Well, it was a good idea when it started, but I'm not very happy with the way it turned out. I don't know why, but I just feel dissatisfied with it... Anyway, sorry to anyone who supports other Eliwood pairings. I hear Ninian's more popular in that respect. But I like the pairing, so deal with it. On that note, the tactician doesn't exactly have what you'd call a personality in the game, huh? I took the liberty of giving him the default name and a rather ambiguous personality. Hooray for decisiveness.

Disappearance

Up the cold, stone steps I went silently, two at a time, tracing the patterns on the wall. It had been far too long since I visited them, and for good reason, for he was king, after all, not to mention beset with illness. I almost felt a twinge of guilt for interrupting the no doubt few moments the royal family was able to spend together, resting. Nevertheless, I found myself knocking thrice on the wooden door despite myself, producing a dull thud for each bang, echoing loudly and slowly fading away.

There was some unintelligible talking inside immediately following my knocking. A chair scraped against the floor, someone took a few slow, shuffled paces, and the door creaked open, revealing a small, homey little room lit by a fireplace in the back. Marquess Pherae popped his head out from behind the opened door with a weak smile. I was surprised, for last I had seen him he had seemed perfectly healthy, and despite our correspondence through letters alerting me to his health, it both surprised and sorrowed me immensely to see the great warrior reduced to bedridden sickness. "Eliwood… What happened to you…?" I inquired, trying and failing to hide my worry from seeping into my voice.

He managed a hollow laugh in response, and even that laughter was weak. "It's nothing, this happens periodically. I fall sick, back, and sick again, this is perfectly normal. I suppose age is catching up with us." It was clear he cared not what he was feeling physically. Knowing Eliwood, that concern was quite probably directed toward his people, and of course, his family. Looking down, he noticed the rain dripping from my tattered cloak and gestured inside. "Never mind me, Mark, please, come inside and have a hot drink. Cider, perhaps?"

I nodded gratefully as we stepped inside the room, taking the goblet he handed me from the central table and taking a gracious sip from it, wiping my mouth with a loud and satisfied sigh and taking a moment to observe my surroundings. Eliwood evidently had simple, yet refined tastes. Nothing looked terribly fancy to the point of squalor, but the multitude of tapestries and decorated upholstery spoke of much care and effort.

Noticing the two remaining cups on the table, I turned around. Lyndis stood to the side wearing a gilded blue, traditional Sacaen dress, holding a sleeping child with flaming red hair (despite his age) in her arms, rocking the boy back and forth with a smile. "You're late, Mark," she said softly, obviously not wanting the baby to wake. "We were expecting you half an hour ago."

"Apologies," I returned with equal quietness as I draped my cloak on the nearby hook. "My steed was frightened to pieces in the storm. I was forced to stop at a tavern a ways away from here to let the animal rest and find another horse. Cost me a small fortune. I told them to send the invoice to you, be expecting it."

Lyndis was about to protest, and she certainly looked peeved, but thankfully, as if on cue, the child awoke, crying almost obscenely loudly. Her attention turned to the baby, crooning and stroking its cheek with the crook of her index finger. "Shh, shh, don't cry, don't cry… There now…" As the child was reassured by his mother, he quickly was pacified and put at rest, cooing and gurgling happily. Lyndis and Eliwood smiled collectively as I stepped up for a closer inspection. Laughing, the boy grabbed my index finger as I extended it down, pulling hard. "Roy, hm? So this is my godson," I murmured, smiling. "He has a good grip, excellent strength. Even better eyes." Eliwood beamed with pride, crossing his arms.

"So, Mark, we've been hearing some interesting stories of you for the past few years. Care to tell us about it?" Lyndis asked, not bothering to look directly at me as she placed the boy back into his cradle, covering him with a blanket and planting a kiss on his forehead. "What've you been up to?"

I smirked, recalling past memories as I reached for a chair from behind me and pulled it up. "Ah, nothing much. Took a couple disciples, both duds. I guess you're talking about the hunts. Almost every Lycian territory sent spies and scouts all over the continent to try and find me, but Bern and Etruria even fought a few battles, maybe even a small war, over the right to recruit me. I was running all over the place, adopting aliases left and right." I paused, thinking. "Actually, could I stay here for another week or so?"

Lyndis snorted, turning to face me, and putting her hands on her hips. "You send us an invoice for no reason, drink nearly an entire bottle of our finest wine, then expect us to let you stay an entire week for free? I don't think so, Mark. Cough it up."

I sighed. "Well, it was worth a shot." Reaching for my cloak, I took a small step backwards, but tripped over a wooden pedestal, just barely catching the side and pulling myself up. "Eliwood!" I yelled, both annoyed and perplexed as to why there would be a podium in the middle of the walkway. "What's this stand doing here?"

"Oh, this?" he said, stepping forward, and picking up the thick tome sitting on the stand, riffling through it slowly. "It's not like I have too much to do in my spare time. I decided to write a journal chronicling our adventures during the war, the best I can remember them."

"Huh," I let out absentmindedly as I took the book he handed me, looking through the ink-filled pages. "You're really accomplished at writing… But I hate to ask, as you're so far ahead, but would you mind leaving me out of the story? I really don't want the credit. In fact, I might actually leave."

Eliwood raised an eyebrow in surprise as he set down his cup on the table. "Why? You're the most brilliant strategist the world has ever seen, and likely will never see again. Lyndis would never have restored Caelin without you, and I never would have found my father. You even saved the world with your tactics, and you deserve recognition for it." Lyndis nodded vigorously in agreement with each sentence Eliwood spoke.

Waving my hand in dismissal, I laughed their praise away nonchalantly. "Yes, maybe I am a genius, but I'm a genius who prefers to stay out of the spotlight. I'd much rather the world forgot about me. It's much more relaxing, to remain anonymous. I was thinking of disappearing anyway, to some hole in the desert, like Pent did, so no one will find me at all."

"But Mark," Eliwood protested. "Don't just up and leave! For once, just let us give you the credit you deserve!"

"Sorry, no can do, I've made up my mind. I'm not worth mentioning, let me retire in peace. Give Roy my place in the stars, I'm sure he'll make a fine warrior. Besides, don't you think it's much more epic to lead an army to victory against all odds, then vanish off the face of the planet, not even accepting recognition? Makes for a much better legend. And don't worry, we can write the occasional letter, even if we won't meet in person."

Lyndis sighed, holding her forehead in her hand. "You're really just going to leave? You haven't changed, have you…?" Her expression softened after a brief pause, smiling. "Fine, the world will forget you. Just remember that we won't."

"I wouldn't have it any other way," I replied, grinning. She got up and embraced me around the waist, gripping me so tight I was sure I was going to burst. Eliwood also stood up and smiled. I patted her on the back, then put my hand on Eliwood's shoulder. "Take care of the kid, would you?" He nodded, wiping a tear away from his eye.

"Goodbye, old friend."

"You, too." I took my cloak from the hook, draping it around my shoulder with a dull swish. Taking one last moment, I glanced back at Roy, who stared back with unwavering eyes, then at Eliwood and Lyndis, smiled, and disappeared, finally satisfied. The world never saw me again.