Lesson 1:

Looks don't mean anything. Action does.

- A Young Girl's Primer to Nazonian Magic

The evening air was hot and sultry. It seemed to stick to everyone's skin, leaving a few trying to catch their breath. A gust of wind blew lazily past them, playing with a few strands of hair, taunting the army as they lay under the relentless blast of the sun's rays.

Everyone there did not think that they would ever be in such a situation ever again. After the defeat of the Demon King, most thought that they would be getting back to their old lives, picking up the pieces and starting anew. However, fate had a funny way of playing with their lives. Many a town had been ravaged by the war and the monsters still roamed about the lands, threatening anyone who stood in their way. No one in Magvel was safe from them. In light of this new crisis, Ephraim, who was now king of Renais -together with the royalty of Rausten, Jehanna and Frelia- enlisted their help again to aid the rebuilding of Magvel.

They had just finished a rather difficult battle at Port Kiris. The port which was usually so busy and alive became a ghost town as the monsters entered. Ephraim, true to his word, protected all the people from their attacks. However, this new strategy was making it difficult for the army to kill the monsters. It was difficult to shoot an arrow when you had a mother and daughter running around in the background screaming their heads off. Innes, made this perfectly clear.

He walked down the row of tents, his arms folded across his chest. In his frustration, he was totally oblivious to the scorching heat that plagued the rest of the army. Bursting into the largest tent, he cornered Ephraim. "We cannot fight like this." He said, his grey eyes look angrily to Ephraim and a slight scowl was on his face.

With a slight sigh, Ephraim stood up from the small wooden bench and turned to face his…friend? Ephraim never used to see Innes as a friend. When they were younger, they used to continually fight and argue with each other. As they got older, nothing much had changed. Yet, it felt a little different. It was not the same as the friendship he had with Lyon but Ephraim knew that he respected the prince of Frelia and you could build friendship based on respect. Willing himself not to lose his temper with Innes, held his hands up as if to hold him back. "I know." Ephraim said, shaking his head slightly, his sea green hair fell slightly over his eyes. "However, there is nothing we can do at the moment. The people have no where to escape to unless we can somehow find a way to…"

"That's it!" Innes said suddenly, snapping his right hand and interrupting Ephraim's ramble. "We could have our people set up lookouts around the villages and assign a special place to evacuate to. That way, we can fight without worrying about the villages."

Ephraim nodded slowly. He did not want to say how good an idea that was. "I suppose that could work…" Ephraim said rather reluctantly. Innes was different from him, more of a thinker and a planner. Ephraim just did things on impulse- it was a habit he was trying to change especially since he was king. There was a lot more weighing on his shoulders now.

"Did we mishear you two or did you actually just agree on something?" Someone said from outside the tent. The flaps were pulled open to reveal Tana and Eirika. "Ephraim did you just say that it "could work"?" Tana asked, laughing a little at the sight of the two men.

"Tana did you eavesdrop on us?" Innes demanded the familiar scowl appeared across his face.

Eirika could not help but smile as she saw her two friends bicker with each other. Although they fought often, she knew that the siblings were as close as she and Ephraim.

Ignoring the Frelians, Ephraim walked up to his sister. "Innes has a rather… interesting idea with how to deal with the monsters." He said and Eirika could not help but grin a little. She knew very well that there was quite a bit of rivalry going on between the two of them, and how much Ephraim hated to admit that Innes was better than him. When they were younger, Ephraim used to boast that he was amazing at archery. In order to prove him wrong, Innes began picking up the bow. Obviously Ephraim lost that one. Any attempt to bring the incident up usually ended with a spear pointed at your neck…or worse. She listened as her brother began to explain the plan to Tana and herself.

"It is an ambitious plan." Tana said finally as she perched on the wooden bench, her head tilted slightly to the side. As posture she adopted whenever she was thinking. "But it could work."

"I wouldn't have voiced it out if it wasn't going to." Innes said, with a slight smirk on his face. However, Eirika noticed that instead of addressing the group he was looking directly at her with a strange look in his eyes. As quickly as it came, the look vanished when Ephraim spoke again.

"That's all well and good but how exactly are we going to implement it?" The King asked, making it sound like more of a challenge to Innes.

"Split the army into half." Innes answered smoothly and walked towards the map of Magvel which was on the table top. He pointed a long slender finger at Frelia's castle. "Magvel can easily be divided into two portions: Frelia, Renais and Grado on one hand and Jehanna and Rausten on the other. I will take half of the army and cover one side and you, Ephraim can cover the other. We'll effectively split the time it takes to cover the whole of the map."

"You've spent a while on this haven't you?" Eirika said smiling, it was the first words she had said since being in the tent.

Again, Innes smirked at the comment. "No, I'm afraid I've only just come up with it. Ephraim in fact was the one which got me started." Innes never seemed to genuinely like someone. Eirika had never remembered seeing him show real compassion to anyone, very different from his younger sister who as quick to joke and took easily to people and yet Tana spoke fondly of him all the time. Maybe it was not fair of her to be to harsh on the prince.

Outside, the rest of the army was impatiently waiting for the royals to tell them what was going on. Ewan, had sneaked into the small hole by the back of the tent and overheard them discussing some sort of new strategy for them. A short while later, Joshua and L'Arachel entered the tent, confirming their suspicions that it was going to be something big. After all, with all the nobles in the tent, there was bound to be some sort of big plan going on.

Their questions were answered when Ephraim finally walked out of the tent. "Everyone." He said commandingly to the group. "In order to keep the people of Magvel safe from monsters, we have devised a system so that the villages especially in the more rural areas, can protect themselves." Ephraim went on to elaborate on how the plan would work. "Finally," He concluded, "we will be splitting you up into two groups. The first, will follow Eirika, Tana, Innes and myself to warn the people of Frelia, Renais and Grado. The second will follow Joshua and L'Arachel to Jehanna and Rausten and Carcino. We leave tomorrow."

"Are you ready to leave, Eirika?" Ephraim asked his sister, the next morning. The sun was rising slowly, as if it too was reluctant to awake from peaceful slumber. Eirika was already polishing her silver blade, so much so that the soft rays of the sun reflected off it, casting a beautiful light show on the ground.

Eirika sighed a little, tilting her head upwards to look at her brother. "I don't think I will ever be ready to fight, brother." She said softly. "After the war ended, I was so looking forward going back home and looking after the people. I never would have thought that I would be in the same situation all over again."

"It's different this time." Ephraim said gently to his sister. Although they were of the same age, he always felt like he was the one who had to look after her. "We're fighting so that we can go back to living in peace. We are ensuring years of peace and prosperity for all of Magvel."

Eirika nodded, standing up. All hint of her sadness before had disappeared. "I know brother. I apologise for my behaviour." She looked to the east, as the sun finally awoke from its sleep. It cast a beautiful spectrum of reds, yellows and purples onto the land below. She looked to her brother with a new found sense of determination. "Let's go, for Renais and for all of Magvel."

A grin appeared on her brother's face and together, the siblings set off, to secure a better future for the world.

"Will I make you happy? That's what we'll bet on. Are you in, or what?"


"That's everything I've got. I can't up the ante anymore. So how about it? Are you in?"

"Are you…serious?"

"Look into my eyes and decide for yourself."

They had been travelling for a while now towards the mercantile city of Carcino, and Joshua finally understood the plight of his people. The red haired prince had never done that much for his people. Although he had planned on travelling as a mercenary to learn more about them, he found that his plans had gone awry. He had failed his mother and his people and that was a thought that was never far from his mind. Joshua admired the fact that Ephraim cared so much for the people of Renais. Even Innes seemed to genuinely want the best for his people. Was Joshua really such a failure?

He frowned as L'Arachel began rambling on about something or another. What was it this time? Oh yes, how her divine calling was to save all humanity from the threat of the monsters. Sure, she was the Princess of Rausten but boy, could she talk some ones ear off. Why, if it was not for his hat, Joshua would have betted that his ears had disintegrated totally. For once, it would be a gamble that he would never lose.

In stark contrast to L'Arachel, there was Natasha, the cleric seemed so quiet these few days. Joshua was not sure how to face her. It had never been a problem before but after the war, there seemed to be some sort of gap between them. Joshua could not explain, nor could he explain the strange feeling he got when he caught Natasha's eye.

So, that concludes the first chapter of "Practical Lessons". The pairings (Much more than the few characters here) will mostly be based on the support conversations between the characters although there may be a few surprises. However, the story takes place before the "A" support conversations so don't be surprised if the characters do not know their true feelings yet. (Ok, that sounds cheesy) Cheesiness aside, this as surprisingly an easy chapter to write. Please review and tell me if you like or dislike any part of the story. It is my first time doing a romance type of fan fiction so I hope this turns out well. I will try my very best to update on a weekly basis Of course, the more reviews I receive the faster I will update.

No, that was not bribery.

By the way, who would you want Ephraim to be paired up with? Please give me some feedback. I'm leaning towards EphraimxTana.