A/N: I toyed with whether or not to upload this but since I've taken a bit of a hiatus lately, I figured why not just throw it out there for now. Now, I will gladly admit, I love Almedha; part of me still wishes the whole thing with her and Ashnard had worked out instead of turning sour the way it did. But alas, I didn't write the game. This story is just an idea I got while playing Radiant Dawn and an idea I wish had also happened... but since it didn't, I'll write about it instead. There's probably going to be more to it but it'll take awhile before I get there.
"… She's getting stronger, I don't… I don't know if we'll be able to defeat her forces like this."
"Are you certain?"
"I can feel it… if we don't do something now, she may be able to overpower us."
"What can we do?"
"You can't do anything specifically, but I can. It may destroy some things you've come to know, but it's better than losing this war when we're so close to the end. I… I hope it doesn't cause any more mayhem. I don't want to hurt anyone."
"It's better than us dying, right?"
"You… you are correct."
She could hear the ongoing battle even from this distance…
At least her keen sense of hearing hadn't abandoned her like everything else had.
Drawing in a deep breath of the cold air around her, she felt it settle almost uncomfortably in her lungs, burning the inside lining of her chest. Hands moved to brush the soft wrinkles out of her sleeves, taking note of the slight stretching in the thin material from the brief conflict before. The memory of such still left her in a bad mood… She had lost her nerve before, losing control of her emotional state and suffering a minor breakdown in the process of it. All she remembered was the short matter before it and then suddenly it just felt like everyone was trying to grab at her. When a soldier had grabbed at her arm, she threw him back with such force he struck one of the nearby carriages and was knocked clean out. Another tried to step in and she almost wrenched his arm out of its socket. She only allowed for them to subdue her because she had grown tired of fighting and… didn't want to deal with them further.
She had overheard the Hawk King making a strong remark about her given strength and her ability to toss aside men without a second of hesitation or struggle, and she found that she didn't regret her actions. In the past few years, it felt like her strength had threatened to leave her again and again, so it was nice to be reminded that she wasn't as helpless as she felt.
So what if they thought her to be a broken down shell of a woman? At least… at least…
No, that was about right, wasn't it?
You've lost your touch with the outside world, haven't you?
She paused for a brief moment at the questioning statement, unsure for a moment if it had been her mind reading it out to her or… if someone else had spoken it. No, that was just crazy. She really was losing it, wasn't she? After years of breaking down again and again, unable to find a way to cope with the world around her, her sanity chose this moment to finally slip away from her. She supposed this shouldn't be something new…
I didn't mean to startle you, it's just… it's taken me awhile to find you in all of this mess.
She was certain that voice wasn't her own.
But it left the greater question of… whose else could it be? And why was it speaking to just her? Her red eyes slowly moved around the open space around her, noting that the few figures standing around didn't seem to notice the remark or even hear the voice. Was it just to her then? That was impossible though, no one could just get inside of her mind like that.
I don't think you know who I am, but… I am Yune.
Yune? The Goddess?
That's the one.
A mild frown found its way to her lips at the response and she almost had to convince herself to not try to run away from it in some way. This voice, or rather Yune, was supposingly speaking to her though… it would be rude to not respond, correct? Even if doing so would make her seem even crazier. "Why are you speaking to me?" she questioned softly, keeping the words barely under her breath. If someone saw her speaking or even heard her, she'd probably lose what little respect she could still muster.
I have a favor to ask, well… to state it like that would imply that your approval would be requested.
"What do you mean?"
This war is close to ending, but we're close to falling under Ashera's power as well…
As far as she could tell it seemed like the battles had been going well… they were grueling and often times went on for what seemed like the entire day, but they always came back in victory. Perhaps there was something she was missing though? But… no one ever mentioned worries or fears about losing. She was certain Pelleas would have said something about it to her.
We need every fighter we can get.
Again, she tucked the corners of her lips downward in questioning of the voice's motive. "I don't understand… what does this have to do with me?"
It would seem as though the one time she wished for the voice to be here… it abandoned her instead. She waited for an answer, a response of some kind and instead, she stood there in silence for what seemed like eternity. Was that it? The one question she was actually seeking out an answer for… she received nothing for it.
Perhaps she was just crazy. Maybe she made up that entire conversation in her head, maybe there hadn't been a voice in the first place.
"You're losing it… you really are."
She tried not to think back on the voice or even the situation as a whole, preferring to just… let it go and put it all behind her. The last thing she wanted to do was talk about it. Who would ever believe her if she said that the Goddess Yune had tried to speak with her? She was just a mad woman, even now she had a difficult time trying to remember it or even believe it happened in the first place.
It seemed like the effects of the situation had a greater impact on her than she thought, making it seemingly obvious to some of those around her that something was… off.
"Um, excuse me, Lady Almedha?"
The question almost went unanswered as she found herself continuously lost in her thoughts, almost cutting herself off from the world around her. It just… it felt like she was living in someone else's skin, her own body felt strange to her and she wasn't sure how to react to it. Perhaps it was just a figment of her imagination, maybe she was just making it all up. Hands moved to lightly cling to the opposite arm as she crossed them over her chest; bundling the soft material of her sleeves between her fingers. Slowly, she broke away from her thoughts and turned her attention towards the woman who had posed the question in the first place. Long, dark-green locks were pulled back away from her youthful face and tucked underneath a small, modest crown. Her white uniform, while showing a few signs of wear and tear, was still rather vibrant and displayed her mark of royalty. She always thought the Crimean Queen was a beautiful young woman and she would certainly age well with her looks; she was honestly a little surprised the woman didn't have suitors already asking for her hand.
"Is there something I can help you with?"
The other woman seemed to frown lightly, more so in a look of concern than anything else. The hand she kept on the reigns of her walking Pegasus seemed to tighten slightly as she considered her next train of words carefully. "Are you alright?"
Such an easy yet difficult question to answer sometimes.
A long sigh passed itself from her lips before she gave a light shake of her head. "Just… a lot on my mind right now."
"Do you need a moment of rest?" Elincia questioned as she walked at the side of the dark-green haired woman; her Pegasus walking with her on the other side. After an hour or two of riding, she felt the need to get up and stretch her legs for a bit. She had noticed the woman walking by herself more so on the outer edge of the group, keeping herself rather isolated from the rest of the team. Most of the time she preferred to spend her time in one of the carriages… but as of lately she seemed to be more outgoing. Perhaps not so in the manner of spending time with the rest of the group, but more that she was traveling by herself instead; choosing to walk however long it took them to go from one base to the next. She had never seen the woman exhibit such a behavior… not to say that she had really gotten to know the woman all that well either. But she had picked up on the small differences and even King Tibarn had to mention that something seemed different about her.
"No, that's alright. I feel just fine." she assured, as she brushed aside a loose lock of hair before she tucked it behind one ear. "Which I suppose is really the strange part about it all…"
"What do you mean?"
She gave a light shake of her head in response, eventually moving her shoulders into a brief shrug as well. "I'm not sure. It's just, for once in such a long time, I feel completely fine. It feels like I've regained some kind of strength back."
"That's what some of the others were mentioning as well." Elincia nodded. "I think it's the lack of chaos in the air around us."
"Hmm… yes I suppose that could be it."
Something definitely seemed odd about the woman…
"Whoa, whoa, everyone slow down!"
Someone's call from ahead of the group carried itself easily through the ranks as everyone came to a brief pause, some of them pulling their horses to a stop to see what matter was going on. At first, there was just pure silence around them, given the occasional snort from one of the mounts or the slight fluttering of the Pegasus' wings. The quiet breeze above them rustled the branches of the trees that surrounded them, stirring only small curiosities to her. But… off in the distance, she could hear it. The cracking of the ground beneath armored steps, the clinging of metal as different plates brushed against the other, even the occasional tap of a weapon's end against stone. And she knew why someone called for them to stop all of a sudden.
"What's going on?" Elincia questioned, more so to herself than anyone else as she drew the reigns slightly closer to her just in case.
She turned her attention back towards the older woman, watching as her eyes seemed to be directed towards something that she couldn't see. "What?"
"Those Golden forces we've been battling… they've got us surrounded."
"Everyone get ready! We've got company!" another call shouted out, confirming what the woman had just foretold. "Weapons out!"
Hoisting herself back into the saddle, she ran a somewhat calming hand down the Pegasus' neck before she moved to loosen the blade at her waist. Every day she prayed that it wouldn't be necessary to use and so far she was having some luck with that, but not always. "Lady Almedha, I must ask that you get to the center while you still can. I don't want to jeopardize your safety."
Part of her wished to argue… she didn't know why, it wasn't like she could defend herself anyways. Still, there was some kind of throbbing in the center of her chest that called for something different. She took a brief step back to abide to the Queen's plead before the sight of gold crashing through the nearby foliage caught itself in the corner of her eye.
The flash of a blade came down all too quickly, catching her before she could retreat from their advancement; the sharpened edge split down her right forearm, which had been raised in self defense anyways. Her mind emptied out everything except for the pain that burned up into the socket of her shoulder; the warm rush of blood that flooded out of the wound and splattered across her dark dress. Just the same though, it felt like it sharpened her senses and forced that throbbing in her chest to worsen. It also set off an emotion she hadn't felt in a long time.
She caught the sword the next time it swung at her, catching it in her bare hand without suffering a single cut somehow. Brushing it aside like the man's strength was nothing, she brought her other hand forward and cracked it clean against the soldier's chin; a satisfying crack echoed as the head snapped back, revealing that her force had been strong enough to completely break his neck. The body turned into a mere cloud of dust before it had the chance to make contact with the ground.
The Crimean Queen's voice was easy to depict even if it felt like her hearing suddenly washed away.
We need every fighter we can get…
And suddenly her words made sense.
That whole conversation made sense.
Part of her still hesitated but as that throbbing continued to pulse through her body, radiating down to her fingertips… she had no other choice. It had been decades, centuries it felt like since she had last felt her form shift into its natural state. Power took control, heightening her senses and driving her to remember every detail there was to this form.
Her black scales that were rewards for having royal blood.
Brute strength that was hidden behind a slender form; a form that demanded respect and praise on the battlefield.
Even after all these years… her strength was still embedded inside of it. Her wings were still strong and kept their elongated beauty as they pulled out of their folded positions; masking half of the army behind her in her shadow.
Elincia gave out a surprised shout as a heavy burst of energy nearly knocked both her and her Pegasus out of the air. The flying mount kicked wildly and tossed its head back, almost making contact with her face had she not leaned back just the same. "Calm down, calm down." she urged, tugging on the reigns in an attempt to gain some control back.
"Queen Elincia! Pull up!"
She didn't know exactly who called for the command but followed it regardless and ordered the Pegasus up as soon as she regained enough control over the animal. A heightened whine escaped the mount as she felt a rush of heat flush around her legs just as she started to climb upwards. She tried to give a brief glance downward to see what was going on, the ambushed attack left her confused and off-guard, unable to immediately defend herself. The sight of a heated rush of blue fire beneath her only continued to push her further from her guard as she watched the heavy wave of flames ignited the forest around them. "What on Tellius…" the words fell almost wordlessly from her lips before eyes moved to settle on the large form that seemingly appeared from nowhere.
A black dragon.
Where did one come from? The only ones she knew of was King Dheginsea and Prince Kurthnaga…
"You have got to be shitting me." she couldn't force herself to turn away from the sight but knew well enough who the voice belonged to without having to look. " I knew there was something strange about her."
That was all he had to say before she put the pieces together…
"Lady Almedha?" she whispered, slowly guiding her eyes back to the Laguz King. He remained in his non-shifted form and gave a short nod to answer her question. Surprisingly enough, the first thing to cross her mind was a short wonder if the Hawk King was beginning to regret the things he said before… "But…"
"It would certainly explain the strength." Tibarn remarked, watching as the army below scattered briefly to evade the heavy flames that was radiating around them. What would've been a difficult battle to endure was suddenly over in just mere seconds… the resurrected bodies holding no strength against that of a Black Dragon. As strongly as he spoke though, he still wasn't sure if his eyes were tricking him or not. The woman showed no sign of being a Dragon, let alone one of the royal line; the only thing strange about her was her odd strength, her ability to dispel several men in one swing. But this… this was hard to believe even with it right in front of him.
She was fascinated and frightened by the scene all in one. She had always consider the Laguz to have a certain… beauty perhaps when they shifted into their natural forms; whether it was their gracefulness or ability to move from one form into the next. Now, the former wife of the Mad King had her own sense of beauty, one that was more sorrowful than anything else, but this… this transcended anything ever witnessed before.
But just as soon as the scaled form showed up, it disappeared once the threat around them had been dispelled; not a single solider in their army had even gotten the chance to raise their weapons before the threat was put down. And sure enough, the Beorc form that remained behind sealed her away her uncertainties.
Her entire body felt like it was in pain as soon as she reverted back. The sudden rush of strength that had taken her over before remained in its place but she still found herself falling to her knees. She didn't care about the folds of her dress that wrinkled beneath her or the fact that they were gathering in the dirt either… she just needed to have a moment or two to herself. Just a moment to wonder what the hell just happened?
This was impossible…
She lost her powers years ago when she foolishly gave them away.
So how were they back?
Was this… was this really what Yune was talking about? Was she this desperate to get fighters on her side? Was it just getting to the point where both Goddesses decided to break the careful cycle of life? Maybe it seemed selfish, but was the return of her powers permanent? She just… she never realized how much of her life had been depended on them; she never realized how much of herself was depended on them.
She would never regain her position of being the Princess of Goldoa but… she was okay with that for some reason.
Fuck, she was just getting ahead of herself here.
"I'm fine." she answered without allowing for the voice to finish. Shaking fingers moved to tuck aside the darkened locks that had fallen loose, briefly touching at her face just to make sure this skin was still her own; to make sure this body was still hers. She caught movement in the corner of her eye and watched as the blue-haired, Dark Sage carefully knelt down beside her.
Months before, she had deemed the blue curls that framed his face and the dark marking on his arm to be enough evidence to assure her that he was her lost son. She had been so certain of it, but now… those feelings of connection to him were gone; they were never real in the first place, were they? She had just been so lost in her emotions, so lost in her own loneliness, she convinced herself of something that wasn't true. In doing so, she hurt a lot more people than she had ever intended.
"You're hurt." he continued despite her words as his hands moved to cradle her wounded forearm. Blood had stained down to her fingertips, turning the lower portion of her arm into a crimson mess.
She had forgotten about the injury already.
"It's nothing." she assured.
He wasn't even saying anything about what just happened… he was more worried about her well-being instead. Why did that make her feel worse? He seemed to overlook her words once more as he removed some sort of sash from his pocket and carefully wrapped it around the wound; he moved with a cautious sense of ease, trying to do more help than harm.
"… I'm sorry."
He gave a short nod and offered a small smile in return. "It's okay."
So he already knew then?
… At least it made the truth a little less painful.
"What the hell was that?!"
The sharp question came in stark contrast to their quiet conversation and she looked up in time to see Queen Elincia and the Hawk King settle back on the ground; the Crimean woman seemed a little pale of skin. She knew well of what the man was asking but… even though she was half certain of the answer, she wasn't sure if she could willingly tell him what it was.
"King Tibarn, please-"
"It's okay." she interrupted quietly at first before she cleared her throat. "I don't know the whole ordeal but… I'm just as confused as you are. This wasn't supposed to happen… I lost those powers a long time ago."
"So my suspicions were correct." Tibarn started. "Although I never would've guessed that you were a Dragon, let alone one of the royal blood."
"I'm sure it's a difficult thing to understand, but… right now, I'm in no mood to discuss it."
The next few days of travel were taken in silence on her part as she tried to keep to herself once more; unsure and almost uncomfortable with talking about what happened. For the most part, they remained out of sight for any remaining regiments of the Goddess' forces, which meant she didn't have to go into her Dragon form again. Although… that wasn't to say that she didn't want to… the urge to experience that power again was growing every day.
… She guessed she forgot how much she missed that part of her.
It was almost an overpowering feeling now; an untamed tremor that rumbled from the depths of her chest with every passing moment. It brought back so many memories of Goldoa, of her younger years, times when she was happy… but it brought the equally painful ones just the same.
Losing Rajaion because of her own foolish, selfish actions.
Losing her powers because she fell into a relationship she had tricked herself into thinking was real…
In the end, she guessed she deserved to have lost her powers in the first place… so she didn't deserve to have them back. But she did and for however long they might last, she would try not to waste them; she wouldn't toss them aside this time.
She looked up at the call, watching as the Crimean Queen stepped out of her tent just as she past by; she was going to take the downtime to get in a short walk… her restless energy needed to be released somehow without drawing too much attention. "Yes?"
"I uh… wanted to speak with you."
Waiting just long enough for the woman to catch up to her, she carried on about her way towards the small clearing nearby. "Is it about what happened a few days ago?"
"Well… yes." Elincia nodded, tugging lightly on the cuff of her sleeve. "Feel free to tell me if you don't want to talk about it, I would understand."
She pressed her lips together for a moment, running over her own thoughts as she considered the woman's offer. Was she really up to talking about it just yet? It was a little odd but… she felt like she did owe the young Queen something- after all, it was her husband that had slaughtered her country. And while that had been years ago and she held no physical connections to the ordeal… she still felt as though she was responsible somehow. "Do you remember that morning when I lost my temper? I believe it was the same one where you had to run into another battle."
"The battle with Sir Renning." Elincia whispered with another soft nod.
"… Well, I thought I heard someone talking to me that morning. I brushed it aside thinking that maybe I had just finally lost my sanity, but… when that whole ordeal happened with my powers, I realized what the voice was telling me." she started, lifting the hem of her dress for a moment as she moved to step through the small underbrush. "The voice had introduced itself with the name Yune, which was why I didn't believe it… until that incident. Somehow, someway Yune managed to restore my powers. I believe she made a remark about how Ashera was getting too powerful for her forces, that she needed to do something drastic in order to level the playing field… I don't really see how I'm supposed to help, but I suppose she was getting desperate."
"A Dragon is a powerful force to have… I never would have imagined fighting alongside one." she spoke, following quietly at her side. "Prince Kurthnaga had assisted me once before in battle and being that close to something so powerful makes you realize how small you really are." a soft chuckle broke her words for a moment as she moved to tuck aside a loose lock of green. "Are you… are you more powerful than he is?"
"I may have a century or two ahead of him and while I haven't had my power for decades now… I believe I still would be." Almedha answered.
"You're a lot larger than he was in battle."
"Hmm, well he is the youngest after all; he still has a lot to learn about that power regardless."
A soft pause seemed to take part in their conversation as only the mild breaking of twigs beneath their feet took to the quiet environment around them.
"… Will you assist us in battle then?"
"I don't believe I have any other choice." she remarked. "The only reason Yune gave me my powers back were so that I could fight again… and while I don't understand why, I suppose it would be disrespectful to turn down the gift. I just… I worry."
Elincia narrowed her eyes for a moment at the soft remark, catching the way the woman's tone dropped significantly. "Why?"
"Because, I believe, at the end of this road… I know what will be awaiting me."
"… Will you lose your powers again?"
"I would assume this is only a temporary gift so possibly, but I've been without them for a long time now, it doesn't worry me." she answered. "Don't get me wrong, I love having this strength back but I'm trying not to get used to it again; I wouldn't want to set myself up for disappointment once more." her words took a brief pause as she let herself be distracted by an obstacle off to the distance.
"Then what is there to be worried for? Asides from the obvious I suppose?" Elincia questioned.
"Dheginsea has chosen to stand beside Ashera. I can sense his presence is lost somewhere in that tower we're seeking… if we're destined to cross paths, then we will and it will not be pleasant."