I told you it would come, and here it is: the prologue to my not-so-much-anticipated Fire Emblem story! Yeah, I know, you didn't review my other stuff, so why should you bother? In a few words...you really don't have to. I just want you to, and that is reason enough. Oh, and in case you were wondering, I don't own any part of Fire Emblem. Intelligent Systems and Nintendo do a fine job with it. I just felt like adding my own little flair to the mythos.
Fire Emblem: Shadow of Bern (based on the first FE game in the States)
"Look at him! Prissy, stupid little royal!"
"Yeah, what an idiot! He can't even hear us, and we're only a few measly meters away!"
"He may very well be hearing us, fools! Be quiet!"
"You think so, old codger?" One of them turned to the shadows. "I'll bet you all the gold in his treasury that he won't hear us until we slit his throat!"
"I said hush!" The elderly man's hood fell off his head as he held a slender, crooked finger to his pursed lips, revealing his deep violet eyes and slick grey hair in the pale moonlight. "And don't brag about having the money 'till we've actually done the job!" He shook his head in disgust, his mutterings about "idiots" flying away on the swift wind.
Suddenly, furtive footsteps came pounding through the trees near where the attackers lay in wait. "Draw swords, men, but quietly!" The gray haired man said, but his men ignored him, drawing their swords with a great clatter. "Quiet, fools!" he hissed, but it didn't matter.
Bursting through the shrubs bordering the clearing, a short, stubby man wearing an absurdly festive robe came into view, his panting breaths making crystalline clouds in the cool night air. "General...General Murdock… they've…they heard you, just now…they went into their tents to get their weapons…I came to warn you as soon as I could, but they…they could be anywhere—"
Just as General Murdock thought to retort, he felt the cold touch of steel to the nape of his neck, and a voice as cool as the night air replied for him. "Yes, Julius, you're right—'they' could be anywhere."
Murdock dared not risk turning to face his attacker, but he already knew whose sword was prodding him in the back, causing a thin trail of blood to trickle down his spine. "Lord Eliwood, I presume?"
"You assume correctly, traitor." The Marquess stepped out of the shadows, prompting Murdock to shift and step forward on his knees with a sharp breath. Eliwood's fiery red hair taking on an unnatural brilliance in the moon's eerie glow, and his firm grip held the rapier between him and Murdock stable. Sensing some of Murdock's men getting antsy, he added, "And I am not without friends." As if on cue, five tough-looking knights stepped out of the shadows behind him, grim expressions set on their faces, weapons drawn. At the center, most of the soldiers recognized, was the famed Marcus of Pherae, holding a lance stained with something dark. It looked enough like blood to make the soldiers think twice about taking even a step towards him.
"What do you want, Eliwood?"Murdock found that he could barely take a breath without feeling a sharp pain stab into his neck. He inhaled slowly and said, "Lord Zephiel will be interested to hear about you threatening me tonight." He gave Eliwood a second to ponder it, then continued breathlessly, "He might not be so sympathetic to you next time one of your criminals comes claiming asylum in Bern—"
"I agree wholeheartedly, Murdock. Zephiel will hear about this." Eliwood took another step into the clearing, forcing Murdock to walk forward on his knees as well. "Not from you, of course–unless you wish to send him a letter from the dungeons of Castle Pherae." Eliwood's knights gave a slight smirk at this, but he didn't bother to notice; his eyes were locked on to the back of Murdock's head. "He will, however, hear from me, about how you and your—" he looked over Murdock's troops with a slight grin,"—soldiers, attempted to assassinate me while I was making camp on a peace mission—"
"Arrgh!" One of Murdock's soldiers, apparently enraged by Eliwood's insult, raised his sword and came barreling toward Eliwood like a mad horse, bloodlust clouding the whites of his eyes...
The man gasped and fell backward, blood pouring from a giant gash in his torso. His eyes were practically popping out of their sockets in shock. "G-g-gen-eral…" he blubbered, blood streaming from the corners of his mouth, staining the grass below. He writhed for a moment, then went still–dead.
Lowen's turquoise hair hung low over his eyes, dripping with sudden sweat. His lance was at his side, dripping with fresh blood. "Marcus, sir? Did I…"
"Yes, Lowen, you did." Marcus's voice was soft and affirming. "You saved your Lord from considerable danger." He patted the knight on the back gently. "I'll be sure to recommend the Knight Council give you a citation."
Murdock swore. "Eliwood…you have no idea…what you have just done…" he took a sharp breath and swore again. "You killed a Bern soldier on disputed territory…regardless of who tells him, Zephiel will hear of your…" he wretched and spat again,"…your treachery."
Eliwood's grim smile turned to a grim frown in a split second. "Yes…yes, I suppose it shall." He hesitated, then, in one swift motion, took his sword from Murdock's neck and sheathed it. "You may go, then."
Astonished, Murdock gave a short gasp and got to his feet. He took a few steps over to his soldiers, and turned to the man in robes, who was apparently still in shock at the sight of a man being killed. "Julius…Julius…for God's sake, come to your senses and heal me!"
Julius, white as a ghost, gave a blank nod, took out his staff, and recited a healing incantation. A sudden blue light emanated from the staff, flooding the clearing, then vanished without a sound. Murdock gave a tiny gasp, then sighed, rubbed his neck, and held out his hand to the moonlight. "No blood." He gave a chuckle. "Amazes me every time, all this arcane stuff you healers do…" He gave another slight chuckle, then turned to Eliwood, his expression grim once more. "Do not doubt that Zephiel will hear of your treachery as soon as I arrive back at Bern Manse."
Eliwood just stared at Murdock's eyes, boring into them with his steel will. "I do not doubt that at all, Murdock. Not at all." With that, he watched as Murdock and his men picked up the body of their fallen comrade and walked out of the forest clearing. Julius stood on the threshold for a moment.
"Send word back the moment Zephiel reacts to the news, Julius." Eliwood's voice was only a whisper, but it was still commanding enough. "Do not fail me."
Julius didn't turn, but still replied, "I won't my Lord." And he walked off into the night, yelling, "Murdock, wait for me, my lord! Wait, General!"
Eliwood stared after him for a moment, then said simply, "Follow him."
"Yes, my Lord," said a voice from the shadows. "As you wish."