The (Cruel) Mother's Gift
A/N: So I had all these great Naruto stories all planned out, all these ideas and concepts kicking around I was going to work on... And then the date for me to leave my country came, I was actually about halfway through a story at the time.
So I've spent the last month+ travelling around, got to see quite a bit of the world and while there rather than writing my stories (on paper) as I intended I ended up marathoning Fire Emblem on 3DS! Once I started I couldn't stop, such an amazing game!
And so here we are, I've got a number of short little Fire Emblem retakes or interludes I worked on during my trip. I wanted to get them down, hopefully you'll enjoy them as much as I did thinking them up. They won't follow chronological order, some of them may follow different choices (Robin married to Tharja or Robin married to Lucina perhaps), they're just Tales Through Time.
Our first story was inspired after I was surprised by how Tharja treated Morgan in game, most of the Mothers were (while a little exasperated) pretty positive, Tharja was damn cold! (Don't treat our cute little daughter like that Tharja! C'mon!) So, I wanted to bring a bit more details into that and I wanted to go into more about the story Noire hints at...
"Hmm... No, no... Nothing" a small pile of books was spilled onto the ground with a soft thud.
"Maybe this... Huuuhh, no" with a disappointed sigh a handful of hexing sticks were picked up, looked over and discarded.
"Oooh, what about this stuff?" A few vials of questionable liquids were picked up, sniffed and peered into...
"Morgan!" the search was suddenly interrupted by a shocked, angry shout ringing through the tent, the girl in question jerking upright in surprise "What are you doing!?"
"M-mother!" caught red handed Morgan looked up from the small mess she'd created into the scowling face of her assumed mother "You're back early!" she continued happily "Is this those invisible ties again do you think?" unfortunately her bright smile, and happiness at seeing her Mother wilted under the glare she received in response.
"Why are you going through my belongings!?" Tharja, the mother in question, demanded "What are you doing!? She repeated quickly moving to snatch the remaining vials from the girls hands, placing them back on the shelves with a huff.
"I'm trying to remember my past of course!" Morgan answered as if it was the most obvious thing in the world "I was banging my head against a post! ...But then Father found me and told me I should try talking to you... But you were out so I thought maybe looking at your equipment would help instead! We must have had similar stuff in the future, it's sure to jog a memory or two! What d'ya think?"
Tharja just continued to glare, too angry at the violation of her privacy to even respond, so Morgan pressed on
"But, now you're here! So, now we can talk!" Ever optimistic, Morgan's bright smile quickly returned at the thought of getting to spend some quality time with her presumed mother.
"No..." Tharja ground out through gritted teeth "Now you can leave before you destroy anymore of my things!"
"Bu-but Mother!" Morgan cried out, taken aback "But, how can I remember you otherwise? We never get to spend much time tog-"
"Why does it even matter?" Tharja growled angrily stalking past Morgan to snatch up some of the fallen tomes and replace them in their shelves "Even if you remember me, I won't know you! I don't even know if I am your mother!"
The words were cold but from the hard look in her eyes they weren't something said in the heat of the moment. Morgan was a skilled enough reader of people to realise instantly that this was something Tharja was deadly serious about, something she'd considered previously.
"M-Mother..." It was hardly the first time Tharja had given Morgan a cold dismissal, but it was the first time she had completely rejected her. Crushed by such a cold dismissal Morgan just stared stunned, tears welling up in her eyes.
"Oh, we're crying now? Great" Tharja threw her hands up, losing the last of her patience. She found it hard to deal with Morgan to begin with, coming back to find her room ransacked and her belongings messed with had diminished Tharja's already short fuse. "I need to clean all this up" she gestured to the small mess Morgan had created and groaned again "Urgh... Just... Just get out of my sight before I hex you!" that threat quickly became very real as dark magic sprang between her fingers.
Hurt by her Mother's cold words and heartbroken at being unwanted Morgan finally turned and fled, tears streaking down her face as she pushed the tent flaps aside and ran. Ignoring her, Tharja contented herself with muttering complaints under her breath as she continued to tidy her belongings.
"Tharja? You here?" A few minutes later her mood quickly reversed in joy as she was interrupted from cleaning by her beloved.
"Darling! I thought you were to be busy with that planning session tonight? ...Shall we spend the evening together?" she added hopeful.
Around Robin she always felt like a different person, even if her "Normal Practice" was a thing of the past. Where she was normally gloomy and brooding being around him made her feel like all the weight was lifted from her shoulders, it was if her worries were washed away. Even after being married for months she couldn't help but be intoxicated by the man she loved.
"Ah, the planning session was postponed" he replied with a grin as she wrapped herself around him feeling her nuzzle her cheek happily against his shoulder "I was actually expecting to see Morgan here though... I sent her out to see you earlier, Gods, you wouldn't believe what I found her doing..."
"Banging her head against a post or some such? Yes, she mentioned something like that" she responded, slightly annoyed by the girls continuing intrusion into her evening.
"Ah, you knew already?" he asked confused "She's been by then? Where is she, she can't have left already?"
"Does it matter?" she asked attempting to evade the question "She came by, remembered nothing and left. Now, we-"
"Tharja..." Robin interrupted softly, reaching a hand out to stroke her cheek "You sent her away? Why? I wanted the two of you to spend some time together..."
Tharja frowned; talk of another woman was quickly spoiling the good mood she had from spending time with her husband. "There was nothing for us to talk about" she responded tersely, "I don't know her and she doesn't know me. We're strangers. That's all there is to it."
Robin winced at that, he'd half expected such a response but it was frustrating how cold Tharja was to Morgan, she wasn't exactly sweet to Noire either but she at least acknowledged her, it seemed like she wanted nothing to do with Morgan.
"I don't even know if she is my Child!" she pouted at his disappointed look "She's nothing like me, she doesn't even look much like me... Anyway, you dote on her far too much" she huffed.
He blinked at that, "No more than I dote on Noire..." it was true that Morgan did follow him around more than Noire did, but still, that shouldn't bother her enough... "If I didn't know better..." he mused thinking aloud "I'd think... No way..."
Chucking slightly he pulled her against him again "Ah, my little death blossom... Don't tell me you're jealous, of your own daughter?"
Her responding blush as she attempted to stammer a response answered his question for him "W-Well, it's, well you spend so much time with her! I... You know I don't like it when you're with other women! You're so popular with everyone..." It was hardly a surprise that he was more popular around the camp than her, part of him did sometimes wish she would be a little more agreeable to the other Shepards, still, he knew that was part of the woman he'd fallen in love with. He'd tried to change her once and still felt guilty about that. He did know she wished they spent more time together; he felt the same, but it was so hard when they were so busy, lives depended on his diligence.
Taking a moment to cool her emotions Tharja returned to the defensive "Anyway, as I said, I don't even know if she is my daughter. We're just two strangers." Sending him a small pleading look to drop this whole conversation she attempted to push him back towards where her bed was.
Instead of relenting like usual, Robin laughed, surprising her, "You're kidding right? Have you not been watching her in battle at all? She fights exactly like you! The way she holds herself, the way she casts... She even does that little thing with her fingers you always do when you're angry!" he wiggled his fingers in an attempt to demonstrate, Robin was always quite passionate about his daughters.
When she turned her head away without answering he realised she truly hadn't noticed, she really hadn't watched Morgan at all... "Tharja-" he whispered softly "My love, she's without a doubt your daughter. She fights just like you do, it's amazing fighting beside her...It's like, hmm, it's like fighting with a younger version of you!"
"Anyway, she's gotten almost all your good looks too... Thank the gods" he teased gently, stroking her shoulders and feeling her melt against him again. "And well... Surely you've seen the spells she casts when she thinks I'm not watching? I definitely never taught her anything like that!"
Robin was completely surprised when he saw a blank questioning look on his wife's face, she really hadn't noticed, she knew nothing about her daughter at all! He knew that Tharja hadn't warmed to Morgan much, but she had trouble warming to anyone! He hadn't realised it was this bad.
"You really hadn't noticed?" he asked sadly "Well... I saw her practicing on Aversa's Night just a few days ago and I've definitely caught her casting Nosferatu and Ruin more than once. Well, you know how hopeless I am with any of those spells"
It was half a lie, he had experimented in isolation a few times and been worried by the unnatural ease with which Dark Magic had come to him. It was certainly true he couldn't cast any of the spells he'd seen Morgan doing but only through purposefully refusing to study them. His odd affinity was still something he had no information about and the implications weren't pleasant.
Still, he was pleased to see she looked not just surprised but even mildly impressed, it was hard to be sure but he thought he even detected a hint of worry in her expression for a moment. That gave him some relief, after all few knew better than she that Dark Magic never came without a cost, one had to be both smart and careful with its application lest they invite disaster.
Glad he'd finally made some headway he continued on "Yeah, I think she wants to surprise me. She'll probably challenge me someday soon and doesn't want me to expect that she knows those kind'a spells, try and catch me off guard. It's not anything I could have taught her... It's all stuff she must have learned from her Mother... From you."
Tharja didn't meet his gaze but her voice had softened slightly "Well... If she's been casting that kind of Magic then I suppose I should at least ensure she's casting it correctly" she sighed, she had been so excited to have an evening alone with him too.
Morgan had always been so different from her. She'd been able to see a lot of herself or at least her influence in Noire... With Morgan it had been a struggle, a struggle made worse by watching her instantly grow so close to Robin and take up even more of her time. Tharja couldn't help but feel threatened by the girl!
"Good" Robin smiled warmly at her, giving her a slight pang of guilt at her previous actions "Well, I've still got some things to do tonight, why don't you go talk to her and I'll meet you back here later? We can spend the rest of the evening together?"
"Mmm... Okay" Tharja sighed happily at that thought, while she could never really deny Robin anything, but the thought of him coming back to her in her tent was a very appealing one. Far more appealing than the all too common reality of her dragging him to bed after he collapsed into a strategy manual.
"Well, at the very least I can test her spellcasting" Tharja mumbled to herself. It wouldn't take too long and if the girl really was messing around with Dark Magic it only made sense to ensure she was doing as little harm to herself as possible.
If Morgan really was her child then she should be relatively resistant to the harmful effects, not to mention Robin seemed to be unnaturally resistant to Dark Magic for some reason... Still she'd learned long ago that a complacent Dark Mage quickly became a dead Dark Mage.
Locating Morgan turned out to be a remarkably simple task, her first destination was the girl's tent and from the sobbing she could hear coming from inside it seemed that she'd guessed correctly. Clearly she'd rather upset the girl and while she was used to upsetting people after talking to Robin she felt a little unsettled about that.
However it seemed she wasn't the only one to follow the sobs, just as Tharja was reaching to pull the tent flaps aside her heard a loud exclamation from within
"Noire!" Morgan choked out, rubbing her face clean and attempting to halt her sobbing, "W-What's going on?"
"What... What's going on with you is what I should be asking" Noire's typical shaky voice responded "You-You never cry Morgan... I could hear you all the way over in my tent. A-are you okay? What happened?"
"Just..." Morgan sniffed, searching for words "Just... Mother" she sounded on the verge of tears again at admitting that, "I just... I just want to remember her so badly! It hurts so much that I've forgotten my own family! I feel so worthless!"
"And... And you're so nice Noire and Father, Father's wonderful, just like how I remember him, and, and Mother... I see everyone else, Cynthia and Kjelle... And even Severa, they're all so close to their Mothers. Their mother's all love them!"
"Morgan..." Noire softly tried to comfort her amnesiac sister
"Mother's so cold!" Morgan suddenly declared, choking on the words as fresh sobs erupting again "Everyone's so nice to me, except her! She doesn't care about me at all! She's not even nice to you and you remember her!"
"Morgan..." this time Noire's timid voice held a hint of warning
"She's so mean to everyone!" Morgan was unable to stop now she'd finally started "She's so distant and so harsh, she's nothing like Father at all! He's the only one she's nice to! It's like, it's like she's incapable of caring about anyone except him!"
"Tch" stepping back from the tent Tharja found she was unexpectedly hurt listening to Morgan's tirade. She knew it wasn't undeserved, but after finally deciding to take a step towards accepting Morgan, finally opening her heart to the her slightly she found she hated the idea of listening to the girl who claimed to be her daughter join the long list of people who couldn't stand her.
Just as she turned to leave her steps were cut short when she heard Morgan's sobs suddenly interrupted by a loud smack and a shriek of surprise!
"No-Noire!?" Morgan was shocked
Tharja was completely dumbfounded. Noire of all people had just slapped Morgan! From the sounds of it she hadn't held back at all.
"Don't say that! Never say that!" shockingly it was Noire's standard shaky voice that rang out, she hadn't even changed to her more forceful personality. The timid, jumpy, Noire had just slapped Morgan and was now yelling at her.
"B-Because one day you'll get your memories back! And-and, you'll hate yourself for saying that! The old you would never say anything like that!" the commanding tone in Noire's voice was lost as she continued but she pressed on
"You can't say that, not-not when you don't even remember how she... How Mother died..." Noire finished, breathing hard, obviously not used to giving orders.
"How she... Died?" Morgan whispered back, her shock fading to curiosity
Tharja had to admit to being curious herself, Noire had never elaborated on any details. She knew she died in the future but she didn't know much else. Whether from simple shock at Noire's actions or from a morbid interest, she stepped back to the tent, listening in.
"How she died?" Morgan repeated, her voice getting some strength back "...Can you tell me? Please, can you tell me anything?"
"Err..." Noire obviously didn't enjoy the idea. It was clearly a very painful time and she didn't relish reliving such uncomfortable memories... Still, after a second's thought she sighed heavily and relented "Alright..."
And so, with a deep breath to steady herself she began her tale.
"We travelled around a lot after... After Father disappeared. The world was so different, nothing like it is now, there was almost no life at all, there were only a few areas that weren't overrun, it was... Terrible... Dangerous"
"Mother was determined to avenge Father... It was her only goal. She couldn't rest until she had..." Morgan looked pained at that thought, Noire couldn't blame her; the more time she spent around her father the more terrified she became of losing him once more. "So, even though it was dangerous, she'd go alone if she had to, for him... So we followed, I think she was happy we did"
"Still, her vengeance, even she couldn't... There were so many Risen... And Grima... How could anyone?" Noire shuddered for a moment at the memory of the terrifying Fell Dragon she'd seen flying through the skies, thankfully always at a distance. "So... We travelled. We were searching for old magic, Dark Magic, powerful spells, forgotten tools, something... Anything, it was hopeless."
"We helped as much as we could... It was-you were... We all missed Father terribly... Even Mother spent some nights crying..." That image was hard to believe, both Noire and Morgan paused for a second struggling to reconcile that thought with the Mother they knew with that thought...
"And... And then one day a few years ago we found this old Monastry. We'd been looking for it for months. It was between two mountain ranges, I don't know where... They had research on some forbidden Dark Magic. We were never allowed to cast anything but minor spells but, Mother, she learned everything... Dangerous rituals, forbidden Magic, anything to give her power, to help avenge Father. So we finally found the place, and it was even better than we'd hoped... We found so much there..."
Noire was attempting to get as comfortable as possible, sitting in a stiff high backed wooden chair. It was just heading towards dusk and she was making a valiant effort not to jump at each shadow that passed through the corners of her vision. The cold halls of the monastery were not an inviting place at the best of times.
She was tall and thin with light blue hair pulled into a long ponytail running down her back. She was dressed in an ill fitting Plegian Dark Mage robe, even thought she knew little Dark Magic and her mother refused to teach her more. It was tattered and frayed in places but in the cold draughty monastery it was a treasured possession.
When not stilling her heartbeat after spotting some creepy shadow she was attempting to read an old novel she'd gathered from the long abandoned sleeping quarters. The prose was thick and the characters weren't terribly compelling but it was something to do, at the least it let her spend time with her little sister.
"Noi-reee" said little sister's voice suddenly rang out, forcing Noire to have to restrain herself from jumping once more "I'm booo-red" she sulked. Looking over Noire could see Morgan pouting at her, surrounded on all sides by stacks of books.
It was sometimes hard to believe they were sisters. Morgan didn't even look much like Noire, oh there were similarities sure, they had the same nose, the same mouth, they were both slightly allergic to beets... But where Noire was tall Morgan was short, where Noire had light blue hair, Morgan had an unruly mop of dark black hair, where Noire could at least probably pass as a Plegian Dark Mage, Morgan was absolutely swimming in her robe, the sleeves going far past her arms.
Even more, Morgan was nothing like Noire when they stayed in these kind of locations. She didn't jump at shadows or tremble anytime a door creaked. She simply tried to stay as positive as possible and read as much as she was able, although books had become a luxury themselves.
"We've been here soooo long!" Morgan's complaining continued "I've read all of these already" she whirled around gesturing to the huge stacks of books all around her, more than enough to keep Noire occupied for months. "There wasn't even anything on strategy or tactics" she added with a touch of bitterness.
Strategy and tactics had become Morgan's way of staying connected to their missing father. She'd studied it with him when he was around and taken to it with the utmost joy, now with him gone it had become almost an obsession. They'd all heard the tales of his exploits, his legendary victories, the times he'd turned sure defeat into a victory told either from the villager's they'd visit or very rarely from their Mother herself. Morgan was determined to be at least as good as he had been, to prove she was her Father's daughter, to prove her love Noire suspected...
She felt a bit jealous, not being much good at tactics herself; she didn't have any simple connection to their father. She missed his comforting presence, it was hard to remember sometimes when she was cold and in some strange, dangerous place, but memories of playing with her father, of studying magic with him did help her through the dark nights.
"We've been here just over a month I think" Noire answered, they'd lost track of the days a long time ago so it was hard to really be sure "I- I don't think we'll be here much longer though..."
She glanced towards the room her mother had shut herself in, surrounding herself with the forbidden research and notes they'd located from around the building. "Mother said she'd gone through most of it a few days ago... She seemed pleased though" that was always a good sign; things always went a lot smoother when their mother was in a good mood.
It was always the same when they visited places like this, Tharja would bury herself in her research and besides sporadically eating or sleeping together they'd rarely see her until that research was complete. They'd long since learned it was best not to disturb her, it was a little lonely for sure, still, it beat being the test subject of some hex or another Noire always thought.
"I was thinking it might be time for another patrol... You could come with me if you wanted?" she offered, mostly she asked just to kill time but with just the three of them travelling around they'd quickly learned the value of vigilance and regular patrols. They hadn't seen any Risen in weeks and none in the nearby area but there was no sense in taking chances "Don't you need to finish that map you were working on?"
Morgan just laughed brightly, relishing the chance to show off and pulled out a large sheet of paper from within her robes "I already finished that days ago! Look!" Indeed it did look complete, Noire couldn't help but be impressed, there were details of the church, the surrounding area, and judging from the various scribbles and notes all around it, strategic information ranging from choke points to escape routes. She couldn't help but be a bit relieved seeing it. Morgan truly was a strategy genius, it made her doubt her own contributions sometimes but it was comforting to have her little sister watching out for them.
"But sure! I wanna do something! Lets go!" Morgan was as cheerful as ever, so, after taking a moment to collect her bow and quiver while Morgan prepared some spell tomes, they headed out.
"Mother!" Morgan cried out desperately, less than a half hour later as the two girls crashed, terrified into their Mother's research den "Risen! Risen!"
"Lots of Risen!" Noire clarified, wrapping her arms around herself trying to stop from trembling "A whole army of Risen! Gods..."
"Blasted things" Tharja grunted annoyed as she turned and stood up, refusing to give into the panic that had spread through her daughters "How long?" she moved briskly to pack together what she could and organise what she needed. It wasn't the first time they'd been forced to flee from Risen.
"A while... Still, maybe... Maybe a few hours?" Noire guessed, turning to Morgan, this was more her forte.
"Most of the passes will be blocked though" Morgan calmed slightly as she fell into her analytical mindset "I've worked out a few ways out..." she pulled the same map from earlier out of her robes and started pointing out key areas she'd marked "We didn't see any Wyverns so this route here should be our best bet." She traced her finger a long a thin path through a ravine and down to the south east. "Judging from the routes we saw them taking, we should be able to bypass them directly"
With her analysis done and nothing else to immediately occupy her thoughts the fear returned to Morgan's eyes as she trembled, picturing again the army of Risen encircling them by the second. Noire wrapped her arms around her sister in a vain attempt at comfort as they turned to their mother for direction.
The passing years had weighed heavily on Tharja. The sporadic meals, the relentless research and the endless travel had all sapped her natural beauty. Her face still held the spark of barely constrained menace but her eyes were permanently ringed with deep bags and her hair, now down to her lower back was streaked with grey. Most telling however her skin, what little of it that could be seen through the thick robe she wore, all youthful lustre was gone, in its place cracked flesh and faintly glowing lines marked her body. The price paid for years spent meddling with dark and forbidden magic.
"Too many to fight I take it?" she asked, mostly for the sake of asking, as she finished her selection of tomes to take with her.
"F-far too many" Noire's voice cracked as she hugged Morgan tighter, tears welling up in her eyes at the thought.
"Hmm. Well then we'll follow Morgan's plan. Get ready to leave and meet me at the door immediately" without another word she turned and strode away, leaving them to quickly gather what they could with them.
A scant few minutes later found the three women fleeing at a steady pace along the route Morgan had outlined. It cut along disused paths and hidden trails across the hillside and dangerously close to the approaching Risen. It was a terrifying journey, absolutely exposed and with little to ward off the terror at listening to the screeching cries of the Risen echoing all around them, some no farther away than the other side of the hill.
Noire was ashen faced and appeared on the verge of fainting. Morgan was clutching her tomes tight, whispering reassurances to herself and attempting to stay calm, like father. Even Tharja was on edge, her calm facade undone by the tightness of her lips and her eyes constantly searching for danger, twitching at each new roar bouncing around them.
Still, Morgan's plan held true. The paths connected just as she'd promised they would and her map turned out to be accurate enough for them to safely navigate a path through the valley. By cutting through a small track and around the side of a steep incline they were able to completely slip past the approaching army as the Risen marched on the Monastery.
Unfortunately any joy that had been building at their successful evasion quickly faded as they stepped around the final hill towards the path to the open road...
"Wyverns..." Tharja noted bitterly
"A-a blockade" Noire stammered out petrified
"My...My plan didn't. Oh no... No..." Morgan sobbed
And indeed the path was blocked; the Risen had kept a formation of Wyverns cutting off their path to the main road.
There was no route back, by now all the hills were all swarming with Risen. However there was also no possible route forwards, Magic, especially Dark Magic would draw the attention of the entire army. They'd be overrun long before they could hope to take down an entire blockade.
No path forwards and no path backwards. They were well and truly trapped.
"I'm sorry! I-I'm sorry!" Morgan repeated, obviously blaming her plan for their predicament.
Surprising them all, it was her mother that answered her first. Even more surprising she did so while reaching over to stroke Morgan's hair lovingly, a soft smile on her face. "Just like your Father..." she whispered, her voice holding such deep love that both girls were completely stunned "You remind me of him every day, you both do."
"B-but Father was so strong" Noire stammered, unable to believe that someone like her could resemble him at all.
"And... His plans, everyone always said his plans always worked!" Morgan added, turning again to the Wyverns ahead in the distance, the embodiment of her failure.
"They did" Tharja agreed "And just the same your plans have never let us down. This plan too will be a success"
Ignoring the shocked and hopeful looks on their faces she continued "Your father... He was a genius. He worked hard, harder than anyone and he always succeeded... But not even the greatest tactician can win without any sacrifice"
She looked to the distance, lost in an old memory "It pained him terribly... Anytime one of our comrades fell following his plans it tore him apart... He'd bury himself in his study and pour over his strategies, planning new strategies, vowing to improve himself. He'd replay the same battle over and over again. To him it was as if he'd killed his friend himself"
"I was the only one he'd open up to during those times. The only one he'd talk to, or the only one he'd let stay with him to just sit and cry... He couldn't let anyone else see any weakness, the army needed him to be strong... But with me he let himself mourn, let himself drown in guilt..." There was softness in her reminiscence that touched and captivated both daughters. It was a brief glimpse of their Mother's past but at the same time incredibly intimate, beyond anything they'd been told of her past before.
"I could never understand but I didn't need to. He was a great man, but he was a man who could never bear the idea of a sacrifice needed to bring victory" she smiled again shaking herself from a distant memory and brushed her hand through Morgan's hair again "Just like his daughters"
Morgan was confused but Noire understood instantly, terrible realization coming over her. Gulping down her terror she spoke, her voice barely a whisper "Then... I... Then I should... Since, I'm weak... I can..."
"No." Tharja's interruption left no possible argument as she reached out and pulled her eldest daughter to her. "Just like your father" she chided gently as Noire stiffened shocked at the intimate gesture "Only ever willing to sacrifice himself..." she whispered to herself.
"No" she repeated "You're my daughters... You're his daughters. You will never be weak. You'll both be strong, stronger than anyone" there was no doubt in her voice, only complete surety that both daughters could do no less than make her proud.
She sighed softly, with a hint of bitter regret "I am sorry...The burden will be larger now... You'll have to get vengeance for me as well as your father... But you'll be together, you'll always have each other and you'll grow strong side by side"
"Mother... No..." Morgan's eyes were wide as she finally understood the implications. Her mind frantically searching for a new strategy, a new tactic, anything.
"Mother, p-please, no, we need you..." Noire pleaded desperately
Tharja ignored all protests and instead turned both her daughters to face her, giving them a questioning stare "You both remember what I taught you?"
"If-If someone hurts you, hurt them more." Morgan recited from memory, sniffing back tears
"If... Someone takes something... Take it back" Noire whispered
"Always strike first. Vengance comes from power..." they spoke together the words dying on their tongues as they trailed off, tears spilling freely down both their faces.
"Good... Very good" Tharja spoke proudly shocking them once more with a bright smile and her own tears spilling unnoticed down her face.
"And now..." her voice lost all softness as she strode forwards, away from their cover and towards the Wyverns ahead pulling out three thick spell tomes from her pack as she did "And now, I shall demonstrate what I've learned over these past few years."
"I shall create a path" she spoke loudly staring down at the enemies ahead "As soon as it's clear you two run and do not stop running until you're safe"
Without looking back and without another word to her daughters Tharja stepped within sight of the blockade.
While only Morgan had ever been taught to cast anything more than cantrips, both daughters were well versed on Magic and Spell Theory... Thus both could only watch in rapt wonderment as rather than choosing one tome their mother instead held all three tomes aloft.
"Graaaaggggh!" her scream pierced the night as she was quickly cloaked in a thick aura of Dark Magic, amazingly somehow pulling the energy from all the tomes together.
It was an unheard of feat. Few could even manage to draw the power of an entire tome at once... To draw from more than one at a time... It was reckless, it was insane, it should have been impossible.
Fire Magic, Wind Magic, Holy Magic, none could be used like this; none could be drawn in such a crazy, suicidal manner.
Only Dark Magic would heed the call, only someone versed in dark and forbidden rituals could even know how to ask. There was no doubt, this treacherous power was a prototype, a shadow of the power she had hoped to channel to strike down Grima, to avenge her husband. This was the fruit of her labours.
The magic swirled around her until she appeared to be encased in a swirling black maelstrom, then with little more than one final scream it surged forwards, flying at an impossible speed towards the blockade before exploding with a thunderous roar and swallowing all in sight.
There was no beauty to it, no finesse, no skill, it was simply force. Anything hit by the magic was simply obliterated. In little more than the blink of an eye the entire blockade, a cadre of Risen and Wyverns, was reduced to little more than black dust.
The magical backlash followed an instant later.
The backlash from a standard spell may destroy a few pages. The backlash from a powerful spell may destroy a whole section of a tome. The backlash from this destroyed all three tomes instantly.
Dark Magic is the most treacherous of all magic, it must be used with the utmost care lest it turn against you. To draw the full power of three tomes and unleash it in an instant was to incur a heavy price. The tomes themselves served their purpose, absorbing and weakening the feedback in their destruction but ultimately the brunt of it landed on Tharja herself.
She was sent staggering back gasping as the arm used to channel the spells was obliterated to the same black dust, her robe torn open and her blood splashing onto the ground.
"Go! ... Now!" She panted, gasping in shock and pain, staring at where her robe had been torn, her shoulder exposed and a deep burn running down her side. "Hurry" she ordered one final time as both daughters stared at her, rooted to the spot.
"And so we ran, and ran... There was, there was nothing else we could do. Because she removed the blockade instantly we had time to escape before the rest found us... And Mother, she, stayed and made sure they wouldn't catch up" Noire finished her story
"Noire..." Morgan was lost for words
"We travelled and studied and trained and everything just kept getting worse and everything got harder and... And we couldn't do anything, we got stronger but we still couldn't avenge Mother or Father and..." realising she was rambling now Noire took a deep breath "And, eventually we met up with Lucina in one of the few safe areas and she told us about Naga's plan and... Well, here we are..."
"Noire... I'm sorry..." whether she was apologising for making Noire relive such a traumatic experience, for her plan that day or for her previous comments she wasn't sure... Perhaps all three.
"Just... " Noire pushed herself on needing to explain further "I know you've felt it, I've seen you use it...That Dark Power you feel when you get hurt... Or anytime we're fighting Risen. You suddenly feel much stronger, as if something was helping you? That's Mother's Vengance, we've both had it since that day, she entrusted it with us."
"Vengance was... It was all she cared about... Her only goal was to avenge Father, that was all that mattered, whatever price she paid so long as he was avenged... It was her most precious thing and she entrusted it in us! It makes us strong, it protects us! It's Mother's power we call... That's Mother's gift... So never doubt that she loved you! That she loves you!" Finally finished Noire calmed down and gathered herself again.
Her last comment seemed to be the straw that broke the camel's back though for it set Morgan off again, her guilt overwhelming her as she broke into fresh tears, reconciling her earlier statements with her new knowledge.
"I... I've got to apologise! I've got to find her!" She suddenly declared between sobs, standing up "thanks Noire! Thanks... So much" she called as she tore out of the tent.
Tharja had barely moved from her position beside the tent, absolutely stunned from the story. Hearing about the power she'd wielded, the strength she'd granted her daughters, her future self's sacrifice... Her mind was reeling as she took in Noire's final declaration.
She was only broken from her thoughts when her youngest daughter tore out of the tent and upon instantly seeing her launched herself forwards, grabbing her tightly.
"Mother! Mother! I'm sorry!" Morgan sobbed, burying her face in Tharja's chest "I-I'll be strong, I'll, I'll hurt anyone who hurts me. I'll protect your vengeance, I'll, I'm sorry!" her promises were cut off as her composure failed her, breaking down again and hugging her mother tight.
Tharja looked down at her distraught daughter, reconciling her with the one from from the story she'd just heard. Looking now she couldn't but notice for the first time just how similar Morgan looked to her, the facial features, the hair, the mannerisms... That Vengance burning within her, the Vengance she'd entrusted her personally... All the things she'd ignored until now... She couldn't help but smile.
And so, reaching down she pulled Morgan into a soft hug.
"It's fine. You're already strong. You're my daughter".
A/N: And there we have it, a story going into how Tharja fell and why someone as sweet as Morgan burns with Vengance.
I wanted to do something like this as soon as I saw how Tharja was surprisingly cold to Morgan in game, I wanted them to share something that would help Tharja see she could relate to her cheerful, silly daughter, I could just imagine her being so awkward around her, being all jealous of Robin and Morgan who being so similar surely got on like a house on fire.
Poor Tharja would be sitting back being gloomy and wanting Robin's attention but having to fight with her own daughter for it. And being unable to relate to her daughter and with Morgan having no memories of Tharja at all, she'd lash out.
So then when Noire came along and we saw Tharja being slightly sweet to her and we hear a little about the future, that's how this story came to be.
I really, really like Tharja. Her cold exterior is done well, she's rather mean in game, but at the same time anyone who takes the time to get to know her is treated quite well, she never takes advantage of Libra, Lon'qu or Gregor after they come to her for help. So I see her as a girl that's evil and yet still treasures people close to her, she's just too proud to admit it.
Course she's also slightly crazy and no-one will ever come close to how she feels for Robin. I feel sorry for any other woman who'd want to get friendly with him!
Anyhow, hope you enjoyed this. The next story should be coming out soon, within a few days. I'm hoping to iterate quite quickly on these stories.
That'll deal with Lucina's judgement from a few different perspectives.