New Chapter Time! And it's a support conversation one! Anyway, sorry it's taken so long but, with me being back at school, I haven't had as much time to work on any of my stories. For that same reason, the next chapter's probably gonna take a while too.
Now, originally, I was planning on posting my response to certain reviews up here, but, after writing the response to a certain review, I spotted that my response was almost as long as this chapter itself... So I placed my responses at the bottom so people can skip over them as they wish.
Now, originally, I was planning on making this a regular chapter but the conversation between Rath and Lyn grew so long that eventually it just became easier to add a Matthew/Nils support (which was something I'd wanted to address for a while, since I felt Matthew's dislike of Nils was growing out of control). This support chapter is much more serious than the last one and, in fact, it's pretty serious compared to most chapters in this story. So enjoy!
Vesper + Lyn + Rath
Matthew + Nils
Vesper + Kent + Sain
Lyn + Rath (B Level)
"I found another one over here!" Erk suddenly called, from where he'd been digging.
"That makes 17 bodies now." Vesper groaned. "What the hell have they been doing here?!"
After discovering the severed hand, the group had dug up the ground around it, in search of its owner. Instead, they found 3 more bodies, all with grievous battle wounds. While digging those up, they found even more bodies. And more. And more.
"It's like some sort of mass grave." Lyn grimaced.
"It is a mass grave." Vesper scowled. "But who's in it?"
"Maybe it's a dumping ground for the Black Fang's enemies?" Lyn suggested. "Villagers who rebelled against them, or something?"
"I don't think so." Vesper shook his head. "All the bodies weve found are in a similar state of decomposition, suggesting they were all killed and buried at around the same time, about a month ago. Also, if it was just a pit of enemies, then I'd expect to see a few women or children in here. Not to mention, they've been stripped of most of their clothes. There's no reason you'd do this for some simple villagers."
"That makes sense." Lyn nodded. "So who are they then?"
"I don't know." Vesper admitted. "They're too decomposed for me to be able to tell anything else about them
"Let me take a look." Rath offered, running over. "I might be able to spot something."
"We're not untying you." Lyn growled at him.
"I wasn't asking you to." Rath shot her a brief glare, before bending down to take a closer look.
"Look Rath..." Vesper sighed. "No offense, but if I couldn't spot anything more, then I doubt you ca-"
"They're soldiers." Rath interrupted.
"They're soldiers." Rath repeated. "Look at the blisters on their feet. You only get that way from many weeks heavy marching. There are smaller ones on their hands, from lifting and practising with heavy weapons. Also, the wounds on their bodies are much more shallow than what you'd usually expect, suggesting they were wearing armour. Thus suggesting they were all soldiers."
"Blisters?" Vesper grabbed a foot to take a closer look. It promptly came off in his hand, but that didn't seem to fase him. "I can't see any blisters! It's too decomposed!"
"I'd point them out to you if you'd untie me." Rath suggested. "Anyway, they're barely visible, but the fact that they're visible at all shows how bad they were, when the victim was alive."
"And how do you know so much about corpses?" Lyn gave Rath a scornful look.
Rath ignored the venom in Lyn's voice and began to explain. "Marquess Araphen often sent me on missions to eliminate... troublemakers in Araphen-"
"Like innocent women and children?" Lyn scowled.
"That's enough." Vesper said sharply. "Rath, continue."
"As I was saying..." Rath shot Lyn a glance. "The sorts of people I was sent after, often left a trail of bodies behind them. In order to help track them down, I quickly learnt how to deduct things from the bodies left, hence why I can identify features of a decomposing corpse better than most people."
"And you're certain they're soldiers?" Vesper asked.
"Definitely." Rath nodded. "Although where they're from and why they're here still eludes me."
"Okay." Vesper thought a moment. "Hey Lyn, can I borrow your sword?"
"What for?" Lyn asked, skeptically.
"I'll explain later." Vesper reassured her. "Now can I have it?"
"Fine." Lyn grudgingly passed him her sword.
"Good." Vesper strained under the weight of the sword. "Now, if we're going to be travelling together, you and Rath need to sort out your differences. I know you're annoyed since Rath tried to kill you... and endangered Nils... twice... and led you into Araphen's trap... and-" Vesper suddenly reminded himself that he was trying to make Lyn forgive Rath. "Anyway, you two need to work something out so you're not just snapping at each other all the way."
"So why did you take my sword?" Lyn asked.
"So you wouldn't gut Rath once my back was turned." Vesper answered bluntly.
"Do you really think I'd-?"
"...Good point." Lyn admitted.
"Well then, I'll leave you two to it." Vesper nodded, before heading off, dragging Lyn's sword behind him.
There was a long and awkward silence between Lyn and Rath. Eventually Lyn said something.
"He forgot about my hidden dagger."
"Nils! Where are you going?!" Ninian called after her brother, who was scampering over a pile of rubble. "Vesper said to stick together!"
"I'll be right back!" Nils promised. "I just need to do something!"
Nils searched around the base, until he found what he was looking for. Nuzzled up in a corner, hidden by a large chunk of rubble, was Matthew nursing his wounds.
"What are you doing here?" Matthew asked.
"H-Here!" Nils reached into his pockets and pulled out some bread. "I brought you something to eat!"
Matthew blinked in surprise. "Really?!" He gave a suspicious look. "It's not poisoned, is it?"
"Why would it be poisoned?" Nils looked confused.
"Er... No reason." Matthew took the bread and began sniffing it suspiciously, before taking a bite out of it.
"How're your injuries?" Nils asked.
"Pretty bad." Matthew winced in pain. "I think I must've broken a rib, when Rath kicked me."
"I'm sorry..." Nils's head sunk.
"Why are you apologising?" Matthew asked, confused.
"If I hadn't let Rath catch me, then-"
"Don't worry about it!" Matthew grinned. "These things happen! Admittedly, not to me, because I'm awesome, but they happen!"
"Why did you help me?" Nils asked. "I... I thought you didn't like me much."
"What gave you that idea?" Matthew asked.
"You repeatedly saying that you disliked me." Nils answered, bluntly. "And I overheard you offering to assassinate me."
"I was joking around." Matthew grinned. "I wasn't actually going to do it. It's like Sain and Kent. Sain acts like Kent's always 'cramping his style' and 'scaring away the ladies', while Kent acts like he considers Sain to be a complete idiot... Well, okay, he probably does think Sain's a complete idiot. Most of us do. But when the two are in battle, their teamwork can't be matched. A lot of us may act like jerks to each other when we're out of battle, but when the chips are down, there's no-one more reliable."
"O-Okay!" Nils beamed. "By the way, aren't you going to help with the digging?"
"Well, I'd like to..." Matthew lied. "But I'm afraid this injury is just too painful for me to do any work."
"But I thought Serra already healed that?" Nils pointed out. "She said that it was as good as new."
"Alright, I'm just really lazy and hate manual labour." Matthew admitted. "Please don't tell anyone. I'll give you this!"
He tossed Nils a small golden ring.
"My sister's ring!" Nils gasped, catching the ring.
"I found it in the debris, when I first searched through the base." Matthew explained. "Apparently it's not worth much money, so I decided to give it back."
"Th-Thanks!" Nils beamed, before scrambling away to show Ninian.
Matthew smiled as he watched Nils celebrating with his sister. Then, the full implications of what he'd just done hit him.
"Gaaah!" He cried, clutching his head in his hands. "What am I doing?! That ring was worth a small fortune! And now Nils is going to tell everyone I'm a nice guy! My reputation will be ruined! If Leila saw me now she'd laugh her head off!"
"Wait!" An idea suddenly sprung into his head. "If I pull a really nasty prank on someone, then that should balance things out! And I've got a great idea! Now I just need to think of the perfect person to play it on..."
"Vesper... what are you doing?" Kent sighed, not really wanting to know the answer.
Vesper was currently laid down across his back, with Lyn's sword lying on top of him.
"What does it look like?" Vesper growled. "I'm stuck!"
"Stuck on what?" Sain asked, scratching his head.
"Um..." Vesper had an embarrassed look on his face. "Promise you won't laugh?"
"I make no promises." Kent and Sain said, almost simultaneously.
"...Lyn's sword is too heavy..." Vesper finally admitted. "I think it must have some weird curse on it which makes it incredibly heavy if anyone but Lyn carries it. That's the only logical expla-"
"Seems liftable to me." Kent picked up the sword with one hand.
"Hey, what are you doing with Lyn's sword in the first place?" Sain wondered. Then his romance obsessed mind came to its logical conclusion. "Oh! Were you-?!"
"No." Vesper decided to kill that rumour before it could bloom. "I was just trying to help reduce the animosity between her and Rath."
"What?!" Kent gasped. "You left the two of them together?! What if Rath escapes and kills her?!"
"Or worse!" Sain screamed. "What he seduces her?! I've of all sort of ways that men like him win over pure, young maidens like my darling Lyn and-"
"Remind me never to let you speak... ever..." Kent groaned, his head in his hands.
"Relax." Vesper sighed. "We already checked Rath for weapons and Lyn can take care of herself."
"Even without her sword?" Kent pointed out. "Why do you have that anyway?"
"To make sure Lyn didn't kill Rath, while I was away." Vesper explained.
"That makes sense." Kent nodded. "And you conviscated her hidden dagger?"
The colour drained from Vesper's face.
Remarkably, Lyn hadn't killed Rath yet. Instead, the two just sat in silence, unable to look at each other. Rath was afraid that, if he spoke, Lyn would end up killing him. Lyn was afraid that, if she spoke, she would end up killing him. So they just sat in silence.
Eventually, Rath worked up the courage to say something.
Lyn grunted something which Rath couldn't make out. He had a feeling it wasn't exactly pleasent, though.
The silence continued again, until Lyn eventually spoke.
"When you called your people 'savages'... did you really mean that?"
Rath was silent for a few minutes.
"I don't know." He eventually answered. "There's no doubt I hate my people for what they did, but... part of me still believes that they were only doing what they thought was right, and what would be best for me. And I don't know whether to hate them more or less for that."
"Yet you still work for Marquess Araphen." Lyn growled.
"Marquess Araphen is a good man." Rath had a faint smile on his lips. "Just when I was on the brink of death, and had almost lost all hope, he found me and treated me like his own son. You may find this hard to believe, but he genuinely cares about his people and his country. It's just... memories of Madelyn bring out the worst in him. I was hoping, when I let you escape, that he'd give up on his plans of revenge... but it was not to be. He was genuinely heartbroken when Madelyn and his grief, over time, slowly turned to bitterness. In fact, he was very much like you were, when Vesper left. Heartbroken."
"What?!" That last comment took Lyn by surprise. "What are you talking about?! I-I wasn't heartbroken when Vesper left!"
"Oh, sorry." Rath tried to hold back a snigger. "I shouldn't have said that."
Lyn looked like she was about to whip out her dagger and gut him right then and there. She managed to stop herself at the last moment and turned away, with an angry look on her face.
"You know, you're kinda cute when you're angry." Rath teased.
Instead of getting even more angry at the taunt, Lyn took a deep breath and calmed herself.
"Don't try to test my patience." She growled.
"Sorry." Rath apologised, with a slight smile still on his face. "I just wanted to see how you'd react."
"Are you satisfied?" Lyn scowled.
"Kinda." Rath admitted. "I guess you really are like your mother."
"You knew my mother?!" Lyn gasped.
"Barely." Rath explained. "I'd been in Araphen's household for about a week, before she eloped. I only met her the one time. She... She looked a lot like you... Lyn..."
Lyn was silent for a long time. Rath sat patiently by her side. Eventually, she spoke.
"'You're kinda cute when you're angry?'" She smiled. "What kind of cliched, hackneyed line was that?
"A pretty bad one, I'll admit." Rath smiled back. "I was just wanting to know what you'd do."
"Tch." Lyn scowled, jokingly. "That's the sort of rubbish line I'd expect from Sain."
"The knight in the green armour." Lyn explained. "He's basically a womanising idiot. With emphasis on the 'womanising'. And the 'idiot'."
"You choose good companions." Rath snickered.
"I'd rather he had my back, than you." Lyn growled. "Not because you're untrustworthy, which you are, but because he's a very competent fighter. Not that I'd ever say that to his face."
"You still don't trust me, then?" Rath sighed.
Lyn was slightly ataken back by this.
"No." She admitted. "Does that surprise you?"
"No." Rath shook his head. "I've tried to do terrible things to you. You have every right not to trust me. It's just..."
"Just what?" Lyn looked at him curiously.
"Part of me really wants you to trust me." Rath admitted. "I don't know why, but it's constantly eating away at me. Do you- Do you think you'll ever be able to trust me?"
"I don't know..." Lyn admitted.
The two sat in silence for a while.
"Rath..." Lyn eventually spoke. "What you told me in Araphen... on your horse... was it true?"
"Which part?" Rath asked. "Do I feel sorry about what happened to the Lorca, and your family? Is my master kind and honorable? They're all true, no matter how much you may disagree with that second one."
"Do you wish to return to your tribe, one day?"
"GIRL!" A sudden roar distracted the two of them.
In the doorway, Boss the Bandit stood hefting a massive javelin.
"DIE!" He screamed, throwing the javelin towards the two of them.
"Lyn, look out!" Rath shouldered Lyn out of the way.
"Rath, no!" Lyn yelled, as the nomad faced the oncoming javelin head on.
"Get out of the way!" Boss roared.
The javelin shot past Rath's head, cutting him across the cheek and slammed into a small pile of debris which, to everyone's surprise, suddenly began to move! The 'debris' began thrashing about in pain, clutching at the spear impaling it. Eventually, the very well camoflagued Black Fang assassin dropped to the ground, dead.
"Phew, that was a close one." Boss wiped his brow. "What were you two idiots doing, diving in the way there?"
Lyn and Rath were too speechless to say anything. Just at that moment, Vesper, Kent and Sain burst into the room.
"Wha-What's going on?!" Vesper gasped.
Kent and Sain simply looked at Boss, a man they already knew to be their enemy, and charged, despite being completely weaponless. Boss slammed them both into the ground, with a well timed couple of punches.
"Bah! You brats are several years too young to challenge me to a surprise wrestling match!" Boss laughed. "I thought you two had learnt that during your training!"
"Huh?" Kent and Sain looked up in puzzlement.
"Wait?" Vesper looked in puzzlement. "Do you two know that guy?"
"No!" Kent exclaimed. "At least... I don't think so..."
"Oh come on!" Boss scowled. "Are you serious? I know I shaved my beard, but are you seriously saying you don't recognise me?!"
"Beard...?" Sain and Kent looked at each other in confusion. Then, a glimmer of recognition crossed their face.
"No, it couldn't be." Kent chuckled.
"Yeah, exactly!" Sain chuckled in agreement. "It couldn't be... could it?"
"Could it...?" The two decided to test their theory. "General Wallace?"
"Damn straight!" General Wallace of the Caelin Knights (retired) nodded. "Who the hell did you think it was?"
The entire group looked at each other and said the only word that could come to mind.
Now it's time for me to answer some of my reviews. Feel free to skip over this if you want to. It's not pretty.
Tom-Ato13: I wouldn't go so far as to call it a complete parody. While I definitely put plenty of humour into the series, it does have its serious moments.
Koreaon Boron: Well, it's nice to hear your views. Here's my response. Before you start reading, I want to point out that I'm not having a go at you. Whenever I respond to a review, I attempt to argue my point in a calm and civilised manner. However, I happen to have quite an agressive debating style which people often wrongly assume is me getting angry at them (especially over the internet where you can't accurately gauge someone's tone of voice), so I just want to make this quite clear. Also, if you're going to reply, could you get an account and PM me please, because I really don't want to have to stick something like this in my story again.
I'll begin by talking about Rath. I admit I have slightly changed his personality to make him much more talkative (because Dorcas is already the stoic of the group and I really don't need two.) However, I don't think Rath betraying and hating his people is that OOC for him. It's merely an alternate (and perfectly legitimate) interpretation of his character. Let's take a look at his backstory. He was abandoned at the age of four because of his prophecy. He wandered the plains for several years, always on the verge of starvation while people of other tribes laughed and ridiculed him. And you're telling me that it's that hard to believe that Rath might have some feelings of hatred towards his clan? As I mentioned last chapter, all we get, to find out about a character, are the support conversations, and we often don't find out much, so we have to fill the gaps ourselves. Before I introduce a character, I always make sure to research them and read all their support conversations. Then, once I've got a firm grasp on their personality, I make my own adjustments so that they fit into the story better.
Now, as for Marty Stu's, you really don't have to be the best writer in the world to avoid making the tactician a Stu. You barely even have to be a competent one. A Stu is basically classed as a character who's completely perfect, exceptionally talented in many different things and succeeds at pretty much everything they do, with little effort. To un-Stu a character, all you have to do is is give them flaws and weaknesses in their skills and personalities. Which Vesper has plenty of. To give my own personal views on the subject, I don't like the 'Mary Sue' term much. Now, I'm not saying that Mary Sues aren't a bad thing, because they are. I more dislike the obsession that the fanfic community have with the term, and how some people have exaggerated it to basically mean a character who's good at anything, leading to perfectly well-rounded characters being unfairly labelled Mary Sues. I could go into a much larger rant, but I'll choose not to for now.
For the next point, let's discuss pairings. I will say this right here and now to make it perfectly clear. I do not care about pairings in the slightest. I will never care about pairings. I don't read stories for pairings. Heck, I haven't even decided on the final pairings for this story. I've never actually confirmed Lyn/Vesper to be the main pairing and I have plenty of different ways of how the story could end. But most importantly of all, I would never seriously derail a character for something as petty as pairings and I can only pity someone who does. I won't lie, this is probably the only part of the review that I genuinely felt insulted about. I don't mind someone disliking the story, or the characters, or how I've handled things but don't you dare accuse me of something so asinine as that. How would you feel if I said the only reason you seem to dislike this story so much is because I've made one of your favourite characters more villanous. You wouldn't be happy, would you? And I really hope that isn't actually the case. Anyway, I will sum this up now, before I get too angry. In my story, the only reason I'll have pairings is either to create comedy or drama. That is all.
Now, am I making Vesper too important to the story? Eh, probably. I feel no shame in stating that he's the joint main protagonist of the first half, along with Lyn and he'll become the joint main protagonist with Eliwood, Hector and Lyn in the second half. Problem? Then don't read. I'm not forcing you to. But if you enjoyed Vesper's character up till now, then I don't see why you'd have a problem.
Which brings me to my biggest point, which I've had to stress multiple times since I started this story. This is not the game. This is merely the novelisation of my take on the game, with an OC tactician. There's going to be plenty that differs from the game, including a very major plot twist coming soon. If you're that unhappy with me changing things, then don't read. It's as simple as that. While I'm happy to accept constructive criticism, this isn't something I'm gonna change my mind on. And at the end of the day, I'm writing this story for my own fun and amusement.