No Longer Alone

Well, this marks my first foray into the world of Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones fanfiction. Here's to hoping I give you all a good read.

The primary pairing for this will be Franz x Amelia. Take a hint: If you don't like the pairing, don't read this story.

Disclaimer: I own nothing.

It was the scream that did it. Amelia had been sleeping peacefully, her mother downstairs, working quietly, trying to keep their small family in enough money to put bread on the table.

She hadn't had the slightest idea when the brigands had come, from what direction, or even why. There was little of value in the sleepy village of Silva. Then again, maybe that had been why they had chosen this place. The Emperor wouldn't bother with the tracking down of a band that had destroyed a village worth so little.

She assumed the band hadn't come quietly. But she didn't know. She had been in too deep a slumber to hear and shouts or crashes.

But she had heard her mother's screams. It had jolted her out of bed, eyes wide, wondering what had happened.

She had barely taken two steps towards the doorway of her room when she had heard the deep throaty voice of what had presumably been the head bandit. It had paralyzed her with fear. In the small town, she recognized most everyone's voice. The village baker with the thick bristling moustache and booming laugh, the farmers with calloused hands and their warm voices. This new voice wasn't like theirs- it seemed happy, but happy in a terrible new sense that was unfamiliar to the young girl.

She had not yet learnt to recognize the voice of cruelty. All she knew was that it terrified her. She took one shaking step backwards, then turned and dived under the bed, shivering with fear.

Later she would berate herself. Later she would cry anew to the endless stars as the stark unyielding fact that she had concealed herself while her mother screamed for help returned to haunt her a thousand sleepless nights.

But for now, all she could think of was to hide. Hide somewhere, anywhere, where they would not be able to find her.

The endless noise continued- the crash of furniture, the occasional whoop of delight as a thug found something he could sell off in the market, and worst of all, the weeping of her mother. Amelia screwed her eyes shut, feeling hot tears run down her cheeks. Hastily wiping her nose, she perked her ears at the faint sound of conversation.

"Looks to be all, chief. We ain't gonna find anything else down here."

"Well, what about up there, then? Got any family treasures up there, woman? You better be honest if you know what's good for you, or, my word, you catch it!"

"There's… there's nothing left, you thieves." The weary sound of her mothers voice floated up. "You've taken everything I need for my livelihood. Leave. You'll find nothing else here."

There was a dull thud, and then a crash. Amelia bit her lip so hard blood flowed. Sobbing quietly, she tried to hush herself as voices floated up once more. Then there was the scream, a continuous wail that made Amelia half want to dash out and wrest her mother away and half want to curl up even tighter. She subconsciously chose the latter option and pulled her knees to her chest.

The next few minutes were a blur, apart from Amelia realizing with absolute clarity that her mother's cries were getting fainter and fainter, until they simply vanished into the distance.

She was also unsure about just how long she had spent cowering under the mattress, but she had finally plucked up enough courage to venture out. Slowly, cautiously, painfully aware that her attempts at being stealthy were failing rather miserably, she descended the steps, beholding the primary room of the house.

Several pieces of paper fluttered lazily about in the slight breeze. What furniture that remained intact was strewn carelessly about. Dirt footprints covered the floor. The doorway was partially smashed.

"M-mommy?" Amelia whispered as loud as she dared. No response.

"Mommy?" Louder this time. Amelia's eyes darted about frantically as she wandered about the house, trying to locate her mother.

Somewhere in the back of her mind, she began to recognize the awful possibility that her mother was no longer here.

"MOMMY!" She howled as loud as she could as she scampered throughout the house, slamming open cupboards, yanking drawers out of their sockets, all the while frantically searching, clinging on to the desperate possibility that it had all been some kind of nightmare or cruel joke.

Her crude searched turned up no one, and Amelia finally slumped onto the ground, exhausted, crying bitterly as she stared out the doorway at the dying rays of the sun.

There was no one else here.

She was alone.

Amelia drew in a deep breath as she gazed out at the blue of the summer sky. A melancholy smile on her face, she kicked at a stray pebble that lay on the road.

It's been, what? Seven years, hasn't it? She had kept up with reports from the Empire as best she could, and from what could discern, the particular bandit group that had attacked their village had been eradicated.

Her mother had never been found.

"Amelia! There you are, lass!" She turned at the sound of a voice, and her smile changed from sad to happy as she saw the village blacksmith walking up to her.

"I was afraid you'd gone off without letting us say good bye to you first." He nodded.

"Oh, you don't need to worry about that. It's going to be hard enough to leave without having the chance to say farewell." Everything had been packed. Everything was ready.

Soon, she would leave the town of Silva, the only home she had ever known, and journey towards the heart of the Grado Empire. Once there… she would enlist to be a soldier in the Grado army. Her course had been mapped, sufficient provisions had been packed, and everything was ready.

Amelia closed her eyes, letting a soft breeze caress her. Watch me, and watch over me, mother. I'm going to become stronger. I'll be strong enough to protect those I care for… those I love.

She turned back to regard the blacksmith. He had taken her in after the bandits had carried away her mother, and was the closest thing to family she had. He laid a comforting arm on her shoulder.

"I have something for you, child."

From his pack, he drew out a lance, nearly rapier-thin, that gleamed in the morning sun. The edge of its tip flashed silver-white in the light of the morning sun, the pewter gray of its length likewise glowing softly. It was as beautiful a weapon as would be found in the best of Grado's armouries. With a smile, he handed it to Amelia.

"Made from the finest ore I could get my hands on. May it serve you well, lass."

She wrapped her fingers around the cool metal of the lance, observing it's delicate beauty. "Thank you… father." She managed.

A quiet murmur caused her to glance up. The entire population of the village had come to send her off. They stood there, smiling awkwardly, unsure as what to say. Finally, the village head stepped forward, holding a small bag.

"There's a hundred gold pieces in there, Amelia. Use it as you see fit."

"Oh, I will, sir! Thank you!" She gazed over the quiet village for the last time. Everything was so comfortable here… so familiar.

But she would leave nonetheless. Her mind had been made up a long time ago. She shook her head at the sudden rush of emotion that sprung up inside her, and a soft tear found it's way into her eye.

Then, on a prearranged signal, the townsfolk shouted their goodbyes as one. Their cheers rushed over her, threatening to overwhelm. Choking back the smallest of sobs, she raised her hand and waved farewell.

Then, as the villagers watched, she turned, walking past the village gates, lance in hand.

"Hii-YAH!" The sword blow was intercepted easily by General Seth, and he swung his lance in an arc, staggering Franz and knocking him back.

The young cavalier landed on his rear end- painfully, it might be noted. Clambering to his feet, Franz winced slightly as he rubbed his sore bottom.

"Your strikes still seem more like that of axe-blows than sword-strokes." Seth said patiently. "Remember, you must have strong enough footing so that if your opponent parries successfully, you will be able to recover."

"U-understood, sir." Franz nodded.

"Good." Seth allowed the ghost of a smile to grace his features. "Regardless, you are improving speedily. I believe that in less than a month your training should be more or less completed."

"Really?" To Franz, it hadn't been all that long since General Seth had agreed to train him.

In reality, his induction into the ranks of the Knights of Renais had come through a rather long and convoluted chain. A chance request to his older brother about the possibility of his becoming a knight had led to Forde mentioning Franz's plight to his liege lord, Prince Ephraim. Ephraim has passed the matter on to General Seth, who had apparently agreed to take him in on a trial basis without the slightest sense of hesitation whatsoever. He still hadn't the foggiest just why the General had agreed to do so.

He had apparently performed to General Seth's satisfaction, for after several months, the Silver Knight had offered to train him personally.

And now here he was, trying his level best not to disappoint the man that he looked up to so much. Franz sometimes wished Forde were still here- his older brother was always ready with a word of encouragement- but he had ridden out with Prince Ephraim along with several other knights, towards the border of Grado for training exercises.

"Really." General Seth replied to his question. "And it should not be very long before you are a full-fledged knight of Renais."

Franz mentally filed away the compliment for enjoyment later as his mind wandered back to when he had last seen his brother.

"Training exercise, little brother. Have to learn woodland survival skills if we're to ever survive a war. That's why we're going."

Franz had laughed at the incredulity of it all. "War? With who? Grado? Frelia? We are close allies with all our neighbouring nations- who on Magvel would we go to war with?"

"Don't know and don't much feel like finding out." Forde had shrugged. "Besides, if you think a life of chivalry and knighthood so redundant, why'd you sign up in the first place?"

"You know, fight to protect the villages from bandits and the like. No shortage of those in the mountains."

"Good point, little brother. I can just see it now. Sir Franz, bold and fearless bandit-slayer! Feared by all the lowlifes and riffraff, much loved and admired by all the village wom-"

"Oh, put a sock in it. Your group's almost ready to leave. Take care of yourself, Forde."

"You too, little brother."

Franz was rudely jolted out of his reminiscence by the frantic shout a soldier. Stumbling into the castle courtyard, the guard nearly collapsed. He was quite clearly exhausted. "Disaster!" He cried. "Grado- attack… border guard vanquished…"

"Calm yourself!" General Seth ordered. Once the man looked to be on the winning end of catching his breath, the General nodded. "Now tell me what happened."

"It… it's the Grado Empire… they've… declared war on Renais… invaded through the border. Serafew is already taken, and most of the border regiments would be annihilated by now."

In an instant the courtyard become a roar of incredulous voices. "Invasion? Impossible!"

"We are close friends with the Empire! How could this…?"

"The king must be informed!"

Without a word, General Seth turned and raced into the hallways of the castle, intent on locating King Fado.

It seemed that every living being in the courtyard was darting about in confused haste. Commands and countermands were issued at a steady stream, and soldiers everywhere were thrust into the grim reality that they were now under attack but a country they had long since held as allies.

Meanwhile, Franz stood, bewildered in the center of the courtyard, clutching his sword, ignored by everyone around him. Alone in the sea of rushing humanity, he found his way to a stone bench and collapsed onto it, a storm of chaotic thoughts rushing through his mind. Silently, he replayed his question to his older brother. To whom would we go to war with? Now he knew.

What was to become of him- of everyone- now?

Chapter one completed. Please read and review.