A/N: Now two months later, the finale of Lyn's Tale! I'm seriously impressed with the number of reviews for the previous chapter, and it almost made me consider just continuing this story rather than start a new one. However, I also realized that it would be a while before I get Eliwood's/Hector's tale going, and so I thought that having a complete story for now should be fine. Plus, the separate tales feel more to me like two separate stories anyway, and it wouldn't feel as right to me if I lumped it all into one long story.
Anyway, without further ado, the final chapter of Trials of a Teenage Tactician!
Trials of a Teenage Tactician
The End of a Journey
Black. Everything was Black. This was where I found myself after pulling that stunt that probably killed me. I looked around, and nothing. There was absolutely nothing in this darkness.
"Oh great, I'm in limbo," I muttered.
"It has been a long time, Sean," I heard a voice from behind me.
"I know that accent," I said, turning around. "Professor Dumas!"
The professor clapped as his form became much clearer to me. Still had the beard, still had the pipe, still had the vest. Yep, definitely the guy who sent me to Elibe. "Perceptive as always, my boy. How are you feeling?"
"Aside from the fact that I'm probably dead, just peachy."
"You have, no doubt, been busy for some time."
"Oh, not really. Just running into bandits, assassins, and soldiers that I was forced to kill. This was a hell of a place to send me to."
"Well, you did get to meet the girl, right?"
"Lyn? Yeah, I did."
"I kept my word. You defeated me in chess, and I brought you two together."
"Yeah, Lyn's awesome, and I really like her, but still, you could've warned me about the whole parallel world thing. That's a pretty major detail."
"Would you have agreed if I had told you?"
"Honestly, I probably wouldn't have believed you and done it anyway, but then the blame would've been on me."
"Anyway, I'm guessing you're my guide to heaven or whatever, so I guess I'm ready to go now."
"Well, yeah. I'm dead, aren't I? Wait, don't tell me I'm going to-"
"No, of course not, my boy!" laughed Dumas. "You're not dead, Sean. I'm merely astral projecting myself into your unconscious mind so I can speak to you."
"I'm not dead?"
"No. You are very much alive."
"And you're astral projecting?"
"And this is my unconscious mind?"
"...Wow, my mind is really boring."
"Well, you'd think there'd be some, I don't know, scenery here. I didn't think there was nothing back here."
"Believe me, thinking about it won't make it any different."
"Right. You're a strange person, Professor."
"So I've been told."
"Anyway... There's something that's been bothering me."
"What is it?"
"Why me? I mean, I get that I'm supposed to be some tactician who's going to somehow save Elibe, and that I beat you in chess, but it doesn't make sense. You could've picked someone a bit more... athletic, for example. I'd be dead from exhaustion by now if I didn't have Lyn and everyone with me."
"But you're alive."
"Well, yeah, but-"
"I understand that you have suffered a great deal, Sean. I understand that it would have been easier if you were physically stronger. However, Elibe will not be saved by strength alone. Your role is to be a tactician, not a warrior, and so I judged how worthy you are based on your own mind, not your muscle."
"Just because I beat you at chess doesn't mean that I've got the greatest mind in the world or anything. It's not like I haven't been beaten before. I'm pretty average compared to a lot of people."
"No, you are correct. As far as intelligence goes, there are many people who surpass you. However, there are very few who can accomplish what you did these past weeks."
"What do you mean?"
"You found yourself in a world entirely different from your own. Immediately, you were able to adapt to it by meeting people. Lyndis did find you by chance, but you were able to earn her trust very quickly. You have done the same with everyone else that you traveled with, and all of them have since become trustworthy allies. Because of this, as you mentioned, you are still alive. You see, Sean, I deemed you worthy because I saw both your mind and your heart. You do not have as much physical strength as you may like, and you may consider yourself socially inept, but it does not mean that you are not kind, and that is what your friends saw in you. You were sent to Elibe in order to save it from a world-shattering catastrophe, Sean, but that does not mean that you are expected to carry that weight alone."
"A world-shattering catastrophe?"
"And I take it that Lundgren was not this world-shattering catastrophe?"
"No, though in his defeat, you have taken the first step in averting it."
"That was the first step?"
"What's the second step?"
"It is something you must find on your own."
"Okay... What is the catastrophe I'm supposed to avert?"
"It is something you must find on your own."
"How do I avert a catastrophe that I don't know about?"
"It is something you-"
"Okay, seriously. I'm supposed to save Elibe from some cataclysm, right? How do I do that when I don't know what it is? You obviously know about it, Professor, so please fill me in!"
"Because the result of such an action could cause something different and potentially far more dangerous to happen."
"I could try to explain it, if you-"
"No, no, it's fine. I can find out on my own. Wouldn't want temporal paradoxes and all that stuff to destroy the universe. God knows, there's enough sci-fi out there saying the apocalypse will be caused by something like that."
"And I take it that going home isn't an option for me anymore."
"There is no way for you to return at this point in time. There will be after the catastrophe is averted, though."
"Okay... So, just tell me this. Will I be able to avert this catastrophe using only my intuition anymore?"
"Unfortunately, no," sighed the Professor. "You have done incredibly well so far, Sean, but I'm afraid that you will need more to prepare for what is yet to come."
"Don't fret, my young friend. I believe that you have what it takes to save the world."
"Thanks, Professor," I replied.
"Now... It is time for you to awaken, Sean. There are people waiting for you."
"Right. I guess I'll talk to you later, then, Professor."
"Please, call me Edmond."
"Right, Edmond... Nah, that sounds weird."
"Very well, Professor it is then."
"Right, I'll talk to you later, Professor."
I opened my eyes, and it took a few seconds for them to get used to the light. I could finally take in my surroundings: I was in a large bed, which was in a room with a fireplace and paintings hanging on the walls. A large rug covered the floor, and there was a window letting sunlight into the room, and there was an open door leading to a hallway.
"I guess it's not raining anymore," I said to myself. "And apparently I'm not dead. How long have I been asleep?" I tried getting up, but a pain shot through my body as my back left the bed, and I fell back down. "Evidently, I've been asleep for a while now."
"Oh! You're awake!" I heard a voice from the door. A familiar face walked into the room.
"Reissmann," I said. "I'm guessing we won?"
"Yes," he replied. "That was a very reckless thing you did, boy. Using a Fire tome without any control of magic, you could've died."
"Another freakin' miracle then," I chuckled. "I survived two of those. Well, I'm glad that I could help, though."
"Er... yes," Reissmann replied. "After the blast from the tome knocked Lundgren off of his feet, it was difficult for him to stand again. It gave the Lady Lyndis the chance to land a decisive blow."
"Hold up, you mean the Fire Tome didn't finish it?"
"No. Evidently, the tome you picked up was nearly finished, and so there wasn't very much magic left in it to be released. It knocked Lundgren off balance, but did no real damage. But it was still fortunate that there was very little left in it, seeing as you survived. However, that is not to say that you were not injured in the process," Reissmann replied. "You were in flames. It took Lady Serra and Lady Chloe, along with a travelling healer several days to completely treat you, and even then you were unconscious for a week."
"It is fortunate that Lady Serra and Lady Chloe were able to use their healing abilities on you so quickly," said Reissmann. "Otherwise, you may have been asleep indefinitely."
"So, basically, I didn't need to do the thing with the Fire tome at all," I sighed.
"No, you didn't."
"Well... shit," I muttered. Great, I did that to be all heroic and all I really did was worry everyone. Some savior I turned out to be. "Did we make it in time to save Lyn's grandfather?"
"Lord Hausen is doing much better," Reissmann replied. "He is nearly able to walk on his own. Lady Lyndis is well-versed in medicinal herbs and was able to undo the effects of the poison. I suppose it comes from her Sacaen heritage."
"That's good to hear," I said. "Lyn really is amazing."
"She is," laughed Reissmann. "She is exhausted, though, having to tend to both you and her grandfather for the past week."
"I'm sure," I replied. "Wait, Lyn took care of me too?"
"Yes, she did," I heard another voice from the doorway. The familiar green-haired girl made her way inside and sat on the bed beside me. "Chancellor, may I have a moment?"
"Of course, Lady Chloe," Reissmann bowed and left the room.
"How are you feeling, Sean?" asked Chloe.
"Like I really need some food," I answered. "So, Reissmann tells me that the Fire tome thing didn't really work?"
"No, it didn't," smiled Chloe. "Seeing as you aren't really a tactician, I think that it's understandable. You only wanted to help."
"And I ended up in a coma for a week," I sighed. "This is so typical."
Chloe laughed. "According to your friends, you have this attitude very often. Dismissing your own accomplishments is something you enjoy doing."
"I guess you've been talking to them, then?"
"Quite a bit," said Chloe. "They're a fine group, those friends of yours. It made me wonder how they could abandon you so easily, so I asked them. And, they all told me the same story."
"What do you mean?" I asked. Now I was curious, my friends had an answer to that question?
"They told me that when you didn't have an answer to who you really were, you ran off," she told me. "They immediately felt guilty about what they had said to you, and tried to find you, but you were already gone." Chloe smiled. "They never lost faith in you, and believed that you would come back."
"Everyone..." I whispered. "So, that's what happened..."
"Lyndis has told me of your nightmares," said Chloe. "And she wants you to know that you don't have to face everything alone. Everyone is there to take care of you, just as you take care of them."
"Chloe, thanks," I replied. I felt so relieved after she told me that. After everything that happened, they trusted me to the very end. A growl from my stomach interrupted my thoughts. "Alright, I'm apparently starved. When's mealtime?"
Chloe laughed. "I'll go tell the servants to bring you something from the kitchen." She got up to walk out the door, but stopped and turned to look back at me. "Sean, I'm very glad that you're alright." And with that said, she left the room. And if my brain wasn't overheating, I'm sure I would've had a halfway-decent answer to that.
"And I thought Sain had a stomach," laughed Kent, watching me scarf down the food. "It is good that you have an appetite, Sean. It shows you are nearly recovered."
"Thmrkf, Krumdt," I tried replying while chewing on the succulent duck leg. I took the time to swallow before talking again. "I mean, thanks, Kent." I picked up the fork again and started working on the potatoes. "So, I hope you guys forgive me."
"For what? Lying about being a tactician?" asked Sain. "Of course we-"
"Unfortunately, I cannot fully forgive you, Sean," Kent interrupted. I stopped chewing when I heard him say that.
"Kent!" shouted Sain. "Hasn't Sean proven himself? He does not wish us any harm!"
"Still, I cannot understand it," Kent explained. "Sean has been with us for so long, and has had many chances to tell us that he is not who he says he is. For a man to keep a lie for so long from his friends, that is something I cannot forgive."
"But, Kent, if I told you, what would've happened?" I asked. "I'm really sorry for lying, but honestly, if you didn't believe that I was a tactician, I..."
"Did you think that we would leave you behind?" asked Kent. "Sean, we are friends. I hope that you feel the same way, and that you will be honest with us. I will not discount your accomplishments on our journey here, and I do not believe that you have any ill intentions toward us or Caelin, but until I understand that you trust us as much as we trusted you, I cannot forgive you."
"Kent..." I whispered. The red knight had a pretty smooth tongue, I had to admit. Well, I suppose it was good to know that he didn't see me as an enemy, and he was pretty reasonable about the whole ordeal. "You drive a hard bargain, my friend. But, I assure you, I trust you all with my life. And, I'm ready to tell you guys everything."
"This is far more complicated than it needs to be," chuckled Sain. "Sean, you have my trust, and I wholeheartedly believe that I have yours as well."
"Sure," I laughed. "I have to agree, Sain. That was way easier."
We all shared a laugh, which was soon interrupted by another familiar voice.
"Sean's awake! Me first!"
And with that said, we all turned toward the door and saw Serra, Erk, Wil, and Lucius crash into the room.
"Ouch," grumbled Erk. "Serra, you did not need to shove us all in!"
"But I wanted to see Sean," the girl whined.
"Serra, your staff is digging into my side," said Wil. The girl giggled as she moved it.
"Wil, could you please stand up now?" asked Lucius. "I would very much like to see over the bed, and it is difficult with you sitting on my back."
"Um... Good morning, guys," I called, trying my hardest not to laugh.
"I see you're feeling better," said Wil. "I'm glad. You had us worried, Sean."
"Yes, because of you, I had to stay with her for so much longer," muttered Erk. "Otherwise, we would've left for Ostia already, and I would never have to see her again."
"Aww, that's so sweet of you, Sean!" smiled Serra. We all laughed as Erk grumbled something under his breath.
"Don't be put off by him," laughed Wil. "We're all glad that you're okay."
"And, we wanted to apologize," Lucius continued. "You may not have been a real tactician, but you are still our friend."
"That's right," said Dorcas, walking into the room. "I have not forgotten how you helped protect my wife, Sean. Had I known that you were not what we thought you were, I still would not have abandoned you."
"Dorcas..." I whispered. The axe-wielder smiled.
"That is all I have to say," he smiled. "Now, Natalie is still waiting in Bern for me, so I think it's high time that I returned to her."
"Aw, Dorcas, you're leaving?" asked Serra.
"Yes," he replied. "I will miss all of you, but our journey is finished and I have a loved one at home who needs me now. I wanted to stay so that I would have a chance to say goodbye to you, Sean, and to thank you for everything."
"It's... nothing..." I told him, but honestly, it was really hard for me to find the right words. "I really... it wasn't anything that special. I just did what I thought was right at the time."
"It was more than that, Sean," said Dorcas. "You may not have believed that you were ever a tactician, but in my eyes, I see the finest mind and the bravest heart in Elibe, and it was truly an honor to fight by your side."
"S-Stop..." I whispered. "I'm not special, I'm just..."
"Do not undermine yourself, Sean," said Lucius. "There are few people in this world who have both a mind like yours and a true heart alongside it. That in itself makes you something special."
I paused, taking in what Lucius just said to me. The first thought that came to mind was about exactly how corny this conversation was getting, but then I saw that everyone was looking at me with such sincere eyes, like they really trusted me again. The professor was right. I had made trustworthy allies... no, good friends, on this journey to Caelin. It was probably one of the best feelings I could've had at that moment.
"Shit... Something's in my eye..." I sniffed.
There was a pause, before Sain started snickering, and the rest of the group joined in, resulting in a room laughing at what I had just said. Well, in retrospect, it was pretty funny.
"Grandfather, you should really go back to bed," I heard a familiar voice from outside the door. The laughter died down once it was clearer.
"Nonsense, Lyndis," another voice chuckled. "I know that you want to see your friend, and I want to meet him."
"But Grandfather, he's-" Lyn stopped when she opened the door and saw everyone inside. She was still the same, wearing the same Sacaean clothing, and her hair was still tied back, and I could still catch her familiar scent.
"H-Hey, Lyn..." I said.
"Sean..." she whispered.
"Is this him?" the voice asked. The source of the voice revealed itself as he walked into the room. He was an old man, with a similar facial structure to Lundgren, and was wearing a noble lord's clothing along with a green overcoat. "You are Sean, the tactician, am I correct?"
"You're... Lyn's grandfather?" I asked.
"Sean, you must address him as Marquess Caelin," said Kent. He turned toward the lord. "I apologize for his rudeness, my liege, but-"
"Think nothing of it, Sir Kent," smiled the marquess. "It is but a name, there does not need to be such formality from this boy, especially after everything that has happened. Besides, I believe that from now on, some standards should be more open, including the standards of formalities. If I had but accepted this before, my granddaughter may have faced less troubling times."
"Well said, my liege," smiled Sain. Well good, at least I didn't make an idiot of myself that time.
"Um, Sean, there is a piece of duck hanging on the side of your mouth," said Wil.
It took some time, but I was up and walking again soon enough. By that time, most everyone was gone. Dorcas had left for Bern later that day to be with his wife again. Reissmann helped arrange an entourage for Serra so Erk wouldn't need to escort her by himself, and they both left for Ostia. Matthew had disappeared before I woke up, and Wallace had sent a letter to Caelin, saying that he wanted to find 'a cause worthy for his blade', whatever that meant. Finally, Nils and Ninian had left a couple of days before I woke up, leaving me a thank you note. I wanted to tell them to stay in Caelin, realizing that the Black Fang was still out there, but they were long gone before I could do anything about it. Because it would be a waste of time to go after them without any sense of where the hell they were, I just kept hoping that Darius wouldn't find them.
Of course, much of Lyndis's Legion stayed in Caelin as well. Florina became a full-fledged Pegasus Knight in service to Caelin, much to both her's and Lyn's delight, and Wil had arranged to stay as one of Caelin's archers. Lucius decided stayed in Caelin as well, studying in one of the nearby Elimine monastaries. Kent and Sain, of course, were still with us.
As for our favorite jerk, I didn't find out what happened to him until the celebration of Lord Hausen's wellness and the arrival of his rightful heir, Lyndis.
And that's where the story gets kind of interesting again...
"I must say, green certainly suits you," said Reissmann, adjusting my collar. "There, you look perfect."
"That's debatable," I muttered, looking at myself the mirror. I wasn't used to formal dress. Well, that's not entirely true, but the concept of "formal attire" was fairly different in Elibe than from where I came from. Gone was the suit and black tie. I got to see what I looked like in a dark green silk tunic, with a gold scarf, white leggings, and dark blue gloves and boots. I felt like I was a video game character.
"I think you look rather handsome, Sean," chuckled Reissmann. "Now, let us head toward the ballroom. The celebration awaits."
"Y-Yeah..." I replied, and followed him out of my room. A possible question to ask at this point is, "Was I nervous?" Well, let's list the things there were to be nervous about.
First off, I was supposed to walk around the ballroom and talk to different people. The room would be filled with knights and nobles with their lady friends. Social events being one of my greatest fears, that's one point toward nervousness.
Next, we have the dress code. I know, it's probably best to trust the Lycian nobles and tailors about this, but I had this tingling doubt about the way I was dressed. Was I too formal? Was this a "black scarf" event? Now, this was only a tingling feeling, so that point teeters on the line between nervousness and... well, the opposite.
Finally, the dancing. That's right, dancing. After Lord Hausen introduced his heir and everyone was all happy, the court of Caelin decided to hold a ball. Like I said before, I'm eighteen years old, and have never had a girlfriend. I didn't even have a date to prom, for god's sake! So, not really much opportunity or need for me to learn to dance, and I sure as hell had no idea how to dance with a girl. And I've heard the stories. Guy steps on the girl's feet, guy dances around too much, guy grabs the wrong part of the girl... the list goes on. For some reason, I've heard very few stories about embarassing girl partners. Well, experience, being something I didn't have, was not going to help me. Anyway, this adds quite a bit of weight to the nervousness side of things.
So, to answer that possible question, I was very nervous. Nearly to the point of sweating.
And it didn't help that the ballroom had so many people either. Great, I was supposed to stand in front of everybody and try not to look like an idiot. As if I hadn't done that enough.
"You are Sean, correct?" someone said from behind me. I turned and saw a beautiful young blonde woman in a red dress.
"Y-Yes, do I know you?" I asked. She responded by slapping me across the face. "Somehow, I don't think I deserved that."
"You are the tactician responsible for my husband's death," she whispered, and broke down into tears. "Balin will never see me again, and will never see his child, because of you."
"I-I'm sorry," I replied. "I never wanted him to die, believe me."
"I do..." she sobbed. "But... it doesn't make things any easier..."
"I know," I told her. "I know that nothing I do will get you to forgive me. But, next time you visit Balin's grave, please tell him that I'm sorry. He didn't deserve what I gave him, and I never wanted that to happen. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."
She just looked at me silently and stepped back, as if she was afraid of me. It was as if she was expecting the one who killed her husband to be less... me. I guess it made her afraid that Balin died for no reason. But, I couldn't live with myself if I became what she thought I was. With that, she left me without a word.
"That was really awkward," I sighed. No one else seemed to want to talk to me after witnessing that, so I just decided to head to the terrace overlooking the front gate to get some fresh air.
"Sean!" I heard a familiar voice call from behind me as I made my way there.
"Hey..." I started, and trailed off to take in the image of the girl who had greeted me. "...Chloe." I was, for lack of a better word, flabbergasted at exactly how the she looked in her indigo gown. She was stunning, and I felt my face starting to turn red.
"It is good to see that you're here," she smiled. "I was afraid that you would still be in bed."
"Nah, I'm fine now," I replied. "I guess I owe it to you and Serra, right? You two did save my life."
Chloe's expression changed to a sad smile. "Actually, we were only able to barely keep you alive," she told me. "With only our abilities, we would not have been able to completely heal you."
"Wh-What?" I asked. "But, how-?"
"That would be thanks to me," another voice came from behind me. I turned, and my jaw dropped at the sight of the one who had apparently saved me from the brink of death. I recognized her immediately, and the older woman had a coy smile on her face at the sight of my shocked expression. "My name is Ursula. I happened to be traveling near Caelin when I was told that an experienced healer was needed to rescue a young tactician. How are you feeling, Sean?"
"G-good," I replied. What the hell was she doing there?
"That's good to hear," she smiled. "It was fortunate that I was here, otherwise you may have died."
"Yeah, so I've heard," I replied.
"Ursula is amazing," said Chloe. "She completely healed you when we couldn't go any further, and all she asked for was a place to stay in the castle for a few nights."
"Yes, it is a beautiful castle," said Ursula. "I believe I've spent hours just wandering about, and have seen just about everything, from the barracks to the bedchambers. If I were born into royalty, I would want to live in a castle exactly like this one."
I managed to take the hint. Ursula had seen everything inside the castle, and knew exactly where to strike should I reveal who she actually was. Considering what Darius had told me about Ursula, I doubted that Caelin would fare well against her without suffering more casualties, and god knows they've had enough of that.
However, with Nils and Ninian gone, my guess was that the Black Fang itself would not attack Caelin, unless they were willing to instigate a full-on war with all of Lycia. The thought at least gave me a bit of comfort, knowing that everyone was safe as long as I kept my big mouth shut.
"Chloe, could you please get my bag?" asked Ursula. "I think it is about time I should take my leave, seeing as Sean has made a full recovery."
"Of course, Lady Ursula," smiled Chloe, and left the two of us alone.
Great, as if I wasn't nervous enough already.
"Do I make you uneasy?" asked Ursula.
"Oh, gee, you're only the lover of the man who kidnapped me, and is apparently able to take out all of my friends single-handedly," I replied. "Yeah, a bit uneasy I'd say."
Ursula smiled. "Do not worry, Sean. I am merely here as a messenger, and a healer after Leila relayed the news of your condition to me."
"Figured as much," I grumbled. "So, where's Darius?"
"He is still in Kathelet, but will return to Bern first thing in the morning," said Ursula. "However, he has decided to return and continue his stay in Lycia for some time longer."
"Really," I sighed. "I guess that means he still wants an apprentice?"
"That is correct," the blue-haired woman smiled. "After you escaped from us, Darius was convinced that you were worthy enough to inherit his legacy. However, Darius is not so rash as to attempt to take you by force. Many have tried that tactic and have failed. He also realizes that your friends will find it very strange for you to just suddenly leave, but he does have a plan."
"And that would be?"
"To have you enroll in the Royal Academy of Pherae," smiled Ursula. "Darius has been accepted as an instructor there, and so, your enrollment will ensure that you are near him. As long as you accept him as a private instructor, he will be able to teach you. What do you say?"
"The Academy?" I asked. "Man, everyone seems to want me to go there. Alright, I'll probably regret asking this, but what if I don't accept?"
"Well, the Royal Academy of Pherae is among the most prestigious military schools in Elibe," said Ursula. "In fact, some of the greatest generals in Lycian history were graduates from there. Now, suppose Lord Darius had reason to believe that the academy was considered a threat to our nation of Bern. Suppose he discovered that Lycia is training its young ones to become a powerful military force in the near future, and Bern is in danger."
"You'd destroy the school?" I asked. "Because Darius wants an apprentice?!"
"We are working for Bern's best interest," said the woman. "The world needs to know nothing more. Though, the destruction of the Academy may easily be taken as a declaration of war. Believe me, Sean, with Lord Darius as Bern's strategist, Lycia will fall if they are invaded by our great nation."
"You guys are monsters..." I growled. "Is Darius seriously willing to start a war just because I don't want to be his apprentice?!"
"Are you willing to see what he may do?" asked Ursula.
I hate this game so much.
"Fine..." I sighed. "When do I leave?"
"In one week, an escort from the court of Pherae will arrive in Caelin to take you there," she replied. "Darius has already informed Lord Eliwood of your ambitions, and you have been accepted into the school without question. I expect a single week will be enough time for you to say good-bye to your friends?"
"Y-Yeah," I whispered. "That'll be fine, I guess."
"Good," smiled Ursula. "Then, I shall take my leave. Good-bye, Sean. I expect that I will see you again soon."
I sighed, and walked toward the balcony over-looking the outside of the castle. Here I was, the supposed savior of Elibe, the guy who would save the world from a disatrous cataclysm, and I still had no idea how to deal with these stupid situations. Darius was Bern's best tactician, and I'm pretty sure when it came down to it, he would be able to outsmart me every step of the way if I ever had to face him. We were even in chess only because it was a game I was used to, but if it came down to a battle, with my friends as the pieces...
No, I needed this. It was hard for me to accept, but this was something that I knew that was required. I wasn't just a teenage nerd anymore. I was a teenage nerd who needed to become a true tactician. Darius had the experience, and the strategies, and the ability. He had the discipline that I desperately needed on top of what I already had. A world-shattering catastrophe wouldn't be like fighting a bunch of bandits, or defending our own lives from some assassins or soldiers. It would need so much more. And Darius could give me that...
But, I didn't want to leave.
I thought about everyone who had stuck with me until the end, my friends that I had made on this journey. I had just woken up from a coma and was able to walk without stumbling again, and now, I had to leave them. I had to leave her...
"I guess I'll have to say good-bye to everyone soon," I whispered to myself, laying my head down on my arms as I leaned on the balcony railing. "Lyn..."
It was just then that I noticed someone near the front of the castle. It was kind of dark outside, but I could make out a tall figure and a horse. The man wore a bandana, and, in the flickering torch-light from the front gate, I saw that the horse had Sacaen embroidery on it...
"Rath!" I realized. I hadn't seen the jerk in a while, and so I immediately ran out of the ballroom toward the front gate of the castle. I managed to catch the stoic nomad as he was mounting his horse. "Rath!" I called. "Wait up!"
The nomad turned to look at me. "Sean," he said quietly. "What do you want?"
"Hello to you too, jerk," I muttered. "Where are you going?"
"I'm not sure," he replied. "But, I do not think that I will be staying in a castle any longer. It does not suit me."
"Rath, you don't have to go," I told him. "Look, I know that we were never on the best of terms..."
"That is an understatement," he replied.
"Right," I sighed. "Still, you were a real help to us. More than I ever was. And, I'm sure Lyn will be much happier if you stayed. You know, she'll need someone, and I know you can be there when she needs you."
"Lyn does not need me," he said. "Caelin will protect its princess. There is no place for someone like me."
"Oh, for god's sake!" I shouted. "Stop being so miserable all the time! It's driving me nuts! You act like a jerk, but I know you care! You care about Lyn! She's the last of her tribe, Rath! She needs someone to talk to about her Sacaen heritage, and the only one who has that qualification is you!"
"Then I hope you are as eloquent with her as you just were with me," Rath replied as he mounted his horse. I stopped, taking in what he just said. "Lyn does not need me, when she has you. She has told you about her tribe, and has told you about herself, and her lost love."
"Jeez, how good are your ears?" I asked, surprised that he heard everything we said that night.
"The point is, boy, that I am not as much a part of her life as you are," he told me. "Lyn can take care of herself. She's strong, and will not need protection from me. If she needs someone to talk to, she has the pegasus knight, and you. There's no place for me here."
"I... guess you've made your decision then?" I asked. It was really hard to make an argument at that point.
"Yes," he replied, and showed a small hint of a smile as he looked at me again. "Goodbye, Sean the Tactician." And with that, he rode off into the night and disappeared, with me as the only witness. That was the last I saw of that blunt jerk for a long time.
I made my way back to the ballroom, and tried to find someone to talk to. Well, there was plenty of talking, but no one to actually talk to, considering the awkwardness of jumping into a random conversation that I knew nothing about. Yeah, really had never felt so out of place as I did during that time period. Soon, I found myself on the same balcony again.
"Guess this is where I'll be spending the evening," I sighed. "It's like prom night all over again."
"I suppose it's better that we're both out of place," a familiar voice came from beside me. And, just like for every other familiar voice I've heard, I turned to see who it belonged to. Three guesses as to who would say that, and would have a familiar scent of grass an fresh-cut flowers as well. That's right. Lyn.
"How's it going-" I started, and paused when I saw her, "Lyn..." Again, flabbergasted. It's like I have this reaction to every girl I see in a dress. Well, in Lyn's case, I finally got to see her with her hair down, and... wow. Her hair was draped over her bare shoulders, and her formal dress was amazing. I'm no fashion expert, but blue was seriously her color.
"I'm alright," she told me. "Grandfather's finally well, and you've made a full recovery. It's finally over."
"Y-Yeah," I replied. And, of course, overheating brain prevents me from making decent conversation.
"I told Grandfather I'd be staying in Caelin, so it will probably be some time before I see the plains again," she continued. "Until then, I have to withstand wearing this type of clothing and meeting those arrogant suitors."
"Suitors?" I asked. "Since when?"
"Since I introduced myself," Lyn chuckled. "Suddenly, every rich house in Caelin is sending their sons to meet the heiress to the throne. It's easier to deal with bandits than those monsters."
"You seem pretty popular," I laughed. Inside, I'm pretty sure I was doing the opposite, whatever that is. Great, of course every guy wants to marry Lyn now. Look at her, she was freaking beautiful, and an heiress! Plus, she was strong, independent, and smart. She was pretty much the most amazing girl I had ever met, and now, I have competition with a bunch of rich assholes. Awesome.
"I'm popular among the callow oafs that Caelin seems to have so many of," she smiled, recalling our first encounter with Sain. "I suppose I should just deal with them, and then maybe someone will be good enough for me to actually strike a conversation with."
"Maybe you'll find someone you can actually talk to," I told her. And the response to that was, well, unexpected.
"I have you."
Okay, I think my heart rate just doubled.
"Sean, I was so scared when you used that Fire tome," she whispered. "It was almost like watching my family be massacred again. I really felt like I had lost someone close to me, and I never wanted that feeling ever again."
"L-Lyn," I said. I felt my face get incredibly hot as those words reached my ears. "I-I'm sorry..."
"You should be," she replied. "Lundgren deserved to die, but not at the cost of your life. As my master strategist, I hoped that you understood that. I suppose, for that brief moment, I was wrong."
"It was a stupid thing to do," I answered. "I know that. I just didn't want to be a burden on you, or everyone else."
"You were never a burden," said Lyn. "If it wasn't for you, we never would have made it here. And when Lundgren had a knife at your throat, you didn't have to take things into your own hands to say that you were worth something to us."
"Lyn," I whispered. "Th-Thanks."
"It is difficult to believe that you were sent from another world to come help us," said Lyn. "However, it does explain your strange speech patterns and your mannerisms." Did I mention that by this point I told everyone about coming from another world?
"Yeah, you picked up on that really well," I told her. "Well, I was never a tactician in that world. I grew up in a decent neighborhood, and was a good student in school. But, that's really all I have about my life before meeting you. Nothing exciting."
"So, what did you mean when you said you originally came to Elibe for me?" she asked.
"Uh..." I guess this is it. Truth time. "Well, I saw this portrait of you while I was there. I was told by this professor that he would let me meet you if I beat him in chess, and so I agreed."
"You agreed because of me?"
"Lyn, I thought you were b-beautiful," I told her. And now I was pretty sure the blushing was not going to go away. "I've never been good at talking with girls, and I thought that you... If there was a chance that someone like you would get to know me, well... I thought..." I paused, and took a look at Lyn, who was staring at me with wide eyes. I think she was blushing as well, but it was hard to tell in the dark. I took a second to think about it, and I realized that I had damn near told her that I had a serious crush on her ever since before I met her. Well, I did, but why was I so scared about that?
"Sean, will you stay with us?" asked Lyn after an awkward pause. Well, I think it was a pretty awkward moment.
"I-" I started, but then stopped. I remembered Ursula, and what she had told me that night. If I didn't leave, it would be like telling Darius that I didn't care about an all-out war between two big nations. And so, the last half of the answer to that question was obvious. "-can't."
"Oh..." whispered Lyn. "I guess... I understand."
"Lyn, just know that if I could stay here with you guys, I would," I told her. "But... I'm going to the Pheraean Academy next week. Eliwood told me that they're a good school for military strategy. If I learn from them, then I'll really be a tactician. I really won't be a burden."
"I know you don't see me like that," I sighed. "But, I do. I feel like I'm holding all of you back. And, I don't want to feel like that anymore. Lyn, I have to go."
There was an awkward silence for a long time. I hated that. Lyn was just staring at the scenery before us on the balcony with a thoughtful expression on her face. She seemed to be thinking about what to say after I told her that I was leaving her. All I could do was wait for her to say something.
"You're leaving Caelin, then," she whispered.
"Y-Yeah..." I replied.
"You should go then," she said. "It's obvious you've made your decision."
"Lyn..." I began, but she turned away and ran back into the ballroom. I think that I saw a wet spot on the rail of the balcony from a couple of drops of water. But there was no rain that night, and the only thing over that railing was Lyn...
Great, I think I just ruined the moment. This really was like prom night all over again.
A week passed too quickly. I managed to tell everyone else that I was going to leave them for a while, and they all seemed to accept that I was really going to be a tactician. I even got a few going away presents from the Caelin soldiers, except Balan, who I hadn't seen since he beat the living crap out of me. All in all, a pretty happy occasion.
Except Lyn wasn't talking to me.
I tried to go to her room, or talk to her during meals, but she was constantly avoiding me. It got to the point where I just wanted her to tell me to go away. At least then I'd have a straight answer. The day before leaving, I went to ask the person who knew Lyn better than anyone...
"I'm not sure."
"Come on, Florina," I said. "You've been Lyn's best friend ever since you were thirteen. You should know about when she gets like this."
"I-I'm not sure, because she's never like this," Florina told me. "Lyn has never tried to avoid someone before. Even when angry, she normally confronts it."
"So, she's not angry?" I asked.
"I don't know," replied the pegasus knight. "She's not very open about it, even to me."
"I guess that's that then," I sighed.
"I-I'm sorry, Sean," whispered Florina. "I guess I'm n-not much help for you."
"No, don't worry about it," I told her. "Do you think she hates me?"
"Of course not," said Florina. "But..."
"You remind her of someone," she told me. "Someone who she cared about a long time ago."
"Kal?" I asked. Florina seemed shocked as I answered that, and I quickly continued. "She told me about him while we were in Kathelet."
"Y-Yes," said Florina. "I suppose you know about him, then?"
"Let's see. He helped find a hiding place for you when you first met Lyn, and became her fiance when she was 16, but a few days before her 18th birthday when they were going to get married, the Taliver attacked. He died protecting Lyn's family, but in the end there were no survivors from the massacre, except Lyn, who her father sent away by horse. Lyn has a locket that Kal bought after working in Bulgar for a few months and keeps it on her at all times, and it's got both their names engraved on it. And, she still thinks of him a lot. Did I get everything?"
"She seems to have told you a lot," said Florina.
"Yeah, she did."
"Then, you should also know that after Kal died, Lyn vowed to never love anyone as she loved him," Florina told me.
"I guess that makes sense," I sighed. "From what she's told me, Kal was really quite a guy. Kind, strong, and my guess is that he was a looker as well?"
"He was r-rather handsome," said Florina, looking away. I think I saw a bit of a blush on her cheeks.
"So... exactly how do I remind her of him?" I asked. "I'm not particularly good-looking, I'm no good at fighting, and I'm just a typical 'nice guy' that she probably meets all the time."
"You never knew Kal," she told me. "He was in love with Lyn long before she was with him. He would spend a lot of time trying to get her to notice him, but until the incident when I fell off of my pegasus, she never realized that. During that time, he would normally stumble or say silly things to her by accident, but until she saw his kindness, she had no thoughts about him. And she sees that with you."
So, I reminded Lyn of Kal because I could act like an idiot when I was around her. Well, that was good to know. It did surprise me, though. I had imagined Kal as this "perfect" guy that all girls seemed to dream about, while I was only the nerd that they'd borrow notes from. I guess it was just as hard for him to talk with her as it was for me. Maybe I had more in common with Kal than I thought.
And that's when I realized that Lyn had actually noticed whenever I acted like an idiot. Well, crap...
"Thanks for telling me, Florina," I told her. "I'm glad to see that your fear of men has gone away."
"N-No, it hasn't," the pegasus knight whispered. "I-It's just, I feel... safer... talking to you..."
"Oh," I whispered. "R-Right." This was heading very quickly into awkward territory.
"I really hope that you and Lyn work this out," she told me. "I really want to see her truly happy again."
"Florina..." I said. "Do you...?"
"No," she replied before I could finish. "I-I feel comfortable talking with you, and I do trust you, but, I don't have those kinds of feelings for you."
"Oh, okay..." I replied.
"Just, make up with Lyn before you leave for Pherae," she finished.
And that was the day before. The awkwardness of that moment almost made me regret talking to her, but I had to admit, Florina was probably the most selfless girl I had ever met. I felt kind of guilty about telling her about everything between me and Lyn, but she had enough of a heart to not let that get between their friendship. I was grateful for that. I never wanted to be the guy that split apart two best friends. Not that I ever thought I could've been.
I made my way down toward the castle gate after I finished dressing up. Of course, by dressing up, I mean put on the same clothes that I'd been wearing since I came to Elibe. I had finally managed to wash everything too, which I was incredibly thankful for. When I reached the gate, I saw almost everyone there to say good-bye. Almost, because Lyn wasn't there.
"Come back to visit," said Wil. "I can teach you how to use a bow, since you normally don't have something to defend yourself with."
"Looking forward to it," I replied, holding out my hand. Wil gladly took it, and we shook on it as a promise.
"Don't leave for that world you came from without coming to see us first, alright?" asked Sain.
"You'll be the first to know," I smiled, and we knocked fists. That one was a gesture I taught him.
"Good luck out there, Sean," smiled Kent, putting his hand on my shoulder. "I believe that you will make a fine tactician."
"Thanks, Kent," I replied.
"Take care of yourself, Florina," I told her. "Also, thanks for everything. You'll become a great pegasus knight."
"Th-Thank you," she replied quietly. I was about to walk away when she grabbed my arm and pulled me into a hug. I was completely shocked, as were every other guy at the normally shy pegasus knight's forwardness. "I hope that you and Lyn make up soon, when we see each other again."
"Y-Yeah," I replied, blushing. I wasn't sure if she had a crush on me or not. The hug and the sentence didn't seem to go together, and so I had no idea how I was supposed to respond to that.
Florina pulled back and turned to the red knight. "Kent, have you seen her?"
He shook his head. "I'm afraid she's not here. That's odd, I thought she'd be here to see you, Sean."
"I... I guess I really said something wrong," I sighed. "Well, next time you see her, tell her I'm sorry."
"Of course," Kent nodded.
"I-I guess this is good-bye then," I whispered. Everyone nodded, and looked away. I'm pretty sure I saw a tear fall from Sain's eye. "I'll miss you guys. Thanks for everything."
"It is us who should be thanking you," said Sain. Just as he said that, a guard came through the gate.
"Master Sean," he told me. "A knight from Pherae is here to take you to the Academy."
"Send him in," said Kent.
"Why do men always assume that knights must always be men?" said the knight as she made her way through the gate. Yes, that's right, a 'she'. And a very pretty one at that. She looked like she was in her mid-twenties. She had long, indigo hair and matching eyes, and wore white armor that covered most of her body, but was still able to show her feminine curves. She also had a sword that she kept sheathed at her side.
"M-My apologies, milady," Kent said as he bowed. I think this was the first time I'd seen Kent taken aback like this.
"No need for apologies, sir knight," smiled the woman. "My name is Isadora, retainer of the Lady Eleanora of Pherae, and..." She looked at me and smiled. "...I believe I am to escort this handsome young man to our fine academy."
"Um... yeah," I replied, blushing. Honestly, I think this was the first time I'd been called handsome.
"Lady Isadora, it is an honor to have you escort our friend," said Kent. "I trust you will take care of him well."
"Of course," she chuckled. "Lord Eliwood spoke fondly of this young tactician, and has told me about his achievements. It would be a shame to damage such a fine young mind. Well, shall we take our leave, Sean?"
"Yes, of course," I replied, turning toward my friends. "I'll come back someday," I told them. "That's a promise."
At that, they smiled, and I knew that was the last I would see of them for some time, but I also knew that they would welcome me back the next time I return to Caelin.
"How far is Pherae?" I asked Isadora as we made our way out of the small Caelin village. We had stopped there to buy some supplies for the short journey, so I guessed that the distance between the two lands was a fairly decent one.
"We will head south for about three days," she told me. "When we reach the border of Pherae, the Academy will only be another day's travel. I will aid you in settling in."
"Four days, huh? Man, I hope we don't get attacked by bandits," I sighed. Seriously, I had enough of those stupid bandit raids ever since we crossed Taliver mountain. And wow, that seemed like a very long time ago. We were just about over a hill when...
I turned to see who had just called my name, and saw her. She wore the same clothing that she had been wearing when we first met, and I was glad for it. Her hair was tied in its trademark ponytail again, and she was panting to catch her breath, like she had been running for a long time.
"Lyn," I whispered. "Isadora, can you leave us alone for a few minutes?"
The woman looked puzzled for a few moments before she saw Lyn, and then, with a knowing smile, replied, "Of course, Sean. I will just be on the other side of this hill over here." And with that, she walked away from the scene. I'm pretty glad I had a woman to take me there, not sure if a man who I didn't know would leave me like that.
I turned toward Lyn again and made my way toward her. "H-Hey, Lyn," I smiled when I finally got close enough for her to hear me.
"Sean, you're leaving aren't you?" she asked quietly.
"Yeah," I sighed. "Look, Lyn, I-"
"No, I'm not asking you to stay," she interrupted. "It's just... I'll miss you."
She took a deep breath and continued. "When I found you unconscious on the plains... I had no idea we would be together for so long. You've helped us so much, and I'm sure you've learned all you can from us."
"Well, I wouldn't say that," I replied. "But, I need to go. I need training, and then, when I come back, I'll be a real tactician. I can protect you."
"Sean," she whispered, and then smiled and pulled me into a hug. "You'll do just fine on your own. I have the utmost faith that you'll be a master tactician, Sean." She pulled back and winked. "That's from someone who's seen you at work!"
"Thanks, Lyn," I replied. The sun was starting to set, and I swear I could hear some romantic music in the background somewhere. In the fading light, Lyn almost seemed as if she was radiating. "Listen, Lyn, about that night-"
"I'm sorry I've been avoiding you," she told me. She looked away before continuing. "I'm very sorry, but... I needed time."
"Time?" I asked.
"Sean, I want you to have this," she said. She reached behind her, unclipped her locket, and put it into my hand.
"Lyn, no, I c-can't take this!" I replied. "This is... Kal gave this to you!"
"Yes," she replied. "I have to explain why I needed time, Sean. When you told me you were leaving, it hurt me. I felt like I had done something wrong, that I had done something that made you feel like you had to leave."
"No, of course not," I told her. "I really want to stay, but-"
"I realized that," she interrupted. "And I also realized that I felt that way because I, well..." She stopped and looked away from me.
"What?" I asked after a few seconds.
"I have feelings for you," she whispered. I was so in shock from those words that I nearly fell over. Did she actually just say that? This girl, this amazing girl who was stronger that I would ever be, had feelings for me? That's why she'd been avoiding me? I kept telling myself that it was impossible, though I don't know why. This is what I wanted. I wanted to be with her. I had to say something, to finally tell her how I felt about her.
"L-Lyn," I began.
"This is why I needed time," she continued. "After Kal died... He was my first love, and he died protecting me and my family. I swore that I would never love anyone like I loved him again, but now, only a few months later, I met you."
"I see," I replied quietly.
"I felt guilty," she sighed. "I kept denying it. I kept telling myself that there was no way I could fall for someone so soon after he was gone from my life. But, when I was with you, I felt like I had someone again. I felt like I had moved on from Kal, but it was so soon after he died, and I had only known you for a short time. It scared me how easily this happened."
"Lyn, I never wanted to replace Kal," I told her. "I don't think I ever could."
"I know," she sighed. "It's not your fault, Sean. I just... can't deny it anymore. Sean, I have feelings for you. I really..." I saw a few tears come out of her eyes before she continued. "I really have moved on. I can't help that, but, it still hurts. I need you to take this, and promise me you will come back. Please."
"I will come back," I told her, taking the locket. "I promise, Lyn. I love you." I paused and realized what I just said. Wow, that came out a lot easier than I thought. This is what I spent two months trying to tell her? Man, I'm pathetic.
"You do?" she whispered. I responded with a nervous nod.
"Y-Yeah," I sighed. "I-I have for a long time now."
She gave me a sad smile, tears were really flowing out of her eyes now. "You're right, Sean. You could never replace Kal..."
I paused. So many thoughts ran through my head at those words. Crap, did I just say something stupid? Did she realize how pathetic I was compared to Kal? How could she tell me she had feelings for me and then say that? How-?
My thoughts were interrupted when I felt her hands on my face. "L-Lyn, wha-" Before I could finish, she pulled me closer to her and put her lips on top of mine. I was shocked, I had no idea what was happening, until it finally hit me that Lyn was kissing me. It was unbelievable, my first kiss, and it was from the most incredible woman in existence. I felt her arm begin to wrap around my neck as I returned the kiss, and I put my arms around her waist. We just stood there in each other's arms, locked together. I basked in her aroma of grass and flowers and enjoyed every moment of it. It seemed like it lasted a lifetime before we parted.
"You could never replace Kal, because you're Sean," she whispered into my ear. "That is a great thing. Never let go of who you are."
"I-I..." I tried to think of a response, but I think part of my brain had gone into meltdown at this point.
"Keep that locket safe," she smiled. "I want it back when you return."
"Y-Yeah... That's a promise," I smiled.
She gave me a sad smile. "Well then, take care..."
"You too," I replied quietly.
"I... I hope I see you again," she whispered. "I'm sure that I will someday..."
"I'll make sure of it," I replied, giving her another kiss on the cheek. "Lyn, thanks for everything."
And with that cliche dialogue out of the way, I made may way toward where Isadora was waiting, all the time looking back at Lyn, who was watching. I promised myself from that day forward that I would become a real tactician. I would become someone who could protect her, and would seldom need to be protected by her.
And so, the first trials of my life as a tactician ended as I rode toward a new beginning.
A/N: Well, that's it. The story ends with a Sean/Lyn moment, and I threw in the game dialogue just for the sake of connecting my story completely to the game. However, as you can see, I pretty much wrote my own ending. Honestly, I was disappointed with the ending of the last chapter, and I felt like I had to make up for it. I think I overdid it, seeing the length of this chapter here.
Now, pretty much everyone has told me that I didn't develop some of the characters enough. And I'm going to tell those reviewers that I agree completely. I seriously didn't develop some of them enough, mostly because in the overarching storyline, they aren't that important. If you didn't catch it, the part where everyone crashed in on Sean was my attempt to get them to talk more. Not sure how that turned out, but it felt good to write it.
Also, remember how I kept mentioning the Pheraean Academy for the last few chapters? This is why. By the time Eliwood's story rolls around, Sean will have learned quite a bit about being a tactician under the tutelage of Darius the Black Shadow, so battling the Black Fang should be more doable for the teenage tactician.
Anyway, thank you all for reading this story! I think it's one of my best in terms of sheer content, and Sean is probably the best original character I have ever come up with, mostly because he's based on myself ;). No, he's not quite a self-insert, but I think that's how he ended up developing. Anyway, I feel that the story ended up not bad for a story that I wrote based on a simple rule: Fire Emblem novelization where the tactician is not a Gary Stu and never fights. I plan to hang on to that rule all the way to the end of the novelization. It was fun throwing in characters that don't appear until later in the game, as well as a whole bunch of original characters, in order to tie the whole story together. So, once again, thank you all for reading, and I hope that you will be here for the sequel!