The Struggle of a Fiery Heart

Disclaimer: I don't own any Fire Emblem Characters in this story. Nintendo has that copyright alone.

Prologue


It rained, the heavy drops of water splattered against the window and slid down, making a soft plop sound. Thunder boomed in the dark clouded sky and the wind whispered mutely in the night.

Titania slept through all of this, usually she sat awake every night and wondered why raindrops didn't fall from her eyes. This time she slept and dreamed. Dreamed of the thing she's dreamed since he died and left her alone.

"Titania…I want you to promise…to me, before I die here," Greil murmured, his voice a hoarse whisper. They were in the Gebal Fortress, in the large gray green stone room Greil had taken for his own.

Once Ike had told what happened when he carried his father's body back to the fortress they took him to this room, Rhys said Greil only had a few more moments of life left. Titania remembered the blood that seeped from Greil's stomach, the almost blank expression in his eyes as slight shock took over his senses. Now he was laying on the bed, clinging to his last breaths.

"Yes Greil… I'll promise you anything," Titania replied, feeling her throat clog with hidden emotions and sadness. 'Greil, you can't be dying, you mustn't!' she wanted to cry out, but kept her thoughts shoved away, desperate to hear him out before he died.

"I want you…to take care of Ike, and show him the ropes of being mercenary leader. He's hot-headed, my son,…but he has potential." Greil suddenly coughed, red phlegm splattering his armor.

"I promise," Titania felt her tears finally erupt from her eyes, the promise now sealed. Greil finally mustered up a smile, his pain disappearing somewhat.

"I always knew you had it in you, Titania. You've never failed me…Anything is yours…if you wish it," Greil coughed once more as he reached out to brush a hand against Titania's cheek. She felt the warmth of his skin, of his hand, and felt like wailing aloud. Then Greil's eyes closed, peace settling over his features as he breathed his last breath, his hand dropping beside him.

"Greil…Greil! No! Open your eyes! Please!" Titania shook Greil's body before collapsing against him, sobbing. 'The only man I could trust…and love. He's…gone…' She heard footsteps nearing Greil's room, but she didn't look up or move.

"Greil…why…?" Titania whispered tearfully, kissing his cheek, feeling his skin become cold.

"Titania, it's no use. He's dead now…it's time to bury him," Oscar walked into the room at this moment, his voice soft with sorrow. The usually happy man was now clouded with depression. He had cared about Greil as well, but never as much as Titania had.

"I know…" Titania trailed off, tone full of mourning, looking up at the green haired Lance Knight as he came over beside her.

"Come, we'll bury him," Oscar gently beckoned, his hand on Titania's shoulder. She stood up, her movements seeming almost without her consent, before they lifted Greil up together and carried him out of the room.

Titania woke up, surpassing a scream from exiting her vocal chords. She looked around, then her gaze settled on the night, where a light drizzle was only falling from the heavens. Feeling wetness on her face, she tried to reach a hand up but found she didn't have to will to wipe her tears away.

"I must visit his grave," Titania decided as her decision got her up and out of bed. She put on her cream and yellow rimmed armor, clipping the belt on and slipped into her black leggings. Her armored boots were by the doorway and she silently put them on, wincing inwardly at the faint clinking noise.

The Mercenary Stronghold was quiet, the sounds of Boyd and Shinon arguing wasn't heard, not yet. The wood floor underneath Titania creaked with age as she walked, but she ignored it. The walls were made of plaster and wood and they lined the hallway as she traveled through the stronghold.

Before Titania entered the kitchen she saw a long hallway branching off into darkness. She knew exactly what was in that area through that dark hallway and past the door that was kept closed. It was the Leader's Quarters, the place Greil had made his room, until Ike had taken it over. Now, both men were gone and the room was quiet and empty.

Titania continued on, not caring if her long red braid looked scraggly from sleep, past the kitchen and out the doorway.

The drizzle wasn't bad at all as Titania walked over to the stable where her white horse awaited her. She whickered, as if greeting Titania as the paladin began to place the saddle, girth strap, and the reins wordlessly.

"Let's go girl," Titania said to her horse as she led her out the stable. Titania easily jumped into the saddle, before grabbing a hold of the reins and clucking her tongue twice.

They trotted from the stronghold, Titania's destination burning in her mind as the mud sucked at her horse's hooves. They passed three villages, Rendall, Fringre, and Octaco as they continued on. Good thing it's still not sun-up yet, Titania thought as the sky brightened with the slow coming dawn.

Titania thought she must have looked like a convict as she raced through the rain, her hair becoming damp with the rain, and her expression, which was a twist of determination and grief.

Finally the forest that bordered Gallia and Crimea entered her vision. Even less noticeable in the gloom from afar was a dark shape, the Gebal Fortress, if Titania squinted her green eyes long enough.

Titania urged her horse into a walk now, not wanting to alert any laguz that might be in the area as she traveled through the forest, crossing the border. She knew that they had superb hearing that was far superior than any beorc's and didn't want to explain why she was here in the first place. For personal reasons…that's why I mustn't be noticed, Titania thought. They probably could smell her as well, but she had to take that risk.

Finally Gebal Fortress appeared through the forest and the night began to turn into a gray color as dawn slowly came again.

Titania dismounted off her horse and let her go graze on the small grass seen here and there.

Titania walked through the path that had been cleared by the laguz, her steps feeling weary and heavy, her cream colored armor slathered with the drizzle.

Finally after a moment she saw the grave, the mound where Greil was buried under three years ago and the Urvan, the special axe he used in combat, still planted on top.

"Greil…are you watching me? Do you approve of what I've done so far? I miss you…you were a glorious man while you lived. I may have said this three years back, but every word I speak of is true. Oh Greil…if only you were here right now…to just live and be the man you used to…with me," Titania felt the tears that she had hidden for so long come out finally as she spoke. She felt the tears fall down her cheeks, mixing with the drizzle that misted her face.

She stood there, just letting the sadness overwhelm her, letting all her emotions free. The only man I've ever felt was special…even if he's been gone for three years, there's still a hole in my heart where he was. Each time I think about it…it's as if he had just died in that moment, the pain of him gone hot and fresh.

Suddenly the sound of a small branch snapping made her head whip up in alarm as a shape appeared from the trees.

"Ah don't worry, lass. I'm not to here to hurt ya. I just heard a voice and I wanted to see what was goin' on," It was only a laguz and a smile was on his feline shaped face.

"I heard about this man that lays here under the soil. Greil was his name, right?" he continued as he walked over to her. Titania only gave a solemn nod as she still stood there. The Laguz had a raised scar running from his right ear to his jaw, which puckered up when he had smiled.

"Sad tale that is…I remember I was just an older adolescent when that man came with his mercenaries three years back," the laguz said, continuing the conversation.

"He was the one of the best…" Titania finally managed to get out past the lodging in her throat.

"So you did know him. Wait…I remember you. You came with Greil that day to this fortress thee years ago, right?"

"Yes…I was his second in command…"

"Ah, sorry to hear that. Although I should know your name."

"It's Titania."

"I'm Brange. What happened to them mercenaries after he died? You leadin' them now?"

"Not until Ike left a month ago. It's what Ike wanted me to do before he left Tellius."

"The Noble Hero Ike, right?"

"Yes."

"Well Titania, you may be wonderin' why this path is cleared. You see Caineghis's last wish before he gave the throne to Skrimir was that he wanted this area to be easily accessed. Probably thought one of you mercenaries would come visit this grave sometime."

There was silence for a moment as the two said nothing, the conversation dropping.

"Well, I reckon I better be heading back to Zarzi. I have duties I must attend, and well…let's just put it that the new laguz fighters are an annoyance," Brange said, saying his farewell before loping into the trees once more.

I better return to the stronghold anyway. Before Boyd and the others wake up and wonder where I am, Titania thought as she began to walk off, giving Greil's grave on last look before going to find her horse.