much more important during a hunt."
"You would be faster if you did not overanalyze everything."
"You would be stronger if you actually did those exercises I showed you." Laughter caught my attention, and I turned to sulk at my parents. Mom might have been the only one laughing, but Dad was smiling indulgently at us as Mom leaned into his side. "I am thrilled that you are amused." But that did remind me. "Sue, Mom didn't believe me when I said she was the best mother ever."
"…" Sue's immediate reaction was to go to Mom's side, hugging her tightly. "You are. As always, you are the best mom for us."
"I have the sweetest girls," Mom laughed. I huffed a little at how she dismissed it again. "But your father is going to feel unloved at this rate." ACK!
Sue and I immediately pounced on Dad, Mom moving out of the way to make it easier for us. He squirmed under our dual-hug, eyes wide as he struggled to make sure all three of us didn't fall. Mom laughed and laughed, clapping her hands in delight, and Dad eventually smiled, clearly pleased that Sue and I were happy.
We were a silly little family, and the others of the Kutolah looked at us fondly as we laughed. I loved it. This had to be the definition of bliss.
After redoing my chores, Sue and I went out on our daily ride. It was a tradition that started with our parents. In order to help us sleep, they would take us out on a ride. When I turned fifteen, I would take Sue out by myself. Now that she was fifteen, though, we both just rode our own horses.
"Ah, this is the life," I breathed. We had stopped by a river to let the horses drink and rest, so Sue and I had flopped down in the grass, watching the clouds pass by overhead. "We should pick some flowers to bring back."
"We should," Sue agreed. She sounded half-asleep. That wasn't normal.
"…Did I keep you awake?"
"No, I found it hard to sleep. I miss him too."
"…Thanks." It was nice, hearing that bit of reassurance. I would get weepy all the time. "It's hard to believe it has been a year…" I reached up to the sky, as if to catch a cloud. "I still can't quite process it."
"It's because Mildain was a skilled rider." 'Was' was the key word. Mildain was dead. There had been some riding accident, and he had died. "That makes us question it."
"He rode that horse because of her unnatural calm." I just couldn't think of what would have spooked her that much. That mare shrugged off everything from rambunctious children to floods. "There are so many questions." Then, there was… well…
"You worry for Etruria." Sue lifted herself up slightly to look at me. I just looked up at the sky. "The king is broken and his son is dead."
"You would think I would take advantage of that to just live and focus here in Sacae." But I couldn't. Etruria was not 'home', and it had such strange practices. I hated how false it appeared under the crystal spires and laughing masks. But… "I had wanted it to be better. I can see how it could have been." I laughed bitterly, twisting to face her. "You don't feel as torn, do you?"
"Not in the same way." Sue lied back down, studying the sky. "I feel bad for our friends and family who are there." Yes, I could understand that. "But I do not like Etruria. I like some of the people within it, but that is the extent of it all. So, I am torn, because I know our friends grieve, but not in the same way you feel."
"I wish I could just think that way."
"You are you, and I am me. We are sisters, not the same person."
"Look at you, spouting wisdom like a diviner." I rolled over on my stomach and poked her in the side. "May I remind you that you are the younger sister here?"
"You think too much. Then you get mad and charge forward." I groaned in reply, wishing I could refute that. You would think with two calm parents, I would be calm like Sue, but I wasn't. "I like that, though. I like how you are brave enough to show what you're feeling. I'm always scared."
"I envy your ability to remain calm." The two of us looked at each other, and just started laughing. Sue's were quieter than mine. She was always quieter. I often feared she was trapped in my shadow, but she seemed content. So long as she was happy, I wouldn't bring it up. "What do you think the serious business is?"
"Mom and Dad will tell us. If it's serious, then she'll need to leave." Mom was a Master Tactician for Etruria, and was the brightest tactical mind in all of Elibe. Uncle Douglas would request her help for really big things. "Maybe we'll go stay with Aunt Lyn and Uncle Hector in Ostia. I'm sure Lilina will want to talk a bit about her crush on Roy."
"She can also share with us some Lorca tales." Aunt Lyn had been of the destroyed Lorca tribe, but she still taught Lilina the customs, and Lilina taught us. Sue and I taught some of the other Kutolah. In that way, Aunt Lyn's tribe would live on. "We might also go stay with Uncle Eliwood in Pherae."
"We could help him with things. He's pretty ill, isn't he?" I didn't think he was on the verge of dying, but Uncle Eliwood apparently couldn't even ride his horse anymore. "Then again, this is the peak hunting season, so we'll probably just stay here."
"That isn't so bad. It is easiest to hear Mother Earth and Father Sky here in the plains." That was true. "We should head back. Mom will be done with dinner soon."
"We won't want to miss that!" I hopped onto my feet and held out a hand to pull Sue up. "Let's head home. You think Grandpa will join us again?"
"He'll probably show up in time for the sweets." We shared a smile. "Let's gallop back. It will be good to feel the wind."
Dinner was, as always, a quiet affair. When I was really little, Dad had been the one to cook, but as I got older, Mom took over the job, leaving Dad to just make the tea for us to drink. After dinner, just as always, Dad would tend to his bow, I would read, and Mother and Sue would handle any mending that needed to be done. It was a quiet sense of contentment. I always got the feeling that Mom and Dad were happiest in these sorts of moments.
So, it was a surprise when Mom set aside her mending and looked at me. "Irene, what do you think about riding to Pherae alone?" she asked me. I stared at her dumbly as I dragged myself out of my book of Sacaean stories and returned to the present. The book used to be Mom's, but she had given it to me as a child when I learned how to read. "Do you think you're up for it?"
"Yes?" I answered, still really confused. What was going on? "Why?"
"There is no need to be so suspicious!" Mom laughed, but that just made me more confused. "I told you earlier about the message I got, yes?" I nodded, glancing at Sue. She gave me a silent little shrug, telling me she had no idea what was going on either. Dad, however, was perfectly stoic, showing he did. "There is possibly going to be some trouble in Lycia soon. Hector is calling together the Lycian army in order to deal with the problem." That sounded bad. "His illness prevents him from attending himself, though, so he must send Roy."
"Roy's fifteen!" That was old enough to ride on your own. That was old enough to hunt. That was not old enough to lead an army! Even if it was just the cavalry of Pherae, that was just…
"That is precisely why Eliwood asked for help." Mom's eyes grew sad. "However, my own health hasn't been so well as of late, so I fear going myself. I was wondering if you would mind-"
"I'll leave in the morning!" There was no way I was leaving Roy to lead that army alone! "I promise; I'll keep him nice and safe."
"Thank you, Irene." Mom's smile was warm, but a little sad. "Ah, my little girls are growing up. Soon, you'll fly away."
"…Mom, I'm just going to Pherae. I'll see you again when the trouble calms down."
"When I left my own nest, I met a very lovely, very wonderful person I fell in love with~" Mom laughed as Dad's eyes narrowed. "It is true, Rath. You cannot deny it. And you cannot pretend to be overprotective. We agreed Irene and Sue make their own choices on that front."
"I did not say anything," Dad pointed out. His face softened with a smile as he turned to me. "Irene, I'll help you pack later tonight." I smiled in reply. "Remember to delegate, though."
"I will," I promised. That was one of the two things Dad had insisted when Mom started teaching me tactics. I had to be willing to delegate, and I had to know how to fight. Mom got into a lot of trouble health wise because she hadn't done either. "But, Mom, are you sure I'm skilled enough to deal with the trouble?"
"Yes, Irene," Mom instantly replied. "I believe in you." I gave her a dubious look. "Come now. You do well in my lessons." Perhaps that was the case, but I was well aware that I wasn't as good as her. If people called me second to her, there was a great chasm between us. Mom was the perfect genius, the ultimate tactician. I was… just her daughter. "You will be fine. I have faith." I was glad someone did. I think I would say an extra prayer to Mother Earth and Father Sky tonight for luck. "But I had better fix your clothes if you are leaving in the morning. You caused quite a rip on your shirt yesterday."
"That wasn't my fault!"
Morning came early the next day. The sky was grey and foggy as I checked over my saddle. I had extra food and water just in case I couldn't find an animal to hunt or a stream to make camp by, changes of clothes, my horse-tending kit, and Mom was currently doing her best to fill up every free space in my saddlebags with books and papers.
"Mom, will I really need that many things?" I asked with a laugh. She frowned as she tried to figure out how to put in the very last book. "What even is that?"
"It's my logbook from the Campaign of Fire," she answered. I gaped at it. That was it? I had always wanted to read it! "I also put in my logbook of the Caelin Inheritance Dispute and some of my notes from both campaigns that didn't make it into the logbooks. You are likely going to get very bored, so I figured I'd give you some new things to study." She slipped the book in at last, smiling. "There, done."
"You're the best!" I gave her a giant hug. "Thanks, Mom!"
"You're welcome, sweetling." Mom returned the hug, and she clung a little. "…I love you very, very much, Irene. Don't doubt that."
"That's a weird thing to say." I pulled away, smiling at her. "Of course I'll never doubt that. I love you too."
"Well, I'm sending my baby girl off. Allow a mother to fret." She stroked my hair, and after a moment, removed her earrings. "Here, take these." She put them in my palm. "It will reassure me that you are protected." She looked… odd without them. I had never seen her without an agate protection earring in one ear, and an amber drop in the other. They were as consistent as her leg brace, the headband in her hair, and her wedding ring. "Indulge me?"
"I'll give them back when I see you again." I slipped them into my pocket and gave her another hug. "I love you soooo much!"
"I love you more." Mom stepped back, and smiled at Dad as he walked up. "Has Dayan recovered from the shock of one of his granddaughters going off on her own?"
"Yes, but an emergency came up, so he won't be able to see her off himself," Dad answered. He slipped a necklace on me. "That is from him. A safe-travels charm." The wooden pendant, a carved wolf, was still warm. He must have just finished making it. "Have you gotten your bow yet?"
"No, that was going to be the last thing," I replied. I was feeling jittery now. I had never left the tribe on my own before. "Why?"
"Then take this instead." Father held out his bow. "Rienfleche should hold up better than your bow."
"Dad…" I knew what he was saying. He wasn't going to be there to protect me, so he wanted to be there in spirit. "Um… isn't this the bow that somehow shoots twice for one arrow?"
"Yes, but given your skill, I believe its might will be weakened some. That is the magic in it." So, it wouldn't be ultimate bow of death and destruction until I practiced more. Well, that was a motivator if there ever was one. "Be careful."
"I will." I grabbed him in a tight hug. "I love you, Dad. I'll be strong enough to bring out the full might of the bow when I next see you. I promise."
"I look forward to it." He kissed the top of my head. "I love you more, Irene." My eyes pricked a bit with tears. No, I didn't want to cry. That would make them worry.
Thankfully, Sue was there with the save. "Mom, I managed to fix the chain," she explained, passing me another necklace. It was one Mom carried but rarely wore, some family heirloom of Hanover house that was supposed to bring good luck. Mom said she didn't wear it because she said she had enough luck in her life. "I… took advantage to add some beads to the chain, though." They were beads carefully carved with wolves. I knew Sue had done it herself. "It is the only token I have for you, Irene. I am not nearly as fast in carving."
"Then you have to give me an extra big hug," I teased. I slipped the necklace on and she immediately gave me the hug. "I'll see you later, Sue."
"Stay safe until Father Sky brings you back to us." Sue stepped back, and I decided it was time to mount up. I'd never leave otherwise. "I'll have a proper gift when you get back."
"I look forward to it!" I waved to my family, and they waved back, smiling at me. "I'm off! Love you all!"
I kicked my horse into a gallop and headed south for the horizon. Here was to an adventure of a lifetime!
Since I'm going to be an 'official' tactician for this… oh, Mother Earth, I'm going to be an 'official tactician' for the first time. I'm really nervous…
…I'm just going to make notes on myself now, okay?
Me, Irene of the Kutolah (and Hanover House)
· At the insistence of my parents, I am trained in archery as well as tactics, fighting on horseback like Dad. Compared to Sue, I am stronger and more accurate, but I'm slower. I'm only more accurate because I take my time. So, really, I'm just stronger.
· I've had tactical lessons from Mom since I was little, but she focused a lot on 'field tactics' for me. She says I have a gift for it, but I think it is more accurate that I'm not really good with the whole 'long term strategy' thing for armies? I'm nervous about helping Roy with an army, but I'll have people to help me out. …I hope.
· I… do have a bit of a temper, and when I'm mad, I will sometimes forget things like 'don't go after pointless battles'? I'm better when I'm commanding people, but I have been known to hunt people down when I am really mad. Like that time I chased Sin for half a day because he broke Sue's toy and made her sad.
· I tried out Dad's bow on the hunt, and discovered the magic in it won't activate for me, essentially putting it at half-strength. There must be a powerful and wise spirit in it, just like the spirits in Aunt Lyn's Mani Katti. I will have to work hard to prove as worthy of it as Dad.
· Oh, I should write down my affinity! It is important to know what spirits watch over everyone, because that can effect how people work together. My affinity is Light, the opposite of Dad's. He always looks relieved when it comes up, for some reason.
Author's Notes: Welcome to A Tactician's Legacy. This is an FE6 novelization, and this is our POV char, Irene. Yes, she fights as well as does tactics, but she will eventually serve more as the 'field tactician', leaving the long-term planning to other characters. (And yes, while Irene has Rienfleche, it's at 'half-strength', basically putting it at around 10 might, or about the might of a Steel Bow). Since FE6 doesn't have a 'prologue' chapter, but instead jumps straight to chapter one, I am using a 'prologue' to introduce Irene, and showcase her relation with her sister, Sue, and her parents.
This is a direct sequel to my FE7 novelization, A Tactician's Testimony, and will be including details also from A Thief's Legacy (mostly when backstory of the Scouring starts popping up) and possibly some from A Thief's Testimony (these will likely be more of brief mentions for characterization purposes).
FE6 is an interesting game in that it was never localized, meaning that I am dependent on fan translations. There are two currently, and I will likely be relying more on the newer one than the older one, if only because that is the version I am replaying to remind myself of plotpoints. Some of the older one's, however, will still be used, if only because I think SF only has the script for the older one. FE6 also has a manga adaptation. While I have some mixed feelings on it (mostly the protagonist), I will be taking some plot points or setups from it as well (I'll do my best to make notes of when this happens).
As always, if you are curious about potential pairings, simply message me, but since romance isn't the focus, I'm not going to announce it in the author's notes here. But I hope you all enjoy!
Next Chapter – Dawn of Destiny, FE6 proper