The events of last night seemed like a distant memory now, the clear sunny day bringing a sense of peace to the group. True, they were all tired from lack of sleep due to the battle with those monsters, Lissa and Ryan showing the most tired expressions. Considering what they had lived through though, none of them were going to complain.
"So is it really true, you've lost your memory?" The cavalier known as Sully asked Ryan, she and Virion having been informed about Ryan's backstory.
"Yeah…. I can't remember a thing" Ryan nodded to her letting out a soft yawn after speaking.
"And yet you're capable of swords, magic, and tactics?" Sully questioned, her face telling him she found it hard to believe. No surprise there.
"I must admit I find it hard to believe myself" the slivered haired archer known as Virion added "To be so gifted in the art of battle, my noble self finds it hard to believe such a claim can be true" he said.
"Oh your one to talk about being believable ruffles" Sully said staring back at him with a grunt "As much as I find it hard to believe I find it harder to believe you'd propose to me like that" she mentioned.
"My dear Sully, I was simply expressing my love to you, nothing less" Virion said causing Sully to tighten her grip on her horse's reins. However before anything could happen the group suddenly caught their first glance at what Ryan could only guess was Ylisstol. With cheery looks on their faces they headed down to the city as quickly as they could, soon reaching the busy streets. It truly was a bustling city, hordes of people crowding the streets between the buildings. Everywhere Ryan looked he could see various shops to his left and right, ranging from clothing to bakeries. What really caught Ryan's attention however was not the city itself, but what lay past it. Beyond the city, off in the distance was a huge castle, its white coloring making it stand out easily in the bright sunlight. As the group slowly walked through the crowds Ryan couldn't help but stare in awe at it for a bit before turning his gaze back at the city.
"So this is Ylisstol, capital of Ylisse... I've never seen so many people" Ryan said to the others, suddenly realizing how silly that statement was. After all how would an amnesiac know if he had been to a huge city before or not, not that anyone called him out on it. As for the others Frederick gave off a small sigh of relieve, seeing the normal atmosphere of the city. The same was for Chrom, who was smiling softly at the sight of everyday activity in the streets.
"It appears the capital was spared the chaos we encountered, thank the gods" Frederick mentioned to Chrom "I see no evidence of the great quake, it must have been limited to the forest" he added.
"Well that's a relief" Lissa smiled a bit with glee.
Taking a few more steps into the city Ryan suddenly turned to face Chrom "Alright Chrom, no more delays, you promised me you'd answer my questions from before" Ryan reminded him. Nodding his head to Ryan's request Chrom opened his mouth to speak, but the second he did voices suddenly started ringing out from a nearby street. Wanting to know what was going on the group jogged over to the commotion, finding tons of people crowding the street corners.
"What's going on?" Ryan asked an elderly man next to him.
"It's the exalt, she's come to see us!" the man said, his face full of joy as he turned back towards the street. A few moments after that Ryan finally caught sight of the exalt, needless to say he lost his breath. The exalt was a young women with gorgeous golden yellow hair, gentle blue eyes, and a gentle smile that could melt cold hearts with ease. Waving her hand gently to the masses surrounding her she slowly walked down the street, accompanied by Ylisse soldiers of course. Ryan was unable to utter a single word as she slowly passed by them, everyone she passed giving her bows of respect and joyful expressions. It was if her just being there filled the people's hearts with happiness and peace, and he was no exception.
"Ahhh Ylisse's exalt lady Emmeryn" Virion spoke out causing Ryan to snap outta his happy trance "A women who's beauty makes angels weep in jealousy, and a smile that makes flowers bloom boldly. She truly is remarkable" he said putting a hand on his heart and bowing in honor of her.
"She's the ruler yes, is it safe for her to be walking among commoners like this?" Ryan questioned to Frederick. The knight in turn looked back down at him and gave a gentle genuine smile.
"The exalt is a symbol of peace, Ylisse's most prized quality, she reminds us all of the peace we have strived for" he said.
"And with Plegia poking at are borders the people need her" Chrom added on "She's a calming presence, when some might call for war."
"Wow… then the Ylissean people are lucky to have her" Ryan said humbly.
"Yeah, and she's also the best big sister anyone could ask for" Lissa revealed suddenly.
"Yeah I imagine she- wait what?!" Ryan blurted out, Lissa's words finally clicking in his head. Seeing his shocked expression Lissa and Chrom couldn't help but laugh, along with Sully, heck even Virion made a quick few chuckles at his dumbfounded expression.
"Yes, milord and milady are the prince and princess of the realm" Frederick said, smiling a bit himself at the big reveal "You remembered milords name and yet not this?" he questioned.
"You guys said you were "shepherds" not royalty!" Ryan shouted a bit, still a bit shocked by this sudden information, even though it explained so much.
"And so we are" Chrom pointed out "We just a have a LOT of sheep."
Suddenly realizing he was standing and talking to a prince Ryan immediately bowed his head "Chrom… I mean Prince Chrom! Sire! Please forgive my dreadful manners!" he said hoping he hadn't said anything rash. All Chrom did was scratch his head, embarrassment showing on his face.
"Chrom is fine, I've never been one for formalities" he said as Sully used the butt of her spear to make Ryan stand up straight again.
"Don't worry about titles with Chrom" Sully said to him "Here in the Shepherds everyone, nobility or not is treated as equals" she said helping the new recruit relax a bit as she looked back at Chrom "Looks like she's returning to the palace, I imagine you're going to go see her yes?"
Chrom nodded as he looked back at Ryan "Would you like to meet her?" he asked.
"You'd let me meet her in person?" he asked, the question more directed at Frederick then at Chrom. Seeing the knight give no voice Ryan smiled and nodded "Sure I suppose I should know who it is I'm working for huh?"
With that said the group took off again, eventually reaching the castle gates. After they were cleared to enter Chrom, Ryan, Lissa, and Frederick entered the castle, Sully meanwhile taking Virion with her somewhere else, not that he complained. Slowly the group of four made their way into the castle, Ryan's eyes scanning the entire palace, gawking at the sheer brilliance of the place. Eventually they came to a huge door that was watched by guards, at that point Frederick turned to Ryan with his usual stern expression "Leave your weapons here with the guards" he ordered.
Understanding the reasons Ryan complied, taking his sword and tome from his belt and handing them over to the guards. After that Frederick patted him down for hidden weapons, finding none he gave a nod of approval to the guards who in turn relaxed and allowed the four to enter. Taking his first few steps into the room Ryan stared at the walls and ceiling of the grand hallway, amazed how big it was compared to the hallways. Regaining focus he turned his attention to the back of the hallway, seeing a throne at the end of it. Standing right next to it were two women, one of them clothed in soldiers armor, the other in a royal robe. Coming a bit closer Ryan finally recognized the robed women as the exalt he had seen only moments before, lady Emmeryn.
"Chrom, Lissa, welcome home" Emmeryn said as she came over pulling the two into a gentle group hug "Oh and good day Frederick" she added looking at him as she pulled away.
"Good day to you as well milady" Frederick replied, bowing a bit.
"It's good to see you all well, how fared you all?" she asked.
"Well we won't have any bandit trouble for a while" Chrom answered his face turning from a happy smile into a serious frown "But we still need to watch the borders, the brigands crossed over from Plegia."
"And our people?" Emmeryn asked, concern filling her words slightly.
"Safe as can be Emm" Chrom said his smile returning and easing his elder sisters concerns.
"Forgive me milord" the female soldier spoke up, turning everyone's attention to her "My Pegasus knights should have intercepted them" she said. From what Ryan could tell she was at least around thirty to forty years old, her hair a slivery white that was braided and woven into a bun behind her head. He could tell just be looking at her that she was just as experienced as Frederick, and a soldier of high status here, being the only guard inside this grand throne room.
"No Phila" Chrom spoke to her "Your duty was here with the exalt, the shepherds were created for such a reason" he assured her.
"Chrom's right" Lissa spoke up "Besides we had plenty of help" she added pointing towards Ryan, turning the exalt and her bodyguards attention to him. Not surprisingly Ryan stiffened up in response to the sudden spotlight that Lissa had shined on him.
Seeing his nervousness Chrom spoke for him "This is Ryan, he fought bravely with us against the brigands, and I've decided to make him a shepherd."
"And he's amazing!" Lissa added "He knows how to wield swords, he can use magic, and he's good at tactics too" she said.
"Is that so?" The soldier Phila spoke to Ryan "That's quite impressive, not many people can claim themselves that skilled."
"I think Lissa exaggerating a bit" Ryan said softly, a little embarrassed by Lissa's compliments "I'm not as great as she makes it sound" he added.
"Come now Ryan, your selling yourself short" Chrom refuted "If it wasn't for you I don't know where we or those villagers would be right now, you deserve the praise."
"It sounds as though Ylisse owes you a debt of gratitude Ryan, I don't believe I've ever seen these two praise someone this highly" Emmeryn said, the same soft smile on her face Ryan had seen her carry while walking the streets. It was true what Virion had said, her beauty and smile put even angels to shame. No, she was more than that; to Ryan it was like staring at peace incarnate.
"Forgive me your Grace, but I must speak" Frederick spoke up causing Ryan to snap out of his thoughts and drawing everyone's attention to him. Seeing all their eyes on him he continued "Ryan claims he has lost his memory, but it is only that, a claim. We can't rule out the possibility that he is a brigand himself… or even a Plegian spy" he said.
"Frederick!" Chrom spoke out with anger in his voice. It was clear to everyone especially Ryan that Chrom was not happy with Frederick accusing Ryan as such after everything they had gone through. Despite that Ryan had to agree with Frederick's point of view, he was suspicious, from the moment they had first met. He knew Chrom's name before they had even introduced themselves, he knew how to wield weapons, and he even knew tactics. No matter how you looked at it Ryan claiming to have amnesia was simple ridiculous. Yet despite all this, Chrom put his life, as well as his companion's lives in his hands, no questions asked. Even now he looked ready to start a debate with Frederick right there if not for Emmeryn speaking up again.
"Chrom does this man have your trust despite all this?" she asked, a simple question, yet to Ryan it carried a lot of meaning as Chrom turned to face her again.
"Yes" he said immediately, with no hesitation "He risked his life for our people, that's good enough for me."
Seeing his faith Emmeryn nodded smiling towards Ryan again "It seems you have Chrom's faith, and as such you have my faith as well."
"I…. thank you milady" Ryan said his eyes watering up a bit, having been touch by there trust. Seeing this Frederick decided to change the subject in respect to their words.
"Phila, I assume you've already heard about what happened last night yes?"
"Yes milord, my Pegasus knights have reported about the damage to the forest and of the creatures that followed it" Phila added.
"You know about the deathly creatures as well?" Frederick questioned.
"Yes… sadly I have worse news to report about them" she added "They've been sighted all across Ylisse."
"What?!" Lissa said in shock "There's more of those things out there?!"
"Yes…" Emmeryn said reluctantly "I have received a few reports regarding them… we were about to hold council, Chrom, Frederick would you please join us, your firsthand experiences will be most appreciated"
"Of course" Chrom said, Frederick nodding to her request as well. Seeing this Lissa turned towards Ryan.
"That's our cue Ryan, c'mon there's a place I want to show you." Lissa said taking his hand into hers and dragging him out of the room, with Ryan shouting at her to slow down a bit almost tripping as they left. With them gone the remaining four turned towards the council room to the right. As Emmeryn and Chrom walked towards it Phila turned towards Frederick with a serious expression on her face.
"That boy's coat… I've seen similar ones in Plegia before" she said softly so neither royal could hear "Is that the only reason?"
"No…" Frederick said "There's another reason…. he bears the cult mark on the back of his right hand."
"What?!" Phila almost shouted but kept her voice to a whisper "And you allowed him near the exalt?!" she snapped a bit "Frederick you-
"That's why I believe he is telling the truth" Frederick said to Phila who looked at him with confusion "When I questioned him about it he showed no signs of panic at its discovery… he even gave me a closer look at it" Frederick added.
"Couldn't it have been all just a ploy?" Phila asked.
"Perhaps… but until I can find clear proof he's being false I do not want to imprison him, Exalt Emmeryn and milord would never approve of it" Frederick countered "If he has lost his memories then this is his chance to remove himself from there embrace, and he does have talent as Milord and milady said."
"I see" Phila said her expression easing up a bit at his reasoning "Then it falls on you to monitor him, and to stop him if need be" she said.
"Of course" Frederick replied.
Meanwhile Lissa had just lead Ryan outside the castle walls taking him out into the courtyard "Come on it's over here" Lissa said moving along quickly with Ryan slowly following her. The words of Chrom and Emmeryn echoing through his head. Seeing him not focused Lissa turned to face him "What's wrong?" she asked.
"Huh… nothing… hey Lissa, can I ask you a question?" he asked.
"Sure what is it?" she asked.
"Why does Chrom… trust me so much?" he asked.
Lissa smiled softly "Chrom's always been like that, you won't believe how many times he's been lectured on the subject."
"Look Ryan, my brother can be dense, but he always follows his heart... and he's not alone" she said her smile soft and graceful like her big sisters now "I can't see you as a bad guy either."
Ryan was taken aback by that but slowly smiled "You and your brother… what can I say about you two… still, thanks" he said softly.
Lissa nodded "Now come on, no more distractions, let's go" she said taking his hand into hers again much to Ryan's embarrassment, thankful no one was around to see them holding hands. From there she guided him to a small building like structure attached to one of the castles walls. Releasing his hand and opening the door Lissa stepped inside first, with Ryan following her in slowly. From there he gazed around in surprise. The place looked bigger than it did on the outside, with many sacks and crates scattered around the place. There was also a huge table in the back, large enough for a group of at least ten people, with the same number of chairs around it. At that table sat Virion and Sully, with Virion drinking a cup of tea while Sully was just lounging her feet up on the table. However Ryan's attention was quickly turned towards a couple of new faces. One of them was a bare chested man with blonde hair. The other was a woman, possessing green colored hair; wearing armor that reminded him of Phila's only white and with a different design.
"Here we are, the Shepherds garrison" Lissa declared loudly to him bringing his attention back to her "Go on, make yourself at home."
"The Shepherds garrison?" Ryan questioned.
"Right, it's where the shepherds meet, eat, and sleep" Lissa said pointing to a stairway that led downward "So again making yourself at home because it pretty much is your home now."
A sipping sound turned both their attention to Virion who let out a gentle sigh as he set his tea cup down "Ahhh, I must say I wasn't expecting tea this refine here" Virion said as he looked at Sully "Come my dear Sully, join me for a cup and spin a few tales with me."
"Pass" she said turning to look at Ryan and Lissa "In any case welcome to the club kid."
"Thanks" Ryan said scratching his head a bit.
"Lissa, my treasure!" a female voice shouted out to them suddenly. When Ryan turned to face Lissa he saw another girl running up to her. This girl had blonde hair like Lissa, only hers was curled into multiple big curls, with two white bows on either side of her head. She wore very high society clothing and had a white parasol on her person. The minute she was within range of Lissa she immediately pulled her into a hug. "Are you alright, I've sprouted fourteen grey hairs fretting over you."
"Oh I can handle a battle or two Maribelle, though I could do without the bugs… and that bear barbecue" she added suddenly realizing how hungry she was since she hadn't eaten since yesterday.
"So squirt, who's the stranger?" The bare chested man suddenly asked, both he and the green haired women as well as the girl Maribelle turned their attention to him.
"No one's stranger then you Vaike" Lissa joked "But allow me to introduce Ryan, Chrom's making him are new tactician."
"Well nice to meet ya then!" the blonde haired man said coming over and slapping Ryan on the back, a little too hard even causing the young tactician to emit a low ow in pain. "You can call me the Vaike, or Teach since I'll be showing you the ropes."
"And here I thought people were born lacking wits, it can be taught?" Lissa jokingly questioned.
"Ha, never doubt the Vaike… wait… was that an insult?!" he questioned, causing Lissa to laugh a bit while Maribelle just shook her head at Vaike, unable to believe he was that stupid.
"Speaking of the commander, where is he?" the green haired women suddenly spoke up.
"He's at a council with Emm along with Frederick, so I figured I'd introduce Ryan here since we had a chance" Lissa said.
"Oh I see…" The green haired female said, looking a bit disappointed. Before Ryan could question her Maribelle spoke up.
"Poor Sumia here has been besides herself with concern, her eyes have been scanning the horizon all day during training. She probably would have gotten less bruises fighting blindfolded" she said causing Sumia to blush a bit.
Seeing this Lissa gave her a playful smirk "Aw Sumia that's so sweet of you to worry about Chrom" she said clearly teasing her.
"W-worry, well I…. He's are captain and our prince, of course I'd worry!" Sumia said trying to play it cool, but it was clear on her face that it was more than that.
"You must care for Chrom a lot" Ryan said to her, causing her to blush a deep red.
"Don't be ridiculous, I… I don't have feelings for Chrom" Sumia said waving her hands in a no fashion at him.
"Nobody said you had feelings for him Sumia" Sully smirked, laughing a bit as Sumia's face turned a deeper shade of red then before at the realization.
"No I… I mean… y-you tricked me!" Sumia shouted a bit at Ryan, her face flustered as she got defensive.
"I didn't trick you; you set yourself up on your own!" Ryan argued his case, causing everyone else to start laughing as Sumia tried to compose herself. After a few minutes everyone calmed down and had smiles on their faces now that the ice was broken.
"Oh yeah this kids going to fit right in" Vaike laughed patting Ryan on the shoulder "So tell me, know how to wield a weapon?" he questioned.
"Oh you should see all the tricks he has up his sleeve" Lissa answered for Ryan "He's like a jack of all trades."
"Oh yeah, can he do this?" Vaike questioned before suddenly letting out a huge burp that lasted for a few seconds. This in turn caused Ryan to laugh a bit at Vaike's gross humor.
"I think I have much to learn in the bleaching arts "Teach"." Ryan said. Vaike smiled back but immediately that smiled disappeared as a parasol connected with his head, and a ow escaped his throat as he rubbed his head. Ryan quickly saw it was Maribelle who had assaulted him, a disgusted look on her face.
"Vaike that was abhorrent!" She spat "Must you baseborn oafs pollute the air with your buffoonery?" she questioned before turning to Ryan and bopping him on the head too with her parasol, like a teacher disciplining students with a ruler. Needless to say it hurt as Ryan rubbed his head in pain "And you Ryan, don't encourage him. I'd hoped you were cut from finer cloth." With that said she gave a hmph and walked out of the garrison door leaving Ryan dumbfounded at her sudden attack on them.
"My my… what a sharp tongue for a young lady" Virion said slipping some more tea.
"Don't take it to heart Ryan" Sumia said to him "Maribelle warms up to people slowly."
"Or burns to quickly" Lissa giggled a bit "But yeah just her time" she said with Ryan giving a understanding nod. From there the group slowly settled down into simple small talk, and in the case of Lissa got a bite to eat. Most of the conversation was aimed towards Ryan as expected, what with him being a supposed amnesiac. After about half an hour the door to the garrison opened and slowly Chrom walked in, a smile on his face seeing Ryan bonding with the others. Seeing him Sumia was the first to get up, her face beaming with joy.
"Captain, your returned! I was- I mean, we were so Uahhhh!" she started to say but suddenly slipped on a pile of papers on the floor near her feet, face plating into the ground.
"Sumia!" Chrom said quickly coming over to her and helping her get up "Are you alright, those boots of yours again?" he questioned.
"No! I mean yes! I mean…never mind I'm okay" she said quickly, sighing from embarrassment at having tripped in front of Chrom. Seeing that she was okay Chrom exhaled a bit and turned his attention to the group.
"All right, listen up everyone, in the morning we march into Regna Ferox." Chrom announced.
"Regna Ferox?" Ryan asked.
"A unified kingdom to the north, inhabited by barbarians, or so it's said" Sumia clarified to him.
"Warriors are what they are" Chrom corrected her "And we need there strength to counter this new threat. Typically the exalt would request aid in person, but given recent events people might worry if my sister were to leave the capital. Therefore the task has been passed to us. Frederick will be coming along with me, is there anyone else willing to join?"
"I volunteer" Lissa said raising her hand.
"Me too!" Vaike replied after her "You'll be needing old Teach along for such a delicate mission!"
"And you'll be needing me to make sure he doesn't screw it up" Sully replied causing Vaike to glare at her for that comment.
"If my dear Sully is going I shall be going as well" Virion said standing up causing Sully roll her eyes at him, mentally wishing he would stay behind.
"I'll go as well" a unfamiliar voice suddenly said behind Ryan, causing him to jump a bit. Turning around he saw a tall man in a knight armor standing right behind him, the only thing he could see was his face and his cut of black hair.
"Where did you come from?!" Ryan questioned his heart still racing a bit.
"I've been here the whole time, my name is Kellam" the knight said.
"Geez Kellam" Sully sighed "If I haven't said it once I'll say it again, clear your throat or something."
"I did, you guys just didn't notice" Kellam said rubbing his head a bit.
"Well that makes seven" Chrom said turning to Ryan and Sumia "What about you two?"
"Sure I'll come along" Ryan said turning to Sumia "What about you?"
"I…. I um…." Sumia hesitated "It's just… I'm not sure I'm ready for a proper mission yet" she said. From what Ryan had learned Sumia was still a bit in training as a Pegasus knight. She didn't even have a mount yet. It was no wonder she was worried about getting in the way of things.
"Well you could always stay behind the main group, and if there is a battle just watch and learn… it's your choice, but some lessons can only be learned on the battlefield" Chrom said. After a few moments of thinking Sumia slowly nodded signaling she was on board as well. With that Chrom nodded to everyone "Alright…. we will be leaving in a few hours everyone, get prepared" he said before dismissing them.
In a few hours everyone was outside the castle walls, equipped and packed up for the road ahead. Frederick had taken care of most of the preparations, packing food and tents since the trip would take a few days to complete. However that wasn't the only thing he had done in the few hours he had been away. When he came to return Ryan's equipment Ryan had found he was given a new blade which Frederick had acquired from the castles armory. When asked why Frederick simply called it an apology for his remarks earlier. Seeing he wasn't going to say any more on the subject Ryan accepted it with a thank you. After they had figured out who was carrying what, and making sure Kellam was with them Chrom finally spoke up.
"It looks like everyone's ready… lets head out-
"W-wait for me!" a voice suddenly shouted out to them. Turning to face the noise they saw a cavalier rushing towards them. When they caught up Ryan saw it was a male cavalier, possessing armor like Sully's only green in color. Sporting a shaggy mop of green hair the knight breathed a sigh of relief, glad to have made it.
"Stahl" Chrom said a bit surprised.
"Why was I the last to hear about this expedition to Ferox?" the cavalier called Stahl asked. From the lack of supplies he clearly had just learned about this, and had just barely got on his horse in time to meet them. Hearing him say that made Lissa speak up, apparently shocked by that news.
"But Vaike was suppose too…." She began but then stopped and turned towards Vaike with a glare. Seeing her expression Vaike turned away a bit as Lissa stomped towards him. "Vaike!" she snapped "You were supposed to tell Stahl about the mission, don't tell me you forgot again?!"
"Hey the Vaike never forgets… I just don't always remember that's all" he replied causing Lissa to let out a groan of disappointment.
"I swear you wouldn't remember your name if you weren't constantly saying it" Lissa replied before turning her sights back on him. "Speaking of which are you sure you remembered your axe this time?"
"Hey that only happened once… okay twice, but training sessions don't count. In any case I got it right… hey… where's my axe?" he questioned realizing it wasn't strapped to his back anymore causing Lissa to sigh deeply at having called it right.
"Are you referring to this you ignoramus?" a women's voice said behind him. Everyone turned to see an older woman in mage attire standing there behind them. She sported reddish hair and wore glasses, a tome of fire magic in her possession. In her other hand was an axe which everyone assumed was Vaikes.
"Hey my axe, thanks Miriel" Vaike said taking it from her, the mage called Miriel shaking her head in disapproval.
"Next time perhaps I will use a spell to bind it your hand… permanently" she said with a serious expression as she walked over to the group. "Milord, if you are venturing out to Regna Ferox, perhaps you would mind letting us assist?" she asked.
"Sure" Chrom nodded "You and Stahl are more than welcomed to join us."
"What about Maribelle?" Lissa asked Stahl "I'm guessing she's the one who told you about this?"
"Yeah, she said she can't come, her father wants her to return home" Stahl said.
"Oh that's too bad" Lissa said sighing a bit "What about Ricken?"
"We couldn't locate him, I predict he's practicing his magic right now" Miriel said.
"Alright people" Frederick said "I think that's enough talk, were burning daylight by just standing here, and we have much ground to cover."
"Agreed" Chrom said "let's go everyone" he ordered. With that they took off from the castle, leaving the town of Ylisstol behind, and taking the Northroad towards Regna Ferox. No one talked much along the way, with Ryan asking a question or two every now and then. Before anyone knew night started to fall for the first day of their trip. Setting up the tents took a bit, but eventually everyone settled down for the night. As dinner was being prepared Ryan was sitting down in his tent, his nose in a book while everyone else was outside. Hearing footsteps near his tent flap Ryan turned to see Chrom standing there.
"Hey Chrom" Ryan said putting the book down to look at him "What's up?"
"What's up is that you're sitting here in your tent by yourself, why don't you come out and join the rest of us before dinner?" Chrom asked "Bond a little."
"Is that an order?" Ryan joked.
"It's a suggestion, what are you reading anyway?" Chrom asked coming inside and taking a look at the title which was "Tactic's and Strategies Vol. 1."
"It's just a little something I found in the library at the castle, thought it might help" Ryan mumbled a bit, making Chrom raise an eyebrow at his tone.
"Something on your mind?" Chrom asked.
"…. Remember what happened last night…. When those monsters attack us?" Ryan questioned.
"You're referring to the Risen right?"
"That was the name the council gave them, fitting considering their appearance" Chrom clarified "I'm guessing your concerned about how last night turned out right? You shouldn't worry so much about that, no one could have predicted such a thing."
"Even so… we only won because of a lucky punch… that's why I feel like you, and Lissa rate me too high" Ryan voiced "My suppose tactic's wouldn't have help us survive."
Chrom shook his head "Your wrong there Ryan, if you hadn't been there with your tactics, that "lucky punch" would have come too late" Chrom said "We survived because of luck… and you as well."
Ryan just sat there, shock at his friend's words, unable to mount a comeback to voice his concerns. Seeing Ryan at a loss Chrom spoke again "I haven't told you about this yet, but I didn't ask you to join the shepherds just because of what I saw that day in Southtown."
"You didn't?" Ryan asked.
"No… I asked because I not only saw raw potential in you, but also saw a will to hone and improve your skills, seeing you now proves to me more than ever…" Chrom trailed off a bit putting a hand on his friends shoulder "That you are deserving of everything I thought you for."
"Chrom…. I… I don't know what to say" Ryan said getting a little flustered at his friends words.
"You can say you'll take my suggestion and come out of your tent" Chrom said walking back over to the opening of his tent "And then… perhaps you and I might have a friendly spar, after all it's important to hone your mind, but it's also important to improve your body as well."
Ryan looked at him for about a minute but quickly got up with a smile "I could use a break" he joked, tagging along behind Chrom as they left the tents laughing a bit under their breath at his joke. A few steps outside Ryan stopped and said "Chrom."
"Yes?" Chrom said turning back around to face him.
"From now on… it won't be luck that decides the battle… I promise this to you" he said with a serious face. Chrom didn't say anything, but it was clear on his face that he was glad to hear those words as they continued on to the others.
For the next two days the group continued along, the days sunny and peaceful. As they continued along Ryan slowly improved his swordsmanship with Chrom, who even commented that he was not half bad despite beating him down in about two minutes. Plus thanks to Miriel's coaching he learned how to use his magic without having to hold his tome, a great skill to know for mages in battle. He even had started to form strong bonds with everyone despite only knowing them for just a few days. Heck even Frederick was taking a liking to him now, though he barely showed it.
It wasn't until midday on the third day that things turned sour. As they continued on the road they soon caught sight of a rather disturbing scene. A merchant cart was blocking the road up ahead, however this wasn't a simple case of lazy merchants however, it was a case of slaughter. They had been attacked, the merchant group, three in totally along with their horse had been hacked to death by multiple weapons. The sight of their blood scattered everywhere almost made Lissa and Sumia vomit as everyone stared at the brutality with shock.
"This is awful" Stahl said trying his best along with others to inspect the scene.
"How very accurate indeed…" Miriel said inspecting the merchant cart "And yet… not a single item of monetary value appears to have been taken… this evidence likely proves it was not a brigand attack."
"But who besides brigands would do this?" Kellam asked, not that anyone appeared to hear him.
"I have a terrible feeling it was them…" Chrom said making everyone look at him.
"You are referring to the Risen… right milord?" Frederick asked. Seeing Chrom nod made everyone get nervous, Chrom having told them about the creatures know as Risen a night ago. For Ryan, Lissa, Frederick, Sully, and Virion it was a reminder of their last encounter, while for everyone else it was a chilling thought, seeing what they were capable of for the first time.
"The blood is still not dried…." Miriel pointed out after a minute "It's a high probability the attack happened a short while ago."
"Wait are you saying they could still be around?" Vaike questioned.
"In simple terms yes" Miriel said.
Hearing that Ryan spoke "Okay then… in that case we should send a small group up ahead to scout the path ahead, Frederick, since you Stahl and Sully ride horses you can cover the most ground in the shortest time. If you see anything report back at once, and try to avoid battle until we can regroup okay."
"Of course" Frederick nodded. With a quick glance towards the two cavaliers the three saddled up and took off, leaving everyone else behind for now.
"What about the rest of us?" Vaike questioned "What are we going to do?"
"There's a shovel in the cart right… the least we can do is give them a proper burial" Ryan said then looked around "Kellam?"
"Right here!" Kellam said waving a bit finally getting Ryan's attention.
"I want you, Chrom, and Virion to keep a close eye on our surroundings, for all we know those creatures could be stalking around here instead of up the path, do not engage if possible."
"Understood, I'll howler if I see anything" Kellam said, walking a short distance out with Virion behind him a bit. Chrom took the opposite side, keeping his senses sharp as he followed his role in Ryan's tactics.
"Lissa, Sumia, I want you two to hide inside the cart for now while me and Vaike set out to work, make sure to stay out of sight in case of archers" he ordered, the cleric and Pegasus knight rookie responding quickly. As they did Ryan pulled out the shovel and he and Vaike set off to work. It took a bit as neither like the idea of touching a carved up body, but soon all three as well as the horse, at Sumia's request, were buried in the ground.
Soon after Frederick's group returned. There scouting ahead revealed that a group of Risen were up ahead, blocking the connecting bridge across the river up ahead. There was no way to sidestep them. Returning to the bridge with group in tow now they saw the group of risen mindlessly patrolling the area. In the light of day everyone could see that the risen had purple like skin, there bodies carrying sewing marks, like they were reanimated dolls of some kind. Purple blackish vapor seeping from their mouths with each foul exhale they took, there red glowing eyes scanning the area, searching for their next victim.
"Just look at the brutes…" Virion said as everyone watched them from a safe distance "There literary a walking death trap."
"And if there appearing this far up the north road..." Chrom trailed off a bit.
"Then no place is safe" Frederick said before facing Ryan "So how will we confront them?"
"Well…" Ryan said as he looked over the enemies "There aren't as much as last time thankfully, adding the fact we have the element of surprise this time… I'm sure we can take them with a combination of stealth and rush tactics."
"Good… the sooner we can kill them all the better, for everyone's sake" Chrom added as he looked towards Ryan who then started to give out directions.
A few minutes later the group commenced there attack. It all started from the clusters of trees to the sides of the Risen pack as an arrow suddenly shot out, nailing one in the head. The Risen in question let out a groan as it hit the ground dissolving into purple smoke. This was more than enough for the rest of the Risen who immediately started to charge towards where there foe was. However suddenly from their backsides a combo of fire and lighting shot out. The spells slowly inched towards one another before colliding near the pack producing a sudden explosion. The Risen were immediately scattered by the blast, a few being burnt to ashes in the process. However as they started to move towards their attackers again the rush tactic's began. Using the surprise fire bomb as a cue to strike, Frederick, Sully, and Stahl charged forward, there weapons easily mowing down a few Risen as they raced away from the remaining ones. Again the Risen turned to charge their foes, but the second they turned away Chrom and Vaike were there, sword and axe taking raised bringing two more down in seconds. Falling behind them was Kellam, ready to block any attacks towards them with Sumia following closely behind to take down those that Kellam blocked. Between all these separate attacks most of the Risen had already bitten the dust, the remaining ones being fire at by arrows, magic, and another sweep of the cavalry.
Ryan plan was working flawlessly. As he had predicted, while the Risen were stronger than an average man they had little to no brains. They relied on sheer power and numbers to overwhelm an opponent. As such they would attack the first thing that engaged them, or got there attention. By attacking from multiple directions the Risen mindlessly wandered all over the battlefield allowing multiple sneak attacks when they turned their backs to engage what attracted there attention. In no time at all the Risen were dead and gone, and not a single Shepherd was hurt as well.
"Excellent job everyone" Chrom said once they had confirmed all the foes were dead "Especially you Ryan" he added at the end giving his friend a pat on the back. In fact several of the shepherds were praising him the same way, Vaike even giving him a noogie. Needless to say Ryan was smiling and laughing with them, happy to see his training during the trip paying off like this. Soon enough though Frederick cleared his throat reminding everyone they had another job to finish, and that was getting to Regna Ferox to acquire there assistance. Nodding, everyone saddled up, continuing the journey up the road.
However just a short distance pass the bridge the group encountered a surprising sight. A little off the path stood a Pegasus, a wild one at that. What stood out most about it however was that it was injured, its right wing looking like it had been slashed a bit blood dripping slowly from the wound.
"Do you think that cut is because of those Risen from earlier?" Lissa asked.
"Makes sense" Ryan replied "The poor thing was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. It's incredibly lucky to just have escaped them with its life"
"Well let's see if we can't help it" Chrom said slowly walking towards it, trying not the scared it. He was only a few steps away when the Pegasus cried out raising its front hooves into the air, startling the young prince a bit.
"Whoa girl easy!" he said to it, but the Pegasus wasn't going to back down, wings flapping a bit as it kept Chrom at a distance.
"Captain let me try" Sumia suddenly said coming towards him and the Pegasus.
"I wouldn't recommend it Sumia, this beast is crazed!" Chrom warned her, not wanting her to get hurt.
"It's okay captain, she's just scared is all" Sumia reassured him as she took another step closer to it "Shhh I won't hurt you" she said softly to the Pegasus. Chrom was about to protest again until he saw Sumia lay her hand on the Pegasus's snout, the creature showing no signs of hostility towards her as she did. Everyone was most surprised to say the least.
"How'd you do that?" Ryan asked.
"Oh it's nothing really… I'm just… good with animals is all" Sumia said as she petted the Pegasus a bit, turning back towards Chrom "I'll take care of her wound and rejoin you all later."
"Couldn't we just heal it with Lissa's staff?" Ryan asked.
"Sorry no can do" Lissa said shaking her head no "Healing staffs only work on humans, there not designed to work on animals."
"Regardless we could make time for you Sumia" Chrom said.
"Thank you captain, but I can manage" Sumia said with a smile "After all every moment is precious for the sake of Ylisse and her people" she said.
Seeing she wasn't going to take no for an answer Chrom nodded slowly "Alright then, just stay safe, okay?"
"Of course Captain Chrom" Sumia nodded as she took a closer look at the Pegasus wing.
With that the group continued on leaving Sumia behind, with their destination of Regna Ferox not much farther now, the temperature slowly dropping as they pressed forward.
Well this chapter took a bit longer then I thought, hopefully it's worth the wait. :)