Disclaimer applies.

Notes: I found an old post in one of the forums here listing characters' ages from the artbooks, and it turns out Lyn is actually 15 during her story, not 18 as the English translation of the Kent/Lyn/Sain dialogue claims at the end of Chapter One, Footsteps of Fate ("... who eloped with a nomad some 19 years ago", "... a granddaughter of 18 years."). Which first of all makes more sense to me, as Lyn has always struck me as being rather more vulnerable than an eighteen-year-old, though strong in her own right, of course -- and second of all no longer contradicts the Wallace/Kent supports where Lady Madelyn is stated to have eloped seventeen years ago, from presumably the time of Eliwood's route ("When Lady Madelyn eloped 17 years ago..."). I don't know WHY the translators decided to tweak her age (and messed up in the process of doing so), though I can guess... At any rate, I have adjusted the fic accordingly, so don't be surprised if you find references to fifteen/sixteen-year-old Lyn in future chapters. Doesn't make any difference in characterization, because like I said, I've always felt Lyn to be younger, but I'm just anal when it comes to details. Further age discussion is located in the endnotes of this chapter.

3. Reason

Kent: Pride

His mother had not quite approved of him becoming a knight, though neither had she attempted to dissuade him from that path.

"A knight is wedded first and foremost to lord and duty," she'd told him, mere hours before the knighting ceremony, faint traces of regret lingering in the corners of her mouth. He had been old enough by then to see, and wonder.

"Mother --" he'd began, but when she shook her head he had fallen silent.

"Remember this always, my son. Remember what binds you to your lord."

Her words, he remembers, had tainted his excitement and anticipation with a dim sense of unease. Doubt had come to him then, for the first time in his life.

Yet what else could he have done? His mother was a lady of the court, but she was not so highly ranked or respected there that her son would ever amount to much either, in those scrutinizing eyes. Her renowned unladylike bluntness, combined with her scandalous affair and marriage years earlier, only served to reinforce that truth. Knighthood was the path that had been laid at his feet ever since he was a child, ever since his mother had remarried. It was an honorable path, and he could either choose to walk it proudly or in shame.

In the end, he had chosen honor.

Florina: True

The soil of Ilia is rocky and barren, cold and bitter, and Ilians in turn grow hard and lean as their land. The thought often occurs to Florina that she is no true Ilian, unlike her sisters, who are proud and tall and strong. For Florina has always been a frail child, delicate in frame, with a heart too soft and trusting for such a harsh land.

Above all, she is a dreamer, and here there is no place for dreamers.

Even so, Florina loves Ilia. It is her home as much as it is her sisters', perhaps even more so. For it is duty more than love that binds Fiora to this place, and for as long as she can remember, Farina has always been trying to escape. But Florina loves Ilia, for even in the starkness she sees beauty and wonder around every corner. There is beauty simply in survival, and despite the bitter cold, there is true warmth in the hearts of the people.

It doesn't really surprise Florina when Lyn tells her the truth of her heritage, for Lyn is Lyn, proud and tall and strong like her sisters. But Lyn loves the plains as Florina loves the mountains, and so Florina knows that no matter what happens, Lyn's heart shall remain true.

Tactician: Masterless

The knight named Kent asks him once why he insists on referrring to himself as an apprentice tactician, when he is clearly far beyond the age of a typical apprentice, and more than capable in his own right.

"Until I prove myself," he replies simply, "I remain but an apprentice."

Any other man might have responded that he had already proved himself many times over, that he could have easily found employ under any number of kings and great lords -- but Kent is nothing if not tactful, and does not press any further.

But it is rather strange, even he must admit to himself. Their ragged band of misfits accumulates more and more stragglers as the days pass. It is like a dream, except more like a nightmare, one in which he feels strangely empty of fear. A band of not-quite-children, he thinks fleetingly, one morning, before anyone else has woken. Dorcas is his only elder here, and only Kent and Sain are anywhere close to him in age... though Sain hardly counts.

I am the invisible chaperone at a bloody banquet, he thinks, or maybe a goddamn masquerade ball, a party of children playing at war, but there the analogies fail him and he thinks only: I am their tactician, and How the hell did this happen?, and Why am I still here?

Lyn is the first to wake, with a flash of a true smile directed at him, a sight all too rare these days. Lyn -- with hope in her dark eyes and determination etched in her back, straight as steel. Even now he cannot bring himself to call her Lyndis, Lady Lyndis, Milady, as the others do. She is no lady, this child of the plains. The wind whispers through her hair just as freedom sings within her bones.

He considers telling her this, but as he opens his mouth, Kent wakes, and wakes Sain with him, and in the ruckus that ensues, the rest of the camp is roused as well.

He shrugs, and turns his thoughts to the coming day.

Lyn: Anchor

She had always taken love for granted, she realizes one night, long after everyone else is asleep. Her mother, her father, her tribe -- somewhere deep within her heart, she had always thought, forever.

Now, she does not know. Love is uncertain. Life is uncertain. Everything is uncertain. Even the grassy plains and the endless sky may one day be swallowed by darkness and flame.

Hate, she knows now, can be just as powerful as love. And not even hate is needed for one to kill.

She remembers an old childhood tale about the Drifters, those who wandered, lost, between this world and the next, unable to or perhaps refusing to acknowledge the embrace of Mother Earth. Jealous husbands, heartbroken mothers, warriors who forgot the reason they fought, and thus faltered when they gazed into the eyes of Death.

She is lost, she thinks. Kent and Sain and Mark -- they guide her along her way, through this strange new world, but it is not enough. Some days she feels light and giddy just thinking about it, for when she reaches out into the darkness, she grasps onto nothing, and is at once both terrified and calm. Everything seems strangely unreal.

When the bowman rides over upon his horse the next day, she finds herself more surprised at his familiar bearing than at the fact that she has just narrowly escaped death. She had not expected to meet a fellow Sacaen here, of all places, and suddenly reality seems to jolt back into place. She does not stop to consider the sudden emotions that rush through her. She knows only that she feels suddenly stronger, fiercer. A dark cloud has lifted from her, and its unveiling reveals a world outlined in far sharper clarity than before.

A thousand blessings upon you! she cries, savoring the familiar sounds of her native language upon her tongue.

And a thousand curses upon our enemy! comes the reply, and she smiles and her sight blurs for the briefest moment before she blinks it away.

It feels like homecoming.

Ages, continued: Kent and Sain are listed to be in their "20s", and Rath is listed to be 18. All three Pegasus sisters are in their "10s", as is Hector, though from support conversations it's safe to assume he's the same age as Eliwood, who's listed as 17. Again, all of these ages are presumably for Eliwood's route.

For further clarification I'll list what I'm taking to be their exact ages in this fic, as "twenties" and "teens" are pretty ambiguous: Rath is currently 17, Eliwood and Hector are 16, and Lyn is 15. I'm placing Kent and Sain at exactly 19 during Lyn's story, and 20 during Eliwood's route. (They may be in their twenties by then, but they don't come across as THAT old, either. 22 at most, imo.) Florina is currently 14, and during Eliwood's route she and her sisters will be 15, 17, and 19. (Florina strikes me as younger than Lyn by a just a bit, and spacing two years apart for the sisters works out perfectly.)

Hopefully this isn't confusing. If anyone wants the link to the forum post with the artbook info, just email or pm me.

And in case anyone's wondering, this tactician is in his mid-twenties. I'd say 23-24ish, but it's best left ambiguous. :P