Green Paladin: The sequel to "Until the Dawn" is here! Read that story first, or you'll have no idea about many of the events of this story!
Green Blackguard: What if they don't? Could I rip their faces off?
Green Paladin: Whatever. So, if you don't read it, you'll be confused and faceless! Oh, and this is the only time I'll say it. I. Don't. Own. Fire. Emblem.
The tall scruffy-haired brute stood in the city centre and shouted to the masses, "We've all heard that the Knights of Pherae have vanished, right? Well, your misfortune is my good luck! I have an announcement to make! As of now, this village is mine! Groznyi is your new liege! Now, bring every last piece of gold, down to the smallest fleck!" People showed a wide range of reactions, from gasps of shock, the odd faint, some scrabbling to empty their pockets into his thugs' hands. Some shouted obscenities, and some even attacked them, all simply ending up with axes buried in their ribcages, their hearts cleaved in two.
One man walked to Groznyi, and begged him to stop. "No more of this!" the old man cried. "You will not last long here! The Knights of Pherae shall return soon and you'll-" He was cut short by Groznyi grabbing him by the throat and lifting him at least several foot off the ground. The old man mouthed a cry of distress, but no sound emerged. Grabbing Groznyi's fingers he tried to pull himself free, with no success. Groznyi twisted his neck, and hearing the snap, let the now limp body fall. It slumped on the stonework of the streets, and the eyes stared up at the clear sky, perhaps a last desperate plea for salvation by the heavens. It fell on deaf ears. I stroked my beard thoughtfully whilst trying to come up with a plan, and then slipped through the crowds, and vanished.
I snuck round the empty streets, while the goons were busy with collecting the frightened townsfolk's coin, and reached one of the main gates. Ducking into the shadows, I peered at my opposition. Two guards by the gate, two patrolling nearby. I probably could take them, but I decided on a more subtle approach. Covering myself completely with my cloak, I dashed off to the side, and noticed an unguarded section of the wall, nowhere near any of the gates.
Rummaging through my pack I discovered my grappling hook and rope. Tying the rope to the grappling hook, I advanced to my scaling point. I flung the hook upwards, and it latched into the top of the wooden wall. I was about to test whether it would hold, but hearing the cries of "There! He's trying to escape! Kill him!" from not too far away made me realise I didn't really have time. I leapt and grabbed the rope, and began walking up the wall. I had nearly reached the top when I felt the rope move. Downward, only for a second. Horrified, I stared at the hook, and saw the wood it had caught on was splintering under my weight.
I scrambled up the rope as fast as I could, but the wood gave way and I fell. I landed badly, and the wind was knocked out of me. I writhed on the floor, unable to breathe, and then I heard footsteps coming toward me. I did my best to get up, and drawing my sword I swung wildly, but saw the thug fall to the floor with an arrow embedded in his throat. Gargling on his own blood, he collapsed in a heap. I turned around to see my savior as a young green-haired girl, dressed in loose leathers, armed with a hunting bow. "… Thanks…" I gasped, still recovering from my fall. She smiled briefly, but pulled on a more serious face as she noticed something, and she turned to face it. I turned as well, and saw another three axemen charging directly at her. Their axes rose, and they screamed their battle cries.
Instinctively running at them I drew my dagger and threw it, scoring a direct hit on the forehead of the lead henchman, and before he even had time to fall I darted over to him and sliced his head clean off. Slashing at the muscle-bound warriors before me, I sliced the chests of one of the men open, which I ran through with my blade. The other, angered at his fallen comrades, howled at me, swinging his mighty axe. I ripped my sword out through the side of my last victim, and continued round, and sliced the top of the man's head off, and it landed several feet away with a clonk as it hit the cobblestone pathway. The girl stared at me, shaken by what she had witnessed.
"T-Thanks…" she stammered, then composed herself. She looked just as happy as I when I first saw her earlier.
I went back to my fallen hook and swung again, and this time made sure it would hold. Grabbing the rope, I felt a tug on my cloak. The girl was pulling at me. I growled, "Why are you doing that?"
"If you can fight like that why aren't you fighting Groznyi!" she shouted with obvious frustration at me.
"It's not my place to interfere." I resumed climbing, and she spoke again.
"Why are you leaving?"
I muttered something about foolish children, and continued.
"You can at least tell me! I did save your life!"
I let go, and crouched on the floor when I landed. Standing, my cloak fluttered in the wind, my face still obscured by my hood. "And I saved yours. I owe you nothing."
"You can still tell me!"
"All right, I'm going to get help from nearby towns. You happy?"
She stared in silence for a moment, possibly stunned by the fact that I actually told her. "Well… well… okay then! I'll go with you!"
"Fine, do what you wish. Don't lag behind."
"Okay!" she happily shouted as I began climbing up my rope again. "I'm Rebecca."
Halfway to the nearest town, I saw a horse in the distance, with a rider. I waved to them, but they didn't seem to notice me. "Here! Quickly! We need help!" I screamed at the shadow in the distance. The horseman began riding toward us, and I saw that the man was in fact a Knight of Pherae, or at least appeared to be one.
"What do you need sir?" asked the knight. I'm surprised he could tell I was a man, with all that hair covering his eyes.
"We have come from that nearby town back there," I said, pointing the way we came. "It is being held by a thug named Groznyi, and he's robbing the townspeople!"
"You do not look like a local, sir." True, I was dressed in an odd garb for this region. This sort of commentary happens often when you are dressed in the clothes of a Sacaen Plainsman.
"I am a traveller, staying at the inn here when this incident occurred," I said, temporarily suppressing my memories of that year so I could concentrate.
"And her?" said the strange-haired knight.
"I can speak for myself!" Rebecca said, then realised her error in her speech, and ended her sentence with, "…sir. I am Rebecca, daughter of the village magistrate."
"I'll go to the town before alerting my superiors. Wait here." And without further word, he rode off.
Returning later he said, "It seems as though you were right, sir. The situation is grim. I will tell my lord. Leave it to us." He turned to begin to ride away, but I grabbed the reins of his horse.
"Good knight, I wish to help if I can."
"Can you wield a weapon?"
"I am a trained swordsman, but I am of better use as a Tactician, as it is my trade."
"Very well. Will the young madam be joining us?"
Looking at the determination in her eyes, I nodded to the knight. He pointed us in the easterly direction, and we rode off.
"… Lord Eliwood, one more thing. There is another in the village who has offered to help. A travelling tactician who was staying at the inn."
"A tactician?" queried the redheaded lord.
"Yes, milord. This is Andur."
Eliwood glared wide-eyed at me as I emerged from behind the yellow-armoured pheraen knight, removing my hood. His face showed a flash of recognition, as did mine.
"I'm honored that even under my new beard you still recognise me. How've you been?" I greeted.
"Do you know this person, milord?"
"Yes, I met Andur during the trouble in Caelin last year. A fantastic military advisor, if memory serves. If not for Andur, the marquess of Caelin and his granddaughter, Lyn, might not have survived Lundgren's uprising. What brings you to Pherae, my friend?"
"Why, to travel! To gain new experience and spread word of my skills as a Master Tactician!" I said proudly, remembering Lyn's parting words.
"Ha! Still travelling about, honing your skills? Of course... a worthy pursuit. Let's give thanks to providence for our chance reunion. We have need of your aid. Please lend us your skill."
"All right, but I expect to be paid this time!"
With my superior tactical skill, I led Eliwood's troops to victory over these morons led by a greedy idiot with a stupid beard. Mine was much better. I'd grown it well. A little trim once ever so often, that's all that's needed! Pity the hair on my scalp was as scruffy as ever. Except it was a bit longer now, reaching down to slightly below neck level. I was informed of Eliwood's quest and I accepted his offer to travel with him, pinning my allegiance down to wanting to help, but I secretly, I also desperately needed the work. We had set off toward Laus after hearing of its battle-readiness, when I heard someone shouting behind us. "Wait! Wait!" Rebecca was running to us! Why was she here? She answered my unspoken question when she said after catching up to us, "Can I go with you? Travel on your journey?"
"I do not believe you should allow a child to face the danger we are riding to meet," advised Marcus in that firm voice of his.
"I disagree," I blurted suddenly. All eyes turned on me, and I quickly followed up my statement in my best professional voice with, "Well, she is a competent archer, as was evidenced in that last battle. We do need one, in my opinion. It is a distinct advantage."
"Hmmm. Very well. She will come with us. But you look after her, Andur," ordered Eliwood.
"As you wish, milord," I replied in my most deferential voice.
The first night came, and I lay alone in my tent, noticing not for the first time, that it was very empty. This was the same tent Lyn and I had shared on our campaign against Lundgren… I decided to get up and once again seek the calming light of the moon. Unbuttoning my tent, I saw Rebecca already there at the opening.
"I haven't got a place to sleep, can I sleep in here?" she asked politely.
"If you've got a bedroll, sure."
"Why can't I use that one?" she asked, pointing to the rolled up one in the corner.
"For who? There's no one else around."
"I'd rather not say. Just accept it or find another tent," I snarled. "Sorry. I didn't mean to be harsh. I'll… I'll tell you when I'm ready. Okay?"
"Fine by me!" she said. Making sure she settled in properly first, I watched her until she went to sleep. I settled down to a peaceful slumber, dreaming of the one I'd left behind.
Green Paladin: Eep! I wonder what they'll think…
Green Blackguard: Yeah! I've been biting my nails so long, that I've bitten my arms off! So please review!
Green Paladin: That explains the mess on the floor… I'd thought you'd gone on one of your killing sprees again… Oh, and I'm a little annoyed at myself for the length of this chapter. Don't worry! Others will be longer! I will post the next chapter as soon as possible.