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First Posted on FF.net several months ago, I thought perhaps I should've put this here a long time ago to perhaps get some feedback from the lovely folks of Serenes Forest. There's another chapter in the works but here's chapter one for you viewing (dis)pleasure. Anyway.... um.... Yeah, here it is! Was this really the right thing to do? Would it really save the future and her father? Lucina couldn’t very well know the answer to these questions as she followed behind Robin with as much stealth as she could muster. She didn’t know where the tactician was going, but she knew that the time to strike would have to be soon. After the revelation that Robin could be controlled by Validar came to light it seemed as though the final missing pieces of the puzzle had arranged themselves in her mind. Her father was killed one of his best friends while trying to stop the awakening of Grima at the Dragon’s Table, and one of his closest companions was undoubtedly Uncle Robin. All throughout her life, Lucina couldn’t imagine how anyone of her father’s comrades in arms could betray and kill her father. Over the past few months, she’d fought beside all the men and women of the old generation of Shepherds and grew to see their strengths, their weaknesses, their laughing, and crying, their sorrow, and their joy. Even the most unsavory members of their company had their charms and bonds within their group. So it only stood to reason that the only way her father could be killed by someone in his close circle of friends would be through means outside of that person’s control. This new information of Validar being able to control her uncle simply was too logical to ignore. With that power, the King of Plegia could force the Shepherd’s tactician to cut her father down or spear him with magic, and knowing her father he would hesitate too much to strike down a friend like that. His trust and concern for others were some of his greatest strengths and weaknesses. A lot of that nature rubbed off on her, but Lucina had grown up in a future devoid of hope and peace. A future where part of her heart had to be hardened to survive as a leader of the last remnants of humanity. It was this hardened part of her heart that led her to make this decision. She would kill Robin, the tactician of Ylisse, the Grandmaster of the Army, and the father of her cousins. How would she face everyone after she made this choice, how could she bare to look upon the faces of her comrades, her friends, her family after she proceeded with this course of action? She did not know, but she would face it all, all the anger, the grief, and the punishment if only to afford them a chance for a better future. To save her father and the entire world she would kill her father and mother’s friend, Auntie Lissa’s husband, Cynthia’s uncle, and Morgan and Owain’s father. It would be all for them and the others, and they would never forgive her for it. That was okay, she tried to tell herself as she watched Robin stop in an open field dotted with a few cherry trees, apparently to look out on the sunset. She would bear it, no matter how much she would hate herself and find the deserved judgment of others waiting for her. She would be marked a kinslayer, a murder, the slayer of a man who’d done nothing wrong except for being born a pawn of a fanatic cult. Lucina walked silently behind her Uncle, drawing her sword with little to no noise as she prepared to strike. She would make it quick, he wouldn’t feel a thing. She tried to reassure herself with this line of thought. She couldn’t be discovered, Lucina told herself as she got closer and closer. If he knew she was there Validar might choose that moment to take control and kill her before she could stop him. That was why she couldn’t look the man in his eyes as she made ready to strike him down, face him and tell him why he would have to die without his family and loved ones around him. She would give herself one more chance to make either decision, to do this or not. She quickly sprung from her hiding place and charged. With a strong blow to the head from the pommel of Falchion, Lucina knocked the tactician unconscious. He had never even known she was there, and she could’ve killed him without him even knowing what was happening. Why did she not end it all right there? She’d set out after Robin with the intention to strike him down and prevent the horrors of her future from occurring. It was a simple calculation as Laurent would say, what is the life of one man against the world? Of course Laurent would probably never approve of this course of action, Lucina would be hard-pressed to think of anyone who would. As she stood poised to strike, her sword at the ready, Lucina found herself hesitating. The blade was in her hand, the man who would become an instrument of destruction upon the world of her future defenseless. She might be able to end this and keep hope alive for this timeline. But he hadn’t done anything wrong, not yet. And as a wise man once said: “the punishment comes after the crime, not before”. This action might be prudent, but how could it be just? She’d grown up in a world without justice, without safety, without peace. Would it be justice though to deprive others in this world of these things over the fate and fortunes of one man? But it wasn’t just one man she was killing, she’d struck down innumerable people in her life as a warrior. She was preparing to kill a good man, a friend, a father, a husband, an uncle, a hero who’d saved millions; yet.... all the same, Lucina told herself Robin needed to die to save countless others that would surely die if history was allowed to take the same course. Silent tears rolled down weary eyes as she stood tall and proud as a good exalt should. Lucina had to do this, had to save the world with this one horrible action. She muttered a short prayer to Naga for the soul of her uncle, and then for her own soul as she made her final choice. With a yell she brought the blade down towards Robin’s neck, hoping to end this a quickly as she could. What she didn’t see as she closed her eyes and struck was the yellow blur of a swordmaster’s cloak. What she did hear was the clang of steel ringing on steel. Lucina opened her eyes to see the legendary sword Mercurius straining against the weight of Falchion’s blow. Equally unmistakable was the person who wielded it. With the same white hair and brown eyes of his father stood her cousin Owain. With a roar, Owain shoved back Lucina and her strike causing her to move several feet away from Robin’s prone form. Her sword was still poised to strike, but now if she was to accomplish her task Owain would have to be dealt with now. “Whatever fell sorcery that has befallen the mind of my cousin and sacred kin ends now!” The Swordmaster decreed loudly, “I was of wont to see my father but instead find my kin trying to strike him down. So speak foul spirit, who are thee and how do I break your hold on my cousin?” Lucina struggled through the words but they managed to leave her mouth all the same. “Owain no, this isn’t some trick, it’s me... There is no spell or curse upon my person. This is me.” Owain stared into her eyes for a moment and seemed to realize the truth of what she said. He knew her well enough to tell when she was speaking the truth. In fact, he probably knew from the beginning but didn’t want to believe what he was seeing. It was then her cousin’s gaze turned as cold as steel and he raised his blade ready for combat. To see him quickly change from his normal flippant mood was a bit jarring, but one didn’t survive the nightmarish future they’d come without scars. None of the normal theatrics accompanied the young prince’s motions this time. Normally when Owain felt a fight was upon him he would embellish his motions and flourish even the draw of his blade, but now the Last Ylissean swordmaster of the future was all businesses. “Why?” Was the single word that pierced the evening sky. “You’re father is the one that unwillingly kills mine and leads to Grima’s resurrection! It makes sense now, our fathers confront Validar only for him to take control of Robin and strike down Chrom. I can’t allow that to happen.” Lucina was on the verge of tears as she spoke, but refused to let them show for fear of breaking what little resolve she had built up. “This is your solution?” Owain shot back as if she was insane, “To strike someone in the back and brand yourself a kinslayer? This isn’t you Lucina, the Exalt that I know would never do something like this.” “You have to let me do this Owain! This is the last thing my heart desires, but I have to stop Grima. Please don’t make this any harder,” Lucina pleaded, her voice nearly cracking as her hands gripped the sword of heroes like a vice “If fate is to be changed, sacrifices have to be made... I know that this is murder... I know that-” “Save your breath,” Owain interrupted, his own face showing deep anguish mixed with grim determination, “Nothing you can say will convince me this is the right course of action. I cannot and will not allow you to harm my father, not while I still draw breath!” “I... I can’t let you stop me.” Lucina prepared her blade in salute, doubt and worry plaguing her mind as she did so. "Then, you will have to go through me, for I shall not let you pass." There was no going back now, steel would have to speak instead of words. Lucina struck first, Owain was faster than she, and to let him have the momentum of this encounter would be a mistake. A left slash was tried but failed as the two ancient blades clashed in the dying light of the sun. With a clang the two grappled together, both swordsmen were now straining to gain leverage over one another. The situation worked to Lucina’s advantage actually, for while the swordmaster was faster than her, she was stronger and ever so slightly began to force her way through Owain’s defenses. Sparks flew where the blades met, as the ancient magics of these two holy weapons clashed against each other. Black blade clashed upon white as the air around them seemed to grow heavy and stale, and the wind began to blow harshly through the trees that surrounded this clearing. “I don’t understand this.” Lucina heard her cousin say as both struggled to gain the advantage, “You were the best us even when the whole world went to hell, just stop and come to your senses already!” “I will not give up now, my path is set and I cannot turn back!” Lucina wasn’t sure if she was trying to convince herself or Owain as she spoke, but regardless she managed to throw Owain off balance and open for attack. The swordmaster was nearly flung backward onto the floor, and Lucina was prepared to strike him. However, the slash was slower than it could’ve been, as Lucina fought with her conscience even now. While at the same time she tried to work out how best to subdue her cousin, and thought perhaps the best idea would be to first disarm him. However, the moment of hesitation was all Owain needed to strike back. With practiced balance and agility, he quickly regained his footing and parried away Lucina’s blow. In that moment her momentum was gone as Owain quickly began a series of whirlwind slashing attacks. With her shield, Lucina managed to absorb most of the blows though a few were near things that might’ve ended this duel. Lucina had seen Mercuris’ famed power and strength on the field of battle before and was not eager to see its power brought to bear against her armor and flesh. As the faster of the two swordsmen, Owain was now controlling the flow of battle, and Lucina was in a dangerous position of having of reacting rather than acting. However as it ever was even in the days when they were children playing at knights and mages Lucina’s defense was impenetrable to Owain’s swift attacks. At least, that’s what she liked to believe. That was not entirely true as some of her cousin’s attacks hit home and struck off pieces of armor, cutting into her skin. She’d not won all their duels and sparring matches, there was always narrow (if clear) divide between the skill of the two. This fight was something different, this was no practice match between comrades, no friendly match observed by teachers or friends. There was no mistaking both were fighting with everything they had, both determined to win like no battle either had ever fought before. For a moment, Lucina caught a glimpse of Owain’s eyes and they seemed to burn with fury tempered with an iron will. He was fighting for his father too, Lucina realized sadly, but this had to be done for all of them. As she defended against the veritable tornado of attacks Lucina kept her eyes open looking for that opening that could give her the chance to go on the offensive. She found it after what must’ve been the twelfth attack she'd blocked or dodged. Owain had stepped just a little too far forward trying to give his swing more momentum; most fighters wouldn’t be able to take advantage of such a small mistake, but Lucina was not most fighters. She carefully plotted the movements of her feet, stepping just far back enough to dodge but close enough to still attack. As the swing of Mercurius cut the air so close she could feel lit Lucina slammed the pommel of her sword into Owain’s gut. He gasped as the wind was knocked right out of him and stumbled back in pain. Lucina took this chance and cut through Owain’s armor across his right shoulder. Her cousin let out a cry of pain as blood began to flow from the wound. It seemed that rather than convince him to stop it only convinced Owain to make his attacks even faster. Lucina heard the word “Astra” yelled out and then the assault began. Before she could raise her shield or counter with Falchion Owain rained blow after blow upon the princess. From everywhere at once the strikes seemed to come and several wounds formed themselves on her arms and a few on her torso. This would not stop Lucina though, as Owain tried to deliver a downward finishing blow she thrust her blade into his lower chest area. His armor prevented mortal wounds but a new gash of blood opened as proof Owain had been wounded. He grunted in pain and his attack was stopped cold. Lucina resumed the offensive in this fight and struck hard; though Owain's superior agility made landing hits difficult, she pressed the attack if only to try and end this before one of them ended up dead at the other’s hand. Already she could feel the dull pain of her wounds beginning to overcome adrenaline and willpower, how long would it be before Owain could no longer fight? Even so, through the pain and her own nagging heart Lucina fought for the right to kill her uncle. It seemed so wrong when she thought about it that way, she and her cousin were fighting tooth and nail because she wanted to murder his father. As Lucina slashed down again only to have her blade met with Owain’s she try to hold on to why she was fighting why she had to commit this act of evil. She remembered the barren wastes the world had been reduced to, the starvation and suffering of her people, of the nights when Ylisstol burned and it’s people were slaughtered like cattle. She would prevent that no matter the cost. “Please! I have to do this! For everything and everyone in this world!" Lucina tried to reason. “Exactly! For everyone, we came back to this time to save everyone, and that includes my father! I refuse to believe this is the only option! I saw that same future you did, I saw the same atrocities! But I cannot accept this as our only option!” Again they struggled and pushed and strived and yelled as dark clouds began to cover the dying sun. Again the blade lock was broken and again another furious round of blocks and strikes began. Left and right, up and down, low and high, weapons met in a flurry of sparks and steel. The storm of swords moves so fast it seems almost a blur to both combatants, Lucina moved primarily on instinct rather than thought as sword and shield combined to try and hold off the faster blows of her opponent. When she saw her chance Lucina charged forward with a shield bash that knocked Owain back and seemed to cause him no small amount of pain. The white haired warrior stumbled backward several feet, standing just a small distance from where his father lay prone. Owain was breathing heavily and with unsteady rhythm and his wounds looked to be taking a toll. It was no easier on Lucina either, her blue cloth and armor was shattered and stained red in many places. For now, adrenaline and willpower kept those things at bay, but for how much longer? From the trees, the cherry blossoms of spring were beginning to fly in the wind as the last light of day beat upon this sorry scene. It seemed there would be one more exchange of blows this day, though, for even as blood stained his clothes and his breaths became ragged her cousin stood between her and his father. One last time Lucina tried to end this without more violence, perhaps this could stop before she stained her hands with more blood. “You have to give up! Please put down your sword!” Lucina cried as her own wounds flared up in pain, and more and more the walls she built around her emotions crumbled away bit-by-bit. Her response was a shake of a head and a spit on the ground. “I won’t let you make Morgan fatherless again! I won’t let you turn my mother into a widow! May I be damned to seven hells if I yield now! If you want to kill my father you’ll have to kill me first!” Owain’s eyes still burned with passion and zeal, even if his body was battered his spirit was as strong as ever. “I don’t want to do this!” Lucina was begging now, even as she knew there was only one way this was going to end. “Then you yield! For though death may claim me and my body be torn to dust, I will not surrender! Not now, not ever!” The white-haired and wild hearted swordsman decreed, brave and as courageous as Lucina had ever known him. The sun began to roll down the hills into the west as the petals drifted in the wind. Lucina gripped Falchion tightly as she screamed internally.They both stood still for a few moments, aching from their wounds and their hearts screaming at this prospect of fighting like this. But minds were set and there was no going back now. They both ran at each other, determined to make this the final clash of blades upon this field of battle. As the two rushed towards each other with all speed two words filled the air as the cherry blossoms and their petals fluttered in the wind. Raw emotion threatened to boil over in Lucina as her mind raced over memories of family poured over her. As she made ready to strike down Owain she couldn’t help but think of the times their family had those small moments of peace and happiness. All of which seemed so far away after all they’d seen. She could see in that swordmaster’s eyes the same boy who’d asked her to teach him how to fight, and Lucina wondered if he could still see the same girl that would rein in the schemes of him and his Justice Cabal. The Princess-Exalt doubted that very much as magical energy swirled around the two of them and their blades met with a clang and a shout. “INGIS!” “AETHER!" In this moment, sound and time seemed to become nothing. There were only two warriors, two family members, two good people fighting each other for those they loved. Magical energy coursed all around the two as their most powerful techniques collided. They seemed to glow with energy and power as they struggled against each other. The very ground seemed to shake and the wind whipped up wildly as if under a storm. There was an explosion, and a huge cloud of smoke appeared shrouding the area for few moments. Then out from that cloud tumbled the body of the defeated warrior. They were thrown aback and slid several feet into the dirt with grave injuries. Their opponent was still on their feet, no less damaged but with still with strength let to finish what they’d started. ‘It’s done.’ Lucina thought morosely, as she turned back to where Robin still lay peacefully on the ground. But as she took labored step after step, she once again she found Owain standing between her and her target. The Sword-Prince’s face was caked with dirt and his armor had splotches of blood dripping to the ground. He could not even stand properly, and was leaning on his sword planted in the ground as he struggled to one knee. Through his wounds and pain he remained as defiant as ever, that same burning passion normally expressed in flowery words now focused towards continuing this fight. Desperate to stop the fight before it got any worse Lucina begged again, this time sheathing her blade for good measure. “You cannot win this fight! I beg of you stand down!” Lucina was sobbing now between her words, still clinging to some small hope she would not have to kill two people this day. Though blood reddened eyes and labored breaths the voice of Owain tore through the skies. “My fist clenches... with the fury of a volcano... Owain son of Lissa... will never yield, never stand still...” The white haired warrior vowed this as he struggled to get back on his feet. Lucina could feel the tears stream down her face now. As blood, dirt, and tears ran down her body Lucina could not believe her eyes as Owain once more took to his feet. His legs were buckling and arms were shaking but still he stood. With a wordless battle cry, Owain stumbled more than rushed her with his sword swung wildly. Lucina was surprised herself at how easy it was to sidestep that blow, but even as she moved back Owain tried again. This time, it was simple to both dodge and disarm her cousin, who struck widely and slowly with the last of his might. Lucina acted on instinct as her right hand grasped the handle of Mercurius while her left elbow slammed into Owain’s gut. With all the force she could muster she tore the blade out of his hands and flung it off to the side. The yellow-clad Shepherd finally collapsed onto the ground gasping for pain as the wind was knocked out of him to compound the pain from his injuries. At last, it looked to be over, like so many times on the practice field Lucina was the one left standing while Owain lay defeated on his back. Only this time, there would be no handshakes, no congratulations, no tips or suggestions exchanged. With the last of his strength, Owain pulled himself up onto his knees, and Lucina could only watch in silence as he dragged himself between her and Robin. He was no threat any longer, but still with as much will as he could muster, Owain craned his head up to look his foe in the eye. “It's- it’s not over yet.” As he said this he met Lucina’s stare with a steely calm that proclaimed he meant that to his core. He was without a weapon, he was bleeding from a dozen different wounds, and he was outmatched in skill and strength. Yet still he refused to give in, still he struggled to balance on legs with serious injuries, still trying to fight with a body that was nearly broken. But for all his effort eventually the swordmaster fell prone to the ground, and all he could do now was try and hold his head high till the very end; like a true warrior even in defeat. It was done, this contest of arms was over, but now the far more difficult task had to be undertaken. Wordlessly she sidestepped Owain’s fallen form to where Robin lay, who in contrast to Lucina and Owain looked absolutely peaceful as he lay on the ground. Lucina deliberated every step she took as she moved to finally finish the task she had set out to do. There was nothing in her way now except her own conscience. Like an executioner at the square Lucina moved solemnly, physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted with a million thoughts clouding her mind. With so few words and a river of tears, Lucina pointed her blade at the ground, ready at last to deliver the final blow. Except she wasn’t. Perhaps it was the blood loss and the lightheadedness that was beginning to overtake her, but there was a tremble in her arms that would not go away. Whether or not it was a mistake Lucina’s gaze passed over Owain one more time. He bore wounds that were grave indeed and blood spilled onto the floor from a dozen cuts through his armor. Yet for all this what struck her most was his gaze, still burning with determination, but with nothing resembling hate, she was trying to kill his father, she had dealt him grievous wounds, but still he was possessed of that same kindness that is found in so few. Seeing this all, something inside the princess cracked and horror filled her very soul. She had turned her blade against her family, her friend, her comrade in arms, she was preparing to kill her uncle for nothing he had yet done. These things she knew before, but the gravity of it all now seemed to be too much. All at once it was if a dam of emotion, pain, and grief burst within Lucina and she fell to her knees sobbing. Falchion clattered onto the ground as Lucina struggled through pain and tears without success. Words tried to come of her mount but it appeared all Lucina could do was blubber almost incoherently through her hands which clasped her face. “I’m sorry, Oh gods- I’m so sorry! Please I didn’t- I never-” Owain looked like he was mumbling something but Lucina didn’t hear any of it, for soon the pain of her wounds and the mental turmoil of the day proved too much for her. Soon she was falling on the ground with her eyes listless and closing rapidly. Without so much as another word the Exalt landed with a thud, and quickly after her mind followed her body into inaction. Suddenly Lucina felt more tired and exhausted than she’d ever felt before, and in spite of all her willpower felt consciousness fade, and before long the entire world turned to blackness and the Exalt-Princess was out cold on the ground. Well, I'll have a feedback topic up soon, I think... So... thoughts anyone? Give feedback wherever you like, but please don't be afraid to praise or condemn my work! I want to hear people's thoughts more than anything! (Man that sounded desperate and terrible...)