As the boom of magically-induced thunder tore through the skies over the Plegian wastes, Pyrrhus allowed himself a minute of respite. Gangrel's forces were crippled beyond hope, but the Mad King himself had yet to enter the fray. By ordering the group forward in a careful phalanx maneuver, Pyrrhus had allowed the enemy's winged cavalry to flank the group, but they were unable to find a weak spot to penetrate before the artillery could bring them down. Likewise with the men Gangrel had kept lying in ambush. No, the tactics employed by this foe were elegantly simple, and would have worked perfectly, except for one error. Gangrel had assumed that Chrom's anger would drive him into making a direct attack, charging into the fray without caution. Fortunately, Pyrrhus's voice of reason had prevailed over his furious friend, and now they were ready to move forward more carefully.
The group broke formation as they began the final charge towards Gangrel's position, but Pyrrhus remained at Chrom's side. With Sumia and Cordelia in the air above to make certain the path was clear, the two marched through waves of foes, cutting them down with their respective blades. Pyrrhus turned to Chrom.
"Tell me, Chrom, have you any plans for what to do when this is over?"
Chrom laughed harshly. "Haven't given it much thought. I hate to say it, but I've been quite consumed with seeing Gangrel's blood on Falchion."
"Understandable, I suppose," replied Pyrrhus. "Nevertheless, you are the rightful ruler of Ylisse. I assume there are responsibilities involved there."
"There are," Chrom agreed. "Let's talk about it later." He pointed Falchion at Gangrel. "First, I have a rabid dog to put down."
Pyrrhus nodded. "Aptly put. I shall follow your lead." He gripped his iron blade even tighter. Its simple make was no match for the legendary sword in Chrom's hands, but it still cut through foes plenty well.
Gangrel spotted the pair approaching at the head of their army, and shouted, from what Pyrrhus could gather, a number of expletives as well as commands for his men to converge on his position. Before they could, a pair of cavalry cut through their ranks, scattering the men who weren't trampled and wreaking further mayhem upon the battered Plegian force. A wide swath dropped weapons and began retreating, and Pyrrhus smiled at the beginnings of a rout. Those few who stayed were caught by the pegasi and slain, and in less than a minute Gangrel's force was reduced to less than a dozen.
And a dozen men would be far too few to stop Falchion's wrath.
Desperate, they charged at Chrom and Pyrrhus, but the two would not relent. Overzealous axemen swiped their hatchets with wild abandon and found themselves relieved of both weapons and limbs. Lances were hewn off at the handle, and finally Gangrel had no men to push between himself and his foes.
To his credit, Gangrel did not attempt to surrender without a fight. He drew a crooked blade and charged forward, holding it high and drawing lightning strikes from overhead. At last the pair were forced to separate, to divide into two targets for the blade rather than one. Chrom broke right, and Pyrrhus left, and they approached Gangrel from opposite sides.
Gangrel cackled insanely. "Come to me, the pair of you! I will crush you underneath my heel, just as I will crush Ylisse!"
"Your men have abandoned you, Gangrel. This can end only one way. You will not leave this battlefield alive," countered Pyrrhus. He slashed with his blade, but Gangrel parried it deftly.
"And who's going to kill me, little man? You?" Holding his blade aloft once more, Gangrel sent Pyrrhus scrabbling for cover from another bolt of lightning.
"I am!" Chrom shouted, letting the thrill of battle consume him. The prince took advantage of Gangrel's distraction in order to get close and strike a blow deep enough to draw blood.
Rather than reel from his injury, Gangrel spun around and laughed. "Ah yes, my prince! I sharpened this blade myself in the hope that it would be the one to take your life!" This time he didn't bother trying to summon forth lightning from the blade's magic, and instead leaped at Chrom to get the short blade an advantage against Falchion, and perhaps to find a chink in Chrom's armor to exploit.
Unfortunately for the pair, Gangrel's move was successful. Although Chrom's bare shoulder was convenient evidence of his royal ancestry, it was also an ideal target for the Mad King's attack, and his wicked blade cut through to the bone. Chrom cried out in pain, losing his grip on Falchion. But he did not falter entirely, pushing Gangrel off him and backing away a few steps.
As though she had known all along, Maribelle was behind Chrom, staff at the ready. Pyrrhus, standing again, knew he had to buy her a few seconds.
"Is that all you've got, Gangrel?" Pyrrhus asked mockingly. "I've been shocked worse taking off a wool sweater!"
Gangrel growled. "Ah, the other whelp wants some more. I'm more than happy to oblige!" He dashed forward, clearly attempting the same move he'd just used on Chrom, but Pyrrhus was ready. He crouched low, brought his sword out, and used Gangrel's forward momentum to drive his own blade deep in the king's leg while twisting out of the levin sword's reach. It was not a move he'd expected to work, but then improvisation had always served him well before.
Now bleeding heavily from two wounds and gasping for air, Gangrel was forced to pause. Bent over, his blood masked by the crimson of his royal garments, his injuries did not preclude him from further banter. "You two pests have been a thorn in Plegia's side for too long!"
Pyrrhus glanced at Chrom, who appeared to be almost healed. Just a bit longer. "Yeah, well this thorn's going to... bring you... down!" Pyrrhus mentally reprimanded himself for not thinking before speaking. Still, his nonsensical statement did provoke Gangrel into renewing his assault.
Gangrel attacked furiously, desperately. Pyrrhus parried the attacks as best he could, but was unable to get an attack of his own through the onslaught. Gangrel shouted a stream of curses as he hacked away at the tactician's defense, to his downfall. Absorbed as he was in killing the man in front of him, Gangrel had forgotten about the one behind. Falchion sank into Gangrel's side, bringing him to the ground in one swing.
Pyrrhus scrambled away from the Mad King as Chrom pulled the blade from the man's side. The prince whispered two words, "For Emm," and then plunged Falchion through Gangrel's heart.
While the two had been fighting Gangrel, it seemed that the remnants of his army had been slain by the Shepherds. At least, those who hadn't already surrendered or fled. Pyrrhus sat on the ground and took a deep breath. It was over.
Chrom, having cleaned Falchion, sheathed the blade and walked over to Pyrrhus. He offered the tactician a hand, and Pyrrhus took it, climbing back to his feet.
"We really need to work on your war banter, Pyrrhus." Chrom smiled and laughed. Pyrrhus noticed, beneath the smile and relieved look, the glimmer of unshed tears.
"Never was my strong suit," Pyrrhus replied cheerfully.
It was after the ceasefire, after Flavia and Basilio discussed the battle's aftermath, that they really had a chance to catch their breath. Sully and Stahl rode up, giving each other pointers and comparing kills. Chrom congratulated them both. "Your timing was impeccable, both of you. Your charge there really helped isolate Gangrel. Don't think that would have worked without you."
Sully chuckled. "Aww, hell, Chrom. No big deal, besides, Pyrrhus was the one who planned the thing."
"Credit where it's due, Sully," replied Pyrrhus. "A lesser knight would have been slain."
"She's correct, Pyrrhus. We'd have never made it this far without you. You are an exemplary tactician. In fact, you're almost as good a tactician as you are a friend." Chrom drew his sword again. "Pyrrhus... kneel."
Pyrrhus squinted for a moment until he realized what was happening. He knelt before the prince and bowed his head. Chrom gently tapped each of his shoulders with the flat of Falchion's blade. "As thanks for your service to me, to the Shepherds, and to Ylisse, I grant you knighthood under Ylisstol. I charge you to be brave, just, and honorable. Rise... Sir Pyrrhus the Wise."
Pyrrhus stood. "Thank you, my lord. It will be an honor to continue my service to your realm. It is, after all, the only home I have ever known."
Stahl climbed down from his horse to shake Pyrrhus's hand, and Sully guffawed. "Welp, the prince is handing out promotions! Everybody line up!"
"That won't be necessary," replied Chrom, narrowing his eyes slightly at the cavalier. "Now then, what's next?"
"Captain!" At that moment, Sumia lighted her pegasus upon the ground and dismounted with surprising agility for one typically so clumsy.
"Sumia?" Chrom seemed surprised, which mostly left Pyrrhus exasperated. Chrom was good at many things, but he sure was blind sometimes.
"Oh, Captain, thank heavens you're safe!" She practically jumped into Chrom's arms.
Pyrrhus cleared his throat loudly in an attempt to notify Sumia of her audience. Flavia laughed and suggested that everyone give the pair a bit of privacy, and the rest of the group agreed emphatically, clearing out.
"Time for some of those royal duties," Pyrrhus muttered jokingly.
Sully apparently overheard from horseback, and laughed. "No kidding. Wonder if he'll get his head out of his ass this time."
Pyrrhus shook his head. "At least you don't have to hear him talk about her all the time. If I have to hear another word about the 'lovely way her hair blows in the wind' I'm gonna quit."
Sully laughed in earnest this time. "Oh, please. I've heard it all already! He talks to me during practice, you know. Worse still, I have to hear Sumia's side too. You should be thanking the gods you're not so friendly with her as I am; if you had to hear the crap she says about him, you'd try to claw your own ears off." She raised her voice an octave in a poor impersonation of Sumia's voice. "'So noble, so handsome, and those abs!'" She dropped back to her original tone. "Nightmarish."
The pair shared a laugh, but Pyrrhus came to a stop. "It's funny... all I can remember is this conflict with Plegia. Everything's going to change, isn't it?"
Sully stopped. "Well sure, but at least it'll change for the better."
"Then why do I feel so anxious?"
Sully shrugged. "You're kind of a pansy, maybe that's why. Which reminds me..." She trailed off as she reached around and drew a lance, then tossed it to Pyrrhus. "If you're going to be a knight of Ylisse, you're going to need one of these."
Thus did the victory celebration gain the added prestige of a royal engagement party. Flasks were uncorked, meat was roasted, songs were sung, toasts were offered. Frederick was caught weeping tears of joy at seeing his liege with the woman he loved, and much fun was had by all. Pyrrhus joined in with the rest, delighted to see his best friend so happy. News of his knighthood managed to spread despite the much more exciting news, and so he found himself shaking dozens of hands and sharing in a number of congratulatory hugs, not to mention the odd coordinated hand gesture that Vaike had attempted to show him. The party lasted late into the night, but in the wee hours, the group began to dissipate as individuals sought out the comfort of bedrolls. By three in the morning, only a handful remained.
Pyrrhus, noticing the party petering out, found himself a quiet corner table to read, oddly still awake. Gaius happened upon him and took a seat at the same table. Judging by the slight lack of coordination, as well as the several glasses of sherry he'd witnessed Gaius down, Pyrrhus estimated that the thief was a bit drunk.
"Hey Bubbles, still reading, I see. Profiterole?"
A bit tipsy himself and in no mood for sweets, Pyrrhus shook his head. "No thanks, I'm good."
"You're normally in bed by now, Bubbles. What's the deal?" Gaius took a bite of the cream puff and then grabbed a napkin to catch the whipped cream that leaked out the sides.
"Can't sleep," Pyrrhus replied, closing the book. "I should be tired, wine tends to make me sleepy. But not tonight."
Gaius finished the puff in a second massive bite and leaned back contemplatively. "Huh."
"How 'bout you?" Pyrrhus asked. "You normally awake this late?"
Gaius smiled. "People in my... line of work... keep late hours." He wiped his hands on the napkin and dropped the crumpled cloth on the table. Then he reached into his bag for a hard candy, which he unwrapped and popped into his mouth. "If you've got something on your mind, you can feel free to talk about it. Nobody here but us chickens, and we've got many a secret already between us."
Pyrrhus narrowed his eyes. "You say that, but I just can't help but feel like we're being watched. Know what I mean?"
Gaius nodded. "Now that you mention it, you're right."
"Ahem." Pyrrhus and Gaius turned in unison to the ironclad man who appeared before them. "You two talking about me?"
"Kellam!" Pyrrhus shouted, then returned to the hushed tone they'd been using, so as not to disturb anyone else. "When'd you get here?" The knight's plain face was unusually red; he must also have had quite a few.
Kellam sighed. "I've been here the whole time. You sat down right next to me."
Gaius sighed. "You know, if I had your skill, Kellam, I'd be the richest man in Ylisse. You really ought to consider putting that to better use."
Kellam shook his head. "No, Gaius. With great power comes great responsibility. I could never use my ability for evil."
"What about eavesdropping?" Pyrrhus asked sarcastically.
Kellam opened his eyes wide, thought for several seconds, then held up his index finger to emphasize his point. "Err, well, more of a grey area. Regardless, you have my word that I'll keep mum on whatever you have to say." He put his index finger to his mouth and smiled.
Pyrrhus laughed. "Whatever. Doesn't matter, I don't really know why I'm not sleepy, I guess I've just got a lot on my mind."
Suddenly, Gaius smiled. "Ah, I know what you need. When we get back to town, I know a few places we can go, meet some nice ladies. They'll clear your mind, I promise!"
Pyrrhus balked. "Oh, gods no! You're talking about..." Pyrrhus looked around to make sure nobody else was around, then lowered his voice to a whisper. "Prostitutes!"
Gaius bit down on the hard candy in his mouth with a hard crunch. "That won't be necessary. We're heroes, Bubbles! We head to any pub in Ylisse with your story of ending the Mad King, it might as well be a free pass into a woman's smallclothes! Besides, you bet your ass Chrom's getting him some, and soon. Nothing wrong with us lesser heroes getting a little reward too."
"I'm done with this conversation. To hell with this farce, I'm going to bed." Pyrrhus set aside his book and stood to walk away while Gaius continued.
"Or maybe Bubbles already has the hots for some lady in our midst! Maybe Maribelle? She's got class, but she's a little out of your league."
Kellam, surprisingly enough, jumped in. "Perhaps Cordelia? She's quite comely."
Pyrrhus clenched his fist. "You too, Kellam? Really?"
Gaius ignored Pyrrhus. "Good point, Kellam, but I'm not sure if she'd be interested. Certainly she's too pretty for him. Who else? Panne maybe?"
"We know Tharja's quite consumed with him. If he were interested there, I doubt there'd be any difficulty. And she's very... well-endowed."
"I hate you both."
"Just as long as it's not Nowi," Gaius said mockingly. "I don't even want to think about how that would work."
"For the last time, my problem isn't... frustration!" Pyrrhus insisted between clenched teeth, lacking a better euphemism. "I just can't help but feel like something's still wrong!"
Dropping the mocking tone, Gaius and Kellam both stood up.
"Look, Bubbles. I can't remotely know what you're going through with the whole memory thing. But whatever's going to happen, I'm sure you can handle it. And if you can't, we're all here to help."
"Exactly," Kellam agreed. "You may not have parents or siblings, but you've got the Shepherds. We're your family." He gave Pyrrhus a pat on the shoulder with a gauntlet-clad hand. "Everything's going to be fine."
Pyrrhus sighed. "Thanks, guys. I appreciate it. And you know what? I'm starting to feel a bit tired. I think I'll turn in."
"Sure thing," Gaius replied. "Just one quick thing. It's Anna, isn't it?"
Pyrrhus growled, broke away from the other two, and hurried to his tent while Kellam and Gaius shared a chuckle.
AN: That's chapter one. I was having a difficult time determining where to start this, but I think I got a good spot. This fiction will mostly be covering the periods in between battles of the main game. I'm intending something like ten chapters but don't hold me to that; I haven't quite finished planning everything out. Just a couple of quick things.
First off, I really don't like the name Robin, especially on a man. Instead, I took inspiration from ancient history (hint: that happens a lot) and named the tactician after Pyrrhus of Epirus, one of the few generals of antiquity worthy of mention in the same breath as Hannibal and Alexander the Great. Secondly, I haven't settled on the pairing for the Avatar for this story (except that Sumia's out, obviously). I understand that Avatar/Lucina is pretty popular, but I have a few other ideas as well. If you have a compelling argument, feel free to mention it if you review. Last but not least, I've taken some creative liberties with the dialogue thus far, and will continue to do so. It bothers me a little when an author attempts to shoehorn the game's existing dialogue into their own plots for the sake of consistency. The plotline will remain roughly the same, but the individual supports and conversations are likely to change.
Oh, one final thing. The title of the story, "Potentia Amoris," is Latin for "The Power of Love." Those of you who aren't as nerdy as I am won't recognize that as the theme song of the 80's sci-fi classic Back to the Future sung by Huey Lewis and the News, but anyone who's beaten the game knows that the song works equally well as the theme to this game. Just thought you should know.