This is chapter 10, and I've decided this warrants some sort of celebration. Thus, you're getting an update before Ellipsis is, and it's twice the usual length. I hope you like it, and I'm sorry if anybody goes OOC - please let me know so I can fix it!
For those of you who remember me saying I was about to lose my dignity by writing something... I still haven't. I'm such a coward. xD
For those of you so inclined, check the recent entries on the FE kink meme and see if you can guess what I'm on about.
For those of you who aren't...REVIEW, DANGIT!
It is too quiet, and your head is too loud. A hundred voices that you didn't know you had are all whispering, muttering to the point where you think you might just go insane. This thought is entirely illogical, you realise, as the fact that you can even hear such voices inside your head would seem to point that you have already gone insane. You don't entirely refute this conclusion. What disturbs you more is that, filtering through the haze of your mind, you realise that all the voices are whispering much the same thing. You don't want to do this. And you know this. You have known this for some time, in fact. Yet this changes nothing. It has never been about what you want to do, but rather what you need to do. What you must do.
The guard's relayed message comes as a shock nonetheless. You didn't think that the Crimean army would breach the outer defences quite so easily. You underestimated them, much like they underestimated you before. Perhaps you are even now, then. The sound of weaponry clanging just outside startles you. Already, they are so close to the throne room. There is little doubt that they still expect to find the king here. That is all that you were ever good for - as a diversionary tactic. Your death itself is a gambit. It is all just a ruse to distract the enemy for just a tiny bit longer. With every moment that passes, another pawn is sacrificed. The door to the throne room booms as it crashes to the ground, dislocated with the force of a heavy axe. It would seem as though your moment is up.
The first one to enter the room is clad in white armour that you recognise all too easily. It would appear that General Tauroneo himself has betrayed Daein now. You cannot say that you truthfully blame him. None of the soldiers here today will be dying for their country. Some will prove themselves to be traitors to the crown, like Tauroneo. The others will die, not for their country, but for the twisted schemes of their king. From what you recall, Tauroneo is a good man. You are glad that he will not be dying in the service of a wretch like Ashnard. You wish the same could be said of you.
Only seconds later, several other members of the mercenary group burst through the doorway. It would appear that you did not cause as many deaths as you had thought, though whether this is cause for joy or frustration, you do not know. It takes a while for you to register that Ike is among them. You swallow. So this is what it has come to. The others stay back, as though by some unspoken order. The way that their commander advances towards you says things that words cannot. You suspect that even the new recruits in their army - for they have expanded somewhat in number since you left them - have been informed of your betrayal.
Ike stops just short of you, still within attacking distance. Neither of you raise your weapons, though you clutch tightly at the tome hidden beneath your robes. Clearly, he wishes to talk. You consider him all the more a fool for it. You are the enemy. You could have struck him down several times over by now. Yet you haven't. You are struck by the parallels of your first meeting. That was also on the battlefield. You didn't attack him then, either. You wonder just what it is about him that seems to defy all the logic that remains in your world.
This one question throws you off completely. You had expected him to ask where Ashnard was - after all, that was their goal, was it not? You swallow and face him with the little dignity that is still left to you. "Why isn't he here?" you ask coldly. "Your army was not quiet about their exploits. It is not unknown for a man to run from death." This is not the reason, and you think it probable that Ike might even know this. Nevertheless, it is your chosen answer. The truth would only hurt him more.
He merely shakes his head. "I'm not interested in why he isn't here. I want to know why you are."
"Is it not obvious? I'm defending my country, on the orders of my king."
He watches you closely for a moment. "I can't say I believe you."
"From personal experience, you're a brilliant tactician. If you really meant to stop us, your defences wouldn't have been quite so weak." His logic surprises you, wrong though you know it to be. Yet you cannot help but begin to question yourself. There is a certain ring of truth in his words. Had you subconsciously wanted them to come this far? No, that would be ridiculous.
"I quite agree." You turn to find Ena stood behind you. "As of this moment, I am declaring you a traitor to the crown, and an enemy of Daein." Her face is calm, almost serene.
Yours is not. "That's preposterous! ...You cannot truly believe such things, Ena. You of all people know that I am willing to lay my life down for Daein."
"I am sorry, Soren." You are sure that you see her smile sadly before returning to neutrality. "I can no longer be held responsible for your actions. Regardless of which side you believe yourself to be on, you are an enemy of Daein, and it is my duty to strike you down where you stand."
"I see." And in that instant, you do. You do not understand why, but you know that for whatever reason, she is telling you to go to their side. Your immediate conclusion is that she now knows that she is to die, and has no wish for you to do the same. Yet how can you betray her again? How can you betray him again?
"Go." She definitely smiles at you this time. "I will grant you a few seconds of mercy."
You nod and turn to Ike. He stops you even as you open your mouth. "I don't want an apology. I trust you. Just guide my sword. That's all I need."
"As touching as this display is, I'm afraid I really must interrupt." You turn to see Nasir stride towards the three of you. "Ena. You know full well that I have overlooked your actions until this point. But I will not stand by and watch you give your life for such an absurd cause."
"Be quiet, Ena. As for you..." He turns to face you as he continues, "Need I mention how concerned your uncle has been for your wellbeing? I made the mistake of informing him that you had joined the Crimean army. He was rather displeased when I was suddenly unable to account for your whereabouts."
You swallow. You hadn't even thought about Kurth. "I didn't realise."
"Evidently not." He turns to face Ike, who looks more than baffled by the sudden turn of the conversation. "I suggest that the fighting ends here for today. You may wish to inform your men of the two new recruits."
"Two?" Ike frowns. You notice Ena bite her lip. "Oh. Right."