Eliwood had no idea where the tactician found the time to wash their dishes.
He supposed that after poring over maps and speaking with them about where to go and what to do and how many points were the strongest, she just needed some time to think about other things, like soapy water and the leftovers of what Lowen had cooked. Even Lowen, who loved cooking, did not love washing dishes.
Yet as Eliwood peered into the tent where the tactician stood up to her elbows in dirty dishwater he never heard complaints.
As days passed by he noticed that after Hector bellowed whose time was it to wash dishes the tactician would always stand up, much like she was standing in the dark right now, and offer in that clear and calm voice they all trusted that she would wash dishes this time.
Of course she would wash dishes this time--and she would wash dishes the next time, too, until even Hector realised that she had been washing the dishes every night. So there began another ritual, where the tactician would stand up as always and then someone, Eliwood or Lyn or even Hector would insist to wash them for her out of some sort of guilt.
But since she always did them anyway and she did it so perfectly (not a speck on the traveling plates--as if they were fine china!), everyone gradually recognised it as one of her odd quirks and left her alone.
Eliwood watched her now, patiently scrubbing at the crusted stuff on the plates and washing every inch, even the undersides, and the lord suddenly asked, "Why do you wash dishes every night?"
The tactician looked up and shrugged before turning back to her dishes. "Oh... I suppose it is the novelty of it all."
She dunked the plate she had been washing into the water, and Eliwood saw it sparkle for a second before she dried it off quickly and placed it on the rack.
"Because it is so much more mundane for a tactician to be a tactician than it is for a tactician to wash dishes." She looked up at him and smiled. "Try saying that three times fast."
Eliwood refrained (he couldn't even remember what she said), and asked her instead, "I beg your pardon, Lady Tactician?"
The tactician sighed and began scrubbing a particularly heavy pot. "Well. Everyone expects a tactician to specialise in battle plans and such--but have you ever heard of them washing dishes?" She observed it carefully and scrubbed at the outside before going on, "The only problem is, I do not like battle plans--but I do like washing dishes."
She looked up and smiled apologetically. "I'm sorry if I'm not making much sense, Lord Eliwood."
"Oh, no," Eliwood assured her. "It's perfectly fine." After a moment, he added, "And please--call me Eliwood."
The tactician shrugged and began drying off that pot she'd been holding. "Before I was a tactician," she remarked suddenly as she swiped at the insides. "I was a kitchen maid in Bern."
"Bern," the lord remarked. "That's very far from here."
"Yes, it is." The tactician placed the pot on the rack and began to wash another. "I was an idealistic little girl who wanted nothing more than to fight in Bern's famous armies--the finest knight of all, and a girl to boot. Then, as I grew older and smarter and realised I had no talent for arms--" she smiled at that, her own weakness, "I gradually decided that being a warrior was not for me. So I turned to being the tactician instead."
That was a fairly simple retelling of her life story, Eliwood thought privately, and put it down to her ability of formulating complex battle plans and explaining them so clearly that no one would be confused.
"I found out I hated strategising even more than I hated exercise," the tactician continued, surprising the lord. "But as I had no other talents and I didn't want to go back home, at the time, I supposed there was no choice but to take on the responsibility of handling an army."
She sighed as the last dish went on the rack, spotlessly clean as usual, and dried her hands.
"Now, there isn't a day that goes by I don't wish I had stayed at my inn washing dishes." The tactician stretched out her arms and bid the lord good-night before going to her tent.
Eliwood looked at the rows of sparkling dishes and couldn't help feeling just a little bit sorry for her.
Notes: I do not own Rekka no Ken, except in the form of a small Gameboy SP cartridge. Thanks go to my lovely beta for advising me to get rid of an imaginary word; and therefore, avoid humiliating myself :).
Reviews would be appreciated.