A/N: Merry Christmas! Well, it would have been if I managed to get this out on Christmas as planned, but I still needed to put some finishing touches on it. Still, it's once again been seven freaking months since I last updated, and I'm really, really sorry that I haven't been very quick with updating this story. A lot of things came up in my life that simply took priority over writing fanfiction. Hopefully, that hasn't decreased the quality of this chapter, but that is, of course, for the reader to decide. Enjoy!
Trials of a Teenage Tactician: Minds of Legend
Chapter 7: Pirate Ship
"Sean, you really are a landlubber, aren't you?" laughed the young pirate standing next to me.
In case it's unclear, I apparently get seasick really easily.
We were sailing on the Davros with Fargus's crew to the Dread Isle. It had been about three days since Fargus's test at Badon. Most everyone was either below deck or in their cabins. As for me, I was on the port side of the ship hurling the contents of my lunch into the sea. The laughing pirate was Dart. He was the one who befriended Bartre in the arena and took out Damian, and the one that told us about Fargus's test. The muscular sailor patted me on the back, which prompted me to vomit over the edge again.
"Damn it, Dart, don't do that," I coughed after I was finished.
"I'm surprised you had anything left to hurl," smiled the pirate. "The way you've been going, it's like our entire galley went overboard."
"Thanks..." I muttered. "Ugh... I can't believe we went through that stupid test for this..."
"Your mates seem fine," chuckled Dart. "They got their sea legs soon as we left. Surprised you haven't."
"Yeah... go figure," I sighed. I tried focusing out at the horizon, but my sense of balance was completely off because of the swaying of the ship. Nothing seemed to help my nausea.
Why did the Black Fang have to put their base on a freaking island?
"Ahoy!" I heard someone from behind me call. I turned to see another one of Fargus's crew members. He had reddish-brown hair and a square jaw, and wore a red tunic, black pants, and leather boots. He made his way over to where we were standing, and I noticed he was carrying a mug of something.
"Oy, Jake, what've you brought this time?" asked Dart.
"My mother's homemade remedy for seasickness," said Jake. "I thought you might want some."
Right as he finished saying that, I felt my head start to spin again. Once the nausea hit me, I had my answer.
"Give it to me."
Jake handed me the mug, and I took a sniff. I immediately gagged at the pungent odor.
"Wow, that's... potent," I coughed.
Dart moved closer, and then immediately pulled back. "Blimey, Jake! You want him to drink that?"
"It's not a pleasant odor, but believe me, it will do the job," said Jake. He looked at me. "Please drink it."
I sighed. Of course this was the only choice I had. I closed my eyes, plugged my nose, and downed the contents. For a few moments, I felt no change apart from a really horrid aftertaste that I'd rather not describe, but almost made me throw up again. However, it wasn't long before some of the dizziness seemed to die down. I still felt kind of nauseous, but it was much improved. I could actually make a coherent thought.
"Thanks," I said, wiping some drops of the cure from my lip. "Wow, that stuff really works. What's in that?"
"That's a secret," he smiled in response. "But, I will be happy to make more if you need it."
"Th-That won't be necessary..." I replied. I seriously didn't want to drink that stuff ever again. It worked well enough, but man, that taste was nasty. "You said your name was Jake, right?"
"Yes," he answered. "I'm new to the Davros's crew. I've only been with them for a few months."
"You wouldn't happen to be Anna's Jake, would you?" I asked.
"Huh? You heard about me from Anna?" he asked.
"Yeah," I smiled. "She told us to tell you that she was worried about you."
"Did she now?" he smiled. "That warms my heart, my friend."
"Ha! You're a lucky man, mate," chuckled Dart, patting Jake on the back. "Waiting and worrying about her man for so long. There aren't too many women like that these days, eh?"
I smiled a little at that. I thought back to the year before, on that hill in Caelin. I remembered Lyn giving me her locket, telling me to return it to her when I went back. And she did wait for me for that whole year, even though there was the possibility that I wouldn't be able to return to her. She waited for me, even though there were plenty of men who wanted her hand. I had to admit, I felt incredibly lucky that we were still together after what Dart said.
Though, that led me to another question.
"So Jake, why did you join Fargus if a girl like Anna is waiting for you in Badon?" I asked.
The maroon-haired young pirate smiled a bit, and had a pink tinge on his face. "I come from a poor family," he said. "Anna and I, we've known each other since we were children. We would always play pirates on the streets of Badon, and adventuring together. I love traveling, and so does Anna. When I had the chance to join Fargus's crew, I was so excited. But, a pirate ship is no place for a girl like Anna. But, she insisted that I go with him, to fulfill both our dreams. The Captain told me that I can make some money by sailing with him. I'm... hoping that one day, I can make enough money to buy my own ship. And then, the two of us will be married, and travel the world together. To make those childhood fantasies real..." He smirked a little. "It seems silly, doesn't it?"
"I really can't support piracy, but your dream doesn't sound silly at all," I smiled. "It never hurts to have a goal in mind. What you and Anna have is really special. And it will be much more so when you've reached that goal, and you two can live out your dreams together. I'm sure that Anna will work hard for you as well. She's doing pretty well as a barmaid. I really hope the two of you will be happy."
"I as well, my friend," smiled Jake. "I as well."
I turned to Dart. "What about you, Dart? Anyone special waiting for you?"
"Nah, not that I can remember," chuckled Dart. "I... I don't really remember anything past five years ago. When the Captain found me washed up on the shores of Badon, I had not even a name."
"Amnesia?" I asked.
"Most likely," he replied.
"I'm sorry, I had no idea," I said. I immediately felt bad for asking about the guy's past when he didn't even have one. With all our talk about childhood dreams, Dart must've felt completely left out, since he didn't even have a childhood.
"Bah, no need for apologies, mate," chuckled the pirate. "I love adventuring with the crew of the Davros, and the Captain is like a father to me. You two may be satisfied with settlin' down with a good woman, but for me, adventuring is everything I've ever wanted. My past... I hope I find it one day. But, for the now, I'm perfectly happy with my freedom. I will gladly stay with the Captain until I know who I am, and long after."
"Well said, Dart," laughed Jake. "The Davros is lucky to have a man like you aboard."
"And don't let anyone tell you otherwise," laughed Dart. He looked out to ocean. "But really, look at that. Past or none, I don't think I could ever give that up."
We all looked out at the calm sea as the Davros slowly cut through the waves. There was a moment's pause when the three of us simply stood there quietly. There was nothing but the cool sea breeze and the waves gently lapping against the hull to interrupt the silence. Dart made his point. He loved the sea, and the ship, and unlike me, it never made him sick. It was like home to him.
The moment's pause was interrupted when we heard the sound of wood knocking against the hull. We looked over and saw a small boat with the figure of a person lying down inside.
"What?" asked Jake. "What's a boat doing all the way out here?"
"Captain!" Dart shouted. "There's a dory adrift to port! It looks like there's someone aboard. What're your orders?"
I looked toward the rear of the ship, where Captain Fargus and our favorite red-haired lord were apparently talking. The two of them walked over to where we were standing. Fargus stared at the small boat for a second before answering.
"Bring 'em aboard," he commanded.
"Oy, Jake, help me pull it up," said Dart, grabbing a nearby hook with a rope attached. Before I could ask what he was doing, the amnesic pirate dove into the water with the rope, which I could see was connected to a pulley system.
"Dart!" I shouted. I then saw the bandana-clad man resurface and swim over to the small boat. He attached the hook to a ring on the front of the boat, and as soon as he did that, I saw Jake toss a second hook to him. Dart grabbed it and attached it to the back of the boat before getting in. Jake and another crewmember started pulling on one of the ropes, using the pulley system to lift the small boat out of the water.
"Wow, that's what I call teamwork," I smiled. "No wonder that test required us to watch out for each other."
"Looks like we've got a visitor," said Fargus. "Odd though, finding a boat adrift near here..."
Eliwood looked at the captain. "Odd? Why is that?"
"The sea currents in this area... Anything drifting around here must've come from the Dread Isle," said Fargus. I immediately felt the color drain from my face as soon as he said that. This boat came from Valor... It came from the Black Fang...
"Oh..." Eliwood said quietly. I could tell that he had the same conclusion.
"Shall we greet our guest?" asked Fargus. The captain made his way to where the boat would be dropped. Just then, I saw Lyn and Hector come down from the ship's bow. Hector walked over to Eliwood, and Lyn made her way over to me.
"Sean, what's happening?" asked Lyn.
"We found a small boat off the side of the ship," I told her. "There's someone inside. They're pulling the boat up as we speak."
"I see," said Lyn. We watched as the dory was lifted over the deck, and Dart jumped off, soaking wet. Another crewmember tossed him a dry shirt that looked identical to the wet one, which the pirate gladly switched to. I saw Lyn turn away as he took his previous shirt off, revealing his scarred but incredibly toned build. And I immediately looked at my own scrawny body and sighed heavily.
The small boat was lowered slowly and hit the deck with a small thud.
"Hey, you two! Come here! They've pulled the dory aboard!" Lyn shouted at the two male lords, who were whispering something to each other. They immediately looked over at us. "I wonder who's on board," she said. Dart walked over to the boat and started pulling a figure out. I could make out long hair, a small face, a bit of... chest...
"It's... It's a girl!" Lyn and I exclaimed at the same time.
Dart grunted as he tried to lift her by her shoulder. He looked at Lyn. "Oy! You there!"
"Me?" asked Lyn.
"Give me a hand, will you?" he asked. "I don't know where to... grab her." I swear, there was a bit of pink on his cheeks as he said that.
Lyn blinked a couple of times before responding. "Okay," she replied.
"Such the gentleman," chuckled Hector.
"Stow it!" shouted Dart. The pirate moved aside as Lyn took the girl by the underarms. As she got a look at her face, the swordswoman's eyes widened.
"Hm? Ninian!" she gasped. My ears perked up at this. Ninian? The dancer Ninian who traveled with us the year before? The Ninian that Darius and the Black Fang were after? I immediately ran over as Lyn picked the unconscious pale blue-haired girl up and gently lay her down on the deck. "Ninian! Wake up!" said Lyn.
I knelt down next to the sleeping dancer. I could hear her breathing slightly, so she was most definitely alive. But my thoughts were going into overdrive. Fargus said that the boat must have come from Valor, where the Black Fang was stationed. The Black Fang was after her and her brother last year. She must have escaped, but I also knew that even if she managed to elude them, she would never leave her brother behind. Where was he?
"Unbelievable... What are the chances?" whispered Eliwood.
"Do you know her?" asked Hector.
Eliwood nodded. "She's how Lyndis and I met a year back. I rescued Ninian from a band of villains."
"Please, Ninian! Open your eyes!" pleaded Lyn, gently shaking the dancer by her bare shoulders.
"Ah..." I saw Ninian's eyes slowly blink open.
"Ninian, can you hear me?" asked Lyn.
Ninian groaned, putting her hand on her forehead. "Unnn... I..."
"Are you well?" asked Lyn. "Why were you on that boat? Where is Nils? Why wasn't he with you?"
"Ah... ah..." groaned the dancer, attempting to sit up. She immediately lost her strength and fell down again, and Lyn was quick to catch her.
"Ninian?" whispered Lyn.
"Lyndis, something's wrong with her," said Eliwood, kneeling down next her. The girl looked at the lord with an almost blank stare.
"Who... Who..." she said quietly.
"She wouldn't recognize you," I told him. "Last year, she was unconscious when you saved her." I looked at the dancer, and her eyes slowly closed again. Her breathing eased to a slower tempo, and her body relaxed into Lyn's arms. "Ninian... what did they do to you?"
"Sean," Lyn whispered. "Last year, when we met Ninian and Nils-"
"Captain!" Dart's shout interrupted what Lyn was about to say. "Pirate ships approaching from the northwest!" Eliwood, Hector, and I immediately got up and moved to where Dart was standing. Sure enough, two other ships, about the same size as ours, were rapidly approaching our location.
"Do they dare attack Captain Fargus and the Davros?" asked Fargus. "They must be mad!"
"What flag are they flying?" asked Dart, looking closer at the ship. "I've never seen that pattern before." I took a look as well, but couldn't really make it out from that distance. Dart must've had really good eyesight.
"These seas belong to us! Whoever they are, they're in our waters!" shouted Fargus. He looked at Eliwood and Hector. "This is a day for strange occurences, it seems. You whelps watch you own hides. We've no time to waste on you!"
"I wouldn't ask for your protection anyway," I heard Lyn mumble. I looked at her, and she was shooting an annoyed glare at the pirate captain. She was apparently still against the idea that we were being dependent on pirates, but her sense of reason still remembered what I told her in Badon. Still, it would be incredibly difficult for her to put her trust in them unless something drastic happened.
Something drastic happened.
The two other ships gained quickly as Dart went below to gather some reinforcements. The Davros was a good, sturdy ship, but it could not outrun these two others that rapidly pulled up to both sides. This was it. We were going to be surrounded.
"Crap..." I muttered.
"Well, laddie, looks like we've got a fight on our hands," said Fargus, brandishing a very large axe. "You whelps put up a good fight at the docks, but now you're gonna see how this ol' sea dog handles his blade."
Right then, we heard a loud crash from below deck, and the boat began to shake violently. A few seconds later, we heard a scream coming from one of the sailors below.
"Water! The hull's been breached! We're taking on water!"
"Breached?" growled Fargus. "Those scum are more dangerous than I'd thought!"
Dart ran up to the deck. "It's bad, Captain! We need all hands belowdecks, or we'll sink!"
"Take care of it!" commanded Fargus. "I'm going to carve these scallywags some new gizzards!"
"We need your help!" another sailor shouted from below. "The water's up to the galley! You must come below, Captain!"
"Grrr..." growled the sea captain.
"Fargus!" said Eliwood as he unsheathed his rapier. "Leave the enemy to us!"
"Fighting is something we're good at!" said Hector. "But a sinking ship? That's your affair! You have to do something, or we'll all drown!"
"You whelps think you can command me?" said Fargus. "Listen here-"
"We'll deal with things up here," Lyn interrupted, lifting Ninian into her arms. "Please! Hurry!"
Fargus paused for a second and stared at the girl. It must have been that this was the first time Lyn had ever requested something from him. For this drastic incident, she was actually putting some faith in the pirates. "Fine!" shouted the captain. "The deck is yours! I'll be back as soon as we've plugged the breach in the hull!"
"Bring the rest of our group up here as well," I told Fargus. "We're going to need everyone's help."
"Of course, lad," smirked Fargus. "You whelps just keep 'em busy until ol' Fargus can-"
"Go!" commanded Eliwood, interrupting the captain. Fargus and Dart quickly ran down the stairs to the decks below as the sway of the ship increased dramatically. All of us did everything we could to keep standing. Lyn was about to fall over with Ninian in her arms, but Eliwood was able to catch her.
"Lyn! Take her to that room!" he told her as she was regaining her footing.
"I will," nodded Lyn, carrying the girl to a nearby cabin.
"Alright, Sean," Eliwood said as he faced me. "Have you ever planned out a strategy for naval combat before?"
"First time for everything," I replied. "I'll manage something. For now, we need everyone on deck."
I spoke with as much confidence as I could muster, hoping that Eliwood wouldn't see how I was really feeling at that point. Was I confident? No, not even close. Naval combat was never really something that we were taught at the Academy. Since pretty much every country in Elibe was connected by land, the actual need for naval warfare was minimal. Plus, I'm fairly certain the teachers themselves weren't very clear on what would go into naval strategies.
There's also the fact that, before this, I had never even been on a boat. I had only the last day or so in order think about what differences there would be between fighting on land and fighting at sea. Some basic combat strategies would probably be similar, but overall, fighting on the deck of the ship was going to be different from fighting on land. Things like a restricted space for combat, inherently unstable terrain, and a literal sinking feeling would need to be factored into any strategy for the battle.
For a moment, I hoped that these pirates practiced the code of parley.
The two opposing ships managed to catch up to us and almost surrounded the Davros on the port and starboard sides. The rocking of the sinking pirate ship was further becoming a nuisance, and this was noticable when watched everyone stumble. I watched the ships edge closer when Kent approached me after coming up from the lower deck.
"Kent, any news from below?" I asked the red armored knight. Both of us were near the stern, along with Marcus.
"Oswin, Lowen, and Dorcas are standing guard," said Kent. "If anyone pushes through us to get to the crew, they will be ready to fight."
"What about Hannah and Merlinus?"
"Safe," he told me. "They are in the same cabin as Ninian. Sain will guard the entrance."
"Such the gentleman," I smiled.
Kent made a small chuckle.
"Sir Kent, may I suggest that you join Sir Sain?" asked Marcus. "It will be wise to guard the second cabin as well, so we do not attract attention to the one with the young lady."
"Good idea, Sir Marcus," said Kent. "I will join him shortly."
"Okay, looks like Rebecca is in position above the cabins," I noted. "And Wil is sitting comfortably in the crow's nest. They have the high ground where they are, so we should be at a good advantage with our archers. Marcus, I suggest you make your way belowdecks. You are still in no shape to fight."
"Of course," he replied, getting up to go downstairs. "Good luck, my friend."
"We'll see you after this problem is dealt with," I smiled. With that said, Marcus made his way down the stairs.
"I will get in position," said Kent.
"Good luck, Kent," I smiled. The red knight nodded and made his way toward the cabins.
I walked to the port side of the ship, where one of the enemy ships was edging closer. Eliwood and Hector were at the very edge, followed closely by Lucius, Erk, Canas, Serra, and Florina.
"Alright, what's the deal with that ship?" I asked Hector.
"It looks like the old hag's rambling was correct," the burly lord replied. "That blasted ship is full of the Black Fang shamans that we saw in Caelin."
Eliwood looked over to the starboard side, where Lyn, Raven, Guy, Priscilla, Bartre, and Matthew were standing. The second enemy ship was fast approaching them as well. "Lyndis!" he called. "What do you see from the other ship?"
"Swordsmen," Lyn replied, staring at the approaching ship. "A large number of swordsmen."
"Well, Hannah's prediction was accurate after all," smiled Canas. "Her gift truly is remarkable."
"Indeed," I replied.
"Sean, what exactly is our battle plan?" asked Matthew. "The enemy is nearly upon us!"
"Right. Okay, everyone, listen up!" I shouted. "I talked to Fargus and learned a bit about ship combat. They're going to attempt to board our ship by first securing themselves to us using grappling hooks so we cannot flee anymore. Then, they'll probably set up long planks to act as bridges between them and us. They'll be climbing acros those planks to reach us."
"So, we push the planks off before they reach us," said Hector. "Seems simple enough."
"Don't get ahead of yourself," I told him. "It will probably be best if we let them try to cross."
"What?" asked Raven, incredulously. "What sort of plan is that? We allow the enemy to close in on us?"
"Thanks for the skepticism, Raven, but I've got reasons for this," I smiled. "First, the planks themselves will be incredibly heavy so they are not pushed over easily. Instead of trying to move them, it will actually be more advantageous to fight where we stand. The planks themselves will not be very wide, so the fights will pretty much be reduced to one-on-one."
"So, that's why you have me and Hector to fight the shamans," Eliwood realized. "We will have an easier time with barring their entrance to the ship, allowing Lucius, Canas, and Florina to attack from a safe range."
"Precisely," I smiled. "Now, you can also argue that we'll be preventing them from fighting at all if we manage to knock over the planks. However, the Black Fang are a persistent bunch. They will not rest until we hand over Ninian, and will keep coming after us. They even managed to damage the ship when they were some distance away, and I'm betting they can do it again. I don't know about you, but I'd rather not have Fargus and the others working on keeping us above water for so long."
"So you believe it will be best if we take them all out," said Canas.
"What I don't understand is why they need to board at all," said Lucius. "Would it not be best to sink us?"
"They are after Ninian," replied Lyn. "For some reason, they want her alive. That is the only reason we are all still afloat right now. The damage to the ship was simply to slow us down so they could board and capture her."
"And we must not allow that to happen," said Eliwood.
"Right, and to do that, we must not let them board," I said. "However, the way to do this is to let them try to come to our ship. Then, we fight. They will keep attempting to cross over to get to Ninian, no matter the cost. This is the Black Fang, and to them, failure means death." Everyone who was with us during the raid in the Black Fang's stronghold in Kathelet cringed, remembering the man who would rather down poison than be interrogated by us. "If we can hold out long enough, they will be severely lacking in forces, and then, we move onto their ships and finish the job."
"Well said," smiled Hector.
"Indeed," said Eliwood. "Everyone, get in position! Their target is Ninian! We must protect her!"
The two Black Fang ships pulled to both sides, and the grappling hooks were thrown over, catching the various ropes and walls of the ship. The two ships weren't going to leave our sides until we killed every last one of the Black Fang assassins. Soon, I saw the two crews lift their large plank-bridges, and watched the long wooden pieces fall in our directions. Everyone stepped back, allowing them room to land on the deck.
"Grab the girl!" I heard one of the shamans shout. "Kill everyone else!"
The battle began with the assassins closing in on both sides. Eliwood's group readied themselves against the approaching shamans, who were each chanting spells as they crossed their makeshift bridge to the Davros. As they reached the middle, the one in front cast his orb of dark magic. It sunk into the wood of the plank, and only a glimpse of a shadow was seen as it reappeared in the middle of the group and exploded, knocking everyone over. The shamans took the chance to rush onto our ship.
Or rather, they would have rushed on if Lucius and Canas hadn't prepared their countermeasures. While getting up, the two magic-wielders cast their spells together, sending one shaman flying into another, knocking both off the plank. The spell stopped the rush for enough time for everyone in the group to regain their footing. As the next assassin stepped onto the deck, Eliwood stabbed him in the chest with his sword and pushed him overboard before he even had a chance to scream.
"Awesome!" I exclaimed. "Keep doing it like that, guys!"
Meanwhile, the swordsmen and mercenaries were approaching quickly against the starboard group. Lyn, Raven, and Matthew took the lead, matching blade with blade against the first three to set foot on the deck. Raven was strong enough to overpower his opponent, eventually knocking him into Matthew's. The thief took the moment of surprise to slash the throat of his opponent, and kicked both overboard. Lyn, on the other hand, used her natural Sacaean agility to swiftly dodge her opponent's blade, and stabbed him in the stomach with her Mani Katti. She then proceeded to use her foot to force him off of her blade, and into the sea.
And then Guy put his head over the side and hurled like I did earlier.
"You okay, Guy?" I asked.
"Ohhh... I'm going to be sick," the Sacaean grumbled. "Doesn't this bother you, Sean? This ship moves too much..."
"Yeah, being attacked and having the hull breached isn't really helping things," I told him. "Look, maybe you should sit this one out..."
"I... I can still fight, though," Guy protested. "My sword arm's fine!"
"Sean! Behind you!" I heard Rebecca shout. I turned to see a burly, bald man brandishing a large axe and horrible hygiene smile creepily at me. I should emphasize the large axe because I noticed that way more than the fact that he was missing some of his dark brown dentures. His smile quickly faded when Rebecca fired an arrow into his back, and he began to fall forward... on the tip of Guy's blade. The young swordsman twisted his sword, and pulled it out of the large man's stomach, and pushed him overboard.
"As fine as ever," smiled Guy.
"Something's not right," I muttered to myself. "How did he get behind us?"
"Back! Back you fiends!"
I turned to see Sain fending off two swordsmen with his lance. He soon managed to stab one in the chest and ran him against the wall. As the other made his move, Kent leapt in and shoved his lance into the opposing swordsman's stomach. As soon as the coast was clear, Guy and I ran to the upper deck to join them.
"Are you two okay?" I asked.
"Never better," said Sain. "The cabins are still well-protected."
"How are these guys getting behind us?" asked Guy. "We have the bridges guarded."
His question was answered as we heard shouting from the starboard side. Two more mercenaries were swinging on the ropes of their ships, crossing the gap between them and the Davros. They landed right next to me.
"Well... fuck..." I sighed as they drew their weapons. Kent and Sain immediately charged at them with their lances, which the two mercenaries blocked with their axes. Guy jumped in with his sword and began fighting one of them. Sain managed to take the moment to draw his sword and started to fight the other one.
"We can handle things here," said Kent, drawing his sword as well. "Sean, you should head belowdecks where it's safe."
"R-Right," I replied. I ran down the port side steps back to the lower deck, where Eliwood's group was holding back the incoming shamans. As soon as my feet hit the lower deck, I heard a scream coming from the crow's nest. I looked up to see our archer hanging for dear life on the side of the mast, as a cloaked figure approached him while balancing on the wooden beam.
"Wil!" I shouted. "Crap, if he falls..." I looked at our resident flyer, who had just knocked one of the shamans into the water. And now, in retrospect, what I requested from her was pretty unnecessary.
"Florina! I need you to fly me to Wil!"
The lavender-haired girl turned to me and wasted no time helping me onto Huey, and we took off toward the shaman, who was casting a spell. It only took a few seconds for us to reach the same level as the shaman, and Florina readied a javelin to throw.
And then we turned to see another pegasus knight charge toward us.
"Wha-?" was all I managed to say before I got knocked off of Huey by the opposing flying animal.
"Sean!" Florina cried, catching my left hand as I began to fall. Huey snorted as he suddenly felt the weight on his back much less equally distributed. I could only dangle there helplessly as Florina struggled to pull me up while still holding onto her pegasus. Meanwhile, the shaman finished his spell and a dark energy orb slammed into Wil, who got knocked off of the mast head and started tumbling toward the lower deck. As it happens, I was dangling just within his fall trajectory, and I managed to grab his arm with my free hand. However, this just made things much worse for the poor pegasus that was keeping us all in the air.
"Sean... I-I can't..." Florina whimpered.
"Florina, if you don't let us go, you'll fall as well!" shouted Wil.
"But... But..." Florina tried to interject, when she suddenly got slammed into by the pegasus knight. Her grip immediately loosened, and Wil and I began falling toward the lower deck, my grip on him naturally loosening as well. I instinctively grabbed the nearest rope and began skidding down it. The friction of the rope combined with my grip and fall caused my palms to burn as I slid toward the ground, attempting to stop my descent. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough before I literally reached the end of the rope, leaving me to fall the rest of the distance onto the deck below.
I did manage to slow my descent enough to land on my back without serious injury, but not enough to avoid pain.
"Owww..." I muttered, putting my hand on the ground to push myself up. Bad idea.
"Ow!" I winced as my rope-burned palm had pressure put on it. "Fuck this stupid ship! Jeez!" I opened my eyes, and saw a dark-robed figure towering over my body. I managed to to prop myself up slightly to see the rest of the ship, which had a whole bunch of other people in similar robes all over the place. It took me a second to realize what just happened.
The rope I grabbed was attached to the wrong ship.
"Oh, shit..." I muttered.
"That cloak..." the robed man above me said quietly. I looked up at him, managing to make out a couple of his facial details. His eyes were obscured from view, but he had a thin jawline and a brown goatee. "Yes, I have knowledge of you."
"Wh-What?" I asked.
"You are with the group that opposed Heintz and Beyard one year ago," he said. "You are Sean, disciple of Lord Darius."
"You... you know about me?" I asked.
"I know that you are once again opposing the Black Fang," said the robed man, who pulled out a large dark tome. "You are once again an obstacle in our mission to obtain the girl. Know now that Zoldam will forever be your executioner." He began chanting a few words, and six balls of dark energy started forming above his head. I attempted to get up, but my rope-burned hands made it very difficult. Zoldam stopped chanting for a couple of seconds, allowing the dark orbs circle around me for a bit.
"Luna," he whispered, and the dark energy flew toward me. I managed to roll just barely out of the way of the attack, but it was so powerful that it blew me away from him. I took the chance to push myself onto my feet, ignoring the pain in my palms, and began running.
"Stop him!" shouted Zoldam. The group of shamans that were crossing the bridge to the Davros turned to took at me. I managed to look past them all, though, and saw Eliwood, who was clearly confused as to why I was on an enemy ship. Thinking quickly, I turned toward the shamans, and put my hastily thrown together plan into action.
"Look at me, I'm a target!" I shouted, and began running again. As expected, several of the shamans began to follow me, while the others were distracted enough for our group to start pushing into.
I ran toward the stern of the ship and hid behind the wooden mast there to catch my breath. It was a very short breath, as I noticed several round shadows converge on me. I looked up to see what was casting them, but saw nothing. And then dark energy starting coming out of them. I quickly dove out of the way, the shaman attacks only barely missing me.
I looked to see a grand total of six shamans approaching from the steps on both the port and starboard sides of the ship. They were all chanting in unison, clearly readying another wave of attacks. It wasn't long before they surrounded me, I had nowhere to run, and backed up against the mast beam. The dark energy that formed from their chanting all channeled into a single large orb, and then shot at me at high speed.
And I ducked.
The powerful wave of magic flew over my head and slammed into the wodden mast, splintering a large chunk of it. With the foundation unable to support the tall, heavy sails, the mast began toppling over. Thankfully, it wasn't toward the Davros, and the mast crashed relatively harmlessly into the ocean.
I say 'relatively harmlessly', because it did manage to shake the boat violently. The rocking was violent enough that the shamans and I all fell over from the shock, with me landing on my palms. Which were still burned from the rope.
I'll skip over the list of profanities I screamed due to the pain.
"You will regret this, boy..." growled one of the shamans, attempting to get up.
"Hey, it was your attack," I replied, using my fists to prop myself up. "Not my fault you're a lousy shot."
"You may have damaged our ship, but do not delude yourself into believing that this is finished," said another shaman. "Lord Nergal will have the girl. The Black Fang never fails."
"First time for everything," I said, managing to pick myself off the ground and stand slightly. It was still difficult due to the violent rocking.
A third shaman spoke up. "Disciple of Lord Darius, you have been warned. The Black Fang will prevail. You may still surrender the girl, and you will live to see the morning."
"That's not an option," I said. "Ninian stays with us."
"Then you are not as wise as Lord Darius has said," the shaman replied. "Be warned, Tactician. Lord Nergal knows of your involvement in Lycia. He knows of your mind. And his bidding is to destroy you."
"Yeah, you've been doing a great job, guys," I smirked. "Seriously, I've just been standing here talking after you broke your boat. None of you even took the chance to attack... me..." I trailed off as I looked at my feet. My shadow was surprisingly much darker, which made sense. Adding a second shadow made by dark energy would probably do that. The energy materialized into an orb, and shot at my chest, blowing me far back onto the main deck. It felt like someone launched a rock at me at high speeds. I rolled on the ground in pain.
In case you didn't get what just happened, I was a bit too occupied with making snarky comments at the enemy to realize that one shaman was preparing an attack.
On a somewhat brighter note, I think the part of my brain that controls how I feel pain was focusing more on the part of my chest that was hit with that attack than my ropeburn, so it was just a bit easier to push myself off the ground again. Still, it hurt like hell.
I looked to see that the shamans were quickly approaching again, and I got up to run.
And then the nausea hit me.
"Crap... not now..." I muttered, my brain trying to fight the suddenly returned seasickness. Worst possible moment for something like this to happen. I stumbled toward the railing on the side of the boat to hold myself up. This was it, I had no way out of this. The shamans quickly converged on me, and I couldn't run even if I wanted to. And boy, I wanted to.
"Perish, Tactician," whispered one of the shamans as another attack was being prepared. I closed my eyes and braced for impact.
"Did you forget about us?"
I looked up to see Hector slam one of the shamans with his shoulder, and then beheaded another with his Wolf Beil. And I promptly took the chance to throw up over the edge.
"Sean, are you alright?" asked Eliwood, pulling his rapier blade out from another shaman.
"Yeah... alive at least," I replied. I looked to see one of the shamans preparing another spell... until he got hit with a second dark magic attack that made his eyes roll into its sockets and fall over.
"That is good to know," said Canas, who put his hand down from the attack he had just made. "You are surprisingly resilient against our elder magic, Sean. I saw that Flux spell make a direct hit."
"Maybe I'm not dead, but it still hurts like hell," I told him, still clutching my chest. I looked up to see another of the shamans prepare another spell, and was promptly shot with an arrow from our favorite brown-haired archer.
"Wil!" I called. "You're okay!"
"Yes," he smiled. "Lord Hector was kind enough to break my fall!"
The look on Hector's face was priceless, as was that smirk that Eliwood made.
It wasn't long before we had killed all of the attacking shamans and won the ship. I was relieved that I didn't need to deal with being on an enemy ship where everyone was trying to kill me anymore.
The boat stopped rocking, and my nausea started going away for a bit. Everyone made their way back to the Davros over the plank bridge to help Lyn and the others against the remaining swordsmen, and I followed, ready for this fight to be over.
I stopped in the middle of the bridge when I heard that word. Before I could react, six dark orbs flew into me at high speed, and made contact. I felt for a moment that all of my body heat had left me, and I lost all function in my arms. I only could take a brief glance behind me, and saw Zoldam with his large dark tome. I had completely forgotten about him in the few minutes I had spent running from the other shamans.
"S-Stupid..." was the last thing that came out of my mouth before I lost all feeling in my legs and toppled over into the sea. I could barely make out Eliwood screaming my name, and Hector charging at Zoldam. The shaman didn't stand a chance, but it didn't matter anymore. "I'm done for..." was the only thought in my mind as my body hit the waves beneath the Davros. I don't know how long it took before I blacked out completely, but I do remember that sinking feeling, in both a literal and figurative sense.
That feeling that I was going to die.
"... What the hell?"
That was the first thing that came out of my mouth as I found myself in the dimly lit corridor. The walls were made with green stones, and I could smell the mildew that seemed like it was building up for years. How I got there after presumably sinking to the bottom of the sea, I had no idea, but standing in the middle of the corridor wasn't going to give me any answers.
I made my way through the stone hallway, looking to see if there was any way to get out of the dungeon, but the hallway just seemed like it stretched out for miles. Well, it didn't really, but at that point I was pretty impatient about leaving. Every time I was in a place like that I would end up getting beat up or blown up.
I finally made it to the end, and there was a bright flash of light that forced me to shut my eyes for a second. When I opened them again, I became witness to a scene that would be etched into my mind for days to come.
Everyone was dying.
In the incredibly spacious chamber, made from the same stone that lined the corridors, I saw a large band of soldiers lay bleeding on the floor. The viscous red liquid was seeping through the cracks in the tiles, and the dying moans of the people who had apparently been fighting were all barely audible to me, but at the same time, so prominent.
"What happened here?" I whispered. I scanned the room again, and I looked to see a face that I had not expected to find in this dungeon. I quickly ran over to where his body lay, clutching a stab wound on his stomach.
"Eliwood," I whispered, kneeling next to the red-haired lord. "Hey, Eliwood, can you hear me?"
The poor guy was hanging on to dear life, and I could barely understand his incoherent mumbling at first, but when I moved closer, it was a bit more clear.
"... They are... too strong... too organized... Mother... Father... Please... forgive me... P-Please..."
"Eliwood?" I whispered, gently shaking him. "Hey, Eliwood?" And at that, his arm, the one clutching his wound, fell to the ground with a gentle thud. I fell over and crawled backward a few steps. I knew what that meant. I knew it all too well. Eliwood was dead.
"No way..." I whispered. "What the... What the hell happened here? I... Oh god... This is..."
I managed to look around, and saw some other familiar faces among the deceased. Hector, Marcus, Oswin, and Lowen were all sprawled out around the floor, and many others were lying face-down in their own blood. It was too much. I had seen too much. I wanted nothing more than to leave that hellish place. But, I couldn't move. I was paralyzed.
"My Lord, it is done."
I looked over toward the end of the chamber. On top of a set of stairs was a man in a large cloak. His face was obscured by shadow, but his presence was nothing short of imposing. In front of him were several kneeling figures, also obscured by shadow. However, I recognized one, and only one. His orange hair seemed to actually flicker under the small torchlight, and his black cape was stained with the blood of my friends.
"Well done, Darius," said the cloaked man. "Your tactical mind is truly one of legend. Now, with the death of the children of Lycia, we have won. The Dragon's Gate will be opened, and Elibe will belong to us. On this day, the Black Fang has prevailed!"
The shadowed figures rose one by one, and I suddenly heard a rumbling in the background. The chamber began to collapse, and a deafening screech echoed through it, and a bright white light engulfed the area...
I jolted awake, gasping for breath. As soon as my mouth opened, I started choking. I was completely unable to take a breath until I felt a strang hand pat me on the back, and I was able to cough out the water in my lungs.
"Easy there, mate, you'll be fine. Those Black Fang curs are all gone now."
I looked to see Dart's face smiling at me. His hand was on my back, meaning he was the one who knocked that last bit of water out of my lungs. I took a look at my surroundings, and found that I was on the deck of the Davros.
"I... I'm alive..." I whispered.
"That move worked so well on you earlier, I thought I'd give it a shot," the pirate smiled.
"How?" I asked. "I was hit by that spell..."
"And you tumbled into the sea," said another familiar voice. "I had to jump in after you when I came aboard."
"Fargus?" I asked. "You... You saved me."
"You're one of me mates now, laddie," smiled the old pirate captain. "And I always take care of me mates."
"I'm starting to believe that now," said Eliwood, who was standing over me. "Thank you."
"Eliwood, you're okay!" I exclaimed.
"We all are," the red-haired lord smiled. I looked to see everyone kneeling close to me, to see if I was alright. They were presumably there waiting to see if I would wake up after nearly drowning. The looks of relief on their faces are hard to describe, but let's just say some of them were in tears.
One in particular ended up running over and embracing my completely soaked body.
"Oh, sweet Mother Earth, you're alright!"
"L-Lyn..." I started, but her hug tightened.
"I'm sorry," she whispered, and I could feel the warm tears on my cheek. "I... I should have protected you."
"Hey, d-don't blame yourself," I told her. "Really, it wasn't your fault." I uneasily lifted my arms to return the embrace, and this time, I didn't care how much I was blushing. Though I'm pretty sure it was hot enough to evaporate some of the tears. I was just happy that I was alive to feel her arms around me.
"Alright, laddie, you can have some time with your girl soon as we get you in some dry rags," chuckled Fargus. "Oy, Jake! Bring the lad a blanket!"
Jake did as he was told, and he and Lyn wrapped it around my body. I immediately felt warmer.
"Let's get you to the cabin," said Jake. "There's a dry change of clothes in there."
"Sounds good," I smiled. Lyn and Eliwood helped me up, and we made our way toward the cabins that Sain and Kent spent so much effort protecting. As soon as we reached them, another familiar figure made its way onto the deck, moving clumsily toward our group.
"Ah! Ninian! You can't come out yet! There's blood everywhere!" said Lyn, letting me go to help the pale-haired dancer.
"...Blood?" asked Ninian quietly. She stumbled a bit after saying that word.
"Look out!" said Eliwood, catching her.
"...Ah! I'm sorry," she said quietly.
"Are you okay?" asked the red-haired lord. "Ninian?"
The dancer looked at Eliwood with her large red eyes. "Ninian?" she asked. "Is that... me? Is that... my name?"
Lyn gasped. "Ninian! What's happened to you?"
"...I..." she started, and then put her hand on her temple. "My head... is so foggy. Am I... at sea?"
"Yes. We found you adrift in a small boat," Lyn told her.
"Those scum were after the girl, it seems," said Fargus. The pirate captain heaved a sigh before he continued. "Will you take her with you? The men are afraid she, well, she might be cursed, you know?"
"Cursed?" asked Hector.
"Are you suggesting we leave Ninian behind?" Lyn said as she shot the pirate captain a glare.
"We can't take her with us, can we?" asked Hector. "We're heading for the Dread Isle. It's dread for a reason, you know!"
"Regardless..." Lyn looked at the girl Eliwood was carrying, who was still not fully there. "She goes with us!"
"Lyndis?" asked Eliwood.
"The last time I saw Ninian... She and her brother were being hunted by some dark-robed men," said Lyn.
"Dark-robed?" asked Hector. "Are you sure?"
"Yes," said Lyn. "It was the Black Fang." She looked at me as she said this, and I nodded in agreement. "It had occured to me before, but now I'm certain."
"How can you be sure?" asked Eliwood.
"I can't explain..." said Lyn. "There's something in the air that hints at their involvement."
"If it's true, then she's likely to be attacked again," said Eliwood.
Lyn nodded. "Almost certainly. We can't leave her behind. I will watch over her. Please..."
Eliwood smiled. "I understand. We should be by her side to protect her."
"Thank you," Lyn said as she returned the smile.
Eliwood looked at the girl in his arms, who was looking at him intently. "We're all going to that island," he told her. "Will you come with us?"
"Y-Yes..." Ninian replied. "Please... take me with you..." And with that, she lay her head on Eliwood's shoulder and promptly fell asleep.
Night came soon enough. Everyone basically told me to get some rest after everything that had happened today, so I sat alone in my bunk, staring out the window at the starry night sky overlooking the ocean. Admittedly, it was very soothing to just watch the gentle waves after a hard battle, with nothing but the slow creaking of the ship, the flickering of the candle, and the ocean noise reaching my ears. I really could have just dozed off to the ambience.
I looked to see Lyn standing at the entrance to the room with a small bowl in her hand. "I brought you some soup from the galley. I thought you might be hungry."
"Y-Yeah," I replied. "I am. Thanks." She smiled and sat down next to me. She gathered a spoonful of soup and held it toward my mouth. I felt my face heat up. "I-I can feed myself."
"I wasn't questioning your ability to eat," Lyn chuckled, before letting out a small sigh. "I was simply worried that you may not have the strength to. You did nearly die today."
"Yeah," I sighed. "Sorry."
"You shouldn't apologize," she told me. "I watched you when you had to fend for yourself. You were able to outwit several shamans and damage their ship in the process. I really was very impressed."
"I... thanks..." I said, probably blushing like hell. "B-But, I don't really deserve any admiration from you. I really shouldn't have been on that ship in hte first place. I got knocked off Huey and wound up there. I just did what I could to survive. And in the end, I got careless and let Zoldam hit me with that stupid spell. So... I'm sorry that I worried you again. I know how much you hate that."
Lyn sat there with a contemplative look on her face before she spoke again. "I was discussing something about you with Eliwood earlier. About how you always join us on the battlefield although you do not fight. We... think it may be best to change that."
I paused. Did she really say what I think she just said? "Are... are you saying that you don't want me with you on the battlefield? Am I being a burden?"
"No, of course not!" Lyn replied defensively. "I know better than anyone how well you do as a tactician, and how important you are to our success. And I told you last year: you were never a burden. To me or anyone else." The Sacaen set the bowl of soup on the ground, and put her hand on top of mine. "But, Eliwood proposed that it may be a good idea for you to give us a strategy before a battle, and then hide with Merlinus and Hannah. We will follow your plans, of course, but you will be much safer away from the fighting."
"Not going to happen," I told her. "I'm still coming with you guys."
Lyn blinked. "That was a much faster reply than I was anticipating."
I smiled a bit at that. "Look, I know that whole thing with the shamans could have been handled better today. I would've been completely out of danger if I had just stayed out of sight. But, when I'm with you all, I can adapt my strategies to suit different situations. Plus, I'd personally feel a lot better actually seeing you guys execute my plans. Also... I have a feeling that I need to be with all of you. I need to be with you or... I'll regret it forever."
I trailed off toward the end of that, because I didn't want to say what I was really thinking. If I'm not with you, Darius will kill you all. I didn't know at the time whether that scene where I saw everyone die was a vision of the future or just some hallucination of my dying mind, but it was real enough to me. I swore that I would not let that happen to my friends. I would be with them, and guide them against Darius.
"Somehow, I knew you would disagree," smiled Lyn. "No, I will not stop you from what you are doing. But, I swear that I will protect you with my life." It was about this point where I realized how close her face was to mine. "Sean, my master tactician."
"Lyn, my peerless warrior." I seriously said that reply without thinking. It's like those two phrases have become completely connected in my brain. I guess that we've said those enough that they really were always going to be said together.
I didn't have time to think much further before Lyn leaned forward and kissed me. I was a bit disoriented, honestly, but that didn't stop Lyn from leaning even more, pushing me to lay down on the bed with our lips still connected. Eventually, I was fully laying on my back, while Lyn was still in a sitting position, but was completely leaning over me. I honestly have no good way of describing the feeling, apart from 'amazing'. I never wanted it to end.
The candle flickered out, leaving me and Lyn to be illuminated only by the starry night sky through the window. For that moment, we were only living in each other's presence, completely forgetting about where we were heading.
We would be reminded of it the following day, when we arrived at the shores of the Dread Isle.
A/N: End chapter! Man, that took way too freaking long to write!
I mentioned in the end of the previous chapter that the story would start getting quite a bit darker from this point on. Well, now I wrote my first dying scene! Doesn't get much darker than that. Now, I should put in a disclaimer that I have never had a near-death experience or know what it actually feels like to wake up after drowning, so please take my description of it with a grain of salt. However, I hope that I've captured the fear that Sean felt after being hit with a freaking Luna spell by Zoldam, who is considered a pretty difficult boss in this stage of the game. If my writing is as as good as I hope it is, that scene should have been a shocking one, where the music comes to an abrupt stop and it takes a second to register what the hell just happened. Maybe I'm hoping for too much...
Regarding that scene, I seriously wanted to end the chapter there and leave it as a cliffhanger, just like I did with the penultimate chapter of the first Trials story. But then there was the problem of this still being the middle of the story and there being some kind of important dialogue afterward, and having Sean unconscious for that would have just sucked. So, instead of having him wake up from a coma in the following chapter, I just resolved it right away. I just really hope it didn't seem rushed, because it actually kind of was...
The scene where Sean dreams that everyone was dying was actually one of my ideas for Chapter 1 of Minds of Legend, but I had decided to save it for another time. Did it come out of nowhere? Yes. But I think it worked out for the best. Is it important? Well, it's relevant to the spin I'm taking on this story. Like I said when I started on Trials, this story will follow the story of FE7, but this addition to it is something for even the most hardened veterans of the GBA game will want to look out for. It's not much now, but it will build up, and the result is something that I have yet to see come out of any Fire Emblem fanfic. Believe me, it's going to be good.
That's all I really have to say about this chapter. Hope it was enjoyable, and please leave a review!