This will be a novelization for Shadow Dragon's four-chapter prologue. At present time, that is all I'm planning on doing. If I feel I'm up to it, I might choose to novelize the entire game, but... we'll see.
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
It truly was a beautiful day. A sunny, partially cloudy day in the lush fertile lands of Altea, with the sun shining its golden strands of light to illuminate the landscape. Farmers did their farming, the horsemen tended to their horses. Altea had no real problems with bandits or troublemakers, the country always seemed to be flow with peace and goodwill, some called it the blessing of Anri, the ancient hero who founded the country. Others would have said it was simple luck that Altea was spared what other nations sometimes went through. Whatever the case, Altea had always been a peaceful nation, one at peace with itself and its neighbors. It even had a long-standing friendship with the nations of Gra and Talys. All this peace contributed to why the sudden disappearance of the military didn't phase most individuals.
This was not to say that Altea was complacent with its bounty, it's military was one of the most finely crafted in the world. Gra could not match it, but then, why would Gra be fighting Altea? Macedon, the home of the famed wyvern-riders, could not match it, Talys, the greatest naval power in the world, could not match it, Khadein, the nation of mages, would be similarly overwhelmed. Perhaps Archanea and Grust were the only nations that could meet Altea head on and not look like fools rushing to death.
Despite its military strength, Altea was a fairly small country, compared to mammoths like Archanea and Macedon. Yet Altea had by far the greatest legacy, it was Anri's country. The hero's country.
Centuries ago, Anri was the name of the hero who defeated the Shadow Dragon, Medeus. It is said that Anri wielded a divine blade known as 'Falchion', crafted from the tooth of a Divine Dragon, and with it, crushed Medeus and the empire of Dolhr. That divine sword, ever since Anri's time, rested in Castle Altea.
Of course, skeptics to the story of Anri were abound. Dolhr was nothing but a countryside home to Manakete dragons hiding in caves and abandoned castles. It seemed mere foolishness that the Manaketes had ever maintained an Empire. Yet all the same, there were others that believed with all their hearts, but even they had to admit that the legend may have… exaggerated his tale somewhat.
Anri likely had not slaughtered ten thousand Manaketes with only his bare hands, likely did not fight the entirety of the Dolhr Empire single-handedly, nor was it likely that he had defeated a well-rested Medeus when he himself was half dead from exhaustion. Yet it was true that Anri had likely turned near defeats into rousing successes, had lit a fire in the hearts of the humans of his era, and led humanity from the depths of slavery, to freedom.
The proof of his existence lay in the Falchion that for so long had sat undisturbed in Castle Altea. A mere glance at it and any blacksmith could tell that the blade was forged of a material they had never seen before. Whether it was truly forged from the tooth of a Divine Dragon… was debatable.
Right now, Altea's military was not present in the country itself. A full month ago, Cornelius, the king of Altea, had left with the greatest troops the nation had to offer, in his hand was Falchion.
That fact seemed to unsettle some of the elders, who knew that the military disappearing might have foretold a conflict. Though rumors of a war with Archanea or Macedon certainly persisted, and talks of relations with Gra having turned sour were abundant, no one really knew what was going on.
And that last rumor would have simply been laughed off. Dolhr was just a collection of bitter Manaketes loosely allied together, and Medeus, he was dead. No more then a story for children, 'You had better behave, or Medeus will come take you away', just something to try and get the younger ones to act properly. No, whatever Altea's military had left to fight, if indeed it was a war they had run off to, was another human nation, not against Dolhr, or against a bunch of Manaketes stewing in resentment.
Yet, in the coming weeks, the people would find that the suggestion of Dolhr, and the possibility of being betrayed by Gra, were, perhaps, a bit closer to the mark then anyone could have suspected.
At present, Altea was ruled by Queen Liza, Cornelius' beloved, and with her were the royal children. The older sibling, princess Elice, and the younger sibling, prince Marth.
Marth, prince of Altea, paced anxiously through the halls of the castle he called home. His father, along with the great majority of Altea's knights, had left once they had determined that Medeus, known as the Shadow Dragon, had risen. Marth's father, Cornelius, unlike most of the nobles, was interested in the tales of the ancient conflict between Medeus and Anri, the legendary hero. Cornelius didn't ridicule it as a fantasy as others had, and believed that there was, indeed, a chance that the Earth Manakete was out there, plotting a cold revenge from whatever realm he had been banished to.
When Cornelius made the call to arms, there were no objections, though many, Marth knew, were skeptical about Medeus' existence, let alone his 'resurrection'. Cornelius even petitioned Altea's ally, Gra, for aid, this aid was granted, and the combined force of two of the world's most prominent military forces now marched on Dolhr, and Dolhr's newfound allies, Grust and Khadein.
What of the other nations? They had surely caught wind that war was coming, though they made no move, perhaps biding their time to see how it could be turned to their advantage, or waiting to see which side fate would favor.
Marth continued to pace, briefly bringing a hand up to the hilt of his rapier, 'if you have so much energy to pace, then surely you have the energy for your training' his father was fond of saying. Yes, perhaps a little time with Frey and Jagen could do him some good.
"Princess Elice." One soldier spoke, Altea's princess, older sister of Marth rose her head from whatever book she was reading here in her hearth. She smiled and nodded in recognition of the man. He wouldn't say that she had been so engrossed in the book that it had been his third time calling her name.
"Is there something I should know?" She asked, closing her book, but not before putting a piece of cloth on the page she was on so she could come back later.
"We have a message from the front-lines. I'm not allowed to read it, but-" the soldier revealed a letter in his hand, taking a step forward to hand it to the princess, who accepted it between two fingers. The man stood stoically silent as princess Elice opened the letter, she knew full well that this could have offered horrible, horrible news, or tremendously uplifting news, but she remained calm and in control. She held the letter in front of her and began to read.
For several seconds she seemed to be sucking in the words in the paper, perhaps just as mesmerized by it as she had been enraptured by the book she had been reading previously. Then she suddenly gasped, her free hand going up to her lips, her other hand tightening its grip on the letter as she continued reading, her breath now frozen, and her eyes welling up with horror. As she finished reading the letter she bolted from her chair.
"G… get Marth, now!" She suddenly exclaimed, offering the tone of voice that didn't allow any questions to be asked. "The throne, tell him to meet me at the throne." The soldier hurried out of the room, she sank back into her chair, her head dipped down, wearing a face of utter defeat.
"Father…" she voiced, barely audible, "Father… tell me… you didn't…"
Marth always seemed to sweat profusely after a good session with his many trainers, a sign that the sessions are going well, as he had been told before. Most trainers came and went, but Jagen had been helping him develop his skills for as long as he could remember. Because Jagen had been one of his trainers for so long, he knew full well Marth's potential, and how little flaws were present in Marth's swordsmanship. After the session a nice bath had been prepared, and now, with a new set of clothes on, he felt refreshed and better, but with nothing else to do, he returned to his anxious pacing in his room. He didn't have his older sister's interest in reading books and scrolls, he always wanted to be moving, actually doing something. So, his pacing continued, contemplating on what to do next today, until a knock came on his door.
"Please, enter." Marth responded to the knocking, his door creaked open and a soldier walked in. One of the few royal guards that was still here in the country.
"Prince Marth, your sister wishes to see you." He said, folding his arms behind his back, "Said to meet her by the throne, she wants to talk to you about the king's war effort."
"I see." Marth responded, feeling a mixture of relief and dread over what the news could be.
"I'm not privy to the details, but I suspect that it's urgent." He said, then added under his breath "Considering the tone of voice she used when requesting your presence."
"I understand. Thank you." Marth nodded, then walked past the soldier.
"At your service, sire." The soldier answered, though the words were spoken too softly to carry to Marth. Feeling no need to escort him, the soldier continued on his way, conducting a patrol of the castle, a few short minutes told him that the interior of the castle was safe, even despite the lack of the normal soldier supply. It would seem the ideal time for bandits to make their move, perhaps even the ideal time for some Altean noble to try and pull a coup, but nothing had happened. The castle was-
He was suddenly pulled to the side by the arm of another, the Altean soldier was disoriented by the sudden movement, but regained his equilibrium with professional swiftness. He found himself face to face with the person who grabbed him, he was staring at the helm of a Gra soldier.
"What-" The Altean began, "Gra…? What are you-"
"Hm." The Gra soldier began, "I had been hoping the prince would be with you. Too bad." At those words the Altean felt an acute sharp pain in his gut, sharp enough that it took an effort not to scream in response. He tilted his head down to see a sword of Gra design sticking into his gut.
"G-Gra-" the Altean choked out, "What… are you…"
The Gra soldier's only response was to grab the Altean by the shoulder and shove him away. The Altean fell on his back, blood beginning to pour out of his wound. The Gra soldier kneeled down to grab the hilt of his sword, and swiftly ripped it out.
"Bleed to death." Was all the Gra soldier said to the Altean. The Gra soldier raised his hand and made a number of small gestures with his fingers, in response, a number of Gra soldiers appeared from pillars and corners and a number of other hiding places. Taking their cues from the soldier who had performed the kill, they stalked down the hall, their presence in the castle remained unknown to all. All who had seen them had been killed, or, in the case of the last Altean, were about to die.
There was no need to clean up any corpses, it was only early morning, Altea would be dotted with corpses by the time the sun reached it's zenith.
Marth began to near the throne, oblivious to the Gra soldiers behind him. No strike came, they were to take him alive, King Jiol of Gra wanted the prince taken alive, the princess was irrelevant. The lead Gra soldier made more hand gestures to call for a halt in the Gra movement. The soldier examined the prince for a moment.
"He's heading for the throne." The soldier said, he made another series of gestures, two members of the group broke off to head down another path, one that led to the throne, just in case they needed to corner the prince to seize him. With that order given, the soldier made a final gesture to have the others follow him, they moved quickly and silently at first, then louder as they got closer to their target. Stealth was no longer required, and the prince noticing them was no longer an issue.
As expected, Marth realized that there was someone behind him. He continued to walk, and turned his head over his shoulder, probably expecting another Altean soldier, instead what was behind him were clearly soldiers of another land. He stopped, spun on his heel, and faced them, the Gra soldiers, in turn, stopped several paces away from the prince.
"Who are you?" he asked, not raising his voice unless he had a reason to believe that he was in danger.
"We're soldiers of Gra, prince Marth." The lead soldier answered. The soldier's eyes traced themselves to the rapier fastened to Marth's side. Trivial. A prince who had endured little beyond mock battles against instructors that were supposed to lose would prove little challenge to him. "If you know what's best for you, prince, you'll be surrendering to us."
"Surrender?" Marth raised an eyebrow. "But… Gra's an ally nation. Why would I be asked to surrender?"
The lead soldier tilted his head in confusion and bafflement, then leaned his head back and laughed. "Oh, guess word hasn't reached even the nobles of Altea yet." He stopped laughing, and drew his sword. "Prince, Altea lost a friend in Gra today, and if you don't cooperate, it'll lose a prince in you today." The other soldiers began drawing weapons, two wielded lances, another two had axes, but the leader, the one talking to Marth, was the only sword wielder. "I won't repeat myself again prince Marth, surrender."
"I will not." Marth responded defiantly, his hand instinctively going to his rapier, "I will never brook a surrender in my nation, under my own roof!"
"Humph. This little mouse thinks himself an eagle. That pride will attain you only a slow death, Altean prince." The Gra soldier scowled, he watched Marth closely, as if sizing up a meal, then sighed. "We're supposed to deliver you alive, doubtless that meant in pristine condition, but perhaps a little roughing up can be forgiven." The soldier pointed at Marth with his free hand, and two axe wielding Gra soldiers ran forward, they shifted their grip on their axe to a slightly more ineffective grip. They weren't good at holding back, so all they could do was change their method to one slightly less lethal.
They rushed as Marth took his rapier out, the prince backed away from an axe swing that would have critically wounded his sword arm, and leaned to the side to dodge a horizontal swipe. With his rapier in hand, Marth sliced at the elbow joint of one of the Gra soldiers. The soldier responded with a yelp and drew back as the other advanced on the prince. The second soldier missed again, Marth's retaliatory stab went into the soldier's lightly armored gut.
Marth flinched. Enemy or no, he felt it as the Gra fell down as the prince removed the rapier. Unless a Cleric saw to him, Marth had probably indisputably damaged a vital organ or two. He recovered from the realization that he had fatally injured the man just in time to respond to the other axe man, who made a massive swing down, attempting to slice into the prince's shoulder. Marth jumped back, letting the axe swish through the harmless air, Marth sprang back and slashed his rapier across the man's chest, the Gra soldier fell back, clutching his chest, but Marth attacked again. This time across the throat, the soldier fell down and ceased movement.
"Hmm… it would seem that the mouse knows how to bite." The lead soldier mused. He turned to the two lance wielders, "Subdue him, but remember, he must be taken alive. 'Else it'll be our heads on display, not his."
The lance wielders charged forward, but to no avail. Though the reach of their weapons benefited them, and allowed a few cuts and scratches to be applied to the prince, they were swiftly defeated as well.
Marth paused, breathing heavily, bent down, one hand resting on a knee, the other still clutching his rapier. He raised his free hand off his knee and wiped his brow, which was sweating. Operating off of reflex and instinct at the moment, he shut out thoughts of guilt or regret over the now deceased soldiers. He couldn't be thinking about it, not now.
The lead soldier growled as he stepped forward with his sword. "I suppose my men let their guards down because of your obvious pampered life, but I will not follow their mistake. You'll see for yourself the difference between holding back, and pointlessly giving your enemy opportunities." The lead soldier charged, true to his word, he allowed no opening, though he clearly was not fighting with his all. He swung, he stabbed, he parried, he had clearly been training since a young age, and was in his physical prime, the fourteen year old Marth had much growing still to do.
The prince was no lightweight, the soldier had to give him that. Marth's fighting style had few faults and openings, but as the soldier pressed himself, probing for weak points, he suspected that he already knew how to subdue Marth. Marth, he figured, knew little of long drawn-out battles, and would likely panic if he could not make a quick decisive blow to the soldier. Yes, the soldier decided to hang back and put himself on the defensive and allow Marth to grow flustered.
He didn't. Not for a moment did Marth seem to lose his composure. The soldier tried to draw out the battle, a minute passed, then two, then five, if anything was discomforting Marth, it came from his unfamiliarity with striking to kill. In the soldier's frustration, he sprang from the defensive to the offensive, and realized his mistake too late. He nearly ran into Marth's rapier, and the prince took his opportunity, fatally stabbing the soldier in the upper chest, directly beneath the neck.
"N…no…" the soldier spoke as he began to cough blood. "If… if I had captured you, I… could have… bought a nation… with the… re…ward…" The soldier breathed his last and fell down. Marth gasped in horror at the five corpses around him, there had been no other way, but, he didn't know, didn't understand killing. He could fight, but it was for pleasant sparring and entertainment, he knew nothing… nothing of striking to kill, but he had done it. Gulping hard, he turned away, trying to put the twisting feeling in his gut behind him. The door to the throne room was right there in front of him.
The two Gra soldiers who had been in the throne room turned expectedly, the presumed their allies would walk in, with Marth tied securely and gagged. They were surprised to see Marth walk in, armed.
"Humph. Didn't they attack him?" One Gra soldier asked, crossing his arms in mild frustration. He examined the prince, the expression in Marth's eyes told them that the prince had encountered their allies, and then the soldier noticed the blood on Marth's rapier. "Wait, he… he killed them!"
"Oh, did he now?" The second Gra soldier, sitting on the throne, examined the prince before him. "Well then, less people to share the reward with." The soldier chuckled to himself, "Disable him anyway you feel is appropriate, but he must be taken alive, otherwise… you know how he will reward failure, of course."
"O-of… course." The first Gra soldier answered, lance in hand, he moved in on Marth. "Drop your rapier, prince Marth. It's your only hope of survival."
"Have you gone mad? This is Altea, and you will be forced out of the nation."
"Oh? Tell me, Marth, who will it be that tosses us out?" The soldier on the throne asked. "Already your entire nation has been invaded, the march on your castle should begin momentarily."
"What-" Marth stammered, disbelieving. "You… you lie!"
"I'm afraid not." The soldier standing a few feet away from Marth answered, "But you won't see for yourself, you're about to fall asleep, and you'll awaken in the audience of… well, you'll just see." The soldier charged forward with his lance, keeping the lance low to the ground, hoping to end the fight quickly by hamstringing the prince, rendering him unable to use his legs. Marth jumped to the left, dodging the attempt to slice his legs, he spun around to regain orientation and stabbed his rapier at the soldier, but the Gra soldier was prepared. The soldier suddenly spun, the rapier moved through the empty air to the left of the soldier's head, and the soldier's elbow struck painfully into Marth's side.
With a grunt, Marth moved with the blow, taking a step to the side. The soldier tried to follow it up with a disabling round slash with his lance, but Marth ducked the attack, and cut into the soldier's upper thighs. The soldier shrieked and backed away, Marth saw the opportunity and pressed an attack, critically stabbing the man in the gut. The soldier toppled over, clutching his wounded abdomen as life began to drain out of him.
The last soldier looked at the display, and began to laugh. "Ah-ha. If I'm the only one to take you in, and take the reward all for myself, I'll easily be the richest man on the entire continent."
"You!" Marth suddenly growled, "Get off my father's throne!"
The soldier just began to laugh louder. "Don't you mean your throne? Because if I heard the reports correctly, your dear ol' pop is-"
The final Gra soldier, somewhat taken aback from the fierceness of Marth's word, stood up from the throne and slowly descended down the steps. "Well, in a few days, it won't matter who actually belongs on this throne, now will it?"
"Altea will endure. It always has."
"I wonder if it can endure occupation, hm?" The soldier brandished his lance, and without further warning, charged. This one was more skilled then the last, but not as in control of himself as the one who wielded a sword in the hall. He was enthusiastic and relentless, no doubt envisioning the reward he would get for delivering Marth to his superiors. He allowed opening after opening on himself, made needlessly large swings, so needlessly large, that Marth managed to get into his range after one such swing, and struck across the soldier's neck.
The soldier, rather then sputter and fall over, clutched at his throat and simply laughed. "Sorry, unlike my comrades, I like some assurance." He pointed to his neck, wrapped around it was a guard, a piece of metal ready for this sort of situation. "Get more creative with where you're striking me!" The soldier sneered as he continued his attack, charging forward with his lance in an obvious attempt to stab the tip of his weapon in a non-vital part of the body, Marth moved to the side as the soldier ran across the room before skidding to a halt. He turned around and charged again, and again simply passed Marth, but this time Marth's rapier cut painfully into the joint between the soldier's upper arm and shoulder.
"Ungh…" The soldier backed away, "Perhaps I acknowledge your skill, I may very well not survive, fighting like this." The soldier looked at his lance and sighed, a small war was being fought inside the soldier's head. "I will fight with all I have, even if it means delivering you with some of your limbs missing."
The soldier charged again, but did not fly past Marth this time, stopping several paces away. He was now fighting more defensively, using the length of his lance to his advantage, preventing Marth from getting close enough to attack. You could never fight this defensively on the battlefield, with all your focus on keeping just one person away, but in a confrontation between just two people, it could prove highly effective. The soldier waited, forcing Marth's attacks away, until finally he saw what looked like an opportune moment. Marth shifted irregularly on his feet, he was off-balance, and the soldier took the chance, charging forward hoping to disable Marth with a blow across the arm and leg with one cut.
Taking that chance was a mistake. The soldier stopped mid-attack, as if he had been caught on something. He felt a sharp pain in his chest, tilting his head down he saw Marth's rapier imbedded in his chest.
"Ah… hard to believe…" he took a step back as Marth took his rapier out. "Still, I s-suppose… this is… better then… the Emperor's punishment…"
"Emperor?" Marth raised an eyebrow. "You're from Gra, you serve a king. King Jiol. Not an Emperor."
The soldier slumped onto his hands and knees, laughing one final laugh that dissolved into a hacking cough. "If… if you only… knew." He made an effort to stand back up, but only succeeded in rolling himself onto his back. He made a sputtering cough before his body began to spasm, then he lay still.
Marth breathed hard, the prince who had never killed before… the last few minutes had seen a total of seven people die at his hand. His arms shook, and he was sweating more from the mental strain then the physical. He had been given only a few scant moments to think about it during the actual fighting, but now? He closed his eyes, and all he could think about is if those soldiers might have had families waiting for them, or other people who depended on them. His head throbbed with guilt, even if the situation had been 'kill or be killed', he still couldn't completely rationalize his actions.
It was not a pleasant feeling. To suspect that he may not have been in the right, he mentally pictured the faces of these soldier's families receiving the news, and-
"Marth!" Marth's attention was snapped to the here and now by a familiar female voice. He spun around on his heel to see his sister walk in the room.
"Elice!" The shadows departed his guilty heart for a moment. "Are you okay? Have you-"
"Calm down, Marth." She responded calmly, she walked in, then froze at the sight of the two deceased Gra soldiers, she hastened her movement suddenly, getting to Marth to lay a hand on his shoulder. "Are you okay, Marth? Did they hurt you?" She directed her gaze toward the two Gra soldiers.
"No, I'm okay. Just a blow to a rib." He said, though with an almost sulky tone. "You… wanted to see me?"
"Yes, Marth." She lowered her arm to feel around Marth's rib area, looking for whatever injury Marth had just spoken of. She found one spot that Marth winced at when she touched, she sighed, not having a Staff on hand to heal the wound. "I would have sought you out rather then arrange a meeting point if I thought the castle had been infiltrated."
"You couldn't have known, Elice." He said, "But, these guys, they said they were from Gra, but Gra is…"
"Gra." The color went out of her face at the word. "So, the contents of the letter was true." She sighed, wearing a face of utter worry and fear. "Marth, please, read this letter." She handed a piece of paper to him.
Accepting the paper, he held it in front of him and began to read it. The contents were simple and to the point, but they had the most critical ramifications. Their father, king Cornelius, was defeated by the combined forces of Dolhr and Grust. The defeat was because of Gra, Gra betrayed Altea and struck the Altean force from behind. Unable to adapt to what was happening, the Altean army was decimated by its three enemies.
Marth reeled like he had been punched, he gasped in complete horror. "No…" he whispered. He bowed his head in misery, his vision misted up as tears tried to form, but none got out. The guilt eating him in regards to the Gra soldiers was a mercy compared to the shock he was feeling now. He had only one possible silver-lining.
"F-father!" Marth suddenly said. "I-is he okay?"
Elice's eyes turned even more sullen then they already were. "I… do not know. That letter contains all that I know. I do not believe he is dead, but we have something else entirely to worry about."
Marth looked at her miserably, not wanting to hear whatever it was she had to say, but there was nothing he could do but listen.
"After Altea's knights were defeated, Gra turned around, they're marching on Altea. With Altea's military already devastated, it's more of a mass pillage then it is an invasion, and they're marching on our castle right now."
Who will it be that tosses us out?
Already your entire nation has been invaded, the march on your castle should begin momentarily.
I wonder if it can endure occupation, hm?
No… they, they were telling the truth. Plainly and coldly.
"We can't stay here, Marth. Gra's main force is already marching on the castle, and Grust's Sable Order will be here within the hour to serve as reinforcements. Altea is lost, and we have to accept that. If the nation is to persist, then we, the royal children, must flee at once."
Marth dipped his head back down, back to the letter that had spelt the end of his peaceful life in Altea. "Okay… which… which way do we go?"
"A few of our most reliable knights are still here. Head toward the western gate, Abel and Frey should be there. Trust your safety to them."
"Huh? Elice, what about you?"
"I'll flee as well, Marth. But, there are things I must see to before I leave." Elice responded, she did not, however, make eye contact with Marth as she spoke the sentence. "Go, Marth."
Marth felt his gut churn. "You… you'll follow me, once you've taken care of it, right?"
Elice looked at Marth's face, the concern that was so evident on his face both soothed and pained her heart. "Yes, we'll escape together."
"Okay…" Marth responded, an obvious feeling of reluctance evident in his voice. Elice gave him a sisterly hug, embracing him as if this was there last meeting, and it very well could have been, before sending him off. He sullenly dashed away, just as he escaped from Elice's field of view, the door in front of the throne opened, she tensed at the possibility of a Gra soldier, but was relieved at the sight of the aged Malledus walking in.
"Princess. Gra has broken through our front gate." Malledus spoke calmly, suppressing any form of panic he might have had in him.
"I assumed it had progressed that far." Elice settled herself into the throne. "I've already seen to it that Marth is fleeing to the western gate, if he's to have any hope of survival, he must trust the knights that remain there."
"Very well. I have all necessary things on me right now, let us follow him."
"No, Malledus." Elice spoke calmly. Malledus' eyes widened in shock. "I will remain here, in the castle."
"What? Elice, what are you saying? Gra is invading, and they'll reach the throne room in a manner of minutes. What knights we have are being cut down in scores, and-"
"Father might be dead, I don't know where mother is, and soon my brother will be gone from the land, I will be the only one suitable to lead our people. I cannot leave."
"Elice, that… that's utter foolishness." He sighed. "Ever since you were a child you were reasonable, you were always reasonable, surely you can be reasonable about this. Simply gather your things, follow Marth and I, and-"
"Malledus." Her tone sharpened, she was not interested in battling over this subject as Gra's treacherous blades were creeping closer. "I am not requesting or asking, this is a command. Go with my brother and leave me here."
"E-Elice, I-" He tried to protest, but she responded with a harsh, reprimanding look, and he knew the argument has been settled. "I will… assist your brother as best I can."
"I know you will, Malledus. You have proven reliable too many times in the past for me to believe that you will fail now." She rested her hands in her lap, leaned her head back and closed her eyes. "If father is truly dead, then Marth will be the only man in the world capable of wielding the Divine Blade, Falchion."
Malledus paused, trying to understand her reasoning, and nodded. "I pray that you survive, if this is the way things must go." Malledus said solemnly, "I… hope that this won't be the last day you see your brother."
"As do I, but it is naïve to expect less then the worst." She nodded, and waved a dismissive hand. Malledus obeyed, leaving out of the exit that Marth had used to escape.
No sooner had he left that something heavy struck the door across from her. She saw the hinges strain to hold the door in place, but to no avail. The object struck the door again, and a third time, until finally the floor burst off its hinges upon the fourth strike. She saw what looked like a battering ram in the hallway that led into the throne room, and Gra soldiers began to pour in. Every possible form of soldier, those who wielded swords, axes, lances, tomes, it was good that Marth and Malledus had fled, they would not have escaped this mass.
One soldier, who seemed to be the commander, stepped forward.
"This is… the princess?" His voice revealed absolute disappointment. "Blast, we need the prince, not his wench of a sister."
Elice allowed herself a bitter smirk at how they were wasting time here, valuable time her brother was using to escape.
"Useless princess. The only thing you're good for is being a practice target." The commander walked forward with a lance. Elice didn't move, ready to accept this, if Marth could escape, to return someday, she would accept all the pain and agony that would be inflicted.
The commander paused at the voice, scanning the area around him, wondering if it was just his imagination he heard. Then he turned around to see his troops looking around in confusion as well, across the room, even Elice's eyes darted to and fro.
Not the prince… but she may well be of some use to me.
A gleam of magical energy burst into existence in the room, before fading as fast as it came. Elice recognized it as the effect of the Warp staff. She didn't recognize the man who had appeared, but the Gra commander apparently did.
"G-Gharnef!" The commander instantly fell to his knees in recognition. "You… you wish to take this one alive?"
This man, he had become ruler of the nation of Khadein, and his ascension had been… very recent. "A woman of royal blood… she could have many uses." Gharnef responded, "Seize her."
"Yes my lord! At once!" The commander pointed at two soldiers, who came up, swiftly ascended the steps to the throne, and seized the princess. Elice was led down the steps, and "escorted" out of the room.
"Continue your search for the prince. His death is the singular goal of this charge into Altea. If he escapes, this entire invasion will have been a mere waste." Gharnef turned to leave.
"Yes, lord Gharnef." The commander responded. The commander paused, pondering something, "Gharnef, what shall be my reward?"
Gharnef turned back to the commander. "You seek a reward?"
"My lord, we were told that the capture of any important individuals would result in a reward." He nodded, somewhat shakily. "The princess, though not an intended target, seems to be one such individual, in accordance with the system, I'm privileged a-"
Gharnef's eyes widened, and shifted to a hollow black color. The Gra commander gasped in terror as a geyser of Gharnef's forbidden magic erupted beneath him. The unholy magic wracked his body, and within seconds the commander died, but the magic continued to toss the limp body around for several seconds before it stopped, depositing the corpse onto the cool Altean floor.
The sorcerer turned back to the Gra troop, "Does anyone else want to demand a reward from me?" No one dared move, too fearful of what reaction Gharnef could give. "Good. Captain?"
"Yes, my lord?" One Gra soldier, who had been directly beneath the deceased commander in their hierarchy, walked up to Gharnef. He knew that Gharnef despised outward displays of fear, and commanded his muscles not to shake.
"Scour the castle for the prince. Find him and bring him to me." Gharnef pivoted his head slightly, addressing not only the captain but the entire Gra force as well, "Fail to locate him, and tell Medeus yourself." With that final statement, he warped out.