Ice Prince Alchemist
In the vast confides of the Seraphina Palace the staff bustled about getting everything prepared for the ball. Numerous important guests would soon be arriving; Drachman nobles and foreign dignitaries alike. While part of the staff were furiously cleaning and decorating the west wing of the palace, some were tending to the royal family in the east wing. In his private chamber, the eldest son Dmitri was struggling to button up his shirt while his brother looked on in concern.
"Damn, I'm weak as an infant." The oldest prince groaned as he swayed in front of the mirror. Alexei grabbed his brother and then helped him to the small table beside it. "So much for no side effects from the chemotherapy da?"
"You need to rest more Dmitri, otherwise you're not going to get better trying to run before you can walk." Alexei scolded. Dmitri's attendant Senka wordless walked over and served them tea with a plate of hot bread. Senka was one of the few members of the palace staff who had been trained as corpsman after Dmitri was diagnosed with cancer.
"Then you are aware of what Stalin has been requesting of father?" Dmitri asked as Senka handed him his morning medication.
"You mean his 'I challenge the Armstrong scion to a duel and in the chaos, assassinate him' plan?" Alexei replied dully. "But personally, I think Stalin is beating a dead horse."
"True, after all he lost his seat as the Minister of Defense by listening to Kimblee's falsehood and sending out an entire legion to the border." Dmitri groaned as he remembered the events at the Assembly that day. When Stalin openly declared he sent General Karl Goremykin and the fourth legion to border. It was one of the first times Dmitri had ever seen his father openly express rage in front of the Assembly. Even his uncle Maxim who was normally passive became infuriated and had to be held back by the Imperial Guard before he could spill blood in the hall. "Not to mention destroying almost twenty years of peace."
"And then it was discovered the Northern Wall of Briggs had an heir blessed with Magic." Alexei stated distantly. "And then all hopes of retribution for Goremykin's mistake was pushed onto me."
Dmitri gripped his brother's shoulder. "No one is asking you to kill him Alexei."
"No one except for the majority of the Assembly and the families who lost loved ones." Alexei cursed. "Every holiday when I return they cram to the dueling hall so they can see me blunder through any curses and hexes I've learned."
A sheepish cough drew their eyes over to Senka. "With all due respect your highness, not all of us are hold the imperial family or the Armstrongs responsible."
Alexei smiled uneasily. "So the rumors about the public wanting me to fight a dragon were false as well?"
"Unfortunately that is true..."
Dmitri nearly fell out of his chair in shock. "THEY WHAT? WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN?"
"When you were in Petrograd undergoing chemotherapy." Alexei commented. Dmitri took a moment to compose himself when he saw Senka nod.
"Especially after reports of dragon sightings in Nikolasha Valley." The servant replied.
"Dragons?" Dmitri gasped before he took a moment to recompose himself and took a great swallow of his tea. "There are dragons in Nikolasha Valley?"
"Alexei...right after the ball we are going dragon watching."
Alexei shook his head as Senka poured them more tea. "I should have never taken him with me to the reserve in Romania."
*Ice Prince Alchemist*
The city of Krad was hustling as it and several of the other cities that bordered the Drachman capital prepared for the announcement of the Tsar's successor. As a tourist city and residence to many of the vacationing nobles and merchants, the luxury and shopping districts were packed. The many musicians in the upper districts were getting ready for the grand ball that was to follow the grand ceremony.
The older men congregated in their homes over drinks and cigars; wondering aloud what new policies were going to be announced in the coming year and the perspective on the pros/cons of each heir. In the shopping district the women kept dressmakers busy. They gossiped about the upcoming ball and when fashion the Tsareina would adorn.
Security was being increased as well because of the upcoming congregation of the country's upper echelon. The outskirts of the city however were in a different state. Many of the seedier establishments were attempting to divert their work around the numerous security sweeps being done by the Imperial Police. Few were foolish enough to bribe them as their commander was personally overseeing all security matters. In a bar, a small group was meeting over drinks. Many of the patrons and working girls had seen this group before and knew by experience to stay out of their way.
"So Lord Ingel is no longer in charge of the diplomacy detail?" Romeo asked as he looked at a surveillance photo taken by Izzy's men just outside the gates of the Amestrian Parliament building. The one in his hand featured a wiry old man with a young woman with short brown hair.
"Yes sir, however the sudden decrease in his health made the Amestrians change their minds about sending him." Izzy replied with a smirk. "And to think all it took was a little modifying of his heart medicine."
"Excellent. That means the one most able to spot our changes is out of the picture. Who is the noble in charge of the envoy now?"
"Lord Doyle. He's bringing one of his delegates." Izzy looked down on his notepad. "A Ms. Antea, his secretary and rumored lover.
A crash was heard as Venus dropped her shot glass and looked at Izzy in shock. "Mycroft is coming?"
"Who's Mycroft?" Boris asked.
"Mycroft Doyle was part of the Central Intelligence Department's inner division when I was there." Venus replied uneasily as she signaled the bartender to come over. "He was the one suspicious of me leaking classified information after the failed attack on Creta. Kept an especially close eye on me before I pulled my little disappearing act."
"So we got a high ranking Amestrian spy heading our way hmm?" Romeo thought aloud. "This will certainly change things. Anyone else?"
"An Egbert Galahad, I do believe he is a representative for Lord Ignel's legal office. Nothing interesting to note about him. The boy just started working as a paralegal two years ago. Also a Lieutenant Danny Fenton is accompanying the envoy, no vital information on him."
"Are you sure the Ice Prince isn't doing any of his wacky stuff on the guards?" Boris replied. "He's probably doing something with his magic to keep them safe."
"The Ice Prince is of no concern to us." Romeo replied. "As long as Venus's traps work to get him to Nikolas then the Armstrong's legacy will come crashing down."
"Speaking of your disappearing act..." Izzy commented as the bartender gave Venus a cocktail. "That boy who was blamed for your 'murder' is on the security detail."
Venus curiously raised a brow. "Ooh? What's that boy's name again? Aaron? Roland?"
"Does really matter what the rat's name is?" Romeo asked.
"No, I suppose not."
"So how long until they arrive?"
"The train departed West City three hours ago and is heading northwest towards the tri-junction border crossing at Willowshire. Given the expected travel speed, they would reach the Capital a day before the coronation ceremony." Izzy replied.
"Hmm...I don't think that will give me enough time to get all my traps ready." Venus mused as she stirred her cocktail. "Especially not the one Stalin is so keen on having ready for the royal family."
"Oh don't worry, Nikolas gave me some surprises to leave them in Amestris and in the southern countryside."
*Ice Prince Alchemist*
The Amestrian express train the Juniper was now out of sight of West City and had entered the dense Herbst Forest. Due to most of the West province being covered in dense forests or mountainous valleys, Ren had set the train to go at a steady speed. Inside the train car the diplomatic envoy was idly chatting about the upcoming events with Zephyrus while Squad four did sweeps of the train.
Or at least that had been the plan until a large shadow flew out of the trees and smashed its way into a window. A bat-like chimera the size of a large dog. It was quickly met in the face by a .40 bullet.
"DAMMIT!" Zephyrus cursed as more monstrous creatures started to flock their way from the trees. "I'm heading up."
"Watch your six Chief." Eren replied as he pulled the civilian members of the envoy down behind him.
Zephyrus cursed as another chimera dove down and would have nearly took his head off were it not for a hasty Shield Charm. The creature bounced off his shield and into a tree. Zephyrus could now just barely hear Nora over the rumble of the train yelling at the chimeras to stay away from the Juniper.
"They're attacking the engine car!" Zephyrus snapped.
"Chief, can you use that lightning spell?" Gilbert asked from the window below. He had to jump back when a chimera swooped down and missed him by mere centimeters.
"Do you want me to fry up the train?" Zephyrus yelled back as he blasted the chimeras away from the water tanks with a wide volley of stunning spells. 'This is bad, I can't use Alchemy to hit those things. And I 'm not accurate enough to use a wide range spell without almost hitting the train.'
Zephyrus dropped into a duck as another chimera tried to devour his head.
"This isn't good, those things are too fast." Jaune cursed as he tried his best to shoot down a chimera. Saya got between her teammate and the chimera, not even wincing as the creature broke its fangs on her iron-like skin. Seeing the creature's stunned face, she backhanded it out of the window, a satisfying crunch was heard as it hit a tree.
"Saya, can't you make them go away?" Gilbert asked as he reloaded his rifle.
"Just because I'm a Vampire, doesn't mean that I'm able to control bats!" Saya replied as she shot at a chimera with her side arm.
"Don't waste anymore bullets." Eren ordered as he stopped her from reloading. Jaune yelped as Eren pushed him aside to open the trunk he had been leaning against and drew out a bow and a quiver of arrows.
"Gilbert, I'm heading up to give Ice Prince back up. Take it from here."
Gilbert smirked. "No problem."
"Can he really do it?" Mycroft asked as Eren started to climb out the broken window and onto the top of the train carriage. Gilbert's grin got bigger as Eren paused mid-climb and drew back an arrow at an incoming target.
"Don't worry, his nickname isn't 'Orion' for no reason."
Before anyone could ask any more questions they heard the squall of the bat chimeras followed by a large one crash near the railway with an arrow inside through its head.
"Nice shot Eren." Zephyrus called out as Eren climbed onto the roof of the carriage and shot down another chimera. The teenager backed up to the archer's side as the entire hoard abandoned the water tank and came flying their way.
"Hey Chief? Want to try Blitzkrieg?" Eren asked as he selected an arrow with a yellow fletching.
"It would be worth a shot." Zephyrus replied as he focused his magic in front of Eren. A blue magic circle lit up in front of the soldier. "Ready?"
Eren drew the arrow back and aimed carefully. "Ready."
Zephyrus steadied more magic into the circle. "Alright, now!"
Eren loosened his arrow into the circle, a swarm of shimmering gold arrows flew out through the second circle. The chimeras shrieked as the arrows that hit exploded, releasing sharp hail stones into the rest of the hoard.
"Excellent shot Eren." Zephyrus stated in surprise with how well the combination attack went. "You took them all out."
"Those quartz arrowheads channeled your magic well enough." Eren replied as he swung his bow back onto his shoulder. "But that strategy isn't going to always work out well. Especially if we're separated."
Zephyrus sighed. "True...We'll need to work on that. Maybe arrows filled with a potion cartridge? It would be interesting to work on."
"Well at least nothing else could go wrong right?"
The engine car suddenly shook as a jet of steam shot out the windows followed by Nora's loud bellow. Eren and Zephyrus caught themselves on the roof emergency exit door latch as the train came to a stop. Zephyrus glared at Eren's dumbfounded look.
"You had to say it, didn't you?" the teen asked.
"HOT! STEAM! OUCH!" Nora snapped from behind the steam cloud.
"Eren, tell Gilbert and Saya to patrol around the train while you and Alabaster check for injuries..." Zephyrus ordered. "Also, have Fenton get a hold of Western Command. This attack can't be a coincident."
"Yes sir." Eren replied as he walked back over to the window where he climbed out. Zephyrus jumped over to the next carriage and then continued to the steam clouds billowing from the engine car.
"Nora? Ren? Are you alright?"
"We're okay, but the train isn't."
"They punctured the main water tank." Nora whined from below. Zephyrus used his Alchemy to dissipate the steam cloud and jumped down. Nora was standing in front of the engine car's biggest water tank, pink face and fuming. Her arms were slightly blistered.
"Was it one of the chimeras?"
"It wasn't the chimeras." Ren replied as he pointed to a pieces of metal sticking out of the side hidden from view. Nora grabbed her tools and unhitched it from train floor. Between her and Zephyrus they managed to pull it out, revealing several dents and a puncture hole the size of a coin.
"So the attack was pre-planned." Stated Mycroft nonchalantly as he entered the engine car. "I thought the entire travel plan for the Juniper was classified."
"It was supposed to be Lord Doyle." Zephyrus replied. "The plans were instructed to me by General Goldenlake himself with General Lange present. No one outside them and their staff knew about what lines we were to travel along."
"Western Command was so strict about it that even I wasn't given the travel plans until two days ago." Ren replied.
"Has any extra maintenance been done on the train?"
"No sir, no one else besides me is allowed to work on the Juniper." Nora replied sternly. "Even any fuel ups and loading of cargo have to be done with either myself or Ren present."
Mycroft frowned before heading back to the carriages. "Major Armstrong if you can take it from here, I'm going to need to borrow Lieutenant Fenton for a few minutes."
""Not a problem." Zephyrus replied as he applied Alchemy to undo the worst of the damage. "This should be able to hold until we get there."
"When I find out who did this to my train, I am going to break their legs." Nora growled as she reconnected the last of the pipes. "Alright Ren, we're ready to roll."
"Alright Nora, just be sure to get those burns looked at." Ren replied.
Zephyrus sighed and turned to Nora, cautiously he took his wand and applied a weak healing spell to her blistered skin. Nora hummed in appreciation as the stinging stopped.
"Sorry I can't do more for you. My magic isn't the best for healing."
"It's okay, you got rid of most of the 'ouch'." The engineer replied with an infectious grin.
The Juniper continued its journey to the border unhindered. Eren was patient with the hyperactive engineer as he treated her burns. It was dark when the train crossed through the mountain foothills started across the large bridge that went over the valley, Willowshire finally came into view at sunrise. Looming above the tiered city was a castle.
"Whoa...what is?" Saya gasped as she looked out the window.
"Draken Eyrie; Amestris's largest orphanage. It used to be the capital building of Riviere" Jaune answered. "Now part of it serves as the headquarters for the border guard and overseen by Captain Gwen Stacy."
"You know a lot about this place Private Alabaster."
"My sister Garnet moved there a year ago to work as a teacher at Draken." Jaune answered. "I stayed with her for a few weeks before I joined the Academy after my dad kicked me out."
"It looks a lot like Table City." Saya mused.
"It would, some Milosians migrated to this area when Amestris and Creta started to fight over their holy land." Zephyrus replied as he stepped in the carriage while tying back his hair. "There is no need for you rookies to hang around for the publicity conference at Draken Eyrie. Danny will take Saya and Jaune to take a breather. Eren, Gilbert and I can take it from here."
Zephyrus turned to Danny. "Just take a short break and meet us at the orphanage. We might need more hands there than with the city council."
Danny took the younger soldiers out to eat while the press conference went on. Jaune, having been to Willowshire before, lead them to a quiet dinner where he had apparently also worked in the past and got them a discount. Over the meal they got to know the older soldier, who to their surprise was actually on loan from Western Command.
"I thought you were from the North like everyone else." Jaune commented.
"I used to live in North City with my grandfather and sister Jazz. The old man made a living building clocks." Danny commented as he stirred some cream into his coffee. "But I learned about electronics from what little I learned from my parents, before they were called out to the Ishvalan uprising. They didn't make it back."
"I'm...sorry..." Jaune commented.
Danny waved them off. "It's fine. Don't worry about. But what about you two? What made you join?"
Both the younger soldier looked at the drinks sheepishly.
"To protect my country." The duo replied.
Danny stared at them both curiously then shook his head. "Yeah, I'll believe that when the Ice Prince grows the wings of an angel."
"I'm being sincere sir!"
"Of course you are." Danny replied. "But just so you know. Unlike the Armstrong family, I didn't join the military out of a lineage tradition. I joined at first because I wanted revenge on the Ishvalan who killed my parents. I didn't want to be in Communications at first, I actually tried to sign up for the Infantry."
"So what happened?" Saya asked.
"Hetty knocked the idea out of me." Danny commented. Seeing their blank looks he rubbed the back of his head. "Literally. I tried to get transferred to the Eastern division, and when I gave her my reason why she threw her typewriter at me. I think there is still an imprint of the keyboard on the back of my head."
Jaune blinked slowly as he tried to remember the elderly woman who gave the cadets their orientation speech. "The General hit you with her typewriter?"
"Now Northern HQ general, then vicious Captain." Danny replied. "If you think the Ice Queen is scary...you haven't seen anything yet."
The younger soldiers paled as they wondered how the diminutive woman could possibly be worse that the Northern Wall of Briggs. But then again, there was old saying about short people being closer to Hell.
"Is there a point to this story sir?"
"I don't know what your reasons were for signing up, but if it was for the sake of revenge, you are going to get nowhere fast." Danny stated with a final swig of his coffee. "And also...if you let that aggression hamper you, the Ice Prince will either kick you back to the Academy or feed you to the bears."
*Ice Prince Alchemist*
The Juniper pulled out of Willowshire just before sunrise and crossed over the border. The envoy was napping in their luxury car, with the exception of Mycroft who was reading some files. The train was now running smoothly with the new tank, Nora spent the entire night double checking every last component on the train for sabotage. The energetic engineer was now snoozing in the front car with occasional murmur about pancakes.
Danny was in the first car hailing the Drachman capital and getting the traveling conditions for the region they were in. Gilbert was standing in the last car happily munching on some cookies as he surveyed the passing scenery. Eren was in the next car with Jaune and Saya going over the basic Drachman phrases they needed to learn. Thankfully both had learned some Drachman growing up. Saya due to her family having connections in Russia, Jaune due to the family business.
"Hey Eren, can I ask you a question that's off topic?"
"Shoot." Eren replied.
"What's the difference between a standard Field Medic and your job as a Combat Field Medic?" Jaune asked.
"Field Medics mainly work with at the middle and rear of the battlefront evacuating and tending to the injured. Basically they are the support unit." Zephyrus explained as he climbed into the carriage through a window. "Combat Medics like Eren are on the front lines weaving around the fighting in order to get the injured soldiers and get them to the middle guard. However due to the nature of our work, they also have to be able to hold their own in a firefight if and when necessary so they are trained with a close range or long range weapon."
"...Is anyone going to comment on the fact that Major Armstrong has been riding on the roof of the train, probably since we crossed the border?" Saya asked. Jaune merely nodded in agreement.
"Nope." The older soldiers replied.
"I'm preferable to long range weapons like my bow, but I can hold my own in a close quarters fight when necessarily." Eren replied.
"And besides Gilbert, we all know Eren needs the bow. Giving him a gun is dangerous...Well...to the enemy at least" Zephyrus replied.
"It is?" Saya and Jaune asked.
"Haven't you ever heard of Titan Jaeger in your history lessons?" Gilbert asked with a grin. When the two shook their heads he was about to regal them with the story, at least until Eren slapped him upside the head.
"No stories Gilbert. At least I'm not as bad as Himura." The medic retorted.
"Yoichi Himura; entered the military at the same time as me. He had a bit of a gun mania." Eren replied. "After the Promised Day he was transferred to the South. He works as an MP under General Finn and Lieutenant Ken."
"Poor bastard." The three suddenly commented in unison much to the newbies confusion.
The soldiers looked up as the PA crackled on and Danny's voice echoed in the car.
"Major Armstrong sir, you are needed in the Communication Car. Preferably ASAP."
In the communications car Danny was frowning as he spoke with a rail line operator in the mountains ahead. There had been several mysterious landslides in the last hour, crippling the main line that fed directly to the capital, the only alternative now was the lesser used trade line that went around the mountain through the farming towns.
"Can we chance it?" Zephyrus asked Danny.
"We'll have to sir, there is no other junction points nearby." Danny replied as he listened to the reports from the other nearby stations.
Zephyrus turned to the radio connected to the engine car. "Ren?"
"I have to agree with Danny on this one, we'll have to reduce speed in order to cross safely so we will have to make a pit stop at the midway point for more water. Besides, the main line may take days to fix."
Zephyrus sighed and then turned to one of the maps Danny had laid out. "Understood, just be cautious. This secondary line may not be as reliable. Doesn't it wind around the mountain?"
"It does." Ren replied.
"Will it be safe to travel after sunset?"
"With the predicted weather conditions...No."
"Dammit. Well here's hoping that town allows us to stay the night."
"I call ahead to Yusupov." Danny replied as he turned back to his radio and stared to hail the local railway operators. Zephyrus sighed as he went to go inform Mycroft of the change. The noble looked vexed about the change, but understood.
"Major, if I may offer a word of advice?"
"This village...may be home to those who will attempt harm on you on sight. I would advise caution. You could be in danger."
"I will be on my guard." Zephyrus replied and then went to do another sweep of the train, adding a few additional wards along the way.
"Why would Major Armstrong be in danger at the village?" Saya asked curiously.
"Because he's an Armstrong and the son of the Northern Wall of Briggs on top of that." Gilbert stated cautiously. Seeing the confused looked he added; "Most of these southern villages have lost family members at the border."
It was nearing dusk when the Juniper arrived at the halfway point at Yusupov. Danny had called ahead so the railway workers would be ready with the water tanks, thus a large crowd of the townspeople were present to meet the envoy. However when Mycroft disembarked followed by Zephyrus, the young Mage's presence sent them into a frenzy.
"Is that who I think it is?"
"The Demon of Briggs..."
"Why would they send him here for the tsarevich's crowning?"
The crowd parted and allowed an elderly hunched over man to come forward followed by a young man glaring daggers at the Ice Prince.
"Good evening sir, thank you for allowing us stay in your town for the night." Mycroft stated.
"We have no problems with you staying in our town sir." The headsman stated stern, but then jabbed his cane at Zephyrus. "But only as long as you keep that rabid dog on a tight leash."
Gilbert and Eren growled at the mayor's insult, but Zephyrus silenced them with a look.
"Be still." He hissed lowly.
"Why are you letting that monster stay here Mikhail?" a boy shouted as he pointed at Zephyrus.
"Nazar be quiet." A middle age woman blustered as she tried to push her way to the front. "These nobles are our guests!"
"Guests? They are just rabid dogs! He must be here to curse the royal family!" Nazar shouted venomously.
"Tatiana silence your child!" Mikhail snapped.
The woman slapped her hand over Nazar's mouth and managed to drag the boy away with help from the other women, but he voiced the thoughts of many of the townsmen. To them an Armstrong was a monster whose hands were stained with the blood of their countrymen.
"Mycroft, perhaps it would be best if I slept on the train." Zephyrus whispered to the man as a guide led them over to the small hotel.
"That may be the safest idea for you Major Armstrong, we do want to make it to the Capital in one piece."
"DIE YOU RABID AMESTRIAN DOG!" the boy shouted as he lunged forward with a pitchfork much to the shock of the townsmen. Zephyrus angled himself to create a shield between the boy and Mycroft, using only the small amount of Magic possible to keep it invisible. He fought back a yell of pain as one of the points dug a deep scratch into his left arm. Eren and Gilbert immediately drew their side arms, Saya and Jaune followed a step behind, blocking the rest of the envoy with their bodies.
"Stay your arms!" Zephyrus snapped as he heard the safeties click off several guns.
"Nazar!" Tatiana shouted as she pulled the angry boy back. She was trembling in fear as she looked at him. "Please forgive him sir. He's been angry since his father died seven years ago!"
Mycroft merely stared at the boy in utter boredom. "Tell me something child, are you that eager for our countries return to war that you would attack my guard, whom may I add is a member of an illustrious and noble family himself? Need I also remind you that the Ice Prince's order to stay arms is what keeping his men from shooting you and your guardian?"
Seeing the boy's eyes widen in horror and nearly piss himself, Zephyrus motioned for his soldiers to holster their arms.
"Let this be a lesson to you boy, don't let your anger get the best of you. The next Amestrian you meet may not be as forgiving." Eren hissed.
The soldiers split up, Eren escorting Zephyrus back to the train giving anyone who crossed their path a glare of heart stopping proportions. Gilbert escorting the diplomats to the hotel. In the shadows a figure watched the soldiers with curiosity.
*Ice Prince Alchemist*
"Chief you should at least let me use some of the ointments the Healers included in the kits." Eren told his patient as he guided the needle carefully through the young man's arm.
"Save them, we might need them for something major." Zephyrus replied with a grimace.
Eren had just finished stitching up Zephyrus's arm when Ren popped his head into the carriage. "Excuse me sirs, but a woman is asking if one of the medics could check her daughter."
"Did they say what was wrong with her?" Eren asked cautiously.
"Just that the child hasn't been well as of late." Ren commented. He grimaced as he glanced over his soldier to the woman waiting outside.
"Go Yeager." Zephyrus ordered as he shrugged on a clean shirt. "I'll be alright, I need to go over the message Western Command sent about this little incident."
"Are you sure?"
Zephyrus raised a brow. "Valkyrie."
The phoenix flew down from her perch and perched on Zephyrus's shoulder.
"Go with Eren please, and keep him out of trouble."
"Please, I'm not that accident prone." Eren replied. Both the Mage and phoenix looked at him with exasperation.
"The Veradine incident." Zephyrus deadpanned.
Ren raised a brow while Eren sputtered on about 'accident' and 'not in my right mind' while Zephyrus stared at him like he was an idiot. "What was the Veradine incident?"
"Don't worry about it." They replied. "The less you know, the less traumatize you will be."
"Just go and be careful." Zephyrus stated as he went to go look at the documents.
"Yes sir." Eren replied as he grabbed his bag and went to meet the woman outside. She, like many of those who had been in the crowd looked like she had not eaten a proper meal for a long time. "Hello madam; my name is Eren Yeager."
"Olga Andropov. My daughter Anya is very ill. She had been having fevers for three days now and is always coughing." The haggard looking woman answered as escorted the soldier to a small two bedroom hut near the edge of the village. Eren paused as in the doorway, allowing Valkyrie to fly in and perch at a small cot before closing the door. Despite the fire Eren could feel the cold air seeping through the walls. Two teenage boys were sitting at the corner gnawing on crusts of dark bread, the third child was laying under a woolskin and trembling. Both of them looked up at Eren with hollow eyes.
"You brought home an Amestrian?" One of the boys asked.
"A doctor Timofey." Olga replied as she tossed a few more sticks onto the fire. "Anton did you bring anymore firewood in?"
"Yes mama." Anton replied as he scooted closer to the simmering pot in order to get warm.
Eren walked over to the huddled mass and carefully pulled the wool back to reveal a small girl whose cheeks had sunken in and was sweating profusely. Eren grimaced as he listened to the child's labored breathing. He took out his stethoscope and could heard severe congestion.
"Madam; has your daughter been treated for any lung ailments before in the past?" Eren asked.
"This village has not had a doctor for many years now." Olga replied as she opened a simmering pot and ladled some watered down cabbage soup into bowls for the boys. "And doctors from the cities demand payment upfront before they come up here."
"Mama, can I have some more tonight?" Anton asked. "Just a little bit of broth?"
"We have enough for tonight. I will have to barter Aleksandra for some more cabbage tomorrow." Olga replied as she scrapped some broth out of the pot. Eren frowned at this.
"Forgive me ma'am, but I thought that this was an agricultural town?" Eren asked as he watched the children ravenously eat their extra small portions. "I thought it was close to harvest season by now."
"It is, but the fields have been doing going poorly and what we do grow is sent to the cities." Olga replied as she mixed what appeared to be powdered birch bark into a bowl of flour. "And then there was the outbreak. Many of the villagers who tended to the fields for years perished."
"What of the others?"
"There were a few strong young men who survived, however-"
Olga gripped her apron and trembled. "They left us and went to the cities, believing they could make their fortunes in the factories. We have not heard from them sense."
Valkyrie started singing to calm the woman then flew over to Anya and allowed a single tear to fall into the child's mouth. Eren quickly checked her lungs again and smiled as he heard the congestion had all but vanished.
"You're a marvel to modern medicine." Eren stated to the phoenix. Valkyrie merely rustled her small wings and hopped onto his shoulder.
Eren gave the girl some antibiotics and then gave the boys and their mother some as well. Before heading back to the train he found a nearby sturdy tree and climbed up to see the surrounding farmlands. Many of the fields were barren and what little was growing was hardly enough for one family to eat, the nearby river appeared to be lower as well. When he climbed down he found a few more women standing there with their children who looked to be in the same state as Anya.
By the time the medic returned to the train his temper was reaching the boiling point. As soon as he closed the door he screamed and kicked a crate, startling Zephyrus who had dozed off. Valkyrie squalled her own disapproval and took her perch on Zephyrus's shoulder.
"This is unacceptable!" Eren swore as he paced like a vexed predator. Seeing this Zephyrus quickly casted a Privacy Charm around the carriage just as Eren screamed again.
"Unfit living conditions! No access to medical care without giving up all their possessions! A MAJOR LACK OF FOOD! What the Hell?" Eren yelled as he kicked another crate. Zephyrus leaned back in his cot as the man continued to fume.
"Even the rural border villages in the North have access to medical care and supplies! In these modern times it shouldn't be allowed to happen!" Eren fumed.
"Eren, you need to calm down. Being angry won't help them." Zephyrus commented. "This is not our country, we can't do anything about this, and asking the government bluntly about it will cause further strife between the countries. We can only hope that who ever is to take the Tsar's place is a competent ruler."
"What is the point if those with power do nothing?" Eren asked with revulsion.
"It's not a question of having power, but of how to intervene without overstepping our boundaries."
"I hate politics."
"The feeling is mutual."
Neither male saw Valkyrie fly out the window towards the farmlands.
*Ice Prince Alchemist*
It was nearing sunset when the Juniper finally pulled into the capital city of Drachma. The entire city seemed to be glistening with a kind of peaceful light that the countryside was sorely lacking. Everywhere they looked, the city and its people was flourishing. A perk of the capital being inhabited mostly by those who did not have to struggle just to make enough money to buy a loaf of bread.
As the envoy had guessed, an Imperial Guard was waiting for them at the station. The older soldiers grimaced when they saw the double headed bronze eagles on the men's shoulders and caps. It was the emblem of the Imperial Specialists; some of Drachma's most elite soldiers.
Zephyrus wearing his dress uniform already, stepped off the train to greet their squad leader with a neutral expression. "Major Zephyrus Armstrong; escort for the Amestrian envoy."
"Captain Lev Andropov." Stated the stern man. Eren looked up at the man's name.
"Captain Andropov...Are you by chance kin to Olga Andropov of Yusupov?" he asked curiously.
The man eyed him cautiously. "Da, she is my little sister. How do you know her Amestrian?"
"I treated her daughter for pneumonia and malnourishment while were stayed over in the village." Eren replied coldly. "Her and several other children. You might want to look into that Captain."
Some of the soldiers behind Lev had tensed up at the name of the village and look absolutely infuriated by Eren's comment. Whether it was for Eren's boldness or their guilt Zephyrus refused to chance a conflict and silenced Eren with a pointed look.
"Didn't I say mind your temper here Corporal Yeager?" Zephyrus hissed when they arrived in the privacy of their hotel room.
"I apologize Major, I will attempt not to let it happen again." Eren replied stiffly.
"I've never seen Eren so angry before." Jaune muttered.
"Trust me kid, at this rate you might see why he earned the title of the Titan Jaeger." Gilbert sighed.
"We have two hours before the ball, so clean up and get ready for the ball." Zephyrus snapped. 'This isn't looking good, I'm going to have to keep an eye on Eren or it will be the Veradine incident all over again!'
*Ice Prince Alchemist*
The ball room was already filled with Drachman elite and foreign dignitaries when the Amestrian arrived. With each member of his squad following a member of the envoy, Zephyrus walked around with Mycroft greeting various people, many of which paused and stared at him. Zephyrus expected this as they met with the ambassadors of Creta and Aerugo. Mycroft then paused and greeted a man in wearing the attire of a Xingese nobleman.
"Lord Zhen of the Fa Clan, the third prince of Xing." Mycroft commented as he and Zephyrus gave the man a polite bow of their heads. "It is an honor to see you again."
"It is an honor to meet you as well Lord Doyle." Zhen replied as he bowed to them. "Especially you, scion of Armstrong. My brother the Emperor, told us about your brave teacher Master Edward and of your courageous deeds as well."
"It is an honor to meet you as well." Zephyrus replied.
Zhen knelt down just a bit to whisper. "Is it true...you were blessed by the Moon on the day of your birth?"
Zephyrus nodded a bit hesitantly. Zhen just laughed. "That might explain your your older photos looked womanly. For the longest time I thought Ling was mistaken and thought you were a boy!"
'Womanly-oh come on! I am not that feminine...I think...Curse you Veela ancestry.' Zephyrus screamed internally.
"Presenting Grand Duchess Clare Tolstoy!"
A young woman stood in the doorway dressing a gown of simple white satin wearing a red sash. Her long hair had been coiled back into a simple bun and not a single jewel or blemish of makeup adorned her. The soldier escorting her even seemed to be trying to distance himself away from her. Numerous Drachman nobles took steps back from the young woman as she entered the ballroom. Zephyrus frowned as he saw them glare at Clare, some even turning their backs to her.
"They seem rather hateful of her...Any idea why?" Zephyrus commented to Mycroft. The man shook his head.
"All I know about the Grand Duchess is that she is the Tsar's niece and only child of the deceased Grand Duchess Yuliana." Mycroft paused as the Grand Duchess walked past them. "I am surprised she has the title, I heard Yuliana abdicated."
The royal fanfare began as a servant opened both door and stood upright and still. "Their imperial majesties; Tsar Vladimir V and Tsareina Valentina."
The men bowed and the women curtsied as the ruling couple walked into the ballroom. Tsar Vladimir was a tall imposing man with a fading hair line and a scar ran diagonally across his face. On the other hand; Tsareina Valentina was a tiny delicate woman with soft brown hair who looked like she could break at any minute.
"Friends, countrymen, and honored guests; I thank you all for coming to this celebration as I name which of my sons will become my successor, and the kingdom's future Tsar."
The crowd clapped politely as the Tsar motioned towards the doormen.
"Their imperial majesties; Tsarevich Dmitri II and Tsarevich Alexei VII
Danger is hidden admits the red tape of politics. Bloodlust and the desire for revenge blind you to the puppeteer leading you to your demise.
Next time on Ice Prince Alchemist...Nikkos
From the errors of others, a wise man corrects his own. – Publilius Syrus
We are proud to present
Letters Home pt. 1
Jaune shivered as he sat up in his bed, his blankets (special thick wool ones-military issued) wrapped around him like a cocoon. His bunkmates were snoring their heads off, all except for Eren who was across the hall checking on a patient. Jaune fiddled with the latch of his trunk and took out a notepad and a pencil.
I hope everyone is doing okay in Willowshire. We should have figured that with all you did to help us, you could make teaching your calling. Thank you for the care package sis. The cookies and jerky were delicious, and the long johns were a God send. Seriously, if you don't know what to send me...any kind of thermal underwear would be awesome! Especially wool socks.
Going from the Military Academy straight into Ft. Briggs is like jumping from out of the fire and into the frying pan. I was assigned to Corporal Eren Yeager as my medical trainer, and by extension; the Ice Prince Alchemist squad. You'd like Eren, sis, he's kind of like Opal...but...when his teammate Gilbert is around...all Hell could break loose. My bunkmate T.J. says that when those two are stuck in a room together its best to get ready to duck. How they were placed on the same team is a mystery. But everyone agrees he's one of the best field medics they got up here.
Except for Major Marge Holliman, but she's like one of those people who thinks that everyone who is beneath her rank is lower than scum because she's a fifth generation military brat or something. Especially if they entered the military through the Prisoner Recruit program. Then there is Major Frank Chars. He's so full of himself, thinking he's a doctor, when he's just the department's supply officer. T.J says he was studying to be a doctor, but kept failing his Anatomy exams, the closest thing he can do to medicine would be enough to work as a mortician. I think there is something going on between him and Major Holliman. She's almost always in there with him, and everyone tells us if you get new bed sheets from there, get the one from the bottom of the piles and if not, wash them before using. ALWAYS.
Give my love to Mom and everyone else Sis. And if He asks then tell him that I am still very much alive.
Letters Home pt. 2
A young girl no older than eleven was practically skipping as she carried the mail back into the dreary townhouse she called home. She dropped a majority of mail in her brother's study before running towards her room with a single letter penned with violet ink. A lanky teenage boy with multiple ear piercings was lounging on her window sill plucking at a guitar.
"Who's that from Sonja?"
"Saya. She was finally able to write to us."
Dear Sonja AND Edgar
"I told you she wouldn't forget you."
I have been transferred to the Northern Province, specifically to the border; it's very cold, and lots of snow. It is strange to work up here, while a small number of the solders; mainly my team and the head of the medical department know I'm a Vampire, however they do not seem afraid. On my first night here Dr. Elsie took me aside to find out how much blood I needed to stave off hunger, promising to always have one bottle set aside for me, even it has to be pumped out of her.
"She sounds like a good woman. Put her down for a Yuletide card." Edgar commented.
Apparently they are so used to the peculiarities caused by the resident Mage that not even our affliction faze them. All except for a small few, but my team leader assures me it is because they are xenophobic.
Sonja paused in her reading. "How bad could he be if a Vampire doesn't faze a bunch of Mundane soldiers?"
Edgar merely grinned. "I don't know, but I want to meet him now and get his autograph."
Only one of my classmates was lucky enough to transfer into my team; Jaune Alabaster. You remember him; the awkward blond guy with innocent eyes? The one I told you who covered for me when I had to sneak out and hunt to get blood.
"Another one for the card list."
He has been apprenticed to one of the medics who is also a Prisoner Recruit; Corporal Eren Yeager. My bunkmates all claim that if it wasn't for that stigma he could have gotten his official medical license. I'm officially a part of the Border Patrol unit, even though I mainly work with a different team. I just started learning the routines under a giant of a man named Ivan. Kind and gentle, but has a left hook that can stop a truck.
"When we write to her, we need to ask her if she's seen one of those fifteen feet tall bears yet."
Sonja laughed as she pulled out a picture from the envelope. "Edgar."
The teen took one look at the small photo and started to howl with laughter. It was a snapshot of Saya standing next to a bear easily twice her size, and from the lump on its head they guessed she had knocked it out with her bare hands.
This was my first kill on our hunting trip. I sort of scared everyone when I killed it with a kick when the damn thing snuck up on me while I was answering nature's call.
I asked if I could get it stuffed and sent home so you could stick it in Claude's office. They said they would get back to me later this week.
12 Days of Christmas
"On the Twelfth day of Christmas, my loved ones did bring to me,
Twelve sharp blades,
Eleven murderous psychopaths,
Ten tiny Alchemists
Eight plates of curry,
Seven new books,
Six exploding puddings,
Five Weasley sweaters,
Four candy canes,
Three flying snowballs,
Two devious Twins,
And a phoenix named Valkyrie!"
And with that Zephyrus dropped the microphone and walked off the stage. The crowd that had assembled for the karaoke night stared as Lisa chased after him.
"Zephyrus, you didn't sing all of it!"
Truth of Alexei Romanov
To the students of Durmstrang Institute the acceptance of one Alexei Romanov was a subject of mystery and disgust. Mainly for one fact. Alexei was a Muggleborn, a type of wizard who according to their founder's creed should not even be allowed to walk into the castle. They didn't know much about him, just that he was from a country called Drachma that was a close ally of Russia. It was through that superpower's influence that he was accepted.
Many of the students tried to keep Alexei 'in his place' by challenging him to duels or hex him in the corridors, but Alexei endured and managed to outwit them. Where he lacked muscles he made up for with his tactics. However he managed to find an ally in Viktor Krum a few years before he became a Quidditch star.
Then one day a small article was sent to various small Magical newspapers. It quickly reached several larger ones and pushed the Quidditch scores off the front page.
Graduate of Durmstrang is ROYALTY!
A Wizard Prince exists!
Viktor Krum took one look at the papers his former classmates had brought and shrugged. He had packing to do. After all, it wasn't everyday one was personally invited to a royal ball.
It was the somber evening before the First Task of the Triward Tournament. The Champions were doing their best to keep a strong face and eat a proper meal without thinking about the looming. Or rather trying to ignore the tension in the air.
"Geez, the atmosphere is so thick here not even the Armstrong family blades could cut through it." Neville commented dryly. Zephyrus said nothing but continued to slowly eat his plate of roast beef.
"We need to do something otherwise everyone is going have nightmares from indigestion." Lisa commented. She grinned deviously. "I got an idea."
Ethan blanched and Zephyrus paused mid-chew. Draco blinked in confusion as they muttered in unison; "Oh no..."
To everyone's shock the mundane raised children began to grab plates of food and then together flipped over a table for a wall barricade. Draco stared as Fred shoved a large bowl of pudding into his hands. Somewhere in the background he could hear a girl chanting 'I'm Queen of the Castle!'
"TASTE HUMILIATION!" Lisa snapped as she grabbed a roll and hurled it into crowd of Slytherins, effectively hitting Nott in between his eyes. "SUFFER!"
Seeing his classmates looking lost, Alexei grabbed a bowl of mashed potatoes and hurled it back. "WE WILL NEVER SURRENDER!"
Fred jumped up and hit the bowl back with a thick bread. Ginny followed up by throwing half a steak and kidney pie over the wall of tables. Soon food was flying everywhere, the more 'sophisticated' students were screaming and trying to run out of the Great Hall. Alexei and Zephyrus had a fight involving quickly crafted catapults. Ed and Lee were doing the color commentary while dodging plates. The Hogwarts professors used the chaos as an opportunity to slam plates of lemon meringue into Dumbledore's face much to Maxime's amusement.
"STOP THIS AT ONCE!"
The Great Hall suddenly froze as a thick custard pudding slammed into Kakaroff's face. The Drumstrang students looked at their Champion in shock.
"Oops, sorry. My hand slipped." Viktor stated nonchalantly. Kakaroff growled and picked up a turkey leg.
What happened afterwards could only be described as absolute anarchy.
A Plan for Everything
It is rumored that when the Ice Queen took command of Ft. Briggs, she came up with a plan and backup plan for everything. Food supplies cut? No problem, plenty of experienced hunters in the fort. Fuel? The lines were carefully buried and hidden under piles of snow and ice. Ammunition shortage? Ft. Briggs had some of the finest metalworkers available and a nearby mine full of ore. Personnel shortage? It had taken some wheeling and dealing but a backup plan was set up with the retired officers in the providence.
Yup, just about every plausible method was prepared for. But one day, Miles discovered that she had planned for more that. It all began when he came across a stray piece of paper on her desk.
To be used in case of Zombie Apocalypse
'She really does have a plan for everything...'