Disclaimer: I don't own Fire Emblem. Really.
A/N: So, a new story. This an AU based around a simple idea: What if Robin had awoken in Valm, and joined the banner of Walhart? How would he change? How would Walhart change? How would the world change?
Obviously, there will be spoilers. If you haven't completed the game yet, you might not want to read on. Of course, you might want to read on even if you haven't. Don't let me stop you.
Also, I intend to alternate between two stories for the foreseeable future. The second one will be out soon. For those waiting on Tainted Ideals, don't worry. I haven't utterly abandoned it yet.
Chapter 1: Prologue
The storm beat heavily upon Ibrin as she made her way across the scrubland. She was far from the vast desert that was the centre of Plegia, yet she couldn't help but glance behind her every few minutes. Validar's reach was long and the Grimleal were fanatics. Neither weather nor the harsh desert terrain would slow them for long.
There was a slight wiggling sensation against her chest as the baby held in a sling in front of her tried to retreat from the rain into the warm cloth. Absentmindedly, she stroked his head. Almost immediately he stilled, relaxing at her touch.
She smiled. Her son, Robin, was an intelligent child, but also surprisingly patient and calm for his young age. Even when she had stolen him from the nursery the Grimleal had built for their messiah he had not released so much as a squeak. He had cried only rarely on the journey too. Something she was deeply grateful for. What she was doing was difficult enough, without a child's endless tears to weaken her resolve.
It was a half day later that she finally sighted her goal. Ascending a high cliff, she peaked over the edge.
There, far below, was the port town of Arshai. It was a small settlement, and you would find it on but a few maps, but merchant ships often rested in it's port as they underwent repair and maintenance. Simply put, it was perfect for her needs.
This continent simply wasn't safe for her. Validar would eventually find her no matter where she fled. More importantly, he'd find Robin. Neither Iris nor even distant Ferox would be far enough to run. And so she was left with a single recourse.
The strange, foreign land across the ocean. There she could forge a new life for herself and Robin, one free of the Grimleal and their insanity.
Disappointment was all that waited for her in Arshai however. An aged innkeeper, his skin wrinkled under time's assault, informed her that the next merchant vessel wouldn't reach the port for at least three days. Her legs had nearly buckled at the news. Money wasn't the issue. Even the small purse that she'd snatched in her hurried flight was more than enough to pay for both her lodging and place aboard any vessel. Plegian gold was happily accepted by any trader.
Time, however, was a currency she was lacking. Already Validar's hounds would be sniffing at her trail, drawing ever closer.
She spent the next few days holed away in her room, only opening the door to allow the innkeeper to deliver her meals. Staring out of the window she watched the dirt road that led into town warily, ever expecting a platoon of dark clothed riders to appear.
Four days after her arrival, the innkeeper walked into her room to tell her that the Prancing Wyvern had come into port. Ibrin didn't wait a moment longer. Quickly, she picked up Robin and ran to the seafront.
The Prancing Wyvern was a large schooner. From it's bow to it's stern it reached nearly 60 feet in length, with a two masts raised proudly into the air. As she neared, more than a few sailors gave her curious or lustful glances. She ignored them.
The captain was standing near the end of the pier that the boat had been moored to. He seemed to be wrapped in some kind of argument with a well-dressed man, gesticulating wildly in the air as he spoke. The other man didn't seem impressed however, merely shoving a sheet of paper into his hands and striding away. The captain stared at it for a moment, then cursed loudly.
Ibrin approached him carefully. "Excuse me-"
"What!?" The man snapped, glaring fiercely at her. After a moment, his face softened. "Ah. Pardon me, ma'am. I'm a bit distracted right now. What can I do for you?"
"Is there a problem?"
The man snorted. "You could say that. The damn harbourmaster won't let me stay in port for more a day. Says we take up too much room. 'Course, he's just fishing for more coin, the dastard."
A smile crossed Ibrin's face at the news. This was foul fate for the captain, but good fortune for her. "I see. In any case, I was hoping to buy passage on your vessel."
"Not a chance."
Ibrin blinked in surprise at the blunt refusal. "Excuse me?"
"I said 'Not a chance,'" The captain repeated. "I don't take women on my trips. I also don't take children. I especially don't don't take women still nursing a child."
"I can pay-"
"Don't matter," The captain said. "From the look of you, you've never stepped on a boat before. And the open sea is no place for a child that young. The two of you are more trouble than you're worth."
Ibrin nearly burst into tears. She couldn't be stopped. Not here. "Please. I must be on the first boat to Valm."
The man frowned. "And I'm telling you that's a terrible idea. My men are as true as any other, but it's a long journey. A women as beautiful as yourself… You're a temptation. One that many of my men might not be able to resist. And if we're caught in a storm, that child of yours won't be happy."
Ibrin lowered her head. "Even so."
"Is it really that important that you get on this boat?"
There was silence for a few seconds, then the captain sighed. "Damn it all. Here."
He handed her a key. She stared at it blankly as he spoke.
"It's the key to my cabin. Be sure to lock the door behind you before you sleep. The men will know better than to break down my door."
"Then where will you-"
"I'll bunk with the rest of my men. It'll be good for discipline, if nothing else."
She stared at him, then bowed. "I cannot thank you enough."
"Bah," he said, giving a dismissive gesture. "Don't thank me yet. It's not a pleasant voyage, 'specially not for a women with a babe. And passage is expensive. I hope you've got enough coin in that purse to pay your way or I'll have you scrubbing the decks to make up for it."
Ibrin didn't reply, instead brushing her child's cheek lightly and staring across the sea. No matter how harsh the journey might be, no matter how the waves might rage…
She would give her son this. A new beginning.
Despite the captain's grim warnings, the journey had proved smooth. The crew had been courteous enougg. In fact, They seemed entirely unsure of what to make of her. Apparently, the idea of having a woman on their boat was alien to the majority of them, and so they'd defaulted into a kind of polite wariness around her. It was actually quite amusing to watch.
A few had been... less polite in approaching her, but her magic and the captain's stern warnings had been enough to send them scuttling away, tails between their legs.
Perhaps the most surprising part of it all had been Robin. She'd expected tears or illness to assail him soon after they stepped on the boat, but he seemed entirely comfortable on the boat. Even when they'd been caught in a squall, Robin had merely smiled cheerfully and laughed as the boat was thrown about by the violent waves. Most of the crew and the captain had been impressed by that, claiming the boy was obviously a natural born sailor.
At times, staring across the great ocean, she could even relax like she hadn't in years. More than ever before, she felt free of Validar. Of the Grimleal. Of the insane plans that had controlled her whole life. The fact that she could raise Robin, her child, to a life where he wasn't controlled, wasn't manipulated, wasn't turned into a monster by his father's plots...
It filled her with a joy she couldn't even describe. The Grimleal were twisted and cruel beyond measure. But because of them, she had Robin. She supposed she should thank them for that.
"Enjoying the view again?"
She turned as the captain moved up beside her, leaning against the railing of the boat.
"It is pleasant," Ibrin admitted. "Out here, it almost feels like I'm in another world."
The captain laughed. "Well, enjoy it while you can. We'll be coming into view of the Valmese coast in a moment."
There was silence between them for a few minutes. Then the captain spoke, his voice hesitant. "After we land... What do you intend to do?"
Ibrin blinked. She hadn't even considered that. She had few skills suitable for a more peaceful life, and even less experience caring for herself. The Grimleal had always provided for her. Once her purse ran out, what then? She doubted there would be much call for Dark Magic, save in battle. And she had no desire to live the life of a mercenary.
The captain nodded at her silence. "Thought so. Don't know what you're running from, but you haven't really thought everything through, have you?"
Ibrin coloured at that, but the captain ignored her and continued speaking. "I've got a wife in Valm Harbour. She runs a small textile business. She could always use a hand, if you're interested."
The offer surprised Ibrin. But, she thought, in truth it shouldn't have, should it? The captain was a good man, honest and true. His crew respected him and he in turn watched over them like a stern father.
"That would be very helpful, Captain." Ibrin replied slowly. "I'm not sure how I can repay you for this."
The captain waved a hand dismissively. "Don't talk about repayment. You're doing me a favour here. I'm away from home more than I should be. My wife could do with the company. And call me Brandton, for gods sake! You're not one of my crew."
"I see," Ibrin said, smiling slightly. "Thank you, Captain Brandton."
The man gave her an annoyed look before marching away, waxing lyrical about the aggravations of dealing with womenfolk. Ibrin's smile grew.
A weaver, then? Not a life she'd ever imagined for herself, but that was only encouraging. She'd had her fill of the lives that she had imagined for herself. Enough bloodshed. Enough battle. Enough fleeing. It was peace she desired now.
She considered that she'd never actually tried weaving before. She hoped Brandton's wife was a patient teacher.
"Land ho!" A shout came down from the crow's nest and Ibrin turned, staring across the sea at the distance speck of land. As she narrowed her eyes, she almost fancied that she could catch site of the harbour town that was the Wyvern's destination, filled with people living their lives. Perhaps there would loved ones waiting on the docks for the return of the Prancing Wyvern and it's crew.
And as for herself and Robin? New lives. Peaceful ones, she hoped, unburdened by any grand destinies or mad cults. Lives that they could shape for themselves.
Growing ever closer, the shore's of the continent of Valm seemed abrim with hope.
Unheard by any being, divine or mortal, it's mechanisms grinding in patterns unknown, fate stirred. The path's of time began to change, the destinies of men and gods shifting like sand beneath a storm.
Eventually, it settled. For now.
Fate was not sentient, not alive. It had no mind, no desires. It was neither cruel, nor kind. It simply was. A record of what had been, what was and what might be. Nothing more and nothing less.
And yet it still knew, still understood. The actions of mortals, their hearts and minds connected, had altered it more than once, changed what should have been immutable.
Even to fate, the future was unknown, hidden behind the countless lives that formed it.
And just now, at this very moment, a path to nigh-endless new futures had been opened.