Crossroads of the Heart

Author's Note: Fire Emblem is the property of Intelligent Systems and Nintendo. This is my first romance/drama... enjoy.

Chapter 1: Voyage

"There, there... we'll be arriving soon. No need to fuss..."

Soothing words are merely one tool a Pegasus Knight employs to calm her steed in times of stress, yet it is a tried and true method that works more often than not. Considering the significant bond between rider and winged mount, it is no surprise that to an outsider the two may seem, at times, to be capable of carrying on mysterious conversations, secluded by their very nature from wandering ears. Florina understood only too well the strange bond -- in a world where mercenaries could expect no friendship, no companionship, the proud Ilian warriors were taught instead to rely on the comfort their uncannily intelligent Pegasi could provide.

Florina had always had trouble accepting this; surely, when she was promoted to a full-fledged Pegasus Knight, she would not lose her friends. She could not imagine Lyn abandoning her, most certainly, and many of the new friends she had acquired on this arduous journey -- Nino, Serra, Rebecca... Ninian... there were so many friendly people in their group! Surely, she could always turn to them. Her thoughts wandered to her family; imagine, finding Farina again! In such an unlikely manner! Her heart had nearly burst with joy upon their reunion.

Yet, for now, she knew she must heed to Ilian military standard. Besides, she hardly thought taking care of Huey a chore. She trusted him with her life, and he with hers. Unfortunately, he always seemed to dislike being confined to the cramped stables in the underbelly of Captain Fargus's impressive pirate ship. This duty also provided a prime excuse to escape from the social atmosphere of the army on deck; aside from the numerous men in their company, there were coarse, foul-mouthed pirates on board here to contend with! She shuddered involuntarily at the thought. Good-hearted perhaps, but just the sight of them... she sighed.

A sharp whinny interrupted her wandering thoughts, reminding her of the task at hand. A Pegasus is most at home when flying free, of course, but there was simply no way Huey could last the entire flight to the Dread Isle, and he'd be in the way on deck. Many other mounts were confined in these stables -- there was Uma, that rogue Sain's steed to the left, and Murphy, Farina's surprisingly docile Pegasus... a few looked rather uncomfortable with the ship's constant motion, but none as agitated as Huey.

Perhaps he was remembering what had happened last time they had taken this ship to the Dread Isle; a surprise ambush courtesy of the Black Fang, merely one of the many trials they had overcome so far. This voyage, for better or worse, would certainly be their last in this direction -- Lyn had seemed quite confident that the final confrontation with Nergal was at hand. A nervous flutter worked its way through her innards at the thought. Could they beat that man? Nervousness was quickly followed by sorrow, thick and unrelenting. The things that man had taken from them...

"He... he must pay for what he's done," Florina whispered, stroking her pegasus lovingly about the face. "That man..." She trailed off, tears welling in her eyes. Aside from Lyn, she had never had a truly close friend. Yet, on this campaign, Lyn's duties as the leader of the Knights of Caelin, not to mention her numerous meetings with Lord Eliwood and Lord Hector... she tried her best, Florina understood, yet she sometimes felt left out. They hadn't much time to talk, and the one person who had begun to fill that gap...

Ninian. They had a lot in common, they had found. Both Ilians, both shy, demure girls... after the inevitable awkwardness that often accompanies new meetings, they had become fast friends. Florina loved Lyn, but she found so many more things in common with Ninian... she had been so easy to talk to... such a wonderful person. And certainly not as preoccupied with running an army as Lyn was. Even knowing now what she had been... an Ice Dragon. It was bewildering, but their last conversation certainly made more sense now.

A few stray sniffles escaped her best efforts; she was usually a master of crying silently. It was a skill she learned in training -- crybabies certainly have no chance to be high ranking Pegasus Knights. But here, in this quiet place... Huey certainly wasn't telling anyone.


A furious voice cut through the chilly morning air, perhaps with more efficacy than the sun itself cut through the early morning fog. The denizens of the army that would save the world were more than accustomed to this pairing of angry tone and name. It was no secret that Lady Lyndis of Caelin and Lord Hector of Ostia had difficulties maintaining even the slightest hint of courtesy around one another at times, always arguing over this and that. Naturally, this set the rumor mill running, and neither one could discern why they caught an occasional smirk on the face of some unlucky bystander to one of their frivolous arguments.

"What?! H-hey!" A strong, somewhat bewildered voice greeted Lyn's sharper, icy tone. "I'm telling you, whatever it is, I had nothing to do with it!"

Both emerged onto deck then, Hector's large, armored frame veritably eclipsing the petite Lady of Caelin. "Rubbish. If you think I'm not going to notice your-- your henchman rummaging through my personal effects--"

"Whoa, whoa! What are you getting at? And I didn't have anyone going through your-- Look! Unless you're hiding my breakfast in those things of yours I haven't the slightest interest at all!"

"If I catch him again--"

"Who in blazes are you talking about?!" Hector exclaimed, turning around, arms crossed and eyes narrowed. A classic stance seen often in interactions between the two, surely.

"Matthew! Not that I'm the least bit convinced you didn't know!" Lyn's stance mirrored his own, somehow managing to look every bit as threatening even with her significant disadvantages build wise.

"Matthew!" Hector bellowed furiously -- if anyone had been sleeping in, they were undoubtedly awake now.

Several moments of silence greeted this imposing summons; a few people meandered out onto the deck, rubbing their eyes and casting about confused glances. There were a few scattered coughs, an audible yawn or two, the squawking of sea birds...

"A moment, milord!" A cheery voice precluded the emergence of Matthew, perhaps the most charming spy Ostia had to offer. "You called?" A broad smile -- clearly, this man at least was either unintimidated or oblivious. "Ah, yes, and good morning, Lady Lyndis. I trust you're well this morning?"

"You've no shame, eh?" Hector sighed, rubbing at his temples in annoyance. "Look, this -- woman says she caught you rummaging through her crap. And she's blaming me for it, so I hope you have a suitable explanation so I can have some measure of peace." The two lords exchanged equally scathing glares, and Matthew's eyes widened to a nearly comical degree.

"That was... I was... well! How very embarrassing," Matthew sighed, fidgeting nervously. "Not only to be caught... but in the wrong room too..."

"What are you going on about?" Hector interrupted, clearly impatient for an answer.

"Well, er. You see, I pride myself on my reconnaissance skills, and there have been some interesting rumors that merited investigation." Matthew flashed a winning smile, only to be met with a displeased frown from both parties in his audience. "Ahem. Suffice to say, I had no idea that was your room, Lady Lyndis! I'm afraid I was terribly misinformed, and--"

"There, you see?!" Hector interrupted triumphantly. "I had nothing to do with it. Nothing at all!"

"...Hmph. I suppose it's no surprise to see such lack of discipline among the members of House Ostia. After all, look at who leads them!" Lyn fixed both Lord and Thief with a cold stare, then turned away, disappearing below decks.

"Well... I suppose if you've no more need for me..."

"I swear, that woman has it in for me!" Hector exclaimed, paying no heed to Matthew's stealthy escape routine. "And just what is that supposed to mean, anyway? ...Bah. We're en route to the most important battle of our lives and all the woman can think about is another way to find some issue with me!"

Hector chose to ignore the scattered chuckles from the pirate crew on deck. And she calls my group undisciplined... Where'd Eliwood get to? Surely he, at least, would understand.

A very furious Lady Lyndis stormed her way below decks, unsure of her destination, but certain she wanted to be as far away from that man as she could possibly get. Some distant part of her whispered that he hadn't really done anything wrong -- she wasn't even certain why she'd made such a silly accusation in the first place. It was just like Matthew to pull some silly gag on his own, and it certainly was not like Hector to do so. That secret part of her whispered that perhaps she had wanted him to be responsible... perhaps she was looking for any excuse to be angry with him... to drown out other, more disturbing feelings...

This, naturally, did little to help her foul mood.

"Lady Lyndis!" A familiar, and not altogether unwelcome voice. "Is something amiss, milady? I'd be glad to do anything I could to help."

" Thank you, Kent. This... issue... is not one your services would be helpful for, I'm afraid." She mustered up a smile -- no matter how foul her mood, there was no reason to alienate her most trusted knight

"Ah... well. If there is ever anything I can help you with..."

"I know, Kent. I won't hesitate to call." He nodded in reply, still clearly concerned, but willing to let the matter drop.

"Well, if that is the case... Sain's missing, and I fear he's up to no good in the women's cabins, so..."

"By all means," Lyn smiled, stepping aside to let him pass. He hurried by, muttering something incoherent but no doubt negative, likely concerning Sain and his antics. If there was ever an unlikely pair... but they both fought well in their own right, each a fine knight she felt honored to have in her service. She felt her mood lighten considerably thinking on all of the dedicated, talented personalities among their army. Their trials ahead were tremendous to think about, but... surely they would win. They must.

She continued her aimless wandering below decks; they would be arriving at the Dread Isle soon. She rarely found herself nervous before a fight, but... so much lay at stake in the coming battle. Physical activity was calming to her, as the nomads of the Sacae often relied on feats of personal strength and endurance to strengthen not only their bodies, but to focus and hone their minds. Unfortunately, there was nothing much in that vein to be had confined on a pirate ship, so she resigned herself to walking, albeit at a brisk pace.

A soft sound caught her attention as she passed by the stables; a sound almost anyone else would not have caught, but it was so familiar to her... she recognized it at once. She peeked quietly into the stuffy room to confirm her suspicions.

"Florina?" The concern in her voice was evident. There was little she'd not do for the little Pegasus Knight. They'd been best friends for so long...

"Ah.. L-Lyn? Is that..."

It was Florina, all right. She straightened quickly, wiping her eyes, yet knowing that it was too late to pretend she hadn't been crying. Lyn knew that she hated being caught, perceived as weak... but it was so hard to see the warrior lying within this girl when she succumbed so often to sorrow.

"...I know things have been tough so far. But we're going to take care of it soon, so please..." Lyn faltered for words, for the first time in her life unable to think of something sure to console her friend.

"I know. I'm not afraid of that... I want to fight. I want to make that man pay for all... for everything he's done." She paused for a moment, an unaccustomed fire in her eyes. "I'll fight for all we've lost to him!"

"Florina!" Lyn stared, for even she had not been introduced to the more vindictive side of this girl.

"I-I'm sorry. I just..."

"No, no. I'm surprised, is all..."

"Lyn..." There were the tears again. Would she ever feel an end to this sadness?


"It's nothing. I just, I can't imagine..."

"...This is about Ninian, is it not?" Lyn sighed, embracing her friend. "I thought I noticed you two speaking oftentimes... but I had no idea you were so close."

"It's probably nothing compared to how Lord Eliwood feels..." Florina pointed out, sobbing quietly on the taller woman's shoulder. "Did you know she loved him too?"

"We all... had our suspicions," Lyn explained, secretly surprised that Ninian had confided such a thing to her. It seemed that they had been a great deal closer than anyone knew.

"She did. She loved him, with all her heart. And she never... she never got a chance to tell him so. What happened to her... it's so unfair!" Florina exclaimed, a fresh set of sobs accompanying her furious words.

"...By the end... Florina, I'm sure he knew..." Lyn was at a loss. It hurt them all to discuss this... to see the haunted look in Eliwood's eyes...

There was little either could do, but provide each other what comfort they could. But for the sake of the world, and certainly, the sake of what had been taken from them, their friends... Nergal would pay. Oh, he would pay dearly.