-1Chapter Ten EI: Revolt at Carcino

Unable to find a ship in Port Kiris, Princess Eirika and her companions must instead take a land route through the country of Carcino, a mercantile republic governed by an elected body of businessmen. Carcino has, since its beginning, been bullied into subservience by its neighbors of Frelia, Renais, and Jehanna. Now, emboldened by the Grado Empire's promises, Carcino has begun to fight back against Frelia, trapping Prince Innes in Teraz Plateau. Since it is convenient, Eirika rushes to his aid.

Meanwhile, Eirika herself is hunted down by the Sun and Moonstones, the wyvern-riding generals Valter and Glen…

Just after meeting with Emperor Vigarde to receive his orders to find and capture the Renais royalty, Glen went to his brother in his room, mostly to complain about what he had to do, and to get over his hangover. When he was sober enough to no longer slur, Cormag started to reprimand him. "Glen, you're shameful! Meeting his Grace while drunk!"

Glen waved his hand dismissively at his younger brother. "It doesn't matter. Vigarde doesn't notice anything any more. He's… there's nothing left of him, I think. The man I used to know seems to be gone…"

Cormag paused. "What do you know about this Princess Eirika? Have you ever met her? Other than that time in Serafew, I mean, since you were too intoxicated to actually remember that."

The general shrugged. "I hear she's an arrogant little wench, and not particularly compassionate. She kills without hesitation. She has no regard for the safety of others. All in all, I'd say she's a pretty awful person."

"There, see? That clears up your moral dilemma," Cormag smiled grimly, patting his brother on the shoulder, "Why feel bad about capturing such a horrible person?"

"It's not her so much as… What does Vigarde want the Sacred Stone of Renais for? They're just stupid rocks. Worth little to nothing monetarily. There isn't enough of Renais left to revolt, so demoralization doesn't seem to be an issue…" Glen shrugged again, "I don't know, I guess it just concerns me. What if he actually thinks the Stones have the power to release the Seal to vaults in the Dark Temple, where all of the legions of monsters are supposed to be kept? And worse, what if he were right? What if the Demon King's armies still existed?"

Cormag sighed. "Come on, Glen, those are just stupid stories. And why would the Emperor want an army of monsters?"

Glen ran a hand through his short, golden hair. "I don't know… and maybe some of it is morals. Horrid she might bet, but Princess Eirika has already lost her home and her father. Vigarde is probably going to marry her off, maybe to his son, or some other noble he can control, so that Renais will fall under the Empire's control diplomatically. Once I capture her, Eirika has a dark future ahead of her."

"So?" Glen glanced to his brother, not answering. Cormag shook his head. "Glen, this is none of our concern anyway. You must fulfill the Emperor's orders, or you'll be a traitor. I'm already worried about General Duessel. I hear he was arguing with the Emperor in the corridor after you left."

"That's ridiculous!" Glen shouted, turning away, "Duessel would never betray the Empire!"

"I know, I know," Cormag said gently, holding his hands up in a peace gesture, "I was just repeating something I had heard. I don't suspect General Duessel any more than you do. But listen, you still need to fulfill your orders. That isn't a choice you get to make."

Glen's shoulders tensed and he set his jaw stubbornly, then relaxed slightly. "I need a drink…"

"Not now, brother. You need to go and find the Princess. She'll be in Carcino by now. Our friends in the Council have already set about scaring the citizens into refusing to set sail, so she'll be forced to take the land route, if she doesn't turn around and go back to Frelia. You can catch her either way, before she reaches allies."

Glen nodded, and the two brothers left Cormag's room. When the older brother pushed open the door, he heard a crash, and several imprecations. Once both were in the hall way, Glen slammed the door shut to see Valter lying on the ground, knocked over from where he had been listening at the door. "What do you think you're doing, you conniving serpent?"

Valter leered nastily from the floor. "Oh just… checking the doors…"

"Oh, really? Sorry for knocking you over then- Hey wait a minute! We have janitors for that!"

Valter snapped his fingers, "That ruse usually works… Bah, what do I care? I was eavesdropping on you gossipy girls, and I do not like what I have heard! You weakling, Glen, worried about what happens to that wretched little girl, Eirika! Who cares? Not I! She's just some little whelp, and she's worth a fortune!"

Glen turned away from the Moonstone. "Silence! I will hear none of this! You are a pitiful worm, a fallen general and criminal restored for reasons I cannot begin to comprehend!"

"I am the greatest general Grado has ever had! That is enough of a reason!" Valter chuckled, standing so he could tower over Glen, "But what do you care? You poor sub par general… You should really be on your way. Eirika won't kidnap herself, you know! It would be nice if she would, but she won't, so you must go do it for her!" Valter cackled over his absurdly nonsensical statement and strutted away.

Cormag turned to his brother. "Pay no heed to that idiot. But he is right in that you need to get going, brother. His Grace will be displeased if Princess Eirika escapes."

Glen paused, then nodded.

Teraz Plateau, a raised area near central Carcino (anyone else notice that all the important stuff happens near the middle of a country?), was normally a peaceful area of innocent farmers, its most distinctive feature a large villa in the northern area. That villa was the home of Councilor Klimt, one of the older and richer members of the Council, as well as one of the more annoying suck-ups to Frelia. At the time, though, it had been appropriated by Councilor Pablo.

Pablo was not an attractive man. He had a generally weasel-like appearance, and short bluish hair that was receding from his forehead, and a similarly colored goatee. Pablo apparently cultivated his appearance for the express purpose of looking more evil, much to the annoyance of the other sleazy merchants of Carcino, who preferred to be fat and jovial so as to throw off suspicion. Pablo was, however, rich, richer even than Klimt, and ambitious as well.

Councilor Pablo, with his large force of hired swords, had already claimed the villa of the treacherous Councilor Klimt as his own, forcing Klimt to hide in his pantry. Pablo then set about with his real plan: Laying a trap for Prince Innes of Frelia, who unsuspectingly marched right through Teraz, never expecting Carcino to finally stop being a sissy and fight back against its oppressors.

Luckily for Innes, Teraz had a very convenient fortress, where Innes fled and hid. Unfortunately, the fort only had one room, so only Innes, two mercenary guards, and Random Messenger the Pegasus Knight could fit inside, while the rest of his army stood around outside to be brutally killed. Innes then sent Random Messenger to get help. Somehow, she managed to escape Teraz Plateau without being shot down, but that is one contrived event that won't be explored, since Random Messenger just isn't important enough for so much explanation.

Inside the fort, Innes' guards were starting to get nervous. Gerik tapped his booted foot rhythmically on the stone floor. Marisa had gotten the easy job after all, it seemed. He had been sure that defending Innes would be like taking a picnic, but instead he was now trapped in a one-room fort, surrounded by enemies! He cursed his awful luck, and cursed it again when Tethys started to talk.

"Oh woe is us! What shall we do? This terrible fortress is so musty and dusty and gross! My beautiful outfit is being ruined by this alarming filth! It is bad enough that people mistake me for a harlot, but now they'll think I am a street harlot! Being a Lady of the Evening is one thing, but a Scummy Beggar-Woman of the Evening? Simply unacceptable! Oh this is so awful! What shall I do? If I am trapped in this fort for ever, then who will watch dear Ewan? The poor child, he'll be left on the streets, forced to fend for himself, only to grow up to be a thief, until he is caught and they cut his hands off! Oh, my poor baby brother! But more importantly, poor me! Oh, whatever shall-"

"Dear heavens, woman, do you ever shut up?" Innes turned from the window through which he had been watching the soldiers outside to glare at the dancer, "You have been complaining non-stop since I hired you! Why did I ever hire you two in the first place? I had an army to protect me. And more importantly, why, of all the competent and loyal soldiers in my army, did I keep you two safe? Has all of my cunning abandoned me?"

Tethys turned away to sulk. "You don't have to be rude, you know. My, for a prince, you are a truly detestable character. Why-"

"As your employer, I order you to cease talking," Tethys opened her mouth to protest, but then scowled and closed it hard enough to cause her teeth to click, "Now then, how are we getting out of here? I have one swordsman, one non-combatant, and myself, a grade-A+ sniper. While I could certainly handle most of these fools by myself, I cannot rely on the mercenary to keep them at a reasonable distance, as he is a treacherous sellsword who could stab me in the back at a moment's notice."

Gerik blinked. "Now wait a minute-"

Innes ignored his beleaguered companion. "I suppose I could send them out as bait while sneaking away while the enemy is distracted…"

"Now see here-"

"Ah, I know. I'll switch garments with the male mercenary and pretend to switch to their side as a treacherous mercenary. Then, they'll spend all their energy trying to kill the idiot sellsword who is now dressed like me."

"I don't like the way this is going-"

"Now that I think of it, it might not have been such a bad idea to fly with Random Messenger. It certainly would have gotten me out of here faster, and it seems that sending her off was a fairly pointless effort anyway. Well, I suppose we will go with the decoy plan. You, sellsword: strip to your skivvies, and I do not want to hear a single word of complaint."

Gerik flushed and Tethys squealed with joy. As she did, her gaze happened to pass over the window near her. She blinked then went for a closer look. "Oh, Prince Innes! I have good news and better news!"

Innes paused in removing his shirt to roll his eyes and turn a patronizing gaze on her. "And what would that be?"

"The good news is, all the soldiers are men. The better news is, I think they're about to put on dresses and sing in high falsetto voices!"

Innes sighed. "Why would you think that?"

Tethys paused, then shrugged. "Just a hunch. Or maybe wishful thinking."

"More importantly," Innes added, "How is that good news?"

"It is if you like Jake Gyl-"

"TETHYS!" Gerik shouted, "No referencing pop culture!"


Innes sighed and went back to his plan. He sighed again when he heard Tethys say "I have news that is somewhat good but might be bad, and worse news that might be good news in comparison to the news before but might actually be a hint that the first news was just a sign of the worse news."

"Is this 'news' business some sort of catchphrase?" Gerik shrugged. Innes frowned at Tethys, "Well, what is it? Can you not see that my fellow man and I are stripping?"

Tethys squealed again, until she noticed the "On with it!" look Innes was giving her, and continued. "The first news is that the enemy soldiers seem to be pulling away from the fort. This might mean that they're retreating, or it might mean that they are getting ready for another attack, or it might be because of the other news, which is that another group is coming through the pass toward us."

Innes blinked, and then went to the window. He squinted, but shook his head. "I cannot tell who they are. Of course, they can't be bothered to fly some sort of banner, like a sensible army. Ah well, better safe than sorry. Hurry up and undress, Gerik!"

"Princess Eirika, Prince Innes seems to be in that fortress that the enemy soldiers are about to charge at and decimate. He needs our help."

"Thanks, Seth. I might not have not have noticed that if you hadn't pointed that out," Eirika turned to Mathwin, "Any brilliant plans?"

"Aside from the usual 'kill the bad guys' thing?" the strategist cleared his throat uncomfortably under Eirika's furious glare, "Uh, I'd say we should get down there and drive the enemies away so we can save Innes and his buddies. It looks like we can approach them from the north, but more enemies are coming in from south of the fort. Also, that villa over to the east has a lot of soldiers, so presumably that's where the big bad is."

Eirika blinked. "Why Mathwin, is that competency you are displaying?"

"Don't be silly. I'm reading all of this straight out of a guide book." Lute snatched her manual from Mathwin's hands, scowling at him.

Eirika sighed. "Fine, let's go with the cheater's plan. Stay as a group. We'll deal with the soldiers at the villa after we rescue Prince Innes."

Seth blinked. "Why do we need to deal with them at all? We could just escape after we get the Prince…"

"Don't be silly," Eirika said condescendingly, "I haven't gotten any experience since that non-Tirado boss back in Renvall. If I don't kill something today, I'll start to feel inadequate."

Mathwin rolled his eyes. Let's just go already. Okay everyone, do what the Princess said while I go hide in those bushes over there."

In the villa, Pablo was giggly villainously to himself. "My plan is working perfectly! Klimt is too scared to dare show his face, so there is now no one against me on the Council! Later, I'll hunt him down to silence him for good. But for now, I must serve up the head of Frelia's royal brat to Emperor Vigarde."

Pablo laughed so loudly that, as he retrieved a glass of milk from the kitchen, he didn't notice the conversation going on in the pantry. There, Councilors Klimt and Hammet were crowded together in a very uncomfortable position. "Great plan, Klimt! Let's hide in the pantry, you said! Now we're stuck here, and I'll never get to go back to my beloved Kalay!"

Klimt rolled his eyes. "Complain, complain, complain. Can't you do anything else, you cameo you? Your bulging gut is not helping us here! Besides, Kalay is probably going to be under attack soon anyway."

Hammet cried out in terror. "My beloved Kalay! My poor wife and adopted son Ivan! How will I deliver this sacred Shaman Rod to Ivan now?"

Klimt elbowed the tubby merchant in the aforementioned bulging gut. "Quiet! This is Fire Emblem you imbecile! Don't start involving the storyline of another game!"

Just then, the pantry door started to open, and Pablo was heard saying "Where is that peanut butter…" Thinking quickly, Hammet grabbed the jar and shoved it to the searching hand. "Oh, thank you," Pablo said before shutting the door.

Garcia rolled his sleeves up. "Oh good, generic lance-wielding soldiers. My specialty." He readied his axe and charged at the throng of soldiers, which was facing toward the fort they were charging and thus oblivious to the danger. Lute followed, firing blasts of… fire at them.

Joshua focused his attention on the group of axe users. Colm snuck up behind him, dagger at the ready, and an evil grin on his face. Joshua rushed to the left to attack, and Colm's perfect backstab ended up going in some fighter's chest. The myrmidon turned to see Colm shoving the dead enemy away. "Nice job, sewer-rat. I didn't know you had it in you."

Colm turned away with a grimace. "Yeah, well, you know."

Eirika shoved both out of the way to start brutally mauling the group of axemen. Joshua scowled. "Those were ours!"

Eirika paused to glance back and point her nose upward. "Finders, keepers, losers, weepers."

Moulder, who was hanging back to heal when necessary, as usual, tugged at his facial hair. "It is rather convenient that these enemies arrange themselves by weapon."

Joshua turned his back on the enemy to agree, and was caught from behind by a soldier who had hid among the fighters. Colm ran to help (though whether he was helping Joshua or the soldier remains up for debate) when a fire ball incinerated the soldier. While Lute focused on protecting the wounded myrmidon, Garcia was suddenly assaulted by several swordsmen helping the soldiers. He would have been overwhelmed, if Seth and Vanessa hadn't charged in to help. Moulder ran to Joshua while Eirika and Colm teamed up to fight off the rest of the fighters, being careful of the other enemies.

Mathwin poked his head out of the bushes to tap his chin worriedly. "This could be a problem. It looks like these sellswords are smarter than the average Grado soldier. We'll need to be smart…" Mathwin sighed, "We're screwed."

Seth turned to Vanessa when there was a lull in the combat. "Go to Prince Innes and tell him we're on our way!"

"Yes sir," Whatever happened to PLEASE?! I have feelings too, you big stupid jerk! Why must I do everything around here?! Can't they send someone else to be their stupid messenger girl?! Now I know how Random Messenger must feel!

Vanessa flew off anyway, muttering mentally. When she arrived at the fort, she knocked forcefully, and was rather offended to be greeted with a "Screw off, we're not opening the door!"

She then heard: "Tethys! No need to be so rude!"

"Gerik, shut up. For once, your useless companion is completely in the right. We're not letting the enemy into our last bastion of defense."

"That's right- HEY! What do you mean, useless! I'll have you know-"

"Please, woman, spare us your tirade. I suppose it would make sense to follow through with our plan now," Vanessa was nearly knocked from her steed when the door slammed open. In the doorway stood Innes, though in a strange outfit of tight-fitting leather, with a ridiculous bandanna, and a large sword strapped to his back. The Prince cleared his throat, then, in his most subservient voice (which reeked of pretension), he said "Please, good mercenary scum of Carcino, spare my life. I freely surrender, and offer to you the life of the cowardly prince I was defending."

Behind him, a muscular man with green hair was wearing a regal outfit that clearly did not fit him, and a large Silver Bow, which he was holding backwards. "Uh… Hi?"

Vanessa blinked at the imposter, and then turned to the Prince. "Your Grace?"

Innes turned from the empty horizon to stare at the Pegasus knight, then sighed with relief. "Why Vanessa, this is a surprise. It seems sending Random Messenger off wasn't such a useless effort. I suppose Princess Eirika is here as well?"

Vanessa nodded. Obviously, you idiot! I was with Eirika, so if I'm here, she must be here too! Why must members of royalty constantly point out the obvious details?!

"Vanessa, you have that look again. You're thinking bad things about me, aren't you?" Vanessa's face turned bright red under her green hair, "I thought as much. I will let it slide, since you did come to my rescue, but don't expect me to do so again. Now then, I suppose we should be off to the fray. Gerik, toss me my weapon."

The disguise mercenary complied, then called out "Can we switch clothes back? This is really uncomfortable, and I don't think I can fight like this."

At the mention of undressing, Tethys and Vanessa squealed in unison. Afterward, Vanessa blanched.

Innes sighed. "There is no time, Gerik. Besides, if we lose after all, I'll still need you to act as an imposter so I can escape with my life. Now then, let us be off."

Tethys, Vanessa, and Innes ran/flew/danced south to fight the enemies coming north toward them. Gerik sighed, then blinked. "Wait… Prince Innes! I need my sword! You still have my- Aw crap. He's gone. I guess I'm in trouble then."

Seth wiped sweat from his forehead. "Status report?"

Moulder stood from healing Garcia, who had taken a wound to his leg. "Vanessa still isn't back. The enemy has withdrawn toward the villa, but there are more to the south that we haven't confronted yet. Everyone is tired and wounded, except for Mathwin, of course."

The tactician poked his head from his hiding place again. "Hey, I'm working too! Someone has to formulate all of our plans from a safe haven! This is exhausting work. You wouldn't want your brilliant leader to be hurt, would you?"

Seth sighed, then turned to Princess Eirika to see if she was alright. He could only sigh when he saw that she was completely free of any sort of wound, not to mention looking as fresh as a daisy, not sweaty or dirty in the least. In fact, she rather looked bored.

Once Garcia was better, the group turned toward the villa. Neimi rubbed her hands together, then glanced over at Colm. "Hey, do I look gross? I'm worried that I might've gotten dirty during that battle…"

Colm, after wiping the drool away, nodded. "You look great! I mean, great, as in, not… uh… Aw, just stop whining you baby!"

Neimi sniffed, rubbing at her eye. "You don't have to be mean… just show me my mir…ror… COLM! WE LEFT MY MIRROR ON BORGO RIDGE! WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!"

Colm jumped up and down, waving his hands. "No no no no! No we didn't! Good old Colm kept it with my secret stash!"

Neimi sniffed back her tears. "Y-you mean the one you left in Franz' saddlebag?"

The thief paused. "Well… uh… possibly…"

Pope Mansel jumped several feet in the air when he heard a sudden sob of endless sorrow. Grabbing his hand broom, he set to work beating the ceiling. "Dammit you kids! Shut up!"

Colm jumped up and down, stood on his head, and talked gibberish, all to no avail. Neimi stood where she was and sobbed incoherently. While the thief pulled furiously at his blue braids, Joshua sauntered over and put an arm over her shoulders, grinning at her. "Hey Neimi, sweetie pie, I have a present for you."

Neimi sniffed, looking up. "Wh-what?"

Joshua grinned, then pulled Neimi's mirror from his bag, which was rather impossible considering it was a huge wall mirror. Colm gaped in horror. "But- but how?"

The myrmidon grinned at him. "You suck at hiding stuff. I raided Franz' saddlebag right after I joined to take all the stuff you left there." Colm proceeded to have a temper tantrum. Meanwhile, Neimi squealed with joy and hugged Joshua.

Moulder glanced back at the trio. "Do they realize that we left them behind?"

Mathwin, who had carried his bush along with him and was sneaking along in a cartoonish fashion, shrugged. "Probably not. You know, Karson and I used to get so into the whole romance thing that we forgot about the main plot. Ah, those were the days…"

Moulder rolled his eyes, which Mathwin noticed. "You wouldn't understand, Moustache. You know, since you're under the whole oath of celibacy, or whatever."

"Now I'll have you know, back before I was a priest I-"

"Don't care. Enemies approaching. More important things to do," Mathwin grabbed a book out of Lute's bag and glanced at it. "Says right here that if we buy the pond, we can start getting ducks, who lay eggs just like… chickens… Wait, what does that have to do with anything?"

Lute glanced back, then grabbed the book from Mathwin. "Wrong guide book, brainless non-mage. If you want my advice, I say we should head south to kill of all the other enemies so as to maximize our experience gain."

Mathwin rolled his eyes. "Whatever, lady."

Gerik's clothing, which had been made for the much slimmer Innes, was so tight that it made his arms stick straight out. He was completely unable to bend them, so having his sword probably would have been a waste of time anyway. Gerik sighed as he hobbled stiffly along, looking for his companions.

What he found, of course, was a bunch of pegasus knights with red armor. The leader leered at him. "S-ho! Prince Innes! We have found you! Do you remember us?"

Gerik blinked. "Uh… well, you're a bunch of pansy Pegasus Knights, so you must be from Frelia."

"Correct! We are the Ninth Battalion, the warriors you abandoned in the midst of a fierce battle with General Caellach! Our brethren fell around us as stalks of corn before the reaper's scythe! So many of our sisters, cut down in their prime! We, your Grace, are here for REVENGE!"

Gerik swallowed nervously. "No, see, you have me mistaken for someone else. I'm GERIK, the mercenary. Not Prince Innes. He switched clothes with me for… well, pretty much to avoid a situation just like this one."

The lead Pegasus knight laughed haughtily. "Try to fool us, will you? You think we are so stupid?! You will die here, you fiend!"

One of her cronies pulled on her sleeve. "Um, ma'am, that's not-"

"Shut UP. We're going to exact our revenge on him now!"

Gerik yelled, then ran away, while the group of Pegasus Knights flew after him.

Innes was only slightly hindered by the clothes he was wearing, which had been made for a person of greater size. He was able to shoot effectively despite the loose leather.

Vanessa acted as the tank (which annoyed her, naturally), while Innes stood behind and fired arrows at the enemy. Tethys stood beside him, filing her fingernails. The Prince paused to scowl at her. "Couldn't you contribute in some way to this battle?"

The dancer turned to him with a smile. "What would you like me to do? As you know, I'm a dancer, and we dancers aren't much good on a battlefield. I mean, what am I supposed to do? Revitalize you with my sexy dance moves? It's just silly, really. Oh, that rhymed! Anyway, I suppose I could distract the enemy by dancing seductively, but that would not go very well with my modest image. So-"

"Light, woman, a simple yes or no would have sufficed. You're a mercenary, aren't you? Why would you be a mercenary if you couldn't fight?"

Tethys smiled and waved her hand at him in a shooing gesture. "Of course I can fight, silly! It's only logical. Like you said, why be a mercenary if you can't use a weapon?" With that, Tethys drew two chakram from… some hidden compartment on her skimpy dancer outfit. Please, do NOT use your imagination, readers. She then proceeded to toss said bladed rings at the approaching enemies, each cutting down a foe. Tethys then neatly caught them in her hands.

Innes paused, frowning. "Not… bad…"

Tethys nodded her agreement, then looked back and happened to notice something. "Where is Gerik? We must have left him behind! Oh dear, I must go and find him at once!" With that, the dancer ran back the way they had come.

Innes blinked. "She finally starts to be short and to the point. Vanessa, when we're done here, we go back after her."

Vanessa nodded. Never a please, and certainly never a thank you! Rude people!

Klimt sighed as he tried to find a comfortable position inside the pantry, accidentally shoving his hand into Hammet's face. The hefty merchant attempted to shove him away, his long moustache curling with indignation. "Watch it, you uppity old coot!"

"Watch it yourself, you fat lard!"

They froze and fell silent when they heard footsteps in the kitchen outside. "You! Random and completely inconsequential kitchen worker!"

"My name is Saleh. Thanks for crushing my self-esteem even more than it already-"

"Blah blah blah. Don't care. Now tell me, did you hear voices from the pantry just now?"

"I wouldn't know, Councilor Pablo. I was too busy being random and inconsequential."

"Bah, useless. I suppose I was imagining things," Hammet and Klimt sighed with relief, but quickly sucked it back in when they heard, "Did you hear that sudden release of pent-up anxiety?"

"What, you mean the sigh from the pantry?"

"Why yes, exactly."

"Nope, definitely didn't hear that, Councilor."

"Oh, my mistake," The hiding councilors sighed with relief again, but froze in terror when the heard "Say, have you seen the jelly? I took out this peanut butter earlier to make a sandwich, but I realize that I've forgotten the jelly."

"Did you check the pantry?"

"Don't be ridiculous! Jelly would spoil in a pantry without refrigeration!" The councilors sighed again.

"Refrigerators haven't been invented yet, genius. However, there is a cold storage room at the back of the pantry."

"Oh really? Well thank you, you extremely rude and pretentious unimportant person," With that, Pablo opened the pantry door and looked inside. He then slammed the door shut angrily, which caused the two councilors to sigh in relief yet again, "You idiot! Cold storage had not been invented yet either! Besides, that pantry was too small to fit those two grown men, let alone a cold storage room!"

"My mistake, councilor."

"Yes it was," There was a long pause, and then "Wait a minute, two grown men? What in the name of money?" Pablo slammed the pantry door open again and glared at Klimt and Hammet, who were cowering within. "So, thought you could hide underneath my very nose and not get caught?"

"Well," Klimt pointed out, "it was working out pretty well for a while."

"You don't have to rub it in. It's humiliating enough as is, thank you very much!" Pablo harrumphed, then lunged for them. Fortunately, Hammet was able to throw all of his considerable weight at the wiry weasel-man, knocking him over. The two councilors then ran away.

Pablo picked himself up, then jumped up and down angrily. "Stupid Klimt and Hammet! Guards! Seize them!"

Saleh sighed. "All of the guards are off fighting Prince Innes."

"What? Really? Well, I guess I'll send myself to get them. Pablo! Get off your lazy backside and capture those councilors!" Pablo cackled at his razor wit and ran off to find them.

Eirika withdrew her rapier from the soldier she had just defeated, then turned to huff in annoyance at the horizon. "Where is that Vanessa? She really should be back by now."

Mathwin, still carrying around his bush, shrugged in a very leafy and over-exaggerated way. "Maybe she finally died. I've been trying to kill her off for a while now."

Moulder snorted. "That is ridiculous. When have you done that?"

"You know, way back in Ide? I sent her to deal with all of those bandits at once? And then later I had her go fight the giant spider."

"Now that is inaccurate. You were lost in the fog when she went to do that."

The tactician scowled. "Do you have a point Moustache?"

"Yes, I do, actually. You've never been deadest on seeing Vanessa dead. And my name is MOULDER."

"Excuse me," the Princess cut in, "This conversation is about me. You two may now stop talking and interrupting the important dialogue, understand?"

Moulder and Mathwin blinked at her, then turned away to grumble irritably. Eirika turned from the chastened middle-aged men to her Paladin advisor-type person, with the usual disapproving frown. "Go find Vanessa and Prince Innes. Make sure Innes is well and bring him back."

The knight scowled at her, but couldn't help but ask a question. "What about Vanessa?"

"Huh? Oh, yeah, sure. Her too." Seth rolled his eyes, then rode off to find them.

Not bothering to wait for Seth to come back, Eirika turned back to the villa, which they had finally reached, and immediately started up to the door. Garcia cleared his throat. "Is that such a good plan? Maybe we should consolidate our forces before storming the boss. I mean, you remember what happened when you tried to fight O'Neill without me…"

Eirika sighed, but otherwise ignored the fighter. Garcia frowned, but followed, as did the rest of the party, who were becoming annoyed at being referred to as a group and not as individuals by the narration.

Seth rode along, grumbling irritably to himself, when he saw someone running toward him. As the person came closer, he recognized the clothing as that of Prince Innes, and smiled. Easier than he might have expected.

But when the person came closer still, Seth realized that it was not, in fact, Prince Innes, but rather a guy with a muscular frame, a green goatee (or anyway, facial hair that the author cannot identify), and an expression of fear not quite befitting the arrogant Innes.

When the man arrived, he attempted to grab Seth's leg to plead, but his arms did not reach far enough forward. "Puh-please! Save me! I'm going to be killed by those crazy Pegasus Knights!"

Now, one must understand how all of this worked out in Seth's mind. Here he had a scruffy, sellsword-type person in Innes' clothes, having apparently stolen them. What's more, he was being pursued by Pegasus Knights, the soldiers of Innes' nation of Frelia. If the reader did not know about the circumstances that had led to Gerik wearing Innes' clothes, would the reader not suspect Gerik?

"Fiend! Prepare to die!" Gerik screamed and ran the other way while Seth attempted to stab him with his lance. Gerik hobble-ran away, while Seth rode at him.

Just then, a red blur smashed into Seth, knocking him to the ground. Tethys smiled at the fallen Paladin, then turned and threw Gerik's sword to the mercenary. Gerik scowled. "I can't move my arms. How am I going to use a sword?"

The dancer sighed, then quickly swept her chakram at Gerik. His arms freed, he grabbed his sword and held it up triumphantly. "Thanks, Tethys!"

"Hee hee, pleasure's all mine!"

Gerik blinked, then looked down to see that he was wearing nothing but briefs. He blushed, but forgot when the pegasus knights landed a few feet away, leering. The leader blinked. "Innes, you're naked."

Gerik sighed. "Thanks, I might not have noticed. And I'm not Innes!"

The leader frowned, looking him up and down, then slapped herself on the forehead. "This isn't the Prince! It's just some sexy muscular guy!" In typical leader fashion, she then blamed it on her cronies. "Why didn't anyone figure out that it wasn't Innes?!"

"Well I said-"

"Shut up! Where's Innes?"

"I might be able to tell you that," Innes said, seemingly materializing behind Gerik and Tethys. The two mercenaries turned to wave their hands and mouth for him to shut up before he got himself killed. Innes ignored them, "but you'll have to do something for me first."

"Ma'am!" one of the crony Pegasus Knights shouted, "It's-"

"Yes, I know, soldier," The leader grinned maliciously, "It's some sexy mercenary! And he's going to help us, too. Okay, sexy mercenary, what do you want?"

"See that villa?" Innes indicated the building in the distance, "Within is Councilor Pablo. Go and cause him great discomfort, preferably of the fatal variety. Can you do that for me?"

"Sure thing!" The leader flew off, quickly followed, albeit reluctantly, but her posse.

Gerik gaped at Innes. "You- you're a genius. Or maybe those were just some really stupid Pegasus Knights."

Innes smiled smugly. "I believe it was something of a combination of the two. Now come, we must rejoin Princess Eirika. Please wake General Seth there."

Tethys blinked, glancing at the fallen paladin. "General… Oh dear… I hope that blow gave him amnesia, or Gerik might be in trouble for knocking him out."

"Me?! You're the one that did it!" Gerik exclaimed, quickly passing the blame off on his companion.

Innes sighed, then glanced back at Gerik. "Are you aware of the advanced state of undress you are currently in?"

Gerik sighed. "Yeah, I noticed, thanks. Can I have my clothes back now? Please?"

"Are you kidding? And go around in the near-nude like you? That would simply be scandalous, especially for a Prince like myself. I'm sure that cad Ephraim could get away with it, but I have a bit more dignity than that imbecile. So I'll give you your clothes back once I find my bags containing my spare clothing."

Gerik sighed, then quickly backed away from Tethys and the inexplicably present Vanessa, who were inching toward him with terrifyingly wolfish gleams in their eyes.

"Get back here you stupid old farts!"

"Never, you greedy weasel!"

"Yeah, greedy weasel!"

"Stop copying me all the time, Klimt!"

"Sorry Hammet."

"Stop ignoring the threat I pose to you and run, you fools!"

Saleh sighed, watching the debacle of Pablo chasing Hammet and Klimt around the counter in the kitchen. Finally, the gray-haired man pulled his apron off and threw it to the ground. "I've had it with you people. I quit! Cook your own meals! I'd rather face the wrath of Grandma Pelyn for my horrible failure than spend any more time in this crap job!"

Pablo didn't notice, as his prey had finally moved on from the kitchen to the corridor, which led ultimately outside through the entrance to the mansion. Hammet and Klimt sped away down the cobbled path, Pablo still hot on their heels. That is, until he was distracted by a flock of Pegasus Knights attacking him.

The fugitive councilors had the good luck to run into Eirika's group as they fled, running into here meaning they literally collided with Garcia and Lute, the former unfazed, the latter toppled by the fat merchant's momentum.

Joshua drew his sword to threaten the older men, glaring. "Which of you is the Boss around here?!"

Klimt shook his head desperately, "Nonono! We're good guys! We like Frelia! We're not crazy enough to try to challenge you people! It's Pablo back there that wants to start a war!"

"Indeed!" Hammet said, "He's always been pissy about Frelia kicking Carcino around, so he thought that he could convince Grado to help us fight back. Most of the council is behind him, but please remember during the mass executions that Klimt and I disagreed!"

Eirika rolled her eyes. "Oh please. Like I actually cared about all of this backstory. Just move so I can go get all the experience this Pablo guy has to offer.

Mathwin started to agree when he happened to hear someone approaching from behind. He gasped, pointing. "It's Innes! He's alive! And naked!"

Eirika, Lute, and Neimi squealed with delight, running to see. They all sighed with disappointment when they saw that it was just Gerik, who was starting to become annoyed. Eirika glanced around with increasing frustration. "So where is Innes?"

"I'm fine," Seth said, holding an ice pack to his head, "Don't bother to ask."

"Right here, Princess Eirika," Innes said, removing Gerik's bandanna to show his signature gray hair, "I am… grateful that you came to my aid. Not that I could not have eventually escaped, as I did have a brilliant plan lined up, but your arrival did help… somewhat. Not much, just a little."

"Oh give it a REST!" Vanessa shouted, "You're OBVIOUSLY in love with each other! Just make out already!"

Everyone turned to stare at her. Vanessa blinked. "I said that out loud, didn't I? I really need to be more careful about that."

Eirika rolled her eyes, then returned her gaze to Innes. Both were smiling smugly. "You are welcome, Prince Innes. Now come, we need to deal with one last enemy. I, of course, will be taking the experience."

"I beg to differ, Princess. I initiated the battle, thus the experience is rightfully mine."

"Ah, but you are already promoted. Thus, the experience is much more valuable to me."

"But Carcino is making war against myself and my nation. Thus, this is my vengeance."

"But this whole war is about my vengeance for the death of my father."

"You may think that, but I doubt that everyone will agree, especially Grado, since they started the war in the first place, and probably not for the sole purpose of killing your father."


"Does this really matter?" Mathwin asked at last, "I mean, can't we just see how the battle works out? It's kinda soon to be making this decision."

Eirika and Innes sighed as one, then turned to march toward the mansion, quickly followed by the others.

In front of the mansion, Pablo's role of hunter had been supplanted, and he was pursued around his large house by the Pegasus Knights. Eventually, he collapsed in front of the entrance, panting, while the Knights gathered around him to finish him off.

"That's enough, ladies," Innes said as he approached, "We'll take it from here."

The leader laughed. "Sure, whatever. Now tell us where Prince Innes is!"

Lute rolled her eyes. "He's Innes. Right there, you imbeciles."

Innes turned to glare at the mage with a look that said "Shut up you fool!"

The Pegasus Knight blinked. "What? Don't be absurd. His clothes are COMPLETELY wrong."

"Look at his face, for goodness' sake," Lute replied, "He's clearly Prince Innes in a very poor disguise. It is rather pitiful how easily you fell for it, actually."

The Pegasus Knight crony kicked her leader in the shin from her mount. "I told you! You never listen to me, and thanks to you we just helped the Prince we're trying to exact vengeance upon!"

The leader grimaced nervously, then turned to glare at Innes. "So, try to fool us will you?! You shall die now, Innes, and it shall be my lance that slays you!"

Seth sighed. "Good work, Lute. Now we have a battalion of Pegasus Knights trying to kill one of our more intelligent and valuable companions. You couldn't have told them that Mathwin was Innes, could you?"

"Standing right here…"

Eirika cleared her throat. "Please ignore the delusional mage, ladies. She is mistaken. This is clearly not Prince Innes."

The leader guffawed. "Oh please! I'm not falling for that one AGAIN! Why should I believe that this mage is delusional?"

"Simple," Eirika said, then turned to look at Lute, "I think we should find a rogue and a hunter to round our party out a bit more."

Lute's usually impassive face twisted into rage. "WHAT?! You want those overpowered bastards hogging all the glory for the group?! Hunters SUCK! All they do is sit back and shoot while their stupid animal companion does all the work, and they think they're all cool with their Arcane Shots and crap like that! And Rogues only use TWO attacks in a fight! TWO! Every idiot that can use a knife becomes a rogue, and then they take all of the loot! And-"

"Okay, okay I believe you!" the pegasus knight shouted, much to the annoyance of her companions, "She's clearly out of her mind. So where is Prince Innes?!"

Eirika started to say something to the effect of Innes being at the bottom of the ocean, but the real Innes cut in. "He's in Grado, probably crossing the bay from Bethroen to Taizel. He also dyed his hair green."

Seth cursed. "What are you doing?!"

The pegasus knight cheered. "Vengeance will be mine!" She flew off, and her cronies, with a collective sigh, followed, leaving a much less tired Pablo standing by the door, leering menacingly at them.

Before he could begin his evil monologue, however, Eirika started berating Innes. "Why did you send them after my brother, you jerk!? I just saved you!"

"For one," Innes said, remaining cool and calm, "I did not need saving. My plan has worked perfectly, other than the hitch caused by that delusional mage of yours. Second, I'm sure he'll be fine. Perhaps he'll even find the episode amusing. If not, at least I will."

"AHEM!" Pablo shouted, not bothering at actually clear his throat to make the throat-clearing noise.

"Better give them a minute," Mathwin told the Councilor, "You don't want to interrupt Princess Eirika."

Eirika turned away from Innes in a huff. "No, I'm ready. Let's get this over with."

Pablo cackled evilly. "Fools! Do you not know who I am?! I am Pablo, richest man in Carcino, best looking councilor on the Council of Carcino, and… um… Did I mention that I was rich? With money?"

"I believe so," Eirika said.

"Pshaw! You think that's annoying? You should hear his tic!" Hammet interjected.

"Silence, fatso! Money!" Pablo regained his composure before continuing, "Anyway, I won't actually be fighting you myself. That would ruin my wonderful designer clothes. I have found an opponent that will turn you people into quivering blobs of jell-o!"

Mathwin frowned at the Councilor. "What flavor?"

Moulder sighed. "How could that possibly matter?"

"Oh, it matters."

Pablo threw his hands in the air. "I don't know! Grape?"

"I prefer strawberry," Colm said.

Neimi shook her head. "Strawberry is yucky! I want apple!"

Joshua grinned. "Me too! Soulmates!" Colm cursed wildly.

Vanessa scowled. Jay, ee, elel, oh, IT'S ALI-I-IVE! Wonderful! That's going to be stuck in my head all day!

"LOOK!" Pablo shouted, "I don't care what flavor it is! Nobody even knows what Jell-O is anymore! Just face my chosen warrior of warlike-warriorness!"

With that, Valter on his serpentine wyvern dropped out of the sky, barely missing Pablo, who flew back several feet in fright. Seth rolled his eyes. "And how do you explain being here, hm? You haven't even been mentioned in the present part of the chapter."

"Not true!" Valter shouted, "I was in the beginning!"

"Yes, but that doesn't count," Moulder said levelly, "That scene was set a few days ago, right after the generals had received their orders."

Valter paused, then raspberried. "Who cares?! I'm Valter! I rock! That should be good enough for you people! I mean, I haven't gotten to do anything cool since that stupid side chapter, so I have to make up for it now by strutting around on this one!"

Eirika waved her hand dismissively. "What's it matter, anyway? This guy is probably a pushover."

"Not so much!" Mathwin shouted, "He's a high-level, promoted unit. We're screwed."

"Wonderful," Eirika said, then pointed to Seth. "Go and slay!"

"What? Me?" Seth sighed, twirling his lance in his hand. "Fine! But you owe me big!" With that, the paladin charged in a very heroic fashion. His steed leapt at the last moment, flying at the rider of the wyvern. Unfortunately, Valter twisted to the side, and the mounted warrior flew past him, hitting the ground beside Pablo with a sickening crunch.

Mathwin sighed. "Screwed."

Eirika drew her rapier and charged, quickly followed by Garcia with his axe, a rolling pin stuck in his belt. Valter cackled maniacally, spinning his own much larger lance. The head slashed across Eirika's chest, knocking her back, though she was mostly unhurt. He held it above his head and brought it down to stab Garcia into the ground, but the fighter struck it with his axe, avoiding death.

Lute jumped forward, charging a fireball for Valter's face. The wyvern's bestial head snaked out, head butting Garcia away, then the whole beast slithered up to Lute in a flash, allowing Valter to smack her with the long handle of his lance in another ostentatious twirl.

Neimi, with Colm and Joshua standing beside her, drew an arrow and prepared to fire, only to be stuck with a bolt of lightning and knocked away. Pablo cackled villainously.

Vanessa hung in the back, having decided that she was best off staying out of all of the bone-breaking fun. Moulder ran about, healing the wounded.

Innes drew his own arrow, but did not fire. Tethys glanced between Valter and the Prince, face contorted with concern. "What are you waiting for?! He's going to kill someone if you don't shoot him!"

Innes shook his head. "I'm not as good as this man, I hate to admit. My arrow won't be enough to kill him. It needs to be charged up somehow," Innes turned to Lute, but she was knocked out several feet away, right next to a suspiciously quivering bush, "Curses, I need to-"

Suddenly, the arrow in his hand began to glow with incredible power, so bright that Innes, Gerik, and Tethys had to look away. Gerik looked around, careful to avoid passing his gaze over the brilliant weapon, "Who just did that?"

"Doesn't matter right now!" Tethys shouted, "Shoot it at the psychopath!"

Pablo saw Innes and prepared to blast him, but was distracted when Colm tackled him to the ground.

Valter cackled, drawing his lance up to finish the wounded Garcia off.

Innes drew back on his bow, squinting to aim through the blazing aura the arrow was emitting. He released, and things seemed to go in slow motion.

Valter noticed the arrow approaching and giggled, distracting him long enough to miss Garcia leaping out of the way. Pablo started to shout "Nooooo!" in that comically slow way that every cartoon feels inclined to showcase at least once, starting to stand after throwing Colm off.

The arrow barely touched Valter's steed when a huge explosion ensued. With a final "Gya-urgh!" the wyvern knight blasted away, rather like a rocket. He flew so high into the sky that eventually, he was merely a twinkle on the horizon, which may have reminded the heroes of a certain television show with certain incompetent bad guys had that show, or TV in general, existed in Magvel.

Pablo entire front side had been blackened by the blast, but he was unharmed. He glanced around nervously, especially when Seth and Colm, who had also been hit by the blast, glared at him through soot-covered eyelids. Pablo grinned stupidly, then ran away, screaming in a surprisingly falsetto voice.

Innes stared at his bow in shock. "That was surprising. How did that happen, anyway?"

"You're welcome!" The Prince and his mercenaries turned to see a young boy with red hair and blue robes grinning at them. After a moment of silence, he scowled at them. "That was the hint that I was waiting for a thank-you of some kind."

"Ewan!" Tethys shouted, "What are you doing here?! I told you to wait in the inn!"

Ewan smirked. "That inn?" he asked, indicating a burnt-down hovel, "The soldiers looted it while they looked for Klimt. Thanks to YOU, I almost died. Besides, if it weren't for my AMAZING powers, you couldn't have beaten that boss guy."

Tethys sighed. "Oh… whatever."

Ewan smiled, then glanced at Gerik. "Hey, you're naked!" Gerik sighed.

Councilors Klimt and Hammet were dancing in a circle, gripping one another by the arms, in an apparent celebration dance. "We won! We won!"

Eirika sighed. "You two did nothing. I won."

"Quite the contrary," Innes stated as he approached, "It was my arrow that defeated that man."

"And it was my magic that blasted him into the upper stratosphere!" Ewan shouted.

Klimt jumped up and down. "Please, do not argue! We are grateful to all of you! Most of the council follows Pablo now, and we have nowhere left to hide! Pablo almost captured us back there, and you saved us! We want to do whatever we can to help!"

The Princess frowned. "From the sounds of it, we won't be safe while traveling through Carcino. Is there some way to get through without dealing with Pablo's army?"

Hammet nodded. "There is a silk route I know of through the mountains that should be safe. I've kept it secret, so I'll need to guide you myself, since no one else knows-"

"Oh, I know!" Ewan shouted as he approached, "It's the same way to reach Caer Pelyn. I've been that way hundreds of times."

Hammet started to argue, then sighed. Eirika raised an eyebrow at the boy. "And who is this uppity, overly-knowledgeable little brat?"

Ewan scowled, but Tethys approached. "Sorry, Princess. This is my brother, Ewan. Oh, and I'm Tethys, a mercenary. I know it seems odd for a dancer to be a mercenary since people like me typically have no combat skill whatsoever, but I assure you-"

Innes sighed. "Thanks Tethys. That'll do. You can shut up now. She and Gerik are mercenaries I hired to flesh out my personal guard, and somehow they are now the only soldiers I have left. They are.. .trustworthy, I suppose."

Eirika blinked at Gerik. "Are you aware that you are-"


Ewan jumped up and down, demanding their attention back. "I can show you the way! Let me do it! Let me let me let ME!"

Innes shrugged. "It seems the best course to reach Jehanna. But we need to move out as quickly as possible. There's not telling how many of the councilors and their mercenary armies lie in wait all around Teraz. I doubt anyone who remains here will survive."

Klimt and Hammet paled. Klimt smiled bashfully at Eirika. "Um, could we perhaps… tag along a little while? We'll be quite, we swear! In fact, we'll follow at a considerable distance! We just need to get to somewhere… SAFE!"

The Princess sighed. "Fine, whatever. Now, let's get going."

Glen on his wyvern watched the enemy from a distance, frowning. His only companions were two other wyvern riders, neither important enough to have names. One turned to Glen questioningly. "Shouldn't we attack, sir? They'll be tired from that last battle."

Glen hesitated, then shook his head. "Not yet. I want to know where they're going first. Then we'll take her."

Author's Note: Sorry for the very long delay. I've had quite alot of writer's block recently. Also, all that stuff about Rogues and Hunters in WoW? I don't REALLY think that way, so don't start attacking me about it. Just part of the joke, people.