This concept has probably been done to death but I have never seen any stories on it nor have I written one so I thought 'Ehh, why not?' Also, there are so few multi-chaptered stories completed for these two and that makes me sad.
Thus, this was created!
I hope someone gets some form of entertainment from this though.
"Hayy, have you heard about that tactician boy?"
"The one who was the strategist for Ike, Hero of the Blue Flames."
"Yes, I've heard of him. What about him?"
"Well, apparently he is the long lost heir to the Daein throne."
"What?! He is of Ashnard's blood? His lost heir?"
"Yes, apparently his mistress revealed as much."
"Then is going to rule Daein?"
"I don't know. Possibly. Micaiah has yet to be crowned; he probably could take the throne, if he wanted to. Problem is he's missing."
"Yeah. He and the Hero recently left on a journey to unknown lands. Adventuring stuff. I hear many are trying to hunt them down, though."
"Hmm… that's interesting. What was the boy's name again?"
"Soren, I believe."
South of Begnion, Year 650
Region of Peresis
The book felt light in Soren's hand, leather-bound and hastily stitched together. Some pages had fallen out due to lack of care by past owners, or perhaps due to age, and these pages either jutted out of the book in a noticeable fashion or had been lost through the years. The mage usually wouldn't invest in a book so beyond the point of repair but it had been cheap and he needed information. Careful not to drop the tome, lest he ruin what little remained of the work, Soren lightly touched the parchment pages as he read.
'Hyruloth was an island off the coast of Crimea. While some of the land survived the Goddesses' wrath, most of the area has been submerged. Still, many artifacts remain which help us to understand its culture...'
Soren's hair was swept by the sea breeze as he shifted against the bark of a tree, hidden in the shade. His skin had started to burn in the sunlight despite his precautions, his face and hands red and sensitive. He chose to ignore the pain and continued to read. The heat made it difficult to concentrate but the tome provided more information than anything he had read in awhile. The mage made a mental note to mention what he had learned to Ike when he saw him.
The pair's decision to journey around Tellius before setting off to lands unknown had largely been at Soren's behest. With them bearing such little knowledge on other lands, the mage had argued that a trip to various libraries around the continent would both serve to prepare them and give Ike the chance to say goodbye. Although the words went unspoken, they both knew that Ike would not return in his lifetime. He had seen and learned all he could in Tellius and Ike refused to be placed on a pedestal by those he had saved for a moment longer.
Soren never questioned Ike on his decision to leave. Even if he had disagreed, he wouldn't have voiced a complaint. Ike was so selfless - this was perhaps the one and only time he would do for his own happiness, instead of for someone else's. Soren would never dream of taking that away.
The man in question turned a corner and lined up with Soren's view, starting to approach. The sleeves of his tunic were rolled up to his elbows, exposing the muscle beneath, and a leather satchel was thrown over his shoulder. The wind caused his headband to flutter. He smiled and nodded when he saw that Soren had eyed him and Soren gave a small but genuine smile in return.
Ike had taken it upon himself to visit the few businesses in the area to gather extra supplies for the continuance of their trip. Soren eyed the red colour of a leg of beef poking out of his satchel. He hoped that Ike had invested in vegetables as well, rather than indulge solely in his love of meat. Soon, they would no longer inhabit the world within Tellian borders. They needed to be prepared and simply meat would not sustain them.
"Learn anything interesting?" Ike asked upon his approach, lowering himself so that he sat at Soren's side. Their shoulders brushed together as Ike settled and Soren had to resist the urge to tense up as he was so prone to at the slightest prod of physical contact.
Soren had decided a long time ago that he loved Ike. Even when he was little more than a child, starving amongst the roots of a tree much like the one he was now leaning against, he had loved Ike. It seemed logical then and even now. He owed Ike everything so Soren couldn't bring himself to punish his heart too much for its underlying affection, but he kept the fact boxed up within himself. For years, the secret laid buried inside, even when every other shame and secret he held had been revealed to the man. He was content with their relationship as it was. The calm, trusting relationship which came with years of having been side-by-side. It may not have been his ideal, but he could take it.
Then he had broken down in the Tower of Guidance. Ike had approached him then and later, after Ashera was defeated, to offer him a shoulder to cry upon. When Soren's tears had abandoned him, Ike whispered a confession...
And now they were so much more than just friends.
Coughing to clear his mind of the memory, Soren turned to Ike. "Apparently there was a continent known as Magvel before the flood," Soren said. "You have probably heard of the 'Tale of the Sacred Stones?'"
Ike scratched at his cheek in thought. "Is that the one with the twins and the best friend who gets possessed by the Demon King?"
"That's the one," Soren nodded.
"I thought that was just a fairy tale?"
"The tale itself is likely to be false but it's possible the continent itself existed and, if it did exist, it could have survived the flood."
Ike smiled and nudged him lightly with his elbow. "That is an oddly optimistic statement coming from you."
Soren let out a sharp breath from his nose which many considered to be his laugh. The mage certainly was not a giggler. "I wouldn't expect it to become a recurrent theme with me if I were you. But in any case, I maintain that us finding anything of worth is incredibly unlikely."
Ike continued to grin at the return of the mage's cynicism before he suddenly frowned. Soren raised a brow.
The swordsman gestured to the burn across his cheeks. "You should go inside the next time that happens," Ike said. "Your complexion seems to be unable to do anything but burn. I have never once seen you with a tan."
The mage offered a small smile as a response. Such considerations for his health were something he was slowly adjusting to, despite never actually doing what anyone suggested he do. Soren wouldn't be surprised if Ike knew that he wouldn't listen. Yet, the mage appreciated the concern.
With a sigh, Ike stood from his place before casting down a hand to help Soren up too. Accepting the gesture, the pair walked together back towards the inn where they were staying. As they walked, the mage found himself closing his eyes, listening to the faint bustle of the town and the air as it swept through the branches of the trees which crowded the path.
They didn't talk as they walked. Soren embraced the serenity and the feeling.
With this town, the pair finally decided that they had gathered as much information as they needed for their impending journey. With the destination set in their minds, they prepared for the journey ahead. More food was bought (Ike had bought too few vegetables, as Soren had predicted, in his last trip) as well as a heal staff (at Soren's insistence) two tomes, another sword for Ike (Iron to help preserve their funds) and some extra cloth to mend any damage that may occur to their clothing. They were too poor to completely freshen their wardrobe, not that they wanted the extra baggage anyway.
It was as Soren was packing herbs into his bag that a knock sounded on the door. Momentarily stopping his packing, the man waited a moment to ensure that the sound was indeed coming from his and not another door down the hall. When the knock sounded again, the mage carefully picked up his tome from the bed and headed towards the sound. Ike never knocked. Whoever the person was were unlikely to be welcome; not that he ever welcomed people in anyway.
Opening the door, Soren eyed the innkeeper (a rather short woman, smaller than him, with red hair pushed back in a bandanna) and a man whom he had never seen before. Soren noted his formal clothing. His torso was covered by a deep blue jacket with buttons ('Gold' he mused) lining down its middle and breaches which were no doubt equally expensive to obtain. The man also had light blue hair that cut off at the chin. Soren's first thought was that he was a noble of some sort, judging from his dress, but that seemed unlikely. Ike had renounced his lordship long ago.
"Yes?" Soren asked, raising a brow. "Do you need something?"
"You are Sir Soren, correct?" The man beside the innkeeper spoke. Weary by his knowledge, the mage placed his thumb between the pages of his tome, ready to cast if necessary. One does not survive two wars by trusting such oddities.
"Who is asking?" Soren asked carefully, deciding against answering his question. His eyes narrowed to focus on the man. He didn't seem to have a weapon on his person but Soren knew that many were skilled in concealing weapons from sight.
"Apologies. I am an ambassador from Daein, Ambassador Mavus. Forgive my dishonourable manner," the man said as he tilted his head in a bow.
So he was nobility and a Daein noble at that. Perhaps it was unfair of him, but Daein always seemed to bring with it bad news. Soren swallowed down the uneasy feeling that bloomed within him in favour of a blank stare.
After a brief pause where he waited for Soren to reply, the Ambassador moved the conversation along. "I would like an audience with you, Sir Soren."
"An audience with me?" Soren pressed his lips into a thin line. "I admit, I fail to understand what your motive is, Your Excellency."
"I will tell you in due time. May I enter?"
After a moment where Soren weighed the odds that the man was a fraud, the mage reluctantly nodded; moving aside to let the man through. Despite the gesture, Soren kept his tome propped slightly open with his thumb. If he were attacked, he was more than prepared to retaliate. He refused to be caught off-guard.
The mage gave a nod to the Innkeeper to dismiss her as he shut the door. When he turned around, he saw the ambassador scanning his eyes over the room with a grim expression. Soren suspected that he considered the barren room to be somewhat beneath him. It was clearly rented cheap, with only one bed which would be considered too small for most (especially since it needed to fit two bodies) a desk which wobbled when a person tried to rest against it and a stool which was barely big enough to sit a child comfortably.
Soren gestured to that wooden stool now, suppressing a snide comment. He knew better than to provoke foreign nobility for little reason, in spite of his thoughts on their customs. Although he had few qualms about questioning the quality of character of both Queen Elincia and Skrimir, he had felt justified then and he had known the chances of him facing repercussions for his actions were smile.
Upon sitting on the stool, the ambassador turned to Soren again who remained stood. After another short silence Soren asked levelly, "Your Excellency, what business provokes this visit?"
The Ambassador thought for a moment, as if wondering how to begin, before he spoke. "Sir Soren, have you had the honour of being acquainted with Sir Pelleas?"
"We talked briefly during the war. Mostly as enemies. What about him?"
"Are you aware of his heritage?"
"I know a little about the stories surrounding him, if that's what you mean. He was rumoured to be the son of the Mad King, but this was truthfully only that. A baseless rumour. I hear he has abdicated his throne now and that Micaiah, the Priestess of Dawn, is to take his place."
Soren was careful to keep his opinions out of his speech until he learned the man's agenda. Soren's opinions on Pelleas were far from favourable; feeling that the revelation that Pelleas was a fraudulent king had been a blessing in disguise for Daein. Pelleas was too meek to rule a country and he had been little more than a puppet king during his time in office. Yet, he doubted that this would go without challenge should he say this aloud.
"Is this all the information there is, as you know it?" the ambassador pressed him.
"Yes… though I fail to see what you are getting at, Ambassador Mavus," Soren stated bluntly. "As I said, I have only spoken with him briefly. If you wish for information on Pelleas, you would do better to meet with the dowager queen of Daein or the Maiden of Dawn." Soren frowned. "Then again, I doubt that your coming here has much to do with Pelleas."
The Ambassador sighed at his deduction. "You are correct. What they say about you being remarkably quick to catch on is true."
"If you have some other agenda, please get on with it. I don't see the point behind your questioning. All it does is waste my time."
The Ambassador straightened, caught a little off guard by the mage's forwardness. "Very well," he said finally. "I will speak plain. I trust you are aware that the rumours claiming Ashnard had a lost heir were not entirely false. His mistress has confirmed their authenticity."
"Yes, I suspected so. Lady Almedha wouldn't exactly accept a child as her own if she had never given birth, now, would she? Are you here regarding said heir?"
The Ambassador nodded, brushing his hair over his shoulder. "Indeed. Are you also aware that Lady Almedha bares laguz blood?"
Soren blinked. "…no, I was not aware of that," he admitted.
"As you may have deducted, then, her child was born Branded. Ashnard was no laguz. That was perhaps what finally determined that Pelleas was not, in fact, Lady Almedha's child. There was doubt since its curse can skip generations but Lady Almedha was sure this is not such a case." The Ambassador glanced at the brand on his forehead and his expression noticeably scrunched up in contempt before then his eyes found Soren's again. "Your mixed blood makes itself clear on your very forehead, Sir Soren. Your likeness to the late king is negligible, but you and Lady Almedha look very much alike."
Soren gaze focussed on the Ambassador, finally seeing the implications in his words. 'No, he can't be trying to imply that,' his mind intervened. 'There is no way that I am…' Yet, this suspicion of what the Ambassador was going to say next clogged his mind more than any other conclusion he drew.
"What are you trying to imply here?" he found himself saying through his thoughts. As the moments passed, his conclusion seemed more and more likely but he needed the confirmation. Soren suddenly felt dizzy.
"It's a wonder you have remained unaware of your heritage for so long, Prince."
Soren breathed in a sharp gasp of air, his hand finding a nearby bed post for support. He couldn't be hearing this. It was ridiculous. Preposterous. There was no way he was…
There was no way his blood was of Daein. How could it be? He had been raised in Gallia, lived his life in Crimea. How could he be a part of such a country? A country that had done little but poison the lives of the people who encountered it.
"That's... ridiculous... you can't be serious," Soren hissed through the haze. Yet, his mind was already connecting the pieces together and they fit a little too well for it to be a lie.
He remembered Almedha then, the one time she had talked to him. Did she know when she'd called out to him? Soren had noticed that they shared a likeness - he would would need to be blind not to see their similarities - but he never considered something deeper. Almedha didn't mention anything when she had spoken to him and had kept his legacy hidden away. Did she do it because she cared or because she didn't?
Soren usually could analyse matters with a calm mind. Now he struggled to understand anything at all.
The idea that in his veins pumped the blood of Ashnard made him shudder. He couldn't process the fact. 'What would Ike think', Soren thought with clenched teeth, 'knowing that he is sharing a bed with the Branded son of the Mad King?'
Soren would blame luck but Ike decided that now was the best time to return from his trip. He jolted upon spotting the Ambassador who rose to bow. "Lord Ike," he greeted, a small smile gracing his face. Soren said nothing. What could he say? Soren didn't even know what to think. He felt like he was drowning in the whir of his thoughts.
Why did he have to be Ashnard's child, of all possible people? The Gods must spit at his happiness. Part of him wanted to dismiss the idea as a falsified joke to discomfort him but the amount of sense it made caused it to be impossible to dismiss.
"Uh… hello?" Ike replied after a beat, turning from the ambassador to Soren for an explanation. Ike eyes narrowed in both concern and confusion when saw the glassy look in his eyes, how his skin had paled to a degree even more than usual. Ike turned back to face the stranger. "Have I interrupted something?"
The Ambassador smiled weakly. "I think he's had a bit of a shock, if that's what you are asking."
Standing up from the stool, he walked over to Soren who just stared at his feet. The ambassador spoke slowly, trying to crack through the ripples of Soren's mind. "Whatever you wish to do regarding this information, ultimately, is up to you. However, you should travel to the capital for a while unless you wish to create complications later on. Your true heritage is slowly becoming common knowledge and this could make you a target for bandits and rouges that would kidnap you for ransom."
"...so you are forcing me into the position?" Soren said quietly, unable to keep the bitterness out of his tone.
"No. You can choose to abdicate your birthright or live such a life. The former should free you from the kidnapping risk without you having to stay for a prolonged period. Despite what you eventually decide to do, I will return in a few days after you have had time to process this information. From there I will either escort you to the capital or I will take my leave of you, depending on your decision. So, for now, I say farewell to you, highness." Soren flinched at the title. Ike didn't seem to have heard.
The Ambassador turned to leave but Ike quickly blocked the door, seeming even more confused than before. Ike looked at Soren again and his frown deepened, then back to the Ambassador. "What were you here for?" He asked bluntly, not moving from his place in the doorway. "To make threats?"
The Ambassador was noticeably smaller than Ike (in both height and body structure) but he did not seem deterred. "I will leave that information in your friend's hands, Lord Ike. I trust he will inform you when he's ready. Now, please may I pass?"
Ike looked at Soren again who still stared at his feet, gripping the bedpost still. When Soren gave no signal of having paid attention, Ike let the man pass with a sigh.
Ike shut the door and the room became silent as Ike stared at his companion. As his companion refused to meet his gaze. "Soren… are you alright?" Ike asked.
Soren swallowed, his mouth suddenly dry. His gaze moved to his hand on the bed post then to his other hand which had managed to drop the tome at some point. He couldn't bring himself to even look in Ike's direction.
Soren had always thought that being Branded was the worst his heritage could become. He silently cursed the Gods for making him feel, yet again, like his blood was something to be damned.
The mage snapped himself out of his thoughts long enough to register Ike's footsteps on the floor, slowly heading towards him. "Soren? What did that man say? What's wrong?"
Soren felt his mouth open then shut several times, struggling between wanting to spill out the reason for his mind's disquiet and not being able to face the reaction he would receive. Soren's back slid down the side of the bed until he fell to the floor, a numbness spreading through him at the thought that his life had, once again, managed to make a mockery of his happiness.