Author's Note: This is a revised edition of Fire Emblem: Chosen Path. I never finished that one but now that I look back, I can't stand it so I've decided to rewrite it. In the midst of waiting for Radiant Dawn to be released and have a copy in my hands, the only way to satisfy my pathetic fangirl desires is to read and write fanfiction. Therefore, this new and revised version of Chosen Path was born. I hope you enjoy it.
Updates will be slow. I am in the middle of school with more work than I can handle (I really should be doing some homework right now actually) and I also try to make time for my friends. Plus, I'm writing far too many stories at once and I fall into writer's block's very easily (so if you have any ideas as you read, throw them out there; I always need ideas).
Summary: Much as he loved the company, Soren wasn't sure just how well this journey was going to work. Nevertheless, for him, Soren would go anywhere and do anything. (SorenIke)
Disclaimer: I'll say this once and once only; I own nothing related to Fire Emblem.
Spending time in Melior's Royal Archives was a favourite pastime of mine. It was exceedingly large and contained books on every possible subject; I was at a loss to understand how someone could be bored in such a wondrous place. I loved to wander through the aisles like a black-clad ghost and slowly run my fingers down the spines of old books that were nearly forgotten by the librarians themselves.
I especially enjoyed going early in the morning when only the librarians (still half asleep) were there. The utter silence of the place was calming to me; I grew steadily more irritable throughout the day as others came and went. They were too loud as they walked or they managed to knock over stacks of books; they spoke in whispers that barely qualified as such and glanced at me with curiosity and sometimes animosity. I ignored these people as best I could. I spoke only when it was absolutely necessary; most people learned to keep their distance from me.
My favourite haunt in this place was a small table in a corner on the second floor of the building. There was a window right beside it so that I could see down into the square below when I raised my eyes from my work. I usually piled seven or eight musty books around me but I took great care to make sure they did not block the light from the window.
When I was studying like this, I only vaguely registered the passing of the hours; I ate nothing all day. Even after I left the Archives I did not usually go find something to eat right away; I was still far too engrossed in what I had discovered to be bothered with something as mundane as sustenance. By the time I returned to the mercenary company I was currently training with night had fallen and I had no choice but to pick at what was leftover from supper.
That mercenary company was another reason I loved spending so much time in the Royal Archives. It wasn't so much that I hated them but because they did not reach the standards I had unknowingly set. I was with them to train with their mages only; I was not an actual member of their group. I came from a much more sophisticated and dignified company; it was to them that I compared this mercenary company and considered it to be second-rate.
I longed to return to the Greil Mercenaries as quickly as possible. I wanted my training to come to a close so I could return to them. I had the basics down perfectly; it could take many more months to learn the more advanced spells and surely I could do so on my own. Nevertheless, I remained because I knew Commander Greil would not be happy if I left halfway through my training without a very good reason.
So there I sat one afternoon in my usual corner of Melior's Royal Archives. The setting sun shone in through the window and I knew I still had a good half-hour left before it would be too dark to continue my research. That day, I had been rather distracted and had taken to staring out the window without actually seeing anything beyond it. I was overcome with a profound sense of homesickness. I wanted desperately to return to the Greil Mercenaries, the place that was my home.
I cannot understand why I felt so homesick that day; there was nothing special about it. I'd been gone for over a year already without a visit (and only receiving the occasional letter asking after my health and studies) and it was long past the first anniversary of my departure from them. It was just another day of the year, just another day…
A great tremor rocked the very foundations of the Archives then and threw me right out of my reverie. A shrill shriek from somewhere beyond the building shattered the window beside me into a thousand pieces of sharp glass; I found myself on the floor then surrounded by glass and fallen books. Another shriek invaded my ears and I clamped my hands over them in an effort to keep my eardrums intact.
I forced myself to get up though (it would do no good to remain on the floor) and rushed to the window. I saw wave after wave of black-clad soldiers marching through the square below and dozens upon dozens of wyvern riders circling the city. Each banner man proudly carried the Daein standard which was easily visible to me from my vantage point. A cold pit formed in my stomach and then turned to hot rage.
These invaders came with no warning, no official declaration of war. They walked through the capital as though they owned it. The screams of innocent citizens seemed to pierce my soul more than my ears. But I could not stay in the Archives; soldiers had stormed in already and were cutting down people where they stood. The blood of scholars stained the floor, the pristine white pages of musty old books.
The book I had been studying not so long ago was a Wind tome. It still sat on the table---covered in glass---but as the soldiers rushed up the stairs to spill my blood, I grabbed it and jumped out the window. A cloth awning was set up below my window and I knew it would hold my weight without breaking.
My heart thudded fearfully in my chest as I plummeted helplessly through the air and landed in the comforting yellow fabric. The soldiers above shouted profanely at me from the window but they dared not jump as well. I didn't spare them a glace as I slid off the awning and landed on the stone ground. Innocent people lay slain all around me, their blood staining the streets red just as the scholar's blood in the library stained the floors.
I had no time to waste though. I kept a good hold on my stolen Wind tome and made a run for it through the back alleys of the city that I knew so well. I came across no soldiers as I raced past empty boxes and old doors; those Daein bastards didn't know the back ways of Melior as a true Crimean would. I ran as fast as my legs would carry me and I didn't stop for anything. Right then, it was imperative that I escape Melior before the gates were shut.
In my mind, this was a sound plan with nothing to hinder it. That was until I heard the shrill scream of a frightened young girl. Almost against my will, I turned my head to the right. The child couldn't have been more than four or five years old; she clung to the body of an old man (presumably her grandfather) as though he were an anchor to life with that leering soldier standing over her. I turned my face away, willing myself to continue my escape. She cried out again in terror and I knew I could not leave her there.
I spun on my heel and changed my course towards them. The soldier raised his lance but I was faster; I opened my Wind tome to the most basic spell and sliced the man into pieces. The girl was too shocked even to scream now as the soldier crumpled into a bloody mass at her feet. "Get out of here!" I shouted at her.
"B-but…" she said tearfully, "Grandpa is…Grandpa is…"
"Get going!" I said again, "You'll end up the same way if you don't get out of here now. Go and hide somewhere and be quiet so that they don't find you! Hurry now!"
I had wasted too much time; I didn't wait any longer to see if she was going to follow my instructions or just sit there with the two dead men. I had to escape with my life; that was my first priority. My second…what was my second priority? I could return to the mercenary company but they were situated very closely to Melior; no doubt it would be nigh impossible to return their unnoticed by the enemy. For all I knew, the enemy had already arrived there.
There was only one course of action; I had to return to the Greil Mercenaries. They were several days away from Melior and the Daein army would be nowhere near them yet. They first had to consolidate their hold on Melior before reaching out to the rest of the nation. It would be a dangerous journey until I was out of the range of Melior, but it was a risk I had to take. Strangely, I was not the least bit unhappy about this arrangement; I was quite happy to be on my way home again, even if it was with bad news and an army at my back.
The gates loomed ahead of me; I seemed to run faster than before in my efforts to reach them. And then suddenly, I was out. I was no longer in the city. Instead, I had stumbled into a battle; Crimea against Daein. I thought I saw Lord Renning in the fray one quick moment, but if it was him we was gone in an instant among the swirling colours of Daein and Crimea. I stood frozen for a moment before logic takes over; I couldn't remain there where I would be seen and attacked as an enemy. I make a break for the trees to my right and allow the darkness to hide me among the leaves.
No one saw me—a miracle in itself—but that didn't mean no one would. I hurry through the trees as quickly as I can without drawing attention to myself. The battle cries of the warriors echoed in my head as I ran; I did everything I could to tune them out. Naturally though, seeing as I was trying to keep myself from being noticed and running without watching where I was going, it wasn't long before I managed to trip over a tree root. The resulting thud drew the attention of two nearby Daein soldiers.
My Wind tome had fallen a few paces away from me. I stumbled toward it and ended up dodging away from an axe aimed to sever my neck and a lance that meant to skewer my heart. I had no time to utter even a few words of my spell before the two of them attacked again. I rolled away and tried to get up; I only managed to trip over my own robes and fall flat on my face again. Desperately, I held up my tome to ward off their blows; this was not a very effective defence but it was all I had. I kicked the one with the lance so that he stumbled to his knees and then forced myself to stand up. My legs were shaky but I had no time to dwell on that; I opened my book again and uttered my spell as quickly as I could while the axe man advanced on me.
Small but lethal gusts of wind tore the man's clothes and cut deeply into his skin. He dropped his axe on his foot and fell to his knees. I summoned more wind and it tore at the one with the lance. The two of them were bleeding so badly that they wouldn't last much longer. I had no time to linger and finish them off; I knew they could not follow me. I turned and ran away as quickly as I could. My black cloak flared out behind me and I melted into the darkness.
Several hours passed as I made my way through the tree-line. I passed only a few more bands of soldiers---all of whom were engaged in battle with Crimea---and was not noticed. I made my way towards an unremarkable and not-so-heavily-used path called Capital Way. It would take me to a crossroads at which point I would take a left turn and arrive back at my home by the end of the day.
Night had long since fallen but I didn't dare stop. I couldn't risk being found; sometimes it was necessary to takes risks but right then wasn't the time. So I fled through the trees lining Capital Way until my legs could run no longer. I continued a steady walk until it was nearly dawn. I possessed more stamina than many other people I knew but even I was exhausted now. My vision was blurred from lack of food and lack of rest; I could not keep going.
Completely and utterly exhausted, I fell to my knees amid the bushes and panted for air. My heart was beating at an unnaturally quick rate. My hands were shaky and I suddenly found myself lying on my side unable to summon the strength to move. My lungs were still screaming for air as though I had been swimming underwater all night and only now had come up for air. I hardly ever felt this helpless since Commander Greil had taken me in.
Against my will, my eyelids began to close. It would be dangerous to sleep; I could not allow myself to sleep until I had reached the safety of the fort. Closing my eyes for a moment couldn't hurt. Just for a moment…
My breathing comes in haggard gasps. So much of my energy is gone, but I refuse to fall. But, looking around, I can see there are no more enemies. No one hides behind the stone columns. The enemy spell casters have been eradicated. None survived our attack, just as I had planned.
A dark entranceway looms ahead of us now. A grim mood has fallen over us. Who is beyond it? What dangers lay ahead? I shift my tome under my arm, ready to advance. A strong arm holds me back though as someone ahead of me moves. Someone speaks in my ear, but I can't hear what they say. I struggle to follow the shadowed figure, but I cannot.
I stare at the dark entrance. I can hear screams of pain, brutal clashing of weapons. And I am not there to help, not there to even witness the battle. Whoever it is…they're dying. There isn't anything I can do either. The ground suddenly heaves and moves with a life of its own. The columns begin to crack and it becomes apparent that the building is going to collapse. Shadowed people spring past me the opposite way, away from the door. I don't want to move. I want to go the other way, help the unknown figure. But I too am pulled away. The stone pillars fall, and the dust rises.
The clash of weapons woke me from my sleep. From the way the sun filtered in through the canopy of leaves, I could tell it was nearly noon. I could hear the thundering of horse's hooves coming ever closer. Hastily, I sprung up and dusted the grass off of my robes. No one was nearby yet, but no doubt they soon would be.
I did not run during this part of my journey; rather, I kept up a steady jog. I was still tired from my escape yesterday which was only to be expected; I traveled an immense distance in such a short span of time. Normally, it was something closer to a three day journey from our fort to Melior and vice versa; I would be home in less the time. If all went well, I would be home before the evening meal.
It took me almost two hours to reach the crossroads and by that time the trees had thinned out too much to grant me any more cover. My only comfort was that I could no longer hear horses following me; perhaps they had been caught in a skirmish of sorts. Whatever the case, it did not matter to me. My goal was to reach the fort in one piece to relay my news. Nothing else mattered to me.
As I made my way up the long path through the hills leading to our fort, I felt a wonderful sense of home overwhelm me. My loneliness, my homesickness, was no more. I was finally home and it was such a wonderful feeling. I looked forward to seeing my friends (and my enemies) again. I looked forward to having a seat at the table in the mess hall again and my very own study again. I looked forward to it all.
The fort was just as I remembered it; impeccably green lawns and quaint stone buildings with sturdy roofs. The horses whickered to me as I passed; I recognized Caer and Petra right away and whistled a greeting back. I did not care much for riding horses but that did not mean that I did not like them. These two were especially gentle with the exception of during battle.
There wasn't anyone out on the lawns except for a young girl in a gaudy yellow dress. She didn't see me at first, until I was nearly towering over her small form. She jumped like a frightened rabbit and squeaked too. But her mouth split into a wide smile and she greeted me warmly. "Soren! You're back way sooner than we expected! It's so good to see you again! What's with this sudden visit?"
"I must speak with the Commander," I inform her curtly. "Where might I find him?"
"Father?" she paused. "In the mess hall I think. But he's meeting with Titania right now. It probably isn't a good time to disturb him."
"I'll bear that in mind," I assured her. I brushed past Mist without any hesitation in my step; I didn't care if Commander Greil was meeting with the Lord Renning himself. My news could not wait.
"Soren, wait!" Mist cried desperately. "It's really not a smart idea to--!"
I ignored her protests and pushed open the door to the mess hall.
The end seems a bit rushed but I'm sure you'll survive. See you next chapter!