AN: Stuff happened. I ended up being strapped for ideas, and brainstorming wasn't working. That still doesn't explain the ridiculously long delay, but I hope it'll be less than before. I'm going to be smarter this time and not make promises, though.

I don't own Fire Emblem, or it's characters.

Aversa was not a happy woman right now.

Looking over at the man in front of her, a trite, blustery fellow who liked to think himself a general. Someone with power, someone that has a mastery of her fate. Filled with foolish, erroneous beliefs that she would tear down, one by one.

"So, General Varth. You managed to allow mere pirates to sack the town, a clear dereliction of your duty as the head of the garrison. And not only that, you allowed several newly completed ships to be put to the torch. Correct me if I am mistaken, but was it not merely three days hence when King Validar personally instructed you that ships are to be held as Plegia's most valuable resource, only second to the lives of it's people? Please, could you be a dear and explain this disconnect to me? Because from what I can see, you're a dismal failure who deserves little more more than shoveling horse manure in His Majesty's stables for the remainder of your sorry existence."

Varth doesn't respond verbally, he just squirms as he stands. Aversa takes advantage of his indecisiveness to twist the knife even deeper. "Oh come now, be a little cheerful. If Gangrel was still running things, you'd be a smear on the wall." Okay, maybe she was a bit happy. It was always a treat to be the master of someone's fate, to have total power over another human being. But when that was measured against how angry Validar was at hearing the news...well, she would take this pitiful excuse for a man and reduce him to nothing as recompense.

The poor general, on the other hand, was sweating buckets inside his armor, for reasons far afield of the blazing Plegian sun. His life was being decided in front of him, he needed to say something, anything to get that damn woman's gaze away from him, or he'd lose everything he'd worked so hard to gain. One didn't get far in the Mad King's army without stepping on a few hundred others. words would come to him. He had nothing.

Aversa lets out a sardonic laugh. "Nothing to say? Well, I suppose we're done here then. Guards, take him a-

"It was that damn Ylissean tactician! The rats weren't content with taking our gold, they want to push for the rest of us!"

The outburst takes Aversa by surprise, and she quickly scans the room trying to find the origin of it. Soon enough, she finds a guardsman, leaning against the side of the wall. He was dressed in the standard soldier's tunic...but bandages wrapped all around his face save his eyes. What little could be seen was blackened by horrific burns. "That bitch blasted me in the face with a damn fireball...and didn't have the decency to check if I was dead! I'll kill her the second I see her again, I'll-"

Aversa snaps her fingers at the man, interrupting his tirade. "Do be quiet. I don't like dealing with raving lunatics. I've done enough of that to last a lifetime. If you won't be silent, I'll be forced to silence you...personally."

The man takes a breath, forcing himself to calm down. He's getting a better read on the situation...He'd heard of the things she'd done, but such stories weren't exactly uncommon in Gangrel's army. After making sure he was steady, he tried to speak once more. "Dearest apologies, ma'am, but I'm speaking the truth. The Ylissean Tactician was here, and she was the one that led the charge of those damned privateers!"

Rolling her eyes, the dark sorceress motions for the guards. "Robin is a male, half-wit. Get him out of my sight."

The injured guard cries out for his life, as the Plegian guards head out to incarcerate him. "That can't be true! I saw that mark of hers...his...on her hand! Just like they told us, all those damn eyes! We'd heard about it...Gangrel set a huge bounty on whoever had that mark back when I was out fightin! It has to be him...her...ah!"

Aversa raises a hand sharply, and the guards stop in their tracks. "You say another person has the mark of G...has that mark? Impossible."

The guard shakes his head frantically, thoroughly frightened. "I swear on my life, ma'am. It was that tactician...or at least, it was her mark."

"His mark." Aversa insisted, but begins to tap a sharpened nail on her cheek, thinking. "But...if another one with the mark does exist, it certainly bears investigation. After thinking for a few scant moments, she turns to the guard and smirks. "You will remain here, within the city. If nothing comes up from the search, or if you are found missing, we will round you up and sacrifice you upon the Dragon's Table. You are dismissed."

The poor, abused soldier drops down to the floor, as if someone had let go of puppet strings that were previously holding him up. He begins to sob, his breaths growing labored and choked.

Turning to Varth, Aversa sighs. "Well, I suppose if it was Robin...or some other person with that mark that was responsible for this, it had to have been fate. I'll leave your judgment to be the same as that miserable wreck over there."

Varth gulps audibly. "Y-Yes ma'am. Whatever pleases you."

Grinning, Aversa steps outside the door, and mounts her black pegasus. "Of course. That's how it always is."

At the Sea-King's Throne, the island was one huge party. The riches from last week's raid were still plentiful, they made more on that haul then they knew what to do with, for the time being. Sure, they'd eventually get the ships ready to sail to a friendly harbor and get some real use out of that gold, but for now, it stood there, glinting magnificently. And they had managed to do it with no casualties, something none of them had expected. The Captain's discretionary cut of the loot was massive, and when combined with the second ship they had "liberated" from Rubiripe Harbor, they were just about whatever plans they had for the future.

"Yar har! This is the life, eh boys? Who'd have thought Maggot would do something useful for a change?" The pirate chief was beside himself with glee, gold piled up around his chair like some majestic throne. The men laugh along with Zanth's words, but they don't share his mirth. Each of them feels more like kicking themselves for not being the one to bring the mysterious, talented Kris aboard.

Several meters away, in a secluded glen, a sardonic laugh sounds. "Guess they forgot all about those lashes, hmm?" The husk of a man himself grumbles. "Ah well, past is past. Can't start with regrets, or it just snowballs like crazy, gets out of hand." Taking a swig of the rapidly-depleting wine that Zanth had parceled out to his crew to celebrate, he turns to Kris, shrugging. "You're doing quite well for yourself among this rabble now, aren't you? I've heard Zanth wants to make you captain of the new ship, set himself up as a commodore. A bunch of insipid self-congratulation, but what more can you expect?" Maggot looks back down at his cup with distaste...soon he'd be back to drinking the diluted swill Zanth called grog.

Taking a more measured sip, Kris furrows her eyebrows. "It's going better than I ever thought it would...but it never could have happened without you. So thanks." Smiling, she continues. "And your certainly doing better yourself. Not exactly on chamber pot duty anymore."

Maggot grunts, unwilling to have his mood brightened. "Yes, I suppose I'm not. Still not like that means much to me. I'm still no less dead than I was before, and I'm not going to get that way anytime soon, not with these fools gamboling around like drunken monkeys."

Kris frowns at him. "I take it the circumstances that drive you to your round of self-pity is off limits? Because right now, I'm starting to think that you're just fishing around for a reason to feel miserable.

Laughing, Maggot leans down on the sand. "Well...I suppose I am. Still, it's not exactly something that can be shared. I'd imagine a whole slew of people would be lining up to take a whack at my head if I revealed myself and word got out."

Folding her arms, Kris can't help but see the glaring inconsistency in his words. "Isn't that what you want, though? To be dead? Wouldn't a ton of people trying to kill you accomplish that rather easily?"

That quiets Maggot, and for several long moments, he doesn't have anything to say. Soon enough, though, he shrugs his shoulders, and lets out a sigh. "I suppose you're right. I don't really want to just die...I want the death I was supposed to have. That grand, climactic death, from the fight that would shape the course of the continent! The one that fate stole from me by making that damnable Falchion cut too shallow!"

With a groan, Kris clutches her head in her hands. That word...Falchion, was stirring her memory like a melting pot. She knew that word, she knew it was important, but why?

"Oh? Is something wrong? Perhaps you should lay off the wine..." Maggot jokes, but he eyes her somewhat suspiciously.

Kris shakes her head. ", I'm fine." Laying off thoughts on Falchion for the moment, she sighs. She doesn't know enough about what is going on in the world, no memory of climactic battles or important swords, nothing that could help her put together the pieces to the puzzle she had been given. Still, it was becoming fairly obvious that her friend had once been fairly high ranking in an army, but beyond that, she couldn't say. "Hmm...I'm afraid I wouldn't know about any climactic battles around here..." she mutters, hoping to wrest a bit more information out of Maggot.

He is, however, rather uncooperative. "Ha! How incredibly astute of you! Do you honestly think I'd have told you as much as I did if I didn't know that?"

Kris flinches "Umm...yes?"

Maggot rolls his eyes. "Oh come on...well, you can probably fill in the blanks by talking to the other crew members. That is, if they've picked their noses up from their behinds long enough to get a slight inkling of what's been going on in the world. Or, you know, you could just leave my past be..." He begins to cackle to himself, as if he'd just told a great joke that only he could understand. "But really, who'd be crazy enough to do something like that?"

Starting to feel rather uncomfortable around the cackling pirate, Kris heaves a sigh and stands up, brushing herself off. "I...think I'll try that. See you later M-Friend."

She didn't like the idea of calling him Maggot, even if she was growing used to it. Despite his unwillingness to give her something more reasonable to call him, it just felt wrong. If it wasn't for him, she'd be dead twice over. Despite his...less than stellar personality on occasions, that had to count for something.

Maggot glances an eye up at her, registering her decision, before lazily shooing her away with a gesture. "Whatever. Go on ahead. I'll probably convince myself to consort with the knuckle-draggers soon enough."

With a nod, Kris heads off. As she enters the main pirate compound, Zanth takes notice of her presence first. "Well! If it aint the star of the show 'erself! C'mon lads, hand her some wine!"

The pirates comply quickly. Zanth made it clear to everyone what his intentions for the second ship were, and they all wanted the opportunity to ingratiate themselves with the woman who might end up as their new captain.

Kris grimaces, but tries to put up with it. She is decidedly uncomfortable with being fussed around like this, a fresh bottle of wine opened up, a cup is poured out, all the while taking many more pirates than such a function requires. "Umm...thank you." She says, taking the cup gingerly.

Zanth munches on a leg of turkey meat, and spits out a bit of cartilage he had bitten off. "Come on now, lass, you look like you just got tossed up by the brine. Liven up a bit, eh? We've all got ourselves a nice, cozy future in front of us, and with you drawin' up the plans, we'll be sure to go down in infamy! Try to be a little cheery about it, aye?"

Kris smiles awkwardly, it's clear it doesn't reach all the way up to her cheeks. She doesn't like the idea of living as a pirate. Sure, it's been working out so far, but deep down, she feels she's meant for something...different. Something better. Her memories were still teasing her, and she had to find out what they meant. Something to do with that blue-haired man she saw...


The pirates look at her oddly for a bit, before one brave soul manages to speak up. "Huh? Sorry, but I don't see me any Ylissean princes around here..."

Kris looks around, confused, until the realization strikes her that she must have said that out loud. "Umm...nothing, just working on getting acclimated. Want to get all the rulers down to memory, personality traits, that sort of thing, in case we ever do any bigger raids that bring a royal response. Strategies that might work, that kind of thing."

Zanth frowns, and they way his eyes squint make Kris feel that he didn't buy it for a second. "Well, that's certainly dedicated of ye. But right now, it's time for partying! No need to worry about the future when the wine flows, eh lads?!"

Relieved to have pressure off of her, she forces a grin, raising her cup high. "Sorry chief! I'll make sure to celebrate properly!"

Zanth smiles wide. "Yar! Now that's more like it! Drink up, lads!"

Looking down into her drink, she breathes a sigh into the ruby liquid. They...seem to have bought it, and she was safe, at least for the moment. She resolves to begin making a plan to get away from the pirate gang as soon as she could, hopefully with her friend in tow. She knew how unsafe she was among the pirates. Even though they were all smiles now, things could change in an instant.

At that precise moment, an explosion rocks the area.

The pirates freeze at the sound, and they start scanning the area with fear in their eyes. Their hands instinctively go for their weapons, drawing axes or cutlasses.

Another explosion rings through the air, and dark, purple energy is visible through the tree line.

Zanth shouts out, grabbing the pirate's attention. "We're under attack, laddies! Dark magic! The Plegians want our heads for Rubiripe!" The pirate chief grins, murderous intent clear. "Let's take these bastards down!"