Author's Note: Well, here's my first attempt at fanfiction in years, and the ones before then I'd rather not speak of. I'm not sure why this pairing is what made me decide to try my hand at in again, (Or why I'm writing this pairing in the first place, I mean what) but plot ideas are plot ideas.
The fic takes place in the timeskip period between the Plegia and Valm arcs. Robin, the male Avatar, also exists, and is with Chrom following about evenly with canon.
The rating for the fic is T, mostly for violence.
I do not, nor likely ever will, own any characters from Fire Emblem.
The waves crashed against the beachhead in a slow, rhythmic pattern. It was almost enough to lull the woman back to sleep. She was very, very tired...it seemed to her that she had been crushed beneath a great weight, and her only rest was plagued with nightmares. Strange, horrible images had conflicted in her mind until just now, and the chance to be rest while freed from them was not one she was willing to pass up easily. She probably would have fallen back asleep, if a rather discordant voice didn't pester her into consciousness.
"Another drowned bilge rat, eh? Looks like I'll have extra work to do. Just what I need...more trash to take out."
Her eyes blinked slowly, reluctantly, and she soon got a fuzzy image of the man standing above her. She could see a blurry movement, him shaking his head as he started to bend down. At first about the only thing she could tell about him was his red hair, but she could soon see that his face was twisted with disgust. His words made it clear that he thought she was dead...and she would probably need to dispel that illusion, or else he might throw her into the sea.
Surprise lights up on the man's face as she starts moving. "Ah, so you're not dead. Come on! Don't just lay there in the brine. I just threw out the chamber pots, it's filthy."
As her vision comes into focus, she can see that he's extending a hand out to her. She still doesn't move, her exhaustion is still pressing on her, and whether or not the water is filthy, it's calm, and cool, and so different than what the nightmare had been, she felt like she could just lay there forever.
"I don't have all day, you know. If you want to stew in the muck, just say so, and I'll be on my way. Just be quick about it!"
His insistence was grating...but it was a rather good motivation for doing what he said, if only to get him to stop nagging her. Maybe she'd have a chance to nap later. Still, for the moment, she forces her hand up, taking his, and finding herself pulled atop unsteady legs. The man who pulled her up doesn't really help her steady herself at all...too busy examining the hand he holds.
"Hmm? Is that...why, yes, I do believe it is. You and I might have something to discuss in the future...What's your name, girl? Are you of the Grimleal?"
Looking down, the woman looks to where he had been staring, and sees an odd mark...one that gives her an ominous chill just looking at. The man doesn't seem nearly as affected, but he certainly seems on-edge. He was right, she would need to ask him about it later. He might know something, and for the life of her, she couldn't remember anything...not even the answer to his question.
"I...my name...it's Kris..." She murmurs. "I don't...remember...maybe? What are the Grimleal?"
The man grimaces. "She can speak! And she has a name! She doesn't say anything of any significance, but it can be done!" Waving a hand, the man turns back to a wide-sailed wooden ship, less than a stone's throw away from their current location. "Let's hope you can remember the way back to the nearest settlement, eh? I can tell you right now you want nothing to do with the dastards I run with.
Wracking her brain in an attempt to remember something, anything, only one word seems to come to her mind. "Ylisse...am I in...Ylisse?" A face flashes through her mind, one that had been in the nightmare. A strong-looking man, one with blue hair...but no name came attached to it.
That provokes a reaction from the man, a visible twitch in his face. "No. You're not. And personally, if I never see another Ylissean in what's left of this sorry excuse for an existence, it'll be far too soon."
Shrinking back, Kris instinctively raises her hands I defense. "I-I see. Touchy subject. I'll...see if I can remember anything else."
Dismissing her with a wave, the man continues walking back to the ship. "Bah. Don't bother unless you can string at least three thoughts together. Until then, it's so much tripe." His walk slows, and he tilts his head down, considering. "There are wild beasts in the forest further inland. It's only slightly less safe where I'm headed, but...frankly, both options seem pretty dangerous for you. And neither am I in a position to care how you throw your life away."
Shaking her head, Kris walks resolutely towards the ship. "I can fend for myself." She begins to speak. "But I'll be no closer to remembering anything, and you seem to know a few things about me...like this mark."
Shaking his head, the man sighs, and begins walking. "Your funeral."
With that, the pair makes the short walk to the gangplank and once they're at the edge, the man turns back to her one last time. "Last chance, girl. If you do decide to test your luck with pirates, please try not to draw attention to yourself. Hopefully, if you can do that, you can keep your skin long enough to realize that this is a terrible idea, and run for the hills."
As they start to climb, they're stopped before they can board the ship by a thug dressed in furs. "Oy there, Maggot. Where've you been off to? The deck ain't gonna swab itself!"
A bunch of chuckling erupts from the assembled pirates, eager to gather and laugh at the resident bottom rung of the ladder. Obviously, though, the man who found her was used to this sort of treatment, and just shakes his head and tries to push past the throng. "I found this girl laying all but dead on the beach, Thrack. It seems she wants to join up. Not that she has anywhere else to go."
Kris makes an audible gulp. She hadn't considered just how bad things were, she'd been still lost in a haze of memory, and hadn't been thinking. It seems like now that could come back to bite her.
"Ha! Well, I'm sure we can find something for the pretty little thing to do...am I right, men?" The group breaks out into a fit of laughter. And while it's clear to her that some aren't quite as...into it as others, it's still thoroughly unnerving. The man the men seemed free to refer to as Maggot just turned around, and shrugged. She wasn't sure what she had expected, but he had warned her.
"Are you going to let us up? Or am I just going to have to sleep on the gangplank for the night?" He was obviously getting impatient with dealing with the gathered men, but they either didn't notice, or didn't think he was anything approaching a threat.
"Ah, hold your horses, Maggot. We're just joking around, is all. Come on aboard, you still have work to do. I'm sure the cap'n will have words about it later, though." Handing him a mop, Thrak lets them aboard, before he and the other crew-members return to their stations.
Rather than set to cleaning, though, Maggot walks down to the inward station on the ship. Following behind, she takes any chance she can to avoid being alone on deck. He wanders around the ship for a few moments, before he comes to a stop in front of a small container. Opening it, he reaches inside, and hands a scrub to her. "If you're working, the men will be slightly less likely to bother you. I still have some things to ask you once we're off duty, so I'd prefer if you avoid getting killed in the meantime.
Taking the scrub gladly, Kris reluctantly follows Maggot back onto the deck. She tends to work around the edges of the ship, always making clear she can stay away from the greatest number of pirates as she can. She isn't quite sure how she manages it, but the way to do that seems to just come clearly to her. She must have studied something like that...but she still can hardly remember anything beyond her name, so trying to piece the puzzle together is a fools errand. Maggot, on the other hand, tends to throw himself at the drudgery, moving around in an aimless pattern. Kris can tell just from looking at him that he's being grossly inefficient with his work, but she's too busy with her own challenges to try and help him. Trying to stay out of range of the men's leers is an impossible task, but she does it as best as she can without attracting undue attention to herself.
As the sun starts to set, Kris' arms ache, her skin burns, and all sorts of other discomforts that comes with long, hard work in the hot Plegian sun come to a fore. She's tired and sore, and right when she feels like she can't bring the soapy scrub across wood one more time, Maggot walks up to her.
"Time for food. Best get it quick, the edible portion is usually gone within a minute at most."
As they descend down into the ship, Maggot sighs at the line that's already formed in front of what passes for a cook and food aboard the pirate vessel. "Well, at least it's not as long as it could be. We might even manage to get a piece of meat that's only half-rotten."
Kris blanches. "Is-is it really that bad?"
Turning back, Maggot shrugs. "No, not really. It's actually a bit worse. But it shouldn't matter. Zanth isn't stupid enough to let his crew die of starvation. He's the type to keep us all close, keep us hungry, but he doesn't quite go all the way. Damn him if he isn't clever for it, though."
When they get their food, it turns out that Maggot was exaggerating more than a bit. The meat, while hardened into jerky and very salty, was perfectly edible. There was also a corn gruel, that, while rather bland and watery, was filling. Kris ate her portion gladly, while Maggot was more picky with his food, as if he was eating it under sufferance.
With supper finished, the crew begins to file into the below-deck hammocks, or up top to head out to the land camp. Kris immediately heads out, figuring that being on land, with more freedom of movement being very handy when forced to live with cutthroats and brigands. When she turns to leave, though, Maggot gives a sardonic snicker.
"What, are you insane? You're actually going to camp?"
Kris glares at him. "It's better than going below-decks. And it's not like I have any other choice...unless..."
Another thought comes into her mind, and she snaps her fingers. Maggot nods.
"Staying here is a pointless risk for you. You should be trying to find a way to somewhere halfway civilized. And seafaring vessels do tend to have maps aboard."
Nodding, Kris begins walking, though Maggot stays seated. "Yes, but the maps would tend to be heavily guarded, as they're generally extraordinarily valuable. They'd be kept in a safe, or in the captain's cabin..."
"So you're willing to risk a knife in your back while you sleep, but not trying to read some musty old maps? What are you, some craven schoolgirl?"
Shooting Maggot a dirty look, Kris shakes her head. "There are risks to these things...but I can figure it out. I just need more information..."
Suddenly, a loud, booming voice echoes through the mess hall. "Well, what have we here."
A huge, imposing brute of a man steps in the door, men trailing behind him. Maggot gulps, and shakes his head, moving up to speak to him, making sure not to make any sudden movements.
"What are you talking about, Captain Zanth? I'm just showing our newest crew member around."
Kris balls her hands into tight fists, her knuckles growing white. If he heard...
"New crew member? I haven't heard anything of the sort, not until just now. Are you the person in charge of hirin', Maggot?"
Grimacing, he shakes his head. "No, captain. I'm not. I just thought-"
Zanth draws himself up. "I don't pay you to think, Maggot! I pay you to swab the deck, clean chamber pots, and occasionally get in a fight when you're not being a cowardly dog."
At that point, Kris has had about enough. "Captain Zanth, sir...It's not his fault. I'm-I'm willing to go, if you'll point me the way out to the nearest town. He saved my life..."
Barking laughter, Zanth turns to her. "Oh, don't worry about yerself, lass. I don't have any problems with ye. What I have problems with is Maggot here thinking he's free to go wenching when he needs to be working, and bringin' outsiders onto the ship without my permission. Aint that right, Maggot?"
Maggot grits his teeth, but nods, the motion creaky and forced. "Yes, Captain."
Zanth's grin widens, an expression that could be considered toothy if he wasn't short several of them. "And just what is the punishment for lollygagging and breachin' security?"
Maggot bares his teeth, but just sinks down. "Twenty...twenty lashes, Captain."
Zanth laughs cruelly. "Yer damn well right it is. Bring him up, boys. Let's show the Maggot what happens when people get uppity."
The assembled crew-members give a round of monosyllabic approval, while Kris tries to get in the way, but is constantly pushed away.
"Damn it, girl, can't you just take a hint?" Maggot mutters. It's clear he doesn't have any hope in whatever she could do to stop it.
"Now look here, lass. I like yer spirit, it's really nice and all. But I don't like having my authority challenged on my own ship, aye? The maggot's going to get his punishment whether or not you try an' interfere, the only thing that'll change is what happens with ye. So just calm your arse down, and wait all patient-like until it's done."
Backing down, Kris nevertheless follows the group up to the top deck, where the crewman from earlier, Thrack, ties Maggot down against a post.
"I reckon I rather like you, Maggot." Zanth call, mockingly. "Gods blood, it's the only reason I ain't had you keelhauled for all the insubordination you've given me all this time. But enough is enough, and I think you need to get a lesson in humility."
"Rot in hell, dastard." Maggot mutters out, anger unable to be hidden at this point as he struggles against the bindings.
"That's good!" Zanth laughs, mocking Maggot's harsh words. "I reckon there's a man hidden in that simpering craven that's the maggot we all know and love. Maybe the beating will help bring it out of you, aye?"
Kris can hardly bear to look, but can't bring herself away. Maggot was going to be punished for helping her...and she felt powerless to stop it. She knew instinctively that she couldn't let it happen, that it wouldn't be like her to let it happen...no matter who it was. So it came as a surprise, when she felt her hands moving on their own, and words coming unbidden to her lips.
"Time to tip the scales!"
With that, she raises a hand, and a vortex of wind blasts at the man Zanth had chosen to execute the punishment. Knocked back by the force of the gale, he strikes the main mast hard, and with a dull thunk, slips to the ground, unconscious. With that, the rest of the men turn away from Maggot, and draw their weapons on her.
"You really shouldn't have done that, lass."
Author's Note: Sorry for ending things on a cliffhanger like that, but that just seemed like an appropriate endpoint for things. Reviews are always appreciated, and I hope to have the next chapter up fairly soon.