Of Sorcery and Strategy

A/N- I've read a number of stories starring the tactician and Lyn, but only two where the tactician is also a competent fighter. One of those is a Zelda crossover, and the other was abandoned. So, I decided to write my own, where Mark is not only a strategist, but a sage as well. For the record, the pairings I know will be in this story are Mark/Lyn and Eliwood/Ninian. I reserve the right to add other pairings as well.

Disclaimer: I don't own Fire Emblem or any of the characters, Nintendo and Intelligent Systems do. All I own is the plot.

Chapter 1: The Name

The young man struggled across the plains. It was the height of noon, and the heat was scorching. He was low on water, and was lost. He shouldered on, though, for he knew if he stopped he would not get up again for awhile. That could be dangerous in this land. He recast the spell that kept him from getting sunburned. He had been channeling this spell ever since he entered the plains, and it was starting to take its toll.

"I need to find water and a place to spend the night." The young man had a habit of talking to himself. It was probably because he had spent the last three years doing mercenary work in different places. He had no one he would call a friend, and only a few people he even deemed 'acquaintances.' His life had been long and hard, and he was only twenty years old.

Up ahead, he saw it. Green ferns were growing. He knew this signified water nearby, and he headed for the plant life. As he got closer, his prayers were answered. The ferns were growing on the bank of a sparkling river. The water was clear, and the land around it soft dirt, not the grainy sand he had been walking on for miles. The man gratefully set down his small rucksack, and filled his canteen from the river after taking several large gulps. He then gathered up some branches. He plucked some of the taller ferns and draped them over the branches to form an acceptable lean-to. After that he gathered more branches and some rocks. He arranged the rocks in a circle, and put the wood in the middle. He then concentrated slightly, and the branches caught fire.

Fire had always been his strongest power. He didn't really have much trouble with any of the schools of magic (he wasn't considered Ilia's strongest mage for no reason), but fire was his favorite. His first lesson had been to create a fireball, and he had succeeded spectacularly. Of course, his teacher had a number of books to replenish and the patio needed to be redone, but he had still created a fireball.

After he had a fire going, he extended his senses and felt around for signs of life. He found a rabbit nearby, and decided to hunt it the old-fashioned way. His power lay in his magic, but he made a point to remain physically fit. He also decided to learn the art of the sword and the bow, because sometimes it takes much less energy to do something physically rather than magically. He could have snuffed out the rabbit's life by concentrating on its neck and making it snap, but that took more energy than drawing a bowstring back, and releasing. Besides, he needed the practice with the bow, and better to do it here than on the battlefield where he could miss and hit an ally instead.

He drew his bow and fitted an arrow. He crept closer to the rabbit, took aim, and fired. His arrow was slightly off. He had been aiming for the neck, and instead hit the animal in the leg. The man was many things, but he was not cruel. He did not try to refit another arrow, but instead magically put the rabbit out of its misery. He picked it up and brought it back to his campsite. He drew his knife, skinned it, and put it on a spit over the fire, before sitting back and relaxing.

He had turned the rabbit over twice when he heard it. A twig had snapped behind him. It was probably just some animal looking to take a drink from the river, but he had many enemies, and he had not lived this long by being complacent. He extended his senses once again, and just barely managed to stop himself cursing out loud. Three human life-forces were headed his way, and chances were good they weren't fellow travelers. He quickly snuffed out the fire and moved into the shadows.

His fears were confirmed when three men trooped into the clearing. They were all well built and muscular, without shirts. They all had facial hair, and had sharp axes strapped to their backs.

Bandits.

The leader (i.e. the biggest one with the sharpest axe) turned to the other two and said "Looks like these travelers left in a hurry. I don't suppose they'd mind if we poor folks helped ourselves to that there rabbit."

Bozo number two (he had to call them something) chuckled. At least, the man thought it was a chuckle. It sounded more like he was coughing up a fur ball, but then, he was a bandit. Bozo three responded "Yea, Boss, that rabbit sure looks good."

Mark decided this would be a good time to intercede. He was hungry, after all, and he didn't want to have to hunt another rabbit. He stepped out of the shadows and said "It's also mine."

The three whipped around while drawing their axes. The leader stepped forward, and said "Who are you to challenge the Taliver over their goods. We found this rabbit boy, and if you value your life you'll scram while we're interested in other things."

The man remained calm. He had dealt with worse before. "My name is my own, and you do not own what you simply happen upon. That rabbit is my dinner, and I will have it even if I have to go through the three of you."

The leader didn't give it a second thought. He roared and charged the man, axe raised high. His two companions followed suit, and the man reacted. He couldn't simply concentrate and kill these men like he could a rabbit, because humans were much more complicated. It was possible to do, but he would be dead before he could complete the spell. Instead, he summoned a small but powerful wind that turned the leader around. The leader's axe swung about and struck down Bozo number two. Bozo number three continued forward, and the man leaned to the side while drawing his sword. He was positioned such that Bozo number three stumbled past him and fell into the river.

The leader howled in rage and sung his axe again. The man deflected the blow with his sword, and he and the leader started to circle each other, testing each other's defenses. Meanwhile, Bozo number three was pulling himself out of the water, and now he and the leader were side by across from the man. The man took this chance to end the conflict without more bloodshed, for he had forgotten the strain to himself from holding up his sunburn protection spell all day and he was starting to tire. He acted quickly, summoning the shadows to him, wrapping them around him and obscuring his features from the two bandits. He cast a spell over his eyes, making them glow green, and another spell to make his voice deeper. He then spoke "You mess with powers you don't understand, mortals. Flee this place if you wish to live the night." As he expected, the two bandits turned tail and ran, splashing through the river to the other side and beyond.

As his head started to swim, he brought his strong will into play, forcing himself not to black out before the bandits had been out of sight for awhile. If they came back and found him passed out, they would kill him. Finally the call of darkness was too strong to resist, and he faded away.

He woke slowly, and his first thought was that he was extremely comfortable for a man lying on dirt. His second was that he was far too comfortable to be lying on dirt, and that something was wrong. He opened his eyes to find he was lying in a bed, not on dirt, and he was in some sort of tent. His third though was of his weapons, which he normally slept with. He sat up and looked around. His observant eyes spotted his rucksack, sword and bow on a chair in one corner of the tent. In another corner sat what was probably a fire pit for cooking food. A few clothes were laid out in the third corner, and another sword was in the forth corner. He examined this new sword. It was smaller than his, one-handed, curved with a gold-plated hilt. It wasn't anything spectacular, but it was functional. It probably belonged to a woman or a very small man.

The tent flap opened then, and a young woman walked in. The man analyzed her, and immediately noticed her beauty. She had a nice figure with long, flowing green hair tied back in a pony tail, a beautiful face, and piercing green eyes. The man also noticed that she didn't carry herself the way most women did, but instead had a grace that suggested she was used to wielding a weapon. The sword in the corner was probably hers.

She spoke then, with a musical voice that he almost fell asleep listening to. "Oh. I see you're awake. That's good. I was beginning to get worried."

This caught the man's attention. "Worried? How long was I unconscious?"

"Almost twenty-four hours. I treated the small cut on your hand, but I couldn't see any sign of other injuries. I didn't know why you were unconscious in the first place." The man let out a small sign of relief. Twenty-four hours actually was pretty normal for magical exhaustion. He guessed the girl had never dealt with mages before, because magical exhaustion was pretty easy to spot. If there are no physical injuries, it's probably magical. He didn't say this though, because the woman had been kind to take him in like that, and there was no need to antagonize her.

Instead, he said "You have my thanks, lady. I don't care to think what might have happened had I been unconscious on the plains for twenty-four hours. Might I have your name?"

The woman was apparently raised to be very polite, for she apologized before answering. "Oh how rude of me! I'm sorry, my name is Lyn. Might I have yours, stranger?"

"Certainly. My name is Mark."

A/N: There! First chapter of my first fic. I didn't really make it clear, but I don't plan to follow the dialog of the game. In fact, I plan to go out of my way to change some of the lesser details of every chapter, in order to make things interesting. I won't skip any chapters, I will include all characters, and the major points of each chapter will remain the same, but I hope to make this as novel like as possible. I don't know how often I'll update, but I'll try to be consistent. Let me know what you think.