Hi, everyone! So soon, too! Don't you love when I go back through my Fire Emblem phase? I just shift around so much. Too much. Want to know how many stories I actually have on my computer? …No. No, you don't.

So, funny story! I was actually going to have this be a mega chapter, but the more I wrote, the more needed to happen, and the longer it got. When I hit page thirty, I decided I shouldn't spoil you guys so much with such a beloved chapter. (innocent smiling face) I'm just kidding. I love you guys.

Who's ready to learn about Sylvia?! Good, 'cause that's what most of this chapter is! Just kidding. Or am I?

Sylvia: Just keep in mind I belong to Fluffy, and not you.

Me: I know, I know. But you're so much fun, Sylvia!

Sylvia: Psh, I know! Let's get this party started!

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Chapter 15

Ike sighed heavily and sunk down into a chair. Would it ever get easier? He was seriously beginning to consider not. Yune had finally left after he somehow managed to calm her down, but the information she had brought was not to be taken likely. At the same time, it seemed almost too convenient, because if the laguz of Staltone, Ailon, and Nylonti planned on moving to Tellius…it would be an enormous help to him, should something go down. But could he tell them? If he did, he had the feeling that it would drastically change their minds, when they had just begun to agree that perhaps going to Tellius wouldn't be such a bad idea.

He shook his head. He needed to tell them. It wasn't right if he let them go over there just so they could be used like tools. If he did that, he was no better than the Mad King. Still, it worried him. After he shared this news with the kings and queen, he wouldn't blame them at all if they decided to stay where they were and not get involved with Tellius.

Just then, Aislyn was walking down the hall and spotted him sitting in the chair. "…Sir Ike? Are you okay?"

Snapping out of his heavy thoughts, he gave her an apologetic look. "Oh, sorry. Hi, Aislyn. I'm fine, I'm just…thinking."

"Is there anything I can do to help?"

Ike could sense the genuine aspect to her tone. "That's generous of you, but I don't think there is."

Aislyn's face fell slightly, and her ears lay back on her head. "I see. Well, please let me know if there is."

"Of course." Aislyn started to walk off, but Ike found himself calling after her. When she stopped and looked back at him, Ike inquired, "Can I ask you something?"

"Sure."

"Why do you support going to Tellius so much?"

Aislyn paused, pondering over his question. To her, the answer seemed simple, but when she said it out loud, it seemed almost…childish. "Mihara was so happy there. You say that Tellius was full of war until recently and that there's still some hostility… I mean, a fight was starting when we were there, but…she was more than happy to fight alongside them. She found something there to protect, and if she can…why can't the rest of us?"

Ike smiled faintly. Her answer gave him a little bit of hope. "Thank you. That helps me come to a decision."

"A decision?"

"Yes. I need to speak with Lord Keenan again. I've got something to tell him."

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Mihara stumbled out of her room early the next morning, not quite sure of where she was headed. She didn't feel like eating breakfast that morning, but knew if she went down into the dining hall, Ginia would ensnare her and make her eat, just like she was with Shoen. She'd rather not go through that at this point in the morning. When she started to walk downstairs, she saw Leanne standing by Naesala and Reyson a short distance away from them, his expression slightly stony. When she was closer, she said, "Good morning, Leanne, Reyson. Naesala, when did you return? I thought you'd left after everything went down?"

"Not too long ago, really. I was over in southern Begnion when I heard about your…incident. I was stuck there for a little longer before I was able to come." Naesala brushed some hair from his eyes. "I've come to escort Leanne and Reyson back to Serenes."

Mihara's face fell. She knew that they had to be heading back soon, but the news was still sad to hear. "How long before we get to see each other again?" she asked Leanne.

"Soon, I hope," was her reply. "I'm not quite ready to go back yet since you aren't fully healed, but I imagine our father and brother are missing us."

"I'm sure they are." Mihara offered up a smile. "Don't worry about me, I'm fine." From his spot, Reyson looked towards her, but said nothing. "Have you seen Dad yet?"

"I don't think he's up yet. Or he hasn't come out of his room yet, at least." Leanne looked up to Naesala. "Let's go and see."

"I'm sure it isn't a team effort." Naesala paused, and when he saw Leanne's expression, he shrugged easily enough. "But I've been wrong before. We'll be right back."

The raven and heron walked upstairs towards Tibarn's room, Mihara watching after them with amusement. She had the feeling that Leanne had not been telling her the whole truth when she met Naesala. They seemed to be closer in a way other than being old friends. Still, she didn't want to seem nosy and ask about it. Suddenly, a warm hand grasped hers and pulled her along a different direction. Mihara looked to Reyson, her face warm. "R-Reyson? What is it?"

The White Prince led her to a nearby bench and insisted that she sit down beside him. While she thought he was acting strange, she didn't question it and sat down, but not before she winced slightly in pain. Reyson didn't miss this. "You are not fine. You pushed yourself yesterday, didn't you? You shouldn't have strained yourself after being attacked by the dragon. Your leg is still healing. You don't want to cause permanent injury."

"It's just from the cold air – it only stings a little. I'm fine, really," she said resolutely. Sure, there was some truth to Reyson's words, but it wasn't anything for anyone to worry about. She'd rather not even think about it, herself. She didn't want to relive her injury by thinking of how much it hurt her on occasion.

Reyson's gaze softened. "Let me help you."

It wasn't a question. It wasn't even really a request. While it seemed like an offer, Mihara felt that from his tone, he was telling her that he was going to help and she couldn't do anything about it. He parted his lips and started to sing a low, quiet galdr. Mihara felt her heart skip a beat and felt her airway cinch up for a moment. She'd heard Leanne sing a few times before, but never had she heard Reyson. His voice was quite soothing, low – lower than she'd expected – and…comforting. She was so enveloped in listening that she hadn't realized that the throbbing pain in her leg had subsided…or that Reyson had his hand sitting on top of hers on the bench.

That is, until the mighty King of the Skies himself cleared his throat loudly as he stood before them, arms crossed. Mihara jumped slightly, not having realized that Tibarn had approached the two. Her face heated quickly when she felt Reyson's hand on top of hers, but he casually moved it away. Reyson's face was calm and possibly slightly amused. As Tibarn raised a suspicious eye, he said, "So you and Leanne are leaving today, huh?"

"Yes. Naesala is going to escort us to the forest." Reyson stood up and looked to Mihara. "Does your leg feel better?"

She stood next and tested her leg, stretching it and moving it around a little. "Yes, it does. Thank you." She smiled at him warmly. She hadn't realized how much it had actually been hurting. Perhaps she had just been getting used to it.

"Good." It took him a moment, but he returned her smile. He looked to his sister, inquiring, "Are we ready?"

"I suppose so…" Leanne went up to Mihara and quickly embraced her. "We'll see each other soon, I'm sure of it!"

"Yeah, you're right." Mihara hugged Leanne back. "I look forward to it."

Leanne then moved to give Tibarn a hug as well, and Naesala went over to Mihara. Just as she was about to give him a puzzled look, he raised one of his hands and gave her a quick pat on her head as though she was a child. "Get well soon, kid."

Instead of protesting at being touched, Mihara chuckled softly. "Thanks, Naesala."

Reyson didn't move to hug Mihara. He merely gave her a quick, kind smile, then followed after Leanne and Naesala after saying goodbye to Tibarn. Perhaps Tibarn had intimidated him into not touching Mihara after suddenly appearing while he sang galdr to her? And…practically held her hand. She sighed heavily once the door closed. Tibarn looked down at her and inquired protectively, "He was singing galdr to you to make your leg feel better?"

"Yes. I told him I was fine, but he insisted."

"That's it?"

"Yes." I think so, she added silently.

He paused and cleared his throat. "Well, does your leg feel better?"

"It does."

"Don't push yourself too hard. Give it time to rest."

"I will," she promised.

After that, Tibarn told her he had some things he had to take care of and left her to her thoughts. She wandered around a good bit for the remainder of the morning, stopping to talk with Ginia and spend some time with Shoen. She thought it was odd that she hadn't seen Janaff or Ulki hanging around nearby, but figured they were probably helping Tibarn with whatever it was the king had to do. When Mihara and Shoen were walking down a hall in the castle, exploring a little bit to satisfy their curiosity, they came upon William and Jessa. Jessa turned to Mihara with a concerned face. "Oh, Mihara, Shoen, good morning."

"Good morning," Mihara replied for the both of them. "Is…something wrong?"

"I was just wondering if you've seen Sylvia yet this morning." Jessa looked towards William, then to the floor. "I just…feel that she could use some company. William didn't mean anything by what he said yesterday, but I feel like Sylvia might have taken it personally."

"What he said…?"

"About her not really teaching you magic well."

"That?" Mihara tilted her head. "She's helping me out so much. It's not like we have any beorc sages here, nor have I ever actually met any before."

"Yes, but I feel like she might be too hard on herself, and that she might've taken him too seriously."

"We haven't seen her today," Shoen supplied quietly.

William, who had looked like he had been spacing out, suddenly snapped to and said, "She's outside in the gardens."

The other three looked to him, Jessa seeming to be the only one that understood why he said what he said. Mihara asked, "How do you know that?"

William turned his gold eyes to Mihara. "Let's just say I have friends in high places."

She frowned, not understanding this answer. Jessa just said, "Trust him. If he says she's outside, then she's outside."

"Well, I'll go make sure she's okay," Mihara offered. "If she's not, I'll come back to hit William."

Jessa giggled into her hand. "That sounds fair enough."

While William started to give Jessa an affronted look, Mihara started to head for the door that would lead her out to the back of the castle and into the gardens. While Shoen followed along behind her, she said, "You don't need to come if you don't want."

He shook his head. "It's fine."

When they came to the door, Mihara pushed it open with some effort. She narrowed her eyes as they adjusted to the blinding white landscape. More snow had fallen all throughout the night, and the mountains were now covered in at least three inches. As William had said, Mihara spotted Sylvia sitting on one of the benches off to the side in the gardens, though it appeared she had brushed the snow from it before sitting. Shoen closed the door behind them while Mihara started walking towards the wind sage. "Sylvia? Are you okay?"

Jerking from the sudden snow, Sylvia turned her head to look at the approaching siblings. She laughed, a little weakly, and responded with, "I'm okay. Just sitting out here for a little peace and quiet."

"Quiet? You?" Mihara cracked a smirk.

"Shocking, isn't it?" she commented dryly.

Mihara paused, as if waiting for her to say something else, but the beorc woman just turned her gaze back straight ahead, looking at the landscape. The Hawk Princess looked to her brother, but all he did was shrug. She slowly went and sat down beside her on the bench. "…Sylvia, if something's wrong, you can tell me."

"Nothing's wrong. Why would you think something's wrong?"

"You aren't acting like yourself." Mihara shuddered lightly as a cold chill raced down her spine. "Is it…what William said yesterday?"

Sylvia cast Mihara a sideways glance before becoming interested in her boots. "…He's right, though. I'm no teacher. You'd be better off finding someone else to help you. If we get into another big fight with other sages, particularly those with wind…"

"Then I'll kill them before they can use their magic," Mihara said, almost nonchalantly.

"But you can't be everywhere at once," she persisted, her voice cracking ever so slightly. "I'm not doing you any good."

"Sylvia, listen to me." Mihara leaned forward to get a better look at the sage's face. "You've been nothing but a big help to me. Sure, you might not be able to always explain everything in words, but in those cases, I'm able to pick up from experience."

"She's not lying," Shoen suddenly interjected. When both of the young women looked to him, somewhat surprised he'd bothered to put his opinion in, he elaborated, "Even from just watching, I can sense how the magic works, and I imagine that's how she's learning, too. The way the air shifts, how the air will charge, or heat just an instant before the attack. In a one-on-one, it's easy enough to get the hang of. It's when there's going to be several things happening at once when it will get challenging."

Stunned silent for a few moments, Sylvia looked to Mihara. "…I think that's the most I've ever heard him talk."

"Same here…," Mihara murmured, then turned back to the matter at hand. "He's got it right, though. What he says is exactly how I've been getting the hang of it. If it weren't for you, and I did get into another battle, I would be in serious trouble. At least now, I know the signs. If I had known the signs beforehand, those human leaders would never have had a chance to take me like they had."

This made Sylvia feel a little better. "Thanks. I still feel like you could find a better teacher than me, though."

"Stop being so harsh on yourself. There's always going to be someone better than you in skill. I imagine it's like that everywhere."

Sylvia gave a small, dry laugh. "I never even used to be a sage…"

"Oh, no?" Mihara tilted her head. "Beorc can just…become one? You aren't born this way?"

"No. The power is all in the tome. The language it's written in is what you have to learn, and it isn't hard. You have to be really dedicated to learn it."

"See? There you go. You're teaching me more. I thought it was determined at birth for beorc that were sages." Mihara smiled. "But I am curious to learn more about you. You seem more complex than you appear."

Sylvia raised an eyebrow while twisting her face up in a disapproving manner. She reached out and tugged one of Mihara's feathers. "I don't think I should be taking that as a compliment. Believe me, you don't want to hear my story. It's full of drama. It'll bore you to tears."

"I hardly think so."

The wind sage glanced up at Shoen, who hadn't moved away either. He seemed to be just listening nonchalantly, not seeming to care if she told her story or not. With a slightly ashamed face, she looked away. Who was she kidding? Compared to Shoen's life so far, hers had been a cakewalk. What did she have to complain about, really? "…I'll tell you a summarized version. First, should we head inside? You aren't wearing very warm clothes…"

"Hmm, I suppose so." Mihara shivered, as though just taking notice of the snow and the cold air. "We can go talk in my room."

With that decision, the trio made their way inside, happy to embrace the warmth. As they made their way up to Mihara's room, Sylvia ran over her story in her head, trying to pick the shortest way to tell it. Though, she had to admit, it made her happy that Mihara was genuinely asking to learn more about her. Perhaps she and Mihara could be close friends, after all.

Once inside the Hawk Princess's room, they sat in a circle on her bed. When they were settled and Sylvia shed her warm cloak she'd been wearing, she gave a weak laugh. "Well, where to start. Do you know what a Blood Pact is?"

Both hawk laguz shook their heads.

"Simply put, a contract is written, and if the person who signed it doesn't follow precisely what it says, people start to die. There was one a long time ago in Daein, my home country. We didn't know what was causing the plague that swept across the country, but my parents were victims of it. Once it passed, Giselle and I didn't have anywhere to go but to my father's mother's home. She took us in and took care of us. Giselle was actually the troublemaker of us two at this point in time, and she was pretty independent, so she didn't really…associate with me much. She left to join a thieves guild, and of course, I was too young to understand why. I thought she was just being selfish and running away from home, but apparently Granny was pretty rough on her. I found out later that Granny thought Giselle reminded her most of our father, and she was terrified to lose her too, so she was harsh on her.

"So once Giselle left, I had to try and pick up some slack, even though I was young. Granny was upset that Giselle had left, so I started keeping a smiling face on for her. I didn't like seeing her unhappy. We didn't really have much money to send me to school, but I still wanted to be educated somehow. One day, in the market, I found a magic tome and bought it. Only when I got home did I realize it was written in the ancient language." She laughed and smiled, as if remembering that moment of opening the book and seeing a language she couldn't read. "I somehow managed to find a mage in the capital, Nevassa, and he taught me. He didn't only teach me the language, but he taught me about the world.

"At some point, he wanted me to travel for 'real world experience', as he called it. I was reluctant to leave Granny, but she promised I had done enough for her and that I could go and do what I wanted. I wandered around for a while and learned about the world, especially laguz. In Daein, in the older days, we were all raised to fear and hate laguz, and we were even taught that we should only call them sub-humans. It isn't that way anymore, don't worry. But so I learned to not be so…narrow-minded towards laguz, you could say.

"So, haha… I went to Crimea, and one of our recent wars broke out. I was captured and thrown into a prison, where I met some of the Crimeans you met at the party. I met Kieran there. We were rescued, and…well, lots happened after that without going into details. After a while, I actually ran into Giselle, who was the apprentice of an assassin. I still had hard feelings towards her for abandoning me and Granny, and we got into a pretty big fight. Kieran was actually the one to snap me out of it. He told me what I'd needed to hear. I didn't know Giselle's side of the story, why she really left. It just clicked in my head. I went and apologized and learned her side. Soon, we were closer than ever.

"After the war, I stayed in Crimea to help them rebuild and Giselle went to finish her training. We stayed in touch. Once some time passed, I started to feel like an outsider, and even the nobles in Crimea made fun of me. I'd also started to…like Kieran. He was promoted to deputy commander of the Royal Knights, and I started to feel like he was better than me, that he wouldn't want a peasant girl at his side. The girls with me tried telling me he wasn't like that, but I'd already planted the idea in my head. Not too long after that, I got a letter saying that Granny was sick, so I left to be with her…and I didn't go back. I never heard anything from Kieran. I got letters from the others, asking me how I was, how my Granny was, and if I was coming back. I used to write them, but after a while, I stopped getting them.

"A couple years later, Granny's health was just getting worse, and Daein was being occupied by Begnion, and not pleasantly. I could barely get herbs for Granny, and Giselle tried helping out, sending me money, but the borders started getting dangerous. I heard about a group called the Dawn Brigade, who was opposing Begnion occupation. I naturally supported them, hating the soldiers that were there, treating everyone like trash." She paused. "…Am I boring you?"

"Not at all," Mihara assured her. She wasn't lying – she seemed entirely enraptured in Sylvia's story.

"Well, let me know if I am, okay?" She took a breath. "Well, I started hearing rumors that a rebellion was happening through Crimea's streets, and I started to worry about everyone back there. Granny, erm…kicked me out, shall we say."

"I think there's more to it than that," Shoen finally said, his face slightly amused.

"Nope!" Sylvia quickly protested. Without giving him a chance to say anything else, she continued on. "I went to Crimea, just barely being able to get past the border, and I got caught up in the rebellion. Just my luck. Naturally, I came face to face with my friends again, including Kieran. With nowhere else to run, I admitted to him why I left. He…" She giggled. "He told me 'a knight stays true to his lady to the end!' So, with that all behind us, we were able to reconnect. I left again, but promised to come back this time, and I went to go help the Dawn Brigade free Daein. Just as that finished, literally, a separate war started, but it was between beorc and laguz.

"Daein had been totally focused on picking itself up, but the new king, Pelleas, said that we would fight against the laguz. I didn't understand why we were siding with Begnion after we'd just freed ourselves from them, but I felt indebted to him for saving Daein, so I stayed. It turns out…he'd been roped into signing a Blood Pact. It was then I learned that the senators of Begnion were behind it, as well as the one that had occurred in Daein that killed my parents. It took some strong people to hold me back from going on a rampage. Then, it got even worse…we were supposed to fight against Crimea. When I met my friends on the battlefield, I left, getting a lot of heat from Daein soldiers.

"The fighting carried on for a while – I had no choice but to continue on with them. When it came down to it, I nearly snapped…seriously. I had a really bad breakdown. I thought I was a monster for attacking and nearly killing them. Kieran found me and just stayed with me until I was able to put myself back together. Once all the fighting was finally through, both Giselle and I went back to Daein, and she made up with Granny. It didn't take long before I missed Kieran and the others and I wanted to go back to him. Granny understood, so I left and have been there since."

There was a stretch of silence while Mihara and Shoen finished absorbing all they'd been told. Then, Mihara smirked and raised an eyebrow. "I thought you seemed close to Kieran when we had the party."

Sylvia flushed bright red.

"She's embarrassed," Shoen stated bluntly.

"Ahh, be quiet!" Sylvia stood up and rushed into Mihara's bathroom, closing the door fiercely behind her, making incomprehensible sputters all the while.

"And Sylvia's back." Mihara laughed.

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There you have it! Chapter fifteeeeen. I just wanted to say that Fluffy and her wonderful friend that owns Giselle spent so much time on creating the sisters' background that it just blew my mind. Fluffy kept sending it and I was spazzing out, I was so impressed! So, I hope you guys enjoyed it as much as I did!

Be on the lookout for sixteen! It'll still be long, probably. As of the moment, it is…well, like, seventeen pages. Be excited! Something really BIG happens next chapter that didn't happen in the original story AT ALL. Dun-dun-dunnnnnnn. Please drop a line on your way out! Thanks for reading!