Co-written and beta-ed by I.K.A. Valiant. Neither of us own anything but the idea for the story.
Fire Emblem: Tales of an Angel
Prolouge: Through the Gates
Lloyd Irving-Aurion stood at the edge of a small island, staring out at the waters before him. He was now twenty five, and for the past eight years had been traveling about the reunited worlds – which had been christened Aselia by the Church of Martel – making sure that all of the Exspheres in the world had been destroyed. He no longer carried swords, mainly because there was no real need to. The monsters all but vanished with the fall of Cruxis. The people who opposed him were often overruled by their fellows who held him in high esteem. The use of force, where before it was constantly necessary, now seemed like a relic of the distant past.
He had aged as well; Lloyd now stood at the same height as his father. What little baby fat that he possessed at seventeen was now gone, leaving a stern, hard face in its wake. His eyes were still the same color they always were, but there was an odd wisdom to them that not many would have expected for such a young man. His brown hair gained a slight red tint and began to obey gravity's call to fall past his face, framing a gentle, if confused expression.
"Why am I here?" Lloyd asked himself, glancing at the elegant stone rings that composed the Otherworldly Gate. "This thing hasn't been working at all ever since the worlds were joined again …"
Lloyd rose from where his spot and strode slowly over to the enormous stones. With the mid day sun blasting full power onto their surfaces, he examined the markings as he passed each stone.
He came to a stop when he reached the center of the circle. Lloyd looked down at the spot where he and his friends had once fallen through to Sylvarant. He knelt ran his hands over the soft, loosely packed earth.
"Now it's just a circle of rocks in the middle of nowhere." Lloyd stood and was about to leave the ring of decaying rocks when his sense picked up something odd in one of the stones.
Puzzled, Lloyd stepped towards it, and gasped lightly. One of the runes engraved on the stone was glowing. Iridescent blue-green light flickered in the sunlight.
"No way …" Looking back up at the sun, Lloyd said, "This can't be right. The gate shouldn't be working at all, let alone in midday! Besides, what place is there that can be connected to the Otherworldly Gate now that Sylvarant and Tethe'alla are back together?"
Just as the question left his mouth, Lloyd felt the ground beneath him give way to a bright, glowing vortex of convoluted light. The feeling of ground beneath his feet disappeared. Lloyd wobbled and wind milled his arms as he attempted to stay upright.
"The hell?!" Lloyd shouted. He attempted to spread his wings and launch into the air when a force grabbed onto his feet. The force pulled him downward faster and faster until he was through. As he was pulled downward through spiraling energy and light Lloyd watched the hole he'd fallen through close up.
After what felt like hours, Lloyd suddenly discovered gravity again. He landed on a hard, flat surface and quickly looked up at the vortex he'd just been spit out of. Dragon statues and great blue-green flamed torches framed the shrinking vortex.
Lloyd pushed himself to his feet, his boots slipping on the stone, as he scrambled back toward the vortex. His fingers found the wall of rock that replaced the vortex just as he reached it.
"Damn," Lloyd said. He spun around and examined the new surroundings. "This … is definitely not part of Aselia …" He just put one foot forward when an intense throbbing and white stars exploded behind his eyes. He quickly wrapped his hands around his skull as the pressure within skyrocketed. "Augh…" he groaned as he slumped to his knees. As the darkness around the corners of his vision grew, he struggled to stay upright.
"Why … am I so … tired …?" He uttered before his body went slack and he fell the rest of the way to the floor.
A cloaked figure stepped from the shadows and with an even pace moved to Lloyd's side. He stooped and stuck a hand out of his black robes, his skin paler than a pasty white powdered doughnut. With a single finger, the man pushed on Lloyd's shoulder and immediately snapped his hand back. Smoke rose from the suddenly blackened finger that touched Lloyd.
"I must inform the master," the man said. "This is most unusual." The man stood and quickly walked away from Lloyd, his golden eyes glowing past the hood of his cloak.
"Most interesting." Athos, the Archsage known around the realms as the Living Legend, locked his gazed onto south-eastern horizon. He was not known for staring at one thing for long, and yet that is what he did now. Intently he stared, as a researcher stares at a subject of interest.
"What are you looking at?"
Without turning to look, Athos reached an aged, wrinkled hand back and waved the person behind him forward. He stretched that same hand forward and pointed at the horizon.
"Do you not see it Pent?" Athos asked.
"See what," said Pent. He squinted his eyes as he gazed at the mid afternoon horizon, holding up a hand to shield his eyes. The sun shone brightly from the east, casting growing shadows to the west as the blazing ball of light fell from its apex. "I see nothing but blue skies and clouds Master Athos. Perhaps the desert has impaired your vision."
"There is a great life force on Valor," said Athos. His voice was distant, his eyes unfocused. "So great it lights up the skies with the pureness of its composition."
"On Valor…" Pent raise his right hand to hold his chin and supported his elbow with the other hand. "Isn't that the Island of Dread, Doom, Despair, and other such nonsense the locals have named it?"
"It is indeed," said Athos. His lips curved upward and his cheeks bulged slightly as he held in a chuckle. "But … it also happens to be the home of the Dragon Gate."
Pent lifted his chin and gazed southward again. "Is this life force a threat?"
Athos shook his head. "It's too early to tell. The Interloper hasn't done anything right or wrong to be judged by. We'll just have to watch and see."
"So this is the one who the Dragon's Gate spat out," said Nergal. He reached up and scratched the skin around his concealed eye, beneath his turban. He was flanked on either side by the man with the burned finger and a scantily-clad woman with her arms crossed over her chest. Both the man and the woman had their golden eyes roving over Lloyd's unconscious form. Nergal's visible eyebrow arched as he stepped forward and held his hand over Lloyd's head.
"Oh, yes," said Nergal. His scarred face twisted and a grin appeared. His uncovered pupil shrank until it was a mere dot amongst a sea of white. "Such an enormous amount of Quintessence! Haha, with this, I can move my plans forward by three years! Hahahahahaha! Mwahahahahahahahahahaha!"
"Master," the man held up his burned finger, "It appears…"
"Oh be quite Ephidel," said the woman, "one burned finger does not pose a threat to our Master."
"True as that might be," said Nergal, "It is no mean feat to injure a Morph such as one of you just by merely touching one another." He lifted his hand away from Lloyd and clenched it in front of his chest. Veins popped out as he flexed the muscles in his arm. "So much… I must have it all!"
Nergal threw out his both his arms. His cape flew backwards as the air became thick and sticky. Nergal's face lit up as he began to draw out that which he sought from Lloyd. Only the red essence he'd come to expect did not appear.
"What!?" Nergal became overwhelmed when instead of the Quintessence he had been expecting, pure white Mana emerged from Lloyd's body, glowing brilliantly. Nergal was enveloped by the quickly expanding white cloud. "No!" He choked out before beginning to cough from the purness of the energy emitting from Lloyd's body.
"This is impossible! Quintessence so aligned with light that it actually became light!" Nergal turned away from Lloyd, drawing his cape around him. The white Mana continued to emerge. The woman and Ephidel backed away from the white mist as it neared them. Nergal coughed again into his hand, his shoulders heaving from the movement.
"Where are you going Sonia?!" Nergal demanded. "Ephidel, come back here! I command you."
"Master Nergal, we'll die," Ephidel said. He took another step backwards, his cloak billowing behind him.
"Damn this boy," Nergal said. "Damn him and his Quintessence." He turned back to Lloyd and threw his hands out again. "If I cannot take it, I shall send it away!"
Nergal made several signs with his hands, moving them back and forth in front of him. Several lines of magic formed and traced themselves into existence beneath Lloyd's body. In quick succession, Nergal brought his hands down, the circle formed by the magic lines lit up, and Lloyd disappeared.
"Good riddance," said Nergal. He bent over, his back heaving as his body was racked with a coughing fit. "Damn that boy. His was a Quintessence unlike that of normal beings." Nergal coughed again, though his chest was rising and falling easier now. "I must look into this. In the mean time, Sonia, speed up our plans in Bern. I need strong Quintessence now!"
Lloyd's first sensation when his mind came back to him was frigid cold. On his skin, in his hair, and more importantly, in mouth. He quickly spit out the cold substance. When he looked to see what it was he ejected, he found snow and not just the snow from his mouth, but all around him.
Lloyd's arms flexed as he pushed himself into a sitting position. He glanced right, then left. Snow fell from his hair with each movement, reminiscent of the snow falling from the branches of the evergreen trees surrounding him.
"Where am I now?" He asked himself. Standing slowly, Lloyd felt a shiver run down his spine and across his chest. He looked down and found that his clothes were drenched completely through. His grim expression grew worse as he remembered that his bag was back at the Otherworldly Gate.
"Gah… damn." He turned around and noticed a light in the distance. It was faint but steady. He had taken less than ten labored steps through the knee high snow when he fell again into its cold embrace. His wet clothing already contained a layer of frost over it as the cloth froze stiff.
"Damn…" Lloyd said, spitting snow from his mouth again. "And I thought Flanoir was bad." Lloyd lifted his head from the snow and twisted it to the right and then to the left. "No one's here. Screw walking, I'm flying."
He began by calling up his Mana needed to summon his wings. To his horror, nothing happened. "What the…" Trying again, Lloyd felt his body become cooler yet as a cold sweat broke out across his body.
"How could I lose my wings?" Lloyd wondered briefly.
He was about to try again when he heard a voice calling out in the distance. Sitting up, the brunet saw a man wearing thick wool robes lined with fur waving at him. Confused, and yet filled with the hope of rescue, Lloyd forced his freezing body to stand and walk through the snow towards the man.
His teeth chattered, his legs went numb, and he couldn't move his arms anymore. Still, through all the stumbling and effort, he made the journey. Upon reaching the man, Lloyd was grabbed by the arm and pulled into a small shrine.
"Thank Saint Elimine you made it out of there alive, sir!" The man removed his robes to reveal a plain white monk's habit. As he flitted about the small shrine, he went on, "There is a fierce blizzard rolling into the area. If you hadn't arrived when you did, you would've been lost. You do not want to be caught in an Ilian blizzard, mark my words!"
The man found what he was looking for, expressed by the surprised happy face he made as he lifted a bundle of cloth into the arms. "Oh, some dry clothes!" He extended a set of dry clothes to Lloyd.
Lloyd, hands numb and arms shivering, reached out a shaky hand and grabbed the bundle. Though he was considerably warmer now, he was still shivering. The monk pointed to a door. Lloyd quickly got the idea and scampered into the small room to change.
When he walked back out, Lloyd found the monk working over a warmly glowing fire. The smell of food was in the air and it made Lloyd's mouth water. He also realized that he hadn't eaten since the night before in Aselia. Put simply, Lloyd was hungry enough to eat a Noishe sized steak.
Lloyd quickly found a bowl set out on a quaint table near the stove. He dove for the stool and claimed the bowl, wrapping his arms around it. As he waited, he glanced about and noticed a small statuette of a woman above the fireplace. The figurine's long blond hair and the staff she held were aglow from the fire below.
'Martel?' Lloyd wondered. He stood and walked closer to stare at the statuette. 'Could this be Martel?'
After a moment's contemplation, however, he shook his head. That man mentioned someone named St. Elimine. Lloyd turned to ask when his eyes caught sight of a folded piece of paper. He opened his mouth to ask his question when his mind recognized the paper as a map.
And not a map of Aselia.
"Where…?!" Lloyd whispered. His eyes widened as his legs automatically drew him closer to the piece of paper. His movement caught the monk's attention.
As the smaller man rose up and moved to join him, Lloyd finally said, "I think I'm really lost here … Where am I?" The monk stared up at Lloyd with a confused expression, his brow creased. He then pulled the map from the shelf it sat on, turned, and spread it out on the table.
"This is a map of Elibe, sir." The monk explained. He moved his hand across the well crafted map, gesturing to the landmass that indeed looked like nothing Lloyd had ever seen. Lloyd nodded, memorizing the map in his suddenly very active mind.
Lloyd watched the monk pointed to a northern piece of the continent. "The place we are at is called Ilia, near the southern border mountain passes. The passes are all blocked off with snow and ice this time of year, however, so if you wished to go anywhere, you would have to sail north." The monk pointed to the north and then dragged his finger across the map to the left.
"Now, to our west is Etruria, with the islands Caledonia and Ferbinia beyond them." Nodding again, Lloyd logged the names into his memory. The monk's finger shifted and drew a line down the map. "This is the desert land of Nabata, and to the east of that is the Lycian League. Beyond Lycia's southern border and a mountainous barrier, lays the kingdom of Bern."
"I see…" Lloyd nodded, making a mental note to head for Bern as soon as possible. He swore he heard someone called Nergal yell at a woman named 'Sonia' to head for that place. 'That Nergal person was probably the guy who brought me here…' Lloyd thought.
Lloyd reached out his hand and pointed to the small space of land between Ilia and Bern. "What is this place, mister?" The monk's face grew red and his hands fluttered over the map before responding.
"Those are the plains of Sacae, sir. Normally, you could make it there within a day. But with the passes closed …" the monk trailed off, but Lloyd nodded in understanding.
Lloyd's red-brown eyes were narrowed and his brow curled up as he stared at the map. He knew that he heard Nergal say something was going on in Bern. If he went there and cornered the man, he might find a way back home. The others were probably worried sick about him.
"Hey … could I use this map?" Lloyd asked the monk after a moment. The monk blinked and looked at Lloyd in surprise. Lloyd sighed and said, "I need to head out for Bern, and I don't think I can wait for winter to end. I take it that there are ships sailing this time of year?"
The monk nodded and stated that a port city near Etruria would sail a ship to Bern. Lloyd nodded and thanked the man. He took the bowl of soup offered to him while his mind worked away.
'Okay, all that I know is that I'm on a world completely different from Aselia called Elibe… and that I'm somehow stuck here. I'm willing to bet that this 'Nergal' guy, whoever he is, is the one who somehow managed to pull me over into this world. He must be up to something big, because he told that Sonia person to hurry up with something…'
Putting aside the empty soup bowl, he sighed heavily and leaned against the wall. 'I don't think I can use my wings here. There's not enough Mana for me to pull on. And since I left my swords back at home, I have very few ways to defend myself…' Closing his eyes, Lloyd found himself rather tired for the first time in a good while. 'Hopefully I'll find some answers soon…'