Disclaimer: I do not own FE7, though I wish I did, Nintendo and Intelligent Systems
Authors Note: I am totally ignoring FE6, because I've never played it, and this way I have maximum flexibility.
The Fourth Tale
Prologue: A Girl from the Plains
Images flew through his head, bubbling up and dissipating at lightning speed. The only image that stayed in clarity was the night of the massacre, playing over and over in his head.
Alkeni woke with a start, breathing heavy and covered in cold sweat. Taking a deep breath, he tried to calm down.
It was then he realized that he was in a tent. He didn't own a tent, and he was pretty sure the bedroll he was in wasn't his. As he started to feel fear and nervousness creep through him, he took several more deep breaths and thought things through. Last he remembered he was traveling across Sacae with Lucan and Pictora.
Pictora! He looked around anxiously and after a few seconds of frantic looking he saw a grey cat curled up on the ground near the bedroll. He calmed down a bit.
The angle of the sunlight coming from the open tent flap proclaimed that it was midday. He saw his pack in a corner of the tent and got out of the bedroll. He still had his travel clothes on. From his pack he withdrew a curved dagger. Attaching the sheathed blade to his belt, he crept towards the entrance of the tent.
Outside the tent Alkeni saw a dapple-gray horse tied to a tree, munching on the hardy grass that grew on the plains. He smiled, Lucan too was fine.
"Good you're awake." The soft voice came from Behind him
Alkeni did a 180, his hand on the sheathed dagger. He saw a stunningly beautiful woman about 19 years of age. The first thing he noticed, once he looked again, was her wide blue eyes. She had long green hair down to the middle of her back. Alkeni had never seen anyone with green hair, but it seemed to suit her. She wore a blue tunic-skirt, with long slits on the sides of the skirt portion to allow for easier mobility.
Alkeni found that his mouth was open slightly and he was staring. He quickly shut his mouth and tried not to stare.
She laughed a little, a golden cascade of sound. "I am Lyn, of the Lorca tribe. Who are you?"
Alkeni opened his mouth, but nothing came out; he tried again. "Alkeni Synair." He took his hand from the dagger handle. "Where am I? What happened?"
Lyn answered his second question first. "I found you about a mile east of here. You had fainted on the back of your horse, which was wandering aimlessly. As for where you are, you are where I happen to be living right now, a few days travel from Bulgar."
Alkeni nodded, "Thank you. I don't know what would have happened if you hadn't helped me." He looked around, seeing no other tents and hearing nothing but the chirping of birds. "Where is the rest of your tribe?"
Lyn's face lost its amused look, and she closed her eyes. "My people—the Lorca—they don't… I am the last of my tribe." A small tear fell, "My father was the chieftain. Bandits attacked six months ago, they came in the night, and slaughtered nearly everyone," anger crept into her voice now, "they killed the elderly and the young and even infants. When the dawn came, perhaps a dozen of us were left; both my parents were dead… As the chieftain's daughter, I felt it was my duty to lead my people, but I'm so young, and my people were so old-fashioned. They wouldn't follow a woman. No one would follow me. They scattered across Sacae, I don't know where they are now, leaving only me." Another tear fell from her eyes.
Alkeni was discomposed by her response, along with a respect for the magnitude of her loss and although he hadn't gone through quite those circumstances, he knew what it was like to have your whole world shattered before your eyes, to witness the death of many, and not be able to do anything to stop it. "I'm sorry for your loss, and I'm sorry I brought it up."
Lyn opened her eyes, "It's not your fault, you didn't know. But I must be strong, for my parent's memory, for my people. I must be strong."
There was an awkward silence that followed, Lyn and Alkeni just standing there for a minute. The silence was broken by a sound on the other side of the tree cluster that hid Lyn's tent from view. It sounded like the thud of an axe into the ground, followed by shouts, the words indistinguishable. Both Lyn and Alkeni ran to the cluster to see what it was. About 36 yards away, four bandits were arguing. The strongest one, presumably the leader, was gesturing to the north, while the other three seemed to want to go west.
After a minute of this, the stronger one raised his axe, the steel glinting in the sunlight, and quickly smashed the blade down on one of the other two. The bandit's head caved in and split in two, blood spurting all over the other three. The one who had killed laughed, and the other two had a looks of paralyzed fright on their faces. With another gesture to the north, he shouted something, most likely along the lines of 'any objections to going north?' After what must have several tense seconds, the bandits both went north, with the leader in the back, in case his companions changed his mind.
Lyn spoke first, stating what was in Alkeni's head as well, "Bandits, they must have come down from the Bern Mountains. They're probably going to meet up with others and raid one of the local villages. I can't let what happened to my people happen to others, not while I have in my power to help prevent it. If those two are the only ones here, I think I can handle them. Wait in the tent Alkeni, you'll be safer there."
Alkeni shook his head, "I'm not going to stay here, you saved my life, I have to repay you and helping you fight these bandits is as good a way as any."
Lyn nodded and eyed the sheathed dagger. "That dagger won't be very effective against the axes of those brigands."
"I'm not an especially good fighter anyway. But I'm good at spotting the weaknesses of enemies; my training is mostly in that that field."
"Tactician are you? Come on then, I suppose I could use your help."
Alkeni nodded and followed Lyn as she quietly stalked the bandits, using their inattention to their surroundings as a cover better than any one could find naturally. The tactician wasn't quite as good, but he managed to avoid notice.
After a few minutes the scum reached a small cluster of trees and stopped. The leader yelled at them for a minute and gave up, marching ahead into the woods, shouting something that sounded like, "Three minutes!" The other two paused and spoke a bit, as Lyn and Alkeni slid over to their right flank.
Alkeni whispered to Lyn, "We have only a short time before they start moving again; you'd best take these two down before you go after the leader, no sense in out-numbering your self by three unless you have to. I'd suggest a quick jab through the neck. It will kill him quickly and free you up to take on the other before their leader shows up. You'll notice their expressions; they obviously don't want to be here. If you take one out, with any luck the other one will be too shocked to do anything for a moment, giving you the time to take him out."
Lyn nodded and used tree cover to sneak up behind the bandits. She looked back and to her momentary confusion saw that Alkeni wasn't there. She pushed it to the back of her mind and got behind the bandit. The other one talking to him noticed her and was about to say something when she drove her sword into his companion's throat, causing a gurgle as blood bubbled out of the Brigand's mouth.
His companion stood dumbly for a moment as Lyn pulled her sword out of the dead one's neck. The surviving bandit regained his composure and raised his axe, preparing to charge at her. He took a step forward and stopped as a curved knife cut across his jugular. He fell over in shock, blood pouring out onto the Sacaean grass.
Alkeni stood their, his dagger bloody. He smiled slightly, "I may not be good at straight up combat, but I do know something of stealth."
Lyn nodded and seemed about to speak when the leader ran back out of the trees, axe gleaming.
"You killed my men! They weren't much to speak of, but they were MINE! Your tricks and stealth may have helped you against those fools, but I am Batta, called the Beast!"
Alkeni made a barely perceptible nod to Lyn, who crouched, bloody sword in a threatening position.
Batta raised and eyebrow, "Do you really think you can beat me?" The brigand threw his head back and roared with laughter. When he stopped laughing, he saw that Lyn had disappeared, and Alkeni was standing there, chuckling. Batta's face became disfigured with fury. He raised his axe and let out a roar of anger and charged towards Alkeni, bringing his axe down, but only connecting with thin air, as Alkeni dropped and rolled to the left. Batta's swing took the steel weapon into the ground.
As the axe drove the axe into the Sacaean soil, Alkeni got into a crouch and shouted, "Now!" his dagger in hand.
Lyn darted from the trees, sword slashing into the muscles of Batta's back as he fought to pull his axe from the hard, dry earth.
The bandit leader made a pained noise, like a grunt mixed with a scream. Lyn sliced into his spine and then somersaulted over him, driving her blade into the Beast's stomach. She quickly withdrew her sword from him and stepped back as Alkeni stood up.
Batta fell to the ground mumbling, "Wha… How… did you?" before falling unconscious, dying quickly.
Both Lyn and Alkeni stood there for a minute. Alkeni made the sign of Elmine with his dagger in the ground near the corpses.
Lyn frowned, "They're just bandits, they don't deserve any respect."
"They're still humans. I've seen worse evils than these bandits. The death of anyone is still a loss to the world. They may not go to Elmine, but she watches over their souls all the same. Even after the death of scum such as these, you have to show the proper respect. Death is never something to be taken lightly, and neither is life." Alkeni snapped
Lyn's scowl dropped; clearly this was an area Alkeni felt strongly about. "We respect our enemies, but bandits are foul scum, who show no respect to those they kill."
"And you would stoop down to their level? You cannot cure evil with more evil. I understand that your tribe was destroyed by bandits, but you cannot let your hate consume you or your respect for the sanctity of life."
Lyn nodded, for the Sacaeans had similar beliefs, although their respect had exceptions. The swordswoman wiped her blade on the grass.
Alkeni started pulling dead and close to dead branches off the trees and piling them on the dead brigands. Lyn started helping his to get the wood to set up a rough pyre. After 30 minutes, they had a fire lit. Alkeni whispered a short prayer and turned away. He headed back towards the tent; Lyn followed him as darkness fell around them.
When they reached the tent, Alkeni pulled out his bedroll and Lyn took some blankets outside the tent, it being a nice night. The tactician stayed inside.
Alkeni awoke to the smell of tea and saw Lyn next to small campfire, cooking some bird's eggs and strips of meat from one of the many animals that roamed the Sacae plains. There was a pot of steaming tea next to the fire. Alkeni got out of the bedroll, waking Pictora, who growled lightly and went back to sleep.
Stepping out of the tent, he walked over to the fire.
"Good morning Alkeni, breakfast?"
"Yes please, it looks quite good."
Lyn put some of the eggs and meat on a wood plate and poured the tea into a cup. With a word of thanks, Alkeni accepted the tea and food, and began to eat, as Lyn did the same.
Alkeni chuckled, "You know, I never thought I'd actually enjoy tea, back when I left home, but nobody outside Bern ever drinks coffee, so I've grown to like it."
"You're from Bern?" Lyn asked, curious.
Alkeni stiffened for a second, then nodded.
Lyn recognized the tactician's discomfort, so she changed the topic. "So, what do you plan on doing now?" Lyn asked.
"I don't really know. I never quite had a sense of direction when I left. I'm thinking stopping at Bulgar for a few supplies, then going north to Iila, to learn the tactics they use for Pegasus combat, but I'm not sure."
Lyn nodded and took a sip of her tea, then spoke, her words somewhat rushed. "When you leave, will you allow me to come with you?" Alkeni raised an eyebrow, and Lyn continued, "You're obviously experienced in the ways of war, but you aren't that good at actual combat. The roads are dangerous, and you've seen how I can fight. I won't accomplish anything sitting her on the plains living nostalgically. I need to be stronger so I can one day avenge my people."
Alkeni suddenly became very interested in his cup of tea as the thought it over. It was true that the roads were dangerous and while he could fight if he had to, he never done exceptionally well in combat classes back home. Also, he enjoyed her company, and someone to talk to besides Pictora and Lucan would be a change of pace. After a few more moments of thought, Alkeni nodded.
"Of course you can come. But I haven't the slightest idea where to go after stopping a Bulgar."