Chapter 12.5: Our Dear Children
To our dearest children,
It almost seems strange writing this letter in the event of our own deaths. In times of war, every measure must be taken care of, and we sincerely hope that this letter shall never come to see the light of day. Sometimes things must fall apart in order for the events of the world to progress. Remember that though we may be gone in body, we will always be with you in your hearts. We know we've raised you both to become strong and courageous heroes in a world that would stomp on such an idea.
Where should we begin?
From the day you two were born were the happiest days of our lives. Since the day we had met each other and laid our eyes upon you, it was without a doubt that everything we did would be to protect you from this world. The first steps you took or the first words you uttered were treasured memories in our hearts. Even the days where both of you decided to take Minerva on an impromptu ride and gave us both heart attacks were a pleasant memory if we look back at it. There are many memories we wished we could have shared with you, but fate has a special kind of cruel humor to it.
The reality of life is that it can be just as cruel as it is kind. We were not allowed the luxury of spending as much time as we wanted with you two. As both of you grew up before our eyes, we knew that we would fight harder to create a world where you would never have to lay your hands on a weapon. If this day ever comes to pass, we will be the first ones to drop our weapons and willingly spend the rest of our days with you. Until then, our blood and lives will be the willing steps for you to take into this new world.
Morgan, our bright young daughter. From a mother to a daughter. Have faith in yourself. You always spoke of becoming a tactician like your father, and there is no doubt that you may even surpass him one day. You seemed to take more of your father's side in terms of his tactics, but you are also a lady of Rosanne. For that, I am glad that you and I were able to share the same tenderness but also have hearts of iron in the face of adversity. Your smile and your eagerness to learn more about everything we have to tell you makes us want to drop our duties and tell your stories till you drop from boredom. I had hoped I would teach you how to ride Minerva and make even the greatest warriors in the land envy your skill. Once that day came, we would roam the skies together as a family and as one. Never change who you are for you but also grow and bloom into the rose you were meant to be.
Gerome, our bravest son. From a father to a son. You always talked about becoming a hero, wearing the mask that we made for you. I know that other children mocked you for wishing this, but you never faltered once in face of this. I had not even known of this until Morgan told me about it. You truly do have my hard-headedness, though the only difference is that Cherche punishes me for mine. If you truly desire to become a hero, remember that the path is not always easy. A hero must often take the path that is less taken, the one that walks over fire and runs through blades. It is a perilous path, but one I know you have the will and drive to do. Watch over your sister and never let anyone touch a single hair on her head. What good is a hero if he cannot protect those closest to him? I know that you will be a perfect brother to her. The two of you complete each other in ways that you cannot imagine. You are complete, yet you can become ever greater with the bonds and love that you two hold as a family.
One day, you will understand why we had to leave. You never wanted to have heroes as parents. We all had dreams of becoming the hero to save the lands, but with great power comes an even greater weight of a curse. These weapons and the war we have left for you is no gift. It is a plague that will weigh you down for as long as you live. The expectation to take life with one hand and expect praise from the other is no life worth living. It is a future without hope to those who are not strong enough to bear it. We have faith in you two that this will not be the case. We know it because we saw it from the day you were born. This is the final burden we leave upon you.
We don't expect your forgiveness even if we were to return. We can only hope that these words reach you. Remember to trust in yourselves and forgive us for leaving you without any words. It is still the parents' job to guide their children to the right direction. Always remember this when the world seems dark and everything is falling onto you. When the world beats you and gives you a hundred reasons to cry, show them you have one million reasons to smile. Love one another as you would have with us. Most importantly, never forget about the bonds and the memories you and your friends hold with each other. It is the most powerful force that can last through time, through thick and thin.
Don't ever be afraid. We have and will go through this together as a family in this life or the next.
Your loving parents,
Cherche and Robin
"Gerome, they're catching up to us!"
A small rose-haired figure darted past the forests with a taller young man adorned with a black mask and matching armor. Panting, the two made their way towards a clearing as a large obsidian wyvern tailed them, roaring at the pack of soldiers running towards the pair. Taking the wyvern's roar as a sign that they were somewhat safe, the pair approached a ragged skeleton of what used to be a tavern. The young man approached the door, thrusting his foot into the middle and shattering it into planks of wood. Confident that they were no longer being pursued, the two sat down for the first time in what felt like ages. Slamming his fist abruptly into the wall, the armor-clad man grimaced in apparent frustration.
"Gods damn it all! How did they know we were going to gather at Naga's Temple?"
The young girl hugged her arms around her legs, rocking back and forth as the roaring of the wyvern abruptly stopped. Within moments, a familiar black snout poked through the windows, sniffing with great fumes of smoke through its nose. It brought her little comfort, though any amount of consolation was better than what she and her brother had gone through up until that point. She let out a deep sigh, staring straight into the ground. Guilt wracked and despondent, she could not even muster up the strength to look her brother in the eyes.
"I'm so sorry, Gerome…"
Gerome turned towards the young girl, gingerly placing his hand atop her head. Slowly removing his mask, he looked into her eyes with his own. In a voice that he seldom used, Gerome tried his best to calm the girl.
"This isn't your fault, Morgan."
Morgan began to bite her lip as she hugged her arms around her legs even tighter together. Droplets of tears began to form in the corner of her eyes as her whole body began to shake.
"I know I shouldn't blame myself. It's just-"
The warm feeling of tears ran across Morgan's face and fell upon Gerome's own hands. Instinctively, Gerome wrapped his arms around Morgan, allowing her to rest her face against his shoulder. He could feel her shaking and her cries against his own body. It was a feeling that he never wished to experience again. It was no secret that Morgan was a softer person than he was, though she was also prone to heavier emotional fallouts when it came to her family.
"They're all gone, aren't they?"
Gerome could only watch in silence as Morgan began to sob into her robes. When news of his parents' demise reached Rosanne, he was barely given any time before he was thrust into the role that Cherche previously held. Likewise, Morgan was expected to fill their father's shoes. No matter what they had chosen to do, it did little to stop the subsequent invasion of the Risen, led by the Fell Dragon Grima. The nightmares that he had from watching his home burn before his eyes did more than enough to dry his tears for him. It was at that point that he chose to take Morgan away from everything and met with the rest of the other children of the Shepherds. For a while, it seemed as if they had a fighting chance to repel the end of their own world, but for every Risen that was killed, ten more rose. This particularly fell hard on Morgan, a girl who had remained speechless for weeks at a time following their parents' demise. As cruel as it sounded to him, her tears of sorrow were signs of progress from an emotionally empty shell she had been only a few month prior.
"Grandfather, grandmother, mother, father, and everyone back home. We're never going to see them again, are we?"
Gerome slowly cupped his hand around Morgan's chin, raising her view to his own eye level. He placed a finger on Morgan's lips.
"Hush, Morgan. You still have Minerva and me. We are still a family."
Morgan's tears began to subside as she hiccupped. Taking deep breathes, Morgan stayed in her brother's arms, trying to find a sense of solace that had been taken away from her so suddenly. It had only been her, Gerome, and Minerva as the only sole survivors of Rosanne. While Ylisse and Ferox had survived for some time, Rosanne was one of the first to fall to utterly become a burning wasteland. In part, the loss of their two greatest assets in Robin and Cherche crippled any small chance of repelling the Fell Dragon. Ylisse still had Lucina and her Falchion, but Rosanne and the Valmese continent was nothing more than a prelude to what happened later.
A window shattered as an axe flew threw it, instantly awaking Morgan from her reminiscing. She immediately released herself from Gerome's arms and ran to grab her weapons. As she left the building, Morgan could sense they were surrounded by Risen, given the noises and proximity of the shaking of the trees. She placed two of her fingers to her lips as she let out a loud whistle, summoning the obsidian wyvern.
"Minerva is outside!"
Gripping their weapons, Morgan and Gerome dashed outside, immediately jumping onto the black wyvern's spine. Risen approached towards them, only for Minerva to take a deep breath and unleash a torrent of scorching flames. Though they were already dead, the use of fire was still more than effective to deal with dead bodies, especially those that were reanimated and were unsuited for heavy combat. With the coast clear, Gerome kicked his spurs against Minerva's scales.
A furious gale sent Morgan's hair wildly flying back as Minerva took flight with a furious roar. With Risen in hot pursuit, Gerome pulled on his reins harder, urging Minerva to simply fly as high as possible to where no Risen could harm them with any form of projectiles. It was a temporary respite before the mounted Risen caught up with them, but any rest was welcome to Gerome.
From the corner of her eye, Morgan spotted a crack of lightning beginning to shatter through the clouds. The ever-familiar signs of Naga formed into a circular shape, slowly opening up a giant emerald eye into the sky. It pierced the night sky and replaced the moon as the sole source of light in the darkness. Morgan slowly felt a smile flit across her face as she shook Gerome's shoulders, shaking her finger towards the open gate to the Outworld.
"Gerome, the portal is open!"
Having noticed the portal already, Gerome shook his head. He raised his axe and thrusted it towards the direction that they were approaching. To Morgan's horror, she spotted a vast multitude of avian beasts mounted by the ragged corpses of soldiers who were once human. She turned to her brother in desperation, willing him to come up with a plan. Gerome pulled roughly on Minerva's reigns, fleeing from the approaching swarm of Risen.
"If we go in now, the Risen will follow us through. I cannot allow that."
As if slowly beginning to realize what Gerome was planning on doing, Morgan's eyes began to widen, her fiery red irises brimming with fury. She firmly gripped her hands around Gerome's waist even tighter as if he were about to fly away in the clouds. Though the wind was screaming into his ears, Morgan's screams were more than enough to reach Gerome's hearing.
"Don't you even dare try it!"
Though he wore a mask, Morgan could sense from his voice that Gerome's eyes were filled with as much sorrow as her own. It felt more of a goodbye more than a promise of reunification. For that, Morgan had no words with the impending situation appearing that she was to be alone.
"I'm sorry, Morgan."
Gerome placed a metal scabbard adorned with old inscriptions against Morgan;s chest. The familiar weight as well as the shape of the blade was something the two of them had seen a countless number of times from their father's own exploits. Yet, the blade was there in Morgan's own arms. She knew it had always been Gerome who wielded the blade with deadly proficiency, yet she was somewhat capable of wielding it herself. She had never been one too familiar with combat in general. The comfort of textbooks and tomes seemed much more preferable to blood on her own hand. In spite of this, the weight of her responsibilities stood right in front of her in her own arms. Gerome pressed the scabbard harder against her chest.
"Take the Tyrfing! I will be fine with an axe!"
Before Morgan could even open her mouth, Gerome made a hard turn towards the closing portal. Morgan let out a small yelp as she attempted to regain her balance. She gave an ugly glare at Gerome, determined to remain defiant to the end despite his own wishes. As if he had read her mind, Gerome sighed deeply. It alarmed Morgan as she knew he only sighed when he had come to a decision he was about to regret. As Morgan prepared herself to shout at her brother, Gerome turned directly towards Morgan, gazing into her ruby eyes with a sense of finality in his own gaze.
Without warning, Morgan felt two hands pry her from her brother's waist, as she felt nothing under her back. The air froze before her eyes, and time seemed to pause as Morgan gazed for one last time at her brother. Reaching out her arm towards him, Morgan could only scream in one last futile effort that her brother would return for her. A rush of emotions ranging from betrayal to sorrow burst through Morgan as her tears continued to follow her down into the black pit Gerome had thrown her into. She had never thought that her own brother would abandon her, even if it was for her sake. Ten thousand times over she would have chosen dying with her brother rather than being alone completely. As if crying out for a wish, her conscience cried out for a way so she would not go mad in the world without Gerome. It only took a blink of an eye before both Minerva and Gerome had exited her view as she descended deeper into the emerald eye of Naga's portal. In the silence of the abyss, one cry shattered the silence.
As the tide of emerald clouds enveloped her sight, Morgan could feel the slow mists of reality beginning to bend before her eyes. Her mind grew hazy as if lulled into a trance, and the screams of the Risen slowly subsided.
Memories of her life flashed before her very eyes before those too began to disappear within the mist. A crimson-haired figure passed before her eyes. She felt a tinge of pain in her heart before that sensation disappeared. A black-haired man not too much older than her flitted before her eyes. As with the previous one, this memory too faded away. Within a few moments, Morgan could barely feel her own body. She felt as if floating on clouds of fire. She reached out with her fingers as if to grasp the memories fading away but to no avail.
The last thing she saw was a midnight black curtain covering her eyes. There was only darkness and emptiness. Her mind was hollow. As she held the Tyrfing close to her chest, she felt the beating of her heart against the golden hilt of the blade. As if thrown from the skies, she felt a hard thud against her back, feeling the grass blades tickle the nape of her neck. Morgan raised her head as she pressed her palm against her forehead. With a quick look, she saw that there was only a grass field, nothing more and nothing less. She did not know how or why she was there, only that she did not belong.
As she felt a sharp pain pierce her temple, Morgan looked through her eyes with one question in mind.
"Where am I?"
Yeah, it'll take much more than a whole summer of working and being forced to not write to kill this story. I embarked on this voyage to write this story a long time ago, and I still am working on a semi-long chapter of sorts. I'll explain it all later.
For now, I hope this small piece of a flashback helps. Seeing as Gerome will be interacting directly with Morgan and his parents in the next chapter, I thought I'd just prepare a bit as to what kind of stuff Morgan and Gerome went through prior to this. Not much to say, given that I wanted to really tell their stories seeing as we don't get much of the "Bad Future" story. This will probably be the only chapter dedicated to it in any case.
Rejoice for the next chapter is filled with nothing but Cherche and Robin's moments. The show must go on.
To those who are new, welcome to my story! To those who stayed with me from the beginning, welcome back!