Senea: I'M Not DEAD! I sort of loast track of this one after awhile and had no idea what to write but wanted to finish it. Sigh...
Okay, this is the last chapter, I think. Instead of having two separate chapters about them I just lumped it into one chapter. Sorry for the late update. Thanks for the reviews!
Disclaimer: Nope, nu-uh, no way, not in your life.
The flap to her tent moved and Micaiah turned her head in its direction to reveal Sothe walking in, a small tray of food in his hands and a small worried look on his face. She only noticed because she had known him for so long. Anyone else would have just seen him scowling.
They were at their camp base, two days after their encounter with the Liberation Army, Micaiah had blacked out from exhaustion and she had been ordered by Sothe to rest whenever she could. As she didn't want to let any of the troops know that she was ill, the rests were still fewer than what she needed to recover, much to her friend's annoyance.
Sothe walked in and placed the tray on her table and took a seat at the bottom of her bed. "Feeling any better?" he asked, staring straight ahead at the door flap.
Micaiah nodded. "Yes, thank you Sothe, I'm fine…" she trailed off as she sat up in her bed and reached for the food, placing it on her lap. "You don't need to worry so much about me, okay?"
Sothe turned his head towards her, a displeased look on his face. "Micaiah, you collapsed on the battlefield and you haven't been regaining your strength like you should be. Then you're going to go back out and do it all over again for a war that we have no place in! Of course I need to worry about you!"
"Sothe…I…I can't leave now. There are too many people who are going to get hurt and die if I'm not out there. You understand, right?"
"No, I don't!" He shouted, standing. "I don't care about what you owe all of these people for helping you during the Mad King's War. You've paid off your debt long ago if you ask me. I don't want you getting hurt anymore because of it. We should just go back to the way things were, leave the palace and be the Dawn Brigade again."
"But then…" She said quietly, staring at the food in her lap. She would go back to being what she had been before, never staying in one place, hoping that no one would notice her mark. Even if they were to regroup the Dawn Brigade, she would eventually have to leave them as well. The maiden was fearful of what she was in the past now, hoping to never seclude herself from the world so thoroughly as she had done before, like that sage she met. Someone of her own kind being so isolated from everything made her realize just how lonely she had been, and what she never wanted to feel again.
"We can't stay here for long anyways." Sothe sighed, sitting back down on the bed. "You said so yourself, until Daein is stable. Well, we can't wait that long, Micaiah, someone might notice that you aren't beorc like Muarim did and they might not be as nice about it as he was."
"Sothe." Micaiah said suddenly, looking back at her friend. "What can you tell me about the person I was fighting? That boy sage?"
"You mean Soren?" Micaiah nodded, he gave her a look. "What does that have to do with what we were…"
"Just answer the question."
Sothe sighed again before thinking for a moment. "I don't know much about him, not like many of the mercenaries did, really. He's the staff officer of the Greil mercenaries and a highly skilled mage. He kept mostly to himself and the only time he talked with anyone was about strategy or weapons. The only one he really seemed to open up around was Commander Ike. They seemed to be good friends. That's about all I know. Why?"
"He…he noticed who I was."
"And the reason was, was because he is one himself."
"Soren's a Branded?"
Micaiah nodded. "I sensed that he was so cold, so distant…I, I just do not want to go back like that. You remember right? I never really talked with anyone but you until the Mad King's War. When you left, everyone was so nice, and slowly I saw that people were caring. I opened up, Sothe. But…but if I leave now, I might just go back that way and be frightened of anyone noticing me! I can't go back to that. Not after this."
Sothe looked at her in shock and concern. "Micaiah…"
"Even if I do go back, everyone knows who I am now. They would all wonder why I left when they needed me the most. They would hate me again. I can't…I just can't go back like that Sothe. That's why we need to stay. Why I need to stay."
Sothe sighed before placing his hand on Micaiah's shoulder, knowing full well that she has made up her mind on the situation. The only thing that he could do for her was to be supportive and made sure no one tried to kill her. But first…
"Alright. We'll stay, but on one condition." Sothe stated, earning a confused look from the sage. "You rest up more, and take care of yourself a bit better. I can only do so much protecting you, Micaiah, the rest is up to you."
Micaiah nodded at him and gave a small smile, happy that Sothe understood. "I will, Sothe, don't worry."
Sothe nodded before turning and leaving the tent, allowing Micaiah to dwell on her own thoughts. She stared at the food on her lap and her smile grew. If she had such a strong and warm person by her side that made her change, perhaps Soren's person could finally breakthrough the ice that surrounded him. And, when they met again even in battle, they might be able to talk about a few more things that she was so eager to ask her own kind.
The Liberation Army finally took some rest, their scouts saying that the Begnion Army was going to take at least three days right now to get near them. Skirmir ordered a break that night and all the tents were reserved for the wounded, the others slept outside. Soren himself was normal and as healthy as the majority of the mercenaries, though they were basically the only people who were strong enough to continue a large fight. Skirmir, he noticed, was still weakened from his battle with Zelgius so he was not going to be of much help to them in terms of fighting strength. Janaff and Ulki were still in good shape, but they were used for scouting for the enemy so they were still busy. Ranulf and his former subordinates seemed to be the only ones that could still fight at the moment. Soren frowned in thought; they wouldn't get far with this kind of army in such bad condition, especially if the Begnion Empire were to catch up to them. He had a strong feeling that at the pace they were moving, they would, and there was little chance of them surviving against a fully rested, fully prepared army.
The sage turned another corner as he tried to find a good place to rest. He had just come out of the last battle meeting that was merely people wondering how long it would take to reach Gallia and if they would make it out alive before Begnion's army came. It looked too bleak for them at the moment. They had also discussed the last battle, highlighting Ike's battle with the still alive Black Knight, and touching on the fact that Soren had battled against the Maiden of Dawn. Though he gave no intention of telling anyone of his conversation with her, he said that she was an easy opponent in general to deal with. In fact, most of her troops were quite inexperienced with fighting laguz or even beorc.
Soren's frowned increased as he remembered his fight with Micaiah, almost regretting to try and get her out of the picture. Her words still rang in his head and he was greatly annoyed by it.
"Hey, Soren?" The sage turned to his commander's voice to see him walking over towards him. He stopped, waiting for his friend to catch up with him, a curious look on his face.
"Yes, Ike? What is it?" he asked casually, staring at him as he stopped as well.
"Well. It looked like you had wanted to say more on the issue of the battle…" Ike trailed off, beginning to walk again. "Anything you want to tell me about?"
Soren glanced at the ground before looking back straight ahead, feeling slightly uncomfortable with the topic at hand. Only Ike would notice that he was hiding something like that.
Ike interrupted his thoughts when he placed a hand on the sage's shoulder. "Come on, we can talk privately over there. Alright?" He knew his friend well enough to see that he wanted to say something, it was bugging him enough to act only a little bit different than usual. Especially if the sage didn't want anyone else to know.
Soren nodded as he was led over to the edge of the camp, where no one could hear any of what they were talking about. Ike rested up against an old tree trunk, his arms crossed, while Soren merely stood in front of him. The swordsmen waited for his friend to start patiently, knowing it could take a while for him to gather his thoughts.
"Do you remember…How at the beginning of the battle I said that something was strange?" Soren asked. When Ike nodded, Soren continued. "The feeling that I had, came from the commanding officer of the enemy, Micaiah, the Maiden of Dawn…"
"Micaiah?" Ike repeated, the sage nodded and he sighed. "She really is becoming a major issue for us."
"It looks as if we can no longer ignore Daein. Which means the battles will get harder for us as we progress further into this war." Soren responded. "In any case, she…When we went in battle…I realized that…She's one of the Branded."
"What?" Ike was off of the tree now, his arms going back to his sides, surprised by this new information. A though occurred to him and he frowned in curiosity. "Wait...How…How can you tell?"
Soren shrugged casually. "I'm not quite sure myself. It was the same with Stefan. Somehow…we are able to tell." Soren tensed slightly, not wanting to talk any further on the subject, but knew that it wasn't going to end so shortly. "She recognized me as well so I suppose it's a trait of some sort..."
"I see..." Ike trailed off, thinking for a moment. "Do you think that anyone from the army knows?"
Soren scoffed. "I doubt it. If the Daein people knew that their precious maiden of miracles was merely a filthy Branded, they wouldn't hold her in such high regard."
"Soren!" Ike shouted, frowning at the sage. "How many times do I have to tell you not to talk like that?"
"My apologies..." Soren mumbled, though it sounded like he didn't mean it.
Ike sighed in disappointment but didn't press the matter further. Soren still seemed to hate his own kind, even himself at one point or other, no matter how many times Ike would say that he was just a person, it never got through to him. "Okay, so, what happened after you found out?" he asked, going back to the topic.
"We, talked." Soren responded. "She seemed to have some power similar to the herons...And was quite surprised to find someone else the same as her. I suppose she hasn't seen any others...Then, we fought and Sothe came to her aid. That was when we had to leave." The sage finished and waited for his friend to respond.
Ike thought for a moment in silence, thinking over what his tactician had said. Before long he nodded to himself and turned to Soren. "Alright...What are your thoughts on this?"
"Excuse me?" Soren asked, puzzled to what Ike was getting at.
Ike shrugged, trying to word it as carefully as he could. "Well, Micaiah's the leader of the Daein army and now we know that she's a Branded. You seem quite stressed out by it, like you're upset about something. I was wondering if you wanted to say anything else."
"I am not upset about it." Soren stated stubbornly, frowning at his commander.
He sighed, knowing this could take awhile. "Soren, it's clear that something's bothering you about it. Are you, jealous?"
"Jealous? Why would I—"
"She's comfortable around others. She doesn't seem to be too afraid about letting people get too close. Micaiah lives quite an open life from normal Branded. Doesn't that say something?" Ike asked, trying to veer his friend into actually speaking his mind. "Maybe you're concerned about her, I don't know. Just, what is so strange about her that makes you be in such a mess?"
"She's a Branded, Ike. She's only fooling herself with what she's trying to accomplish." Soren stated coldly. "As soon as word gets out that she is a Branded, the people of Daein, and quite possibly her so called friends as well, will drop her off as if she never existed. It's not concern, its fact. And I don't care whether that happens or not."
Ike looked sadly over at Soren. "I hope that isn't the case...Maybe you'll be wrong. Maybe, because of her and her deeds, that people will begin to accept the Branded. And then none of you have to hide anymore."
Soren glared at the thought. Before he had time to say anything about what Ike had to say, the commander walked over to him and gave him a small tired smile. "Think about it for awhile, and make sure you get some rest. We have to rise earlier than usual to try and get back to Gallia." Soren only nodded in response and watched as Ike left, returning to the camp once more. Soren stayed, lingering on the commanders words.
Micaiah was a nuisance. It didn't matter if she was a Branded or not, that meant nothing to him. Just as when he had met Stefan. Micaiah was only trying to help in a losing war, trying to make something that could never happen, happen. Beorc and laguz may have started to get along, but neither of the two races would fully accept the Branded, no matter how closed the gap is. Soren knew that nothing would change.
Senea: And....DONE! I finished something too WOOHOO!! Sorry for those people who waited and have to deal with a kind of strange ending. I had no idea what was going on...Anywho. Kindly leave a review an dtell me what you think. This way I can improve and update quite possibly faster the next time. Thanks again to those who did find the first chapter interesting. This may have not been what you expected, but once again, sorry.